Two big footprints on Mt. Hood
A lot of people have left their mark on Oregon’s tallest peak over the years, helping to protect its wilderness areas, develop its recreation scene and conserve its history, culture and natural resources.
I was fortunate enough to cross pass with two of those people when writing “On Mount Hood,” and now seems an appropriate time to give them a nod.
The first, Jon Tullis, was Director of Public Affairs for Timberline Lodge when I called to learn more about the lodge more than a decade ago. He was so friendly, informative and helpful, sharing with me some of the great characters who add color to the mountain while also offering up some of his own mountain tales. An East Coast native, Tullis had migrated west after college in 1984, stumbled on Timberline Lodge and, essentially, never left.
He built himself an enviable 37-year career working for Timberline and its operator, R.L.K. and Company, helping guide the lodge and ski area as it evolved. Tullis was there during the 1986 Oregon Episcopal School climbing tragedy; he was instrumental in the ski area’s Still Creek Basin expansion in 2007 – an effort immortalized with the naming of the “Uncle Jon’s Band” ski run in honor of him – and he organized the amazing Mountain Music Festival, which brought live music to the mountain every year.
This year, Tullis announced that he’ll be retiring after 37 years in June. He wrote a recap of his Timberline time in the recent issue of “Timberlines,” the newsletter of the Friends of Timberline. Best wishes, Jon, and thanks for the mountain memories. (And for the time we shared a stage at Powell’s in 2013!)
The second big footprint left on Mt. Hood came from Jack Grauer, a World War II veteran who first climbed Mt. Hood in 1947. A longtime member of the Mazamas, Grauer summited the mountain 227 times before he hung up his ice axe in 1994. Along the way, he also compiled one of the essential resources about the mountain, “Mount Hood: A Complete History.”
Self-published in multiple editions starting in 1975, Grauer’s book is packed with information and anecdotes about the mountain: native and pioneer history, climbing adventures, little-known facts and so much more.
I met Grauer for lunch back in 2010. He was a sharp and charming 89-year-old at the time and was still printing new copies of his book and binding them himself at his home in Vancouver.
In late January, I received a comment on the post I’d written about that meeting with Grauer. It was from someone who had been a caretaker for him in his later years, and she let me know that Grauer had passed away on January 22, 2022. He was 101 years old.
Grauer and his book are important pieces of the Mt. Hood story, and I’m glad I had the chance to meet him and learn from his writing when I did.