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Ascender Title
October 2007
Volume 13, Issue 9


Alan, Ali, Joel and Howard on Currant Mountain


Ali ascending summit ridge


Joel on Duckwater Peak


Steep terrain as we approach summit ridge of Currant


Ali and Howard complete tricky downclimb near the summit of Currant


A mile-long traverse along a talus slope


Beautiful sunrise from our campsite


A long steep ascent up to Currant




Snafu and his eager pupils


Down they go!


Alex takes some instruction



President: Nadia von Magdenko
Vice President/Training Director: Xavier Wasiak
Secretary: Alda Behie
Treasurer: Jim Albamont
Newsletter Editor: Joel Brewster
Outings Director: Kristi Meyer
Membership Director: Chris Ransel
Website Director: Amy Brewster
Public Relations/Marketing Director: Kim Owen
Club Gear Director:
Chris Ransel
Social Directors:
Erika Napoletano, Dawna Herndon
& Valentina Fields
Safety Director: Mary Beth Pierce
Assistant Director: Alan Andrunas
Assistant Director: Richard Baugh
Assistant Director:
Karyn Davenport
Assistant Director: Annalisa Helm
Assistant Director: John "Snafu" Mueller
Assistant Director: Steve Nguyen
Assistant Director: Doug Olson

Assistant Director: Nathan Petrosian
Assistant Director: Cristina Rodriguez
Assistant Director: Harlan Stockman
Past President: Howard Herndon

The Ascender is published monthly by the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club. It can be viewed on the “Members Only” section of our website. Current Club membership is approximately 160.
All Club members are invited to submit trip reports, photos, trip listings, recipes, classified ads and other related information. Please include the name and date of the trip or outing and the author’s name. November 10th is the deadline for the next issue.

Joel Brewster
Phone: 456-8520


To the following members, please note that your membership will expire this month:

Al Hastings
Ali Haghi
Candace Wise
Carole Hedge
Colin Okada
Ed, Lillian, Eddie, & Joanne Plana
John, Erin, & Megan Popa
Jorge Ayala
Mike Ryan
Richard Baugh
Shelley Brunskill
Walter Potter


Please contact the membership director if you have questions about your membership.

Please make your check payable to the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club and mail to: P.O. Box 36026, Las Vegas, NV 89133-6026.
Single membership is $30 per year, $85 for three years. Family annual membership is $40, $110 for three years. Please mail all renewals prior to the end of the month to ensure uninterrupted notification of your Ascender password.

To All Members:
Please send any address, phone number and e-mail changes to Chris Ransel.

Chris Ransel
Membership Director


This club gear is available at no charge to members:

4-season tent
Bear Barrels
Alpine Axes*
Strap-on Crampons*


*Will require a signed waiver.

Non-members are not eligible to borrow club gear. Deposits taken on gear must be in the form of cash or check and will be returned upon return of equipment. Gear is also available to members for courses with no deposit required. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about club gear, please contact Chris Ransel.


Classified Ads
Members: Free
Non-members: $5

Business Ads
1/8 page (business card): $5
1/4 page: $10
1/2 page: $15
Full page: $20
All rates are per issue and will be discontinued automatically unless renewed. Ads must be prepaid and sent by e-mail or submitted on CD. Please make checks payable to Las Vegas Mountaineers Club.


September 14-15, 2007
Report by Alan Nakashima, Photos by Alan Nakashima and Joel Brewster

Mountaineers Howard Herndon, Ali Haghi, Joel Brewster and I set out for Currant Mountain and Duckwater Peak. These are among the hikes that Josh Owen has dubbed the "nowhere Nevada" hikes. The trip was led by Howard Herndon but Howard, Ali Haghi, Luba Leef and I had been together on Memorial Day 2004 when we attempted and failed to summit either peak, so we all knew where we needed to go. On the previous trip, we were going up in snow with ice axes and missed the route to the summit.

Ali, Joel, and I left Las Vegas at about 10:30 a.m. on Friday, September 14, 2007 and headed for Currant and Duckwater in the White Pine Range about 200 miles north of Las Vegas. We went up Highways 93 and 318 past Lund and took Highway 6 southwest to the White River Campground turnoff. One should not take the first turnoff to the west marked White River Ranch as this takes you way to the north and west, although it eventually does come back around to the White River Campground. The next road to the south is marked White River Campground and is the correct road. We drove in about 10 miles to campsite #8 which has nice shade and trees but could be substantially improved by being a bit more level. Nevertheless, we set up camp and upon completion set off to scout the road to see how far we could drive in the morning. As with many areas there have been washouts that have made access difficult. This was no different as the washouts added a mile or two to the round-trip distance and an additional 300 to 400 feet of vertical to the hike.

