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John_Roper said:

The short story on the Ragged Ridge names is that the 1966 FA party of the 8795' highest peak named it "Panther Peak," at the head of Panther Creek. The next 8680+ foot peak west was first climbed in 1968, and called "Mount Holyoke" after a party member's alma mater (OK, not the best name in the world). The 1970 FA party called the last high peak (8332') on this ridge, "Ragged End," and the 8600+ peak just east here "Gendarmes Peak," after the multiple spires on the summit ridge.


A few years later, a guidebook author changed the names that the FA parties had applied to these peaks to Chinook jargon terms, some of which are not particularly inspiring concepts in English translation. The following translations are taken from George C. Shaw's 1909 work, "The Chinook Jargon."


Very interesting. If only there was a way to reinstate the original names. I kind of like the "Mount Holyoke" name, particularly since it has more of a story to it.


John: Check your PM's if you can.



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Lowell --- Thank you for your gracious offer to help out in the search for the Ptarmigan scrapbook, once your history of Northwest ski mountaineering is completed. In view of your own eminent climbing achievements in the North Cascades, and your extensive personal experience with the Ptarmigan Traverse, I would be highly honored that the two of us should both pursue this very crucial line of inquiry. As far as "last great historical problems" of the North Cascades go, I can think of none that is of greater importance than locating the Ptarmigan scrapbook.


As of the present, the principal source of information we have on their achievement stems from Harvey and Betty Manning's landmark account of the Ptarmigan explorations that appeared in the 1958 Mountaineer annual. We will always owe a deep debt of gratitude to Harvey and Betty, for they were the first to bring public attention to the "Ptarmigans and their Ptrips." They had the foresight and good fortune to have contacted the principal members of the group two decades after the traverse, while most of them were still with us. That was nearly half a century ago. Since then, there has been no published study on the Ptarmigans that has advanced our knowledge of their exploits beyond that which appeared in Harvey and Betty's momentous article. (For those individuals not familiar with this article, it is well worth reading. Harvey writes with flawlessly idyllic prose.)


Both you and I have contacted and corresponded with several of the surviving Ptarmigans, but I don't think that either of us (or, at least I, for certain) could at present, significantly increase the level of knowledge beyond that attained by Harvey and Betty in 1958.


If we succeed in locating the Ptarmigan scrapbook, it would be appropriate that we both co-author and publish a study on the Ptarmigans. With you joining in on the research for this project, I would no longer regard it as my own study. If we share research efforts, then it is only fitting that we share authorship.


Let me know when you are ready to pursue this further. At present, I have pretty much run out of leads. I have been postponing publishing anything on this topic since 1978, and the scrapbook has been missing since 1941, so I don't think that waiting another year or two will make that much difference.


In the meantime, so as not to keep the members of cc.com waiting in too much suspense --- and in an effort to generate interest which may eventually lead to the location of the scrapbook --- here are a few entries from the official minutes book of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club. The family of Professor Calder T. Bressler very generously donated this highly significant document to the University of Washington Library in 1973.


The first entry occurs on December 1, 1937, at which time a constitution was adopted. The charter members were: Bill Cox "chief guide," Ray McCoy "assistant chief guide," Calder Bressler (secretary), Ray Clough (treasurer), Bernie Pearson "curator," Bob Harding, Chuck Kirschner, Chuck Metzger, Junior Myers, Dick Slater, and Will Thompson. This meeting formally dissociated the members from the Boy Scouts, whose hierarchy did not condone the climbing activities of the "George Vancouver Rover Clan."


The minutes for that first meeting record that, "after a hot debate upon several localities," they decided to hold their first outing on the south side of Mount Adams during December 27-30 (as events turned out, the actual destination was to be the Washington Ski Club lodge at Snoqualmie Pass).


Their ambitions were lofty at the very onset, for at the January 5, 1938 meeting there was a report on an attempted winter ascent of Mount Baker by Bill Cox, Ray McCoy, and Will Thompson; with Ray Clough and Junior Myers acting as support party. (Keep in mind that, at this point, most these fellows were still 17- and 18-year-old high school seniors.) At the next meeting, on January 18, Ome Daiber was present, lending his support to the newly formed group.


On March 5, 1938, five girls were admitted as members of the club. At the March 16 gathering, Bill Cox demonstrated how to properly use an ice axe. On March 30, at the height of the Great Depression, there was a total of $1.95 in the club treasury. This meeting may have held the first spark that eventually led to the Ptarmigan Traverse, for the minutes record that "Also discussed was a program for this summer." Serious climbing projects were in the air, for at this same meeting, Bill Cox (who was the most skilled climber of the group) then "divulged the secrets of pitons use and application."


Bill Cox most likely learned piton technique from Wolf Bauer (a previous advisor when the fellows were Boy Scouts), a native of the Bavarian Alps, who was the first to introduce advanced European rock climbing techniques and equipment into the North Cascades. Bauer, a ceramic engineer, was only slightly older than the Ptarmigans, and it was he who founded The Mountaineers Climbing Course in 1935 --- the single most influential event in the history of Cascades Mountaineering.


It was Wolf Bauer who, on July 5, 1936, during the first ascent of Mt. Goode, drove the first piton ever placed on a mountain in the North Cascades. That piton, placed for protection, was crucial in allowing Wolf to lead an exposed traverse that constitutes the crux of the southwest chimney route on that peak. Mt. Goode had repulsed all previous attempts, even two by Art Winder's group (1933 and 1934), and one by Hermann Ulrichs (1934) --- the two greatest Northwest technical climbers of their day --- neither of which party had ever used pitons.


