It's a blue bird day at Teacup Lake Nordic area and the sun lights up the snowy peak of nearby Mt. Hood. I push off on a crust of perfectly groomed Nordic track on my classic skis, trying to catch...
Dale Crockatt had two final wishes regarding the mountain he loved when he died from cancer at age 57. He wanted to donate thousands of his photographs to the Mt. Hood Museum, and he wanted his skis hung from the wall at Charlie's.
Both of his wishes will be respected in November, when the Mt. Hood Cultural Center & Museum unveils some of the finest pictures ever captured on Mount Hood and a new display at Charlie's Mountain View Restaurant pays tribute with a well-worn pair of skis used for many adventures.
Crockatt was a lifelong explorer famous for his journeys up, down and around Mount Hood, his connections to the mountain community, and his timeless photographs. He climbed to the summit of Mt. Hood for the first time at age 16, worked as a pro patroller for Timberline and Mt. Hood Meadows, served as head bartender at Charlie’s Mountain View Restaurant during the 1980s and 90s, and assisted with numerous search and rescue missions with the Clackamas County Sheriffs, the 304th Airborne Rescue and the Crag Rats. He died on July 19, 2015.
Dale spent his last 18 years with his life partner Sandi Strader, who described him in a July 2015 remembrance as a “giving, caring person who always saw the positive side of things and was grateful for everything he had.”
Crockatt’s knowledge of Mount Hood was legendary. He climbed and skied all of the classic routes on the mountain many times, including the High Traverse around the mountain, the Sandy Headwall, Cooper Spur and the Sunshine Route.
“Dale pretty much knew everything there was to know about Mount Hood, and he had climbed everything up there,” said his friend Ralph Weary. “But it wasn’t all about getting rad and doing hairball stuff with Dale. He just loved getting out there and sharing that mountain experience with people.”
Crockatt survived some close calls on Mount Hood. On one south side climb in 1991, his 11th ascent in 17 days, he scratched his way out of a crevasse he had fallen into and climbed down in socks after losing his boots. During another misadventure in 2009 he broke his femur while skiing out of bounds in White River Canyon and had to be life-flighted to OHSU.
Over the years, Dale captured some of the most vivid pictures of Mount Hood ever shot. His stunning image of Comet Hale-Bopp lighting up the night sky over the mountain, shot on film in the pre-digital era and shared with permission from Sandi Strader, can be seen on the walls of plenty of Mt. Hood cabins. That classic shot was one of about 10,000 photos that Dale donated to the museum. Pro Photo Supply in Portland digitized the collection free of charge and museum volunteer Jeff Lokting organized the images into archives. Some of Crockatt's photos are printed for display at the museum, which is located in the heart of Government Camp. Others will be available electronically through a search of the archives.
There will be a small ceremony unveling the photos at the museum November 12 for family and friends, after which Dale's favorite skis will be mounted to the wall at Charlie's with plaque donated by the Schnee Vogeli Ski Club. The inscription will read: “Because my skis are my wings, and with them I can see the world.”