MT KAWEAH (13,802 ft.)

Named by J.W.A. Wright in 1881

Also Basin, Gap, Kaweah Peaks Ridge

"The name 'Kaweah' derives from the Kaweah River. 'Kaweah Peak' was the first use of the word in the Sierra; it is on the Wheeler Survey atlas sheet 65, but is located too far west. In 1881, J. W. A. Wright, F. H. Wales, and W. B. Wallace climbed this highest peak of the group and named it 'Mount Kaweah.' They named the other major peaks of the group, from west to east, 'Mount Abert,' 'Mount Henry,' and 'Mount LeConte.' (Elliot, Guide, 47-49, 59.) Those names didn't catch on; they are now 'Black Kaweah,' 'Red Kaweah,' and 'Gray Kaweah' -- the latter not an official name.

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