The Brooks Range is a mountain range in far northern North America stretching some 700 miles from west to east across northern Alaska into Canada's Yukon Territory. Reaching a peak elevation of 8,976 feet on Mount Isto, the range is believed to be 126 million years old. In the United States, these mountains are considered an extension of the Rocky Mountains, whereas in Canada they are considered separate, the northern border of the Rocky Mountains regarded as the Liard River far to the south in the province of British Columbia. While the range is uninhabited, the Dalton Highway and Trans-Alaska Pipeline System run through the Atigun Pass on their way to the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay on Alaska's North Slope; the Alaska Native villages of Anaktuvuk and Arctic Village, as well as the small communities of Coldfoot, Wiseman and Chandalar, are the range's only settlements. In the far west, near the Wulik River in the De Long Mountains is the Red Dog mine, the largest zinc mine in the world; the range was named by the United States Board on Geographic Names in 1925 after Alfred Hulse Brooks, chief USGS geologist for Alaska from 1903 to 1924.
Various historical records referred to the range as the Arctic Mountains, Hooper Mountains, Meade Mountains and Meade River Mountains. The Canadian portion of the range is called the British Mountains. Ivvavik National Park is located in Canada's British Mountains. Mount Isto 8,975.1 ft Mount Hubley 8,914 ft Mount Chamberlin 8,898.6 ft Mount Michelson at 8,855 ft The Gates of Kiev at 7,775 ft, the highest point in the central part of the range, Black Mountain at 5,020 ft, the highest point in the far western part of the range. Mount Doonerak 7,457 ft Mount Igikpak 8,276 ft Frigid Crags West Gate 5,501 ft Boreal Mountain East Gate 6,654 ft Limestack Mountain 6,250 ft Cockedhat Mountain 7,410 ft The Brooks Range forms the northernmost drainage divide in North America, separating streams flowing into the Arctic Ocean and the North Pacific; the range delineates the summer position of the Arctic front. It represents the northern extent of the tree line, with little beyond isolated balsam poplar stands occurring north of the continental drainage divide.
Trembling aspen and white spruce occur north of the Brooks Range, though they are limited to sites that have been disturbed by human activity. Southern slopes have some cover of black spruce, Picea mariana, marking the northern limit of those trees; as one of the most remote and least-disturbed wildernesses of North America, the mountains are home to Dall sheep, grizzly bears, black bear, gray wolf and porcupine caribou. In Alaska, the Western Arctic Caribou herd traverses the Brooks Range in its annual migration; the smaller Central Arctic herd, as well as the 123,000 animal Porcupine Caribou herd migrate through the Brooks range on their annual journeys in and out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The migration path of the Porcupine Caribou herd is the longest of any terrestrial mammal on earth; because the rocks of the range were formed in an ancient seabed, the Brooks Range contains fossils of marine organisms. In addition to the coral fossils shown at left and brachiopods from the middle Cambrian have been found in the sandy limestones of the Central Brooks Range.
While other Alaskan ranges to the south and closer to the coast can receive 250 inches to 500 inches of snow, the average snow precipitation on the Brooks Range is reported at 30 inches to 51 inches. As measured at the Anaktuvuk Pass weather station, the average summer temperatures are 16 °C as a high and 3 °C as a low. During the winter the average high is −22 °C while the average low is −30 °C. 2007 - Gates of the Arctic: Alaska's Brooks Range 2008 - Alone Across Alaska: 1,000 Miles of Wilderness 2011 - The Edge of the Earth 2014 - The World Beyond the World Richardson Mountains Allan, C.. Arctic citadel: a history of exploration in the Brooks Range region of Northern Alaska. Washington, D. C,: U. S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Witmer, Dennis "Far to the North: Photographs from the Brooks Range" Far to the North Press ISBN 0-9771028-0-7 Kauffmann, John M. "Alaska's Brooks Range: The Ultimate Mountains" Mountaineers Books ISBN 1-59485-008-9 Brown, William E. "History of the Central Brooks Range: Gaunt Beauty, Tenuous Life" University of Alaska Press ISBN 1-60223-009-9 Cooper, David "Brooks Range Passage" Mountaineers Books ISBN 0-89886-061-X Dover, J.
