Clarence King and Richard Cotter made the first ascent of this peak in the summer of 1864 while working on the Whitney Survey. They named the peak for John Tyndall, a noted British scientist and alpine explorer. They spotted the peak from the distant summit of Mt. Brewer, and thinking it to be the tallest of the peaks on the crest, set off on an epic five-day expedition to claim the summit, crossing the rugged Kings-Kern Divide twice in the process. In his book, Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, King presented an account of their ascent. “If Nature had intended to secure the summit from all assailants, she could not have planned her defenses better; for the smooth, granite wall which rose above the snow slope continued, apparently quite round the peak and we looked in great anxiety to see if there was not one place where it might be climbed.” King’s account reflected the day’s romantic style of writing. In contrast, his official report tersely stated, “The summit was reached, without serious difficulty, after some risky climbing.” The huge east face of Tyndall is very reminiscent of the east face of Mt. Whitney.
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