Short skis, called "sawdenhofs" by their fans, can be made by
cutting an old pair of hickories in half. At the time this
article was written, short skis were a fad on the ski slopes
"with all sorts of marvelous accomplishments attributed to them."
They have been found useful for spring ski touring and glacier
skiing in summer. Army surplus bindings work well with ordinary
climbing boots. The skis can be fitted with skins for touring.
The author had not yet climbed with Fred Beckey when he wrote
this story, but knew him by reputation:
It was Fred Beckey, the Great Pacific Pterodactyl, who first
conquered the Nooksack Tower. Pterodactyl? Well, the Cascades are
creating their own mythology, and Fred's name appears in summit
registers with such monotonous frequency--usually at the head of
the list--that the Northwest neophyte is forced to conclude that
Beckey flaps in on leathery wings, avoiding the murderous
bushwhacking that is the curse of lesser creatures.
Regarding the brush itself, the author writes:
I crashed toward Dave [Hiser]'s forest-dimmed form and
broke out into a sunlit patch populated by man-high
plants with broad green and yellow leaves. Pretty, I
This short article has a picture of Roger Paris, Joe Marillac,
Bill Briggs, Jim and Lou Whittaker, and Gordie Butterfield at the
summit of Mt Rainier, prior to their June 18 ski descent, which
is called a first. The picture was taken by John Ahern and Roger
Brown of Summit Films. The group climbed to Camp Muir on
Saturday and began their climb to the summit at 2:30 am Sunday,
reaching the top at 10 am. They skied from the summit back to
Camp Muir roped together, then continued the rest of the way to
Paradise unroped. In the photo, most of the skiers have their
ski poles stowed away on their packs. It appears that they are
preparing to ski with ice axes only.
"Hey, Dave," I shouted, "where's all this devil's club you've
been jabbering about?"
Dave turned to me gauntly and pointed a bony finger: "Behold,
Borghoff," he cackled triumphantly.
I peered again at the innocuous plant in front of me.
Along the trunk and narrow branches were thousands of
tiny, needly barbs, thickly clustered; they looked--well,
they looked just like the spikes of a medieval club. A
devil's club. It bowed to me in mocking salutation. A
botanical Mephisto. [...]
Slide alder is a perfectly respectable deciduous tree, only
instead of growing upward like it should, it has assumed the curse
of the serpent and slithers along the ground; it grows outward
horizontally from the slope, making each upward step a monumental
effort against criss-crossed twining branches. Add devil's club to
it, and you have an immense problem.
You fight; you grab, stumble, slip, slither backward,
and land like an upended beetle on your pack. The brush
pushes you down. Mud oozes up. Your ice ax is caught.
You are on top a mess of devil's club. It starts to
rain. Your feet hurt. You are bushwacking in the
A correction printed in the September 1961 issue (p.25) notes
that Mt Rainier was descended completely on skis by two parties
before the June 18, 1961, descent reported in the August issue.
The previous descents were the 1948
Bengtson-Roberts-Welsh-Schmidtke party and the 1955
Apparently in response to the August 1961 article about skiing Mt
Rainier, Andy Hennig writes that he climbed Mt Rainier on skis
with Sigurd Hall in May, 1939. Hall "climbed all the way up the
glacier with his skis on his feet without taking them off once."
Therefore, writes Hennig, the 1948 ascent and descent reported in
the September issue was not the first.
As head of the guide service on Mt Rainier from 1939-42, Clark
Schurman long advocated construction of a second shelter hut and
rescue cache on the mountain (the first being at Camp Muir).
From 1942-50, Schurman served as director of Camp Long in
Seattle, where he designed a concrete "glacier" complete with
"crevasses" and Monitor Rock, later renamed Schurman Rock. Clark
Schurman was a long-time Boy Scout leader.
Following Schurman's death in 1955 at age 72, friends and
former Boy Scouts obtained support of Mt Rainier National Park
officials and several mountaineering groups to build a shelter
hut in his memory at Steamboat Prow. The project took four
years. During the summer of 1958, the "Big Carry" transported
several tons of curved steel plates, angle iron, two-by-fours,
shiplap, bolts, and cans of cement and sand to the prow. Much of
the work was done by manual labor, with the final stage employing
a gas-powered rope tow developed and operated by Larry Penberthy
of Seattle. In 1959, materials were lowered from the top of the
prow to the cabin site on a wire tramway and the hut platform was
leveled. In 1960, the foundation was poured and the
horseshoe-shaped hut was erected. In 1961, the windows were
installed, the hut was sealed, and rock was piled up along each
side of the cabin. Plans for 1962 call for rock to be cemented
over the top of the entire cabin.
This article contains facts about the July 22, 1939, avalanche on
Mt Baker that killed six members of a Bellingham college climbing
party. Weather Bureau reports showed more or less continuous
storms over Mt Baker during the first half of July, depositing
much new snow. Several days before the climb the weather turned
"blazing hot" and continued through the day of the climb. The
party got a late start from the Kulshan Cabin vicinity and
reached the site of the avalanche during the hottest part of the
This article has photos and observations of the Redoubt,
Challenger, Price, East Nooksack, Boulder and Boston Glaciers in
the North Cascades. The majority of these glaciers grew between
1946 and 1958 during years characterized by heavy winter snows.
