American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Ed Link, 1914-1989

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990

ED LINK

1914-1989

Ed (Hazel E.) Link, an AAC member since 1945, died of cancer in Seattle on April 14, 1989. He was 74. Hiking and skiing trips with his Boy Scout troop provided Ed’s first mountain experiences when he was in his early teens. Later, with friends from scouting, he began to explore the summits of these mountain ranges. Ed was one of America’s skiing pioneers. A member of the Sahale Ski Club in the 30s, he was an active competitor in races sponsored by it and other early ski and outdoor clubs, including the legendary Silver Skis Race from Camp Muir to Paradise on Mount Rainier.

During his military career, he made significant contributions to mountaineering and skiing. Here his path crossed or joined for a time that of many members from those communities. Drafted into the Army in 1941, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1942 and served in a tank unit commanded by General George S. Patton. Because of his background, he was reassigned to the 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment. He was soon in charge of a succession of climbing and skiing schools at Mount Rainier, Mount Hale, Colorado, and Seneca Rocks, West Virginia.

In 1943, he commanded an American detachment to the Mountain School Central Mediterranean Forces in Italy. He served with the 10th Mountain Division from 1944 through to the end of the war. In 1945 he was the Winter Sports Officer for the European Theater, establishing winter sports programs for U.S. occupation troops. While in Italy, he climbed a new route on the Gran Sasso and made the first ascent of Corno Piccolo. After leaving the service as a major in 1947, he worked as a civilian sports director for the Army’s Garmisch Recreation Center. In 1948, he provided skiing expertise for CBS radio coverage of the St. Moritz Olympics.

Ed was recalled to active duty in 1951 and placed in charge of rock-climbing training at Fort Carson, Colorado. As a lieutenant colonel, he saw tours of duty in Korea and in Japan, where he established the Mountain and Cold Weather Training Command. He also coordinated the preparation and publishing of the U.S. Army Skiing Manual. Ed returned to the Alps in 1958 and climbed the Matterhorn. After four years of ROTC work at the Wentworth Military Academy, Wentworth, Missouri, he spent a year as a military advisor in South Vietnam. In 1962, Ed received what was to be his last military assignment as deputy post commander of the Yakima Firing Center. Here he was able to resume mountaineering and skiing, not only recreationally, but also as an instructor and a competitor, in the mountains of his youth.

Immediately after Ed’s retirement from the military in 1966, Governor Dan Evans (AAC) selected him for the position of Washington State Civil Defense Director with the additional responsibility of supervising the establishment of a state-wide search-and-rescue program. From 1968 to 1980, he was president and general manager of the Crystal Mountain Ski Resort; he helped bring a World Cup event there in 1972. Ed continued to be active in ski racing in retirement. He served as technical director for FIS World Cups, taught FIS technical delegate symposia, was a three-time national champion in veteran racing and placed in international competition. He received numerous recognitions from ski professional organizations.

Ed is survived by his wife Eddi (Edna), two sisters and a brother, three daughters, a son from a previous marriage and two grandchildren. His son Robert climbed Kangchenjunga in 1989.

Fred C. Stanley

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