Member Talks

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2016 Member Talk List

SCMA = Southern California Mountaineers Association

SPS = Sierra Club Sierra Peaks Section

CAC = Caltech Alpine Club

All talks will take place in the Beckman Institute Auditorium and run from 7pm-7:45pm. Pizza and Beer (21+ only) will be served after the talks.


Tue Sept 27 Aron Stockhausen (SCMA)

Title: "Rock Climbing Anchors: A Discussion of Forces and Methods"

I am the owner and head guide for Stone Adventures, a rock climbing guide service out in Joshua Tree, so I have guiding certifications and extensive knowledge on the subject (in fact, I often teach these skills while guiding).


Mon Oct 3 Edmond Stevens (CAC)

Title: Climbing Attempt of the North Col Northeast Ridge Route of Mount Everest

Edmond Stevens has summited major peaks in the Western U.S., the Peruvian Andes, Equador’s volcanos, the Alps, and Himalayas. He regularly guides backcountry ski trips in the Wasatch Range and the Eastern Sierras, and ascents of Mt. Rainier. At 69, he still climbs WI5 and 6 ice and is a regular participant in the Ouray, CO, Ice Fest. A semi-retired television and motion picture writer and a 35-year member of the Writers Guild of America, his filmmaking experience translates into a number of high altitude video productions. His most recent climbing project was an a 2016 ascent of Mount Everest’s North Col, an expedition captured in a Hi-Def video short which will be part of his CAC talk and Q&A. For the coming year, Edmond is planning to accumulate 100,000 vertical feet of backcountry ski ascents (and descents), as well as a projected expedition to climb Pakistan’s Broad Peak, one of the fourteen 8,000 meter peaks.


Thu Oct 13 Vito Rubino (CAC)

Title: Against the odds: our mountain biking adventure from Canada to Mexico

The Tour Divide is the longest mountain bike race in the world, with 2750 miles in one stage and self-supported. It starts in Banff, Canada and finishes in Antelope Wells, New Mexico at the border with the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It follows and intertwines with the Continental Divide, crossing it over 30 times, and it accumulates a total elevation gain of over 200,000 feet, the equivalent of climbing seven times Mount Everest. Competitors are required to finish in no more than 32 days, carry all supplies including food, water, and camping gear, and to self-navigate. No planned external support is allowed. My wife (Palas) and I teamed up to tackle this course on a mountain bike tandem.

In this slideshow, I will disclose how I convinced my wife (and myself) that this race could be an (almost) regular vacation in the backcountry and a dream of a lifetime and how we came to realize, during the race, that instead we had signed up for arguably the toughest race on earth that could turn our dream into a nightmare. Yet, motivated by our longing for adventure we challenged grueling climbs, rough terrain, including rocky, muddy or sandy roads, elements from heavy rain and thunderstorms to strong head winds, and with over 70°F of temperature difference in one day we risked both dehydration and hypothermia. With 3-4 hours of sleep per night, we faced fatigue, sleep deprivation, sickness and battled our own willpower to finish in 30 days and 16 hours. We are the fifth tandem to ever complete this race. It was the adventure of a lifetime!

I will describe the natural wonders we saw pedaling from the striking peaks of Alberta, and British Columbia to the woods and big skies of Montana and Idaho, and how upon crossing the vast expanses of the Great Basin in Wyoming we were startled by wild horses and antelopes. I will talk about the satisfaction of crossing the highest passes in Colorado (at nearly 12,000 feet) and thinking that the rest is downhill, only to discover that the hardest climbs were still to come. And it was tackling the steepest and never-ending uphills of New Mexico, debilitated by sickness, that we encountered our worst enemies. We had to tap into our deepest inner resources to fight living nightmares. But more importantly, the bravery, grit and dedication that we discovered during this adventure are invaluable gifts that we will keep for life to face everyday obstacles.


Mon Oct 17 Kelvin Nguyen (SCMA)

Title: ArtDoors -Artwork of the OutDoors

Join in on the many adventures of climber and artist Kelvin Nguyen as he shares his experiences through his visual journal; traveling from local climbing destinations to his recent summit of Alpamayo in Peru. A professional designer and illustrator, Kelvin uses his artistic skills to convey his experience of climbing and capture his outings in a unique and personal way.  Kelvin’s work includes his interpretations of trad-climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering, bouldering, camping, traveling, mountain culture, beautiful alpine scenery and more. The unique nature of this presentation is sure to be a standout in the series. The talk will be followed by a reception with free refreshments.


Tue Oct 25 Marja Seidel (CAC)

Title: Cielo Y Terra

What would happen if you combined astronomy, ecology, long distance horse trekking and cross country paragliding ¬ and went on a 1000 km journey through Colombia? Our project ‘Cielo y Tierra’, Spanish “Sky and Earth”, is the result of this experiment. We are two young women, Dr. Marja Seidel (27), astrophysicist at the Carnegie Observatories, Pasadena, CA, and Kira Buelhoff (26), MSc. of biology and alpine ecology, based in Grenoble, France and we have undertaken this unusual expedition through one of the most controversial countries of South America. Our aim was to use astronomy and ecology as a tool to excite people ¬ in particular children ¬ to explore, discover and keep studying and at the same time raise awareness for the uniqueness of our planet and to care for it. Within the theme of this project ¬sky and earth¬, we chose a sustainable way of transportation: by horse and paraglider. This combination allowed us to bring the necessary materials for our workshops and observations while minimizing the weight on the horses ¬ because as soon as conditions allowed, one of us covered the daily distance with the paraglider while the other advanced with the three horses and our luggage. An expedition not of the easy kind - but with the most extraordinary memories ;)


Tue Nov 8 Jeremy Brouillet (CAC)

Title: Trekking to Everest South Col Southeast Ridge Base Camp


Tue Nov 15 Thomas McHenry (CAC)

Title: Climbing all the California 14ers


Mon Nov 21 Carly Robison (CAC)

Title: Hiking In Sierra’s Most Crowded Places

California has some of the most beautiful wilderness on Earth; unfortunately, everyone under the sun wants to see it. In this talk Carly (a Caltech undergrad) will share her attempts to battle the crowds, public transportation, and homework to experience the iconic hikes of this state, and how she pulled is off.


Tue Nov 29 Beth Epstein (SPS)

Title: The Gore-Tex Transalpine Run

Beth Epstein and her teammate Kim Gimenez speaking on our participation in the Gore-Tex Transalpine Run from Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany across Austria to Bressanone, Italy: 247 kilometers, 14,860 vertical meters in 7 days.

Mon Dec 5 Cody Finke (CAC)

Title: Spring and Summer Ski Mountaineering in the Cascade Range

Cody will talk on his many ski descents in the Cascades over the last several years from Mount Lassen to Mount Rainier and Almost Every High Peak in between. This talk will highlight several descents in the California Cascades and his May, 2013 trip when he hung out alone in his 2001 Subaru Outback eating about 10,000 calories a day (mostly sour patch kids) and skied over 20 Cascade Summits mostly solo.


Thurs Dec 8: Reel Rock 11 Film Festival