August 2012     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 46 , No. 8 |

General Meeting

Date          August 14, 2012

Time          7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Where       PCC

                  3921 E. Bayshore Road

                  Palo Alto, CA

Program   The Magic of the LIST

Former PCS Chair Louise Wholey will present a show on the wonderful peak-filled regions of our beloved High Sierra! Her focus will be on some of the climactic moments and desperate situations encountered during her progress through the Sierra Peaks Section list of 243 great summits -- which she completed on her birthday just a year ago (Aug. 13). That accomplishment was celebrated with many PCS members on and near the summit of Iron Mountain, followed by a wonderful party that evening at a Mammoth campground.

Sierra Peaks list finishers Daryn Dodge, Doug Mantle, John Hooper, Louise Wholey, Chris Libby; front: Bob Suzuki, Ron Hudson, Greg Gerlach. Photo by Kathy Rich.

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.


Tribute to Roger Payne

By Arun Mahajan

Roger Payne of the UK (living in Leysin, Switzerland), IFMGA guide and world class expedition alpinist was killed along with two clients as well as seven others due to a slab avalanche on the slopes of Mont Maudit, one of the peaks in the Mont Blanc massif, in the morning of the 12th of July, 2012.


A tribute from someone very fortunate to have shared a rope with him.

Roger Payne was our expedition leader and guide when the two of us, David Kinsella (Sydney, Australia) and me, Arun Mahajan (Palo Alto, California, USA) climbed peaks and explored in the Arralang Valley in the western part of the Indian state of Sikkim, in the Himalayas, in Oct/Nov-2011. This beautiful and unexplored region, under the shadow of Kangchenjunga, has peaks in the 6000m range and we explored two cols and climbed three peaks ranging from PD+ to D-.

Roger was an excellent mountaineer and guide and able to lead us to the summits with no climbing beta on the route. We were impressed by his skill and judgment and assessment of the terrain. He was also a wonderful companion over these three weeks,

ever cheerful and knowledgeable about the mountains and mountain training. He had a great work ethic, was always up before the both of us at high camp and always had the stove going, constantly melting snow to make water, sorting gear, organizing, preparing and so on. It seemed that he had immense stores of energy. The print as well as online editions of the Economist (July 21) has an obituary to him on their last page, a sure sign of how much respect he was held in.

After our trip, he very kindly sent me several of his excellently shot photographs of our climbs and we had stayed in touch and he was speculating of a joint Indo-Pak expedition to some peaks in the Karakoram near the Siachen Glacier in the future. This was another facet to Roger. He gave back so much to the mountains. There are stories of how he helped to highlight the situation in Siachen, of how he helped get hydro-electric capabilities to a remote region of the Karakoram when he was leading a British expedition to climb K2 in the early 90s and recently, his work with the people of Sikkim in building up their trekking and tourism infrastructure, as well as the personal time and effort he spent in training scores of young tourism aspirants in first aid, rescue etc. He was planning on yet another exploratory adventure in Sikkim this fall and I was very happy that he had included me in his team for this year as well; we had finalized plans just a week before his untimely death.

His climbing accomplishments would do many mountaineers proud with almost twenty years of expedition climbing and exploration in the greater ranges, climbs on the north wall of Changabang, foregoing his own attempt on K2 to singlehandedly bring down a stricken climber, climbs on the Ghasherbrum-s, first ascent on Grosvenor in China, several first ascents and exploration in Sikkim, first British climber on Pobeda, first and probably only ever alpine style climb of Nanda Devi-east, first ascent of the direct south face on Rasac

(ED+), the list goes on and on. He was probably the most knowledgeable person on the mountains of Sikkim with six or seven climbing trips there. There is an excellent article by him in the 2008 annual edition of the American Alpine Journal describing the regions and the various mountain zones and peaks of the Sikkim Himalaya. In several of his climbs, his partner was his wife Julie-Ann, a very accomplished mountaineer and guide. She was with him on the north face of Changabang, on Pobeda, on Nanda Devi-East (thereby becoming the first woman to summit this very technical and hard peak) and many others.

His passing leaves an immense void. I am deeply saddened by it and my thoughts are with his wife, Julie-Ann and his mom, whom he leaves behind.

While in Sikkim, I was reading "The Shining Mountain" and I asked Roger to sign it; now I will treasure his autograph on Peter Boardman's classic description of his climb on the west face of Changabang with Joe Tasker. Their climb on the west face of this peak was the hardest alpine climb of that time.

