American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Walter Leroy Huber, 1883-1960

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1961

WALTER LEROY HUBER

1883–1960

Walter Leroy Huber became a member of the American Alpine Club in 1919 and was Western Vice-President 1935–1937. He was born in San Francisco January 4, 1883; all four grandparents came across the plains as pioneers. After receiving his B.S. in engineering from the University of California in 1905 he served for a few years as District Engineer, U. S. Forest Service, before entering private practice as a Civil Engineer in San Francisco. He early became a member of the Sierra Club and always considered it one of the major interests of his life. From 1915 to 1948 he served continuously on its Board of Directors. He was President of the Club 1925–1927 and Treasurer for sixteen years before and after that time.

In his profession Walter Huber attained the highest rank. He did the engineering work for many important buildings, including several on the Berkeley campus of the University of California; he was particularly noted for his work on dams for hydroelectric and irrigation projects. His career was capped by the presidency of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1952–53. In 1955, on the fiftieth anniversary of his graduation, he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of California. In the field of conservation he was equally distinguished. Highly regarded as an advisor by Stephen T. Mather and Horace M. Albright, of the National Park Service, he later, 1953–1959, became a member of the Interior Department Advisory Board on National Parks and Monuments. This last service brought him back full cycle to one of his earliest achievements in conservation, the establishment, in 1911, of Devils Postpile National Monument, near Yosemite National Park, for which he furnished the data and drew the specifications.

Most of Walter’s mountain-climbing experience was in the Sierra Nevada of California, for that was where his work took him. It was part of his business to know intimately the headwaters of all the rivers of the state, and in what better way could one do that than to climb mountains? And in what more convenient way could that be done than by going on the Sierra Club outings? So for many years he was a familiar figure on these outings and many a Sierra Club member, including myself, gladly followed his leadership to the summits. None of his climbs were difficult by present standards—they were made before the days of pitons, or even the rope— but some, such as North Palisade, Middle Palisade, and Mount Williamson, were at the time considered good tests of mountaineering ability. Occasionally he went farther afield, to the Cascades and the Rockies, where he climbed, among others, Rainier and Resplendent. His exploration of the Little Colorado River was noteworthy and important professionally. As a photographer of the Sierra he takes his place with such masters as J. N. LeConte and Ansel Adams.

Francis P. Farquhar

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