MT. SILL (14,162') September 9-11, 1977

The local Sierra Club had this class 2 fourteener scheduled, so I signed up. Driving my car with the leader of the trip, he regarded it as his due that he would be given a ride, him declaring what he'd pay to share fuel expenses.

Backpacking from South Lake above Bishop, CA, we hiked over Bishop Pass and then over Knapsack Pass into Palisades Basin. We had a good sized group, all screened and capable, as it turned out. Camping by a small, 11,000 foot high lake, I went for a brief wade to refresh myself.

Up at a fair hour the next morning, we started hiking to the base of the southwest slopes. The route finding and leadership were poor, and I had to negotiate some class 3 rock, and trailed the group to mostly then figure out my own way. We had perfect weather, but strategy says to hurry along due to possible thunderstorms in the afternoon. I caught the group at about the top, and started snapping my photos. The guidebooks say that this peak has the finest view in the Sierra, but I had seen better, by me, atop North Palisade in 1972.

Descending after a welcome hour stay on top, we were led to a short rock face where a rope was tied and participants began to slide down the slab, hanging onto the rope as a handline. I protested this unnecessary and foolish maneuver, but the leader replied, "Now who the hell is leading this trip?" I then was forced to comply and engage in this dangerous and moronic act, knowing that the leader does do this this way, ordering participants to do exactly as said, even though one climber was easily downclimbing a section some 30 feet over!

Obedience, rather than mountaineering, was the goal of this leader, hailed by the local chapter as the greatest mountaineer, with numerous awards, even though he would be rejected by the climbers in the Los Angeles area. Often lost on his own leads, there is some military connection, as he disdains any democracy in climbing, and sets his word as law. This is heavily embraced by the local chapter, and though they then do not climb very many peaks, he has his strong following of novices, some anxious to obey and please.

We made it back to camp, and I had another peak in the bag. We backpacked out the next day, me trailing behind due to the prescribed heavy leather boots that they command to be bought and used. I drove home, back to the car by about Noon, and later joined with other climbers in seeking an end to this chapter delegated command, quite diminished, and more predicated on servitude rather than skilled climbers banded together in seeking a common goal.