More About the Author
Retired for some 30 years from the U.S. Geological Survey, Dee, at age 94, spends much of his leisure time painting alpine landscapes and pictorial landform maps, and preparing sketches that appear in numerous climbers guidebooks and autobiographies
Born to Dutch immigrant parents in Los Angeles in 1918, Dee Molenaar spent his youth exploring the seashores, mountains, and deserts of Southern California. He extended his climbing horizons to the Pacific Northwest where he spent several years as summit guide and park ranger at Mount Rainier. After climbing Rainier some 50 times via 15 routes, including three "firsts," and traveling the park's high country for many years, in 1971 he authored The Challenge of Rainier, the award-winning and continually updated "definitive work" on the peak's climbing history. In 2011 the book was redesigned for a Special 40th Anniversary Edition.
During World War II Molenaar served as photographer in the U.S. Coast Guard in the Aleutians and Western Pacific. In 1950 he earned a B.Sc. in geology at the University of Washington--and a "Big W " in pole-vaulting, He then served briefly as civilian advisor in the Army's Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command at Camp Hale, Colorado and Camp Drum, New York. His career in geology took him to Alaska, Colorado, Utah, and Washington, where he retired from the USGS in 1983. Molenaar has climbed mountains throughout the western U.S., Canada, Alaska, the Alps, and Himalaya,and geology- and map-oriented treks to Mount Everest and Peru. He participated in major expeditions, in 1946 to Alaska's 18,100-foot Mt. St. Elias, world's highest coastal peak, and in 1953 to K2, on the famed but tragedy-marred American attempt led by Dr. Charlie Houston.
An important part of Molenaar's climbing pack has been a small box of watercolors, with which he has painted mountain scenes from below sea level in Death Valley to 25,000 feet on K2--the world's highest Earth-bound artistic effort. Dee's love of the high, open world of rock and ice and fringing meadow zone is reflected in his watercolors, oils, and pencil sketches, which are in private collections throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, New Zealand, Russia, and China. His maps and artwork appear in state park, and Forest Service and Park Service exhibits, ski-area brochures and numerous climbers' guides and autobiographies. In his "retirement" Dee continues in his artwork, and writing and lecturing about his mountain travels.
In April this year Dee was honored by The American Alpine Club by induction into the club's "Hall of Mountaineering Excellence" and in May by The Mountaineers club in Seattle by presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dee and Colleen, his long-supportive wife of nearly 60 years, have a daughter and two sons, and granddaughter and three grandsons and live in a 1930s vintage home on rural acreage in southern Kitsap County, Washington.