Ski Mountaineering Years

Louis Turner
From the Mugelnoos, Jan 12 and 26, 1939

Moving forward with rapid strides, the Ski Mountaineers Section of the Southern California Chapter of the Sierra Club now boasts some 260 names on the membership list, quite an increase since that evening back in 1934 when the organization began. The recent activities of the Section are probably well known to the majority of the members who comprise the 1939 roster, but the early days of the organization, how it was born, how it sputtered along through the stormy sessions destined to pave the way toward California's leading ski club, these things have never been brought up for the benefit of those who might wish to know how the whole thing started.

It was of a meeting at the home of Dr. Walter Mosauer, November 7, 1934, that Frank Richardson wrote the following: "Under the instigation and inspiration of Dr. Walter Mosauer some fourteen of the Southland's most promising and enthusiastic skiers found themselves together at this, the first meeting of what was to be the Ski Mountaineers of California. By the end of the business meeting and before excellent food and moving pictures had driven more serious thoughts away, several points had been decided upon which gave a start to a new skiing organization."

The food, indeed, was a great factor in the formation of the Ski Mountaineers, for it was the tremendous spreads of grub which carried the early members through those trying evenings when the writing of the constitution, the creation of a badge design, the drawing up of plans for a ski hut, and a myriad of lesser plans, consumed many hours of quibbling. Nor is there any particular change today, as a visit with the vultures of San Antonio and Keller Peak will soon reveal. For instance, the official minutes of the meeting of February 25, 1935, contain the following rather odd remark: "Those not attending this meeting may never know the extreme delight to be had by devouring 'twisties.'"

At any rate, the frivolous fourteen battled through a series of weekly meetings during the rest of 1934, batted out a complicated constitution, designed a badge, arranged ski trips, railroaded an election on December 10th, and came up gasping the results to an eager public, composed chiefly of Dawson's pet canary who had been skiing all day and didn't particularly care one way or the other.

Appropriately enough, Walter Mosauer was elected President. As founder of the organization he was responsible for the high ideals incorporated in the organization from the beginning, which have been carried on down into the present group. Leland Curtis, author of the first constitution and designer of the badge, was elected Vice-President,. Frank "Tug" Richardson, whose flowing pen created the high standard of "minutes of the modern manner" so ably carried on by the present secretary, was chosen Secretary-Treasurer. In addition to these names, the first Board of Directors was composed of Stanley Allen, Bob Frampton, Louis Turner, and Eric Varney, The rest of the group deserves mention here as comprising the charter membership of the organization. They were, in addition to the above, Seth Blakeman, Wolfgang Lert, Niles Werner, Dick Jones, Mac Salter, Louis Simon, and Glen Dawson. Murray Kirkwood, one of the earliest skiers in this region, was elected a charter member in absentia.

Well, in the days preceding affiliation with the Sierra Club, the Ski Mountaineers went forward with the task of laying the foundation for the club which they never dreamed would reach such proportions. Mountaineering on skis was stressed, as well as the maintenance of a high standard of skiing technique and conduct. The first treasurer's report of which there is any record, reads as follows, "Four dollars in dues were collected -- an auspiciously lucrative beginning."

Business meetings took place frequently during the first season, one in particular deserving special mention because of its novel procedure. We quote here in its entirety, the official record of Meeting #6, held Jan.13, 1935, on the "Ridge East of Baldy":

"The main reason for this meeting was that of skiing. The business side was nearly neglected and even when once started, did not progress smoothly. Dick Jones' elegant christie to the meeting place was the delight of all present. In the way of business it was decided that, (1) $1 was the limit for our prospective emblem, which it seemed probable now would be metal, (2) A meeting would be held Wednesday the l6th at the President's house. (3) We should start planning next week's trip now."

So came and went the first year of the Ski Mountaineers. It was in Sept. of 1935 that the first discussions were held concerning the very important move which was to seal the success of the Ski Mountaineers: affiliation with the Sierra Club as a section of that organization. Following a talk with the Pres. of the Sierra Club, at that time Mr. Ernest Dawson, it was unanimously agreed that to become a section of the Sierra Club would further the carrying out of the aims and ideals of the Ski Mountaineers which so thoroughly coincided with those of the. Sierra Club. The move was approved by the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club and the present organization was the result.

San Antonio Hut Built, Burned, Built

Action was taken in the spring of 1935 toward the construction of a ski hut at Mt. San Antonio. The policy of construction of skiing facilities was always foremost in the minds of the members. Here was one of the chief reasons for the birth of the club.

The first batch of new members included Howard Boller, Allan Cameron, Bob Brinton, Cliff Youngquist, Otto Steiner, and George 0. Bauwens. It was Mr. Bauwens who appeared on the scene at Wolfgang Lert's home with plans for a hut. His very active interest and knowledge of construction led to his assuming charge of the building. Loans were made, raffles heId, parties staged. Work was started by a small group which grew larger by the time the hut was completed, All material, over 10 tons of it, was carried on the backs of the workers up a steep 2-mile trail. The first San Antonio Hut was ready for regular use by January 1936, and was used by skiers throughout the season.

Then a very discouraging set-back occurred. *A fire of undetermined origin completely destroyed the hut in Sept. 1936. It was truly a great loss and meant doing the task all over again. But this task was undertaken with great enthusiasm almost immediately by an Increased number of members, and by the time good skiing arrived in Dec., a new and larger ski hut was completed and ready for use on the site of the earlier hut.

Dr. Mosauer's sudden death in Mexico during the summer of 1937 robbed the group of its greatest friend and inspiration. George Bauwens succeeded him as Chairman, and has ably and faithfully carried on the Section's, work. Recent developments include the construction of the new Keller Peak hut and the unbelievable increase in membership and scope of activities, These are familiar to most of the present membership, It was a combination of many factors which lead to the present successful group: Walter Mosauer's undying love for skiing and the enthusiasm of his companions the Sierra Club and all it meant to the mountains and mountaineers in California; the sound advice end help of persons like Otto Steiner who gave freely of their time to see the club progress; George Bauwens and the work crews which made our ski huts possible; the California mountain regions without whose proximity re wouldn't be writing this article. (The End).

Louis Turner

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