American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Sierra Nevada Section

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Sierra Nevada Section. The Sierra Nevada Section had an active 2006 promoting the AAC’s goals of Knowledge, Conservation, and Community. The Section hosted nine events at which it welcomed AAC members, their guests, visiting climbers, and the public to share mountain fellowship, learn and preserve the rich history of climbing, and contribute to the conservation of the mountains and crags we love.

In February we hosted our first annual Ice Climb-munity based from the off-the-grid Lost Trail Lodge in Coldstream Canyon near Truckee. Sierra Nevada Section Climb-munity events are intended to get both AAC members and nonmembers out climbing together and promote AAC membership. Despite challenging weather, we enjoyed a variety of climbs from moderate smears to steep pillars and a little mixed climbing. Great meals, a warm fire and some live music each evening at the lodge kept spirits high.

Yosemite Valley in late April saw the Section hosting the Yosemite premiere of the award winning documentary film Monumental, a biography of climber and conservation icon David Brower. Along with the movie, we hosted a free beer and wine reception where we welcomed Park Superintendent Mike Tollefson and many climbers from Camp 4. A number of Section members attended to help with the event and to share the joy of springtime climbing in the Valley. Monumental was produced by Kelley Duane, daughter of our member Dick Duane, with financial support from the Sierra Nevada Section. Screenings of the film are now part of the climbers’ interpretive program in Yosemite. This wonderful addition is the latest in the ongoing efforts of Section member Linda McMillan in leading the AAC’s work to preserve and promote the historical importance of Camp 4 and climbing in Yosemite Valley.

Section members and friends gathered on Donner Summit in June to enjoy superb granite cragging. We camped within walking distance of the climbs on undeveloped property owned by our member Bela Vadasz of Alpine Skills International and enjoyed a barbeque and campfire. This event featured the debut of the Sierra Nevada Section's newly acquired portable Wag Bag human waste system, which allows us to cost effectively reduce the impact of our larger groups when camped informally on undeveloped land or gathered in other locations without facilities. The Section is promoting human waste management practices consistent with the AAC’s Clean Mountain Can initiative on Denali and its Wag Bag kiosk in Indian Creek south of Moab, Utah.

In July the Section took its Climb-munity series of gatherings to Tioga Pass and Tuolumne Meadows. With some last minute good fortune, we were able to secure a group campsite in the Meadows. This allowed outreach to the climbing community by sharing our site with quite a few climbers whom we invited in after they were shut out of the full campground. Great weather on Saturday saw members hitting the crags and heading for nearby peaks. That evening we shared the campfire with our new friends. Our guests were impressed to learn about the AAC’s ongoing initiatives, from those right in front of them in Yosemite National Park to our Pakistan earthquake relief efforts. On Sunday morning, the AAC-sup- ported weekly coffee with climbing ranger Jesse McGahey included a discussion of the Park Service’s management plans for Tuolumne Meadows and the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River. Sunday’s climbing had most of the group enjoying a number of fine routes on Dozier Dome recently established by Section member George Ridgely and friends.

AAC President Jim Donini and his crew of fellow Club members from Colorado joined us for the Donner Summit Climb-munity II in late August. The weather was splitter, and everyone enjoyed great cragging and another fun barbeque and campfire on Bela Vadasz’s beautiful Donner Pass property. Bela has begun exploring the possibility of establishing an AAC-affiliated hut on the property, providing access to the nearby cragging and excellent winter ski-mountaineering terrain.

The Section kicked off its series of fall events with the ever-popular Pinecrest Climb-In hosted by Royal and Liz Robbins and Tom Frost in late September. Members and friends gathered to enjoy cragging at Gianelli Edges with crisp fall weather and a wonderful party at the Robbins cabin. Attendees included climbers from the Yosemite Golden Age like Pat Ament and Mike Sherrick, along with his wife Natalie, as well as local Sonora Pass area guidebook author Brad Young. Our thanks to Royal, Liz, and Tom for their usual warm hospitality.

Sierra Nevada Section members were part of history by attending the Camp 4 Historic Registration celebration on September 30th and October 1st in Yosemite Valley. A ceremony placing the plaque marking Camp 4’s inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places was held at Columbia Boulder. The Section helped host the celebration including food and refreshments, and clips from a wonderful home movie of an early ascent of the Salathé Wall by Allen Steck and Steve Roper. Luminaries in attendance included National Park Service officials and AAC past President Nick Clinch, who spoke eloquently of the AAC’s leadership and perseverance in saving Camp 4. We also began the sale of Camp 4 commemorative t-shirts and insulated mugs (they work equally well for hot coffee and cold beer) to raise money for the Section’s ongoing conservation efforts and promote awareness of the AAC. Contact the Section Chair to order yours today! Our members also participated in the tremendous effort of the Yosemite Facelift cleanup organized by the Yosemite Climbers Association.

In early November, the Section hosted a fun and successful event with our “Fall High Ball” in Bishop. Quite a few folks made the trip to the Eastside of the Sierra to join our local members for some good bouldering and climbing. And over 100 people attended our party and slide show at Mill Creek Station Saturday evening. This included a good number of road- tripping climbers we met at the campground, boulders, and crags.

Thanks to Roger and Mary Lou Derryberry, the owners of Mill Creek Station, for the cool venue and to Lisa Rands for an enthusiastic and exciting slide presentation featuring not only her world-class bouldering, but also hard grit routes in the U.K. and climbing in Patagonia. We also had a successful gear raffle thanks to our supporters at Wilson’s Eastside Sports, Climb-It, Mammoth Mountaineering Supply, Big Sur Bar, and Great Basin Bakery. Thanks also to our own Andy Selters and everyone on the Eastside who helped us promote the event. With the net proceeds of the event, the Sierra Nevada Section was pleased to support two climbing community conservation initiatives on the Eastside. First, we supplied our friend Scott Justham of the BLM with enough coffee to run the 2006-07 season series of Sunday morning free climbers’ coffee at the Pleasant Valley Pit campground. Second, we were proud to contribute the remaining net proceeds of $400 to the Eastern Sierra Climbers Coalition in support of a human waste management solution for the popular Buttermilk bouldering area.

On December 3 the Sierra Nevada Section wrapped up the year with our Annual Holiday Dinner at Spenger’s Fish Grotto in Berkeley Members and guests enjoyed drinks, a dinner buffet, video and photos from this year's Section events, a gear raffle, and a Big Wall Triple Header: Our own Peter Mayfield and Steve Schneider were joined by fellow AAC member Mike Libecki to present Big Walls After the Golden Age—From Yosemite to the Greater Ranges. The general public was invited to join us just for the slideshow, and about 20 folks did so. Peter shared his 1980s first ascents of the A5 El Cap routes, Aurora and Zenyatta Mondatta, and the Big Chill on Half Dome, the latter two with Jim Bridwell. Former Section Chair Steve Schneider told us of his free ascent of El Cap via the route Golden Gate and of his ascent of “Welcome to the Slabs of Koricancha” (V 5.13b, 650m, 13 pitches) on La Esfinge in the Cordillera Blanca with a then 14-year old Scott Corey. And our guest Mike Libecki showed a film of his solo trip to the remote East coast of Greenland (85 hours of three-mph boat travel through a choked icepack!), where he made the first ascent of a 5,000-foot wall. What a fantastic show! The Section also presented certificates of appreciation to our members Linda McMillan and Dick Duane for their tremendous efforts on behalf of the AAC and all of the climbing community in preserving Yosemite’s Camp 4.

Dave Riggs, Chair

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