Mountaineering Pioneer and Naturalist
 

 norman clyde
Norman Clyde

A living legend at 86 (photo taken in about 1968), Clyde traded in his teacher's chalk for a mountaineer's axe nearly half a century ago. His unmatched knowledge of the rugged Sierra Nevada backcountry helped him reach many lost climbers and downed airplanes over the years.
Norman Clyde traded teacher's talk for a mountaineer's ice ax nearly half a century ago. His unmatched knowledge of the rugged Sierra Nevada backcountry helped him reach many lost climbers and downed airplanes over the years. He is pictured, at the left, when he was 86 years old and still an active climber in the Range of Light. A resident of Owens Valley and true pioneer, Norman Clyde has climbed more peaks than any other mountaineer of the Sierra. So many of his climbs were first ascents that it makes mountaineers envious. Nature lover, teacher, and writer, he has been a keen observer of the wild life and the flora of the Sierra. Norman resided in Big Pine, in Inyo County, for most of his life where worked on his stories of the Sierra.

For decades the spokesman of the High Sierra, or the Range of Light as us romantics prefer to call this majestic mountain range, was John Muir. When John Muir died, a young high school principal, Norman Clyde, in Independence, CA. began to write about the Sierra. The spectacular backcountry with its incredible mountain vistas, meadows filled with alpine flowers, rugged 14,000 foot peaks, mountain lakes and streams, and plentiful wildlife captured his heart and his pen. In the 1920s he began to write of his experiences hiking in John Muir's "Range of Light" and of his many first ascents of the Sierra mountain peaks in local newspapers and national magazines. The young school teacher spent every possible moment on his beloved summits. Soon, he had no time for the teaching of unwilling students and devoted his entire time to scouting, climbing and writing. Many of these stories were first published in the Southern California Automobile Association's magazine, Touring Topics (now Westways).



Norman Clyde - a biography [pdf]
by Walt Wheelock



Glacier Lodge
View from the window at Glacier Lodge towards the Palisades.

In 1946 Glacier Lodge had a goodly share of interesting personalities, among them Norman Clyde. Norman's mountaineering skills in the Eastern Sierra had gained him international fame. Guests hiking through the lakes near Glacier Lodge in the Palisade Glacier area might find him at "Eagles Roost" or "Palace Hotel," his two private camps, where he rested between expeditions. The major peak directly west of Glacier Lodge is officially designated Mount Clyde, and there is also a Clyde Minaret in the Mammoth Mountain Area.
(Excerpt from "The Spirit of Glacier Lodge...a Love Story, by Marie Taylor)

 Norman Clyde
Norman Clyde

  norman clyde
Norman Clyde on Tower Peak in 1940.
(Parker Severson photo)

 Norman Clyde
(L-R): Norman Clyde, Bill Manning, Larry Manning

norman clyde
Norman Clyde
(Summit Magazine photo)

 Norman Clyde was a schoolteacher in Independence, CA. He was a rather secluded individual not particularly liked by the students. One Halloween, some of them decided to bother him by pounding tin cans and making other loud noises, He asked them go away several times and when they didn't, he fired his gun into the air. When the school board and townspeople learned of it, his teaching license was taken away and he became a mountaineer, writing articles and books. It made him a very meager living but he found rest in the solitude.

Mrs. Wm. Utter (1989)


First Ascents by Norman Clyde in the High Sierra

Electra Pk. (12 442)
Parker Pk. (12,537)
Mt. Huxley (13,117)
Dragon Pk. (12,995)
Triple Divide Pk. (11,561)
Peak 12,415
Peak 11,920+
Diamond Pk. (13,126)
Mt. Lippencott (12,260)
Mt. McAdie-no.pk. (13,680)
Gray Kaweah (13,680)
Mt. Irvine (13,770)
Mt. Le Conte (13,960)
Mt. Mallory (13,850)
North Guard (13,327)
Mt. Genevra (13,055)
Mt. Jordon (13,344)
The Hermit (12,360)
Emerald Pk. (12,543)
Peak 11,775
Mt. Agassiz (13,091)
Giraud Pk. (12,565)
Peak 12,861
Mt. Carillon (13,552)
Mt. Lamarck (13,417)
Lone Pine Pk. (12,944)
Kearsarge Pk. (12,598)
Peak 12,000+
Peak 12,400+
Peak 12,720+
Peak 13,040
Peak 13,231
Peak 13,360
Peak 12,320
Candlelight Pk.
Peak 1 13,840+
Mt. Russell (14,086)
Trojan Pk. (13,950)
Point 13,920+
Mt. Emerson (13,225)
Mt. Goethe (13,200+)
Peak 12,112
West Spur Pk. (12,240+)
Peak 12,225
Laurel Mtn. (11,812)
Peak 13,165
Independence Pk. (11,744)
Lookout Pt. (10,144)
Mt. Gayley (13,510)
Inconsolable Range (13,501)
Deerhorn Mtn. (13,265)
Piute Crags No.5 (12,480+)
Peak 12,666
Mt. McAdie middle pk. (13,680)
Mt. Morrison (12,268)
Clyde Minaret (12,261)
Mt. Baldwin (12,614)
Bloody Mtn. (12,544)
Mt. Gilbert (13,103)
Mt. Rogers (12,800)
Peak 13,917
Peak 13,520+
Peak 12,840+
North Palisade - nw.pk. (14,160)

