Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home

Hermann Ulrichs - Personal Communication

Interview, 3 July 1973
by Karyl Winn
UWSpecColl, Accession 2138, Tape 119 (AB)
Notes by Lowell Skoog

Karyl Winn interviewed Hermann Ulrichs in San Anselmo, California, for the University of Washington's North Cascades History Project. The U.W. has a partial transcript of the interview. I listened to the interview on 24 Nov 2004, taking notes by hand. The interview has nothing directly pertaining to ski mountaineering. I listened to it on the recommendation of Karyl Winn, and out of curiosity.

Tape 119A, side 1: Hermann Ulrichs joined the Mountaineers for a short time in 1927. He became disillusioned with the club because the Mountaineers felt that members had a "patriotic duty" to use the Snoqualmie Lodge. The club created a "Snoqualmie Ten Peaks" award and a "Second Ten Peaks" award to encourage members to climb in the area. Ulrichs felt there were other areas in the Cascades where he would rather climb. He had previously completed a climbing course given by Robert Underhill in Boston. He referred to the Forrest Farr-Norval Grigg group as a clique which came along after he had quit the Mountaineers.

Ulrichs discusses climbs on Bald Eagle Peak, Silver Eagle Peak, Snowking Mountain (1938), Mounts Booker and Buckner (1934), and attempts on both Cutthroat Peak and Mt Goode (1934). He also describes climbs of Black Peak, Frisco Peak, and Mt Hardy (1934) and Corteo Peak (1935). He mentions rappeling on Silver Eagle Peak. He always carried a rope but was used to climbing solo and not very comfortable with roped climbing. He never owned or carried a tent.

Tape 119A, side 2: In 1931, Ulrichs saw a published list of the twelve highest peaks in Washington. He decided to devote his attention to those peaks. He discusses climbs of Seven-Fingered Jack, Mt Maude and its North Tower, Mt Fernow, and Silver Star in 1932. Ulrichs got his first view of the North Cascades, from Cascade Pass to Silver Star, by climbing the peak forming the east buttress of Park Creek Pass, which he called "Loganberry" peak. This portion of the interview also discusses climbs of Azurite, Carru, Osceola, Ruth, Icy, and the naming of Mt Formidable, which he observed from Mt Buckner. In 1935, Ulrichs surveyed the route of the Cascade Crest Trail from Stevens Pass north to the head of the Little Wentachee River and from Stevens Pass south to Deception Pass.

Tape 119B, side 1: Ulrichs describes a trip up Sulphur Creek in 1937 when he found Cub and Itswoot Lakes. He also briefly discusses the Hanging Gardens trip with Dwight Watson in 1936. He said he did most of his first ascents in the North Cascades during just three years, 1932-34. He had trouble finding climbing partners so he did most of his climbs either solo or with his piano students. He didn't have contact with the Forrest Farr-Norval Grigg group or with Wolf Bauer. He did meet Bill Degenhardt and Herbert Strandberg. He considered himself unpopular with the Mountaineers. Having climbed in other parts of the world, he considered the Cascades an inferior, secondary range until he became familiar with the northern portion. He said maps of the Sierra Nevada and Canadian Rockies were much better than those of the Cascades in the early 1930s.

The interview includes some biographical information about Ulrichs and some background on his climbing. A folder in this accession has two 1985 articles from California newspapers with more biographical information. (See also dw-scrapbook-p314a.) Ulrichs was born on August 3, 1902, and grew up in Alameda, California. In the early 1920s, he made trips to the Sierra Nevada, Seattle, Rogers Pass (where he climbed Mt Sir Donald), and the Canadian Rockies (where he climbed Mt Hungabe, the first time he used a rope and ice axe). He spent a year in Boston then four months in Europe in 1926 (where he climbed in Switzerland with guides). He went to Bella Coola at the invitation of Henry Hall who he had met in Boston and who had been exploring the B.C. Coast Mountains with the Mundays. These trips were all made before he began climbing in the North Cascades.

In 1932, after a new map appeared that showed the highest peaks in the Cascades, Ulrichs visited Park Creek Pass via Thunder Creek. This was his introduction to the North Cascades. His party went down Park Creek, up over Cascade Pass, and down to Marblemount. He didn't see anything at Cascade Pass on this trip due to poor weather and he found the Cascade forests dreary. He said people weren't climbing much in the Cascades in those days.

Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page

Copyright © 2004 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Tue Aug 16 16:21:53 PDT 2005