Enjoy a good book on a cold day

Nuggets from the Past

January 21, 2010 

"High Odyssey" by Gene Rose makes a reader shake his head and appreciate reading someone else's mountain adventures while in the warmth of home. This adventure in the high Sierra is a must read.

"It's the story of Orland Bartholomew and his unbelievable winter exploration, perhaps the most ambitious and adventurous feat by one man during this century. Bartholomew's bold trip of 1928-29, called the Mt. Whitney to Yosemite Mid-Winter Expedition, has remained virtually unknown....

"By today's standards, wintering in the Sierra before World War II was infinitely more severe. There were fewer roads across the great barrier, and none were plowed until 1934. For nearly six months, the high country was snowbound, with no search and rescue units, no saving helicopters.

"And yet there was one man ready to test these mountains, Orland 'Bart' Bartholomew (1899-1957). Here was the mountain man of all seasons, a winter version of John Muir and then some, for under the most difficult conditions, Bartholomew, alone and unaided, undertook the daring trek .

Chapter 1: Departure

"Ahead lay over 300 miles of high mountain travel with all of its mistakes and lessons.

"Up there, high on the crest of the mighty Sierra Nevada was the path for the most ambitious ski trip ever undertaken by one man, and now it must begin. He glanced to the towering peaks above him as they reached for the sky; peak after peak running forward to infinity. It was a strange but irresistible call that had brought him here to this lonely gateway and the great mountains beyond.

Chapter 5: Failure at Whitney -- the Climb of Langley

"The thought and excitement of Whitney had done strange things for the lonely traveler....Many times the problems of such a climb had been magnified in his mind. Big mountains, he knew, have a special way of avoiding capture: there are always obstacles -- most of them natural -- but sometimes the barriers exist only in the climber's mind.

"...By the time the sun finally crept over the great escarpment he had left the cold of the canyon, climbing above Sky Blue Lake. At this point he ran into his first obstacle, a giant barrier of ice-coated ledges looming overhead. His first attempt to surmount them by moving toward the uppermost lakebed came to naught.

"High Odyssey" may be purchased from Phil and Adele Bartholomew, (559) 683-7219.

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