H. I. L. Tailleur, J. A. Dumoulin.. Geologic and fossil locality maps of the west-central part of the Howard Pass quadrangle and part of the adjacent Misheguk Mountain quadrangle, Western Brooks Range, Alaska. Reston, Va.: U. S. Department of the Interior, U. S. Geological Survey. Krumhardt, A. P. A. G. Harris, K. F. Watts.. Lithostratigraphy and conodont biostratigraphy and biofacies of the Wahoo Limestone, eastern Sadlerochit Mountains, northeast Brooks Range, Alaska U. S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1568. Washington, D. C.: U. S. Department of the Interior, U. S. Geological Survey. Marshall, R.. Alaska wilderness. ISBN 0-520-24498-2 Mayfield, C. F. et al.. Reconnaissance geologic map of southeastern Misheguk Mountain quadrangle, Alaska [Miscellaneous Investigations Series Map I
In mountaineering, a first ascent is the first successful, documented attainment of the top of a mountain, or the first to follow a particular climbing route. First mountain ascents are notable because they entail genuine exploration, with greater risks and recognition than climbing a route pioneered by others; the person who performs the first ascent is called the first ascensionist. In free climbing, a first ascent of a climbing route is the first successful, documented climb of a route without using equipment such as anchors or ropes for aiding progression or resting; the details of the first ascents of many prominent mountains are scanty or unknown. Today, first ascents are carefully recorded and mentioned in guidebooks. Overwhelmingly, the idea of a "first ascent" is a modern one in places such as Africa and the Americas with a history of colonialism. There may be little or no physical evidence or documentation about the climbing activities of indigenous peoples living near the mountain.
For example, the volcano Llullaillaco on the border of Argentina and Chile is known to have been climbed in the prehistoric period due to the presence of Incan artifacts at the summit, yet credit for the first recorded ascent is given to Chilean climbers Bión González and Juan Harseim, who summited in 1952. The term is used when referring to ascents made using a specific technique or taking a specific route, such as via the North Face, without ropes or without oxygen. In rock climbing, some of the earlier first ascents for difficult routes, involved a mix of free and aid climbing; as a result, purist free climbers have developed the designation first free ascent to acknowledge ascents intentionally made more challenging by using equipment for protection only. Second ascents are noteworthy in climbing circles involving improving on a pioneering route through lessons learned from it, experience which may span from technical improvements to having a better understanding of how much gear and provisions to take.
Some other "first ascents" could be recorded for particular routes. One is the First Winter Ascent, which is, as the name suggests, the first ascent made during winter season; this is most important where the climate of winter is a factor in increasing the difficulty grade of the route. In the Northern Hemisphere conventional winter ascents are made between December 21 and March 21 and are not related to the conditions. In the Himalayan area, although Nepal and China's winter season permits start on December 1, the conventional winter ascents begin on December 21. Another is the First Solo Ascent, the first ascent made by a single climber; this is most important on high-level rock climbing, when the climber has to provide his own security or when climbing without any protection at all. Another type of ascent known as FFA is the first female ascent. While not considered as important, this designation remains significant on some difficult, limit-pushing climbs, where the first female ascent may not happen until well after the FA, due to possible difficulties encountered by female physicality.
