From the Archive: Adventures with the Colorado Mountain Club

by Lesley Drayton, Curator of the Fort Collins Local History Archive

I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the interesting items we encounter here in the Fort Collins Local History Archive!

While looking through a collection of lantern slides that one of our wonderful archive volunteers (you know who you are!) was processing, I was intrigued by a small cardboard-bound journal held together with leather lacing. A yellowed card poking out of the top of the journal read “Colorado Mountain Club Minutes.”

What one finds inside this journal is not so much “minutes” of meetings, but detailed, humorous handwritten accounts and sketches of the many excursions taken by the Fort Collins chapter of the Colorado Mountain Club from 1928 to 1942.

Over the years the members of the group varied, but typically the chapter consisted of around a dozen women and men who would make hiking, camping, and skiing trips around the Fort Collins area. The group often visited a cabin at Chambers Lake where they would spend an evening eating good food, playing cards, and sleeping on “hilly mattresses” before embarking on a day of skiing.

Here is an excerpt from the entry for the Spring Vacation, April 2-5, 1932:

Many people, fifteen to be specific, twice as many skis, superabundance of luggage (so it seemed), characteristic good cheers, smiles, etc. all found room enough to assemble near the laboratory of G.H., Saturday morning. Surprise! The cavalcade left approximately on time. No cheering friends were on the dock to bid us ‘bon voyage,’ but our spirits were too high to notice the absence…

We stopped at Lost Lake where we obliged G.E. by giving him the opportunity to take some movies of some high-class skiers doing their stuff. G. very discreetly photographed the start of the descent. He showed great judgment in his selection of a vantage point, as most of us were able to defy the law of gravitation until past the camera. But the strain was too great and most of us eventually no longer violated Sir Isaac’s law. A. gave a very striking demonstration of the following mathematical formula: 

F=k (m’xm”)/d2

We were greatly pleased at such an educational project. After rubbing most of the snow off the side of the hill with the posterior parts of our bodies, we decided to seek newer and better falling grounds.

Below is a charming “artistic rendering” of the group’s April 5-8, 1930 Spring Vacation, as well as a scan of one of the lantern slides in the collection, entitled “Mountain Club on top of Lost Lake.” 

Colorado Mountain Club journal page

Colorado Mountain Club journal page

Colorado Mountain Club at Lost Lake

Colorado Mountain Club at Lost Lake

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3 Responses to “From the Archive: Adventures with the Colorado Mountain Club”


  1. 1 robyn June 16, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Sounds like a pretty fun group! Thanks for sharing the excerpt… Were they all that funny!? What a sense of humor!

  2. 2 Linda June 18, 2009 at 10:32 am

    How fun is that journal? Encourages me to keep one in the car to record our family’s own travel adventures.

  3. 3 Lesley June 18, 2009 at 5:27 pm

    @Robyn All the entries in the journal had the same sweet sense of humor, even though each entry was written by a different person over the span of 14 years. Definitely gives you a feel for the general positive attitude of the group!
    @Linda You should absolutely keep a journal like this in your car! You should also put some envelopes with it to hold bits of ephemera (ticket stubs, wrappers, etc.) you collect on your adventures.


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