Ali and Alan climbing a limestone wall

Howard got stuck working Friday afternoon and wasn't able to leave until about 3:00 p.m., arriving at the campsite at somewhere around 7:00. After a beer/glass of wine we vowed to get an early start and turned in for the evening. The best laid plans... We got up and had a bit of coffee and breakfast and finally left camp at about 6:30 a.m. and headed to the trailhead.

Because we couldn't get the vehicle past the washout to drive up the road to start up Duckwater as the first peak, we opted to go up the ravine towards Currant Mountain. The ravine heads west toward the ridge on the south side of Currant. Soon, the ravine begins to bend south. After a mile or so the route leaves the main ravine in a faint tributary ravine and heads west up the ridge to Currant. The route steepens to where you are almost climbing up the limestone rocks. Just before the summit ridge we worked our way around a very steep scree bowl and up a short ridge to a knob. There is a tricky (to find) downclimb on the west side of the knob. After that it was up a final scree slope to the summit ridge and along the summit ridge to the north for a few hundred feet to the actual summit.

Ali posing with one of many majestic Bristlecones

Although the route following the summit ridge over to Duckwater appears to be obvious, there are some large gaps in the ridge that require 300 to 400 foot up and down climbs. Following the Hart recommendation and the GPS track from Harlan we came down off the summit ridge to the west and dropped down about 500 feet side-hilling across the scree for about a mile. In some spots walking is easily done across the tilted edges of limestone layers.

The route moves over a saddle at about 10,700 feet and from there runs along the ridge and up and over a peak marked only with an elevation of 11,154 feet before bending northwest and then north to the Duckwater summit at 11,175 feet.

At the last saddle before the Duckwater summit, Howard began to feel ill and Ali and Howard decided to head down the avalanche chute to the road and back to the car. Joel on I continued on toward Duckwater and it took about an hour to summit and get back to the saddle. Ali and Howard had waited for about 30 minutes or so until the wind chill began to take its toll and they started down the chute. We got back to the saddle and also started down the chute. The going was steep until we got down to the main part of the chute where there was more debris but less steepness. Picking our way down the slope we avoided most of the avalanche detritus and dense growth brush. After a mile or so, we reached the road where it was an easy but long mile-and-a-half walk back to the car. We reached the car just as it was getting sufficiently dark that we were trying to decide whether we needed to get out our headlamps to help avoid the pasture patties on the road.

The sun sets as we descend back to the car

It was a long, mostly successful day as we all made it up Currant, and Joel and I made it up Duckwater. For me these were the 49th and 50th of the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club 50 Classic Peaks. (Editor's note: Congratulations Alan... quite an accomplishment!!!)



Alan just completed the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club's
50 Classic Peaks!




September 22-23, 2007
Report and Photos by Erika Napoletano

On the weekend of September 22 and 23, LVMC hosted another round of Basic Rappelling Techniques and the first ever Advanced Rappelling Techniques courses. Held out in the Calico Basin area of Red Rock Conservation Area, the weekend yielded two great classes of folks who (hopefully) walked away a little smarter and safer!

While Saturday's Basic Rappelling Techniques course was looking to be a bust on account of rain, the day eventually cleared up into one of those gorgeous Las Vegas fall days.

The courses were led by John “Snafu” Mueller, a climber with over 30 years of experience and a long-time board member of the LVMC. Erika Napoletano assisted on Saturday and Sunday and Paul Des Roches assisted on Sunday as well.

While he might not have an ass, Snafu makes up for it with wisdom! Both days were chock-full of practical knowledge designed to keep climbers safe in a wide variety of situations and plenty of hands-on training.

The Basic Rappelling Techniques course began with instruction on how to safely use friction belay/rappel devices for descending ropes. Snafu teaches the Guide's Rappel System, which includes the use of a backup knot. Snafu demonstrated lowering techniques with three different systems: an ATC device, a Munter Hitch, and the carabiner brake. He also taught everyone three different friction knots they could use as their backup knots for the Guide's Rappel System: the prusik, the Kleimheist, and the autoblock.

