Three Letters to the Editor-May 1990

   In 1990, I (Wayne) unexpectedly received a used copy of a book titled “Starlight and Storm” (see Reference 1).  A co-worker of mine (Dan Davis) found it at a used book sale.  He already had a copy of it, so he gave it to me.  It is about “the ascent of six great North faces of the Alps”.  Dan told me the book was inspirational to him.  He said he climbed one of those routes with a Korean climber.  Together, they climbed the North Face of the Drus.

   In April, 1990, while at work, Dan informed me of an article that was written and published by the President of a climbing club (see Reference 2, The President’s Layback).  I had not read the article, and probably wouldn’t have read it, had Dan not shown it to me.  When I read it, I was surprised to find that a portion of it was directed to me.  The article stated that [a club member] had loaned to [an experienced Cascade climber] their own copy of the club’s monthly news letter on several occasions...  I was doing this because I had some safety concerns (see note 1 below), and I thought it would be a good idea for an experienced climber like Dan to peruse the monthly newsletter.  In the article, it was apparent the President was upset that I loaned Dan the monthly newsletters.  To describe his point, the President used foul language, which was in poor taste!

   As a result, Dan, Jim [a friend of mine] and I all decided to write a Letter to the Editor.  All 3 Letters were published in Reference 3 (see Letters section). When I wrote the letter, I was inspired by a book I read while attending Western Washington University. I took a “History of the American Indian” class.  I was particularly interested in Chapter VIII of Reference 4. It explained observations made by Indian scouts working for Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer.  The Indian scouts went up to a high point (known as the Crow’s Nest) on the divide between the Rosebud creek and Little Bighorn river.  They saw evidence of an immense herd of horses and very large Indian camp (later estimated to be between 12,000 and 15,000 Indians).  Although Custer later climbed the Crow’s Nest and used glasses, he was unable to make out any pony herd or village…. Reference 4 is well worth reading, and I highly recommend it.  I was puzzled by the Club President’s comments, as it seemed he was more interested in money [coming into the club] than safety. In hind sight, the 3 Letters helped shine a light on attitudes people had during that time.

Note 1: Photos from the relevant '89 New Zealand trip can be found at Sitemap->New Zealand.

Note 2: One of Dan's many first ascents is listed in Chapter 17 of Reference 5.  He climbed the classic steep ice of the north face of Mt Robson in 1963. 

Note 3: Photos from the relevant “Colchuck Peak Trip - 1990"  can be found at Sitemap->States (US)->Washington->Colchuck Peak (East Route) Trip - '90.


1. “Starlight and Storm", by Gaston Rebuffat, 2nd printing 1968

2. Alpine Echo, April 1990

3. Alpine Echo, May 1990

4. “The Long Death: The Last Days of the Plains Indians”, Ralph K. Andrist, 1978 printing

5. “Mountains of North America: The great peaks and ranges of the continent”, by Fred Beckey, 1982

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