MT. CLARENCE KING (12,905') August 19-21, 1988

Seeking to obtain my SPS Senior Emblem, I had climbed the requisite peaks the month previous, July, 1988, to fulfill my area goals. All that I needed now was this peak, my last Emblem peak to be climbed. There was a SPS trip being led, but it was full. I found another person who wished to go, and we got our own permit, and another person to come along. We'd climb in tandem with the official trip.

Making my drive south along U.S. 395, I met the the other two at the Onion Valley parking lot. We backpacked over Kearsarge Pass, with the usual views, and then over Glen Pass. Getting to Sixty Lakes Basin, we had caught up with the SPS group, and camped with them.

Summit day, they had started ahead of us. We followed a route up to the ridgecrest by a narrow class 3 ledge, and took it to the southern slopes of this peak. These lead up nearly to the top. There is some short scrambling, then we came to the rock climbing pitches that give this peak some challenge. The other group had been ascending the class 5 sections, and allowed me to follow the lower 5.2-5.3 section. One hiker with us had been sent to do Mt. Cotter solo, since he had no rock skills.

We all came then to the final move up the summit block. Doing some exploring, we determined the route, which was misdescribed by the guidebooks, then. There is a climb up a boulder, then a step up onto the side of the summit block, with a small foothold to balance upon. You then make a big step up onto the sloping summit block, where a loss of balance would result in a terrible fall, if unprotected. I had an excellent belay from the rock leader, and quickly gained the summit. He belayed his own group up, one by one, and then all of us were on top. I was shooting the views, and the exposure off the sides of the block is awesome.

We signed in the register, and pins were awarded on the spot to two of the participants, who had also qualified for their Senior Emblems on this peak, then. We stepped down on belay to the lower boulder, and all rappelled down from the summit area to the lower slopes. By some, there are ways to better protect the lead climber by throwing a rope over the summit block, but our climber refused such safety, both up and down.

One of the girls took a tumble on the class 2 slopes, emitting a scream, but it was nothing. They chose to go a different way down, and the two of us took the same narrow ledge, with a tight spot.

Back to camp, we enjoyed our safe success, and the good weather. I had attempted this peak another time, to run into inclement conditions, and stayed in camp while some of the group reported summiting. Even another time, two of us had turned back by the Bullfrog Lake area when we saw the weather was bad. So, the third time was the charm, for me.

Packing out, we crossed back over Glen Pass, and also then Kearsarge Pass. All of this is on good trail. There is another way to go, which avoids so much gain, but involves arduous, cross country travel. I'll take the trail. Back to the cars in a haphazard fashion, the three of my group parted ways to never see each other again, as it turned out. I got my peak, my Senior Emblem status, and another wonderful set of photos.

In later years, another, higher, emblem level, the Master Emblem, was developed. I came to work on the necessary peaks, and in 2000, was only four peaks away. None of them were that hard, but I was never to get partners to do any of them, and so, it may forever remain. With a good climber, I'd have done all of the ones that I needed in a week, but no one came forward to climb any of them with me. They are all obscure peaks, of little or no interest except to a SPS peak bagger, and so, I figure to leave it at that.

Most climbers will go on to finish the list, some never bothering to claim the various emblem status levels along the way. I never wished to do any of this, and am pleased to have done what I have, as even list completors ascribe mental disorders to people having to accomplish this. I've climbed what I've climbed in the High Sierra, and would rather have my set of photographs to look back at, than a tiny pin, worthless by most, to remind myself of our great climbing and hiking in this magnificent range!