The Boulder Glacier on Mt Baker advanced over 1,000 feet (slope
distance) between September 1954 and September 1960. Since the
hot summer of 1958, the current advance has slowed. Later issues
of Summit include other articles by the author:
Apparently in response to Andy Hennig's January 1962 letter, Dee
Molenaar writes that Sigurd Hall's 1939 Mountaineer
article clearly states that Hall's ski descent with Hennig of Mt
Rainier began at 12,000 feet following Hall's successful complete
ascent on skis. "Therefore the first complete ski descent then
must be credited to the 1948 party consisting of Kermit Bengtson,
Dave Roberts, Charles Welsh and Clifford Schmidtke."
Responding to Dee Molenaar's short article in the March issue,
Andy Hennig writes, "The question of the first ski ascent and
descent [of Mt Rainier] is becoming quite technical." According
to this letter, Hennig skied from the summit down to two yawning
crevasses, where he took off his skis to pass them. This differs
from the account in Sigurd Hall's 1939 Mountaineer
article, which describes the two climbers descending from the
summit to 12,000 feet entirely on crampons. Hennig continues:
"Safety, to me, always comes first. And, in my opinion, any
climber who takes chances in order to say: 'I can do it better
than you,' is violating the high ideals and the ethics of
mountaineering. Motives like this turn mountaineering into a
competitive sport to which we older climbers violently object."
Regarding the 1948 ski descent party, Hennig writes: "If they
demand the right to claim the First complete ski descent
from Mt Rainier, by all means do so. But they must remember that
the next party might make a ski ascent and descent without a
rope. And they can claim a First. And then comes a
mountaineer who makes a ski ascent and descent alone. He, too,
can claim a First. And what's next?"
In May 1962, five ski instructors--Helmut Tachaffert, Willi
Schmidt, Sepp Weber, Manfred Schober and the author--climbed Mt
McKinley, approaching the mountain on foot and by ski from
Talkeetna. The used six-foot Head skis, army Korean boots and
army bindings. The party used skis where practical on the upper
mountain, and Tachaffert and Schmidt used them to climb the final
slopes to the summit and to ski most of the way back down the
- May 1964, p. 2:
"Ancient Cirques and Modern Glaciers in the North Cascades"
- Dec 1964, p. 8:
"Snow Creek--The Disappearing Glacier"
- Jul 1966, p. 4:
"Mt Baker's Disappearing Glacier" (Easton)
- Oct 1967, p. 16:
"A Glacial Study of the Stuart Range"
In the March 1964 issue (p.31) Erling Strom wrote a letter
describing the 1932 Lindley-Liek Expedition and challenging the
idea that the 1962 ascent was the first to climb the mountain on
skis. An editor's note quotes a letter from Bradford Washburn to
Hans Metz: "I am certain the two members of your party who skied
to the top were the first two people to ever reach the summit on
skis. The 1932 expedition used skis intermittently up to around
16,000 feet, but walked from there to the summit."
On New Year's Day [presumedly 1965], John Norgord, Jan Still,
John Wells and the author, members of the University of
Washington Climbing Club, made what they believed to be the first
winter ascent of Mt Olympus. They approached on foot via the Hoh
River, climbing to the summit from the IGY hut on the Snow Dome
during their fifth day out.
This article describes the first ski traverse of the Spearhead
Range from Blackcomb Peak to Whistler Mountain by B. Port, K.
Ricker, C. Gardner and the author in May (year not specified).
The trip took about a week and was reported in the Varsity
Outdoor Club Journal. Since September 1965, the effort of
getting to timberline has been reduced by completion of a gondola
up Whistler Mountain from Alta Lake. The first traverse was made
before the gondola was completed and started at the other end of
The author compares various snowshoe models and explains his
preference for newer ones that are shorter and lighter with a
turned-up toe that is no more than one-third of the overall
snowshoe length. Neoprene coated nylon webbing is used on the
Westover Beavertail, which the author feels is the first
commercially made snowshoe of good design for mountain use. In
normal Cascade Mountain snow conditions "only an expert skier
will make better time than the snowshoer," he writes.
The information in this article is from the author's book,
Nordic Touring and Cross Country Skiing. The author
describes the safety and ease of Nordic touring compared to
Alpine skiing and the light weight and low cost of the gear. He
discusses touring techniques such as diagonal stride and
kick-and-glide, but interestingly, does not mention telemarks for
downhill turning, recommending stem turns and christies instead.
While manufacturers have been experimenting with epoxy and
fiberglass skis in recent years, no synthetic material has been
found that will hold touring waxes as well as wood. "Lignostone"
and aluminum edges, as well as the "Marius-edge," are described.
Three-pin, "rat trap" bindings are not shown; instead,
lightweight cable bindings with a simple toe iron are
The author scouted the high-level orbit of Mt Rainier in five
segments during the summer and fall of 1964. In July 1967, with
Lynn Buchanan, Lee Henkle and Jim Carlson, he completed a
continuous orbit for the first time. This article details the
author's June 1968 orbit with Lee Henkle, Dee Molenaar, Lee
Nelson, Bill Orr and Jim Erskine. The party started at the White
River campground and camped at Glacier Basin, Ptarmigan Ridge,
Puyallup Cleaver and Wapowety Cleaver, completing the trip at
Fryingpan Creek. The article includes sketches and a relief map
by Molenaar. All these orbits were completed on foot.