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Dwight Watson - Mountain Films
For Watson's notes on his movies, see dw-shoeboxes-A-folder-A. The dates of most of Watson's 8 mm films is uncertain. However, a page in his movie notes (listing titles) suggests that many of the 8mm films may have been completed before May 14, 1941. All films are without sound.
Tape 1 - Skiing and Mountaineering - 16mm (about 1 hour 20 minutes)
"Mount Baker Ski Traverse", 1939, 16mm B&W, 25 minutesWatson completed the Mt Baker traverse from Kulshan cabin to Baker lodge with Andy Hennig and Erick Larson on May 13, 1939. The heart of the film is from this trip. Hennig wears a Tyrolean hat and carries a long ice axe. Larson wears a light colored jacket and has no ice axe. Watson filled out the film with scenes of other skiers filmed on Mt Baker at other times. The final portion of the film depicts skiing on Table Mountain and around the Mt Baker ski area. There is a short break, then some footage of skiing on Ruth Mountain and around Hannegan Pass, probably in 1938 with Sigurd Hall. Two skiers are shown skiing on Ruth. After another break, the film concludes with summer footage near Table Mountain and the Mt Baker ski area.
"Skiing in the Olympics", 1939, 16mm B&W, 7 minutesBased on the Watson interview tape at the University of Washington, I believe the Olympic Mountain footage is with Andy Hennig and Ernst Kassowitz, probably June 10, 1939. The film opens with a wonderful scene of an old automobile, loaded with skis, driving onto a ferry across Puget Sound. There are scenes of the skiers on the ferry, near a lake on the Olympic Penninsula, and hiking toward the high country. The ski footage was filmed above Olympic Hot Springs in the area between Appleton Pass and the High Divide. There are fine scenes of Mt Olympus and the Bailey Range. The film ends with a scene of Watson's companions lounging on a ridge. Note that this film was originally combined with the Mt Baker Traverse, but I separated it onto a separate reel.
"Northwest Mountain Skiing, B.C. (before chairlifts)", 1938, 16mm B&W, 10 minutesThis title is not on the film, but Watson refers to this film by this name in his movie notes. The film depicts early ski ascents of Mt St Helens (June 5, 1938), Glacier Peak (July 4, 1938), and Eldorado Peak (May 15, 1938). There are still photographs inserted between the movie segments showing other ski destinations, including the Goat Rocks, Mt Adams, White Pass (near Glacier Peak), and Lyman Lake.
The Mt St Helens segment begins with a scene of a seaplane taking off from Seattle, followed by Ralph Eskenazi rowing a boat across Spirit Lake. Whether the party actually flew to Spirit Lake or the filmmaker was just being fanciful is unknown. The film includes footage of Watson's companions (Sigurd Hall, Ralph Eskenazi and John James) skiing roped together near large crevasses. Hall has a crew cut and is the lead skier in most scenes. Eskenazi wears a white cap. Watson himself makes a cameo appearance, digging himself out of a snow hole.
The Glacier Peak segment shows Sigurd Hall climbing to the summit above clouds. There are scenes of glacier skiing and shots of Hall zooming down snowfields at high speed.
The Eldorado segment begins with a scene of two skiers waking up from a bivouac. I believe this is actually Erick Larson and Andy Hennig, taken from the Mt Rainier film. This is followed by scenes of skiers traversing the ridge between Sibley Pass and the Eldorado Glacier, around the south side of The Triad. There are views of Forbidden Peak, Boston Basin, Cascade Pass, Mt Johannesburg, Hidden Lake Peak and Snowking Mountain. The high point of the trip appears to be a point on the ridge between The Triad and Eldorado Peak. There are some dramatic scenes on this ridge. I believe Sigurd Hall is the skier in shorts. There are no scenes that show that Watson's party traversed to the Inspiration Glacier or climbed Eldorado Peak on skis.
"The White Art", 1927, by Arnold Fanck, 16mm B&W, 1 minute clipAt the end of "Northwest Mountain Skiing, B.C." is a one-minute film clip that was spliced onto Dwight Watson's footage with a short leader that says, "Swiss Ski." This film contains scenes that can be found as stills in the book The Wonders of Ski-ing by Hannes Schneider and Arnold Fanck. Based on a Morten Lund article in Skiing Heritage (isha-1993-spr-p8), I think this clip is from The White Art (Die Weisse Kunst) by Arnold Fanck, made in 1927. The clip, filmed near Zermatt, shows what today would be called "big mountain skiing." Steep, exposed slopes, untracked snow, high speed turns, and airtime are all shown.
