Sunday, October 09, 2005

A final word on Jane Edwards

With Jane Edwards on July 2005 climb of Mount Reynolds
It is with great sadness that I report the death of Jane Edwards, a noted Glacier National Park mountain climber.
Edwards was found dead last week in her Berkeley, Calif., apartment. She had been suffering from a brain tumor.
I knew Jane through her association with the Glacier Mountaineering Society. She was on the board of directors and had been climbing most of her life in Glacier because her father, the late J. Gordon Edwards, had worked summers there during her childhood. It was during that time that he wrote, “A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park,” the bible of Glacier climbers.
We were shocked during Glacier Mountaineering Society week last year when Gordon was stricken with a heart attack and died at age 84 while climbing Divide Mountain.
I was equally shocked when I learned of Jane’s death. I and other GMS members knew nothing of the life-threatening tumor.
She had appeared in good health last summer during GMS Week and joined me on a climb I led with Bill Blunk on the Mount Reynolds diagonal route.
The climb was Jane’s first in Glacier since her father’s death and particularly significant for her because it was her father’s favorite.
We paused in spots where she recounted climbs she made with her father on Reynolds. We stopped in his favorite lunch spot where the diagonal goat trail turns around a bend to the east. That was the spot where Jane, Gordon and a National Geographic Society photographer lunched and the photographer dropped his precious canister of film. Gordon scrambled after it, picking it up from a precarious perch.
On the way down, after reaching the summit last summer, Jane stopped to pick up a beetle that bores into pines in the park. That too, brought back memories of her father, who was also a noted entomologist at San Jose State University, where an insect museum is named for him.
Jane, a linguist, was an embodiment of her father’s ideals and aspirations for Glacier climbers.
She was present at the memorial held for him during GMS Week and accepted the painting of her father in one of his most memorable poses --- on a ledge above the precipitous Mount Siyeh north face. I’m told that she had hiked in Waterton last summer, had accepted another term as GMS director, and was talking about the hikes she might lead next year.
I climbed Mount Cannon with her the day her father died. He had left her off at the Logan Pass parking lot where we began.
I’ll always have images in my head of Gordon that day, interested in our climb and looking forward to his own.
I’ll always remember Jane atop Mount Reynolds.

1 comment:

Ralph Thornton said...

Tom,
I share your sadness at the loss of our friend Jane Edwards. It is a real tragedy and great mystery as to why these things happen. I had a pleasant and lengthy conversation with Jane last summer during the GMS campfire cookout at Many Glacier. We talked about her father and how she was dealing with that loss. I commended her on the wonderful job she did at the tribute to her dad, J Gordon Edwards. Jane provided so much background information on her father, especially his life outside of mountaineering, that it made me feel he was still with us. She mentioned her climb of Reynolds as well. She seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed that outing. And, indeed, she discussed the possibility of leading a hike and climb in Waterton next year. I asked her to let me know which day she was going to do that climb so that I could keep my calendar free. I really wanted to have another outing with Jane because she is always witty and has an easy going attitude that I really enjoy. I will miss Jane and hope that Jane's mother Alice can deal with this second tragedy that has come so soon after the loss of Gordon.