“OCCASIONAL MISERIES” – Journal-UCLA Bruin Mountaineers


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Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 6, 2012 - 08:20am PT
Thanks for the links, Boo Dawg!


Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
May 6, 2012 - 09:12am PT
Thanks to everyone for their contributions to this fun and fascinating bit of climbing
history, but especially to BooDawg and Lila Biene. I laughed and laughed at the account
of their trip to Mexico. What a great time to be young and adventurous.
Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
May 6, 2012 - 09:45am PT
Very cool. I never knew UCLA had such strong alumni.
Tony Bird

Northridge, CA
May 6, 2012 - 12:08pm PT
good old days. i was at ucla from 1982-84, and no active mountaineering group on campus then. they have francis farquhar's books in special collections, where i'd go for a supervised reading once in awhile. sometime during the 90s they put up a mediocre climbing wall in the wooden center and i suppose they're running one of those outings programs now--it's tuesday, we must be rafting.

May 6, 2012 - 06:03pm PT
The 1959 Occasional Misery follows. In a way it is like Chuck Barris' autobiography, a lot of baloney, but not completely without interest.

To set the record straight, it is I who is referred to as Bill Ego, but the climb given was wrong. I was second on the rope with Dave Harvey, and he grabbed a piton or two on Jensen's Jaunt which I followed without grabbing said pitons. I led the Traitor Horn 5th class the following weekend with Dave following. The normally staid Bruin Mountaineers group thought I had a screw loose because I was so enthusiastic.

The Dolt was born in 1932 and I in 1941, so there was no college overlap that I know of, and I don't know if he went to UCLA or not. I frequented his shop on Sawtelle Blvd because it was a reasonable walk from any of my several residences while at UCLA. I would see Bill at climbing areas now and then, Stoney Point and Tahquitz. There weren't so many climbers back then and one came to know the regular crew.

After the 1959 publication I put the 1960 here, too.

Bill Amborn

Credit: BBA

Credit: BBA

Credit: BBA

Credit: BBA

Credit: BBA


Trad climber
May 6, 2012 - 06:11pm PT
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 7, 2012 - 06:31pm PT
Ken, I will e-mail contact info for Paul Cooley. He was one of my dads best friends and I believe in the club as well. Lincoln says his memory is better!

May 10, 2012 - 01:31pm PT
I recall Paul Cooley. He was a big guy who was mostly a peak bagger as opposed to rock climber.

In looking for history and more information about the Mountaineers, I contacted an old friend from UCLA and he contacted another who said this about the Bruin Mountaineers:

//In September 1954 I arrived at UCLA. The Bruin Mountaineers were up and running.

I seem to remember Colin Cantwell typing the Miseries.

In my negative collection I have some pictures of the club members.

I also have some pics of "Bill the Dolt". The negatives are hard to access.

Pass this on to Bill, and say hello.//

The Bruin Mountaineers were a university sponsored activity and may have filed a copy of their bulletins with some administrative part of the student union/government.

Trad climber
Fresno CA
May 10, 2012 - 01:43pm PT
Thanks for the link, Boo Dawg!


Social climber
Butterfly Town
Topic Author's Reply - May 11, 2012 - 02:13am PT
Thank you, DE, I've been overwhelmed with work, so I've had to take a break from this effort. But I've made a little time tonight.

BBA: It'd be GREAT if you could access those negatives of Bill Dolt since on the "Speaking of Statistical Improbabilities" thread, it was revealed that he had a daughter with Sheila Ann Schaeffer who wrote the article up-thread about the trip to the Mexican Volcanoes. LilaBiene, Dolt's daughter, who was adopted at birth, only recently realized that Dolt was her father and Shiela Ann was her mother.

mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
May 11, 2012 - 03:22am PT
BooDawg Knight, singing the blues and golds of the Bruins, the miniseries of miseries. So...SoCal, yet better than Eastern Washington. Southern Mountaineers over the Northern Mountaineers. Elvis or the Beatles. Evian or Perrier. BMW or Audi.

In all truth, I have yet to read the Squamish posts, so...but this stuff is just a priceless find.

