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Split Mountain

13 July 2002

By: Karen Isaacson Leverich


YALF (Yet Another List Finisher)
Leaders: Brian Leverich and Mars Bonfire

The list. The List. THE List. I knew from the day I found my first peak (conveniently visible from my living room window) that I wanted to finish the List. Someday. Somehow. but I didn't know for months whether I ever really could.

It will be impossible to name everyone who has helped me on this quest. But it's impossible to not name at least some of the many:

  • Mars Bonfire: Who hasn't finished the List lately without owing Mars big time? But I have a suspicion I owe him more than anyone else, especially after the Adventure of the Missed Summit Blocks.
  • Byron Prinzmetal: Byron can be truly annoying (I doubt even he would deny that), but all that pestering, er, motivation, can make things happen. Not so much to finish the List, but to work with LTC towards leading our peaks. Besides leading zillions of scheduled outings that helped me ratchet up the peak count, he also took the time to lead me up my nemesis, Occidental.
  • Carleton Shay: His knowledge from doing the list eighty gazillion times benefits us all. His leadership on outings, especially with Byron and Mars, was extremely helpful.
  • George Wysup: At the worst of times, George is there with wise words and encouragement. At the best, his humor is irresistible. I NEVER would have made it up Galena without him and
  • Tom Hill: Besides welcoming me on my first HPS hike (where Tom was, oddly enough, a participant rather than one of the leaders), and encouraging me to persist even as the leader (dare I say "Byron") encouraged me to desist (or maybe that was his famous brand of reverse psychology?), it was Tom on one arm and George on the other that got me up Galena. His honesty can be a bit ... direct ... but ultimately reassuring: you KNOW where Tom is coming from.
  • Brian Leverich: my husband, who has made all this possible with grace and generosity. Including rescuing me at 11PM when I lost the car keys and driving all over the back of beyond to help tidy up my last orphan peaks.
  • Dorothy Danziger, Sandy Burnside, Ping Pfeffer, Barbara Guerin, Edith Liu and Laura Joseph: besides being friends and hiking with me, for demonstrating that women can indeed finish this List!
  • Ron Zappen: for all of the above except!
  • Winnette Butler, Kathy Cheever, Dave Comerzan, Doris Duval, Joanne Griego, Ginny Heringer, Janet Howell, Mei Kwan, Ingeborg Prochazka, Sherry Ross, Sandy Sperling, Kent Schwitkis, and countless others: for all the great hikes we've done together and will do together, for the helping hands, and shared goodies, and good times!

Split is a very dramatic peak with a split top, clearly visible to the north above Lake Isabella. Brian was in the Schedule to lead it as his "I" provisional. It seemed appropriate somehow that I should finish the List and he the requirements for an "I" rating on the same peak.

Given we had just done Martinez, I wasn't too intimidated by the potential heat. My friends who (other than Mars) had sensibly foregone (forewent?) the Martinez adventure were less sanguine. Most came, anyhow, especially after Brian proposed car camping the night before and an early start.

We were lucky. In spite of a muggy heat wave in progress, the early start coupled with clouds and a breeze made the trip to the summit relatively pleasant. Forest then burnt forest, views... A definite rock scramble at the end, but hey! I'm getting better at this. And finally, the final summit!

I opened the box with trepidation -- Byron had promised me a surprise. At the very least, I expected a moldy cheese sandwich. But perhaps friends had come first and removed it? I dunno. No problems, anyhow... We did get a touch of heat on the return to the saddle, but the the clouds reformed, and it was pleasant. Well, almost -- the lightning storm across the lake was cause for possible concern.

It seems to be the tradition to finish off a List Finisher article with short observations. How can I resist?

  • Favorite peak: Who can choose? They're all wonderful. Except I know it's not the
  • Silliest peak: Barley Flats. Any peak named FLATS clearly has an identity problem. Can we deList it???
  • Most memorable: Martinez in July or Santa Cruz in December. Hmmmmm...
  • Favorite backpack: My "I" provisional in mid-July. What can I say, except it was perfect?
  • Most dramatic hike: I was going to write this one up, too, but am out of time and I expect Joe is out of space. When Sandy Sperling and I did Thorn Point recently (after the fire, but good news: the peak, trail, and lookout are more or less OK, though NOT the same), we encountered a buck fleeing a pack of coyotes. As in, we almost had a head on collision! We also saw a condor, and a spectacular sun dog. Or maybe the most dramatic hike was a week earlier, when Sandy and I were on Old Man and Monte Arido when the private planes crashed near Monte Arido. The sudden cloud of smoke from the resulting fire, so near to where we had parked the car, really spooked us...

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