Old Slides, 2.
Mt. Dana, Yosemite National Park, June, 1962.
In the spring of 1962 I did a little bit of local rock climbing in the
SF Bay area. During one of those outings, I met a bunch of folks
who I would continue to climb with off and on for the next few years.
One of these people was a high school kid named Doug who lived in Palo Alto
or Los Altos.
Doug is shown climbing on a favorite local Bay Area route
called "The Slabs."
Doug and I decided to go to the Sierra in June of 62. I
had been looking at some possible peaks for us to bag and Mt. Dana near
Tioga Pass looked like an easy one. But it was high, just over 13,000
Doug is practicing a self arrest here on the north ridge of Mt. Dana.
I believe that's Mt. Conness in the background.
This is the north end of Mt. Dana. The north ridge at about 12,000
ft is as high as we got. The summit, on the right side of the photo,
eluded us, for Doug became ill from the altitude. We dropped
down to lower elevations off on the east of the ridge to find a more comfortable
The highway heading toward Tioga Pass can be seen in this shot looking
north from Dana.
Some of the country in the north of the park as seen from Dana's north
ridge. (I would camp on this ridge and climb the peak in June of
'65. Doug would join us for some rock climbing in this area in 1965.
I wonder what happened to him.)
Matterhorn Peak, Sawtooth Ridge, 1962.
Sherm Rutherford and I wanted to do another longer trip and decided that
Labor Day of 1962 would be a good one. We took some vacation to add
to the weekend as a means to get an extended time in the mountains.
The Sawtooth Ridge is in the northeast corner of Yosemite National
Park and offers some great trips. The peaks offer some exposure, but
often straightforward routes and great views. The high point
in the ridge is Matterhorn Peak at 12,281.
We drove over Sonora Pass and then south to Bridgeport and then west to
a trailhead at Twin Lakes. We then headed up trails toward Matterhorn.
This was one of our early views of Matterhorn Peak.
A closer view during our approach.
Eventually we headed for a col or pass between Matterhorn and Twin Peaks.
This view shows Sherm plowing through the snow.
This shows me emerging from the pass with the last of the snow at a small
tarn that must disappear in many seasons. Incidentally, I am here
using a new pack. It is a Cruiser frame that I had purchased to replace
my old Trapper Nelson pack. The contoured aluminum frame was a major
improvement. I'm still using the red bag from the Trapper Nelson.
It seems amazing today that we could have carried more than adequate
gear and food for 5 days with such gear, but it was not an issue at that
Another view of the tarn and the end of the snow. Keep this snow
patch in mind; I'll point to it in a later view.
Here is Sherm in our camp with the back side of Matterhorn Peak in the
background. This was one of the more memorable camp spot that I can
remember. I don't remember what we used for cooking.
I'm sure that we must have had a small stove of some sort. Perhaps Sherm
can fill in this gap in my memory. I remember the details of
the climb, but not the food; guess that's good. As I recall,
the climb was simple and directly past the snow patch over a series of simple
and safe ledges to the summit ridge just to the left of the summit.
Then it was a walk to the summit itself. I suspect that this
shot was taken after our return. Our camp here was at about
10,000 feet. I recall wakening to frozen water bottles in the morning.
Sherm on the summit. Note the white granite. The
quality of this rock is wonderful for climbing, something that I had never
seen in the northwest.
This is me on the summit of Matterhorn Peak. That flag was there
from an earlier party.
This is the view to the south. The snowy peak on the horizon, just
to the right of center, is Mt. Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite.
The snow patch with the tarn at the right end is the location of our camp.
That's Twin Peak seen above.
Another view south from near the summit. Shown here is the long
ridge of "The Dragtooth." Beyond that are the summits of East, Middle,
and West Tooth. In retrospect, we should have climbed the Dragtooth,
for it appears to have a route that would "go" for our meager abilities
and would have provided great views of Matterhorn. Hey, an
excuse to go back! Sherm told me recently that he returned to the
area a couple of other times, but he did not mention climbing any of the
peaks. Generally, he was not driven to the summits as much as
After our climb of Matterhorn, we headed down the valley. Our plan
had been, as I recall, to loop around the entire Sawtooth Ridge.
