Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
Lowell_Skoog

1922 Film: 1st Winter Ascent of Mt Rainier

Recommended Posts

Molenaar-1987-p155-Landry-party.jpg

 

L-R: Jacques Bergues, Jean Landry and Jacques Landry prepare to climb Mount Rainier in 1922.

 

In November 2003, I received an email from Steve Turner of Sacramento, California. Steve is the grandson of Charles R. Perryman, the Selznick newsreel cameraman who accompanied European alpinists Jean and Jacques Landry and Jacques Bergues to the summit of Mount Rainier to make the first winter ascent in February 1922. If you're not familiar with this climb, you may enjoy the account in Dee Molenaar's Challenge of Rainier (google books link).

 

Steve contacted me after finding notes about his grandfather's climb on my ski history website here. He wrote that he had his grandfather's newsreel footage from the climb. After several emails, Steve offered to donate the film to The Mountaineers in exchange for a DVD copy. This began an eight year game of email tag. Long gaps ensued. Finally, two months ago he sent me the film. It has been digitized and I've posted a digital copy on the Mountaineers website here:

 

http://mountaineers.org/history/notes/movie/perryman-mt-rainier.html

 

The Mount Rainier newsreel was accompanied by several other interesting and unusual films. You can see the whole collection here:

 

http://mountaineers.org/history/findaids/perryman-newsreels.html

 

This is a truly historic film. It was the first motion picture ever taken on the summit of Mount Rainier. It shows the first winter ascent of any significant peak in Washington, and the biggest one at that. It is the oldest climbing or skiing film I know of in this state. Since the film was made in 1922, almost 90 years have elapsed since it has been seen in public. This Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful to Steve Turner for this one-of-a-kind gift to the Northwest mountaineering community.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It looks like Bergues has skins on his skis in the photo above, and maybe he has the Canadian "top fix" system with the keeper strap wrapping around the tail of the ski, but there are also the lateral straps that used to be used with non-glued skins...I guess he probably just has old fashioned strap ons, eh? They are probably made of seal skin, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lowell,

 

My mother was a librarian. She would occasionaly bring home old climbing literature/movies/magazines. I recall a couple of Steve Marts movies with you climbing Golden Horn and and I think another mountain. Any chance we might see these put on the web?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would guess not, they are the property of the Don McCune estate

 

http://donmccunelibrary.com/catalog.cfm

 

The one DPS speaks of is "North Cascades". Mount Rainier sounds like it would be cool, a 1968 winter ascent of Liberty Ridge, and I remember watching "Mount McKinley" when it was first shown. Larry Hegerness became deathly ill.

 

"Katmai Climb" with Buzz Merceau is good, as well as the North Slope stuff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Lowell! A wonderful addition to the climbing archives.

 

Even today things have to be set up weather wise pretty good to have a reaonably fair chance on making the summit within the official months of winter. I know it took a few tries for my partners and I to finally get up the Fuhrer Finger Route in winter.

 

It makes me wonder how many peaks in the Alps had a recorded successful winter ascent by 1922? I'd bet not a bunch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess he probably just has old fashioned strap ons, eh? They are probably made of seal skin, too.

 

Yes. Dee Molenaar has donated some of his papers to UW Special Collections and they include letters from Jean Landry to Dee in the 1960s, when Dee was working on the first edition of his Rainier book. Landry said that much of their equipment was made locally. The skins were made from sealskin rather hastily by a local furrier. They stretched badly so the climbers reinforced them with canvas robbed from a water hose.

 

Very cool, looks like they did the Gib Ledges.

 

Yes, the Gib Ledges. Molenaar's book says this as well.

 

My mother was a librarian. She would occasionaly bring home old climbing literature/movies/magazines. I recall a couple of Steve Marts movies with you climbing Golden Horn and and I think another mountain. Any chance we might see these put on the web?

