American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Frederic King Butters, 1878-1945

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1946


1878 - 1945

Professor Butters was born at Minneapolis, Minn., on February 8, 1878, and died there August 1, 1945. He was unmarried. The family name was originally Butter, his ancestors coming from Scotland and settling in Woburn, Mass., prior to 1665.

Butters graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1899 with the degree of B. Sc., and took his B.A. at Harvard in 1900. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. He served as instructor in botany and pharmacognosy at Minnesota, 1901-10, as assistant professor, 1910-19, associate professor, 1919-34, thereafter held the position of professor of botany until his death. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the Alpine Club of Canada (1913) and of the American Geographical Society. He joined the American Alpine Club in 1910. He was the author of Trees and Shrubs of Minnesota, and had almost completed a book on ferns, on which he was an outstanding authority.

As a mountaineer, Butters introduced E. W. D. Holway to the Selkirks in 1904; Howard Palmer joined them in 1908, and thereafter this trio made history in their exploration of remote areas of the northern and southern Selkirks, although Butters was unable to take part in the final and successful assault on Mt. Sir Sandford in 1912.

Of these three, however, the Swiss guides regarded Butters as the soundest and steadiest climber, his ascents covering a period of 30 years. He seems never to have visited the Alps, but in the Selkirks alone he accomplished more than 50 major climbs, including such first ascents as Cyprian Pk., Mt. Kilpatrick. Augustine Pk., Guardsman Mtn., The Footstool, Alpina Dome, Pioneer Pk., Mt. Topham, Citadel Pk., Belvedere Pk., Goldstream Pk., Mt. Redan, Austerity Mtn., Mt. Holway, and the unnamed 10,500-ft. peak of the Battle Range. By 1913 he had made 15 traverses of Asulkan Pass, eight of Donkin Pass and four crossings of Illecil- lewaet névé, all guideless.

For the Canadian Alpine Journal he wrote “The Flora of the Glacier District” (xxi, 139) and for Palmer’s Selkirk Range the appendix dealing with botany. He made a relief of the Selkirk Range from Rogers Pk. to Grand Mtn., which has been secured for the American Alpine Club.

J. M. T.

This AAJ article has been reformatted into HTML. Please contact us if you spot an error.