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ASCENT OF MOUNT WILLIAMSON.
Tiews from a Lofty Peak ot
Glimpses of California's Snbllmest
The Adventuraa of a Party of Explorers
Related In a Graphic Manner.
A Young Lady's Fenta nt
[BY C. MULHOLLAND.]
To many minds tbere is a strong at
traction in any effort difficult to accom
plish, and ii a spice of danger attends
the undertaking this but increases the
Nothing more clearly illustrates this
than the desire in nearly every per
son, women as well as men, to ascend
'lofty mountains; and the higher and
more rngged tbe peaks are, co much the
stronger iB tbe wish to reach their sum
The loftiest and most difficult moun
tains to climb in the United Statee are
in that part of the Sierra Nevada moun
tains about the headwaters of Kern and
Kings rivers. In that locality ia found
Mount Whitney, which haa an elevation
of over 15,000 feet above sea level, be
ing the highest peak in the United
Statea, excluding Alaeka. Not far from
Whitney ia Mount Williamson, very
little ieaa in altitude, but far more
difficult to climb. Mounts Tyndal,
Brewer, Goddard, Kaweah peak,
and many otbera of nearly equal
elevation are all in that part of the
range. It ia a region of cations deeper
and much more extensive than Yoaem
ite; chasms ao profound aa to fill every
mind with awe, and peaks co high anil
cheer aa to make it apparently impos
sible to climb them.
Of all thoae peaks Mt. Williamson iB
tbe moat forbidding in aspect; and
looked at from a distance on any aide
it would appear not only useless but
even reckless folly to attempt to
So far aa known the first attempt
ever made to climb Williamson waa by
Clarence King, in 1804. Mr. King wae
then chief of the etate geological aurvey,
and in the cummer of that year, accom
panied by two assistant!', bo tried to
climb tbe mountain from the west. All
three were strong men and experienced
in mountain climbing. Several efforts
were made, but all ended in failure.
Chasms so deep were met that in trying
to pass them the party came near losing
tbeir Uvea, and Mr. King reluctantly
gave up tbe attempt, and in hia official
report stated that tbe summit of Wil
liamson ia inaccessible.
But to cay that something cannot be
done ie the surest way of inviting others
to attempt it.
No further effort was made to climb
the mountain till 1881; on Augnst 2!Hh
of that year A. 11. Johnson and Julius
Schroder accomplished what Mr. King,
17 yeara before, had eaid could not be
done, and these two men were tbe first
who ever stood upon the summit of
Mount Williamson. The next attempt
to ascend the mountain was made in
August, 1885, and on the 30th of that
month William L. Hunter reached the
summit. The other two members of
this party were the writer and David
Stubblefleld. At the base of the main
peak thin party divided, Mr. Hanter go
ing alone iv one direction, while tbe
other two made an attempt at a different
point. The object of this division waa
not a difference of opinion, but in order
to increase the chance of come of the
party reaching the summit. Mr. Hnnter
aloue succeeded, the other two failed.
Tbe third ascent of Williamson was
made in August, 1891, when a party,
consisting of J. V*. St inner, two brothers
and his son, and Finley Mclvor and
Laughlin McLean, succeeded in reach
ing tbe summit. The fourth, and laet,
ascent of the mountain was made in
August of this year, and it is here pro
posed to give an account of the trip.
From the town of Independence, in
Owen's valley, the north face of Mount
Williamson presents a ebeer precipice
of granite. From the gorge at the baße
to the summit thia precipice is about
4UOO feet, vertical height. Tbe mountain
appears to be quite near, but in reality
ie at least IU miles distant in an air line,
and much farther by the only way it can
This party formed under the lead of
William L. Hunter. The others were J.
V. Skinner, A.W. Carroll,W. L. Hunter,
jr., and the writer and one other. Thia
other was Miss Jane Skinner, daughter
of J. V. Skinner. She is tall, vigorous,
fall of courage and firmness, and did
not hesitate an instant to join the party.
Her age is 19 years.
About 12 miles south from Independ
ence a Btreatu that has its origin in the
enowfielda on the south side of Mount
Wiiliameon comes into Owen's valley
from a deep cafion in the mountain.
This stream iB called taeorge'a creek.
The party went to the mouth of this
csfi:ju by wagon and there camped for
At dawn all hande were stirring. A
fire was quickly made and other prepa
tions for breakfast. While this was
being done Mr. Skinner went fishing
and in a short time came back with a
fetring of fine trout.
Slices of steak were fixed on willow
rtxlii and each one held hia eteak over
tbe coa's till cooked. The whole party
appeared exactly like persons fishing in
fire instead of in water.
