Memories of the Columbia River Gorge

Photo: Sandor Lao

We were extremely saddened by the fire that raged on through our beloved Columbia River Gorge starting in early September. The trails, waterfalls, foliage, and fauna in the gorge are significant to the Mazamas and to our community. Every year we collectively hike thousands of miles in the gorge—exploring its beauty, relishing in its lushness, and training our legs. Last year alone thousands of people participated in Mazama activities and classes in the gorge and hiked more than 10,000 miles on the trails.

We have heard from so many of you already about your deep personal connection with the area and the strong emotions you are feeling as this fire continues to burn. Here are some of your stories of what the Gorge means to you.

The Gorge Brought Me Back

Photo: Marti McCleskey

by Marti McCleskey

For me the Gorge was a place for emotional healing after a divorce that ended my 28-year marriage. I had been told for a long time all the things that I could not do. I decided to take up hiking, hoping the exercise would help me feel better. I was at an extreme low point and searching for hikes. I looked at the description for Eagle Creek. I must mention I was terrified of heights then. Maybe it was the description of the “Vertigo Mile” that made me decide to challenge myself, or maybe at that point I really didn't care if I did fall off of it. I can't really remember which, but I do know that on that particular day in Eagle Creek I came to several realizations.

The first was, “Wow! Eagle Creek is really, really beautiful!” The second was, “It is really cool to be standing on the edge of something that drops off like this.” And third, “I really want to find more hikes like this one.” Finally, “I can do this by myself.”

Something awoke inside of me that day, a growing sense of adventure that has since grown to climbing mountains, rock climbing, and even traversing the entire Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness and bagging most of the peaks in it along the way in one 75-mile, 17,000+ foot of elevation gain, four-and-a-half day through hike. I am thankful for that experience, all of my hikes I have done in the Gorge since that day, and the memories and photos I have of it before it was ravaged by this fire. I am thankful to the Gorge for bringing me back to life.

The Gorge Gave Me Plenty

Photo: Darrin Gunkel

by Darrin Gunkel

Summer of 2015 wasn’t a great year for Gorge waterfalls. Record low snowpack meant streams petered out early. So, not expecting a much beyond a fine stroll, my wife Karin and I set out one July afternoon on the Wahkeena-Multnomah Loop. We were in for a pleasantly palatable surprise. Who knew such a dry year could produce the bumper crop of huckleberries and thimbleberries we stumbled into! With all the dawdling to graze on the fruits of the forest and take pictures of wildflowers, we did the loop in a record (slow) three and a half hours.

The best moment, after watching Karin jumping to pick not-so-low hanging huckleberries, was her creation of the Woodland Amuse-bouche: thimbleberry wrapped in an oxalis leaf. The tart leaf and earthy berry combination opened for us a whole new dimension in forest nibbling. Too bad morel season was over; a few of our favorite mushrooms to accompany this treat would have landed us in Iron Chef territory, for sure.

The Gorge is Part of Me

Photo: Carmen La Macchia

by George Cummings

My love affair with the Columbia Gorge and the Mazamas began on July 26, 1959 when I joined a club hike on Observation Peak north of Carson, Washington. I had moved to Portland six weeks earlier and was working in a lab at what was then the University of Oregon Medical School (now OHSU). Two of my co-workers were Mazamas who, on finding that I liked hiking, told me that the club had a hiking program I might enjoy. So on that July Sunday morning at 7:30, I met up with a group of hikers in front of the Pacific Building on SW Salmon Street and got a ride with the Sazlow family. I don't remember anything about the hike itself, but I do remember that, instead of returning the way we had driven on the Oregon side, the Sazlow's chose to give me a better view of it—the best side they said—from the Washington side.

I hiked frequently with the club during the fall and winter and became a Mazama after taking Basic Climbing School in the spring of 1960 and climbing Mt. St. Helens. I have no idea how many times I have hiked on the best side in all seasons with friends, family, students, and alone in the 58 years since that first hike, but I know that its trails, streams, forests and hills are part of me, and I am grateful for that.

The Gorge Feels Like Home

Photo: John Leary
by Jenny Dempsey Stein

As a college student in New York in the early 90s, I worked at the library returning books to the shelves. While I was pondering my future, I found the tiny section of books about Oregon, and two stood out. One featured a black and white photo of Multnomah Falls, which I gaped at open-mouthed. The other featured a story about female forest rangers.

 My imagination took off, and soon I landed a Student Conservation Association position in the Gorge with a U.S. Forest Service team and was based at Multnomah Falls visitor center. I also did campfire talks, paraded on July 4th wearing a hot Smokey Bear outfit, sold items from the bookmobile, and traveled on the interpretive Lewis and Clark Amtrak train.

 While discovering hot springs, huckleberries, old growth trees, and eventually my fear of heights too, I “fell in love outward” as poet Robinson Jeffers coined the term, and my life, now to be lived out west, was never the same again.

The Gorge is a Place for Adventure

Photo: Trapper Sutterfield
by Thomas Gibbons

No picture, just memories: In the summer of 1940 when I was sixteen I hitchhiked up the old gorge highway to Tanner Creek. Several of us found rides with the construction workers building Bonneville Dam. This trip I was alone and planned to find the “trail” leading above the main waterfall of Tanner Creek that my friend Bill Lenahan had told me about.

At a point about one hundred yards below the falls I crossed the creek on a log jam and scrambled up a scree slope. Low and behold it ended at the opening to a gully that led steeply up to the left. The gully ended at approximately two hundred feet above the creek. A scramble left brought me out to the cliff face!
Now I was on a narrow trail, with a cliff below and above. It was so narrow I had to turn sideways to avoid my pack brushing the wall. As I proceeded upstream the narrow trail became more like a game trail, and wandered through a steep forested hillside. Passing another waterfall the canyon opened up and nice pools invited me to fish for native cutthroat.

With enough fish for dinner I looked for a bench on which to make camp. Around a bend in the creek was just the spot; but someone had erected two large cabin tents and built a nice fire pit. While debating where to make camp three adults walked into camp and said “Where did you come from?” When I told them they could hardly believe it was possible. They were engineers surveying for the main power line and construction road on the east slope of the canyon.

One of them knew my parents and suggested it might be wise to join them the next morning, a Saturday, to hike out. Upstream we connected with a trail that led about two miles to a road heading west to Larch Mountain. About fifteen years later I did the hike with my young bride, later Mazama President Lois Gibbons. When we got to the game trail we turned up slope to Munra Point ridge and down the rough trail to I-84.

A few years later I led a Mazama hike up the route. Unfortunately the trip is no longer possible. A crack in the gully over time widened from erosion and expansion from ice and the whole wall on the creek side fell into the creek and created a partial dam. But a few of us have great memories of a beautiful, and adventurous, trip!

The Gorge Will Rise Again

Photo: Sandor Lao

by Reena Clements

Every winter, AYM is invited to visit the Trails Club of Oregon's Nesika Lodge for an overnight backpack trip. Nesika, nestled near Multnomah Falls and Larch Mountain, recently lost both dorms to the Eagle Creek Fire, while the main lodge appears to be standing. A longstanding winter tradition, the annual Nesika trip is the perfect way to introduce our members to backpacking and to both our group and a sister hiking organization.

We have many fond memories and traditions at Nesika, both exploring trails, finding an old Buick deep in the Gorge and making new friends through board games, a potluck, trying to bake bread in the oven, and watching the Empire Builder go by on the opposite side of the Gorge. AYM feels deeply for the buildings Nesika has lost and will be there for Trails Club when the time comes to rebuild.


