In the 1920's and 1930's mid-July meant it was time for the American Legion climb of Mt. Hood. It's hard to imagine the logistics to put on a group climb of this size, but for two decades the Legion and the Crag Rats pulled it off. Local photographers like Alva Day and Fred Donnerberg documented it. I'm sure some Crag Rats can fill us in on some of the stats-- what was the greatest number to summit on one of these climbs? What year did the climbs begin? I'm guessing WWII put an end to this summer tradition.
I've selected five fine images of Legion climbs for this week's HHR posts. They are from different years, but Alva Day's notes indicate the climb followed a similar timeline every year: leave camp just before 5AM, summit between noon and 1PM, enjoy a nice long glissade down the glacier sometime between 3PM and 5PM.
There were so many great images to chose from. We'll be reviving the Legion climbs in five image segments for many Julys to come.
It may have been suspended during WWII, but was active for a number of years afterwards I remember spending time at Legion Camp, as my Dad used to be one of the Crag Rats who would climb the mountain to set off the flares that Illuminated the mountain right after the close of the Saturday night program. I have a photo of the entire mountain outlined in the flares that they used for the purpose. A number of years he served as one of the guides when the Crag Rats were involved. Took a lot of preperation and being on top of things to assure that these big groups of climbers were taken care of and safely. Being safe was top priority and the reason that if weather conditions were not ideal they would just do the glacier trips.
Generally, if I recall correctly, a group of climbers would go up the week before (weather permitting) to put up the ropes for the big climb.
charlott on 23rd July 2012 @ 7:17am
They look to be tied in to one another?
j nels on 23rd July 2012 @ 10:53am
Charlott, can you tell us more about the Saturday night program? We have several picture of evening sessions including a campfire and what seem to be native headdresses, but due to poor light it's hard to figure out what is going on. Was this before or after the climb?
Arthur on 23rd July 2012 @ 1:30pm
I was taken as a little girl to Cloud Cap by my grandfather Al Peters and his wife Maude to see the illuminated mountain -- I think they skiied down the mountain with torches as well. It would have been perhaps 1948 or 1949.
Jill Stanford on 23rd July 2012 @ 6:49pm
I have a friend who was the American Legion Climb Queen in July 1949. Her father was the Commander of Post 22 and she sold over $640.00 of Legion Climb Lilies to obtain the honor of "Queen". She remembers that there was some sort of avalanche that impeded the climb, for all, plus she was dizzy and a lot of the climbers came down before reaching the top. Any pictures of that climb?
judy on 23rd July 2012 @ 8:03pm
The program was on Saturday night before the actual climb on Sunday. It was the event of the season for Hood River. Lots of good entertainment was provided during the program. As soon as the program was completed, as it was dark by then the flares were set off on the mountain.
Just up the hill from the stage and amphitheatre was the kitchen. It was there that lunches were packed for the actual climbers. Breakfast was prepared for them, and at the designated time they picked up their lunches and the climb started from Legion Camp.
Lots of people went up and set up camp for the week end of festivities. My mother volunteered for kitchen help, so our tent was up by the kitchen, so I could lay in the tent, look through the flap and watch all that was going on in the climbers preparing to trek off.
During the years that I was little and up there Jesse Jones was in charge of Legion Camp..........It was called Tilly Jane Camp on the side where the road came in and Legion Camp across the creek where all the activities took place. Mrs. Jesse Jones made each year the crown for the incoming queen. I was watching one year and she made me my own crown when she was finished with her left overs.
Yes, climbers were roped in. With all the "novices" heading up that mountain you better have them roped in for everyones safety.
charlott on 24th July 2012 @ 7:19am