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Ascender Title
Winter 2013
Volume 19, Issue 1


Summit photo on Pyramid Peak in Death Valley

Rich on descent from Pyramid Peak

Harlan excited to be on Stewart Point with Spring Mountains in the background

Joel with a rock arch en route to Corkscrew Peak

Kay and Roy on the knife-edge summit of Little Corkscrew Peak

Climbing up toward Brown Mountain

Descending the narrow summit ridge of Eagle Mountain

Jodie and Jim climbing the short, but steep Old Dad Mountain

Looking down along the way to Old Dad

Summit photo on Old Dad

Balanced rock on the long ridgeline to Kingston Peak

Bart near the summit of Kingston

One of the many huge nolinas near Kingston Peak

December 2012 - March 2013
Report & Photos by Joel Brewster

Over the past few months, I have kept busy hiking some beautiful desert peaks, mostly near the eastern border of Death Valley. I have recently gotten more focused on the Sierra Club's Desert Peak Section list of peaks. The majority of these 99 peaks are located in southern CA, but some are in NV, AZ, UT, and four are in Mexico. A good number of these peaks are within a reasonable drive from Las Vegas. Many of them lend themselves to being climbed in the late fall or winter as the temperatures then are quite pleasant, unlike the summer when they are scorched by triple-digit heat!

I have organized quite a few of these trips recently visiting the excellent, but seldom-visited summits of Pyramid Peak, Avawatz Peak, Stewart Point, Corkscrew Peak, Brown Mountain, Eagle Mountain, Old Dad Mountain, Old Woman Mountain, Kingston Peak, and Dry Mountain. All are worthy and have their own personality. Each of these trips has been memorable, mostly because of the terrific company. There has become a small group of LVMC that is working on this DPS list of peaks (with various levels of focus): Bart Stephens, Collin Kamholz, Jim Morehouse, Lorraine Wajda, Jodie Schraven, Shaun Bisiaux, Brett Sapowith, Austin Hubbuch, Anji Cerney, Harlan Stockman, and Eric Kassan. I always had at least a few people from this group on each of these trips (as well as a few others), and they provided great camaraderie.

Shaun and Susan descending Pyramid Peak

One of several short class 3 dryfalls on the way to Stewart Point

Descending steep, loose talus from Eagle Mountain

Some of these hikes long, and some were short. In an effort to be time-efficient (not drive 5 hours for a 3 hour hike), I led a couple "doubleheader" trips, with one peak in the morning, and one to follow in the afternoon. We did Brown in the morning and Eagle in the afternoon, which made for an excellent, but challenging day. Then in an homage to our elders, we did Old Dad in the morning and Old Woman in the afternoon (and evening). This was a long day including a two-hour drive between peaks...we hiked the final mile or two in the dark, made quite enjoyable thanks to Jodie's gluten-free beverages. Thanks Jodie!

We had a wide variety of terrain on these outings as well. It ranged from loose talus on the descent of Pyramid, to easy trail on Avawatz, to airy class 3 ascents on Eagle and Little Corkscrew, to brushy, snowy gullies on Kingston. Thinking back on these trips, it was amazing how few other hikers we saw. We saw a father and son on Eagle, but on every other peak, we had it completely to ourselves. Thanks to everyone who joined on one or more of these trips...good times!

Justine shows her might on Stewart Point.

Jodie and Bart climbing a short class 3 "detour"

Collin, Bart, and Austin fuel up after Brown, before we make the short drive over to Eagle, our second peak of the day.



A backcountry skiing seminar took Sue and Sergio to Red Mountain Pass

Backcountry Skiing

Christine Gal raps into the New Funtier area of Ouray Ice Park

Festival Sponsor Booths

Mark climbs out of the Ice Park while Sue belays him.

Mark tops out on Red Rooster (WI3) in the Ice park's School Room area.

Mark works on staying warm before heading up another ice route.

Michelle climbs in the School Room.

One of the Ouray locals

Ouray's Main Street

Sergio contemplates his next move while practicing mixed climbing and dry tooling techniques in South Park.

