Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home
Dwight Watson - Mountain Papers
UWSpecColl, Accession 2170-003
* Lowell Skoog has a copy of each item marked with an asterisk.
Box 1 of 2It's hard to characterize the materials in this box. Some items seem to be master copies of materials in Watson's mountain scrapbook. Others provide additional information that seems appropriate for the scrapbook, but that was not included there for whatever reason. While it seems that the scrapbook was intended as Watson's primary mountain record, this box is interesting because it contains historical materials not necessarily associated with Watson's own trips.
Folder - "Mt. Masters Pt #1"A yellow folder. The following articles have been copied and I have filed them by author (see Miscellaneous References):
- Bruseth, Nels, "Tall, Little-Known Glacier Peak", Seattle Times, May 18, 1947.
- Connelly, Dolly, "The Mt Baker Marathon", Seattle Times, Oct 20, 1968.
- Johnson, Dorothy Hill, "100 Years on Mount Baker", Seattle Times, Sept 1, 1968.
- Norling, Ernest, "Sunrise and Snow", American Forests Magazine, Dec 1933.
- Ulrichs, Hermann, "The Cascade Range in Northern Washington", Sierra Club Bulletin, Feb 1937.
Folder - "Scrap book Supplement #2"
Item A - "Guide to Skiing areas and Ski Tours" *
In this undated article, Watson discusses known and potential ski regions in the Cascades from the Canadian border to Stevens Pass. The article is interesting for its insights into Watson's knowledge of the range and his judgment of areas worth skiing. He notes that spring is by far the best season for ski touring, as snow and weather conditions, longer days, and better road access make remote areas more accessible.
He describes destinations throughout the Nooksack River region, including Mt Baker, Tomyhoi Mtn and Hannegan Pass. Of the Whatcom Pass country and Picket Range he writes: "Very rugged country and not considered ski areas as yet, although both the Taptoo Lakes and Challenger Peak afford good skiing, hardly worth the effort."
Watson writes that "Both the north fork of the Nooksack River and White Salmon Creek are very rugged regions and not at all ski country. However, west of this, in the Austin Pass, Heather Meadow and Shuksan Arm country as far as Mt Baker itself is really THE SKI AREA." It seems clear that Mt Shuksan was not considered a ski peak from the north side. Watson describes tours around the ski area in detail and mentions the possibility of skiing east of Baker Lake near Mt Watson. He doesn't mention skiing Shuksan from the Baker Lake side. This suggests that skis may not have reached Shuksan until after Watson's pioneering period, which would be after World War II.
In the Skagit River region, Watson notes little of interest, but he writes: "Some do trek up Sourdough Mtn for some skiing in the Seattle City Light power plant country." He notes that the Snowfield Peak area is "hardly worth considering since trails are few and brush discouraging." He writes, however, that the area from Eldorado Peak to Boston Peak offers "good skiing and good touring." He recommends Sibley Creek as the approach to Eldorado and writes that "Cascade Pass offers some nice skiing on the north side (but NOT the south side) but this too means a long hike of at least eight miles in spring to snow and then about four more to the pass region above timber." I've found no evidence that Watson actually skied at Cascade Pass or Boston Basin, but it is clear that he recognized the potential.
Watson describes the region south of Glacier Peak (Honeycomb, Suiattle and Whitechuck Glaciers) as "ideal ski country with every variety of terrain and open country. However, distances again preclude much skiing in this region at present." He says the north side of Glacier Peak is best reached from Milk Creek. The south side is best reached from eastern Washington via the Wenatchee River.
He finds little to recommend in the Three Fingers-Whitehorse area. He notes that the Snowking Peak region is tempting when viewed from the Skagit, but difficult to reach. The Ptarmigan Traverse area above Downey Creek is also hard to get to with skis (although we know he tried). Watson describes the country between the Sauk and Stilliguamish Rivers, including the Monte Cristo range and nearby peaks, but doesn't note much worth skiing. He writes that Hedlee Pass is a short and interesting spring trip, some skiing is done on Mt Dickerman, and "Mt Pilchuck has some steep interesting slopes on the north side."
The article refers to more information about the Methow River, Agnes Creek, Buck Creek and Wenatchee River, but the details are not here. I can't tell if part of the article is missing, or if Watson never finished it. The final page is entitled "KEY" and marked "experimental". It seems to be a system for noting skiable areas on a map. This article reveals that Watson experimented with the idea of writing a backcountry skiing guide, but apparently never carried it out.
