Art Gilkey

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Arthur Karr Gilkey
Born (1926-09-25)September 25, 1926
Died August 10, 1953(1953-08-10) (aged 26)

Art (Arthur Karr) Gilkey (1926 – 1953) was an American geologist and mountaineer.


Gilkey was born on September 25, 1926, in Boulder, Colorado, to Herbert J. Gilkey (1890-1976) and Mildred (Talbot) Gilkey, and was raised in Ames, Iowa, where his father was a professor of Engineering. He earned a B.Sc from Iowa State in 1949[clarification needed] and, after a tour of duty in the Navy during World War II, began graduate study in Geology at Columbia University, where he earned an M.Sc. degree in 1950. Prior to his death, Gilkey had completed his doctoral dissertation, “Fracture Pattern of the Zuni Uplift.” His Ph.D. was awarded posthumously.[1]

He explored Alaska in 1950 and 1952, and died during a 1953 American expedition to K2. Approaching the summit, he suffered from thrombophlebitis (blood clots in the leg) or possibly deep venous thrombosis, followed by pulmonary embolism. During an attempt by his fellow climbers (including Charles Houston and Pete Schoening) to bring him down the mountain while he was wrapped in a sleeping bag, Gilkey's body disappeared. Some conjecture he was swept away by an avalanche, others that he untied himself from the ropes and sacrificed himself to spare his teammates from further risk on his behalf.[2] Gilkey's remains were discovered in 1993, melting out of the glacier at the base of the south face of K2.


  • The current memorial to deceased climbers situated below K2 was originally built for, and named after, Art Gilkey.
  • The American Alpine Club administers the Arthur K. Gilkey Memorial Award, providing grants in aid of scientific research in alpine areas.


  1. ^ "AAC web page". Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Rowell, Galen (1977). In The Throne Room of the Mountain Gods. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. pp. 226–234. ISBN 0-87156-184-0.