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Ascender Title
Winter 2015
Volume 21, Issue 1


December 23, 2014
Report & Photos by Joel Brewster (with an assist from poet Clement Clarke Moore)

'Twas two nights before Christmas, when all through the campground,
Not a person was stirring, even Jim Morehouse.
The harnesses were packed in the backpacks with care,
In hopes that on Weaver's Needle, we soon would be there.
The climbers were all nestled in their sleeping bags,
While in their heads danced visions of peaks and crags.
And Jodie in her LSU attire and Joel in his shorts,
Began the long hike as Jim's cohorts.
When along the trail, we passed cool formations of rocks,
And were entertained by Jodie and her clown socks.
We left the trail, and followed the ducks,
And headed through brush to the base of the crux.
We tried to avoid the agave, catclaw, and cactus,
But occasionally we failed, and would yell as they attacked us.
We finally arrived at start of the climb,
Despite the long approach, we had made good time.
We donned our helmets, harnesses and gear,
And headed up the crux pitch without any fear.
While it was no more than class four,
Past the crux, there was still plenty more.
We used rope only once on the ascent,
The rest was steep but the holds were decent.
On the exposed class three, the rock did not crumble.
The holds were bomber, no fear of a tumble.
Getting to the summit was quite like a maze,
But child's play for Joel, Jim, and Jodie - the three flying J's!
After a final tricky move, over a wall we did pop,
To find we were only a short walk from the top.
We had no Nutter Butters or Chips Ahoy,
But summitting Weaver's Needle filled us with joy.
It was a beautiful spot for a quick doze,
Jim even imitated the famous "Harlan pose".
We rappelled down the first wall,
Rather than risk a downclimb and fall.
We rapped four sections in all,
Mostly because the heavy rope, we did haul.
Many thanks to Jim for bringing and carrying the rope,
Without it, on the descent, we would've been unable to cope.
We made it back safe and sound,
Down the trail, we did bound.
We reached the trailhead as darkness was falling,
To Lorraine, Jodie kept calling.
We were all thrilled to have reached our goal,
Tomorrow it was on to Superstition Mountain for Joel.
We ate dinner, and basked in a satisfied haze,
But soon we went our separate ways.
We were all in agreement, and had to say,
On Weaver's Needle, it had been a great day!

Our first view of Weaver's Needle from along the trail

Looking up through the brush at the crux class 4 climb

Jim coiling the rope at the top of the crux pitch

Jim doing his best Harlan impression on the summit

The flying J's (Jim, Joel and Jodie) on top of Weaver's Needle

Jodie just below the summit

Jodie rappelling down the crux pitch (note the clown socks)

Looking back at the Needle from along the cairned use trail

My view of Weaver's Needle from the trail up Superstition Mountain the next day


May 2014
Report & Photos by Chris Meyer

(Editor's note: If you are offended by detailed discussion of bowel movements, this story is not for you)

The Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim hike is a great achievement, although, you need to be prepared. You must respect the Grand Canyon because it does not care about you. It can suck you in, chew you up, and then spit you out without a concern.

I had completed this trip back in late September 2006 with Mike Shackleford, Linda Lou Williams, and Peppe Sotomayor. Mike took the shuttle back to the South Rim, while Linda Lou, Peppe, and I continued the hike back to the South Rim the next day. Peppe and Linda Lou beat me by about 1.5 hours on the way back and they were 64 and 66 years old respectively. They were in great shape! Years later, I wanted to do the trip again with Peppe who would be 71.5 years old. I knew I still wouldn't be able to keep up with him, but I'd try. I wanted to do it again when he was 75 and again when he was 80 with the hope that I would finally beat him. Also, at that time my son would be old enough for the trip and he would most likely beat all of us. As a result, I contacted Peppe in July 2013 to suggest this trip. He agreed to do it in mid-May 2014 on the first weekend the North Rim opens.

