Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Home

American Alpine Journal, 1929-1999

* Lowell Skoog has a copy of each article marked with an asterisk.

American Alpine Journal, 1932

p. 543, "Various Notes" *

"Mt Baker: It is reported that a party of four climbers, Miss Milana Jank, Dr. Otto Strizek, and Messrs. Benjamin Thompson and Robert Hayes accomplished the first ascent of Mt Baker from the north on June 28th in twelve and a half hours." (Other sources clarify that this was a ski-climb from the NE.)

American Alpine Journal, 1935

p. 325, Mosauer, Walter, "Ski Mountaineering in Southern California" *

The author, UCLA ski coach, made his first ski trips from Los Angeles early in 1932. Initially he had trouble finding companions, but he met students of Pomona College who formed a little community of skiers to accompany him. They made several ski trips to the summit of Mt San Antonio, or Old Baldy, that season.

In June 1932, he left with one of his Pomona College friends (unnamed) and headed north to Oregon and Washington for several weeks of skiing. They skied slopes at Crater Lake, Mt Hood, Mt Rainier, and near the Mt Baker Lodge. His trips in Washington were made in the company of various members of the Mountaineers, "experienced and enthusiastic skiers." To cap off his trip, "I organized a little party: Dr. Strizek, a renowned ski-mountaineer, Hans Otto Giese and Hans Grage, both winners of many ski races." With these Mountaineers, he climbed Mt Adams on July 16 from a camp at Cold Spring in 7 hours and 20 minutes. They had continuous skiing on the descent from the summit to about 6000 feet. There is no mention in this account of his Pomona College friend making the climb.

The author describes skiing on the "Four Saints" of Southern California: Mounts San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, San Bernardino and San Antonio. He also describes skiing on the east side of the Sierra Nevada and in Sequoia National Park.

p. 331a, Photo by Walter Mosauer, "The last hundred feet to the top of Mt Adams" *

A man on skis climbs a gentle slope above fluffy clouds.

p. 331b, Photo by Walter Mosauer, "Mt Baker, Washington, seen from Table Mountain" *

A shirtless man on skis climbs summer snow with Mt Baker in the background (fine).

American Alpine Journal, 1936

p. 462, Ulrichs, Hermann F., "The Cascade Range of Northern Washington" *

This article is not about ski mountaineering, but it records impressions of one of the first mountaineers to extensively explore the North Cascades. The author was first drawn to this country by the appearance on the 1932 Mt Baker Forest Service map of "large areas that hitherto had been blank." He writes, "These Northern Cascades are the least exploited mountains left in the United States... Not until one climbs to the high ridges can anyone gain a real conception of the country."

He describes major mountain groupings and several of his climbs. The ascent of Silver Star is described in detail; he calls it "one of the most interesting I have made in the Cascades, as well as a first ascent." Regarding the region between Suiattle and Rainy Passes, he notes, "This section is quite unknown; most likely none of the peaks as Mts. Sentinel, Spider, Spire, Dome, Lizard, Agnes, Blue, Magic, LeConte or Johannisberg have ever been ascended... For the 30 miles or so between Suiattle and Cascade Passes the range could only be crossed by difficult mountaineering." He adds, "No one should be led to infer that the Cascade peaks are very small ones because their absolute elevation is not great. A 7000-ft. peak becomes a very respectable mountain in height when one commences to climb from the elevation of 500 ft. above sea level." He continues, "They are not for tourists."

Of the scenery, he observes, "There is something different about the light in the Cascades from any other range of my experience; perhaps because it is so close to the ocean and has a relatively moist atmosphere. The hard, diamond-clear light of the inland ranges is replaced by a light equally clear, but so softened that the mountains have almost a dream-like quality." The article is accompanied by fine photos of Mt Shuksan from Ruth Mountain, the Boston Glacier from below Mt Buckner, the NE face of Whitehorse, Mt Baker from Table Mountain, summit views from Mt Buckner, peaks at the head of the E. fork Foss River, and Mt Shuksan from Table Mountain.

American Alpine Journal, 1942

p. 403, Schlesinger, Paul, "Mathias Zdarsky, the Pioneer of Alpine Skiing" *

Mathias Zdarsky died on June 20, 1940 in Sanct Poelten near Vienna at age 85. The author became a student of Zdarsky in 1910, and later a friend. He describes Zdarsky as "a very peculiar man," a teacher and an artist. "As the Board of Education did not show any appreciation for his progressive methods of physical education, he early retired to his voluntary hermitage in order to live exclusively and undisturbed for his own taste."

