National Geographic : 1989 Apr
Like mother, like son SHE MUST HAVE BEEN a real caution, and high-altitude genes run in her family. Fresh out of the University of California at Berkeley 65 years ago, Margaret Avery, a cellist and future mother of author mountaineer Galen Rowell, de cided to tackle the Sierra with her sister Marion-who took these photographs--and several eager friends. They explored the Muir Trail for three summers. Unable to rent mules, they paid $60 for each balky animal, which had to be dragged over Donohue Pass through late snow (above right). They camped at McClure Meadow (shown above in a hand-tinted scene) beneath The Hermit, a 12,360-foot peak. On July 2, 1924, they became the first to climb it, as a friend pulled Margaret the final few feet up the sheer summit (facing page). "It was her thrill of a 484 lifetime," says Galen of his mother, now 88. During the 1950s Galen, his mother, and his father, Edward Z. Rowell, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, returned on Sierra Club outings. At a campfire Galen's father spoke about "what mountains can mean for the human spirit" and of the truth of the Latin saying "Montani semper liberi-Moun taineers are always free."