With tears in my eyes at three in the morning I stood fifty feet from our tent peeing on million-year-old granite rocks. My eyes always get watery when it’s twenty degrees outside. But some of the tears this night ran down my cheeks on account of the view. The storm that had shredded tents with fifty mile per hour gusts and heavy sleet the night before had blown away. (The people we met hiking down the trail on June 12 looked like they had been beaten silly by a banshee. According to their tales of the horrific night, most of them thought they actually had been roughed up by a really mean ghost. Best I could gather only six or seven people summited that day.)
But now in the early morning of June 13, I stood beneath a new moon and a clear sky peacefully relieving myself. The Milky Way stretched from beyond the east of the Owens Valley past the west over 13,500 foot Trail Crest. As if pointing the way, the galaxy lit the snow chute we’d climb the next morning. I took this as a good omen; God was going to give us ideal conditions to climb.