November  2016                Peak Climbing Section, Loma Prieta Chapter, Sierra Club Vol. 50 No.11 -




Date          Tuesday, November 8


Time          7:30 pm – 9:30 pm


Where       PCC

                  3921 E. Bayshore Road

                  Palo Alto, CA


Program    Cho Oyu, The World's 6th Highest Peak


Presenter  Priyanka Dhanda


For our November meeting, we are glad to welcome Priyanka Dhanda, who will share with us her experience of climbing her first 8000m peak - Cho Oyu. At 8201m, Cho Oyu ("Turquoise Goddess" in Tibetan) is the world's 6th tallest peak. In Priyanka's own words - "It was a profound and intense experience." Please join us on November 8th as Priyanka shares her journey, explains how she prepared for an 8000m peak climb, and tells stories illustrated by photographs from one of the most scenic places on earth.  She will also share what she learned from the expedition and provide tips on how one can prepare for an expedition like this.





Cho Oyu - Turquoise Goddess






Hello climbers and adventurers:


I have been in South Africa for about 30 days now and am due to fly home this week.  I’ve had some great adventures, climbing Mont Aux Sources in the Drakenberg mountain range, seeing the great amphitheater, and missing out on climbing the Sentinel (about 5.6) because of rain.   For the first time, I came close to baboons while on foo. I had done a solo 15km hike in the mountains and I was quite scared; Baboons who are used to humans are deadly.

I’ve also climbed Table Mountain, in Capetown, South Africa, and that is one of the most amazing places I have visited.  To see some of these pictures, check out my Facebook feed:


And I am working 12 hour days routinely, putting up the MeerKAT radio telescope in the Karoo Desert, which when completed will be the largest in the world, capable of seeing a million trillion miles into space. You can click on this link to see what I have been working on, as a kind of Inspector General for the project:


It looks like I will be in South Africa until sometime in the second quarter of 2017, 30 days on and 20 days off.  I will serve as PCS chair if needed, but hope that someone else will step up. I have served the PCS continuously since 2006, as Vice Chair, Chair, Mountaineering Chair, on the National Sierra Club MOC, and again as your chair in 2015 and 2016.  I continue to serve as the Loma Prieta Outings Chair.

But I think it is time for new leadership; I can’t serve if I am 10 hours away.  My work responsibilities this year have been a bit overwhelming.


With that, I hope to see you at next Tuesday’s PCS Meeting; We have a great speaker, and also elections. Please be sure to vote, in both the national election and in our PCS election.


Happy Climbing








Happy November, and be sure to check out Jim Ramaker's trip report, with its tales of high and beautiful adventure!









I am sad to report that "There are no published events to display at this time."






However, there is a snow camping seminar, brought to you by the Ski Touring Section of our Loma Prieta Sierra Club chapter in January, 2017.


Read all about it:


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.

The seminar consists of one, full-day seminar held at the Loma Prieta Chapter office on Jan 8, and one weekend field trip on Jan 28-29.  Limit 30 participants for the classroom sessions, and 25 participants on the outing. A minimum of 10 is required for the classroom session.

$35 cost includes books, 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.





Shepherd Pass

August 25 - 28, 2016


Jim Ramaker


This late-August trip brought several of the usual SPS list-climbing suspects together for another torture session on the Shepherd Pass trail, followed by a few days of climbing in the alpine paradise beyond. Daryn Dodge and Kathy Rich co-led the trip, with Keith Christensen and Paul Garry coming up from LA; Eddie Sudol, Lisa Barboza, and yours truly Jim Ramaker coming from the Bay Area; and Corrine Livingston, Signe Swenson, and Tom Sakowych already in the backcountry climbing, and planning to meet us at a lake near Milestone Basin.

Most of the team was interested in doing Table (13,632), Midway (13,665), Milestone (13,638), and Caltech (13,832). I was on the trip mainly for social reasons, though I did have one unclimbed peak in the area -- Mt. Barnard (13,990) -- and Daryn agreed to let me split off from the team for a day for a solo attempt.



So seven of us left the Shepherd Pass trailhead at 7 am on Thursday, August 25 and toiled upward at a steady pace, arriving at the pass around 4. We continued about three miles over the pass and split up around 5:30, with me heading south to camp near the intersection of the Shepherd Pass Trail with the John Muir Trail, and the rest of the team camping at a beautiful tarn about a mile west of the JMT.

We reached Shepherd Pass at 4 pm on the first day, but still had miles to go: Eddie, Lisa, Keith, Paul, Kathy, Daryn


On Friday, I got up at first light and headed south on the JMT to the barren Bighorn Plateau, then left the trail and headed due east across Wright Lakes Basin toward Mt.Barnard.  Except for one talus field, the cross-country travel was amazingly easy, with open forest, gravelly tundra, and a vast green meadow around Wright Creek.

