Saturday, December 26, 2015

Orland Bartholomew (1899-1957)

Dale Matson

The early-recorded exploration and courageous efforts in the Sierra Nevada are populated with names like Muir, King, Solomons, Brewer and iconic landmarks bear their names as a tribute to their presence and descriptive reports. Their accounts not only provided geological and geographic data, their journals beckoned others to explore the trails, passes, basins and peaks of what John Muir called “The Range Of Light”. Their experiences in the Sierra Nevada transformed them and in reading their accounts we too became captivated, inspired and became pilgrims ourselves.

There are two more contemporary men of the Sierra. Norman Clyde was an amazing mountaineer with the most first ascents of the Sierra peaks. A spire in the Minarets, a peak in the Palisades and a Glacier bear his name. There is another individual who was the first to ski the John Muir Trail including ascending Mt. Whitney in 1928.

Bartholomew knew the Sierra as you would know your own back yard.  He was familiar via his work as a stream guager for Southern California Edison. He was a mountain man made by trade and a mountain man at heart. He carefully planned his winter ski by placing catches of food and supplies along the route the summer before. This successful 300 mile unaccompanied and unsupported journey was monumental in scope and heroic in effort.

Gene Rose a writer for the Fresno Bee recorded his effort and life in the book High Odyssey (1974).
There was an effort made to name a mountain peak after Bartholomew in 2004 and the Los Angeles Times had an article about this.
There is also an excellent background post by William Tweed, former Superintendent of SeKi here:

The request was made to the U. S. Bureau of Geographic Names (BGN) and an exception was not granted because of the policy that the spire to bear his name was in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The spirit of the Wilderness Act of 1964 was a “leave no trace” policy and this included naming locations.  I received an email from the BGN stating the following: “There was a proposal submitted by Orlando Bartholomew's son to name a summit along the Ritter Range in the Sierra National Forest/Ansel Adams Wilderness. The proposal was not supported by the California Advisory Committee on Geographic Names and the U.S. Forest Service both citing a lack of evidence that naming the feature warrants an exception to the Board on Geographic Names' Wilderness Policy. Policies used by the BGN may be found at:, click on Domestic Names and then Principles, Policies, and Procedures. The minutes from the meeting where the proposal was discussed may be found under Minutes. Click on the 669th Meeting, located on page 5.”

Maria McCormick from the BGN was also encouraging and wrote that I could re-submit Bartholomew’s name for another feature in a non-wilderness area, which would be less of a hurdle. I have offered an unnamed peak in the Sierra National Forest South of Huntington Lake and am in the middle of the nominating process. To me, it is an honor to submit Orland Bartholomew’s name.

This is Orland's Son Phil With A Presentation On His Father

05-31-17 I received a letter today from the Board Of Geographic Names selecting a Sierra Nevada Peak to be named "Barholomew Peak".


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