Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project Previous | Next | Home

American Ski Annual, 1944
* Lowell Skoog has a copy of each article marked with an asterisk.

Inside front cover: "Slalom Ski Wear" *

Fine photo by Richardson of a man (probably a soldier) on skis above Paradise on Mt Rainier. This issue also includes fine photos (or illustrations) of mountain troops on pp. 9, 16, 129, 131, and in the article beginning on p. 21.

p. 17: Title Page *

"This issue of the American Ski Annual is dedicated to the 'Mountain Troops' of the U.S. Army." It was apparently published near the end of 1943.

p. 21: Pvt. Edwin Gibson, "O.K., Fellows" *

This article offers a glimpse of life at Camp Hale, Colorado during training of the 86th Infantry Regiment. It is divided into several sections:
"Take Ten"
During a ten-minute break in tactical training on Chicago Ridge, the author describes the talk of the men in his unit, their response to the high altitude and impressions of how the war is going. Regarding the intensive public-relations campaign built up around the mountain troops, one man says, "Back east the public thinks a plain buckass private in the ski troops is equal to at least a second louie in any other branch of the service?" Another replies, "I know. They're only three branches of the armed forces: the Army, the Navy, and the Mountain Troops (p. 23)."
Describes K.P. duty, washing dishes and scrubbing floors without soap, peeling potatos, and cleaning greasy stoves.
Late night in the latrine, singing songs, writing letters, discussing map reading, and swapping rumors.

The article includes several fine photos by Pfc. James N. Richardson of mountain soldiers training in summer on the glaciers of Mt Rainier.

p. 50: C. Minot Dole, "The National Ski Patrol System Carries On" *

Since 1938, when the National Ski Patrol System (NSPS) was founded, "Minnie" Dole has been its chairman. With John E.P. Morgan, he was the instigator of action for the activation of mountain troops with the War Department in 1940.

In December 1942, the War Department asked the NSPS office whether they could recruit 2,000 men with winter and mountain experience in 90 days. Within two days, all divisional and regional NSPS chairmen were contacted by phone. They produced 2,500 qualified men in the allotted time.

To cut through red tape, the War Department later issue a letter which said, in effect, "In the future you are authorized to furnish the applicant after induction with a letter that will be honored by all reception centers, and send men you approve direct to the mountain troops at Camp Hale for basic training." Dole writes, "A retired Army general told me that in his 45 years of Army service he had never seen the like of it." (See advertisement on p. 216.)

As requests for more qualified men were received, the NSPS cranked up publicity for the new mountain troops. The author cites John Morgan, Stephen Hurlbut and Jack Tappin as men who were especially important behind the scenes.

Despite the loss of many NSPS men to the armed services, the ski patrol continued to function wherever skiers skied. In addition to their regular duties, they took on others including "wilderness patrols." The author writes: "Composed of oldsters (up to 65, and they resent that stigma, claiming to wear out us youngsters of 45) they carried out problems to prevent enemy action in sabotage, infiltration and the like." These patrols were especially active in New England. In the west, NSPS men assisted in recovery efforts involving aircraft downed in mountainous terrain.

In mid-May, 1943, Preston Macy, Superintendent of Olympic National Forest, asked NSPS patrolman Ome Daiber to help take a party to recover personnel and equipment from a crashed bomber high in the Olympic Mountains. Daiber chose patrolmen Larry Bartholomew and Hank Seidelhuber plus woodsmen Jim Griffin and Denny Winter to help him. The Navy furnished personnel for the job, but they were poorly equipped for snow and unfamiliar with mountain climbing. Daiber concluded that he needed to take command of the operation.

The group reached the plane to find all crewmen dead. They had to place the bodies in bags for removal and explode two live bombs. (The account of the bombs differs from what Matie Daiber and Hank Seidelhuber told me. They said the men defused the bombs. I'm skeptical of the Dole version.)

The author names Ome Daiber, Lyle St. Louis, Hank Seidelhuber and Lee Stark as key NSPS people working in the Northwest during the war. Fred McNeil (not a member of the system) helped with recruiting.

p. 79: John E.P. Morgan, "Special Training" *

Mountain and winter training has over time been divided into three classification: 1) "alpine" or high mountain training under both winter and summer conditions, 2) "over-snow" or "flat-country" winter conditions, and 3) dry-mountain or rough country all year-round conditions.

This article describes a trip by the author and Minnie Dole to the Mountain Training Center at Camp Hale, Colorado. The trip began with a visit to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, where the temperature upon arrival was 38 degrees below zero. The problem being investigated at Camp McCoy was whether a regular infantry division could be trained for "over-snow" or "flat-country" maneuvers in the relatively short period of a couple of months. The instruction included winter camping and hygiene, movement over the snow on skis and snowshoes, use and care of winter clothing and equipment, and the real test during fifteen-day combat maneuvers. The Second Division completed the test in sub-zero temperatures with no more than normal maneuver casualties.

At Camp Hale, the trip included a mountain maneuver at about 12,000 feet at the foot of Homestake Peak and skiing on Cooper Hill (described as merely "a slanted plain.") The author writes that much progress has been made on equipment and "the Army in its peculiar way was beginning to understand the mountain problem."

p. 172: "Pacific Northwest Ski Association" *

Due to the war, Timberline Lodge and the road leading to it were closed during the 1942-43 ski season. "Less than a fifth of the skiers usually counted on Mt Hood in a season turned out." The few skiers remaining generally stayed close to Government Camp.

Overnight accommodations at Paradise on Mt Rainier were also closed during the 1942-43 ski season (p. 176) as was the Mt Baker Lodge (p. 178). "Tire and gas rationing, travel restrictions and a general holing up of resorts operators in the Northwest did put a crimp on the competitive schedule (p. 177)."

p. 183: Howard Clifford, "The Tacoma Ski Queens" *

Nice article about "a foursome of ski queens who have left their tracks in the everlasting snows of time": Eliis Ayr and Ethlynne ("Skit") Smith, Gretchen Kunigk Fraser, and Shirley McDonald. Together they have captured eight national titles since 1935. The Smith sisters are credited with the "mushroom-like growth" of ski sport on the Pacific Northwest.

Previous Return to the Alpenglow Ski Mountaineering History Project home page Next

Copyright © 2012 Lowell Skoog. All Rights Reserved.
Last Updated: Fri, Sep 20, 2019 9:04:05 AM