It wasn't as long-lived a venture as Stanford's club but the people were every bit the equal. And the Half Dome write-up is as good as this hackneyed bigot has ever read. Leading in the dark is not visionary but occasionally necessary.

I was here writing my senior Term Papers. You guys took on Psyche Flake. While you guys summitted I was doing laps in the pool. Outtasite!

From Central California's several leaders in misery, let me say that one Occasional Misery is worth a whole month or more of the Merced Sun-Stroke from any year.

And they didn't even have a comics page.


May 11, 2012 - 12:17pm PT
BooDawg- I contacted Lilabiene off line and gave her the e-mail address of my contact who said he has the negatives, and I'll leave it there.
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
May 11, 2012 - 01:21pm PT
I might be able to get contact info for Colin Cantwell as well. That was my dads core posse. My dad (James Evans), Lincoln, Paul and Colin. Yes they were mostly peak baggers but did some roped climbing at Stony, Tahquitz, the Leap and various technical Sierra routes.

Trad climber
May 11, 2012 - 07:59pm PT
Here's another story from the Mexico 1966 trip!


After a brief bidding of adieu with the rest of the group at the Last Homely House (Popo Hut), John Williams, Chris Bernert, Don Lashier, myself (Wayne Inman) and a solo stranger whose name I have forgotten climbed back in the slightly decrepit Chevy panel truck for the ride to the Ixta road head. There was some delay before we could begin, however, because the Mexican driver could not believe that we could actually want to spend the night on the ground. Although slightly disappointed that the hut at the road head had collapsed, we felt the inconvenience of sleeping outside insignificant compared to walking 17 extra miles the next morning from the Popo Hut.

The Ixta road head turned out to be an exposed area of scrub near a hill topped by what must be one of the highest T.V. transmitters in the world. Although without water, we had no complaints. After all, hadn't we just had our fill of coffee, soup, beer and other assorted aqueous solutions along with our native meal at Amacameca's finest cafe? We certainly had. Unfortunately, by morning most of it was lying alongside our sleeping bags. Apparently all those wiggly little black things in our coffee felt a desire to return to their native soil.

Morning showed the solo stranger long gone up the trail. Don starting out, John quietly dying in his sleeping bag, Chris nursing John, and me wondering why the Mountaineers always seem to have so many miseries to write about. Eventually I set out after Don leaving my extra gear hidden behind a lone pine. Chris, who felt fine -- relatively -- was to stay behind with John until the two of them could start up that afternoon. After catching up with Don the two of us completed the more or less uneventful second class rock and snow climb to the second of the three huts at the Knees (16,000 feet) in a partial white-out and light snow.

Once in the hut we both felt comfortable but exhausted -- worn not so much by the climb as by the train ride. After dinner I went immediately to sleep. Don first walked around, took a few pictures, and then went to sleep himself.

I solemnly declared the following day an official rest period -- after I got up at 1 P.M. After taking pictures and melting snow I found Lashier still sleeping. Dinner time came around and he was still out. This was annoying because he was lying on top of our food. As Don began to enter his second straight day of sleeping his breathing became noisy and irregular. A few successful climbers, including our solo stranger, came by to pay their respects. During the night Don became semi-conscious to utter such profundities as, "Ug. Ah. Ater!" I had to help support him while pouring "ater" down his throat. Deliriously thinking a canteen now had to be capped, he would twist a pot lid lying at his side for as long as five minutes.

The third day, Christmas, Don felt well enough to stand with support and sick enough to want to get to lower altitudes immediately. We diagnosed his misery as a combination of acute anoxia, an unknown respiratory infection -- caught by all on the train -- Montezuma's revenge, and possibly a touch of emphysema. We soon found the result to be a loss of sense of balance and extreme weakness. I ended up carrying my pack a few hundred yards at a time then returning for Don's. He would either support himself using his ice axe or grab on to the back of my pack as I walked. We almost got to the snow line before balance problems forced Don to bivouac: he tended to fall off the trail which was dangerously steep for such habits. I promised to leave for help.

