American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
Black Diamond Logo

Walter Dwight Wilcox, 1869-1949

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1950

WALTER DWIGHT WILCOX

1869–1949

Walter Dwight Wilcox, who throughout a long life was devoted to the mountains, was an original member of the American Alpine Club. Born in Chicago, Illinois, on 24 September 1869, he was educated at Andover and Yale, where he was a member of the class of 1893, and later continued his studies at Columbia. While he was still in college, he ascended Mount Hood, and the summer after his senior year he made the first ascent of Eagle Peak in the Selkirks. This was the first of a number of important Canadian climbs which he made annually from 1893 to 1896 and again in 1899. Among his first ascents in this period were Mount Aberdeen, Mount Temple, Observation Peak and Mount Niblock. He crossed several new passes, and was the first white man to go by what is now known as Wilcox Pass to Fortress Lake. At about this period he also circled Mount Assiniboine, which he strongly attacked with Henry Bryant in 1901. Their party was forced back at 11,000 feet. Afterwards they visited the then unmapped area south of the Kananaskis Lakes. That fall Wilcox married Nanna Lawson.

Though Wilcox was again in the Selkirks and Canadian Rockies in 1902, his most active climbing days were now over. But interest in the mountains never left him. Nineteen years later, for instance, he made a first ascent of Mount Baker in the Canadian Rockies; and in 1940, when he was 71 years old, he again revisited Wilcox Pass.

Mr. Wilcox, who had business interests in Cuba, spent his later years in Chevy Chase, Maryland. During his lifetime he wrote fairly extensively. Besides several articles in the A.A.J., C.A.J. and other magazines, he has left the following books: Guide to the Lake Louise District (1909); Picturesque Landscapes of the Canadian Rockies (1896); The Rockies of Canada (1900); Caoba, the Mahogany Tree (1924).

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he had been a National Geographic Society delegate to the Geographical Congress of the Paris Exposition in 1900. He was also past president of the Trail Riders of Canada, a corresponding member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and an honorary member of the Alpine Club of Canada. The passing of this genial, vigorous explorer-mountaineer is a great loss to the Club.

R. H. B.

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