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The Birth of Modern Climbing in the High Sierra


A gathering of the finest musicians is not an orchestra until the conductor, the score, and the instruments are in their places. 

In 1931 Robert Underhill of the Appalachian Mountain Club made good on Francis Farquhar's request to deliver an article to the February Sierra Club Bulletin,  "On the Use and Management of the Rope in Rock Work".

The following summer Underhill arrived in California to conduct the state's finest mountaineers in the technique and then premiere of modern rock climbing in the High Sierra.

  It is nearly impossible to find an overview of California climbing without some mention of these watershed events of 1931. 

Through a stroke of luck and then coincidence, an incredible collection of photographs of that summer's climbing has been recovered. 

Here you will find these photographs.  The characters' own words, written at the time for the Bulletin, provide the best narrative.


The 1931 High Trip


Palisades Climbing School


East Face of Mount Whitney




Ansel's Retrospect