Peak(s):  He Devil - 9393
Date Posted:  05/12/2017
Date Climbed:   06/25/2016
Author:  gore galore
 Of A. H. Marshall, State High Points, Fourteens, the Seven Devils and Me   

He Devil, 9,393

by gore galore

A. H. Marshall is known to those who follow those sorts of things as the first to climb the 48 state high points; he is hardly known as one who climbed many of Colorado's Fourteens; and lesser known as the primary explorer and climber of the Seven Devils mountain range in Idaho.

I have long known about A. H. Marshall because my early mountain climbing interest was in peak bagging though never achieving the success Mr. Marshall achieved in state high points and Fourteens and only recently climbing the He Devil in the Seven Devils mountain range of Idaho that A. H. Marshall is so closely associated with.

With that in mind I look back from the recent summit of the He Devil to the long ago summit of Mount Whitney the first state high point and Fourteen that I climbed and something of what happened in between as I followed A. H. Marshall on the state high points and Fourteens and eventually to the He Devil of the Seven Devils.

But first a little bit about how A. H. Marshall climbed the state high points and Fourteens and then something of my own before encountering the He Devil.

A. H. Marshall climbed his first state high point with an ascent of Mount Rainier with the Mazamas of Portland, Oregon in 1919. From this climbing experience his ambition was to climb the highest mountain in each of the sixteen states exceeding 7,000 feet in elevation. In a later article Marshall wrote, "What was more natural than for me to consider the other states of the Union?"

But during those years there was conflicting information as to the location of many state high points. Marshall faced the following, "In consulting 14 sources, I found three different figures for the highest mountain in each of the states of Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, and two different figures for California, Idaho and Wyoming."

Despite this conflicting and sometimes inaccurate information Marshall had completed the state high points of Washington, Oregon, California, New Hampshire, New York and North Carolina by 1925.

After a hiatus from high pointing from 1926-1929, he completed his quest in 1933 by making the third ascent of Granite Peak, Montana with a companion. It was his second attempt on what he characterized as his greatest climb writing that his earlier attempt was "two much mountain for a solo climb." Regarding his feat Marshall wrote, "As no one else has made the summits over 7,000 feet of all the other states I am prone to claim that record alone."

From that point Marshall decided to finish off the remaining state high points helped by an article published in the "Appalachia" journal of 1934 on the highest point in each state and how to reach them. He noted that thirty-one states had high point elevations of 3,000 feet or more and having climbed sixteen of them he set out in the summer of 1935 to collect the remaining fifteen 3,000-foot states. He was successful except in missing North Dakota.

In 1936 he climbed North Dakota's Black Butte thus completing the high points of 3,000 feet or more. He continued his journey around the country finishing the high points of the 48 states on July 13, 1936 on Indiana's high point seventeen years after beginning.

Of his final high point Marshall wrote, "my last and most disturbing high point of all was Indiana. After visiting the three points on the Winchester quadrangle as 1,240 feet, and also two other points called the highest by residents nearby, I feel sure I was on the summit of Indiana, but I don't know where it is."

Although ten of the high points Marshall achieved are no longer the actual high points of their respective states, A. H. Marshall is readily recognized as the first to climb the high points of the 48 states in 1936 with the information available at the time. It would be another fourteen years before the state high points were completed again.

My interest with the state high points began out of curiosity rather than any planned completion. I had read something of the quest when the mainstream media followed Mitch Michaud as he became the tenth finisher in 1970 by climbing the fifty state high points in one year. Earlier I had seen a mention in Ripley's "Believe It Or Not" newspaper column about George Peters being the third to finish the 48 state high points.

In those days there was no high pointing club and there were no more than ten finishers of the state high points of which hardly anybody knew who they were. I used the Rand McNally Atlas to drive to the point marked on the map hoping there was a local sign for those mid western type high points or a trail head where I could use a national forest map for those western high points. Later on I would find that Frank Ashley the ninth finisher had written a pamphlet on the state high points.

