Mountaineering‎ > ‎Articles‎ > ‎Mount Shasta Tragedy‎ > ‎

Tom Bennett Climbing Memorials

Since Tom's passing, I've felt a need to find ways to keep his spirit and memory alive. One ritual that I've adopted is leaving little climbing memorials to Tom on summits. Not just any summits, but summits or the tops of routes that inspired Tom, or that I felt he would have loved. The peaks and routes would need some combination of remoteness, beauty, and quality climbing to be worthy of these memorials.

                                                                        Somehow I think Tom would have like to join me in taking 
                                                                        photos like this. I have yet to find anyone else who wants 
to run around in the dark with a camera on a cold winter 
                                                                                       night between long days of climbing!

These memorials contain the bookmarks & programs from his celebration of life with a personal note and - most importantly -  a small vial of Jamison Whiskey. I've requested that following climbers who stumble across the memorial take a small shot for Tom.

Placing a memorial atop Carl Heller (February 13, 2011)

Below is a listing of the memorials that I have placed so far, and I'll update it as I add more. After the list is an interactive Google Map/Google Earth showing of the memorial locations. Make sure to zoom in and look around to see the beautiful spots! I recommend that you select the "View in a larger map" option if you're going to click any icons as the balloons aren't sized well to the smaller screen embedded in my website.

 Date    Location Route Notes  Photos
(click image for more)
 June 20, 2010 Starlight Peak (14,200') Thunderbolt to Sill Traverse (IV, 5.6R, A0)Best summit in California! There is no pro until you get close enough to lasso the very top (if you can - I couldn't so I just had to go for it)

(Trip Report)
 July 19, 2010 Thunderbolt Peak (14,003') NW Ridge (III-IV, 5.5) & Summit Block (C1) My last 14er summitted in California. Unless you like 5.9R slab climbing, you do what most people do and toss a rope over the block, anchor it, and ascend the rope (which I did - the 5.6R climbing on Starlight still felt safer, though). 

(Trip Report)
 August 8, 2010 Palisade Crest - Gimley Pk (13,460') S Ridge (II, 5.8) & Traverse (III, 5.6) Mostly unknown & rarely climbed, but possibly one of (if not THE) best ridge traverse in the Sierra. Burly approach, but a great ridge! The 12 peaks are named after characters in Tolkien's "The Hobbit". I placed a memorial on the south summit (Gimley) before lightning and hail scared us off in a literally hair-raising experience! The register  had fewer than 30 ascents since 1970. I intend to go back to leave memorials at the center summit & the northermost & highest summit (Gandalf Pk). 
 September4, 2010 Matthes Crest (10,918') S-N Traverse (III, 5.7)One of the most enjoyable ridge climbs I have ever done. Quality rock in Yosemite National Park's Tuolumne Meadows area and I know Tom would have LOVED this one. 
 January 29, 2011 Petit Griffon (ca. 13,600')
Regular Route (II, 5.7) Another relatively unknown Sierra summit that is also rarely climbed. We had to retreat 1 pitch from the summit, but I'll be back, so a memorial is to be added!
 February 13, 2011 Mount Humphreys (13,986') East Ridge (IV, 5.5, 50o snow)Another classic Sierra climb that has twice before thwarted me as a mixed snow & rock climb.  Tom and I had agreed to go up here & set things right. Summitting in February, my friend & I were the most recent party since September, and for our particular route, much longer! 

(Trip Report)
 March 13, 2011 Mount Carl Heller (13,211') East Ridge (IV, 5.6, 60o snow)An obscure route on an obscure peak that is hard to reach, the East Ridge is reputed by experienced Sierra climbers to be the best scramble in the range. We got the 2nd or 3rd winter ascent. Normally cl. 3 in summer, it was a lot harder & more sustained than the 5.5 alpine route I did on Mt. Humphreys. An alpine adventure that Tom would have loved.

(Trip Report)

View Tom Bennett Memorials in a larger map
I recommend selecting the "Ter" or, especially, the "Earth" buttons for viewing options. See the larger map before clicking the summits as the bubbles are sized for full screen.