The High Sierra of California
THE HIGH SIERRA OF CALIFORNIA
BY Professor Joseph N. Le Conte
I. General Features of the Sierra Nevada THE Sierra Nevada forms a part of the western bulwark of that great continental plateau upon which is built the North American Cordillera, Though it is but one of the many ranges within the boundaries of the United States which fill that wide area, not one of these surpasses, if any equals, the Sierra when extent, altitude and grandeur of scenery are taken into account. It is one of the great features of the earth’s surface, standing in remarkable isolation, wonderfully simple in general outlines, and fascinating alike to the scientist, mountaineer, nature lover, and, in fact, to anyone who has once penetrated its deepest recesses.
The Sierra Nevada, as generally defined, is limited strictly to California, and may be considered to extend from the Tehachapi Pass (Lat. 350 10') to Mt. Shasta (Lat. 410 25'),a distance of over 5oo miles along the eastern border of the state. The exact termination to the north and south cannot be clearly defined, as its spurs mingle with those of the Coast Range in those portions. But throughout its central part it forms a single, isolated mountain mass, extending from Tejon Pass (Lat. 350 45’), to Lassen Peak (Lat. 40° 30’), a distance of about 385 miles. Between these points the crest line, which is the hydrographic divide between the Pacific Ocean and the Great Basin, is nearly straight, as are also the lines — about eighty miles apart — which terminate its slopes on the east and west.
The range is one of the grandest known examples of the “basin” type of formation. It can be briefly characterized as a single block of the earth’s crust up-heaved along its eastern edge, and thus presenting to the west a long gradual rise covering nine-tenths of its entire area, and to the east a precipitous front of imposing dimensions. The total dissimilarity of the two slopes is perhaps its most striking feature. It is the result of its geologic history, as will be seen later, and is the primary cause of the peculiarly Sierran type of canon sculpture, of the regular distribution of the belts of vegetation, and of many characteristic features of the High Sierra scenery.
The Western Slope may therefore be considered the main portion of the Sierra Nevada, containing not only ninety per cent of its area, but also most of its great forest and mineral wealth, receiving nearly all the annual precipitation, and giving rise to all its rivers. Its width varies to some extent, being narrowest at its southern, and widest at its northern end. Opposite the town of Visalia in about Lat. 36° 30' the Western Slope is but 45 miles in width, but as the range at this point possesses the unusual feature of a double crest, its width to the crest of the Great Western Divide is but 28 miles. In the district drained by King’s River, the average width is about 50 miles; in the San Joaquin region it is 60. About the latitude of the Yosemite Valley it has reached an average width of 72 miles, and across the basin of the Stanislaus it is about 76, Finally opposite Oroville, in (Lat. 40°), it has a width of over 80 miles. The western base of the range is practically sea level, varying from 200 to 500 feet above that datum throughout the entire extent of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. The Main Crest or Divide, however, varies widely in altitude. At the headwaters of the Kern River (Lat.36° 34'), it culminates in Mt. Whitney, 14,499 feet, and northward from that point it diminishes steadily in altitude. About the headwaters of King’s River the highest points rise somewhat over 14,000 feet; in the San Joaquin Sierra they average 13,500, while east of the Yosemite few reach 13,000. About Lake Tahoe they have fallen to 10,000 feet, and at the extreme northern limit of the range few except isolated volcanic cones reach 7,000 feet above sea level. It is seen, therefore, that the highest crest altitudes are coupled with the narrowest western slope in the southern parts, while in the more northerly regions low crest altitudes and a broad western slope are the rule. This gives rise to a variation in average slope or gradient along this side. In the southern Sierra this gradient averages 310 feet to the mile, but if we consider the gradient to the summit of the Great Western Divide we find it running as high as 500 feet. The gradient then diminishes gradually, finally dropping as low as 100 feet to the mile.
The drainage from the heavy winter snowfall along the higher portions of the range gives rise to a system of rivers, which, on account of the remarkable simplicity of its general structure, are necessarily large in number and short and direct in their path to the California Valley. These streams have cut transverse canons of extraordinary depth. The higher the average gradient the straighter and deeper are these cañons, and this feature of the topography culminates in the area drained by the Kaweah and King’s Rivers about Latitude 36° 40'. Along the middle altitudes of the Western Slope these great river cañons are nearly parallel, about twenty miles apart, and at right angles to the Main Crest. The intervening plateau-like regions are less severely sculptured. Here the topographic forms are more rounded, and the stream beds less deeply depressed beneath the general contour of the country. Streams originating on these plateaus join the main rivers either in stupendous waterfalls or in series of thundering rapids. The lower reaches of the river cañons are V-shaped in cross section, and are of course, of no great depth. Proceeding further back into the range, we find the depth increasing, and the greatest depth is usually found at or near the junction of the principal branches, or “forks,” as they are called in California. Still further back, at a point about fifteen or twenty miles from the Main Crest, the form of the canon often changes from V-shaped to almost square cross section, forming remarkable valleys with flat floors and perpendicular walls. This is the famous Yosemite type of canon, which is the crowning glory of Sierra canon scenery. The “yosemites” are usually at or just below the junction of several large tributaries, and above this point the cañon generally branches into numberless ramifications. The plateaus between the river cañons become intricately dissected by tributary gorges, and the whole range in the region known as the High Sierra becomes a confused labyrinth of deep cañons separated by thin ridges of great height and marvelous detail of sculpture.
The Western Slope may be further divided into three belts or zones parallel with the crest line, whose distinctive features are more or less common to all parts of the range. The first of these extends from the western base, or level of the California Valley, to an average elevation of 4,000 feet. This is the Foothill Belt, and is characterized by rounded mountain forms either barren, oak-dotted, or covered with a dense growth of shrubbery known to California as ‘‘chaparral.” This is the gold bearing belt, and is somewhat given over to agriculture as well as mining, but to the mountaineer it is the least interesting of the three. The great river cañons break through it singly, cutting deep rugged gorges. This belt occupies a width of from 15 miles in the southern to nearly 30 in the northern parts. From 4,000 to about 9,000 feet elevation is the great Forest Belt. This occupies nearly half the area of the entire range, and, except where the river cañons cut through, is covered with an unbroken coniferous forest, the finest in the world. From 9,000 feet to the summit is what is generally known as the High Sierra. This magnificent region lies mostly, though not entirely, above the timber line. It seems appropriate to distinguish between the timber line as affected by altitude alone, which limits the growth of trees to 9,000 feet in the region of Lake Tahoe, and to about 11,000 feet in the vicinity of Mt. Whitney, and the limitation which is put upon such growth by the ruggedness of the topography. This latter feature, when showing such forms as vertical cliffs or steep rock slopes, talus fans, or glaciated areas of great size, are such a hindrance to the growth of trees in the southern Sierra that in most places the forest cover makes practically no impression upon the landscape for several thousand feet below the actual timber line. The High Sierra may therefore be considered as extending down to the 9,000 foot level, or over 2,000 feet below the actual timber line.
