John Muir, the geologist with the Corwin Arctic Expedition, describes, as follows, the characteristics of Herald Island, hitherto known only as an inaccessible rock seen by a few venturesome whalers and explorers:

After so many futile efforts had been made to reach this little ice bound island, everybody seemed wildly eager to run ashore and climb to the summit of its sheer granite cliffs. At first a party of eight jumped from the bowsprit chains and ran across the narrow belt of margin ice and madly began to climb up an excessively steep gully, which came to an end in an inaccessible slope a few hundred feet above the water. Those ahead loosened and sent down a train of granite bowlders, which shot over the heads of those below in a far more dangerous manner than any of the party seemed to appreciate. Fortunately nobody was hurt, and all made out to get down in safety. While this remarkable piece of mountaineering and Arctic exploration was in progress, a light skin-covered boat was dragged over the ice and launched on a strip of water that stretched in front of an accessible ravine, the bed of an ancient glacier, which I felt assured would conduce by an easy grade to the summit of the island. The slope of this ravine for the first hundred feet or so was very steep, but inasmuch as it was full of firm, icy snow, it was easily ascended by cutting steps in the face of it with an ax that I had brought from the ship for the purpose. Beyond this there was not the slightest difficulty in our way, the glacier having graded a fine, broad road.