July 2010     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 44 , No. 7


This issue is dedicated to the memory of Gretchen Luepke Bynum, who passed away on July 3, 2010, after a two and a half month battle with Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease. A memorial service will be held in August.

General Meeting

Date          July 13, 2010

Time          7:00 – 9:00

Where       Wildwood Park

                  Saratoga, CA

(Directions below)

Annual BBQ and Gear Exchange                        

The July meeting is our annual BBQ and gear exchange. Bring a dish to share, your own specialty, or choose according to first letter of your last name: A-G Main course (think grilled items) H-M Appetizer N-S Veggie or Fruit side T-Z Dessert Bring your own beverage (alcohol is ok), $3 to cover reservation and BBQ coals, dinnerware, friends,family, and used gear. Bring the kids to climb on the play structures. Bring whatever gear you find cluttering your garage or closet. Someone may want or need it. You can even charge something for it, but experience indicates that the lower the price the more likely for a sale. Free is best!

Directions from 280

Exit at De Anza Blvd; go south for about 5 miles, crossing Hwy 85 about half way to Saratoga. The road changes name at Prospect Rd to Saratoga Sunnyvale Rd. At the village traffic light at the intersection of DeAnza Blvd, Big Basin Way, Saratoga Ave and Saratoga Los Gatos Road, turn right on Big Basin Way and drive part way through downtown Saratoga. Turn right on 4th St, the first through street on the right. The park is at the bottom of the hill on your right. Park in park parking (appears to be mostly hotel parking for Saratoga Inn), or park across the road, or along the road, where-ever parking is allowed.

Google     http://tinyurl.com/6cpch4

Editorís Notes

This issue of Scree is packed with exciting trip announcements and trip reports, so start reading and enjoy!

We hope to see you all at our BBQ and Gear Exchange on Tuesday, July 13. Please dig into your gear closet and bring along all the old gear you haven't used for a while.

See you there! Judy

Chair column

The Season is Upon Us.

Yes, it is finally July and the main part of the climbing season is upon us. Lots of snow this year, so it may be a bit different from what we are used to, and in any case we have a bunch of trips planned, so time to climb!

But you all know the old record. We could always use another few good trips. Not to mention getting the descriptions of the planned trips to Louise. Knowing all of you I can't imagine that great climbing plans are not being hatched, so don't be shy! Send them to Louise!

Oh yes, and let's not forget to play the other side of the old record: I could use a few speakers for the rest of the year.

See you in the mountains!


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.


July 11 - Castle Peak Day Hike

Leader: James Wholey

July 23 - 26 - McGee Creek

Leader: Lisa Barboza

July 25 - 31 - Run the Table - Table Mountain and More

Leader: Louise Wholey

August 8 - 19 - Peak Baggers Special

Leader: Louise Wholey

August 21 - 23 - Mts. Thompson, Powell

Leader: Aaron Schuman

August 28 - 29 – Unicorn, Cockscomb,

Echo Peak #4

Leader: Ron Karpel

August 28 - 31 - Center Basin Trip

Leader - Jesper Schou

September 4 - 7 - Puite, Petit, Volunteer

Leader - Louise Wholey

September 11 - 13 - Tehipite Dome

Leader - Louise Wholey

September  25 - 26- Merced Peak

Leader - Louise Wholey

PCS Trip Details

Castle Peak Day Hike

Goal: Castle Peak (9,103')

Location: Donner Summit

Date: July 11

Leader: James Wholey

Difficulty: Class 1

We will meet at the north end of the Castle Peak - Boreal Ridge turnoff road from Highway 80 (0.6 miles west of Donner Pass). This will be a beginners' day hike up Castle Peak, and a likely return along a ridge to Basin Mountain and back past Peter Grubb hut.

McGee Creek

Goal: Mt. Baldwin (12,615'), Red Slate (13,123'), Red & White (12,816')

Location: McGee Creek, Eastside

Date: July 23 - 26

Leader: Lisa Barboza

Difficulty: Intermediate to Strenuous

Join us for this intermediate to strenuous trip up in the eastern Sierra to attempt to climb 3 peaks in three days. This area is of particular geological interest because of the dolomitic rock formations and the large number of hanging roof pendants, as well as the unique wildflower biomes that this geology supports. Day 1: Hike in up McGee Creek 1200 feet, climb Mt. Baldwin, class 2, 3000' gain. (12,615'). Then camp at 9600 feet. Day 2: Move camp 2 miles, 1000 feet. Then climb Red Slate, class 1, 3000' gain, (13,123'). Possibly climb Red & White (12,816'). Then back to camp after a long day. Day 3: Hike out and drive home. You must be in good condition and have experience in class 3 climbing if you want to do all 3 peaks. If you're just interested in seeing some great wildflowers and some very interesting metamorphic rocks, and just want to climb the class 2 peaks, that's fine too. This has been a high snow year. Equipment required: boot crampons, ice axe, helmet, snow camping gear. This trip requires a completed medical form, and signing a liability waiver. If interested, please send your climbing resume to Lisa Barboza AT gd-ais.