As well as showing to a more exaggerated extent many of the general features of the Western, the Eastern Slope exhibits also many peculiarities of its own. The most remarkable are, of course, the steepness of the average gradient, and the great absolute elevation of the Main Crest peaks above the desert plains at their base. Opposite the Owen’s Valley this height and steepness reaches the greatest development. At Mt. Whitney, for instance, the summit is 14,499 above the sea, while Owen’s Lake is but 3,567. There is, however, a gradual rise from the lake to the base of the range, so that the 6,500 foot contour will just skirt its foot. The horizontal distance is 43/4 miles, giving the mean gradient of the entire Eastern Slope, 1,685 feet to the mile. Opposite Mt. Williamson the drop is 8,400 feet in 4½ miles, or 1,860 feet to the mile, while opposite Mt. Bradley the difference is 6,780 feet in 3¼ miles, or 2,100 feet to the mile. When it is remembered that these figures represent the mean gradient of the range, and not mere mountain slopes, they serve to give a faint idea of the extreme ruggedness of this side. The streams are, of course, very numerous, small and direct. No great cañons can be formed, and the proximity of the desert, as well as the ruggedness of the slope, prevents the development of great forest areas.
The geologic history of the Sierra is apparently more closely connected with its present topographic forms than is usually the case amongst mountain ranges, and so striking are some of these evidences that questions concerning their history are forced upon even the most unobservant. It is believed that the sediments from which the Sierra was formed were deposited during the Paleozoic and part of the Mesozoic Eras. At the end of the Jurassic Period these sediments were upheaved from the bed of the ocean through lateral pressure, and the Sierra was born. From that time till the end of the Tertiary, the mountain mass was subjected to enormous erosion, and it was quite probably reduced to low general altitudes. The streams seem to have cut nearly to their base levels and the rounded forms of old topography prevailed. It is believed that its hydrographic divide was more nearly in the middle of the range, or at any rate, was far from coincident with its present crest line. At the end of the Tertiary an enormous fissure three or four hundred miles long was formed along the eastern base, and the whole crust block was up-heaved a second time, not, however, by crushing, as in the first instance, but by faulting along a single main line. The crust block being thus tilted toward the west, the crest line was transferred to the extreme eastern edge, and the range was born again. The present river system was determined then, and many of the old river courses were displaced by the changing slope. All the great river cañons that we see to-day have been cut since the Tertiary movement, and the cutting is still going on. The Sierra may then be considered as a mountain range in the prime of its life; a range in which the erosive or destructive agencies are still active and in which the uplifting or creative forces are still manifest through occasional slips along the great fault.
During the Glacial times, the High Sierra was completely covered with ice, and enormous glaciers filled its cañons, reaching, in some instances, for forty miles down its western flank. This ice mantle has vanished within very recent geological times, and the High Sierra exhibits to a most perfect degree the effects of this recent glaciation. Great areas are everywhere found polished smooth as glass and covered with glacial eratics. The cañons are all of the characteristic U-shape, with walls showing polished and scored surfaces. Large streams flow over smooth rock slopes without channels, and indeed, the general appearance is as if the glaciers had vanished but yesterday.
The erosion since the first birth of the range has been enormous. The whole of the sedimentary rock on the Western Slope, except the slates of the foothill belt, has been removed, and the erosion has gone thousands of feet into the granite core. But the erosion since the Glacial times is so slight as to have made practically no noticeable effect. The whole of the High Sierra is granite with the exception of a few lava outflows and belts of metamorphic rock which overlie the granite in places. The particular mountain forms which these rocks assume will be touched upon later.
The climate of the Sierra Nevada is similar in its general characteristics to that of the rest of California, inasmuch as practically the whole precipitation takes place in the winter and spring months. The precipitation is unusually heavy, for the range acts as a vast condenser, robbing the warm ocean winds of their stock of moisture and allowing but little to pass over to the thirsty deserts of the Great Basin. As high as about 4,000 feet this precipitation is normally in the form of rain, but above this, that is to say, over the whole of the Forest Belt and High Sierra, it is in the form of snow. Of this, an enormous amount falls, particularly along the high divides just to the west of the Main Crest, where the influence of the desert is less felt. Probably no exact record has ever been kept of the snowfall in the highest portions of the southern Sierra, and we can only judge by the hard masses of snow that remain after the summer opens. But in the northern portion, at the crossing of the Central Pacific Railroad, a record of snowfall is maintained by the Weather Bureau. In 1889-1890 the total snowfall was about 30 feet at an elevation of 7,000 feet and 16 feet was on the level at one time. During the winter of 1905-1906 there were 220 inches (about 18 feet) on the ground in March and, allowing for melting, not less than 30 feet fell altogether. Probably not less than 50 feet of snow fell in the higher elevations of the southern Sierra during the stormy winters above mentioned, and during an average winter not less than half that amount would probably fall. The temperature does not, however, fall to an extremely low point. At the Summit Station it seldom reaches zero Fahrenheit. A minimum thermometer left on the summit of Mt. Lyell, 13,090 feet, for two years did not register lower than — 17 degrees Fahrenheit, though points on the desert 30 miles east and 5,000 feet lower in elevation registered a much lower temperature.
In the latter part of April the storms cease, the foothills have become covered with grass and flowers, and the snows begin to retreat from the Forest Belt, and by June the forests are clear. But throughout the summer and most of the fall the peaks of the High Sierra are enameled with a brilliant white robe, and a large portion of the snow endures the whole year. The streams, being almost entirely snow fed, keep pace with the melting, causing floods in May and June, followed by steadily decreasing volume till winter. Many streams, like the Yosemite Creek, which head in barren, rocky cirques, and which are raging torrents in spring, are entirely dry in fall.
