Rest In Peace- Glen Dawson Leaves Us at 103


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Stewart Johnson

Mountain climber
lake forest
Mar 23, 2016 - 02:37pm PT
Impresssive. RIP
Off White

Tenino, WA
Mar 23, 2016 - 03:54pm PT
Sad, but not tragic. What a life!
Jim Herrington

Mountain climber
New York, NY
Mar 25, 2016 - 06:37am PT
Farewell to a complete gentleman.

This is from a post I did elsewhere two days ago, old news to most of those on ST by now, but anyway here's what I said:

RIP Glen Dawson, 103 years old.

Glen was the very first person I photographed when I began my documentation of early/mid 20th Century climbers 15 years ago. Glen started climbing in the 1920s and his most well known climb was the first ascent of the East Face of Mt. Whitney, which he climbed in 1931 with Norman Clyde, Jules Eichorn and Robert Underhill.

My intentions then where not as, err, lofty, as they later became. At that time I simply wanted to meet and photograph a few of the early Sierra Nevada (California) climbers, the Sierra being my home range and favorite place to climb. Also, the Sierra Nevada, aside from featuring the best granite in the world to clamber upon and having hundreds of square miles of beautiful backcountry in which to do it, has a history that is rife with characters and stories that always interested me. Lon Chaney Sr. had a fishing cabin on the east side of the range. Assorted poets, writers, artists and photographers figure prominently there though the years, from Jack Kerouac to Gary Snyder, Ansel Adams, Albert Bierstadt, Chiura Obata, the list goes on. Not to mention at least one great Twilight Zone episode was filmed there, along with a thousand movies. The Owens Valley, lying underneath the eastern escarpment of the Sierra, is one of the most used film locations in the world.

My project has since grown bigger than I imagined it would at the time. I just got a book deal and the series now involves climbers from all over the world. But here is the first of my climber portraits, of Glen Dawson, at the time a mere 88 years old. Incidentally it was taken in the backyard of the house in Pasadena that he’d lived in for 57 years. The day I photographed him was the day he was moving out and into a nursing home - not for himself but for his wife who needed to go there. Glen was fit as a fiddle then but didn’t want to be separated from her so together they went. When I finished photographing him we all left and he locked up the house for good.

Glen’s father Ernest opened Dawson’s Book Shop in Los Angeles in 1905 and it’s become the oldest continuously operating bookshop in LA. Glen was involved with it for many years.

Here’s a nice obituary about him that tells more about his climbing exploits and other high points, worth reading:

There are more updates about my climber book if you want to wallow through any of these sites:

Trad climber
Mar 26, 2016 - 08:40am PT
Bad Climber

Trad climber
The Lawless Border Regions
Mar 26, 2016 - 09:42am PT
Wow, what an amazing guy. As a very young buck, I met both Dawson and Eichorn at an AAC meeting. Dawson was ancient back then, over 30 years ago, at least to my young eyes. Incredible.

Well done, old man.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2016 - 10:42am PT
Chris Van Leuven and Glen's friend Bill Oliver, a Sierra Club historian, wrote a fine piece about Glen for Alpinist magazine.

From Chris Jones Climbing in North America

Bill also wanted to share this lengthy bio that he prepared for Glen on the occasion of his 100th birthday.

Glen Dawson – a Climbing Chronology

On the occasion of his 100th birthday celebration - June 2nd, 2012

Bill Oliver

The primary source for this summary is Bill Oliver’s six-part series “A Tribute to the Honorary Members of the Sierra Peaks Section: Norman Clyde, Glen Dawson and Jules Eichorn,” published in the SPS Sierra Echo from Nov-Dec 1989 to April-June 2008. The Parts are available here:

1926 - The Sierra Club’s hugely-attended annual High Trip (HT) Outings generally traversed various parts of the Sierra Nevada over four weeks centered in July. They were engagingly detailed in subsequent Sierra Club Bulletins (SCB) - also the major source for the Tribute series. Glen’s first HT, however, was one of the occasional Outings that ventured much farther afield - in this instance to Yellowstone Park. As he was only 14, Glen could not join Norman Clyde, his father Ernest and a few others on a gnarly ascent of the Grand Teton. He remained behind, mostly under the care of naturalist Vernon Bailey.