The term last ascent has been used to refer to an ascent of a mountain or face that has subsequently changed to such an extent – because of rockfall – that the route no longer exists. It can be used facetiously to refer to a climb, so unpleasant or unaesthetic that no one would willingly repeat the first ascent party's ordeal. List of first ascents Notable first free ascents List of first ascents in the Alps List of first ascents in the Himalaya Glossary of climbing terms Alpinist Magazine – Peter Mortimer's First Ascent, Issue 17
Denali is the highest mountain peak in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level. With a topographic prominence of 20,156 feet and a topographic isolation of 4,629 miles, Denali is the third most prominent and third most isolated peak on Earth, after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. Located in the Alaska Range in the interior of the U. S. state of Alaska, Denali is the centerpiece of Preserve. The Koyukon people who inhabit the area around the mountain have referred to the peak as "Denali" for centuries. In 1896, a gold prospector named it "Mount McKinley" in support of then-presidential candidate William McKinley. In August 2015, following the 1975 lead of the State of Alaska, the United States Department of the Interior announced the change of the official name of the mountain to Denali. In 1903, James Wickersham recorded the first attempt at climbing Denali, unsuccessful. In 1906, Frederick Cook claimed the first ascent, proven to be false; the first verifiable ascent to Denali's summit was achieved on June 7, 1913, by climbers Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper, Robert Tatum, who went by the South Summit.
In 1951, Bradford Washburn pioneered the West Buttress route, considered to be the safest and easiest route, therefore the most popular in use. On September 2, 2015, the U. S. Geological Survey announced that the mountain is 20,310 feet high, not 20,320 feet, as measured in 1952 using photogrammetry. Denali is a granitic pluton lifted by tectonic pressure from the subduction of the Pacific Plate beneath the North American Plate; the forces that lifted Denali cause many deep earthquakes in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. The Pacific Plate is seismically active beneath Denali, a tectonic region, known as the "McKinley cluster". Denali has a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above sea level, making it the highest peak in North America and the northernmost mountain above 6,000 meters elevation in the world. Measured from base to peak at some 18,000 ft, it is among the largest mountains situated above sea level. Denali rises from a sloping plain with elevations from 1,000 to 3,000 ft, for a base-to-peak height of 17,000 to 19,000 ft.
By comparison, Mount Everest rises from the Tibetan Plateau at a much higher base elevation. Base elevations for Everest range from 13,800 ft on the south side to 17,100 ft on the Tibetan Plateau, for a base-to-peak height in the range of 12,000 to 15,300 ft. Denali's base-to-peak height is little more than half the 33,500 ft of the volcano Mauna Kea, which lies under water. Denali has two significant summits: the South Summit is the higher one, while the North Summit has an elevation of 19,470 ft and a prominence of 1,270 ft; the North Summit is sometimes counted as sometimes not. Five large glaciers flow off the slopes of the mountain; the Peters Glacier lies on the northwest side of the massif, while the Muldrow Glacier falls from its northeast slopes. Just to the east of the Muldrow, abutting the eastern side of the massif, is the Traleika Glacier; the Ruth Glacier lies to the southeast of the mountain, the Kahiltna Glacier leads up to the southwest side of the mountain. With a length of 44 mi, the Kahiltna Glacier is the longest glacier in the Alaska Range.
The Koyukon Athabaskans who inhabit the area around the mountain have for centuries referred to the peak as Dinale or Denali. The name is based on a Koyukon word for "high" or "tall". During the Russian ownership of Alaska, the common name for the mountain was Bolshaya Gora, the Russian translation of Denali, it was called Densmore's Mountain in the late 1880s and early 1890s after Frank Densmore, an Alaskan prospector, the first European to reach the base of the mountain. In 1896, a gold prospector named it McKinley as political support for then-presidential candidate William McKinley, who became president the following year; the United States formally recognized the name Mount McKinley after President Wilson signed the Mount McKinley National Park Act of February 26, 1917. In 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson declared the north and south peaks of the mountain the "Churchill Peaks", in honor of British statesman Winston Churchill; the Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain to Denali in 1975, how it is called locally.
