Jack McBroom Sweeps California 14er's
Beats previous speed record by more than a day and a half
August 28, 2002
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Arriving back at the car, the three 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. It's Greg Hovivian, one of my closest friends, and I've not seen him since he moved away probably seven or eight years ago. 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 it's time to move out. My round trip time was four hours, 11 minutes.
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 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. Composed of large blocks like some talus field playground in the sky, the summit ridge is very nice. I reach it at 9:45 a.m. and stand, arms outstretched on the very peak like I'm flying. Then I sign the register, snap a photo and scurry back down that wonderful clean face.
Continued on PAGE 5 »
Jack McBroom, MountainZone.com Contributor