February 2010     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 44 , No. 2


General Meeting

Date          February 9, 2010

Time          7:30 – 9:30

Where       PCC

                  3921 E. Bayshore Road

                  Palo Alto, CA             

Program   Climbing in Cordillera                Blanca

Presenter Jonathon Crabtree

3rd Quote-of-the-trip: "Climbing at altitude in foreign countries...it's like climbing at home...while sick." The photos speak for themselves in this slide show recounting our successes, failures, logistical nightmares and preparation surrounding three weeks of traveling, alpine climbing and fighting germs in the Cordillera Blanca range of the Peruvian Andes. The un-paralleled scenery and humorous tales are sure to entertain both the vertically inclined and horizontally content!

Directions from 101

Exit at San Antonio Road, go east to the first traffic light, turn left and follow Bayshore Rd to the PCC on the corner of Corporation Way. A sign marking the PCC is out front. Park and enter in the back of the building.

Google     http://tinyurl.com/28ngaw

Editorís Notes

This monthís highlights: For an unusual trip announcement, check out Rick Boothís invitation to Arunís Round Top Trip. And donít miss Lisa thoughtful response to Avatar. Happy climbing and skiing, PCSíers!

Chair column

As mentioned last month it is time to start planning trips for the summer. Check the announcement below!

In the meantime several people took the WFA class, thereby qualifying as leaders. Congratulations! I am sure that they will all lead many exciting trips this summer.

There have been some suggestions for minor adjustments to the meeting format.

More about that later, but let me know if you have suggestions.

As always, let me know if you are interested in giving a slideshow or know famous climbers who are. 


         Trip Planning Meeting

7:30 pm February 23, 2010

21020 Canyon View Drive, Saratoga

Come one, come all, letís have a blast planning our trips for spring, summer and fall.  Leaders, please come with ideas for trips you want to plan.  Climbers, bring ideas for what you want to do this year.

There will be pizza (donations requested to cover the cost), salad and vegetables so that you do not need to have dinner before the meeting. Those who can, please bring a pot luck dish to share.

Let me know if you need directions, but Google is your best bet.



                         PCS Trip Calendar

These are required statements.

Note: CST 2087766-40. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Note: All Sierra Club trips require you to sign a Liability Waiver.


Feb 13 – 14 – Tahoe Backcountry Skiing #3

Leader: Louise Wholey

March 12 - 14 – Sierra Ski Mountaineering

Leader: Louise Wholey

March 21 – Arunís Annual Round Top Day Hike

Leader: Rick Booth

PCS Trip Details

Tahoe Backcountry Skiing #3

Goal:  Castle Peak, Jakes Peak, Mt. Judah, or other, depending on snow.

Location: Tahoe Basin

Dates:            Feb 13 - 14

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Advanced skiing skills

Come join us for our third of the Tahoe Backcountry Skiing Series. We will ski wherever we can find the best snow, with the target always being fresh deep powder.

Requires advanced skiing skills (resort black diamond+), avalanche training. Randonee or Telemark skis, climbing skis, avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe.

Sierra Ski Mountaineering

Goal:  To Be Determined

Location: To Be Determined

Dates:            March 12 - 14

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Advanced skiing skills

Come join us for our grand finale of the Backcountry Skiing Series, skiing in the High Sierra. The peak will be announced at the beginning of winter.

Requires advanced skiing skills (resort black diamond+), avalanche training. Randonee or Telemark skis, climbing skis, avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe.

Arunís Annual Round Top Day Hike

Goal: Round Top

Location: Carson Pass

Date:  March 21

Leader: Rick Booth

Difficulty: Ability to use snowshoes or skis, plus ice ax and crampons.

Arun isnít dead yet but he is working on it. Join us on what has been Arunís annual Round Top Day Hike. Arun cannot do it this year so this means you are stuck with Ron Karpel and Rick Booth. Consider yourself warned. Cat herding begins at 8:00 am at the Carson Pass Snow Park on Sunday, March 21. We will be moving by 8:30 am. Snow shoes or skis, ice ax and crampons are needed and the ability to use them. Group size limited to 12. No morons. Snow Park Pass a must. Bad weather cancels. This means rain, snow, howling wind, freezing cold, tsunami, avalanche conditions, hurricane, flood. We are fair weather climbers. Contact Rick Booth rwdbooth@gmail.com or Ron Karpel ronny@karpel.org.

