An August Ascent of Mt. Sill by DaveWyman
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  2. An August Ascent of Mt. SillAn August Ascent of Mt. Sill
Next time this might be the way to go
Last view of Mt. Sill - Pano
Mt. Sill is the second peak from the left.

I returned to my car at Glacier Lodge by mid-morning on Thursday, no worse for wear. I felt 30 again.
Sunset over the Palisades
Night was falling; it was time for me to say goodbye to my new friends and make fast trip down the rest of the mountain to my campsite, two thousand feet below. Traveling with Steve and Javier and Dan slowed me down a little, yet traveling with them meant I returned safely from the mountain, and I completely enjoyed their good company. Though I would walk out of the wilderness a morning later than I thought, I didn't mind the extra time spent with new friends and sleeping under the stars, beneath the legendary peaks of the Palisades.
Last Light - Pano
Dan and Javier head up to their high camp
There's no obvious route up this boulder field.
Steve relaxes
Above the lake at the base of the glacier
View up the way we had come
My turn to carry the rope
What was it like to try to climb a mountain when I'm almost 60, about 30 years after my last trip to Mt. Sill? I had thought I might not be up to the task. I was worried that I lacked the mental toughness required to force myself upward. I wondered if I would be too afraid to make the crux moves of the climb to the summit, even though I was up to the task three decades and more ago.

In a way, mountain climbing is a metaphor for life. It can make us ask ourselves what it means to push beyond the barriers we think are holding us back, ask what happens when we enter new territory.

My worries were groundless. I loved making the effort required to reach the summit, and I felt little if any loss of my strength or coordination.

I may never visit the Palisades again. I'm glad, though, that I made a return trip. And I'm glad it took me a couple of tries to reach the top of the mountain this decade, to gain the summit of Mt. Sill, for if I could climb every mountain on every trip, there
Coming off the Palisade Glacier
Palisade Glacier and mountaineer
Looking at the Palisades Glacier, Sierra Nevada Mountains
The glacier was in retreat in 2007, when I made this photograph. I'd like to go back and see what conditions are like, especially after years of drought in California, and rising global temperatures.
Water was in short supply
My new friends carried a lot of climbing gear
I was glad we were on the rope...
On the L Shaped Glacier, Mt. Sill, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California
This was my second trip to Mt. Sill in a week, after an absence of perhaps three decades. The previous week, some old friends and I had failed to make the summit, because we didn't have the proper equipment.

Returning alone, I met three climbers near the top of the mountain, and we became instant friends. Here, after our successful ascent, Javier carefully makes his way down a steep and icy glacier on the east side of the mountain, roped to the rest of us for safety.

More photographs of the trip are in my "Mt. Sill" gallery.
On the L-Shaped Glacier
Dropping down the L-Shaped Glacier
Clipping into the rope for safety down the glacier
Putting on traditional crampons
Ice axe - tool of the trade
Steve is ready to descend
Mt. Galey in the background
Javier
Looking at North Pal and Starlight Peaks
Two small climbers, one large mountain
Somehow it seemed easier coming up
Palisade peaks and the Palisade Glacier - Pano
Javier photographs me photographing him - Pano
Summit Portrait (thanks, Javier)
Making the effort to reach the summit was a great high.
Summit Register
Many summits in the Sierra Nevada Mountains have a register, kept safely in a watertight box. Mt. Sill is no exception. As did my companions, I signed my name. I also wrote the same endearments to the same special people I'd had in my mind more than a quarter century ago, when I climbed my last big peak, and whom I keep in my thoughts still.
Javier on top
Javier tops out
A few minutes more climbing.....
Dan farther along the ridge
Advancing up the ridge to the summit
After making the crux move, we found ourselves on a narrow ridge leading to the broader, west-facing slope of the summit of Mt. Sill.
Dan is feeling good
Dan heads up the crux move, Steve belays
Steve anchors Dan
Steve
Safety items
Climbing can be a colorful sport
North Palisade and Palisade lacier in reflection
Javier, Steve and Dan
We four joined together and made our way across a series of ledges and up one short, vertical pitch
I meet Javier near the crux of the climb
At the top of the L-Shaped Glacier - and just below the most difficult part of the climb - I met Javier and two of his climbing friends. I was a little sorry to lose my solo challenge of the peak, yet I was also glad for the companionship and the sense of safety I suddenly encountered. Then again, I wasn't after safety, but it was nice to have it.
Looking down the L-Shaped Glacier
View up the L-Shaped Glacier
Mt. Sill, still several hundred feet above me, looms overhead. Some climbers scramble up the Class 3 boulder/rocks to the right; I kept my crampons on as long as possible and made my way straight up the quite steep ice. I'm not sure which would have been easier, the rocks or the ice, but I wasn't necessarily after an easy time.

It's difficult to get a sense of scale - the tongue of the glacier ascends for a few hundred feet. This was probably one of the more difficult parts of the climb, because it took some effort to put one foot in front of the other up the steep slope of the ice. And yet, despite my fears that my endurance, given my age, would be less than it was three decades ago, I felt good as I slowly kicked steps into the glacier and made my way toward the crux of the climb.
At the base of the L-Shaped Glacier
Ice on the left, Mt. Gayley on the right.
Moving up the Palisade Glacier
Steep
Yes, sharp!
The sharp points of the crampons insured that I would maintain traction on the ice of the glacier.
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