Prince Glaze and the lost mountaineers

 

Last updated 2/22/2022 at Noon

Maret Pajutee

Guy Ferry was a 26-year-old University of Oregon graduate who loved to climb and explore the Cascades with his good friend, 23-year-old Henry Cramer. They grew up in The Dalles and had been in a fraternity together at the university. It was early September, 1927, and fall in the Cascades can be so beautiful. They took off in a Model?T for Frog Camp off the McKenzie Pass, to climb mountains.

Frog Camp was in Forest Ranger Prince Glaze’s territory, and he came across the young climbers on September 5. They reported they had climbed North Sister and, not deterred by the incoming wet weather, were planning to climb South Sister. Prince thought they may have been confused in the fog and had actually climbed Middle Sister. When they didn’t return on time and the Model T was found sitting where they left it, a search was called. Prince searched the area alone in the snow for two days before help arrived.


It became the largest search conducted up to that time and the Forest Service, mountain climbers, skiers, law enforcement, and pilots were called out. The search dominated the front page of the Eugene Register Guard for five days, with headlines like “South Sister Holds the Secret of Lost Boys,” “No Trace of Lost Youths — Secret of Cascades Well Kept.”

Then, strangely, on September 10, it was announced, “Boys are Thought Alive — 20 Volunteers are Sought.” A message had come in from a remote forest phone, relayed with difficulty. It said they had reason to believe one boy was hurt and the other standing by, but they needed help quickly. Only experienced mountaineers, familiar with the Sisters area were wanted, and they needed to bring their own equipment and be ready to sleep in the snow.


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Ranger Perry South from Sisters led one search team, McKenzie Ranger Smith L. Taylor a second, and Prince Glaze led the third. As the weather cleared, airplane flights were sent to scan the high slopes, but deep snow covered any traces. The searchers decided there were three possibilities: the boys had hidden in caves on Middle Sister, were lost in the forests below the mountain, or had crawled into the lava beds.

The search became a cause and was funded by the Portland Ad Club. The mayor of Bend was reportedly directing the search, Mazamas provided leadership, and Wasco County, the home county of the two climbers, paid for food for the searchers. The Forest Service provided their best people, including Prince Glaze.


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The boys’ parents were there.

Henry Cramer’s father went out with the searchers while Mr. and Mrs. Ferry waited anxiously at Frog Camp.

On September 12, Bend hometown heroes Nels Skjersaa and NJ Wulfsberg made a treacherous ascent of South Sister in a whiteout and were hailed for their climb — but nothing was found.

Others took on climbing Middle Sister and found a note from Henry and Guy in the Summit box saying, “We were up here yesterday in such a blizzard that we could not find the register box.

Stormy and cold today.” They must have climbed it twice to sign the register.

One rescuer was lowered on a rope into a deep crack of the Renfro glacier and reported he could not see the bottom.


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Sheriff Taylor is quoted saying, “There is little doubt that the boys were bewildered and lost their way in the snowstorm.” Bewildered is a strangely real-feeling word for what it must have been like, lost in a swirling blizzard in the wilderness.

The rescuers swelled from 25 to over 100, and the cold nights around the campfires at Frog Camp were an incubator for ideas for helping people negotiate mountains in the future. As they huddled at the icy staging area, they talked about how to create search and rescue

organizations and more.

On September 13, after the climbers had been missing nine days, the treacherous search was called off with the stark headline, “Fathers to return next summer for bodies.” Guy’s mother, Mrs. Ferry, was heralded as displaying “such fortitude that her grief-lined face and anxious eyes are enough to give courage to the weak. There is not a man at Frog Camp who would not go out over the Skyline Trail, even in the face of the present storm, if Mrs. Ferry said the word.”


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Frog Camp quickly emptied except for Prince Glaze and another forest guard who were left to dismantle the temporary guard station and retreat to lower elevations when the weather was safe. A hearty group of Eugene climbers, Mazamas, and the Bend contingent rallied on September 16 to search during nice weather, but soon gave it up.

The two friends were to sleep under the deep snows in a basin between South and Middle Sister for two years. On September 2, 1929, a climbing party from Eugene spotted a body with a belt buckle engraved with an “H.” Henry had been hidden by snows near a small lake in the Chambers Lake basin between the two mountains. He was found undisturbed, wearing a sweater coat, boots, with goggles in his pocket. His peaceful position, facing east with left arm at his side and right one on his chest, suggested to some that his friend had laid him out respectfully before stumbling on.


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Then on September 4, 1929 the headline read “Skeleton of Ferry found near Cramer.” Guy Ferry had made it another 68 paces before falling face down into the snow. He was found lightly dressed in oxfords — traditional lace-up dress shoes, white trousers, and had a sock on one of his hands. Neither of the young men were found to have been injured. A tender story in the Columbia Gorge Genealogical Society News showed a photo of the single tombstone the two friends share in a cemetery in The Dalles with “Guy” carved on the top right ledge of the stone and “Henry” on the left.


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Somehow this sad event catalyzed a movement toward love of the wilderness, the formation of iconic Oregon clubs, organized search and rescue, winter sports, outdoor education, and grew the popularity of the outdoor lifestyle that has made the Central Oregon area boom for decades.

On their return to Bend, the expert Scandinavian mountaineers and forestry workers Kostol, Skjersaa, and Nordeen were inspired by NJ Wulfsberg and decided to form a ski club, later named the Skyliners Club, to promote winter sports and provide rescue expertise. A fresh graduate of Oslo University, Wulfsberg is credited with promoting the idea that a ski club would extend the tourist season and help the economy.


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Wulfsberg made a splash, married in Bend, and then left the following year for a faculty job at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Shockingly, the heroic climber died in bed of a heart attack a year later on November 9, 1928, at the young age of 28.

The same year, the new Skyliners Club built their first ski hill only a few miles from Frog Camp as the crow flies, eight miles from Sisters off McKenzie Highway. In 1935, they built Skyliners Lodge much closer to Bend, 10 miles up Tumalo Creek. It caught on. And the rest is skiing history.

Vintage postcard of the Three Sisters.Courtesy the Bowman Museum

Eugene outdoor lovers formed the Obsidians, and other outdoor and rescue groups were organized. Although The Skyliners Club has disbanded, their influence is still felt by our mountain-loving residents. The Eugene Obsidians are still going strong, introducing people safely to outdoor adventure. Both clubs acknowledge the 1927 tragedy in their origin stories.

Prince Glaze was one of the many heroes of the tragedy, but he travels quietly through the news stories. Maybe his role drew attention and led to the formal photos of him that survive. And each year the snow falling on the Three Sisters hides the footprints of those who wandered lost, and the tears of heartbroken parents, the stories of old tragedies and their strange, hopeful children. All seems forgotten and at peace under a cover of deep white.

 

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