Suffragists join The Mountaineers outing to Mount Rainier and plant an A-Y-P Exposition flag and a "Votes For Women" banner at the summit of Columbia Crest on July 30, 1909.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 4/25/2008
  • Essay 8578

On July 30, 1909, Dr. Cora Smith Eaton (1867-1939), photographer Asahel Curtis (1874-1941), Major E. S. Ingraham, and other summiting members of The Mountaineers 1909 expedition to Mount Rainier plant a large Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition flag with a smaller pennant bearing the motto "Votes For Women" attached to its staff at the summit of Columbia Crest on Mount Rainier. High winds snap the staff after only 15 minutes. The climbers then place the flag inside the crater, where they leave it.

The Mountaineers club was founded in 1906 with a charter membership of 77 women and 74 men. Dr. Cora Smith Eaton, one of these founders, was also a suffrage leader in Washington and the treasurer of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association.

Suffrage and the A-Y-P

In addition to being promoted to members of The Mountaineers, the Mount Rainier expedition was offered as an optional side trip to those who attended the 41st Annual National American Woman Suffrage Association convention held in Seattle July 1-7, 1909.

Both the Washington Equal Suffrage Association and the National American Woman Suffrage Association held Seattle conventions in 1909 in order to take advantage of the enormous public relations opportunity afforded by the ongoing presence of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (A-Y-P) on the University of Washington campus. The A-Y-P, held June 1, 1909, through October 16, 1909, drew more than three million visitors from across the state and beyond. The Seattle suffrage conventions, particularly an open Sunday session at the A-Y-P Auditorium on July 4, 1909, and Suffrage Day at the A-Y-P on July 7, 1909, brought thousands of Washington male voters and their female family members -- whom suffragists hoped would influence votes for suffrage -- into contact with many of the nation's best-known suffrage proponents. Exposure during the A-Y-P was an important component in the successful push toward achieving woman suffrage in Washington on November 8, 1910.

A Spectacular Side Trip

The National American Woman Suffrage Association journal Progress announced the expedition, along with other information about Seattle, the convention, and the A-Y-P, in its April 1909 issue:

"Among the many attractive side trips which may be taken, one of the most alluring is the ascent of Mount Rainier. The Mountaineers' Club will take its annual outing on this peak July 17 to August 7. The dunnage will go by a pack train of horses, the Mountaineers on foot, through the flowery meadows, and in and out of the rugged canyons, the trip reaching its climax in an ascent to the summit by the way of the White Glacier. Expense, $40" ("Seattle Convention").

Testing Their Mettle

The group departed Seattle by train on July 17, 1909. At Fairfax (south of Carbonado) near the northwestern corner of Mount Rainier National Park they detrained and hiked eleven miles up the Carbon River to their first camp. Asahel Curtis stated in the official trip report, "In drizzling rain camp was made, and tents erected to protect everyone, and in spite of the discomforts of wet garments it was a happy party that gathered around the campfire" (p. 6). The next morning some of the men in the group completed a trail across the Carbon Glacier.

The expedition set up base camp at Moraine Park. Curtis wrote that they took what he called "try-out trips. These served a double purpose, to see the surrounding country with the greatest possible dispatch and to drill members of the party and test their mettle" (p.7).

The expedition used the location on Ruth Mountain now known as Camp Curtis, 9,500 feet above sea level, as their high camp. Curtis wrote, "Beds were made by laying a line of large rocks below to keep from rolling out and down the mountain. The looser earth was then dragged down to make a softer couch. The greater part of the party had sleeping bags, which afforded ample protection from the intense cold that followed the setting of the sun" (p. 8).

Gearing Up

The Mountaineers' Chapter of the Washington Women's Cook Book (published ca. 1908) was written by Cora Smith Eaton, L. A. Nelson, and Robert Carr (a member of Cooks' Union, Local 33, Seattle and the Mountaineers' official chef in 1907 and 1908). The chapter included sections on Cooking In Camp, How To Build A Camp Fire, Provisions for Four People One Week, recipes, and detailed packing lists. Nelson wrote the two lists for male mountaineers, "Men's List of Absolute Necessities -- Man Pack Trip," and "Men's Personal Outfit for One Month's Outing -- Pack Horse Trip."

