Mountaineers History Blog

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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…

Registers & Canisters: A Grand Northwest Tradition

I heard the buzzing first. As we were placing our signatures back inside the summit canister, an unfamiliar noise tickled my eardrums. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I could see the hair on my partners’ heads rising to the sky as if to kiss an invisible balloon. I spun frantically searching for the source when it dawned on me: it was us. We were buzzing. Our ice axes and skis and the metal zipper pulls were vibrating in unison. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew it was time to move, and fast. Read more…

John Davis - A True Lifetime Member

John Davis’ imprint on Seattle is inspiring. In addition to being the founder of Davis, Wright, Tremaine law firm in 1944, John served on the boards of many nonprofits, including Whitman College, the Pacific Science Center, and the Seattle Symphony. The Mountaineers was also a recipient of John’s strong commitment to giving back to his community. He volunteered as a leader at The Mountaineers serving as board president in 1968, climbing committee chair in 1967, as an editor of the second edition of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, and as a co-founder of the Mountaineers Foundation. A lifetime member since 1959, John passed away in April of 2015 at the age of 101.  Read more…

The Case for Tahoma

The name Rainier means a lot to people in the Pacific Northwest: it's our majestic guardian mountain and the first major summit for many local outdoor enthusiasts. It was also the training ground for famed Mountaineers member and first American to summit Mount Everest, Jim Whittaker. Do you know what essential item he carried on his journey to the top of the world? Why mountain-fresh Rainier beer of course! Read more…

Happy 94th Birthday, Fred Beckey!

Fred Beckey, a living legend among Northwest Mountaineers, is a climber, environmentalist, historian, and author. He is recognized as one the most imaginative, persistent, and thorough explorer and mountain investigator of the Cascade Range Wilderness.  Read more…

Legends and Lore Reaches Back Across the Pond

“I must stress that this book is a fascinating read,” wrote Noel Dawson in his review of Sherpa: The Memoir of Ang Tharkay, which appeared recently in an issue of the UK’s Climber magazine. “It tells a very important story that could so easily have been lost.” Read more…

A Living Legend - Fred Beckey

Mountaineer climbers in 1939 were well aware of their unparalleled good fortune. Only the highest Northwest peaks had been climbed, and all a young climber had to do to score a first ascent was head for the nearest blank spot on the map. Many of the mountains hadn’t even been surveyed, and the climbers often went without benefit of a map. Often they explored the area first and returned later, relying on their own notes to reach the summit. Read more…