1st Recon Battalion 1959 trek

from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney

Clipping from The Los Angeles Times - Newspapers 1959

Climbing to the summit of Mount Whitney
By Aaron Derr
Photographs by Beth Wald

Troop 89 from Alameda, Calif., participated in a strenuous hike along the John Muir Trail and up Mount Whitney. Over 13 days, they traveled more than 120 miles.

For some members of the troop, it was the end of a series of Muir hikes over the last several years. For others, their experience on the John Muir trail were just getting started.

Check out the following videos of their climb and then read more about their trek in the July 2012 issue of Boys’ Life magazine.

Comments on Climbing to the summit of Mount Whitney

June 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm // Reply

I can relate to the boys that made the climb to the top of Mt. Whitney. Back in July of 1959 our 1st Recon Bn. of the 1st Marine Divn. made the climb also. We hiked 127 miles from the lowest point in the continental USA, Death Valley at 279.6′ below sea level, to the highest point in the continental USA, Mt. Whitney at 14,496′ above sea level. The hike took us 10 days. The hottest spot was in Death Valley when the temp. rose to approx. 130 degrees in the shade. We reached the summit at 10:00AM with the temp. comfortable and clear skies. By 1:00PM we were hustling off the summit in a blizzard of snow, which turned into a horrific downpour of rain with plenty of lightning by the time we got down to the tree line. Out of 200 Marines that started only one man did not make the summit. When we arrived at the Whitney Portal going up, the Navy Corpsman with us pulled the one man because of how bad his feet were.

We also had conditioning hikes of 20, 40 and 60 miles at Camp Pendleton, which lead up to the big one.

Mountain Warfare Training Center


Name: John A Brady
Email: brady@johnbradyconsultants.com
Phone number: 805.748.9000
Subject: 1st Recon Btn 1959 trek from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney
Message: I am researching the July 1959 trek of the 1st Recon Btn, 1st Marine Div, Camp Pendleton, from Death Valley, California to Mt. Whitney (Lone Pine, CA).

I would appreciate any information or references I can use to write an article that will do justice to this trek.

Any pictures, articles, or first-person accounts would be most helpful.

1st Recon Battalion Association

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Thanks for your interest in 1st Recon. I'll post your message on our message board today.

I'll send a copy of your email to our president and secretary.
They may be able to help you.
I'll start a web page today on this subject.
This will be the link to the page: https://1streconbn.org/1959-trek.html

Keep me posted I'll update the web page from time to time.
Good luck with your article, I'll look forward to reading it.

Semper Fi

Floyd Ruggles

1st Recon Battalion Association

Membership Director/Webmaster

2/17/2021 4:09 PM


Thank you for your quick reply.

Attached is a couple of photos you might find interesting.

The first is the color guard standing on the very summit of Mt. Whitney after trekking 146 miles from the lowest point in Death Valley.

The second photo is C.O. Lt. Col. H.J. Woessner leading the Oorah with the Battalion. You can see officers and senior staff celebrating in the front two ranks, with Sgt. Major G.H. Kaeding standing next to what looks like the youngest Pfc. next to him (kind of like the Marine Corps Birthday tradition – oldest and youngest Marines).

 There is also a Los Angeles Times article written just before the Battalion jumping off for the mission.

 I couldn’t find much official Marine Corps history of what had to be a significant achievement in my research.

 I’d love to get all the details and publish it first on your website if you think it would be of interest.

 Semper Fi,

John Brady