The Mountaineers - Ascent of Lighthouse Tower Home
This film was photographed by Burge Bickford and Ira Spring. It is silent, in color, and runs 22:53 minutes. The film depicts the second ascent of Lighthouse Tower in the Cashmere Crags near Leavenworth, Washington, in May 1949. The climbing team includes Fred Beckey, Joe Hieb, Pete Schoening, and Dick Widrig. The first ascent of the tower was made by Beckey, Schoening, and Ralph Widrig in 1948, and is described in Fred Beckey's Challenge of the North Cascades on p. 166. In his Cascade Alpine Guide, Beckey refers to Lighthouse as "this celebrated rock tower," no doubt because of this film.
The film illustrates equipment and techniques used by post-war "crag rats" in the Cascades, including free and aid climbing, piton and bolt placement, shoulder stands, and throwing a weighted line over the summit block to enable a prusik-sling ascent. (According to the March 1951 Mountaineer Bulletin, this film was shown at the Mountaineers clubhouse on March 1, 1951.) Still photographs from this climb can be found in the following books:
- Fred Beckey, Challenge of the North Cascades, p. 154.
- Bob and Ira Spring, High Adventure, p. 34, 37, 41.
- Harvey Manning, REI: 50 Years of Climbing Together, pp. 50-51 plates (15th page), pp. 162-163 plates (5th page).
In the film, Fred Beckey wears a red cap and a gray shirt. In some scenes Beckey wears a faded and tattered red shirt over the gray one. Pete Schoening wears Army surplus pants with big pockets, suspenders, and a black shirt. In most scenes Schoening also wears a black cap. Dick Widrig wears glasses and a red flannel shirt. Titles during the film explain the action that follows:
- "Lighthouse Tower looms ahead on the left."
- The crag is shown and the men walk up a snow slope toward its base. Joe Hieb leads the first pitch and Fred follows.
- "A shoulder stand begins the direct-aid climbing while the third man belays."
- Pete climbs on another man's shoulders and begins aid climbing on pitons above.
- "Changing the lead."
- Pete comes down and Fred goes up to complete the first aid pitch.
- "A down view of the same pitch."
- Dick follows the pitch. Fred climbs a chimney, places a piton, then climbs a crack system above. Fred climbs along a cat-walk. There is a closeup of a shoulder stand, with Dick as the victim.
- "Pitons and slings are again needed for direct aid."
- Fred climbs a steep wall.
- "Drilling a hole for an expansion bolt."
- A distant shot of Fred placing a bolt.
- "A tube is used to blow out rock dust."
- A closeup shot of Pete placing a bolt.
- "Throwing a thin nylon line over the 25 foot summit block."
- Fred makes repeated attempts to throw the line over.
- "It is now necessary for Pete and Dick to reach the line on the opposite side of the peak."
- Pete free-climbs placing pitons. Dick takes the lead for some aid climbing.
- "Approaching the weighted line on the opposite side of the summit block."
- Pete climbs along the skyline to reach the line.
- "Spare climbing rope now replaces nylon line."
- Pete hauls the climbing rope over the summit block.
- "After anchoring the spare climbing rope the vertical flawless rock is scaled by using prusik-knot slings."
- Pete leads the way to the summit, followed by Fred. The men are shown on the top. Then they rappel off the summit.
- "The End"
(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.)