Sierra Aspirants: A Cartoon Story


 

Continued with running in the evenings after work. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

At the Market I became friends with Allen, who worked at the meat counter. He was from Florida and came west to climb mountains. The guy in the rubbish bin was a four-season employee sleeping one off. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

We actually bought ourselves a clothesline and made regular visits to a nearby slab. Allen enlisted girlfriends who rarely lasted more than one session. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

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A night before my day off I was determined to get to the real Sierra. Hiking at night with a dimming flash led to an almost-collision with a panicky mule deer. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

The next day I reached a pass called Kaweah Gap and there was the peak I had selected from a topo map: Black Kaweah (13,680'). [Illustration] Michael McMillan

During the next few weeks Allen and I planned our assault—a stretch with only one day off, but a "piece of cake" from Kaweah Gap. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

Toward the end of summer we were in superb condition. We arrived at the base of the peak at 2 a.m. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

At daybreak we put on our boots, scraped up some oatmeal and began climbing. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

The talus slopes on the western spur of Black Kaweah are interminable. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

And here is the surprise the mountain held for these young upstarts. The "summit" visible from Kaweah Gap was not the summit at all! Innumerable towers and steep chutes of unstable rock were the name of the game here. It was turnaround time at 2 p.m. After all... we had to show up at the Market by 7 a.m. the next morning. [Illustration] Michael McMillan

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