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SUMMIT SIGNATURES

An Anecdotal History of the Origin of HPS Peak Names

By Louis Quirarte

Weldon Heald first published his list of peaks in "One Hundred Mountain Tops" (Sierra Club Bulletin XXXI-7, Dec. 1946). Here he explained that the summits were "compiled from USGS, Forest Service, Army, auto club and other maps, but some of the names are from local sources, trail signs, registers, and one or two names came simply from recent usage among Club members ... but we may not always be right; our mountams have a flighty habit of changing and exchanging names without notice". Due to such liberal criteria, I believe there may well be some peak names whose origins are still deeply hidden. But somewhere the truth is known, and only by publishing now and requesting aid will there ever be any hope of retrieving this data. The series beginning here does not presume final authority, I have merely used all available clues and my best judgment. I offer it now because I feel it is long overdue-the Sierra Club has already waited almost a half century for anything like it. I fervently hope that other members will be as willing to share by responding with corrections or additions to this information. I will publish and credit all such comments and update our records accordingly. When this happens, this effort will have succeeded by finally creating a means to coalesce the unparalleled collective knowledge of the HPS on our Southern California summits. Then it will have real authority and provide another source of pride for our Section. I think this would have served the original idea behind the creation of the "100 Peaks". Luella Todd once explained it this way: "the purpose of the game is not just to bag peaks but to sensitize us to the varied offerings of different areas of Southern California." Recording the rich and exciting history of our peaks was one of our original, if long postponed hopes. I make only one small claim for this opening effort: here, at last, begins the complete listing of the origins of HPS Peak names.

This undertaking has balanced the excitement of finding one verifiable fact with slow and sometimes numbing research through any sources, such as Bancroft, Gudde and others. Therefore I would like to thank our own John W. Robinson for use of his extensive data on the San Gabriels and San Bernardinos, Margaret Eley of the California Historical Society, Jim Blakley, an expert on the Santa Barbara and Ventura backcountry, Bill Jenkins and Bob Powers of the Kern River Valley Historical Society, and Eve Edwards of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, and many others for their patience and time saving help in this project.


The Summit Signatures was the result of an amazing amount of work and reseach on the part of Louis Quirarte, an HPS member. He published it in the HPS newsletter, The Lookout, in a series of ten parts beginning with the Sep/Oct 1990 Issue. This is probably the largest article ever published in our newsletter.

The data included in that publication has been reformatted and placed on this web site. To see the result of Louis' reseach for one of our peaks, simply click on the sequence number before a peak name on the HPS Peak List or click on the peak name on any peak guide. Please note that a few peaks were not included in the Summit Signatures article since they were added to the list after the publication was finished.


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Updated 25-May-2005