December 2014                  Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club              Vol. 48 No.12 -

General Meeting





Photo Credit: Ricky's Sports


Come to the Peak Climbers’ Festivus party, on Tuesday, December 9, 2014, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., at the Whisman Station Clubhouse, at 420 Kent Drive, Mountain View.


Bring a potluck dish to share with climbers who eat like bears! Bring a thumb drive or a CD or 35 mm slides with 10 or 12 of your most heart-stopping climbing photos, from this year or from long ago. Bring your family and friends.

In addition, feel free to bring your alcoholic beverage of choice, and of course, since we are a green organization, bring your own plate, cup, and eating utensils.


From Central Expressway, exit at Whisman. Swing around, cross Whisman, and continue straight onto Whisman Station. Just after the VTA light rail tracks, at the tee at Magnolia Park, turn left on Jacaranda, then right on Kent. Street parking is limited. If you can’t find a space close by, park at the lot at the VTA light rail station and walk over.


From US-101, exit at Ellis. Turn right at Middlefield, left at Whisman, then follow the close-in directions above.


From CA-237, exit at Maude/Middlefield. Take the 237 service drive to get from Maude to Middlefield, turn right on Middlefield, left at Whisman, then follow the close-in directions above.


On VTA light rail, exit at Whisman Station. This is the second stop from the green line terminus at the Mountain View CalTrain rendezvous. It’s a short walk to the clubhouse.

Festivus: It’s the festival for the rest of us.



Editor's Notes


You will see that the submission date for our next Scree is January 5, 2015. That's because Joe (Scree publisher) and I (Scree editor) will be headed to New Zealand for two weeks over our winter break, and won't be returning until January 5. So the first issue of Scree for 2015 will be a tad late. (Unless somebody else would like to take over for January?)


Happy Holidays!



Chair Column


As I am term-limited out, this is my last column. Being Chairperson has been fun and at times challenging. While progress has been slow on changes many in the section feel are needed for our long-term health, we are moving in the right direction. We have seen a few new members become regulars on our climbs. Some will become leaders. Thanks to the many slideshow presenters whose stories and stunning photos have become the main attraction for most who come to our monthly meetings, whether member or not.

I'd like to thank Yoni Novat for serving as Secretary/Treasurer. I'd also like to thank Rakesh Ranjan for filling the role of Vice-Chair and Trip Scheduler.  Both were elected at the November general meeting to serve in this capacity for 2015. 

Thanks also to Judy Molland, our Scree editor, and to Joe Baker for publishing Scree and running our website.

2015’s Chair will be Lisa Barboza. Thank you Lisa for agreeing to serve. I will assist Lisa during the early part of the year as she transitions from her job into early retirement and even more climbing than she’s managed to pull off these last few years while shuttling to the east coast.

This month’s meeting will be our annual holiday celebration potluck, for details see the announcement above. Please join us.






Here's the link to the Advance Trip Schedule: Check it out.





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.


January 13, 2015: Snow Camping Seminar

(also January 13, 14, & 21, and a weekend field trip January 30 - Feb 1)

Leader: John Langbein


January 17, 2015: Junipero Serra

Leaders: Yoni Novat, Lisa Barboza



PCS Trip Details


Snow Camping Seminar

See last page of Scree for all the details.


Junipero Serra

Goal: Junipero Serra, 5780'

Location: Ventana Wilderness

Date: January 17, 2015

Leader: Yoni Novat (yoninovat at yahoo dot com, 408-455-3169, Lisa Barboza

Difficulty: Class 1


Let’s kick off a great new year of outdoor climbs with a climb to the highest point in Monterey County, the 5780 foot Junipero Serra Peak.  This is a great, mildly strenuous beginner’s climb with under 12 miles round trip and 3900+ feet of gain.  Good hiking boots and clothes for possible snow at the summit recommended.To carpool, meet in Morgan Hill at 7 am at Carl's Jr. (Take the Dunne Ave exit). We'll start at the trailhead at 10 am, summit by 2 pm, and be back at the cars by 5 pm. See for more information.



Trip Reports


Warner Peak, OR (8017')

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

October 11


Debbie Bulger

All photos by Richard Stover, except for summit photo, by Debbie Bulger.


I always go up to Oregon to celebrate my birthday in October and combine serious theater-going in Ashland with a camping trip. This year, Richard Stover and I chose to visit the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge and climb Warner Peak there. Warner is a relatively easy jaunt (10 miles round trip with 2200 feet of elevation gain partially on dirt roads). The special part is the setting: vivid aspens and opportunities to see Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, and lots of birds.

