In 1914, Gun Griswold, Sherman Sage, and Tom Crispin, members of the Arapaho tribe, were brought to the Rocky Mountain region in a trip sponsored by the Colorado Mountain Club. Griswold and Sage spent their youth in the area and were asked to offer the Native American names for the various peaks, lakes and other geographic features in the area. They called this mountain range Ni-chebe-chii, which translates to Never No Summer.
Now known as the Never Summer Mountains, this is a mountain range in the Rocky Mountains in north central Colorado in the United States that consists of seventeen peaks. The range is located along the northwest border of Rocky Mountain National Park and the continental divide makes a loop in these mountains.
According to the Arapaho Project, the Never Summer Range, niiciibiicei’i, meant never summer and the
mountains may have been named for the harsh winters here. Deep snowdrifts accumulate that melt only briefly during the summer.
There is an Arapaho myth that may also explain the name. When they were in camp, White-Owl (the winter bird) and Thunder-Bird (the summer bird) challenged each other for an exhibition of their powers. So Thunder-Bird started up clouds, black as coal, making a tremendous noise and great wind. White-Owl started its white looking clouds, which moved fast and thick, the clouds flying very low and blowing with a piercing wind.
Now the black clouds and the white clouds met, but the white clouds of the white bird scattered snow, which drifted, so that there was a blizzard and nothing could be seen, and everything was frozen up. So the white bird gained the day and was considered the most powerful.
This myth may explain the names of the Never Summer Range, White Owls (Mummy Range), and Thunder Pass (Lulu). Geographically Thunder Pass connects the Never Summers with the White Owls. The conflict may have taken place in the Never Summer mountains, which is why there is never summer there, since the winter bird prevailed and caused blizzards and snow to freeze the land.
To this day summer comes late to these mountains and leaves early, and snow is here for most of the year.
High Country Names, Louisa Ward Arps and Elinor Eppich Kingery, (Rocky Mountain Nature Association; 1994), pg 115 ISBN 1-55566-133-5