American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Waldo H. Holcombe, 1912-1986

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1987


Waldo H. Holcombe became interested in mountains when he spent a year at school in Switzerland, and his enjoyment of them never left him. While in college he climbed and skied in the White Mountains and on Katahdin, and one summer did some climbs in the Rockies. His only major ascent was in 1934 in the Fairweather Range of Alaska, where with Bradford Washburn and Adams Carter he reached the summit of Mount Crillon, a peak that had thwarted previous attempts. For some years afterward he flew his small plane west to climb in the Wind River Range, the Tetons or the Canadian Rockies. If the weather was not good in one area, he would fly to a better one.

For several years after graduating from Harvard, Waldo taught at the Brooks school in North Andover, Mass. Though he left it to work for the Sigma Instrument Co. in Boston, his connection with Brooks, later mainly as a trustee, lasted for over 50 years. Waldo, before his retirement, became Director of Planning for the Museum of Science in Boston, where he also gave a highly regarded course open to the public in celestial navigation. After retirement he gave distinguished service to the Boston Metropolitan Planning Council and won awards from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

Waldo and Ruth (Wood), his wife of nearly 50 years, were keen on skiing and sailing. These sports gradually gained precedence over mountaineering in their vacations, though both managed to do some climbing. Their three sons, daughter, and ten grandchildren have been brought up to enjoy the mountains as well as the sea.

Robert H. Bates

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