During our trip, Roger would often quote lines by Geoffrey Winthrop Young and I think that I may quote some of them here as being very apt:

"What if I live no more those kingly days? their night sleeps with me still.

I dream my feet upon the starry ways; my heart rests in the hill.

I may not grudge the little left undone; I hold the heights, I keep the dreams I won."

Arun Mahajan, 17th July, 2012, Palo alto, California.

 (About the photo above)

We named the peaks we climbed in Sikkim as the Bahini Group (The Sisters, in Nepali). The hardest, Prabha Bahin (Prabha = Morning Glow and Bahin = Sister), was climbed by Payne/Mahajan on 29th Oct, 2011. Elevation: 5500m / 18,045ft, rated rock-IV, snow III, AD+/D-. This photo shows Roger on the summit of Prabha Bahin. 

Editor's Notes

Arun Mahajan's tribute to Roger Payne, so beautifully written, reminds us all of the challenges and dangers that mountaineers face every day.

Our deepest condolences go out to Arun, and we thank him for sharing this moving tribute to Roger Payne with us.

Judy Molland

Chair Column

Now is the heart of climbing season, and I'm sure that most of you are out there climbing away (rather than reading Scree).  But we still have our monthly meetings -- on August 14, our own Louise Wholey will be showing scenes from all over our wonderful High Sierra, organized around her very rapid progression through the mammoth SPS List!  Our fall shows will include both Central & South American climbing, with only Oct. 9 still unscheduled.

The July picnic in Wildwood Park was a great success, with over two dozen participants.  My thanks to Mike Snadden and Jesper Schou for their good work helping get the fire going!

In the coming months, we need to have an election to select next year's club officers, and thus keep our organization moving forward.  The nominating committee will be put together in September (please contact me if you’re interested), and then the election will be in November, for the term starting in January 2013.  

Rod McCalley

Advance Trip Planning Schedule

Check out the excellent trip possibilities coming up this spring, summer, and fall.

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.

August 4 - 5 - Matterhorn Peak

Leader: Joe Baker

August 17 - 19 - Spatburgunder and Gewurztraminer (Red and White)

Leader: Aaron Schuman

September 14 - 16 - Tehipite Dome

Leader: Aaron Schuman

September 22 - 25 - Pioneer Basin

Leader: Terry Cline

September 29 - 30 - Black Hawk

Leader: Linda Sun

Late September - Early October

South Warner Wilderness Loop

Leader: Tim Hult

October 12 - 14 - Senator, You are no Mount Kennedy (part 2)

Leader: Aaron Schuman

PCS Trip Details

Matterhorn Peak

Goal: Matterhorn Peak (12,279')

Location: Twin Lakes, Eastside of the Sierras

Dates: August 4 - 5

Leader: Joe Baker

We'll meet at the trailhead for Robinson Creek at Mono Village Resort, the west end of Twin Lakes, on Saturday morning. (We are taking this trail, rather than Horse Creek, because we can only reserve for 4 on the Horse Creek trail.) We'll hike up the Robinson Creek trail, and camp on the other side of Mule Pass. That's about 14 miles and around 3500' of gain, so it will be a long, hot day, but all on trail. Next day we'll hike the short distance to Burro Pass, then up Matterhorn, and come back via the Horse Creek trail (8 miles). We should be back at our cars by late afternoon. Permit for 8. Leader Joe Baker. Contact Co-leader Judy Molland ( for more information.

Difficulty: Class 1 and 2, but strenuous

Spatburgunder and Gewurztraminer

Goal: Red and White Mtn (12,816')

Location: South of Mammoth, John Muir Wilderness

Dates: August 17 - 19

Leader: Aaron Schuman

From McGee Creek trailhead (8100) we’ll hike up the trail to Big McGee Lake (10400). We will climb the big class 2 slope of Red & White Mountain (12816) on Saturday and hike out on Sunday. In our first attempt on the mountain, in spring 2011, we were stymied by too much snow and not enough time for the trip. This year, the red and white wines shall be German and our fortune shall flow more freely. We’ll enjoy the impressive summit that rises hundreds of feet above the ridge, looking tough, but turning out to be a pleasant scramble up a colorful mass of unexposed rock. Leader: Aaron Schuman 650-968-9184.

