The California 14ers

by Jack McBroom

Jack McBroom

I had been planning to make a run at the record for about 2 years and didn't even know what it was until this spring when I did an internet search and found Josh's article. I thought it was about 7 days or so but really had no idea.

I had never climbed any of the Palisades except for Middle and that was back in 1996. I had also never been up White Mt., Langley, Williamson or Tyndall. I climbed Russell for the first time over Memorial Day weekend in June. So as July rolled around I was in the neophyte position of having only been up 6 of the peaks. Needless to say, I didn't tell too many people what I was hoping to do.

In early July my wife Melody and I and an old El Capitan partner, Rick Skidmore, hiked into Dusy basin and camped. The next morning at sunrise, I made my way over Thunderbolt pass and up SW chute #1 to the summit of Thunderbolt. I spent probably 30 minutes practicing the bouldering moves on the summit before moving on. Starlight was easy but North Palisade got me totally lost. I stemmed across that really exposed notch and just climbed straight up and left. After reaching the summit I descended the rubble chute for a few hundred feet and re-ascended the chute leading to the U-notch. Thankfully Polemonium was a piece of cake, then over to Sill and a long descent to the SW into some basin with a lake. I traversed over a ridge into Palisade basin and finally reached Thunderbolt pass again. It was a pretty long day but it proved to me that my plan of going from Sill to Middle Palisade (West Side) was workable. (I estimated it would take about 4 hours of moderate travel to do this.) The next day we hiked out.

About a week later I returned with Rick and went for it. Loop One went from South Lake over the Palisade group, over to Middle Pal (west side), over Mather pass and Split Mt. and down to the desert. Rick was parked at the Meadow so I had to hike for an hour and a half to reach him. Then we went to White Mt. and ran it finishing just before sunset. Next day I ran Langley, and that evening took off on the Whitney-Russell loop. I came out next morning just ahead of the forest fire smoke and quit. Two days before I had gotten really lost on Middle Pal and abandoned it without reaching the summit. So having climbed 11 peaks in 3 days, 8 hours, it ended.

After running in the Cal-Eco finals Adventure race in Northern California August 1-4 (our team finished 6th in 57 hours...) I went home, rested for a few days and was ready to try again.

This time my driver was Paul McGuffin, age 60, a railroad engineer, classical guitarist, and mountain enthusiast. He first hiked in to the Middle Palisade glacier in 1961... I was in preschool at the time.

Once again I left the car at South Lake at 2:10 A.M. on August 10th. I had a fairly loaded pack for quick travel - rain jacket, thermal bottoms, gloves, fleece cap, maps and compass (remember I had never been over Mather Pass, nor even to the west side of Middle Pal), lots of food and 2 liters of water. I also carried 50 feet of 6mm cord and a single carabiner. But the real secret weapon was a Western Mountaineering 17 oz. down sleeping bag. I intended to sleep just the other side of Mather pass before going for the summit of Split.

It was 7:25 before I reached the summit of Thunderbolt. (I know... I'm slow.) The slings were missing and I started to just boulder it but suddenly got an idea. I took the 6mm cord and tied a loop in the end. Tossing it up it snagged the bolt stud. Hmmmm... It MIGHT hold me if I fall... so climbing up to the "slap move" I carefully clipped into my little top rope and pulled over. Once up I ran it through the carabiner and had a good top rope for down climbing. It was the only time I used the cord and in retrospect it was pretty dumb to carry it.

I think I made Starlight at around 8:00... The summit gendarme there is much easier. But now the climbing gets confusing.

I came straight down the high ridge just slightly off to the North side. It involves some easy but very exposed down-climbing to a notch, then crossing over to the left. I tried to find my way up to the scary sheer notch but ended up climbing stuff that was probably 5.7ish. Finally I made it there and did my stemming and hand jamming up to the top of the ridge. Gosh I wish I knew where I was supposed to go. I arrived on top of North Palisade about 9:30 A.M. I called Paul on the cell phone and then continued.

I had read where Josh went along the ridge and downclimbed some 5.2 chimney into the U-notch. That seemed like a better way to go than down the rubble so that's what I did this time. Yep. Definitely a better way to go. I crossed quickly over Polemonium and it took about an hour to cruise over to Sill (11:40 A.M.).

On Sill I met a couple of guys who were amazed that I was eating pizza and teddy grahams. They had only GU. I remember one guyís name was Gordon and they were hoping to tag Polemonium that same day. A little discussion on which way to go and then I said "Later" and scampered down the scree to the SW.

