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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus

Ward Allison 1918-2005

You never had it so good!" "It's downhill all the way to the summit!" These and similar exhortations will be remembered fondly by veterans of early hikes and mountain climbs led by long-time chapter leader Ward Allison of Pebble Beach. Ward died peacefully in his sleep on a visit to Yosemite last August.

Ward's enthusiasm was contagious whether bushwhacking in the Los Padres or climbing the vertical walls of Yosemite Valley. He was the founder of the elusive Los Padres Hiking Club, which prided itself on having no officers, no dues, and no membership list. However, an invitation to join was an honor never conferred lightly!

One of the more subversive projects of the LPHC was to lay out a series of routes to the Window, the sharp notch in the steep ridge separating the Big Sur and Little Sur watersheds running west from the Ventana Double Cone to No Name Peak (also locally known as Kandlbinder Peak for the late Dr. Al Kandlbinder, an early member of the LPHC). Chapter old-timers will remember the notorious gathering at the Window in May of 1968 to celebrate the completion of 10 different and difficult cross-country routes to the now-famous landmark. A map in the June 68 Ventana actually showed the numbered routes.

The climax of the weekend gathering was a surprise four-course dinner for the assembled multitude featuring hors d'oeuvres, baked ham, yams, peas, green salad, strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream, and ice-cold beverages. How could this elaborate menu ever have been transported to such a remote spot? It turned out that it was delivered earlier to an advance party by a helicopter practicing a "rescue" operation! Rumor has it that Maggie Hays of Carmel masterminded the operation.

In addition to strenuous feats in the Los Padres, Ward organized many mountaineering trips to the Sierra Nevada. One of the most memorable was a climb of the Lost Arrow in Yosemite Valley with Norm McBride and Jim Shipley. Another highlight was a trek in Nepal to the area of Mt. Everest with fellow climber Bruce Meyer, MD and Mountain Travel.

Ward leaves his widow, Joele, his son, Allan Allison, PhD, a curator at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and many old friends and companions who will never forget his indomitable enthusiasm and unique sense of humor.

-Corky Matthews


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