Breakfast over, each one packed op
for tbe start. Nothing bnt what wan
absolutely necessary waß taken; this
consisted of a single blanket for each,
and aa much food as could be carried.
Boiled bam, canned meat, crackers, tea,
coffee and sugar, two tin pots and a few
tin cups, were all that was thought
essential. Each rolled up a portion oi
the supplies in bis blanket, tied the
ends together, put his head and left
arm through tbe loop and had the load
on his back. Tbe share of Misa Skin
ner wae divided among tbe men. A
etout staff about four feet in length waa
provided for each one, and then all were
ready for the start.
Before entering the cafion it will be
beet to take a general view of the east
front of the Sierra Nevada, ac seen from
Owen's valley. From the valley of the
Ban Joaquin the monntaina slope up
ward to their highest summits, so far
away tbat to reach those summits ap
pears to be a comparatively easy task.
On the eaet the aspect ia entirely dif
ferent. Suddenly, without any long
(lope, a mighty wall of granite shoots
Up from the plain, tbe creßt broken into
baked peaks thatit wonld appear ntterlv
useless for any creature except an eagle
to attempt to reach their topa. Mount
Williamson is the second in altitude of
•11 those peaks, being only a little lower
than Mount Whitnev, the highest
mountain in the whole mighty chain of
the Sierra Nevadae. Williamson ia by
iar tbe moat rugged and apparently in
accessible of all thoae peaka. Ii a hori.
zontal line hve milea in length were run
weat from the main street of the town of
Lone 1' ne the end of that line would be
under the aummit of Mount W hitney,
which ia more than 15,000 feet above aea
level. Thia will give one an idea of what
that wall of granite iB. At all eeaeons of
the year great tielda of anow lie upon the
mountains, and are tbe source of many
streams that flow out into Owen's valley.
A few hundred varda above the mouth
George's Creek can m becomes a narrow
gorge. Vertical walls of granite, hun
dreds of feet high, ehoot up nu each
side. A dense growth of willows, birch
and aspen fille the gorge and crowds
against the rock wall on each aide.
The stream ie a torrent, dashing in foam
over great boulders and tilling tbe air
with a deep roar. A twilight gloom
prevaila at any hour of the day.
Forcing a paaaage through that gorge
ia not eaay, but by keeping close againat
the wall and moving in eingle tile it waa
paaeed. About a mile up, the cation gets
wide enough so that great pine trees
grow tbere. Many of these have fallen,
and trnnke from three to live feet in
diameter and 100 feet in length are
piled upon each other, and upon tbe
great boulders that fill the bottom of
the gorge, in the wildest confusion.
Clambering over theae obstacles ia not
any easier tban forcing a passage
through the jungle below.
About a half mile of that kind of way
muet be paaeed, and then the cafion in
found wide enough that a steep elope of
loose rocka, gravel and earth extends
down from the walla of granite ou each
side of the gap to the stream at the bot
tom. In order to avoid the impenetra
ble brush tbe party kept well up on the
steep elope. The Btulf is looee and at
every atep clipped from underfoot, mak
ing travel very laborious. About two
milea of that kind of ground waa paased
and then the canon was found so wide
that on the north side of the stream a
comparatively level plateau was reached.
Here travel might be called easy and
good progrese waa made.
At noon the party reached a grassy
spot near tho stream and atoppedto rest
and eat. Wild flowers of brilliant colors
and the sweetest fragrance grew rank
all around. An hour was spent here;
then packa were again shouldered and
Not far from thia pleasant spot hard
labor began again. The cation ia crossed
by very ateep letlgea; wide etretchea of
huge boulders must be climbed over and
the toil of doing tins ia great.
About euntjet the party arrived at the
base of the highest and eteepeevof those
transverse ledges. On the summit of
that ledge a small grove of tamarack
trees was seen, and as this was to be the
camping place for the night all hands
made an effort to reach it as soon aa
possible. But it was a weary climb,
most of tbe party were excessively tired;
however, on bands and feet the camp
was reached at iaet, just before darkness
Mr. Hunter, who ia a firat claaa moun
taineer, had gone on ahead of the party
and had hre made and water boiled for
tea and coffee when the otbera reached
camp. After eating, all handa rolled up
in their blankets and laid down to spend
The ecene around ia stern to extreme.
Vertical walls of granite ehoot up 1000
to 1500 feet on the south Bide of the
little flat where the tamaracka etand.
Great enow banks lie at the bottom of
the cliffs and extend down and up the
canon and far up tbe eides of the mount
ains, where there ia place for it to reet.
Vaet masses of granite boulders till the
bottom of the gorge, the wreck of peaka
that have baen breaking down for agee.
The whole aspect ie of ruin and desola
tion, but with a terrible grandeur.