By sunset I was at the road head: 10:00 P.M. and 16 very thirsty miles later found me at the Popo Hut. All day I had been anticipating the round welcome of the rest of our group. But all I got was a "Buenos noches" from the ranger. Our people had left for Christmas dinner in Mexico City. A large group from M.S.U. was there, however, and they offered enthusiastic support for the cause of rescuing Don. I did my best to tactfully refuse their aid when I learned that only one of them had ever been on a mountain before. I wasn't in the mood for searching for lost gringos on Ixta. The next morning I did get the one experienced member of the M.S.U. group and a more-or-less fit comrade of his to sneak away from the rest of their over-willing group. We took one of their cars to the road head; they charged up the trail. They took Don's pack down, and a now emaciated Inman barely managed to struggle up to meet a now improved Lahier and then limp back down. By this time the M.S.U. car was gone and the two of us had to partly walk, partly hitch-hike to Amecameca -- where we gorged ourselves on pork chops and orange crush at Cafe La Montana.

We later found that John and Chris had managed to make it to the first hut at the Knees the first day. Not seeing the second hut or John and myself in the dark they were discouraged and returned to Amecameca.

In the future it might be a good idea to rest after traveling by Mexican public transportation, particularly the Ferrocarril Nacional de Mexico. An additional stop for acclimatization at high altitude is important if one of the major volcanoes is to be climbed. A day in Mexico City followed by most of a day at the Popo Hut may seem like a waste of time, but it's preferable to spending four days on a mountain without reaching the summit and then being too tired and sick to do anything. It's also a good idea to be leery of unboiled water just before a climb: this includes coffee. But sick or not, Mexico is fun to travel in even if no peaks are climbed.

-- Wayne Inman

Trad climber
May 11, 2012 - 08:01pm PT
More on Mexico's special brand of "Misery"...

An Essay on Trains

Last Christmas several of us became experts on trains. Mexican trains that is. As the senior expert -- I traveled the entire round trip via this particular mode of memorable transport -- I have been delegated to inform the world of our findings. To summarize: Mexican trains, especially second class, are very cheap. They are, unfortunately, less than perfectly comfortable. In fact one of the lines, the Ferrocarril Nacional de Mexico, has earned our judgment as the most [CENSORED -- ED.] and [CENSORED -- ED.] railroad in the world.

Traveling by other railroads to Guadalajara we only suffered from lack of sleep, dehydration, and some sort of respiratory infection (T.B.). The lack of sleep was caused by noise, bad odors, uncomfortable seats, and conductors. The dehydration was caused by a lack of potable water on the train. The respiratory infections were caused by extremes of hot and cold caused in turn by a heater which either was on completely or not at all. Usually it was on not at all. Probably the rat meat tacos didn't help either. Although we lacked water we did have a cheery-looking little guy who ran up and down the train shouting, "Cerveza, cerveza". He would run down the isle (aisle?) until he'd get to us where he would make a sudden stop and automatically pull out several bottles of beer. After the trip he probably had done enough business with us to retire.

In Guadalajara we had a short layover during which people who felt well enough ate dinner and others (unsuccessfully) tried to find antibiotics. All of us charged into our respective pink sandboxes and checked out our single pieces of sandpaper-like T.P. from the attendant.

The next twenty hours were farcical. Being ladies and gentlemen, we gave our seats up to some little old ladies. There were twice as many people as seats. Three cheers for the Ferrocarril Nacional de Mexico! After dark, we sacked out on the floor or stood up. Then the plumbing in the head burst. No big thing. To make ourselves comfortable or rather less uncomfortable we improvised. Don, for instance, used a live Turkey for a pillow. We had more or less minimized our discomfort when the 10th Infantry Division sent his train-guarding regiment through. This patrol marched through every half hour all night. When the soldiers weren't going through, the conductors were with their multitude of punches. Everyone on the train was awakened when one conductor punched his finger instead of a ticket.

The next morning we awoke to find that the train was lost. No B.S. The train was lost. We discovered this when the kilometer signs measuring the distance from Mexico City started to give higher numbers. The conductor said the engineer had missed a turn. We actually ended up backing into the Mexico City station.