Difficulty: Class 2

Tehipite Dome

Goal: Tehipite Dome (7708')

Location: Wishon Reservoir

Dates: September 14 - 16

Leader: Aaron Schuman

Tehipite is the tallest dome in the Sierra Nevada, standing higher by far over the Middle Fork of the Kings River than its famous sibling Half Dome stands over the Merced River. Tehipite would be a California landmark if only it were not so impossibly inaccessible. From an unnamed trailhead south of Wishon Reservoir (6800) in Sierra National Forest, 16 miles of up down up down trail lead us across Crown Creek (7881) to an anonymous point (8400) in Kings Canyon National Park, where

we begin 2 miles of cross country travel through forest and brush down to the base of the dome (7500). The summit itself is a class 3 climb, enlivened by an appalling drop of thousands of feet to the river below. Limit 4 participants.

Leader: Aaron Schuman a.j.Schuman AT gmail DOT com.

Pioneer Basin Color and Peaks

Goals: Mts Hopkins (12,304'), Crocker (12,458'), Stanford (13,973'), and Huntington (12,400')

Location: Pioneer Basin

Dates: September 22 - 25

Leader: Terry Cline

Difficulty: Class 2, 3

The fall colors are expected to be spectacular in Pioneer Basin, rivaling New Hampshire's.  Bring your camera!  We'll pack into a camp in the basin over Mono Pass from Mosquito Flat on Rock Creek.  From the pass we'll get a good look at the Mono Recesses.  From the basin we have a menu of peaks to climb the next two days: Mts Hopkins, Crocker, Stanford, and Huntington, with some unnamed summits along the ridge linking them.  The last day we'll hike out. 

Leader: Terry Cline,

Black Hawk

Goal: Black Hawk Mountain (10,348')

Location: West of Sonora Pass

Dates: September 29 - 30

Leader: Linda Sun

Difficulty: Class 2

Start from the Kennedy Meadow Resort, west of Sonora Pass in the Stanislaus National Forest. Sat backpack to camp, 8 miles with

2,900’ of gain. Sunday early morning climb the peak, and hike out. Contact
Arun for sign ups.

Leader(s): Linda Sun
Arun Mahajan

South Warner Wilderness Loop

Goal: Circumnavigate Warner Mtn Range

Location: NE California, about 20 miles from Alturas

Dates: End September/Beginning October

Leader: Tim Hult

Difficulty: Class 1 and 2

South Warner Wilderness Loop "Late September - Early October"
Objective of this 3- 4 day, 40 mile loop trip will be to circumnavigate the Warner Mountain Range in NE CA, about 20+ miles from Alturas. Leader is seeking partners interested in exploring dates for this trip and to discuss logistics. The loop trip begins and ends at Pepperdine trailhead with all travel except optional peaks on class 1 trail (Summit trail to Owl Creek Trail). Potential class 2 Peaks: Eagle Peak (9892 ft), Warrent Peak (9710 ft).
contact: timdhultatsbcglobaldotnet for a discussion of this trip, planning and timing.

Senator, You Are No Mount Kennedy (part 2)

Goal: Kennedy Mtn (11,433')

Location: Kings Canyon Cedar Grove

Dates: October 12 - 14

Leader: Aaron Schuman

Difficulty: Class 2

From Cedar Grove (5,035'), we’ll pack up the Copper Creek trail. We’ll set up camp in or

above Upper Tent Meadow (9,189'). Saturday, we’ll hike over Granite Pass (10,673') to the north side of the Monarch Divide, traverse up and down through the Volcanic Lakes basin, pass East Kennedy Lake (10,100'), climb Kennedy Mountain (11,433') and return to our camp. Memorial Weekend 2011, this trip was stopped at 11,000 feet by a blizzard. It’ll be a different experience as an October outing.

