March 2012     Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club   Vol. 46 , No. 3 |

General Meeting

Date          March 13, 2012

Time          7:30 – 9:30 pm

Where       PCC

                  3921 E. Bayshore Road

                  Palo Alto, CA

Program   Cordillera-Blanca Environmental Expedition 2011

Presenter Bill Straka

In June-July 2011, Bill Straka joined the Cordillera Blanca Environmental Expedition to research environmental changes in the Cordillera Blanca region of the Peruvian Andes. Bill was field director and team leader for one of the 9 teams, as well as serving as the GPS and GIS lead.

The CBEE2011 was sponsored by the American Alpine Club, in cooperation with the Peruvian Environmental Ministry and Huascaran National Park. The team of 17 mountaineer-scientists gathered samples of soil, water, air, ice, and snow from 12 mountains in 6 massifs, as well as gathering ground truth at GPS-documented locations to aid in satellite studies. Data were gathered from 2900 to 6769 meters on these mountains at 500 meter elevation intervals. Recession of a number of glaciers was measured, based on a predecessor expedition in 2009 and satellite imagery. There is extensive mining and industrial activity in the close vicinity to the Cordillera Blanca, along with thousands of years of agricultural activity.

Come and enjoy the photographs of the mountains, as well as of the tour that Bill and his wife Barbara took of archaeological sites just prior to the main expedition.

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.


Editor's Notes

For any of you who weren't present at our February meeting, Arun pulled in a HUGE crowd! Wow! I've never seen our meeting room so packed. Good thing it was also an awesome presentation! Thanks to Joe for posting our meetings on Meet-Up and to Arun for pleasing the audience!


Chair Column

Welcome to March with the PCS, when the spring climbing season is hovering in the air!  All kinds of trips can happen in this month -- skiing in the Sierra (3/17-18), Coast Range backpack & peak-climb (3/24-5), and a traditional Sierra climb (3/31-4/1, usually on snow but who knows about this year?).  The semi-annual Planning meeting took place on 21 Feb -- Scheduler Terry Cline helped the group generate a good crop of trips, going into the early Fall (see below in this Scree).

The PCS monthly meeting will be at 7:30 PM, Tues. March 13, at the Peninsula Conservation Center in Palo Alto.  All who have an interest in the mountains of the world are encouraged to attend -- including those who simply want to see a great program about an exploration of the mountains.  At the start of each meeting, short reports of your recent peak climbs, as well as descriptions of upcoming trips, are welcome; this is followed by a refreshment break for personal contacts, and then the SHOW!  This month Bill Straka will speak about a project that any scientist

would dream of -- the field work requires climbing big peaks (over 6000 m. in the Peruvian Andes)!

We still have no show arranged for the 10 April meeting (or for 12 June, either).  If anyone has any suggestions (for shows by you or your friends), please contact me at rodmccalley (or phone at 650-493-2378).

Rod McCalley

Advance Trip Planning Schedule

Check out the excellent trip possibilities coming up this spring, summer, and fall. Many thanks to Terry Cline for organizing!

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.

March 17, 18 - Backcountry Ski Sierra Buttes

Leader: Louise Wholey

March 24, 25 - Cone Peak

Leader: Joe Baker

April 1 - Round Top

Leader: Arun Mahajan

April 14 - 15 - Backcountry Ski Bridgeport

Leader: Louise Wholey

April 27 - 30 - Split Mountain

Leader: Lisa Barboza

May 12, 13 - Backcountry Ski Sierra

Leader: Louise Wholey

PCS Trip Details

Backcountry Ski Sierra Buttes

Goal:  Sierra Buttes (8591')

Location: North of Lake Tahoe

Dates: March 17, 18

Leader: Louise Wholey

Come join us for our fifth of the Backcountry Skiing Series, this one slightly north of the Tahoe area. Depending on conditions this may be an overnight ski trip or a long one-day outing. Requires advanced skiing skills (resort black diamond), avalanche training. Randonee or Telemark skis, climbing skis, avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe.

