Mountaineers History Blog

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Retro Rewind | The Family of First Ascents: The Fierys Climb Their Way Through Mountaineering History

As staff liaison to the Everett branch, I have the opportunity to attend their branch banquet to witness the pride of accomplishment, honor exceptional volunteers, and to be inspired by their always entertaining featured speaker. This year, Lowell Skoog, a distinguished climber, skier, writer, photographer, and Mountaineers historian, gave a presentation on the past and future of Northwest mountaineering. Read more…

Retro Rewind | Into the Archives

In the first few decades of The Mountaineers existence, members planned long, yearly excursions into the wilderness every summer and winter. On these annual trips, our members ventured into the mountains to explore and discover first ascents on unmapped peaks. In 1912, The Mountaineers spent July 20 - August 10 traveling around Mt. Rainier. Read more…

Did You Know? The Long and Unlikely Journey of Our Basalt Columns

“The night before we didn’t sleep. We were seriously worried it’d be a disaster,” says John Ohlson, the man who hatched the idea of erecting 25-foot basalt columns at The Mountaineers Seattle Program Center.  Read more…

Retro Rewind | The Teenagers Who Summited Rainier… in Winter

We thought we were in a safe spot, but before we knew it, my Dad was falling into a crevasse. Moments earlier, we had arrived back at high camp and started to unclip from the rope – the tether that allows climbers to catch one another in the event of a fall. Then, in an instant, the snow collapsed under Dad. He pulled his leg out, but was unable to gain purchase and started sliding down the slope into the void. Only one of us, a new climber named Scott, was still attached to him. Read more…

Retro Rewind | Mary Anderson, Decades of Inspiration

Born Mary Gaiser on December 7, 1909, in Yakima Valley, Mary loved Washington and the natural world from a young age. She moved to Seattle and taught grade school until the mid-1930s, all the while sharing her love for wild places with her students. She was especially passionate about biology and natural history. Read more…

K2 40th Anniversary: Inspiration Through Generations

As a teenager in the 1950s, I was a voracious reader fascinated with several books that became the classic accounts of the so called “Golden Age” of Himalayan mountaineering. Among this treasure trove was K2: The Savage Mountain, the unforgettable story of the 1953 American K2 expedition. It stirred a fascination with K2 in me which has lasted a lifetime. Read more…

An Epic Climb of Mount Rainier Via the Willis Wall

The wind is howling; it’s pitch dark, and heavy snow is blowing sideways. I stagger, trying to stay on my feet while Jim shouts at me from the bivouac to get in. Struggling in the gale, I lift one leg, try to step into the sack, and am blown flat on my side. I get up and try again. “If you don’t get into the sack, you’re going to die,” I think. Read more…

To Everest and Beyond - Tom Hornbein Reflects on Life and Mountains

As Tom Hornbein stood in the shadow of Everest, he knew getting to the top wasn’t enough. He wanted more.

In 1963, Tom was a member of a sponsored expedition designed to send the first Americans to the summit of the highest peak in the world. The strategy was clear: climb the South Col route first established by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953. While summiting via the South Col was far from a guarantee, the proven route was their best chance.  Read more…

The Legacy of Clark Schurman

Clark Schurman joined The Mountaineers in 1936 and devoted his abundant energy and talent to developing mountaineering techniques and a philosophy oriented to safety.  In his book, Molenaar called Schurman “An intense, brusk little man with the military way, he had a soul highly sensitive to the beauties of the mountain and to the dreams of youth. Visitors to the small, musty auditorium in the basement of the Guide House long remembered Schurman’s evening program of tinted lantern slides (and the first Kodachrome slides) which revealed the beauties of the mountain and its surrounding parklands. Schurman’s poetic interpretation of the great natural forces at work helped bring the mountain close to the hearts of his guests.” Read more…

Governor Evans and the Book That Saved the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

A picture is worth a thousand words, but the images collected in The Alpine Lakes are worth even more than that. The photographs in this book, published by The Mountaineers in 1971, inspired President Gerald Ford to designate the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. Read more…