August 3, 2011
We were treated last night to a delightful slide show at Paradise Inn by 93 year old Rainier legend and mentor, Dee Molenaar. Dee showed slides from his first climb of Mt. Rainier back in 1939 with handmade ice axes, his early years of guiding in the 1940’s under the leadership of chief guide Clark Schurman (via the Kautz route back then), his days as a Mt. Rainier NPS climbing ranger, the second ascent in 1946 of Mt. St. Elias in Alaska, the 1953 American K2 expedition where he and his companions were stopped by Pete Schoening’s all time famous anchoring (“The Belay”), and his many years as author, historian, geographer, and artist. Dee’s 40th anniversary edition of The Challenge of Rainier is due out later this year, from Mountaineers Books.
After the show Phil Ershler, George Dunn, Greg Vernovage, and I walked out into the dark Paradise parking lot and looked up to a magnificent sky full of stars, barely illuminating a towering Mt Rainier. The cloud cap that had been flying over the summit all day had disappeared and the night was calm. I thought of the poem by Clark Schurman that Dee had closed his show with:
Last campfires never die.
And you and I, on separate ways to life’s December,
Will always dream by this last campfire,
And have this mountain to remember.