PAFlete Spotlight: Graham Zimmerman

Portland Alpine Festival | Nov. 13–18, 2017

See the Portland Alpine Festival's full lineup of 8 athletes here!

by Darrin Gunkel

How did you first discover climbing?
I grew up in the Seattle area and was first exposed to climbing through a club in high school and through one of my dad’s friends who took me up the south spur on Mt. Adams when I was about 15. That was my initial exposure to climbing. It was kind of a slow start; I think I got more and more into it as I went through high school. My parents signed me up for a course with the American Alpine Institute to learn the proper techniques to deal with mountain terrain. That gave me the idea of what’s possible for the mountains of the world and got me really fired up. I’ve been pursuing those goals ever since.

What is an important lesson you learned early in your climbing career?
The first expedition I ever went on was to the Kyrgyzstani Pamirs. I’d been reading a lot of Mark Twight at the time and gotten fired up on climbing without much gear, going really, really light. The big climb that we did there was on something like an 1,800 meter face, a big technical thing. I had a partner who wasn’t as experienced as I was, and we really didn’t bring much with us. For three days, I think we brought five cams, a rack of wires, a couple of ice screws, a single rope and just sleeping bags. We got away with it. It was sweet, no big deal, but I look back on that and think, o.k., you got away with that one, but in the future we need to bring more stuff. So if a storm comes in, you end up not being able to get through some of the terrain on the mountain, or whatever, you can either hunker down or get off the mountain quickly. If we had to get off that thing for whatever reason, it would have been quite the ordeal. Having a slightly heavier pack is o.k.
That’s a bold statement these days.

We still carry really, really small packs, but you still should probably have a tent if you’re putting up new routes in the greater ranges. [laughs]

Did you have a climbing mentor?
There have been so many people who have been climbing mentors over the years. Mark Kendrick down in New Zealand initially got me into some of the first big, steep alpine routes I did. Mark Allen is somebody who taught me a lot when I was younger and then later turned into one of my primary climbing partners. Steve Swenson these days has been guiding me through the art of dealing with big mountains in Pakistan. All these folks I couldn’t have done it without.

It’s one of the really cool things about climbing: we have a lot of opportunities for mentoring, and there’s a lot of patience in the community for dealing with people who are learning. There’s a recognition that you cannot do these things without a lot of knowledge, and so sharing knowledge is super important. I’m really grateful for that and those folks who have helped me over the years.

You've climbed all over the world, was there one region, or even mountain, in particular that originally drew or inspired you?
It’s funny. I very specifically remember seeing photos of the Baltoro region of Pakistan when I was in high school in some picture book. I remember seeing those images and thinking, “That looks really sweet. It would be totally unreal to go and climb in mountains like that.” I did my first expedition to Pakistan two years ago and so it’s coming full circle. Right now, my current inspiration is what I was inspired by when I was younger: the Karakoram. It’s a place that really gets me fired up now and has gotten me fired up for a long time.

Was there a moment early on when it hit you that climbing was IT? 
I was originally born in New Zealand, lived there until I was four, and moved back when I was 18 to attend university. I had a bunch of time to climb before I started school, and it was at that point when I started to really zero in on climbing. Up to that point, my main mountain sport had been skiing—I did a lot of that and had a lot of fun with it—but by the time I moved to New Zealand, it was pretty clear that climbing is what I wanted to pursue. So, I didn’t actually bring skis to New Zealand and just brought a climbing kit. This guy Mark Kendrick, who I mentioned earlier as a mentor, and I were both living in Mt. Cook village, a little town beneath Mt. Cook in the central South Island. He asked me if I wanted to go climb the south face of Cook. It was something way out of my league. I told him as much and he just said, “I think you’ll be fine. I’ll lead all the hard pitches. It’ll be fine.” I really had a hard time on it. I didn’t fall or anything like that, but I remember being totally worked. We wrapped it up and it went pretty well and I remember it as being a sign, 'O.k. This is something I’m capable of and this is something I really want to do.' So I zeroed in on the pursuit of big mountains at that point. I still had to go to school, but it’s what I wanted to do in the long term.

Real world activities are always intruding!
[Laughs] Yeah. Unfortunately you still have to do all that stuff for better or for worse!

PAFlete Spotlight: Dawn Glanc

Portland Alpine Festival | Nov. 13–18, 2017

See the Portland Alpine Festival's full lineup of 8 athletes here!

by Kristie Perry

Long before she started winning ice climbing competitions at the Ouray Ice Festival, Dawn Glanc (pronounced “glance”) was a straight-A student in search of a better physical outlet than softball—one of the few sports available to high school girls in the flat lands of the Cleveland, OH, suburb where she grew up. One outlet she found was Whipp’s Ledges, an outcropping of sandstone cliffs in a nearby park. “That was my first exposure to climbing,” Glanc says. At the time, it was mostly just “goofing off and partying with friends. We would scramble all over the place.”

Upon graduating from high school in 1993, Glanc set her sights on becoming an aerobics instructor and enrolled at Kent State University. Everything changed after a boyfriend introduced her to top-roping at the cliffs of Whipp’s Ledges. “I found that using the ropes was a much better idea. I fell in love with climbing instantly.

“I thought, ‘If someone would pay me to do this, I would climb all the time.’ With this mantra, I made climbing my life. Every career choice, relationship choice, and personal action I’ve made since then has revolved around climbing.”

In 1996, at the age of 21, she left Ohio for the Black Hills of South Dakota where she could pursue climbing and a degree in Outdoor Education. There she honed her rock skills and learned to ice climb. 

“Living in the Black Hills I had some of the best mentors and role models a girl could ask for,” Glanc says. “My partners in the Hills were with me through some of my most formative years. They inspired me and gave me the confidence to push my comfort bubble. They also taught me a lot about humility.” 

In 2004, Glanc was on the move again, this time to Bellingham, WA, where she embarked on a career, not as an aerobics instructor, but as an AMGA-certified mountain guide. Over the next eight years she climbed and guided clients of all ages and abilities throughout the western United States and Canada. 

Glanc now resides in Ouray, CO, where she is co-owner of Chicks Climbing and Skiing, an organization dedicated to educating and empowering women through mountain sports. While she is well-known for efforts to promote the advancement of women and girls in climbing, she has the same advice for all beginning climbers—male or female, young or old: 

“Hire a guide to teach you how to climb and how to use the proper systems. Climbing is a life-threatening sport, don't have some random person teach you. It’s your life, so be proactive in your own safety.”

Over the years, Glanc has climbed in France, Norway, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia, Sardinia, and Iceland. She enjoys demonstrating her mettle through competition and for many years was a frequent winner at the Ouray Ice Festival competitions, placing first in the women’s division in 2009 and 2011, second place in 2007 and 2012, and third place in 2010. She also won first place in mixed climbing at the Teva Winter Games in 2012 in Vail, CO.

Glanc says stubbornness and tenacity are what get her through most climbs. “The resistance to falling and the unwillingness to do the moves again are the secrets to my success.”

Despite her clear climbing prowess, Glanc is honest about her struggles. “I have to consciously quiet my brain if I want to send something,” she says. “I can’t tell you how many times songs in my head, conversations from below, or other distractions keep me from focusing up.”

