MTR.2023.2 William A. Degenhardt Collection

Born in Russia in 1902, William A. (Bill) Degenhardt was Mountaineers president in 1952-54, vice chairman of the Mountain Rescue Council, and a pioneer climber in the Cascades (with a peak named for him in the Picket Range). This collection contains information about Degenhardt’s climbing background and the relationship between The Mountaineers and the Mountain Rescue Council in the 1950s. Degenhardt died in 1956 due to thrombosis (blocking of arteries to the lungs) at age 54.

This small collection is full of clippings, photographs, and some hand-written journals by Bill Degenhardt. Degenhardt had a son “Tad” (Thomas A. Degenhardt) by his first wife Adelaide (Copp) Degenhardt. The collection was donated to The Mountaineers by Degenhardt’s widow Stella Degenhardt (second wife), a founding member of the Mountaineers History Committee. A selection of photos have been scanned and are to be saved on Mountaineers History Committee backup disks.

Itemized notes on the collection:

  • News clippings about the death of William Degenhardt in November 1956.

  • News clippings, including clippings from the Mountaineers Patrol Race, which was won in 1935 and 1937 by teams that included Bill Degenhardt.

  • News clippings about 1954 Commonwealth Basin avalanche accident involving Bill Degenhardt. An account of the event by Degenhardt himself is included.

  • Undated (probably 1958) news clippings about the naming of a mountain in the Picket Range after William A. Degenhardt. The name change was officially approved in 1959.

  • Strandberg, Herbert V., “In the Heart of the Skagit,” from the 1931 Mountaineer Annual, reprinted in the Mountaineer Bulletin, July 1998, p. 9 with the title “Pioneers blazed the way to North Cascades peaks.”

  • Strandberg, Herbert V., “Ten Days on Mount Terror,” from the 1932 Mountaineer Annual, reprinted in the Mountaineer Bulletin, September 1998, p. 11 with the title “Pioneering the Pickets.”

  • “Herby – His Book,” an account of the pioneering 1932 trip to the Southern Picket Range presented to Herbert Strandberg by his partners on the trip, Bill Degenhardt and James Martin. The 1932 trip resulted in the first ascents of Mt Terror, West Peak, The Chopping Block (Pinnacle Peak), and West Twin Needle. (Degenhardt and Strandberg where the first climbers to ever visit the Picket Range when they climbed the peak now called Mt Degenhardt in 1931.)

  • Notes on the relationship between the Mountain Rescue Council (MRC) and The Mountaineers. Around 1954, a committee of The Mountaineers voted to step back (somewhat) from its relationship with the MRC. Degenhardt strongly disagreed with this decision and he tendered his resignation as President of The Mountaineers at this time.

  • Photocopy from Cascade Voices by Malcolm S. Bates, pp. 1-3, 20-21.

  • Photocopy from Challenge of the North Cascades by Fred Beckey, pp. 70-73.

  • Envelope with small negatives and B/W prints of William A. Degenhardt.

  • 8” x 10” photo prints including portrait shots of Bill Degenhardt and more.

  • Connelly, Joel, “The Mountains Nobody knows,” Pacific NW magazine, April 1984 (Picket range).

  • Team Leaders Handbook,” a 4x5 inch booklet from the Mountain Rescue Council with fold-out pages and detailed illustrations including leader and team responsibilities, equipment lists, and procedures. This remarkable booklet (undated but presumably from the 1950s) is in mint condition.

  • W.A. Degenhardt biographical typescript, including peaks climbed from 1929-49 and 1952-56.

  • “In Memoriam” article about Bill Degenhardt by George Senner from the American Alpine Journal.

  • Small notebook (4” x 6”) containing:

    • Photo notes pertaining to several rolls of film (not included)

    • Journal notes from the following trips:

      • Aug 1940: BC Coast Mountains, Princess Louisa Inlet, “Anniversary Mountain” (Mt Albert?)

      • Aug 1941: Lake O’Hara and Yoho Valley (Mt Victoria, Mt Athabaska)

      • Aug 1943: Rogers Pass area

      • Jul-Aug 1944: Olympic Mountains, Royal Basin, Mt Deception, The Needles

      • Jun 1955: Longs Peak, Hallett Peak with Stella

    • Packing lists

    • Mileage and gas records (indicating average gas price around 25 cents/gallon)