American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Daniel Edmund Doody, 1933 - 1965

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1965

DANIEL EDMUND DOODY

1933 - 1965

On March 14, 1965, Dan Doody and Craig M. Merrihue fell from the center section of Pinnacle Gully in Huntington Ravine, Mount Washington. Dan was killed during the fall and Craig died shortly after. A bent ice screw clipped to the intact climbing rope by a carabiner was the only fallen equipment recovered. Their ice axes were not found. It is not known whether the leader was struck by falling ice, had a step break under him or was blown off balance by a gust of wind (not impossible in this gully), nor, in fact, even who was leading at the time of the accident.

Born in North Branford, Connecticut, on June 11, 1933, in a region where Doody families have lived for many years, he attended local schools until his graduation from Notre Dame High School in New Haven and his enrollment at the University of Wyoming. His college career was interrupted by service in the U. S. Army in Germany where his duties involved travel to many parts of Europe. After military service he returned to the University where he completed his undergraduate schooling, specializing in Agricultural Mechanics, in 1959. He had decided to study the making of films professionally and he went on to the Graduate School of the University of Southern California, eventually earning his master’s degree in cinema.

Dan had climbed extensively in the United States, Canada, and Mexico before joining the successful American group that climbed Mount Everest in 1963. He had already accomplished a number of very difficult routes, culminating in the first ascent, in 1961, of the north face of Edith Cavell with Yvon Chouinard and Fred Beckey. The Everest trip was a great disappointment for him because his difficulty in acclimatizing and subsequent attack of thrombo-phlebitis prevented him both from climbing actively and of bringing to bear his obvious talents as expedition cinematographer. After recovery from the phlebitis, he worked as an industrial photographer in Connecticut until he joined a large group of us in an expedition to Peru in the summer of 1964. Unquestionably the major achievement of his climbing career was the successful, new, and extremely difficult route on Nevado Chacraraju which he made with three other climbers. On this ascent he was able, at last, to use his photographic abilities on a major climb and was the principal author of an excellent color film showing the details of this spectacular ascent.

Restless and occasionally unhappy in civilized surroundings, he enjoyed expeditions not only for the climbing but for the opportunity they afforded for travel among and study of native populations. He had a gentle sympathy and regard for such peoples and was keenly interested in their welfare. He had been planning a series of films to capture the flavor of their worlds before civilization, as he could see it would, had altered and obliterated their cultures forever. He had started to raise money for this project and had remained in Peru exposing much footage in the remote parts of this country for several months after the expedition had disbanded.

Badly injured in a dynamite accident while at the University of Wyoming, he had spent a long period in the hospital. He was left with his hearing and the sight in one eye seriously and permanently damaged. The experience gave him a reward, however, in the form of a calmness and equanimity in the face of danger that is very rare among climbers who, like Dan, occasionally are exposed to great hazard. It was not a reckless disregard for danger nor an unwillingness to recognize its existence but a serenity and a calm that allowed him to perform more easily and competently under stress than his companions. Yvon Chouinard remarked on it after the ascent of Edith Cavell and many of his companions have seen it also. It is a rare and gracious quality in a person and makes Dan’s death all the more difficult for his friends to bear.

Unmarried, he leaves two sisters and his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Doody, also of North Branford, Connecticut.

Henry W. Kendall

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