Sep 2013             Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club                                    Vol. 47 No. 9 -

General Meeting

Date          Tuesday, September 17

Time          7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Where       PCC

                  3921 E. Bayshore Road

                  Palo Alto, CA

Program   Climbing on Four Continents - A Slideshow by Sibylle Hechtel, Sponsored by the PCS

Presenter Sibylle Hechtel

Note: This month's meeting is on the 3rd Tuesday of the month - not the normal 2nd Tuesday.

Sibylle is the daughter of past Rock Climbing Section member Richard Hechtel and is well-known for pioneering climbs in Yosemite and elsewhere. She'll describe some of her adventures (and mis-adventures) in North America (Yosemite, Sierra Nevada, Wyoming, Bugaboos, and Squamish), Europe, Australia, and Asia.

A little about Sibylle:

I’m a writer, climber, and mother. I’ve climbed since I was little. My father first took me to Yosemite when I was ten. Later, I climbed with my dad’s friends – climbers like Galen Rowell and George Lowe. Jim Bridwell led me up hard cracks in Yosemite where I met my friend, mentor, and climbing partner, Beverly Johnson. Bev and I did the first female ascent of El Capitan via the Triple Direct route.

Dick Dorworth and I first climbed the North Face of Mitchell in Wyoming’s Cirque of the Towers and with Bugs McKeith I did first ascents on the North Face of Andromeda and other ice climbs in Canada. In 1987, I joined the first western climbers to visit Kyrgyzstan’s Ak-Su mountains. Later I joined expeditions to Shishapangma and Everest.

After my son Tristan was born, I traveled less to remote climbing areas. Instead, we climbed in Yosemite, Devil’s Tower, and City of Rocks. When he was seven, we took Tristan to Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

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

The task of planning our new house has taken a lot of my time this summer, so I'm envious of all the great trips PCSers have taken. But I know the mountains will still be there in 2014, so I'm looking forward to a great summer next year.


Chair Column

When you think about it, the changes in communication technology since the PCS founding have been truly amazing. My first experience with producing a newsletter for the section occurred around 1974.  We typed it on

messy mimeograph masters, reproduced it on a

loaned mimeograph machine after hours in a Los Altos insurance office, and snail mailed it to

members, who were charged modest dues to cover postage.  Now, consider how the current Scree is produced for consumption on and delivered via the internet.

Trip organizing was similarly primitive, dominated by lots of phone calls back and forth, often late at night. Fast-forward to today and our leaders organize trips almost entirely by email. Kinda a latter-day phone-tree.  Some go beyond and use electronic documents shared over the internet (usually via Google Docs) to get participants on the same page for itinerary, equipment, and ride-sharing. After a trip, a flurry of emails often help participants share their photos via a assortment of web-based photo-sharing sites to which participants may or may not have accounts or access to. While better than late-night phone calls, this process is a bit chaotic and every trip seems to be organized differently and communication is still hit or miss.

In this age of web-apps and smart phones you won't be surprised to learn better solutions are emerging. One is the web application Designed to support trip planning and participant communication and after-trip sharing of the experience, this web application is targeted at outfitters, professional guide services, and organizations like ours.  CEO Doug Heinz, a climber himself, has offered us a free account as a non-profit organization in the hopes we'll give him some feedback on how it works for us. It addresses the issues I've sketched in the last paragraph. So leaders, if you'd like to give it try when organizing your next trip contact me and I'll set you up an account under the PCS entity. After I get more familiar with the system, you might be able to create your own account without me as gatekeeper.

This month's presentation is a special treat. Sibylle Hechtel has a long association with our sister organization the now defunct RCS and has contributed to the development of rock climbing and high altitude mountaineering by women in this country. She will give us a glimpse of what's she's been up to in the years since growing up in Redwood City.

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.

September 27 - 29 - Gray Peak

Leader: Aaron Schuman

PCS Trip Details

Gray Smoke Gray Ash

Goals: Gray Peak (11,573')

Location: Wawona, Yosemite

Dates: September 27 - 29

Leader: Aaron Schuman

Planning our return to Yosemite while a large area of the park is still on fire, this is a high expression of hope. We won’t be hiking through the burned area, though. We’ll start at Mono Creek trailhead (7200) near Wawona, hike way down to the Ilillouette Creek crossing (6400), and head up the watershed to our camp at Grayling Lake (8800). We’ll climb up slabs and scree to the summit (11573), trying to keep the climb class 2 as much as possible. We have a second night at Grayling Lake, and we’ll return the way we came. If the Rim Fire continues and worsens, it might result in a cancellation. Substantial early snow might also cause us to cancel. This trip replaces the Emerald Peak trip in the PCS calendar. Difficulty: Class 2

Leader: Aaron Schuman       a.j.Schuman AT gmail DOT com. Co-leader: Lisa Barboza        Lisa.Barboza AT gd-ais 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.