What was needed here was a change of paradigm in Northwest climbing. The Goode problem required new techniques, new equipment, and a new approach to mountaineering. Without these, technical climbing in the North Cascades had come to a halt, and could advance no further. In 1935 and 1936 Bauer forever changed the course of rock climbing in the Northwest; whereas in 1939 Dr. Otto Trott introduced European ice techniques on Mt. Shuksan which revolutionized Northwest ice climbing.


(Bauer had a healthy sense of humor. He was the first of the group to reach the summit of Mt. Goode. Before the other 4 members joined him, he quickly built a small cairn on the summit. When his companions finally did arrive, he pointed to the small cairn, shook his head with disappointment, and broke the disheartening news to them that it looked like The Mazamas had managed to make the first ascent. After letting this sink in for a few seconds, Bauer then grinned widely and told them the real truth.)


Incidentally, the Bauer route on Mt. Goode has rarely, if ever, been repeated. If anyone should encounter an old rusty piton on that crux traverse, please let it stay there. That piton is one of the most historic climbing relics in the North Cascades; and that is where it belongs --- in the mountains.


July 5, 1936, was an epochal day in the history of the North Cascades, for on that same afternoon, 14 miles to the south, Forrey Farr, Norval Grigg, and Don Blair made the first ascent of the southwest summit of Dome Peak. They were members of Art Winder's group, climbers of the old school. They never used pitons during any their climbs. With only rope, nailed boots, and an ice axe, they had pushed the envelope of their climbing abilities to its limit. Dome Peak was within their grasp, but not Mt. Goode. The following morning, they set out back down the Sulphur Creek Trail, never again to return. Dome Peak was their last first ascent in the North Cascades.


On that tranquil July day during the summer of 1936, the Stone Age of Northwest climbing quietly came to a close on Dome Peak; while to the north, on the fierce precipice of Mt. Goode, with the ringing of metal being driven into rock, the Iron Age had begun.


The Ptarmigans were among the first Iron Men of that new age. On April 20, 1938, they officially adopted a new name, for the minutes state that "we are now the Ptarmigan Climbing Club."


The entry for August 4, 1938 is of supreme importance for the history of the North Cascades:


"Bill Cox then gave an illustrated talk on a two weeks trip whose personel included himself, Jr. Myers, Ray Clough and the sec'y [Calder Bressler]. Jr. Myers gave the scientific side of the trip including food equip, etc."


Note that the minutes specify an "illustrated talk." During his recent meeting with Ray Clough, Lowell discovered something that, until now, has been entirely unknown to all scholars and historians of the North Cascades: Ray Clough definitely took photographs during that first traverse. Calder Bressler is known to have taken black-and-white photos during Ptarmigan trips. And the phrase "illustrated talk" remotely suggests that Ray Clough might have taken color 35mm transparencies. There may possibly have been as many as three photographers on the 1938 Ptarmigan Traverse.


The minutes entry for Sept. 28, 1938 is also of superlative importance in the history of North Cascades climbing: "Will Thompson gave his illustrated talk on his and Cox's trip to Picket Range which was accompanied by two first ascents: Fury and Luna and a 3rd [ascent]: Redoubt."


This entry indicates that either Will Thompson or Bill Cox (or possibly even both) also took photographs during Ptarmigan climbs. As it stands, we know for certain that Ray Clough and Calder Bressler were photographers; and we know that Bill Cox and/or Will Thompson were also photographers.


In 1939 four Ptarmigans made a second ascent of Mt. Degenhardt in the Southern Pickets. That same summer, Will Thompson and Calder Bressler made the first ascent of Bear Mountain, and confirmed what Thompson had suspected during his earlier visits to Redoubt in 1937 and 1938: the upper 1750 feet of the north face of Bear Mountain are overhanging --- one of the most astounding discoveries ever made in the North Cascades.


Bressler was a known Ptarmigan photographer, and the likelihood is high that he had a camera with him during this trip. However, as of the present time, I know of only one existing Ptarmigan Climbing Club photograph: this is a xerox copy, sent to me in 1978 by Charles R. "Mitzi" Metzger, of a photograph taken in 1940 by Calder Bressler of the Southern Pickets from the north. With possibly as many as four Ptarmigan photographers, there must be other pictures out there.


At one time, these photographs were preserved in the official scrapbook of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club, which is first mentioned in the minutes entry for December 13, 1939: "There was a brief discussion about keeping up the scrapbook and Bill Cox was appointed to take care of it."


One month later, on January 17, 1940, "There was a discussion on pictures and reports for the scrap book. Bill Cox took the names of all who had been on climbing trips from spring 1939 up to the present time."


This entry indicates that the scrapbook contained trip reports as well as photographs. It also suggests that, as of January 1940, this scrapbook had been kept current to the spring of 1939. This being the case, the scrapbook would definitely have contained photographs and information concerning the 1938 Ptarmigan Traverse.


Later entries indicate that the scrapbook was indeed kept up-to-date, for on February 21, 1940, "Bill Cox made a list of those who are to make reports on climbs -- Glacier Peak Gert Harby, . . . Bear Mt. Will Thompson, . . . Spire Bill Cox . . . "


Note the name "Gert Harby." He made an uneventful ascent of Glacier Peak, and later climbed Mt. Constance in 1941. His name appears once more in the Ptarmigan club minutes; and then he disappears forever from Northwest climbing history. He may be the key to this whole enigma.


The scrapbook must have contained a comprehensive record of the achievements of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club, for the entry on June 19, 1940 indicates that "Everyone brought pictures from climbs and hikes for Gert Harby to select for the scrap book."


Motion picture films had also been made, for this same entry records that Ralph Bromaghin had movies that were taken during previous Ptarmigan climbs of Mt. Baker and Whitehorse. Thus in addition to photographs and the scrapbook itself, there may also exist motion picture film of the Ptarmigans. (Bromaghin was the only Ptarmigan fatality of the Second World War.)