1927 - This was Jules Eichorn’s first HT, under the loose care of Ansel Adams. The same age, Glen and Jules (G&J), would have met at least casually on the group climb of Mt Kaweah.

1928 - Neither boy was on the HT this year, which went to Jasper & Robson Parks in Canada. Glen and his dad, meanwhile, were off in the Swiss Alps and made a guided ascent of the Matterhorn (as described by the senior Dawson in the SCB, 2/29).

1929 - Both Glen and Jules were on the HT. Glen mostly climbed with Bill Horsfall and another young man, John Nixon, and they made the 2nd ascent of Clyde Minaret, first topped by Norman the year before. Jules joined in climbs Mt Ritter and Mt Lyell. A photo shows both boys together on the summit of Seven Gables. At the end of the HT they agreed to team-up the next summer!

1930 - Glen and Jules were teamed throughout the four-week Sierra trip, most often joined by fellow youth John Olmsted and often by Charles Dodge. They made the 2nd ascent of The Hermit, and the 1st “recorded” ascent of what became Mt Mendel. They also made the 2nd ascent (ahead of Norman Clyde) of Devil’s Crag #1 (the highest), first topped by Charles Michael solo in 1913. The boys made the 1st traverse from Mt Sill to North Palisade, topping Polemonium Pk enroute (apparently a 1st ascent); plus new routes on Mt. Winchell and Mt McGee. It was no understatement for Will Colby, who originated the High Trips in 1901 and managed the first 36, to write of this Outing: “… Some youthful enthusiasts, including Glen Dawson, Jules Eichorn and John Olmsted, swarmed over everything that looked formidable in the way of a mountain peak.”

[Glen would author the SCB’s Mountaineering Notes for this HT - and for the next four as well, 1934 being his last HT.]

1931 - A more fantastic year yet for the 19-year-olds Glen and Jules, most often joined by Glen’s friend Walter “Bubs” Brem. G&J got the ball rolling with the 2nd ascent, but a new route, on Cockscomb. Then a 1st ascent of Finger Peaks; a new route on Matterhorn Pk, and another 1st on The Dragtooth. Soon thereafter G&J made the 1st ascent of Eichorn Pinnacle on Cathedral Pk, followed by the 1st ascent of Echo Ridge (now Matthes Crest). Moving on to the Minarets, they made the 1st traverse from Michael Minaret to Clyde Minaret, in the process making the 1st ascent of “Third” Minaret, which became Eichorn Minaret.

The HT ended in early August. However, the climbing for a select few, including G&J, just got gnarlier - thanks to the arrival of renowned mountaineer Robert Underhill, at the behest of Francis Farquhar, and with his introduction to belayed climbing and the use of pitons. Heading first to the Palisades, and joined now by Norman Clyde, a party of nine made the 1st traverse from North Palisade to Starlight Pk, the latter’s 2nd ascent. G&J with Underhill and Clyde put up a new route on Temple Crag. Two days later these four plus three others achieved the 1st ascent of Thunderbolt Pk, named for the storm that engulfed them on the summit. It was only G&J who actually reached the highest pinnacle!

The grand finale of Underhill’s only Sierra Nevada adventure was three days later on August 16th: the 1st ascent of the East Face of Mt Whitney with Glen, Jules and Clyde. Describing the team just before the ascent, Underhill wrote of G&J as “young natural-born rock climbers of the first water.” They roped up at 10:00, Underhill with Glen and Clyde with Jules. With the boys most often in the lead, the summit was gained at 12:45, a remarkably fast time even today. In concluding his SCB (2/32) account, Underhill wrote: “The beauty of the climb in general lies chiefly in its unexpected possibility, up the apparent precipice, and in the intimate contact it affords with the features that lend Mt Whitney its real impressiveness.”
[Over the subsequent Labor Day weekend, Glen was joined by his childhood pal Dick Jones plus Bubs Brem in the 1st descent of the East Face.]