Glanc is best known for her ice and mixed climbing skills and calls rock climbing her “demon.” 
“I don’t mention my rock climbing much because I am just an average climber if you take my ice tools and crampons away.” 

Glanc is such a big fan of her hometown of Ouray that in 2015 she decided to run for City Council. “I feel that citizens need to be involved if they want their community to thrive. I really enjoy the opportunity to serve and plan to run for a second term.”

Dawn is sponsored by Outdoor Research, La Sportiva, Black Diamond, Mountain Hardwear, Blue Water Ropes, and Julbo Sunglasses.

PAFlete Spotlight: Marcus Garcia

Portland Alpine Festival | Nov. 13–18, 2017

See the Portland Alpine Festival's full lineup of 8 athletes here!


by Karoline Gottschild

You began climbing in your early teens, and started adding incredible and death-defying exploits soon thereafter. Do we have to go back to diapers and toddlerhood to find you holding on to someone’s hand for safety, nervous or otherwise feeling incapacitated in some ‘non-badass’ ways?
I was very athletic right from childhood into adulthood. I recall one time, when we were about 11, my brother and I saw a zip line on a TV show. We promptly found some rope and made our own line. This didn’t go so well…but it was the start to new adventures. In high school, I played soccer, a runner, track and field, football, and power-lifting.

Could you tell us a bit about your early, formative years? Did you spend your entire youth in Texas? Did your parents or other family members positively influence your athletic direction in any way? 
Growing up in Texas, I had to learn to be diverse. My brother and I grew up with divorced parents that moved around a lot. We were extremely poor, and we had to make do with what we had. I would see my mom work hard to give us what she could, and she always told me ‘you can do anything if you just put the work into it’. This stuck with me. Both my parents were once athletes, but growing up, I lived mostly with other family members, in a small town. 

My family influenced me; but the neighborhood kids affected me the most. We grew up like in the movie The Sandlot. We always were doing something, but our biggest activities were seasonal sports. We played football, soccer, explored in the creeks, and basketball—every day after school and all summer long. 

Once I started high school sports, my coaches became my mentors. They gave me direction and support. During these years, my parents could not afford to house me, so I ended living with my uncle. 

He gave me the security that I had a real home to come home to. He also encouraged me in all of my athletic endeavors. Some mornings, he would get up at 5 a.m. and take me to school for the power-lifting workout that I did before my track workout. I also did my first climbing road trip with my uncle. But to be honest, it was the support I got from the kids I grew up with that truly helped define me as an athlete. Friends can have a monumental effect on a young person’s life. I am trying to give that back with the Youth Climbing Team program I have. 

I know you mentioned before that one of your most memorable climbs was in 1997 climbing on El Capitan. Your late friend and mentor fell 70 feet below you, zippering all equipment on the way down. Yet once the dust and rock bits settled—and even—thanks to El Nino—the ice—you both forged ahead and made summit. If that isn’t badass, I don’t know what is, yet to others it might seem foolhardy. What elements in your upbringing and gave you the quality of mind and spirit to prepare you for such focus, determination and character?
I wrote this quote, “one must learn to live with fear and not in fear,” and I took that to heart. Years later, after that defining trip on El Capitan, I wrote it down. I still live by it ... and suffering ... this is what makes us sometimes.

Perhaps, at this point, we need to define the term badass. After all, one person’s badass could be another person’s “day at the office.” How would you define it?
To me ‘badass’ is a term given to someone who is in control of his or her own adventure. Anyone can be a badass as long as they accept to live with fear and not in fear. Learn to live as if you are going to die tomorrow, and dream as if you are going to live forever. This is my motto in life.

Clearly, given that I have been asked to interview you, the Mazamas considers you a badass. Do you view yourself the same way? 
I do not consider myself a badass. I just enjoy doing what I do. I do what I do for myself, as it gives me life and meaning. I am a visionary—like the character in the movie Walter Mitty. This helps me see what is possible; then it is up to me to make it happen. 

Who are the main people in your life you look up to, or who have played a significant role in making you the man and climber you are today?
As I mentioned, my mom, my uncle, the neighborhood kids, and the coaches played an important role in my young life. Later, this would be Brian Clark and my late friend Jimmy Ray Forrester. Being tied together into the same ropes for years, you build a lasting bond and a trust that you know that person has your life in their hands. This allows you to climb at your best. Jimmy was a purist that would never give up. Our epic big wall trip on The Shield was a moment in my climbing life that defined me. That is what climbing is about for me, the adventure of the unknown. 

What is it about climbing that gives you that “rush” or that feeling of connection to life that your other sports such as soccer did not?
The adventure I go on that tests me both physically and mentally. I love the fact that it is up to me to get the rope up to the anchor, and sometimes to get us back safe.

What different direction do you think your life would have taken if you had not discovered climbing at 13? You also had a soccer scholarship at one point, but then the school dropped its program. Was this event pivotal in starting your climbing career?
I would have tried to be a professional athlete. I was big runner and a multi-sport athlete. Recently I found a quote in my high school yearbook: “My dream is to be an Olympic athlete and to have a gym of my own.” Funny, here I am—I’m a climbing gym owner, and I coach the USA Youth Ice Climbing team as an Olympic Development Team.

What do you think were some of the major life changing events that you are grateful for, but that also were the toughest? 
One life changing event occurred during that epic climb Jimmy and I had on The Shield. After we had cleared the ice from our ropes, sipped the water off the lichen covered wall, and popped a few of our last M&M peanuts, we looked at each other and made a promise that if anything were to happen to one of us, that we would each bring the other home. Well, after we topped out, I fractured my foot, which dropped me face first in a pool of water that nearly drowned me. I was too weak to push myself up. Jimmy rushed over and pulled me out of the water. He then kept a watchful eye on me during our entire decent. 

When I heard of his death that occurred during an annual trip to El Portero Chico, Mexico, (a trip that he and I did together for years establishing routes ground-up, until I became a father), I happened to be in Fort Worth visiting family. Jimmy was from Fort Worth too. That’s when I got the call. I had to do the hardest thing in my life. I drove to his mom’s house, who had not seen me in a long time. I was like her other child. When she opened the door, she knew instantly. Still to this day, I find myself in tears telling this story. (And this November will be the 11th year anniversary.)

After I told his mom, I immediately got on a flight with just the clothes on my back and a camera. I had to fly down to ID him and claim the body, and escort his body back home. I kept my promise we made years ago. I also had to climb the route that he died on, to retrieve parts of him and his belongings. I buried what the Mexican rescue team left behind under the Virgin Mary that stands over the approach to the route. 

You have indicated in other interviews that climbing allows you to focus and to find your spiritual balance to take on life’s other daily challenges. What do you consider are your most trying ‘daily challenges’? 
“Adulting.” I am going through a divorce. I have daughter who lives in Atlanta, Georgia now. Trying to be a long-distance parent over the phone is hard. I am also in the process of rebuilding my gym after we were forced to move out of the building we were in for years. Dealing with politics and not having real answers for the members of the gym who are waiting patiently. 

I have seen your videos climbing desert towers, ice climbing and setting unprecedented new routes. Has having a family changed your priorities and risk-assessment?
We just had a good friend suffer a serious climbing accident. My daughter and my soon to be ex-wife were upset. Because my daughter is now old enough to understand what could happen, I talked to her about it. I want her to understand that these things happen, but that I am always thinking about her. I also have a check system that keeps me safe. 

