Trip Report
Time for an Evolution
Monday September 16, 2013 8:24pm
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My interest in the Evo Traverse started in 1997 when I rolled into a stocked camp at Evolution Lake and Galen handed me a glass of wine. Peter was sitting there next to the kitchen like a good dog waiting for the camp chef to throw him a scrap. He may have already had a few glasses of Kundé Cabernet Sauvignon. Both of their hands were trashed from climbing. It was that night that Galen made that photo of Evolution Lake with the crazy Sierra Wave cloud. I was a day late for the first attempt of the traverse but we still had a few days of fun and with Hans Florine and Dick Duane put up some new routes on Mt. Huxley, and the wall above Sapphire lake. It would be another year before Peter completed the full Evolution Traverse.
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All these years its been on my mind, something that I'll do. An inevitability. Meanwhile, Galen is gone and time is slipping by. I turned forty. Forty! What the f*#k? The window only stays open for so long. You don't get these things done by holding the idea in you head. You have to wake up and get it done. Over the past couple weeks I set a plan in motion. With work and life I won't finish the traverse this season, but now I know what I'm training for, which is very motivating.

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Get light. I stopped climbing all summer and developed a healthy mountain biking addiction. Lost 15 lbs. Whats not to love about mountain biking?

Get mentally strong. I spent a few days mini-traxing at Sonora Pass, then met Steve for three days of smoke climbing at the Hulk. We had a great time. Its always good to have someone older than you kick your ass.
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Hiked out, met a friend in Bishop and went on a recon trip into the Evolution Region. I thought I'd climb some peaks but the weather was iffy, with strong winds. Finally it cleared but we were low on food and decided to just scout and backpack out over Bishop Pass. That was worthy and helped with conditioning.

Back at work for a week, thinking about Evolution. Friday at five pm, left Santa Rosa on a solo mission to push as far as I could and be back at work on Monday. Damn it was fun. Here is a rough cut of the video. And yeah, I like to wear fingerless gloves on easy Sierra climbs.
[Click to View YouTube Video]

It took me 12 hours to get from the car, over Lamarck Col, up Gould, Mendel, and to top of Darwin. I bivied/froze my ass off, then bailed the next morning and hiked out in a leisurely 8 hrs, then drove home.

I was really inspired by Vitaliy's 27 hour car to car push. He offered me a bunch of beta, for which I am thankful. I took 100' of 7mm static line, which was just right, but next time I'll probably do a few more rappels. Meanwhile, I'm really psyched to get back out next summer.

I hope you are all out getting after it!


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  Trip Report Views: 5,764
Jerry Dodrill
About the Author
Jerry Dodrill is a climber and photographer from Sebastopol.


Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Sep 16, 2013 - 08:31pm PT
Evolution, what we experience as we become who we will be.

  Sep 16, 2013 - 08:40pm PT
Wow Jerry, great efforts man. A good story too with your history up there.

And the photos, well they speak for themselves. My mind is blown.

Thank you.

Seems like you get lots of options to bail on this route, is this correct? Or is there a point of no return?
Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Sep 16, 2013 - 08:47pm PT
Thanks Ryan. One of my objectives of pre-scouting was not only to photograph, but to work out logistics and bail options. I ended up wanting to bail from Darwin and didn't know which was the best way. Ended up reading the summit register until I found entry mentioning the "West Face, 3rd Class." Before I left home I found myself getting overwhelmed by beta and decided to just go have fun in the mountains without extraneous knowledge stressing me out. Ended having to just trust experience and intuition, and it worked out great.

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
  Sep 16, 2013 - 08:56pm PT
You have a gift with the camera..thx
David Wilson

  Sep 16, 2013 - 09:20pm PT
Great Jerry - love that pic from twilight on Darwin
Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Sep 16, 2013 - 09:42pm PT
Thanks David. I was thinking about you up there, wondering if you shot anything for Above All in this area.