During the 1890s, Zdarsky read Fridtjof Nansen's book about crossing Greenland on skis and thought to adopt Norwegian skis to travel between his house and the nearest village. "Very soon he recognized the unfitness of the weak binding made of bamboo, but it took him a long time and he needed more than 200 models before his well-known metal binding was finished." He published Alpine (Lilienfeld) Ski Technique in 1896 and followed it with 13 reprints. He founded the Alpen-Skiverein in 1900 and trained thousands of skiers through the years, never taking a fee for his efforts.

Zdarsky was over 60 at the outbreak of World War I, but offered his experience to the Austrian army as an Alpine expert. On February 28, 1916, while doing rescue work at the Italian front, he was caught by a huge avalanche and completely buried. He suffered many fractures and survived "thanks only to his bodily power of resistance and iron will." The author describes Zdarsky as an artist, engineer, architect, physician, biologist, domestic scientist and philosopher.

The article is accompanied by a fine portrait of Zdarsky at age fifty-two (1908).

American Alpine Journal, 1943

p. 1, Bates, Robert H., "Mt McKinley 1942" *

Commanded by Lt. Col. Frank Marchman, the Alaska Test Expedition was made up of 17 men from the American Alpine Club, Army Air and Ground Forces, Medical Corps, Signal Corps, Quartermaster Corps, and the Royal Canadian Air Force and Army. The emphasis of the test program was as much on arctic, cold weather, and emergency equipment as on clothing and material for mountain troops. Testing was carried out on climbing boots, snowshoes, sleds, ropes, ice-axes, sleeping bags, tents, stoves, lightweight dehydrated rations, and various articles of clothing. The author, Terris Moore, Bradford Washburn, Einar Nilsson, Sterling Hendricks and Albert H. Jackman reached the summit, completing the first ascent of Mt McKinley since 1932.

p. 29, Beckey, Fred, "Climbing and Skiing in the Waddington Area" *

Fred and Helmy Beckey visited the Waddington area of the B.C. Coast Mountains between July 1 and August 16, 1942. Fred was nineteen and Helmy turned seventeen during the trip. They made the second ascent of Mt Waddington via the south face on August 6. Their party originally included a third member who dropped out due to illness during the first week of backpacking from Knight Inlet. Their original plans included climbing on the Tiedemann peaks, which they planned to reach through a 9500 foot pass at the head of Splendor Glacier. They abandoned this crossing as impractical, but spent several days ski mountaineering at the head of the Waddington Glacier, including an ascent of Mt Munday on their 5-foot skis.

The author writes: "Our skis surely had proved their worth on the trip. We hardly could have done without them during our exploits in July... Roped skiing among the crevasses of the Dias Icefall was fun." The article includes a photo of Fred Beckey standing below the south face of Mt Waddington.

American Alpine Journal, 1946, Special War Number

In this Special War Number, the page numbers in parentheses apply to the reprint edition published in 1991.

p. 187, Jackman, Albert H., "The Tenth Mountain Division" (p. 13) *

This is a condensed history of the division from early in 1940, when Lt. Colonels Nelson M. Walker and Charles E. Hurdis were given the task of exploring the possibilities of ski troops, through the end of the war in Italy. Most of the information in this article can be found in other sources. Lt. Col. Walker wrote the first directives in 1940 for the purchase of civilian equipment and the training of ski patrols. He was later (as a Brigadier General) killed by a German machine gun in France. As mountain and winter training entered its third year (1943) War Department thinking divided the problem into three parts with the following priorities:
  1. Winter training of standard infantry divisions.
  2. Low mountain training of standard infantry divisions.
  3. Alpine training of special mountain units.
Winter training of standard divisions was carried out at Camp McCoy, WI. Low mountain training was carried out in the Buena Vista, VA, Maneuver Area and later in the West Virginia Maneuver Area. Alpine training of special mountain units was carried out at Camp Hale, CO. The author writes: "Time and again the war proved that properly equipped specially trained standard units performed better and came through with fewer casualties from weather, terrain and the enemy than other standard units which, without the special equipment and training, were fighting beside them."

p. 208, Ware, Wilson, "Italy: The Riva Ridge" (p. 34) *

This is an excellent explanation of the Riva Ridge attack by a man who served as intelligence officer of the 1st Battalion, 86th Infantry, and took considerable part in planning the action of his regiment when it attacked the ridge. This must be considered an authoritative account of the attack. The article includes maps of the Riva-Belvedere-Torraccia vicinity and explains the importance of Mt Belvedere in the German defense of the Po Valley.