1914
1914
August 1920
1920
1920
July 1922
8-9-22
August 1922
1922
1922
1922
June 1925
June 1925
June 1925
7-12-25
7-15-25
7-15-25
8-2-25
6-8-25
8-8-25
8-30-25
9-1-25
11-22-25
1925
1925
1925
1925
1925
1925
1925
1925
1925
1925
4-4-26
June 1926
6-22-26
6-24-26
6-26-26
6-27-26
7-3-26
7-5-26
7-7-26
9-19-26
9-19-26
9-25-26
11-14-26
1926
1926
6-10-27
6-15-27
7-8-27
1927
1927
June 1928
6-22-28
6-27-28
7-2-28
7-3-28
9-15-28
7-6-29
6-9-30
6-14-30
7-4-30
7-9-30
 

Mt. Gilbert (13,103)
Mt. Rogers (12,800)
Peak 13,917
Peak 13,520+
Peak 12,840+
North Palisade- nw.pk. (14,160)
Basin Mtn. - w.pk. (13,240)
Basin Mtn. - e.pk. (12,880+)
Peak 13,120+
Peak 13,090
Echo Peaks, No.3 (10,960+)
Peak 13,355
Echo Peaks -highest (11,040+)
Thunderbolt Pk. (14,040)
Peak 13,323
Peak 12,571
Table Mtn. (11,653)
Peak 11,936
Four Gables (12,825)
Slide Mtn. (11,120+)
Pinnacle Ridge (13,040)
Peak 12,640
Peak 12,893
Mt. Stewart (12,205)
Mt. Hutchings (10,785)
Clyde Spires - n.pk. (13,267)
Clyde Spires - s.pk. (12,960+)
Kehrlein Minaret (11,440+)
Wotan's Throne (11,858)
Devil's Crags #10 (11,950)
Devil's Crags #11 (11,950)
Devil's Crags #3 (12,350)
Devil's Crags #4 (12 250)
Devil's Crags #5 (12,250)
Devil's Crags #6 (12 250)
Devil's Crags #7 (12,250)
Devil's Crags #8 (11,250)
Morgan (13,005)
Mt. Huntington (12,405)
Peak 12,318 Peak 12,408
Mt. Hopkins (12,302)
Peak 12,880+
Peak 12,691
Mono Rock (11,555)
Peak 12,804
Peak 12,852
Peak 13,183
Peak 12,372
Peak 12,400+
Peak 13,045
Peak 11,844
Peak 11,719
Peak 12,916
Inconsolable Range (13,278)
Mt. Izaak Walton (12,099)
Peak 12,563
Goodale Mtn. (12,790)
Kid Mtn. (11,896)
Birch Mtn. (13,665)
Cardinal Mtn. (13,397)
Mt. Johnson (12,868)
Thor Pk. (12,300)

9-15-26
7-6-29
6-9-30
6-14-30
7-4-30
7-9-30
11-8-30
11-9-30
6-27-31
7-5-31
7-7-31
7-16-31
7-31-31
8-13-31
9-6-31
9-29-31
10-24-31
11-7-31
1931
1931
4-4-32
5-26-32
7-17-32
8-14-32
1933
7-22-33
7-22-33
8-23-33
1933
6-23-34
6-23-34
6-24-34
6-25-34
6-25-34
6-25-34
6-25-34
6-25-34
7-9-34
7-14-34
7-14-34
7-16-34
7-16-34
7-18-34
7-18-34
July 1935
July 1935
July 1955
8-25-35
9-4-35
9-14-35
9-16-35
9-16-35
6-13-36
6-15-37
7-20-38
1938
7-23-39
7-2-40
?
'20s
before 1939
?



 Lisa Carson Story
Words "tough", "Unapproachable", "introvert" and "isolated" are often associated with Norman Clyde. Not so, says Lisa Parker Carson.

Norman Clyde was a frequent visitor of the Parker family while they lived near Bishop in the 1960s. To show his appreciation for a hot meal and family surrounding, Norman would always bring some fire wood to the Parkers.

Lisa, who was one of five children in the family, recently sent me her recollections of Norman Clyde. She remembers
climbing over him or bouncing on his robust belly while he patiently sat in his chair. She even used Norman's bald head as a canvas for her "artwork", and he would not utter a word in protest and even seemed to enjoy it. I would probably have had some doubts about her story had Lisa not also sent me a couple of pictures from her album that vividly supported her memories. Meet the Norman Clyde that you didn't know about.

THE GENTLE SIDE OF NORMAN CLYDE by Lisa Carson

Hope you enjoy Lisa's story and pictures.
Harv Galic, Stanford University
September 2008


Further reading on / by Norman Clyde

Norman Clyde
Norman Clyde circa 1940.
Close-ups of the High Sierra by Norman Clyde (1966)
El Picacho Del Diablo: The Conquest of Lower California's Highest Peak 1932 & 1937 by Norman Clyde (1975)
Twenty-Five Letters of Norman Clyde 1923 - 1964 by Dennis Kruska (1998)
Norman Clyde of the High Sierra: Rambles Through the Range of Light by Norman Clyde (1971)
Making "out of print" and "hard to find" books easier to find.



new
norman clyde
Norman Clyde ready for hike upf from Glacier Lodge, Big Pine Canyon

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This page was last updated on 30 November 2013