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The Daily News - Kubin, Patrick, "Longview Ski Club celebrates 75 years"

The Longview Ski club celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010. The club was founded following a winter hike in 1936 by Rex West. Early members included Val Quoidbach, Don Bascom, Rex and Ruth West, the Cripe brothers, Don and Allen, and Gunnar Nilsson. Early club members built a cabin near timberline on Mt St Helens in 1937 and christened it on New Year's Day, 1938.

Val Quoidbach's brother Rob recalled that in the early days they would hike eight miles to the cabin from the end of the plowed road below Spirit Lake. Later, when the road was plowed to the lake, the climb to the cabin was reduced to three to four miles. Rob Quoidbach was a later addition to the club, graduating from high school in 1943.

There were no chairlifts in the Northwest when the club was founded. They built their own rope tow using a rope donated by Longiew Fibre and a Briggs and Stratton engine purchased through donations from club members. The engine was kept on the porch of the cabin (and later in a shed they built), and the tow rope was set up each weekend before the other skiers arrived. The cabin and rope tow site were selected after observing avalanche patterns below Forsyth Glacier.

Before World War II, ski races were held at least once a year. During "Southwest Washington Day," clubs from Vancouver, Chehalis, Olympia, and Longview met on Mt Rainier to race.

In 1948, Don Bascom bought a Tucker Snowcat that could tow skiers from the road end to the cabin. Later, Spirit Lake lodge owner Harry Truman bought the cat and operated it for $2 per person.

The cabin was used by the club and by others over the years until it was destroyed by the 1980 eruption of Mt St Helens. The club still meets on the first Friday of each month to socialize and plan ski trips.

Note: Via email, the author told me that after the article appeared in the paper, a old-time club member appeared at the 75th anniversary party and delivered two boxes of records which have since been donated to the Cowlitz County Historical Museum. The records include original club correspondence and photos. "There is also a DVD of some early movies of club activities, though the film was not in very good shape," Kubin wrote.

The article includes photos of the snowcat, the cabin entrance, Mt St Helens (pre-eruption), and a skier in action.

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Last Updated: Tue, Apr 16, 2013 9:55:58 PM