September 12 - 15 - Muir Gorge Swimming

Leader: Robert Summers

November 7 - 23: Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal

Leader: Emilie Cortes

Private Trip Details

Muir Gorge Swimming

Goals: Have fun swimming!

Location: Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite

Dates: September 12 - 15

Leader: Robert Summers

The Muir Inner Gorge is 15 miles downriver from Toulumne Meadows. The gorge can be descended in late season.  The upper part of the gorge is easy wading and swimming.  The lower part is blocked by a rock step that can be down climbed (difficult), rappelled, or jumped.  Below the step the deep pool continues down the gorge and around the corner.  A rappel rope will be available.

Leader:  Robert Summers      650 329 4823  w/msg,  650 324 2341 h  w/o msg

Annapurna Base Camp

Goals: Anna Purnapurna Base Camp (13,550')

Location: Nepal

Dates: Npvember 7 - 23

Leader: Emilie Cortes

This is an all female expedition to the famous Annapurna Base Camp in the Annapurna

Sanctuary.  Emilie will be guiding this trip personally.

This challenging trek is one of the most popular in Nepal and for good reason! Annapurna Base

Camp (ABC) is surrounded by a cirque of awe-inspiring peaks, including the awesome south

face of Annapurna I (8,091m), in a natural amphitheatre which is quite simply mind-blowing.

Our trek starts from Pokhara with a short drive to the road head. A short diversion up to Poon Hill

(3,190m) offers us a chance to obtain great views of Himalayan giant - Dhaulagiri (8,167m).

The sunrise views from here are

legendary. As we climb through ancient oak and

rhododendron forest, across sparkling streams and past waterfalls, the world of snow and ice starts to unfold above us. This combination of villages and terraced fields of millet and rice, coupled by the majestic splendor of Machapuchare (6,993m), Annapurna I and Himchuli (6,441m) make this an extremely rewarding trek. Climbing up the Modhi Khola valley towards the sanctuary, we are teased with views of towering peaks and dizzyingly high rock walls with waterfalls tumbling down into the roar of the river below.

We ascend to Machapuchare Base Camp (3,700m) on the lateral moraine of Annapurana South glacier. The steady climb up to ABC reveals the full splendor of this natural amphitheatre. When we reach our destination, we are spoiled with a 360-degree views of Himalayan peaks, the 'Throne of the Mountain Gods'. 

Cost is $3295 with a 10% discount for current PCS members. Contact Emilie Cortes at 415-260-3618,, or sign up at

Trip Reports

The Italian Job

July 1 - 3, 2013

By Yoni Novat

A planned heist of three elusive and valuable gems – all of which could only be found at a certain elevation, and in a certain location. 

The gang had to dodge the law, which was laid down in the form of difficult weather and new monitoring techniques, just developed.

Featuring:  Lisa “Italian Mare” Barboza, Robert “Ring Master” Wyka

and co-starring Sandra “The Filly” Hao, Paul “Rockin” Cohelo, “Flyin” Brian Roach and myself “Cannelloni” Yoni Novat

The  Plan:  Three Days, Three Peaks, Conquer all.  Our mantra: “A Peak a Day – That’s All We Ask”

This trip could be described as a typical Lisa Death March with the following planned trip stats:

Julius Caesar (13,200)- Mt Hilgard (13,361) Mount Gabb (13,780)

Day 1: From Pine Creek Tungsten Mine, hike in past Honeymoon Lake to Italy Pass (12,300).  Climb Julius Caesar (13,200) and descend to camp at Lake Italy.  The distance is 10.3 miles with 5700 feet of gain.

Day 2: From our camp at Lake Italy – attempt two peaks - Climb Hilgard, then Gabb.  The elevation gain is about 1300 feet of gain and the distance is 10.2 miles.

Day 3: Climb any peaks missed, and hike out – “Only” 1300 feet gain, and distance of 10.3 miles.

This was a dynamic trip with our co-stars entering the picture at different times. I joined the trip 15 hours before it began, Paul would meet us at Honeymoon Lake, Brian would join us on Day three fresh off the JMT and Bob would part ways at Italian Pass.