However, a request in 1975 from the Alaska state legislature to the United States Board on Geographic Names to do the same at the federal level was blocked by Ohio congressman Ralph Regula, whose district included McKinley's hometown of Canton. On August 30, 2015, just ahead of a presidential visit to Alaska, the Barack Obama administration announced the name Denali would be restored in line with the Alaska Geographic Board's designation. U. S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell issued the order changing the name to Denali on August 28, 2015, effective immediately. Jewell said the change had been "a long time coming"; the renaming of the mountain received praise from Alaska's senior U. S. senator, Lisa Murkowski, who had introduced legislation to accomplish the name change, but it drew criticism from several politicians from Pres
White Mountain Peak
White Mountain Peak, at 14,252-foot, is the highest peak in the White Mountains of California, the highest peak in Mono County, the third highest peak in the state after Mount Whitney and Mount Williamson. It is the fourteenth most topographically prominent peak in the contiguous United States. White Mountain Peak is one of only two fourteeners in California that are not in the Sierra Nevada, the other being Mount Shasta at the far northern end of the state, it is the only fourteener in the contiguous United States, not in the Rocky Mountains, the Cascade Range, or the Sierra Nevada. The University of California operates the White Mountain Research Center, comprising three high altitude research stations, on the mountain: Crooked Creek Station at 10,200 feet, Barcroft Station at 12,470 feet, a small hut at the summit; the effects of altitude on physiology are studied at summit hut. There is a winding dirt road leading to the summit station, cleared of snow between late June and November. Access is restricted to hikers only by a locked gate about 2 miles before Barcroft station, but White Mountain Research Station opens this locked gate at 11,680 feet once each year.
Open gate days are on a Sunday in the summer. The round-trip hike from the gate to the summit is about 14 miles with less than 2,600 feet of vertical gain. However, there are two different dips in the trail of about 250 feet each, adding up to a total elevation gain during the roundtrip of over 3500 feet; the open gate shaves 790 feet of gain off the round trip. This route is popular with mountain bikers. While the peak is arguably California's easiest fourteener via the jeep road, it features more strenuous climbs such as its western ridge, an 8,150-foot climb out of Owens Valley via a steep ridge from the end of a rough road; the peak is approached from the north where it is guarded by a narrow arête or knife-edge ridge. A better nontechnical alternative to the jeep road would be to drive as far as possible up Leidy Canyon from Fish Lake Valley take a graded cattle trail up the broad ridge to Perry Aiken Flat. From the flats it is an easy traverse south into the cirque of the North Fork, North Branch of Perry Aiken Creek.
A moderate scramble up the ridge between the North Branch and the larger cirque of the main North Fork leads to the easier upper slopes of the peak. While the peak does not require technical climbing skills, it still poses a serious challenge to hikers because of the high altitude; the summit and the weather station at 12,470 feet has an alpine tundra climate. Winters are severe, with the peak receiving upwards of 13 feet of snow annually. List of mountain peaks of California List of highest points in California by county List of Ultras of the United States "White Mountain Peak". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. "White Mountain Peak". SummitPost.org. "White Mountain Research Station". University of California. "White Mountain Peak". Timberline Trails. White Mountain Research Station. Administrative Files RSS 2308. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego Library
Haleakalā, or the East Maui Volcano, is a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui. The western 25% of the island is formed by another volcano, Mauna Kahalawai referred to as the West Maui Mountains; the tallest peak of Haleakalā, at 10,023 feet, is Puʻu ʻUlaʻula. From the summit one looks down into a massive depression some 11.25 km across, 3.2 km wide, nearly 800 m deep. The surrounding walls are steep and the interior barren-looking with a scattering of volcanic cones. Early Hawaiians applied the name Haleakalā to the general mountain. Haleakalā is the name of a peak on the southwestern edge of Kaupō Gap. In Hawaiian folklore, the depression at the summit of Haleakalā was home to the grandmother of the demigod Māui. According to the legend, Māui's grandmother helped him capture the sun and force it to slow its journey across the sky in order to lengthen the day. According to the United States Geological Survey USGS Volcano Warning Scheme for the United States, the Volcano Alert Level for Haleakala as of August 2015 was "normal".
