American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Keith E. Hart, 1927-1996

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1997



Keith E. Hart of Juneau, Alaska, died on April 27 at the age of 69. Hart was bom in Portland, Oregon in 1927 and raised in Vancouver, Washington. He moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1952 to attend the University of Alaska. Hart became very active in expedition climbing in Alaska and Yukon Territory.

An AAC member since 1960, Hart led the first ascents of King Peak (17,130') in 1952, and University Peak (15,030') in 1955. He also made the third ascent of Mt. Bona (16,420') by a new route in 1955. In a 1954 expedition with Heinrich Harrer, Hart made the first ascent of Mt. Drum (12,003'). Hart led a successful expedition on Denali in 1953, but was unable to reach the summit himself because of both sunstroke and frostbitten feet. Another Denali attempt was made in 1956. Attempts were also made on Mt. Blackburn, Mt. Iliamna, and Mt. Sanford.

Hart was a charter member of the Alaska Alpine Club at the University of Alaska, and the Alaska Rescue Group in Anchorage. He was a member of the American Alpine Club and the Explorers Club, and held honorary memberships in the Royal Parachute Brigade Mountaineering Club of Great Britain, and the Club de Exploraciones de Mexico.

Hart worked as an avalanche specialist for five years in Girdwood, Alaska. In 1962, he traveled to Juneau to study avalanche destruction in a residential subdivision at the foot of Mt. Juneau. At the request of Juneau’s mayor, Hart authored the first in-depth study of Behrends Avenue avalanche hazards in 1967. He maintained an active interest in geophysical hazard planning throughout his professional career.

Hart worked the majority of his professional life as a planner for the Alaska Department of Highways, the Office of the Governor, the City of Juneau Planning Department and, most recently, the Alaska Division of Marine Highways. Hart took a medical retirement in 1979. His love of the mountains stayed with him long after his major expeditions, and through his long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Hart enjoyed climbing, skiing, hiking, and boating. He taught by example, he suffered without complaint, he lived an exemplary life with dry wit and understated humor, and with love and compassion. Hart enriched the lives of many whom he touched. He is truly missed.

Craig J. Lindh

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