Gear Up for Adventure at Portland’s Historic Mountain Shop

June 21, 2018
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North America’s Original Ski and Mountaineering Shop

The Mountain Shop was founded in 1937 by Everett and Ida Darr as a climbing and ski shop — for historical context, this was the same year that the first ski lift in the world was installed at Sun Valley, Idaho and the same year the historic Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood was completed. The Darrs were elite Wy’east climbers who advanced through the ranks of the local Mazamas mountaineering organization to become leaders in the Northwest climbing and skiing community. They were among the early mountaineers exploring the Cascade Mountain Range and beyond as part of a well-reputed group of adventurers known as the Wy’east Climbers. This collective put up many of the new first ascents of the local mountains during the 1930s and 1940s, helping to developed the early mountain recreation industry in the Northwest. 

General Manager Guy Trombley shares, “One of the unique historical aspects of Everett Darr and the Mountain Shop is his involvement in production — in the later ’30s and early ’40s, rather than importing gear from Europe, the Mountain Shop actually built some of the first crampons, ice axes, pitons, metal edge skis, backpacks, down and wool sleeping bags and tents specially designed for mountaineering, skiing and backpacking.” Trombley goes on to explain that the Mountain Shop is recognized as being one of two producers of this gear in the country at the time. In fact, the Department of Defense contracted the Mountain Shop to design and build gear for the 10th Mountain Division during WWII.

Everett and Ida Darr pose in front of The Mountain Shop in Government Camp.

Darr also helped to found the Mount Hood Ski Patrol in 1937. In fact, not long after opening, Darr’s Mountain Shop moved locations from its original Northeast Broadway location to reopen in Government Camp at the base of Mt. Hood, providing skiing, mountaineering and camping gear on site. The Darrs went on to own and operate Skibowl, Summit and Multorpor ski areas in Government camp, with the Mountain Shop being at the crossroads of developing the local outdoor recreation economy.

A Modern Day Mountain Shop

In celebration of the shop’s 80th anniversary in 2017, the shop underwent a major remodel tripling the size of the rental department, updating the tuning and repair shop as well as a general remodel of the showroom floor, which now includes a wall documenting the history of the shop. Trombley is intent on acting as a steward of the Mountain Shop’s heritage, while also modernizing the shop.

That’s where the modern day Mountain Shop comes in. Trombley stocks the shelves and rental department with equipment for all forms of human-powered adventure. He says, “The performance demo and rental department is a gateway to exploring the mountains in the best possible gear that’s available. We’re specifically focused on helping everyone afford an incredible outdoor experience.” Trombley explains that the demo shop model allows customers to try before they buy. He says, “If you fall in love with the experience and enjoyed the high-end gear you used, you can apply your rental and demo fee to the actual purchase of that gear.” 

The shop offers technical clothing include Patagonia, Outdoor Research and Arc’teryx, which Trombley says “represents our commitment to quality, supporting the environment and cutting edge design — all companies located in our region.” The Mountain Shop also carries highly specialized backpack and tent brands dedicated to ultra-light through hiking, backpacking and mountaineering including Six Moon Designs, Hyperlite, Gossamer Gear and Osprey. There are rows of mountain bikes, “gravel-grinding bikes,” and in the winter, snow bikes. The shop even stocks bike-packing gear. If bike packing isn’t your thing, the shop offers, hiking, climbing and mountaineering gear curated specifically to perform in the sometimes-challenging Northwest conditions.

The Mountain Shop offers expert tuning and repairs.

During the snowy months, the Mountain Shop stocks carefully tested and chosen ski gear for every possible type of experience. From the most basic snowshoes to high-end alpine touring gear, brands include DPS, Black Crows, Voile, Salomon, Atomic, Blizzard, Kastle, Fischer and Madshus among others. The shop offers expert boot fitting with ten certified boot fitters. As for climbing, Trombley says, “We kind of cover it all, and if we don’t carry the most special thing in the world we can order it.” Trombley quips, “If you wanted to climb Mt. Rainier and ski off the top, we have the gear here to help equip you to do so in good style.”

Beyond gear, the Mountain Shop also peddles in knowledge. The staff includes mountaineering guides, climbing instructors, ski patrollers, a triple crown thru hiker, and ultra-marathon trail runners who enthusiastically live the adventure lifestyle. Their accomplishments range from unusual multisport competitions, climbing and trekking in far off places, to bragging rights among the staff for the fastest round-trip timed ascent and descent from Timberline Lodge to the top of Mt. Hood. These kind and accomplished athletes will guide you through the gear to find the best fit—expect to pick up plenty of local knowledge and info along the way.

With all of this knowledge, history and enthusiasm, it’s not surprising that the shop acts as a cultural crossroads for the local outdoor community. The Mountain Shop has established a series of seasonal events in the Mt. Hood region including the informative and entertaining Portland Alpine Festival in partnership with the Mazamas; an annual Preseason Nordic Fest held at the shop with two full days of Nordic ski focused talks, information and community building; as well as the Wy’easter Ski Mountaineering Race series: a randonne race series held on Mt. Hood. The shop also acts as a hub for mountain-related education and community events throughout Portland and the Mt. Hood region.  

Eighty-plus years later, the legacy of Everett and Ida Darr definitely lives on within the walls of the Mountain Shop.

The Mountain Shop is located on the corner of NE 37th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard in Portland’s Hollywood District. 

About The
Author

Annie Fast
Annie Fast is a lifelong snowboarder and traveler. She was the editor of TransWorld Snowboarding Magazine and prior to that worked at the summer snowboard camps on Mt. Hood. Annie writes about outdoor adventures from her home in Bend.

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