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Weldon Fairbanks Heald, 1901-1967


Weldon Heald was an ardent lover of mountains; not as a field for prowess, but for the beauty and inspiration he found in them. He was a capable climber and was able to reach summits where he could breathe the air of freedom and inhale the scent of alpine plants and rejoice in distant views. He was a genial companion on the trail and at the evening fireside.

He was born in Milford, New Hampshire, and spent his early days in New England, where he made many excursions in the White Mountains. On a boyhood trip to Europe he climbed the Breithorn, and later climbed a number of other Alpine peaks. Shortly after receiving a degree in architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology he came to California to live, later to Arizona. He ranged widely through the western mountains — the Olympics, the Sierra Nevada, the Colorado Rockies — and became a specialist in the desert peaks of the Southwest. He was particularly interested in the Wheeler Peaks, in Nevada. He was an active conservationist and served on committees of a number of organizations. Secretary Udall appointed him a consultant on National Parks and Monuments. During World War II he served as a major in the Army Quartermaster Corps, specializing in climatology. Weldon Heald’s writings were prolific, mostly published in western periodicals. He wrote a book in the American Mountains series, Inverted Mountain; ( the Grand Canyon — he had been through it by boat). His latest book, Sky Island, published posthumously, deals with the Chiricahuas, in eastern Arizona, in the midst of which he lived for a time. It is reviewed elsewhere in this issue. For several years Weldon and his wife Phyllis conducted a writers’ seminar in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Weldon Heald was Western Vice-President of the American Alpine Club, 1947–1949, which he had joined in 1939.

Francis P. Farquhar