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About Us

WHO: The Desert Peaks Section is an outings activity section in the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club with a membership of about 250. Our section encourages members to explore and enjoy the desert mountain ranges of the Southwest, become familiar with their scenic resources, stimulate interest in climbing these vast desert ranges in the interest of preserving their desert resources, enlist public interest and cooperation in protecting desert areas and foster among our members the purposes of the Sierra Club. The oldest peak-climbing section in the largest Chapter of the Sierra Club, the Desert Peaks Section was informally organized in 1941 and formally organized in October 1945. A history of the Section can be found on the History and Lore of the Desert Peaks Section compact disk. A shorter history can be found here: Chester Versteeg and the Founding of the Desert Peaks Section.

WHAT: Our activities include backpacking, day hiking and special events such as our Annual Banquet and the Fall Chili Cookout. During the fall, winter, and spring, we sponsor monthly social gatherings in the metropolitan Los Angeles area.  While focused on climbing and hiking, our outings have a social element around the evening campfire. Travel to the road heads for our trips often requires vehicles with adequate ground clearance and occasionally 4WD. Transportation to the outings can be arranged by informal carpools from the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

WHEN: Our section sponsors outings in the deserts of California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah throughout the year, although the summer season is generally our lowest activity period. Currently 96 desert mountains, throughout California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Mexico are on our Desert Peaks List. (three additional peaks are suspended from the List at this time). The annual banquet in the Los Angeles area is held in May of each year and the Fall Chili Cookout, a desert car camp, generally in October.

MEMBERSHIP: All are welcome to come with us on our climbs in the desert. Anyone may subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter, the Desert Sage, for $10 per year. The Desert Sage includes a schedule of upcoming trips with information on how to sign up with the leaders, write-ups of recently led trips, and other articles of general interest about the deserts of the Southwest. The Section membership application form can be downloaded in Word format or Adobe Acrobat format. Those who would like to become members of the section may do so after climbing 6 peaks on the list and joining the Sierra Club. Please contact the Membership Chair for additional information.

Beginning in 2018 the DPS would like to welcome new members and subscribers (who don’t yet meet the criteria for membership) with a year’s free subscription to The Desert Sage. New members as well as new subscribers should send the membership application form to the Membership Chair, Ron Bartell by email ( or USPS (the form with the address may be downloaded in Word or Adobe Acrobat from the above links.  Although the Sage is available to all on the web site, members and subscribers receive an email with a link as soon as a new issue is published.

RECOGNITIONS: Various section recognitions for climbing accomplishments on the desert peaks list  include Emblem status, gained by being a member for one year, climbing five of seven emblem peaks, and climbing an additional ten peaks on the list. The List Finisher status can be gained by climbing all 96 peaks on the list. The Desert Explorer Emblem, which encourages exploration of more and varied routes on the peaks, is awarded to members who have completed at least 40% of the list by two different ascent routes.

COMMUNICATIONS: Our Section maintains member contact through our newsletter, the Desert Sage, published six times a year; section web site at; and an email service for member communication available to those who wish to subscribe to the service.

ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS: The Bylaws of the Section can be viewed by clicking on the foregoing link. (For a MS-Word version, click here.)

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Desert Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
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Updated: May 18, 2018