Just livin' the dream
  Sep 16, 2013 - 09:34pm PT
Holy Moly Jerry,

I was sweating bullets for you about 4 minutes in, and then got motion sickness with your GoPro-Swivel-Necking-Death-Defying-Downclimbing. LOL! That's some great footage and a nice Tickler for your TR next year.

And those amazing photos! Almost felt like I was there...only without the bated breath moments every 20 feet.

Thank you.

Random Nobody
  Sep 16, 2013 - 09:44pm PT
I heard in my brain when I was viewing the photos "Hi, My name is Jerry Dodrill and I post some of the most majestic photographs you will ever see"… That's just what I heard…

Then I saw the video and nearly shat myself!!!

Oh, the exposure!!!!

Super bad-ass Jerry!!!

Sweet posting, awesome photos, most massive and scary video.

Thank you for bringing me to your world.

BTW - Did he say "don't tell my wife" at a certain super exposed arete down-climb? Does she not have internet? hahahha

Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Sep 16, 2013 - 09:41pm PT
Sorry about the vertigo. I was trying to pay attention to what I was doing!

Random Nobody
  Sep 16, 2013 - 09:53pm PT
No worries Jerry. That was awesome to see.


Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Sep 16, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
Stellar Jerry. What an inspiration to get out there and make it happen. That video is beyond rad and you're doing Galen proud with your stills. I hope we bump into eachother out there someday. Keep the stoke lit and stay frosty out there on the sharp end.

Charlie D.

Trad climber
Western Slope, Tahoe Sierra
  Sep 16, 2013 - 10:15pm PT
Jerry wow, great pictures as always and I loved the video! The Evolution Region of the Sierra is the soul of the range for me. I first visited Evolution Basin/Valley in 1968 and have returned dozens of times since as a backpacker, climber and skier. Truly a special place with many fond memories of times in the alpine and great friends all bathed in that defining golden light. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed it all.

Berg Heil,

Charlie D.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Sep 16, 2013 - 10:20pm PT
Highlights of the vid:

"Don't tell my wife"

And the hardman dry coffee grind shot. John Wayne style.

This video and your journey embody why we all do what we do out there.
Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Sep 16, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
Thanks for your comments. Nice to share the stoke with you guys.

Mountain climber
Marooned, 855 miles from Tuolumne Meadows
  Sep 17, 2013 - 12:31am PT
Totally first rate! Thanks for this TR. Watched and balanced with you on the video. About as close as I'll even get to such in the future!

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Sep 17, 2013 - 12:37am PT
beautiful pictures, cheers.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
  Sep 17, 2013 - 02:17am PT
Darwin at Twilight is wonderful!

The vid exposure! woot!

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Sep 17, 2013 - 06:19am PT
Great photos as usual,
Thank you!!!!!

"don't tell my wife"
Nice line!!!!!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Sep 17, 2013 - 11:11am PT
Glad to hear my trip gave you a little more motivation to get on Evo. Your photos are breathtaking and they give me more motivation to get out to Sierra as well. What goes around comes around! :)

Thank you for sharing! Got to plan a few trips together next summer!
Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Sep 17, 2013 - 12:30pm PT
Definitely Vitaliy!

Trad climber
Lee, NH
  Sep 17, 2013 - 12:56pm PT
The Range of Light, indeed.

  Sep 17, 2013 - 01:21pm PT
Thanks, Jerry! Watching the video was a great way to start my day, and the god beams photo blows my mind.

Oakland, CA
  Sep 17, 2013 - 01:42pm PT
Primo, dude, PRIMO. How you coax those dusk colors out of the sky and into your images is some deep voodoo.

You know a pic is a good one if while viewing it from your office you can feel the air temp of that moment on your forearms.

In Costanza's voice: Goosebumps, Jerry, goosebumps!

Social climber
down south
  Sep 20, 2013 - 02:49pm PT
Wow. It's been 7 or 8 years since I was in the mountains. I had forgotten just how beautiful they are. The video truly brought my soul back to a wonderful place. Thank you. Inspiring and completely awesome.

