American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Sierra Nevada Section

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2008

Sierra Nevada Section. We had an active year hosting climbing, social, and conservation events for AAC members and the climbing community. In February we hosted our second Ice Climb-munity based out of the off-the-grid Lost Trail Lodge in Coldstream Canyon near Truc- kee. The Climb-munity events are intended to get both AAC members and nonmembers out climbing together, foster climbing community, and promote AAC membership. Warm and wet weather ended up foiling the ice climbing, but those attending enjoyed skiing and snowshoeing in the beautiful canyon below the Sierra crest. That, along with great meals, a warm fire, and live music at the lodge kept spirits high.

In an effort to connect the AAC locally with younger climbers, the Section created the Annual Meeting Attendance Grant. In March we awarded our inaugural grant to young big- wall ace and AAC member Dave Turner from Sacramento. We paid Dave’s way to attend the AAC Annual Meeting in Bend, Oregon, where he received a Lyman Spitzer grant to support his attempt on a new route on Cerro Escudo in Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia [pp. 24–31]. As a spring and fall resident of Camp 4, Dave is a great ambassador to younger climbers in Yosemite.

In April Section members began their annual volunteer support for the climbers interpretive program in Yosemite. This wonderful program of Saturday evening free public presentations by climbers is part of Linda McMillan’s ongoing effort in leading the AAC’s work to promote the interests of climbers and preserve the historical importance of climbing in Yosemite Valley.

Members and friends gathered for the Donner Summit Climb-munity 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 bar- beque and campfire. This low-key climbing event provides a great way for climbers who haven’t yet joined the AAC to check us out and experience the Club at a local level.

The July Climb-munity attracted over 50 climbers to Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass. Our member Tom Burch secured a group campsite in the Meadows, which we (over)filled and shared with some climbers who were shut out of the full campground. Word got out in the campground, and we had many friends wander over to our site to share a beer and campfire. August featured the sequel to our Donner Summit Climb-munity. The weather was splitter, and everyone enjoyed great climbing and another fun barbeque and campfire on Bela Vadasz’s beautiful Donner Pass property.

The Section kicked off its series of fall events with the ever-popular Pinecrest Climb-In, graciously hosted by Royal and Liz Robbins and Tom Frost in mid-September. Members and guests gathered for cragging at Gianelli Edges and a wonderful party at the Robbins cabin. It’s worth noting that while the Sierra Nevada Section has a tradition of strong membership and leadership from women climbers, no doubt the presence of Liz Robbins and the inspiration of her first female ascent of the Northwest Face of Half Dome resulted in 25 women attending this year’s Climb-In.

In late September our members also participated in the tremendous effort of the annual Yosemite Facelift cleanup organized by the Yosemite Climbers Association with support from the AAC and the Sierra Nevada Section. Check out these numbers and you can’t help but be inspired by the power of grassroots effort: 2,945 volunteers contributing 18,335 person- hours; $344,148 Park Service-value of work done; 132 miles of roadway cleaned; 80+ miles of trails cleaned; 42,330 pounds (over 21 tons) of trash collected, with everything recycled that could be. The AAC and the Section contributed 300 T-shirts featuring graphics designed by our own Scott Sawyer. We also sponsored one of the evening slideshows, with Royal Robbins and Tom Frost describing their ascent of the West Face of Sentinel Rock.

In November the Section hosted the second annual Fall “High Ball” in Bishop. About 50 climbers joined the party Saturday night at Mill Creek Station. Thanks to Roger Derryberry for opening the shrine to Warren Harding for our event. Jerry Dodrill and Kevin Jorgenson presented an electrifying multi-media show featuring insights into their creative collaboration with still photography and video from their diverse climbing experiences, and, of course, there were the wicked highball boulder problems. The gear raffle was a great success. On Sunday a number of us joined local BLM ranger and climber Scott Justham for climber’s coffee at the Happy Boulders trailhead, followed by a work session repairing the trail into the Happies and collecting trash. The explosion in the popularity of bouldering obviously comes with consequences for the surrounding environment and demands responsibility from us.

Later in November, noted climbing photographer Giulio Malfer passed through the San Francisco Bay area on a visit to California, and we coaxed a few notable Section members to sit still for his large-format portrait camera. Thanks to Steve Roper, Irene Beardsley, and Nick Clinch for making themselves available. And thanks to Giulio for giving the AAC permission to use his portraits of our members in promotional materials and at the Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum.

On December 9th the Sierra Nevada Section wrapped up the year with our traditional Annual Holiday Dinner at Spenger’s Fish Grotto in Berkeley. Members and guests enjoyed drinks, a dinner buffet, a recap and photos from this year’s Section events, and a gear raffle. About 100 members and guests attended and were treated to a heartfelt presentation by John Harlin III, editor of the American Alpine Journal and author of the recent book, The Eiger Obsession: Facing the Mountain that Killed My Father, which was featured in the IMAX film, The Alps. To commemorate the evening, each attendee received a complimentary copy of the last issue of the climbing anthology, Ascent, co-edited by Allen Steck, who was in attendance. Coincidentally, that issue included an article by Harlin. Other notable members attending were Lou Reichardt, a member of the first American ascent of K2, and long-time Sierra Nevada guide, author, and filmmaker Doug Robinson.

Dave Riggs, Chair

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