Journalist Jordan Rane wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times (3/8/05) about Glen’s recollection of this ascent. Quoting Glen: “I’ve climbed in many parts of the world and published over 300 books. But of all the things of my life, that day in August in 1931 - well, I still get a good deal of pleasure out of it.”

1932 - Momentarily forsaking the high Sierra, let us divert to Bestor Robinson’s scheme to make the “first ascent” of El Picacho del Diablo, the high point of Baja California. Encompassing a strong So Cal team of Glen, Dick Jones, Bubs Brem and Nate Clark, plus Norman Clyde, they ventured south in mid-June. Their expected “dayhike” from basecamp turned into two bivouacs before returning, famished - but finally having topped both summits of El Picacho. [It would be several months before they learned that a prospector (and Los Angeles mapmaker), Donald McLain, had first achieved the summit in 1911, approaching from the other direction, east.]

Although both G&J were on the High Trip, Jules effectively arrived at the halfway point due to injuries in a slip on steep rock just before the start. Glen and Norman Clyde led groups in the 1st ascent of Pk 12,871 (now 12,893 and named for Francis Farquhar in 1989). Glen with two others made 1st ascents of four of the Kearsarge

Pinnacles, including the most difficult of the group (now #8). Accompanied by Bubs Brem and Hans Leschke, G&J put up a new route on Mt Russell, and then continued with another new route by descent. In the Kaweahs, in addition to ascents of Red Kaweah and Black Kaweah, G&J made the 1st ascent of Pyramidal Pinnacle midway between the former two.

1933 - Prior to the existence of the Sierra Club’s Angeles Chapter Ski Mountaineers Section (SMS), Glen made the 1st ski ascent of Telegraph Pk in the San Gabriel Mtns, Feb 22, 1933 - as noted in a photo in his album.

On that summer’s HT a 1st ascent to the highest of The Pinnacles, about two miles west of Hutchinson Mdw, went to Glen, Neil Ruge and Alfred Weiler. Glen and Neil were joined by Bahlah Ballantine in the 1st ascent of Pk 13,332 (now 13,322), about a half-mile SE of Mt Darwin. This trio also added a new route on Mt McGee - its second new route by Glen.

Under the prime leadership of G&J, considerable attention was focused on the Devil’s Crags, which resulted in fifteen climbers summiting #1 within a few hours by three routes, constituting the 3rd ascent. The next day Glen, Jules and Ted Waller returned and made the 1st ascent of #2 (using the current numbering system). This turned into a close call for Jules, who was stuck on an exposed narrow ledge during a sudden intense storm. Briefing quoting Glen’s dramatic narrative in the SCB (6/34): “The Devils Crags seemed to be coming apart.” A few days later, while recovering some of their gear abandoned during the storm, G&J added the 1st ascent of #9.

G&J’s final intrepid outburst was the 1st traverse from Pk 13,956 (now 13,855 and named Norman Clyde Pk) to Middle Palisade, constituting new routes to each summit, and topping mid-way “a big black gendarme” (now apparently named Bivouac Pk) - a 1st ascent.

Following the HT, Glen and Jules were back at their LA and San Francisco homes, respectively, just over a week before getting the summons from Francis Farquhar (Sierra Club president) to assist in the search for Walter (Pete) Starr, Jr. Glen brought along his childhood chum and stalwart climber, Dick Jones. Within a day G&J, Dick, Norman Clyde and others were all gathered at Lake Ediza, site of Pete’s campsite. Details of this famous search are available from various sources. The team of Glen, Jules and Dick focused their search on the Minarets, and in doing so they made the 1st ascent of “Sixth” Minaret, which became Dawson Minaret - the only Sierra summit named for Glen.

[Note: Dawson Peak, just north of Mt San Antonio (aka Mt Baldy) in the San Gabriel Mtns above Los Angeles, was named for Ernest Dawson, Glen’s father, in 1920 by surveyor Donald McLain, who was also referenced in the 1932 El Picacho climb story!]