Run the Table - Table Mountain and More

Goal:  Barnard Mt. (13,990'), Caltech Peak (13,832'), Picket Guard Peak (12,303'), Table Mountain (13,632'), Trojan Peak (13,947'), Tunnabora Peak (13, 563')

Location: Shepherd Pass, Eastside

Dates:            July 25 - 31

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Class 2, 3, mountaineering experience required

Backpack over Shepherd Pass and up the Milestone drainage to camp (2 days). Climb Table from the southeast, class 3, move camp to JMT. Climb Cal Tech from the SE, move camp to Bighorn Plateau. Climb Barnard and Trojan via SW slope of Barnard, traverse to Trojan. Climb Tunnabora via Wallace Lake if time and start hiking out. Hike out. If we get ahead of schedule, maybe climb Picket Guard. This is a moderately difficult trip with some challenging class 3 climbing and difficult route-finding on Table. The other peaks are much easier - class 2. Getting over Shepherd Pass may require ice axe and crampons. Mountaineering experience is required, including travel over snow using ice axe and crampons; also recent travel at altitude and excellent physical condition are required. Equipment required: crampons, ice axe, helmet. People need to know how to handle being belayed. This trip requires Sierra Club membership, filling out a medical form and signing a liability waiver.

Peak Baggers Special

Goal:  Ten Peaks in Ten Days

Location: Sequoia National Park

Dates:            August 8 - 19

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Strenuous, long trip, recent mountaineering experience required.

Join us for 10 peaks in 10 days starting with a hike on the High Sierra Trail from Crescent Meadow and ending in Mineral King. The targeted peaks are Lion Rock (12,360'), Triple Divide (12,634'), Stewart (12,220'), Eagle Scout (12,000'), Red Kaweah (13,720'), Mt. Kaweah (13,802'), Lippincott (12,265'), Eisen (12,160'), Sawtooth (12,343'), and Needham (12,520'). Peaks are class 2 - 3. Contact louisewholey@yahoo.com

Mts. Thompson and Powell

Goal:  Thompson(13,494') and Powell (13,356')

Location: Sabrina Lake, Eastside

Dates:            August 21 - 23

Leader: Aaron Schuman   

Difficulty: Class 2

We'll enter the John Muir Wilderness at Lake Sabrina (above the town of Bishop), and hike on-and-off trail past rockbound lake basins to our camp at Sunset Lake, below the stunning cliff face of Mt. Powell. We'll trek up to the saddle between our two peaks, and then climb them from the gentler southwest and southeast sides. From the summits, we'll enjoy spectacular views of the north faces of the Palisades. We'll camp a second night at Sunset Lake and hike back out the way we entered.

Unicorn, Cockscomb, Echo Peak #4

Goals: Unicorn (10,880'), Cockscomb (11,065'), Echo Peak #4 (~11,000')

Location: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite

Dates:            August 28 - 29

Leader: Ron Karpel           

Difficulty: Class 4, rock, rope

Driving through Tuolumne Meadows one cannot but admire the surrounding peaks. Yet we are often too rushed to reach mountains in faraway places. This time we will stop and enjoy the ones nearby. To add to our fun, we have chosen peaks that require a bit of technical climbing. To be able to use ropes and climb as a group, the technical section is limited to one short pitch of class 4 or so. Participants must have previous mountaineering experience, must have experience with rock route of at least class 3, be experienced in tying in and giving top rope belay, and be in excellent physical condition. Not for beginners!!

This is an official Sierra Club trip. You have to be a Sierra Club member. You must include your Sierra Club number with your application to be considered.
Contact: Ron Karpel, ronny AT karpel.org
Co-contact: Charles Schafer, c_g_schafer AT yahoo.com

Center Basin Trip

Goal:  Mt. Keith (13,977'), Mt. Bradley (13,289'), possibly University Peak (13,632')

Location: Independence, Eastside

Dates:            August 28 - 31

Leader: Jesper Schou       

Difficulty:  Class 2 or perhaps 3

Day 1: Start at Onion Valley, go over Kearsage Pass, head south on the John Muir Trail, camp near Golden Bear Lake - 14 miles. Days 2 and 3: Climb Keith and Bradley. Day 4: Pack up and return to the trailhead. We may throw in University for good measure, depending on time, weather, and the desires of the participants and whims of the leader. The trek to Center Basin is quite long, but the trip should be easy from a technical point of view.