Monday July 1st.  We departed at 7:45 AM from the Pine Creek Trail head near the old Union Carbide Tungsten Mine on a trail that was lush and verdant.  The trail starts in an amazing riparian biome with tall ferns, wild roses and lilies

that graced our way until we began to switchback up the exposed face of the mountain. The next part of the trail is an old mining road, with not a speck of shade.  The temperature reached 87 F. About 1000 feet up the trail we stopped at a creek that spilled down the mountain and provided welcome water and shade. Eventually we came to switchbacks where we could see Pine Creek plunge down from the last of three lakes in a spectacular cascade that thundered in the distance.

At 11:30 we met Paul Coelho, draped in mosquito netting at the 10,435 foot high Honeymoon Lake surrounded by willow and perched at the entrance to Granite Park. This is lake country filled with magnificent crags and flowered with heather, cinquefoil, peas, buttercups, columbine and dozens of other species.  Sandra guided us from duck to duck on the unmaintained trail that stayed to the north of the creek then advanced up the increasingly steep talus to Italy Pass at 12,400 feet.  Below the pass, on our trail at 11,300 feet, we observed a stream of new-born tree frogs (Hyla regillus) moving down a small gully on the side of the trail. 

The first Mission:  Conquest of Julius Caesar Peak.-Threatening clouds, light rain and thunder loomed for those doomed to climb.  The Italian Mare backed off with a snort: “If not today, we will be up at 4:30AM on the third day to conquer Julius Caesar.”  For now, Fire stole the mountain from us.

We descended the talus to Jumble Lake then on to Lake Italy where we set camp after 11.7 miles of travel.  Over dinner, we toasted Lisa and Bob's proximate birthdays over fruity cabernet that Sandra & Paul brought. That night it rained in the evening and at midnight only to be dry by the morning due to the unusually warm weather. 


Brian, Lisa, Bob and Paul near our Lake Italy camp

Tuesday July 2nd.  Up at 4:30 AM to climb before the afternoon thunderstorms could halt our progress.  We headed for Mt Gibbs.  Our path went around the edge of the lake over 2nd class boulders to Toe Lake.  Then we ascended the south slope up loose talus until near the top where we climbed over class 2 boulders.  We summited at 8:00AM.  Lisa left a new register (in a plastic bag since the can was not found).  The weather was pleasant, but clouds were building in the south and west.  When we looked to the north-east, we had a clear view of Bear Creek Spire. What a thrill it was to see a route that Lisa and Sandra had climbed just the week before.

 As we put on our leggings I discovered that my zip off pant legs were gone.  Did I “lose” my pants down at the lake?  At the peak we descended rapidly with the intent to make Mt Hilgard before the weather precluded a summit bid.  We stayed to the ridge, now on our left, descending basically the same route we took up except for sticking to loose talus. We dipped down 2000 feet to about 11,600, and traversed on benches toward Hilgard hoping to stay high.

 However, in the end, we dropped almost to the lake since navigating the rock was much slower.  After passing the south end of the lake, we ascended a broad south-east facing gully.  The climb on talus was steep.  Wherever possible, we stayed on rock to keep from slipping down in the mixed sand and talus.  As we neared the top,

 we saw a distinct headwall described in other reports.  There were some small cliffs off to the right.  However, we did turn left at the top of the gully as recommended and reached a plateau.  The peak was a short jog back to the right of there.  We peaked at 3:00 PM in great weather.  All the storm systems seemed to have bypassed us, but we could see the storms just to the south of us and knew we had friends there.  We found the register and signed it.


On Hilgard: L-R: Sandra, Paul, Bob, Lisa. Ah, the sweet taste of success. Two peaks in one day, fabulous weather and excellent company. The Italian Job will go down in history as peak 233? And 224? (Lisa and Bob are both close to their SPS list finishes.)

The descent on the same route was uneventful.  With 1000 feet left to reach the lake, we spotted Brian below.  He had backpacked on the JMT from Mammoth Lakes over Duck Pass.  We caught up to him at 5:00 PM near our camp and enjoyed an evening of stories.  Though it rained on us lightly, the weather was generally superb.

Wed, July 3rd.  Up again at 4:30 AM. We packed and were well on our way before 6:00 AM.  We met another traveler who was leaving by the same route as ours.  We reached the Italian pass at 7:15.  There, we parted ways with Bob who had climbed it back in 1981.  Brian, not being a peak climber, watched our gear.  Sandra, Paul, Lisa and I left to conquer Julius Caesar.  We followed the ridge, then ascended

 the face to the left of the ridge over 2nd class terrain.  We saw more beautiful Alpine Gold, Dwarf Ivesia, Rosy Sedum, and a flower called dirty socks.  As we neared the peak, 700 feet above the pass, we began 3rd class travel and then some protected 4th class boulder moves (that were great fun).  On the peak by 9:30 AM we looked for Bob’s name on the register.  Unfortunately, this register dated only to 2007. The summit of JC is amazing – Bear Creek Spire looks so close, you could touch it.  We left behind a Sierra Club Life member newsletter article describing how the first ascent register had been found by a climbing party on July 4th, 2006.  The first ascent, as well as the naming of the peak, occurred on August 12, 1938 by Alfred and Myrtle Prater (UCLA). We respect and honor these early climbers who climbed without topo maps or trip descriptions, but with older equipment.