One month later, on July 17, 1940, another momentous Ptarmigan adventure was recorded in the minutes: "Will Thompson told about his two-week trip . . . . Will also gave a report on a trip to the Pickett range taken by him, Calder Bressler, and Ray Clough." They climbed Luna, Challenger, and the East peak of Fury. An attempt was also made on the West peak of Mt. Fury, but it was too late in the day to complete the ascent (West Fury would remain unclimbed for three decades, until 1958.) It was on this trip that the one known surviving Ptarmigan photograph was taken by Calder "Tup" Bressler.


The last reference to the official scrapbook of the Ptarmigan Climbing Club occurs on October 29, 1941: "Gert [Harby] again sent out a plea for pictures for our book." Thereafter, . . . silence. Both the scrapbook and Gert Harby vanish from history. Five weeks later, the United State entered World War Two. Men of Gert Harby's age entered military service; most served their tour of duty overseas into combat zones. Find out what became of Gert Harby, and we may find what happened the Ptarmigan scrapbook.


The final entry in the minutes book of the Ptarmigan Club occurs on April 15, 1942, "Lambuth gave a report of a trip to Tooth." (The only significant climbing record for Alan Lambuth are first ascents of the three western towers of The Chessmen in 1950 -- all middling class 3 or 4 routes, on the west ridge of McClellan Peak.) With the War, both the Great Depression and a generation itself had drawn to a close. The era of the Ptarmigan Club ended with an incomplete sentence, concerning an obscure climber, on a minor peak. The Ironmen had all gone off to war.


The Ptarmigan Climbing Club was in existence for scarcely more than 4 years; but their achievement during that brief interval has earned them a place of enduring honor and prestige in the climbing history of the North Cascades. Since the year 1938, no climber has ever set foot on the summit of a peak in the Picket Range, or ventured into the region between Dome Peak and Cascade Pass, without having first trod in the earlier footsteps of one of the Ptarmigans.


I have been searching for the Ptarmigan Club scrapbook since 1973, thus far without success. In a few months, Lowell and I will make another try at it. If someone out there finds the book before we do --- go for it. It is the single most valuable document pertaining to the history of climbing in the North Cascades. The important thing is that the scrapbook be located, and then be permanently preserved in a library.

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Very nice. Thanks Harry.


I've already climbed Goode but an attempt to try and find that first piton ever driven into a Cascades peak makes me want to climb it again by the Southwest Chimney Route. (I don't even know how hard that route is.) Just to get a look at that piton or see if I can find it sounds fun. Like voodoo, I wonder if Richard Goode felt that "pin prick" when it happened. Or had he already passed away by then?


Isn't there a registry in the military to see what happened to soldiers in the wars? Couldn't that be used to at least determine if a Gert Harby was KIA or otherwise? Maybe you already tried that.

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Do we know for sure that Gert Harby is a he? Gert sounds like it might be short for Gertrude. We know the Ptarmigans let in females.....maybe Gert married and her last name changed hence no more Harby? confused.gif

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Harry - Reading your posts has truly been a delight. Many thanks for sharing them here.

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There is one "strawman" in the Ptarmigan essay, which was insinuated in the hope that the person who would be able to immediately recognize and correct that error, would also know what became of the Ptarmigan scrapbook, or at least guide us in the right direction toward its discovery. Under ordinary circumstances, I am reluctant to employ such stratagems. However, in an intractable situation such as this, which has been persistently resistant to resolution, a stratagem is worth a try. In this instance, I am: (a) calling attention to its presence; and (b) if the "strawman" does not yield the sought information within a reasonable length of time, I will then correctly identify it to cc.com readers.


Anyone familiar enough with the Ptarmigans to be able to immediately step forth and correctly (and probably very demonstratively) recognize the "strawman," hopefully would also be able to eventually lead us to the Ptarmigan scrapbook.


For those readers unfamiliar with the use of a "strawman" for research purposes, Lowell presents a good definition in his website, at alpenglow.org, under "Project Status":


"What is a Strawman? When the previous history of a route is uncertain, then a report may be listed as a strawman. It's been said that the best way to get information on the Internet is not to ask a question, but to post the wrong information. It is hoped that these strawman listings will prompt earlier reports, if any exist." (http://alpenglow.org/ski-history/project/status-info.html)


There is one bit of "wrong information" in the Ptarmigan essay. Via separate e-mail, I have already informed Lowell about the Ptarmigan "strawman." As it turns out, even before I contacted him, Lowell had already very astutely and very correctly arrived at a conclusion as to what the "strawman" is (as has one other individual).


In some instances, the use of a "strawman" or similar stratagem may be the only feasible way of gaining information to determine if a first ascent or new route has been made or not. If there is no previous record in the summit register, or in the published literature and climbing journals; and if the mountaineering community seems unaware of any previous climb --- then one might go ahead and publish an account of the climb, claiming it as a first ascent or new route. If, after publication, no one steps forward and challenges the claim as "wrong information," then the greater likelihood exists that this indeed is a first ascent or new route.


(If you think you can spot the "strawman," and are thinking of posting your speculation here, please do not feel reluctant to do so, for I do not think that tentative and unsubstantiated guesses posted here at cc.com will interfere with the operation of the stratagem. In a way, I suppose this could be viewed as a Ptarmigan "trivia" puzzle --- but hopefully one that will help lead us to the scrapbook.)

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Alan Lambuth address appears in the 1945 Mountaineers Journal here is it:


Alan Lambuth(In the service)


2204 Federal AVE. N. (2)

, CA. 0702


He was in the US ARMY

Edited by Cpt.Caveman

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Harry -- In your excellent post about the Ptarmigans and their missing scrapbook, you mentioned that Ralph Bromaghin had movies from climbs of Mt Baker and Whitehorse. And you note that "Bromaghin was the only Ptarmigan fatality of the Second World War."


