QUADRUPLE LIST FINISH May 29, 2004-Sentinel Peak
Remember 1973? The cost of a first class postage stamp was 8 cents and the price of a gallon of regular gas was an astounding 39 cents. President Nixon was trying to figure out how to explain Watergate to us, and Burt Falk was starting the DPS list, hiking up Rabbit Peak. Now, some 31 years and 98 peaks later, the adventure is complete.
Lots of things happen in 31 years. Burt had hip replacement, heart bypass surgery, knee surgery and worst of all in 1982 he met Charlie Winger in the Miami airport while both were going on a trip to climb peaks in Ecuador. It was 1985 before Burt was able to trick Charlie into climbing White Mountain, along with Burt's long time friend, Jim Scott. The next year saw a climb of Telescope Peak from Death Valley.
The adventure has not been without its high and low points. A punishing wind storm on Wheeler Peak, a bivouac on Big Pichaco while attempting the ridge route, Charlie's wife, Diane, getting lost overnight on Boundary, and then there was the bivouac in the Subway area as a result of a flash flood while attempting South Guardian Angel. We probably can't remember Mt. Jefferson as well as some of these events. And would any list finish be complete without some mention of those atrocious roads? We hope that none of you have purchased one of the rental cars which we used in recent years.
The years rolled past, peaks were conquered and Charlie had the good fortune to discover that Gerry and Jennifer Roach of Boulder, Colorado, were also working on "the list". Gerry was the 2nd person to have completed all of the Seven Summits, and later summited Carstenz Pyramid. He has also climbed the 13 highest peaks in North America, and is, along with Jennifer, the author of numerous climbing guides. Jennifer recently completed climbing all 637 Colorado's peaks over 13,000'. She is the 8th person to accomplish this feat as well as being only the 4th woman.
At this point, Falk, Winger and the Roaches began climbing together and all were committed to finishing the list at the same time. It was during the latter stages of this quest that Falk had most of his health problems. Gerry Roach, not to be outdone, slipped on some ice while walking down the street in Boulder, Colorado. Major reconstructive surgery was required to repair the damage done to his leg, resulting in a year without any summits. Was it going to be possible for all four to finish the list together? Charlie Winger used this opportunity to catch up to the rest of the group in number of peaks completed. Plans were made for a possible list finish and then discarded for other plans. Schedules were rearranged and then rearranged again. A major stumbling block was Jennifer's revised work schedule. This required her and Gerry to fly/drive from Colorado to get some of their last peaks. It has been rumored that the Mexican authorities would prefer never to see the Roaches again.
Finally, the plan was established. Falk and Winger needed Waucoba and Sentinel, Roaches needed Pico Risco, Palmer, Pleasant Point, New York Butte, Keynot and Sentinel. The date was set, the final peak would be Sentinel, May 29, 2004. Word was sent out to friends (both of them) and family.
Roaches embarked on a whirlwind peak bagging trip to allow them to meet Falk and Winger for the Sentinel finale.
The day finally arrived. Burt and Charlie met the Roaches, Charlie's wife Diane, Jim Scott (who is pursuing a Doctorate degree in Physics at age 69), DPS members Ron Bartell and Christine Mitchell, Mary and Raync Motheral, Gary Hoover of Littleton, CO. and Dave Cooper and Ginni Greer of Alma, CO (Cooper, Greer and Hoover are long time climbing partners of the Wingers in Colorado) in Ballarat to drive over to Surprise Canyon to begin the hike up to Panamint City. A trip to Panamint City wouldn't be complete without visiting the owner of the land at the bottom of the canyon and paying our parking fee.
Shortly after an up close and personal explanation of the owner's spider bite as well as a warning about the danger of flash floods in the area, we departed the scene to start our final journey. We were treated to a beautiful day and the miles just seemed to slip past. Soon, the familiar smokestack of Panamint City came into view. Campsites were established as well as lodging in the main cabin (along with the resident mice) and the search for water was undertaken.
Some confusion reigned as to the workability of the pump located at the welding shop. It gave up a little water and then quit. A short trip up the hillside to the water tank resolved this problem and soon we were all off on our separate ways exploring the extensive remains of the mining operations.
The next morning saw us all expectantly up early and out on the trail toward the Sentinel summit. The breaks seemed to linger longer as we got closer to the top. Conversation lagged as I'm sure each of us was reflecting on the adventures of these past years. Almost all too soon, the summit appeared. We stopped just below and excitedly put on all our "whistles and bells" for the final trip to the summit. It was decided that the list finishers would proceed to the summit in the order in which they had started. And so it was that Burt Falk, Charlie Winger, Gerry Roach and Jennifer Roach finished the DPS list at 11:00 AM on May 29, 2004. All of our friends and well wishers immediately joined us for a joyous celebration on the summit. Sample bottles of various liqueurs and whiskeys were consumed by the four list finishers. Mementoes of the list finish were provided by Dave Cooper, Ginni Greer and Diane Winger.
After all of the whooping and hollering was over, the group started to disband and head back down the trail. About this time we heard other voices! We expectantly looked over the ridge from Porter and were surprised to see Ellen and Ron Grau along with their faithful canine, Bogie. They heard we were planning on this event and planned to come up and meet us. More celebrations were in order!
Finally, the big event finished, an occasion that was truly an affair to remember, we all proceeded back to Panamint City and then on to the cars. Burt Falk had arranged for lodging that evening at his condominium in Mammoth Lakes, so we all proceeded to make that drive.
The following day, Sunday, May 30, a celebratory champagne brunch was held in a private dining room at the Mammoth Mountain Inn, an event made especially noteworthy by the presence of Delores Holliday, who drove all the way up from her home in Independence to attend.
A special thanks to Burt Falk from all of us for putting on such a nice list finish event!
Everyone always asks, "What was your favorite peak?". I think we mostly agree that Bridge was very enjoyable. But then, who can deny the beauty of the Guardian Angels? Hmmmm.
Of note, the Roaches and Winger completed the list while living in Colorado. Burt Falk and Charlie Winger have both completed the 50 state high points. Charlie, along with wife Diane are co-authors of three guide books, including a soon-to-bepublished guide to rock climbs in Joshua Tree National Park. And, in case you wondered, Burt Falk was the President of the Bunsen Burners Science Club during his junior year at Fullerton Union High School. Go Burt!
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