We descended the same route that we went up.  It was uneventful except that as I was behind Paul, he let a big one fly. And whew did it smell.  No…. he wasn’t passing gas.  He had put his hand on a ¼ ton boulder that promptly crashed down the mountain with a roar.  The smell of fire from the rock, brimstone, was strong.  Mother Nature stole the peak from us on the first day and didn’t give it to us without brimstone.

YES!  We succeeded!  Three peaks in three days.  The Italian Job was ours.  We will go home to bask in the wealth of our success.  What did Julius Caesar (AD 47) say? Venimus, vicimus, vidimus : We Came, We Conquered, We saw (the beautiful panorama that is).  And we thank the mountains for their blessings of good height, incomparable views, and for letting us summit.

The remainder of the descent was uneventful except that I lost my glasses in the stream and it rained on us (which was just enough to cool us off).  While Bishop was enduring 100+F weather,

we were taking in the rich rain sharpened colors and the vistas below.  The mosquitoes joined us for lunch by Upper Pine Lake.  We were at the cars by 3:30 PM in good health and spirits.  Lisa was off to drive to the West Side in Southern Yosemite’s Clover Meadow for an attempted climb of Foerster, and the remainder of us were going back to enjoy the Independence holiday at our homes.

“Cannelloni” Yoni is a producer of Cannelloni Westerns

Cirque Peak (12,900')

July 31 - August 3, 2013

By Rod McCalley

On Wednesday, July 31, all three of us (me, my wife Peggy and PCS-chair Terry Cline) drove around the southern Sierra, managed to get 3 of the last 5 available permits (I almost blew it) in Lone Pine, and then enjoyed a nice supper at the Mt. Whitney Cafe.  On up to the Cottonwood Lakes TH (10,000' -- good for altitude adjustment) for a nice camp at a walk-in site.  

We backpacked 6 miles in on Thursday, along with a surprisingly large number of people heading in or out for Cottonwood Lakes or New Army Pass.  After branching left to the South Fork Lakes, and then over a saddle, we found a perfect camp on the south shore of the beautiful and deserted (surprise!) Cirque Lake (11,100').


Cirque Lake - Photo by Terry Cline

On Friday morning, it was a long but easy talus climb (not loose) up the head of the cirque to the south ridge of Cirque Pk.  The ridge looked a little cliffy and unclear, so we did a rising traverse across the SW face for a direct jaunt up to the summit by noon.  


Climbing Cirque Peak - Photo by Terry Cline

The views were wonderful in all directions -- Langley, Whitney & more to the north, the Kaweahs west over the Siberian Outpost, Kern Peak & Olancha off to the south, and the deep Owens Valley to the east.  Then a toast (with Kendall Mint Cake) to the effort my Mom made exactly 70 years ago (& I thanked her in person on a visit later in the month).  I also fondly remembered the birthday climb of Mt. Goddard just 4 years ago, on a PCS trip with Judy Molland & Joe Baker!

I pushed the others into doing a long loop descent around the cirque wall to the north (lots of great views) to New Army Pass, and down the trail past Long Lake (crowded on a Friday evening!) .  Back in camp at our deserted lake, while starting to eat Peggy's dinner about 6:30,

we were suddenly aroused by a voice -- it was my son Roddy, arriving across the meadow with a chocolate birthday cake!!  He had left work at UCLA at 11 that morning, and backpacked up in less than 2 hours, on a quicker route than we had used.  Devouring the cake, with good tea and stimulating conversation, was a wonderful way to end a perfect day!  I still can't say what was the best part, the summit or this fantastic surprise -- probably both!  Next morning Roddy went on to climb the long east ridge of Langley, returned to his truck by late afternoon, rock-climbed above Tenaya Lake on Sunday, then started leading a JMT trip (southern half) for SYMG the next Wednesday.


Roddy, Rod, Peggy - Photo by Terry Cline

We hiked out Saturday morning, following the unmarked (but excellent!?) trail that follows the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek, steeply down from the outlet of the lowest S. Fork Lake and on through pleasant meadows to a junction with the main trail only a mile from the TH (This route was recommended by Roddy).

