Tonight the Mazamas put on an appreciation dinner for their Hike Leaders at the Mazama Mountaineering Center. Of particular interest to me was the contents of the display case in the back of the auditorium. The Mazamas Museum has a rotating display, currently there are some items from the Oregon Alpine Club. Included was a banner from the O'Neil Expedition, which played a major role in the exploration of the Olympic Mountains. Those of you who are familiar with the history of the exploration of the Olympics Mountains know that the O'Neil Expedition was organized by the US Army and the Oregon Alpine Club. Here is where my experiences with Camp Parsons and the Mazamas merge. It was the Parsons High Adventure Backpacking trips that started my love affair with the Olympic Mountains. As a Camp Parsons staffer my appreciation of these mountains grew deeper. After camp staff I have continued to explore the peaks and valleys with both fellow Parsons staffers and Mazamas friends. To see a piece of history of the Olympic Mountain exploration in the home of an organization that I am active in was very meaningful to me.
So what is the connection between the Mazamas and the Oregon Alpine Club? Before there was the Mazamas, there was the Oregon Alpine Club. The club faded in part because they shifted their focus from mountaineering to promoting tourism. In July 1894 the mountaineers from the Oregon Alpine Club gathered on the summit of Mt. Hood and founded the Mazamas. To make sure that it remained a climbing organization, they mandated that to become a member, one must climb a mountain with a living glacier. That is still a requirement today.