Part 1: Norman Clyde – An Inspiration

In such a life there is, of course, a good deal of adventure, some romance, and a certain amount of hardship. The more one learns to take care of himself, however, the less hardship there is!
~Norman Clyde (1885-1972)

I am always excited to find motivators to exercise, and to get outdoors and move more. Twelve years ago on my first big multi-day off-trail backpacking trip with the Sierra Club I climbed Mt. Henry. This was my first peak climb that included route finding, bouldering, navigating loose talus, a few hand holds, and a peak register at the top. At the summit of this peak I looked around at the sea of High Sierra peaks and was hooked. All I could think was “I want to climb them all”.

Also on this trip, a now dear friend told me about Norman Clyde a late, famous mountaineer and explorer in the early 20th century.  After the trip I read “Close Ups of the High Sierra” by Norman Clyde. I learned that this tough, determined man had completed over 130 first ascents (the first person to climb a peak) in the Western North America and helped save many a lost climber and hiker. This I might add was at a time when there were no organized search and rescue teams, helicopters, or cell phones.

Norman Clyde was nicknamed “A pack that walked like a man” because he often hauled a 90 pound pack that might include items like guns, hard back books in Greek and Latin, a cast iron frying pan, and an anvil for boot repair. This was particularly interesting to me at the time, because I was just entering the world of lightweight backpacking! I immediately was inspired to go further, ignore small discomforts while hiking, plan those trips, climb, and actually go.

I am not a technical rock climber, but love those Class 2 and 3 peaks especially ones without a lot of exposure. I have since climbed many of the peaks I viewed from the top of Mount Henry and have many more to climb. Thank you Norman Clyde.


  1. An anvil? You have to be joking!

    Looks like a great book, must wack it on the “to read” list.

  2. If I didn’t have about 5 books going at the present time, I think I would like to read the book. I love getting into the minds of people and finding out what makes them tick, especially those that are so foreign to me. It might just get me up into those high hills!

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