The Oak is about where we stood to watch the climb
90 W. Main
Mt. Pleasant, UT
January 20, 1993
February 24 is the 47th anniversary of the El Monte Oak Park Rocky Mountain climb. As
mountain climbs go, it was certainly not comparable to the Everest climb, nor even Mt.
Timpanogas. But for the climbers and the spectators from Mt. Pleasant’s Battery A, 204
Field Artillery, it was an afternoon’s respite from the tedious Army life at isolated El Monte
Oak Park in eastern San Diego County.
I don’t recall who issued the challenge. It was probably Sgt. Wilbur Rasmussen wondering
out loud how long it would take someone to climb Rocky Mountain. And then, Cpl. Shirley
Madsen responding that he would climb it in under two hours. Others joined in with yeas
and nays. After a week or two of contention, sides chosen, bets made, Shirley and his partner
Pfc. Jay Larson scheduled their climb.
With the men of the Battery at their chosen viewing stations, all binoculars and B.C.
scopes uncased, Shirley and Jay took off. They had about a quarter of a mile to go before
they started the serious climb. This they covered at a fast walk - a warm up. Then, up the
mountain they climbed, rock by rock, steep slope by steep slope. They moved too slow for
the “can dos” and too fast for the “can’t dos.” Three quarters up the mountain they disappeared
onto the back side. The tension built. Just as some of the can’t dos were asking
for their money, they reappeared. First it was Jay, and then Shirley on the summit. Total
elapsed time was one hour and 17 minutes .
Now, 47 years after the event, I’ve heard some of the observers state the climbing time as
35-40 minutes. But my notes, recorded 15 minutes after the event, clearly read: one hour
17 minutes. Still well under two hours.
This climb confirmed an old Utah truism - it is foolhardy to doubt the climbing ability of a
North Sanpete sheepherder.
S SG Jay R. Larsen
Branch of Service: U.S. Army
Hometown: Sanpete County, UT