Item B - "Alpine Ski Touring in Washington" *
This article complements the previous one, describing general conditions for ski touring rather than specific tours. Watson describes seasonal considerations for tour planning. He explains that some of the finest and most interesting places to ski are eight to ten miles from the end of a forest road in summer, and in winter as much as thirty miles may be added due to snow on the roads. He notes that shelters are sparsely scattered and "most forest telephone lines are not serviceable in winter and spring due to down trees and down lines." He writes about avalanche hazards, river crossings and the danger of snow bridges over streams. Finally, he lists some destinations. These include Mt St Helens, Mt Adams and the Goat Rocks from both the north and south, Mt Aix, Chinook Pass, Snoqualmie Pass, and tours on all sides of Mt Rainier. The article is not dated.
Item C - "Photographic Descriptions" *
It's hard to match Watson's descriptions to his photos since his numbering system hasn't been preserved. The descriptions are interesting, since they suggest photos to look for and reflect how Watson viewed his subjects. A few are historically notable, as Watson observes:"Chinook Pass country is rapidly becoming a ski center for contests and tours."
"One of Austria's Arlberg ski technicians running a slalom course in Paradise Valley off of Alta Vista. Otto Lang came to visit Mt Rainier in 1936. The mountain conquered and he has remained to teach his beautiful and effortless methods."
"Night skiing at Paradise by means of floodlights is a grand experience."
"Snow slide regions on the west [of Stevens Pass] make approach impossible unless by train which has not become popular yet."
Folder - "Olympics"A green folder devoted to Watson's 1936 Bailey Range traverse. It contains many maps and copies of Watson's accounts of the trip. Researchers interested in this trip should not overlook this folder. There is a 1938 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tactical Map that shows many glaciers that are really seasonal snowfields. The map must have been created using aerial photographs taken in early summer. Watson indicates that he wrote the War Department notifying them of the mapping error.
This folder also contains photos of spring ski trips at the head of Sol Duc river, which I believe are also in Watson's photo collection.
Loose leaf items, no folderThere follow a large collection of correspondences with various people, some paper clipped together, some entirely loose, none in folders. All are at least somewhat related to mountains. Many have a religious theme. In later years, Watson's correspondence with his mountain friends frequently included observations on religion.
There is a letter dated 6 Sept 1973 from Harry Majors to Watson thanking him for participating in the "North Cascades History Project of the University of Washington Library." It was for this project that Majors interviewed Watson.
Item D - Letter from Watson to Harry Majors dated 15 Dec 1972 *
Watson describes the 1944 Mt Hinman ski trip enthusiastically, though he writes: "We figured 20 hours walking etc for 20 minutes skiing." The letter also mentions that Gage Chetwood of Bellingham was killed in WWII.
There is a Seattle P-I clipping, dated 23 June 1940 about the first ascent of Forbidden Peak, "Five Mountaineers Conquer Unscaled Cascade Summit". The article includes photos taken on the climb by Lloyd Anderson and a photo of the climbing group by a P-I staff photographer.
Folder - "Mt Biogs Misc"A cream colored folder. There is an article from the 10 September 1939 Seattle Times (with photos) about the Hennig-Trott climb of Mt Shuksan's Hanging Glacier. The following articles in this folder have been copied and I have filed them by author (see Miscellaneous References):
- Erben, John, "Fifty Years of Skiing," Sports Northwest, October 1987.
- Stripling, Sherry, "Downhill Pioneers" Seattle Times, 28 Aug 1987.
Box 2 of 2This box contains several folders, each devoted to a particular friend of Watson. The folders contain letters and clippings.
Folder - "Walt Dyke"
Item E - "Business founder Walt Dyke dies" and "Memorial service slated Saturday for Walt Dyke" *
These clippings, dated 1995, probably from a Portland area newspaper, describe Dyke's career as a physics professor, founder of Field Emission Corp. in McMinnville, Oregon, mountaineer and photographer. His surviving relatives are listed.
Folder - "Walt Hoffman"
Item F - Letter from Watson to Hoffman dated 19 Feb 1982 *
In reply to a 9 Nov 1981 letter from Hoffman, Watson reminisces about early trips. He mentions skiing up the Hamma Hamma River, west of Lena Lake, to Mt Bretherton with Walt Dyke. He mentions doing some skiing with Otto Trott and Virginia Hill Woods. In Watson's shoebox A, folder B, on a typed sheet entitled "Films-35 mm B&W Ski Patrol" there is a reference to "Trott-Hill" on the 1940 Puyallup Glacier ski traverse. Perhaps Hill was the woman skier in Watson's movie of that trip.
Item G - Letter from Hoffman to Watson dated 5 Mar 1988 *
This letter notes that Hoffman, Watson and Sig Hall were together on the Mt Stuart ski trip in which they glissaded from the summit. Hoffman writes that he was a gate-keeper during the Silver Skis race in which Hall died. He writes that there were four accidents on the mountain that day. He helped Ome Daiber take care of "one of the Broz brothers." He mentions the ski trip to Eldorado briefly and notes that he made the second ascent of the peak with Erick Larson and Dave Lind via the Cascade River.
Folder - "Charles Hessey, Jr."
