Annie Smith Peck

***Happy Birthday, Annie Smith Peck…!!!***

She was an American mountaineer. She lectured extensively for many years throughout the United States, and wrote four books encouraging travel and exploration.

she discovered her enthusiasm for mountaineering, and ascended the three hundred feet summit of Cape Misenum in Italy and small mountain passes in Switzerland, including Theodul Pass, at ten thousand feet. While in Greece, she climbed Mount Hymettus and Mount Pentecus, both between three and four thousand feet. From 1881 to 1892 she was a pioneering professor in the field of archeology and Latin at Purdue and Smith College. She began to make money on the lecture circuit, and by 1892 she gave up teaching and made her living by lecturing and writing about archeology, mountaineering and her travels. She scaled a number of moderate-sized mountains in Europe and in the United States, including Mount Shasta. In 1895, she climbed the Matterhorn and suddenly became quite well known. However, her notoriety came about not in terms of her mountain conquest, but because of the clothes she wore to climb it: a long tunic, climbing boots, and a pair of pants. At the time, women were being arrested for wearing trousers in public, and so Peck’s climbing costume not only brought about serious hullabaloo in the press, but also prompted public discussion and debate (for example, in the New York Times) on the question of what women should do and what they can be.

She began to climb, lecture and explore in Latin America. She promoted Pan-Americanism (peace between the Americas) and geographic education through her lectures, articles and books. She was fluent in Spanish, Portuguese and French.

She climbed Mount Orizaba and Mount Popocatepetl in Mexico in 1897. Although, already over fifty years old, Peck wanted to make a very special climb. She traveled to South America in 1903, looking for a mountain taller than Aconcagua in Argentina (6960 m). She climbed Mount Sorata in Bolivia in 1904, and in 1908 she was the first person to climb Mount Nevado Huascarán in Peru (6768 m) (she climbed the north peak, the south peak is actually taller and was first climbed by Germans in 1932, fourteen years later), accompanied by two Swiss mountain guides. She wrote a book about her experiences called The Search for the Apex of America: High Mountain Climbing in Peru and Bolivia, including the Conquest of Huascaran, with Some Observations on the Country and People Below. Recognized for her contributions to South American trade and industry, Peru awarded her a gold medal for her exploration in “biographical and industrial data,” and for “her ascents to the lofty summits of the Peruvian Andes.”

Categories: Woman of the Day

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