"Mt Rainier Ski and Up-Ski", 1939-40, 16mm B&W, 14 minutesThis film begins with scenes of skiing above Paradise, near Glacier Vista, and on the Paradise Glacier. There are a few scenes of a ski race finishing in Edith Creek basin. The racers wear triangular numbered bibs. Some scenes show racers passing large trees, as near Alta Vista. (There are no big trees on the racing route to Edith Creek Basin.)
These are followed by scenes high on Emmons Glacier, probably during the June 28, 1939 ski ascent to 12,000 feet by Watson, Andy Hennig and Erick Larson. The first complete ski ascent of Mt Rainier was made by Sigurd Hall, accompanied by Hennig, just four days after this trip. The film concludes with "The Up-Ski Experiment" (1940) involving trick photography and a skier with a small back-mounted propeller. Bert Mortensen wears the propeller and a small cap. Matt Broze accepts a tow up the hill.
"Mt Shuksan Climb", 1939, 16mm Color, 18 minutesWatson's finest film, titled "Thrills of a Mountain Climb" on the film itself. Otto Trott, Andy Hennig, Sigurd Hall, Fred and Helmy Beckey, John James and Joe McGowan climb Mount Shuksan by the Happy Fisher route in August 1939. The film opens with scenic views around the Mt Baker ski area, then the approach hike to Lake Ann. The climbers are shown scrambling up the Fisher Chimneys with afternoon lighting. Fred Beckey and Sigurd Hall strap on their crampons and Otto Trott demonstrates flat-footing on Winnie's Slide. (In Challenge of the North Cascades, Beckey wrote that he learned to use crampons on this climb.) There are extended sequences of the climbers negotiating crevasses on Hell's Highway and finally climbing the summit pyramid where they unfurl an American flag.
"South Cascade Glacier", 1939, 16mm Color, 5 minutesThis film shows Ralph Eskenazi exploring the head of the South Cascade Glacier on foot, July 24, 1939. There are fine views of Dome Peak and the Chickamin Glacier, Spire Point, Sentinel Peak, Mt Formidable and other peaks of the Ptarmigan Traverse.
"Crags and Crevasses", probably 1920s, 16 mm B&W, about 2 minutesThis short Kodak Cinegraph (commercially produced film) is subtitled "Mountain Climbing in Glacier National Park." It depicts a man (I.A. Richards) and woman (Dorothy Pilley) climbing a glaciated peak in the Rocky Mountains. The film has captions explaining the action:
- "On Blackfoot Glacier, ice work presents new problems."
- Climbers walk up a glacier.
- "Crevasses must be crossed."
- The climbers negotiate crevasses, using long ice axes.
- "They are often hundreds of feet deep."
- Views of a crevasse and more scenes of climbers and obstacles.
- "On some steps must be cut."
- Scenes of the leader using an ice axe.
- "Higher up the ice becomes steeper."
- Tilted view of the climbers, roped together, climbing the glacier with mountains in the background.
- "Steps are cut for safety."
- Nice closeup of the leader (Richards) cutting steps up a crevasse wall, with his second (Pilley), close behind him.
- "The ice axe provides an anchor."
- The leader uses his ice axe to surmount the crevasse, then belays the second up.
- "The climb to the summit."
- The leader belays the second up a vertical rock pitch with peaks and valleys in the background.
- On the summit, they sign the register.
- "The End"
Tape 2 - Skiing and Mountaineering - 8mm (about 1 hour 43 minutes)
"Mt Baker Skiing", 8mm B&W and color, 200 foot reel, about 14 minutesThe film can is labeled "Mt Baker B&W Ski etc, 1/2 B&W, 1/2 color". The film has a title leader: "A Ski Tour". It depicts a snow survey stake showing increasing snow depths, then black and white scenes of winter ski touring on a ridge. There are men and women clowning and doing telemark and stem turns. Otto Trott is one of the skiers; he wears a light colored windshirt and a small pack. On Table Mountain, cornices and tracks are shown. There is a short sequence of the photographer's ski tips in motion, skimming through powder. There is footage of spring skiing, showing some strong skiers making turns in slow motion and at actual speed. This segment ends with skiers touring through Herman Saddle to Chain Lakes.
Inserted here is a very interesting short segment (unlabeled) depicting what appears to be the west ridge of Forbidden Peak during the original April 1940 attempt by Lloyd Anderson, Fred Beckey and Dwight Watson. No climbers are shown, but the corniced ridge is depicted, as well as views of Eldorado Peak, Moraine Lake and the Klawatti Glacier area.
