American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Christine Lincoln Reid, 1906-1990

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1991

CHRISTINE LINCOLN REID

1906-1990

Christine Reid, known to her friends as “Pussy” or “Pooh,” was an enthusiastic mountaineer, skier and white-water canoeist. She was born on May 8, 1906 in Belmont, California and received her early education there in a small school run by her grandmother, Julia Reid, as an adjunct to the boys’ school of her grandfather, William T. Reid. After moving East, she attended the Park School in Brookline and then the Winsor School in Boston, after which she studied for two years at the Museum School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She became proficient in drawing. She, as well as other family members, were ardent sailors and participated in many regattas and races.

In 1929 she developed an interest in mountaineering and traveled to the Canadian Rockies where she ascended Assiniboine. Two years later, she climbed in the Glacier Park-Waterton Lakes area and visited the Tetons, where she climbed the Grand Teton. She also became interested in skiing and divided her time between that sport and climbing. She made many ascents in the Pennine Alps and climbed all the major peaks in the Zermatt area, including Monte Rosa by the Marinelli Couloir, the Dent Blanche by the Viereselgrat and the Matterhorn by the Zmutt Ridge. In 1936 she made many fine climbs in the Dolomites including a new route on the Piz Popena south wall, which is called after her the Via Christine.

In 1938, she returned to the Canadian Rockies, making a number of ascents in the Columbia Icefield area. She was the first woman to climb Mount Columbia. This visit doubtless kindled an interest in Mount Confederation, where she and Elizabeth Knowlton as co-leaders were joined the next year by Margarite Fuller and Frances McGuire in a manless party. They made a successful reconnaissance, but the ascent was frustrated for lack of time. Two years later, she and her husband, Philip D. Orcutt, made another unsuccessful attempt.

During the 1930s, she was active in skiing and photographed ski races and major events. She made a film on ski technique with Benno Rebizka, portions of which were later used as illustrations for a book, Hannes Schneider Ski Technique.

She wrote articles for Appalachia and the American Alpine Journal. She authored a column entitled “Snowflake Telegraph” for the Boston Transcript and later the Boston Globe when the Transcript ceased publication. She was for many years on the Editorial Board of Appalachia and served in 1937 and 1938 as Editor.

On June 21, 1941, she married Philip Dana Orcutt and during their marriage they shared interest in climbing, skiing and white-water canoeing. While her husband was serving in World War II, she organized the American Women’s Volunteer Service Motor Transportation Corps for the Air Force Material Command in Boston. The marriage terminated in divorce in 1955.

Pussy continued her interest in climbing, skiing and canoeing into her later years. She served on the American Alpine Club’s Research Committee. She was helpful in the development of the New England chapter of the Explorers Club and an enthusiastic member of the Women’s Travel Club. In failing health in the last few years, she lived in a retirement home at Buzzards Bay on Cape Cod, where she died on May 4, four days before her 84th birthday.

Kenneth A. Henderson

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