Clouds Rest

2-Oct-99 (FIFTH LIST FINISH!!!!)

By: Doug Mantle

Late last October, it hit me: 40 peaks to go. I can finish the list next year!

The frenzy. All finishers have felt it. Is December too late for Tunemah? Electra in January? Absurd, yes, but I've never bested this beast.

So, November, off I go, to the Clark Range. Hike in 20 miles (have to park at Badger Pass); next day, as I top out on Merced Peak - Winter begins. Five inches of snow, and another frenzy - to get out!

Next weekend, I'm off for Angora and Coyote. Hike in 20 miles, get Angora; next day, 2:00am precisely, another big snow begins, I flee in the dark... and write off 1998.

1999 begins. I wasted th early months, skiing some repeats, acclimatizing climbing Shishapangma I'm ready!

In typical SPS fashion, I arrive home from Tibet on 5/15 shop, drive to Lake Tahoe. Next day, surely I don't need an ice axe to climb little Tallac. I slid 20'coming down, ruptured a tendon in my major thumb. Surgery. I'm still recuperating. But I got Tallac. 37 more!

Trip #2 for 1999, I'm back (gn-r) for Coyote. Did it. That pm... my left eye: lightening bolts --- my vitreous is separating --- now big floaters. Tuesday, eye surgery. 36 to go, but at this rate I may not be able to get my tongue to operate the wheelchair for the Finish.

The rest of the Sierra season was less horrifying Except, perhaps doing Marion Peak (Taboose Pass route) on day one in July (9,300'gain). Ah, my pole (Leki, not Gdansk).

I should mention the drives. Ticket #1 was excusable (86 mph). I drove to Tuolumne one Thursday for a Friday permit. Then noting the absence of my pack, I did the bonus round trip in record time, 1300 miles for Florence and Vogelsang Rush fans note, I listened on four different stations en route (640, 680, 780, 840).

Then there was Black Kaweah. Solo. My left hand in a 67 lbs. cast. Eek.

Anyway, I got all done but one with a month to spare, which brings me to the official Clouds Rest trip writeup:

On 10/2/99, 25 invited and/or annoyed participants gathered early at Tenaya Lake and sped the 7 miles to Clouds Rest. Festivities commenced with champagne (Doug Bear), poetry (Barbara Sholle -note to Barbara: you thought I was helping y-w Finish the list; you were helping mg), too many photos, and an AWESOME Indian Summer day. We noted that by carrying champagne to Marion for Bobby Lilley's 1965 Finish, Rich Gnagy likely began the tradition. What am I, Rich, chopped liver?

Brad Jensen made a staggering revelation.

My last advertised SPS Finish was in 1982, after which the North Lake Dam burst, Ted Pinson froze to death, and I shellacked George Hubbard at ping pong. Survivors from that rain drenched affair, back again, included the Hollemans, Gnagy and, miraculously, Ted, with regrets from Dolores Holladay, Mike Manchester and George.

We regrouped in the sandy, piney flats SE of Mono Lake. A Vandenberg rocket stunned the twilight. A "21 Gun Salute" from the Fourth sounded the finish. In between was THE PARTY, notable for fare, prophesy and friends.

We'd tabbed "Indian" as the potluck theme, and as usual (and improbably) the ingenious excelled! I counted 16 dishes, from Tandoori Chicken to Pistachio Halvah, without a single common curry. Great days!

Our wine tasting pitted Mexico (yes), France, Chile, Australia, and Washington State in a "very unscientific" test of non-California Chardonnays. Your author may have mixed up the bottles, but he faintly recalls the France version winning.

I unveiled a mural drawn for my first Finish by May Heishi and her student, dated 9/20/74. May was no archivist of peaks, but proved a prophet. I'd never before noted the peak names scrawled above the silly sketch of a very dark brown-haired, cramponed youth, me. 1974. No plans or intentions. But May had written "Aconcaugua", "Everest", and "Vinson" and, eerily, "Gosainthan". That's the Nepalese name for Shishapagnma, which I climbed in May, 1999, 25 years after the mural.

I suggested to Mac this proof of the power of prophecy should energize his Presbyterianism. He dryly snorted that her powers had emerged after 1973 when she lost the car keys on Pico Fiasco.

I embraced the new tradition begun after the eats: 5x Finishers are showered with lavish booty. Doug and Shang Bear created an original California l4er T-shirt. Tina B. marking my humiliation earlier this year, presented Kong Strap-in crampons. Betty and Mac offered a cool early volume on all 14 8,000ers (forget it. Not doing them. Not all, anyway). Gene Mauk added a treasured photo from Vi Grasso's 1991 Finish. Mary Mac offered umbrella, pumpkin, pine chicken legs and nice commentary. Then, buddy Randall Danta astounded with a 5-Finish Pin-adorned- slate, engraved phenomenon. WOW!

For the record, most tramped up Cathedral on Sunday in fine style.

As Mary Mac noted, It ese are the best people in the WORLD".


Thanks, to all.

Doug Mantle

SPS Trip Report Index | Sierra Peaks Section