Indeed, in Harvey Manning's "Ptarmigans and Their Ptrips" (The Mountaineer, 1958, p. 63), Harvey writes: "Ralph Bromaghin, whose tastes ran to music and skis, was killed in World War II. So unobtrusive yet effective was his leadership and well-beloved his personality some Ptarmigans are confident the club would have survived the war had he done so."


This is a remarkable statement, and I can't help but wonder how Northwest mountaineering and skiing history might have changed had Bromaghin survived and had the Ptarmigans regrouped after the war.


Ralph Bromaghin has been all but forgotten by Northwest climbers, even those fascinated by the Ptarmigans. But he has not been entirely forgotten by skiers. In my ski mountaineering research, I've encountered many references to Ralph Bromaghin. While the hard-core climbers of the Ptarmigans were blazing new trails in the North Cascades, Bromaghin was a pioneer of another sort. He was among the first professional ski instructors at the new resort of Sun Valley, which revolutionized alpine skiing in America just before World War II.


When the war broke out, Bromaghin, along with many of America's best skiers and mountaineers, joined the mountain troops just starting to be organized at Fort Lewis near Tacoma. During the winter of 1941-42, after the attack on Pearl Harbor thrust America into the war, the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment moved into quarters at Paradise on Mt Rainier for several months of training.


Imagine the scene. War is raging in Europe and the Pacific. Battle looms for a generation of young American men. Yet for a few months, the one hundred and fifty men of the infant regiment are stationed on the slopes of Mt Rainier, their task to become as proficient at skiing and winter survival techniques as possible. For a hardy group of young skiers and mountaineers, it was a dream come true. The grim realities of war could wait.


Lt. Charles Bradley wrote of that period: "Perhaps the best measure of the spirit of a group of men can be found in the music that comes from them." Bradley described the 87th Mountain Infantry as "one of the singingest outfits to ever shoulder an army pack." He continued: "[Ralph] Bromaghin was very much the spark plug. He could feel out harmony better then anyone else I've known and was able to get it across to the rest of us." Bromaghin and Pfc. Charlie McLane composed many of the lyrics, usually to the tune of currently popular songs.


Skiing was a favorite subject of their songs. One of the most popular tunes, "The Ballad of Sven and Oola" celebrated the rivalry between skiers and snowshoers over which was the better technique for a mountain soldier. The chorus, to the tune of "I'm a Bold, Bad Man From Colorado," went like this:


Oh, give me skis and some poles and klister

And let me ski way up on Alta Vista.

You can take your snowshoes and burn them, Sister,

And everywhere I go I'll give my war whoop!


Here's a link to the complete lyrics of the song on my website:




And here's a photo of the 87th Mountain Infantry glee club singing in the Paradise Lodge, from the 10th Mountain Division photo collection at the Denver Public Library. Ralph Bromaghin is in the center playing guitar:




The Mt Rainier phase of the mountain troop story soon ended, and the small nucleus of men who trained there were soon joined by thousands more. The 10th Mountain Division grew, moved to Camp Hale, Colorado for more training, and shipped out to Italy in the winter of 1944-45. There they proved themselves in battle, spearheading the drive that broke through the Apennine mountains and racing across the plains to the foothills of the Alps. Of the 12,000 men of the 10th, over 4,000 were wounded and almost 1,000 were killed in action. One of them was a young officer with a taste for music and skis named Ralph Bromaghin.


His companions haven't forgotten him. In his classic "Sun Valley Ski Guide," published in 1948, Andy Hennig wrote that Bromaghin's friends named a peak after him in Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains, near Galena summit. Here's a link that shows the peak on the USGS topo map:




And here's another photo from the Denver Public Library collection, showing Bromaghin on skis during his days training with the mountain troops:





Like the rest of the Ptarmigans, Ralph Bromaghin's influence, though it occurred over a very short time, continues to be felt.

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Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing Lowell.


I look forward to the final works thumbs_up.gifwave.gifwazzup.gif


As far as the Ptarmigan scrapbook\records well good luck finding it. I think your continued pursuits here are good. There are many folks reading and you never know what may surface.


The ski shots are amazing. Even if they are wielding branding irons I am sure they could ski way better than me. cry.gif

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To_The_Top said:

Cpt.Caveman said:

I vote a moderator makes this thread a sticky note thumbs_up.gif

I'll give it a whirl...


Thanks buddy! This is by far the MOST interesting reading I have seen here on the cascadeclimbers website.


If it never produces the information some are looking for bummer. If it does we'll surely find out. thumbs_up.gif


TTT when was the last time we met wazzup.gif

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Cpt.Caveman said:

TTT when was the last time we met wazzup.gif
Maybe it was back in January at my second pub club (Ballard Alehouse?). Four estimable Northwest climbers were seated in a row at the table. It was Paul (Klenke), Bill (TTT), Ray (Cavey), and Fred (Beckey). Never again in the long history of Northwest climbing will such a stellar syzygy [+ Fred] occur. grin.gif

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The "strawman" is --- actually, more correctly, the straw woman is Gertrude Harby. Only someone intimately familiar with the Ptarmigans would have known that "Gert," in this instance, is short for Gertrude. I had hoped that word would get around, and that a misidentification as manifest as this would have provoked an outspoken correction from someone who was either a Ptarmigan, or a relative of a Ptarmigan, and/or someone who knew Gert Harby and could tell us what became of her --- and perhaps, hopefully, eventually lead us to the Ptarmigan scrapbook. Nothing has yet come of this stratagem, but it was worth a try.


I must credit and compliment both Dru and Lowell, for not only did these two gentlemen correctly surmise the true identity of Gert, they also, very graciously at my request, discreetly refrained from posting further speculation on the matter, so as to allow the stratagem time to proceed. I have remarked on this before, and I will do so again --- cc.com has some remarkably knowledgeable and astute individuals among its members.