Although neither would have imagined it at the time, the search for Pete Starr would be the last time that Glen and Jules, then 21, ever shared a rope. They would not be on another High Trip together, and during later joint LA/SF Rock Climbing Section trips to Yosemite Valley, the boys would be climbing with their own groups. Of course, they remained dear lifelong friends and shared a unique high Sierra legacy while phenomenally teamed over four consecutive High Trips (’30-’33). In declining health Jules passed away at age 88, at home on Feb. 15, 2000. A month later Glen wrote this comment: Jules was taller than I am, expert in music, and expert in camp cookery. We considered ourselves co-leaders, usually climbing with one or two others but sometimes just the two of us. Jules was always a gentleman, kind and considerate. He climbed with the same verve as he played the piano.

The brief predecessor to the SC’s Angeles Chapter Rock Climbing Section (RCS), the Junior Section hosted its 1st climbing session Nov. 5, 1933 at Eagle Rock, led by Glen and assisted by Dick Jones and John Poindexter. In the early December the climbers went to Picacho Pk, north of Yuma and close to the Colorado River. [It is more commonly known as Little Picacho by the Desert Peaks Section, by far the lowest peak, 1920’, on its list and also the most technical.] Glen and John P put up a new route in a multi-pitch crack climb to the summit ridge.

1934 - Over the July 4th weekend, while enroute to the HT, Glen and Ted Waller made a side trip to climb the East Face of Mt Whitney, which had seen no ascent since the first, three years earlier by Glen, Jules, Clyde and Underhill. [The 3rd ascent would be made later in August by Jules with Marjory Bridge.]

Jules was not on the HT, but Glen had partners in Ted Waller, Jack Riegelhuth and others. Glen and Jack made the 2nd ascent of Eichorn Pinnacle, first topped by G&J on the ’31 HT. Joined by Neil Ruge, the pair made the 1st ascent of Peak 11,760, near the Lyell Fork of the Merced, and named it for Ansel Adams. [Two days later dedication ceremonies were conducted on the summit by a party of fifteen, including Ansel and Virginia Adams, Francis Farquhar, Marjory Bridge and Helen LeConte.] Now in the Sawtooth Ridge area, Glen and Jack made the 1st east-to-west traverse of The Three Teeth, and later the 2nd ascent of Blacksmith Pk, as captured in a photo by Ansel Adams. [Following the HT, Glen partnered with Tony Chorlton, of the New Zealand Alpine Club, in a circuit that garnered many NW summits, including Mt Shasta in CA, Three-Fingered Jack and Mt. Washington in OR, Mt Rainier in WA, and Mt Hungabee and Mt Temple in Banff National Park.]

In September ’34, with Glen’s encouragement, Art Johnson got approval from the Angeles Chapter Executive Committee for the creation of the Rock Climbing Committee, taking over this activity from the Junior Section. Glen was a founding member of the management committee.

In November, Walt Mosauer, UCLA professor and ski coach, organized the Ski Mountaineers of California. The original 13 members, mostly from the Bruin team, included Glen and Dick Jones. As yet, there was no affiliation with the Sierra Club.

[The SMC became the Club’s Ski Mountaineers Section (SMS) in Sept. 1935.]

1935 - Following his UCLA graduation in June, Glen set off on a 14-month round-the-globe trip. It offered splendid opportunities to advance his skills as both a climber and a bookman, soon to be in partnership with Dawson’s Book Shop, started by his father in 1905. Accordingly, he would miss the High Trips this year and next. Glen detailed his climbing adventures in Sierra Club Bulletin articles. Connecting with local expert Theo Lesch, their exploits began in the Alps with climbs in the Wetterstein and the Dolomites, and included high-level rock climbing on walls of the Musterstein and Marmolata. He noted that many of their routes “were probably the first ascents by an American.”

1936 - From April well into July, Glen was avidly engaged in challenging climbs in several foreign lands. These included rock climbing in North Wales (Great Britain), the Caucasus (Soviet Union), and the Japanese Alps. He waited a week below Mt Elbrus without getting suitable weather conditions to go to the top. His climb of Fujiyama went well - though it would have been amid crowds of people. “After having climbed in a dozen different countries, I can agree with John Muir and Clarence King that our own High Sierra is the finest and most friendly of all.”

