Paul Nesbit, Longs Peak guide.

Paul Nesbit (1902 - 1971) first climbed Longs Peak in 1924 and became a guide for Mrs. Enos Mils during the summers of 1925 through 1928. On his first day of guiding for Mrs. Mills, she requested that he go with Shep Husted to learn from him what he could learn. Paul continued to guide on Longs Peak from time to time and did his last climb on August 1, 1965.

In 1946 Paul published "Longs Peak, Its Story and a Climbing Guide". The book was republished in 1953, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1990, 199x and 2005. The 8th (1972) edition was edited by Norman Nesbit, Paul's son. The 9th (1990), 10th (199x) and 11th (2005) editions were edited by Stan Adamson. In the first edition of the book, Shep is listed as having climbed Longs Peak 850 times. In later editions of the book, Shep is listed as having climbed Longs Peak 350 times.

Paul kept a detailed journal of his comings and goings during his over 50 years in the mountains. That journal is in the hands of his son Norman Nesbit in Boulder, CO and covers more than 4,900 outings averaging over nine hours each. On June 12, 1925 there is a record of Paul going by car from Longs Peak Inn to the Park Headquarters in Estes Park. The purpose of the trip was to take the examination to become a park guide. On June 13, 1925 there is a record of Paul joining Shep Husted and a group of nine clients to climb Longs Peak via the Keyhole route.

It was Paul's interest in keeping precise records of his activities, including the wild life observed on a particular day, that no doubt led him to make a through analysis of the records available to him in an attempt to determine who had climbed Longs Peak the most times. His records show that he himself, Paul, climbed Longs Peak 125 times, 116 of those climbs being recorded in the summit registers, which were established after the park was formed in 1915.

In the 1st (1946) edition of his book on Longs Peak, Paul gives the following information:

In the 9th (1990) edition of the Longs Peak book on page 71 there are the paragraphs in italics below. Jim Detterline gives that the information contained in the 9th edition was in the 2nd edition, as Paul's research on the total number of climbs was done between the 1st and the 2nd editions, and, that the research was based upon very detailed summit record research (including but not limited to business records and summit registers).


From estimations or records that were kept before the summit registers were maintained for all to sign, the following names and the number of times that each may have climbed are given: Shep Husted, 350; Enos A. Mills, 297; Carlyle Lamb, 146 and Alva Jones, 120.

Careful counts in the registers beginning with 1915 provide the following: Otto Van Allman, 255, of which 109 were via the East Face and are a record number for such climbs: Robert Collier, Jr., 207; George Greeley, 121, and Paul Nesbit, 116. Former editions have listed 33 other names of those who have climbed from near 50 to 100 times. Many of these climbs were shorter ones from Boulderfield Shelter Cabin, but most climbers have been up more times than the registers show for some dates are missing and sometimes names were not entered.

The following comments and analysis are by the web site author and are based upon a careful reading of the above entries and discussions with Norman Nesbit, Paul's son and with Jim Detterline.

First note that the number of climbs for Enos Mills and Carlyle Lamb are the same in the 1st edition and the 9th edition. The numbers for both of these climbers are based upon
"Published statement" and presumably "estimations or records" were not used to modify the numbers. The number for Alva Jones is different between the two editions, namely 150 and 120. Presumably, his (Alva Jones's) estimation in the 1st edition was not confirmed by "estimations or records" in the 9th edition.

The paragraph
"From estimations or records kept before the summit registers were maintained --" is a bit ambiguous. One reading is that the totals for Shep, Enos, Carlyle and Alva are the total climbs that they made prior to 1915, when the park was established and summit registers initiated. A second reading is that those numbers are the total climbs, including the results of careful counts of summit records that began in 1915. Note that the total climbs for Shep Husted drop from 850 to 350 and those for Alva Jones from 150 to 120. As Shep is not listed among those counted with near 50 to 100 times in the period after 1915, it would seem that the first reading may be the correct one.

If the first reading above is accepted, then Enos Mills would have climbed Longs Peak 297 times prior to 1915. This is consistent with the information that Enos only climbed Longs Peak a few times after 1906. It would also imply that Alva Jones (born 1888) did not climb Longs Peak, to any great extent, after 1915. Alva Jones was hired on as a guide by Enos Mills, along with Shep Husted, in 1907. No further record of Alva Jones has been found.

Shep most probably would have climbed Longs Peak more than 50 times in the 21 years between 1915 and his last climb in 1936 and, if he had signed the summit register, would thus have been counted in that group of 50 or more climbs. If one counts the climbing season as four months per year, and estimates a low figure of 4 climbs per month, the estimated number of climbs for Shep during those 21 years would be 336. If one adds in the 350, possibly attributed to Shep prior to 1915, one comes up with a figure of 692, a figure not inconsistent with the higher figures attributed to Shep in the publications of 1939 and 1946. It is probable that Shep did not sign the summit registers when he climbed the peak, and as there does not seem to be a clear record of his climbs, one has to remain in doubt as to the total number of climbs that he made up Longs Peak.

During the author's discussion with Jim Detterline on Sept. 5, 2010, after his recorded 355th climb of Longs Peak, it was learned that all summit register records from 1920 until 1940 were destroyed in the 1990's. They had been stored in a moldy place and were tossed out by the Park Service. Jim later pointed out that the summit records should have been kept by the Colorado Mountain Club, as it was the CMC that initiated the program, installed and maintained the summit records. Remaining summit records are kept at the CMC headquarters in Golden, CO.

During the author's discussion with Norman Nesbit on Sept. 6, 2010 the moldy records were mentioned and according to Norman, his father Paul did have access to those records during the time that he was compiling the information on number of ascents of Long Peak. Norman acknowledged that the reading of the above paragraphs from the 9th edition of his father's book did contain some ambiguity.

The author is not attempting to come to a conclusion as to the total number of climbs of Longs Peak accomplished by Shep Husted. The attempt here is to gather the relevant information that is available pertaining to this matter and to share what is known.

There does not seem to be any question about the largest total number of
recorded climbs of Longs Peak. That number goes to Jim Detterline, former ranger.