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44 Mountain Profile: The Palisades

[Photo] David Stark Wilson

In his Sierra guidebook The Good, the Great, and the Awesome, Peter Croft calls the Palisades “the most mountainous mountains in the Sierra Nevada.” Half-hidden behind foothills, these spiny 13,000- to 14,000-foot peaks have allured decades of alpinists, eccentrics and wanderers. Doug Robinson follows a “trail of mentors” that leads from the early mountaineers of the Sierra Club, to generations of prolific soloists such as the eccentric Norman Clyde, to the PSOM guides and the merry band of Armadillos–and to the legendary “poetry-reciting Zen truck driver” Smoke Blanchard, who declared that mountaineering should be both “picnic and pilgrimage.”

Daniel Arnold, Joan Jensen, Peter Croft and Cameron Burns share tales of their own quests amid the quiet, wild stone. In a bones essay, Steve Porcella pursues the “remote, barren, trailless, treeless, oxygenless and peopleless,” and finds out what it is to really know a mountain range.

Click on the photos below to read essays from the Palisades Mountain Profile as we publish them on this week. Pick up a copy of Alpinist 48 for Doug Robinson’s full article.