Snow-Shoe Section

December 1, 2008

On January 26, 1906, 10 AMC members departed the Mount Madison House, an inn in Gorham, N.H., to climb Mount Madison. The first recorded winter summit of the peak had been achieved only 17 years earlier by Rosewell Lawrence and Laban Watson.

Two from the 1906 party ascended via the Durand Ridge while the remaining eight (pictured, minus the photographer) climbed up the headwall of King Ravine. Meeting at Madison Spring Hut after summitting, the entire party descended Durand Ridge on ice-creepers. (Note that the man holding a pipe on the top of the rock had his on the bottom of his boots for the ascent.)

The hikers belonged to a 37-member contingency of AMC’s Snow-Shoe Section—a club that formed during the winter of 1886-1887 with a charter membership that had nearly as many women as men. Annual trips of one to two weeks became a tradition, and local inns in Gorham, Jackson, and Randolph, N.H., served as base camps for gatherings that included more than 100 people some years.

In the early 1900s, small parties like the Madison team, and sometimes groups as large as 50, snowshoed up many of the surrounding peaks, including the Wildcats and Mounts Washington, Adams, Madison, Pleasant (Eisenhower), Isolation, and Clinton.

Although peak bagging was the main draw each year, so too was having fun. Snow-Shoe Section Members made time for tobogganing, snowshoe races, and tugs-of-war. They also spent their evenings at local inns the way many members spend their time at AMC destinations today—eating homemade food, meeting new people, and telling tall tales of their alpine adventures.

Images seen here appear courtesy of the AMC Library and Archives. Duplicates can be ordered for a fee. Funds support efforts to preserve the club’s historical collections. Contact Library and Archives at 617-391-6629, visit the website, or send an e-mail for details.

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