We trained separately since our schedules didn't match. I had limited time since my son's Little League baseball was in full swing, it was busy at work and other family activities. I did manage a few long hikes including Red Springs in Red Rock to the Grand Circle and around White Rock Hills Peak, and Trail Canyon in Mt. Charleston to Raintree to NLT and back again. I found myself encountering several roadblocks preventing me from training as often as I'd like. The biggest roadblock was hitting a deer on Kyle Canyon road about a half mile past Harris Springs Road just before sunrise on April 25th causing over $4000 damage to my car. It was repaired and I was fine, but of course the deer was dead. I discussed my concerns with Peppe. Then out of the blue he leaves me a message on April 30th indicating he can not go on the trip with me and he can't explain why. I was hurt by this message with no real explanation. I had already made hotel reservations and my wife was going camping at the North Rim with our son and a friend with her husband and daughter. Originally my wife had wanted to go, but Peppe was insistent the trip was only for the two of us. I decided to post the trip at the last minute on the LVMC Meetup for only four people since I had reserved a hotel room with two beds. I received three responses right away. The trip now included Bill Inglehart, Fabrienne Bowman, and Michelle Murrell. All of us have extensive hiking experience in the desert, but this would be the first time for Fabrienne and Michelle to hike in the Grand Canyon. Bill had done this same trip (I forget) eight times. Bill and Fabrienne were going to drive and stay in their own hotel room. Michelle and I would drive together and share the room I reserved.

Chris posing with the majestic Grand Canyon

Michelle, Fabrienne, Bill, and Chris pre-hike

Setting out

We all met at the Maswik Lodge for dinner the night before the hike to finalize details. We then went to our respective rooms to get ready. Since this was Michelle's first time hiking in the Grand Canyon, she was a bit concerned about the proper shoes to wear, considering she had previous issues with her feet. She made her pick and we didn't think it would be necessary to carry another pair for the entire hike. We slept soundly. I planned on carrying almost 5,000 calories of food and 4-liters of water with a filtration system in case the pipes broke from Roaring Springs. The pipes are very old and have a tendency to break once in a while.

We woke up early enough to meet the 5:00 am hiker's shuttle at the backcountry office next to Maswik. I ate a very big bowl of Cheerios and almond milk. I then prehydrated by drinking a liter of ¾ orange juice and ¼ water mixed with ½ cup of chia seeds that had been soaking for a day. The last time I went on this trip, the hiker's shuttle only had a couple other people. This time, there was standing room only. This hike has sure become popular. We started the hike at 5:30 am. Unbeknownst to me, Bill took off wanting to be the first hiker to the Colorado River for that day. Fabrienne and Michelle tried to keep up with him, but soon gave up. I had no interest since a steady reasonable pace is necessary for safety and energy conservation for the much harder hike uphill. Bill and I had walkie-talkies so we communicated a couple times.

The trip down was very pretty as we watched the sunrise from within the Grand Canyon. The views at Ooh Aah Point were amazing. There were a few photographers with high-end cameras taking pictures of the sunrise from that point.

Impressive sunrise view from Ooh Aah Point

Michelle and Fabrienne

Looking up the Colorado River with the Kaibab Bridge

To maintain hydration, I set the timer for my watch to ring every ten minutes to remind me to take a sip of water from my camelbak. Fabrienne and Michelle were slightly ahead of me until we reached Cedar Ridge. At that point, we stayed together until about 7:50 am at a little past the Tonto Trail Junction. The bathroom at that junction now read 85 degrees. We knew it was going to get warmer as we went lower in elevation. I was making sure to eat salty and energy foods once in a while to maintain my energy level. The previous trip of mine, my knees hurt on the way down so this time I used two poles which is rare for me when hiking. I felt great! About that time, I lost sight of Fabrienne and Michelle. I heard from Bill via the walkie-talkie learning he was leaving Phantom Ranch and was feeling great. He passed a lot of people and made it to the river first for the day. Remember, I was the one with the water filter. Thankfully, we didn't need it.

I arrived at the river about 8:50 am just as Fabrienne and Michelle were leaving. They commented that I was not going to get out of the canyon in a reasonable time since I was moving slower than they were. I remarked that I typically move at a reasonable pace on the uphill and that I would be fine. They continued ahead of me. I rested by the river area for about thirty minutes soaking my feet in the river, using the toilet for a good poop (wait for the reason why I mention this) and ate lunch. I only drank two liters of water on the way down, but still felt great. Of course, I filled my camelbak at Phantom Ranch and drank more water. The lunch I ate was my normal whole wheat bread with lots of peanut butter and honey with lots of flax seed and a ¼ cup of chia seeds. The only thing not normal was the amount of chia seeds on the sandwich of which I typically include less than a tablespoon. I also ate miscellaneous salty foods and a 12 ounce V8 can (non low-sodium variety).

