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| | |-+  July 26, 2003, Three Fingers, a bit of history...
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Author Topic: July 26, 2003, Three Fingers, a bit of history...  (Read 5606 times)

Posts: 2095

July 26, 2003, Three Fingers, a bit of history...
« on: 07/26/03, 06:09 PM »

...goes home.

This was not a ski trip in the usual sense.  The only turns we made were glissading in hiking boots.  But I did carry skis.  Well actually just one ski.

A very special ski.

A couple years ago someone who knows of my interest in ski history mentioned that he found an old, sawed-off ski in the Three Fingers lookout.  He said he removed the ski and offered me a look at it.  I declined, feeling uneasy about anything being removed from the old lookout.

Later, in the course of my research, I read Mac Bates' book, "Three Fingers: The Mountain, the Men and a Lookout" (Cloudcap, 1987).  Mac once mentioned to me that Harland Eastwood used skis on Three Fingers when he was a lookout in 1936.  I hoped I would learn more about this from Mac's book.  I certainly did.

On page 64, Bates describes an evening spent with Eastwood in the 1980s, which included watching some fifty-year-old movies.  "There are scenes of Harland and Bob Craig skiing down from Tin Can Gap carrying 80-pound bales of telephone wire around their necks.  He apologizes for his lack of style, fine parallel turns down the 40-degree slope, explaining, 'Every time I turned, the bale shifted sides and threw me off-balance.'" On page 73 Eastwood added, "Catherine [Harland's wife] and I had some short skis and with those things on, boy, you could get over to Tin Can Gap in a hurry."

Harland Eastwood was a remarkable man.  As an athlete in high school he excelled in track, football and basketball.  He got started in mountain rescue during the Delmar Fadden search on Mt Rainier in the winter of 1936.  He was an early member of the ski patrol at Snoqualmie Pass.  At the 1940 Silver Skis race, he was stationed just under McClure Rock when Sigurd Hall crashed in front of him and was killed.  Eastwood was one of the first to reach Hall's body.  In the late 1930s and early 1940s, he manufactured climbing equipment, including ice axes and alpenstocks, as the Harland Eastwood Company.  He accomplished all these things with only one arm, the other having been lost in a hunting accident when he was a teenager.

In 1972, Mac Bates and friends climbed to the Three Fingers lookout and found many relics from the 1930s--old magazines, pots and pans, a radio, a fire finder, the old bed, blankets.  Bates writes on page 119 of his book, "A quick peek in the attic brought the discovery of a pair of short skis used by the Eastwoods and lengths of thick manila rope." Reading this made my heart skip.  Clearly, the ski that my friend had removed from the lookout must have belonged to the Eastwoods.  My discomfort about the ski hardened to resolve--the ski needed to go back on the mountain.  Fortunately, when I explained this to my friend, he agreed and gave it to me.

Hearing that the Tupso Pass road had been repaired (it washed out about a year ago), I decided to go up this Saturday.  Ed Hobbick responded to an invitation on and made a fine hiking companion.  Ed had never climbed Three Fingers before and my last visit was 16 years ago.  We both marveled at the audacity of the men who blasted the tip off the mountain and completed the lookout in 1932.  Once we arrived, I attached a few photocopied pages from Mac Bates' book to the ski, with a note that I hoped would help people appreciate it:

   The Eastwood Ski

   This is probably one of the short skis used by Harland
   Eastwood when he was Three Fingers lookout in 1936
   (see the book "Three Fingers," pp.  64 and 119, enclosed).
   It was removed from the lookout by someone who did
   not know its story.  It has been returned for all visitors
   to enjoy and contemplate.  Please leave it here in its
   proper home.    --Lowell Skoog, July '03

I hope the ski will remain on Three Fingers as long as the lookout remains standing.  My note may help for a while, but I really wish more people knew the story, so they could hold the ski in their hands and imagine Harland Eastwood, a one-armed powerhouse, blasting down the slopes of Three Fingers in the middle of the Depression.  

Re: July 26, 2003, Three Fingers, a bit of history
« Reply #1 on: 07/27/03, 05:25 AM »

Very nice....thanks Lowell.
Andrew Carey

Posts: 1422

Re: July 26, 2003, Three Fingers, a bit of history
« Reply #2 on: 07/27/03, 12:06 PM »

Ditto the thanks. abc

Andy Carey, Nisqually Park, 3500 feet below Paradise
ron j
TAY Moderator

Posts: 2602

Re: July 26, 2003, Three Fingers, a bit of history
« Reply #3 on: 07/28/03, 02:22 AM »

A very nice gesture, Lowell.
In your own way, you're becoming a very significant part of the history of PNW ski mountaineering.

"When I stop having fun I'm turnin' around"
"Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future." - Niels Bohr
"If a given person makes it a priority not to die in an avalanche, he or she stands a very good chance of living a long, happy life in the mountains." - Jill Fredston
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