Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home
Nicholas Corff - The Making of a Rescuer: Otto Trott, M.D.
I've skimmed this book and noted pages for future reference, stopping after Chapter 36 for now. The author is Dr. Otto Trott's son-in-law. The book, finished several years after Otto's death, is based on hundreds of pages of memoirs. According to the Foreword, Otto Trott was born in May 1911 and died in June 1999.
Chapter 5 - Student Guide
p. 29: This chapter describes Otto's growth as a skier under the mentorship of Helmut Birkenstock ("Bi"). The first place where I found Bi's full name was on p. 47.
Chapter 14 - The Coming Storm
p. 67: Otto discusses his growing awareness in the mid-1930s of the implications of his father's parentage. At least one of his father's ancestors in the previous three generations had a Jewish-sounding name. "This allowed the Nazis to stamp on his documents that he was not fully Aryan," Otto wrote.
Chapter 17 - Ferdi's Motorcycle
p. 77: After completing his internship and oral examination for the title of "Doctor," Otto applied for his license as a practicing physician. He was told that unless he left the country and stipulated that he would never attempt to practice medicine in Germany he could never obtain a license.
Chapter 20 - Hop Picking & Laying Asphalt
p. 91: "I began to realize the inevitable future, that I must part from my country. I was not ready for this step at my present stage of mind."
Chapter 21 - Training With Mountain Troops As Well As Weekend Climbs
p. 95: Otto trained with the German mountain troops at Laufen, the birthplace of Adolf Hitler.
Chapter 22 - Encounters With Nazis & Mules
p. 100: Just before Christmas 1936, Otto and his army company received certificates stating that they had successfully completed their basic training. "Each of the members of this company received a promotion to the rank of corporal, everyone, except me. I was to remain at the lowest rank, a jaeger." This was the turning point. Otto realized that to be a doctor, or anything else for that matter, he would have to leave Germany, and it should be soon.
Chapter 25 - Arriving In the USA In 1937
p. 109: Otto arrived in New York on November 1, 1937 aboard the liner Europa.
Chapter 27 - The Fire
p. 118: After a 1-1/2 year internship at Syracuse, New York, Otto became intent on finding a residency on the West Coast and was especially interested in Seattle, due to its surrounding mountains. He was accepted as a resident at the King County Tuberculosis Hospital in Seattle, starting on July 1, 1939.
Chapter 30 - Yellowstone Park & Climbing the Grand Teton
p. 128: At the end of a cross-country automobile trip during which he made climbs in Colorado and Wyoming, Otto drove over Snoqualmie Pass and descended the highway to Seattle. "As I emerged from the valleys and looked to the south I saw the full magnificence of Mt Rainier rising there with its glaciers and snow fields. Tears came to my eyes--I had arrived."
Chapter 31 - Mountaineering & Medicine In Washington State: 1939-1940
p. 131: Shortly after settling into his new job in Seattle, Otto learned about The Mountaineers and visited their club room to join. There he met "a wiry-looking man" who introduced himself as Dwight Watson. Watson invited Otto to climb Sloan Peak the following weekend. Otto also met Virginia ("Ginny") Hill at the Mountaineers' office.
Watson invited Otto to join him on a film-making climb of Mt Shuksan a few weeks later. During this climb, Otto wrote: "I was simply overcome with this place and the beauty of this Mount Shuksan that reminded me so much of my favorite mountain in the Alps, Mount Roseg." It was during this climb that Otto demonstrated modern cramponing technique to his new friends and decided to climb the Hanging Glacier route with Andy Hennig.
On p. 135, Otto writes that many years later he learned that the Hanging Glacier was rated as one of the 50 Classic Climbs in the United States. (Sadly, that is not true. The Price Glacier on Mt Shuksan is included in Roper and Steck's "50 Classics" book, not the Hanging Glacier.)
Chapter 32 - Ascents of Mount Baker, Mount Index & Mount Rainier: 1940
p. 137: The Mt Baker ski patrol was formed in 1938. Otto became their first physician member. He took his examination to be a member of the National Ski Patrol in 1940. The Mt Baker ski area had one rope tow at this time. This chapter describes the second ascent of Mt Index with Erick Larson and Otto's first climb of Mt Rainier, partially on skis, with Ginny Hill.
Chapter 33 - Pearl Harbor Bombed, War Starts
p. 143: In January 1942, following the U.S. entry into World War II, Otto was arrested and imprisoned because he was not yet an American citizen.
On p. 33-2 of this chapter is a copy of the April 6, 1941 Seattle P-I article about Otto's first ski ascent of Mt Shuksan with Hank Reasoner. There is no mention of this ascent in Otto's narrative.
On p. 33-3 is a copy of a short newspaper article describing the Shuksan ascent and mentioning that Trott and Reasoner wrote "HELLO GINNIE" high on the mountain in ski tracks 30 feet high.
Chapter 35 - Back In Seattle
p. 151: Following the war Otto joined the U.S. Army as a step to help himself obtain citizenship. He became a citizen on July 25, 1945 while stationed as a Private in Missouri.
Chapter 36 - Up To the Mountains After the War
p. 155: In this chapter, Otto describes his changing relationship with Ginny Hill after the war and meeting Ruth Arntzen. He and Ruth were married in 1947.
p. 234: At the end of the book is a statement read at Otto Trott's memorial service in July 1999.
Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page