Leader: Aaron Schuman a.j.Schuman AT gmail DOT 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 18 - 19 - Mt. Warren, Mt. Goode

Leader: Matt Blum

August 25 - 26 - Bear Creek Spire

Leader: Terry Cline

September 1 - 3 - Hooper, Senger, Gemini, Seven Gables

Leader: Tim Hult

October, 2012 - Nepal

Leader: Warren Storkman

January, 2013 - Argentina

Leader: Warren Storkman

Private Trip Details

Mt. Warren, Mt. Goode

Goals: Mt. Warren (12,327'), Mt. Goode (13,085')

Location: Tioga Pass

Dates: August 18 - 19

Leader: Matt Blum

Difficulty: Class 2

Saturday we will climb Mt Warren (12327 ft) from the Warren Fork route (starting near the 9000 ft sign on the Tioga road just east of the Tioga pass).  Sunday we will climb Mt Goode (13085 ft) from South Lake going up the SE slope route (with maybe a short diversion to "Mt No Goode" just west of the main peak).  Both peaks give wonderful views and the routes are class 2.  We may visit a hot spring Saturday night if people are interested. Leader: Matt Blum (

Bear Creek Spire

Goal: Bear Creek Spire (13,720')

Location: Rock Creek, Eastside of the Sierra

Dates: August 25 - 26

Leader: Terry Cline

Difficulty: Class 4

Saturday we'll hike from Mosquito Flat to a camp at Dade Lake. Sunday we'll climb the

northeast buttress of Bear Creek Spire and descend the Ulrichs Route and if time allows climb Mt Dade (class 2) before returning to camp and hiking out. A rope will be carried since some class 4 climbing should be encountered near the summit. To shorten Sunday, we could do Dade on Saturday via the class 2 Hourglass route after setting up camp.

Leader: Terry Cline,

Hooper, Senger, Gemini, Seven Gables

Goals: Hooper Mt. (12,349'), Senger (12,286'), Gemini (12,088'), Seven Gables (13,080')

Location: Florence Lake

Dates: September 1 - 3

Leader: Tim Hult

Difficulty: Class 2,3,4

We will begin at Florence Lake ferry ride on September 1. Trip is rated at class 3/4 for some of the peaks, and 2 for others. Permit is for 4. Participants must be comfortable with climbing up to class 4 and knowledgeable on use of a rope and proper technique. Contact


Goal: Rara Lake

Dates: October, 2012

Leader: Warren Storkman

If you are interested in Nepal, October 2012, and going to Rara Lake in the remote Mugu District, contact Warren Storkman:

No obligation, but I need your email address.


Goal: Aconcagua (22,841')

Location: Argentina

Dates: January 2013

Leader: Warren Storkman

If you are interested in visiting Argentina and climbing Aconcagua in 2013, contact Warren at and he will send you an informational letter.

Trip Reports

Gray Peak (11, 574')

June 14 - 16

By Debbie Bulger

Having delayed our trip since I was sick with a virus, Richard Stover and I finally left Santa Cruz on June 14, headed for the Chiquito Pass trailhead. After stopping at the Ranger Station in North Fork for a permit, we hit the trail at 2:30 p.m. Spring flowers were in their glory along the trail.

The frustrating thing about this and other forest trails for me is the fact that there are no expansive views. The familiar blowtorch stenciled signs of Yosemite greeted us as we crossed into the Park from Sierra National Forest at the gentle pass. Since the mosquitoes were out in full force, we decided to fill up our four water bottles and select a dry camp away from water to limit our exposure.

The next day was uneventful until, just below Merced Pass, we heard a loud thunderclap. Then it started to sprinkle. Quickly we donned our rain jackets and put on our pack covers. Then all hell broke loose. Soon hail stones as big as marbles came crashing down. They hurt! We sought shelter under a rock overhang and sat out the storm.

To see us having a ball in the storm, visit

Our camp that evening was among huge Western White Pines at 9050' complete with pine siskins. The trail continued through mixed old growth forest. The next day we left the trail just below the highpoint north of Merced Pass and south of the Ottoway Creek crossing. Using the edge of 11,109' as a guide, we headed NNW to Grayling Lake. Navigation to the lake is a bit tricky since there are few views in the thick forest.

Grayling Lake is starting to turn into a meadow with grass along its edges. Although the outlet is on the east side of the lake, it drains to the west. This lake is hidden in a bowl and not easy to find.


Richard climbing Gray (photo by Debbie Bulger)

The next morning we started up the west ridge of Gray Peak. The route is easy at first and climbs through a nice progression of Sierra trees starting with the Western White Pine, then Red Fir mixed with a few Lodgepoles, gradually more Lodgepoles sprinkled with Incense Cedars, Jeffrey Pines, Mountain Hemlock, and near the summit, Whitebark pines. We saw the differently-patterned male and female Williamson’s Sapsuckers.


