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Summit Magazine, 1970-79

Summit Magazine, 1970

Apr 1970, p. 28: Jones, Chris, "The End of the Mountains"

The author (presumedly the same Chris Jones who wrote Climbing in North America in 1976) expresses his concerns about the effects of promotion and unchecked growth on the mountaineering experience: "In countless ways we are learning that continual growth, the American Dream, is turning against us. [...] Should not we, as climbers, take a hard look at where we are going, and where the promoters could push us? What are the implications in ten years, in fifty? Will our children have unknown mountains nearby, or will they all be minutely detailed? [...] Are we the instruments of our own destruction?"

Jun 1970, p. 41: Letter from Barbara Lilley

Early rumblings of the Nordic vs. Alpine debate are heard in an exchange of letters about a story in the Jan/Feb 1970 issue. In the April 1970 issue (p. 38) Pete Thompson writes that "Nordic cross-country skis ARE eminently suitable for alpine touring." He extolls their light weight, easy waxing and simple bindings, adding, "Who is skiing the crud so hard two days from the road that he needs release bindings and unbreakable skis?" In her letter, Barbara Lilley of the Sierra Club Ski Mountaineering Section defends alpine touring gear for safety and effectiveness in mountainous terrain.

Dec 1970, p. 10: Prater, Gene, "Techniques of Mountain Snowshoeing"

The author now feels that the binding hinge should be only one-quarter of the way from the tip of the snowshoe to the tail to reduce snow piling up on the front of the snowshoe. This causes the toes to sink deeper on the descent, but since descending is generally so much easier than ascending, the uphill advantage outweighs the downhill disadvantage. With a short toe, one can kick steps straight up a steep pitch.

For traction, it has been typical in the past to attach an aluminum angle under the front wood crosspiece. Another method is to attach a "T" angle to the webbing under the ball of the foot. A third, more elaborate method is to replace some of the webbing with a metal hinge and rivet the "T" traction bar to the binding, which is attached to the hinge. The Bombardier Company, maker of Ski Doo snowmobiles, now sells a small aluminum frame snowshoe ("Snow Trak") which uses a single piece of epoxy-coated rawhide laced to the frames rather than laced webbing. Sportsmen Products has developed a plastic snowshoe ("Snow Tread") which is almost as light as the "Snow Trak" but a little too small.

The author discusses avalanche safety and observes that there is no sport of snowshoeing as there is a sport of skiing. "Skiers slide down the same hill again and again because they enjoy doing it. Snowshoers snowshoe to get some place or see something, but not because they enjoy walking with snowshoes strapped to their feet."

Summit Magazine, 1971

Mar 1971, p. 29: "Avalanche Search Device" (Gear clippings)

"A lightweight transmitter-receiver small enough to carry in your pocket has been developed as a safety device for those traveling in avalanche territory. Every member of a party carries one of the transmitter-receivers switched to transmit. If someone is buried the servivors switch their units to receive and start to search immediately. Numerous field test show that with a little practice a searcher can find a buried transmitter in less than ten minutes." The units are called "Skadi" and are available from Lawtronics of Buffalo, NY.

Apr 1971, p. 18: Renz, Peter L., "A Traverse and First Ascent in the Pickets"

This article describes an 11-day horseshoe traverse on foot in summer around the headwaters of Goodell Creek from Pinnacle Peak (The Chopping Block) to Picket Pass, Jasper Pass, Mt Despair and Thornton Lakes. The party included Joan and Carla Firey, Dave Knudson and the author and they made the first ascent of Ghost Peak during the trip. The date is not specified.

Oct 1971, p. 18: Kirstein, Walter, "Ski Touring Techniques in the Alps"

The main difference between touring in the Alps and in North America is the presence of high alpine huts in Europe. Nordic cross-country skis are unsuitable and are not used for high, steep, alpine slopes and tours. The author uses laced boots with Vibram soles, cable bindings with Marker toe pieces and hinged "Kandahar" style toe irons that can be flipped up for climbing. He writes, "There are now some bindings on the market, Luster and Vinersa, which allow the sole to be raised for climbing." (I think he means that these bindings have a built-in hinge, rather than requiring the boot sole to flex or rock forward in the toe iron.)

