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Ascender Title
July 2010
Volume 16, Issue 7


Chris and Joel disturb a black bear at the Porcupine Creek trailhead

One of the many snow plants in the higher elevations. These entirely bright red plants have no chlorophyll and come out immediately after the snow melts.

Joel on North Dome with Yosemite Valley in the background

Chris on North Dome with snowy peaks behind

Chris posing with dramatic Indian Rocks

Joel and Toby at the top of Vernal Falls


Kristi, Amy, and Joel in the wee hours at Vernal footbridge

All systems go as head farther up the trail

The famous cables leading to the summit of Half Dome

Joel near Little Yosemite

The girls pose with Nevada Falls

Amy with one of the many trail signs

Amy and Kristi at the top of the "Stairs of Doom"

The summit of Half Dome is surprisingly flat.

The happy summit team

Kristi descending the cables-"Look Mom, no hands"

June 29, 2010
Report by Kristi Meyer, Photos by Joel Brewster

After much negotiation the day before, I found myself rolling out of my sleeping bag at 4:30 am on June 29, 2010 so I could be on the trail to Half Dome at 5:00 am with Joel and Amy Brewster. Joel felt 4:00 am was a more prudent starting time, so we could beat the crowds on the trail and the hot weather that was certain to find us around noontime. Amy and I, though, found 4:00 am to be a crazy hour; we were thinking more like 6:00 am. Democracy ruled the day, and 5:00 am was chosen. Turns out, we did beat most of the crowds, making the day safer and smoother, and we managed to stay ahead of the worst of the heat, too.

The trail to Half Dome is one of my favorites. Along the way, you pass right next to beautiful Vernal and Nevada Falls, both pounding with fresh, abundant snow melt even into late June. Early on, you can see Illilouette Falls in the distance – it was still a little dark when Illilouette came into view for us, and we were graced with a spectacular view of the cliffs, the Falls and the nearly full moon. The trail also takes you through a lovely, albeit mosquito-filled, forest and across a tranquil area dubbed “Little Yosemite Valley.”

There's also a bit of adventure on the way to Half Dome, in addition to the famed cables. After a little more than a mile on the Mist Trail, you realize exactly why they chose that name. Along the side of Vernal Falls, the trail turns into a set of tall steps aggressively leading you to the top while the mist off the falls swirls ceaselessly around you. Honestly, it's pretty fun, even at 5:30 am in the relative darkness. Amy and I screamed in unison as waves of heavy, cold mist hit us, and Joel casually trudged along, blind since his soaking-wet glasses lacked windshield wipers.

The sun still hadn't made an appearance by the time we topped Vernal Falls, so the next couple miles were a little brisk for us wet hikers. That section of trail took us up the side of Nevada Falls and delivered us to Little Yosemite Valley. We'd been on the trail for a less than 2 hours at this point, and we'd covered 2.5 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation. We were making great time. Once the sun entered the picture (and the heat with it), though, we started to slow down. Especially through the forested section of the journey, which offered less shade than you might expect from a forest, we seemed to take a lot of snack breaks.

After the forest, the most challenging section of the hike confronted us – what my husband refers to as the “Stairs of Doom.” So, up we plodded through the stair switchbacks cut into the granite that ultimately delivered us to the base of Half Dome. All that was left was 400' of cables to help us climb the slick granite of Half Dome itself. Since we'd gotten an early start, there weren't many people on the cables when we got there, and the vast majority were going up like us. So, we hopped in line and began our ascent. Along the way, we were entertained by a guy who dropped both a camera lens and his water bottle, and frightened by some descenders who seemed in over their heads as they careened down from board to board (the cables are held in place by metal posts positioned every 10 feet or so, and wooden planks run horizontally between the posts to give hikers a place to rest).

However, before we knew it, we'd arrived safely on the summit. After a quick survey of the land, we found a little spot for an early lunch (it was about 10:30 am) near the “diving board.” Pictures of Joel and I on the diving board followed, after we promised Amy we'd safely stay back from the edge. I did, though, peer over when she wasn't looking so I could take in the valley floor some 5,000 feet directly below. Looking upward and outward, we saw Yosemite Valley, including Yosemite Falls and El Cap, and portions of the still snow-covered High Sierra.

Our time on top also included flirting with a marmot who cutely stuck his head out from under some rocks now and again, and some high-fiving when we realized two tall, dark and handsome Germans who had passed us like we were standing still back in Little Yosemite Valley were on the summit at the same time as us. We'd like to think we kept pace with them, but the reality probably is that they'd taken a two-hour summit nap while we were slogging up the trail.

Grand 360 degree views from the top of Half Dome

So all that was left was getting down – 7+ miles and around 5,000 feet of down – starting with a descent of the cables. Enough time had passed that the cables were getting busy, so maneuvering down was a wee bit tricky. Slow and steady, though, we made it to the bottom. Joel arrived first, and he had some time to hang out with a ranger who was counting hikers. Apparently, 190 people had already gone up or had started up the cables by that time (I think it was around 11:30). She informed Joel that by next summer, Half Dome Cable permits will likely be required every day of the week to keep the crowds down. This summer was the first time Yosemite required permits – 400 are doled out each Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the week, you can summit without a permit.