The final segment of the film is in color. It depicts Austin Pass, skiers chasing each other, powder skiing, snow slopes and textures, and the old cabin near Austin Pass.
"Spring Skiing: Spray Park, Mt Hinman, Buck Pass", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 16 minutesThe film can is labeled "Spring Ski Tour" and "Hinman, Spray Park & Buck Pass". The film has a title leader: "A Ski Descent: Spray Park Mt Rainier". It depicts a party of 3 skiers touring through Knapsack Pass to Spray Park, skating and straight running, with the NW side of Mt Rainier as a backdrop. Watson's scrapbook dates this trip May 6, 1940.
The second segment depicts men carrying skis through a forest. It shows Mt Hinman in the distance, then men carrying skis at sunset. Then expansive snowfields are shown and a 360 degree panorama from the summit. This is followed by scenes of four men skiing wide open slopes, running fast on good snow. There are extensive ski scenes, making the run look quite long. Watson's scrapbook dates this trip May 5-6, 1944. His companions were Dave Lind, Charlie Cehrs, Dean Thompson and Gene Paxton.
The final segment depicts the Dakobed Range in summer and fall, then a car carrying skis and the "Coca Cola girl" (a cardboard cutout). Men are shown carrying skis in the woods. Then views of the Buck Pass area in spring, showing Fortress, Buck and Tenpeak Mountains. The Coca Cola girl takes in the scenery. Watson's scrapbook dates this trip Memorial Day, 1941. His companions were Walt Dyke, Clint Kelley and Gage Chetwood. The segment ends with action footage of skiers swinging turns with Tenpeak Mountain and Glacier Peak in the background. One of the skiers (Gage Chetwood, I think, based on the Watson interview tapes) is exceptional.
"Mt Adams, Chinook Pass Skiing", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 7 minutesThe film can is labeled "Ski - Mt Adams, Chinook". The film depicts skiers hiking into Bird Creek meadows, the east flank of Mt Adams, then a climber reaching the summit on crampons with ski poles (no skis). The Coca Cola girl makes another appearance. Mt Rainier is shown from the summit and there are scenes of the old summit cabin buried by crusted snow. The Castle and upper eastern ramparts of Adams are shown. Then skiing on the lower flanks (Mazama Glacier) is shown. This must be the "cosmic ski" trip with Walt Dyke mentioned in Watson's scrapbook and dated June 22, 1941. There are no scenes of the party using skis near the summit of the mountain.
The second segment shows winter scenes at Chinook Pass, rimed trees, Mt Rainier in the distance, ski tourers in spring, peaks, slopes and cornices. Slopes well tracked by skiers are shown. Some climbing and fast running are also shown.
"Mt Rainier Skiing: Puyallup Glacier, Summerland, Paradise & Race ", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 16 minutesThe film can is labeled "Ski - Rainier, Klapatchie, Summerland, Paradise & Race". The film has a title leader: "Puyallup Glacier, Mt Rainier". It depicts hikers carrying skis up steep snowless slopes, then climbing toward snowline and spectacular alpine scenery. A man and woman are shown. Based on notes in Watson's scrapbook, papers and shoeboxes, I believe the man is Otto Trott and the woman is Virginia Hill. The trip date is June 9, 1940. Spectacular scenes of the Puyallup Glacier, Sunset Amphitheatre and west side of Rainier are shown. The skiers cross the Puyallup Glacier flats and descend near the glacier edge. Ski touring with crevasses in the background. Snow worms. Finally, late afternoon sun (in color) on the Tahoma Glacier.
The second segment depicts Summerland in spring. Walt Dyke skis in shorts on the Fryingpan glacier. There are scenes of the Emmons Glacier, K's Spire, and cloud-play on Little Tahoma. The Coca Cola girl returns and Walt deploys a tiny umbrella. Watson's scrapbook lists several trips to Summerland. I think this one is May 28, 1939.
The next segment has scenes near Paradise, Mt Rainier above the mists, winter scenes, ski running, and touring to Camp Muir. Finally there are scenes of the Silver Skis race. I believe this is the 1942 race won by Matt Broze. (Several racers appear to be wearing Army clothing.) The skiers run one at a time. Lots of falls. Panorama Point and its face, the Tatoosh Range and Edith Creek basin are shown. The racers are shown making high speed turns on a rutted course.
The film ends with a group of people including Otto Trott clowning and painting a mountain cabin, possibly at Mt Baker.
