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The Mountaineers

The Mountaineers. In 1991, we saw our membership top the 12,000 mark! Our Basic and Intermediate Climbing Courses were as popular as ever. At our headquarters in Seattle, over 200 enrolled in our Basic Climbing course and 70 students graduated; 70 students entered the Intermediate Climbing Program and 15 completed graduation requirements. Our Olympia Branch started the 1991 season with 38 climbing and five alpine scrambling students. Nine lst-year and eight 2nd-year climbing students, and four alpine scramblers graduated. Fifty- two students entered the Everett Branch’s Basic Course and 37 graduated; one person finished Everett’s Intermediate Course in 1991. Eleven Basic students graduated from our Bellingham Branch’s Basic Climbing Course; 66 students took the Tacoma Branch Basic Course and 18 entered Tacoma’s Intermediate Course last year.

Demand was also high for our Mountaineering Oriented First Aid (MOFA) courses. This course, developed by The Mountaineers in 1968 with the American Red Cross, meets the requirements of Red Cross Standard First Aid with an additional 22 hours of training using simulated mountain accident scenarios. It is designed for those who venture where medical assistance can be hours or days away, and is a requirement for graduation from our Basic, Intermediate, or Alpine Scrambling Courses. In 1991, 519 people completed The Mountaineers’ MOFA courses.

A campaign begun in 1990 reached success in April of this year when the Peshastin Pinnacles were reopened to climbers. These 200-foot sandstone spires in Eastern Washington had been closed in 1986 because of the owner’s liability concerns. The Mountaineers, working primarily with the American Alpine Club, the Trust for Public Land and Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), raised public interest and support for state acquisition of the property. In all, The Mountaineers and its members contributed $18,000 of the $60,000 in private funds needed to acquire and open the Pinnacles as a State Park. Sixty-five members participated in work parties to build trails and clear and grade the parking lot and restroom areas. This popular climbing area, with over 90 established routes, is excellent for teaching and practicing.

We were fortunate to have some interesting speakers address the club in 1991. Geoffrey Tabin, the fourth person in the world to reach the “Seven Summits,” spoke at the annual banquet, and Carlos Buhler, the most accomplished North American climber in the Himalaya, spoke at our Tacoma Branch banquet. As in 1990, we again sponsored and organized local showings of the Best of the Banff Festival of Mountain Films.

The Mountaineers continued to work for natural resource conservation, and increased efforts to promote a wilderness ethic among members in all club activities. As the year closed, Mountaineers Books had sent the fifth edition of Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills to the printer, for distribution by January, 1992.

Although there were over 300 climbs organized by The Mountaineers in 1991, this may have been our most exciting: Under the auspices of The Mountaineers International Exchange Committee, 10 climbers departed for the Pamir Mountains of the Soviet Union in July. Upon arrival in Osh the team was treated like royalty with a five-course breakfast and police escort as it departed toward Achik-Tash Base Camp, situated at 12,140 feet. While acclimatizing at Base Camp, all members climbed nearby Pik Petrosky (15,421 feet). A couple of days later the team’s climbing equipment was flown to Camp I at 13,860 feet on Pik Lenina while team members hiked eight miles of moraine and glacier. Two more camps were established as the team progressed up the mountain, the highest at 20,400 feet. Just as the climbers were preparing for the summit bid, a storm descended which stopped all movement and left the group waiting impatiently for several days. On August 10, five of the group made a summit bid, which Bob St. Clair alone made in that attempt. The following day Dave Gordon, Dan Luchtel and Howard Weaver also successfully climbed the peak. With a feeling of accomplishment, all members cleared the mountain of equipment and returned to Achik-Tash on August 13. Many difficult goodbyes were said to new acquaintances as the team departed. Deep gratitude was expressed to Soviet friends for providing an “experience of a lifetime” in the Pamirs. The Mountaineers look forward to hosting their Soviet counterparts in the Northwest in 1993.

Dianne M. Hoff, President