Glen was back home in Los Angeles by mid-August - time enough to join the Labor Day RCS trip to Mt Whitney. Along with Bill Rice and Bob Brinton, Glen put up a new 5th class route (The Stemwinder) to the summit of Thor Pk, and later that day the trio made the 1st ascent of Pinnacle Pass Needle. With Dick Jones and Art Johnson, Glen also attempted a new route on the east buttress of Whitney, but didn’t get very far, chiefly because of fresh snow. He would be back!

1937 - In April Glen was elected to the Sierra Club’s board of directors, which coincided with his father’s stepping down. He would serve until 1951, though he was not active during his Army service in WW II.

Over the Memorial Day weekend the LA/SF RCS groups again converged on Yosemite Valley. Glen, Dick Jones and Bill Rice made their first climb of Higher Cathedral Spire.

The LA/RCS was back in the Mt Whitney area over the Labor Day weekend. With better conditions than last year, Glen and Dick Jones, joined by Glen’s brother Muir plus Howard Koster and Bob Brinton, again attempted their “Sunshine Route” on the East Buttress of Whitney (also known as the Sunshine-Peewee Route). On Sept. 5th the two rope teams made the top in three and one-half hours. Quoting Glen from his

1938 SCB article: “The East Buttress is slightly more difficult than the usual East Face Route; both are interesting routes for experienced climbers.”

Note: this year, 2012, will be the 75th anniversary of this ascent. On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the climb in 2007, Glen wrote the following response to a query from Bill Oliver:

“In 1931 it was the vision of Francis Farquhar to climb the East Face of Mt. Whitney.

He selected the participants. The real leaders were Robert Underhill and Norman Clyde. Jules and I did what we were told. In 1937 it was my idea to climb the East Buttress. I was the leader and selected the participants, although it was a cooperative leadership. The East Face is a big undefined wall with lots of loose rock. The East Buttress is a clearer route with mostly solid rock. It is my favorite climb but, so far as I now remember, I made it just once.” [The East Face is now generally rated 5.4 and the East Buttress at 5.6.]

Just a month later, Oct. 3rd, Glen and Dick Jones made a special effort on a Tahquitz route to push it higher than any previous attempt - and succeeded. Bookseller’s Route, now more commonly called Mechanic’s Route, went with 16 pitons with Dick in the lead, though with still a very long runout pitch. Following the second ascent by John Mendenhall and Carl Jensen, in 1939 Ruth Mendenhall wrote to a friend about this route: “It is so ghastly, and so utterly unprotected, that there is no justification to it, and it will probably never be climbed again.” [“Woman on the Rocks - the Mountaineering Letters of Ruth Dyar Mendenhall,” edited by Valerie Mendenhall Cohen, Spotted Dog Press, 2007.] Many years in the future this route would be hailed as the first 5.8 climb in North America! [It appears that this was Glen’s only Tahquitz 1st ascent.]

Apparently not satiated with the East Buttress and Mechanic’s Route, later that same month Glen and Dick were seeking new challenges in Zion Natl Pk. Along with Homer Fuller and Wayland Gilbert, they made the 3rd ascent of the Great White Throne - but the first without serious accidents. They then stumbled upon the fact that the East Temple had never been climbed - thus their target. Glen and Dick each led a rope of two. As reported by Glen in the SCB (4/38): “Not until we used a three-man stand were we able to unrope on the pleasant forested summit area. The 1100 feet of elevation had taken five and one-half hours of unhurried climbing, much of it exceedingly difficult.” They built a bonfire to signal success to their companion below - and to keep warm for their topside bivouac. “In the morning we walked around the rim watching the sunrise bring color to the maze of canyons and walls. … Although we had started the previous morning just to explore the approaches, we had stayed out thirty hours. … New and unusual ascents still bound, and to anyone familiar with Yosemite or Tahquitz climbing, we can recommend Zion Natl Pk for an ideal vacation.”

