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At the Oct. 16 meeting of the Los Alamos Mountaineers, author Valerie Mendenhall Cohen will read from her book about her mother, Ruth Dyar Mendenhall — “Woman on the Rocks: The Mountaineering Letters of Ruth Dyar Mendenhall” (book introduction by Royal Robbins: Spotted Dog Press, 2007).
Ruth Mendenhall (1912-1989) began rock climbing in Southern California, in the 1930’s, in an era when women weren’t supposed to do such things.
Climbing mostly with her husband, John Dale Mendenhall, she completed a number of first ascents in the Sierra Nevada, including Mt. Sill’s Swiss Arete, Mt. Whitney’s Third Needle and Southeast Buttress, Temple Crag’s North Peak, Lower Cathedral Spire in Yosemite, and the North Face of Mt. Williamson.
In the Canadian Rockies, they made major First Ascents of Confederation, Mt. Lowell’s North Peak, Aiguille, Sunge, Midway, Palmer, Great Rock Tower and Mt. Temple’s North Ridge.
Ruth wrote lovely narratives of these expeditions, yet also described the difficulties of being both an ambitious mountaineer, and a dutiful housewife and mother.
Cohen will accompany excerpts from her book with historical black and white slides from that period. She will also talk about what it was like to grow up in that “climbing family,” and conclude her presentation with her own images of mountain landscapes.
The Mountaineers meeting will start at 7 p.m. in the Great Room of Fuller Lodge with trip reports and trip planning followed immediately by Cohen’s talk.