Nature Notes

Vol. VIII March, 1930 No. 3

Stevens and Van Trump

Stevens Peak, Stevens Glacier; Van Trump Park, Van Trump Glacier -- the visitor to this park hears these names mentioned a great many times and his interest quickens when he learns that those points commemorate the names of the first two men to reach the crest of Mount Rainier.

While the early Indians feared "The Mountain" it served as a beacon of conquest to the first white men but until the late afternoon of August 17, 1870, when Stevens and Van Trump finally stood upon the topmost point, the eternal snows of the summit had never been trod by man -- at least those at the summit had never been. Those men started from Olympia, Washington and through James Longmire -- who was himself later to become a historical figure of "The Mountain" -- succeeded in engaging the Indian, Sluiskin, as guide. Sluiskin, in the manner of all Indians, feared "The Mountain" but agreed to guide them as far as possible thinking that they would turn back on account of the rigors of the trip. In this he was mistaken and when he saw that they intended to make the summit he beggd them to desist, finally making them sign a written statement to the effect that he was in no way responsible for their death -- for Sluiskin firmly believed that they would be seen alive. Their last camp was made near the terminus of the Paradise Glacier (as we know it today) and above the waterfall that now bears the name of Sluiskin. Here the Indian waited for two days while his companions pushed on. They pioneered the "Gibraltar Route" to the summit and sought shelter from the gale and approaching storm in the steam caverns that line the interior of the crater rim. The next morning when the storm abated they made the descent and in spite of a rather serious injury to Van Trump, made camp -- where Sluiskin was first dubious as to what he was seeing and later overjoyed at the safe return of his brave comrades. Thus are the names of Stevens and Van Trump associated with "The Mountain".

sketch of Mount Rainier

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