Phillip Elden Explores the History of the Mazamas

Phillip EldenPhillip Elden is a longtime member of the Mazamas, a Portland based nonprofit that offers more than 900 hikes and 350 climbs annually for over 13,000 participants. According to Phillip Elden, the Mazamas offer a variety of classes and activities for every skill and fitness level, which are open to both members and nonmembers. Through his association with the Mazamas, Phillip Elden has climbed several mountains and volcanoes, including Mt. Hood, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters.

In 1894, an Oregon newspaper announced a meeting to organize a mountaineering club on the summit of Mt. Hood. The 105 organizers decided to name their club the Mazamas, Spanish for mountain goat, says Phillip Elden.

Mazamas charter members soon lobbied for preservation of the Cascade Range Forest Reserve, says Phillip Elden. Mt. Mazama was given its name in 1896 when the Mazamas organized a visit to Crater Lake and named the lost peak Mt. Mazama after their club. Mt. Mazama erupted more than 7,000 years ago and created a crater, today known as Crater Lake, says Phillip Elden.

Phillip Elden points out that the first member outing to Mt. Rainier took place in 1897, followed by the first Three Sisters outing in 1903. In 1912, the first Mazamas bulletin was published, announincing the local walks, says Phillip Elden.

In 1914, says Phillip Elden, the Mazamas opened an office-clubroom in Portland. In 1923, a Mazama lodge was built near Rhododendron. The club built a log lodge just east of the Summit Ski Area in 1931, explains Phillip Elden.

The Mazamas Climbing Committee was established in 1934 to plan and supervise climbs, a climbing school and leaders, says Phillip Elden. The year 1944 was significant for the organization, as it celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Until 1963, the organization was only run by volunteers who did all the office work. According to Phillip Elden, in 2007, the club established a permanent office in Portland.

The Mazamas has been an important part of the climbing community in the Pacific Northwest since its founding, notes Phillip Elden. The Mazamas are similar in their aims and activities to the Mountaineers of Seattle, Washington, which began in 1906 as an auxiliary of the Mazamas.

According to Phillip Elden, the group also promotes mountaineering through education, climbing, hiking, fellowship, safety and the protection of mountain environments.

According to Phillip Elden, the Mazamas continue to focus on hiking, climbing and skiing. The Mazamas also encourage young people to learn leadership skills. The club’s three committees, says Phillip Elden, work to further conservation, which lobbies for the preservation of natural wonders; research, which promotes the study of scientific aspects of mountains; and Adventurous Young Mazamas, which gets teenagers involved in club activities.

By 2008, the club was organizing more than 300 climbs per year, and about 800 trail trips. Today, the club has more than 13,000 participants, says Phillip Elden.