Piute, Petit, Volunteer

Goal:  Piute (10,541'), Petit (10,788'), Volunteer (10,481')

Location: Twin Lakes, Northern Yosemite

Dates:            September 4 - 7

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Strenuous

This is a "fast and light" style trip designed to cover many miles per day. The plan is: Day 1: Hike to Seavey Pass from Twin Lakes -15.2 mi, 2000' climbing; Day 2: Climb Volunteer and Petit from camp - 15.5 mi, 3600' climbing; Day 3: Climb Piute, hike to Peeler Lake - 14.4 mi, 5400' climbing; Day 4: Hike out, 8 mi. A trip report describing the route and climbing is available in the October 2008 Scree. Strong and fast backpacking skills plus recent mountaineering experience required. Contact Louise Wholey: louisewholey at yahoo.com

Tehipite Dome, Tunemah

Goal:  Tehipite Dome (7,708') and Tunemah Peak (11,894')

Location: Wishon Reservoir, Rancheria TH

Dates:            September 11 - 13

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Strenuous, very long hike

Hike through the lovely forests of the southern parts of Sierra National Forest through Crown Valley to Tehipite Dome. We plan to climb the dome and return to camp below Kettle Dome the first day, covering about 20 miles. The second day is a 20-mile day hike into the NP through Blue Canyon to climb Tunemah and return to camp. The last day hike out, about 15 miles. Participants should be extremely well-conditioned for long light-weight backpacking and long multiple-day hikes. Contact: louisewholey@yahoo.com

Merced Peak

Goal:  Merced Peak (11,726')

Location: Yosemite National Park

Dates:            September 25 -26

Leader: Louise Wholey     

Difficulty: Intermediate

Backpack from Sky Ranch Road to Upper Ottoway Lake via Chiquito and Merced Passes. This route takes us about 15 miles to camp through the southernmost regions of Yosemite National Park. Sunday climb Merced Peak (class 2) and hike out. Contact: louisewholey@yahoo.com

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.

August 20 - 22 - Mount Sill

Leader: Kelly Maas

October 2010 – Nepal

Leader: Warren Storkman

Private Trip Details

Mount Sill

Goal: Mt. Sill (14,162')

Location: Big Pine, Eastside

Dates: August 20 - 22

Leader: Kelly Maas

Difficulty: Class 4 and snow

Mt. Sill: One guide book quotes Walter Starr, Jr as having written ". . . it can be said to be the [ultimate] of all Sierra peaks in the extent and quality of the views it offers." It's also part of the main Palisades massif, overlooking the largest glacier in the Sierra. I'll lead a crack team of qualified adventurers up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek, across this glacier and up the North Couloir route. The difficult section isn't long, but participants must be solid on class 3 and must have some ice axe and crampon experience. A rope will be used. If you think you have what it takes, send me your resume. Map: Tom Harrison Kings Canyon High Country, or North Palisade & Split Mtn USGS 7.5 min. Leader: Kelly Maas, 408-378-5311, kellymbase-pcs@yahoo.com


Location: Tibet

Dates:            October 2010

Leader: Warren Storkman

Climb both Gokyo Ri and Kala Patar. 19-day camping trek, $1600.00 For more details, contact Warren Storkman: email dstorkman@aol.com or phone 650-493-8959.

Trip Reports

 Lassen and Brokeoff

May 15 - 16, 2010

By Rick Booth

Last year, 2009, was a stone loser for mountaineering, and pretty much any climbing, for that matter.  This year is supposed to be different and lots of projects have been scheduled.  The only problem is the off year didn't exactly improve my conditioning.  So when Linda Sun invited me to climb Shastina with Scott Kreider and her in a day over the May 15-16 weekend I said sure.  As much as Linda is my friend and would like to do her part to help me back into hiking and mountaineering condition, I have a sneaking suspicion she is tired of waiting for my sorry slow self to get up the trail.  In any case I was going to hike Shastina, even if I was dog slow.  Besides, I had never been up Shastina and was curious.

Then Scott invited Arun.  That was ok.  Then Arun wanted to pack in and go from a high camp.  Ah, hmm, ok.  Then the weather forecast started looking sort of junky for Shasta.  Then Arun wanted to go to Lassen.  Ah, hmm, maybe.  Lassen wasn't going to be as interesting as Shastina.  Check the weather, climb Shastina, no, climb Lassen, no climb Shastina, no, climb Lassen.  Then I invited Vicky.  Somewhere during 7,456 emails deciding the goal for the weekend, Vicky sent an email, "has anyone climbed the North Ridge on Lassen?".   Lassen has a North Ridge?  Who knew?  Anyway, it looked like we could drive in the north entrance and drive to where the road is no longer plowed and park.  This would put us in line for the North Ridge on Lassen.  Another 1,233 emails later we all decided we were going to try the North Ridge on Mt Lassen.  Whew.  Sort of.  Then Arun invited a friend from one of his Himalayan trips.