We camped at the free Hot Springs Campground and set off on our hike at the leisure hour of 9 a.m. after a hot breakfast. We actually weren’t planning to climb Warner that day, but decided to make the ascent after we could see the peak.

We had started out exploring the colorful aspen groves in the riparian corridor along Rock Creek.

Beautiful aspens



Artwork installation of beautiful leaves and creek


There were signs of previous beaver activity along the creek, but no recent activity. I don’t believe there are beaver in the area at present.

The aspens were gloriously yellow, and their leaves falling in Rock Creek created patterns reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy. Shortly after we emerged from two hours in the river canyon, we could see the easy summit of Warner ahead.

Warner Peak ahead




“Let’s go for it,” I said. The climb took a bit longer than I thought it would, since the sagebrush caused us to zig and zag, and the ground was strewn with volcanic rocks beneath the brush. When we finally reached the summit, the wind was whipping at about 40 mph! I thought Richard was going to become airborne when he stretched out his arms.

Richard on summit

On the way down, we decided to head for DeGarmo Notch about two miles to the north. Along the ridge we spotted an interesting plant that grew in rings much like creosote bush. We headed down to the Barnhardi cabin through aspen groves, spent a few minutes checking out this sheepherder’s cabin from the 1920s, then followed a dirt road back to our campsite.

Barnhardi cabin

That evening we relaxed in the natural hot springs before turning in.



Jeff David Peak (9065')

November 8


Terry Cline


I wanted to climb Jeff Davis Peak long before I had seen it. It is a volcanic plug between Carson Pass and Markleeville, just above and east of the pass between Charity Valley and the Blue Lakes to the south. It was named, as are a number of other peaks in the area, by Confederate sympathizers who populated the area in the late 19th century.

Jeff Davis Peak with a nice autumn glow


I had co-led with Ken Berman a PCS trip back in the early 1970’s to climb Jeff Davis in winter. The winter approach is somewhat arduous, much skiing with a heavy pack up and down, a two day trip. Back then I skied to winter climbs on wooden skis with cable bindings that could be used with my leather mountaineering boots (which lacked support for the ankles, so skiing downhill with a pack with this setup was an adventure). On the way up to climb on the second day, the cable broke on one ski binding and the ski zipped back down the hill into a tree and the tip broke off. My climb was done and I skateboarded back to the car on one ski. The rest of the group summited and I never got back to do the climb.


This last winter I scheduled a trip to try again after all these years, but one of the season’s rare





storms came that weekend. So the trip was aborted and none of the participants could be scheduled for a later try.


In early October I went on a solo reconnaissance hike to take a look at the peak and the route, taking the shorter summer way in via Blue Lakes Road out of Hope Valley. Driving in to the jumping off point reduced the approach from about 6 miles from Red Lake to one and a half. I naively thought I might want to try third-classing the peak. I did not find what I thought was the route, but scrambled halfway around the base looking for it.


Mentioning this recon at the PCS meeting the next week stimulated Louise Wholey to send me an email just before I headed to Colorado for my son Dave’s wedding, saying she wanted to do the climb. We agreed to do it when I got back during a good weather window before the snows hit and closed the short approach.


On November 8th, we met at the turnoff of Highway 88 to Blue Lakes Road at 10:30 am Saturday morning and drove to the start of the hiking 9 miles up the road.


Jeff Davis Peak (2763 m, 9065 ft) is really a 200-300 foot high volcanic plug sitting on a rounded “mountain” (more like a big hill). We leisurely hiked into the base of the plug and started looking for the start of the route by scrambling around it, trying to match up what we saw with online descriptions and what looked climbable. It wasn’t obvious, yet again. Finally, by some second and third class climbing up 50-75 feet on the south side, we found a little basin with cliffs that matched the descriptions. We could not see this from down at the base. So we went back down to the packs and got the technical gear and third-classed back up to the start of the difficulties.


The route has been rated 4th class, which means a rope is used but the leader typically doesn’t place intermediate protection; really meaning the leader must not fall. Usually one can place protection on a 4th class route in most mountains, but this is not granite or similarly featured somewhat solid rock. The plug is




volcanic breccia, basically dried mud and cooled lava magma. The rock and climbing at the Pinnacles National Park south of Hollister is similar, but typically more solid. That means lots of loose rock, steep faces with knobs sticking out, and where there are cracks they are crumbly and filled with debris. Scary stuff to lead, especially without drilled bolts for protection like at the Pinnacles.


