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S.O.Y.P.s - The Book of Soyp

Forward: In August, 1919, David Whitcomb (Chief Soyp), President of Rainier National Park Company, and Thomas Martin (Tyee Paradise), General Manager, discussed of the idea of caching supplies at the Paradise Inn before the roads were blocked by snow and returning after the New Year with a group of friends. Thus was born the Tribe of Soyp, and thus began February pilgrimages to the upper valleys of Mt Rainier. The Soyps (for "Socks Outside Your Pants") were drawn from the Puget Sound elite. Members took Indian names during "Tribal Councils." Recruits were called Cheechakos; those who had completed one trip, Papooses; two trips, Tillicums; and three trips, Tyees. Besides Whitcomb and Martin, members included the likes of Keith Bullitt, Asahel Curtis, Carl Gould, Everett Griggs, Paul Harper, Paul Sceva, Thomas Stimson, O.A. Tomlinson and Philip Weyerhaeuser. The attendance chart lists over sixty men attending outings from 1920 through 1936.

1920: Tribal Councils were held around Lincoln's Birthday. The first was February 11-14, 1920. Members rode by car to Longmire then snowshoed to Paradise, where they made excursions as far as McClure Rock and Sluiskin Falls.

1922: During the third Tribal Council, some walked and others rode in cars or bus from Ashford to Longmire. On the trail to Paradise, the Tribe met the Signal Corps detail that had been laying telephone wire from Paradise Inn to Anvil Rock where Jean and Jacques Landry, Jacques Berques and motion picture cameraman Charles Perryman were temporarily halted in their effort to make the first winter ascent of Mt Rainier. Paradise was full of newspaper reporters who participated in the fireside festivities, composing facetious verses about the "Frogs" and the Soyps, including the following, sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic:"

The alpine mountain climbers,
They went up to Anvil Rock;
They left their clean pajamas here,
And have no more in stock.
They'll have to sleep in underwear,
And can't survive the shock,
As they go sleeping on.
Glory! Glory! etc.

They started out this morning,
Without hobnails in their boots;
They skirted 'round Gibraltar;
They started up the Chutes;
They slipped and fell 9,000 feet,
And buggered up their snoots,
As they came tumbling down.
Glory! Glory! etc.

The S.O.Y.P. members now
Have really got their chance,
To climb the bloomin' Mountain
With their socks outside their pants;
The Frogs will get excited
As the fat boys upward prance,
While they go panting by.
Glory! Glory! etc.

1923: At the fourth Tribal Council, members walked part way from Ashford to Longmire. At Paradise they "gathered at night to relate the incidents of the trail, sing their songs, and discuss the possibilities of The Mountain as a scene for winter sports."

1924: This account contains the first reference to skis. There is a fine photo of three snowshoers and a skier climbing above the Nisqually Glacier with Mt Rainier above. Members rode by bus to Longmire on this trip and every year thereafter.

1925-26: At the 1925 Tribal Council, the lounge at the Paradise Inn was "partially canvased off, including a fireplace to provide accomodations for the tribal deliberations." The 1926 account mentions a young lady "who happened at the time to be a guest in the Valley." These are signs that others were now visiting Paradise in winter.

1927-30: The eighth Tribal Council in 1927 was held at the Indian Henry's ranger station. Since the Soyps enjoyed having the place to themselves, it's likely they moved their location because of the growing popularity of Paradise in winter. The Councils continued at Indian Henry's through 1930, when all but three members were equipped with skis instead of snowshoes.

1931: The twelfth Tribal Council was held in the new government headquarters at Sunrise. There is a fine photo of eight skiers touring along a ridge of snaggly trees, with Mt Rainier faintly visible through the mists beyond. The usual initiation ceremonies took place. One Cheechako did not know the official name of the Park or the principal glaciers, so one of the newly-created Tillicums composed a poem to assist him:

There are two Cs, two Es, two Ps,
The Frying Pan you learn with ease.
Two Is, two Ns, one K, one O,
You're going now and not so slow.
An R, four Ss, and one T,
Four Ws and end with V.
These are the glaciers on Rainier;
Learn 'em damn quick and save your rear.

1932-34: At the thirteenth Tribal Council in 1932, the party was unable to reach Sunrise due to deep snow, so they stayed at the White River Ranger Station. O.A. Tomlinson (Tyee Lodi) talked to Tribe members about the operation of Mt Rainier National Park and the proposed developments therein. They skied the road to Fryingpan Creek and, another day, skied part way to Chinook Pass. By 1934, during the fifteenth Council, held at White River, they were driven to within an hour of Tipsoo Basin.

1935: Back at Longmire for the sixteenth Council, the Tribe visited Paradise one day to watch the Sunday slalom races. "The valley was scattered over with people, thousands of them. What a change from the untrodden valley into which the Tribe of Soyp had ventured fifteen years before!"

1936: During the seventeenth Council, based again at the White River Ranger Station, the Tribesman spent a day improving their skiing near Cayuse Pass with a ski instructor. The next day, they rode by bus to within a couple miles of Chinook Pass, and skied to the summit. "As the afternoon closed, they descended, leaving their white upper country scarred and cratered like some landscape of the moon."

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Last Updated: Mon Oct 24 18:18:36 PDT 2011