American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Mazamas

  • Club Activities
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1975

Mazamas. The Mazamas of Portland, Oregon, scheduled 223 climbs for the regular summer program. Of these, 180 were successful in meeting their purpose, the largest number ever experienced in a year. Good weather resulted in fewer cancellations than normal. An unusual heavy snowpack in the mountains drastically changed the nature of many climbs. For example, snow on the high route on Mount Constance added several hours of belaying over areas that would normally be negotiated with only a little careful rock scrambling. On Mount Index, the ridge east of Lake Serene is normally done on an easy trail. In 1974 a knife- edge of snow, piled 25 feet above where the trail exists, caused considerable belaying.

The year opened at a time of tight gasoline supply. The Climbing Committee tried to keep a great many of the climbs within easy driving distance. Several leaders rented 14-passenger van-buses to economize on gasoline consumption, and all possible pressure was exerted to encourage carpooling. In the isolated type of climbing characteristic of the Pacific Northwest, public transportation is not practical, and we must continue to rely entirely on the private automobile.

Occasional stories have been cropping up about crime in the mountains, pilfered automobiles or theft from camps in the main. The trend seems to be rising, with thieves cruising back roads and walking in to base camps.

Basic Climbing School used the same format as previously, with a lead instructor and four assistants taking a group of 15 students through field trips on rock and snow, then taking them up Mount Hood or Mount St. Helens. The school admitted 270 students for the 18 groups. Eighty per cent of the students were not Mazamas. The fee included bus transportation to rock climbing at Horse thief Butte near The Dalles and snow practice at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. The Intermediate Climbing School was again run on a selective basis. Many of the applicants were urged to wait a year to gain more climbing experience before trying to absorb training at the intermediate level. Part of the instruction was a glacier rescue session on Eliot Glacier on the north side of Mount Hood.

Club policy has always been to schedule climbs for the entire season, with publication of the schedule in April each year. This has always created some problems in advance signup, but as the number of climbs has increased, so have the problems compounded. Leaders now have the option to require payment in advance of the non-refundable climbing fee. This has proved effective, but does cause the leaders some extra work. Climbers frequently express an enthusiasm to climb that far exceeds their actual wishes by the end of summer. Late summer climbs sometimes go begging for members, although they were completely overwhelmed with requests made in the spring. Restrictions by the National Park and National Forest Services on the size of parties have caused some changes in the character of climbs. The club has been working on smaller climbs on their own in recent years, but government restrictions may have additional impact.

The outing program accounted for a number of far-ranging trips in 1974, which included the Glacier Park Wilderness, Mount Olympus, the Trinity Alps in California, the Nootka Sound Canoe Outing, Enchantment Lake Basin, Boston Basin, the Green and Yampa Rivers in Utah, and abroad to south-central Norway.

To augment a trend, more and more of the climbing fraternity took to cross-country skiing in winter and spring, forsaking the old sport of downhill skiing. The club held schools for both downhill and cross country instruction. Much of the activity centers at Mount Hood around Mazama Lodge at Government Camp. For beginners there are many trails and roads to follow, with more and more groups touring the ridges and canyons, dodging down through the timber, and crossing creeks on snow bridges.

Jack Grauer

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