Mountaineers History Blog

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Olympia Mountaineers Honor Life & Legacy of Branch Founder Paul Wiseman - Aug 27

The Olympia Mountaineers invites you to a dedication gathering celebrating Paul Wiseman, the late founder of the Olympia Branch of The Mountaineers who established our branch in 1963 and leaves behind and indelible legacy.  Read more…

Retro Rewind | In Asahel’s Footsteps: A Legendary Adventure Photographer

Asahel Curtis described Mount Shuksan in the first Mountaineers annual as “a beautiful mass of igneous rock with cascade glaciers flowing outward on all sides, except the north.” He, along with W. Montelius Price, claimed the first ascent of the peak in 1906 (Shuksan’s Curtis and Price glaciers serve as namesakes to the climbers). Asahel brought his faithful companion – a 10+ pound box-style camera – with him to the top. As was his trademark, he was simultaneously pioneering two fields: mountaineering and photography. Read more…

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…