In the fall of 2002, I felt more prepared than ever, because I had spent every weekend of the summer hiking
and camping in the mountains of the Tahoe Sierra, and I had practiced the kind of climbing that
Matterhorn Peak requires on Dick's Peak and similar mountains. Therefore, I felt quite
confident that the fourth attempt, on September 7 of that year, the day of my 50th birthday,
was going to be successful. I went by myself, mainly because the day before, an early fall storm had blown through
and dumped some new snow on the mountains. It was still very cold, and nobody else felt
like freezing their butts off at twelve thousand feet. But it must have been almost exactly the kind
of weather that they had in "The Dharma Bums," so it was fine by me.
This time, I did everything right, but towards the end, where it becomes really steep, I got scared because many ledges were still covered with snow. Moreover, I had no idea how hard it was going to be to go down again, and so I turned around. In fact, the point where I gave up must have been very close to where Jack Kerouac had given up some fourty years earlier. The photograph below shows how the summit must have appeared to Jack Kerouac when Gary Snyder was waving down at him.
Coming down the mountain was much easier than I had feared. By the time I had solid ground under my feet again, I finally knew that I could do this. I was going to do it. Not this time, but the next time for sure.