Some climbers eat, sleep and ... well eat and sleep climbing! They live out of their cars, or from their sponsor’s, family’s or significant others’ largesse. I’m sure a lot of people think of them as the real badasses. What is your opinion?
To me what defines you as the real badass, is what you do with your life. It’s not what you have, or what you sleep in, but it’s the adventure you dream and live.

Is perhaps the ultimate badass someone like you—a person who has defied death on many occasions, someone who has managed by skill and luck (probably by a serendipitous combination of both) to reach incredible new summits, to develop popular new routes, create a family, and a successful climbing-related business? Well, unless you object—I think that will be my definition of a bad ass: Marcus Garcia. 
Thank you for your words. I wish my marriage would have been successful, but life has a way of teaching and showing us that we have and will always be learning and growing. This is what makes us successful. To be able to persevere in life.

Is there something else you would like me to ask you or that you’d just like to share to give a more complete picture of who you are or strive to be?
To me being a mentor is the most rewarding part of my life. I love teaching and sharing my skills and dreams with others. It is up to the more skilled climbers like myself, and the gym owners, to help educate others, and to share what climbing is about—the life adventures that climbing takes us on. Climbing to me is a lifelong sport. In a way, it is a way of life for me. It helps me to understand life and deal with the challenges it presents.

PAFlete Spotlight: Katie Bono

Portland Alpine Festival | Nov. 13–18, 2017

See the Portland Alpine Festival's full lineup of 8 athletes here!

by Jonathan Barrett

Katie Bono grew up as a cross country ski racer, and self-identifies as a climber/athlete as a result. It is an attitude and point of view that helped create her most publicly visible climbing achievements: women’s speed records on both Rainier and Denali. However, it is her unbridled enthusiasm for climbing that has carried her forward and opened many doors for her.

At Dartmouth, where she went to college, there was an overlap between the Nordic skiers and the climbers. It was through those connections that she found her own passion for climbing. In the summer of 2008, between her sophomore and junior year, she went with friends to climb her first multi-pitch, Dolomite Wall on Cannon. The route sees few ascents, perhaps because one guide to the area describes it as, “one of the more challenging and exposed free climbs on Cannon. Runouts, micro wires, and loose rock are the norm.” When she left the base, she thought to herself that she didn’t need a headlamp. Ultimately she and her friends had a minor epic when time ran out and she discovered that “sharing” a headlamp ostensibly means walking down in the dark. While some might have been scared off, Katie was hooked by the experience. She continued to learn and grow as climber, and she fed off these climbs that tested her body and her willingness to suffer. Several years later in the Canadian Rockies on her first true alpine climb, she learned that a 20% chance of precipitation has a different meaning than the American Southwest. Significant snowfall resulted in an overnight, exposed bivy on the summit of Castle Mountain after 20 pitches of climbing. Again, her love for the climbing was cemented by an experience that others might find harrowing.

As a climber/athlete she approaches the discipline of climbing with discipline. “I really like trying hard, to find where my limits are,” she says, noting that the mental challenges of climbing are as important to her as the physical ones. Along the way, as she progressed, there were many people who influenced her and supported her, not the least of which being Will Gadd and Sarah Hueniken when she lived in Canmore. Ultimately she credits much of her success to her enthusiasm. It was something that Gadd recognized and which was born on the cliffs of New Hampshire. She feels very fortunate that a wide range of talented climbers saw in her a sincere passion for the sport and were willing to foster that passion even when her talents as a climber were still just emerging.


What's Next for our National Monuments?

by Tania Lown-Hecht

President Clinton designated The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument 17 years ago in order to protect the area's scientific objects and honor its 1,000-year-old cultural significance to Native Americans. In 2016, President Obama expanded the Cascade-Siskiyou to a total of 86,774 acres of protected public lands. Now, iconic recreation opportunities like hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail, Grizzly Peak, and Hobart Bluff, and multi-day adventures through the Soda Mountain wilderness, climbing Pilot Rock, and kayaking in Jenny Creek are all under threat as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reviews Obama era monument designations. Hikers, climbers, paddlers, and many other outdoor recreationists depend on the Casacade-Siskiyou for its solitude and beauty. Pressure from climate change, land developers and the timber industry puts our shared values for this special place at risk.

And the Cascade-Siskyou is just one of dozens of such special places up for review. Citizens from across the country, however, are banding together to ensure these wild lands remain wild. For 60 days in early summer, outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes flooded the Department of the Interior with testimonies about how much they love their public lands.

These comments were in response to a “review” process, dictated by Executive Order, that put protections for millions of acres of public land on the chopping block. Bears Ears National Monument in Utah was a particular focus of the review, and Outdoor Alliance and Access Fund gathered more than 8,000 comments from you, which we hand-delivered to the Department of the Interior in late May. Over the course of the 60-day review period, Outdoor Alliance and our member groups rallied more than 20,000 comments defending public lands across the country. So what‘s likely to happen next in this monument “review”?

On June 10, Secretary Zinke delivered an “interim report,” required under the Executive Order, which included a recommendation to shrink Bears Ears. The report included no maps, and the scale of the modifications he intends to recommend are wholly unknown.

In the last few weeks, Secretary Zinke has stated that he will not recommend changes to a few monuments, including Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado, Hanford Reach in Washington, Grand Canyon-Parashant in Arizona, Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana, and Craters of the Moon in Idaho. While it’s a relief to hear that some of these monuments are no longer threatened, the very idea of rescinding or modifying any protections through this process remains offensive. National Monuments are protected with an enormous amount of public input, and efforts to repeal or rescind those protections based on a brief, unsystematic, and seemingly deeply predetermined review are dubious at best and potentially illegal.

The outdoor community has been really involved in speaking out to defend public lands during this monument review. While our expectations for Secretary Zinke’s recommendations August 24 are not high, there’s reason to believe that without our community’s outreach, they would be even worse. Ultimately, this is a political process, and attaching a political cost to these proposed changes—by demonstrating how deeply unpopular they are—will help keep these proposals away from the worst-case scenario. After Secretary Zinke makes his recommendations, the President will have to determine how or if to put them into action; again, this can be an important time to demonstrate how unpopular proposals to roll back public lands protections really are.

If monuments are repealed or boundaries are adjusted, then commercialization or energy development is a big threat. The areas where Secretary Zinke has indicated he will recommend leaving monuments alone seem to be areas that do not have good prospects for energy development, meaning that the public lands that are at the biggest risk are those with potential oil, gas, or mineral development on them. Presumably the next steps would be to follow through by developing those resources, potentially in a manner harmful to antiquities, conservation values, and recreation.

So what can you do now?

  • Keep in touch with your legislators, and follow whether your elected representatives have spoken out about the monument review. 
  • Continue to follow the news about the monument review (or sign up for our action alerts and we’ll make sure you stay updated). 
  • Be prepared to speak out again if you oppose changes to National Monuments, particularly those that are near you or in the state where you live.
About the Author: Tania Lown-Hecht is the Communications Director for the Outdoor Alliance, a 501(c)3 nonprofit coalition of national advocacy organizations that includes American Whitewater, American Canoe Association, Access Fund, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, the Mountaineers, the American Alpine Club, and the Mazamas.


Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument

by Jeanine Moy

Two mountain ranges abruptly intersect along the southern Oregon border; the melding of the north-south Cascades and the east-west Siskiyou Mountains create a region of transition, contrast, and renowned biodiversity. This area provides vital connectivity between the Cascade Mountains, the Siskiyou Mountains, the Coast Ranges of Oregon and California, the high deserts of eastern Oregon, and the interior valleys of southern Oregon and northern California. In essence, the Cascade-Siskiyou region ties together the major plant communities and ecoregions of the west. These low laying mountains contain interesting overlap and grasslands, oak woodlands, juniper scrub, chaparral, dry pine forests, moist fir forests, meadows, glades, wetlands, springs and volcanic rock outcrops.

In 2000 the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was established as the first and only monument designated for the primary purpose of protecting biodiversity. In January 2016, President Obama expanded the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument to its present 113,000 acres.

The most iconic landmark in the monument is Pilot Rock, but the expansion adds areas to the south, including Scotch Creek in California. To the west are the Rogue Valley foothills. In the north are impressive stands of old growth forest at Moon Prairie and Hoxie Creek along with upper Jenny Creek and the highly visited Grizzly Peak area visible just north of Ashland. To the east is Surveyor Mountain and the beautiful Tunnel Creek wetlands. Together, the expansion represents 48,000 acres of public lands. Recognized as one of the most significant biological crossroads in western North American, protection of the Cascade-Siskiyou helps ensure a future for plants and wildlife far beyond the monument boundaries.

The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is one of 27 monuments across the U.S. under "review" by the Trump Administration with an eye toward reducing the Monument's size or eliminating protections.

Nature Nerds Take Note

Countless rare species reside in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and here is a short sampling:

Rivaling one other location in the United State for butterfly diversity, the Monument is home to over 130 butterfly species, including the rare Mardon’s Skipper found in sub-alpine meadows in just a couple locations in Oregon.

One rare plant, officially listed as a federally endangered, is at the eastern-most extent of its range in the Monument. The gentner’s fritillary (Frittilaria genteri) is endemic to our region and only has about 35 known populations. Another rare lily family member is known in Oregon as a “species of concern,” though warrants further protection. The green’s mariposa lily, Calochortus greenei may be even more difficult to find at times, owing to the fact that it is capable of entering a dormancy phase and then reemerging at a later time.

Uncommon in the United States, great gray owls, Strix nebulosa, are thankful that the Monument expansion now includes several of their known roosting sites for protection. They spend their time quietly in dense evergreen pine and fir forests with small openings or meadows nearby.

After the Monument’s designation in the early 2000’s, Rostania quadrifida, a unique lichen with square-shaped spores that was discovered at lower elevations and subsequently listed as rare in Oregon, seldom found in the broader Pacific Northwest. Just last year, local biologists surveyed white oak habitats in the Monument and found a hefty 103 species of lichen living just on the oaks. True testament of the mixing ecoregions, the lichenologists observed patterns of species that represent the Cascade Mountain range, as well as species previously known only from the inter-mountain West. Three of the species are currently listed on the Oregon Natural Heritage Program list of rare lichens; Hypotrachyna revoluta (S3-vulnerable), Collema curtisporum (S1-critically imperiled), and Rostania quadrifida (S2-imperiled). Recent discoveries include many more species recorded for the first time in Oregon, such as Physcia subalbinea and Placidium fingens. Both should be recommended for conservation.

While on a field trip in the monument, students at Southern Oregon University (SOU) were fortunate to find the Oregon spotted frog, Rana pretiosa, which was largely though to have been extinct in southern Oregon. Faculty and students at SOU continue to monitor the special pond habitats that the frogs rely on to lay their eggs—though the eggs are now free from the threats of cattle trampling the pond edges, they are extremely sensitive to climate change.

Just last summer, a SOU biology professor was taken by surprise when hearing the chirps of the alpine rabbit-family species, pika, Ochotona sp.—previously not known to live near here. Research has shown pika to be sensitive to climate change, as they do not hibernate and rely on snow pack to insulate their winter dens.

In a terrific one-day Bioblitz, over a hundred members of the public found a grand total of 114 species of fungi. Ninety-nine of those species were not previously documented on the Monument. This includes 6 species that the BLM recognizes as special status species, along with others that deserve conservation status. Some of these beautiful fungi gems include: fairy clubs; Clavariadelphus ligula, Clavariadelphus sachalinesis, and Clavulinopsis fusiformus

Even rarer still, the Entoloma violaceonigrum was found. This is now the only known site in southern Oregon, and just one of eight locations where it is known to exist.

The Monument’s flagship fish species is its very own endemic Jenny Creek sucker, Catostomus rimiculus, spawning in Jenny Creek and other Klamath River tributaries. Studies of these fish began in the early 80’s and continue today. Biologists are still learning surprising facts about their life cycle, habitat preferences, and populations.

Go There and Do Something

Not only is the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument area filled with an array of flora and fauna, but there is a wide variety of outdoor experiences one can embark on.

Around 20 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail rambles in and out of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Starting at the Green Springs Summit, you can either head north to Hyatt Reservoir or south to check out scenic vistas and early summer wildflowers at Soda Mountain. Looking for a short, scenic day hike? For the most bang for your buck, access spur trails off of the PCT that provide scenic vistas like Pilot Rock via the Mt. Ashland exit, Hobart Bluff via Soda Mountain Road, or Boccard’s point via Baldy Creek Road. For those would rather not go it alone, try a guided nature hike. Many local groups including the Siskiyou Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Rogue Valley Audubon Society, KS Wild, Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council host local experts who lead fantastic public hikes.


The most iconic feature of the Monument is the Devil’s Tower-esque Pilot Rock, the summit of which is 5,908 feet. It features a commonly used 3rd class route on the north side and a few mixed sport/trad routes on the south side. Caution should be exercised on southern technical routs regarding both summer heat and moderate rock quality. Read more about it in Greg Orton’s Southern Oregon Rock climbing guide.

Road Biking
Many locals organize social rides that are welcome to all. Typical routes up the winding and scenic Greensprings Highway provide stunning views of the southern Rogue Valley foothills. Take a mid-way break at the Greensprings Inn and Restaurant before completing the 40+ mile loop back down the northern side of the Monument via Dead Indian Memorial Road. (And yes, locals are working on
getting the road name changed!) Check out social rides such as the Ashland Up and Down on Facebook.

Cross Country Skiing
From the Dead Indian Memorial Road's summit at Buck Prairie, embark on rolling hills through big second growth forests with sneak peeks of Mt. McLaughlin or choose to go further down the road and find access via Buck Prairie II. This network of trails lies just to the north of another developing trail network around the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Enjoy the expanse of Howard Prairie, the varied woods by Table Mountain snow play area, or vistas from Chinquapin Mountain. A good snow-trail map for this area was release recently and can be picked up at the kiosk by the Greensprings Inn or accessed online at tinyurl.com/yb3kuane.

Head up to Hyatt Reservoir, Little Hyatt Reservoir, or Howard Prairie for a day on the water. Rent a stand paddle board from the Ashland Outdoor Store, or Southern Oregon University’s Outdoor program.

Friendly father-son duo runs the Greensprings Inn and Restaurant, makes a great brunch, and has a lovely porch to enjoy any meal. Indulge and stay in one of their cabins that were made tree-to-cabin on site, with options for outdoor tubs. And you can bring your fuzzy four-legged friend. For a well-rounded forest and cultural retreat, check out the annual West Coast Country Music festival that they host. Willow-Witt Ranch is nestled in the northern end of the Monument where you can enjoy a farm tour or stay in the Meadowhouse. You can also go primitive and opt for a yurt-stay. Check out some of the nation’s best agrotourism first hand and share your nature experience with well-mannered pigs, chickens, and sheep.