I had several memorable experiences for about the two dozen high points that I did. I became benighted on Mount Whitney, California; became twisted around in the canyons while descending Boundary Peak, Nevada; saw snow on Hawaii's Mauna Kea; attempted Utah's Kings Peak from the south for whatever reason on a can of peaches and water; and climbed Borah Peak, Idaho before I knew there was such a thing as "Chicken Out Ridge."

I climbed one observation tower on Tennessee's Clingmans Dome, made two attempts on Oregon's Mount Hood, did a guided climb on Washington's Mount Rainier and wondered how I was ever going to climb Gannet and Granite peaks which I never have gotten around to since.

At Nebraska's high point before it became known as Panorama Point, I was offered a job as a ranch hand by Hank Constable but I declined as it wasn't my line of work and in Louisiana while hiking through the woods to Driskill Mountain I was told by a group of hunters that I might not come out alive. I would like to think it was because I wasn't wearing an orange vest rather than the brief thought that I might be encountering some type of high pointing Deliverance experience.

I thought hiking through Minnesota's canoe country to Eagle Mountain was unique and from Spruce Knob I saw why West Virginia is known as the Mountain State. But just as A. H. Marshall considered Montana's Granite Peak 12,799' as his greatest climb I found Mississippi's Woodall Mountain 806' my greatest high point effort.

Few people on the site probably had a driver's license or remember the Arab oil embargo of 1973-1974. When the embargo came in the fall of 1973 gas prices jumped from 35 cents to eventually 85 cents which was about a fourth of the hourly wage of a blue collar worker.

Gas was limited to ten gallons after waiting in constant lines determined by the odd-even numbering of license plates for the day of purchase and by noon the daily sandwich board "No Gas" sign was placed at the entrance to the service stations which were also closed on Sundays. Real gas rationing with coupons was something that was on the horizon.

In those days there was no thought of fuel efficiency and most cars got 10-12 miles per gallon including my 1969 Pontiac Le Mans which was a muscle car then before it eventually became a petite sedan type vehicle. With those restrictions facing me I planned a long distance trip of 600 miles from eastern Kansas where I was residing to Mississippi's high point of Woodall Mountain.

It was a surreal experience as I look back on it driving those rural Interstates through Missouri and Arkansas with the double nickel posted speed limit. I cobbled together some fuel stops in the morning so I could continue driving at night on my allotted day of purchase.

There was an eerie feeling of driving those empty freeways and roads at night where the darkness was occasionally punctuated by a set of oncoming headlights. Sometimes there was a ray of hope when a service station was lit up at the top of an exit ramp only to find that it was the all night diner that was the cause of the light.

I did make it to Woodall Mountain although I don't remember much about it except that it was located in a wooded area with a lookout tower that I believe was closed at that time. Celebrating my success I turned around and managed to make it back to eastern Kansas where I endured the rest of the oil embargo time.

As to the effects of that high pointing trip my Pontiac Le Mans lasted until 1977, the double nickel speed limit ended in 1995 and the country after much posturing became near energy independent in the twenty first century and I never did complete the state high points.

This became evident sometime after Woodall Mountain when I visited the high point of Iowa near the barn on the Merrill Sterler farm. As I drove down the farm lane away from the barn, I knew my high pointing days were over. I could not see myself purposely doing more of the same.

And in the end like A. H. Marshall I really think I was somewhere on the high point of Indiana.

If I saw the state high points as something of a curiosity the Fourteens were something I was determined to do or so I thought at the time. I had a good jump by climbing Mount Whitney and then when moving to Colorado I started the list through the Front Range and the Tenmile-Mosquito Range.

I began the Sawatch Range at the northern end, skipped some of the Collegiate peaks and by the time I had reached Shavano and Tabeguache in the southern end the grind had set in. With the San Juans looming ahead I felt swallowed up and defeated by the vastness of the talus just as those various invading armies were swallowed up and defeated by the vastness of the Russian Empire. I surrendered to the list somewhere on the highway outside of Maysville, Colorado.

I did have some highlights from the half of the Fourteens that I climbed though. I climbed Mount Elbert a combination state high point and Fourteen which was important to me back then. I climbed Mount Bierstadt back before there was a board walk through the willows. And when I climbed Lincoln, Bross, Democrat and Cameron there was no such thing as a Decalibron acronym that I remember anything of and I don't think I climbed them all at once either.

