"Mountaineering" by E.S. Meany

Explore Collection

Edmond S. Meany Papers. Accesssion 106-70-12, Box 107/8

Edmond Meany resting against tree, August, 1920
Edmond Meany, 1920

As shown in the discussion of the individual peaks, adventuresome climbers were attracted to the mountains of Oregon and Washington in the day of the very earliest pioneer settlements. Those occasional efforts were followed by geologists making more systematic and scientific exploration. Occasional visits were made by groups of men and women, delightful excursions, during which some of the hardier climbers reached the summits. But the more regular excursions, supervised and guided by experienced leaders, awaited the appearance of clubs or societies organized and enthusiastically maintained for the express purpose of the exploration and the enjoyment of the out-of-doors.

As early as 1888, there was organized the Puget Sound Alpine Club under the leadership of the pioneer alpinist, Major E. S. Ingraham. The present writer was a member and recalls that the club endured but one or two seasons. It was too early. Four years later, the Sierra Club was organized in California and speedily became an inspiration for like-minded people along the entire Pacific Coast.

Enthusiasts in Oregon and Washington believed that the Cascade Range deserved as much care and attention as did the Sierra Nevada. A club was organized in 1894 with headquarter in Portland, Oregon. The name chosen was Mazamas, Squamish for mountain goats. This club has been a pronounced and consistent success from the date of its organization. The yearly programs culminate in large outings to some portion of the Cascade Ranges. As these outings were devoted quite impartially to the peaks in Washington as well as to those in Oregon, the Mazamas sufficed as the mountaineering organization for both states for a dozen years. The club specializes on three peaks- Mount Hood, Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens - which are called Guardians of the Columbia. Mazamas who ascend all three of those peaks are entitled to wear the Guardian Badge. Two of those favorite peaks, being in Washington, help to retain the inter-state quality of the club. In fact the membership of 700 includes people from many portions of the United States. The lure of the West is strong among the mountaineering folk.

In addition to this longer annual pilgrimage to the mountains, the Mazamas maintain an extensive program of other activities such as a regular system of local walks, educational and entertainment meetings, social gatherings in the club room, a library, a lodge on Mount Hood and publications. Beside the attractive and valuable annual magazine, called Mazama, the publications include monthly issues containing notices, and two booklets Mount Hood and Crater Lake, published in 1920 and 1921.

The leadership of the Sierra Club and the Mazamas manifested itself at the initial meetings from which developed the organization of The Mountaineers. At the first meeting, on November 6, 1906, a resolution was adopted directing that advice be sought from the two older clubs. When the first constitution was adopted, article 1. declared "the name of this organization shall be the Seattle Mountaineers Club, Auxiliary to the Mazamas." Soon afterwards the auxiliary phrase was dropped and the name was cut to The Mountaineers. Like its prototype, this club maintains many activities in addition to its regular and well organized summer outings to the Olympic Mountains, to some portion of the Cascade Range, or to the mountain regions of Canada. Other activities include the maintenance of a club-room and library, a lodge at Snoqualmie Pass, a rhododendron reserve at Kitsap Cabin, regular local walks, special outings and monthly meetings usually of an educational nature devoted to mountaineering and exploration. Nearly all these meetings have been held in the auditorium of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which organization has freely cooperated with the club from the date of its organization.

Men and women mountaineers carrying alpenstocks on Success Glacier, July 28, 1919
Mountaineers carrying alpenstocks, 1919

As in the case of the Mazamas, the publications include the monthly bulletin of events and an annual magazine devoted to the year's exploration. These publications are saved and prized in many libraries of the country. There are vigorous branch organizations in Tacoma and Everett, each of which maintains a lodge in the Cascades and conducts its own program of local walks. Headquarters of The Mountaineers remains in Seattle and most of the mountaineering work is confined to the State of Washington. To encourage devotion to their own mountains it has been decreed that any member who ascends the six major peaks may wear the pin designed to honor such achievement. The six major peaks of Washington in the order of their elevation are Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Saint Helens and Mount Olympus. The last one was selected because It dominates the Olympic Peninsula and is more difficult of access than several[unselected peaks of greater elevation in the Cascade Range. The major peak plan has proved a stimulus toward sustained alpinism on the part of members of The Mountaineers.

