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Ascender Title
Spring 2017
Volume 23, Issue 1


February-April 2017
Report & Photos by Joel Brewster

Leading up to our July climb of Mt. Rainier, we have had various training trips. We began with an awesome 2-day snow travel class taught by SMI (Sierra Mountaineering International) near Mammoth, CA. We covered all the basics of climbing on snow and glaciers (self-arrest, roped travel, crevasse rescue, etc.). Then the following weekend, we went up to the Spring Mountains for a snow camp, and practiced some of the skills we learned. We then followed that up with a Wheeler Peak backpack in harsh winds, a climb of Maturango Peak (with more snow than expected), and a snow ascent of Mummy Mountain in the Spring Mountains under ideal conditions. Summitting Lee Peak (near Mt. Charleston) was great, but the real test was a marathon day hike of Olancha Peak in the Sierra. Olancha is a challenging hike in summer, but was made even more of a beast by the plentiful snow!

Rather than bore you with all the details, I'll let the pictures do the talking.


At snow school, our head SMI guide, Tristan (right), was excellent!

Tristan instructing the group on a cold day near Mammoth

Practicing building snow anchors on day 2

Our group of 20 celebrating after a great snow school

Penny and Susie at our snow camp

Jose and Justine in our "kitchen"

Corey looks too comfortable!

Ed and Luba are ready for a fun day!

Monika ascending toward McFarland Peak

Penny and Susie enjoying the snow

Jose going up McFarland

On the summit of Maturango Peak

Up we go toward Mummy

Amber looks like she is ready to be at the top!

Heading up the steep chute to Mummy Mountain

A bristlecone near the summit

Kevin and Amber pose with Mt. Charleston in the background

Group summit photo on Mummy Mtn.

Descending from Mummy

Amanda coming up to the top of the ski run en route to Lee Peak

Erica heading up toward the ridgeline

The steep chute from Ski Lee to the ridge

Susie near the summit of Lee

On the summit of Lee Peak

Marching across the completely flat Summit Meadow along the long route to Olancha Peak

On the windy summit of Olancha Peak


November, 2016
Report & Photos by Lori Curry

-“The answer is blowing in the wind.”- Bob Dylan, of course

Clear the soft pine needle bed of sticks, twigs, rocks and pokey things. Here is the head, and right there, make a depression for the hips. Sit and take inventory while two sets of eyes watch in the moonlight. We're near the top of Big Rocks Wilderness High Point, on a pleasantly flat point backed by solid rock and surrounded by pines. In the pack are the 10 essentials, so we will probably survive. Water is the issue, but much is in our favor. First take care of yourself, put on the down jacket with the hood up; slip mostly into the foil sleeping bag you've carried for years; spread the nifty 4 x 8 down blanket you carry because you're a comfort junkie, and just in case something like this happens. No need for a fire, it's not that cold and it's too dry – who could sleep? Lay the blanket crosswise over the bottom half of you, and the dogs immediately lie one on each side, snuggled tight against your legs and are almost immediately asleep – and warm! It's after their bed time and with all your navigation errors you've kept them out past their bed time. Don't think about the negative, stay focused, stay warm, look around, appreciate, breathe.

I'm thinking they will take away my mountaineer card when this tale gets out. The peak is only an hour and a half from the car. I was planning to do it the next morning, but an opportunity arose to play hero and retrieve the phone a friend had left on another summit that happened to be along my route the next day, and I could get a two-fer. All I had to do was get this summit tonight, and tomorrow retrieve the phone- if it was still there!

It's 4:00 pm at the trailhead, the pack is all ready, but I open it and throw in the warm gloves and fleece hat, why not? But not the extra liter of water I usually carry, after all it's only 3 hours max, it's cool and the dogs are excited. I see the moon is up and about ¾ full and know that if I time it right, we will be walking down the long open grassy area on our way back with the full light of the moon and not even need the headlamp.

I'd scouted the mountain earlier this year, but it was too hot to hike so we enjoyed the area, checked out a climbing area with picnic tables and a small dispersed camp called Mecca and looked around at all the Big Rocks. There's good reason for the name of this wilderness.

In my hurry to get here, I had double checked only that I had the map and tracks in my phone, but had not reviewed the route description or done my own google earth review. First mistake. It would have given me a mental image of the obvious route I could translate to the map and the landscape features as we went. We take off and the dogs are running over the easy terrain and we are happy to be out in the cool almost evening air. I know it's going to be tight, but I have a thoroughly misplaced faith in my gps track-following skills and overall mountaineering experience to get us back to the truck and on to the next adventure.

Oh shoot, there's always something you forget… my Colt 45 Special was sitting right under the driver's seat of the Trusty Silver Steed. Well, no big deal, I'd only just started carrying it and had not become accustomed enough to carrying it to miss it's reassuring weight. But, I had never needed it. We were remote enough that no trailhead robbers were likely to come along, so I dismissed any concerns whatsoever about it.