However, as we got down the valley a ways, it became apparent that
this was not a very good plan. We (mostly me) had not done the homework
for this route. This view shows Sherm. Note the home
built pack frame. Sherm was, at that time, a scout master for
a group of kids who didn't really have a lot of funding. So they built
much of their gear. This was the prototype.
Sherm with his home built pack frame. As I recall, he used a cardboard
box for most of his gear that was then wrapped in an Army surplus poncho.
I don't recall him ever with a different pack for any of our
treks. I wonder if he ever got something new for a pack.
Mt. Lyell, 1961 and 1963.
I did two trips to Mt. Lyell, both memorable. Mt. Lyell, 13,114,
is a very famous peak. It was at the Lyell Glacier where John Muir
concluded that much of the geology of Yosemite was glacial in origin.
My first trip to the area was a real blister generator.
Sherm was on an extended hike in the area with some of the scientists
from Varian including Bob Jepsen and John Helmer. I had just
jointed Varian and had no vacation time. But my room mate at the
time, Neal Brown, and I hiked in to meet them on the weekend. I see
in early notebooks that it was a really long weekend with 600 miles of driving
and 26 miles of hiking. Still I remember Lyell as being the most scenic
peak I had seen in California.
This was a 63 photo of the Tuolumne fork of the Merced River near what
was known as Middle Lyell Base Camp.
Another view near Middle Lyell Base Camp.
This the dominant view of Lyell as seen on the trail toward Donohue Pass.
Lyell is the peak on the left while that on the right is Mt. Maclure.
A view of Lyell from further down on the approach from the north.
A view of what I believe is Mt. Ritter. That would be great
country to visit again, but I bet it would be nearly impossible to even
approach these days owing to National Park regulations and restrictions.
This is a shot of Sherm on our approach. We got as far as the Lyell-Maclure
saddle after encountering severe Sastrugi I've ever encountered.
(See Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, First
Edition, p 374.) Sherm didn't want to go onto the rock proper.
I went on for a while, reaching a short but steep crack above
a well protected ledge. I remember having learned of this point in
the route, the crux of the climb, from some climbing friends. I "did
the move" and climbed the crack that seemed to put me on a ridge that would
take me to the top. I could now see the dominant peaks to the south.
But I turned around at that point. I've always wondered
how close I was to the summit.
Mt. Shasta, 1965
Mt. Shasta was a peak that had caught my imagination after several trips
next to it. In the summer of 1962 we vacationed back in Washington.
Shon flew north and I drove north a few days later. I remember
driving to the ski area on the south side. I then parked the car,
grabbed a pack with a sleeping bag and water bottle, and hoofed it up the
hill until it was too dark to see well. I then crashed in the rocks
until sunrise. The next day I continued my drive north to Tacoma.
I repeated this ritual on other vacation trips. I'm
not sure, but I don't think that ski area is still there.
We tried to climb Shasta a couple of times without success. We
finally pulled it off in 1965.
This view from near the highway shows Avalanche Gully, the dominant feature
that we climbed. The route started at around 7000 ft at the
base of the snow, moved up the gully until reaching a red band of rocks at
about the 12,000 ft level. We would then cross to the right of these
rotten chunks of stone on snow that had a spectacular drop off to the east
down to a dominant glacier. Shortly after this, bare frozen ground
was encountered that would take us to the summit plateau. I was joined
on this trek by Vance Hoffman, a friend from Varian.
This was a view from one of my visits prior to the climb.
This was our camp in the trees at about the 7000 ft level. It appears
that Vance is sleeping at this point.
Looking toward the Trinity Alps.
We are close to the Red Band at this point.
Looking down our route from the 10 or 11K region.
Looking down on the glacier on the east side.
This was a view of me near the summit plateau. We had encountered
heavy cloud cover coming in and out, and took this opportunity to grab a
photo while there were no clouds. Clearly, my hands were cold while
I had my gloves off to fiddle with the camera.
This is Vance at about the same spot. Note the way the wind is blowing
his clothing. Shortly after taking these photos, the clouds returned.
By now it was later in the day than we really should have been on
the mountain, so we headed back down.
View down to a glacier between Shasta and a side peak called Shastina.
Shastina and some of the clouds that kept things interesting for us.
Finally, we were off the mountain. This last view shows a VW automobile
sized rock that is sitting on top of snow, a testament from the previous
winter to the name of our route. It was good to get back to
camp that night. I recall that we both slept like logs that night
after our 7000 ft day.