Down below the snowfield and in the talus, in the most remote place imaginable, a scantily clad young woman resting in the shade of a boulder startled me. Not hiking, not climbing, not camping... just sitting like she dropped out of the sky. No gear, nothing. I think I must have scared her a little. She informed me her father was climbing. "Oh." Weird.

The talus seems endless on the way to Middle Pal. After dropping down into a drainage, and climbing up over a ridge, you must traverse a talus covered hill side for maybe a mile to another ridge and then down and maybe another mile to the base of the climb. By the time you reach the base, you're getting pretty sick of rocks. I arrived around 3:30 P.M. and left my pack sitting on a large boulder. The climb up the West Face in NOT RECOMMENDED.

The rock here is rotten to the core. Starting up the couloir you pass a couple of blockages and come to fork. Take the left fork. Then after a bit, as the gully begins to curve upwards, there is an opportunity to climb out to the left onto a large open ridge. It looks way off route, but that's the way to go. Leave the gully. From here follow the path of least resistance, weaving left and right and slowly curving upwards towards the crest. There are several sections of "4th Class" that anywhere else would be called 5.2 Test every hold as many will break loose. Rocks will be falling constantly beneath your feet and your partners will be killed if they don't have hardhats and stay right next to you. I summited at about 5:00 P.M. and was back down alive by about 6:00.

The John Muir trail is below (LeConte canyon... I think its called.). I made it almost over Mather pass before it got dark on me. Once over, the trail takes one long switchback to the East and that's where I left it. I continued on for maybe 15 or 20 minutes and then stopped to sleep. It was 9:45 P.M. I curled up in my 17-oz bag and I passed out quickly.

Up at 2:30 A.M. I continue on to Split Mt. and summit at 5:10 A.M., still in the dark. The west slope of Split is a nice easy walk by the way. I highly recommend this side to ascend versus the Eastern trail past Red Lake.

Descending quickly down scree and keeping to the correct trail, I arrive back at the car at 9:05 A.M. on August 11th. It's been 31 hours. More like a backpack trip than a record attempt. Of course I do feel really good, having slept and eaten well and am ready to go. Paul has 3 gallons of water in jugs on top of the car for a "desert shower" and I wash my hair and clean up before we leave for Big Pine.

Arriving at the gas station (10:25), I grab a hotdog and Coke and we book it up the road toward White Mountain. Paul's '92 Toyota truck has 216,000 miles on it's 4 banger engine and we don't make real good time but I'm just glad to be off my feet for a bit.

At 12:20 P.M. I'm off and running past the locked gate and toward the top. An hour or so along the way I pass some men sitting and resting off to the side. I'm running and we exchange a few words but I'm soon out of hearing. After summiting and running back down I reach the car to find the 3 men waiting. One of them says "Well, just run off and don't even visit!" I look closely and my jaw drops. Its Greg Hovivian, one of my closest friends whom I've not seen in probably 8 years since he moved away. His son Derek is now 15 years old. They are on a long-term plan of climbing all the 14ers in California. Life is so crazy.

My round trip time is 4 hours, 11 minutes. Not the fastest but still good and I'm being conservative with my efforts. There are still lots of mountains to climb. At 6:30 P.M. we are back in Big Pine and go in for a spaghetti dinner. Itís an hour sitting but nice. Then itís off to the Shepherd pass trailhead to camp and sleep. We arrive there at 8:30 P.M. and I spend probably 45 minutes sorting gear and food - getting ready for the morning, then wonderful sleep.

The alarm goes off at 3:00 A.M., and we wake up and drive a little further to the hikerís trailhead where I jump out and start. Itís 3:23 A.M. I've never been up this trail and I'm a little concerned. Will it be overgrown? Will I lose it? Will it take me all day just to get to the pass? As it turns out, itís a great trail - one of the best around. Of course, Shepherd pass seems like itís in the stratosphere by the time you finally get there.

Leaving the trail just over the pass I head for the North Rib route on Tyndall. It is solid, clean, easy and fun. Highly recommended. I summit at 9:45 A.M. and really enjoy the view. The descent is by the same route. Then things get annoying. Endless talus blocks for the next hour or so. Finally the west face of Williamson is reached. Climbing it was not what I would call a pleasurable experience. I pretty much hated it. Loose scree for over 1000 feet. But I guess there is a little payback when you pull over the rim onto the summit plateau. What a great surprise! You could probably land an airplane up there. The last entry in the register was by Ruth (7/12/02) who wrote in pencil only one word, "Wow!"