Winchell Do-Nots

August 3 - 4, 2013

By Aaron Schuman

Photos by Sandra Hao

Do-not climb Mt Winchell exactly the way we climbed it. August 4, 2013, we set out from Sam Mack Meadow at first light. Lisa Barboza was our dauntless leader. Our group was Terry Erickson, Helga Zimmerer, Chris Wahl, Sandra Hao, Toinette Hartshorne, Joe Baker, my endlessly patient editor Judy Molland, and your reporter, Aaron Schuman.



Immediately above camp we left the north fork trail. We continued over moraine up the Big Pine Creek drainage to Sam Mack Lake, and beyond, to the base of Mt Winchell. Judy wasn’t feeling well, and she and Joe turned around. The rest of us searched for a right hand gully that exits onto a sidewalk traverse just below a white dike. In spite of having those clear directions from our predecessors, we wrapped too far around the southeast side of the mountain. Our sidewalk was no sidewalk as we crossed the Pacific Crest onto the Dusy Basin side of the mountain.

The wrong traverse featured a step on a flake about 20 meters off the deck. Five of our team stepped across lightly. But Hefty Aaron snapped that rock off its stem and sent it clattering down. I made an unplanned dynamic move that put me

on a ledge around the corner. Terry, who was watching me from the sweep position, did not like what he saw. For the next several minutes, I muttered, “Fear! Fear! Fear!”

We came to a place where the wall became noticeably blank. Lisa went ahead to scout. We all watched her accomplish acrobatic class 4 moves, as she become smaller and smaller in the distance. At some point Lisa became aware that she had become a leader with nobody following. She returned to us, and together we re-evaluated and retreated.


Lisa zoomed out

Back on the east side of the mountain, we met a couple of climbers descending. They seemed to like the route they had chosen, and they gave us helpful advice. When we climbed their preferred route, all the features from the 1999 Jim Ramaker trip report made sense. We found the gully, the sidewalk, and the dike. Mostly class 2, with a bit of straightforward class 3, and we were soon crowded together on the 13775-foot summit.



Lisa wants to go back to Mt Winchell and finish the challenging route she began. Winchell “do” or Winchell “do-not”; there is no Winchell “try.”

The Hero of Giraud

August 17 - 18, 2013

By Aaron Schuman

Where were y’all on August 18, 2013? Somehow Lisa Barboza and I were the entire Sierra Club outing to Giraud Peak that day. We had come up the day before over Bishop Pass. The trip photo, taken on my camera by a weird guy we met on the trail, is of us two with a couple of eager JMT trekkers who we drove up from the ranger station to South Lake. Our destination looms in the background.


We camped Saturday night at windswept Lake 12K, with Chris Kantarjiev, Eszter Tompos, and Burtt Bogley. They had just finished a climb of Mt Agassiz. Adventurous trio; we need them in the PCS.

At first light on Sunday we bopped down Dusy Basin to where the north ridge of Giraud meets the trail. It was easy class 2 up the ridge to the notch. The ridge continues to a subsidiary eastern peak, but we exited to the right, into a bowl. We scrambled over big boulders until the bowl turned into sand and rubble. We hugged the wall on the left and crossed the ridge into the watershed of the Palisade Basin. Following advice in Secor’s guide and several trip reports, we dropped 100 meters and traversed right, looking for the class 2 chute that leads to the summit. The southeast face offers several chutes, and the trip reports are vague about which one to take. A bit of searching led us to the third major chute, the one that arises from the lake. With only a few brief class 3 excursions, we shot to the top. We were the only people to climb Giraud Peak so far this year, but you still have time to follow us there.

We watched thunderstorms build over LeConte Canyon and over Piute Pass. We didn’t linger on our mountaintop. By the time we returned to the ridge crossing, lightning was dazzling Devil’s Crag, Black Giant, Mt Emerson, and Mt Humphreys. We hurried back down to the trail. We returned to our camp, packed up and moved right along, because we didn’t want to cross Bishop Pass in an electrical storm.

Swift Lisa stayed a step ahead of the rain, but I got wet on the return hike. Now driving the Prius, we continued through heavy rain all the way down to Bishop. Lightning strikes had ignited sagebrush fires throughout Inyo and Mono Counties. The same storm was probably the source of the giant Rim Fire, which, as I write these words, is burning into Yosemite.

Elected Officials


Terry Cline/

Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler

Rod McCalley/


Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes)

Yoni Novat

Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor

    Judy Molland / screeeditor@gmail.comPCS World Wide Web Publisher
    Joe Baker/

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 Thursday, September 26. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month. (Except this month - the third Tuesday.)