I can report, however, that during the past two weeks a couple of promising leads have developed. Entirely independent of me, Lowell has discovered Gert's married name --- appearing, of all places, on page 63 of the 1958 Manning article on the Ptarmigans. This represents a substantial oversight on my part, because I have had a copy of the 1958 annual in my collection for over 40 years, and the name therein had entirely escaped my notice!! Let this serve as notice to cc.com readers: my writings or statements on a matter are not always entirely accurate or definitive. This is not the first time that I have been humbled, nor do I expect it to be the last.


Also during the past two weeks, during an internet search, by chance I came across an individual who has the same unusual name as Gert's brother. Once Lowell has more free time at his disposal, we will likely discuss how to proceed further in this matter. Lowell already knows the sister of one of the Ptarmigans, and this individual may be the best intermediary through which to locate and contact either Gert or one of her relatives.


Moreover, at this point in time, there is at least one other individual conducting an independent search for the Ptarmigan scrapbook. This is encouraging. Hopefully, one of these days, in the not too distant future, we may be able to announce to cc.com readers that, after 60 years in seclusion, the Ptarmigan scrapbook has finally been found.


I would also like to compliment Paul, who made the very important suggestion that a search be conducted of the casualty records of the Second World War. My last major search for Ptarmigan materials was performed during pre-internet days; so I followed Paul's inspired advice and examined the National Archives online fatality records of the War for the names of several Ptarmigans, including Gert (in the possibility that she may have joined the W. A. C.). Neither her original nor her married name was present in the records.


However, an entirely new and unexpected discovery did turn up --- there were actually, not one, but two Ptarmigan fatalities of the Second World War. I shall refrain from public mention of his name here, at least for the time being, in part because this is not a widely known fact of Northwest mountaineering history, and I am not certain what the wishes of the family might be in this matter. I will, nonetheless, be informing Paul via a private message, for it was his advice that led to this discovery.


(To facilitate ease of reading, I will be shortly making another one or two additional separate posts here, addressing a few other issues pertaining to this thread.)

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Tod and John (Sept. 17 and 18 posts) --- I agree with John. The names on Ragged Ridge are inappropriate. Two of them can be regarded as offensive. Had I known that they were up before the Board for consideration, I would have voiced strong objection to their introduction. However, as I mentioned to John many years ago, when these names were proposed (1968-1969), I was serving under combat conditions with an Army aviation unit. At that particular moment in my life, the status of geographic names in the Cascade Mountains was among the least of my concerns.


In the past, I myself have applied names to peaks and other features, both unofficially in the Monte Cristo guidebook, as well as officially through the Washington State Board on Geographic Names. (And in a couple of instances, semi-officially, as is the case with the Queest-Alb Glacier on Three Fingers, and the So-Bahli-Ahli Glacier on Whitehorse. Both represent the original Sauk Indian names for those two peaks.) As a rule, when introducing a new geographic toponym, I have endeavored to select names which were historically, or descriptively, or ethnographically appropriate to the feature; or have tried to re-establish the original Native American name for the feature --- such as Kaisoots Peak (formerly Bald Mountain, on the North Fork Nooksack), which the WSBGN in 1985 officially changed back to its original Samona Indian name (as recorded in 1859 by Henry Custer).


The names on Ragged Ridge are Chinook Jargon terms. Chinook Jargon was a trade language, something like Esperanto, that originated largely during 1778-1824 among the nations of the Northwest Coast. It consists of a melange of words from various sources, such as Chinook and Nootka, as well as from English/American maritime traders, and French Canadien fur trappers/traders.


Chinook Jargon words derived from English include: bed, gleese (grease), Boston (American), cly (cry), cole (cold), comb, get up, gley (grey), haul, help, ketling (kettle), klook (crooked), lope (rope), mallie (marry), mama, man, moon, musket, nose, papa, paint, pepah (paper), piah (fire), pish (fish), stocken (stocking), sail, salt, sammon (salmon), ship, shipman (sailor), shugah (sugar), shut (shirt), sick, skin, spoon, spose (suppose), stick, stone, Sunday, tea, tomolla (tomorrow), waum (warm), wash, wind


There are also a few recorded English colloquialisms: piupiu (phew, bad smell), pusspuss (cat)


French-derived words include: cosho (cochon, pig), lametsin (medicine), lamontay (la montagne, mountain), lapeep (pipe for smoking), lapome (la pomme, apple), lapush (la bouche, mouth), lashandel (candle), lasheminay (chimney), latahb (table), latate (la tete, head), leloo (le loup, wolf), lepee (le pied, foot), lesak (sack), mahsie (merci, thank you)


The Chinook Jargon terms applied to peaks and other features on Ragged Ridge in 1969 include: Cosho Peak (French), Katsuk Peak/Glacier (Chinook Nation), Kimtah Peak/Glacier (Chinook Nation), Kitling Peak/Lake/Creek (English), Mesahchie Peak/Glacier/Pass (Chinook Nation).


Ragged Ridge lies within the territory of, not the Chinook, but the Miskaiwhu (Upper Skagit) Indian Nation, whose language is Northern Lushootseed (one of the Coast Salish family of languages).


As can be seen from above --- none of the names applied to features on Ragged Ridge in 1969 was an original local Miskaiwhu name for the feature. Nor were any of these names taken from the Northern Lushootseed language spoken by the nations of the Skagit River. Three names were derived from the Chinook Nation (whose territory was at the mouth of the Columbia River), one name was English, and the fifth name was French.


Using Chinook Jargon for features in the North Cascades would be like using non-Slavic Esperanto terms to name peaks in the Carpathian/Tatra Mountains of southern Poland and the Czech Republic. Clearly, the selection, introduction, and approval of these names was done by individuals who did not fully understand what they were doing.


