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12C San Gabriel Peak

Location: Los Angeles County, California

Named by the USGS in 1894. All local uses of this name are derived from the "Misión del Santo Arcangel San Gabriel de los Temblores" (1771). From this had already come the names of the River and Canyon (1782), the Mountain Range (1806), the Post Office (1854), and the entire Valley (ca.1860). "Temblores" is Spanish for earthquakes and this reminds us that Mission padres experienced them too.

Saint Gabriel, is the Angel of Consolation whose name means "the Power of God", he appeared as the Angel of the Incarnation before Mary to announce the birth of Jesus (Luke i, 26), and is considered the patron Saint of Messengers. In Jewish tradition he is the Angel of Consolidation who will blow the trumpet at The Last Judgment. In the Koran he represents the Holy Spirit and is the Revealer. Within the veil surrounding the throne of God, Gabriel is also the Angel of Truth who, made of Cardinal Fire, punishes deviation from righteousness with the "Sword of Justice". His feast day is March 24.

First ascent of the peak was accomplished by members of the Wheeler Survey (1875). W.H. Norway who surveyed this area for the GLO Township Plats (1876) noted on his map that this area was "good only for bees". Later ascents were made by hiking parties (ca.1885) from nearby "Switzer's Camp". A first ascent by women was made by Mrs. J. D. Hooker and her sister Bessie Putnam (1891).

The USGS used this peak as a triangulation point (1894). Mrs. Herve Friend accompanied her husband in making the first photogravures in the San Gabriels from here (1895).

This peak was first named The Commodore for Commodore Perry Switzer .(ca.1826-1895) manager of Switzer's (the first tourist resort in the San Gabriels). It has long been presumed that he was known as "Commodore" because he transported guests and supplies on a "fleet" of mules up Arroyo Seco1 Canyon, but John Robinson notes that Commodore was Switzer's first name and not a title.

This summit was also briefly called Observatory Peak in early Mount Lowe literature-because Lowe had plans to extend his railway and build here "the finest and best equipped astronomical observatory in the world" but his money ran out.

The USFS constructed a fire lookout here with a 10' steel tower and a 14' by 14' cab (1927-37). It was removed when urban generated haze precluded its effective use.

Jack Bascom notes that 49 HPS Peaks can be still be seen from this summit--on a clear day [the last one being in 1947].

It is also believed that the spirit of John Backus resides on this his favorite summit.

This is the high point of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Name First appears on the Wheeler Survey Atlas Sheet 73 (1875).


FOOTNOTES

1-The Arroyo Seco [dry riverbed], runs through an area which is still the cultural heart of Pasadena and Northeast Los Angeles, and once effloresced (ca. 1885-1925) as the only concerted attempt worldwide at living and working out the ideals of the Arts and Crafts school. The stream has-twin sources near San Gabriel Peak and Mount Lawlor, and it empties into the Los Angeles River north of the site of the original Pueblo de los Angeles. It's lower confluence near today's Lincoln Heights, was discovered and named on the same day the pueblo was founded (September 4, 1781), by Gaspar de Portolá (ca.1723-86).

Peak was on the original 1946 HPS Peak List. Weldon Heald climbed this peak in 1936.


Hundred Peaks Section, Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club
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Updated 25-February-2003