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Shasta Rumors—Strawberry Valley—A Timberline Camp—An Early Start—Steep Snow Slopes—The Red Bluffs—Sulphurous Springs—The Highest Pinnacle—A Clouded View—Swift Descent—A Squally Night—Comparisons—Barometrical Observations—Indian Episodes—Bass’s Ranch.
Camp 98, Strawberry Valley.
Base of Mount Shasta.
Sunday, September 14, 1862.
From what has been written from time to time, you have seen that the ascent of Mount Shasta was an item of “Great Expectations”—it seemed indeed the grand goal of this trip. How we had barometers made a year and a half ago to measure it, how our summer’s work was planned to bring us here in August but deferred so late by sickness of the party, how we had come prepared and had collected information on the subject from all possible sources, you know already.
Here let me say that Mount Shasta is the highest point in the state,1 that it has long been an object of admiration and wonder, that it has been ascended by a number of persons, and yet absolutely nothing was known of it except its existence—of its geology and structure not a word can be found anywhere; of its height, matters were nearly as vague.
Lieutenant Williamson and Colonel Frémont guessed that it was seventeen thousand feet high, and hence it went thus into all the maps and authorities. But many doubted that it was so high, and last year a man got on top with a barometer and gave its height as less than fourteen thousand feet—but he had a poor instrument and, moreover, had no good facilities for measuring the mountain.2
We inquired of everybody who might possibly know anything about the matter, about getting up. The stories we heard would fill an amusing volume. Mr. A tells us that the ascent is easy, that all creation can be seen from there, that he has been up and never will forget the day. We inquire on certain particulars, find that he doesn’t know on which side he went up, the appearance of the top, nothing. We doubt if he has ever seen it. Mr. B says he got nearly to the top, but that no living man has ever reached the summit—that long before reaching the top a man’s breath gives out, his nose bleeds, his head aches, etc.—and that no man could possibly make the ascent of the last cone. In fact, many told us that it was an impossibility to reach the highest summit—some on account of ice, some because of sulphurous vapors, some because of its steepness, etc.
On our road here the stories became more divergent. One man told us that it was a common trip, that more than five hundred persons had made it the present year. We were elated. But that evening we camped at Mr. Sim Southern’s (long be his name remembered), only twenty-two miles from here, and he told us that the first eight miles were easy, a good road, he had drawn a ton of hay up to the camping ground once! Whew, how easy! (The camping ground is only reached by a trail, in places steep as the roof of a house for a thousand feet together, and in others through thick chaparral.) He said that he had nearly reached the top, but an impassable glacier had stopped every person from going farther. Such were the stories, which would fill a volume—a few grains of truth, and an abundance of pure fiction—so, as I write facts, I will pass them.3
We reached this place the evening of Tuesday, September 9. Here are two houses, one a “hotel,” the other a ranch house, but also a sort of public house, as hay is sold to travelers for their teams.
At this Strawberry Ranch we are camped, the most lovely camp we have had.4 It is on a stream of clear, cold water, an open forest back of us, of splendid trees—pines 150 to 200 feet high, and cedars almost as large. In front, in unobstructed view, lies “The Butte,” as Mount Shasta is generally called here. We are a little over three thousand feet altitude, while the mountain rises in one grand slope over eleven thousand feet more at one view—the base, up to eight thousand feet, clothed with pines, cedars, and firs, all above that a desolate waste of rock and snow. The mountain is a great irregular cone, with steeper sides by far than any other large mountain I have ever seen. How we gazed on it that night from camp as the moon rose. I even got up in the night to see it by the better illumination of the moon after midnight.
The air is cool and delicious, in most pleasing contrast with the hot parching air we have felt for the last three months—all are inspired with it.
Wednesday, September 10, we spent in camp, making preparations. Apparatus was tested, provisions got ready, guide found—not a professional guide, but a Mr. Frame, who was up once, plain, unostentatious; he says it is practicable, that he has been on the top, that he will show us the way, but we must furnish our own muscle. Two other men came up from the Soda Springs, eight miles distant, to make the ascent with us—Perry and Campbell, both capital men.
