Introduction

The east face of Mount Whitney. Photo by Geographer.
The east face of Mount Whitney | Photo by Geographer | CC BY 1.0

At 14,495 feet, Mount Whitney in the California Sierra Nevada is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. It stands majestically on the great Pacific divide, with views into the Mojave Dessert to the east and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks to the west.

Mount Whitney was first climbed by “the fishermen”: Charles Begole, Albert Johnson, and John Lucus.  They reached the summit on August 17, 1873. They were followed by the first women to reach the summit of Mt Whitney, Miss Hope Broughton, Mrs. Anna Mills Johnston, Miss Mary Martin, and Mrs. R. C. Redd, on August 3, 1878.

Just a few years later, a party of friends including two young women, Ella Landers and Virginia Jameson, set out on horseback from Bakersfield, California on a grand adventure.

I had the great fortune to stumble onto Mrs. Landers’ account of the trip at the California State Library. The librarians could not permit the historic document to be checked out, but very kindly allowed me to photocopy it. It is transcribed here.

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