Private Trip Calendar

Important: Private trips are not insured, sponsored, or supervised by the Sierra Club. They are listed here because they may be of interest to PCS members. Private trips may be submitted directly to the Scree editor.

Feb 5 – 7 – Mt.Shasta Winter Ascent

Leader: Tim Hult

Feb 12 – 15 – Mt. Silliman

Leader: Tim Hult

March 6 – 7 – Yosemite-Glacier Point

Leader: Terri Michel

March 25 – 30 – Mosquito Flats Hut and Rock Creek Lodge

Leader: Terri Michel

April 1 – 4 – Late spring Ski Tour – High Sierras

Leader: Tim Hult

April 3 – 4 – Pinnacles

Leader: Jeff Fisher

May 2010 – Annapurna Loop

Leader: Warren Storkman

October 2010 – Trek into Tibet

Leader: Warren Storkman

Private Trip Details

Mt. Shasta Winter Ascent, 14179í

Peak: Mt. Shasta

Dates:            Feb 5 - 7

Leader: Tim Hult

Difficulty: Solid Snowcamping Skills

This trip will go on a 3-day expedition to one of the ridge routes on Shasta. Weather is always a factor so we will play it by ear starting at the beginning of February. Solid snow camping skills are required as is ownership of extreme weather gear (boots, mittens, outerwear, sleeping bag, etc.). Good training for McKinley. Ice axe and crampon required. Contact Tim Hult for more information. timdhult at sbcglobal dot net;
650-966-2215 (w)

Mt. Silliman, 11,188í

Peak: Mt. Silliman

Dates:            Feb 12 - 15

Leader: Tim Hult

Difficulty: Class 1

Kings Canyon, President's Day weekend. Ski trip (snow shoes acceptable if there are more than one of you.) Another ski tour with a peak. May be done as a two day trip, but we'll reserve 3 to be sure. Contact Tim Hult for more information: timdhult at sbcglobal dot net 650-966-2215 (w)

Yosemite – Glacier Point Turnaround

Location: Badger Pass, Yosemite

Dates:            March 6 – 7. 2010

Leader: Terri Michel

Difficulty: Intermediate Skiing Skills

We'll ski from Badger Pass to Glacier Point and back in one day -- for those of you with stamina! Our lodging for Fri and Sat nights is a recently remodeled charming mountain A-frame cabin in Yosemite West (convenient to Badger Pass), with great views and a hot tub on the deck. Saturday we'll ski the 22-mile round trip to Glacier Point for the spectacular views of Yosemite Valley. Sunday's options include trails near Bridalveil Creek, Dewey Pt, or tele-skiing at the Badger Pass ski area. Other options are available if there is either too much or not enough snow. Cost est for two nights lodging, one dinner and two breakfasts is $140 (based on avg 6 people). Due to new Sierra Club rules, you cannot write STS leaders checks for more than $50 in advance. So please send a check for $50 now and pay the remaining amount when you arrive at the trailhead. The $50 deposit is nonrefundable unless a qualified replacement is available. Limit = 8 participants. All participants must sign a Sierra Club Liability Waiver and a Sierra Club Medical form and send both completed and signed forms to the leader prior to the trip. Send your email address to obtain the forms and mail the $50 check made to: Terri Michel, 131 Ortega Ave, Mtn View, CA 94040. Leader: Terri Michel, 650 965 8456 .

Mosquito Flats Hut and Rock Creek Lodge

Location: East side - Tomís Place

Dates:            March 25 – 30, 2010

Leader: Terri Michel

Difficulty: Strong to Advanced Intermediate Skiing Skills

Five lucky people will enjoy early Spring skiing and take Thursday off work so they can have a leisurely drive to Tom's Place (near Mammoth) for Thursday night the 25th; then on Friday the 26th ski the 5 miles from the Rock Creek SnoPark to the Mosquito Flats Hut. We'll spend 3 nights at the hut so we can take advantage of glorious backcountry in the incomparable Little Lakes Valley and beyond, then return for Monday night to modern cabin accommodations (including good food, hot showers and sauna!) at Rock Creek Lodge . The next day after breakfast, we'll tour back to our cars at the trailhead for the drive home. Cost est for five nights lodging, four dinners and four breakfasts is $325 (based on 5 people). Due to new Sierra Club rules, you cannot write STS leaders checks for more than $50 in advance. So please send a check for $50 now and pay the remaining amount when you arrive at the trailhead. The $50 deposit is nonrefundable unless a qualified replacement is available. Limit = 5 participants. All participants must be comfortable skiing 5 miles and 1,500' elevation gain with an overnight pack, bring metal edged skis, climbing skins, a winter sleeping bag and and avalanche transceiver. Our tours all start > 10,000' so high altitude endurance will be necessary. Participants must also sign a Sierra Club Liability Waiver and a Sierra Club Medical form and send both completed and signed forms to the leader prior to the trip. Send your email address to obtain the forms and mail the $50 check made to: Terri Michel, 131 Ortega Ave, Mtn View, CA 94040. Leaders: Terri Michel, 650 965 8456 and Janet Hoffmann, 408 374 0435