Thursday, September 11, we started for the “camping ground.” This is at the upper limit of the timber, just where the snow begins this year. We are the only persons who have been up this year, and it was doubtful before we started if it could be ascended—the quantity of snow is greater, and the snow line is lower.
We start, all on foot, our three friends with their baggage packed on two horses, we with ours on three mules. Two of the mules, Jim and Nell, carry the blankets and provisions, while Kate carries a very miscellaneous collection of bags, containing instruments, canteens of water, botanical box, etc. Hoffmann, Professor Whitney, and I each carry a barometer, Averill a tripod. We walk and lead the mules—first across a meadow, swampy—Nell sinks to her belly in the bog, is released and is repacked, but she looks disgusted enough.
We soon take to the woods and follow a trail directly toward the mountain—the first four miles up a very gentle slope, among trees that must be seen to be at all appreciated—pines, firs, and cedars, all of species peculiar to the region west of the Rocky Mountains. Cedars over 100 feet high and 4 to 6 feet in diameter, firs 200 feet high, sugar pines often 200 and even 250 feet high, possibly even more. Fire had been through the woods and hundreds of trees had fallen, some this year, but more in past years. I had the curiosity to measure one prostrate tree. It was about 7 feet diameter at the base and lay along the ground for 225 feet, and was then burned off where it was still 9 inches in diameter. The burnt tip must have been 40 feet longer. These gigantic trees, straight as arrows, formed a magnificent forest.
The last four miles was up a very steep slope, nearly a thousand feet per mile—part of the way through the pines, part through thick chaparral of manzanita. Blocks and ledges of lava are the only rocks seen, and dry, dusty soil—no springs, no streams, until we reach the camping ground, where there is a small stream that runs from the snow but sinks soon into the porous lava that forms the mass of the mountain. Mount Shasta is an extinct volcano, and this will explain what I have to tell of its appearance.
Camp 99 was here, at the upper edge of the timber, streaks of snow coming down below this level. It is about 7,400 feet altitude. Here the trees are still numerous, although scarcely forming a “forest.” They are of only one species, a grand fir, picea nobilis,5 many of the trees over four feet in diameter—one near camp is six feet—yet they cease entirely but a few hundred feet higher. Above this timber, for at least six
From an engraving published by D. Appleton & Co. in 1873
In bed early, to be sure, but scarcely to sleep; all are too much excited—the mules bray, the dogs that came along bark, the wind howls, it is cold, yet sleep is a duty. I awake—surely it is time, but my watch tells me it is only eleven o’clock. An hour later the thing is repeated.
The next thing I hear is Professor Whitney arousing the party—it is after two o’clock. All are soon astir; breakfast is soon got by the bright light of the moon. Hoffmann keeps his blankets; he does not feel strong enough after his recent sickness to make the attempt, and great is his disappointment. He stays to observe barometer.
It is nearly half-past three when we at last get fairly under way. Before us, in silent majesty, lies the immense mountain mass. How cold its snows look in the bright moonlight! All are anxious, for there is the uncertainty as to whether we can succeed.
For half a mile or more the route lies over loose blocks of lava, or dry, sandy, ashy soil; then we strike a strip of snow lying in a gulch, and up this we follow. But what a path! Such a grade! Hour after hour we toil on it—the bright moon gives way to gray dawn, and then the sun comes up and gilds the summit ahead and throws its dark shadows into the valleys below—and yet we are on that slope. Both at the right hand and the left are sharp ridges. The lava first wreathed into curious forms when it flowed down there, then, in later times, weathered into fantastic shapes—walls, battlements, pinnacles shooting up hundreds of feet, more forms than can be described.
The ascent continues to grow steeper as we approach the red bluffs, a wall of yellow or red lava and ashes. For two thousand feet or more below it the average slope is not less than forty degrees. At last we mount this wall. It is eight o’clock, and we are now thirteen thousand feet up. That snowy slope of five thousand feet perpendicular has not carried us on at most over two miles horizontal distance!