Coming down is fast. At the last lake before the trail, a couple of climbers had set up camp and were surprised to see me. They were the first people I had seen since leaving the car. Stopping to visit for a few minutes I told them what I was trying to do. They were really interested and encouraged me greatly. Sometimes, in the mountains, when you've been alone for a while and you get really, really tired, your feelings start to get magnified. Loneliness seems worse, fear seems darker, and joy seems purer. Freedom seems endless.

I hustle down the trail, running much of it and am surprised by Paul about a mile before the car. He's brought grapes and a Coke. We walk quickly and he impresses me by his ability to throw rocks almost 200 feet and hit whatever target he chooses. I wonder how many windows he must have busted out as a kid (or birds killed, or snowball-fights he won). We reach the car at 7:23, exactly 16 hours after I left.

Paul's gotten us a motel room for the night even though I'll only be there about 6 hours. The shower is great and stretching out my legs in a real bed is super. But the alarm goes off at 3:30 A.M. and I'm out the door 8 minutes later. I hit the Mt. Whitney trail at 3:53 A.M. having downed a donut and another Coke on the drive up.

I like the crowds on the Whitney trail. Itís like a party. Everyone seems happy and excited to be there and although most are moving really slow, its OK. I pass a guy on the switchbacks and we start talking. Turns out he's a mailman from my hometown of Hemet, California, of all things....

I summit Muir at 8:10, Whitney at 9:00, and then run down the mountaineerís route, cross Whitney-Russell pass, and climb the south face of Russell to summit it at 10:45 A.M. Descending the East Ridge route on Russell I encounter a group of 5 climbers, who have come up from the lakes on the North side. They are all older than I am, and I'm 45. We stop and chat for a couple of minutes and then I'm on my way again. I run the scree, run the trail bits, walk the ledge systems and run more trails to the car arriving at 12:57 P.M. Itís taken me 9 hours, 4 minutes to do this loop.

Paul has a pepper steak wrapped in foil on the manifold of the car, and some fried chicken. I drink 4 cans of cold Coke on the drive to Langley.

I hit the Langley trail at 2:12 P.M., in running shoes and carrying a hydration pack. I think this is one of the most beautiful trails on the 14ers circuit. The lakes and meadows are great. But I don't see any people. The entire trip up and back I saw only a lone fisherman who ignored me, very strange for this trail. I hustle as I realize that I'm racing the sun and it'll be dark before I'm back. I make the round trip in 6 hours, 23 minutes, arriving back at the car at 8:35 P.M. in the dark of course. Now I'm tired. We load in the truck and head for hamburgers in Lone Pine.

Our "Owen's Valley peaks" time is 3 days, 18 hours, 25 minutes. That's excluding Mt. Shasta. Paul thinks the drive to Shasta, which takes us over 10 hours (9 hours from Bishop), is a potential problem for record disputes. He thinks airplanes should be disallowed and the rule should be "ground transportation" only. Besides, he says, Shasta is a volcano and is going to blow up so the Owens Valley split should be the real record. He has me laughing hysterically. The comedy routine is carried out totally straight-faced. Eventually I crawl into the back and go to sleep. Paul drives all night.

We arrive in Shasta somewhere around 7:00 A.M. I'm sleepy and not paying too close attention. Falling out into the parking lot, I sort quickly through my gear, get my boots on and grab some food. I head out at 7:32 A.M. and make good time up the trail. The snow is almost all gone. I finally reach a thin tongue of snow at about 11,000 feet and put my crampons on. Now finally I can move. I climb straight up to the red banks and traverse out to their left, and then walk back right to misery hill. There is not a single person on the mountain except me. This is really, really weird. Where is everyone? Is there an eruption forecast? I climb onto the summit at 11:55 A.M. and whoa! Here are about 7 or 8 people with ropes, and all sorts of gear. They've come up from the other side. I call Paul from the summit and tell him I'll be down soon. Then I sign the register and take off running. 200 feet later I realize I didn't take a summit photo. Too excited I guess. So I take one there. Then I run. Left past the red banks and straight down. Endless scree and talus but I still run. I finally hit the trail and I kick it up a notch. I'm flying now. Down, down, down. The car comes into sight and I tag it at 1:29 P.M. I've made the round trip on Shasta in 5 hours, 57 minutes. Paul is video taping and creating another comedy routine as he goes.