 

num1mc's answer is accurate. I think the films you're referring to were episodes of KOMO-TV's "Exploration Northwest." These episodes are now being sold on DVD by Linda McCune, widow of the show's host Don McCune. I have copies of them but I won't post them out of respect for her copyright. I've written short stories about the making of these programs here:

 

http://alpenglow.org/climbing/golden-horn-1980/index.html

 

http://alpenglow.org/skiing/nc-highway-1978/index.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lowell - Thank you for sharing this incredible find and collection of climbing in the Northwest! :tup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great stuff, Lowell; truly fabulous. Just watched every digitized newsreel in your link, and read both of your accounts of the Exploration Northwest stories. I seem to recall reading the Golden Horn account several years ago on this board. Good to see it again. :tup: :tup:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess he probably just has old fashioned strap ons, eh? They are probably made of seal skin, too.

 

To each his own I guess. It sounds like those Frenchies were very hard

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely terrific. Awesome way to begin my day! Truly makes you appreciate their determination and drive!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Faces frozen and clothes torn during the ascent" :)

 

It looks like they ditched the skis before or at Camp Muir. 1922 was around the beginning of alpine ski mountaineering in the Alps but perhaps they found good cramponning above 10,000' and taking skis to the summit wasn't worthwhile. Do you know which way they went above Muir?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Do you know which way they went above Muir?

 

They spent their nights at the old Anvil Rock lookout (which was removed sometime after WWII) rather than Camp Muir. They left their skis at or below the lookout due to hard snow conditions. (Watching the movie you can see that their boots were not adequate for skiing very icy snow.)

 

They climbed the Gibraltar Ledges route to the summit.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Challenge of Rainier (which I clearly read too long ago) includes a great letter by Jean Landry discussing the circumstances and the climb itself 40 years after the facts: Landry's letter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Challenge of Rainier (which I clearly read too long ago) includes a great letter by Jean Landry discussing the circumstances and the climb itself 40 years after the facts.

 

Blynne Olivieri at UW Special Collections sent me a copy of a couple of Landry's letters to Dee Molenaar after I told her about the film. Landry was living in Ketchum, Idaho in 1963 and he had anglicized his first name to "John". It seems that he settled in this country permanently, but I don't know when. I'm sure Dee Molenaar would know.

 

Having researched both skiing and winter mountaineering in the Cascades, it's clear to me that the 1922 winter ascent of Rainier was some years ahead of its time. Wolf Bauer (who was born in Germany) told me that skiing in the Alps was a decade ahead of the U.S. in the early days. I think that's a pretty good estimate of how far Landry and his friends were ahead of local skiers and mountaineers in 1922.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It appears that several majors peaks (Rosa, Blanc) in the Alps were first skied around the turn of the 19th century (first Haute Route in 1903) so a decade ahead may be a low estimate. But, you have obviously thought about this a lot more than I have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The state of exploration in the Alps was way ahead, but when you look at what people were doing locally, it seems that about 10 years elapsed before they were doing stuff similar to the 1922 Rainier winter ascent. Examples:

 

1928 - Giese/Strizek/Best ski-climb of Rainier

1930 - Loners/Sperlin ski ascent of Baker

1932 - Giese/Strizek/Grage/Mosauer/Lyons ski descent of Adams

1933 - Giese/Strizek ski descent of St Helens

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lowell, great thanks to you and Steve for producing this film! Appreciate also the further details and perspective here, in addition to all you do surrounding the Alpenglow Project. Very important to many of us; I'm constantly amazed by all you document and continue to bring forth. Happy tracks to you this winter. :brew:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add my thanks to the roster. Amazing work!

 

Also can't help but chime in with a note of admiration for the cameraman. Lugging 60lbs camera and tripod plus film up to the summit of Rainier in the winter during his first ever outing in the mountains is truly remarkable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doesn't seem like I'm able to edit my original post here, so I'm adding a note with the revised location of the films mentioned above.

The 1922 Mt Rainier winter ascent film can be found here (on my website):

http://alpenglow.org/mountaineers-history/notes/movie/perryman-mt-rainier.html

The Perryman newsreel collection can be browsed here (on the Mountaineer Archives wiki):

https://mountaineers.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/ARCH/pages/525057/MTR.2011.2+Mountaineers+Film+Collection+Charles+Perryman+Newsreels

I'm currently writing about this stuff for my long-delayed ski history book, so it's back on my radar for the moment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×