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Dee Molenaar - The Challenge of Rainier

Chapter 9, Mountaineering on the South Side

p. 59: Development of south side facilities: 1915, road to Paradise opened. 1916, first cabin ("guide hut") at Camp Muir built. 1917, Paradise Inn completed. 1920, Paradise Guide House built. 1921, larger public shelter at Camp Muir built. 1930, Paradise Lodge completed. 1948, Paradise Community Building torn down. 1964, Paradise Lodge removed and in 1966 replaced by the Space Needle-like Visitor Center.

Chapter 12, The Nordwand

p. 123: The author describes the September 29-30, 1935 first ascent of Liberty Ridge by Ome Daiber, Arnie Campbell and Jim Borrow. The account is enlivened by excerpts from the diary of Arnie Campbell. Nice background for later ski mountaineering on this route.

Chapter 13, Mountaineering from White River

p. 146: Glacier Basin access and history: The original mining claims pre-dated the park. 1905, Mount Rainier Mining Company incorporated in Enumclaw. 1914-17, Storbo Hotel built in Glacier Basin. 1916, old Enumclaw road extended from Greenwater into the National Park. 1921-27, a sawmill and generating plant were built in the basin. 1926, ranger station at White River campground constructed. The mining company continued to ship ore sporadically through 1948. Camp Curtis was located at the notch between Ruth Mtn and Steamboat Prow.

p. 149: Camp Schurman, on the edge of Emmons Glacier above Steamboat Prow, was completed around 1960 by volunteer labor of many mountaineers and Explorer Scouts headed by veteran Mountain Rescue men John Simac, Max Eckenburg, Ome Daiber and Bill Butler.

Chapter 14, Winter Ascents

p. 154: Describes the February 1922 winter ascent of the Gibraltar route by a party of French alpinist-skiers: Jean and Jacques Landry and Jacques Bergues, including a photo of the trio with their skis. Writing about the climb in 1963, Jean Landry said they initially planned the climb mostly as a ski-tour. However, after seeing pictures of the mountain and talking with local climbers, they decided to try the Gibraltar route rather than the more skiable and protected east slopes. As a result, the expedition became the object of considerable attention and publicity. A news cameraman, Charles Perryman, asked to accompany the party and film the ascent. Despite their misgivings, Perryman, who had never climbed before, performed well on the mountain and all four reached the top. Landry writes:
"We discarded our skis below Anvil Rock. Except for a short stretch in the wind shadow of Cowlitz Ridge, the snow was everywhere compacted to hardness by the very strong wind accompanying the winter storms."
Landry describes the meager equipment available at the time and the prevailing American attitude toward winter climbs, one of disinterest, disbelief, or futility.
"No one seemed to have discovered as they had in the Alps that mountains are even more beautiful in the winter and that trips are more enjoyable without the summer crowds."

Chapter 15, Skis on Rainier

p. 169: The chapter includes a long description of skiing the Interglacier from the 1930 Mountaineer article by W.J. Maxwell (mtneer-a-1930-p53). It mentions the 1934 Strizek traverse from Paradise to White River Camp, the 1927 Maxwell ski attempt, the April 1928 Best-Giese-Strizek summit climb and partial ski ascent, the 1939 Hall complete ski ascent, and the July 18, 1948 Welsh complete ski descent. All these are more fully described in the Mountaineer Annual (although some don't have the exact dates found here). Finally, the chapter includes what seem to be original second-hand accounts:

1955, early summer: Second ski descent via Emmons Glacier by Robert McCall and Marcel Schuster of the Yakima Ski Club.

1961, June 18: First ski descent via Ingraham Glacier by John Ahern, Bill Briggs, Roger Brown, Gordie Butterfield, Joe Marillac, Roger Paris, Jim Whittaker and Lou Whittaker.

Chapter 16, The Summit

p. 178: Mentions that Bil Dunaway was a 10th Mountain Division veteran.

Chapter 18, Ascents of Little Tahoma

p. 192: In April 1933, Paul Gilbreath and J. Wendell Trosper made a ski ascent and descent of the peak. According to Trosper, the two used skis to "within 8 feet of the top." The author notes that this was "a delicate feat considering the high angle of the upper several hundred feet of the peak."