May 14 rolls around and Arun has to pick up his friend at the airport.  So, Scott and Linda have to drive together, Vicky and I have to drive together, and Arun and his friend have to drive together.  The friend dude is German, flying from Germany on a German airplane.  The flight is late.  So much for German precision.  Arun can now only go for Sunday, maybe.  The flight gets even later.  Arun cancels.  So much for 8,689 emails.  Friday night, Vicky, Linda, Scott and I all arrive at Red Bluff at the motels and agree to meet at the end of the north road in Lassen National Park at about 9 AM or so.  This part of the park can be easily accessed from Redding on a decent highway or over a bunch of weird back roads directly from Red Bluff.

Vicky and I headed for the north entrance and met up with Scott and Linda at the parking lot at the end of the plowed road.  This is about ten miles past Manzanita Lake and past the so-called Devastation Zone.  The North Ridge is easily visible from the parking lot.  We loaded up our stuff, took some pictures, strapped on the snowshoes, and headed across the little forest in the direction of the ridge at about 10:30 AM.   Once on the ridge we headed up and stayed as much on it as possible until the ridge flattens out somewhat.  There is a false summit at the end of the ridge, and from there the route drops down slightly and then back up to the summit of Mt Lassen.  Most of the route was covered in snow and ice ax and crampons were useful, if not mandatory.  The exposed rock was the junkiest stuff I have ever seen.  This would be brutal during the summer or any other low snow time of year.  We took a bunch of pictures and headed down, glissading here and there where we could.  We were back at the car around 4:30 PM.  It is about five to six miles round trip to the summit of Lassen from the parking lot.  Scott wanted to head for home and not climb Brokeoff. so he packed up his stuff and Linda, Vicky and I sat around drinking beer, before heading into Redding for dinner.

Scott and Linda heading up toward North Ridge of Mt Lassen

North Ridge and summit of Mt Lassen

Looking back at the North Ridge of Mt Lassen.  Vicky Wong descending from false summit.

Scott Kreider goofing off next to summit "thing" on Mt Lassen

Vicky Wong chugs up to the summit of Mt Lassen

We stayed at Best Western in Red Bluff again and got up Sunday morning and headed up to the south entrance of Lassen NP.  The road is only open to the chalet, as usual.  We parked there and got out the snowshoes and headed up into the forest and then turned toward the south or southeast ridge.  This isn't quite the way the route goes since it is supposed to start at a turnout before the park entrance but this worked out fine.  We headed up to the ridge and snow shoed all the way to the summit.  That is a pretty snappy drop off on the north side of Brokeoff.  Anyway, we glissaded and snow shoed back to the car and headed for home.  Pretty uneventful.

Final Notes:

The standard approach for Lassen from the south entrance is about five miles to the summit or ten plus miles round trip.  Maybe a little longer.  The North Ridge ascent is about five to six miles round trip from the road.  It is quite direct.  The traverse of the ridge and the slight descent before the ascent to the summit is more technical than the standard south route.  The only disadvantage is the lack of interesting volcanic features that are present in abundance on the south route.  An ice ax and crampons plus snow shoes were needed for our ascent.  There are a few steep sections near the top of the ridge.

Mount Everest

May 25, 2010

By Enrique Rodriguez


View of Everest from Base Camp, with the typically 15 - 20 km plume coming off the summit. Base Camp is visible over my left shoulder.

On May 24th at 11pm, I stepped out of the tent I had been sharing with expedition leader Dan Mazur at Everest's 8300m High Camp.   Despite a down suit and some of the best gloves and boots money can buy, I could feel my hands and feet solidify as my capillaries contracted in a desperate bid by my body to adjust to the cold of the night in the Death Zone. 


Camp 1 (North Col) looking towards the summit

All I could think about were reasons why I shouldn't attempt a summit bid:  I had barely slept for the last 2 nights at lower camps, had gotten no rest this evening on our steep and rocky tent platform, and had barely eaten in 2 days.  I had trouble keeping food down, due to an apparently common affliction of high-altitude climbers, gastric reflux.  I was battling gastric reflex with Prilosec and magnesium tablets, diarrhea with Ciprofloxacin, and fighting the dreaded high-altitude hack known as "Khumbu cough" with the anti-inflammatory Diclophenac.  I was not fresh, having climbed almost 10,000 ft over the last week from Chinese Base Camp at 5,545m (18,192 ft) to Camp III at 8,300m (27,224 ft). 