The summer climate of the Foothill Belt is intensely hot, the thermometer registering at noon over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade for weeks at a time In the Forest Belt the air though warm is dry and clear, and the nights are delightful. In the High Sierra the summer climate is simply perfect. The days are brilliantly clear and the nights are cool and dry. Thunderstorms are common in the afternoons, but are never of long duration, and seldom occur at night. They usually come in “spells” or “sieges” lasting from four to ten days, during which they will appear every afternoon. Between these spells the weather is normally cloudless. Different seasons vary widely not only in the amount of snow remaining in the mountains, but also in the frequency and severity of the summer thunderstorms. In many instances six or eight weeks will pass without a cloud to mar the clear sky.
In a region offering such a wide diversity of climate as the Sierra Nevada one may expect a correspondingly wide diversity of vegetation. In fact, the principal divisions or zones of the Western Slope are characterized by their types of vegetation. There are certain plants whose range extends uninterruptedly from the plains far into the forest; but nearly all the species lie in belts along the mountain slopes corresponding to the belts of mean annual temperature and rainfall, though the limits of these belts may be influenced by the character of the slopes and the shelter afforded thereby.
Beginning at the level of the California Valley, we find the first foothills barren of trees or any vegetation except grasses. At an elevation of a few hundred feet the valley oak (Quercus lobata) begins to be seen dotted over the rounded hills. Mingled with it is the black willow (Salix nigra), and in the cañons the cottonwood (Populus Fremontii) and the alder (Alnus rhombifolia). Higher up will be found the foothill live oak (Quercus Wislizenzi), the blue oak (Quercus Douglasii), the California buckeye (Æsculus Californica), and in the northern portions the Digger pine (Pinus sabiniana), as well as many small shrubs. Up to this point, at an elevation of about 2,500 feet, the first zone may be called the “open foothill zone,” the vegetation consisting largely of trees of considerable size dotted over a comparatively barren or open hillside. From 2,500 to 4,000 feet follows the “chaparral zone,” where every ridge, valley and fold of the complicated topography is covered with dense brush or chaparral, beginning with the manzanitas (Arctostaphylos viscida and mariposa), the white buckthorn or lilac (Ceanothus divaricatus), the mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus parvifolius), and the scrub oak (Quercus dumosa). This chaparral forms a well-nigh impassable obstacle to travel over this part of the range.
The Foothill Belt of vegetation gives way quite suddenly to the coniferous Forest Belt at about 4,000 feet, and above this level but little chaparral is seen except in isolated patches, and on the sides of rugged cañons. The first of the pines is the yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa), which has a very wide range, extending in straggling groups to 7,000 and even 8,000 feet. It is shortly followed by the great sugar pine (Pinus Lambertiana) at from 5,000 to 6,000 feet. This is the most magnificent pine in the world. It often reaches a height of 300 feet and a diameter of 8 feet, straight as an arrow and without a branch for half its height. In this zone is also found the incense cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), and the Douglass spruce (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), both giants of the forest, and the king of all trees, the noble Sequoia gigantea. This is the finest portion of the wonderful Sierra forest, whose glory is beyond the power of description.
Above this belt at about 7,000 feet the firs reach their greatest perfection; the white fir (Abies concolor), and the red fir (Abies magnifica), also giants of the forest, six or seven feet in diameter, and 200 feet high. Still higher up, at from 8,000 to 10,000 feet, the tamarack pine (Pinus Murrayana), the mountain pine (Pinus monticola), the foxtail pine (Pinus Balfouriana), and the hemlock spruce (Tsuga Pattoniana) flourish. At the extreme limits of the timber on the talus slopes and crumbling mountain sides of the High Sierra are found the dwarfed and stunted alpine pines (Pinus albicaulis).
The Sierra forest is not like the gloomy thickets of the far Northwest, where the entire floor is so encumbered with fallen timber as to be almost impassable. Small areas there certainly are of tangled brush, but the bulk of the Forest Belt offers absolutely no impediment to the traveler, who may walk or ride across it in any direction, with or without a trail, till stopped by some great river cañon.
It would be impossible in the short space of this paper to give even an outline of the floral wealth of the Sierra, but one will find hundreds of species of flowering annuals spangling the broad meadows of the Forest Belt and High Sierra. Even up to the snow line, yes, even up to the summits of the very highest peaks, will be found tiny flowers thriving through the clear warm days of summer.
Though animal life is fairly abundant throughout the range, it is less so now than formerly. The greatest diminution in numbers is, of course, found principally among the larger,or so-called “game animals.” The black tailed deer (Odocoileus columbianus) is still found pretty generally throughout the range. It frequents the heavy chaparral of the foothills in winter, but pushes far up the mountains in summer, and is even found as high as 9,000 or 10,000 feet. Bear are even scarcer. The grizzly bear (Ursus horribilis) is practically extinct, but the smaller black bear (Ursus americanus) is still occasionally met with. The greatest enemies of the bears have been the sheep men, who, previous to 1899, ran thousands of sheep through the meadows of the Forest Belt. Since the creation of the National Forest Reserves, bear as well as all other animals are increasing in numbers. The California lion (Hippolestes olympus) is exceedingly rare, though its wild scream may even yet be heard amongst the most inaccessible cañons. A few coyotes (Canis lestes ) range through the Forest Belt, but are not common, and the big horn sheep (Ovis canadensis) are sometimes seen amongst the highest peaks of the San Joaquin and King’s River Sierra. Smaller mammals are quite numerous. In the Forest Belt, the tree squirrels (Sciurus griseus, and Sciurus Douglasii albolimbatus) are much in evidence. Higher up, the Alpine chipmunk (Eutamias alpinus)is found,a tiny creature, not over five inches in length, beautifully striped and tame as a kitten. At great altitudes, the mountain marmot (Arctomus flaviventris) lives amongst the rocks of the talus slopes, and awakens the echoes with his shrill bark.
Of birds there are a host, from the Carolina dove (Zenaidura macroura) and roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) of the hottest foothills to the dun-headed sparrow (Leucosticte tephrocotis) of the summit snow- fields. The Forest Belt at certain seasons rings with the music of birds of so many species that even an enumeration would be far beyond the scope of the present paper.
All the principal streams below the region of impassable falls are the natural habitat of the Rainbow Trout (Salmo irideus). At the present time most of the higher streams and lakes have been stocked either with the rainbow or the Eastern brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). In the basin of the Kern River is found naturally the golden trout (Salmo irideus aguabonita) in a small creek of the same name. This is evidently a variety of the rainbow trout, and has been isolated by a fall caused by a lava flow of very recent occurrence. Through the efforts of the California Fish Commission, the Sierra has become one of the finest fishing grounds in the country.
