Historical Accounts (last updated 10/19/98)
Included below is a list of some very entertainning and informative articles written by well-known, early-California explorers such as Clarence King, John Muir, John C. Freemont, Theodore Solomon, Snowshoe Thompson and a member of the Donner Party.
Across the Great Divide, by Clarence King, 1864. Clarence Kingss story of his first attempt to reach the highest point in the United States is one of the great classics of Sierra Nevada literature. The following was taken from his book, "Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, James Osgood & Co., 1872 (reprinted from, "A Treasury of the Sierra Nevada," edited by Robert Leonard Reid, 1983, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, CA). (new 8/4/98)
Crossing Carson Pass, by John C. Fremont, February 1844. John C. Fremont was the first person to cross the Sierra Nevada in winter, the first to climb Red Lake Peak (February 14, 1844) and the first to view Lake Tahoe.
The Discovery of Living Glaciers, by John Muir, from "The Mountains of California." (Chapter 2, The Glaciers). John Muir describes his breathtaking adventure in 1871 as he climbs down into a glacier to explore the depths of the newly discovered glacier in what is now Yosemite National Park.
The Donner Party--"Distressing News," account of the Donner Party tragedy, letter printed in the California Star, February 13, 1847.
The Enchanted Gorge, by Theodore S. Solomons, from "Mount Goddard and its Vicinity," Appalachia, January, 1896 (reprinted in "A Treasure of the Sierra Nevada," by Robert Leonard Reid, Wilderness Press, Berkeley, CA, 1983). Theodore Solomons tells of his discovery of one of the most remote and rugged portions of the Sierra Nevada--The Enchanted Gorge.
Mount WhitneyThe Early Climbs, This article was taken from the "History of the Sierra Nevada," by Francis P. Farquhar, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1969. The competition to be the first to climb Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the United States, was fierce in the early 1870s. For two years, Clarence King believed that he had successfully climbed Mount Whitney. In 1873 came the surprising news that he had not climbed Mount Whitney but Mount Langley. This article chronicles some of the early climbs of Mount Whitney including John Muir's first ascent of the Mountaineer's route in October 1873.
Snow-shoe Thompson carried the mail across the Sierra Nevada for twenty winters from January 1856 through 1876. He usually covered the distance from Placerville, CA to the Carson Valley in Nevada in just three days.
Snow-Storm on Mount Shasta, by John Muir, Harpers Monthly Magazine, September 1877. This is a classic description of Muir's April 30, 1877, climb and emergency overnight bivouac on the summit of Mount Shasta in the face of a raging blizzard without a tent, sleeping bag or overcoat.
Stickeen: An Adventure with a Dog and a Glacier, by John Muir, from "Travels in Alaska" (1915). Exploring what is now Glacier Bay National Park in 1880 with a friend's dog, Stickeen, John Muir's skill as a storyteller makes this a classic story about a dog and man.
The Untouched Summit of Mount Ritter, by John Muir, from "The Mountains of California." (Chapter 4, A Near View of the High Sierra). John Muir tells of his climb, the first ascent, of Mount Ritter in October, 1872. He starts from Yosemite Valley, hikes up past Tuolumne Meadows, Mount Lyell and south to Mount Ritter where he makes this historic climb and discoveries.
Wind-Storm in the Forests, by John Muir, from "The Mountains of California." (Chapter 10, Wind-Storm in the Forests). John Muir tells of his adventure of climbing a 100 foot Douglas Fir tree in the face of a Sierra wind storm. John Muir lived to write about this wild and entertaining adventure.
to the Top]