Kristi and Amy come down the cables carefully passing the throngs going up

So, we worked our way down the cables, through the “Stairs of Doom,” then the forest and Little Yosemite Valley, passed Nevada and Vernal Falls, and finally to our campsite in Upper Pines at just past 4:00. Stops along the way included a picnic along the Merced River, a water refill at the top of Nevada Falls, and a first aid intervention on Joel's hands – his decison not to wear gloves on the cables left him with shards of metal imbedded in his palms. Once back at camp, we had plenty of time to clean ourselves up (Amy and I via the Curry Village showers and Joel via the 40 degree stream that ran adjacent to our campsite) before going out for pizza with the families. It was a perfect ending to a fabulous day!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Unfortunately we were only able to secure one campsite (not the four we were attempting to get) due to Yosemite's high popularity, and therefore could not make it the big LVMC trip we had originally planned.


Joel and Kristi standing on the "Diving Board"



Luba Leef

Where were you born?
Novosibirsk, Siberia, former USSR

How long have you lived in Las Vegas?
Almost eight years

What is your occupation?
Retired Physicist

How long have you been an LVMC member?
Almost eight years

What is you favorite hike/climb?
I have too many favorite (for different reasons) hikes and climbs to name a few -
Mt. Rainier, Whitney, Norman Clyde, Polemonium, Mt. Sill, Starlight,
Shasta and North Face of Lone Pine; Kala Pathar in Nepal, many peaks in Red Rock,
Wetterhorn and Sneffels in Colorado, Borah in Idaho;
Castle Dome and Signal Pk. ( via Rusty Bailey route) in Kofa, AZ; Egypt 3 Slot in Escalante Cyn.
Climbs in RR, like Cat in a Hat, Physical Grafitti; and Sinocranium and Theater of Shadows in City of Rocks.

What is the most challenging hike/climb you have done?
Shasta via Avalanche Gulch and Rabbit Peak in Anza Borrego as day hikes required all my endurance.

How did you get into hiking/climbing?
I always loved outdoors all year around (just a reminder - I grew up in Siberia).
At age 20 during a spring break tried climbing Stolby
near Krasnoyarsk, Siberia, and got hopelessly hooked
on "alpinism".

What are your hobbies other than hiking/climbing?
Picking up trash while hiking (Sorry - missed the last LVMC highway cleanup),
reading, maintaining lifelong friendships all over the world, travel, and photography



During the July meeting, our Club officers and directors will be elected. Any Club members may be nominated from now until just prior to the July elections by contacting the current officers or directors. The board is composed of four officers and up to ten directors. The four officers are President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. The duties of the officers and directors are explained below. The previous President is also included on the board to ensure continuity, but is not an elected position.

The President's duties are to supervise and direct the business and affairs of the Club. The President presides at all Club meetings, sets the agenda, and performs various other duties as directed by the board of directors. These duties may include liaison with other clubs and organizations, marketing, and membership activities.
The Vice President/Training Director works in conjunction with the President and will assume all the duties and responsibilities of the President in his absence. The Vice President also performs various duties as directed by the board of directors. He/she also sets dates and meeting places for some of our established training courses and works with board members to develop new training courses.
The Secretary maintains a record of the minutes from all board meetings, prepares the agenda for future meetings, and maintains Club records as needed.
The Treasurer maintains Club financial records, reports on the financial status of the Club, verifies the paid-up status of members, and issues reimbursement for Club expenses.
The Newsletter Editor solicits and edits articles submitted by members into a newsletter format which is electronically issued monthly.
The Outings Director organizes and publishes Club outings. The outing director also schedules periodic outing coordinator meetings to schedule new outings.
The Membership Director maintains the membership roster and is responsible for member renewal reminders. This director provides new membership packages and monthly e-mail reminders about the general meetings.
The Website Director maintains the Club website ( by updating time-sensitive information including upcoming meeting dates, the outings schedule, and trip reports.
The Public Relations/ Meetings Director schedules speakers and meeting rooms as well as maintaining public relations with various groups and organizations.
The Gear Director rents Club gear to members and keeps a log of all available gear.
The Social Director plans and coordinates the Christmas Party and other social gatherings for the Club. The other Directors at-large pitch in to help as needed and carry out the details of various projects, such as Adopt-a-Highway and other clean-up projects.


President: Kristi Meyer
Vice President/Training Director: Richard Baugh
Secretary: Lynda Gallia
Treasurer: Beth Ransel
Newsletter Editor: Joel Brewster
Outings Director: Nasrin Houston
Membership Director: Chris Ransel
Website Director: Amy Brewster
Public Relations/Marketing Directors: Jose Witt & Heather Torrey
Club Gear Director: Xavier Wasiak
Social Director: Skip Spilman
Assistant Director: Doug Hladky
Assistant Director: Dale Lindhorst
Assistant Director: Kim Owen
Past President: Nadia von Magdenko

The Ascender is the monthly online newsletter of the Las Vegas Mountaineers Club. All content is property of LVMC and may be used only by the original submitters. All others must obtain written consent from the Board of Directors.
All Club members are invited to submit trip reports, photos, trip listings, recipes, classified ads and other related information. August 10th is the deadline for the next issue.

Joel Brewster




Please send any address, phone number and e-mail changes to Chris Ransel, membership director. LVMC currently has approximately 150 paid members or families.

If you wish to send a check instead of using PayPal online, 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.

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

Annalisa Helm
Arvin Leong
Carissa Ann Jobe
Doug Foust
Jessica Word
Mary Marlow
Richard Yost
Scott Isaacman
Xavier Wasiak


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 Xavier Wasiak.

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.




The Las Vegas Mountaineers meets at Sahara West Library, 9600 W. Sahara. Meeting time is 7 p.m.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mt. Charleston Winter Ascent
Doug Hladky



Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Ed Forkos & Luba Leef

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