Early on I did climb Grays and Torreys in one day which I thought was pretty good at the time but it made me think about how was I going to climb North Maroon and Maroon Peak in one day. And then there was the feeling of what would happen if I slipped on Capitol's knife edge would I be cut up like a diced tomato?

I thought the Mount of the Holy Cross was a neat mountain because you went up and then down and then back up again. In today's vernacular you would probably say it is a cool mountain. I climbed these peaks before they had nicknames like Shav and Tab as they are called today sounding like they are a couple of high school buddies rather than the Native Indian chiefs they represent.

I found Quandary Peak to become something of my backyard Fourteen peak as I have climbed some ten separate routes on this peak over the years. It's got a great history for a mountain when you know that the earliest west arete route recorded was done by a Tenth Mountain Division Trooper in 1943 who would go on to become the originator of attempting to climb the Seven Summits.

I also made an early ascent of Challenger Point after it was named climbing it ten days after the bronze plaque was placed on the mountain in 1986. This was Colorado's 54th Fourteen and I think everyone back then thought it was the last but the list has since grown to 58 or 59 Fourteens now.

I got to climb Longs Peak which is apparently Colorado's second greatest mountain. As proof of this consider that when in 1922 the Colorado Mountain Club suggested "'credits' for mountaineering attainments, to be recognized by insignia or otherwise," James Grafton Rogers the first President of the Club would reply that "the Lizard Head is the only mountain I know of in Colorado which would attract the efforts of even a second rate guide from the Alps, the Selkirks or the Pyrenees."

Furthermore, Rogers would write "Long's Peak and Arapahoe are perhaps the two peaks in the Front Range which come the nearest to producing any sense of danger in normal weather, and both of those would be a romp for an Alpine kindergarten."

In those early days I thought I had also climbed Pikes Peak and Mount Evans by driving to the top and walking over to the summit marker. I knew nothing of the 3,000 foot "rule" as I thought what I was doing was recreation rather than competition. Since this "rule" seems so important today I have researched its historical basis and have an outline of its history which someday I should post. It is nothing like the mangled understanding portrayed in the Forum.

I did eventually make it to the San Juans to climb Uncompahgre Peak but not as a 14,000-foot peak on the list but because I had read an article in an 1881 edition of a Lake City "Silver World" newspaper that a group of miners and residents had set out on Independence Day to hoist the stars and stripes on the summit of the peak. They were caught in a furious thunder and lightning storm that left the flag flying while the party fled in terror and panic with a couple of the miners injured from lightning strikes.

I wanted to repeat this patriotic effort minus the lightning storm and some 107 years later found myself on the summit of Uncompahgre. I have since learned there are mountains closer to home that I can climb on Independence Day that have had flag raising ascents by nineteenth century townspeople and miners.

Although I have only climbed about half of the Fourteens I have found some solace in my effort. In 1920 the Colorado Mountain Club formed the "Quintessence Club" on the summit of Mount Eolus. "It welcomes with open arms those Mountain Club members who have climbed twenty or more 14,000-foot peaks!" And that's OK with me as I probably am in fine company with all those who have completed twenty or more of the Fourteens.

A. H. Marshall was one of those who climbed twenty or more of the Fourteens. He had climbed Mt. Elbert in 1930 as part of his high pointing effort and his later writings suggest he was intent on completing all of the then fifty 14,000-foot Colorado peaks.

"For 1938," he wrote, "I had mapped a zig-zag course through Colorado to include the 39 14,000 foot mountains I had not yet ascended in that state." But because of circumstances he only ascended four of the peaks.

In 1939 he began where he left off the previous year making a harrowing ascent of Mt. Wilson. "Some distant thunder caused me no concern until about 50 feet from the summit when the static electricity concentrated in a canteen in my rucksack and I was suddenly treated to the sensation of having backed up against a cactus plant. I removed the rucksack, pronto!"

Two days later he ascended El Diente by the north slopes after satisfying himself that "the traverse from Mt. Wilson to El Diente, once contemplated, is a trip I have no further desire to make."