A young couple from North Carolina, Danny and Sheila congratulate me on my success and we talk for almost an hour. In a bizarre coincidence, we run into them again that night 100 miles south in Red Bluff in a tiny, obscure pizza place.

My final time: 4 days, 11 hours, 19 minutes.

Jack McBroom

It was the summer of 1996 and I was camped at 10,000' with my friend Paul McGuffin and his teenage son, Colin. Above us on the Sierra crest loomed the bulk of Split Mountain, puncturing the 14,000' barrier by 58 feet. We had come to climb Split Mountain as part of a long-term plan to climb all the 14er's in the State. These 14er's have become symbolic targets for weekend mountaineers across America, providing a tangible goal in this crazy game of peak bagging. California has only 15 mountains exceeding the magic number. We thought, "Yeah, we can do them all. It'll only take maybe 4 or 5 years." As we sat relaxing, a couple of young men came plodding down the trail looking tired but happy. We stopped one of them and he told us they were setting the speed record for climbing all the 14er's. Yep, he said, they were hoping to do them all in less than 2 weeks! "14 days?" We said. Wow. That got us thinking.

Its July 2002 and I'm coming down from Mt. Russell. I hit the parking lot just ahead of the billowing, choking smoke from a huge fire in Sequoia, which soon blots out the sun and begins dropping ash on us. I've just climbed 11 of the 14er's in the last 3 days, 8 hours. Sitting in the shade and eating cookies, I laugh. It figures. Who would ever guess a forest fire would stop me? August 10th, 2:10 A.M. For the second time in a month, I walk away from the car at South Lake trailhead above Bishop. I'm carrying a pretty heavy pack for what I'm headed up to do. I've got thermal bottoms, a rain jacket, 2 quarts of water, and my "secret weapon"; a 17 oz. down sleeping bag for crashing in the backcountry. I've also got four slices of pizza, Teddy Grahams, candy bars, and a pack of Gu.

My LED headlamp creates an alien glow as I cruise up toward Bishop Pass. My driver/crew is Paul, now 60 years old and his 1992 4x4 Toyota has 216,000 miles. We think we have a good strategy of attack; one that has not been tried before. Hopefully, with luck, we can break Josh Swartz' record of 5 days, 23 hours. As Always, Paul is all energy and enthusiasm. I'm all caution and reserve. As I cross Dusy basin toward Thunderbolt pass the sun chases away the night and the beauty of the Sierras erupts around me. Climbing steady but not fast, I arrive at the summit block of Thunderbolt peak around 7:30 and sign the register.

The summit gendarme is slingless making me really focused on the 5.8 moves. But the game has rules and this is one of them. You must tag the top. I laugh out loud at the absurdity of this goofy contest we have created. Already I'm having fun. An hour later I have traversed to Starlight peak and an hour after that to North Palisade. Good AT&T cell signal, so I called Paul to give him the progress. I'm moving pretty slowly but I don't care. It's a long way to Timbuktu. My favorite part of the traverse is the climb of Polemonium, which only takes about 10 minutes from the U-notch. Then it's an easy one hour scramble over to Sill where I meet a couple of climbers on the summit. One of them, Gordon, laughs at seeing me eating pizza. They have nothing but Gu. What can I say? I want to enjoy life. It's 11:45 A.M. as I start my descent to the southwest. Down in the talus fields below I am mindlessly weaving along when to my left I notice movement. Looking over, I am startled to see a young woman relaxing in a bikini top beside a boulder not 30 feet from me. I stutter, "Whoa, a person!" I think I've scared her. Probably my Charlie Manson looks. She tells me her father is climbing. I look around - weird. Farther along I see some other folks wandering around in the talus. I wave and continue. Is the backcountry really this crowded? I mean, there's no trail within a couple hours of here.

Eventually, after several hours of tedious scree and more talus I arrive at the west face of Middle Palisade. Having been here a month earlier, I am not eager to climb this pile of rotten rock. Confusing and dangerous the west face is not recommended to anyone except perhaps the rare individual who wants to try to climb these mountains in record time. What the "Guide Books" say about this mountain, I have some doubts. It could be a death trap. I top out at 5:00 P.M. and am down by 6:00. Hustling down to the John Muir trail I almost make it over Mather Pass before it gets totally dark on me. Stumbling along toward the eastern slopes of Split mountain I stop at 9:45 P.M., pull out my wonderful 17 oz. sleeping bag and sleep until 2:30 A.M. before continuing to the summit in the dark.