Sherpas hauling gear to Camp 2. Cho Oyu is in the background. The near peak on the right is Changtse.

To make matters worse, 2 sherpas dragged a dying Japanese climber into camp (eventually becoming the 3rd death on the north side).  Climbers from the previous day were still coming in from 24 hour long summit bids launched the day before, some covered in ice and gasping "help me" as they were led into tents and given warm drinks.  I did not feel strong, but that was just too bad; we were in the midst of a rare weather window where the winds had dropped from 80 mph to 20 mph on the summit.

To me, stepping forward in the face of such adversity to launch a grueling 18-19 hour endeavor is the quintessential act that defines high-altitude mountaineering.  Or, as Dan Mazur told me the day before, "mountaineering is about coping."  In a moment of weakness at Camp II, I had admitted to him that I didn't think I was cut out for 8,000m climbing.  When he asked "why?" I listed all the things that were going wrong with me.  He laughed and gave me a bit of a pep talk, saying, in short, that no one over acclimates like they do below 7,000m and that the best I could do was ignore all the pains and difficulties.  Easier said than done.  Three people on our team quit within the first hour that night, the steepness of the climb combined with visions of carnage at Camp III resulting in outright fear and thoughts of "this is not for me" on their minds.

Most Everest climbers seem to be in agreement that the summit bid is, in retrospect, a relatively enjoyable day. The endless days of trudging from camp-to-camp, at high-altitude, not knowing whether a weather window will ever come, are past.  The thrill of finally heading to the summit and surmounting the various infamous obstacles makes the day go by in a flash.  For starters, the climbing is actually "fun," requiring extensive use of your hands and incredible views.  Keep in mind this is for the north side, which is considered more technical than the more common south side via Nepal.  I was really surprised how steep some of the climbing was and in a few spots thought I must be off-route due to the difficulty.

Above Camp III you pass through the Yellow Band and follow a long diagonal climb to the northeast ridge.  The route continues along the ridge occasionally traversing just off the ridge, where possible.  In three separate locations you are faced with rock faces that you can't go around - these are the infamous First, Second, and Third Steps.  The First Step is inconsequential, but on both the Second and Third Step some combination of effort and fear caused me to tear off my oxygen mask at the top of each and gasp for air.  The Second Step, in particular, consists of 2 ladders with a rock ramp between them.  After topping out on the lower ladder, you are required to step along a very exposed ledge.  The exposure seemed unreal enough that I had to look up the distance when I got home - the drop is a reputed 10,000 ft.

An estimated 120 frozen bodies remain on the upper reaches of Everest.  I only saw six.  My first encounter with a dead body was the infamous "green boots," so named for his plastic boots.  Traversing just off the ridge, you see a body in a down suit curled up in the fetal position under an overhang.  At first I thought it could be someone resting, until I noticed the way the ice and snow held the body.  Most of the bodies I saw are in this position, laid down as if to sleep.  Only one body is particularly ghastly.  Another lies at the base of the Third Step and many people trip over the body when coming down on rappel.


Approaching the ladder of the Second Step, on the way to the summit.

Above the Third Step you climb a 50 degree snow slope. A storm the day before had covered the route and buried any fixed lines.  At this point many of us thought the summit bid was over.  Fortunately, a number of sherpas arrived and, giving up on digging out the old rope, simply laid new rope.  Once through the deep snow, we climbed the multiple ledges of the Dihedral that lead to the summit ridge and, shortly thereafter, the summit, covered with prayer flags, came into view.

Just past noon on May 25 I walked onto the summit of Everest.  A number of us reflected later that we felt absolutely no elation upon summiting.  All I could think about was a mental checklist I had of obstacles I had to surmount to get back down.  In particular, I wasn't sure how I'd get down the Second Step.  I thought that if I could just get over the Second Step I would be home free.


On the summit with Peter Kinloch (left)

On the summit with me was Scottish mountaineer Peter Kinloch.  I had gotten to know Peter quite well during the previous weeks.  Peter was recently engaged to a beautiful Turkish girl and was looking forward to a new job when he got back.  Throughout the trip he was working on securing an apartment for his new job.  Peter was an extremely proud Scotsman, hailing from the Isle of Skye.  As we sat together on the summit, Peter pulled out flag after flag.  As each one flapped violently in the wind, I was recruited to hold one end while a nearby sherpa took pictures with Peter's camera.  Sadly, Peter's camera is still somewhere in the Death Zone, along with Peter.  The visible bodies along the northeast ridge now presumably total seven.