Everyone got plenty of time on the ropes and was able to get hands-on experience rappelling on both single and double rope systems. As well, each person had the opportunity to provide a backup to someone else's rappel via the Fireman's Belay, where the person on the ground holds the ends of the rope being rappelled on and can stop the rappelling person above if need be by simply pulling the ropes taut.

Basic Rappelling Techniques class started with seven people and ended with seven people. Always a plus!

Sunday yielded a high turnout for the Advanced Rappelling Techniques course, with 14 people other than Snafu and his assistants for the day. Such a large class is always demanding on the instructor, and we'd like to thank Snafu for delivering in spades on this first-ever offering of the course with the LVMC.

The Advanced Rappelling Techniques course is based on the Guide's Rappel System taught in the basic class. Course content covered the following information and each student got practical hands-on experience with a majority of these topics:

• Tying two ropes together and the knots used for that purpose
• Proper rope management techniques for throwing a rope (butterfly coil and guide's coil)
• Proper rappelling techniques for multi-station and/or multi-pitch rappelling
• How to safely change stations at the end of a rappel
• Passing a knot on rappel.

Pearl of Wisdom for the Day: always consider using the FBF (Fat Boy First) system when rappelling. You, as a climber, have to be secure with the rappel station you're rappelling from, so if you're in doubt, send the fat boy who built the sucker FIRST down the pitch. If it holds him, smile and rap on.

Over both days, here are some great take-aways for rappelling technique across the board:

• Use of a backup knot strengthens your rappelling system. There's no good reason to NOT use one.
• Check once – Check twice. It's you're safety on the line and it's always worth a second glance.
• Communication with your fellow climbers is key, from safety to rope management. It's wise to practice communicating with your climbing partners prior to a climb to ensure that, in the case that audible commands cannot be heard, you have a solid system of non-verbal commands.
• Climbing is dangerous, but with patience and proper technique, you can make it a safe adventure for yourself and those around you!

There were plenty of questions asked and answered about gear recommendations. Snafu loves spending other people's money, so he's a great resource and can always help point someone in the right direction. For those asking about the following items during class, they can all be purchased at our local Desert Rock Sports on Charleston and Cimmaron:

PAS (Personal Anchoring System) by Metolius

Belay/Rappel Devices: ATC XP

There's a lot of personal preference that comes into play when gear is involved. While a great many questions were answered, our course participants are bound to have more. Please feel free to ask Snafu or one of the other climbers in the club what they use and why. Over time, you'll develop your own stash of gear that you're comfortable with.

Sunday started with 17 people and ended with 17 --- again, well done Snafu!

A huge thanks to John “Snafu” Mueller for being so giving of his time on such a beautiful weekend. He could have been climbing (since he ain't gimpy no more!), but he chose to spend it making us all just a little bit smarter.

If you're rappin' and y'know it, clap your hands!

Climb on.

"If you're rappin' and y'know it, clap your hands!"



The Las Vegas Mountaineers hold their monthly meetings at the Sahara West Library,
9600 West Sahara. Click HERE for map. Meeting time is 7:00 p.m.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My Whirlwind Summer Here & Abroad
Courtney Purcell

"It all began with the melting of the snow and the usual smiling weekends back in the Sierra. But then it got crazy. One week, I was soloing 4000-meter peaks in the Swiss Alps, the next, climbing huge peaks no one's ever heard of in the North Cascades, dodging rock fall, easing across crevasses, and the next, climbing big peaks in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirks of British Columbia, then practically plowing over a grizzly and her cub jogging down from a solo jaunt into the Teton backcountry. Then the Rubies, then here, there. It never really ended. Colorado fourteeners. The weeks blended together into a haze, one from which I'm only now beginning to recover."


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2007 Climbing Season: Success, Failure & Fun for the Weekend Warrior
Xavier Wasiak

"Collection of pics and trip reports from the 2007
climbing/mountaineering season starring the charming and determined Erika Napoletano, the beautiful and glamorous Valentina Fields, her strong and loyal manfriend Nathan Patrosian, the photographically talented and upbeat Jimmy Albamont, John "the world is my margarita blender" Mueller, and others... Join us as we journey through the drama that is this climbing/mountaineering weekend warrior life and witness success, failure, humor, grief and death.. Well, no one actually dies, but I'm sure we could have!"

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