Clyde lived in a world of dazzling granite and glacial ice, deep blue sky and ominously towering thunderheads. He was often alone in this rugged world with only the sound of the wind, his boots on rock and snow, and his slow, steady breathing. He left behind some weathered notes in makeshift summit cairns, his articles and photos, numerous entries in various climbing guides, and tangible memories among a number of friends and acquaintances. This is the story of Norman Clyde, mountaineer, nature writer, and guide. ~Robert C. Pavlik, author
I was excited to attend a presentation given by Robert Pavlik author of the book “Norman Clyde Legendary Mountaineer of California’s Sierra Nevada” at California State University in Bakersfield, CA last week. This biography is about one of my favorite mountaineers, Norman Clyde. The event was well attended and Mr. Pavlik’s lecture was informative, concise, entertaining, and the audience was interactive and asked great questions. Mr. Pavlik was gracious and signed the copy of the book I purchased and posed for a photo to boot. I was in heaven.
This book gifted me with quite a week by entering into the world of an explorer that was an animal when it came to climbing peak after peak. Pavlik’s book is easy to read and packed with research based info. This book is an ideal companion to Clyde’s”Close Ups of the High Sierra“. When reading “Close Ups”, I found that Clyde’s point of view of events often left the reader with a lot of unanswered questions. Pavlik’s biography helps to fill in the gaps giving important left out details of the mysterious life of Norman Clyde.
Highlights that I particularly found motivating:
- 30 of his first ascents were achieved after he was in his late forties…proves it is never to late to start something hard!
- Clyde attributed his success to “the trait of indomitable perseverance”…I think just how “indomitable perseverance” rolls over the tongue makes it easier to just keep on, keepin on when things get tough.
It is fun to imagine what it would have been like to happen upon Norman Clyde in the back country long ago, with his large, well-supplied pack and steady pace. What an awesome experience that would have been during a time of no GPS, accurate topo maps or detailed trail guides. It might just be like what Pacific Crest Trail hikers describe encountering the infamous PCT “Billy Goat” while on the trail.
Middle Palisade (left) and Norman Clyde Peak (right)
Top peak on my list to climb this summer? Norman Clyde Peak (elevation 13,855) in the heart of the Palisades, of course.