Fellow Gripper, Rob Sousa, shares his experiences at the awesome Meany Lodge in Washington state. “We are not alone.” – Ed
MEANY LODGE was built between 1928 and 1932 as one of 5 Ski
Huts in the Snoqualmie Area. In 1937, they installed 3 rope tows that
exist in pretty much the same fashion as the beginning. One of the rope
tows, the Mach Tow, is very similar to the Ruby Creek rope tow and
travels at 15.1 mph for about 600 feet, with the final 100 feet rising to
an angle of 38 degrees. Whoosh!
I told the Lodge Chair that I was coming and immediately received an
Ambassador’s welcome upon my arrival. Meany Lodge has operated
since 1928 with an all‐volunteer group, currently around 30 members.
The 10 or so that I met on Saturday were some of the most kind and
giving folks that I’ve met in a long time… kind of like the folks that
volunteered at Horse Mountain.
The most stunning part of my personal guided tour of the Lodge was the
cabinet that contained 50 classic aluminum ROPE GRIPPERS in excellent
operating condition. They are loaned to anyone that wants to use them.
What a beautiful collection! Made me want to cry right on the spot.
At 12:30, someone rang the lunch bell and we all scurried into the main
hall where a group of 3 volunteers had prepared a meal for the 60
people that had signed up to stay at the Lodge for the 2‐day weekend.
The food was awesome and covered meat eaters and vegans alike.
It was about this time that I really noticed the makeup of the visitors.
They were mostly parents and their children that had come there for a
“bonding” weekend. When I mentioned it to a volunteer named Jerry,
he said that he remembers when most of the attending parents were
children and brought to the Lodge by their parents. Imagine that,
generations of families bonding at Meany Lodge. That tugged on my
heart strings a little bit.
After everyone had been seated, 2 volunteers got up to go over the
Lodge rules for first‐time guests and then offered me the floor to talk
about my pilgrimage to the Lodge as an Ambassador for the Horse
Mountain Grippers. I talked about the history of our own little mountain
paradise and rope tows and then awarded a Resolution of Appreciation
to the volunteers decreeing that Meany Lodge Shall Forever be Revered
as the Sister Lodge of the Horse Mountain Grippers.
Following lunch, it was time to go Rope Gripping, so I strapped on a
Rope Gripper and got a tour of the 3 rope tows from my personal
attaché, Phil. It had rained a couple of days before so the snow was a
little icy… sound like Horse Mountain? The rope tow operator, who was
a Physicist for Microsoft, told me the elevation at the bottom of the
Mach Tow was 3200 feet and the top was 3600 feet. That kind of
explained the rain issue.
A tour of the Mach Tow revealed the original 1937 International Rear‐
End and pulleys but the drive was a 2‐year old electric motor,
apparently swapped out due to requirements set upon the Lodge by
their insurance carrier. The tree poles that held the Head and Tension
Wheels were also replaced with metal structures but the original 1937
wheels were still in place. Amazing!
There weren’t enough skiers to staff the observation booth at the top of
the Mach Tow but the resident Ski Patrol/Handyman asked if I wanted a
ride up and, swoosh, off we went. It has been over 4 decades since I
used a ROPE GRIPPER but it was like riding a bike, although my 63 year
old back didn’t quite perform like it did back then, especially when the
angle turned up to 38 degrees made me feel like I had just gone ballistic.
Due to the poor skiing conditions (and my questionable back), I chose to
make a few runs on the intermediate rope tow and then headed into
the Lodge for a short pause and reflection. I tried to take some more
pictures of the Lodge interior to chronicle my visit and then ended up in
several more conversations about the history and significance of the
I apologize in advance for waxing philosophical about my visit but, if you
ever want to travel back in time to a place in your youth that seemingly
vanished along with the Ruby Creek rope tow, set aside some time to
visit Meany Lodge.
I can’t advise to spend the night in the rustic dorms or to go there for
skiing bliss but I can advise to sit down for one of their wonderful
lunches and mingle with the wonderful group of volunteers. It’s like a
magical place that Horse Mountain Lodge always wanted to grow up to
I have also attached pics of the visit and a scan of the Resolution that I
I would also like to give special thanks to Butch for convincing me to
visit Meany Lodge. Like I said, it was one of the most emotional
adventures I have ever experienced.