American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Allston Burr, 1866-1949

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1949

ALLSTON BURR 1866 - 1949

Allston Burr, long a member of the American Alpine Club, died in January 1949 at the age of 82. His life was one of quiet accomplishment, devoted to his family, to his wide circle of friends and to his great interest in and generous support of many charitable, educational and artistic activities. Throughout his life one of his most outstanding qualities was a modest humility that made him shrink from publicity or acclaim and clothed his many worthy deeds in anonymity. Even to his most intimate associates, he was loath to talk of his personal affairs and it is difficult for any one of us to evaluate truly the extent of his generosity. Among all other interests there is no doubt that Harvard University, his Alma Mater, was in the forefront, and he was ever ready to do his considerable part financially and otherwise to promote its welfare. The cloak of modesty was nowhere more clearly in evidence than in his unwillingness to talk freely about his many first-class mountaineering accomplishments, although a bare recital of them is no doubt set forth in the records of the American Alpine Club. He started belatedly, as his first ventures of any moment on rocks and snow were undertaken when he was nearing 40, but thereafter he was an enthusiastic climber and an able one. His field was almost exclusively Switzerland, and on nearly all of his principal climbs his chief guide and close personal friend was Gottfried Bohren, of Grindel- wald. Together they made the first traverse of Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger within a period of 24 hours, a traverse of the Matterhorn by the Zmutt Arête and the Italian side, the ascent of Mont Blanc by the Brenva route and many other climbs of equal merit. His friends are saddened at his death not only by the sense of personal loss they all feel deeply but by the loss to his community, which cannot well be repaired. It is Gottfried Bohren who, after learning of his death, writes that he was “strong, courageous and safe,” as well deserved tribute to a mountaineer and a just appraisal of Allston Burr’s outstanding qualities as a citizen.

H. S. G.

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