Beautiful and easy terrain in Wright Lakes Basin



Around 9:30, I reached the boulders of Barnard's gentle west slope, where a broad ramp kept the terrain to class-1 or easy class-2. The apparent summit looked too close for a peak just under 14,000 feet, and sure enough, I passed three false summits before the final class-2/3 boulder pile revealed itself.  Since I was ahead of schedule, I napped for an hour on top, after the usual ritual of reading the register and identifying neighboring peaks. BTW, Paul Garry told me that the striking peak about 3/4 mile east of Barnard is unofficially called, amazingly enough, Barnard East (13,680+).

I reversed my pleasant cross-country route, and around 4 p.m., without stopping to think about it, I dropped my pack and hurried up Tawny Point (12,332).  (When you're out with Daryn, you have to try to do "bonus peaks" if humanly possible.) Round-trip for this small talus hump took about 45 minutes, and while I was on the summit, a black cloud drifted over me and surprised me with a few snowflakes.

About 5:30, I retrieved my overnight gear from my camp along the JMT, and then began the late-day slog to rejoin the team four miles to the west at a tarn along the Kern River. I finally arrived there around 8 pm, exhausted but happy after a great day in the mountains. A few minutes later, Daryn, Kathy, Corrine, Keith, Paul, Tom, and Signe arrived after climbing both Table and Midway (they had wanted to do Milestone also, but as expected, it was a peak too far). Eddie and Lisa were already in camp, having done Table and skipped Midway.

Very happily reunited, our large 10-person team cooked and ate by headlamp, and after supper, Kathy surprised us with 10 individual portions of amazing Elderberry pie, which she had made from berries picked on our previous trip up Taboose Pass, then carefully packaged and carried all the way in.

On Saturday, most of the team climbed back up the towering ridge to the west to do Milestone, while Lisa, Eddie, and I backpacked back uphill to the JMT, then headed north for about two miles and found a spectacular camp on sandy ledges at 12,000 feet. Eddie needed Caltech,





Lisa needed a rest day, and I decided to go with Eddie because I had done Caltech from the west and we would be doing it from the east. Any excuse to do a peak will suffice.

Milestone Mesa and Milestone Peak (13,638') on a sparkling Sierra morning


Like Barnard, Caltech involved no more than scree slogging and boulder hopping, but Eddie and I added some spice by avoiding the large central scree chute and climbing the broken cliff to its left, which gave us some strenuous class-3 ramps and ledges. We topped out at 2 pm and took an hour break on top.

Summit of Caltech with Eddie. The register box beside my left foot had just one entry, implying that the register books were stolen in August.





While we rested, no fewer than four airborne events entertained us: A colorful butterfly that lives on the summit, a golden eagle that cruised right over us, a rescue helicopter flying south below the summit, and a strange whistling noise that turned out to be a glider flying just above us.  Eric Su, a young southern Calif. climber we had met on the way up Shepherd Pass, showed up, and he suggested we do the bonus peak about a mile south of Caltech, which has the grandiose unofficial name "Mt. Torchbearer" (13,035').  A use trail on the west side of the rounded ridge, a bit of boulder hopping, and we were up.


Like Caltech, Torchbearer had wonderful views of the amazing Kings-Kern Divide and Great Western Divide region, where more than a dozen peaks top 13,500 feet. From just south of the peak, a soft reddish scree chute took us to the bottom of the peak in less than 10 minutes, and around 5 pm, we rejoined Lisa at our camp to wash up and wait for the intrepid Milestone team. The wind came up as the sun set behind the Caltech ridge, and as the temperature dropped relentlessly, Lisa wrapped herself in her sleeping bag to stay warm while cooking.

A cold and windy camp at 12,000 feet on the JMT, with happy campers Paul, Daryn, Kathy, Lisa, Corriine, Eddie and Keith


It was after 7 when Daryn, Kathy, Corrine, Keith, and Paul rolled in, set up their tents, put on their warm clothes, and set about cooking by headlamp in the cold wind.  The perseverance of these list-finishing warriors is impressive.


On Sunday morning, Lisa, Eddie, and I packed up and headed southeast across gentle alpine terrain to intersect the Shepherd Pass trail. Sometimes the first hour of hiking on a beautiful Sierra morning has a magical feel to it, and we spotted deer, hawks, and a distant coyote while admiring the north face of Tyndall West (13,540').

Eddie departing Shepherd Pass for the 6800' descent to the cars


The fearless five back in camp headed up Caltech to bag one more SPS peak before hiking out, while Tom and Signe were off on solo ventures. Lisa was on fire on the 6800-foot descent from Shepherd Pass, and we arrived at the cars at 2 and all the way home to the Bay Area by 10. The amazing thing about the area we visited is not just its incredible beauty, but the fact that at least a dozen equally beautiful large alpine basins beckon the Sierra climber.














PCS Officials


            Lisa Barboza:


Vice Chair and Trip Scheduler

Rakesh Ranjan:


Treasurer and Membership Roster (address changes)

Arun Mahajan:


Scree Editor

    Judy Molland:


PCS World Wide Web Publisher
    Bo Meng:


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