Gary and Lynn
Clark have been members of the Mountaineers since their arrival
in Los Alamos in 1985 to begin new careers at LANL; Gary in
Software Engineering, and Lynn in Biomedical Science. They
have been life and climbing partners since 1976, when they met
at a slide show Gary presented on climbing in the Alps.
served as LAM Vice President and Climbing School Director twice,
and as Revered Potentate of Presentation Technology (Audiovisual
Geek) for many years. He was given Life Membership in
2001, an honor he will treasure. A few of his LAM trip reports
Gary Discovers Climbing:
Gary began serious climbing
in 1965 after accompanying an equally inept leader up a serious
mountain route in Idaho, and realizing there were three choices:
(1) Never do this again; (2) Get injured or killed doing this,
or (3) Learn to do it right. After 10 years consuming the
wisdom in "Freedom of the Hills," he was teaching others to
climb and leading trips as director of the climbing school at
Washington State University.
Blanca, Peru, 1974
Early climbs in that period
included a week-long ascent of the NE Face of Mt. Victoria in
Canada with the temperature hovering around -25F for the entire
climb, a winter ascent of Mt. Rainier, and in 1974 he organized
and led a team to the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, where they
climbed three 20,000+ peaks. In 1977 the Soviet Union was
entering the Glasnost period, and an invitation was extended to
assemble the first American team to attempt the highest Soviet
Peak, Pk. Kommunisma (7500m., now Pk. Garmo), located in
Kirgizistan in the Pamir range of the Himalaya. Gary
served as technical climbing leader for this successful
expedition via the challenging Nekrossov Ridge.
Living in California at that
time while working at Sandia National Laboratories, Gary spent
his hard-earned vacation time mostly in the Sierras, climbing
peaks and rock routes in Yosemite Valley, in which he eventually
checked off 52 routes. Among those were 3 ascents of El
Capitan, the NW Face of Half Dome, Washington Column's South
Face, and the Leaning Tower, all mixed climbs with bivouacs.
His favorite haunts were always in the High Sierras, and he knew
all of the named peaks of Yosemite on a first-name basis, after
multiple ascents of many of his favorites, ski tours, and
trans-Sierra hikes in this, his favorite mountain range.
Belaying, Nose of
El Capitan, 1980
Gary on a North
American Classic Climb
South Face of Charlotte Dome, Sierras
Climbing Choices Expand:
His favorite climbs have
always been the classics, and he became a devoted classic bagger
after Roper and Steck's "Fifty Classic Climbs of North America"
was published. While attempting to climb as many of those
as limited time and ability permitted, he decided to make the
photographs and beta available to others on the web; thus the "North
American Classics" project was born. The list of
climbs in the NAC collection gradually expanded with the help of
the Web climbing community to 100 routes, all of which were
documented in considerable detail in photos and route
descriptions on a CD, then on the LAM Web site. In the
course of the project, Gary climbed 72 of these routes, almost
all with Lynn. In the course of collecting classics, Gary
and Lynn made around a dozen trips to the Canadian Rockies, and
a similar number to Alaska. The trips were not always
successful, especially in Alaska, but nearly always worthwhile.
The highlight of the Alaska years was a trip made with two
partners from the ocean to the top of Mt. Fairweather and back.
With a forced bivouac in a crevasse on top, and serious
frostbite suffered by one of his team members, this proved to be
the one of the biggest adventures of his climbing career.
In a 40-year plus climbing career, the only major trip Gary
wishes he could forget was an attempt on Pk. Lenin in the Soviet
Union. He contracted a contagious illness in Camp 2, had
to be helped to Base Camp, then spent 10 days staring at the
ceiling of a tent. Lynn reached the magic 20,000' level on
this trip, though, so it wasn't a total bust. Another trip
took them to the far eastern Himalaya, where they did the second
ascent of Bokra II in China's Szechuan Province.
Lynn leading on
Mt. Robson, Canada, 1994
Other international climbs
have included a month-long expedition to the St. Elias Range,
entailing 75 miles of glacier travel and an ascent of Mt.
Kennedy, and to Africa for Kilimanjaro (with
Chris Horley). Two seasons
in the European Alps netted the Eiger, a traverse of Mt. Blanc
via the Brenva Spur, the Weisshorn, the Duforspitze, the North
Face of Tour Ronde, le Petit Capucin, le Grepon East Face, and
Besides climbing, the two
enjoy bicycling, river rafting, hiking, and photography,
especially of wildlife. Occasionally they come up with a
more ambitious adventure, such as traveling by muscle power
(with club member Mark Zander) from Badwater in Death Valley to
the summit of Mt. Whitney in winter. For the most part,
though, they simply enjoy day hikes and bike rides. Longer
biking adventures together have included a 5-week tour across
England, France and Spain, a circumnavigation of Austria, a ride
across their current home state of Nevada, a "double-century"
(200 miles in a day) circuit of the Jemez Mountains, and many
"century" rides. The Clarks retired from LANL in 2004, and
can now more easily pursue longer-duration adventures; most
recently they rode bikes across Canada as a self-supported relay
team from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, taking 49 days to
complete the 3800 miles.
ride across Nevada, 2006
Another game they have
enjoyed was attaining the highest points of the United States;
in 2007 they completed their 49th State. (The reader is left to
guess which one remains.) Now making their home in Nevada,
they have embarked on reaching the high points of the counties,
recognizing that the most pointless pursuits are often the most
fun, such as the 14ers of Colorado, which they completed in
2002. They have rafted many minor and several major rivers
together, always on self-organized and equipped trips.
Highlights include the Tatsenshini-Alsek system in the Yukon and
SE Alaska, the Nahanni in the NW Territories, and the Koyokuk in
the Brooks Range.
Now in his 60s, Gary is
scaling back the big physical adventures somewhat, replacing
them with more serious photographic adventures; an example is a
tour of Ecuador in 2008 to photograph tropical bird species.
No matter where they travel, they'll always remember that some
of their best times have been spent with the Los Alamos