Debbie on ridge (Photo by Richard Stover)

The ridge got rockier and rockier. I climbed up one section with a little exposure and knew Richard wouldn’t like it, so I came down and we continued just below the ridge. Then I climbed up to what I thought was the summit. It was not, so I suggested to Richard that he traverse below while I continued on the ridge. Besides, the summit was just a few yards ahead. Or so I thought.

The knife-edge ridge continued for quite a while, in some places only one rock wide with a drop off on either side. I hadn’t had so much fun since climbing Tyndall.

Richard was somewhere below, and I was grateful he couldn’t see some of the moves I made. Finally after about 200', there was the register. Far below I could see Richard. “Take my picture,” I shouted to let him know I was OK.


Debbie on summit (Photo by Richard Stover)

The view from the summit was fabulous: the dramatic carved prow of Mt. Clark to the north, North Dome with tiny figures going up the cables, Lyell and Maclure, Ritter and Banner, to name just a few. After signing the register and looking for signatures of my friends, I continued on to a gully between the east and west peaks where I could descend and meet up with Richard.

The descent was a knee-wrenching experience on a pile of rubble. Once down, we were in the Alpine valley described by Steve Eckert. Our trip back to camp proved more difficult than the climb. We got caught in avalanche debris, marooned on cliff faces, and challenged by the dense forest. Luckily our GPS directed us to our hidden lake. We arrived at dark too tired to cook but hungry enough for our celebratory Newman’s O cookies.

Red Peak (11, 699')

June 21 - 22

By Debbie Bulger

Hoping that the Bald Eagle we saw at Lower Ottoway Lake was a good omen, Richard Stover and I hiked up to about 10,700' and set up camp on a granite bench at the foot of Red

Peak Pass. The area had changed a lot since my last visit 20 years ago to climb Merced Peak. A series of stone staircases, seemingly transported from one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, appeared out of place in this wilderness. The work was designed by a master stone mason and included not only stairs but carefully-fitted retaining walls all the way over the pass.

The next day we did a bit of exploring and hiked over Red Peak Pass, looked at Secor’s route (not attractive) and checked out the saddle leading to the alpine valley south of Gray. We were possibly the second party to cross over the pass this season and left footsteps in the snow for others to use. In the end we decided to climb Red from our camp the next day.

The tales of shoebox-sized red rocks, unpleasant to climb were not exaggerated. We stayed close to the gendarmes on the east and managed to find larger granite talus for part of the way. There is one false summit, and it was quite windy on the top.


Debbie on summit (Photo by Richard Stover)

The view was less clear than the one from Gray since there was smoke and haze from a fire to the north that we had spotted the day before.

We decided to try a new way down and followed the gentler contours of the due south descent. We threaded our way through

Whitebark Pines alternating with bare patches and granite talus, much easier than the shoebox rocks. If you want to try this route, we intersected the trail at UTM 11S0287485.3 / 4169116.9.


Richard descending (Photo by Debbie Bulger)

Mount Gayley (13, 500')

June 30 - July 2

By Matt Blum

Photos by Arun Mahajan

Mt Gayley at over 13,500' lies just east of the Sierra crest in the wonderful Palisades region, giving views of some of the fabled 14,000' peaks.  The route we planned was the "Yellow Brick Road," at class 3 one of the most straightforward.


Six people embarked on this 3-day expedition to Mt Gayley: Arun, Scott, Andrea, Magdalena, Piotr and me.  We left Friday afternoon after work in two cars and arrived at the Obsidian dome area just north of Mammoth (with primitive free camping) around midnight.  After crashing for the night (it was warm and not so buggy, so no tents needed), we headed to Bishop to pick up the permits and enjoy breakfast at our favorite Schat's bakery where we fueled up our stomachs for the next 3 days!

We got our gear organized in the parking lot at the Glacier Lodge backpacker trailhead and were rolling by about 11.  A bit late, but that was OK since we were just going up to Sam Mack meadow, at 11,000' On the trail, we headed through the desert sage up the canyon along the north fork of Big Pine creek.  Along the way we were treated to wonderful views of the Palisade crest, several waterfalls, a beautiful ranger cabin, Temple Crag, and the first 3 of the numbered Big Pine lakes.  For such wonderful blue lakes, you'd think they could come up with more inspired names than just "First Lake", "Second Lake", etc, but I didn't mind.

