Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome:
Snow's Register

Note describing the South Dome Ascent in 1875.

Entry from Casa Nevada hotel register on October 16, 1875

Snow's Hotel Register, October 16, 1875. Courtesy of Linda Eade
and the Yosemite Research Library.

A hotel called La Casa Nevada stood at the foot of Nevada Fall from the early 1870s to the end of the century. It was a popular stop on the way to the Upper Yosemite Valley and towards Half Dome. For almost twenty years the hotel was operated by Albert and Emily Snow. The hotel register, now preserved in the Yosemite Museum, lists hotel guests and visitors. Many Half Dome early climbers signed up the register and left their comments. In October of 1875, Mr. and Mrs. Snow were so excited about the "first tourist climb" of Half Dome, that they added a special entry to the register. It reads:

South Dome

Ascent of the South Dome The first ascent of the South Dome was accomplished this morning by a party of Englishmen and Americans under the guidance of the brave and adventurous George Anderson who was the first man who ever accomplished this perilous feat a feat indeed which has always been considered impossible. The names of the adventurers were Messrs Robinson (Brothers), Gammon and West, the latter an American. A partial ascent was made by Messrs Groom and Leidig.

October 16th 1875

The climbers from the purported English contingent had been in the Valley for at least several days. They had already paid a visit to La Casa Nevada just a day after Anderson's solo climb. We find their signatures in the register entry dated October 13:

W. R. Robinson, New York
J. S. Robinson, New York
Edwin Gamman, London
S. Robert Groom, Somerset, England

The Robinson brothers had simply stated that they had come to Yosemite from New York, and not (directly) from England. Interestingly, the San Francisco Chronicle article about this climb lists another man, "Mr. Moreland, an American" among participants, but Snow's description of the climb doesn't mention Moreland in the party of climbers. Also, in contrast to the Chronicle, the entry in the register credits Groom with only a "partial ascent", which would mean that he didn't make it to the summit of Half Dome. Find the complete San Francisco Chronicle article on the main page.


Chronicles of Early Ascents of Half Dome