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Harvey Manning - REI: 50 Years of Climbing Together
This book contains information about mountaineering gear from the 1930s onward, Northwest trends and personalities, and a little about the development of skiing. It provides a fine profile of Lloyd and Mary Anderson.
Part 1 (1938-45): In the Beginning There Was...
p. 1: The Outdoor Store was the chief supplier of mountaineering equipment in the Seattle area during the 1930s. In 1934, after being shocked at the $20 price of an ice axe from the Outdoor Store (and an only slightly lower price from Eddie Bauer's store), Lloyd Anderson ordered a $7 axe from a new shop that mainly catered to skiers. Months later, he received a poor quality Japanese axe and was charged $12 for it.
Some time later, Rudy Amsler, a Swiss-born climber, told Lloyd how to find European magazines that carried advertisements for outdoor stores. He mailed for a catalog from a shop in Innsbruck, then ordered a superb Austrian ice axe for only $3.50. Following this experience, Lloyd and several friends formed Recreational Equipment Cooperative in 1938 to import mountaineering gear. Lloyd and Mary Anderson were Co-op members 1 and 2. Walter Hoffman was no. 4 and John James was no. 10. Other early members known to be ski mountaineers were Lyman Boyer (no. 11) and Calder Bressler (no. 23).
p. 4: Around 1936, Ome Daiber started his equipment manufacturing business, Ome Daiber Inc. The author describes Ome's inventions and his special place in the Northwest mountaineering community. When Sir Edmund Hillary and his Everest companions came to Seattle on a lecture tour, Ome was introduced to him as "the American version of the abominable snowman."
p. 5: Describes early gear carried by the Co-op. T. Davis Castor (no. 19) ordered skiing equipment.
p. 11: On this page begins a good profile of Lloyd and Mary Anderson, including their early life in farm families and Lloyd's start in climbing. More on Lloyd Anderson's mountaineering career begins on p. 30.
p. 14: Describes the formation and early years of the Mountaineers Climbing Course in the mid-1930s, led by Wolf Bauer, Jack Hossack and others. The author describes how the "outlaw" Climbers' Group eventually replaced the Mountaineers' old guard.
p. 21: Prices for ski equipment in 1939: hickory skis (flat, $5.25; ridge, $6.50 and up), bindings (cable, from $3.75 to $5.25; strap, from $2.25), poles (cane as low as $1, steel up to $6), parkas ($4.50) and pants ($7.50).
p. 22: During World War II, a 60-hour work week became commonplace. The author discusses the difficulty of obtaining and producing mountaineering equipment during the war. In the Co-op bulletin dated 30 October 1945, used Army skis were listed for $4.75.
p. 27: Provides a portrait of the equipment and techniques used by a typical Co-op climber in 1942.
Part 2 (1946-49): Johnny Came Climbing Home...
p. 40: In 1946, the Co-op was the only Seattle source for a full range of mountaineering gear, since Ome Daiber Inc. had gone out of business. The author discusses some post-war gear. 1948 was the year of the first Co-op catalog.
p. 41: In "The Khaki Gang," the author describes the flood of Army surplus gear that hit the market in 1946. This is a very informative section. Nylon ropes never got to the surplus market (p. 45), but a civilian product was soon available.
p. 47: In "High Adventure," the author discusses the rise of Northwest mountaineers to national prominence after World War II. The Mountain Troops brought together two strong and formerly isolated climbing traditions, of the Northwest and the Sierra. This section has a good discussion of the contributions made by each group, particularly Sierra Club members, to the Mountain Troops and the development of equipment.
p. 48: "[Fred] Beckey was what a biologist would call a 'sport,' a plant or animal (in this case, of course, a climber) 'showing some marked variation from the normal type.'"
Part 3 (1950-59): The Population Explosion...
p. 57: In "The Skiing Boom," the author discusses the post-war skiing craze and the transition from skiing as a cheap sport to one of fashion, high cost and overcrowding. In 1950, a skier could be completely outfitted at the Co-op for $30 to $50. By 1959, some skis were selling for over $100 and the Co-op catalog offered stretch pants for $44.50.
p. 69: In "Boots Boots Boots," the author discusses the transition from nailed boots to Vibram soles in the 1950s. Army surplus Bramani boots are described in detail. On p. 72 he discusses climbing gear in the 1950s.
Part 4 (1960-69): The Best of Times, the Worst of Times...
p. 100: In "Bombs and Skinnies," the author discusses downhill ski gear in the 1960s. In 1967, a European manufacturer suggested to Lloyd and Mary Anderson that the Co-op should carry cross-country skiing equipment. Mary ordered some gear, and despite minimal advertising, it sold out in month. The 1969 Co-op winter catalog devoted one of its 16 pages to $25 "skinny skis," $22 touring boots and $3.95 cane poles. The author writes: "Between the lines was the message: 'We offer you ESCAPE! Escape from yodeling records and lift lines and lift tickets and waggling fannies and traffic jams. We offer you: The 1930s!'" The 1972 catalog (in the plates following p. 114) illustrates a Raichle ski touring boot with a Vibram sole and a combination of laces and buckles (item F).
In Other's Words...
p. 185: Tom Miller bought a Bhend Swiss ice axe from the Co-op. Its ash shaft broke in a fall and was replaced with an American hickory shaft by Wally Burr. This axe later moved on to Pete Schoening and was used by Pete during his famous belay at 25,000 feet on K-2 where he stopped five falling climbers. [Note: I asked Tom Miller about this and he confirmed the story. The axe was originally Tom's. After the shaft broke he had Wally Burr replace it. Wally did a lot of re-shafting in those days (1950s) and made the new hickory shaft from scratch. Tom later gave the axe to Pete Schoening along with some other stuff to pay off a debt. The rest is history.]
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