31-Oct-98 (List Finish)
By: Larry Tidball
On Halloween Day a group of 17 accompanied me as I finished the SPS list on Mt. Gould. It was a fine fall day with a few inches of snow remaining from a storm the prior week. (More about that storm later) We assembled in the otherwise empty parking lot at Onion Valley for the leisurely paced hike to Kearsarge Pass, and then on up the slopes to the summit boulders.
As we neared the summit, I asked Barbee (who has been with we on most of the last 90 peaks), and Scot Jamison (who has co-lead many of the peaks with me) to join me at the front of the group. These 2 have been many miles on the trail (and on the road) with me as I whittled down the remaining peaks on the list. It seemed fitting to have them near at hand as I went the last steps. At the summit boulders I missed the easy route up and after balancing on narrow snow covered ledges, I discovered Doug showing the others the much easier way up to the base of the final boulder. The summit block was soon mantled and I stood on the, fortunately melting, icy patch on the top.
After congratulations at the base of the boulder, we all retreated down a few hundred feet to get out of the brisk wind. On the sheltered side of the ridge we had our lunches, goodies, and the champagne.
Tina and Tom scooted down the trail ahead of the rest to finish preparations at the Mary Austin House for the major party combined with Halloween. Here we dressed up and then feasted on a pot-luck dinner.
I had climbed my first SPS Peak, Mt. Whitney as a Boy Scout on the last day of a weeklong backpack through the Sierra. Later, I took the Club's BMTC course, and joined the RCS. My first SPS trip was to Mounts Russell and Carrillon led by Bill T. Russell in about 1974.
I became a BMTC leader and led some Sierra Peaks as BMTC outings, but was primarily a RCS climber through the late 1970's. During this period I climbed a number of the more difficult SPS peaks while on RCS outings. By the 1982 1 was enjoying SPS peaks that weren't technically challenging. That August I participated on 2 outings with Ron Jones (Emerald and Henry, and LeConte and Corcoran). The great time I had on these trips convinced me to begin leading outings for the SPS. Starting with Mt. Williamson in April, from George Creek, for my Emblem Peak.
For the next 15 years I lead outings to the peaks I "needed." As I discovered, the "list" is a way to encourage us to visit places we would not have otherwise gone. Even if the far northern areas are a long drive, they are really different and interesting places. I had not ever planned on finishing the list, but these things have a way of creeping up on you while you are having fun. By the end of the 1996 season, I had 233 peaks and serious planning to save a peak for the finish was necessary. I hoped to have a fall list finish as I have always enjoyed the great Indian Summer days that often happen after an early storm has hit and then melted oft.
1997 added only..6 peaks to my count but cleared up several strays and one of 2 real grudge peaks, Mt.--,Disappointment. I had tried to lead this peak 3 times previously. Once I had my wisdom teeth pulled just prior to the trip and had to cancel. Once on a spring attempt the snow covering had slid off the approach chute and left bare ice and verglas covered rocks. And, 66be in the fall, time ran out trying to find our way around the difficulties of Balcony Peak. This time armed with longer summer days, and carrying ice axes to bypass the snow patches on Balcony, we made it. 1998 left a few strays to pick up.
The list finish date was picked to fit the availability of the party site. The penultimate peak, Alta, was to be climbed the weekend prior to allow a long time friend visiting from Singapore to climb with us. That's when the first big storm hit. We were to do the hike of Alta on Sunday to allow Donna to get to us after a late arriving flight in San Francisco. Saturday afternoon the snow was falling rapidly. The road was closed, and Donna never did get there. At the Lodgepole Campgound the storm continued to snow and rain for about 8 hours. Sunday we hiked up out of the clouds through snow all the way to the summit of Alta with the clouds lifting just long enough to see that we were truly on the high point and prompt a look for the register can. A fine way to set up the final peak.
Thanks again to all who came to the climb of Gould and to all who have climbed with me on other days and other places.
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