Leader: Louise Wholey (louisewholey at

To sign up send $8 for leader training to Louise Wholey, 21020 Canyon
View Drive, Saratoga, CA 95070.

Cone Peak

Goal:  Cone Peak (5155')

Location: Ventana Wilderness, Limekiln Campground

Dates: March 24, 25

Leader: Joe Baker

We will climb Cone Peak from Highway 1. Cone Peak is the most spectacular mountain on the Big Sur coast of California. It is the second highest mountain (Junipero Serra Peak is higher) in the Santa Lucia Range. The trip is officially on-trail but somewhat strenuous, and parts of the trail are rough to non-existent. On Saturday, we'll backpack to Goat Camp via Vicente Flat and the Stone Ridge Trail. Then we'll climb our peak on Sunday morning, and hike out via the rest of the Stone Ridge Trail and then back to Limekiln. This should be an excellent time to see lots of wildflowers.

Contact Judy Molland: for more information.

Round Top On April Fools' Day

Goal:  Round Top (10,381')

Location: Carson Pass Sno-Park, Hwy 88

Date: April 1

Leader: Arun Mahajan

Day hike on snow, ice-axe, crampons, skis or snowshoes. Skis with skins or snowshoes needed for the approach; ice-axe and crampons needed for the summit area.
Meet at 8am at Carson Pass Sno-Park on Highway-88. We depart at 8.30, firm.
To park there you will need a sno-park permit.

Difficulty: Snow/winter conditions. Ski level is intermediate and you MUST some experience with axe/crampons and be able to handle the altitude of over 10k ft, this early in the season.

Backcountry Ski Bridgeport

Goal:  TBD

Location: Bridgeport, Eastside of the Sierras

Dates: April 14, 15

Leader: Louise Wholey

Come join us for our sixth of the Backcountry Skiing Series, this one in the wonderful Bridgeport area. Expect multiple one-day

outings, such as Crater Crest. Requires advanced skiing skills (resort black diamond), avalanche training. Randonee or Telemark skis, climbing skis, avalanche beacon,

shovel, and probe.

Leader: Louise Wholey (louisewholey at

To sign up send $8 for leader training to Louise Wholey, 21020 Canyon
View Drive, Saratoga, CA 95070.

Split Mountain (CA 14er and SPS Emblem Peak)

Goals: Split Mt (13,042'), Tinemahah (12,520'), Prater Mt (13,471')

Location: Red Lake TH, Eastside of Sierras

Dates: April 27 - 30

Leader: Lisa Barboza

Snow climb of Split Mtn via the North Slope from Red Lake TH. This will be a strenuous 3-day trip requiring good fitness and experience

with an ice axe and crampons on 3rd class terrain. Day 1: Hike in to Red Lake, climb Tinemahah. Day 2: Climb Split, traverse over to Prater if conditions allow. Day 3: Hike out, drive home

Leader and Contact: Lisa Barboza,
Co-leader: Terry Cline,

Backcountry Ski Sierra

Goal:  Mt. Tom, Elderberry Canyon

Location: Mt. Tom, Eastside of the Sierras

Dates: May 12, 13

Leader: Louise Wholey

Come join us for our grand finale of the Backcountry Skiing Series, skiing a classic route in the high Sierra. Requires advanced skiing skills (resort black diamond+), avalanche training. Randonee or Telemark skis, climbing skis, avalanche beacon,
shovel, and probe.

Leader: Louise Wholey (louisewholey at

To sign up send $8 for leader training to Louise Wholey, 21020 Canyon
View Drive, Saratoga, CA 95070.

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.

April 6 - 8 - Pinnacles

Leader: Jeff Fisher

May 5 - Snow Climbing Practice

Leader: Kelly Maas

October, 2012 - Nepal

Leader: Warren Storkman

January, 2013 - Argentina

Leader: Warren Storkman

Private Trip Details


Goal: Climb, Hike, Bike

Dates: April 6 - 8

Leader: Jeff Fisher

Come down for a weekend of climbing and/or hiking or even biking. There will be climbers of varying abilities. Group site #126 has been reserved for 2 nights at the Pinnacles campground on the east side of the park. Holds total of up to 20 people (We’ve had more). Shoes, harness and helmet needed if you are going to be climbing.

