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Pine Mountain #1, Dawson Peak

12 October 1947

By: Peggy McLean

Leader: Les LaValle

Written by Peggy in 1965.

Probably the most dramatic and eventful HPS hike was on Columbus Day, Oct. 12, 1947. Some 30 of us set forth on a sunny morning from Blue Ridge with Les LaValle as leader, to climb Pine Mt. and possibly Dawson. Only three of us went on to Dawson, just before noon, leaving the others eating lunch on Pine summit. It was clouding up fast, and by the time we reached Dawson summit, snow had started falling, the beginning of a real blizzard! We raced back, in order to find the others, but they had left, and we quickly noted that their still visible tracks in the snow indicated that they had taken the wrong ridge down. Toni Gamero and I debated whether to follow them, in the hope we could catch and turn them, and decided to risk it. When we caught up to them Les had stopped the group, having just realized his mistake, and was almost afraid to tell them they would have to go back to the top and try again. No one had sufficient warm clothing, and one man, new to hiking and thinly clad (light sweater and sneakers) passed out from the cold, and had to be revived by building a fire. It was well after dark, about 8:30, when we completed the perilous descent over that steep ridge, which is bad enough at best. Many of us fell on the icy rocks again and again, and several of us suffered from frost bite. Back at Blue Ridge, the cars were snowed in, and it took three hours to fight our way down to the main road. Luckily one man had a truck which he hauled off and hit the drifts; various people had shovels. It was a pretty exhausted lot of people who drove home after midnight.

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