A Normal status is used to designate typical volcanic activity in a non-eruptive phase. Haleakala has produced numerous eruptions including in the last 500 years; this volcanic activity has been along two rift zones: east. These two rift zones together form an arc that extends from La Perouse Bay on the southwest, through the Haleakalā Crater, to Hāna to the east; the east rift zone continues under the ocean beyond the east coast of Maui as Haleakalā Ridge, making the combined rift zones one of the longest in the Hawaiian Islands chain. Until East Maui Volcano was thought to have last erupted around 1790, based on comparisons of maps made during the voyages of La Perouse and George Vancouver. Recent advanced dating tests, have shown that the last eruption was more to have been in the 17th century; these last flows from the southwest rift zone of Haleakalā make up the large lava deposits of the Ahihi Kina`u/La Perouse Bay area of South Maui. Contrary to popular belief, Haleakalā crater is not volcanic in origin, nor can it be called a caldera.
Scientists believe that Haleakalā's crater was formed when the headwalls of two large erosional valleys merged at the summit of the volcano. These valleys formed the two large gaps — Koʻolau on the north side and Kaupō on the south — on either side of the depression. Macdonald, Abbott, & Peterson state it this way: Haleakalā is far smaller than many volcanic craters. On the island of Hawaiʻi, lava-flow hazards are rated on a scale of one through nine with one being the zone of highest hazard and nine being the zone of lowest hazard. For example, the summits and rift zones of Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes are rated Hazard Zone 1. Using this same scale, preliminary estimates of lava-flow hazard zones on Maui made in 1983 by the U. S. Geological Survey rated the summit and southwest rift zone of Haleakala as Hazard Zone 3; the steep, downslope areas of the Kanaio and Kahikinui ahupuaʻa and the area north of Hana are rated as Hazard Zone 4. Other areas of Haleakala are rated comparable to the lava-flow hazards of Mauna Kohala.
These high hazard estimates for Haleakala are based on the frequency of its eruptions. Haleakala has erupted three times in the last 900 years. By way of comparison, both Mauna Loa and Kilauea have erupted more than a dozen times each in the last 90 years. Hualalai has an eruption rate comparable to Haleakala. All of Hualalai is rated as Hazard Zone 4. However, the frequency of eruption of a volcano is only one of the criteria on which hazards are based; the other important criterion is the lava flow coverage rate. Using the preliminary dates for Haleakala flows, only 8.7 square miles of lava flows have been emplaced in the last 900 years. In comparison 43 square miles of Hualalai are covered with flows 900 years old or younger and 104 square miles on Kilauea and 85 square miles on Mauna Loa are covered by lavas less than 200 years old. Thus, Haleakala is a distant fourth in coverage rates. Surrounding and including the crater is Haleakalā National Park, a 30,183-acre park, of which 24,719 acres are wilderness.
The park includes the summit depression, Kipahulu Valley on the southeast, ʻOheʻo Gulch, extending to the shoreline in the Kipahulu area. From the summit, there are two main trails leading into Haleakalā: Sliding Sands Trail and Halemauʻu Trail; the temperature near the summit tends to vary between about 40 °F and 60 °F and given the thin air and the possibility of dehydration at that elevation, the walking trails can be more challenging than one might expect. This is aggravated by the fact; because of this, hikers are faced with a difficult return ascent after descending 2000 ft or more to the crater floor. Despite this, Haleakalā is popular with tourists and locals alike, who venture to its summit, or to the visitor center just below the summit, to view the sunrise. There is lodging in the form of a few simple cabins, though no gas is available in the park; because of the remarkable clarity and stillness of the air, its elevation (with atmospheric pressure of 71 kilopascal
Alaska is a U. S. state in the northwest extremity of North America, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast, its most extreme western part is Attu Island, it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean; the Pacific Ocean lies to southwest. It is the largest U. S. state by the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States. Half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. Military bases and tourism are a significant part of the economy; the United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867, for 7.2 million U. S. dollars at two cents per acre. The area went through several administrative changes before becoming organized as a territory on May 11, 1912.
