The Mountaineers - Ascent of The Tooth Home
The film was made by Burge Bickford and Lyman Boyer. It features Jim Crooks leading Fred Beckey on a rock climbing ascent of the southeast face of The Tooth, near Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, on September 21, 1940. It captures the flavor of Cascade climbing just before World War II. The film is silent, in color, and runs 16:40 minutes.
The film opens with a view of The Tooth from the south. The camera pans up the left skyline of the peak to the summit. Then the climbers lace up their high-topped tennis shoes. Jim Crooks, wearing a white cap and shirt, ties into the hemp rope using a single loop around his waist secured with a bowline. Crooks leads the entire climb with Beckey following. Beckey wears a red cap and carries a small rucksack. The leader never places any protection (pitons or slings) but moves confidently and quickly. (During a screening of this film in about 1980, Fred Beckey praised the skill of Jim Crooks and said that Crooks "could climb 5.10 anytime.") Both the leader and belayer give standing shoulder belays. The film includes shots of hand and foot-work and a mix of close-up and distant views.
At the summit, the climbers find a brass tube with a Mountaineers register book inside. Crooks takes his lunch out of the rucksack and Beckey tries to swipe a piece of it. The climbers then descend, initially unroped, then roped. Lower they are shown looping the rope over rock horns and making Dulfersitz rappels. The rappels become hair-raising when they approach the end of the rope and then lower themselves hand-over-hand.
(Digital transfer of this film was made possible by a donation from the family of Pete Schoening through The Mountaineers Foundation. Film notes and video clip by Lowell Skoog.)