A constant wind was blowing ice into our faces on the summit.  After taking pictures, we began to descend.  Almost immediately, Peter slipped and fell down the Dihedral.  Only a fixed line prevented his falling the 10,000 feet into Tibet.  He stumbled a few times on the snow slope.  He completely screwed up his rappel down the Third Step, decking hard enough to result in an audible leaking of oxygen from his regulator, which a sherpa somehow secured.  At the top of the Second Step he said something to the effect of needing help getting down.  We all needed help so I didn't get his meaning at first.  I wasn't sure if the best way down the Second Step was to attempt to down-climb the ladders or to rappel.  At this point Peter mentioned he was effectively blind.  His first attempt at rappelling the upper ladder ended with his hanging upside down.  With a bit more guidance, he made it to the base of the upper ladder.  At this point a co-leader, David O'Brien, and at least 2 sherpas were involved in helping him and more sherpas were on the way.  I started having increasing trouble with gastric reflux, constantly fighting off the need to vomit.  Unfortunately, my pared-down summit pack didn't include any of the medications I had been taking.  Peter apologized a number of times for holding me up and I excused myself from the ensuing rescue effort, certain I would see Peter soon, back at Camp III.

The rest of the descent went quite easily.  Rappelling made short-order of some grueling sections that had taken hours to ascend.  Finally, just below the First Step, I couldn't fight off the gastric reflux any longer and I puked up an enormous amount of gastric acid, scaring a nearby sherpa who gave me a look that said "oh, no, we're going to have to rescue you, too."  But visibility was actually good, the sun was out a bit, and Camp III was visible way below, so I took the first sit-down rest of the day and got to soak in the view out over the North Col, Changtse, the Rongbuk Glacier, Cho Oyu, and all of Tibet.

Back at Camp III, just as I was getting into my sleeping bag, a waiting teammate entered my tent and informed me that he had no sleeping bag. Apparently in some sort of misunderstanding one of the sherpas on our team told him he wouldn't need it, probably assuming he would pass Camp III and attempt to make it to Camp II the same day he came off the summit.  So, yes, in our down suits we man-cuddled under my shared sleeping bag for the night at Camp III.  Without separate zipped-shut mummy bags we shivered the entire night.  Around 5 am the rescue team returned from the ridge and we got the bad news that they had to abandon Peter on the northeast ridge.  After helping him move along the ridge for almost 12 hours, he had become uncooperative, throwing an oxygen bottle down the north face and refusing dexamethasone injections.  Without the will to live, he was impossible to move.  Facing increasing symptoms of high-altitude sickness themselves, the rescuers descended, now having spent 30 hours on their summit days.

We woke that morning around 10am.  Despite repeated prodding of each other, the full lethargy of the Death Zone kept us in our tent until late in the afternoon.  Finally, around 4pm, we began our descent, accompanying the extremely tired David O'Brien.  Some epic down-climbing in a storm ensued.  At some point after 2 am we arrived back at Camp I on the North Col.  I was so happy to finally receive a hot bowl of noodles ... which I promptly vomited into the tent vestibule.


Parting shot of the mostly empty Advanced Base Camp and a rare low wind day up on the summit pyramid

We woke up that morning to find the sherpas were dismantling our tents.  The message was clear - get out.  We generally agreed, earlier in the trip, that getting below the North Col headwall would be the final hurdle before we felt we were completely out of danger.  What had taken us 50 minutes earlier in the trip now took us 3 hours, but we made it safely back to Advanced Base Camp (ABC).  After a solid night's rest, the camp was once again dismantled out from underneath us.  Probably a good thing, since we likely would have delayed leaving for as many days as we could.  With many of the other teams already gone and much of our campsite dismantled, ABC looked and felt much like it must have back in the 1920's when the British pioneered this route.  I ate breakfast that morning at a card table in the open air with David O'Brien and we joked that we were missing our sterling silver flatware and fine china, a la  early British explorers.  After packing my gear for the yaks, I descended below ABC and paused to soak in one last view of the summit of Everest and to say goodbye to Peter up on the skyline, before beginning the final 10 mile hike out.

Mt. Harrington

June 16 - 17, 2010

By Louise Wholey

Lisa and I left San Jose at 8 am Wednesday June 16, ate lunch at the wonderful restaurant in Grants Grove of Kings Canyon National Park, and hiked to camp at Frypan Meadow that afternoon in about 4 hours.

We rose early, 4:30 am, to climb Harrington, summited at about 10 am, returned to camp and hiked out to our car that afternoon, arriving at 5 pm.  Dinner at the same restaurant topped our day.  We arrived back

in San Jose by 10 pm.

Steve Eckert's report with some wonderful detail and great photos is posted

at http://climber.org/reports/2010/1757.html.