You can stay the night, or just come down for one of the days.

The cost for the camp site is $75 night for up to 20. Leader; Jeff Fisher 650-207-9632, E-mail; jeff_fisher_5252 at

Snow Climbing Practice

Goal: Leavitt Peak, Class 2 (11,569')

Date: May 5

Leader: Kelly Maas

Join us for a day of ice axe practice in the high country at Sonora Pass. I anticipate being able to include a peak climb along with the practice. Optional car camping - details TBD.

Crampon practice is also an option, though we rarely find suitable snow conditions. Participants supply their own gear, and should have some knowledge of how to use an ice axe, but experience is not required.

Dress for lying down in wet snow (full rain gear). Note that this year I'm changing from a 2-day format to one day. Location and date are tentative and subject to road, snow and weather conditions.

Contact the leader for final details on when & where to meet: Kelly Maas, (408)-378-5311,


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 Report

Joshua Tree

Lela Peak (4,747'), Malapai Hill (4,240'), Chaparrosa Peak (5,541'), South Park Peak (4,395')

December 25 , 2011 - January 2, 2012

By Debbie Bulger

Waking up in the Jumbo Rocks Campground to the complex song of a California Thrasher was the perfect start to Richard Stover's and my holiday trip to Joshua Tree.


We scarfed our oatmeal and tea and drove down the dirt Geology Tour Road to climb “Lela,” a small peak with a million dollar view. On the way we climbed Peak 4629, startling jackrabbits and cottontails as we hiked. From Lela’s summit we could see the Little San Bernardino Mountains, Pinto Peak, and Fried Liver Wash.


We returned down a steeper route which was not too difficult except for one spot where we took our packs off and I shinnied down a split boulder. Richard handed down the packs and followed.


We then headed for Malapais Hill about a mile and a half away. Malapais was made of very different rock—volcanic and difficult to walk on. It earned its name. We completed the circle back to our truck by 4:30 p.m. having climbed two and a half peaks (I rated Malapais a half), discovered a vole skull, and picked up 6 spent balloons.

Our exploration of the incomparable Pushawalla Canyon and Plateau proved to be the best hike of the trip. The hike took 6 hours, 4 going and 2 returning. On the way in we examined mine ruins, an old well and watering trough complete with water, and historic artifacts including a beer bottle from the late 1800s. Most interesting were the remains of a bighorn skull and deer jawbones.

A kestrel flew by more than once, or perhaps there were two. On the upper part of the Plateau there were no human footprints other than our own and lots of animal tracks: coyote, deer, tiny mouse or vole prints, possible bighorn, and lizard tracks with dragging tails. Lovely pink granite and unfamiliar species of manzanita and scrub oak decorated the wash. There were juniper trees, yucca, and nolina. It is truly a beautiful place. As we reached our truck, the setting sun set the sky ablaze.


We moved camp the next day to the Black Rock CG and finally got to climb Chaparrosa Peak. Chaparrosa is located in an area with running water known as “The Pipes” just north of the national park. In July 2006 the surrounding area burned in a very hot fire, and the area was closed until last year. It is now owned by the Wildlands Conservancy and open on weekends. The trail to the top of Chaparrosa Peak winds through a recovering landscape littered with the dead trunks of oaks and Joshua Trees and the elephantine stumps of yucca plants.

We took the traditional route, which leaves the trail and follows a ridge as described in Zdon's Desert Summits. In the spring it must be spectacular since in winter the entire ridge was covered with dried desert sunflower stalks and flowers.

Before driving home the next day we climbed South Park Peak, an easy mile roundtrip to a bench instead of a benchmark.


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.

Our official website is Joining the PCS is easy. Go to

PCS Announcement Listserv

If you join the PCS Announcement Listserv you will receive announcements and updates of trips and meetings. Use the 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 , March 28. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month.