Cora Smith Eaton's "Women's List for the Mountains" stated:

"1. Sleeping Bag, consisting of three bags, one inside the other.

(1) Waterproof shell, of kahki (sic) or rubber or parafined (sic) canvas or oiled silk.

(2) Double wool blanket bag.

(3) Comfort padded with wool bats, the comfort folded and sewed together as a bag.

2. Tramping suit:

(1) Bloomers or knickerbockers.

(2) Short skirt, knee length, discarded on the hard climbs.

(3) Wool wait or jumper.

(4) Sweater or heavy coat.

3. Three pairs of cotton hose.

4. Three pairs of boys' wool socks to wear as the second pair of hose to prevent chafing.

5. Mountain boots to the knee, with heavy soles, heavy enough for hob-nails, and these must be placed in soles before starting, using 3 1/2 eighths Hungarian nails in the instep as well as the heels and soles.

6. Lighter shoes, like tennis shoes, for camp.

7. Gaiters to wear with the light shoes.

8. Chamois heel protectors, worn next to the skin, or adhesive plaster, to prevent blistering the heel.

9. Two winter undersuits, ankle length and long sleeves.

10. Two lighter undersuits, ankle length and long sleeves.

11. One dark colored night robe or pajamas.

12. Hat, light weight, with medium brim.

13. Mosquito head net or bee veil.

14. Smoked goggles.

15. Heavy gauntlet gloves.

16. Three bandana handkerchiefs.

17. Rubber poncho, or slicker coat.

18. Toilet articles:

(1) Soap.

(2) One bath towel.

(3) Wash cloth.

(4) Cold cream.

(5) Glycerine and rosewater.

(6) One ounce 5 percent salicylic acid in lanoline, a salve for blistered or tender feet.

(7) Small piece of naphtha laundry soap.

(8) One 10 cent ten wash basin.

19. One stick actor's grease paint, any color, to prevent sunburn on the snow.

20. Canteen.

21. Drinking cup, preferably a tin cup with loose handle, to hang on the belt.

22. Alpenstock, a little higher than the head, the stick made of hickory if obtainable, the steel point well sharpened.

23. Candles, stearic wax candles the best.

24. Matches.

25. A strong jack knife.

26. Writing materials, wrapped in an oilcloth.

27. Needles and thread.

28. One gross assorted safety pins.

29. Clippings for the campfire entertainments.

30. Calks for snow and ice climbing, two sets, making 32 of No. 5 for soles and 16 of No. 7 for heels.

31. Gum to keep mouth and throat from getting dry in climbing.

32. Four muslin squares, or extra bandanas, for wrapping and tightly tying up various groups of articles.

33. 5 x 7 'A' silk tent, weight 3 1/2 punds, for two persons.

34. Wall bag, of canvas or khaki or denim or cretonne, 18 x 36 inches, with several pockets, each pocket box pleated and with a flap which ties down and closes pocket. This is the 'mountain chiffonier.'

35. One dunnage bag, 3 feet long and 18 inches wide, with canvas handles at bottom and sides. This bag will carry all that goes on the pack train.

Note -- Taking out what she wears, this outfit should weigh about forty pounds. It can be cut down for a hard pack trip where the baggage limit is less. The list is prepared especially for trips including climbs on glaciers and snow fields. A few items, such as goggles, alpenstock, grease paint and heavy underwear could be omitted for the ordinary outing.

Any cotton undergarments worn will be more serviceable if made of colored gingham" (p. 141).

Presumably any visiting suffrage conventioneer who participated in the Mount Rainier trip would have outfitted herself for the climb in Seattle.