Dec 1971, p. 12: Duff, Karl M., "Cascade Pass to Rainy Pass"

From August 8-15, 1970, Monty Lennox, Kent Heathershaw, Bob Yekel, Norm Reed, Paul Hartl and the author traversed on foot from Cascade Pass to Rainy Pass, climbing Sahale, Buckner, Booker, Storm King, Logan and Black and attempting Goode. The trip was inspired by the impending opening of the North Cascades highway and the idea of complementing the well-known Ptarmigan Traverse with a similar route to the northeast. The party applied the name "Spectacular Ridge" to the divide between Fisher Pass and Mt Arriva. Near the end of their trip, "We observed with a grimace the ugly scar of the North Cascades Highway, and realized that soon this area will be a hub of civilization."

Dec 1971, p. 39: "Ski Touring Binding" (Gear clippings)

The old Marker ski touring binding used special plates which had to be bent exactly to the shape of the touring boot and clamped onto the side of the skis. These plates could easily be lost. In the new Marker Rotomat TR binding, the boot is held by bars from the heel plate and pressure is tranferred to the toe piece, permitting the heel to rise while still giving good lateral support. Both forward and side release are available in the locked downhill position.

On page 33 is an advertisement for Sherpa snowshoe and mountaineering equipment. The ad offers snowshoe bindings, traction bars and ice ax baskets. Complete snowshoes are not yet available from Sherpa.

Summit Magazine, 1972

Apr 1972, p. 22: Letter from Fred Beckey

In this letter, Beckey responds to Karl Duff's December 1971 article in which Duff wrote that tramways would have little impact on the huge North Cascade wilderness. Beckey writes: "It is entirely unrealistic to pretend that the incursion will end at tramways. Atop the 'mountain' there is a need-demand for shelter and a restaurant, then as the masses arrive, a need for expansion and greater facilities. The pressures, socially and politically, will mount for springboards (trails, etc.) into the wilderness heart."

Summit Magazine, 1973

Jan 1973, p. 26: "Trak Skis for Cross Country" (Gear clippings)

"One of the more recent innovations in cross-country skis is the 'fish scale' bottom" manufactured by Kaestle Ski Co. in Germany and distributed by Trak, Inc. of Massachusetts.

Apr 1974, p. 4: Smith, Allen A., "Explorations in the Illabot Range"

Over seven days during July 1969, the author and Bob Wilson made the first high-level traverse on foot of the Illabot Range from Green Mountain to Snowking, exiting via Found Lakes to the Cascade River. This area lies west of the Ptarmigan Traverse and they envisioned an Illabot Traverse to parallel it. During this trip they proposed the name Margaret Sanger (after the founder of Planned Parenthood) for the summit now known as Misch (after Cascade geologist Peter Misch). The party climbed Misch, Buckindy, Mutchler and Snowking and began applying names from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to features in the vicinity. The article describes two other trips, in 1969 and 1972, in which the pair, with Dean Wilson, returned to climb and name other towers in the area.

Summit Magazine, 1974

Feb 1974, p. 12: "Commentary on a New Ski for Mountaineering" (Gear clippings)

The Trak Bushwhacker is a 150 cm ski half again as wide as a normal ski with a fish-scale base and no edges. Ordinary skis for downhill or cross-country skiing are 190-205 cm at this time. The reviewer found Bushwackers to have about the same floatation as ordinary skis, more maneuverability, but less stability. Bushwackers climb well but do not glide as well as a waxed ski.

Feb 1974, p. 31: Letter from Jon Wennevold

Commenting on a recent article by Galen Rowell about a five-day Sierra ski crossing on alpine touring gear, Jon Wennevold notes that in 1966 two Norwegians on light nordic skis traveled approximately 60 miles from Mammoth to Yosemite in one long day. He writes for many Norwegian skiers, a 60-mile ski trip would be considered an easy two-day trip. In the March 1974 issue (p.31) Rowell responds (with some heat) that his was a guided trip with people of limited experience, that it crossed high passes, and was not competitive in any way. He concludes, "I heartily recommend Nordic gear for most one-day trips and for experienced tourers who know what they are doing, but not for multi-day guided tours away from roads, in high mountains and changeable conditions."

