The mountaineer’s privelege

There are turning-points in all men’s lives which must give them both pause and retrospect. In long Sierra journeys the mountaineer looks forward eagerly, gladly, till pass or ridge-crest is gained, and then, turning with a fonder interest, surveys the scene of his march; letting the eye wander over each crag and valley, every blue hollow of pine-land or sunlit gem of alpine meadow; discerning perchance some gentle reminder of himself in yon thin blue curl of smoke floating dimly upward from the smouldering embers of his last camp-fire. With a lingering look he starts forward, and the closing pass-gate with its granite walls shuts away the retrospect, yet the delightful picture forever after hangs on the gallery wall of his memory. It is thus with me about mountaineering; the pass which divides youth from man-hood is traversed, and the serious service of science must hereafter claim me. But as the cherished memories of Sierra climbs go ever with me, I may not lack the inspiring presence of sunlit snow nor the calming influence of those broad noble views. It is the mountaineer’s privilege to carry through life this wealth of unfading treasure. At his summons the white peaks loom above him as of old; the camp-fire burns once more for him, his study walls recede in twilight revery, and around him are gathered again stately columns of pine.

Clarence King, Preface to the Fourth Edition
Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada


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