Andrew Carson Harvard died in January 2019 after a decade-long battle with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. His final days were comforted by phone messages from his extensive network of colleagues, climbers, classmates, and friends.
Andy was born in New Orleans on July 29, 1949. His family moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he attended Hopkins School. Many of the friendships formed there remained with him through the rest of his life. Andy’s love of water, wilderness, and the mountains was ignited by the adventures he shared as a Boy Scout. He became an Eagle Scout at age 14 and continued to draw upon the lessons of leadership, team building, and mentorship throughout his life.
During his years at Dartmouth College (1967–’71), where he was a history major, he became deeply involved with the Dartmouth Outing Club and its subsidiaries Ledyard Canoe Club—where he and his close friend Todd Thompson became the first recipients of Dartmouth’s Ledyard Medal—and the Mountaineering Club, which elected him president in 1970. That year he was among a small group of Dartmouth climbers who traveled to Peru to participate in an earthquake relief mission and then went to Bolivia to scale Illampu and Huayna Potosí. Following graduation, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Vermont and then enrolled in law school at Boston University, where he earned a JD in 1979 and eventually was admitted to the Alaska, Washington, New York, and federal bars.
He was involved in major expeditions to Nepal, India, and China, including Dhaulagiri, Nanda Devi, and Minya Konka. In 1980, he did a solo reconnaissance for a new route on the east side of Mt. Everest, and he became a member of the American team that attempted the 6,300-foot Kangshung Face in 1981. Andy and the team returned in 1983 and successfully put four members on the summit, completing the most difficult route on the highest mountain in the world.
Andy’s professional career included serving as assistant attorney general for the state of Washington, senior attorney and litigation counsel for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and many years in international agribusiness as director, senior vice president for strategic development, and general counsel for Eridania Beghin-Say America Inc. He was also the founding partner with his close friend David Breashears of Arcturus Motion Picture Co., which produced the award-winning documentary Everest: The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine (1987).
Along the way, Andy was made a national fellow of the Explorer’s Club and was on the board of directors of the American Alpine Club from 1979 to 1992, serving as secretary, chair of the Publications Committee, and member of the Expedition Committee and Mountaineering Fellowship Grant Committee. His own publications included Mountain of Storms: The American Expeditions to Dhaulagiri(co-authored with Todd Thompson in 1974) and The Forgotten Face of Everest (National Geographic, July 1984).
Andy returned to Hanover, site of his Dartmouth alma mater, in 2000, and he accepted an offer from longtime friend Jed Williamson, then president of Sterling College (and a fellow AAC board member who had been on two expeditions with him) to become a member of the Sterling board of trustees. At Dartmouth, he took on his final career position, as director of outdoor programs, in 2004. Here, he aimed to live out his passion and belief that “…learning never ends, and that teaching can flourish outside the classroom. An outdoor component in education creates informed and responsible stewards of the environment.” He was particularly proud of his signature contribution, which was to raise the funds for and see through the rebuilding of Harris Cabin by undergraduate students. “He was our strongest advocate,” said Chris Polashenski, a student who had arrived a year ahead of Harvard. “He put us in circumstances that taught us to deal with risk and uncertainty.”
As a direct result of his undiagnosed illness, Andy was forcibly retired from Dartmouth College in 2008. He went on to participate in several awareness-raising events to increase understanding and support for the fight to end Alzheimer’s. He also was the inspiration behind The Final Climb, a documentary (nearing completion) about challenge, inspiration, and hope in ending Alzheimer’s.
– Kathy Harvard and Jed Williamson