We spend ½ hour of valuable daylight playing around looking for a way up what I think the GPS is telling me could be the way to the summit, but the rocks are playing tricks on me, and I forgot that following the track closely is different than interpreting the topo from a zoomed out position. There are a lot of trees, it's hard to see the clear paths. My pants get torn. It gets dark, but I can see by our mark that we are ¾ of the way there and it has not been too tough going. Finally, I can see the summit “block.” It's a jumble of rocks bigger than my house, but hey, I've got a track.. this will be an adventure! The dogs and I go from one end to the other trying to find the route. The GPS keeps jumping around as there are not enough satellites to keep it smooth. I think I'm on route, but I'm not. Or, I've stopped to help the dogs and turn the phone around in my hand and … omg.. an hour of this and the dogs are having no more of it. I'm ready to turn around too. But something hard was inside me and needed to accomplish this despite concern about summit fever and it's implications. I had seen what I was sure was one of the routes – but was too hard for me to do alone with the dogs, so I tied them to a convenient tree and leaving my pack, hoisted myself up through the chute. Sure enough it goes further up, and further and I'm on top of this big rock, yeay! But the GPS says no, there's another rock just west. Down , across, up and then crawl through a bunny hole and one smear move and I'm finally on top of the summit! Taking nothing but glances at the lights in the far distance, I pull out the summit register and then it hits me. My hand doesn't know what to write. I sign in the little book,

Lori Curry
Wolves down below
Trump is President

Writing it down, the hard thing inside me gave way to the reality that something had happened that brought with it uncertainty that would roil the entire world, for good or for ill. No matter what, the winds of change were blowing hard but somehow, in this brief exchange on this mountain, now I would let them blow through me rather than blow me over. Climbing or not climbing the mountain that night was the only thing I had control over at the moment. I stared at the page. I took in the dark empty expanses below in the moonlight. This was real, they were both real. Hopefully the price I paid to push through to this place was not too high.

The summit register by headlamp

The serious business awaited, and I scrambled back down to the waiting dogs, my wolves, my faithful hiking companions, always up for at least 10 miles. It was about 7:30 or 8:00 and I knew I could keep going to get back. I'd never been out with the dogs this late before. And, they really crashed. My bounding bundles of energy just started at me like I was torturing them. The hemmed, they hawed, they looked away from me. “No, Dogs, Puppies, Babies, really.. what about the mean kitties that roam and want to eat you? Let's go back to the truck for Nite Nite.” Big nope. I gave in temporarily and found a place for a long rest in a well protected rock alcove and pulled out the blanket and jacket, expecting an hour or so of rest would do it. We quickly got cold on the hard dirt underneath the rocks and needed to move on.

No way. I tried to coerce them further, but the terrain didn't allow leashed travel, and tired dogs are stubborn (I'd heard that). Finally, after retrieving one, then the other to get them to the soft pine needle bed, I gave in again to forces outside my control and determined to make as good a night as possible. With only two swallows of water each for the dogs, I would have to get back to the car dry but that didn't seem too hard. We all popped Ibuprofen to help with restful sleep and snuggled in.

The moonlight, shining through the trees and all across the valley below and as far as we could see, was very special. Maybe because the air was so clear, maybe because it was a “super moon,” but regardless of why, the light had a velvety silver thickness to it as it lay heavily on branch and rock, and ground and us. I was able to tell the time by it as I lay there dozing and waking. I knew I would see a mountain lion if one came for us and I reviewed what I would do. (my best impression of something you do not want to mess with) but I missed my gun. As we lay there, I chuckled to myself at what my friend Eric would say about how long it took me to complete this peak. I thought about the morning and how long it would take us to hike out, and how little water we had. I dreamed up headlines about the 60 year old woman found alive in some instances, dead in others. The dogs always lived; I won't say how. As all these thoughts drifted through my mind, I felt the warmth and weight of the two bodies next to me, the softness of the pine bed, the absolute stillness of the night. I reviewed my dharma discussions, the one we recently had about death and how I bravely stated categorically that I didn't believe death was the end of us; but regardless of the unknown form our essence would take, we would be at the very least, again part of the earth, the universe, the very stars I was gazing at, and thus continue. And, in truth, as I lay there with my back connected to the earth and my heart connected to the breathing beings beside me and those whom I love in the world, I found it to be utterly true and was at complete peace and I slept.

We shifted and resettled a couple times. Once I woke and the moon had set and the sky was splattered with stars as bright as I'd ever seen. My mind wanted to think about how much harder it would be to see the mountain lion, but my soul was communicating with the beauty above and all around me and couldn't find the point in worrying about changing forms at that time and place, and dreamless sleep descended again.