It was admitted as the 49th state of the U. S. on January 3, 1959. The name "Alaska" was introduced in the Russian colonial period when it was used to refer to the Alaska Peninsula, it was derived from an Aleut-language idiom. It means object to which the action of the sea is directed. Alaska is the northernmost and westernmost state in the United States and has the most easterly longitude in the United States because the Aleutian Islands extend into the Eastern Hemisphere. Alaska is the only non-contiguous U. S. state on continental North America. It is technically part of the continental U. S. but is sometimes not included in colloquial use. S. called "the Lower 48". The capital city, Juneau, is situated on the mainland of the North American continent but is not connected by road to the rest of the North American highway system; the state is bordered by Yukon and British Columbia in Canada, to the east, the Gulf of Alaska and the Pacific Ocean to the south and southwest, the Bering Sea, Bering Strait, Chukchi Sea to the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north.
Alaska's territorial waters touch Russia's territorial waters in the Bering Strait, as the Russian Big Diomede Island and Alaskan Little Diomede Island are only 3 miles apart. Alaska has a longer coastline than all the other U. S. states combined. Alaska is the largest state in the United States by total area at 663,268 square miles, over twice the size of Texas, the next largest state. Alaska is larger than all but 18 sovereign countries. Counting territorial waters, Alaska is larger than the combined area of the next three largest states: Texas and Montana, it is larger than the combined area of the 22 smallest U. S. states. There are no defined borders demarcating the various regions of Alaska, but there are six accepted regions: The most populous region of Alaska, containing Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the Kenai Peninsula. Rural unpopulated areas south of the Alaska Range and west of the Wrangell Mountains fall within the definition of South Central, as do the Prince William Sound area and the communities of Cordova and Valdez.
Referred to as the Panhandle or Inside Passage, this is the region of Alaska closest to the rest of the United States. As such, this was where most of the initial non-indigenous settlement occurred in the years following the Alaska Purchase; the region is dominated by the Alexander Archipelago as well as the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the United States. It contains the state capital Juneau, the former capital Sitka, Ketchikan, at one time Alaska's largest city; the Alaska Marine Highway provides a vital surface transportation link throughout the area, as only three communities enjoy direct connections to the contiguous North American road system. Designated in 1963; the Interior is the largest region of Alaska. Fairbanks is the only large city in the region. Denali National Park and Preserve is located here. Denali is the highest mountain in North America. Southwest Alaska is a sparsely inhabited region stretching some 500 miles inland from the Bering Sea. Most of the population lives along the coast.
Kodiak Island is located in Southwest. The massive Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest river deltas in the world, is here. Portions of the Alaska Peninsula are considered part of Southwest, with the remaining portions included with the Aleutian Islands; the North Slope is tundra peppered with small villages. The area is known for its massive reserves of crude oil, contains both the National Petroleum Reserve–Alaska and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field; the city of Utqiagvik known as Barrow, is the northernmost city in the United States and is located here. The Northwest Arctic area, anchored by Kotzebue and containing the Kobuk River valley, is regarded as being part of this region. However, the respective Inupiat of the No
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in California, as well as the highest summit in the contiguous United States and the Sierra Nevada—with an elevation of 14,505 feet. It is in Central California, on the boundary between California's Inyo and Tulare counties, 84.6 miles west-northwest of the lowest point in North America at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park at 282 ft below sea level. The west slope of the mountain is in Sequoia National Park and the summit is the southern terminus of the John Muir Trail which runs 211.9 mi from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The east slope is in the Inyo National Forest in Inyo County; the summit of Mount Whitney is on the Great Basin Divide. It lies near many of the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada; the peak rises above the Owens Valley, sitting 10,778 feet or just over two miles above the town of Lone Pine 15 miles to the east, in the Owens Valley. It rises more on the west side, lying only about 3,000 feet above the John Muir Trail at Guitar Lake.
