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Romancing the Stone

December 5, 2011

Guide Rodney Sofich "Romancing the Stone" on a personal trip to the Bugaboos, Canada.

We spend an exorbitant amount of time when climbing, staring at rock formations, admiring glacial moraines and checking out rockfall. Climbing a peak is the world’s best geology classroom.  I’ve been known to collect (small) pebbles from my expeditions and store them in a flower-pot on my deck (shhh).  Given that I live in the great Pacific Northwest, they see nearly as much weather as they did before I rescued them off the sides of once active volcanos!

When my boys were young, they would try to guess which mountain produced each stone. I didn’t have the heart to tell them their guess was as good as mine, having never labeled my collection. I would gander a guess right alongside them. The two that still stand out are the rocks from the flanks of Mt. Elbrus (tallest peak in Europe, 18,510 ft) and Everest Base Camp Trek (the Khumbu, 17,300 ft, courtesy of climbing diva Amy Centers).

We use stones for practical reasons in the mountains too – to mark distance or as sturdy tent anchors. They admit the age and geography of the prehistoric world in which we trek. Rock formations hide a summit register, or serve as a grand lunch spot.

The stones in my backyard betray memories of mountains climbed, journeys traveled, and far away places I still visit in my mind.

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