Chapter 19, Encircling the Mountain

p. 208: This section describes the "high-level orbit" pioneered by Hal Foss, Lee Henkle, Lynn Buchanan and Jim Carlson in early July 1967. In June 1968, Foss repeated the circuit with Joseph "Bill" Orr, Jim Erskine, Lee Henkle, Lee Nelson and the author. The author's thorough account provides background for later orbits on skis.

Chapter 25, Solo Winter Ascent: Fadden, 1936

p. 247: Describes the search and recovery of Delmar Fadden, who died in a fall on the Emmons Glacier after making the first (unauthorized) solo winter ascent of the mountain in January 1936. The search team was led by Ranger Bill Butler and Ome Daiber. In a footnote on p. 253 the author mentions other Northwest climbers and skiers who played significant roles in the midwinter evacuation of Fadden's remains, including Harland Eastwood, "a powerful, one-armed mountaineer who served as patrol ranger at the White River Campground during the early 1930s, and Ken Syverson, who ran the ski school at Paradise in those days."

Chapter 31, Tragedies on Lower Slopes and Peaks

p. 273: Mentions the death of Sigurd Hall in the Silver Skis race on April 13, 1940.

p. 277: "On March 9, 1969, John Aigars, while skiing alone above Paradise, was caught by an avalanche below Panorama Point and died of suffocation. His body was located two days later by a German police dog of a Pierce Country dog search-and-rescue group. The trained dog's sense of smell enabled him to find the body within 30 minutes after release in the search area."

Chapter 33, Rainier National Park Company Era (1916-42)

p. 293: Ben Thompson served as chief guide on Mt Rainier in 1933 after having been a guide on Mt Baker. He later became a co-partner in the Anderson and Thompson (A&T) ski-manufacturing business in Seattle. A photo of Ben Thompson is shown.

p. 295: Bill Butler began his career as a Mt Rainier guide and ranger as "a green kid from Chattanooga, Tennessee." Over a 30 year career, his climbing and search and rescue exploits became legendary. In October 1960, he was sent to Los Angeles, on official business he thought, to be the honored subject of the TV program "This is Your Life." On p. 296 is a photo of Butler and his wife Marthie.

p. 297: Wendell Trosper was an exception among the Mt Rainier summit guides because he ventured to all sides of the mountain and explored new routes. He made over 90 ascents of the peak and was the first to climb Rainier by 10 different routes. There is a photo of Trosper on this page.

Chapter 34, Post-World War II Guides

p. 301: Bil Dunaway, described as an "international ski racer and climber," was chief guide in 1947 and again in 1951. This chapter includes photographs of Bil Dunaway, Jim and Lou Whittaker, Chuck Welsh, Gary Rose, Fred Beckey, Pete Schoening, and Dan Davis. More information about all these people is sprinkled throughout the book.


p. 320: From May 24-30, 1986, the first ski encirclement of Rainier (clockwise from Paradise) was made on nordic touring skis by N.L. Kirkland, Terry Pritchards, Dana Rush and Dr. Roy Walters. The trip included cold temperatures and high winds. Kirkland fell into a crevasse on the South Mowich Glacier. Later, on the Emmons Glacier, the party was forced to detour to 13,000 feet to negotiate crevasses.

p. 331: On March 4, 1979 a slab avalanche on the steep slope below Cadaver Gap, near the head of Cowlitz Glacier, took the lives of Willi Unsoeld and Janie Diepenbrock.

Noteworthy Mountaineering 1980 through 1996

p. 343, "Lengthy Ski Descent from Summit"

On May 3-4, 1980, a complete ski descent was made from the summit to the Nisqually River bridge via Fuhrer Finger. Dan Davis skied down from the true summit, Tom Janisch skied from the crater rim and Jeff Haley skied from 14,000 feet. The party included other members who did not complete the ski descent. The party stopped overnight at 10,000 feet, near the base of the Finger, before completing the descent.

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Last Updated: Mon Nov 30 07:55:20 PST 2009