History of Benson
SC Bulletin, November 1949: Benson Cabin Completed
The Benson Cabin, named for ardent skier and Club member John P. Benson Jr., who was killed in action in Italy, has been completed and is now ready for occupancy after about 700 man (and woman) days of arduous labor during the past three summers by over 150 friends and members of the Sierra Club. Since the location of the cabin — at 8,350 feet elevation on the north slope of Mount Anderson (8,687 feet), five miles from Norden and over three miles from the Gold Creek roadhead — has made the progress of the construction slow and the problem of supplying the construction materials difficult, the success of the building program is due to the industry and perseverance of these people.
The cabin should be an attraction as an overnight stop either on a loop trip from Donner Summit or while en route to Squaw Valley, just six miles farther south. In addition the slopes adjacent to the cabin provide several good ski runs, albeit without a chairlift. The skier’s route from the Sugar Bowl is over the east shoulder of Mount Lincoln and along the ridge which extends to the south, a distance of four miles, a skiing time of two to four hours depending upon the snow conditions and one’s speed for a total ascent of approximately 1,700 feet.
The cabin provides bunks for twelve people, cooking stove and utensils, heating stove, indoor toilet, and a moderate supply of wood; however, no large stock of food is available other than emergency rations. The door and a second floor window for deep snow conditions have been left unlocked and the use of the facilities of the cabin is cordial1y extended to non-members. No fee is to be charged; however, any large group intending to use the cabin should check with the manager at Clair Tappaan Lodge to avoid conflict and overcrowding.
ALAN STILES, Chairman
Benson Cabin Committee
Before the snow fell. The Benson Cabin as it looked just before the finishing touches were put on it.
The principals. (Left to right) Lewis Clark, President; Alan Stiles, Chairman, Benson Cabin Committee; Einar Nilsson, Chairman, Winter Sports Committee; Richard Burnley, Chairman, Lodge Committee. Their work, and that of scores of volunteers, has kept the winter-sports program moving.
The Benson Cabin from the north, with Mount Anderson in the background.
The last shingles go on.
SC Bulletin, January 1950: Benson Hut in Use
Ski touring is usually most enjoyable when the overnight objective is a snug cabin rather than an airy tent. The newly completed Benson Hut, just five miles south of Donner Summit, offers just such a pleasant objective. Tested by the winds and snows of early January, it has remained dry and tight, and amazingly enough, wind has kept the front door clear of drifts. This much of the access is easy. The route leads past the Sugar Bowl and up Mount Lincoln to its northeast saddle (familiar orange triangles mark the Sierra Crest Ski Trail as far as this saddle — Cold Stream Divide). From here, contour to the southeast ridge of Lincoln through an uncorniced section. The rest of the way is obvious, following the crest of this ridge to the hut, which is just at the tree line on the north flank of Mount Anderson. If the accompanying foreshortened sketch of the major obstacles hasn’t deterred you, make up a party of three or more, check with the manager at Clair Tappaan Lodge for the key to the wood supply and gasoline lanterns, as well as the latest information on the route, and pack your food, touring kit, and sleeping bag for a most enjoyable week-end tour.
ALAN R. STILES
SC Bulletin, February 1950: Sierra Crest Ski Trail: Benson to Squaw Valley
The ski tourer’s route from Benson Hut to Squaw Valley follows the crest of the Sierra south from Mount Anderson — along the Sierra Crest Ski Trail. As long as he keeps close to the actual crest the skier will know what he is getting into and will have a choice of routes past minor obstacles*; and, if he is an average skier in average condition, he will cover the seven miles in six to seven hours.
For more details: From Benson, traverse the summit of Anderson or contour around the west flank to the southeast ridge, which leads directly to Tinker Knob. By-pass the summit block along the east shoulder and shuss gently down the wooded ridge south of Tinker to the saddle at the head of the north fork of Squaw Creek, down which (and over a few bluffs) lies the low (short) route to Squaw Valley. The high route continues toward Granite Chief up moderately wooded terrain, cuts across the east face of the peak and emerges on the ridge leading to Squaw Peak. Well along this ridge an open spot in the cornice allows access to the packed slopes serviced by the chair lift. If there is no open spot, the skier loses three points. Habitual late starters should reform and allow enough time to enjoy the scenic aspects of the trip and to finish without running a contest with darkness.
* The newspapers report that four Sacramento skiers who did not keep up on the crest missed a very important feature of the Donner-Squaw Valley route — the Benson Hut — and spent a cool night out. Moral: the crest is best.