About the Author: Jeanine Moy is the Outreach Director and Adopt-a-Botanical Area Coordinator for Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center (KS Wild). Formed in 1997, KS Wild fights for protection and restoration of the incomparable ecological riches of southwest Oregon and northwest California. They monitor public lands in the Rogue River-Siskiyou, Klamath, Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity National Forests, and the Medford and Coos Bay Districts of the Bureau of Land Management.


Climbing in Chamonix

by Jonathan Barrett 

First, let me paint you a picture. Jon had squirmed his way up the chimney to a jammed block the size of a cantaloupe, right side in and left side out. Clipping the old tat hanging from it, he was without any other way to protect the next series of moves. His pack dangled at foot level from his harness like a pendulum swaying out of time. Stepping into a sling, he began to pivot and writhe sideways over the block which rocked ominously under his weight. The movement was physical, comical, and bold. I sat in a block of gneiss in the warm sunshine below his acrobatics gnawing on my sandwich from Le Fournil Chamonaird and watched his gyrations thoughtfully because I was next in line. He called down that the interior was surprisingly slick, which perhaps explained his slithering through the gap like a snake. A few moments later, though, he triumphantly appeared peeking over the top of the spire that was barely larger than a doormat. Well, darn it, I thought, I guess that means I’m up to bat next. And I can assert it was twice as much fun to replicate as it was to watch.

Between July 8th and the 23rd, nine of us spent day after day enjoying Chamonix. The participants were Lee Davis (leader), Ally Imbody (co-assistant leader), Rayce Boucher (co-assistant leader), Rhonda Boucher, Chuck Aude, Jonathan Barrett, Jon Skeen, Nicole Castonguay, and Elisabeth K. Bowers. The beauty of climbing in Chamonix is that there is literally something for everyone, and each one of us found a way to draw from the trip something that suited our own desires and tastes. But the climbing itself is only one small part of the experience.

This morning, as I bang out the first draft of this report, I am sitting at the dining room table of our chalet with Jon and Chuck. From my vantage point, I can see the glacier-capped summit of Mont Blanc nearly 13,000 feet above the valley floor. The morning rainstorm has ended, and the impossibly immense seracs of the Bossons Glacier are a complex of light and shadow. All the while, the tangle of roses along the deck bob and nod their heads sleepily just outside the window. The three of us sit and chat casually about writing computer code and outsourcing to India, working from home and being a desk jockey in a cube farm. As a high school teacher, the conversation is a view into a world that is utterly different from my own. This too, is what makes the Chamonix outing unique and special. Just the other night, we built a fire in the fireplace, not because the night was cold but because we could. EKB, having just soaked in the hot tub (oh, by the way there was a hot tub!), stepped outside, still in her bathing suit and wrapped in a towel, to split wood with a rusty French hatchet. The thunderous bangs caused a neighbor with a British accent to call out to her, “Are you about done with that? It is quite late!” Such a polite way to request her to knock it off. Several of us then sat near the fire chatting about nothing and everything simultaneously, and laughing about the ridiculousness of the situation. But not all the moments were quite so sublime and carefree. As evidence, consider the following anecdote.

“No, no, you can’t lock the door. My friends are out there,” I pleaded with the lift operator. He had slid the thick steel bolt into place, closing a door seemingly designed to take a bomb blast. Sheets of rain whipped across the mountain. “No. I close the door,” he responded in clipped English. “No, my friends are still on the route,” I pleaded again and gesticulated with a form of alpinist’s ASL, as if that would help me translate the problem into French. Chuck and I had just finished the East Ridge of the Grands Montet, a rambling low-consequence line that we had chosen because the forecast had been ominous at best and potentially apocalyptic at worst. He and I finished earlier than Ally and Nicole and continued on up the Petite Verte, climbing the final 5.fun section in crampons. The whole time the rock was wet, and there was occasional drizzle. From our vantage point, maybe a quarter mile away, we had waved at them, and they waved back. It was all good. The weather was holding long enough for us to finish. When we returned to the lift, they were not back yet. At last, the clouds could no longer hold their moisture, and it came pouring down. “No, no. They will be here any moment. Please unlock it,” I said again and pointed into the maelstrom. The lift op just looked at me with a puzzled expression. Then Nicole’s face appeared in the window. She was drenched. And my seemingly insane claims were vindicated. The Frenchman’s expression was easy to read, By god, there was someone still out there! He slid back the bolt, letting them in out of the storm. Later, at the base of the lift, the clouds pulled apart sending down strong summer sunshine.

In Chamonix, you can find as much adventure as you wish to seek out. It is entirely possible to make a Tyrolean traverse, like we did one afternoon, from the first to the second Clocheton (roughly translatable as a belfry) on steel t-shaped bars placed a century ago. To do it, though, you need to lasso them like the Lone Ranger. We also climbed a brand spanking new via ferrata route called Via des Evettes, which included a Himalayan bridge over a chasm. This could be extended into a longer via corda route up a vague ridge, where you simul-climbed as a team clipping lustrous steel bolts exactly where you needed them to be. Whether you are a doer or a viewer, there was something for everyone. Riding the Midi lift from Chamonix to the top station at 3,842 meters, we were stuffed into the “bin”—as it is often called—with tourists from Asia going simply for the spectacular vistas from the observation deck and weathered French guides who casually short-roped their clients down a perilous fin of snow all the while smoking a cigarette and saying in semi-encouraging tones, “Good job, guy.”

It is impossible to do much meaningful alpine climbing in a group of eight or nine, so in the evenings we would sit together in the chalet and discuss ideas for the following day. Some would want in on the next day’s adventures and others would want out, preferring instead to take a rest day, for which you could take the train into Switzerland for lunch or have a day at the spa where rainforest sounds are played while you are misted from multiple shower heads. Over a game of Carcassone or Anomia, we would develop a tentative plan, always contingent on the weather. The Chamonix app was regularly referenced. The forecast, although sometimes difficult to translate from French, was accompanied by graphics. We got many laughs from the cartoonishly drawn lightning bolts coming down like the ire of the gods to smite the French/Italian summit of Mont Blanc. It was never entirely clear what that icon meant. Ultimately a plan would be formulated, often driven by a person who was motivated to climb something of personal interest.

As a point of comparison for the range of climbing that we did, I offer the two climbs: Hotel California and the traverse of the Petite Charmoz. The first is in the Aiguille Rouge on the north side of the valley and is accessed via the Planpraz lift. Rhonda and I climbed as a pair, and Rayce and Nicole joined together as a team. The route is entirely bolted and takes a mellow yet interesting line of ten distinct pitches up a buttress. The climbing is enjoyable from start to finish with a variety of styles and movements. Afterwards, we gathered at the Dru restaurant to lounge on the patio. The second climb, Petite Charmoz, was much more alpine in nature. Jon and I took the gamble that the cloudy, wet weather would eventually clear. The approach was severe: nearly two hours of cross country travel up and over the moraines and boulder fields beneath the Aiguilles de Peigne, Plan, and Charmoz. The clouds had dropped so low that our beta was almost useless. “Cross the moraine beneath the Glacier de Blaitiere (huh, is this it?) following the line of least resistance (what is the line of least resistance in a boulder field?) to reach the ridge coming down from the northwest ridge of the Aiguille de Blaiteire (stupid cloud cover!).” Eventually, after hiking up and down the glacier looking for the obvious gully (á la Fred Beckey), the swirling whiteness parted long enough that we were able to orient ourselves adequately. The climbing was wet, exposed at times, and definitely old school. Jon, the chimney master, thrutched his way up part one of the Etala chimneys. I French-freed/aided my way up the second chimney, shredding my jacket on granite that was, paradoxically, simultaneously coarse and slick. Failing to follow the clear and accurate beta from the guidebook, we eventually blundered our way to the summit. The descent was long and brutal: multiple rappels, down-climbing loose scree, descending a series of rusty steel ladders, scrambling down to the main trail, and then hoofing it back uphill to the Midi lift. We were thrashed when done. But it was a beautiful success.

