MT KAWEAH (13,802 ft.)
Named by J.W.A. Wright in 1881
The Mt. Whitney 30' map, 1907, had 'Kaweah Basin'
and 'Kaweah Peaks.' The latter became simply 'Mt. Kaweah' on the sixth edition,
1929. 'Kaweah Peaks Ridge' and 'Kaweah Gap' showed up on the fifth edition, 1939.
The gap was named in 1926 by John R. White, then superintendent of Sequoia and
General Grant national parks."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada
"A notable excursion took place in 1881, coincident with Professor
Langley's visit to Mount Whitney. Three friends from
the Tulare Valley took the Hocket Trail across the Kern to Whitney Creek, 'upon
which we tried unsuccessfully to impress the name "Volcano Creek," as the
stream does not rise in the vicinity of Mount Whitney.' They noted the phenomenon
of 'red snow,' which when crushed looked like 'red rock-candy.' At the base of
Mount Whitney they met Captain Michaelis of the Langley party, whose invitation
to spend the night with him on the summit was accepted by Wallace and Wright.
There, in the moonlight, 'outlines of all other great mountains in the region
were visible, and the snowfields about Mount Kaweah shone with subdued brilliancy.'
In the morning, looking across the Inyo mountains, they could see Telescope Peak
overlooking Death Valley. 'What a contrast,' writes Wallace, 'between two points!
Here we stood on the highest mountain in the United States, and there, but
seventy-five miles away, was the lowest land in America -- 280 feet below sea-level!'
From Mount Whitney, the three, Wallace, Wales, and Wright, made their way toward the
head of the Kern and pioneered a way down to the river at Junction Meadow. A few
days later they mounted the Chagoopah Plateau, at the base of Mount Kaweah, and
proceeded to climb the nearby peak. At noon they left their horses below the first
snowfield. 'Thence they moved to the west, climbing from rock to rock, upward and
ever upward, soon wearied and out of breath. No one can have a conception of the
extreme exertion and utter exhaustion from time to time of this rough and trackless
peak climbing.' It is quite apparent that Mr. Wright is speaking -- he was the
eldest and the heaviest of the three. His comrades reached the summit more than an
hour and a half ahead of him. 'After a careful examination not the slightest trace
was found that any human being had ever been there before.'"
- Francis Farquhar, History of the Sierra Nevada