The Significance of a Summit Register

Regarding the summit register of Sentinal Rock in Yosemite, signatures scanned into a Supertopo thread, poster SeanH says, "So cool, thanks for posting. So many big names there. One of my favorite things about climbing is when you do a route and know that in a way you're sharing an experience with so many other people.."

Indeed, as I think I said elsewhere, as opposed to a wave surfed, a ski slope skied, even a mountain cornice traversed, rock as the medium of rock climbing insures you hands and feet travel over the same or very nearly the same matter as those before. Well, one might make a move slightly differently than some or most predecessor, and rock too changes, but many superior routes like the Steck Salathe remain largely as they were, insuring we feel strong kinship with those who grunted (or flew) up the Narrows, and who looked out from shadowy chimneys at the same ageless Valley, and watched their watches and the sun, or perhaps spent a cool night under the stars. And so, while it's impossible to sign the water wave or snow slope, signing a rock summit register is not only possible but potentially transformative beyond mere recording. Even here, my eyes scanning an electronic form of the old register, I felt something akin to holding the real thing: a linking of hands across time, across faces and people known and honored, now etched again in memory, companions in the pursuit of high and beautiful places, each in their time blessed by health and determination and chance too, by a body working to its best, mind ablaze or fearful or anxious, but vital, alive, purposeful, and again and again awed by the beauty and power of vast stone spaces everywhere in view.

Supertopo thread, June, 2011