We had a small car for the two weeks, but it was almost never used because the public transportation was so user friendly. A block away, we could pick up the city bus and ride it up or down the valley. It was a common occurrence to see a group of climbers board the bus wearing harnesses jangling with ice screws, carabiners, tricams, and other alpine accessories. There were a plethora of hikers young and old carrying daypacks and trekking poles. On one occasion, two elderly ladies, who were 85 if they were a day, boarded wearing matching home-sewn outfits and hiking shoes from the 70’s. They had battered downhill poles of the same vintage as their footwear.

As for the lifts, we had an all-inclusive pass that gave us unlimited access to all of the lifts in the valley for the period we were there. There was no need for the epic slogs to tree-line we all love to hate in the Cascades. It is lift-serve alpinism at its finest. Once up high, there was more than adequate signage for directions. Both formally established and climbers’ trails were easy to follow. And when we were thirsty at the end of a climb? An Orangina or Coke could be purchased and consumed in a lounge chair while overlooking the cliffs and glaciers of the Mont-Blanc Massif.

Lastly there was the food. Just a block from the Midi station is an exceptional bakery serving all manner of treats: croissants that were the perfect blend of buttery flakiness and chew, sandwiches that could be stuffed into a pack before the climb, meringues as big as a child’s head, and baguettes fine enough for Julia Child. Stopping at one of the huts, you could get an omelet to satiate the hungriest alpinist. Rayce and Rhonda attempted to explore the wild world of French cheese and discovered that explanations in broken English about the flavor profiles of a particular fromage are at best challenging and at worst misleading. How does one say “stinky feet” in French? Then there were the cured meats. In the fine shops, mysterious sausages hang from hooks like magical chrysalises, the exteriors covered in an alchemical mold barely known to science. Sometimes we ate as a group; one night we pot-lucked on the back deck beneath the alpenglow of the aiguilles. Often we dined in small groups out at a restaurant. One night Chuck, Lee, EKB and I dined al fresco at a tiny place called La Cremerie des Aiguilles in Gailland. The meats were grilled in an open hearth behind us, and the sautéed vegetables consisted of tender baby beets and artichoke hearts. The meal drifted late into the evening, without any sense of urgency.

And that is the secret of the Chamonix outing. It was not really a climbing trip. It was a diplomatic mission to meet with Oliviero Gobbi from Grivel, replete with fine Italian food and espresso. It was people watching of the first order. Chuck and I listened to a guide from the Companie des Guides de Chamonix describe to his client, from first-hand experience, what climbing in the valley was like in the 1940s. It was conversation and comradery fostered by shared artisan breads, broken on the deck of a chalet at the foot of Mont Blanc. I know that Lee sees himself there again next year, and I plan on returning for my fourth visit.

About the Author: Jonathan Barrett grew up in New England and moved to Oregon in 1997. He joined the Mazamas in 2007. When not working as a full time language arts teacher at North Marion High School or being a father to a 1st grader, he finds the occasional morning here and there to sneak up Mt. Hood, pull some plastic, or crank out a long run in Forest Park.


Learning from Mother Nature at the AdventureWILD! Summer Day Camp

by Claire Nelson, Mazamas Youth & Outreach Program Manager

This year marks the 6th year of Adventure WILD! Summer Day Camp, and its first year selling out in the Portland area! Some of you may be wondering what exactly Adventure WILD! is and how this program aligns with the Mazamas.

Since 2012, Mazamas partnered with Friends of Outdoor School to further our shared goals of providing meaningful, educational outdoor experiences to youth in the Portland area. Adventure WILD! Summer Day Camp is an exciting and evolving piece of this partnership. Historically, Adventure WILD! has served as a fundraiser for the Outdoor School for All campaign, supporting the popular Measure 99 to fund Outdoor School for Oregon's fifth and sixth graders. With the passage of Measure 99 and funds allocated to OSU for Outdoor School programming, Adventure WILD! plans to become a full-fledged Mazamas youth program. We hope the camp continues to be a resource for the greater Portland area, along with our Mazama members and families.

Each summer, we welcome campers ages 4–10 from mid-July to mid-August for five week-long sessions. Campers experience their urban and wild natural environments through hands-on science experiments, art and play at the Mazama Mountaineering Center (MMC) and Laurelhurst Park.
Every Friday campers get to scale the MMC wall while being belayed by a Mazama volunteer. After all, it wouldn’t be a Mazama program without some rock climbing! This year, we also took three of our camp sessions to the Mazama Lodge to experience the mountain and historic Mazama building in person.

Every week, camp has a different theme, from art and imagination to mountains and glaciers. Campers engage in a number of creative activities including fish printing, constructing fairy houses in the park, modeling the layers of the earth with clay, and watching miniature volcanoes erupt. Campers also play games and just have fun being outside. During the heat wave this summer, a favorite camp game was Drip, Drip, Drop, a version of Duck, Duck, Goose, where campers dump water on each other's heads!

Many Mazamas are already involved in Adventure WILD! This year four Mazama families joined camp, and we employed two Mazama youth. We also had eighteen Mazamas donate their time to help campers learn the basics of rock climbing and helped them participate in other camp activities. In total, Adventure WILD! brought one hundred and 68 people to the Mazama Lodge to experience the mountain this summer alone.

Youth programming is an important pillar of the Mazamas mission of, ..."everyone outside enjoying and protecting the mountains." Adventure WILD! exposes almost 200 young people a summer to the wonders of the natural world, the thrill of rock climbing, and the wild of our mountain. Experiences like these build a foundation of appreciation that can translate into a love for the outdoors and a desire to get out there and adventure. We can only guess at how many future Mazamas and outdoor enthusiasts come to camp every summer.

Adventure WILD! lets us engage in the community in a new way by offering programming to diverse youth. We also are exposing new families to the wonderful services and classes the Mazamas has to offer.

Thank you so much to the Mazamas community that supported or was directly involved in Adventure WILD! Summer Day Camp this year. We can’t wait for next summer!

We have received several requests for more information on how to get involved with our climbs and classes. If you have any questions about Adventure WILD! Summer Day Camp, please contact Claire Nelson, Youth and Outreach Program Manager, at claire@mazamas.org.


Where to Turn When a Mazama Class is Full

by Sue Griffith

The Mazamas offer classes and activities to both members and nonmembers at all levels of experience. You can find seasonal offerings such as Basic Climbing Education, Intermediate Climbing School, Advanced Snow and Ice, Nordic, Ski Mountaineering, Mountain Running Camp, and Mountaineering First Aid. A variety of short, skill-builder classes are also offered year-round.

You can also choose from over 1,000 hikes and climbs offered each year. But what if you cannot find a Mazama class or activity that fits your needs or schedule? Both inside and outside of Oregon, there are numerous resources where you can get outdoor training, guided experiences, or a combination of both. The following is a sampling of some of the opportunities waiting for you from Chicks Climbing & Skiing, REI Outdoors, and Timberline Mountain Guides.

