American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Polly Prescott, 1902-2003

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2005

Polly Prescott 1902-2003

Polly Prescott’s climbing career began in 1922 when she climbed Mt. Rainier as the climax of a Vassar College geology field trip. Her love of the mountains continued all her life. She spent over 40 seasons climbing and hiking in western Canada. Her first ACC camp was in the Tonquin Valley in 1926, and she came to most camps into the 1950s. In 1941 she was the first woman to receive the Silver Rope in recognition of her leading manless climbs with Marguerite Schnellbacher (Coveney). These included Mt. Louis and Edith Cavell. She also served as American Vice-President of the Alpine Club of Canada. She climbed extensively with Sterling B. Hendricks and Rex and Ethne Gibson.

Among her best Canadian ascents were Hungabi, the northwest ridge of Sir Donald up and down, Forbes and the Lyalls, the first traverse of Louis, a new route up the north face with Edward Feuz and Hendricks. Others were a traverse of Assiniboine and the second ascent of Mt. Aye with Eric Brooks. She also climbed Freshfield and made the first ascent of Coronet. In the Coast Range she climbed Mt. Grenville, a first, with Don and Phyl Munday. She considered 1928 her best season when she climbed Bugaboo Spire, Howser Spire, and in Jasper the three snow peaks of Athabaska, and was the first woman to climb the North and South Twins, a third ascent.

In Europe noteworthy ascents in the Dolomites were: North Vajolet Tower (North route), Marmolata (South Face), Cima Grande di Lavaredo (via Dolfer, East Face). In the Alps were the Grande Charmoz and Grepon (traverse), and La Meige (traverse). Her last season abroad was 1957 when she climbed the Matterhorn, the Zinalrothorn, and a traverse of the Wellenkupper and Obergabelhorn.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she was active in civic affairs. During World War II she served with the American Red Cross in North Africa and Italy. After retirement in 1962, she joined the U.S. Peace Corps in Nepal. After her return to America in 1963 she continued her interests in gardening, needlework, music, travel, and world affairs. In 1993 she moved with her sister (me) to Kendal at Oberlin, Ohio, a continuing care retirement community.

Katherine Prescott

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