Into the Jaws of
Solo Climb as a senior
in High School on the north face of Mt Mcloughlin 9,495 ft.
One young man's Eigerwand.
After a perilous solo traverse
of the north face, I attained the NW ridge, and recorded this
inspiring view across the sweep of Mt McLoughlin's little known
north face; shown are Fourmile Lake, Upper Klamath Lake, and Yamsay
Mountain, 8,196 ft, on the distant eastern skyline. Pelican Butte, 8,000 ft, the proposed site of Oregon's
newest ski area, lies just to the left edge of this picture. Mt.
McLoughlin is Oregon's
most southerly major Cascades volcano, and it was last active
during the height of the Roman Empire, thus making its last fires
contemporaneous with the flows of McKenzie Pass to the north.
A deadly boulder
the size of a Volkswagen came crashing down the dirty rock gut
in the center of the picture, just seconds after I had sweated
my way across the gut in the broiling sun. It passed within fifty
feet of my stunned eyes. I watched it bound down the steep slope
for what seemed forever. When the giant finally entered the trees
far below, it was just a dot, but it sent trees flying into pieces,
soundlessly. Here's some dramatic music to accompany the terror
of the climb [3/4/2016-- Sorry, I removed the music because on
some browsers/systems it was causing the page to freeze upon trying
to load it).
Serenity in the Sky.................................................
I'm sitting on the foundations
of the old fire lookout station atop Mt. McLoughlin, gazing 75
miles south at Mt. Shasta, 14,162 ft.. I'm dreaming of the life
led by the fire lookouts who formerly lived on the summit. Here
is the story that I wrote about that morning on the summit, all
alone. Psychologist Abraham Maslow would have called it a "Peak
He sat alone on the mountain
peak, high in the morning sun, his gaze extending for a hundred
miles in all directions. He had been there since dawn, in the
vast sweep of forests and plains where there was no sign that
humankind and its noisy civilizations had ever existed. The small
sounds of the mountain responding to the heat of the sun became
preternatually clear, subtle creaks and groans, a distant rock
breaking its bonds to tumble down a scree slope.
Overhead the impossibly blue sky glowed with an inner light. Two
hawks appeared unexpectedly from below, riding the morning thermals.
One drifted so close he could hear the sounds of the wind breaking
over its body. Then just as suddenly, the wind blew them away
over the mountain's shoulder. They were vanished.
Only he remained -- alone and yet strangely joyous, for such was
his vast New World, with its long days to be lived far from distractions
of home, of parents, spouses, friends, teachers, employers, police.
A companion of generations of wild things that would know nothing
of the Dominion of Man, the Planet's passing fancy. Years elapsed
before he realized what had dawned on him that morning - a larger
Life Vision, a reconnection to all things ancient, primordial.
Never would he be alone again, for with his realization he had
uncovered his hidden truth: alienation, the malaise of modern
man, had lost its power over his life.
Links to some
of my other outdoor adventure stories:
"Mountain Night on the Skyline Trail"
"Dark Lake of My Dreams"
Story copyrighted Bruce B. Johnson M.A. 2006-2016. Janet K. Hughes,
Page Last Revised