It took us about 4.5 hours to go up the 7 or so miles to Sam Mack meadow.  It was nice to get there in the early afternoon so we could find a nice camp spot, filter water, enjoy an early dinner and explore a bit.  The meadow is one of the most beautiful in the Sierra - surrounded by rugged granite walls on 3 sides.  The green grass and a beautiful turquoise glacial stream were a welcome sight after hiking many miles.  Colorful purple shooting stars were in bloom in the lush grass by the water.

The weather forecast was for clear weather, 0% chance of thunderstorms and warm temperatures - a fine weekend for climbing!  A few mosquitoes were out but not too bad, as

 we enjoyed Mountain House lasagna and pasta, tea and soup for dinner. After enjoying the alpenglow sunset on the high distant peaks, we were in bed by around 8:00.

We were up around 4:15 with just a glimmer of pre-dawn light illuminating the eastern escarpment of the Sierra around us.  We had a quick breakfast of oatmeal and tea and fruit, grabbed the gear we had readied the night before - ice axes, crampons, helmets, GPS - and were on the move by 5:00.


Summit day. Breaking dawn on Gayley (left) and Mt Sill (right)

It was a bit tedious getting up to Gayley camp at 12,000', ascending over endless slabs and boulders.  The sun rose brilliantly around 5:15 bathing the mountains in a warm orange glow.  A feathery orange glow lit up the commanding Dark Star face of Temple Crag.  Layers started to be shed quickly as the sun rose.  It took us about 2 hours to reach the camp at the terminal moraine of the Palisade glacier - and I was especially glad we decided to camp lower and I didn't have to carry my pack up that way the day before!

It was evident that we were in a low snow year - much of the snow on the glacier had already melted, revealing bare ice in places.  Patches of crevasses had started to open, and the greenish lake at the bottom of the glacier was

full of icebergs.  A group of 3 climbers was approaching the bergschrund leading to the U-notch - it could still be bypassed on the right, but in a couple weeks, it would be pretty open and a lot more technical. 

After a nice break at Gayley camp, we traversed a long stretch of boulders, trying to not lose much elevation. There was ice beneath the boulders in places, indicating we were actually already on the glacier and the ice went much further down.  The glacier was bigger than I expected, but partially covered in rockfall and boulders.


Piotr wants to get going!

Once at the end of the boulders, we donned our crampons, axes and helmets for about a 20-30 minute traverse along the glacier up to the base of Glacier Notch.  The angle steepened from around 20 degrees to probably about 35 near the base of the notch.  The view was astounding the whole way, stretching from North Palisade and Thunderbolt, Starlight (we could glimpse the famous "Milk Bottle"), Winchell and Agassiz.  A few small crevasses had to be crossed, but they were at most about 2 feet wide - we went parallel to one until it narrowed to less than a foot and we could step across easily.  A peek down revealed a deep blue chasm of ice so I didn't dare venture too close.

A loose 100 ft class-3 chute took us to the top of Glacier notch - we were at the pass that divided the N and S fork of Big Pine creek.  Directly in front of us was the massive buttress of Mt Sill - we could just make out a couple climbers starting the Swiss Arete route.  We had intended on keeping this trip class 3, so even though Sill was tantalizingly close, its easiest route (North Couloir following the L-shaped snowfield) is class 4, so we'd leave it for another time.

Dropping our axes and crampons and most of our gear at the top of Glacier notch, we enjoyed a brief snack and marveled at the wonderful mountains all around us.  Only a seemingly privileged few get to make it even to where we were, and we weren't even at the summit yet!  It was still just around 9:00.

The Yellow Brick Road is mostly class 2 with sections of class 3.  The boulders were solid and great to climb on - very little sand / loose rock.  After about 1/2 hour, we were climbing the final few blocks to the summit - what a view!  We could see as far as Mt Humphreys to the north, Middle Pal / Norman Clyde and countless peaks beyond (maybe even the Kaweahs).  Sill was directly behind us and Temple Crag and the loose slopes of Alice were behind Temple Crag.


Scott and Andrea summitting

After an enjoyable half hour on the summit we clambered our way down the large blocks along the ridge back to Glacier Notch.  It was fun trying different routes (mostly class 3, maybe with a couple class 4 moves - though these weren't necessary).  In a couple of places, the easiest way down was going through tunnels in the boulders or ducking under large overhanging rocks.  A wonderful class 1 "sidewalk" followed a cliff for a stretch - making for an easy walk down.

