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William Shand, Jr., 1918-1946



Über alien Gipfeln

Ist Ruh’,

In allen Wipfeln

Spürest du

Kaum einen Hauch;

Die Vögelein schweigen im Walde.

Warte nur, balde

Ruhest du auch.


William Shand, Jr., was born on 5 October 1918 in Lancaster, Pa. He attended the Lancaster public schools and Franklin and Marshall Academy, and prepared for Princeton at Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., where he excelled in studies and athletics, graduating second highest in his class, in 1936. At college he majored in chemistry and continued to win scholastic honors. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year and delivered the valedictory address when he graduated, summa cum laude, in 1940. From Princeton he went to the Graduate School of the California Institute of Technology as a Fellow in Chemistry. During World War II he was associated with the Office of Scientific Research and Development in Panama, the Southwest Pacific and the Philippines. He received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the California Institute of Technology in June 1946, for his studies in physical chemistry; and, on 1 July 1946, he was appointed Instructor in Molecular Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. One month later, on 11 August 1946, he lost his life in an automobile accident near Elko, Nev.

Bill’s climbing career demonstrated his unusual ability. Although he was still young when his life was terminated, he combined remarkable insight with much experience. His search for adventure and perfection began in 1935, when he spent the summer in the Alps. Here he made a few guided climbs in the Gross Glockner group and led many guideless climbs in the Totes Gebirge. This trip stimulated his interest, and he returned in 1937 to lead extensive guideless climbing in the Bavarian Alps. During this period he made a solo ascent, traverse and descent of the Zugspitze group in one day. In 1938 he led the climbing of a group which surmounted various peaks in the Bernese Oberland, the Valais and the Dachstein group. In all these climbs he contributed a keen grasp of route finding and the inspiration of exceptional leadership.

During the last six years, much of his available time was spent climbing in the Canadian Rockies and in the mountains of Western America. In 1940, the year in which he became a member of the American Alpine Club, he led numerous climbs in the Tetons. It was at this time that he led up the Southwest Ridge route, and the North Wall chock stone of the Grand Teton. He was invited to join the 1941 Hall-Washburn Mount Hayes Expedition, and on this expedition he led the first ascent of Mount Bagley. With such experience, Bill acquired a rare ability to climb on snow and ice.

His presence at the California Institute of Technology provided an opportunity to join the Sierra Club of California. As a member of the Rock Climbing Section, he participated in many winter and summer climbs on Mount Whitney, assisting in leading. In the Yosemite Valley, he participated in the pioneering of new routes and new ascents. He also gave instruction in rock climbing to those less gifted.

All his friends—a group which constantly increased—remember him for his kindness, his courtesy and his scholarship. But his fellow-climbers appreciate also his mastery of rock and snow techniques and mechanics, his helpfulness and his leadership. Those who knew Bill Shand feel that they have known a man who embodied the qualities which make a “mountaineer.”

B. G. F.