At the present time, three large national parks have been created on the western slope of the Sierra, the Yosemite National Park, which now includes the Yosemite Valley, the General Grant and Sequoia National Parks which include some of the finest of the sequoia groves. The whole of the Western Slope, from the southern portions of the Kern Basin to Lake Tahoe, has been set aside as a National Forest Reserve. The creation of these parks and reserves has restored the magnificent flora of the Sierra which, previous to 1899, was in danger of total destruction through sheep grazing and forest fires.
II. Description of the High Sierra.
The High Sierra is a term which was first applied by the California Geological Survey to that portion of the great range lying above the level of continuous forest, and extending from the Central Pacific Railroad on the north to a point about ten miles south of Mt. Whitney. The width of this belt is extremely variable, and its boundaries irregular, but it may be taken roughly at from ten to twenty miles in width. Its greatest development when height, extent and ruggedness all taken into account will be found at the headwaters of King’s River near the southern end of the chain.
The Main Crest is the principal feature — the backbone — of the High Sierra. Nearly all the great mountain peaks are arranged along this line, which is almost straight and bears about north 330 west. The profile of the Main Crest is remarkably uniform when taken as a whole. This is clearly shown in the accompanying plate. As a result we do not find among the Main Crest peaks any mountains rising as great isolated masses. They are, it must be confessed, rather peaks capping a gigantic wall, than great individual mountains. For the same reason the passes over the Sierra are high relatively to the peaks. Between Sonora Pass and the Hockett Trail, an air line distance of 150 miles, there is no notch in the crest line which falls below 9,000 feet. Between Mammoth Pass and the Hockett Trail, nearly 1,000 miles, there is no notch lower than 11,000 feet, while from Mt. Fisk to Taboose Pass at the head of King’s River, a distance of 20 miles, and from Mt. Tyndall to Mt. Langley of the Kern, a distance of fifteen miles, there is no break lower than 12,700 feet.
Next to the Main Crest the most important topographic feature of the High Sierra is the system of great divides between the river basins or between the main branches of a single river system. These are almost as high as the Crest itself, and frequently contain peaks far more prominent, as in the case of Mt. Ritter, Mt. Goddard and the Kaweah Group. The most important of these is the Great Western Divide, which is little inferior to the Mt. Whitney Range and gives to the Sierra a double crested character in that region.
The vast quadrilateral areas between the crest line and the main divides are filled with a labyrinth of branching cañons separated by thin ridges of immense height. These branching gorges unite into three or four main cañons, which, in turn, become confluent at or near the yosemites or canon valleys. Above these, the cañons are typically glacial, but retain their rugged character to an elevation of about 8,000 feet. Still higher they open out into wonderful U-shaped troughs carpeted with meadows, and finally into lake-dotted basins surrounded by the towering precipices of cirques and sharp pyramidal peaks. These were the fountain heads of the now extinct system of glaciers, and their burnished troughs furnish a most obvious pathway for the mountaineer into the very heart of the High Sierra.
Since it will be impossible to give here even a brief description of the whole of the High Sierra, I will limit myself to the region where its grandeur culminates, namely, along the Main Crest of the range drained by the San Joaquin and King’s Rivers. This is the region which naturally attracts the mountaineer; attracts him by reason of its magnificent mountain peaks, its deep cañons, its wonderful wild scenery. In fact, many consider this, together with the districts immediately adjoining at the southern branches of the Tuolumne, and the northern branches of the Kern, as constituting par excellence the High Sierra. I shall, therefore, take up this region more in detail beginning at its northern limit.
The San Joaquin River drains over 70 miles of the Main Crest, or from the peaks near Mt. Lyell to the Goddard Divide. It consists of two main branches, the South and Middle Forks, each of which may be considered a stream of the first magnitude on the scale of California rivers.
The Middle Fork rises near the eastern base of Mt. Ritter, one of the noblest and most imposing of Sierran peaks. This mountain, together with Mt. Lyell and its outlying spurs, forms a compact and very conspicuous group in the black metamorphic belt of rocks which crosses the range at this point. It is one of the best known and most frequented groups in the Sierra, since Mt. Lyell is of such easy access from Yosemite Valley, and the residual glaciers there make it a particular object of interest to the mountaineer. About this group head four large streams. On the north slope of Lyell the main branch of the Tuolumne River heads, running north and then west through the Grand Cañon and the Hetch Hetchy Valley. On the south slope of the same peak are the sources of the Merced River, which, after turning to the west, around the base of Mt. Florence, and flowing through a fine glacial cañon for 20 miles, plunges in two gigantic leaps into the Yosemite Valley. On the eastern side of the Main Crest, to the south of Lyell rises Rush Creek, one of the principal feeders of Mono Lake, while the main branch of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin and one of its large northern tributaries embrace Mt. Ritter. Mt. Ritter itself is therefore not on the Main Crest, but forms the culminating point of a high jagged spur which maintains the principal axis of the group through to the Minarets. Mounts Lyell and Ritter contain some of the most important remnants of the once grand system of glaciers which covered the High Sierra during the Glacial times. The Lyell Glacier is on the northern slope of the mountain, and though less than a square mile in area, shows all the characteristics of a true glacier. On Ritter there are four small glaciers, but none descend below 11,000 feet. Mt. Lyell is given an elevation of 13,090 feet by the United States Geological Survey, and Ritter 13,156. Others, such as Mt. Kellogg (13,036), Banner Peak (12,957), and McClure (13,000), complete the magnificent setting.
From the standpoint of the mountain climber, Mt. Ritter is one of our finest peaks. It stands from 4,000 to 5,000 feet above the level of the surrounding country, and in the early summer offers a climb not to be despised even by the skilled. It has, in fact, been ascended by but very few.
