El Capitan Climber George Whitmore Dies at 89 After COVID-19 Complications — Inside His Legacy
George Whitmore, an EI Capitan climber, recently passed away at the age of 89. The star sadly died after struggling with complications related to the novel coronavirus disease.
George Whitmore passed away on New Year’s Day from COVID-19 complications, according to his wife Nancy, 76. His widow revealed that her husband had taken all the precautions he could to prevent infection.
He made sure he wore a face mask and his family isn’t sure where he contracted it. Whitmore tested positive for the virus on December 13, 2020, after he developed a cough and later a fever.
The mountain climber, who also battled and beat cancer, died at a rehabilitation facility in Fresno from damage to his lungs. At the time, he had been released from the hospital, according to his wife.
He was well-known for being a member of the first team of rock climbers to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Whitmore was also a conservationist who was devoted to protecting the Sierra Nevada.
George Whitmore, a member of the first team of climbers to scale El Capitan in @YosemiteNPS and a conservationist who devoted his life to protecting the Sierra Nevada, has died. https://t.co/rtdgwbcxig— FOX5 Las Vegas (@FOX5Vegas) January 6, 2021
His death has been mourned by his family, friends, and fellow climbers. He was the last surviving member of the three men who were the first to reach the top of El Capitan on November 12, 1958.
At the time, it was a feat that had been declared humanly impossible. His fellow climbers Warren Harding and Wayne Merry passed away in 2002 and last year, respectively.
The famed climber George Whitmore, who was the last surviving member of the first climbing team to scale Yosemite's El Capitan, has died due to COVID-19 complications. He was 89.— NPR (@NPR) January 6, 2021
He devoted his life to protecting the Sierra Nevada.https://t.co/RqA84ZcZKZ
Whitmore and Merry got together in 2008. The pair gathered with other climbers from around the world at Yosemite to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their ascent. The three men took 47 days over 16 months to complete the climb.
Mountain climbing had been a lifelong passion for the late athlete although he did consider his conservation work as his greatest accomplishment. He was actually a pharmacist by trade.
George Whitmore, Fresno native & member of the team that made the first ascent up El Capitan in 1958, died New Years Day from complications caused by COVID-19.— Stephen Hicks (@StephenABC30) January 5, 2021
In November of 2019 this is what he told @DaleYurongABC30 regarding that first ascent.
A true climbing pioneer. @ABC30 https://t.co/zjZYBL2kxv pic.twitter.com/7GBd4d7QIK
In the 1970s, he retired so he could focus on conservation. Besides being involved with the Sierra Club, he also served as a chairman of the Tehipite Chapter which was based in Fresno.
During a Sierra Club outing in the 1970s, he met his future wife. She was impressed by his knowledge and intellect and the pair eventually got married in 1979, and she was with him for 41 years.
In 1976, Whitmore helped found the Kaiser Wilderness and in 1984 he helped establish the California Wilderness Act. Part of his work saw him protecting lakes and to block dam projects.
He was also instrumental in preventing The Walt Disney Company from developing a ski resort at Mineral King in the 1960s and 1970s. He did this with the Sierra Club and other preservationists.
Dawn Wells, loved by everyone. Upon her passing, many have shared their experiences with her. Our paths crossed several times and my favorite was acting and singing together in Gilligan’s Island the Musical. As Thurston Howell III she will forever remain my “Lovey”. Rest in peace pic.twitter.com/mdOUCpssl8— Barry Williams (@MrBarryWilliams) December 31, 2020
Another celebrity who passed away this month is actress Tanya Roberts. She died on January 4, 2021, at a hospital, after being put on a ventilator when she collapsed at her home on Christmas Eve after walking her dogs.
Dawn Wells is an actress who also died at age 82 from COVID-19 complications on December 29, 2020. She was famous for acting on “Gilligan's Island” as Mary Ann Summers from 1964 to 1967.
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