By Glen Denny
Posted on August 26, 2015
One of the strange things about climbing is the number of climbers who want to write about it. I too felt the urge. I didn’t want the experience to disappear, but how to describe it? If I stayed with the facts, the page was clear, but cold. If I said how it really felt, the page ran hot with embarrassing confessions. I couldn’t get it right.
I combed the library shelves and read the mountaineering classics. In some of those books, I came across photographs that made me say to myself, “Yes, that’s it!” Towering, icy peaks, smooth walls with ant-like climbers on them, haggard faces after frosty bivouacs; those indelible images told the story as effectively as words could. I realized I could show what it was like, and not have to explain it.
So a camera strap was added to the clutter of slings around my shoulders. I started talking less and seeing more, watching conversations, parties, and gear sort-outs through my viewfinder, waiting for the images to appear. I caught some, but many got away.
Camp 4 was the launching pad for our adventures. Sometimes, it was a refuge from them. Here, plans were made, teams were formed, and the rest of life was lived. An odd kind of history was happening each day, and every night the quicksilver of our experience slipped through the cracks in the tabletops and disappeared into the grimy dust below.
Born and raised in California, climber, photographer, and author, Glen Denny, was part of the first group of climbers to use the now-famous Camp 4 as a base for exploring the granite walls of Yosemite Valley. This is an edited expert from his book, Yosemite in the Sixties. For more of Glen's work, check out www.glendenny.com