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Lonely Grave in the Sierra

March 7 2010 at 3:46 PM

Alan Ritter  (Login jaritter)

Response to memorails in the mountains


To quote Hrvoje ("Harv") Galic, "There is a lonely grave in the Sierra. It is in a high valley, rarely visited, and far away from popular hiking trails. The few climbers who reach that place on their way to Banner Peak or Mount Ritter usually just pass by, hurrying towards the glacier that will lead them to their destination. Many don't realize that midway up the valley, and within steps of a perennial spring, there is a stone cairn with a bronze plaque, a forgotten memorial to two climbers who died on Banner Peak in the summer of 1934, more than seventy years ago."

I spotted the Rettenbachers' gravesite on my 1997 attempt to go around the west side and up my eponymous peak. I was contacted several years later by Harv, asking whether I knew any more about the Rettenbachers or history of the gravesite. I didn't but was happy to share several of my photos with him to use in his web report. Harv did an incredible amount of digging and finally came up with the true origins of the story, the tragic climb and how the Rettenbachers' grave was marked.

If you're ever up at Thousand Island Lake in the eastern Sierra, it is worth walking up into the valley toward North Glacier Pass to visit the site and pay your respects. As I've noted in email conversations over the years, it's not a bad spot to spend all of eternity.

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