Immediately south of the Minarets the High Sierra completely breaks down at the Mammoth Pass, and for a distance of over 20 miles the Forest Belt crosses the Main Crest, here composed of rolling hills. The Mammoth Pass is but 9,350 feet, and is the lowest and best in all the southern Sierra. South of this depression the crest rises rapidly, and attains in the Red Slate Group a height of over 13,000 feet. These high points are drained by Fish Creek, a tributary of the Middle Fork, which in its lower course flows through a splendid cañon of theYosem- ite type. The group at its head is remarkable for its brilliant coloring and the fine climbing afforded by its many pinnacles. The view southward from the summit of Red Slate Peak is one of the most truly alpine that the High Sierra presents. The Main Crest peaks in that direction are piled up in indescribable confusion over an unnamed and almost unknown wilderness, and all the principal points can be recognized as far south as the Goddard Divide. Below the junction of Fish Creek the San Joaquin cuts a remarkable cañon of great depth and ruggedness transversely across the Western Slope to the California Valley. For several miles above its junction with the South Fork it is absolutely impassable, the river flowing in a box cañon entirely filled from wall to wall by the stream, the cliffs themselves rising many hundreds and in some places a thousand feet above the foaming torrent.
With the exception of the Ritter and Red Slate Groups the basin of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin is easily accessible. It is largely forest covered, and trails cross it in many directions, converging toward the Mammoth Pass.
The south fork of the San Joaquin is a stream somewhat larger than the Middle Fork, and drains one of the most magnificent and least frequented portions of the High Sierra. Its course, unlike most of the Sierra streams, is roughly parallel instead of at right angles to the Main Crest. Its source is at the southwestern base of Mt. Goddard, and during its northwesterly course it gradually departs from the crest line, till at its junction with the Middle Fork it is over 16 miles distant therefrom. It receives four large tributaries from the east, the most northerly of which is Mono Creek, followed by Bear Creek, Piute Branch and Evolution Creek. Each of these enters through a splendid cañon which leads one back into the heart of the range. Mono Creek is the largest, and it drains the great area between the Red Slate and Abbott Groups. Its lower course is through a broad, timbered valley, but higher up it comes down through a wild cañon over 2,000 feet deep. The south wall of this is especially fine, and is broken through by four magnificent gorges or recesses, which head amongst the snow clad summits of the Abbott Group. This Group, consisting of Mounts Abbott and Gabb and Bear Creek Spire, has been but little explored. None of these peaks, to the writer’s knowledge, has ever been approached, in fact, the forbidding summit of Mt. Abbott, 13,700 feet, is one of the only two great Sierra peaks which has not yet been ascended. This mountain is extremely precipitous on the north, west and east, and appears to be formed by three converging arêtes. This group offers one of the finest virgin fields left for the mountain climber in the Sierra Nevada. To the north the Slate Peaks are, of course, within easy reach.
Bear Creek heads to the south of the Abbott Group, and is even less known than Mono. It divides into several branches near the base of the Seven Gables, each of which flows through a profound cañon from the vast desolate area between that great peak and the Main Crest. This area is so difficult of access that no one seems to have penetrated any of the upper cañons of Bear Creek. The Seven Gables consists of a huge rectangular block of granite bounded on the north, east and south by sheer precipices. The corners of this block rise in points like gables, that on the southeast being the highest, and over 13,000 feet in elevation. This summit furnishes an unobstructed view over the whole basin of Bear Creek, with the Main Crest towering still higher across the tremendous gorges to the east. South of the Abbott Group the crest falls somewhat in altitude, and does not rise tosimilar proportions till Mt. Humphreys is reached, some ten miles farther south.
The Piute Branch enters the South Fork through a cañon of exceptional depth and ruggedness. In fact, all explorations of its basin have been made by the knapsack method only, no trails or practical animal routes having yet been worked out. The cañon is fully 3,000 feet deep, and is choked for miles with giant debris and dense chaparral. About five miles from the Main Crest it opens out to a considerable degree, separates into two large branches, and on the crest back of the triangular area included between them stands Mt. Humphreys, the supreme summit of the San Joaquin Basin. All other points of the Piute Branch are unimportant both absolutely and relatively to this great spire, which rises in solitary grandeur 3,000 feet above a plateau, itself over 11,000 feet above the sea. The western side is almost vertical, but is seamed by a few rugged chimneys, which furnish the only possible route to the summit. The eastern side for 3,000 feet is as clean cut a precipice as can probably be found the world over. A few miles beyond the base of this precipice is Owen’s Valley, at the eastern base of the range, 10,000 feet below the summit. The mountain, though never accurately measured, is believed to be about 14,050 feet in elevation. It offers splendid rock climbing and has been ascended but once.
Below the mouth of Piute Branch the South Fork occupies a rather open valley, but above this point it flows through a fine cañon in the black metamorphic rock, over whose sides scores of cataracts plunge to join the foaming stream below. This gorge, like all the higher cañons, is beautifully glaciated. Evolution Creek enters the trunk cañon 1,000 feet above its grade level, and forms a beautiful fall over its edge. Once above the fall, this valley is found to open out, and it preserves a perfect U-shaped form for several miles to the head of an amphitheatre at the base of Mt. Darwin. Here the valley proper ends, and streams from all directions plunge into it in thundering cascades. The principal branch drains Mt. Darwin and the Evolution Group: Mounts Spencer, Huxley, Hæckel, Wallace and Fisk. Directly at the head of the amphitheatre and at the base of Mt. Darwin lies the beautiful Evolution Lake, and above this point the stream flows from the south parallel to the Crest. Mt. Darwin is a huge bulky peak on the Main Crest, a very prominent landmark of the whole southern Sierra. Its summit is almost flat, and, though its height is almost 14,000 feet, it is quite easy of ascent. Mounts Spencer and Huxley are peaks of Gothic form, standing away from the Crest on short spurs, and each may be placed at about 13,000 feet. Mt. Fisk is very nearly at the point where the Goddard Divide springs from the Main Crest, and is over 13,000 feet in height. None of the Evolution Group have ever been ascended except Mt. Darwin.
The basin of Evolution Creek is hemmed in on the south by the Goddard Divide, from whose summits the view is the most sublime, that can be found even in this, the finest part of the High Sierra. High, jagged spurs of black slate run southward into the basin of King’s River, each claiming many unsealed summits over 13,000 feet in elevation. Between these are savage gorges, some of which are over 4,000 feet deep. Mt. Goddard towers above the western horizon together with its retinue of minor points, while the noble group of the Evolution Peaks and the airy summit of Humphreys complete the circle to the north and east.
