Epic mountain climb a personal, patriotic quest for Meadow Vistan

Four peaks conquered in one-day free climb honoring sibling in Afghan combat zone
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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America has its challenges, so what’s a lone American to do?

For 22-year-old Meadow Vistan Taylor Stanton, one man’s gesture of patriotism this past Sunday was symbolic, heart-pounding and a little chilly.

 The recent UC Davis political science graduate set out Sunday before the dawn’s early light to climb and plant Old Glory on four separate snowbound peaks near the Carson Pass, just south of Lake Tahoe.

To show some American grit and stick-to-itiveness, Stanton’s goal was to make it to the top of four mountains as high as 10,300 feet in less than a day. Starting off, he was dealing with sub-freezing temperatures and high winds.

With friend Zack Bower of Davis along to photograph the adventure, Stanton said he was able to pull the feat off by twilight, planting the Stars and Stripes on each peak. Mountains climbed were Round Top, The Sisters, Redlakes Peak and the Elephant’s Back.

“I started my trek at 4 a.m. and finished my expedition by dusk,” Stanton said. “They were all covered in deep snow and ice and the temperature ranged from minus-11 to 30 degrees.”

Round Top is described in the Tahoe Adventure Sports Website as one of the most technically challenging climbs in the Tahoe area – a 9-mile round trip and climb of 1,821 feet. describes Red Lakes Peak as a three-hour hike or snowshoe with some scrambling. Elephant’s Back is described as a roundtrip hike of two to three hours, with low chance of injury. The Sisters trail to the summit is 4 miles, with a climb of 1,921 feet. Hands are occasionally needed for balance.

An avid mountain climber and desert explorer, Stanton said that his show of patriotism had a lot to do with sending a message to his twin brother, James, who is deployed with the Army in Afghanistan.

“I wanted to do something to show him how proud we are of him and to show my patriotism for the United States,” Stanton said. “I decided that the most impressive way to do this was to successfully free climb – no gear except snowshoes – four jagged mountains in a single day.”

Stanton’s father, Vic, a resident of Danville – where Taylor Stanton grew up – said that his mountain climbing son loves hiking and frequently enlists his dad as a companion.

And James and Taylor are close, he said.

“He did it in honor of his brother, James, who is in the combat zone in Afghanistan right now,” Vic Stanton said. “He’s going on another mission soon and that nervousness is returning.”

Vic Stanton said Taylor works on his endurance, sometimes devoting four hours at a time for a cardio workout on the elliptical trainer.

“But this is incredible,” Vic Stanton said. “And he did it as a gesture for his brother.”