If the intent was to apply Native American names to peaks in the Skagit River drainage, then the practice of Henry Custer should have been followed, who made use of terms which were employed by the local Indian nation of that area. An effort should have been made to determine what the original Upper Skagit names were for these features. If none existed, then sources and authorities should have been consulted to select an appropriate Northern Lushootseed term.


I entirely agree with you, John, that, as descriptive terms, the names on Ragged Ridge were not selected with a high degree of finesse: Mesahchie ("wicked"), Katsuk ("center"), Kimtah (last), Cosho (pig), and Kitling ("kettle").


The only correctly situated name is Katsuk Peak ("center"), which is indeed located in the center of Ragged Ridge. This, however, is an uninspired and particularly infelicitous choice, which easily lends itself to a suggestive corruption. Considering the manner in which some names here on cc.com are routinely debased during banter in the Spray forum, I don't think that anyone in their right mind would select "Katsuk" as an avatar.


Kimtah Peak (last) is by no means the "last" peak at the west end of Ragged Ridge.


Kitling Peak ("kettle") is an English term. But why "kettle," of all things?


As for Mesahchie Peak 8795' ("wicked"), CAG-2, p. 353 indicates that "The name is from the Chinook jargon, meaning 'wicked.' " One of the current standard references on Chinook Jargon (Thomas, p. 86) defines the Chinook term mesachie as: "Bad, wicked, evil, vile; sin, vice, iniquity. (Not in the sense of cultus, which is worthless.)" (Edward H. Thomas, "Chinook A History and Dictionary," 1970, Portland, 171pp.).


Mesahchie Peak consists entirely of the Black Peak Batholith, a late-Cretaceous pluton that varies from quartz diorite (tonalite) to granodiorite. As a rule, this type of rock generally makes for good climbing. Now, there are indeed sections of unpleasant rock on Mesahchie: in 1966 the Firey/Meulemans party noted "the rotten ridge between the east and west peaks" (1967 M. pp. 128-129, ex p. 128); and in 1978, Lowell and Gordon encountered "rotten" as well as "poor rock" along two sections of the northwest ridge (1980 AAJ, p. 539). But in 1979, Dave Seman rated the upper northeast ridge as "Grade II, with good rock" (1985 AAJ, pp. 185-186, ex p. 185). However, if the intent had been to refer to poor-quality climbing rock, the term used should have been "cultus." The term mesahchie clearly means wicked/evil, in the moral sense.


"Mesahchie Peak" is particularly inappropriate and offensive, because it carries with it the specific definition of "wicked." Why this particular term was selected and approved, by individuals who had never visited Ragged Ridge, is unclear. It is unlikely that an overwhelmingly majority of climbers on Mesahchie Peak would ascribe this particular moral attribute to this particular inanimate mountain.


Other, curious instances include: Witch Doctor Wall. The east face of Three Fingers is "of evil appearance" (CAG-2, p. 125). North Index has "an appearance of evil" (CAG-1, 1st 1973 ed., p. 230). Early Winter Spires "have a definite appearance of evil" (1969 AAJ, p. 387). Bonanza Peak has "an appearance of evil" (CAG-2, p. 234). When the second-ascent party arrives at the summit of the Nooksack Tower, they find written in the register: "Der Teufel is gefallen! - The devil is vanquished!" (April 1961 Summit, p. 16). These are subjective evaluations. And, as indicated by the removal of the North Index comment from subsequent editions, even the compiler of CAG felt that its use was inappropriate.


The first ascent of "Mesahchie" Peak 8795' was made on July 5, 1966 by Prof. Joseph Firey, Joan Firey, along with John and Irene Meulemans (1967 Mountaineer p. 128). They were the first climbing party to visit Ragged Ridge This being the first ascent of a previously unnamed peak, the first-ascent party thereby had the right to name this mountain: the Fireys named it Panther Peak (1970 M. p. 104; 1970 AAJ p. 121). This is a zoologically and traditionally appropriate term, derived from nearby Panther Creek which drains the north side of Ragged Ridge.


Both John and I spoke with Joan on several occasions during the early 1970s. She was in no way responsible for the introduction of the term "Mesahchie Peak" or the other Chinook Jargon names on Ragged Ridge; she did not approve of these terms; she was not properly consulted prior to their introduction; and she was not pleased at the manner in which the name Panther Peak had been so cavalierly dismissed.


Other first-ascent-party names on Ragged Ridge that had been similarly dismissed include: Mt. Holyoke (Katsuk Peak), Gendarmes Peak (Kimtah Peak), and Ragged End (Cosho Peak). Dr. John Roper and the Fireys were the pioneer climbers on Ragged Ridge. If anyone had a right to name these particular peaks, it was they.


"Cosho" is also a particularly inappropriate and offensive name, as this term was derived from the French term "cochon" (E. H. Thomas, "Chinook" 1970 Portland, p. 62), via French Canadien fur trappers with the Northwest Company and Hudson's Bay Company. The current "Oxford Hachette French Dictionary" (3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 161) indicates that this term can be employed in expressions that lie well within the realm of the vernacular. I will not repeat them here. They are comparatively mild. I've read worse in Spray, and heard far worse in the Army. However, in this particular forum I should like to maintain decorum.


Although Chinook Jargon dictionaries might decorously give the definition of cosho as "pig," it is likely that the fur trappers were employing the term with greater flexibility. (There are no extant dictionaries of Chinook slang.) Though, under certain circumstances, the aforesaid expressions could prove to be of some utility, clearly the Canadien fur trappers were not conveying to their Indian associates the most exalted utterances of the French language.


