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National Geographic Magazine, 1909

National Geographic Magazine, 1909, p. 530 - Roberts, Milnor, "A Wonderland of Glaciers and Snow"

This was almost certainly the first article about skiing on Mt Rainier published in a prominent journal, and perhaps the first published anywhere. Beginning on March 18, 1909, the author and a group of friends stayed at the National Park Inn at Longmire, taking day-trips on skis from there. (A photo of Narada Falls is captioned March 30, but Roberts' 1913 letter to J.B. Flett says the date was March 20. The latter is consistent with his 1960 letter to Eugene Faure which says they spent a week at Longmire.) The author writes that there were two hotels at Longmire in 1909.

One day the party broke trail on skis to Paradise Valley. A few days later (March 24), two women in the party, accompanied by James McCullough, the watchman at the National Park Inn, skied to Sluiskin Falls, "considerably beyond the point reached by the first party." The author writes: "As both the ladies had ascended Rainier in summer, they could enjoy to the utmost the wonderful view of the snow-clad range spread out before them."

This outing took place three years before the first Rainier winter outing organized by the Tacoma Mountaineers. The author was a charter member of the Mountaineers (mtneer-a-1961-p41), yet Mountaineer historians have overlooked Roberts and his group as likely the club's earliest skiers. In view of the florid writing found in later articles about skiing on Rainier, this article is remarkable for the author's matter-of-fact style, as though skiing were a commonplace activity. The article includes photos by the author and Carl Gould, the famed architect who later designed the Mountaineers Snoqualmie Lodge (mtneer-a-1914-p85), the Camp Muir shelter (mtneer-a-1915-p95), and the University of Washington's Suzallo Library. The photos depict a party of skiers at a rest stop, snowy scenes along the Paradise River, Mt Rainier and Eagle Peak from the Ramparts above Longmire, and skiers touring on the wagon road.

(Autumn 2009: The full text of this article is now available online.)

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