-- Wayne Inman

Trad climber
May 11, 2012 - 08:05pm PT
And where there's Tolkien...you know there's a good story:


Following a successful trip to the Minarets, John Williams, Roger Steeb, Dave Meeks, and Don Lashier were sitting idly around cokes and candy bars (the beer wasn't in yet) discussing the various attributes of the female population in the Red's Meadow store when suddenly Don said "Let's go rock-climbing." The others, weighted down with the gravity of the situation at hand, did not immediately respond. But creeping up from the subconscious came memories: The ring of pitons, the smell of granite, kletterschuhe toes. Suddenly everyone sprang to life, lured by the call of the rock.

"But where?" said John, cursing Don for arousing him when he believed he could not get fulfillment.

But Dave's eyes twinkled, for he knew what Don proposed: "Satan's Stack of Sticks," he whispered in hushed tones, looking slowly from John to Roger.

"But that's against the Rule," cried Roger, his eyes afire with horror.

"If we are sly, They won't catch us, and then it won't be against the Rule," explained John, pleased with himself for this bit of wit, otherwise known as a witbit or sometimes nitwit, which is short for nittanywitterbybit.

Later that afternoon they reconnoitered, noting carefully the habits of the black rider with the wide brimmed hat. They carefully studied the Dark Tower, which amazingly resembles a stack of sticks and thus is known colloquially as Satan's Stickstack or First Degree Mordor.

That night, after the Black Rider had gone for nourishment in far lands, the group embarked on their journey in the dark, along the old forest road, armed with weapons from Don's hardware store. After posting Gregg to warn of the Black Rider, Dave began an attack on the tower. He soon surmounted the tower via what was known in the elder days as a chimney, about a 5.4 chimney to be exact. Next John, and then Roger surmounted the tower, following Dave's lead. Don was about halfway up when Gregg cried out in warning. Panic, terror, helplessness, and then relief, for Aragorn rode with us and the intruders were only two tourists come to see the stack of sticks etc.

Our lust not yet satisfied, we returned to the bottom to try another assault. Dave started to nail up a crack between two sticks of the stick stack, but the stacked sticks of the stick stack weren't stacked sticky and the nails didn't stick, i.e., it was an expanding crack -- about A4.

When Dave got about halfway up he could not retreat, because the pins below him had fallen out, but he did not wish to proceed, for the crack expanded easier ("more readily") as one ascended it. It took some technique to shift your weight at the right time. John ran around and gave him an upper belay, and he successfully completed the climb. Inasmuch as the route cleaned itself, and it was growing quite dark, we retired to the hot spring showers to sing:

"Sing hey! for the bath at close of day
That washes the weary mud away!
A loon is he that will not sing:
O! Water Hot is a noble thing!

O! Sweet is the sound of falling rain,
and the brook that leaps from hill to plain;
but better than rain or rippling streams
is Water Hot that smokes and steams.

O! Water cold we may pour at need
down a thirsty throat and be glad indeed;
but better is Beer, if drink we lack,
and Water Hot poured down the back.

O! Water is fair that leaps on high
in a fountain white beneath the sky;
but never did fountain sound so sweet
as splashing Hot Water with my feet!"

-- poem by J.R.R. TOLKIEN

Trad climber
May 14, 2012 - 09:15pm PT
Tolkien bump!

Trad climber
May 15, 2012 - 08:06am PT
Happy birthday, BooDawg!

Hope you have an awesome day, and all best wishes for the year ahead!
Mighty Hiker

Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 13, 2012 - 12:40am PT
OK, now I know why people call Boodawg "Booey" instead of Boche. Sibylle couldn't quite explain.

The UCLA adventures and stories are very reminiscent of university outdoor clubs elsewhere.

Gym climber
Los Angeles, CA
Feb 5, 2013 - 05:40pm PT
Hello Bruin Mountaineers,

I am writing on behalf of the UCLA Daily Bruin. A few weeks ago, some of the Daily Bruin editors began looking into clubs that existed at UCLA in past years and they came across the Bruin Mountaineers. After reading about this club and all the experiences you all shared, we thought it would be a perfect series of stories that include personal features, some radio content, and even a slide show. This is where you come in. We would GREATLY appreciate if you or anyone you know in Bruin Mountaineers could share a few pictures that you captured on your adventures. Any content is welcome. We want to make this series great, and that can only be done with your help.

Thanks so much for your time!
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