Looking Back at the Spokane Mountaineers: 1935 to 1940

1935 was a big year for the Spokane Mountaineers. This was the year that the club incorporated and membership grew to 112. The 20th anniversary and dinner attracted 78 members and guests, with each meal costing a whopping $1 each. That summer club members invited the Mazamas mountaineering club to climb Mount Rainier with them at a cost of $3.50 per climber.

The highlight of the year was the “Christmas Tree Outing” in Paradise Valley. 80 plus members showed up for the 4th annual Christmas tree party. While the club sat around the fire singing songs and eating sandwiches, a scruffy older man appeared off to the side. Being a joyous group of people, they invited the stranger to join them in song and food. It was obvious that the man was shy and maybe a bit awkward. The club piled food and coffee on him and watched in amazement of how fast the man devoured the food and gulped down the hot coffee. During the festivities, he sat and listened, but didn’t participate in the Christmas carols. The club said goodbye and left the man with all the extra food they had with them.

This “Hermit,” as club members took to calling him, was on the minds of those who attended the party and was the topic of many conversations for many months. The next year, the club was anticipating the Hermit’s return and the outing grew substantially. When they arrived at the Christmas tree spot, they found the area had been cleared of branches, and logs had been cut into stools with bark covering them so they would be dry for all to sit on. The club was astonished at the kindness of the Hermit. When asked why he had done so much for club, his answer was simple: “You folks were friendly to me a year ago. I wanted to do something in return. Making your camp more comfortable was the best thing I could think of.”

In 1937, the club started informal climbing classes. That year’s summer outing was held for the first time in a foreign country. A total of 25 members from seven mountaineering clubs joined the Spokane Mountaineers for a week at the Kokanee Glacier Park north of Nelson, B.C. The group climbed 14 peaks and were the first to climb Mt. Cond, the highest in the park at 9,200 feet.

The year 1939 was another really big year for the Spokane Mountaineers.

The club bought 40 acres on Mount Spokane from the Panhandle Lumber Company for $1,500. Also that year the “Kinnikinnick,” the Mountaineers newsletter, announced climbing trips to these Northwest classics: Rocks of Sharon, the practice rocks at Tum, Snowshoe Peak in the Cabinets (which was a recorded first ascent), Mount Rainier, Scotchman Peak, the face of Roman Nose, Mount Adams led by Ed Dennis, and an overnighter on Stevens Peak led by Hans Moldenhauer.

This is #2 in a series of Spokane Mountaineers historical highlights. Learn more about the club and its events and outings as members celebrate 100 years at www.spokanemountaineers.org.

Written by Chic Burge.

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