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Andy Harvard, Veteran of Nanda Devi and Everest Expeditions, Dies at 69

Harvard participated in numerous expeditions to the Himalaya, including to attempt the previously unclimbed Kangshung Face on Everest.

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Harvard in China, 1980. Photo: Courtesy of Jed Williamson.

Andrew Carson Harvard died peacefully on the morning of January 16, 2019, after a decade long battle with Younger Age Onset Alzheimer’s. His final days were spent comforted by phone messages from his extensive network of colleagues, climbers, classmates and friends.

Andy was born in New Orleans on July 29, 1949. His family moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he attended Hopkins School. Many of the friendships formed there remained with him through the rest of his life. Andy’s love of water, wilderness and the mountains were ignited by the adventures he shared as a Boy Scout. He became an Eagle Scout at age 14 and continued to draw upon lessons of leadership, team building and mentorship throughout his life.

During his Dartmouth College years (1967-71), where he was a history major, he became deeply involved with the Dartmouth Outing Club and its subsidiaries—Ledyard Canoe Club, where he and his close friend Todd Thompson became the first recipients of Dartmouth’s Ledyard Medal; and the Mountaineering Club, which elected him president in 1970. That same year he was among a small group of Dartmouth climbers who traveled to Peru to participate in a relief mission following an earthquake, and then went on to Bolivia to scale 20,892-foot Illampu and 19,974-foot Huayna Potosi.

Following graduation, Andy worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Vermont and then enrolled at Boston University, where he earned a JD in 1979. He was admitted to the Alaska, Washington, New York and Federal Bars. That was after being a Timber Management Contractor for the USFS in Vermont, being an oilfield roughneck in Prudhoe Bay, and a river guide, co-founding the first rafting company in Nepal.

He was involved in major Himalayan expeditions in Nepal, India and China, including Dhaulagiri, Nanda Devi and Minya Konka. (It was on the Nanda Devi expedition that Willi and Jolene Unsoeld’s daughter—named Nanda Devi, after the peak itself—died in a tent with Willi and Andy high on the mountain.) In 1980, Andy did the reconnaissance for a new route on the east side of Mount Everest. He then became a member of the American team that attempted the 6,300-foot Kangshung Face in 1981. The team returned in 1983 and successfully put four members on the summit, completing the most difficult route on the highest mountain in the world.

Harvard on an expedition to Minya Konka, China. Photo: Courtesy of Jed Williamson.

Andy’s professional career included being Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington (1979-83), Senior Attorney and Litigation Counsel for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (1984-86), and many years in international agro-business as Director, Senior Vice President for Strategic Development and General Counsel for Eridania Beghin-Say America, Inc. He was also the founding partner with his close friend David Breashears (Director of the IMAX film Everest) of Arcturus Motion Picture Company, which produced the award-winning documentary Everest: The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine (1987).

Along the way, Andy was made a National Fellow of the prestigious Explorer’s Club and was on the Board of the American Alpine Club (1979-1992) where he served in different capacities, including as Secretary, Chair of the Publications Committee, and member of the Expedition Committee and Climbing Fellowship Grant Committee. His own publications have included Mountain of Storms: The American Expeditions to Dhaulagiri (co-authored with Todd Thomson in 1974) and The Forgotten Face of Everest (National Geographic, July 1984).

Andy returned to Hanover in 2000, where he continued his commitment to service and education when he accepted an offer from a longtime friend, Jed Williamson, then President of Sterling College (and a fellow AAC Board Member who had been on two expeditions with him), to become a member of the Board of Trustees.

Andy Harvard. Photo: Courtesy of Jed Williamson.

He took on his final career job as Director of Outdoor Programs in 2004, returning to his beloved Dartmouth College to live out his passion and belief that “learning never ends, and that teaching can flourish outside the classroom. An outdoor component in education creates informed and responsible stewards of the environment.” He was particularly proud of his signature contribution, which was to raise the funds for and to see through the rebuilding of Harris Cabin—now the Cabin of the Class of 1966—by undergraduate students. “He was our strongest advocate,” said Chris Polashenski, a student who had arrived a year ahead of Harvard. “He put us in circumstances that taught us to deal with risk and uncertainty.”

As a direct result of his undiagnosed illness, Andy was forcibly retired from Dartmouth College in 2008. Since that time he has participated in several awareness-raising events to increase understanding and support for the fight to end Alzheimer’s. For two years in a row he has been the leader of Team Andy in the Upper Valley Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

He is also the inspiration behind The Final Climb, a documentary nearing completion about challenge, inspiration and hope in ending Alzheimer’s.

Andy is predeceased by parents Anne and B. Marvin Harvard and esteemed older brother Stephen Harvard. In addition to his legacies from work accomplishments, mountaineering and exploration, service, and many friends, he leaves behind his loving wife and caregiver for these many years, Kathy; sons Graham (Denver, Colorado), James (Manchester, New Hampshire), and Nicholas (a freshman at the University of New Hampshire); daughter Allegra (Chicago School of Art); and nieces Shelagh and Kate Harvard.

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