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Mount Hillyer

19 November 1988

By: Ron Jones

Leaders: Lou Brecheen, Ron Jones

We had planned for a year on making our finishing of the Hundred Peaks list a unique occurrence. Since Weldon Heald and the other "Founding Fathers of the Section" had allowed that a peak could be counted when it was attained by any means, we decided to stretch the point. Well, we couldn't do it scuba style, we didn't want to dig and tunnel up to it, neither of us felt we could parachute and land on the summit, so we chose to fly there in a helicopter. (Sam Fink told me later that he had argued against attaining the peak in "any" fashion when it was originally proposed - but that he was voted down.)

Hence, our List Finishing was limited by

  1. a peak from the remaining fifty or so we both had left to climb,
  2. a peak with easy access for a heliport,
  3. a summit both flat and clear enough for a landing and finally,
  4. a peak you could drive your car close to so we could have a really big party.
Mount Hillyer met the order in all regards!

We made our flying arrangements with Pete Gillies, a contract NF chopper pilot with Western Helicopter, Inc. out of Fontana. We brought Jon Sheldon into our game plan as we needed a qualified Leader to bring the group up from Horse Flats Campground. He recruited Ruth Feldon and others as his assistants.

Saturday morning dawned warm, bright and clear. At least 105 people met at La Cañada carpool point and signed in. Probably just before the cars and particpants reached the road, Lou and I arrived at the El Monte airport and met our pilot.

The flight took 15 minutes, we circled the peak three or four times and saw the crowd at the summit area smiling and waving up at us. Jon did a great job of crowd control and we settled down for a routine landing in a cloud of dust. The time was 12:15PM, exactly as planned.

After disembarking our craft, we were lofted into the air and carried to the summit register. A few corks popped and gaiety reigned supreme. Jim Kilberg presented us with limited edition, personalized T-shirts commemorating the occasion and five time List Finisher Dick Akawie pinned us as List Finishers. Before the celebration got too much steam up we adjourned down to the roadhead (carrying two more cases of champagne which Lou brought in on the helicopter) where we were met by four enormous banners draped from the nearby trees congratulating us and our efforts.

Afterwards it was just your typical HPS party. Lou and I were able to recall less and less as the afternoon progressed. We do remember that there were 22 List Finishers present in the usual photo.

We pay special tribute to the late John Backus and to Dick Akawie and Alan Coles for their route knowledge, to all of you for the parties, campfires, and fun times and especially to Leora Stoler who did so much to help organize this memorable event!

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