5,637 forum posts
As I was researching some information on the Web, I came across this article by Ruth Dyar Mendenhall. Ruth and her husband, John Mendenhall, were two of my early mentors as I started seriously doing technical climbing and mountaineering in the late 1950s (as opposed to scrambling up rocks, hiking peaks, and the occasional technical climb with no real technical training). The article appeared in a publication of the History of the Ski Mountaineers, a section of the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club. The Ski Mountaineers and the Rock Climbing Sections of the Angeles Chapter were closely linked, with many members in both. The newsletter was called Mugelnoos, typical of the punning in those days ("mogul" is a bump encountered when skiing and "noos" is pronounced the same as "news"). I was vice chair of the RCS in the late 1990s.
In addition, Ruth authored and edited several books on backpack cookery - Gorp, Glop, and Glue Stew, Backpack Cookery, and Beyond Gorp: Favorite Foods from Backpack Experts. These have been the sources of many of my favorite meals in the wilderness. They are out of print now, but occasionally can be found in antique bookstores.
I post the link here (respecting the copyright laws by not reproducing the article itself), in part to remind people that women did not start climbing in the 1970s or 1980s as some think, and that there were hard women doing the most technical routes of the day in the 1930s. One of John and Ruth's daughters, Valerie Mendenhall Cohen, recently published a great biography of Ruth, which I still have to get my own copy of (hopefully autographed by Valerie). Valerie's husband, Mike, and I did a couple climbs together in the Valley (the most memorable being the one up the crack in which a bat had been hiding). John and Ruth's older daughter, Vivian, became a researcher in Arctic biology, and when I last heard was at University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Vivian was a hard woman climber during college days in the 1960s when we were in the UCLA Bruin Mountaineers, also doing many of the most technical routes of the day.