Late Spring Ski Tour – High Sierras

Route: TBD

Dates:            April 1 - 4

Leader: Tim Hult

Difficulty: Excellent Skiing Skills and Winter Camping Experience

The route is TBD, but I'd like to do a 3 to 4 day ski traverse, possibly Mammoth to Yosemite, or Rock Creek to Mammoth. Otherwise open to suggestions. Mid April to Mid May are the target dates, weather and conditions dependent. Excellent skiing skills and winter camping experience required.
Contact Tim Hult for more information: timdhult at sbcglobal dot net
650-966-2215 (w)


Location: Pinnacles National Monument

Dates:            April 3 - 4

Leader: Jeff Fisher

Difficulty: Your choice!

Climbing, hiking and biking. Come down for the weekend or just for the day. A group camping site #134 has been reserved for the Saturday night April 3. If climbing, need shoes, harness and climbing shoes. Bring other gear if you have hit. We will meet at the Bear Gulch Ranger Station on the east side of the park at 9AM Saturday morning. Carpool from park and ride at Cottle Rd and Hwy 85 at 7AM. Carpooling encouraged because of the limited parking at the camp site. Camping fees average about $8 per person. Leader: Jeff Fisher  E-mail: jeff_fisher_5252@sbcglobal.net
Co-leader wanted.

Annapurna Loop

Location: Nepal

Dates:            May 2010

Leader: Warren Storkman

Kangchenjunga North Base Camp – 17,500í. For more details, email dstorkman@aol.com or phone 650-493-8959.

Trek into Tibet

Location: Tibet

Dates:            October 2010

Leader: Warren Storkman

An 18-day trip including Mr. Kailas and Lhasa. For more details, email dstorkman@aol.com or phone 650-493-8959.

Trip Reports

Backcountry Ski Series #2, Tamarack and Rubicon Peaks

January 14-15, 2010

By Louise Wholey

Our group of Christian Butzlaff, Yu Sato, Chris Brizzard, Alex Sapozhnikov, Cyndi Psynlee, Jim and Louise Wholey had a wonderful weekend.  Ruth Von Rotz joined us for Sunday.  Saturday we skied Tamarack Peak in good but not great wind crusted snow.  After summiting we scooted over to the North Bowl for a couple of runs, then tried some shots down lower gullies before descending to the car.  Some folks thought the late afternoon slightly sun-warmed snow was the best of the day.  Saturday night Yu Sato prepared a fine fish dinner for most of the group.  Many thanks go to Yu!

Sunday was a bit stormy, making it a good time for low angle tree skiing.  We headed off to Rubicon Peak.  But being peak climbers we could not resist trying for the summit.  The last couple moves are 3rd class friction.  I could not do them with the 50 mph winds.  You need to hang on tightly when it blows that hard!  The skiing was surprisingly good.  I had seen many tracks a few days earlier when I scouted the route, but we found lots of unused snow for our descent.

Donner Peak

January 31, 2010

By Louise Wholey

A deep snowpack with heavy over light snow plus rain crusts led me to worry about leading trips into the backcountry this season.  I have been in an avalanche under those snowpack conditions on a guided snowcat ski trip to Mt. Bailey in Oregon.  My hope was to do a class in the eastern Sierra but the class mentioned on the ESAC website http://www.esavalanche.org/ did not exist.  I was ready to give up the Sunday cross country ski race or, alternatively, several neat outing choices to do a class while the snowpack had that structure.  Finally I found a 4-day Avalanche Level 1 Plus class offered by ASI at Sugar Bowl.  The ďPlusĒ provided extra time on the snow to help us learn to evaluate conditions while skiing.

We studied snow, avalanche characteristics, weather, terrain features, human factors, and red flags, standard AIARE Level 1 curriculum material, in our classroom at Mary Lake Cabin.  In the field we learned beacon search techniques, probing, shoveling, and did several snow bonding tests.