Nor was this practice confined to the French. During their stay at the mouth of the Columbia River during 1805-1805, Lewis and Clark observed that the local Chinook Indians had already picked up a number of words and expressions from sailors and traders on board the English and American ships which frequented that area of the Northwest Coast. Ornithologist Elliott Coues, in some ways still the best editor of the Lewis and Clark journals, mentions that the journals record "the few words which the Indians have learned from the sailors, such as musket, powder, shot, knife, file, heave the lead, damned rascal, . . . consignments to perdition, aspersions on maternal ancestry, and 'other phrases' which are happily or unhappily too familiar to require citation" ("History of the Expedition under the Command of Lewis and Clark," 1893, vol. 2, p. 789).


Here we have the initial contact of two cultures --- European and Northwest Coast --- and the vocabulary of discourse consists largely of profanities, improprieties, imprecations, and instruments of war.


These Chinook Jargon terms for features on Ragged Ridge, were formally approved by the U. S. Board on Geographic Names during 1969 (Decisions lists no. 6902, April-June 1969; and no. 6904, Oct-Dec 1969). If these same names were put before the Board today, and their true meanings and connotations brought to light, their official sanction would be attended with significantly greater difficulty. Sufficient cause may, in fact, already exist to petition the Board for removal of these names.


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My controversial remarks - I am sure to get some love mushsmile.gif


But I think Harry is being a little too critical without facts even though I offer none other than argument I believe they are valid args-



The only correctly situated name is Katsuk Peak ("center"), which is indeed located in the center of Ragged Ridge. This, however, is an uninspired and particularly infelicitous choice, which easily lends itself to a suggestive corruption. Considering the manner in which some names here on cc.com are routinely debased during banter in the Spray forum, I don't think that anyone in their right mind would select "Katsuk" as an avatar.


To argue this as uninspired is likely untrue. Have you asked or inquired or corresponded about the naming? When viewed from particular areas whether that be trappers, indians, hunters, or miners it may have been a center peak or the center of a ridge... I doubt we would select Katsuk as an avatar until now.






"Mesahchie Peak" is particularly inappropriate and offensive, because it carries with it the specific definition of "wicked." Why this particular term was selected and approved, by individuals who had never visited Ragged Ridge, is unclear. It is unlikely that an overwhelmingly majority of climbers on Mesahchie Peak would ascribe this particular moral attribute to this particular inanimate mountain.


Why this particular term was selected and approved, by individuals who had never visited Ragged Ridge, is unclear.


A good start to the discussion but you bring little to the table. The Mudays had a name for Waddington then the british as mystery then finally it was called Waddington. Open the eyes a little more.



The first ascent of "Mesahchie" Peak 8795' was made on July 5, 1966 by Prof. Joseph Firey, Joan Firey, along with John and Irene Meulemans (1967 Mountaineer p. 128). They were the first climbing party to visit Ragged Ridge This being the first ascent of a previously unnamed peak, the first-ascent party thereby had the right to name this mountain: the Fireys named it Panther Peak (1970 M. p. 104; 1970 AAJ p. 121). This is a zoologically and traditionally appropriate term, derived from nearby Panther Creek which drains the north side of Ragged Ridge.


"thereby had the right to name this mountain"


This is often a arrogant and a blanket untrue assumption. I propose Turtlehead or Flattop but will they be true-likely no....

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Thank you for your recent comments. I welcome sincere, courteous, and well thought out input from other individuals. Even though their viewpoints might differ from those of my own, they may provide insights which I might inadventently have overlooked.


If you are suggesting that a first-ascent party does not have a right to name a previously unnamed peak or crag, then I think Fred would likely want to have a long talk with you when he returns, starting with "Crooked Thumb" on July 10, 1940. I do not think that Fred or other first-ascent parties would appreciate being referred to as "arrogant" when it comes to their right to naming peaks in this manner.


I see no objection to "Turtlehead or Flattop" as geographic names. There is already a Flattop Mountain 4405' about 15 miles southwest of Mount Adams; and there is a Turtleback Range on Orcas Island in the San Juans. Check out the photo of the latter in: Bates McKee, "Cascadia, The Geologic Evolution of the Pacific Northwest" (1973, New York), p. 129.


There is even a geological formation on that Turtleback Range called the Turtleback Complex, which correlates directly with the Yellow Aster Complex present near Tomyhoi Peak and Slesse.


The "head" of the Turtleback Range is reminiscent of Mt. Erie. In fact, were you to determine that this little peak is unclimbed and unnamed, climb it, and introduce the name "Turtlehead Mountain" for that cliffy crag to the Washington State Board on Geographic Names --- I would do you the courtesy and respect of honoring that name, by sending the Board a letter of support.


In fact, were you or any other climber(s) were to make a first ascent of a previously unclimbed and unnamed peak in the Monte Cristo or Glacier Peak area, and bestow an appropriate name upon that peak, I would do you (and them) the courtesy and respect of honoring those name(s) in the next expanded edition of the "Monte Cristo Area" guidebook.


This is a courtesy and respect that was not extended to the first-ascent parties on Ragged Ridge.


With respect to "Flattop," you might encounter greater difficulty, as there are already two previously named "Flattops" in the North Cascades. The Cascadians of Ellensburg named a "Flat Top Spire" near Cle Elum in the mid-1950s, which does not appear in CAG-1.


Peak 5662, one mile northeast of Twin Peaks (Bedal quadrangle) was named "Flat Top" by Ted Carpenter's party, when they made the first ascent of it prior to 1969 ("Monte Cristo Area" guidebook, 1977, p. 145). CAG-2, pp. 117-118 is entirely unaware of this first ascent, as well as the second ascent (solo, new route) by Prof. Joseph Vance in 1969. What Fred did was to create his own new name, "Chokwich Peak," and apply that instead.


Unbelievably, for the past 26 years Fred appears to have been entirely unaware as to the existence of the 212-page "Monte Cristo Area" guidebook.


