Mazama Women Make It Happen—In 1932

by Rick Craycraft

Long before Stacy Allison or Junko Takei set foot on top of Mount Everest, and even before Arlene Blum found her place on Annapurna, Mazama women were out there making a statement in the mountains. Yes, they were well represented on the original Mazama organizational climb in 1894, but not until 1932 did they separate themselves from the leadership of men.

A small item appeared in the July issue of the Mazama Bulletin that year. The bold-faced title of that announcement was Mt. Hood Climb—Girls Only. The climb was scheduled for July 10. The appeal for participants stated, “Girls, you are all urged to get out the old climbing togs and come on the first all-girl climb of the club.” They promised as well that “an ample breakfast will be served after which we will saunter up our old friend, Hood, minus the boyfriends.” The challenge was made complete by declaring, “Let’s show’em we can carry our own packs and have a big turn out.” The invitation listed Bea McNeil and Margaret Lynch as Leaders, and Edith Pierce as Rear Guard.

When the day came the weather did not cooperate and a subsequent article in the August Bulletin stated, “Of these three, two were to have been the leaders for the large party that was anticipated, while the third was to have been the rear guard it was said. So all three took turns at being leader, rear guard and “customer.”

Nevertheless, they persisted, and the three women, plus another, Karin Maki, returned two weeks later under fair skies and gained the summit and made history. There was mention of their landmark climb a few days later in the Oregonian, albeit buried at the end of a paragraph about the accomplishments of men. Still, the author was impressed enough to call their effort “daring.” In any case, these women, and many others, opened doors for our amazing Mazama women climbers of today.

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