              The Black Diamond

June 26 - 27, 2010

By Lisa Barboza

Photography by Daryn Dodge and Louise Wholey 

Participants: Daryn Dodge, Corrine Livingston, Louise Wholey, Eddie Sudol, Lisa Barboza

Saturday, June 26, Baxter Pass TH to high Camp, 5.2 miles (4825' gain)

Our merry band set out to climb Diamond and Black from the Baxter Pass trailhead.  We started up the trail at 7AM on a hot Saturday morning.  What we found astounded us. This area was badly burned in the Owens Complex fire of July 2007.  The blackened skeletons of Black Oak trees surrounded us, and even the privy burned during the fire.  But what destruction the lightning-strike fire wrought, nature is healing. 

The wildflower display was absolutely stunning and I recommend anyone to go to the Baxter Pass Trailhead in the spring to witness it.  It was another world.  Towering Panamint Beardtongue, Bush Mallow, four colors of lupine, and an amazing array of plants surrounded the trail. The fire awoke the seeds laying dormant underground for decades and the lack of competition produced this spectacular display.  The aroma of the lupine was almost overpowering, like being in a greenhouse with exotic plants – but this was outside and stretched for miles.

Panamint Beardtongue

We kept counting the plants – at the end of the trip we had identified 88 different species of non-woody plants either in bloom or just about ready to.  The trail is not hard to follow.  There are 3 crossings of Oak Creek, with the last being the most interesting.  Spring runoff was in full flood, and some waded across.  After the last crossing the trail becomes overgrown with mugwort and stinging nettle as it climbs a hill.  Keep going, and our high camp was actually above the campground noted on the USGS Topo Map. That campground is on the first granite bench, ours was on the second granite bench at elevation 10,400', right by a rushing stream with budding willows (Waypoint KMP626).   It took us from 7AM to 12:30 to gain the 4825 feet, and 5.2 miles from the trailhead. 

We opted not to climb either peak, and spent the rest of the afternoon acclimatizing and conducting our happy hour.  Daryn had brought some red wine; we had crackers and cheese for hors dí oeuvres, and watched the afterglow of high summer fade to the horizon.

Sunday, June 27th – Climb Black, then Diamond, hike out – 4300' gain, 5.5 miles for the two climbs. And then hike out 5.2 miles to the TH

We arose at 4:20 AM for a 5:15 AM start to find another climber had joined our group during the night. Eddie had been up late (9:30 PM), and a dayhiker who climbed both Baxter and Acrodectes peaks from the Baxter Pass Trailhead got caught after dark trying to find his way back and was off route.  Eddie provided warm clothing and turned a certain miserable night into just an uncomfortable night for this fellow, Dan.  Then we were off – we proceeded up the drainage and upslope on soft snow, and with crampons, headed for Black (13,291'), for a climb of 2800 feet.  We crossed the raging creek on a small snow bridge and headed up the northeast face above the moraine.  The snow early in the morning was good for crampons and we made great time. There were significant patches of bare rock and soil in between snow climbs.  We kept counting new species and saw fantastic blooms of Polemonium and Alpine gold (Hulsea algida).  We thought we might see some Bighorn sheep as we were in a protected area – but no sightings.

Climbing below Black

Because the snow started to soften, postholing became frequent and we elected to stay on a rock rib.  Above the rock rib, the snow became quite steep and we put on our crampons again.  We were able to kick steps, but because of the lack of runout (a rock band below us), we used crampons and finally attained the summit ridge.  From there, it was but a short ridge scramble on CL2 to get to the summit.

Our group on the summit

We summitted at 9:15 AM, spent a leisurely half hour on the summit – the register was placed in 2005 (Darynís note from his first time up was still in the ammo box lamenting the loss of a register which had dated back to 1958) – and then descended to traverse over to Diamond.  The views of Sixty Lakes Basin, Clarence King, Cotter, and Gardiner were fantastic and we could see the Kaweahs and Whitney in the far distance.  The weather was clear and bright – some of the best visibility I have seen in the Sierra.Getting over to Diamond meant descending to 11,900' and traversing to the bottom of one of the numerous chutes.  We traversed above the twin tarns thick with blue glacial ice below us, and eventually down climbed a steep, loose rock rib above a 45 degree snow slope.  (Waypoint ROKBND) Conditions were good for glissading and so some used that technique, safely and quickly, to get to the 11,900' level.  From there, we traversed the upper rim of the snow bowl. 

Lisa above the downclimb to traverse

We had a clear view of the south-southeast face and east face of the chutes leading to the summit plateau.  The direct sun on the south face snow made it look like a soft, warm climb, and it was already becoming a warm day.  We elected to take the snow chute facing northeast up a narrow couloir.  It looked OK and Corrine mentioned that Ron Hudson had recommended it. The angle was approximately 30 degrees, up to 35, in spots.   It was somewhat protected from the rays of the sun, but our chief concern was rockfall. 

