American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

American Alpine Club Research Fund, Report of the Committee, 1950-1952

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  • Publication Year: 1953

American Alpine Club Research Fund

The American Alpine Club Research Fund was established in 1945 to promote scientific, literary, educational or historical research and publication related to mountaineering, geology or geography. The members appointed to the Research Committee by the President are: William B. Osgood Field, Jr., William R. Latady, Christine L. Orcutt, Chairman.

Report of the Committee, 1950-1952

Although the Research Fund bore the name of the Club and was administered as a trust during the first six years of its existence by a group numbering from three to five trustees, all of whom were Club members, under the Form of Gift whereby the Fund was established, these Trustees were given the power to act independently of the Board of Directors, in all matters pertaining to the Fund. While this Form of Gift had been duly approved and passed by a majority vote of the Club at its Annual Meeting in 1944, such a division of authority was contrary to the By-Laws of the Club which state in paragraph 4: “The Board of Directors shall have responsible control of all the Club’s work and property,” etc. An amendment of The American Alpine Club Research Fund Form of Gift was therefore recommended by a joint resolution of all Trustees of The American Alpine Club Research Fund and vote of the Council, as follows: “To terminate the Trust authorized and set up by the Form of Gift through a majority vote of the Club membership at the Annual Meeting held in December, 1944, and known as The American Alpine Club Research Fund, and to direct the Trustees thereof to pay all monies in their hands to the Treasurer of The American Alpine Club, the said monies both as to principal and income to be expended by The American Alpine Club Research Committee only for those purposes as set forth in the Form of Gift namely for scientific, literary, or historical research or publication related to mountaineering, geology or geography.” This amendment was passed during a special meeting of the Club, called by the President, and held on Saturday, 26 May 1951.

The monies paid by the Trustees to the Treasurer of the Club at this time amounted to $214.32, and a Research Committee of three appointed by the President, consisting of William B. Osgood Field, Jr., William R. Latady, and Christine L. Orcutt, Chairman, took over the responsibilities of the Fund for the season of 1951-1952.

During the summer of 1950 three field projects were endorsed by the Trustees and sponsored in part through appropriations from the Research Fund as follows: Project 15—Studies of Glaciers of the Gannett-Fremont Peak Area in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, directed by Mark F. Meier. In conjunction with these studies Meier compiled and drew up an excellent map of the North Central Wind River Mountains; this map was published, together with his report on some of the glaciological features observed in this region, in Volume VIII, Number I, American Alpine Journal 1951. In the summer of 1952 copies of this map, somewhat enlarged, proved of considerable value not only to members of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Wind River Expedition but to troops from the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command who came there for maneuvers from Camp Carson in Colorado. The Colonel in command, who had been issued the U. S. Geological Survey map of early 1900 vintage, expressed considerable enthusiasm and appreciation when A.M.C. leaders Hector Towle and Gerald E. Fosbroke presented him with several copies of the Meier map.

Meier also completed planimetric maps of 14 of the Wind River glaciers including Gannett, Dinwoody, Mammoth, Saca- gawea, Fremont, Knife Point, Gooseneck, Baby, Minor, Heap Steep, Sphinx, and F-3.

In addition to the maps Meier submitted a photographic record of some of the Wind River glaciers, numbering 72 photographs in all, one set of which was presented to The American Geographical Society for their permanent file, while the Club’s set, prior to being placed on permanent file, was loaned to Dr. Louis L. Ray of the U. S. Geological Survey, who was at the time inaugurating a photographic file for the Survey in Washington, D. C., and who expressed his approval of the collection by ordering a set for the Survey.

Project 16—Juneau Ice Field, Alaska Research Project. This study was carried out under the able direction of Maynard M. Miller, with a total of 29 men participating in the field work. Cosponsored by several organizations, both military and civilian, with a small token assistance from the Fund, this project provided new glaciological, botanical, and meteorological data of far-reaching value, while of particular interest to the Club was a training program for scientists in the techniques of field work on glacier, mountain, and arctic terrain.

Project 17—Dirt Band Studies. First initiated by Joel E. Fisher in 1946, on the Glacier du Géant and Mer-de-Glace near Chamonix, France, these studies were continued in 1951 in the Swiss Alps. New observations on the Gornergletscher at the foot of Monte Rosa, near Zermatt, supplied data of value in solving the origin of formation of both the Forbes and Alaskan types of dirt bands. Fisher was assisted by two well known guides from Zermatt, Felix Julen the elder and his son. Fisher’s report, admirably illustrated by an excellent composite photograph of the Mer de Glace, two diagrams, and several close-ups of the bubbly ice found on the Gorner Gletscher, was published together with the reports on Projects 15 and 16 in A. A. 1951.

Because of uncertainty as to the probable future of the Research Fund, preceding its transition from its original status of being a trust to its present status as a fund of the Club, no projects were sponsored in the summer of 1951.

In September 1952, Project 18—Further Studies of the Din- woody Glaciers, Wind River Mountains, Wyoming, sponsored solely by the American Alpine Club Research Fund and directed by Mark F. Meier, Club member and graduate assistant in the Division of Geological Sciences at California Institute of Technology, assisted by Don Emerson, was carried through successfully in spite of unfavourable weather. Meier’s report of glacier variations and glacier structures and other studies made in this region appears elsewhere in this Journal, together with a map of the surface features of Dinwoody Glacier, photographs, and line drawings.

At this time the Club members who have served either as Trustees or members of the Research Committee wish to express their deep felt gratitude to the many scientists who have so kindly helped them in their work and have given so freely of their time and knowledge. We are particularly indebted to the late Dr. François E. Matthes, Senior Geologist of the U. S. Geological Survey and a longtime member of the Club; the late Dr. Kirk Bryan, noted glaciologist of Harvard University; Dr. Frederick K. Morris, Professor Emeritus of Geology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Richard Foster Flint, Yale University; Dr. Louis L. Ray, U. S. Geological Survey, Washington, D. C.; Mr. Gerald Fitzgerald, Chief Topographic Engineer of the U. S. Geological Survey in Washington, D. C.; Dr. Robert L. Nichols, Tufts College; Dr. Robert P. Sharp, California Institute of Technology; Dr. Kirtley Mather, Harvard University; Dr. Richard J. Lougee, Clark University; Dr. Gerald Seligman of London; Dr. G. C. L. Bertram, Director, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, England; Mr. L. V. Lewis, Geography Department, Trinity College, Cambridge, England.

In view of the problems relating to the financial status of the Club it has until now been deemed advisable by both the Council and the Research Committee that no solicitation of donations be made by the Research Committee on behalf of the Fund, nor indeed, have any solicitations ever been made on its behalf throughout the past seven years of its existence. Members interested in the work have very kindly supported it with modest to extremely generous contributions, and since the cost of the Fund’s administration has been assumed by the trustees or members of the Committee, the projects sponsored have received the full benefit of all donations without cost to the Fund. While our Fund is now sadly depleted, our potentialities are unlimited. We are hopeful that those friends who have supported us in the past will find our efforts still worthy of their support in the future.

We wish to take this opportunity to thank them not only for their financial aid but for their enthusiasm, interest, and faith, without which this research work could never have been accomplished.

William B. Osgood Field, Jr.

Christine L. Orcutt, Chairman

William R. Latady

The American Alpine Club Research Committee

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