At The Summit

The morning of July 30, Curtis recounted, "broke clear and beautiful, and the party in seven companies moved out from camp, dropping to the White Glacier and winding upward among long crevasses ... . The try-out days in line had been irksome to many, but their value was proven here. But few could have stood alone on the slopes that now measured 45 degrees and ended in broken crevasses ... . The wind increased to a gale, still in our faces, and continued throughout the day" (p. 9).

Curtis described the attempt to plant the A-Y-P flag:

"The A-Y-P flag was fastened to its staff and an effort made to plant it among the rocks, but the wind tore it down each time, and it was carried to the snow dome of Columbia Crest and the staff set deep in the snow. It remained there only fifteen minutes, however, when the staff was broken by the wind. The flag was rescued and placed inside the crater by the Ingraham party, who passed the night on the summit" (p. 9).

Asahel Curtis does not mention the Votes for Women pennant in his official trip report, but The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume VI describes the hot air balloon that flew a Votes For Women banner at A-Y-P Suffrage Day and states:

"A pennant with this motto was carried by a member of the Mountaineers Club to the summit of Mt. Rainier ... . it was fastened to the staff of a larger pennant "A.Y.P." of the exposition and the staff was planted in the highest snows on top of Columbia Crest, a huge white dome that rises above the crater" (p. 677-678). An editorial note states that the member who carried the pennant was Dr. Cora Smith Eaton.

Welcome Home

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer listed those who made the ascent:

"Asahel Curtis, L. A. Nelson, W. M. Price, Grant J. Humes, F. O. Merrill, Miss Lucie Nettleton, R. S. Emerson, P. M. McGreggor, Mr. Hamden of Boston, Miss Winona Baily, Dr. Cora Smith Eaton, Prof. Edmond S. Meany, Miss Nita Farres, Miss Lydia Lovering, Mayne Sensenig, E. F. Stevens, John A. Bets, Jr., Henry Howard, Roy Hurd, Miss M. J. Price, H. C. Belt, Olof Hanson, John Fahnestock, Miss Anna Farrer, Miss Lulu Smith, A. S. Albertson, Rev. F. J. Van Horn, Miss Dwyer, Miss Ada Howard, Arthur Hutchinson, S. L. Moyer, Miss Elizabeth David, A. R. Merrill, Miss Alida J. Bigelow, Blake D. Mills, Miss Cora Garvin, Robert Van Horn, Miss Bertha Reed, Mr. Abel, Dr. W. C. Clark, Miss Stella Scholes, Mr. Jensen, Miss Gladys Tuttle, Murray McLean, Miss A. H. Stauber, Miss Stanford, Robert Carr, Laurence Carr, Miss Rena B. Raymond, Miss H. May Pattie, A. W. Archer, Miss Mollie Lackenby, E. S. Ingraham, Richard Buck, Clen Colkett, Mr. Mason, J. Fred Blake, Hans O. Knispel" ("Mountaineers Are Back ...").

The expedition party returned to Seattle on the evening of August 7, 1909. The climbers were greeted by a crowd of more than 500 people.


Pots And Politics: An Historical Cookbook, From The Suffragists To The Equal Rights Amendment ed. by Shirlie Kaplan (Tacoma: Washington State Women's Political Caucus, 1976); Harriet Taylor Upton, "The Seattle Convention," Progress, August 1909, p. 1; "Seattle Convention," Ibid., April 1909; Jim Kjeldsen, The Mountaineers: A History (Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1998); Washington Women's Cookbook compiled by Linda Deziah Jennings (Seattle: Washington Equal Suffrage Association, ca. 1908; "Mountaineers Are Back From Rainier," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, August 8, 1909, Section II, p. 3; Jim Kjeldsen, The Mountaineers: A History (Seattle: The Mountaineers, 1998); Asahel Curtis, "Mountaineers Outing To Mount Rainier," The Mountaineer, Volume II, November 1909; The History of Woman Suffrage, Vols. 5-6 ed. by Ida Husted Harper (New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922).

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