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James W. Hawkins - Personal Communication

Taped interview, 28 December 1997
by Stella Degenhardt (Mountaineers Oral History Project)
Notes by Lowell Skoog

This interview was done for the Mountaineers History Committee's oral history project (MHC). Stella Degenhardt transcribed the interview and gave me a copy. These notes refer to her transcription.

The International Geophysical Year (IGY) project on the Blue Glacier of Mt Olympus was run through the Department of Meteorology at the University of Washington (UW) in 1957-58. Phil Church was the department chairman and Ed LaChapelle was the project leader. The purpose of the project was to look at the mass and energy balance of the glacier. The project provided data that is used today for global warming studies. Hawkins described how he got the job on the project and how he and Yves Eriksson hauled materials to the site and built the cabin. He described measurements made by the research team and a typical day in the winter.

In December 1957, Noel Gardner had to leave the project because his wife was ill. A young UW meteorology student named Roger replaced him. On about January 5, 1958, Hawkins talked Roger into heading for the middle peak of Mt Olympus for some "surveying." Hawkins wanted to make the first ascent of the year and hoped to coax Roger along, but once they got in view of the summit, Roger balked. Hawkins continued while Roger waited and he managed to reach the top. He heard that a party a few years later claimed the first winter ascent of the peak and realized that his 1958 climb may have been the first. "Of course, it was a solo and The Mountaineers wouldn't have cared about that too much."

Hawkins described problems of winter life on the glacier, like hiking up the Hoh Valley in the rain, packing a runway on the Snow Dome for Bill Fairchild to land his ski plane, and nearly succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning during a storm in the cabin. On the positive side, Hawkins met his future wife, Donna Lotz, on Labor Day when she arrived on the Snow Dome in a climbing party with Stella Degenhardt and others. Hawkins recalled, "You were among the few people thoughtful enough to take your crampons off. We had people who came into the cabin with their crampons on, all tied in a line."

During the summer, Eriksson and Hawkins made the first ascent of Mt Apollo near the head of the lower Blue Glacier to set up a survey station. The peak was so rotten that they abandoned it as a survey location and decided never to climb it again. A CalTech team made studies of glacier movement on the lower Blue Glacier, but did not stay through the winter. Hawkins later attended grad school in geology at UW and did his PhD studies under Peter Misch in the Pasayten country of the North Cascades. His wife Donna wrote of their travels in mtneer-a-1964-p88.

E-mail correspondence, 2 February 2004
From Jim Hawkins
To Lowell Skoog

Jim Hawkins recalled that his companion on the Mt Olympus winter climb was Roger Ross. He said that Mt Apollo may have been renamed [Mt Mathias] since they climbed it.

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