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Sports Northwest Magazine, 1990-99

Sports Northwest Magazine, 1990

Feb 1990, p. 14, Frank, W.D., "Mount Rainer - The Second Ski Descent"

On July 24, 1955, Marcel Schuster and Bob McCall made the second complete ski descent of Mt Rainier via the Emmons Glacier. Schuster wanted to ski the mountain in 1954 but was told by the White River ranger that he must have a special permit to take skis above Steamboat Prow. "This would have been unheard of in Europe," he said. "There was nothing unusual about our ski descent, as such trips are done in Europe every weekend by hundreds of people." Schuster returned in 1955 with Bob McCall, a 10th Mountain Division veteran, "one of the few climbers I knew who was also a good skier." Before the climb they spent two weekends at Chinook Pass, skiing roped and practicing synchronized turns and hand and voice signals. They climbed to Glacier Basin on Saturday, July 23, then continued to the summit with light packs on Sunday morning. On the descent, Schuster skied holding two ice axes while McCall, on the rope below, used ski poles.

Marcel Schuster was born in Dresden in 1918 and developed his mountaineering skills on local sandstone crags. After World War II, he spent several years as a mountain guide in the Bavarian Alps. In 1951, he emigrated to British Columbia to work as a ski area consultant, then eventually moved to central Washington. Schuster introduced the use of rigid 12-point crampons and front-pointing to his eastern Washington climbing friends. He also introduced the technique of leap-frogging on belay up steep ice slopes. With these advancements, Schuster and his friends made the second ascent of Mt Rainier's Liberty Ridge in 1955 and the first ascent of Curtis Ridge in 1957. According to Dave Mahre, Schuster said of Liberty Ridge before the climb, "It's just a ski slope; I'll push my grandmother up it in a wheelbarrow." Mahre also said of Schuster: "Recognition of his stature as an influence on climbing in the United States is long overdue."

Sep 1990, p. 28, Erben, John, "Summer on Rainier - Rainier by Snowboard"

During the summer of 1990, Steve Matthews and four friends made a snowboard descent of Mt Rainier via the Kautz Glacier route (see snw-1990-dec-p4). This was not the first snowboard descent of the mountain, as RMI guide Ned Randolph observed two anonymous boarders descending the standard route above Camp Muir four days earlier. "I saw their tracks and it was apparent what they were doing. Disappointment Cleaver is the crux of that route, and they sideslipped the whole thing. It's not something I'd be proud of," said Randolf.

Oct 1990, p. 18, Skoog, Lowell, "Backcountry Skiing: Skiing the Wild Side"

"Why ski the backcountry? It's not really to find better skiing--on a good day you can find snow just as good within the resort boundaries that's a whole lot safer and easier to get to. Instead, it's to find the powder or corn snow that remains after the developed areas have turned to ice; to stretch those uphill muscles grown stiff from riding the lifts; to climb that ridge you've always gazed at and find a whole new set of mountains on the other side." This primer discusses avalanche safety, guidebooks, preparation, attitude, and the difference between backcountry skiing and out-of-bounds skiing. It lists various tours near Washington ski areas which can be selected based on avalanche conditions. "And that's only the beginning. In the spring, volcanos such as Mount Adams, Mount St. Helens and Glacier Peak offer runs longer than any resort on the continent. And from their summits, you'll see mountains you've never heard of, and waves of peaks stretching to the horizon, and beyond."

Dec 1990, p. 4, Matthews, Steve, "Howling at Hazard - Mt Rainier by Snowboard"

In July 1990, Kelly Ball, Steve Matthews, Terri Rengstorff, Scott Spiker, and Matt Vining snowboarded from the summit of Mt Rainier via the Kautz Glacier route (see snw-1990-sep-p28). They left Paradise carrying packs as heavy as 100 lbs. and took two days to climb to Camp Hazard (11,600 feet). There they rested and acclimatized for a day. On the fourth day they climbed to the summit, then began their descent around noon. At the Kautz ice chute, Rengstorff rappeled on a fixed rope, then Vining and Matthews descended on their snowboards. Ball fell while boarding the chute and after several failed attempts to self arrest, stopped by grabbing an ice block. That night a wind storm hit the mountain and the party descended to Paradise the next morning, initially on foot, then switching to their boards after the snow softened.

Sports Northwest Magazine, 1991

Apr 1991, Skoog, Lowell, "The Figls Have Landed - New Tools for Ski Mountaineering"

Figl is a contraction of "firn gleiter." (Firn is a German word for spring snow. Gleiter means glider.) Traditional firn gliders were made of wood 100-120 cm in length. Figls are about 65cm long and 10cm wide, with fiberglass and aluminum construction, sintered bases, and steel edges--just like modern racing skis. The author bought some figls during a ski trip to Europe and describes using them on Northwest snow climbs, including Wedge and Weart Mountains in B.C. and Liberty Ridge on Mt Rainier (descending the Emmons Glacier). In the U.S., figls are available from Atomic, Kastle, and Kneissl (the Big Foot). Figls are best in spring snow and they work for descents only. "They add a bit of whimsy to any trip. [...] As a snowboarder said when we got off one of the Stevens Pass lifts this winter, 'Hey dude, those skis are from another dimension.'"

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