The last thousand feet has been hard—the air is so light that one is very short winded, must stop often, and resting does not appear to restore the strength. One pants for more air, but the air refuses to strengthen him. It is now very cold; we stop on the sunny side of this rocky wall to rest and hang up a barometer to see how high we are. We enjoy a scene that bursts on our view from the east—a great gorge filled with snow, perhaps hundreds of feet thick, cracked and melted into fantastic shapes.
We now follow up the ridge.6 Cold as it has been, the cold wind becomes colder, and Professor Whitney has his fingers frostbitten. We toil on almost in silence, for no one has breath to spare for talk. Our three friends are ahead—two carry canteens of water, the other a canteen of cold coffee. Averill carries a bag containing our lunch, thermometers, etc. Professor Whitney and I generally bring up the rear, for each of us carries a barometer—and had each a baby it would not require more constant vigilance to protect it from injury.
After leaving the red bluffs we had about three and a half hours’ climbing to reach the summit—a part of the way up a steep slope over hard lava, strewn here and there with loose rocks—in fact, it was the same bed that formed the red bluffs. We were often on the snow. We wore colored goggles to protect the eyes when the sun shone.
The day was unfavorable—the first cloudy day of the fall. At times we would be enveloped in cloud, shutting out all distant views; then again the cloud would blow away and disclose glimpses of the landscape two miles beneath us. The snow, especially near the summit, has melted into a very curious form. I never saw anything like it in Switzerland. Imagine the snow sliced, or gashed into slices, from one to four feet deep, the slices running from east to west—not perpendicular, but leaning to the south, or down hill—the slices melted so that they present their sharp edges to the sun. Thus the whole surface was melted, and it made the worst possible going, especially with the barometer to carry, as we had to step on these edges. They were frozen when we went up, so they would generally bear us, but on our return they were thawed, and we broke into these clefts so that the going was worse than ever.
As I said, this is an extinct volcano. About three hundred feet below the highest summit there is a hollow, with very steep ridges rising on two sides, probably once a crater, and in this is a boiling spring, the boiling water and steam charged strongly with sulphurous gases. These frequently make people sick who breathe them. There is much sulphur mixed with the soil and we collected fine specimens.
Then came the last hard tug, and at about noon we reached the highest point. This is a mere pinnacle of lava, shooting up into the air—difficult of access, and only reached with some daring. One has but a small hold in climbing on it; I would never trust myself to it on a windy day. It is accessible only by a narrow ridge, while a fall from any one of the other three sides would precipitate one many hundreds of feet below on the rocks.7
It was entirely impossible to hang barometers there, so I rigged up a support twenty feet lower and hung both barometers to it. I had to use my coat to shade them from the sun, so I sat and shivered in the cold, for the thermometer was 26° F.
We stayed there an hour and a half. It was curious to note the effect of the thin air and fatigue on the men. All were more or less drowsy and sleepy, all complained of headaches, eyes were bloodshot and red. My lips and fingernails were of a deep blue, so were those of Campbell. But no one bled at the nose, as is common. We lunched, and as some began to get sick, the rest started, leaving Professor Whitney and me with the barometers. The clouds grew thicker before we got through. Averill, Campbell, and Frame all became very sick and vomited severely, from the effect of the rarified air. The barometer stood at only about 17 1/2 inches.
We got only occasional glimpses of the landscape beneath, but enough to show how magnificent it must be in the clearer weather earlier in the season. In the west is a perfect wilderness of mountains extending all the way to the Pacific, chain beyond chain, many with snow on them, all now dim, however, for the valleys are filled with smoke and the tops are more or less obscured by clouds. To the northwest lies the great valley of the Klamath River. In the north are the Siskiyou Mountains, but we saw only glimpses of them. We had no view of the east.
