Colin G. Chisholm, 1907-1990

Publication Year: 1991.



Colin Chisholm died peacefully on January 7, 1990. He was always an active man, both physically and mentally. His many friends can be thankful that his illness was both short and free from excessive pain. His health began to fail in November but as late as two days before Christmas, he was out and about having lunch with friends. His death came quickly but not before his family and a host of friends found comfort in his continued good spirits.

His father and mother, Duncan and Catherine Chisholm, homesteaded in 1888 near the town of Kent, Oregon. Colin was bom there and lived his first few years on the family farm in what is now Chisholm Canyon. After his sister Annie Laurie was bom, they moved to Arizona, where Duncan Chisholm was employed on the south rim of the Grand Canyon as a representative of the Santa Fe Railroad. Colin lived there until his early teens when he and his mother returned to Portland where he attended Jefferson High School. In 1924, he forsook the school track team and went to work for Columbia Steel Company, the West Coast US Steel subsidiary. He was office manager for a number of years prior to being transferred to San Francisco after World War II. In 1947, he left US Steel and returned to Portland to spend the next 30 years with Woodbury and Company and Metra Steel. His knowledge of rolled-steel products was profound and he was known and admired by people throughout the metal trades.

Colin began climbing in the late 1920s and by the 1930s was among the foremost local climbers. He made over 100 ascents of Mount Hood, including an early complete climb of Cathedral Ridge from the Barrett Spur Saddle and, with his cousin Jim McRae, the first ascent of the Eliot Headwall. He became a member of the American Alpine Club in 1950. He had joined the Mazamas some years earlier and was president in 1953. In 1961, on the descent of Mount Hood via the Cooper Spur, a crampon slipped on ice and he and his son Doug plunged over the headwall. They sailed down 2000 feet over two crevasses and landed in some soft snow, not seriously injured. Colin estimated the descent took 2½ minutes; Doug thought it took 13 seconds. The route became known as “The Chisholm Trail.” In 1981, he walked from Srinagar to the Leh road in Ladakh. The following year, he trekked around Annapurna in Nepal. At 75, he was the oldest trekker known to have crossed the 17,771-foot pass, the Thorung La. He skied regularly even in his later years at Mount Hood Meadows.

Despite his business and outdoor activities, Colin always had time for his family. After his marriage in 1936 to Jean Lennard, their home soon included not only their three children but, in due course, six grandchildren. They share his memory and all he did to make life pleasant for everyone he met, his family and friends both in the United States and abroad.

Lewis L. McArthur