American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Dudley Francis Wolfe, 1896-1939

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1940



Dudley Francis Wolfe was born in Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, February 8, 1896. He disappeared on K2 in the Karakoram Himalayas, in the vicinity of Camp VII, with three Sherpa portersapproximately July 31st, 1939. No trace of the missing party has yet been discovered.

He attended Pomfret School, Pomfret, Connecticut, and Andover Academy in the class of 1918, playing on the varsity football team of the latter school. He was a member of P. B. X. Society there. He did not graduate from Andover, going overseas September, 1917, as a member of the Mallet Reserve Transport Service of the French Army. In 1918 he went to Italy with the American Red Cross and there drove an ambulance for the Italian Army. He was decorated at that time with the Italian War Cross, an equivalent of the French Croix de Guerre. Later in 1918 he enlisted in the French Foreign Legion and was in training when the war ended. His shortsightedness made it impossible for him to enter any of the regular United States services.

After his return to the United States he went to Harvard University, graduating in the class of 1929. He played on the varsity football squad and was a member of the Owl Club. Sometime after graduation he became interested in yacht racing and was the owner of several noted racing yachts. Among other events which he took part in were the Transatlantic Race to Santander, Spain, in 1931, in his schooner “Mohawk” and competed in the Fastnet Race to England the same year. In his racing cutter “Highland Light” he took part in the Race to England (1933), the Gibson Island Race (1933 and 1937), and in 1938 he won the Findley Trophy for first boat to finish in the Bermuda Race. He also made several big game hunting trips in the Alberta district of the Rocky Mountains about this time. About 1933 he became interested in skiing, beginning in the famous Hans Schneider’s classes at St. Anton in the Arlberg. He became adept and won various prizes and made many winter tours in Switzerland, France, and Austria. The resulting acquaintance with Otto Fuhrer led him to go in for mountaineering as well. In the company of this noted guide who was twice F. I. S. Champion, and Elias Julen, formerly guide of the famous “Flie- gender Holländer,” he had several very successful seasons in the Alps, climbing in the Western Pennines, the range of Mt. Blanc, and in the Bregaglia Group of the Engadine. He made a number of the principal summits, both rock and snow peaks. Perhaps the most notable of his tours is the ski-traverse of Mt. Blanc from the Vallot Hut to the Mer de Glace.

He joined the American Alpine Club Second Karakoram Expedition and was most useful in attending to the purchase of the foreign supplies, getting in at the same time a winter season of skiing, principally around Davos. He was physically the strongest member of the party and apparently felt the rigors of life at a high altitude as little as any of us. He was a member of the Cruising Club of America; the Eastern Yacht Club; the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club; the Royal Ocean Racing Club of Great Britain; Royal Western Yacht Club of Great Britain; Exchange Club, Boston; Union Boat Club, Boston; New York Athletic Club; India House, New York City; Ski Club, Arlberg, Austria; and the American Alpine Club.

He married Alice Damrosch, daughter of the noted musician and orchestra leader.

E. C.

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