Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home
James Langdon - TRACK!
The author writes that these recollections are intended to give "modern day skiers" a little perspective on what skiing was like "about 35 years ago." The author passed the National Ski Patrol System (NSPS) tests in 1947 and was certified as NSPS patroller number 907. He became the patrol leader of the Snoqualmie section of NSPS. (According to ski patrol historian Gretchen Besser, #907 was James Langdon of the Pacific Northwest. This typescript originally had no byline. From what the author says I presume that it was written in about 1982.)
In 1947, Snoqualmie Summit was the only ski area at Snoqualmie Pass and holiday weekends would bring 3,000 to 4,000 skiers to the area. At that time, the author had been skiing mountains throughout the Northwest for over 10 years. He recalls a time when the famous Swiss ski mountaineer Andre Roch visited Snoqualmie Pass. His visit was publicized and a large crowd of people lined the hill to watch him ski. According to Langdon:"Roche [sic] raised his bamboo poles above his head in a kind of victory symbol and, with a great lunge, pushed over the crest of the hill heading recklessly straight down. He immediately 'caught a tip' and went end over end. There was a low moan from the crowd. Roche picked himself up, prying the glutinous Snoqualmie powder out of his eyes, ears and nostrils and again took off. This time surviving for 50 or 60 feet before crossing his tips and cartwheeling into a huge bathtub of mush."The author writes, "The unpacked snow of Snoqualmie was just plain miserable most of the time and took brute strength and uncanny ingenuity and balance along with much flailing of ski poles to successfully negotiate." Since there were no snow-packing machines, it was the ski patrol's job to ascend the rope tow each morning and side-step the entire slope from top to bottom to prepare it for the 9:30 a.m. opening for the skiing public. The author gives a nice description of the chaotic scene of skiers trying to ride the rope tow.
Langdon writes that he was patrol leader for four or five years and he personally worked on about 500 injuries a year. He describes several of these accidents, including the crash of a Beaver Lake ski jumper, a man who fell into a rotary snow plow, rope tow entanglements, ski pole skewerings, edge cuts, and a New Years Eve avalanche near Snow Lake.
Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page