Other Local Training Resources:

Kaf Adventures
Skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, backpacking, rock climbing, mountaineering.

Next Adventure Outdoor School
Day hikes and overnight backpacking trips in Northwest

Portland Rock Gym
Instruction for climbers indoors and out; guided half and full-day trips.

Rare Earth Adventures
Cascade volcanoes climbing, rock climbing 101, bike packing, rappelling.


This Colorado-based company was established to empower women through mountain sports. Dawn Glanc, co-owner and AMGA guide, spoke with me via email. She describes her target audience as, “any woman who is looking for climbing and backcountry skiing instruction.” Chicks offers beginner to advanced clinics in rock, ice, mixed and alpine climbing, and backcountry skiing. Courses are available throughout the United States and internationally. “No matter what your skill level is,” Dawn told me, “we have a clinic for you.”

With so many outdoor programs competing for recreation dollars, I asked Dawn what makes the Chicks program stand out. She emphasized their focus on developing strong women climbers and skiers in an all-female environment. “At Chicks, we strive to make you a confident and competent independent climber and/or skier. We give you the skills so that you can take on challenges and objectives on your own…our guides offer an opportunity for women to learn and ask questions in a fun and supportive environment. By having an all female group, we can break away from societal norms and truly immerse ourselves in the learning process.” Dawn shared how excited she and the other instructors get when a student reaches her goals and experiences that light bulb moment of understanding. “It’s awesome to see a woman get stoked and empowered in one split second. If we can pass on a solid foundation of skills and meet the client goals, then we have had a successful program,” she says.

If learning in an all-female environment has your name on it, Dawn suggests looking at the Chicks’ Red River Gorge Clinic in Kentucky. “The Red River Gorge Clinic is our most popular venue. I believe this is because of the timing and location of the program. The Red is an amazing place to climb and it offers the perfect classroom for the guides. This program sells out every year,” she said.
And that’s not all. The Chicks programs come with an added bonus—the camaraderie doesn’t end after one class. “When you join a Chicks program,” Dawn said, “you become part of a larger community of women who enjoy and pursue mountain sports. This is a great opportunity to gain instruction and meet other women to adventure with.” For more information visit www.chicksclimbing.com.


Not just a great outdoor gear provider, REI also offers a variety of educational programs. Aimed toward adults looking to learn a new outdoor skill, improve on skills they already have, or participate in advanced outings, these programs are staffed by highly trained instructors in a professional, yet welcoming environment. REI also leverages its considerable network of organizational partners to deliver an even wider array of programs. And it doesn’t stop there. Through REI Adventures you can find outdoor adventures around the globe to fit all types of backgrounds. And there’s even a limited number of youth programs.

Via email, I asked Stephen Hatfield, REI Outdoor Programs & Outreach Manager in Portland, Oregon, what one thing REI does better than anyone else: “At REI Outdoor Programs, our goal is to create life-changing experiences. An important part of this is learning a new skill, or discovering a new place. But another critical component is the human connection, meeting new friends and growing your network for outdoor adventures. REI members can be found across the country and beyond. We can help connect you to some great people, regardless of your passion.”

With so many educational possibilities, I probed Stephen for the most popular REI offering, and he couldn’t narrow it down to just one. “Our most popular options are Map & Compass Basics (2-hour class) and Backcountry Navigation with Map & Compass (5-hour field class). In this digital age, a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts see the value in honing this very important analog outdoor skill. Other popular program areas include paddlesports (kayak/SUP) and snowsports (snowshoe/Nordic skiing). Finally, one other very popular class is How to Ride a Bike for Kids—a 2-hour class in which we teach kids a lifelong skill that will help them connect to the outdoors. The success rate is incredibly high, and they don’t want to get off the bike when the class ends!”

When asked to sum up the REI Outdoors experience, Stephen told me, “A successful class is one where the participant leaves fulfilled and energized, ready to plan their next adventure and put their new skills to work.”

Find a current list of REI programs at http://rei.com/learn. REI is also able to develop private custom programs for groups of any size. To learn more reach out at portland-os@rei.com.


Known for “getting climbers to the top since 1983,” Timberline Mountain Guides (TMG) not only offers accredited guide services leading to summits but also offers a number of climbing classes and programs around the Northwest. As the name suggests, one of TMG’s most popular offerings is a two-day Mt. Hood program. It seems there are a lot of folks who want to stand on top of Oregon’s highest point but don’t have the skills to do it on their own.

I caught up with Cliff Agocs, TMG Owner and Operations Manager, via email to learn more about TMG and its sister organizations, Smith Rock Climbing School and Oregon Ski Guides. With three different entities offering such a wide array of services to the outdoor community, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

Cliff confirmed that folks look to his organizations for a diversity of guided objectives. “I’d say there are a few different goals that people have in mind when they join us for climbing or skiing. Most folks either join us to develop skills that they can take out into the mountains, or they join us to attempt a climb that they wouldn’t feel comfortable leading on their own, or with their regular climbing partners.” Cliff is particularly proud of TMG’s professionalism. In his words, “We’re a small group of career-guides and we take our role as educators and stewards of the mountains really seriously. Every one of our guides is a member of the American Mountain Guides Association and is actively pursuing their own continuing education. I think that putting ourselves in front of our peers for evaluation keeps us connected to the experience of our guests. We all consider ourselves mentees of our colleagues, just as we are mentors to the less experienced climbers who come to us to learn new skills. When you get down to it, we were all brand new to climbing once, and we’re all somewhere on the road toward mastery. That recognition helps to create a respectful environment where sharing knowledge, experience, and responsibility among every member of the climbing team is the expectation.”

He also emphasized the tailored nature of the classes. “We provide really personalized instruction based on your goals and skills—whether you come to us for a day of skiing, rock climbing, or an attempt on a remote summit. Then we pair you with a guide who has a combination of local experience, professional training and a genuine desire to create a positive experience for you. The recipe is simple, but the variety of experiences is infinite.”

This educational philosophy is reflected throughout the organization. Cliff told me he measures success not only when a student gains new skills but when that student leaves with the know-how to apply those skills properly. “Often in an outdoor education setting, participants will come in with varied backgrounds and different levels of knowledge and comfort with the prerequisite skills. This is actually a strength because it allows the instructor to empower students to coach each other and share in the teaching. Everyone leaves with a deeper understanding of the material, empowered to go and use those skills to push themselves just a bit further on their next adventure.”

With a staff roster skewed largely toward male instructors, I asked Cliff if he could accommodate female students looking for a female instructor or women-only groups. Cliff was sympathetic to the issue and told me they have female instructors in both avalanche education and rock climbing courses. He went on to say, “We think there’s a unique learning environment that can be created amongst women in the context of outdoor adventure, and we’re psyched to help create those opportunities. We don’t currently have any women who guide in the alpine on staff but we’re always on the lookout for solid guides of all stripes, so encourage all the great female guides you know to send us a resume!”

Finally, Cliff highlighted a few programs he thought might particularly appeal to Mazamas (see www.timberlinemtguides.com for details): Climber Self-Rescue, Crevasse Rescue and Glacier Travel, Mixed Alpine Climbing Camp, and Advanced Routes in the Cascades.

With this list in hand, there’s no excuse for not getting outside and turning outdoor dreams to reality. Climb high!