Sue Schager climbing in New Funtier

January 2013
Report by Michelle Napoli, Photos by Michelle Napoli, Sue Schager, Christine Gal, & Ilan Paltrow

The mile-long stretch of icy fun known as the Ouray Ice Park lured LVMC members Mark Beauchamp, Michelle Napoli and Sue Schager, along with friends and former members Sergio Colombo and Christine Gal, for a week’s worth of climbing in January. The quaint former mining town of Ouray, Colorado, with its Victorian architecture and the San Juan Mountains as a backdrop, is home to the Ice Park and the annual Ouray Ice Festival, considered one of the premier events of its kind in the world.

In addition to a few days of climbing on their own, the five were among hundreds of participants in the Ouray Ice Festival, which took place January 10-13. Each year the event attracts people from around the country and the world, ranging in ability from total novices to notable athletes and everyone in between, and this year was no exception. Among the festival highlights are seminars and clinics taught by professional guides and athletes. For instance, Mark sought guidance on leading ice from instructor Dale Remsberg, Michelle worked on her climbing technique with the teaching and feedback of pros Chad Peele and Karen Bockel, and out by Red Mountain Pass, not too far from Ouray, Sergio and Sue got an all-day lesson in backcountry skiing and avalanche terrain skills with guides Mark Allen and Ilan Paltrow.

Other highlights of the festival include free demos from the best gear and clothing companies out there (think Petzl, Black Diamond, Grivel, Rab, Patagonia, La Sportiva, and many more), parties and auctions, slideshows, and films (this year’s featured Hayden Kennedy, Ines Papert and Cory Richards). There was also a chance to meet and socialize with new friends and rub elbows with climbing royalty (attendees included premiere alpinist Conrad Anker and old school rock legend and Stonemaster Jim Bridwell), and also the opportunity to watch some pretty fierce climbing by the sport’s leading athletes in competition.

The overall winner of this year’s Elite Mixed Climbing Competition – a route that entailed scaling natural and manmade features and ended with a 25-foot overhanging tower – was Simon Duverney, while Ines Papert took first place in the women’s rankings and ninth place overall. Ines donated her $2,000 prize money back to the Ouray Ice Park, which not only hosts the festival each year but is a free facility that has been open to the public each winter for almost 20 years.

A manmade ice climbing venue set inside the natural Uncompahgre Gorge and walking distance from downtown Ouray, the Ice Park is a great destination for ice climbers of all ability levels. If you’re totally new to technical climbing in general or ice climbing in particular, local guide services would likely be a good resource for gear rentals, important
safety and technique lessons, and showing you around the Ice Park. For non-leaders who are proficient in setting up top ropes, belaying and other safety basics, and have at least some ice experience (or have an experienced friend willing to coach), virtually every route in the entire Ice Park is waiting to be attempted by you. Climbers are able to set up routes on top rope in all but one lead-only section of the park. More than 200 routes range from WI2 grades on the easy end of the spectrum to WI6 and M9 on the stouter end, and are disbursed throughout the Park in different areas with such names as “New Funtier,” “School Room,” “South Park,” and “Scottish Gullies.”

If you go climbing in the Ouray Ice Park -- which is jointly owned and operated by the city of Ouray, the non-profit Ouray Ice Park, Inc., and private and public landowners - - consider buying a membership. Despite the fact that it is free and open to the public, it is not free to maintain and operate. Each afternoon, Ice Park volunteers turn on the gravity-fed plumbing system that works with the natural cold in the deep and shady gorge to replenish the ice overnight for the next day’s climbing. In addition to some good climbing karma, the membership gives you a discount on Ouray Ice Festival seminar and clinic fees, as well as discounts at a number of restaurants and other businesses, including the soothing Hot Springs Pool, which is definitely worth a visit after a cold day of climbing.

You can find out more information about the Ice Park, which is typically open mid-December to late March (weather and conditions dependent, of course) as well as the Ouray Ice Festival, here: And check out this great video:

It was a bit chilly!


Assessing Risk

One of the most important areas of focus for a lead climber is assessing risk. Every decision a lead climber makes should be made based on a thorough examination of the risks involved with choosing one option over another.