The South Fork of the San Joaquin still occupies a deep gorge in the metamorphic rock some miles above the junction of Evolution Creek. Higher up, at an elevation of about 9,500 feet, it opens into a magnificent glacial valley, whose floor is lined with meadows and alpine timber. It sweeps around the western base of Mt. Goddard, and here is found its source in a number of beautiful lakes under the precipices of this great mountain. With the single exception of Mt. Shasta, Goddard commands the most extensive view to be found in the Sierra Nevada. This is due to its very considerable height (13,602 feet), to its distance from the Main Crest, and to the tremendous gradient between its summit and the cañons of King’s River to the south. The whole basin of the San Joaquin and the whole of that of King’s River lie before the observer as on a map, while the principal peaks of even the Tuolumne and Kern can be recognized. Every prominent peak of the Main Crest from Mt. Con- ness to Mt. Whitney, an air line distance of one hundred and twelve miles, can be seen from this point. The mountain itself is easy of ascent, and the region about its base is most interesting and beautiful. It is strange that more pleasure seekers are not attracted to this locality.
From a point a few miles west of Mt. Goddard the Goddard Divide sweeps around to the north including on the east the cañon of the San Joaquin. The Hell-for- sure Pass furnishes a possible though rough route for pack animals over this western portion of the divide from the San Joaquin to the North Fork of King’s River. No pass whatever has yet been found across the Divide between Mt. Goddard and the Main Crest.
The magnificent basin of King’s River may, I think, be considered the heart of the Sierra. Here, while the peaks do not attain to quite the absolute elevation of some in the Kern watershed, the cañons reach their greatest depth, the character of the topography is the most rugged and traveling the most difficult. This noble stream is formed by the union of two main branches of almost equal size: the South Fork, which from the head of King’s River Cañon pursues an almost due westerly course, and the Middle Fork, which flows toward the southwest. Each of these has cut a cañon of extraordinary depth, and the great triangular area between them is one mass of jagged peaks crowded together in what seems utter confusion. The crest of this great Monarch Divide averages from 13,000 feet, near the Main Crest, to about 10,000 feet near the junction of the forks. At this point is one of the most remarkable examples of erosion that can probably be found in America. Spanish Mount on the northern rim of the cañon is over 10,000 feet above the sea, and the extreme westerly peaks of the Monarch Divide are nearly as high. The river at the base of Spanish Mount is less than 2,000 feet. The northern slope of the cañon below Spanish Mount is, therefore, over 8,000 feet high and the cañon of the Middle Fork, between the points just mentioned, is over 7,000 feet deep.
The Middle Fork of King’s River heads in a quadrilateral area bounded on the north and west by the Goddard Divide and one of its spurs — the Woodworth Divide —and on the east by the Main Crest. This magnificent region, which includes the Palisades and a host of other splendid mountains, is, so far as I know, practically inaccessible to any but a man afoot. Though an old sheep trail does exist across the Main Crest to the north of the Palisades, it is blockaded by snow till far into the fall and is of little assistance. All travel through the upper Middle Fork area has so far been done with a knapsack. The small streams from the extreme north flow down from the Goddard Divide in deep, black, vertical- walled gorges then pass through open lake-covered basins, and finally converge into a splendid U-shaped valley at whose lower end is Grouse Meadow. The young river swings through this beautiful meadow in graceful loops and immediately plunges into an awful cañon below, down which it frets its way to the lower levels near Simpson Meadow. The Woodworth Divide on the west is, as yet, unassailed by the mountain climber, and contains the Black Giant and two others over 13,000 feet in height. A short distance below Grouse Meadow, Palisade Creek joins the river from the east. This large tributary heads back to the Main Crest and drains the central part of the Palisade Group, consisting of Agassiz Needle (13,875 feet), Mt. Winchell (13,747 feet), the North Palisade (14,212 feet), Mt. Sill (14,128 feet), and the Middle Palisade (14,000 feet). All these peaks lie along a sharp knife edge of the Main Crest, rising almost vertically 2,000 feet above the talus slopes at its base. In some parts the thin crest is savagely gashed and broken into a series of turrets and needles, making ascents along its serrated edge far more dangerous than by way of the narrow chimneys up the western front. The eastern side is a sheer drop of several thousand feet and at the base of the cliff are several residual glaciers, the most southerly that have been recorded in the United States. The largest of these is in the great cirque east of the North Palisade. It has never been thoroughly examined, but it is probably larger than the one on Mt. Lyell. The Palisades — the culmination of King’s River Basin — furnish the very finest field in the Sierra for the mountain climber.
After descending about 2,000 feet in the first four miles below the confluence of Palisade Creek, the Middle Fork swings around the base of Woodworth Mt. and maintains a direct south-westerly trend for the remainder of its course. Just at the bend Cartridge Creek enters from the east, and four miles below is Goddard Creek which drains the western slope of the Woodworth Divide as far back as Mt. Goddard. Its deep cañon threads the very wildest part of this splendid region.
Below Goddard Creek we find Simpson Meadow, the garden spot of the southern Sierra, a broad grassy valley carpeted with flowers and shut in by towering peaks, the highest of which — Woodworth Mount — rises 6,300 feet above the river. Below the meadow the river enters Tehipite Cañon, and for ten miles it has cut through the mountains a beautiful granite cañon, second to none in the Sierra. This splendid gorge reaches its climax at Tehipite Valley, the yosemite of the Middle Fork, where the clean white granite walls rise from 3,000 to 4,000 feet above the level floor. The noble dome on the northwall is its most impressive feature. This rises as a practically vertical precipice 3,700 feet to the top of the beautiful dome. It is the grandest rock face outside of the Yosemite Valley itself, and is in many respects not inferior to El Capitan or the Half Dome.
From Tehipite Valley to the confluence with the South Fork the river flows through a cañon of immense depth, but one which does not present any striking scenic features.