1938 - The year began early for Glen, Bill Rice and Bob Brinton. Lacking local good snow for skiing, Jan 7th they decided to check out the great unclimbed prize of the southwest - Shiprock in the NW corner of New Mexico. As Glen reported in the SCB (4/38): “Cold and difficult climbing prevented us from reaching our first objective, a col between the third highest point and a black arête on the west. The only possibility is on the west side. Pitons are needed in the upper part, but piton cracks are very scarce.” [The summit was finally achieved in Oct ’39 by a determined SF/RCS party that included Bestor Robinson and Dave Brower - employing a controversial new weapon in their arsenal to deal with crackless walls: expansion bolts!]

January 29, 1938 marked the appearance of issue #1 of the Mugelnoos. “Published by and for the Ski Mountaineering Section of the Sierra Club, edited by the Agent for Programs and Propaganda [Glen Dawson]. Circulation Manager Dick Jones. Produced out of Dawson’s Book Shop, evidently it was an instant success as #2 came out just four days later. Before long issues steadily came out at two-week intervals - and within two months it had become the joint publication of the SMS and RCS, reflecting the huge overlap in their memberships. As of #7 Glen passed the editorship to Ruth Dyar (who would marry John Mendenhall in Sept ’39). Ruth would shepherd the newsletter for forty years. The Mugelnoos continues to be published intermittently by the SMS - now at issue #813. [The Sierra Club’s RCS is no longer active, related to insurance issues. Its legacy directly continues as the Southern California Mountaineers Association, founded in 1986.]

The first week of April found a few gnarly SMSers on an adventure that would make a headline in the Los Angeles Times, 5/22/38: “Top of the United States Crossed for the First Time by Winter Ski Party.” “Perfectly conditioned for their arduous undertaking, five So Calif members of the Ski Mountaineering Section of the Sierra Club recently completed a winter ski trip from Whitney Portal to the Upper Kern Cyn in Sequoia NP over 13,300 foot Whitney-Russell Pass. … The epoch-making party consisted of Howard Koster, Dick Jones, Philip Faulconer, Glen Dawson and Robert Brinton.” [They then double-backed to Whitney Portal, having established the W-R Pass as a winter trans-Sierra route.]

The annual joint LA/SF RCS Memorial Day weekend trip to Yosemite Valley found both Glen and Jules Eichorn leading routes, though not climbing together. Glen made his first ascent of Lower Cathedral Spire. He and brother Muir also led repeated ascents of Washington Column, to Lunch Ledge, for the training of those less experienced.

Within a few days of these Yosemite climbs, Glen was enroute back to Zion - this time accompanied by Bill Rice and Bob Brinton. The trio succeeded in claiming the 1st ascent of the Sentinel, June 5th.

By mid-August of ’38 Glen had assembled a strong team for the first LA/RCS foray into alpine Canada. The account of their expedition appeared as a featured article in the SCB (6/39) by Spencer Austin, “Climbing in the Bugaboos.” The other team members were Muir Dawson, Bob Brinton, Howard Gates and Homer Fuller. With considerable exposure and daring, they succeeded in the 3rd ascent of Bugaboo Spire (10,250), first topped by Conrad Kain in 1916 and which he ranked his most difficult Canadian climb. [The peak has twin summits, both about the same height according to Kain. With very threatening weather, the RCS team did not go to the other summit, which is actually the higher.] The team subsequently climbed Mt Louis, an impressive rock spire near Banff, also first topped by Kain in 1916. Having returned from this climb, Kain famously said: “Yo Gods, just look at that; they never will believe we climbed it.”

1939 - Climbing-wise nothing really major to report on Glen, who no doubt was busily ocupied helping run Dawson’s Book Shop.

1940 - 1939 & ‘40 was a time for many RCS folks to get serious about “settling down.” Dick Jones wed climber Adrienne Applewhite on 8/18/39; best man Glen. Then on November 15, 1940 Glen wed Mary Helen Johnston; best man brother Muir.

Mary Helen had been active with the SMS for a couple of years, and she would soon join the RCS. Their union, which produced a son and two daughters, would last 62 years - until Mary Helen’s passing in November 2002.