Monterey, CA
  Sep 20, 2013 - 03:09pm PT
my hands couldn't stop sweating! awesome report and thanks for sharing
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
  Sep 20, 2013 - 04:14pm PT
That video was riveting and frankly scary to watch in parts. Very enjoyable and great footage.

Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Sep 20, 2013 - 08:19pm PT
Watching that video made my palms sweat.
Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Sep 20, 2013 - 09:27pm PT
I just watched it again and found myself reaching behind my back for the chalk bag. Whew. That was more scary to watch than it was to climb! It looks like this footage may be re-edited and released through a larger media channel. I'll let you know what happens.
this just in

Justin Ross from North Fork
  Sep 20, 2013 - 09:36pm PT
I saw the author of the TR and knew it was going to be good. I was wrong it was f*#kin badass. Thanks Jerry, great pics, video, and solo. Big accomplishment.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Sep 21, 2013 - 03:34pm PT
Thank you!
the Fet

  Sep 21, 2013 - 09:12pm PT

Trad climber
  Sep 21, 2013 - 09:25pm PT
good story, great pix.

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Sep 21, 2013 - 09:30pm PT
Wow, Jerry. I was wondering what you've been up to lately. Beautiful work as always! Thanks for sharing. I guess I won't bother posting my latest - ;-)
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Jul 28, 2014 - 10:40pm PT
Wow Jerry. So cool. I love your photos. they are so inspiring!!

what do you use for most of your post work? lightroom?

thanks for sharing!!

Social climber
  Jul 28, 2014 - 10:44pm PT
hey there say, jerry... this is wonderfully refreshing to see this... does my artist-heart fresh joy, to see this!

thanks for the bump, folks... :)
Big Mike

Trad climber
  Aug 5, 2014 - 03:22pm PT
Bump for Jerry!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Aug 5, 2014 - 08:49pm PT
It's been about a year since you opened up this marvelous TR.

Any plans for more adventure here this year, Jerry?

  Aug 5, 2014 - 08:58pm PT
Incredible pictures! Damn, wish that guy still hung out here

Sonoma County
  Jul 30, 2015 - 12:55pm PT
High Sierra :)

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Jul 30, 2015 - 01:17pm PT
Just completed the traverse last weekend, second attempt. Man is it long! Coming off Darwin you get the feeling it will never end!

ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
  Jul 30, 2015 - 10:15pm PT
wish that guy still hung out here
I was wondering about that too, but he last posted in June of this year, so 'not to worry'.
Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Jul 31, 2015 - 07:30am PT
I'm still around. ;-)
Stevee B

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
  Jul 31, 2015 - 08:01am PT
Joyful. Love the tale of being in the horsepack camp when Peter & Galen were pioneering. Great pics too. They remind me of that sunrise. The sun coming up over Darwin is a beautiful sight.
Stewart Johnson

Gym climber
top lake
  Jul 31, 2015 - 09:20am PT
Managed to sneak the evo in
Between thunder storms last week
Thanks for the inspiration!

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Jul 31, 2015 - 09:56am PT
Congrats on a fine outing Stewart. Proud send. Man I love this thread.
Jerry Dodrill

Author's Reply  Jul 31, 2015 - 12:23pm PT
Congrats, Stewart. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

I guess I should write a follow up. SO much has happened since I wrote this original report. In short, I planned to do Evo with Brad Parker and a couple friends in late August last year, but while training for it on August 16, he tragically fell to his death on Matthes Crest. This profoundly changed me and my community. Just a few weeks later Rob McKay and I took Brad, his ashes, on the climb we had dreamed of doing together. That was almost a year ago and it seems like yesterday.

Life is too short. I hope you guys are all living it FULLY and "doing sh#t that matters," as Brad would say.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  May 31, 2016 - 02:54pm PT
Bump to the top...good climbing content... TFPU