To the south there are mountains for about fifty miles, then the great Sacramento Valley. The latter was entirely filled with smoke and haze, the surface level as the sea, and rising above it was the sharp Lassen’s Butte, remarkably distinct although near a hundred miles distant. It rises like an island of black rock and white snow from this sea of fog, a grand object.
The descent was much more rapid than the ascent. We reached the red bluffs in one hour, a distance that required three and a half hours in the morning to ascend. The fog grew very dense, and so cold that our beards were white as snow, mustaches frozen, and faces blue—the way not plain, and the guide ahead. But when we reached the red bluffs all was then safe, so far as the way was concerned. Then the rest went on, for Professor Whitney and I could not travel half so fast down those steep slopes as the rest, owing to the barometers. Some of them got into camp an hour and a half before we did.
Such a descent—sliding, sometimes on our feet, sometimes on our “bases,” down the soft snow, which the sun had now thawed. The latter mode of descent, although rapid, was soon rendered uncomfortable to me by the giving way of the main seam of my pants, and the consequent introduction of large quantities of snow.
More snow fell also during the last half of the descent, not a storm but rather like a quiet squall. Since noon the clouds had been forming over the sky, which was now nearly covered, at a height of then thousand or eleven thousand feet. When we got below this line, we had a peculiar scene, but the effect was grand. The clouds, like a curtain, cut off all the mountain above us and also the tops of the mountains in the west, but below, the air was smoky, and through this we could see the streaks of sunshine here and there. The effect was very peculiar and striking. Then we saw a heavy shower over the mountains in the northwest.
We got back to camp before dark, found Campbell and Frame asleep in their blankets, pretty well used up. We were all of us tired enough. A hearty supper, a good smoke, and we were soon in our blankets.
It grew very cold, the clouds grew thicker, it grew colder, began to freeze vigorously, and the wind grew high. It snowed quite briskly, quite a fierce squall, decidedly an unpleasant night to be sleeping out. If some of you wish to realize what it was, choose some squally night when the thermometer sinks to 20°, when the snow comes with driving wind, take your blankets and go out on some bleak hill, lie down on the ground and try to sleep and enjoy yourself.
I believe that I fared the best that night. I got my blankets in the shelter of a bushy tree that partly broke the force of the wind, and I slept with my thick clothes on, yet the snow did blow into my blankets—and ugh! how cold it was—but I covered up closer, hauled my head under my shawl, and slept soundly and sweetly, save perhaps an hour spent in shivering.
Everything froze up tight that night, ice was an inch thick on the stream near, and in the morning the ground was white with snow in places. But the sky cleared up, and the mountain stood out again in clear outline against the bluest sky.
Mount Shasta is about 14,500 feet high—the precise height we cannot yet give. It is higher than any mountain in Switzerland and only 1,200 feet less than Mont Blanc.8 Yet it lacks the grandeur of the Swiss Alps, and it is entirely destitute of many of the elements of beauty that they possess. In this dry climate, where there is no rain during the summer—although immense quantities of snow fall on it in the winter—no glaciers form.9 Much of it is so steep that the snow blows or slides off, and at this time in the year the snow lies only in patches and streaks over the upper seven thousand feet.
In a rainy country these bare patches would be more or less clothed with alpine plants, and streams of water would come down the sides everywhere. Not so here. The waters of the melting snows are drunk up and absorbed by the porous lava rock of the mountain, so its watercourses are dry. The soil is a mixture of decomposed lava and volcanic ashes and would undoubtedly possess great fertility with water, but as it is, it is barren.
Above the timber the mountain is naked, and all above nine thousand or ten thousand feet is a scene of unmixed and unrelieved desolation—rock, snow, and dry soil, that is all. No plant cheers the eye, no insect or bird appears. This barren scene succeeds immediately the failure of the upper zone of timber. In Switzerland, or the Tyrol, or the eastern United States, above the timber there would still be vegetation—first, green pastures; while up among the eternal snows, where a rock was bare of ice or snow, some alpine plants would be warmed into life. The Alps are grand in their beauty, Mount Shasta is sublime in its desolation.
