CLYDE MINARET (12,281') August 27-28, 1977

We carpooled for this two day weekend down along the Eastern Sierra, the driver being talked into a backpack trip. Two of us were experienced rock climbers. We backpacked into Minaret Lake, and made a short hike to an upper lake with a view. With lots of time, we were enjoying the area.

My pal opted to try Clyde Minaret, a class 4 climb. We had ropes and gear, so set off from camp at 4 a.m. I recall the starry skies, and hiking up to the base of the climb by headlamps. We climbed up Starr's Route, more of a challenge than the regular rock route. Jeff led well, although slowly, as the rock is said to be loose, and carefully ascended the route. He had urged to climb unroped, but I wished for safety. Soon, we got into steep rock, and I saw this was taking time. I urged a retreat, but he said, "Shut up and keep climbing!"

The route shortly led into another chute whereby the terrain became easier, and joins up with the rock route. We climbed to the rock ridge and it was then only a short scramble to the top. I had a pocket camera, so snapped pictures of the view.

Another climbing team was on the mountain, and then they started down ahead of us. We had to avoid knocking rocks down on them, so gave them lots of room. Doing a short rappel to get down off the ridge, we downclimbed so slowly. I knew our companion back at camp was probably worrying, as we had to get back to work. It was getting late in the day. I moved while I had been ordered to wait, and set off a small rock. It crashed down, ricocheting off cliffs, and my partner cursed. It hit him in his leg, by bad luck, and though he wasn't injured badly, he held this against me for a long time. We slowly moved down the chute, and then, since this was a drought year, found a route down where the glacier would normally be, making for an easy downclimb.

Back to camp and our waiting hiker at about 5 p.m., we rushed back to the trailhead and started driving home at about 9 p.m. I drank some coffee in preparation for a wee hour drive home, but the driver refused to allow me the wheel. We stopped for food and drink at a bar in Lee Vining, and thusly had to camp along the highway somewhere.

The only time that I had to call the office and report being in Bridgeport, due to the situation, and miss coming into work, was this trip. We motored back into town, the climber slightly jubilant at completing another climb, being that this was more of a climbing challenge than the usual peak slog. He didn't have a job or much money, and later was to pass away due to a complication from Valley Fever, but had been the chair of the rock climbing section back then, with admirable skill and talent.

This peak wasn't on our list, then, being declared too dangerous, and well beyond the capacity of most of the local peak baggers, until I revised our list in 1985 to include such a worthy climb. I led a group back in 1979 or so, and two of them climbed the peak as the rest of us waited below. The easy route was now again a glacier, so the climb was more difficult. One of the deadliest storms on record hit then, to be called "Stormin' Norman," the name given to the tropical storm, resulting in multiple hiker fatalities mainly due to exposure. The radio said backpackers were streaming out of the High Sierra to fill up motels along the Eastern slope. We did fine, but the weather hit as we hiked out, with rain and snow uncharacteristic for this time of year. I sometimes figured to climb the peak again, but my chance in the 1990's was declined as I knew the rockfall danger increases with the number of climbers. Happy now that we had done it, and not turned back, I was later sometimes amazed at the sight of this sharp peak, and knowing that we had been to its top, and safely back.