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Date Climbed: June 20, 2005

Posted by shredder on June 22, 2005 (814 Hits)
The search for John Zazzara brought me to Mount McLoughlin. And this trip report is about what I found.

It all started a few days earlier on the SP message board. Lately I have had a bad attitude towards other spers who were harrassing fellow climbers over what I considered minor mispostings and such. well during one such post a new person posted a somewhat frantic posting about a lost climber. When I saw it, I almost thought it was bogus, but did a google and found it to be real. I then offered to help out and go look on the following monday. I also was a bit rude to a few SPers at this time and am sorry for my harrassing you guys as I re-read the posts and it didn't look as bad as I thought.

I had planned to go Monday and Tuesday. But on Sunday all I could think about was why wasn't I leaving sooner. Everything I was doing was just everyday crap that could wait. So I got my gear out and threw it in a pack. Being solo I only brought what I needed for my own safety and not anything especially technical(no ropes, pro,etc) and crashed early. For me I don't use a clock so waking up is, well a crapshoot for me but I somehow woke up fairly early and hit the road for a 2+hour drive at 80+ and about 50 car passes later I arrived at the TH.

Here is where I found Johns Brother Peter and nephew Nathan. They of course looked a bit tired but doing very well for the situation. We talked a bit while waiting for some other people who were supposed to show but never did for unknown reasons. I was hoping to see a good map of the mountain and where the SAR team had already looked but Peter, Johns brother didn't have one. He did inform me that they checked the lower part of the mountain with dogs and horses. And someone went up and checked the summit already. After about 30 minutes I got antsy and got my gear out and hit the trail.

The first part of the trail is on an easy uphill grade then it meets up with the PCT for a short distance then leaves the PCT and goes up the mountain. During this time I figured the search dogs would have found a sign on this part of the trail, so I just cruised up the trail. I reached the snow and put on my plastic boots and tossed my running shoes in my pack and started climbing. Ocasionally I'd punch all the way through to my hip. Around this time I veered right to the beginning of the ridge and stayed on the ridge for best viewing of the east bowl.

One of my favorite things to do is climb boulders like the ridge but with my big boots I was severely limited to my so called fun. During my climb up the ridge I stopped a dozen times and just sat down and scanned the area below and across the bowl while also literally looking under every rock on the ridge. This I spent many minutes, each time analyzing the fall lines in the bowl and searching the few piles of sluff. This ate alot of time up but I figured that focusing on one solid area would be best. I could only think how small I felt up there all alone. Like looking for a needle in a haystack. Seriously though,I knew the more obvious locations to look were spots only accessed with ropes and since I was alone I was stuck to just keeping my ears and eyes open and alert on easier ground. Eventually what little time I had ran out. I said a prayer for John and followed the path home.

Sitting on the side of the mountain. The cool wind blowing through my hair. With my hand I caress my sunburned cheeks. Looking up, I see the path leading up to the summit, and realize I am not alone.

Peace be with you John


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