The first pitch is about 90 feet up a steep wall of knobs, with a groove on the left that could be stemmed occasionally. It was probably more like 5.4 instead of 4th. I was able to place token protection by tying off a big knob with a long webbing sling about 30 feet up. Psychological protection. The pitch ended in an alcove that had a big boulder with rappel slings wrapped around it.

Me leading the first pitch. Note the psychological protection of a sling wrapped around a knob about a third of the way up the 90' pitch











Louise following the first pitch


This was followed by a short scramble through a tunnel to the base of a vertical squeeze chimney that formed the second pitch. This was 4th class only because there was no way to protect it. It was more like mid fifth class and became a much more difficult off-width crack at the top. So we had to exit it before the off-width onto the face to right and climb up another 10-15 feet totally unprotected. There another boulder with a rappel anchor greeted us and from there we could scramble 50-75 feet to the summit. 


Here we unroped. While I was unhooking the belay for Louise, she headed for the summit before me, a second class scramble. When I got near the top, I had not seen which way she had gone and went around the final pinnacle on the right when I should have gone left and was greeted by lots of air, all the way down to the northeast side of the plug into the canyon below. She had gone an easier way around to the left, which I didn’t see while my head was down; but I could now see her on the summit 20 feet away. Well, since I was there and it seemed easier to go up instead of reversing course, I carefully climbed up the exposed final rocks to the summit. Whew!











Me on the 3rd class pinnacle just below the summit


We took in the views and signed the summit register. Looked like we were the only ones to summit this year. 2012 had several and 2013 only one party. Then we scrambled down the way Louise had come to the upper rappel station. What followed were two exciting rappels with only a little trouble with a stuck rope while retrieving the rope after the first rappel. Curse those knobs! Then the down climb over loose gravel to the 3rd class wall, down it one at a time to avoid knocking rocks on each other and we were finally safe. After a brief late lunch, we began the hike back and reached the cars just as light faded to dark. We were treated to a fabulous sunset.

Sunset as we approached the car


Then I followed Louise’s car around Lake Tahoe back to Truckee to her house and we enjoyed a nice dinner and conversation featuring trout caught by husband Jim who had spent the day fishing north of Sierraville. A good Zinfandel wine provided lubricant.


Sunday, Louise and I drove up to Donner Pass on the old Highway 40 road to School Rock for a little top-roped climbing while Jim went fishing. Great granite cliffs here with a 400 page guidebook. Most climbs are above my ability, but the little section of cliff used by guides to teach beginners was a good place to practice with a top rope; some sections between the easy ones where challenging. Afterwards we had lunch at the Summit Restaurant near the Norden entrance to Interstate 80 and it was time for me to fight the traffic home. A good time was had by all. Thanks to Louise for photos.


Elected Officials


            Terry Cline:


Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler

Rakesh Ranjan:


Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes)

Yoni Novat:


Publicity Committee Positions

Scree Editor

    Judy Molland /


PCS 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 Monday, January 5. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month

Snow Camping Seminar



Tuesday, January 13, 2015


6:00 PM to 9:30 PM

Presented by:

Loma Prieta Chapter Ski Touring Section


John Langbein - 650-365-9462


Registration Required before January 12, 2015 12:00 AM


3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303, USA


Snow camping allows you to backpack in all seasons. By snowshoeing or skiing far into the wilderness, you can visit the Sierras with its thick layer of snow and enjoy the scenery far from the crowds; no competition for the "best" campsites! The skills obtained from the Loma Prieta's Snow Camping Seminar prepare you for camping happily in the snow, and give tips for day skiers or snowshoers caught out overnight. Participants must be experienced summer backpackers as this course will give you winter information and tips but doesn't teach basic backpacking. 

Three evenings, held at the Loma Prieta Chapter office during the evening of Jan 13, 14, & 21, and one weekend field trip on Jan 30-Feb 1, 2015. Limit 40 participants for the evening classroom sessions, and 25 participants on the outing. 

$35 cost includes books, instruction, and some common equipment used on field trip.

To sign up, send $35 check, payable to BSCS, to P.O. Box 802, Menlo Park, CA 94026. Include name & email of each person, phone #, Sierra Club member number (if oversubscribed, preference will be given to members). Upon receipt, we will acknowledge and send more information. 

Questions? Contact John Langbein


Snow Camping Seminar Application


Name: _____________________________________________________


Address: ____________________________________________________


Phone: ________________________


Email:  ____________________________


Sierra Club Member Number: _________________