American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing
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Fritz Lippmann, 1921-1977

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978


Fritz Lippmann died on May 13, 1977, of metastatic cancer, after a long and debilitating illness. His climbing career started in the late 1930’s, and he became identified in 1940 as a member of a California climbing quartet that also include Jack Arnold, Robin Hansen and Tom Rixon. World War II abruptly halted their collaboration. Arnold joined the R.C.A.F. and was shot down over Germany to spend the war in prison camp; Hansen and Lippmann became P38 and B17 pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps and completed their quota of combat missions in the European and North African theaters. The three reunited, astonishingly unscathed, in 1946, to make the first ascent of the Lost Arrow in Yosemite Valley (they were joined by Anton Nelson). This was a symbolic and personal triumph over both a climbing challenge and Naziism; for Arnold, Hansen and Lippmann had made four attempts at the climb in 1940 and 1941.

Fritz participated in the attempt on McKinley by the West Buttress in 1952 and in the expedition to Makalu in 1954. In 1945, he married Barbara Tackle, a fellow-climber and a devoted wife, who survives him. In daily life, Fritz was a high-school teacher, loyal and attentive to his students. His warm and spontaneous idealism was cherished by his friends.

Thomas H. Jukes

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