For ) ) decades, climbers on Michael Minaret struggled up the ) ) vertiginous Sierra rock face without knowing about the ) ) man who pioneered several of the routes in the area and fell ) ) to ) ) his death attempting a new one. Future climbers will know.
On ) ) August 30, four mountaineers, including Stanford economics ) ) professor Romain Waczairg, ascended Michael Minaret and ) ) bolted a memorial plaque near where Peter Starr fell ) ) to his death ) ) 70 years ago.
Dave Daly, who learned about Starr while ) ) reading Missing in the Minarets, conceived the idea for ) ) the memorial and ) ) led the climb. Waczairg persuaded the Stanford Alumni ) ) Association to pay for the plaque. It is located about 300 ) ) feet below ) ) the ) ) summit, in direct view of the ledge where Norman Clyde ) ) discovered Starr’s body in 1933. Although the climbers ) ) visited Starr’s ) ) gravesite, Waczairg says they chose a different, more visible ) ) spot to place the plaque—at a junction partway up the ) ) mountain, where several routes to the top diverge. “Most ) ) people who climb the mountain will go directly past the ) ) plaque,” he ) ) explains.
Waczairg says the climbing was strenuous, dangerous ) ) and unthinkable without a safety rope. It gave him new ) ) respect for Starr’s ability. “I’ve done a lot of ) ) climbing—I’ve never seen a mountain that was so ) ) sheer on all four sides. If you fall, you die,” he says. “I ) ) would have rated it about a 5.7.” Anything over 5.0 is ) ) considered technical climbing, virtually always performed ) ) with a rope and another climber. Recalling that Starr had not ) ) only ) ) climbed with no rope but in tennis shoes, Waczairg says ) ) reverently, “The ) ) guy was out of his mind.
“He almost made it,” he adds. “It would have ) ) been an amazing climb—to this day, nobody has finished ) ) it.”