The altitude of that spot ia li.uou feet
above sea level; tbat and the close prox
imity of know made the night cold, but
Btill the party did not miller much. The
air wae very calm and the men took
turna keeping the lire supplied with
wood, plenty of which waa at hand.
It is only at auch high altitude and in
a dry atmosphere that tho heauty of
the stars can be fully realized. In the
Pleiades aeven stars could be seen easily
with the naked eye. Jupiter blazed
with a splendor that excited the admi
ration of the whole party. Ihe other
stars shone with luster never eeen at
low altitudes. At intervale through the
night rounds like the roar of thunder
were beard among the mountains. Tueee
were caused by masaea of rock breaking
away from the cliffs and crashing down
the cations. No other aonnda were
heard; aside from thia the atillneta of
Again at the first dawn the party were
etirring and breakfast prepared and
eaten. To reach the summit of Will
iamson aud get back to camp before
dark, if it could be done at all by the
whole party, every minute of daylight
would be needed. Two men had been
employed to carry a photographic appa
ratus to tbe camp; there were new sent
back to tbe valley.
Knowing what waa before them, the
party left everything that could be dis
pensed with at the camp, includiug
coats, blankets and all tbe food, except
a few crackers and a little meat ior
each. The photographic machine was
Tbe nigbt waß passed at the bp.se of a
ridge, up which we must climb. A
elope extends on tbo nor'h side of the
canon, and from the camp to the top of
the ridge the distance ie about 2000 feet.
Every step of that distance was over
looet boulders, gravel and eand. At the
leaat touch boulders were put in mo
tion, and went crashing down the slope. N
putting great masses of the loose stuff
sliding and rolling downward. In order
to avoid these, the party kept moving in
oblique lioea up the face of tbe elope.
At every step the detritus slipped from
under the feet. The toil of climbing
waa great, but the top of the ridge waa
at laat reached, and all hands were glad
to rest awhile.
The summit of thia range ia a narrow
plateau, extending vrest abont one mile
from where one reacuea it to tbe base of
the peak of Williamson. That distance,
being over a gentlo ascent and compara
tively smooth ground, waa soon passed,
and then we sat down to look around
At tbe base of the peak the range in
wider than further down; it ia there
about a half mile acroae. .Near the north
Bide of thia epace ia a lake or pond about
two acres in area. The whole eurface,
except a amall part at the outlet, wae
covered with ice and enow. Thia anow
extended far np the peak and completely
barred the only wey tbat otherwise ap
peared to offer a moderately feasible
route to the summit. Being ao late in
the season, the enow was solid and there
would be no danger of an avalanche;
bnt to be high up the very steep slope
and slip would be a aerions matter.
Before ub a naked wall of granite
ahot np about 1500 feet, nearly vertical.
In the face of this wall ia a narrow fis
sure, then filled with suow almost as
solid as ice. After due deliberation it
was determined to attempt to climb up
To get come idea of what auch a climb
LOS ANGELES ITERALD- WEDNESDAY MORNING, DECEMBER 20. 1893.
means let any oue etand in front of
some of the high buildings in this city,
for instance the Bryeon or Stimson
block. If the only way to reach the
top of either of thoae buildings was by
climbing stairs, not many persons would
go there. II the buildings were made
twice their present height, and the
only access waa hv means of ataire, not
even free rent would gain tenants for
the topmoet flat". But if more than a
dozen auch buildings were piled one on
top of another the roof of the topmost
one would not be co high as the top of
tbat cliff in front of us; and here waa
no elevator, nor even a etairway made
Bale by encasing walla.
Mr. Hunter led the way, Mr. Skinner
next and bis daughter followed him;
the writer came next; the others kept a
abort distance apart. Difficult, and
even dangerous, ac the climb appeared
to be, Mies Skinner never flinched or
heeitated an instant; now, us on the
day before, she went, bravely on and up
ward. At times it was necessary to
help each other from one ledge to the
top of another, too high to reach alone;
but the writer needed quite aa much
help of Ibie kind aa Miaa Skinner. We
kept cloae to tbe snow, but were careful
not to set foot upon it. Frequent short
reets were taken, for climbing wae very
toilsome and the altitude affected us
It ia always tantalizing climbing euch
precipices. Each cliff above appears to
be the last; but a- one after another ia
climbed,' otbera still are eeen rising
higher. When the climber begins to
get very weary it seems as if tne mount
ain were made like a telescope aud
drawing out without end.
At laat when tbe anow on our right had
narrowed till it wae hut a few feet over
it, Mr. Hunter dug steps and croaeed to
the other Bide, then by helping each
other up over a few narrow ledges,
making together a lilt of about 50 feet,
we got eafely upon the top.
