Terris Moore, 1908-1993

Publication Year: 1994.



Terris Moore, age 85, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, explorer, mountaineer, light-plane pilot and President Emeritus of the University of Alaska, died on November 7 after a massive heart attack. He became internationally known in 1932 when he and three companions reached and surveyed Minya Konka (now called Gongga Shan) in Sichuan, China. Moore and Richard Burdsall, both AAC members, ascended this very difficult mountain (that Burdsall and Arthur Emmons surveyed as 24,490 feet high), and in doing so climbed several thousand feet higher than Americans had gone before. At the time, Moore was the outstanding American climber.

Moore, Terry to his friends, was born in Haddonfield, New Jersey, on April 11, 1908 and attended schools in Haddonfield, Philadelphia and New York before entering and graduating from Williams College, where he captained the cross-country team and became an avid skier. After graduating from college, he attended the Harvard School of Business Administration, from which he received two degrees: Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Commercial Science.

Terry’s mountain climbing had begun long before this time. In 1927, he climbed Chimborazo (20,702 feet) in Ecuador and made the first ascent of 17,159-foot Sangai, an active volcano there. Three years later, he joined the Harvard Mountaineering Club and also became a member of the American Alpine Club, connections which led that year to his making the first ascent of 16,400-foot Mount Bona in Alaska with Allen Carpé, and the first unguided ascent of Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies. These climbs led to his first ascent of 15,282-foot Fairweather in coastal Alaska, also with Carpé, and to his decision the following year to join an Explorers Club expedition to Minya Konka, as already mentioned.

In 1933, Terry married Katrina Eaton Hincks and for two years taught at the University of California at Los Angeles before settling in Boston. There he had successes as an author of popular textbooks on taxes and as a financial consultant before World War II began. He had also become an experienced light-plane pilot and had flown hundreds of hours, but when he tried to enlist as a pilot in the Army Air Force, he was turned down because of a slight heart murmur. Instead, he accepted an invitation to go to Washington as a consultant on clothing and equipment for troops experiencing arctic, winter or mountain conditions. In that capacity, he tested items in various places and made the third ascent of McKinley as a member of the Alaskan Test Expedition in 1942.

After the war, Moore became president of the New England Society of Natural History and helped with its metamorphosis into the far more active Boston Museum of Science. In 1949, he was asked to become the second president of the University of Alaska. For three years, he did a great deal to make it a modern university, and in his spare time he continued to establish world records for high-altitude airplane landings. He also helped establish the High Altitude Observatory on Mount Wrangell. Terry was also much involved in flying rescue missions, as I found when he gave up a trip East to search for a plane missing on a flight from the Seward Glacier to Yakutat with Foresta and Valerie Wood and Maurie King on board.

In the ensuing years, Terry served as a member to the U.S. Army Scientific Advisory Panel, and he and Katrina made frequent flights throughout northern and arctic Alaska and Canada. They even helped with scientific work on the northern tip of Greenland.

During his lifetime Terry Moore received many honors from the U.S. government, the Boston Museum of Science, the University of Alaska, the American Alpine Club, the Harvard Travellers Club, the Appalachian Mountain Club and so on. He is survived by his wife Katrina, companion for over 50 years, his daughter, three grandchildren, one great-grandchild and a sister.

Robert H. Bates