There are, in fact, quite a few errors and omissions in CAG-2 which have been carried over from the first edition (1977-1978) --- such as the erroneous elevation figure for Mount Pugh 7201', along with incorrect data for the first ascent of Big Four, the north face of Big Four, the Kyes first-ascent party on Monte Cristo Peak, the first ascent of the southeast ridge of Whitehorse, confusion of the Swauk Formation with the Chuckanut Formation, and so on. I should probably go through CAG-2 this fall or winter in greater detail, and begin listing the errors and omissions on the "CAG-2 Additions and Corrections" thread.


Thank you for bringing these and other matters to my attention. An expanded "CAG-2 Additions and Corrections" thread may appear later this fall or winter. This should be of some utility during the preparation of the next edition of the guidebook.

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Harry: I believe Cavey's Flattop and Turtlehead proposals are for peaks they climbed near (I don't think they climbed on them) in the Monarch Range of Canada. In this respect, it doesn't matter that there are other peaks in Washington with names similar to those. Also, it is no longer of WSB of Geographic Names or USGS jurisdiction. Here is the link to the thread that can be found in the B.C. forum: Monarch Range


Attached is a photo of "Chokwich Peak" from the northwest. I would agree that Flattop would be a better name. The peak definitely is flat on the top. When I get the picture developed, I'll post the view of it from Twin Peaks, where it has an even greater appearance of flatness. There is a Chokwich Falls, but it is across the South Fork Sauk River Valley from the peak.


I agree with you about Beckey's CAG guides. In the last year or so I've discovered maybe about a dozen errors of various sorts. Even his description (in the 2nd Edition of Green CAG) of the approach to Twin Peaks is perplexing. He mentions that the climber should "follow the timbered ridge E up the left side of the terminal fork" from the Perry Creek Basin. Well, there is no ridge going that way. You can see this is the case on a topographic map. Oh well. At least no obvious gully is mentioned.


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I have named all sorts of peaks I haven't climbed. But they were unnamed at the time to the best of my knowledge. Other people with better claims can petition me to change them or just beat me up and leave me bleeding in a ditch if they disapprove. shocked.gif


I don't think all mountain names have to be inspiring, or positive. Or else we wouldn't have Mt Terror, or Mt Despair. I don't see anything wrong with Mesachie on those grounds. I think some of the originally proposed names, particularly "Holyoke" are much less inspired.


As for a mountain looking evil, wicked, Devilish... - maybe it is just that it killed 2 friends but I think the NW face of Devils Thumb looks evil. But inspiring nonetheless. Hopefully just inspiring in the abstract....


Isn't it funny - Fred complains about Twin Spires being renamed "Twin", Mox in Chinook, yet he renames stuff himself in Chinook?


As for the chinook jargon itself - it's an interesting and amusing polyglot language. Speaking it, English, and one or two Native tongues (your own and your neighbours) was no uncommon feat in the 1800's. It has a claim of some standing to be the first "official" language of the PNW. So - I don't see anything wrong with naming peaks in it. I doubt that Chinook names are appropriate only in Chinook Nation territory. I don't think the jargon owes anything much but the name to the Chinook Nation. It's more like the Chinook wind or the Chinook salmon found most places west of the Rockies.


Ray is using a double entendre with the Turtlehead Mountain name. The other meaning of "Turtlehead" relates to an incipient defecation, if I may be so bold. "The turtle is ready to stick his head out of the shell..." blush.gif

Those are my somewhat unconnected thoughts. On with the boxing gloves! boxing_smiley.gif

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Harry Majors said: "Other first-ascent-party names on Ragged Ridge that had been similarly dismissed include: Mt. Holyoke (Katsuk Peak), Gendarmes Peak (Kimtah Peak), and Ragged End (Cosho Peak). Dr. John Roper and the Fireys were the pioneer climbers on Ragged Ridge. If anyone had a right to name these particular peaks, it was they."


I actually agree with a Canuck here!!--sort of.


I agree that Holyoke is less inspiring than Katsuk. How many mountains out there are named after some climber's East Coast Ivy League alma mater? This is a conceit that has never really sat well with me. I tend toward, "Screw you and your holyoker than thou East Coast persnickety college!" There is a Mt. Harvard, et al. in at least three western states that I know (including this state). The city of Holyoke is farther away from Ragged Ridge than the Chinook tribe is. So, the argument for proximity is a little less valid in this regard. "Holyoke" no more captures the quiddity of that peak than "Katsuk", probably even less so. So who's naming was uninspired is a matter of perception.


All that said, I do still agree that the first ascensionists should be the ones honored with the naming of the peak they've just climbed. If they're trying to name something they haven't climbed that is nearby, then I don't think they should have the naming honor. It is up to the Washington Board to decide whether a peak should be renamed. The argument for renaming would have to be very persuasive, in my opinion. Just because I don't like the name of something, it doesn't mean it should be renamed. I just have to accept it and move on. I'm very conservative in this regard. Political Correctness be gone!


Further, I see nothing wrong with naming a peak based on its characteristics--be it evil or heavenly. I'm sure religious zealots would prefer nicer names than Devil's Thumb and Mt. Terror, but I bet most climbers actually prefer names such as these. There is a Heavens Peak in Glacier National Park. There is a He Devil Mountain and a She Devil Mountain in Idaho. To me, these latter two have more compelling names. If I had to make a choice between going to Heavens Peak (actually, it is a nice looking peak in the park, see here) or The He Devil Moutains not knowing what either look like, I'd probably choose the latter.


I would like to qualify by saying that I think the word "Devil" is overused for toponyms--overused to the point of being trite. I propose Nefarious Thumb or Pernicious Thumb or Eldritch Thumb or, best of all, Deleterious Thumb. grin.gif

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