AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Lillian Gest, 1898-1986

LILLIAN GEST 1898-1986

Lillian Gest, last surviving member of a prominent Philadelphia family, died in January, 1986, at age eighty-eight. Many years before, on her graduation from Vassar, she had set out to get a job, but had been stopped by her family, who said that getting a job would deprive some man who needed it. Accordingly she turned to volunteer social work, where she was very active for the rest of her life, especially with the Philadelphia Children’s Bureau, which she served as president. Lillian was always active out-of-doors too, and helped to start the Philadelphia Trail Club.

However, most of Lillian’s climbs were made in the Canadian Rockies, although she did some minor climbing in the Alps in 1929. Her love affair with the mountains started with Caroline Hinman on packtrips which crisscrossed Jasper and the Canadian Rockies, using outfitter Jim Boyce and hunting guide Charlie Hunter.

She attended many of the summer camps of the Alpine Club of Canada and the Skyline Hikers of the Canadian Rockies, climbing after camp with her favorite guides, Christian Hasler and Eduard Feuz. She joined forces with Katie Gardner on several major first ascents in 1937: Mount Bryce complete from Rice Brook, Queant and Trident. She was very pleased at climbing Mount Columbia from the ACC camp in 1938.

She was one of the most knowledgeable Canadian Rockies enthusiasts and was continually consulted. After her active climbing days she became interested in research and wrote of three favorite areas: History of Lake O’Hara, 1961; History of Moraine Lake, 1970; and History of Mt. Assiniboine, 1979.

Lillian was a member of the American Alpine Club for over fifty years, serving on the council from 1947-1949. She was also the originator and first editor of the A.A.C. News, a publication that speedily became a valuable way to inform and unite the Club’s widely separated membership.

Lillian was a longtime friend, tentmate and climbing companion over a period of fifty years. Her hobbies were birding, photography and skating. In later years she was usually to be found during the summer at Lake O’Hara Lodge, where she was much in demand for her early memories and beautiful slide shows.

Always helpful, with her practical good sense and cheerfulness, Lillian will be sorely missed by her many friends in the United States and Canada.

Polly Prescott