American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Stanley S. Shepard, 1938-1993

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1994



Stan Shepard died on August 12 in the Quimsa Cruz mountains of Bolivia when the vehicle in which he was riding slid off a mountain road in a snowstorm and tumbled 120 meters. Stan died at the scene. He was attempting to reach a base camp where he expected to help friends who were caught high on Gigante Grande by the storm.

Stan was an active climber until the day he died. He climbed Illimani, Bolivia’s plum in July of 1993. He retired from the U.S, Foreign Service in 1990 after 26 years that included tours of duty in Bolivia, Chile, Yugoslavia, Spain, NATO Brussels, Washington, D.C. and others. He received the Department of Defense medal for Distinguished Civilian Service among other awards and presidential citations.

Stan lived with his family in Bolivia, where he regularly logged first ascents, including rock peak climbs in the Cordillera Quimsa Cruz and mountaineering ascents throughout the country. He was developing top-of-the- line ski and mountaineering clothing called Los Andes, which was to have its grand opening at SIA Las Vegas show in the spring of 1994.

Stan learned to ski when he was five years old and climbed his first mountain at age 13. In the late 1950s, he began climbing in Boulder, Colorado and is credited with the first ascents of the Bastille Crack (1959), the Great Zot (1960) and Swanson’s Arête (1960). He broke his neck in 1962 while attempting the first ascent of Anaconda, which eventually went A4, on the Twin Owls on Lumpy Ridge. He also did an early ascent of Mount Rainier’s Liberty Ridge. Moreover, he logged hundreds of first ascents in the mountains of North and South America, the Alps and the Balkans.

Stan was happy climbing anything, anywhere, but mountaineering and technical skiing were his obsessions. His approach to climbing is captured by some of the following excerpts from a biographical article appearing in The Climbing Art: “I’m a mountaineer, a pretty good generalist, reasonably safe, capable of starting a primus stove at two A.M. I hate to fall off anything, even on the little rocks … I really enjoy third- to middle-fifth-class climbing, lots of it, on a mountain. Ice is neat. Big frozen snow slopes are great. Ski mountaineering is fantastic … It’s such a big bag of toys that you would be a fool to overspecialize unless you have an extreme talent, which fortunately I lack … The generalist mountaineer is an omnivorous sort who stares at sunsets a lot.”

Stan’s humor, spirit and light-hearted intensity will be missed by the people who knew and climbed with him during the past decades. Although we tend to think of climbers reaching their prime at a younger age, this was not the case for Stan. He remained active throughout the years and viewed his retirement not as a time to relax but as a time to embark on new adventures. His full and active life and his untimely death stand as an example and leave a message for all of us.

Stan had two children who live with his wife in La Paz: Jenifer, 20, and Stephen, 14. His wife Victoria is currently the Bolivian Foreign Minister of Immigration.

Scott Titterington

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