Albert P. Crary

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Albert Paddock Crary (1911–1987), was a pioneer polar geophysicist and glaciologist. He made it to the North (on May 3, 1952, with Joseph O. Fletcher and William P. Benedict) and then to the South Pole on February 12, 1961 as the leader of a team of eight. The south pole expedition had set out from McMurdo Station on December 10, 1960, using three Snowcats with trailers. Crary was the seventh expedition leader to arrive at the South Pole by surface transportation (the six others before him were—in sequence— Amundsen, Scott, Hillary, Fuchs, a Russian expedition in 1959/60 from Vostok base, and Havola). He was widely admired for his intellect, wit, skills and as a great administrator for polar research expeditions.


He was born in 1911 into a farming family in northern New York state. He was the second oldest in a family of 7 children. He was a physics major and geology student at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. He graduated in 1931 Phi Beta Kappa from St. Lawrence University and then went on to Lehigh University for a masters degree in physics. After spending years completing and facilitating research at both poles, Crary eventually settled in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife and son.

He died in 1987.


In 1991, the National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), honoured his memory by dedicating a state-of-the-art laboratory complex in his name, the Albert P. Crary Science and Engineering Center (CSEC) located in McMurdo Station. He was also honored to have the Crary Mountains (76 degrees 48' S, 117 degrees 40' W) and the Crary Ice Rise in the Antarctic named for him as well.


Dr. Crary contributed in a variety of important ways to his field including:

  • Chief Scientist for Arctic ice island T3, 1952 - 1955
  • Established the United States Geological Headquarters for the International Geophysical Year, 1955
  • Deputy Leader of United States science during the International Geophysical Year, 1957
  • Leader of the U.S. seismic traverse of Ross Ice Shelf, 1957–58
  • Leader, geophysical traverse W from Little America V, up Skelton Glacier to the Victoria Land plateau and W along the 78 parallel to c. 13130E, 1958–59
  • Leader, geophysical traverse from McMurdo Station via Skelton Glacier to the South Pole, 1960–61
  • Chief Scientist, United States Antarctic Research Program, 1960 - 1968
  • Deputy then Director, Division of Environmental Sciences, National Science Foundation, 1969 - 1978
  • Member of ACAN, 1961-76 (Chairman, 1974–76)

He worked with many notable scientists and famous institutions:

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