Black Kaweah

While I’m on vacation, I thought I’d leave you with vacation-y posts. Here’s one from the Southern Sierra.

If you haven’t walked over the Great Western Divide or the Whitney Crest, you may not realize that between these two rather intimidating mountain ranges, in the middle of an enormous valley at roughly 9,000 feet, lies yet a third mountain range, that is in some respects the most awesome of all. This is the Kaweah (pronounced "Ka-weer" for some reason). It’s a knife-edge of a range, with numerous peaks over 13,000. Not as high as Whitney, but much more difficult to climb. I tried to go cross this range at a 12,800 saddle that allegedly would not require ropes, pitons, etc., and simply found it impossible. On top of the most intimidating of its peaks, Black Kaweah, is a register, where numerous legendary mountain climbers left their names. These registers, sadly, have been disappearing, so a writer and climber set out to retrieve it. Here’s his story, via Sierra magazine and YouTube. He doesn’t take you right up to the top, unfortunately, but even his introduction gives you an idea of the challenge…

5 thoughts on “Black Kaweah

  1. I was very happy to hear that the writer in your story failed to retrieve the register. He is no better than the thieves who take the register for their own purposes. Summit registers are there for all to enjoy and the piece of history that the register on Black Kaweah signifies belongs to those who conquer the mountain.


  2. Nice story – but I’d like to know where the “kawear” pronounciation is sourced – I spent quite a few years climbing, backpacking, and leading backcountry expeditions in the Sequoia/Kings Canyon/Kaweah territory – and I never once heard anyone say it other than exactly as it looks: “ka-WE-ah”. I’m a native californian, and to me the -ar ending feels like a weird Boston import!
    PS: could that objectionable saddle have been “Pants Pass”?
    David Oates


  3. Regarding Kaweah…well, maybe you’re right! As a Californian, I kind of hope so. All I can tell you is the last couple of times I went, I ran into both rangers and mountaineers — including a very impressive group just down from that exact peak — who insisted on saying “Kaweer.”

    Re: Pants Pass…well, I was trying to go over the Pyra-Queen Col. Only Class 2, apparently, but way too much for me.

    All the best…


  4. I was born and raised at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas in the San Joaquin Valley. Kaweah is a very common word in the culture: from bank names to rivers, you see and hear the word Kaweah, and it’s 100% of the time pronounced Ka-WEE-uh.


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