Black Kaweah Summit Register is Gone


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Norman Claude

Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 18, 2011 - 09:35pm PT
Vern Clevenger just called to let me know that the Black Kaweah summit register and register box were gone from the summit of this classic Sierra peak.

The register and box may be safely archived at the Bancroft library. I hope this is the case.

Anyone interested in the history of Sierra registers can read the excellent article written by Robin Ingraham Jr. posted on my

After having read this article the topic for discussion becomes what to do with any remaining historical registers. The major peaks in the range have had the registers saved, stolen and or destroyed.

I'll let the group know what I'll be doing. I'm going to take down any and all historic registers I find and saving these at the Bancroft.

Before you attack my position you need to read Robin's article. And if you still want to castigate me you need to take a number. The Sierra Club's magazine "Sierra" already ripped me a new one when they titled a piece I wrote "Did He Do the Right Thing". This was in reference to me having brought the Mount Woodworth register down for safe keeping at the Bancroft. (The editor of the magazine requested that I write the piece and I stupidly agreed to his request to edit.) 1895 summit note from Boton Coit Brown and original register on Sierra Club stationary listing John Muir as the club president. And yes you can still see this register, unlike the many that are now....gone.The Sierra magazine article advertised that the Black Kaweah register was still at home on the peak summit.

Norman Claude

Desolation Basin, Calif.
Jul 18, 2011 - 10:30pm PT
IMHO, they belong on the mountain, not in some library. I have good friends that say otherwise. Good and persuasive arguments are made both ways. I respect that.

Signing that Black Kaweah register was a thrill and a very sublime moment. Nobody seeing it in the library will feel the same way.

So it goes.

Mountain climber
Jul 18, 2011 - 10:36pm PT
WTF? this is BULLSH#T!!

here's the link failed above for your clicky pleasure.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jul 18, 2011 - 10:45pm PT
How about a compromise? Keep the originals at the Bancroft and put photocopies of them back on the mountain?

Mountain climber
Jul 18, 2011 - 10:46pm PT
good idea, but put the photocopies in the Bancroft.

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Jul 19, 2011 - 01:42am PT
Claude, thank you for this critical work to preserve the historical record for all to see and know forever. I hope Black Kaweah’s isn’t on some thief’s bookshelf in Visalia or Pixley. All can appreciate the thrill of finding the original sheets in the can or jar buried under the cairn on the summit, but if it’s missing and replaced with copies, that is much better than a total vacancy of anything. This is 2011, after all.
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Jul 19, 2011 - 03:04am PT
What gives you the right to take the register away from the mountain?????????????? Every time I climb a peak I want to sign or at least see the original register. It is like a sweet pay off for the work that has been done. I give a sh#t less to go to a library to look at it.

Couple of weeks ago I climbed a spire that is climbed about once a week. It was nice to see a little can up there with FA party signature in it, and a bunch of other people signed it too (some are even members here). It was sweet to see it, and it wouldn't be the same to see it in the library. Hope you change your mind about taking these registers.
The Wedge

Boulder climber
Santa Rosa & Bishop, CA
Jul 19, 2011 - 04:14am PT
Good all those registars are considered litter and crap my book. Take only picture leave only footprints kill nothing but time.
Scott Thelen

Trad climber
Truckee, Ca
Jul 19, 2011 - 10:15am PT
Someone has it and good for them..

Better than burning up in another fire.

Keep the History in the Mountains.
Scott Thelen

Trad climber
Truckee, Ca
Jul 19, 2011 - 10:36am PT
Scott Thelen

Trad climber
Truckee, Ca
Jul 19, 2011 - 10:39am PT

Desolation Basin, Calif.
Jul 19, 2011 - 10:43am PT
These things are not historical artifacts. They have little meaning to those who have not climbed the requisite formation.

Very true. Who outside of California climbers have ever heard of Norman Clyde? Hell, most California climbers have never heard of Norman Clyde. I'd wager more people know of Glen Dawson by way of his unique book store rather than climbing.

Santa Cruz
Jul 19, 2011 - 10:48am PT
Last summer I climbed Black Kaweah in July with Connor, a boy that I have mentored through climbing, and we were treated to one of the most incredible and challenging experiences of our lives. Opening that summit register and seeing the names of Norman Clyde, Jules Eichorn, Glen Dawson, and W. A. Starr written in blood was among the most special moments of my life. Hearing that the half filled original register was removed makes me feel like a part of the mountain was ripped out. The book seemed perfectly preserved to me and you could feel the love of how it was packaged, protected, and cherished by the others who passed there.