On the third beautiful bluebird day, Sunday, we set out for an ascent and descent of Donner Peak.  I had often thought of skiing this area but really wanted to go with someone who knew the routes.  This was a great chance for me to discover the complex ski terrain of Donner Peak.  As we traveled we reviewed snow attributes.  The prevailing southwest winds transported snow that formed cornices along the slope.

Numerous areas of surface hoar and facets had formed following a cold clear night.  If new snow fell on this fragile layer the avalanche hazard would increase dramatically.

As we climbed we grew excited to see that some fine skiing in the west bowl of Donner Peak was coming.

The views from the summit were outstanding.  This shows Tinkers Knob and Anderson Peak along the Pacific Crest Trail ridgeline.  Emilie Cortes is ice-climbing with the AAC in the canyon below us.

                  American Alpine Club

         Sierra Nevada Section

  Annual Ice Climbing Weekend

         January 29 – 31, 2010

            By Emilie Cortes

The American Alpine Club Sierra Nevada Section annual ice climbing weekend took

place January 29-31, 2010 in North Lake Tahoe near Donner Pass.  Each year, the Lost Trail Lodge (www.losttraillodge.com) serves as the launching point for the ice climbers.  Itís an off-the-grid lodge located 4 miles in the Coldstream Canyon. Hearty adventurers hike, ski, or snowshoe in to the lodge for the start of their weekend. 

 Both times I have attended the AAC Ice Climbing weekend, I have navigated the snowy trails late at night with friends, arriving to the lodge when everyone else was asleep.  Thankfully Tom Burch, the SNS leader, stayed awake to tell me, my boyfriend John, and our friends where we would be sleeping to allow for minimal disruption of the other sleeping climbers.  We were sad to hear we had missed the pizza festivities and live bluegrass music, but happy to have arrived with visions of waterfall ice dancing in our heads.

 We awoke Saturday morning to the sounds and smells of sizzling bacon and scrambled eggs.  Most climbers were off by 8am but my lazy crew set off around 10am.  John and I made the poor call to cache our snowshoes since the trail seemed hard packed, but dearly regretted it as we postholed our way to the camp later on.

 It was cold, the sky was overcast, and wet flurries were falling when we arrived at camp.  Arriving fashionably late was definitely an advantage as we were able to appreciate the labor of others that came before and set up cozy megamid tents to hang out in between climbs. 

 On the far left side, Code Red (WI 4+, 60m) is an intimidating sight of near vertical ice with several bulges for variety and ice chandeliers threatening the belayer.  In the middle, other climbers were beginning to try their hands at Code Blue (WI4, 60m) and Walk on the Wild Side to the far right (WI3+, 60m). 


 John Gray climbing Code Red (W14+)

Given no one was climbing Code Red, my crew decided to head over there.  I eagerly volunteered to be the resident belay bitch as I had no intention of starting out on this tough route with my generally limited ice climbing experience.  Carter and John each made quick work of the route on top rope; it was a very impressive sight to watch two strong confident climbers practically float up the ice.  Jim and Rydell also tried their hands on the route and I continued to be thankful I hadnít gotten on a climb that was over my head.

By that point it was beginning to get dark – we and the other stragglers hiked out by headlamp and watched one of the most spectacular moonrises I have ever seen. A glorious meal of pasta greeted us when we returned to the Lost Trail Lodge and the bluegrass band returned to keep up the festive vibe for the rest of the evening.

 The next morning was clear and beautiful.  Most of the climbers left that morning to end the weekend and return to their daily lives.  I was very glad John and I opted for extending the trip and staying Sunday night as well.  We were able to hike back in to the climbs and enjoy a few more routes with just a handful of other climbers, mainly the dedicated event organizers. 

I tried Code Blue which was thought to be the easiest (given current conditions), but an unnerving start set the tone for the rest of the climb.  I had to surmount a bergschrund in order to even get on the ice which was no small feat for someone who is just 5í1Ē.  The ice seemed to be detached from the rock in several spots where you could look through gaping holes and see water running underneath it.  Most of my axe swings resulted in ďdinner platingĒ the ice and my mountaineering crampons struggled to bite enough as I put my weight on them.  After sufficiently thrashing about and being satisfied that I fully recollected just how tough ice climbing can be, I was relieved to return to terra firma in order to belay John one more time before calling it a day

 Strangely, as we helped the other climbers pack up camp and headed back to the lodge for the last time, I was already looking forward to next yearís camaraderie and sufferfest!  This short term memory of the fear and pain we sometimes experience while climbing is part of what makes us climbers.

