Mountains and Mountaineering in the Pacific Northwest

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The History of the Mountaineers

Meany in Tent, 1911
Meany in tent, 1911

The Mountaineers is an outdoor recreation organization of the Pacific Northwest, founded in 1906 in Seattle. The mission of the organization is “to enrich the community by helping people explore, conserve, learn about and enjoy the lands and waters of the Pacific Northwest”. Mountains and wilderness lands have been a defining characteristic of the Pacific Northwest and an inspiration for the people who live here. The Mountaineers has provided a way for people to come together in the exploration of these wild areas, learn about mountain safety and rescue and promote conservation.

One of the founding members of The Mountaineers was Asahel Curtis, a renowned Northwest photographer. In 1906, Curtis, together with W. Montelius Price and Henry Landes, then UW Dean of Geology, formulated the idea to create a new northwest mountaineering club. Outdoor recreation clubs had become popular with the start of the Sierra Club in 1892, The Mazamas in Portland in 1894, and the American Alpine Club in 1902. Outdoor enthusiasts and people concerned with protecting the Pacific Northwest felt they needed their own recreation and advocacy group in Seattle. By the second meeting, 151 people enrolled as charter members of The Mountaineers.

Among the charter members were librarians, teachers, businessmen, physicians, attorneys, photographers, and bankers. Of the initial charter members, over half were women. Notable members included Professor Edmond S. Meany, dean of the history department at the University of Washington who became president of the club from 1908-1935, photographers Lawrence Denny Lindsley and Arthur Churchhill Warner, and future Mayor of Seattle, Bertha K. Landes.

Climbing on Mt. Baker, 1925
Climbing on Mt. Baker, 1925

The original purpose of the group was "rendering a public service in the battle to preserve our natural scenery from wanton destruction, and yet make our spots of supremest beauty accessible to the largest number of mountain lovers". The club began leading local outings, organizing a multi-week summer outing for a large group, and producing the Mountaineer Bulletins and Annuals to keep members informed of monthly meetings, classes, and outings. Special Collections has made the first two Bulletins printed available online it their entirety.