Geologically it is as barren as it is botanically. It is a great cone of lava, nothing else. Not, like Etna, made up of an almost infinite number of small eruptions, but it seems as if it had been formed in a comparatively short period, by a few gigantic eruptions. It appears to belong to a series of volcanoes that formed a line—like the Central American volcanoes of the present day—that had their time of greatest activity during the Tertiary period. This line extended nearly north and south—Lassen’s Butte is another of them, in the south—but the chain ran north to an unknown distance into Oregon.
Sunday, October 5.
On the morning of Saturday, September 13, we were at our mountain camp at the snow line on Mount Shasta—a clear, lovely morning. Hoffmann was immediately sent back to Strawberry with a barometer, and all the rest also left in the morning. I alone remained, with a barometer and with my botanical box. I first collected that full of plants near camp, and then for four hours observed barometer quarter-hourly.
How I enjoyed those hours of solitude, so far from men, such a picturesque spot! Near me the grand forests, behind me the lovely valleys below, before me the grand old peak, its outlines so beautifully cut against the intensely blue sky. I gazed on it for hours, as I lay there, not with the awe that I did two days ago, but with even more admiration.
This day closes my thirty-fourth year, the morrow is my birthday. Six years ago yesterday I was on the Great St. Bernard, in Savoy—how unlike that view from this! My mind wanders to the Swiss Alps and the views I saw there. And then it wanders home and to loved ones there, and then to battlefields and scenes of carnage and blood and sorrow in the East, and to hospitals where men are enduring the keenest of physical sufferings—but all is quiet here, so quiet that no wonder thought and imagination wander.
At 3 P.M. I started to return—eight weary miles to walk, with barometer, and with botanical box and bag heavy with specimens. It was after dark when I got back.
Our barometrical observations between the Strawberry Valley camp and the snow line did not calculate up satisfactorily. So, on Monday, September 15, with Schmidt and one pack-mule, botanical box, and barometer, I returned. The day was fine, and we had again the lovely view and grand forest. We botanized and got the desired observations. Our appetites were good, and we had a fine chunk of venison, as well as bacon, etc., and fared well. We stayed there all night. I observed again until the afternoon of Tuesday, then returned. Averill had been out and caught a mess of fine trout.
Wednesday, September 17, we were up early, ate a hearty breakfast of venison and delicious trout, raised our camp, and were off, returning by the same road that we came, instead of going by way of Yreka as we had intended. We got but 17 1/2 miles that day, and camped at the Sweet Briar Ranch that night.
Thursday, September 18, we were off early, as we intended to get to the Sacramento ferry that night. During that day, as on others, we saw many Indians. They are “lower” than you have any idea of—sometimes nearly naked—men with merely the “breechcloth,” women with scarcely more, although generally the latter (theoretically) wear a part, at least, of a skirt of civilized style.
Our noon lunch was where we lunched on the way up, and I had an amusing adventure buying some potatoes from a squaw. She could talk no English, while my knowledge of “Digger” was equally poor. Here was a white man, who lived with two squaws—or rather they lived with him—their faces horribly tattooed, but they wore dresses. Near, along the river, was an Indian camp, and as we went by an old woman passed us in “deep mourning.” She wore but very little clothing, her form bent, skin wrinkled, and not only her face but her entire body was painted black, with patches of pitch on it in places to make it still more hideous. She threw her skinny arms about, screeched some, and showed her grief in the Digger style. The camp was such as might be expected. I will not attempt to picture it, but some of the least orthodox of our party questioned if such beings had much of a soul, or at least, thought the orthodox rule of having them all lost was uncharitable to say the least. I do not wonder that missionaries have met with no more success among this miserable tribe and race.
We arrived at Dogtown (one house) a little too early to camp, and we thought that with diligence we might reach a house about six miles farther, where hay might be obtained for our animals, so we pushed on.