I left Phantom Ranch at about 9:35 am. I was surprised to see my thermometer only indicated 85 degrees with 15% humidity. I would have thought the temperature would would have been much hotter. As I started, I began to feel a little off. I thought it might be the conditions so I changed my timer to ring every five minutes instead of ten minutes to remind me to drink water. After about 20 to 30 minutes since eating lunch, I started to feel worse. I started thinking I had an electrolyte imbalance so I consumed salt, vitamin C and vitamin K tablets. I even rested and ate some more salty and energy foods. Later, I realized I was bloated and had a bulge in my lower left abdomen. I started to hike slower than usual and began to wonder if I was going to get out of the Grand Canyon. I later had the need to poop again which is odd since I just did earlier. When my body gets stressed, I poop. Those who have hiked with me at altitude know about this fact. I wanted to hold it until I reached Cottonwood Campground to use their facility particularly due to the leave no trace policy. However, I always carry a freezer ziploc bag, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer with me when hiking for such a need. I found a discrete place off the trail with bushes and soil only to discover it was not solid. Uh-oh, I had diarrhea. Also, my pee was not bright yellow, it was more brown, a very bad sign. I was getting very dehydrated and since I felt so bad I was also suffering heat exhaustion. I couldn't bag up this poop so I buried it in the soil carrying out my toilet paper. It was quite an effort maintaining a position to do my business considering how I felt. I continued slower than usual for the mostly flat area to Cottonwood Campground. I ended up stopping two other times for diarrhea. Then I ran out of toilet paper! I reached the turnoff for Ribbon Falls, but didn't visit even though I really wanted to see it again.

A deer doing its business in the creek

Amazing blooming agave

Collared Lizard

Scenic view on the North Kaibab Trail with Roaring Springs

Upon reaching Cottonwood Campground at 1 pm after traveling 7 miles from Phantom Ranch in 3.5 hours, I realized I finished all 4 liters of water I had brought and I still felt very bad. I called my wife on the walkie-talkie who was at the North Rim Lodge. I didn't hear from the others in my group. I was now hiking alone in a bad situation. I told my wife I was suffering dehydration and heat exhaustion. I was going to rest at the campground for a while and recharge. I had two bandanas with me I soaked using
the cool water from a faucet placing them on my head and neck several times. I also forced down another 2 liters of water over the next fifty minutes. I again pooped at the campground bathroom. I figured this was going to happen again so I rolled up more toilet paper and then continued hiking at about 1:50 pm. I still felt bad and was really wondering if I would make it out of the Grand Canyon!

After about 1.4 miles I reached another bathroom and ranger station at 2:30 pm. I tried to pee, but only a little bit came out. A ranger came out to talk with me. I told her how I felt and what I was doing. She offered salty crackers, but I already had enough proper food with me. I did feel a little better so I continued. I later learned from my wife that the ranger called on the radio to warn other rangers to be on the lookout for a rim to rimmer with diarrhea! My wife heard the transmission stating it was me even though she didn't know the severity of my issue. Not long afterwards, I really needed to pee. It was a full pee of clear liquid. I proceeded to pee clear liquid every about ten minutes for the next hour. My energy level had greatly increased. I started moving uphill at a pace of about 2.5 mph and I felt great. A valve opened up giving me a big shot of energy. The bulge had disappeared, but I still felt discomfort in that area.