Doesn't the Antiquities Act protect items like this in the National Park System? Stop this madness of removing registers. These registers should live and die on their mountains.

Here are some photos of our experience on the summit last year.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jul 19, 2011 - 11:02am PT
Great place and time to discuss these issues!

The proper approach would be to scan the original, reproduce it and replace it. A well-scanned, bound reproduction with lots of new room would be the ticket, IMO. Archive the original. The value and allure of the older signatures is likely what prompts people to swipe them in secret.

Having the undocumented registers disappear into a single individual's possession is the worst outcome unless that register eventually gets passed along to a concerned indidvidual. Not usually the case with estates.

Those of you that don't consider summit registers as historically significant have a rather odd view of history. People, places and climbs and the web of interactions that result define history.

Royal did the right thing with the Sentinel register by transcribing the prior contents to the best of his ability leaving more room for the future.

The amount of history that has flowed from that register alone is considerable. Look at Guido's sleuthing out the Sacherer-Cochrane route from the Coonyard register properly and accessibly archived.

The Golden State Registry would be a gem of a project with so many FAers still around and posting here.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Jul 19, 2011 - 11:15am PT
Well said Steve and Claude at this point in time I agree with the preservation of these registers. They are history, maybe not to the masses, but climbin IS part of the history in this state and country and it should be preserved. I personally enjoy reading the history of climbing, gives me a better appreciation for what I do, gives me insight to the people that came before me and sometimes gives me clues and inforamation to climbs I'm gonna go do.
Hey Claude, I have this copy of Yosemite Climber with some HISTORICAL signatures in it. Next time I'm fly fishing or craggin the east side, would love to get you to sign it!

Social climber
Sierra Eastside
Jul 19, 2011 - 11:33am PT
The early pages of that register with the entries written in blood were removed a few years ago and replaced with photocopies. This seems like a good policy that preserves the historical record, while allowing future ascentionists the pleasure of reading the entries. Whether the originals remain on the peak, and copies reside in a library, or the other way around, doesn't matter much in my opinion. It won't be long before this becomes a moot issue, however. As someone opined in the Sentinel thread, the really historic ascents were made before 1970. Climbing, at least in the Sierras has matured as a sport to the point where each ascent - with some exceptions of course - is an athletic accomplishment with a fairly predictable outcome, rather than an adventure in the traditional sense.

Social climber
Jul 19, 2011 - 12:32pm PT
Don’t bother with the copies it just more annoying trash on the summit top. I always found the copies to be condescending in a way.

Given the functionality of modern cameras why couldn’t you just give the museum a digital archive or is it a fetish with old historical things?

You do realize every time you remove a register you make the Sierras a little less wild. I’ll never go the Bancroft mausoleum, but I probably got a few more trips in the Sierras in me; thanks for ensuring they’ll be a little less possibility of discovery.

I won’t be taking any registers off the mountain; but I’d rather see it sitting on somebody’s shelf or tossed, than stolen by the illuminati of historical fetish. Dust in the wind; just let it be.

Desolation Basin, Calif.
Jul 19, 2011 - 01:46pm PT
Climbing, at least in the Sierras has matured as a sport to the point where each ascent - with some exceptions of course - is an athletic accomplishment with a fairly predictable outcome, rather than an adventure in the traditional sense.

Really? Climbing in the Sierra feels very adventurous to me, and the outcome doesn't always seem so certain at the time.

Nice post by adamame btw.
corniss chopper

breaking the speed of gravity
Jul 19, 2011 - 03:55pm PT
I suppose its asking to much for the summit registers at Bancroft Library to be scanned and available for viewing online?
Norman Claude

Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2011 - 12:02am PT
As I feared many who have posted did not read Robin's article. The original blessing of removing registers and archiving them at the Bancroft was that of the Sierra Club. The modern preservation of registers was promoted by Jules Eichorn, Glen Dawson, Richard Leonard and David Brower.

Norman Clyde was also a proponent and participant in register preservation.

Please feel free to post that these has been climbers had their heads in the wrong place. And by the way if you don't know who these gentlemen are you don't belong on this thread.

What a lovely thought that original registers could remain intact on summits. I dare say I know the thrill of having found MANY original registers and left them where they belonged. On the summit.

Unfortunately, at this time that's a naive point of view. The registers are being ripped off.

Yes the Bancroft is a sterile place for a noble scroll, but who's to say what the worth of the record may be in the future.

And if you were lucky enough to have read an original topo in Chuck Pratt's binder in Camp 4 you know what an awesome and spine chilling thrill it was to look at that piece of lore. Until it was ripped off of course. So let me get this straight. Leave the binder on the Camp 4 picnic table?

Norman Claude

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