SPLIT MTN (14,042 ft.)
Named by Bolton Brown in 1895
"The first ascent of Split Mountain can probably be attributed to the Indians of Paiute or Shoshone ancestry. The close proximity of Indian pases and Indian-named peaks, and the relative ease of gaining the summit via the north ridge, suggests this. Although no record exists, Indians of this area, like the great naturalist John Muir, were not always inclined to leave a summit cairn on the mountains they climbed.
From 1875 to 1879, the US Geological Surveys, under the leadership of Captain George M. Wheeler, occupied several desert stations in the Owens and Bishop Valleys. One of their duties was to accurately fix the positions of some of the prominent main-crest peaks. Capt. Wheeler gave the name 'Southeast Palisade' to Split Mountain and measured it at 14,051 feet. in some climbing circles this name is still used today.
Wheeler's survey was the first recorded description of a peak in the Upper Basin, but according to Sierra historian Chester Versteeg in a Sierra Club Bulletin article in 1921, many of the first explorers of this area, primarily shepherds, left no record of their discoveries.
'When the sheepmen first threaded old Indian trails into this watershed is not definitely known ... we are prone to forget the debt we owe him for preserving Indian routes and establishing new trails. The perils he faced alone with his flock in combating early snows; the passes he traveled, driven by the whip of dire necessity, years before they were "discovered" by the mountaineer; the profound love he often held for the high reaches of the Sierra -- all these are unwritten pages of Sierra history.'
Versteeg also revealed that Joseph N. LeConte was not the first to gain the summit of Split Mountain, as had been previously reported. Frank Saulque and four others climbed the peak by an unknown route in July 1887. These men were Basque shepherds and may have climbed the peak via the north ridge.
In July 895, Bolton Coit Brown made the first ascent of Arrow Peak (12,927 feet) using an ice ax made from a wagon-spoke. From the top of Arrow Peak he drew sketches of and named the mountain known today as Split Mountain.
On July 23, 1902, Joseph N. LeConte, Helen M. LeConte, and Curtis M. Lindley made
the first recorded ascent of the north ridge from the west. Shortly after his
ascent, LeConte suggested to members of the US geological Survey that Split
Mountain was in an excellent location for mapping triangulation purposes. The
Survey team climbed the peak and made measurements in 1902, 1905, and 1907."
- Stephen F. Porcella & Cameron M. Burns, Climbing California's Fourteeners