I passed by Roaring Springs at 3 pm. At 4:30 pm, I reached Supai Tunnel. My wife and her friend, Darby, were waiting for us to arrive. A little before that I caught up to everyone else. It turns out Michelle's feet where really hurting her. Fabrienne's hip was slightly out of place so she was in pain. Both were moving slower than usual. The worst was Bill. Basically, the Grand Canyon whacked him with a sledgehammer. He was exhausted. Fabrienne and Michelle continued on. My wife and Darby went with them since Darby drove to the trailhead with the intention of taking us all to the North Rim campsite. I gave Bill some Gu and light snacks to help his energy level. Unfortunately, he threw up everything he ate and drank. He was in really bad shape and running on empty. I felt great and wanted to continue with Fabrienne and Michelle, but I was concerned with Bill. Even though he took off at the beginning abandoning us, I didn't feel he should be alone for the last stretch out. The hike was slow with frequent stops. I helped him up each time so he could use his energy for walking. The next 1.7 miles took over 1.5 hours. It was annoying, but he needed someone to stay with him.

We finally reached the North Kaibab trailhead at 6:35 pm, 13 hours after starting. We were transported to the campsite by Darby. My wife and her friend had set up camp. They even put up Bill and Fabrienne's tent cots and Michelle's tent. My wife proceeded to make all of us pie-iron pizzas, a wonderful and favorite camping meal for our family. It basically consists of two slices of bread, butter, pizza or pesto sauce with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni or equivalent cooked over a fire in pieirons. Everyone ate a lot including appetizers. Of course, we also enjoyed S'mores. We were also very surprised the temperature at the North Rim for mid-May was very comfortable. My wife was wonderful support for all of us!

The next morning, I felt really good and wanted to go back to the South Rim, but I didn't want to repeat that same experience not knowing the cause since it would probably be worse the next time around. I had the same food plans for the next day already at the campsite. I felt much much better than I remember after the first day from this hike years ago even though I didn't get to train as much as I wanted. Nonetheless, we all agreed to abort hiking back to the South Rim. The problem though was that our cars were at the Maswik Lodge on the South Rim. Michelle took the shuttle the next morning. Fabrienne stuck with my family as we played tourist seeing the sights at the North Rim. Bill hung out at the campsite. Bill ate the expense for the hotel reservation while Michelle stayed in the hotel room I reserved. The next morning, Michelle drove my car back to Las Vegas. Bill and Fabrienne took the shuttle and then drove home the next morning. I drove back with my family later picking up my car from Michelle.

A few days later, I realized what caused my problem. Everyone thought it was the massive bowl of Cheerios I ate. Instead, it was the more than usual amount of chia seeds in the sandwich I ate for lunch. The seeds expanded in the intestines when exposed to water plugging up my system. When the clog was finally broken, there was a flood of water and food processed by my body giving me lots of energy. A week later, I had significant pain in that area which went away in a couple days. Since that point, the discomfort decreased significantly. I was concerned I had a hernia. Due to work, I was due for my DOT physical which would perform that check. I passed the exam in late July. Although, I still to this day I have very minor pressure in that area which resembles an overworked muscle typically occurring when I sit or bend over and I need to use the toilet. I'll bring it to the attention of my primary care doctor when I have my normal physical later this year.

After this trip, I talked with my wife expressing interest in doing the rim to rim again, but this time as a key exchange with an organized group through LVMC. I wanted the North Rim to South Rim route since I didn't get to do it. However, now the park service has instituted a fee and reservation system due to the high demand for this activity requiring the group leader to have Wilderness First Responder training, of which I am not certified. Too many people are interested in this adventure, particularly runners, which is causing a drain upon the system and tranquility of the inner Grand Canyon. I regret I didn't help with having to poop near the trail, but I did bury it in actual soil and not rocks and I carried out my toilet paper. I really learned from that experience. As a matter of fact, everyone learned from that experience. Respect the Grand Canyon, because it does not respect you!

Finally in camp after a long day on the trail

by Dan Young

Rope Lies - Part 2

If you’ve ever purchased a brand new rope and the first time you used it the thing was coiled and twisted worse than a pig’s tail having a bad hair day then you will appreciate this tip. Historically, the spooling method rope manufacturers use to coil their ropes puts twists in the rope. Bad ones. Think mountaineer’s coil. The rope geniuses have taught us to “unspool” the rope by putting our arms through the center of the coil and turning the coils of rope while a buddy pulls out the end. Think of the motion a basketball ref makes when they call a traveling foul. Arms moving in a circular motion around each other. While this method works better than just trying to un-twist the thing, it can definitely be improved upon. My tip is to turn an office chair upside down, put the coiled rope on the wheeled base of the chair, and let the chair base spin around while you pulled the rope out. Viola, the twists are out and you can do this all by yourself.