"Mountain Climb: Flapjack Lake and Nisqually Glacier", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 14 minutesThe film can is labeled "Mountain Climb (Composition), Flapjack L." Also, "and Nisqually Glacier" has been penciled in next to the label. The film has a title leader: "Thrill of a Mountain Climb". At the beginning is a brief scene (B&W) of two men hiking through brush and crossing a stream. The men look like a young Fred Beckey and Lloyd Anderson (1940 Forbidden Peak attempt?).
Then there is a title saying "Flapjack Lake". The lake and camp life are shown. There are views of the crags above (Needles, Olympic Mountains). Then men are depicted ascending from camp and scrambling rock. There are views of summit rocks and surrounding crags. I believe the two men in this segment are Walt Dyke (in a light shirt) and Clint Kelley (in a dark shirt).
The second segment is entitled "Reservoirs of Snow & Ice". Mt Rainier is shown. Hikers approach Nisqually Glacier and walk roped on the glacier near crevasses. There are closeups of ice, flowing water and pools.
"Charmed Land: Glacier Peak Area", 8mm color, 400 foot reel, about 37 minutesThe film can has the following label on it: "Charmed Land: White Pass, Monte Cristo, Chelan". Segments of the film are separated by titles, e.g. "Glacier Peak Area," "Lyman Lake," and "Lake Chelan". The film depicts a variety of mountain scenes, including:
- Big Four, Monte Cristo area, winter scenery, scenes of men carrying skis.
- White Pass (south of Glacier Peak) in summer.
- Image Lake, Miners Ridge area (very nice scenery).
- Climbing scenes and panoramas, probably on Mt Bruseth during the July 4, 1940 first ascent with Erick Larson.
- Cloudy Pass region.
- Lyman Lake region including cabin, Lyman Glacier, Spider Meadows.
- Scenes from Entiat mountains, probably Cardinal Peak area.
- Lake Chelan, Lady of the Lake scenes.
Tape 3 - Mountains and Nature (about 2 hours 10 minutes)
"Mt Rainier Summer", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 17 minutesThe film can is labeled "Mt Rainier". The film has a title leader: "Mt Rainier National Park". The film depicts the mountain from a distance, then shows closer views from the Carbon Glacier side. A hiker is shown in Spray Park. A lookout and lake on the NW side of the mountain are shown. Scenes from the west side of the mountain (Klapachie Lake?) are shown. People are depicted wading in the lake, scrambling a peak, and eating watermelon. About 10 minutes into the film there is a short segment labeled "Flowers". This is followed by a longer segment labled "Paradise Park, Mt Rainier". It depicts alpine meadows, the mountain, streams, flowers, hikers, deer, and finally a sunset view of the NW side of the mountain.
"Mt Baker Seasons", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 19 minutesThe film can is labeled "Mt Baker: Winter, Summer, Seasons and 'Hope Y.P.'". The film has a title leader: "Mt Baker Region". The film depicts winter scenes near the ski area, ski tourers, Austin Pass, snowy trees, Shuksan, Baker and surrounding mountains, snow slopes, showing lighting and texture.
The second segment of the film is entitled "Pastoral Symphony". It depicts summer near the ski area, views of Mt Shuksan, hikers on snow at Austin Pass, sunbathers, and perhaps an organized outing group. The end of the segment includes views of Mt Baker from Baker Lake, from north of the mountain, and the Sisters range from the west.
"Garibaldi Park", 8mm color, 400 foot reel, about 28 minutesThe film can has the following label on it: "Garibaldi Park, 25 min". The film itself has a title leader: "PNW, Charming and Beautiful". The film depicts travel by boat up Howe Sound, by train up the Squamish River valley, and by horses to Black Tusk meadows. There are scenes of the Garibaldi Lake area, glaciers and peaks, telephoto views of the Tantalus range, and high country views of the Castle Towers area, probably from the Black Tusk vicinity. Based on Watson's scrapbook, I think the date of this film is 1943.
"Autumn Color", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 14 minutesThe film can and title leader are both labeled "Colorful Autumn". The film begins with short scenes of Mt Hood, Three Fingers and Whitehorse, Glacier and Monte Cristo Peaks. It depicts alpine valleys and meadows, slide paths, colorful leaves, horses grazing in a field, trees along a river, deer, a hiker in a meadow, the Yakima Canyon, apple trees laden with fruit, and fallen leaves.
"Spring Flowers", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 14 minutesThe film can is labeled "Spring Flowers: Cereus, Pansy, Tulips". The film has a title leader: "Awakening of Spring". It depicts lowland flowers with closeups, sequences of petals opening, Tulip fields, lilly pads, and concludes with waterfront sunset scenes.