Regarding Mt Spigolino, the author writes that "we knew from patrols that the enemy had only four or five men in a mountain climbers' hut" on the peak. Information from the patrols "was recorded and studied in detail and with the utmost care." He says the main reason for not using Spigolino to attack down the ridge toward Riva was the supply problem. "Supply would be all man-carry; an incredible task to perform over a distance of eleven miles and up a rise of 4000 ft., in full view of the enemy, and with snow hard enough to make stamping with steel-edged skis obligatory." If movement up Spigolino was detected, the enemy would have ample time to deploy reserves on the plateau of Riva (near Mancinello) and "put up a mighty uncomfortable fight." The author describes Spigolino as an alternative route for a primary attack, not as a flanking maneuver to support an attack up the face of Riva. This contradicts the explanations in Skiing Heritage (isha-1995-aut-p20 and isha-1997-1st-p4) and places the ski patrols on Spigolino in a somewhat different light.

p. 225, House, William P., "Mountain Equipment for the U.S. Army" (p. 51) *

Up to the start of WWII, the U.S. Army had no substantial experience in mountain or cold weather problems. During the winter of 1940-41, Maj. General Simon Buckner of the Alaska Defense Command called on the Quartermaster to provide suitable cold weather clothing and equipment for his troops. During that winter, testing maneuvers were conducted in Wisconsin and during the following summer on the Wood Yukon Expedition, which included Capt. Albert H. Jackman as an official observer.

In the fall of 1941, Col. L.O. Grice of the Office of the Quartermaster General assembled an organization to design new equipment for the Army's prospective mountain divisions. The group included Robert Bates, Bestor Robinson, Adams Carter, Richard Leonard, Terris Moore, Bradford Washburn, Sir Hubert Wilkins, James Ford, and the author. In setting requirements and designing equipment, the following factors were considered:

In light of these considerations, the author discusses the reasons behind specific designs of the following articles: ice axe, mountain boots, mountain rope, crampons and tents. He describes some of the mistakes made and problems reported with the equipment.

p. 244, Carter, H. Adams, "Mountain Intelligence" (p. 70) *

In the first two years of WWI, the Italians, who had only a small number of units trained in mountain warfare, lost over 200,000 men to mountaineering accidents alone. Since the U.S. Army was inexperienced in modern mountain warfare, it was obvious that the Army could benefit by studying training methods, practice and equipment of French, German, Swiss and Italian mountain troops. From the spring of 1941 until February 1942, the author worked full time finding and translating articles and books from European sources and interviewing former European mountain troops for the War Department. In February 1942, he was put in charge of Technical Intelligence in the Office of the Quartermaster General. He learned of the existence of Bramani sole boots, found a sample pair, and worked with a rubber manufacturer on their development. He continued to translate training materials and tactical manuals. After the war ended, he interrogated members of the German Army and Waffen SS to learn about mountain fighting problems they had faced and the solutions they had developed.

American Alpine Journal, 1947

p. 429, Bates, Robert H., Review of 'Night Climb' *

This stinging review provides a reminder of the purpose of 10th Mountain Division: "The 'Skiing Tenth,' as the division is lovingly referred to [in the book], wasted much of its early training doing downhill skiing--very pleasant, of course, but with little military value. But mountain troops are no more ski troops than ice-axe or piton troops. They are troops who must know the fundamentals of mountain travel, a fact some of the Tenth learned the hard way in Italy. During the war no downhill skiing was used in combat by units of any army, and yet Night Climb is largely a glorification of military ski training."

p. 432, J.C.C., Review of 'Guide du Skieur dans les Alpes Valaisannes' by Marcel Kurz *

The review [filed with Miscellaneous clippings] contains an interesting quote from Marcel Kurz:
"In the high mountains the ski ceases to be a plaything. Circumstances make it a tool--the most useful aid to the winter mountaineer--but a simple tool intended to make travelling easier--something which we put on or take off like crampons and which is only a means to an end, to lead us to the summit of the mountains which were formerly denied us.

"This guide is then designed for the mountaineer whom winter has turned into a skier. It is certainly easier for a mountaineer to become a skier than for a skier to turn himself into a mountaineer. The technique of skiing can be learned in great part from manuals which have been written on the subject, but that of the mountaineer can only be acquired through experience in the course of many expeditions under the direction of licensed guides or competent companions."

Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page

Copyright © 2002 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Sun Nov 17 18:19:23 PST 2002