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SMS History

"Winter Sports - Southern Section"
1960 Sierra Club Handbook

From the first meetings of the Winter Sports Committee in 1930 it was recognized that there should be a group of club members to undertake in southern California activities similar to those proposed for northern California. At first the winter exploration activities were on an individual basis. In February, 1931, Nathan C. Clark and two University of Southern California students climbed Mount San Gorgonio afoot in a twenty-hour trudge, and separately Murray Kirkwood and a companion climbed the peak on skis. Leslie LaVelle, later a club ski-test judge, was developing a group of skiers at Big Pines.

In 1932 there came to Southern California one of the most energetic and eloquent of skiing enthusiasts, Dr. Walter Mosauer, a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. He began teaching the principles of the Arlberg technique, which he had learned in Austria, to students at UCLA and Pomona College. In 1933 Dr. Mosauer was appointed chairman of a southern California section of the Winter Sports Committee, which included also D. Ray Brothers, Nathan C. Clark, Glen Dawson, Donald de Fremery, and H. C. Youngquist. In 1934 Dr. Mosauer published one of California's first booklets on ski technique, On Skis over the Mountains.

A group of college students in the South, including a number of club members, fired with Dr. Mosauer's contagious enthusiasm, organized the "Ski Mountaineers." In 1935 the Southern California (now Angeles) Chapter of the club approved the establishment of a Ski Mountaineers Section, which absorbed Mosauer's ski mountaineers and gained additional members for the club. The club Ski Mountaineers explored the airy ridges and steep canyons of Mount San Antonio, Telegraph Peak, Ontario Peak, and Blue Ridge, with the crowning experience of climbing the north wall of Mount San Gorgonio, southern California's highest mountain.

It was soon realized that the elevation of the club's Harwood Lodge was too low for reliable skiing and so, to get a higher base, the Ski Mountaineers built a hut on the upper south slope of Mount San Antonio--the "Baldy" Hut,--every bit of material and furnishings being carried up the canyon on the backs of members. It was finished by December, 1935, but burned completely one Sunday night in the following September. The second San Antonio Ski Hut was started immediately by the Ski Mountaineers, was ready for use that ski season and was finished in the spring of '37.

Following Dr. Mosauer's death in Mexico in August, 1937, the Ski Mountaineers started a fund for the purpose of building a ski lodge in his memory, and they were hoping that a site on San Gorgonio could be obtained. When, in 1938, the Forest Service denied a permit for a San Gorgonio site, the Ski Mountaineers organized a committee under the chairmanship of George Bauwens to build a ski hut on the Rim-of-the-World Highway opposite Keller Peak. The Keller Peak Hut, used the next ski season, proved so popular that an addition was projected and completed in the fall of 1939. The Ski Mountaineers group was a nucleus for many of the younger club members who were interested in rock climbing as well as skiing and for some who were not devotees of either sport but who gravitated to the company of the group. They began on January 29, 1938, and have continued, the publication of the Mugelnoos, a mimeographed news periodical relating to the activities of skiers and rock climbers. The Ski Mountaineers group has conducted many ski expeditions to the east side of the Sierra. Beginning with Dr. Mosauer's trip to Kearsarge Pass in April, 1933, they have explored most of the east-side canyons and slopes as far north as Conway Summit. The Ski Mountaineers as an organization conduct ski tests, seminars, sponsor ski races, and in general administer the winter sports program in southern California.

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