Generally, protective gear on a lead route should protect against four risk factors: ground falls, ledge falls, hard moves, and long run outs. It is the leader's responsibility to determine if the protection found on the route is sufficient and adequate to cover these main risks.

For a trad route, the risk assessment is determining where and how much protection gear to place to avoid these four risk factors. Bolted sport routes should be bolted to protect against the same four risk factors. Some are, some are not.

In order for the lead climber to successfully avoid ground falls and ledge falls, the leader must know how far a fall might be given certain known conditions. For example, if a lead climber is half way up a route and is 5 ft over his last protection piece and falls, how far will he fall? It is not 10 ft as most would guess. He should expect to fall ~15 ft. This is figured by adding the 5 ft above the piece, the next 5 ft before the protection is loaded, the rope stretch in the system after the pro piece is loaded, the rope slack in the system, and any belayer movement from getting pulled upward. Obviously significant variations in stretch, slack, and belayer movement can significantly increase or slightly decrease the fall distance, but generally speaking it is a 3X multiplier. So a leader falling from 3 ft over the last protection piece will fall ~9 ft, 4 ft over will fall ~12 ft, and so on. Keep this multiplier in mind when you are climbing off the ground or past a ledge.

A lead climber must be aware of this risk potential in order to accurately assess the risk of leading the route. In a trad route scenario, one could literally “sew it up” and never risk falling more than a few feet if they really wanted to (although hardly practical), but a sport climber has only the bolts placed on the route to use and one would hope the bolts are placed close enough to stop a fall before hitting a ledge or the ground.

Keeping these basic concepts of risk assessment in your “climber’s tool box” will greatly improve your ability to be smarter and safer lead climbers.

Brett Sapowith

Where were you born?
Philadelphia, PA

How long have you lived in Las Vegas?
20 years

What is your occupation?
Insurance Industry

How long have you been an LVMC member?
1.5 years

What is your favorite hike/climb?
Too many. Some of my favorites have been Mt. Wilson (AZ) and Bridge Mt.

What is the most challenging hike/climb you have done?
Toss up between McFarland Pk. and Rainbow Wall

How did you get into hiking/climbing?
Bart S. He was just getting into it and it sounded exciting.

What are your hobbies other than hiking/climbing?
My son and the Philadelphia Eagles (you'll always see me wearing my Eagles hat).


President: Dan Young
Vice President/Training Director: Richard Baugh
Secretary: Sue Schager
Treasurer: Lynda Gallia
Newsletter Editor: Joel Brewster
Outings Director: Jose Witt
Membership Director: Eric Kassan
Website Director: Amy Brewster
Public Relations/Marketing Director: Al Bennett
Club Gear Director: Dan Young
Social Director: Heather Witt
Communty Outreach Director: Michelle Napoli

The Ascender is the quarterly 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. May 15th is the deadline for the next issue.

Joel Brewster





Please send any address, phone number and e-mail changes to Eric Kassan, membership director. LVMC currently has approximately 130 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 in the next three months, unless you have recently renewed it:

James Cho
Dan Young, Lynda Gallia, Margaret Gallia
Tyler Knaub
John Bosworth
Cierra Cabrera
Matthew Morris
John Ide
Matt Riley
Bill Percival
Kelly Canfield
Corin Ehmer
Jenny Ramirez
Austin Hubbuch
Jennifer Pyeatt
John Matthys
Mark Knowles & Monica Taylor
Paul Kuroda
Valerie McNay
Nasrin Houston
Alan Nakashima
Judy Kelly
Alex Coe
T iffany Belmonti
Aeon Jones
Lea Fujikawa
Melinda Hernandez
Ladan Alavi


This club gear is available at no charge to members (a refundable deposit of the gear's approximate value may be required):

4-season tent
Bear Barrels
Alpine Axes*
Strap-on Crampons*
Hiking Boots
Climbing Shoes


Belay Devices

Belay Plate
Ice Tool
Ice Screws

Deadman Anchors

*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 Dan Young.

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 meet on the 4th WEDNESDAY of the month at 7 pm at REI in Summerlin.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013



Wednesday, May 22, 2013



Wednesday, June 26, 2013


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