Back at the notch and retrieving our gear, we noticed the Mt Sill climbers coming down the L-snowfield after a successful climb!  They passed us pretty quickly - seasoned climbers.  For us it was a quick descent down the notch and to the Palisade glacier where we donned the crampons again.  Heading to the base of the glacier near the iceberg-choked lake proved far easier than traversing what seemed to be 1/4 mile of continuous large boulders, saving maybe 1/2 hour of tedious boulder hopping.

Heading up the loose boulders of the terminal moraine of the glacier, we all took different lines to avoid knocking rocks on each other.  At the top of the moraine, we were back at Gayley camp, where a chatty lady said hi.  We were talking about the climb and what her plans were, and how she had just recovered from an injury and was looking forward to getting out again.  Turned out the lady was Emilie Cortes!  What are the chances? 

After a good 45 minutes or so of chatting and snacking and catching up, we were on our way.  Down the granite slabs, around several more moraines, on our way back to Sam Mack.  My phone chimed as it re-entered an area with service, a reminder that civilization was not too far away.  We had a great view of First, Second and Third lakes all in a row, each lake a lighter and brilliant turquoise blue than the one below it.

Back in camp around 3:30, we got to relax as the sun went down, soak our feet in the cold but clean turquoise stream, share stories about climbing in other countries - Arun and Piotr had both been to Satopanth in the Gangotri region of the Indian Himalaya (at different times, Piotr made it to the summit but Arun got snowed out), and some folks had been to Aconcagua, the volcanoes in Ecuador and Mexico.  Many great stories were swapped while lazily watching the sun get low at camp!

Dinner was some leftover pasta from the night before, miso soup, noodles and tea.  A few mosquitoes buzzed around but not as many as I expected.  After dinner we were in our tents around 7:30 (the sun still grazed the summits of Sill and Gayley, just visible from our camp.

The next morning was our hike out. After packing up camp we were on the trail around 6:30 and back to the trailhead around 10:00.  We passed Third and Second lakes (with the iconic Temple Crag in the background - one of my all-time favorite Sierra views), and made our way back down the canyon toward the desert once again.  An unusual sight came near the waterfalls past the ranger cabin - a group of probably 50 Korean hikers. But there was one non-Korean mixed in that group - Arun immediately recognized him as David Hough from the day hikers group.  Wow - small world - that we met 2 people we knew in the mountains 6-7 hours from home!

We enjoyed lunch in at Schat's in Bishop before heading back through the Yosemite high country while thinking of our next trip.  Afternoon thunderstorms billowed up north of us on our way out. I was back home around 6:00, early enough to relax at home, soak in the hot tub and actually get caught up a bit before heading to the office the next morning.

Morgan & Morgan

July 4 - 8

By Aaron Schuman

It was Independence Day 2012, and independently we marched into the Sierra south of Mammoth: Toinette Hartshone, Rose Tomey, and I. Ranger Mike Johnson wrote our permit. Mike was a PCS member until 1995 when he moved to Mammoth and made it permanent.

Our first trailhead, Hilton Creek, lacked signage and was a little bit tricky to find. The turnoff is just south of the Lake Crowley firehouse, right past a traffic island. We hiked from sagebrush up to conifer forest, waded the shallow stream, and continued on to our camp at Davis Lake. The lake is lovely and wooded, and we had it entirely to ourselves.

 In the morning, we hiked up to one of the Hilton Lakes, and then continued cross-country up the slopes of Mt Stanford (the northernmost of the two mountains bearing that name). There was quite a bit of class 2 climbing, plus a few class 3 moves to put us on the summit (12838). This kind of travel was new to Rose, but she is a brave student of mountaineering, and did well. Our intention had been to complete the traverse to Mt Morgan (north), but this party didn’t need two peaks in one day.


The photo, taken by Rose, shows Mt Stanford and the platinum moon reflected at dawn in Davis Lake.

The next day, we hiked down, took a break at Tom’s Place, and then drove up to Rock Creek Lake. We hiked the short trail up to Francis Lake. At our camp, there were still some small trees even though we were above 11000 feet. The lake is tiny but beautiful, surrounded by a meadow with luscious columbine flowers.

Another warm moonlit night was succeeded by another early morning. We hiked up three thousand feet of moraine and talus face, and finally rested upon the 13748 summit of Mt Morgan (south). We were surrounded by granite giants on every side, Mounts Abbott and Mills and Dade, Bear Creek Spire and Gabb, and continuing on to Mounts Ritter and Humphreys and Goddard in the far distance. We lingered more than an hour, marveling at the wonderland before us.