The South Fork of King’s River is the best known stream of the southern Sierra. Its source is at the southern end of the Palisades near Split Mount, where the Monarch Divide joins the Main Crest and separates Palisade Creek from the South Fork drainage. It is first composed of a number of small, nearly parallel creeks, which flow through a broad but extremely elevated basin. Split Mount, or the South Palisade, 14,076 feet in elevation, a prominent peak, which though easy of ascent is difficult of approach, guards this basin on the east. The Monarch Divide, after extending four or five miles directly west, turns to the south and walls in the basin on that side also, forming the divide between it and Cartridge Creek. The snowy summits of this divide and the graceful Arrow Peak form a glorious gateway through which the river then plunges into the upper end of Paradise Valley. This is a miniature Yosemite about three miles in length, beautiful in its almost perfect wilderness. Here the river is swelled to double its volume by Wood’s Creek, a stream which drains the whole crest region from Mt. Pinchot to the Kearsarge Pass. Mt. Pinchot is most easily reached by way of this cañon, as an old sheep trail follows the creek up to the Sawmill Pass and crosses to Owen’s Valley. It is an immense mass of red slate, 13,471 feet in elvation. The area between Wood’s Creek and the river is a great plateau from which two striking peaks arise, Mt. King to the north, and Mt. Gardner a few miles south of it. The former is a perfect cathedral spire, 12,908 feet in elevation, while Mt. Gardner, of almost exactly the same height, has a more gradual slope to the south, but breaks off in grand precipices to the north and west. Its actual summit is at the extremity of a very narrow and dangerous knife-edge. So far as the writer is aware, but one ascent has been recorded for each of these peaks.
Below Paradise Valley the South Fork of King’s River plunges down a very rough gorge, completing the descent of 1,500 feet to the King’s River cañon in about three miles. There are many fine falls in this cañon, and one, the Mist Fall, is a magnificent sight daring high water. Here the river shoots down a steep and highly polished slope, and just before reaching the edge of the cliff, a portion strikes a projecting ledge, and is hurled through the air clearing the whole cliff at a leap. This cañon may really be considered a portion of the King’s River cañon, just as the lower Tenaya cañon is a part of the Yosemite. At the lower end of the gorge the river makes a right-angled turn, and flows straight west through the King’s River cañon.
Just at the turn Bubbs’ Creek enters from the east. This is perhaps the best known of all the High Sierra branches, as the main trail to Independence and Owen’s Valley follows up its wonderful gorge, and nearlyevery visitor to the now famous King’s River Cañon threads his way through its depths to view the wilderness of peaks from the Kearsarge Pass. Bubbs’ Creek Cañon is typically glacial. It is U-shaped in cross section, and belongs to the class of the hanging valleys, entering the trunk cañon 1,000 feet above its grade level. For the first ten miles above the river its cañon, though fine, exhibits no very striking features, but above this point it opens out into a splendid amphitheatre surrounded by jagged peaks of great height and variety of form. A large branch, East Creek, enters here from the south, and in the angle between it and Bubbs’ stands the West Vidette, over 12,000 feet high. To the west of the creek is another splendid pyramidal mountain. On the north are spires and pinnacles without number, while to the east the great summits of the Main Crest show through the gap at the head of the amphitheatre.
East Creek also has an interesting basin, and it drains a famous group of mountains, including Mt. Brewer (13,577 feet), Mt. Stanford (13,983), Crag Ericsson (13,625 feet), and a large part of the northern slope of the King’s-Kern Divide. East Lake, at the base of Mt. Brewer, is the central point from which to explore this whole region. An old sheep trail leads up to it from Bubbs’ Creek, and even crosses the King’s-Kern Divide by way of Harrison Pass, probably the highest and roughest pass in the Sierra.
Following up Bubbs’ Creek above the junction of East Creek, we find it cutting past the base of the West Vidette in a deep cañon from a more open valley under the Main Crest. Still farther above this point in flows from the south through the characteristic meadow and lake basins of this altitude. About its head are University Peak (13,583 feet), Mt. Keith (13,990 feet), and Junction Peak (13,908 feet). Of these, the first is the most accessible and best known, while the last is the point at which the King’s-Kern Divide springs from the Main Crest. The Independence trail leaves Bubbs’ Creek cañon near the base of University Peak, and climbs to a shelf to the north, where lies Bullfrog Lake, a small alpine lakelet famous for its magnificent scenery and its fine fishing. It continues over the Main Crest by way of Kearsarge Pass, 11,823 feet, through some of the most stupendous of rock scenery. Although in the midst of the wildest part of the range, the Kearsarge is one of the safest and best trans-Sierran passes.
Returning once more to the King’s River Cañon, we find that it is a true Yosemite in form, with a flat bottom and vertical sides. It is, however, far inferior to the renowned valley of the Merced. Its grade is steeper, causing the river to cut deeper into the sandy soil and preventing the formation of meadows. The cliffs, while as high in some places, do not maintain this height continuously. There are no such sheer precipices as El Capitan, and there are no great waterfalls. The river, however, is magnificent, and the floor supports a good growth of timber. The highest points on the south wall are the Sphinx, over 4,000 feet, and the Grand Sentinel, 3,500 feet above the river.
The South Fork receives one more large tributary from the south, Roaring River, which drains the western slope of the Great Western Divide. It is formed by theunion of two great glacial troughs, each wonderfully- polished and fringed with ancient moraines. Each heads back to the snowy peaks near the headwaters of the Kaweah River, a region beautiful beyond description, but one seldom visited. The eastern tributary receives drainage from Mt. Brewer, which can easily be ascended from this side.
Below the King’s River Cañon the river enters a narrow gorge, which is impassable except at times of extremely low water. Below the junction of the Middle Fork it is open again, and cuts a magnificent transverse gorge across the Forest Belt to the California Valley.
The Kern River pursues a course rather unusual with Sierra streams, since it flows directly south for almost its entire length, and is enclosed on both sides by mountain ranges of almost equal height, each amongst the highest in the state. The eastern divide or Main Crest contains the great peaks Tyndall, Williamson, Barnard, Whitney and Langley, while the Great Western Divide boasts of Brewer, Table and Milestone, with the Kaweahs on a side spur. Across the head of the valley between these parallel ranges the ragged King’s-Kern Divide stretches its line of pinnacles.
The eastern Crest line contains the two highest points in the state, and the highest one in the United States, Mt. Whitney, 14,499 feet, and Mt. Williamson, 14,384 feet. As to the height of Mt. Whitney there is no longer a doubt, as it has been leveled up by the United States Geological Survey from two independent bases. It is of but little interest to the mountain climber, however. Its ascent has always been easy, and within the past year a horse trail has been constructed to the summit. Mt. Williamson is by far the more imposing of the two, and affords a really interesting climb. Mt. Tyndall (14,025 feet) and Mt. Langley (14,042 feet) are both exceedingly easy of ascent.
