A First Ascent in the Sierra Nevada (September 1984)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


The LovedOne and I watched Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey (2017) the other night.  It was a very balanced and entertaining account of probably the most accomplished, influential, but not necessarily easy to get along with, climber of his time.  His absolutely singular focus on climbing and mountaineering garnered him almost 1,000 first ascents of new routes and of previously unclimbed mountains.  Watching the movie chronicle Beckey’s exploits dredged-up the memory of the one (and only and unintended) first ascent of my 30-year amateur climbing career.  While Beckey’s first ascents occupy the stratosphere of mountaineering legend, ours was a much, much humbler affair.  But it still seems like a good story…

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Gary Croan’s John Muir Trail (August 1956)

The other day The LovedOne brought home a small book from the “free” box at the library. It turned out to be a 5th Edition (1953) of Starr’s Guide to the John Muir Trail and the High Sierra Region (purchased from the still extant Vroman’s Books in Pasadena, California). The guide’s paper dust jacket was still in good condition, so it was somewhat of a rare find (at least for us trail guide geeks). Even rarer were the notes I found inside: Log of the John Muir Trail Hike by Gary Croan (August 1956). These detailed the backpack Gary’s Scout troop did along the Muir Trail that summer from Yosemite Valley to Florence Lake. Also included were his personal gear list and a brochure for Dri-Lite Foods, one of the pioneers in freeze dried foods.[1] His troop appears to have been based in the Los Angeles area, which meant they got to Yosemite Valley on [now old] Highway 99 since Interstate-5 didn’t exist in 1956. I’ve found brief notes in old guidebooks before, but this is the first set I’ve found detailing a backpack on an iconic trail in the days before permits and crowds and freeways. That he described the same backpack I did in August of 1972, sans scouts and going as far as Piute Creek, is a remarkable coincidence.  I am not, however, reproducing Gary’s notes here as some nostalgic paean to the “good old days” – as hindsight tends to accentuate the “good” and edit out the “bad” – but merely as a look at a young person’s outdoor experience in a now bygone era.[2]

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Mountains (August 2017)

But I shall go down from this airy space,
this swift white peace, this stinging exultation.
And time will close about me,
and my soul stir to the rhythm of the daily round.
Yet, having known, life will not press so close,
and always I shall feel time ravel thin about me;
For once I stood
In the white windy presence of eternity.

Eunice Tietjens (1917)

Patrick Y. Wang (1977 – 2005)
Andrea “Andy” Basque (1963 – 2008)


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Echo Col Loop (John Muir Wilderness) 6/12-Aug-2012

Echo Col Lake Sabrina John Muir Wilderness California

The big trip this year was a backpack through the Evolution Basin region in California’s John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. The trip was partly on trail (the John Muir Trail (JMT)) and partly cross-country. Weather was generally excellent, except for afternoon thunderstorms, the worst ravishes of which we were able to mostly avoid until the last day. It’s been a drought year in the Sierras, so there was no late season snowpack to speak of and we were thus spared the need to carry ice axes and crampons that might otherwise have been needed for safety on some of the cross-country segments.

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