Encyclimpedia Brintonica

Bob Brinton
From the Mugelnoos, Oct 4 and Nov 1, 1945

The unpretentious beginning of the Ski Mountaineers of California took place on the evening of November 7, 1934, with the union of fourteen eager skiers. Dr. Walter Mosauer, first chairman of this small group of U.C.L.A. winter sport enthusiasts, perhaps best described his initial object in organizing the club when he remarked, "The really beautiful ski slopes of the Southern California mountains offer unlimited opportunity for ski touring, but--one just can't ski alone in the high mountains " More than any other factor, the insatiable desire of Walter Mosauer to explore and enjoy the winter wilderness rather than concentrate on what he termed "Wiesenloewe tactics" (slope doping) guided the early policies of the new organization and differentiated its aims from the other new Southern California ski clubs

In the early part of the history, the U.C.L.A. Ski Team played a major role in the activities of the group. Gradually, under the influence of staunch Sierra Club members within the membership, Glen Dawson, Leland Curtis, Dick Jones, Louis Turner (to mention a few), the interest turned more and more to touring and mountaineering. Evidence of this change can be found in the long list of ski mountaineering trips made both in the Sierra region and in the Southern California mountains during the first two years of the club's existence.

During the spring of 1935, the enthusiasms of the small group were enhanced considerably by the entrance of George Bauwens into the fold. George, a pioneer in ski mountaineering first in the German Alps and later in Southern California, saw the need for a system of ski lodges and had the ability to plan and build the shelters; but most important, his amazing zeal to accomplish the goal was sufficient to overcome the inertia of the group toward such an ambitious undertaking. At that time the U.S. Forest Service couldn't quite see its way clear to trust the sanctity of the untouched southern slopes of Mt. San Antonio to a small, unknown group wishing to construct a ski lodge. A solution to this problem came from Mr. Ernest Dawson, president of the Sierra Club, who invited the club to enter the Sierra Club as one body, to be known as the Ski Mountaineers Section of the Sierra Club, Mr. Dawson's kind offer was accepted in an open meeting of the Ski Mountaineers on September 26, 1935; the Southern Chapter Executive Committee made the transfer official; and permission was granted to the new Section to construct the first San Antonio Ski Hut.

Human Pack Mules Construction of the small ski cabin at 8500 ft. elevation on Mt. San Antonio proceeded rapidly during the fall months of 1935, in spite of the tremendous job of transporting the many tons of building material via human "pack mule" from 7200 ft. elevation up the steep 2 1/2 mile trail to the building site. The cooperation of all Sierra Club members both in the new section and in the general chapter made possible completion of the construction before the real winter set in. Sweeping falling snow of the roof to apply the roofing paper illustrates that the margin of time was not too great!

No Fiddling The small shelter hut served its purpose all too briefly, for fire left it in the form of a pile of ashes during September, 1936. Fortunately, the attitude of the grieving Ski Mountaineers toward the tragedy was quite contrary to that of the insurance claims adjustor who, finally arriving exhausted at the ruins, pantingly exclaimed, "If it burns again, I'll take your word for it!" Winter later in 1936 saw the present San Antonio ski hut in service. The tremendous task of reconstructing the building had been carried out in three short months.

During 1936 and 1937, membership in the Section grew steadily, activities were expanded to include organized skiing and mountaineering instruction, and plans were made to build a second ski lodge. On Sept.24, 1936, George Bauwens took over the chairmanship from Walter Mosauer, whose untimely death from leukemia occurred just one year later during a trip to Mexico. The $211 already raised for a building fund at the end of 1937 was earmarked for the now W Walter Mosauer Memorial Lodge to be built in the San Gorgonio area. The Ski Mountaineers badge designed by charter member Leland Curtis, became the symbol of ski mountaineering proficiency in the whole Club, at the request of the Board of Directors in December 1937. The 2nd and 3rd running of the San Antonio Downhill Races established this event on a firm annual basis.

1938 Moo Not Mew Came the birth of the Mugelnoos on January 29th, Phoebe Russell's "rump ripping" with the pickeled stitches, and the development of the new Keller Peak Ski Area. Drenched skiers staggered out of the mountains Sunday, February 28th from the initial day of the "Big Flood" which removed the majority of the mountain roads and formed the famous "butches" of the San Antonio Ski Hut Trail.

Ruth Dyar began her long term as Mugelmistress with issue number 10, April 13th, while Otto Steiner was conducting tho first organized ski mountaineering school at McGee Creek. The swelling Walter Mosauer Lodge Fund had inflated to $1060.28 by May 23rd, but since this area evidently was not to be opened, busy bees swarmed to the newly-acquired Snow Valley site over the July 9th and 10th weekend to initiate Lodge Number 2. Financier Glen Dawson's "paper pledges" of $250.00 plus an equal grant from the Board of Directors seemed sufficient incentive for the worker class.

Late Fall saw the Nelson's firmly entrenched at their new Snowcrest Resort, George Bauwens in his second reign as chairman of the section, and the Keller Peak Lodge ready for the season's occupancy. Approximately $500.00 from donations and benefits and $350.00 from the Club's treasury had been transformed into a handsome edifice

Last Resort Mugelnoos celebrated November 16th by producing its first photographic issue, but of course the crowning triumph of the year was the installment of "Brinton's Folly," electrical windmill at the Baldy Hut.

1939 The establishment of the weekly classes of people "weighting the lower ski" and central commissaries at the Keller Lodge proved sufficient lure to pack 'em in. The tremendous success of the new Snow Valley bunkhouse caused early expansion plans to formulate the Keller Annex Fund on February 9th.

The 4th San Antonio Downhill Race postponed from flood-filled 1939 finally emerged as a giant slalom among the rocky patches of the Baldy bowl on March 19th. A foreign agent from the Republic of Colorado, who hitch-hiked to the event, fell victim to California propaganda while in a weakened condition after a terrific fall, and he has been here ever since under the name of Larry Thackwell. Fuzz Merritt had little trouble showing up the young'uns to win the event, however.

Keller Supervisors Keller Annex was off to an early start over the June 17th and 18th weekend, and from that time on went through a stormy period of changing directorship in the absence of George Bauwens' steadying influence. Finally capable Dene Christie rescued the project to make the new wing a thing of real beauty.

Karl and Marita Bodenhofer, foreshadowing "the things to come," produced the first of the Ski Mountaineer second generation June 18th. Brinton's Folly number 2, a weirdly designed chimney-fireplace contribution for the Keller Annex lived up to the form and didn't work either. Finally George Bauwens' retirement brought forth a new chairman, Bill Wallace, to carry on the fine job done by the two preceding leaders.

Footnote: Bob Frampton wishes it known that the Pomona College skiers formed an active Ski mountaineering group with Walter Mosauer as early as 1932, however the "Ski Mountaineers of California" had ten U.C.L.A. but only three Pomona skiers among the original charter members.

Back to History Index
Back to SMS Home Page