Returning to our camp, we tried a slightly different route, and discovered a gushing spring in the thirsty landscape. The water ran only a short distance before it soaked back into the soil, but our oasis was lush with moss and soft, green grass. We took off our boots and stayed awhile at this charming place too. At last we broke camp, hiked out, and drove to Tioga Canyon.

On the last morning of our journey in the Sierra Nevada, Toinette went off to scout out a different route to Mount Conness, while Rose and I hiked a loop through Gaylor Lakes. It was a satisfying end to an extra-long holiday weekend.

Meysan Dixon

July 15 - 21

By Aaron Schuman

At the south end of the Whitney Massif, jagged rows of peaks reach up almost 14000 feet into the sky. Craving the tenuous atmosphere of those lofty summits, we set out on July 15: Joe Baker, Judy Molland, Frank Martin, and me.

Sunday we just made the short but steep hike up to Upper Grass Lake (10,400'). We considered hiking another 300 feet up to Meysan Lake, but we liked the timberline feel and our sandy campsites, so we stayed. On Monday, Judy, Frank and I headed for Lone Pine Peak (12,944'). We expected it to be an easy warm-up peak, but it had its own challenges. We began our climb in a long sandy chute, gained the ridge, bypassed several false summits, and stood on the peak well to the east of the Pacific Crest. On this peak and on the others, Frank dispersed some of the mortal remains of his friend Bonnie Rama, and he signed her name into the summit register as the fourth member of our group. On our return, we entered the wrong chute and descended until we were at the top of a cliff band. We made a considerable search for the exit. At the end, we down climbed past a rappel station left by previous climbers who had made the same mistake, and then we traversed a nail-biter of a ledge before we finally got back onto the sand.

On Tuesday, Joe, Frank and I went out to climb Mt Irvine (13,780') and Mt Mallory (13,845') in a sweeping traverse. We enjoyed the long class 2 northeast ridge of Irvine. The ridge featured many gendarmes, but every problem could be worked to the left or right, or just over the top. We dropped down about 1000 feet from the summit of Irvine into the east bowl, then a mile across an unsteady talus field to the southwest slope of Mt Mallory. Once across, we walked easily up to

the summit block. The final few moves to the highest rock were interesting and exciting. The descent to Meysan Lake goes through one of four chutes. Each gully is said to have downsloping granite ledges covered with gravel. We selected chute #2 based on a previous climber’s report. The four choices were probably equally bad. We walked around the east side of the lake and arrived tired at our camp.

We admired the blank face of Mt LeConte, with its barely noticeable northeast ledge. We enjoyed reading Jim Ramaker’s trip description, which resolved the pencil line ledge into a sidewalk from which the climber better not fall or else. Then we voted four to zero not to make a Wednesday sortie to Mt LeConte. The prospect of climbing back up and back down one of the four loose chutes contributed to our unwillingness.

I discovered a hole in my trip plan. Humping the packs over 13,200' Al Green Pass to Iridescent Lake was a bad idea, because those same loose chutes were in the way of that route too. Instead, on Wednesday, we hiked down to the Meysan trailhead, drove to Lone Pine, changed our permit, and drove up to the Cottonwood trailhead (9,600') before hiking in to the vicinity of Cottonwood Lakes (10,900'). Thursday we made an easy trail hike over New Army Pass (12,400') and down to Soldier Lake (10,700').


 On top of Joe Devel peak (Photo by Joe Baker)

On Friday, we day hiked down to Rock Creek and up the south slopes of Joe Devel Peak (13,325'). When we returned from the mountain, we still had energy for more. While we were on the peak, a large group of teenage boys had crowded into our camp, so we took the opportunity to pack up and retrace our steps over New Army Pass. We spent the last night of our glorious Meysan Dixon trip at timberline, by Long Lake.

Elected Officials


    Rod McCalley/


Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler

    Terry Cline/

Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes)

Sassan Hazeghi/

Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor

    Judy Molland /

PCS World Wide Web Publisher
    Joe Baker/

    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.

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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.
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    Class 3: Climbing requires the use of hands, maybe a rope.
    Class 4: Requires rope belays.
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Deadline for submissions to the next Scree is Monday, August 27. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month.