At first light, we sat and cuddled in the cold air while we contemplated. I like to think the dogs were thinking along with me. They weren't begging for water, and had turned down the treats and kibble multiple times. Off we went, some confidence in seeing which way the sun came up and knowing the truck was the opposite direction so we went that way and were right. Finally, after another ½ hour of fighting it and although traveling the right direction, my eyes and feet finally coordinate to follow the track. I'd been trying too hard to over think and second guess the device. I practiced staying right smack on it just for good measure. I recognized landmarks. I would have gotten to the truck without the GPS if needed. I made my wolves heel and stay right with me to conserve their energy and water needs.

Very soon, we stood at the edge of the long expanse of yellowed dry cheat grass. The sun hadn't topped the summit behind us yet, but would be hitting the truck when we reached it a mile away. The wolves got their two big swallows of water and ran off ahead.

I moseyed from there, relatively certain of safety and quietly pleased at last with myself for regaining my mountaineer's card. Listening to the first breath of morning, the sighing of the very slightest movement of air across a billion blades of grass, and tips of tree branches, and rocks, and things that only the air knows intimately and me, it sighed it's way right through me too.

The remains of the pants

Many thanks to Jim Boone, for a brief, but very informative presentation at our January monthly meeting about how mining claim markers are killing birds. Since then, I have proudly knocked down every one I've seen. For more information:


by Heather Witt


Thai Red Curry, using Marion's Kitchen Cooking Kit (found in the Asian food section at many grocery stores) is great recipe for the first night out on a backpacking trip. The kit comes with curry paste, a small pouch of coconut milk (alternatively you could bring powdered coconut cream), herbs and spicy thai chiles, and a pouch of bamboo shoots.

1/2 lb of ground turkey or chicken dehydrated
1-2 bell peppers chopped and dehydrated
*use dehydrated mixed vegetables for a vegetarian option*
Instant white or brown rice

At home:
Place the ground beef and bell peppers in a quarter sized freezer bag. Place the instant rice in a separate quart sized freezer bag. Remove the pouched items from the kitchen kit box and pack together with your meat and rice.
Note: if backpacking in bear country you may want to drain the bamboo shoots at home and place in a zip top bag; bring fewer of the chiles if you don't like a lot of spiciness.

At camp:
Pour boiling water in quart freezer bag with meat and allow to rehydrate. Boil water for rice according to package directions and pour into rice bag. Heat curry paste in pot until fragrant. Add coconut milk (or rehydrate coconut cream) to pot and 1 cup of water. Stir in the spices and chiles and bring to a boil. Add drained bamboo shoots and dehydrated meat/bell peppers. Simmer until meat and bell peppers are completely rehydrated and have had a chance to absorb the curry flavor.

Serve over instant rice.


Jen Chapman

Where were you born?
Patrick Air Force Base, Florida

How long have you lived in Las Vegas?
Twenty-nine years this May

What is your occupation?

How long have you been an LVMC member?
Good question. Four years ago in April was my first official hiking trip with the club (to Sheep Peak), but I think we joined earlier and had been going to meetings and informal hikes with members for a while. But 4 years is probably close enough.

What is your favorite hike/climb?
This question is impossible because so many are so good. Locally, the traverse along Bonanza Trail from Lee to Cold Creek is special. Out of town, maybe North Schell...

What is the most challenging hike/climb you have done?
This is easy. Toiyabe Dome. Hands down. Susan Murphy and Harlan Stockman kindly don’t talk about my crab crawling on the way down.

How did you get into hiking/climbing?
Though I was fortunate to hike with my family on vacations growing up, and Barry and I hiked B.K. (before kids), it was my cocker spaniel, Abby that got me back into it about ten years ago. I took her on the Bristlecone Loop when she was 5 months old and that turned her into a hiking dog. I had to keep getting her out because she loved it so much.

What are your hobbies other than hiking/climbing?
Reading, walking the dogs, taking photos

One other thing I’d like to add, if I may. I want to send a big thank you to the LVMC organizers and friends that have planned some great trips and helped lead and inspire me to go to some outstanding places I never would have made it to on my own. And that includes you, Joel!


President:Joel Brewster
Vice President/Training Director: Richard Baugh
Secretary: Amber Cavazos
Treasurer: Jim Morehouse
Newsletter Editor: Joel Brewster
Outings Director: Ed Forkos
Membership Director: Eric Kassan
Website Director: Amy Brewster
Public Relations/Marketing Director: Matt Riley
Club Gear Director: Dan Young
Social Director: Amanda Wagner
Community Outreach Director: Amanda Wagner

Directors-At-Large: Kevin Humes

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. July 20th 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 110 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:

Anji Cerney
Robert Grozenski
Doug Smith
Dustin Hines
Josef Nuernberger
Anne Richards
Andrew Blong
Ray Foliente
Robert Gottesman
Ali Haghi
Imran Marri
Kassina McClary
Paul McClellan
Jennifer Pyeatt


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, May 24, 2017

LVMC Mountaineering
Movie Night



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Basic Avalanche Safety
Greg French


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

History of Climbing at Red Rock
Larry DeAngelo

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