Mike Swayne on Buck Mountain, 1962.
  The Serious Sixties  
  Portrait of a climber as a young man  
  by Mike Swayne  

W e started up the Lava Headwall of Mount Adams in the morning sun. To evade rock fall, we climbed roped together without belaying. The ice was firm and steep; arresting a fall before hitting the bottom would be impossible. Suddenly a boom echoed from the cliffs above and an avalanche of rocks thundered toward us. Rocks skipped off the slope and flew hundreds of feet in the air before striking ice again. We had only a few seconds to move, but no place to move to. One boulder was plummeting right toward us, so Ed went right, I went left, and it passed between. Rocks as big as cars and scores of smaller ones zoomed over, between, and around us. A few small ones hit my hard-hat but neither of us was injured. When the avalanche subsided, we continued, pushing hard through the danger zone without stopping.

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