When Marshall later climbed to within approximately 8 feet of the top of Sunlight Peak he described what those who climb Sunlight today are confronted with. "This summit is composed of a few blocks of granite about the size of street cars, some of them standing on end. From where I quit discreetly there is a 3 foot crack to jump with nothing to land on but a small round dome; jump short and you fall 40 feet into the crack, jump long and you fall an unknown distance."

After an attempt on Mount Eolus in bad weather Marshall "considered it a good time to quit and leave the remaining 28 14,000-footers for another summer." I do not believe that Marshall returned to complete more of the 14,000-foot peaks but in climbing twenty-two of them he eclipsed the fifteen that the Appalachian Mountain Club member E. W. Harnden of Boston had completed in the 1920's and the fourteen that Miss Helen Buck of New York City and the American Alpine Club had climbed in 1934. It would not be until 1954 that R. S. āSamā Fink a Californian became the first known out of stater to complete the Colorado Fourteens.

There is one other ascent of a Colorado 14,000 foot peak by A. H. Marshall that deserves mention because it is one of the great coincidences in Fourteen history and has never been written about before.

On July 6, 1932 Marshall and a companion climbed Mount Sneffels. Marshall writes about what happened next. "We had lunch on the summit and carelessly threw an empty can down the north slope. A short time later we heard a loud hallooing from down that side of the mountain, but did not connect the two incidents. We answered the yells, but got no response, and started down."

When Marshall returned home he was astonished to receive a letter from one of a party of three that had been climbing from the north side that said in part, "One of you tossed an empty can over the north cliff and it rattled down the couloir up which we were laboring. It thoroughly frightened us at the time, and we set up a loud halloo. We fancied that you answered but were not sure."

Marshall continues, "It never occurred to me before but now it seems that a tin can could not only start a possible avalanche, but might be a cause of fright, especially to anyone climbing on such a steep slope as the north face of Mt. Sneffels."

On that same day of July 6, 1932 Dwight Lavender, Melvin Griffiths and Gordon Williams were making the first direct ascent of the north face of Mount Sneffels by what they believed to be the easiest route on the face.

Although Lavender does not mention the tin can incident in his climbing report, he wrote "from start to finish . . . the snow was in part soft, and in a dangerous condition at that steep angle; had it avalanched, we would all have gone together in that chute, rope or no rope."

Marshall would conclude that "Tin cans might be better buried, for mountain climbers are where you find them."

The Seven Devils mountain range is located along the Idaho-Oregon border and is part of the Hells Canyon National Recreation/Wilderness Area. It is one of Idaho's more rugged and precipitous ranges with elevations ranging from 1,000 feet along the Snake River to the 9,000-foot plus elevations of several peaks. The He Devil, 9,393 as the highest has some 5,000 feet of prominence.

A. H. Marshall was the principal explorer of the range making eleven expeditions from 1932 to 1946 of this then very remote mountain range. Several of his expeditions in the month of June were hampered by rain, snow, fog, thunder and lightning.

Marshall made three attempts to locate and climb the He Devil. On his first attempts he climbed to a summit that he named The Goblin only to find later that in clear weather that the He Devil was further west. On his successful climb in 1938 he circled the range from the east to the north and then to the west side where he found he had gone too far south. Backtracking to the north he found a route on the west arete to the summit of the He Devil. This trip took him a week's time.

Marshall wrote of climbing in the Seven Devils that "In this country it's as much a problem to get to the base of a mountain as it is climbing it after you're there."

The turnoff from Riggins, Idaho on the seventeen mile road to the Seven Devils Trail head at Windy Saddle is not extraordinary in itself except if one realizes that before 1940 when the road was completed to the Saddle, A. H. Marshall had to walk following Rapid Creek on a two day trip just to reach the periphery of the range.

The He Devil is only three miles by air from Windy Saddle by a cross country route or nine miles by trail to the Sheep Lake basin at the foot of the She Devil and the He Devil both of which I hoped to climb. I briefly considered the cross country route but with only a rudimentary map of peaks and ridge lines and unfamiliarity with these mountains I thought the better of the trail.

