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The Mountaineers

The Mountaineers. The Mountaineers continues to broaden its offerings of climbing courses, seminars, and programs with a continued commitment to conservation, stewardship, and access that creates a long-standing interest for its members. A growing number of people, currently 232, have been members of The Mountaineers for over 50 years! Donna Price, past Trustee, has organized an annual luncheon to recognize this extraordinary commitment. At this year’s luncheon Bob Cram presented an entertaining history of the evolution of illustrations for Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills. His illustrations appeared in the first six editions of the text and provided the foundation for the new digitally generated illustrations in the latest edition.

Internationally-acclaimed mountaineering and cultural travel photographer Gordon Wiltsie, introduced by Mountaineers Honorary member Tom Hornbein, was featured at The Mountaineers 2003 Annual Banquet.

The Mountaineers Books was gratified for the enthusiasm and support its 2003 title Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land received from the media, from book buyers, and from the nonprofit community. This conservation title—focused on protecting the refuge from oil commercialization—received broad media attention in newspapers, general interest magazines, and on television. Author/photographer Subhankar Banerjee’s images from the book were exhibited at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. A generous grant from the Lannan Foundation recreated the photography exhibit into six sets for traveling throughout the country in 2004. Arctic Refuge won the 2003 Banff Mountain Book Festival top award for “Mountain Image” and was used as evidence in a U.S. Senate debate on opening the refuge to oil drilling. Conservationists won that debate by a narrow margin, and The Mountaineers Books was proud to have had a role in this important issue.

The publisher’s most significant title—Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills—was released in its seventh edition thanks to the work of approximately 40 Club volunteers who labored for nearly two years on this new edition. [This and select other climbing titles published in 2003 are reviewed in this Journal—Ed.]

The Mountaineers Conservation Division is a major force in the creation of the Wild Sky Wilderness Bill. If signed into law this bill would make 106,000 acres north of Highway 2 near the Washington towns of Index and Skykomish federally designated Wilderness. Division members Harry Romberg and Norm Winn are earnestly lobbying Congress for passage of this important Wilderness Bill. Also, Conservation Chair Nancy Neyenhouse is working with conservation interests on the Mount Rainier National Park boundary extension project known as the Carbon River Valley Conservation Project. The Division graduated 90 students from its 10th annual NW Environmental Issues Course, which aims to inform the average citizen about the key environmental issues of our region including water, wildlife, forestry, global warming, and transportation issues as well as an advocacy session.

The Mountaineers Recreational Resources Division is working to ensure that fee collection under the federal user fee demonstration project is fair and workable, and to influence decisions on the future of the program. The Division has also been a key contributor working toward redistribution of Washington gas tax funds supporting trails and other recreation facilities. The new distribution formula will more accurately reflect the actual contributions of nonmotorized trail users. The Division also worked with land managers at Mount Rainier National Park to ensure that climbing fee increases and commercial services adjustments do not inhibit individual climbers. The Division continues to work with Mount St. Helens National Monument to create a workable compromise between users such as skiers/climbers and snowmobilers. In addition to its advocacy work, the Division coordinated successful trail maintenance work parties on National Trails Day and tested the leave-no-trace knowledge of hundreds of boy and girl Scouts.

Steven M. Cox, Trustee