In addition to the Mazamas, Oregon has three other clubs devoted to mountaineering. The Trails Club of Oregon, with headquarters in Portland, was organized in 1915 and has about 200 members. It maintains Nesika lodge near Oneonta and a club cabin on Larch Mountain. The Angora Club, with headquarters at Astoria, has done a lot of exploration in the Coast Range of Clatsop and Tillamook Counties. The Grizzley Club conducts exploration work in the area about their home town of Medford.

While the Mountaineers Club is the oldest and largest in Washington, the State now has at least nine other clubs with similar aims and activities. Arranged alphabetically these clubs are as follows: Cascadians, organized in 1920, with headquarters in Yakima; Co-operative Campers, 1916, Seattle; Klahhane Club, 1914, Port Angeles' Mount Baker Club, Bellingham; Mount Stuart Club, 1920, Ellensburg; Olympians, 1920, Hoquiam; Sagebrush and Pine club, 1915, Yakima; Spokane Mountaineer Club, 1915, Spokane; Trail Club of Spokane, 1923, Spokane. Of these, the Co-operative campers is far the largest organization, having membership of about 300. Its first aim was to provide inexpensive camping facilities in the parks of Mount Rainier. Other activities have been added and other camping localities have been sought. The Klahhane club and the Olympians are devoted to the Olympic Mountains approaching the Olympic National Forest and the Olympic National Monument from the opposite, north and south, extremities. The Mount Baker Club has been recently reorganized and is now one of the most active clubs in the State. They have for their favorite mountain a huge volume of pictures, clippings, manuscripts and documents comprising what is probably the most perfect history yet compiled of any mountain in America.

Men and women on summit of Mount Seattle, August 7, 1913
Men and women on summit of Mount Seattle, 1913

Opportunities for mountaineering in the entire Cascade Range have been much improved in recent years by two main agencies, the automobile and the National Forest Service. The improved roads and surfaced highways have come with the development of the automobile. In the pioneer days it was a case of back-packing from the ends of the few and very poor roads. There were a few Indian trails crossing the range and prospectors added others. When large parties first began to climb up to the open park lands pack-trains were used on those primitive trails and miles of new trails were blazed and opened each summer. Pack-trains are still used but mostly for shorter distances as the improved roads permit the transportation of climbers to nearer points of attack. Camps are moved along the trails and roads from one part of the mountain to another while the climbers may take a shorter "high line" to the new camp and there await the baggage. From all such camps there still remain areas inaccessible for pack-horses, necessitating the so-called "knapsack" or "back-backing" trips. Thus mountaineers rejoice on the fact that the ruggedness of the Cascade Range has made this a permanent condition. They hail with pleasure the improved means of transportation but they also believe whole-heartedly that certain wild portions of the mountain ranges hold a real value for all the people in their primitive character of wildness.

There remains to be considered the improvements for mountaineering sought by the National Forest Service. The entire Cascade Range through Oregon and Washington, is now embraced in a series of National Forests. All these Forests are being scientifically managed with the idea of producing a perpetual timber harvest. Fire is the greatest enemy. To fight fires, it is necessary to have trails and look-outs. The mountaineering clubs have gladly helped, with money and labor, to build new trails and to improve old ones. A friendly spirit of cooperation is mutually fastened between the clubs and the officers and men of the National Forest Service. In fact the men of that Service have always realized that the proper sort of camping is a desirable use of the growing forests. They invite and encourage such use. Governmental literature is issued to that end. In evidence let us read the opening sentence of the Government's pamphlet, Mountain Outings on the Rainer National Forest, as follows: "Straddling the Cascades from Mount Adams north to Pyramid Peak , the Rainier National Forest is preeminently a land for mountain outings. The lakes and streams are clean and cool and stocked with trout. The virgin forests of the slopes are interspersed with open glades, grassy hillsides, and flowery meadows where feed for pack and saddle animals is abundant and wood and water is convenient for the camper. Bear and deer are common in the game country and there is good camera hunting everywhere.