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Art Winder et al - Personal Communication

Taped interview, 6 August 1973
by Harry Majors and Karyl Winn
UWSpecColl, Accession 2161-001, Tape 716 (ABC)
Notes by Lowell Skoog

Harry Majors and Karyl Winn interviewed Don Blair, Forest Farr, Norval Grigg, James Martin, Herbert Strandberg, and Art Winder for the University of Washington's North Cascades History Project. I listened to the interview on 23 Nov 2004, taking notes by hand. The interview has little that pertains directly to ski mountaineering. I listened to it on the recommendation of Harry Majors, and out of curiosity. The interview runs about 4 hours. This accession includes a typed chronology of ascents which was annotated by Karyl Winn during the interview. (I copied and filed it under Art Winder.)

Tape 716A, side 1: This side of the tape describes the following:

The climbers explained that miners went all over the Monte Cristo area between 1892-97 so most "first ascents" in that region (except perhaps Big Four) are suspect. Generally, they reported their pioneering climbs as "first recorded ascents." Harry Majors described Chimney Rock as the start of a new era. The climbers also considered it the end of an era, the elimination of a challenge that had repulsed many earlier climbers. Farr and Winder initially climbed the final moves on Chimney Rock unroped, then climbed them again with a rope to bring Lawrence Byington up. Art Winder mentioned that while he often went hiking alone, he never went skiing alone. Too much could happen in the winter on skis to take that risk.

Tape 716A, side 2: This side of the tape describes the following:

Discussing Three Fingers, Norval Grigg said the Farr and Winder were the best natural climbers in the area at that time. Art Winder said most of their climbs were simple. The main difficulty was solving route-finding problems. He mentions that Stu Hertz (sp?) placed a piton on Chimney Rock after their climb.

Grigg explained that most of them learned to climb on their own. They knew about pitons but never used them. Cunningham's and the Outdoor Store (Mr. Summers, proprietor) were the two shops in Seattle carrying gear. This group developed the Mountaineers climbing code. Art Winder said they were working to develop a climbing class but the effort was taken up by others and they "got kicked out." Their methods were more party-oriented while the methods developed for the Mountaineers climbing course [beginning in 1935] were more suitable for small teams. Art Winder mentioned demonstrating a rappel down a bank for a group (no date), so it seems likely that they were familiar with rappeling.

Discussing Big Four, the climbers explained that in the early 1930s, people with jobs often had to work Saturday morning. So most climbs were done leaving town at noon Saturday and making sure to be at work first thing Monday morning. Decoration Day (Memorial Day) and the Fourth of July provided more extended climbing opportunities. Discussing Jack Mountain, Herbert Strandberg mentioned that he became interested in the Skagit region while working for Seattle City Light.

Tape 716B, side 1: This side of the tape describes the following:

Discussing the first Skagit trip, Herbert Strandberg said that he and Bill Degenhardt carried no technical gear except a rope and ice axes. They followed a way trail from Thunder Lake along the divide between Pyramid and Colonial Creeks. He later mentioned rappeling into the notch on the descent from Mt Terror, further evidence that this technique was known to them. Commenting on Skagit developments, the climbers noted that the Seattle City Light reservoirs enabled people to see the area that was included in the North Cascades Park. They spoke approvingly of the proposal to build a scenic tramway up Ruby Mountain.

Tape 716B, side 2: This side of the tape describes the following:

Discussing the the Park Creek Pass area, the 1933 trip by Farr and Winder approached from Thunder Creek. They attempted Goode from too far away, running out of time. During the 1934 trip, Blair, Grigg and Winder approached from Park Creek. They started from a camp in the creek basin and climbed a deep, shady cleft on the mountain. It was icy and they were unable to proceed without ice or rock pitons. They ran out of time. This was the same route successfully climbed by Wolf Bauer's party in 1936.

Norval Grigg explained that Eldorado Peak proved to be much longer than expected. It was a 1-1/2 day climb, starting in Seattle at noon on Saturday. The Hidden Lake Peak lookout was already in place at that time.

Tape 716C, side 1: This side of the tape describes the following:

The climbers began to discuss the Mountaineers climbing code. They explained that the code was not prompted by fatalities or specific accidents. It was more oriented toward party management.

Tape 716C, side 2: Continuing to discuss the Mountaineers climbing code, the climbers explained that it was inspired largely by the problem of different travel speeds (both within and between parties). Safety was a concern, but also the problem of party separation and matters of courtesy when a faster party overtook a slower one. The notion of a leader and "rear guard" sprung from these concerns. The climbing code reflected the increased popularity of climbing and the shift toward climbing smaller peaks (not just the volcanos) popularized in the Snoqualmie Ten Peaks and others. The climbing code was a reminder of proper conduct in the mountains.

The climbers discussed techniques and equipment in the pre-piton era. They explained that Mountaineer groups tended to be large and vary considerably in experience and gear, so methods were adapted for this. Alpenstocks were used by most people in the early days. The guides on Mt Rainier were probably the first Northwest climbers to use ice axes. Most of the climbers in this interview acquired ice axes in the late 1920s. Wally Burr could replace wooden ice axe shafts.

Since Northwest climbers had to contend with varied conditions (mud, forest, talus, snow, etc) they used boots with Tricouni or Swiss edges for all-around work. Logging boots were often used, with nails installed after purchase. Crampons were generally used only on the volcanos, not on the lower peaks. For rock work, climbers would pack along tennis shoes, which worked much better than nailed boots on rock. A 120-foot 1/2" or 7/16" Plymouth manila marine rope was standard for climbing. Clothing was almost without exception made of wool, with perhaps a light shirt added for hot sun. Clothes for loggers and fishermen were readily available.

Dinner foods included soups, rice, noodles, beans or peas possibly with chicken, ham, or corned or chipped beef. Raisins were a good standby and dessert could be made by holding aside some rice from dinner, letting it cool, then adding raisins. These climbers weren't coffee drinkers but some enjoyed tea with sugar. Rye bread, dried apricots or prunes were common for lunch. Farina was a popular cereal. The first successful powdered milk brand was called Klim ("milk" spelled backwards). Norval Grigg said 2 pounds per person-day was an average ration.

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