I have already described the roads, often mere narrow dugways, where two teams cannot pass. On such places we generally ride some distance ahead of the wagons to look out for meeting teams. But in one place the wagon had nearly caught up with us, when we were suddenly face to face with a wagon. Both stopped, and we parleyed and palavered. It was nearly sunset. He was loaded with four thousand pounds of freight. After a careful examination we found that we could not pass; it was impractical to draw either wagon back. The track was perhaps four hundred feet above the river, and, in passing, the outer wagon could not fail starting and finally bringing up in the water below.
At last we unloaded our wagon and set it carefully so far over the edge that his could pass, which it did, clearing ours only three inches. We loaded up, but as we could not reach the desired haven, we tied up in a cheerless place for the night. We had a little barley for the mules, but no hay, so we tied them to the bushes, brought water half a mile, got supper long after dark, provoked, ill humored, and uncomfortable.
But one must be bad off indeed if a joke will not pass, and even here Averill found time to “sell” me most beautifully. There was a cleared field near, and Averill found that it belonged to a man named Campbell. As I was hurrying for a pail of water, he wanted me to “go to the house and see if Mrs. Campbell would consent to allow our mules to be picketed in the field.” “But where is the house?” “Right over there—follow that path.” I did—found only a camp of Indians, half a dozen, some half naked. I inquire for “Mrs. Campbell,” no answer—again inquire—a grunt from a half-naked man. I can’t make myself understood—follow with more questions—a squaw in some blankets jabbers, but I can’t understand a word. I hear Averill laugh, and soon the “sell” appears—“Mrs. Campbell” is one of the squaws of the camp. I afterward learn that “Mrs. Campbell” is in fact two squaws, and in the morning I see several youthful Campbells, of semi-Digger type.
Friday, September 19, we made a long heavy drive of twenty-three or twenty-four miles, and camped that night at Bass’s Ranch, near Pit River. We saw many Indians again that day. I had got far ahead of the party and stopped to let my mule drink at a stream. A party of Indians were gathering acorns near. A man was up a tree cutting off the limbs with a hatchet; the rest below, gathering or eating the acorns. They ate them raw, like hogs, although they are very bitter and astringent.
One young squaw especially attracted my attention from her costume which was the neatest Indian costume I have seen—a fillet of many colors around her forehead, pretty buckskin moccasins neatly embroidered in colors, and around her hips a girdle perhaps a foot wide, with fringe around its lower edge perhaps six inches long, neatly woven or braided, of several bright colors. Her body above the hips, and legs below the short skirt (which was perhaps but eighteen or twenty inches wide) were bare. Her limbs were better formed than those of any other squaw I have seen, and, in fact, her appearance was rather pleasing—that is, she did not excite the feelings of deep disgust that the others did. But she sat down as I passed her, and commenced eating acorns, reminding me of a baboon eating nuts.
These Indians gather large quantities of acorns for winter food. We saw them also catching and drying salmon. The squaws carry enormously heavy loads in a conical basket, which is wide above and comes to a point below, held by a band across the forehead, the point of the basket resting against the rump. One of the Indians came up to me and talked some time, but the only words I could understand were “Klamath,” “Shasta” (he pronounced it Tschasta), and “tobacco.” I gave him some, and he looked very unthankful and sour because there was not more of it.
We stopped for an hour at noon. An Indian came along whose only dress was a piece of deerskin hung by a string over one shoulder so that it covered one hip, coming partly around in front and behind, reaching from the hip nearly to the knee. It was rather too scant for civilized eyes.
The next two days we spent near Bass’s Ranch, examining some interesting limestone ridges near, cut through by trap dykes, and in places affording good marble. The next day we went back to Shasta. Hoffmann was so used up by his partial ascent of Mount Shasta that he was unfit for further duty and he had to take to his bed immediately on arriving at Shasta. Schmidt, too, had got worse, and had to take to the bed again—a bad prospect. Rémond had entirely recovered. His quiet life after we left had cured him. For fifteen days he had made hourly observations on the barometer, and this had so confined him to the house that he had had no relapse from overexertion.