1941 - The annual RCS Memorial Day weekend trek to Yosemite would be the last for quite awhile - as war was approaching! Glen, Bob Brinton, Clyde Nelson and Chet Errett made the 3rd ascent of the NW face of Lower Cathedral Spire. [The first several ascents were by the SE face.]

1942 - As reported in the Mugelnoos, the May 23-24 RCS bus trip to Tahquitz included a newcomer - Chuck Wilts. In an email communication to Bill Oliver on 2/22/08, it was Glen’s recollection that: “Late in my climbing career I was at Tahquitz coiling up my rope when I discovered Chuck Wilts had been waiting all day, and no one had bothered to climb with him. So we took a fast trip up Fingertip Traverse together. I think it was his first on the route and my last.” Two weeks later Chuck was admitted as a RCS member. [The torch was being passed!]

The June 25th Mugelnoos contained devastating news, as written by Glen. The story began: “Dr. Clyde Nelson and Dr. William Rice were killed instantly June 19 by a fall on the Grand Teton in Wyoming.” Amazingly, these were the first fatalities in nearly ten years of extensive high-angle climbing, near and far, by members of the LA and SF RCS. Although both Sections would continue to thrive, it was for many a time of deep mourning and reflection. It’s no coincidence that the rock climbing endeavors of Glen and Dick Jones pretty much ended within a year. [Glen would remain active with the SMS for a while longer, serving as chair in 1946-47.]

1943-45 - Glen Dawson at War. Quoting from “Hurry Up and Wait,” an autobiographical reminiscence penned by Glen in 2000: “ … I was involved with Ski Mountaineering classes held at Belmont High School in Los Angeles with Bob Brinton,

Chet Errett and others. It was part of a recruitment program of the National Ski Patrol for Mountain Troops. I once figured that I was partially responsible for about forty men going in the Tenth Mtn Division. When my [draft] number finally came up, it was natural for me to also exercise my right to be assigned to [what would become] the Tenth Mtn Division.”

Glen provided a brief summary of his war experience to Bill Oliver on 2/22/08. [Shortened further here.] I was not drafted until 1943 when I was 31 years old. I took basic training at Camp Hale (Colorado) and participated in two notable training trips: a New Year’s climb of Mt Elbert and Mt Massive and the Trooper Traverse from near Leadville to Aspen. I taught skiing to two classes. I was sent to Seneca Rock in West Virginia but, before doing any teaching of rock climbing, was transferred to the 85th Mtn Infantry, Camp Swift, Texas, where I was acting squad leader. Just before going overseas [and serving in the Italian campaign] I was transferred to Headquarters Company in the 85th to become a clerk to an intelligence officer. Near the end of the war I was sent to a hotel at Gross Glockner in Austria. Instead of teaching there I was briefly in charge of the kitchen supplies of the unit. I was on my way to Japan when the war ended, and I returned to my family and bookselling.

Something not mentioned by Glen in his reminiscence had been noted, however, in the 5/10/45 Mugelnoos: “Glen Dawson was awarded the Bronze Star for service on Mt Belvedere, Italy.”

Awards and Honors

The Sierra Club’s Francis P. Farquhar Mountaineering Award, recognizing contributions to mountaineering, was first presented in 1970 to Norman Clyde and Allen Steck. In 1972 it went to Jules Eichorn and in 1973 to Glen Dawson.

Honorary Membership in the LA/Rock Climbing Section was first presented in 1937 to Norman Clyde. In 1977 it went to Glen Dawson.

Honorary Membership in the Sierra Peaks Section was first presented to Norman Clyde in 1960 at the Angeles Chapter Banquet. In 1989 it went to Glen Dawson and Jules Eichorn at the SPS Banquet.

An Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Azusa Pacific University was conferred on Glen Dawson on Sept. 18, 2009, for his accomplishments as a rare book expert, publisher and mountaineer.

The Walter Starr Award, honoring continuing service to the Sierra Club by a former member of the Board of Directors, was presented to Glen Dawson for his many years of work with the Angeles Chapter’s History Committee; given July 16th, 2011, at the Angeles Chapter’s Centennial Picnic.

