American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Kermith F. Ross, 1910-1986

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

KERMITH F. ROSS 1910-1986

Kermith Ross, known to some friends as “Lefty”, died of cancer on December 23 in Denver. He began climbing about 1948, in Colorado, and also climbed extensively in Wyoming and California. He participated in expeditions to Canada, Alaska, Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico. Among climbers he will be especially remembered as a member of the group which made the first ascent of the east ridge of Mount Logan in 1957, and as a member of an American expedition to the Cordillera Blanca of Peru in 1959. On that trip he made with others the second ascent of Tocllaraju, the third ascent of Chinchey, and a new route on Pucaranra. He also took part in several probable first winter ascents in Colorado and Wyoming, including Sunlight, Windom, and Fremont; and he climbed all of the fourteen-thousand-foot peaks in Colorado.

Bom in Missouri in 1910, he was a patent attorney by profession. He received his law degree from Georgetown University, after an undergraduate degree in chemistry at Kirksville, Missouri. During World War II he was an ordnance officer in the navy, and also taught swimming and gymnastics. His back flips, somersaults and dives were a treat to watch. He remained in the Naval Reserve for years and retired with the rank of Commander. After the war he worked for General Motors, at Los Alamos on the Manhattan Project, at NASA, and at China Lake, California, for the Navy. He retired from the law after many years as a partner in a private Denver firm. Never married, he is survived by one sister, Mae Belt of Atlanta, Missouri.

An inveterate traveler whether at work or leisure, Kermith’s sojourns also included wildlife watching in Canada, trekking to the base of Everest, mountaineering in New Zealand, and touring Europe and China. He liked to fish, usually kept camera at hand, and shared his experiences with a wide circle of friends on return. He had a tremendous sense of humor, with an endless supply of jokes, and a trip with him was always enjoyable. It was also unusually safe. In our 40 years of shared mountaineering, I know of no serious accident ever happening to a party with which he was climbing. He combined a good nature with great endurance and good technical ability. Those who climbed with him will always remember him with fondness.

Don Marks

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