July, 2009 - Annie Trujillo, a guide for Sierra Mountain Guides, and I were talking around the dinner table at her home in Bishop about the incredibly split guiding community in the Eastern Sierra. We have four or five "local" guide services headquartered in Eastern Sierra and another what, three or four "out-of-town" guide services with permit access? And yet in any given summer I may run into other mountain guides a handful of times, often in passing on the trail, and we don't get to talk more than a brief hello and conditions report. The result is that the community here isn't really a community at all. We don't meet to have beers at Rudy's or the Whiskey Creek, or come over to each other's homes for dinner, or call each other up to grab a day climbing in the gorge or skiing the Wheeler Crest. I told Annie about the old guides ball referenced above, and we decided then and there to throw a new party. Some of the older attendees of that first party were a little taken aback by our audacity to call it 1st Annual Eastern Sierra Guides' Ball - we were asked, "What, the party in 1990-whatever doesn't count?!". So we re-named the event the 2nd 1st Annual Eastern Sierra Guides' Ball.
Invitations were sent to every guide service and guide that we could find an email for, past and present. Allan Pietrasanta and John Fischer gave slide shows of guiding in the 60's, 70's, and 80's. And the oldest guide present was Jerry, 81, who led climbs for the Sierra Club's High Sierra Camps in the 1950's.
Roger Derryberry, one of the original valley rats, offered up his space at the old Mill Creek Station for the event, with the walls covered in photos of Warren Harding and the 1967 and 1976 ascents of Denali, and more photos stacked in corners and on tables. With a keg of amber from Mammoth Brewery, it was the perfect place.
Annie and I will also be hosting the 3rd 1st Annual Eastern Sierra Guides' Ball next year, hopefully a little earlier in November. Thanks to everyone who made it out, and to Sierra Mountain Center and Sierra Mountain Guides for the keg. See you next year!
All photos courtesy of Annie Trujillo and used with permission.