Item H - Letter from Hessey to Watson (undated) beginning "It was nice to hear from you again..." *
Hessey writes: "Hogback is a favorite ski tour of mine--I was doing it before there was a ski development at White Pass." He writes that he made three ski trips into the Goat Rocks by three different approaches. In early summer he approached with two others via Bear Creek Mountain to the Conrad Glacier. He made another early summer trip solo to McCall basin and Old Snowy via the North Fork Tieton River. In March, with three companions, he skied from White Pass to Old Snowy, spending a week. He made an 8mm film of the trip. Hessey mentions meeting Calder Bressler "a year ago August," and mourns his death on Rainier. This reference seems to date the letter around 1959-60, since Bressler died in August 1959. Hessey closes: "One of these days our tracks will cross," suggesting that he and Watson had not met in person.
Item I - Letter from Hessey to Watson (undated) beginning "If I don't note the date on this letter maybe you'll think I wrote it a long time ago..." *
Hessey writes: "Late this spring Marion and I took our skis into the Horseshoe Basin area, thru Sunny Pass to Horseshoe Mtn. Miles and miles of bald ridges. A line of ski huts would be great through here." Hessey writes that he and Marion have visited the Olympic Mountains the past two summers. "Last year, now that we have our North Cascades Park, I thought we'd learn something about the Olympics." This reference probably dates the letter around 1969-70, since the park was created in 1968.
Item J - Letter from Watson to Hessey dated 11 Feb 1977 *
In this letter, Watson reminisces about many early trips. Writing about the Lyman Lake ski trip, he says his party skied up "North Star (south end ridge)" at which point the weather cleared for a great panorama. This led me to think they had actually skied Cloudy Peak until I received field confirmation of the North Star ascent (goodman-don-21-aug-2001). Watson describes the Mt Stuart trip as early May. He writes that L.D. Lindsley first told him of the Lyman Lake backcountry. Lindsley was with Mary Roberts Rinehart during her 1916 pack trip across the Cascades, and took the photographs later published with her story "Tenting Tonight". The second half of Watson's letter contains religious observations. One portion seems to sum up his credo. He writes: "Say little, serve all, pass on. This is true greatness, to serve unnoticed and work unseen."
Item K - Letter from Hessey to Watson dated 17 June 1989 *
Hessey mentions that he skied into Horseshoe Basin (Pasayten) "one Memorial Day years ago."
The article, "Untracked Slopes of Spanish Camp" from the Spokesman-Review, Dec 7, 1958 has been added to my Hessey file. (See Miscellaneous References.)
Folder - "Fred Beckey"
Item L - Letter from Watson to Beckey dated 9 Jan 1975 *
This letter is probably in response to queries from Beckey for his Cascade Alpine Guide. Watson mentions that during the Mt Baker ski traverse his party passed Coleman Pinnacle on the north side. Regarding the Lyman Lake ski trip, he writes that they were "able to drive to Maple Creek but terrific snows." Of the North Star ascent he writes, "A wind shift made a glorious panorama of all peaks with sun. I yet can see those lads taking it straight back to Lyman cabin where we stayed overnight." Of the Downey Creek ski attempt, he writes that Hall, Eskenazi and Hoffman were all present. He writes that Sig Hall was present on an attempted ski trip up Marble Creek toward Eldorado Peak. On June 28, 1939 he attempted a ski ascent of Rainier with Andy Hennig via Emmons Glacier but only got to about 12,000 feet due to a summit cloud cap. Watson also mentions that he did several hiking trips with Beckey's father in the mid-1940s.
Item M - Letter from Beckey to Watson dated 20 Mar 1976 *
Writing about peak names north of Stevens Pass, Beckey writes: "We will use the name Dakobed Range for the ridge east of White Mountain (to Clark Mtn.). This is an old Indian name for Glacier Peak, and would be nice to preserve. The name 'Delectable Mountains' is quite nice, but I'm too far along on art work, writing, and various agreements on these names to change it now. Two years ago it would have been easy." Of Watson's Glacier Peak ski ascent, Beckey writes that both he and Hermann Ulrichs think it was the first. He writes: "People like Giese, Hayes, Strizek did some ski ascents, but have not heard of them on Glacier Peak."
Item N - Letter from Watson to Beckey dated 24 Feb 1976 *
Watson describes the Glacier Peak ski ascent route. He mentions finding Erick Larson's sweater in the west fork of Agnes Creek following his Rimrock Ridge scramble. In this letter he says that his companions on the Downey Creek ski attempt were Hall and Hoffman.
This box also contains folders for the following people:
I didn't find anything relevent to this project in these folders.
- Ray Atkeson
- Ray Courtney
- Ome Daiber
- Lawrence D. Lindsley
- Harvey Manning (includes Bradford Washburn, others)
- Albert H. Sylvester
- Hermann Ulrichs
Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page