From where we then were a ateep
ridge extended on our left west about a
quarter of a mile and there ended in a
sharp peak, the summit of the mount
ain. Keating a few minutea we went
along the bottom of thia ridge about
half its length ; Irom there a snow field
extended to the end of tbe ridge and
upward to its summit. Just before
reaching the anow we climbed to the
top of the ridge and advanced aloug it.
Tbe eoulh aide of tbia ridge ia a sneer
precipice of great depth ; ac already said,
the north eide was covered with Bnow.
Between these we moved carefully along
on loose blocks of granite, placed like
coping ou top of a wall.
This waa croaßed with little difficult*,
and about half an hour after noon we
all stood upon the top of Mount Wil
liamson. Hearty congratulations were
given to Mies Skinner by the whole
party; and only mountain climbers cau
fuily Know how well the praise was de
ne r veil and how bravely it was won.
Alt needed rest before any observa
tion could be made of the surroundings.
Some of the party lay down upon the
rocks aud at once went to sleep. After
a hali hour of rest all were refreshed
enough to examine the prospect.
The crown of the mountain ie a dome
of granite, not more than3o yards across
one way and about 40 yards the other
The first to reach tbe summit, John
| eon and Shrouer, built there a monu
ment of grauite blocks, about eight feet
high, and in this placed a tin box con
taining a record of the date of tbeir ac
cent and their namee. Our party found
| the box, and the writer made a recoid
*of the names of all preaent and the
i date, which recoid was put in the box
j with the rest. Tho box waa then re
placed in the monumeut aud securely
| covered to protect the contents from in
' jury. Ail the records were found in
I good condition.
Looking weat from the summit of
Williamson it was very clear why
Clarence King had failed to climb tbe
mountain in 1804, and wby, in bis re
port, he stated it could not be climbed.
From where wo stood is a sheer
plunge into an abysa so profound aa to
fill any mind with awe. We etood
gazing into that dark gulf in complete
silence, lv such a presence human be
.ings feel bo small; tbe pqwer that
heaved on high these mighty masses is
!ao overwhelming, that worda cannot
express tbe emotions excited in the
mind. Just beyond this chasm tbe
huge mass of Mount Tyndal towers up,
and but little leas precipitous. From
the top of one peak to that of the other
in nn air line, the distance iB about one
mile; but to reach the summit of oue
from the other would take two or three
days' hard climbing.
Between the two mountains lies a
little lake. Only about two acres of
water in the cen-er could be aeen; all
the rent waa covered with very thick
ice. It looked like a great gem eet in
silver. About one mile south from
Williamson is another noble peak,
which Mr. Hunter and the writer had
climbed one year before. Being the
only onea who had ever climbed that
peak, we claimed and exercised the
right to bestow upon it a name, and it
iB since known aa Mount Barnard—a
title that will keep it known co long as
human beings are interested in tbe stars
or the recortU of Mount Hamilton shall
Looking north, west and couth from
Williamson, peak after peak towera up
until dietinct outline is lost in the dis
tance. Snowfields of great extent are
scattered all over the region. The defi
nition of sublimity is given as a union
of the grand and terrible. Here these
elemente are found in tbeir bigheat de
gree ; tbe scene must therefore be aub
The summit of Whitney ia about
eight milea a little east of south from
Williamaon. Sighting over a spirit
level we estimated that Whitney is
about 250 feet the higher of the two. Aa
Whitney ib 15,087 feet above eea ievel,
this would make the altitude of Will
iamaon 14,837 feet above eea level.
We observed tbe eunligbt had not the
rich, golden hue it haa near aea level,
but wa'B pale, aa if tbe.sun were par
tially eclipsed. The sun itself had a
eilver hue and appeared to have lost the
power of imparting the heat we are ac
customed to. We tried to melt snow in
a tin cup by exposing it to the eun and
Btirriug it. Bnt the Bnow only turned
to little pieces of dry ice.
Thia article has run to greater length
than waß intended. Far more interest
ing articles could be written about that
grand region that will aome day be the
summer playground for Los Angelea.
The party remained little more than
one hour upon the mountain; during
this time a eeriea of pictures wbb taken
by Mr. Carroll and then we began the
descent. Just aa darkness was Betting
in we got back, all in safety, to our
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FOSTER'S PATENT HOOK GLOVES 75e PAIR.
i■' ■ ■ ■■■■■■■■iiiim MWii— hi i mm ■■■■■■■ iiiim ii
DURING THE MANY YEARS THAT THE |
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business in Southern California it has bad the |
reputation of carrying the largest, finest and best assort- |
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S I The Windows will Display a Few of the GENUINE I C
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11 Ladies* Worsted Underwear, X
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I Ladies All-Wool Underwear, \
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