American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Marc Emerson, 1954–1976

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1972

MARC EMERSON 1954–1970

On September 27, 1970, Marc Emerson fell to his death while climbing on Castle Rock near Leavenworth, Washington, when his climbing rope slipped off the carabiner that was attached to his swami seat. Thus at the age of sixteen, died a climber who surely would have changed the world of technical climbing.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio until he was ten, but spent his first ten summers in the Teton Mountains in Wyoming. At age seven, he climbed Teewinot and three years later he did the Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton. At the age of eight, Marc visited France where he reached the Tête Rousse on Mont Blanc. Spending all his life in the mountains, Marc was very energetic. At the age of fifteen and sixteen he found his way in the Cascades on peaks such as Stewart, Ingalls, Prusik, the Liberty Bells, Glacier peak and Mount Ranier.

Just the evening before Marc’s death, after a hard day of climbing, Marc and I huddled around a campfire, discussing for hours climbing, food, life and death. Marc told me that there was no other place where he wanted to die than in the mountains he loved. The next day, fate met destiny.

Marc came to the mountains because that was where he belonged among the animals, the meadows, the cool mountain breezes. He was a free and loving soul who gave of himself as if there was no end and for Marc, there was no end.

Marc started serious rock-climbing in August of 1969, and in a period of thirteen months had progressed so rapidly and perfected his technique so finely, that I have seen no equal. He was a true mountaineer. There was Marc, over six feet tall, always reaching the unreachable. What a force Marc was! I, along with numerous other friends, spent many tense moments with him on climbs. After every climb with Marc, I apologized for my lack of faith in us, for it was Marc’s positive thinking that got us to the top of many climbs.

He is survived by his big sister, Leslie, a truly beautiful person, his father Richard Emerson and his mother, both of whose courage is infinitely large.

You have left us forever

And we feel it deeply

We treasure those precious memories

That make you live in us for all time.


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