"Wild Flowers", 8mm color, 400 foot reel, about 28 minutesThe film can has the following label on it: "Wild Flowers: Spring". The film itself has a title leader: "Awakening of Spring". The film depicts a variety of wild flowers. Inside the film can is a typed note listing the flowers shown in the film, which I have not transcribed.
"Canadian Rockies (by August Miklave)", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 9 minutesThe film can has the following label on it: "Canadian Rockies, 'Mountaineers', Miklave". Inside the can is the following typed note: "Mountaineers Annual Outing, Canadian Rockies. This 8mm film was made by a member, August Miklave (born circa 1902), and left with me for editing. Then he lost his life in strange accident at Twin Falls Park east of North Bend, WA. This was many years ago in Sept 8, 1957. His brother Rudy died July 1981. --Dwight Watson." The film depicts mountain scenery, scrambling and camp life. It includes closeup footage of a woman in camp, apparently an acquaintance of the photographer.
Tape 4 - Glory of Water (about 1 hour 57 minutes)
"Glory of Water I", 8mm color, 400 foot reel, about 24 minutesThe film can has the following labels on it: "Glory of Water I: Ocean, Storm, Winter", "Glory of Water IA, to Small Streams" and "Glory of Water, First Part". There is no leader or title on the film itself. The film depicts nature scenes from oceans to mountains, streams and lakes over the course of a season. Some short scenes of ski touring are shown.
"Glory of Water II", 8mm color, 400 foot reel, about 33 minutesThe film can has the following labels on it: "Glory of Water II, Streams" and "Glory of Water, Last Part". The film itself has a title leader: "The Glory of Water". The film depicts nature scenes of streams and rivers flowing to the sea.
"Glory of Water, Seasons ", 8mm color, 400 foot reel, about 38 minutesThe film can has the following labels on it: "Glory of Water, Seasons" and "Ocean, Vapors, Snow, Summer, Autumn, Stars, III". Inside the can is a typed note describing the film as "Nature General, oceans mts, lakes". The note lists the film contents, including:
- Oregon coast: Cape Kiwanda and Cannon Beach.
- Seagulls, vapors.
- Mountains and lakes, Lyman Lake, Flapjack Lake.
- "Reservoirs of Snow & Ice", Mt Baker winter snow storm, "Mildred Lakes Setens Pass cabin" [sic], Paradise cabin, Tatoosh range.
- "Joy of Summer", Indian Henry's trail, Dr Beckey and friend.
- "Tree woman" carving, Glacier Peak mine.
- "Old toll road", Naches road turnoff.
- Mt Jefferson, Ray Atkeson, Ollalie trip.
- "Colorful Nature", "Colorful Autumn".
- Malachite-Copper Lakes.
- B&W copies of star pictures.
"Waterfalls", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 9 minutesThe film can is labeled "Waterfalls". The film has a title leader: "The Raging Torrent". It depicts waterfalls of various types and sizes, rapids, pools, sculpted rock, spray and rainbows, rushing and falling water from above and below, some slow motion. I believe several sequences are of Snoqualmie Falls. The film ends with two brief titles: "And thus merrily & unhurried" and "The return to the ocean fount".
"The Ocean", 8mm color, 200 foot reel, about 13 minutesThe film can and title leader are both labeled "The Ocean". The film depicts waves breaking on rocks, seabirds, arches and stacks, sandy beaches, surf, sandstone cliffs.
Two small 8mm films were found loose. The first "Lovely Switzerland" is 2-1/2 minutes and seems to be a series of still photographs. It depicts Swiss mountains in summer, alpine dwellings, sheep in a meadow, lakes, meadow country, and finally paintings of alpine dwellings, peaks and climbers.
The second reel is labeled "8mm Experimental Titles" and is about 2 minutes. The titles include: "Shall I be mute", "To him shall bow", "And knows no bounds" and "Amen". Then there are scenes of ferry boats, a waterway, and Seattle from Magnolia. Finally, more titles: "Preface", "On the way", "And all living things", "The ocean", "If they bring joy", "And satisfy", "We are grateful", "Garibaldi Park", "Water is symbolic of life" and "The gentle thaw".
In Watson's box of 200 foot 8 mm films, there is a film can labeled "Audio: Lovely Switzerland (21 min - tape), Sound" and "Sound - Not Movie". Inside is a rather dessicated reel-to-reel audio tape that I don't have the equipment to play.
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