I found the beginning of the trail in a snow covered ravine that led downward into East Sheep Creek drainage and then across a saddle into the larger Sheep Creek drainage before switch backing to the broad ridge above. On his 1938 trip Marshall did not have the advantage of this trail across these deep drainages.

I found the unmarked Sheep Lakes Trail further south that led into the timber where I began to encounter snow until I came to a large lake that I thought was Sheep Lake itself. But as I sat on the shores of the lake I found that I could not reconcile the peaks and ridge lines I was seeing with those of the map until a lone fisherman came by and informed me I was at Gem Lake. Although I was at the wrong lake I was still in position to climb the northwest ridge of the He Devil.

Much like Marshall did on his June trips into the Seven Devils I heard the rain during the night and then in the morning brushed the inch of wet snow from the tent. I waited out the storm that day and then on a brilliant following day climbed the northwest ridge above Rock Island and Appendix lakes on a third class scramble to the summit of the He Devil marked by a large carin and metal box with the Mazama register inside. When Marshall made his ascent in 1938 he found a stick with four names carved into it.

I have to say on that brilliant day I could only marvel at the mountains that were around me. At the end of his 1943 expedition to these mountains A. H. Marshall wrote that "I hope to come back and catch up with these Devils before the devil catches up with me." I find those same sentiments with me also.

Arthur Harmon Marshall was a most remarkable mountaineer although his beginnings did not suggest anything of mountain climbing. Born in in northwestern Pennsylvania in 1886 he ran away from home at age twelve and was on his own at sixteen.

Along the way he mastered the skill of telegraphy and arriving in Portland in 1910 he found a job as a railroad telegrapher with the Seattle, Portland and Spokane Railway until his retirement in 1946. This served him well as his railroad privileges enabled him to travel anywhere in the United States without charge. He never learned to drive rather hiring cars and drivers or walking many miles not only to climb peaks but also to get to the trail heads.

He made his first climb in 1917 with the Mazamas of Beacon Rock. He joined the Mazamas again for a climb of Mt. Rainier in 1919 which led to his eventual quest to climb the high points of the 48 states. As Marshall wrote, "I had started with the most difficult state summit but didn't know any better, and was lucky enough to reach the top without mishap. The habit was formed with never a thought of how far afield it would lead me."

Arthur Marshall left an unique record of mountaineering in North America. He made a total of 622 ascents of which 281 were solo climbs; another source indicates more than 750 summits. His last climb was of White Butte, Oregon in 1948. Marshall never considered himself a rock climber as such. He never used a piton, a carabiner nor a rope rappel on his climbs. He lived solely on dates, peanuts and dehydrated soup for days at a ime on his journeys into the wilderness.

He maintained a meticulous diary in four volumes of 2,475 pages which captured the life of a climber in the first half of the twentieth century. It is titled, "A Mountain From Some Mole Hills or the Wanderings of a Telegrapher on Vacation." As befitting a railroad man he recorded exact times, dates, mileages, name and location of mountains and any companions with whom he climbed.

Arthur Marshall never married. Mountaineering was his way of life. He lived his later years in a 12 X 16 foot hotel room in downtown Vancouver, Washington. He suffered from the effects of life long rheumatism attributed to sleeping outside in frosty fields without a tent. In 1946 after his retirement he suffered a traffic accident which aggravated his arthritic condition and worse cut him off from his outdoor activities that was his life.

In 1949 Rowland Stebbins the second person to complete the state high points visited Marshall in Vancouver and sent him a photo of the two of them which shows Marshall looking very old and bent. Marshall would write back, "I didn't realize how much I've failed in the last 3 years." On February 9, 1951, Arthur Marshall took his own life at age 65. An "In Memoriam" in the Mazama Annual stated that "No man ever loved mountains and the wilderness more wholeheartedly."

I have known about A. H. Marshall for many years dating from my early days of peak bagging when I became fascinated with his exploits as a pioneer in high pointing, peak bagging and as an explorer of a mountain range. Although I will most likely never complete the state high points much less the Fourteens there is the thought that perhaps some time I may be able to climb more of the Seven Devils before as it is said "the devil catches up with me."

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