I know because I just used this method to get the twists out of two of the club’s new canyoneering ropes. See picture. By the way, Mammut claims that their spooling method doesn’t “twist” their ropes and that there is no need to “unspool” it. I don’t know if this is the case so I can’t say yes or no, but I would still unspool a Mammut rope on a chair base just to be sure.

Happy Climbing!

by Heather Witt

Thanksgiving on the Trail

A hearty and delicious meal any time of the year!

3/4 C instant mashed potatoes
2 Tbsp butter powder
2 Tbsp powdered milk
pinch of salt
1-2 cans turkey, dehydrated
1 packet turkey gravy
handful of cranberries
1 cup Stove Top Stuffing mix

At home in a gallon freezer bag pack the potatoes, milk, butter powder and salt. In another zip-top bag bag pack the dried turkey, gravy powder and cranberries. In a third zip-top bag, pack the stuffing.

In camp add 2 & 1/4 cups boiling water to the mashed potatoes. Seal bag and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Pour the dehydrated turkey, gravy, & cranberry mixture into a pot, add enough water to just barely cover the mixture and bring to a boil, cook until re-hydrated. Add stuffing to pot and stir, add more water if necessary. Cook until stuffing is re-hydrated.

Plate: divide up the potatoes and turkey/stuffing mix, consume and be thankful!

Note: You can use any package of flavored mashed potatoes and follow the instructions on the package for the amount of water to add to the freezer bag. If you do not have a dehydrator you can pack in cans/packets of turkey or chicken, your meal will just be slightly heavier. Enjoy!

Lorraine Wajda


Where were you born?
Baltimore, MD, hon. That's a form of address used there.

How long have you lived in Las Vegas?
I 've been here for 8 years. I can hardly believe it!

What is your occupation?
I teach yoga for clark county parks and rec, and occasionally at the iyengar center.

How long have you been an LVMC member?
Jim Morehouse and I joined together in August of 2012, a life-changing decision.

What is your favorite hike/climb?
That's a tough pick. There are several that Ireally enjoyed - Arc Dome, Langley and Duckwater among them. But my "peak" experience was Whitney, not just because of the hike, but because of all the things that came together at the last minute that made it happen, and the multiple shoes-off stream crossings. I get a silly grin on my face every time I think about it.

What is the most challenging hike/climb you have done?
Another tough choice... some were challenging because of the physical effort required, some due to the
mental exertion. Williamson combined both of those for me, so it wins. Plus, it was my 50th, so it gets points for that.

How did you get into hiking/climbing?
I've been hiking for years, but not mountaineering. When Jim had to stop cycling, I said "let's take a hike." We went up the South Loop on Charleston (pre-fire), and it beat up both of us. Being who we are, we of course came back for more. then Jim found LVMC, and we started climbing, and climbing, and climbing...

What are your hobbies other than hiking/climbing?
In the last year, I've gotten into canyoneering, thanks to the nudging of Dianne Adkins, and under the tutelage of Lori Curry and others. I 'm amazed at how much I like it. Well, short (sometimes) approaches, long rappels, what's not to like? I also love to read, listen to music, dance, write really bad poetry, and when inspired, photography.


President: Matt Riley
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: Minas Mkhitarian
Club Gear Director: Dan Young
Social Director: Kristi Meyer
Community Outreach Director: Michelle Napoli

Director At-Large:Jim Morehouse

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. March 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:

Richard Baugh
Lyn Blackshaw
Ed Forkos
Tina Helleberg
Diane Johnson
Collin Kamholz
Robert Keller
Penny Sinisi
Bart Stephens
Brett Sapowith
Corey & Victor Torres
Kyle Wilson
Jose & Heather Witt
Jen & Barry Chapman
Bryan Cox
Henry "The Mountain Man" & Anya Dziegiel
Ali Haghi
Kay Komuro
Alex Leef
Ken Miller
Michelle Napoli



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, January 28, 2015

Mt. Ama Dablam and the Himalayas
Aysel Gezik



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rock Climbing near Moab
Doug Foust


Wednesday, March 25, 2015


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