1. The altitude of Mount Shasta was found by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey to be 14,162 feet, as the result of very accurate measurements completed in 1904. With this figure it ranks sixth in California, being exceeded by Whitney, Williamson, North Palisade, and Russell, in the Sierra Nevada, and White Mountain, in the Inyo Range.
2. In a note contributed to The American Journal of Science and Arts (2d series, Vol. XXXVI, No. 106 [July, 1863], 123), Whitney says: “A careful and elaborate series of barometrical observations by the State Geological Corps of California, made in September, 1862, has fixed the elevation of Mt. Shasta at 14,440 feet. Previous to this the height of Shasta had been variously estimated at from 13,905 to 18,000 feet. The number 13,905 was the result of a barometrical observation made by Mr. W. S. Moses, August 20, 1861; 18,000 feet was the height as estimated by the Pacific Rail Road expedition, under Lieut. Williamson [Lieut. H. L. Abbot in Pacific Railroad Reports, Vol. VI, Pt. I, 36]; Frémont’s estimate was 15,000 feet [ Geographical Memoir Upon Upper California (1848), p. 25], which is much nearer the truth than Williamson’s. It is a very curious fact, that the height of Mt. Shasta, as given by the author of Colton’s Atlas and author of the article on California in the New American Cyclopaedia is 14,390 feet, which is a very close approximation. Where these figures were obtained, I have been unable to ascertain. [Footnote: “Wilkes says ‘it is said to be 14,350 feet; but Lieut. Emmons thinks it is not so high.’”] It is pretty certain that they were not the result of any actual measurement, as it is known that Mr. Moses was the first person to ascend the mountain with a barometer.” An account of the ascent of Mr. Moses and party, from the journal of Richard G. Stanwood, one of the members, is published in the California Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 1 (March, 1927).
3. The first ascent appears to have been made in 1854. Between that date and 1862 a considerable number of people had been to the summit. Several ladies accomplished the feat in 1856 (San Francisco Bulletin, September 23, 1856).
4. This spot was for a long time known as Sisson’s, a name unhappily abandoned recently for the pretentious and confusing Mount Shasta City.
5. The tree described here is not now called by this name; it is a sub-alpine variety of red fir called Abies magnifica shastensis Lemmon. Lower on the mountain the forest is (or was in Brewer’s day, before it was burned) largely white fir (Abies concolor), douglas fir (Pseudotsuga taxifolia), incense cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa), and sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana). The timberline tree is white bark pine (Pinus albicaulis). For descriptions of the natural history of Mount Shasta see an article by Ansel F. Hall in Sierra Club Bulletin, Vol. XII, No. 3 (1926), and C. Hart Merriam, “Results of a Biological Survey of Mount Shasta, California,” North American Fauna, No. 16 (Division of Biological Survey, United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, 1899).
6. The route described is, throughout, the one followed by a majority of climbers today.
7. Recalling his experiences on Mount Shasta in addressing the members of the Appalachian Mountain Club at its tenth anniversary, in Boston, March 5, 1886, Professor Brewer said: “When we got to the top we found people had been there before us. There was a liberal distribution of ‘California conglomerate,’ a mixture of tin cans and broken bottles, a newspaper, a Methodist hymn-book, a pack of cards, an empty bottle, and various other evidence of a bygone civilization” (Appalachia, Vol. IV, No. 4 [December, 1886], 368).
8. Mont Blanc is 15,781 feet, more than 1,600 feet higher than Shasta. Several peaks in Switzerland, including the Matterhorn (14,780), Monte Rosa (15,217), Dent Blanche (14,318), and Weisshorn (14,804), exceed it.
9. There are, nevertheless, glaciers of considerable magnitude. The Whitney party ascended by a route which avoided them, excepting at the top, where they were covered with snow. Clarence King first reported the Shasta glaciers, which he discovered in September, 1870 (Atlantic Monthly [March, 1871]; American Journal of Science [3d series, 1871], 1,157; see also King, Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada , chap. xi). The subject is discussed at length by Israel C. Russell in Glaciers of North America (1897).
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