Mt. LeConte P1K SPS / WSC
Mt. Mallory SPS / WSC

Sun, Aug 25, 2002

With: Joe Hanssen
Michael Graupe

Mt. LeConte
Mt. Mallory
Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile
Mt. LeConte later climbed Tue, Aug 10, 2004

Mt. LeConte (13,930 ft.)

Named by A.W. de la Cour Carroll in 1895

Also Canyon, Point, Falls, Divide

"Joseph LeConte (1823-1901), professor of geology and natural history at the University of California, 1869-1901.

The falls was named in August 1892 'Cross this ledge well to the right and gradually approach the river, which can be followed to the head of what is in many respects the most majestic cascade in the whole canyon, the LeConte Cascade, so named by us in honor of our most esteemed Professor, Joseph LeConte.' (R. M. Price, 'Through the Tuolumne Canyon,' SCB 1, no. 6, May 1895: 204.)

'Some time ago those residents of the Lone Pine district who are interested in the mountains decided upon naming this peak LeConte, in honor of Professor Joseph LeConte. ... A conical mass of rock about 150 feet high and 250 feet in diameter forms the apex of LeConte. After careful investigation we found this utterly impossible to climb. So we placed the monument on the north side of the dome where it can be easily seen by any one approaching the summit; and it a small can we put a photograph of the Professor, with the following memorandum: "To-day, the 14th of August, 1895, we, undersigned, hereby named this mountain LeConte, in honor of the eminent geologist, Professor Joseph LeConte.' (A. W. de la Cour Carroll, SCB 1, no. 8, May 1896: 325-26.)

Farquhar (Place Names, 56-57) seems to assume that 'LeConte Divide' was named for the senior LeConte, but it could just as easily have been for J. N. LeConte, who explored in the Palisades and the Kings River Region. The name appears on the first edition of the Mt. Goddard 30' map, 1912.

Joseph Nisbet LeConte (1870-1950), a charter member of the Sierra Club, professor of engineering mechanics at the University of California, 1895-1937. The canyon apparently was named by the USGS during the 1907-09 survey for the Mt. Goddard 30' map; it is on the first edition, 1912. LeConte Point was named by R. B. Marshall, USGS. (Farquhar: Marshall.)

Joseph N. LeConte was one of the foremost explorers of the Sierra Nevada. He hiked and climbed from 1889 to 1928, wrote extensively about his travels, compiled a number of maps, and was an expert photographer."
- Peter Browning, Place Names of the Sierra Nevada

The peak was named for the elder LeConte, Joseph, who had a long friendship with John Muir.

"Of greater significance in the history of the Sierra Nevada, and more in keeping with John Muir's nature, was the arrival in August of the 'University Excursion Party,' a group of young men from the University of California who had invited their geology professor, Joseph LeConte, to accompany them on a camping trip. While exploring the Valley, they stopped a moment at the foot of the Yosemite Falls, at a sawmill, to make inquires. 'Here we found a man in rough miller's garb, whose intelligent face and earnest, clear blue eyes excited our interest. After some conversation, we discovered it was John Muir, a gentleman of whom we had heard so much from Mrs. Professor Carr and others. We urged him to go with us to Mono, and he seemed disposed to do so.' A few days later Muir joined the party, affording many opportunities for sympathetic discussions about glaciers and rock formations. At Tenaya Lake one evening there took place a tableau of supreme piquancy: 'After supper,' writes LeConte, 'I went with Mr. Muir and sat on a rock jutting into the lake. It was full moon. I never saw a more delightful scene. The deep stillness of the night; the silvery light and deep shadows of the mountains; the reflection on the water, broken into thousands of glittering points by the ruffled surface; the gentle lapping of the wavelets upon the rocky shore -- all these seemed exquisitely harmonized with one another and the grand harmony made answering music in our hearts. Gradually the lake surface became quiet and mirror-like, and the exquisite surrounding scenery was seen double. For an hour we remained sitting in silent enjoyment of this delicious scene, which we relunctantly left to go to bed.' They continued to Tuolumne Meadows, made a climb of Mount Dana, and went down Bloody Canyon to Mono Lake and the Craters, where Muir left the party to return to Yosemite. The professor shortly afterwards published several articles in which he expressed views substantially in agreement with those of Muir about glaciation and rock structure. In neither does there appear to have been any thought of rivalry; no doubt each contributed to the development of the other's ideas and together they spread a doctrine that gained wider acceptance than the theories so stubornly maintained by the Whitney school."
- Francis Farquhar, History of the Sierra Nevada

Joseph maintained an enduring friendship with Muir, and help found the Sierra Club in 1892. "Little Joe", as the younger Joseph N. LeConte was called, was also a charter member, acting as a director from 1898-1940, and as its second president (after Muir) from 1915-1917.

"Even before the Sierra Club was formally organized, some of its future members were engaged in opening trails into canyons and passes and in climbing peaks. Foremost among them was young Joseph N. LeConte, son of the professor who had accompanied the 'University Excursion Party' in 1870. 'Little Joe,' as he was frequently called, while still an undergraduate at the University of California, accompanied his father in 1889 on a camping trip to Hetch Hetchy, Tuolumne Meadows, and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees, in the course of which he climbed mounts Hoffmann, Dana, and Lyell. Such was the effect of this trip that for the rest of his life the younger LeConte, like his father before him, remained enamoured of the High Sierra. The following year, with three college friends, he visited Kings Canyon, Kearsarge Pass, and Mount Whitney. They returned to Yosemite by way of Owens Valley, Bloody Canyon, and Tuolumne Meadows. On this trip LeConte carried a camera and began a series of photographs which for many years were famous as the finest views of the Sierra published. Year after year he continued to camp in the Sierra and climb the peaks, with various companions but more and more with Miss Helen Marion Gompertz and some of her friends. A climax for the LeConte family was a trip in 1900, when the elder LeConte, then 77 years of age, accompanied the younger people on a camping trip to Kings Canyon. They spent six weeks in the mountains, and he wrote, 'every step of the journey, and in some parts, as we approached the summit, the exhilaration of spirit and the exultation of mind was such as I had not felt for ten years.' In June, 1901, Helen Gompertz and Joe LeConte were married. She, too, was a charter member of the Sierra Club and for the rest of her life continued to share with her husband an unwavering devotion to the high mountain country."
- Francis Farquhar, History of the Sierra Nevada

More on Joseph LeConte:

  • The Sierra Club
  • John Muir
  • Joseph LeConte's A Journal of Ramblings Through the High Sierra
  • LeConte's Autobiography
  • A Discourse on Manufacturing Saltpetre

    More on Joseph N. LeConte:

  • The Sierra Club
    References to can also be found in these files:

  • More of Bob's Trip Reports

    For more information see these SummitPost pages: Mt. LeConte - Mt. Mallory

    This page last updated: Sat Apr 7 17:02:15 2007
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