Summit Registers. The focus of our club is climbing difficult routes on remote high-country peaks, seeking out the few remaining registers in the Sierra, and, more importantly, preserving this history and these records. Through our endeavors, I have seen five registers that date back to 1940 and in 1982 my climbing partner Mark Hoffman came upon a 1910 register on East Vidette. The record was filled up and has been removed. It served its purpose as a record for 72 years. Other records have not been so lucky. In 1912, Francis Farquhar, William Colby and Robert Price made the first ascent of Midway Mountain in the Great Western Divide. We know of the 1912 record because the Climbers’ Guide to the High Sierra by Steve Roper states that Midway unquestionably had the oldest register in the range. When we reached the summit of Midway after our first ascent of the east ridge’s south face, we found that the 1912 register had been stolen. A group of climbers calling themselves the “Purple Mountain Gang” claimed responsibility for the theft. One climber had the audacity to write, “I’m sad all old registers aren’t left on peaks, or there would be no need for the register exchange program!” The Purple Mountain Gang’s “register exchange program” involves taking a register from one mountain and placing it on another summit, possibly even in a different state. This I know, for in 1982 two friends of mine ascended Mount Dade in the Sierra Nevada. On the summit was a register labeled “Mount Dailey,” and so this isn’t just a local problem. Other incidents include the removal of the register from the northwest summit of Deerhom Mountain. Up to 1976, the record dated back to 1931, with fewer than ten ascents. There is no way that with so few ascents the register could have been filled. In addition, Mount Humphreys unfortunately fell into this same category. On August 16, 1987, we reached this summit and found the register inside dated 1986. On the very first page, a climber wrote, “Six years ago this register dated back to 1935 and was only half full. I’d like to know who the idiot was who removed it so that I could have a few words with him.” Climbers will not tolerate stealing historic summit registers. Possibly by increasing climber awareness in the area, the few remaining registers will survive for our children to see. The bottom line is LEAVE THE REGISTERS ON THE SUMMITS UNTIL THEY ARE FULL! These registers are not meant to be removed until they are full and state so on the very first page.
Robin Ingraham, Jr., High Sierra Alpinists of Merced