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Dave Wyman | profile | all galleries >> An August Ascent of Mt. Sill tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

An August Ascent of Mt. Sill

It had been 30+ years since my last visit to the Palisade Glacier and the craggy, ancient Mount Sill, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The photographs in this gallery were made just a week later. Having failed the previous seven days in a try to reach the summit of Sill, which stands 14,162 feet above sea level, I decided to make another attempt. I'm glad I gave myself a second chance, glad I didn't decide to wait another 30 years.

I had traveled to the mountain the previous week with good - and ancient and craggy - friends who, after our trip, needed to return to their normal lives. This trip, I would by chance meet a party of three accomplished mountaineers high on the mountain.

I traveled light, carrying in particular memories and some recent thoughts about my life. Certain objects, small enough to carry in a pocket, were heavy with meaning, representing my past, the moment in which I found myself, and what might come. Some of those objects stayed on top of the peak, others came back.

For climbing gear, I brought just my ice axe and crampons. My feet were shod in lightweight boots. I brought my lightweight sleeping bag and pad, not much in the way of spare clothes, minimal first-aid (three band-aids, four gauze pads, some tape, and Ibuprofen), a ground cloth, several energy bars and some beef jerky (OK, a pouch of freeze-dried Chocolate Cheesecake, too), a water bottle (but no cup or utensils), a headlamp and my iPod. I carried no stove, nor a tent. Complete weight of my pack was about 27 pounds. It would be, I told myself, a quick trip - in on a Tuesday afternoon, out by Wednesday evening.

Some of my gear was modern. I carried lightweight Kahtoola crampons, and wore lightweight 5.10 boots. Some of my gear was old, like my sleeping bag and my ice axe, both purchased well over three decades ago. I used my beloved backpack, the amazing, frameless "Jensen Pack," which, like the Kelty frame pack, is still available for those who love classic technology which will never become obsolete.

