Stepladder Mountains


By: Ron Jones



More than 40 climbers were on hand Saturday when Vic & Sue returned to the roadhead from their successful climb of Mopah peak earlier that day. Sue's parents, John & Barbara Wyman, drove from Phoenix to lead the merriment, John playing a 50 year-old Gibson guitar with Barbara doing vocal accompaniment and reciting poetry at the campfire. Leora Stoler began the party with her original 11 verse ballad, "hats off to you Vic and Sue". Randy Bernard was dressed in his usual sartorial splendor; J Holshuh and Sue Leverton brought 2 gallons of ice cream packed in dry ice; Sherry Harsh recited poetry; Jim Farkas broke the promise he made to his mother back in Cleveland and sang (?) Lucille yet another time; Lou Brecheen brought refried beans and fresh garden produce; Steve Zoschke provided trombone accompaniment; Zack Zoschke overcame his shyness to tell several l-o-n-g humorous stories; and Terry Turner sang, you guessed it, "Summertime". Many, many others contributed to the party and the campfire lasted until 11 or 12 o'clock.

Incidentally, earlier in the day, probably 30 folks met Vic and Sue at 6 am in the Vidal Junction Coffee shop to take Vic up on his offer of free breakfast for all. (Vic, we're still waiting for you to pay the bill). After caravaning to the Mopah roadend they got an 8:30 start for the peak under an ominous cloud cover and within 15 minutes a shower started followed by heavy rain which chased the climbers back to their cars. Some of the list-finishing goodies were consumed in the next hour before everyone re-started. The peak ascent was helped greatly by Lou Brecheen and Dale Van D. On the descent Edna Erspamer stumbled while dodging a rock and upon return to camp she went to the Parker Emergency Room where Ron Young put her in stitches before they returned to the party. Also a 250 pound boulder fell on the chest of Suzanne Thomas, crushing her spine to the ground. Her feeble scream could be heard for a mile and Bill Gray rushed up and single-handedly removed the offending rock. Suzanne recovered to sing lustily at the party that night.

On Sunday 27 people caravaned over to the Stepladder roadhead. Along the road and during the hike in, 4 dead tortoise shel1s were found, probably the victims of the prevailing respiratory disease carried-in by tortoises released from tourist's home environments. The mortality rate from this disease is very high (50%+) and it has been suggested that tortoises soon may become extinct in the wild. All climbers and two dogs made it to the summit and returned in uneventful fashion.

I point out that our Chapter Safety Committee reminded me that the Angeles Chapter Rules of Conduct point out, "Animals are prohibited unless a specific exception is included in the trip write-up". The dogs on our trip did kick a few rocks from the Stepladder summit area, one medium-size one came close to hitting Suzanne T. I will in my future trip sheets restrict dogs when appropriate to the car camp area and open desert and away from steep rocky areas.

Congratulations to my friends Vic and Sue, and thanks to Lou Brecheen for his usual cheerful and patient assistance.

Detailed information for visiting one or more peaks mentioned in this article can be found in the
Desert Peak Section Road and Peak Guides

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