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.
Next time this might be the way to go 254 views
Last view of Mt. Sill - Pano 243 views
Sunset over the Palisades 242 views
Last Light - Pano 243 views
Dan and Javier head up to their high camp 243 views
Steve relaxes 243 views
Above the lake at the base of the glacier 242 views
View up the way we had come 243 views
My turn to carry the rope 242 views
Coming off the Palisade Glacier 242 views
Palisade Glacier and mountaineer 242 views
Looking at the Palisades Glacier, Sierra Nevada Mountains 408 views
Water was in short supply 242 views
My new friends carried a lot of climbing gear 242 views
I was glad we were on the rope... 242 views
On the L Shaped Glacier, Mt. Sill, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California 75 views
On the L-Shaped Glacier 75 views
Dropping down the L-Shaped Glacier 75 views
Clipping into the rope for safety down the glacier 75 views
Putting on traditional crampons 75 views
Ice axe - tool of the trade 75 views
Steve is ready to descend 75 views
Javier 76 views
Looking at North Pal and Starlight Peaks 75 views
Two small climbers, one large mountain 75 views
Somehow it seemed easier coming up 75 views
Palisade peaks and the Palisade Glacier - Pano 75 views
Javier photographs me photographing him - Pano 75 views
Summit Portrait (thanks, Javier) 75 views
Summit Register 75 views
Javier on top 76 views
Javier tops out 76 views
A few minutes more climbing..... 76 views
Dan farther along the ridge 76 views
Advancing up the ridge to the summit 76 views
Dan is feeling good 77 views
Dan heads up the crux move, Steve belays 76 views
Steve anchors Dan 77 views
Steve 75 views
Safety items 75 views
Climbing can be a colorful sport 75 views
North Palisade and Palisade lacier in reflection 75 views