From the vantage point of sixty-five years later, in correspondence to Bob and Maureen Cates dated Feb. 26, 2002, Glen Dawson wrote:

“The year 1937 was in many ways the apex of my climbing career - with the first ascent of the East Buttress of Mt Whitney, and climbs in Zion Natl Pk of the Great

White Throne and the first ascent of the East Temple, and in Yosemite Valley the

Higher Cathedral Spire.”

Note: Glen overlooked including here the Mechanic’s Route! All five of these climbs were made in the company of Dick Jones, his cherished boyhood friend since grammar school.

Glen was 25 in 1937. As he turns 100 in 2012, we will also be celebrating the 75th anniversary of these amazing climbs he made at “the apex of his climbing career.”

[Compiling this “summary” of Glen’s mountaineering and rock climbing achievements has been an honor and a joy for me - and slight payback for the wonderful gift of his inspiration and friendship in my life. Bill Oliver, 5/30/12]

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 26, 2016 - 12:18pm PT
Awesome pioneer! We owe a lot to his generation.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 26, 2016 - 12:59pm PT
Well done Bill Oliver!

Jim- Sharing your portrait work here was one of the things that sparked my interest in meeting Glen in the first place so kudos to you too.

Mar 26, 2016 - 07:41pm PT
Hats off to an original.


Trad climber
Idyllwild, California
Mar 26, 2016 - 08:14pm PT
One of the best ever.

He was one of many great names of the LA Chapter of the RCS and one of those who pushed rock climbing and mountaineering in the 30s, 40s and 50s. All of us based in Southern California, those in the various sections of the Sierra Club and all of us Sierra climbers owe Mr. Dawson our respect and admiration.

He was a true pioneer of rock climbing in the US and one of the Sierra's immortals.

Thank you Mr Dawson for all that you did for the LA Chapter and the RCS.

Social climber
joshua tree
Mar 26, 2016 - 09:07pm PT
My goodness WHAT a life he had!

but my god, what a mind, eh? WOW!

Have fun in heaven Glen Dawson!
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Mar 27, 2016 - 11:38am PT

Trad climber
Mar 28, 2016 - 01:45pm PT
Thank you Steve Grossman!

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Mar 29, 2016 - 08:43am PT
Today's LA Times obit:
(dunno if link will work for non-subscribers)

The obit says he quit cold turkey after the death of a friend, a hard fall, and marriage.

Mountain climber
Mar 29, 2016 - 08:46am PT
Thanks, Reilly. Your link doesn't work, but this one does:

if you want to update it, I'll delete my post...
Jim Herrington

Mountain climber
New York, NY
Mar 29, 2016 - 09:09am PT
Here is my (cropped) photo of Glen Dawson who recently died at 103. The caption is wrong, I photographed him in 1998, for myself, not for Outside. Regardless, very nice obituary written by my pal Doug Robinson.

Trad climber
east side
Mar 29, 2016 - 08:46pm PT
The Telegraph (UK) ran a lengthy obit with photos as well:

Big Wall climber
Apr 1, 2016 - 06:09am PT

Glen Dawson 1937 STONEY POINT

Trad climber
Lone Pine, CA
Apr 6, 2016 - 09:08am PT
A college pal of mine and I followed one of Glen's route's up Whitney (what they called the "Pee Wee", the "direct" route, or NE buttress, etc.) in 2004; afterwards I had the opportunity to ask Glen about his recollection of the route. "How much protection did you use?," I asked Glen. His reply: "I think we placed as many as four pitons." He asked about our ascent, and I sheepishly told him of the humongous rack of cams we hauled. Oh yes, and he said he wore tennis shoes.

For many years I had the privilege of seeing Glen and his brother Muir at meetings of the Zamorano Club, a book and printing enthusiast's club in Los Angeles. They were both true gentlemen and lovely people all around. They are missed.
Janet Wilts

Trad climber
Grand Teton National Park
Apr 6, 2016 - 09:58am PT

What a great guy......he's a legend.......He'll live forever....

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