It is now day 2 of my attempt to break the record and I reach the trailhead and Paul at 9:00 A.M. Itís taken me 31 hours to do this traverse. Terribly slow, but I've climbed 7 summits, slept four and a half-hours, and most important, I feel REALLY good. I'm totally ready to go run up White Mountain Peak. It takes us 55 minutes to reach Big Pine where I grab a hot dog and coke at the mini mart before the long drive into the Whites. Thank God we had that Toyota 4X4 to get in and out of the Red Lake train head. Reaching the end of the road at 12:15 P.M., it takes me only 5 minutes before I'm off running for the 14-mile round trip to the summit. I leave Paul trying to replace a Toyota head light. Not an easy job, especially at 12,000 feet.

White Mountain Peak is a bit of a joke on the checklist. There is a jeep road all the way to the summit where a stone house has been built and a weather station installed. A gate bars access to the unclean masses of humanity so unless you are part of the scientific priesthood, you have to hoof it on foot. Along the way I run past 3 men sitting off to the side resting and having a snack. We exchange a few words but I'm soon beyond communication. I reach the top and find some guys up there looking through the register. Talking them into taking my picture, I hold up 8 fingers (for peak number 8 of course!). They say, "This must be your 8th 14er." I reply, "Well, yes. Since yesterday morning." "Oh!" they reply. "You're one of THOSE guys." So then ensues an explanation of what I'm trying to do and how if my luck holds, I think I can breaks the record. I'm generally reluctant to disclose my goals; worried that I'll get the old sneering 'you're a fool' reaction. But they were very nice and enthusiastic. "Good luck" they called as I headed back down. This would prove to be the case with everyone I met. Virtually all were positive and supportive.

Arriving back at the car, the 3 men I had passed on the way up were waiting to see me return. They were clapping and laughing and the one guy says "Just run right past and don't even stop to visit!" I look closely at him and my jaw drops. Its Greg Hovivian, one of my closest friends whom I've not seen in probably 7 or 8 years since he moved away. His son Derek is now 15 years old and they are systematically attempting to climb all the 14ers. We laugh at the craziness of life and talk for 15 minutes before its time to move out. My round trip time was 4 hours, 11 minutes.

We head back down the long road with a "Shade Tree" fix on the headlight. In Big Pine we take an hour and eat a spaghetti dinner before driving south to the Shepherd pass trailhead. I've never been up to Williamson or Tyndall and am apprehensive. Setting the alarm for 3:00 A.M. I crash in the back of the Toyota while Paul sleeps on the roof. It takes 23 minutes to wake up, and drive the last bit to the trailhead. At last I'm off and hiking. The initial miles go by like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. My headlamp lights up almost nothing outside of a blue 8-foot bubble. I can dimly see pines and boulders passing in the dark fringes but nothing else. The silence is amazing. Eventually the sun rises and eventually I crest Shepherd Pass, although it seems I must be 20,000 feet high by now. Mount Tyndall is beautiful, shining clean and striking in the morning sun. The North Rib seductively draws me toward it and leaving my pack at the base I float upward on good solid granite. The summit ridge is very nice being composed of large blocks like some talus field playground in the sky. I reach the summit at 9:45 A.M. and stand, arms outstretched on the very peak like I'm flying. Sign the register, snap a photo and scurry back down that wonderful clean face.

Working my way over to Williamson I start to get really tired of talus hopping. This is ridiculous! The west face of Williamson is a giant scree slope and not fun at all. I settle in for a long bit of grunt work and it never lets up until the very top. The last 80 feet gets fun. Then you emerge onto the summit plateau. Wow, I just stop and stare. Wow. I bet you could land an airplane up here! The last entry in the register is by Ruth, who writes in pencil only one word, "Wow!" I laugh. Its 1:25 P.M., going down is fast. I jump and run and skid and jump and before long, I am boulder hopping north toward Shepherd Pass trail. A tent suddenly appears before me where there was none just a couple hours before. I'm feeling lonely having seen no one this entire trip so I stop for a short visit. The guys are from San Jose and cheer me up quite a bit. They are as surprised to see me as I am to see them. I run a lot of the trail back to the car and arrive just before dark, 7:23 P.M., exactly 16 hours after I left.

