Commentary on The Spokane Mountaineers Inc.,
A Spokane Based non-profit outdoor club.

One Spring I read a story in the morning newspaper about a group of intrepid Spokane Mountaineers that had claimed a first ascent of Mt. Cooper in Southeastern British Columbia. What's more, the article stated that the Mountaineers would soon be putting on a Mountain School for would-be mountain climbers. I decided to sign up.

With some apprehension I showed up for the first session of the school which was held in a Gonzaga University classroom. My concern was that these people would match my stereotyped idea of a Mountain Climber… a macho ex-marine type with a crazed look in his eye and in hot pursuit of the death wish. To my surprise I found a group of people that looked like a cross-section of the populace of the city. A mix of young, old, middle-aged, male, female, professional and unskilled folks, they all seemed to share one characteristic… a love for the great outdoors.

Three people that evening left a particularly strong impression on me. The first was Hubert Martin, the club president. Hubert was a German immigrant with a strong accent and a wildly infectious enthusiasm. He explained that mountaineering was so much fun because it "feels so good when you stop!" The second, Bill Boulton, (REI member # 27) was a local business owner who seemed to know a whole lot about mountaineering, but was hobbling around with one leg in a cast. Seems that he had "caught a crampon" and broken his leg on a recent climb of what was then a much taller Mt. Saint Helens. Thirdly, Spokane's renowned photographer Joe Collins put on a slide show that evening that left me astonished. The fantastic scenery in Joe's photography beckoned me from the screen to get into the mountain country that lay all around us.

I found it impressive that these "mountaineers," many of whom were relative newcomers to the Spokane area, were so far more knowledgeable than I about the geography of the Pacific Northwest and the opportunities to be found here for outdoor adventure. So, I spent the next ten years of my life as a very active member of the Spokane Mountaineers.

During this time I had many outdoor experiences that are worth writing down. That is what I plan to do. They will be posted here. You may wish to check back to read the latest tale. Also, I encourage any other "old timers" of the Spokane Mountaineers to email their memories of times spent with the club, and if it is fit-to-print, I will post your story(s) here also.

Some things I learned in the Spokane Mountaineers:
  1. More opportunities exist for personal accomplishment than what I can deal with.
  2. Life is a journey, not a destination, so let's take the scenic route.
  3. You cannot go on a weeklong backpacking trip without revealing your true inner nature. If you are contemplating marriage, take him or her backpacking.
  4. Suffering is fun because it feels so good when you stop.
  5. Physical conditioning is important, but so is mental conditioning. God gave you a brain… use it.
  6. Attaining the summit does not conquer a mountain. And the mountain does not care if you make it home again.
  7. I am not afraid of heights… it is depths that scare me.
  8. He who turns back will live to climb another day.
  9. Be careful who you go climbing with… they could kill you in a car wreck.
10. It's better to be tagged as a troublemaker than to be a dead sheep.
11. Expect the best and plan for the worst.
12. Look back frequently if you want to know the way home.
13. Avoid being in the right place at the wrong time.
14. We do not really know what we are capable of doing.
15. Incredible scenery is available within a normal week-end trip.

If you would like to know more about the Spokane Mountaineers, simply follow this link to their official web site where you will find abundant information. In addition to the web site, the Spokane Mountaineers also publish a quarterly bulletin entitled The Kinnikinick which contains all pertinent information about club activities.

Click on the photo to the right to read a tale of The Lake of the Hanging Glacier.


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