Conness Pilgrimage

Mt Conness via West Ridge, 1500ft, 5.6, 23 June 2020

Two summers ago, I had a life-altering accident on Mt Conness, stepping on a refrigerator sized block of granite that shifted, fell, pinned my right leg above the knee and eventually ended in its amputation. I was alone, threw my backpack off, out of reach, all in a rush of adrenaline. My only option left was to yell in desperate hope of someone coming to find me.

And the yelling worked. Kimberly Luba and Sam England ran up to me within an hour, having just done the North Ridge on North Peak. I should probably write a whole thing about it someday. I have for myself, but it’s disjointed, emotional, and painful to read.

I’d been in touch with Kimberly in the two years since the accident, but we had never managed to climb together, until this day. And what a more fitting place to climb together than Conness itself.

I had returned to Conness several times since. Once, before getting my first prosthetic, I crutched the 3+ miles to the base of North Peak and Conness, and just sat there for hours, grateful to be alive.

I returned at least once again, alone, to try to climb my original, intended linkup on that fateful day of the couloir on North Peak into Conness’ North Ridge. But I never made it out of the car. I didn’t sleep, I was traumatized and scared by the place. Its beauty is surreal, but the apprehension I felt going back there alone was very, very real.

But I knew I had to go back. And I knew I had to climb again with Kimberly. So when the stars finally aligned, I finally slept peacefully, like a baby.

Here is a brief (iphone) photo report of our simul-solo of the West Ridge. It went smoothly. We rolled in synch. Beautiful views were had, with plenty of time to sit and enjoy them before the afternoon thunderstorms. The loop was finally closed. Thank you Kimberly. You are my hero!

A stunning morning.
On the approach. Can you ask for any more? The Sierra rewards those that wake up before the sun.
Kimberly gazing up at the impressive SE Face. Need to get on that soon!
In the thick of it.
From the summit ridge, looking down at that godforsaken talus.
Cloves and smiles; views for miles.

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