The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on John Muir, his first ascent of Cathedral Peak in 1869, and the recent exhibit in the Yosemite Museum called “Granite Frontiers: A Century of Yosemite Climbing.”
Muir was Yosemite’s first climbing bum — a rara avis then, but a species that is not at all endangered today. Witness the queue to get a tent site in the park’s Camp Four, where bedraggled climbers with duct tape holding their down jackets together mass early every morning hours before the ranger station opens. And those are the orderly ones, not the so-called dirtbags who sleep illegally in the bushes, ignoring the regulations and spending months at a time in the park pursuing their passion. It’s not uncommon, moreover, to find climbers lined up to scale popular routes such as Cathedral Peak, although most use a rope to protect themselves from falling off the summit — unlike Muir, who trusted all to his hands and feet and steady nerves.