Paul has been busy. He's gotten me a Whitney trail permit, and a motel room in Lone Pine. I am really happy about the motel room even if I'll only be there 6 hours or so. But, the best thing was...he hiked up the trail several miles and met me with a bag of green grapes and a cold Coke. In my sleep Paul is saying "Wake up! JACK, the alarm didn't go off!" I wake up and glance at the clock. It blinks 3:05. "I know Paul, its set for 3:30." "Oh." I pass out again. Up at 3:30, out the door at 3:38, at Whitney Portal trail at 3:53 and I'm hiking.

I must be really weird, but this is my favorite part of the entire mountain tour. I like the people and the bits of conversation shared along the way. The Whitney trail is pretty amazing. I passed at least 20 people in the first couple of hours who had started before 4:00 A.M. Itís pretty much a party. (Kind of like the West Buttress of Denali if you've ever been there.) Anyway, I'm having a lot of fun and feel great after the motel room. I summit John Muir peak at 8:10, Whitney at 9:00, descend the mountaineers route, cross Whitney-Russell pass and ascend the south face of Russell to summit at 10:45. Then its down the East ridge, and run scree and ledges back down the North Fork to the car by 12:57 P.M. It's taken me 9 hours, and 4 minutes to do the loop. Among the many people I met and visited with was Richard, a mailman from my hometown of Hemet, California - what a crack up.

Paul had a hot pepper steak and fried chicken, fresh off the Toyota exhaust manifold, waiting for me. On the drive to Langley I drank 44 oz. of cold Coke. Only TWO summits to go. It was starting to look like maybe I might finish, if my luck only holds. At 2:12 P.M., I am off and running for the summit of Langley. I'm wearing running shoes and carrying almost nothing in my little pack. A windbreaker and bit of food. The trail is deserted. Tons of horse dung, but no people. This is quite a contrast to the party on Whitney. I don't like it. It's almost creepy. The summit is deserted and I look for 2 minutes before I finally locate the register. I see one person on the descent, a fisherman who ignores me. I get back to the car after dark. Its 8:35 P.M. I've taken 6 hours, 23 minutes round trip.

Paul is excited. He is insistent that we calculate the car to car time for the "Owens Valley" 14ers. It's 3 days, 18 hours, and 25 minutes. He believes that after Mt. Shasta blows up, this will be an important time to know. I am in hysterics laughing. The twinkle in his eye betrays his straight man humor. Plus, he feels there are too many variables in the drive to Mt. Shasta. Meanwhile we are booking North. It takes us over ten hours from Langley to reach Shasta. I am asleep in the back of the truck being bounced around. My legs are tweaking with little periodic spasms. Electric shocks run along my toes. It is several hours before they settle down and I sleep deeply. Paul misses the exit at Shasta and we lose maybe 7 or 8 minutes. He is upset and apologetic, and we had a detour off I-5 below Red Bluff. I think its funny. But, I now see what he means by the "variables" in the drive. This whole game is funny to me.

At this point, barring a volcanic eruption, we are going to break Josh's record by more than a day. If we are lucky, it will last till next summer; if not, maybe only a few weeks. But for at least a brief time, it will belong to us and that's all the victory one can hope for in these sorts of contests. I leave the Shasta parking lot at 7:32 A.M. I'm feeling great after the sleep and move it on up the trail expecting to see lots of people. It must be a strange day in paradise because past the Sierra club hut, there is only one person on the mountain; a volunteer going to do some trail maintenance up high. Most all of the snow is gone and its 11,000 feet before I finally reach a thin tongue of it. With crampons and axe I climb straight up this past the red banks and traverse left below a little bergscrund. I'm way left of misery hill but its flat so I don't care. I'm cruising now and my spirits are high. Soon I'm smelling sulfur and seeing faint wafts of steam from scattered rock areas. Then I'm on top and there are people! "Where did you come from? The back side?" They smile and nod. They also look at me like I'm very strange. Perhaps I need a shower. I pull out my cell phone and call Paul to tell him I'm on top. It's 11:55 A.M. After signing the register, I take off running down. 200 feet later I remember to take a "summit" photo. Oh well. The descent takes me 1 hour, 27 minutes running most all the way kamikaze style down the scree and I tag the car at 1:29 P.M. - DONE!

My round trip time on Shasta: 5 hours, 57 minutes. I sit down and drink a cold Coke while Paul videotapes me like I'm a star. His non-stop chattering comedy show has several parking lot folks smiling. " at eleven!" The new record: 4 days, 11 hours, and 19 minutes. Paul is more excited than I am. I just want to go eat.

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