The Great Western Divide has no peaks quite as high as the eastern crest, but south of Brewer we find Table Mount (13,646 feet), and many others which, however, can scarcely be called mountains or even peaks, the divide being really a great wall capped with pinnacles and domes between 13,000 and 14,000 feet in elevation. Near its south end the great spur of the Kaweah Group swings off to the southeast, and this comprises the finest assemblage of peaks in the Kern basin. Mt. Kaweah is 13,816 feet, and the Black Kaweah 13,752, while two or three others surpass 13,500 feet. All these pinnacles, with the exception of Mt. Kaweah, are unsealed. These are extremely precipitous.
Between these parallel ranges is an elevated but comparatively smooth and level valley, over which a horse may be ridden in almost any direction to the very base of the divides. Down its middle the Kern River has cut a deep and remarkably straight cañon for more than twenty miles. It is easily accessible throughout its entire length, and affords splendid scenery, but of a grade inferior to either of the cañons of King’s River.
III. Mode of Travel, Camping and Exploration.
Since the ultimate success of almost any campaign in the High Sierra is largely dependent on the proper method of travel, and since the time and labor spent in reaching the particular district to be visited is frequently far more than that spent in the actual ascent of the mountain, a few words as to the best course to be pursued may not be amiss. In nearly all cases the highest point at which a wheeled vehicle can land the traveler is at one of the lumber camps in the lower fringe of the Forest Belt, from fifty to seventy-five miles from the summit. Trails extend eastward from all these mills, first keeping upon the timbered plateaus between the great river cañons, which must at first be avoided. This course is continued until the increasing ruggedness forces the trail down into the cañons at or near the region of the yosemites. Above this point, the ridges generally become impassable, and the cañons must be followed. Much of the roughest work is found just above the deep cañon zone, but once in the higher glaciated region the traveling is generally easy well up to the timber line. In traveling parallel to the Main Crest, the difficulties are greatly increased by reason of the high divides and deep cañons and streams that have to be crossed. Reasonably good passes have been found across all the great divides except the Goddard, and the large amount of snow accumulated on their summits is no great obstacle to a good pack train if attempted early in the morning. In the early season, however, the crossing of the swollen streams is practically impossible.
On account of the very considerable distance to be covered and the total absence of any kind of habitation or supply stations, a pack train is almost a necessity, though sometimes a most troublesome one. Generally, the best of mountain raised mules or burros should be used. Saddle horses are, of course, useless, and merely serve to increase trouble and anxiety. The impediments to pack- train travel are mainly the jagged talus slopes that fill the bottoms of all the lower cañons, the wild mountain torrents, and the precipitous divides. In many cases it is more expeditious to rely on the knapsack for the higher districts.
After reaching the base of the mountain peaks, the ascent is seldom difficult. The granite peaks have nearly always one and sometimes several absolutely sheer faces.
1 hese are usually on the northern or eastern sides, and are due to the peculiar glacial cirque formation, so common in the High Sierra. Nearly all the divides are asymmetric, having the gentler slope facing the south and the steeper on the more shaded north, where great masses of snow accumulate. The Main Crest peaks are generally precipitous on the east also, and in some places the Crest is absolutely impassable for miles, on account of uninterrupted precipices. Some of the most difficult peaks are formed by the working backwards of two or more cirques, giving rise to sharp pinnacles supported by jagged knife- edged buttresses. In the metamorphic rock this general asymmetric form is not so clearly shown. The peaks are precipitous on all sides, arid the most difficult of all, such as Ritter, Humphreys and the Palisades, are in this formation. Generally, however, there are no dangers, except those of rock climbing. Glaciers there are none, and the snow is always in good condition. None falls during the summer months, and therefore there are no avalanches or dangers due to storms. The summer climate is perfect, and with the exception of an occasional afternoon thunderstorm, the sky is clear from May till October.
Attention was first called to the scenic grandeur of the Sierra Nevada through the discovery of the Yosemite Valley in 1851, but it was more than a decade later before there was placed before the world a systematic description of the High Sierra. To J. D. Whitney and his associates of the California Geological Survey, W. H. Brewer, Clarence King, J. T. Gardner and Charles F. Hoffmann, belong the credit of first exploring and mapping in outline this great area of difficult country. The summer of 1863 they spent in the Yosemite Valley and carried their exploration eastward across the summit. Mounts Dana, Lyell, Conness and Ritter were named by them at that time ; Mt. Dana was ascended and Mt. Lyell also to within a few hundred feet of the top. During the summer of 1864 they visited the headwaters of the San Joaquin and King’s River, that region being an absolute terra incognita in those days. They entered the range from the southwest by way of the divide between the Kaweah and King’s River, which was followed as far east as Mt. Silliman. This peak was ascended, and they then made their way across the basin of Roaring River to Mt. Brewer, which was twice ascended. Mr. King and a companion, Richard Cotter, continued still further to the east and ascended Mt. Tyndall, from which commanding point Mt. Whitney was first seen and named in honor of the chief of the Survey. The party then descended into King’s River cañon, and, failing in their attempt to cross the Monarch Divide, they crossed the Sierras by way of the Kearsarge Pass to Owen’s Valley. This they followed northward till opposite the Red Slate Group, and then recrossed the Main Crest at the headwaters of Mono Creek. They ascended Red Slate Peak and then followed Mono Creek to its confluence with the South Fork of the San Joaquin River, crossed this, and pushed southward along the western side of its basin toward the Goddard Divide. Mt. Goddard was their objective point, but they were unable to get their pack train within striking distance of the great peak, though two of the party reached its base and ascended part way. Being out of provisions they were forced to retreat, and made their way northwards to the Yosemite Valley. All the peaks mentioned in this outline of their trip were named by them, as were also Mounts Williamson, Kaweah, King, Gardner, Humphreys, Gabb and Abbott. They also bestowed the name of “The Palisades” on the striking group at the head of the Middle Fork of King’s River. The results of their explorations are given in the Reports of the California Geological Survey, and in Clarence King’s mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, and are fascinating reading.
John Muir has described more thoroughly and brought before the world more vividly than any other author the beauties and grandeur of the Sierra. He first visited these mountains in 1868, and for many years subsequent to that date lived amongst them, exploring, studying and writing. He has covered the High Sierra from end to end, and has ascended many of its highest peaks.
No systematic collection of detailed data had been attempted prior to the formation of the Sierra Club in 1892. Since that date the members of the Club have been foremost in gathering material, and all the ascents of late years have been made by them. The appended table bears witness to their activity.
Noth,— The illustrations, where it is not otherwise stated, are from photographs by the writer.
Copyrighted 1907, by the American Alpine Club.