Tyndall Glacier in Rocky Mountain National Park

May 20, 2020


Photographer: Peter Claussen 
Summary Author: Peter Claussen 

Shown above, beneath the full Moon of April 8, 2020, is Tyndall Glacier in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. It’s named after John Tyndall (1820-1893), who was almost the first person to climb the Matterhorn. Tyndall turned back a few hundred feet from the top, one year before Edward Whymper made his famous ascent. Tyndall did succeed on first ascents of several Alpine peaks, including the Weisshorn. He authored "Hours of Exercise in The Alps", a classic of the Golden Age of Victorian mountaineering. Tyndall was also a scientist, inventor, and poet. He studied magnetism, atmospheric gases including the greenhouse effect, light transmission, and the formation and motion of glaciers. His book "The Glaciers of the Alps" was published in 1860.

Enos Mills (1870-1922), the father of Rocky Mountain National Park greatly admired Tyndall and proposed that Copeland Mountain be renamed in honor of John Tyndall. The Colorado Geographic Board objected since Tyndall had nothing to do with Colorado. (John Copeland was an 1860's prospector in Central City and later homesteaded 320 acres by the lake that also bears his name.) A compromise was reached, and in 1932 the National Park Service gave the Tyndall name to the stunning gorge and glacier on the north side of Hallet Peak, now one of the most photographed areas in all of Rocky Mountain National Park.

And so it is that a small glacier in Colorado is named for a pioneer of Alpine mountaineering. An ascent of Tyndall Glacier is a superb mountaineering outing.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D850; Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic 7.5 (Windows); Exposure Time: 0.0010s (1/1000); Aperture: ƒ/4.0; ISO equivalent: 320; Focal Length (35mm): 400.