American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Harvey Carter, 1932-2012

  • In Memoriam
  • Author: Stewart Green
  • Climb Year: 2012
  • Publication Year: 2013

Legendary Colorado climber Harvey T. Carter died in March at the age of 81 from prostate cancer. Harvey started climbing in the late 1940s in

Colorado Springs, where his mother and father were professors at Colorado College. Over the years he did over 5,000 first ascents. Of course, Harvey's definition of a new route included any section of a route that hadn't been climbed, including variations, direct starts, direct finishes, and boulder problems. Harvey also had a longtime subtle competition with his friend Fred Beckey, another prolific old-timer, to see who could do the most first ascents.

I like to note that Harvey, who was a staunch climbing traditionalist his whole career, ironically created the first sport climbing area in the United States by hammering fixed pitons into holes drilled in the soft sandstone at the Garden of the Gods, a city park in Colorado Springs. Many of those original drilled pitons, all soft-iron Army angles, are still in place and still used by climbers at the Garden.

Harvey, with his background in sandstone climbing, did many first ascents in the canyon country surrounding Moab, Utah as well as on the Navajo Reservation and on Shiprock in northern New Mexico. In 1962 Harvey did the first ascent of the Priest near Moab, and then the next day made the second ascent of Castleton Tower, which Layton Kor and Huntley Ingalls had climbed the day before. He also made the first ascents of all the major towers at the Fisher Towers near Moab, except for the Titan.

Besides having a world-class climbing career, Harvey was also an expert skier. He worked on the Aspen Ski Patrol from 1957 to 1979, and later tried to create a downhill ski area on some property behind Pikes Peak that he owned. Besides all his first ascents, part of Harvey Carter's legacy is Climbing magazine, which he founded in 1970, with its debut issue describing his first ascent of the Kingfisher in the Fisher Towers. He sold the magazine a couple years later.

Harvey T. Carter. He was a curmudgeon, a traditionalist, and a bit cranky, but Harvey was always a climber. Rest in peace my friend.

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