Apr 1974, p. 12: Lorch, Walter F., "Avalanche Search Today"

Avalanche victims have a 20% chance of death from the impact of the avalanche. Once buried, a victim's chance of survival is halved with each passing hour. At the time of this writing, the conventional aid for rescue by party members is an avalanche cord, 25m of light rope fixed to the body and trailed. Newly developed radio transmitter-receiver systems (Authophon, Skilok, Pieps and Skadi) can achieve a survival rate above 70% compared with the average of 30%. "Within a few years, no mountaineering party will set out without Bleeps in the same way as sailors wear life jackets, motorcyclists or riders don helmets and flyers use seat belts."

Jun 1974, p. 10: Lawton, Peter S., "Experience with Rescue Transceivers"

Skadi was the first avalanche rescue transceiver to be used in regular ski patrol operations and it has already saved several lives in actual avalanche accidents. Currently, several different frequencies are used by different manufacturers and they are not compatible. Skadi (USA) and Pieps (Austria) both use 2275 Hz, which has been endorsed by the USFS and IKAR as an international standard. Skilok (British), Autophon (Swiss) and Lawinenspecht (Yugoslavia) all operate on different, higher frequencies. In ski patrol tests during the past winter, a ten-minute search time was considered as passing. The Swiss have estimated that one Skadi equipped rescuer can search as fast as 490 men with probe poles.

Summit Magazine, 1976

Apr 1976, p. 49: Letter from Vaclav Benes

Commenting on the 1974 exchange of letters between Jon Wennevold and Galen Rowell, Vaclav Benes writes, "It is unfortunate that nationalistic technological chauvinism persists in pitting Nordic vs. Alpine, and that it is exacerbated by some of the experts themselves. I have been told by guides in the Canadian Rockies that Nordic gear 'has no place in the mountains.' [...] Clearly, it is more important to consider who is to use what gear in what conditions and terrain, how experienced the person is, and what is his 'taste' in skis, pace, and route, than to tout one choice for all situations. Against this, it is obvious that use of Nordic gear by some party members and Alpine by others can be very divisive, socially as well as geographically!"

Summit Magazine, 1977

Dec 1977, p. 10: "Henry, Robert L., Jr., "Skiing for Mountaineers"

"Many winter climbers are realizing the benefits of climbing with skis, savings of time and energy." The author describes skis, bindings and poles for mountaineering. Traditional cable bindings and newer plate bindings are described generally, but no manufacturers are named. "Ski mountaineering bindings are used with technical mountaineering boots. This frees the climber from the need to carry two pairs of boots, one for skiing and one for climbing." Variable length aluminum poles are new, available from at least one manufacturer.

An ad in the Oct-Nov 1977 issue (p.30) describes "Bearpads," steel plates, about half the length of the boot, which can be added to the Silvretta Saas-Fee binding for improved lateral stability. There is a photo of the Saas-Fee with Bearpads installed. In the Feb-Mar 1978 issue (p.45) a letter from P.K. Edwards points out that in touring mode cable bindings permit the boot to flex at the toe, "resulting in a stronger, more natural, and less tiring 'kick'" than with plate bindings. This is true even when Bearpad plates (which are not full length) are incorporated into the cable setup. (Gear clippings).

Summit Magazine, 1978

Aug 1978, p. 9: Scott, Chic, "Canadian High Level Ski Tours"

This excerpt from the 1978 Canadian Alpine Journal describes three great Canadian high-level ski tours done in the last ten years: Jasper to Lake Louise, Rogers Pass to the Bugaboos, and Mica Creek to Rogers Pass. On these trips, the skiers used wooden cross-country skis with heavier touring boots and standard Kandahar cable bindings. For fast travel, they prefered wax rather than climbing skins.

Summit Magazine, 1979

Jun 1979, p. 16: Spring, Ira, "The Ptarmigan Traverse--A Dilemma"

In 1957, the author was a member of third party to travel the Ptarmigan Traverse. In 1978 he repeated the trip with his wife Pat to see the country again and find out why it had become so famous. They passed six other parties on their trip, most of them from out-of-state. While there was now a well-defined trail the whole distance and campsites were overused, they found no litter on the route and saw more wildlife than before. In 1957, the author considered five people a minimum for safe travel in such a remote wilderness. In 1978, with so many others around, he felt confident with just two. He discusses books and magazine articles, including his own, that contributed to the route's fame. "This is the dilemma: Conservationists must publicize an area to get enough national interest to create a park or wilderness, but by creating the interest, they bring the area to the attention of many more users."

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