Camera gear: A Nikon DSLR, with a couple of extra batteries (I turned the LCD auto-review off to conserve power; one battery was more than sufficient). I took one lens, an f/2 35mm, offering a "normal" rather than telephoto or wide angle view. A zoom lens would have allowed more visual choices, but would have weighed more and I'd have spent time deciding on focal lengths and compositions. I've stitched a few photos for a wide angle look, and the lens has good close-focus capability. Did I meet the challenge of effectively using just one lens? I think so.
Mt. Sill From Highway 395
Mt. Sill From Highway 395
Mt. Sill and the Sill Glacier
Mt. Sill and the Sill Glacier
View of the Palisades Region from Glacier Lodge
View of the Palisades Region from Glacier Lodge
I have not changed much since 1975 - have I?
I have not changed much since 1975 - have I?
At the start of the journey
At the start of the journey
I didn't bother with cooking gear
I didn't bother with cooking gear
Water was easy to find on the lower slopes
Water was easy to find on the lower slopes
Now Playing: When You're Falling by Peter Gabriel
Now Playing: "When You're Falling" by Peter Gabriel
View up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek
View up the South Fork of Big Pine Creek
View up the North Fork
View up the North Fork
Sections of the trail had a multitude of wildflowers
Sections of the trail had a multitude of wildflowers
Wildflower
Wildflower
Wildflower
Wildflower
Indain Paintbrush
Indain Paintbrush
Bigalow Sneezeweed
Bigalow Sneezeweed
Aspen Leaf
Aspen Leaf
Aspens, about 9,000 feet
Aspens, about 9,000 feet
Mini-fall along the trail
Mini-fall along the trail
Lake filled with glacial sediments
Lake filled with glacial sediments
Temple Crag at sunset
Temple Crag at sunset
Starry view from my sleeping bag
Starry view from my sleeping bag
Dawn
Dawn
Dawn in Reflection
Dawn in Reflection
Looking back toward my campsite
Looking back toward my campsite
Reflection at Sam Mack Meadow
Reflection at Sam Mack Meadow
Above Sam Mack Meadow
Above Sam Mack Meadow
t6%2f54%2f54554%2f4%2f83646676.4MqfuCdY.jpg View of Galey and Sill (the latter in the background)
View of Galey and Sill (the latter in the background)
Columbine
Columbine
Mt Galey and its glacier viewed from the edge of a glacial morrain
Mt Galey and its glacier viewed from the edge of a glacial morrain
A duck (marker made from rocks) shows the way up the morrain
A duck (marker made from rocks) shows the way up the morrain
Last wildflowers
Last wildflowers
Viewpoint of the Palisades Glacier, 12,500 feet above sea level
Viewpoint of the Palisades Glacier, 12,500 feet above sea level
The Palisades
The Palisades
Lightweight crampons
Lightweight crampons
The crampons expand!
The crampons expand!
Yes, sharp!
Yes, sharp!
Steep
Steep
Moving up the Palisade Glacier
Moving up the Palisade Glacier
At the base of the L-Shaped Glacier
At the base of the L-Shaped Glacier
View up the L-Shaped Glacier
View up the "L-Shaped" Glacier
Looking down the L-Shaped Glacier
Looking down the L-Shaped Glacier
I meet Javier near the crux of the climb
I meet Javier near the crux of the climb
Javier, Steve and Dan
Javier, Steve and Dan
North Palisade and Palisade lacier in reflection
North Palisade and Palisade lacier in reflection
Climbing can be a colorful sport
Climbing can be a colorful sport
Safety items
Safety items
Steve
Steve
Steve anchors Dan
Steve anchors Dan
Dan heads up the crux move, Steve belays
Dan heads up the crux move, Steve belays
Dan is feeling good
Dan is feeling good
Advancing up the ridge to the summit
Advancing up the ridge to the summit
Dan farther along the ridge
Dan farther along the ridge
A few minutes more climbing.....
A few minutes more climbing.....
Javier tops out
Javier tops out
Javier on top
Javier on top
Summit Register
Summit Register
Summit Portrait (thanks, Javier)
Summit Portrait (thanks, Javier)
Javier photographs me photographing him - Pano
Javier photographs me photographing him - Pano
Palisade peaks and the Palisade Glacier - Pano
Palisade peaks and the Palisade Glacier - Pano
Somehow it seemed easier coming up
Somehow it seemed easier coming up
Two small climbers, one large mountain
Two small climbers, one large mountain
Looking at North Pal and Starlight Peaks
Looking at North Pal and Starlight Peaks
Javier
Javier
Steve is ready to descend
Steve is ready to descend
Ice axe - tool of the trade
Ice axe - tool of the trade
Putting on traditional crampons
Putting on traditional crampons
Clipping into the rope for safety down the glacier
Clipping into the rope for safety down the glacier
Dropping down the L-Shaped Glacier
Dropping down the L-Shaped Glacier
On the L-Shaped Glacier
On the L-Shaped Glacier
On the L Shaped Glacier, Mt. Sill, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
On the "L" Shaped Glacier, Mt. Sill, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
I was glad we were on the rope...
I was glad we were on the rope...
My new friends carried a lot of climbing gear
My new friends carried a lot of climbing gear
Water was in short supply
Water was in short supply
Looking at the Palisades Glacier
Looking at the Palisades Glacier
Palisade Glacier and mountaineer
Palisade Glacier and mountaineer
Coming off the Palisade Glacier
Coming off the Palisade Glacier
My turn to carry the rope
My turn to carry the rope
View up the way we had come
View up the way we had come
Above the lake at the base of the glacier
Above the lake at the base of the glacier
Steve relaxes
Steve relaxes
Dan and Javier head up to their high camp
Dan and Javier head up to their high camp
Last Light - Pano
Last Light - Pano
Sunset over the Palisades
Sunset over the Palisades
Last view of Mt. Sill - Pano
Last view of Mt. Sill - Pano
Next time this might be the way to go
Next time this might be the way to go