Code Blue (WI4) on left and Walk on the Wild Side (WI3) on the right


From left to right - Jim Wilson, Tammy Doukas, John Gray, Emilie Cortes, Nancy Leech, Bill Clopton

The Navi and the Pine Tree

Lisa Barboza

I want to be a Navi. Avatar, Jamesís Cameronís new movie – stirs the soul, even though  the violent scenes of military hardware and the arrogance of men is unsettling.  Imagine; a world that you could tap into- your neural network hair-tail tapping into a planetís neural network and synapses.  I have always looked at trees – and noticed that they seemed to be hands clasped upon sky, and roots connected in earth – and realized that if we could just see it – we are all connected....Avatar the movie - for it is really a manifesto of a planet (our planet?)  defending itself – a collective unconscious extended not just to living human synapse and neuron but to cellulose, lignin, and reptilian medulla oblongata.  What if we really could tap into our earth – our own little spaceship and harbor hurtling through the heavens – I feel that I can.  But most seem to be oblivious – some are city and technology bound only to the pulse of electricity and digital broadcast of human tumult.  But to listen, just stop and listen to the sounds of Hyla Regilla croaking for sex (and life) on a winterís eve. To the sound of a red-tailed hawk – crying in the sunset gloom – to the whoosh of a golden eagleís wings as s(he) passes by you – surfing the vagaries of the wind. And the blowing wind bringing earthís latest pronouncement on the affairs of men.  To be one with ancient oaks, and moss, the smell of moist earth and healthy microorganisms. I want to be a Navi.

 So now that brings me to the pine tree.  In reading blogs about Avatar – for some, there is a curious sort of depression setting in – they bemoan the loss of our rainforest world, our nature, our essence – they want to live in the world of the Navi.  But they live in cities, and they do not venture forth to the wilds. But that world of the Navi is all around us – just walk out your door, and listen. Walk far, travel light, breath deep, and trust the weather gods.  Sleep on the ground, near earth as much as you can.  I see you.

 That we are one with the earth is Native People Truth. But we are all there.  We feel the earthís tongs pulling at us – and we are longing, longing for the feeling of being one with it.  We know it is there.  A long time ago, before we were born, John Muir felt it.  He knew.  He worked to explain it to a world that was bent on Manifest Destiny, Industrial Revolution and fortune and power, and the succumbing of Nature to the likes of man. And in those early years, he stood upon a rock in the middle of a raging Kingís River at Roadís End to bring good tidings to our great grandparents. And we listened.  So You! Listen to the wind blowing through the boughs of a whitebark pine. Listen to the sounds of the earth. Stay at an alpine meadow and listen to the beauty. Follow the sun to the depths of the earth and watch it rise over mountain. And if you look for a Delphinus constellation in high summer and breathe the air on high, You are a Navi. I want to be a Navi.

                                    Elected Officials

    Jesper Schou / schou@sun.stanford.edu


Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler

    Louise Wholey / PCSchair@gmail.com

    21020 Canyon View Road, Saratoga, CA       95070


Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes)

    Emilie Cortes / mountaineerchica@gmail.com


            Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor

    Judy Molland / screeeditor@gmail.com

PCS World Wide Web Publisher
    Joe Baker/ pcs@joebaker.us

    1975 Cordilleras Rd, Redwood City, CA         94062


Scree is the monthly newsletter of the Peak Climbing Section of the Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter.  Current and back issues are posted on the web in PDF and HTML.

Our official website is http://www.peakclimbing.org.  Joining the PCS is easy.  Go to   http://www.peakclimbing.org/join

PCS Announcement Listserv

If you join the PCS Announcement Listserv you will receive announcements and updates of trips and meetings. Use the http://lists.sierraclub.org/SCRIPTS/WA.EXE?A0=LOMAP-PCS-ANNOUNCE&X=&Y= web page.

Climbing Classifications

The following trip classifications are to assist you in choosing trips for which you are qualified. No simple rating system can anticipate all possible conditions.
    Class 1: Walking on a trail.
    Class 2: Climbing using hands for balance.
    Class 3: Climbing requires the use of hands, maybe a rope.
    Class 4: Requires rope belays.
    Class 5: Technical rock climbing.

Trips may also be rated by level of exertion: easy, moderate, strenuous, or extreme.

Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Friday, February 26. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month.