The mountain is dome-shaped, with its famously jagged ridges extending to the sides. Mount Whitney has an alpine climate and ecology. Few plants grow near the summit: one example is the sky pilot, a cushion plant that grows low to the ground; the only animals are transient, such as the butterfly Parnassius phoebus and the gray-crowned rosy finch. The mountain is the highest point on the Great Basin Divide. Waterways on the west side of the peak flow into Whitney Creek; the Kern River terminates in the Tulare Basin. During wet years, water overflows from the Tulare Basin into the San Joaquin River which flows to the Pacific Ocean. From the east, water from Mount Whitney flows to Lone Pine Creek, which joins the Owens River, which in turn terminates at Owens Lake, an endorheic lake of the Great Basin; the estimated elevation of the summit of Mount Whitney has changed over the years. The technology of elevation measurement has become more refined and, more the vertical coordinate system has changed.
The peak was said to be at 14,494 ft and this is the elevation stamped on the USGS brass benchmark disk on the summit. An older plaque on the summit reads "elevation 14,496.811 feet" but this was estimated using the older vertical datum from 1929. Since the shape of the Earth has been estimated more accurately. Using a new vertical datum established in 1988 the benchmark is now estimated to be at 14,505 ft; the eastern slope of Whitney is far steeper than its western slope because the entire Sierra Nevada is the result of a fault-block, analogous to a cellar door: the door is hinged on the west and is rising on the east. The rise is caused by a normal fault system that runs along the eastern base of the Sierra, below Mount Whitney. Thus, the granite that forms Mount Whitney is the same as the granite that forms the Alabama Hills, thousands of feet lower down; the raising of Whitney is due to the same geological forces that cause the Basin and Range Province: the crust of much of the intermontane west is being stretched.
The granite that forms Mount Whitney is part of the Sierra Nevada batholith. In Cretaceous time, masses of molten rock that originated from subduction rose underneath what is now Whitney and solidified underground to form large expanses of granite. In the last 2 to 10 million years, the Sierra was pushed up which enabled glacial and river erosion to strip the upper layers of rock to reveal the resistant granite that makes up Mount Whitney today. In July 1864, the members of the California Geological Survey named the peak after Josiah Whitney, the State Geologist of California and benefactor of the survey. During the same expedition, geologist Clarence King attempted to climb Whitney from its west side, but stopped just short. In 1871, King returned to climb what he believed to be Whitney, but having taken a different approach, he summited nearby Mount Langley. Upon learning of his mistake in 1873, King completed his own first ascent of Whitney, but did so a month too late to claim the first recorded ascent.
Just a month earlier, on August 18, 1873, Charles Begole, A. H. Johnson, John Lucas, all of nearby Lone Pine, had become the first to reach the highest summit in the contiguous United States; as they climbed the mountain during a fishing trip to nearby Kern Canyon, they called the mountain Fisherman's Peak. In 1881 Samuel Pierpont Langley, founder of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory remained for some time on the summit, making daily observations on the solar heat. Accompanying Langley in 1881 was another party consisting of Judge William B. Wallace of Visalia, W. A. Wright and Reverend Frederick Wales. Wallace wrote in his memoirs that "The Pi Ute Indians called Mt. Whitney "Too-man-i-goo-yah," which means "the old man." They believe that the Great Spirit who presides over the destiny of their people once had his home in that mountain." The spelling Too-man-i-goo-yah is a transliteration from the indigenous Paiute Mono language. Other variations are Tumanguya. In 1891, the United States Geological Survey's Board on Geographic Names decided to recognize the earlier name Mount Whitney.
Despite losing out on their preferred name, residents of Lone Pine financed the first trail to the summit, engineered by Gustave Marsh, completed on July 22, 1904. Just four days the new trail enabled the first recorded death on Whitney. Having hiked the trail, U. S. Bureau of Fisheries employee Byrd Surby was struck and killed by lightning while eating lunch