We had already seen a significant rockfall farther east on the south face of Diamond.  In fact, half way up, we encountered a zone of boulders in the snow, not melted in too deep, that indicated that large rockfall had been a recent occurrence.  Sobered by this evidence (gulp!), we quickly ascended the couloir and gained very loose rock near the top of the couloir.  From there, we gained the west ridge of Diamond, overlooking a broad summit plateau and snow bowl where the Topo map indicated permanent snow or a small glacier.  The ridge run was fun, short, with only 250 feet of gain to reach the summit.  A short snow traverse and we were able to summit at 1:35 PM.  The register dated from 2005, and Darynís note from that date was still there.  Someone had also stolen the register back then.  We werenít the first to summit in 2010.  But these are still infrequently climbed peaks.  Both Eddie and I had the same number of SPS peaks, 184.  We left at 2PM, since we wanted to hike out that day.We utilized the glissade technique to descend the south-southeast face that we had earlier elected not to climb. The snow was great for glissading and we descended 1200' in just a few minutes.  From there, we trudged back to camp, mostly on soft snow, arriving at camp at 3:45.  We were packed up and ready to leave by 4:30.  The only difficulty on the way down was the Oak Creek stream crossing –the melting snow had pushed up the level of the creek by a few inches and we waded across.  We arrived back at the cars at 7:30 PM to an even more spectacular wildflower display.  The lupines were really putting on an olfactory performance!  And the Panamint Beardtongue was absolutely fantastic.  After a pasta dinner at Corinneís house in Independence, we awoke at 4:30 AM for the drive back home.   A great time was had by all, and I really recommend these peaks.  And a visit to the Baxter Pass Trailhead in June is not to be missed – you will be amazed.Waypoints:

TOPO! GPS Data Format Deg NAD83 ElevFeet UTC-Time

KMP626,36.82898,-118.36928,10409,06/29/2010,21:30:30,26-JUN-10 12:23:15PM (our high camp)

BAXPTH,36.84461,-118.29736,NA,06/29/2010,21:30:30,BAXTER PASS TRAILHEAD 6000


DIAMOP,36.82639,-118.39003,NA,06/21/2010,19:52:38,DIAMOND PEAK


Kearsage Peaks

Oh, So Beautiful!

July 3 - 5, 2010

By Louise Wholey

We are so lucky to have such beautiful places as Kings Canyon National Park right in our backyard!  This year the peaks are still snowy and flowers are just beginning to press through Mother Earth to reach the sunlight at altitudes around 10,000 feet.  It is unbelievably beautiful!  I guess I said that already.

Camp at Kearsarge Lakes below Kearsarge Pinnacles

Our trip had a few hiccups getting underway.  Several issues with work thwarted potential attendees, but finally Aaron Schuman joined Jim and Louise Wholey aboard N2882W for the best way to get to Bishop – straight over the mountains – all of an hourís flight.

The targets for peak bagging were Bago and Rixford, but we could not pass Gould without climbing it.  Especially important, Aaron had to help his new-found Slovakian friends find their way to the top of their first-ever Sierra Peak.

Aaron Telling the History of the Sierra Nevada to the Slovakians

Many PCT hikers were heading down the trail to Independence for some R&R from the intensity of the trail.  Louise was almost part of the group with her Dirty Girl gaiters.  They really keep the trail dirt out and do not hook under the feet, so they are not injured by climbing and talus hopping.

Louise leads the way on the summit block of Mt. Gould

Bago was our first planned peak.  It was a delightful hike around the lakes and through the forest onto the old trail past Bullfrog Lake.  We continued on trails until they dropped to Charlotte Lake.  Then we attempted cross country travel on the same elevation, 10,700'.  The climbing was good on the ledges we encountered, but too much talus and some firm snow kept it from being the easiest route to the peak.  Our return was similar.  We dropped down to about 10,600' but still found difficult going with talus.  The peak itself was fun climbing up the more northern east ridge among widely spaced trees and easy-going shale.  The only significant snow was between the north and south summit where a large cornice had formed in the winter.  The view down Kingís Canyon was spectacular.

Kingís Canyon from Mt. Bago

We took the high trail back, passing above Bullfrog Lake, then climbed straight up the steep boulder and scree slope to the summit of Rixford.  With views such as these from the slopes of Rixford my mind was already planning one of my next adventures, to climb Deerhorn and the Videttes.

Videttes and Deerhorn rise above Bullfrog Lake

                        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 Wednesday, July 28. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month.