Frances Chamberlin Carter

Frances Chamberlin Carter is a Renowned Mountaineer:

The first woman to climb the highest peak in all 50 states was Frances Chamberlin Carter, a generous Wilderness Society member for 35 years.

Frances, whose nickname "Freddie" came from her maternal grandfather, attended Mount Holyoke College. She transferred to the University of Arizona, where she earned a degree in fine arts. Carter returned to Chicago to work at the Museum of Science and Industry. "I didn't last very long. When I asked to take the summer off to climb, they fired me," she explains.

Climbing is a family tradition. Both parents enjoyed it and encouraged her to try climbing "almost as soon as I could walk," Carter says. She was born in Chicago, where her father taught geology at the University of Chicago.

Notching her 50th peak in Ohio in 1980, Carter has been climbing since she was in the first grade. Her most challenging climb was Alaska's Mount McKinley (20,320 feet), the highest point on the continent. "It took us 12 days to reach the summit and five days to get down," she recalls. Carter was the third women to scale McKinley.

Not surprisingly, Carter met her husband David on a climb up Colorado's Mt. Democrat ("though we were both Republicans"). Once they were married, they got into her 1964 Studebaker, which she still has, and headed to his home in Pueblo, Colorado. After David died in 1989, she migrated to Green Valley, 20 miles south of Tucson, where she lives today with her dog Raggs.

The 9,020-foot Mt. Chamberlin in Alaska's Brooks Range was named after her grandfather, an acclaimed geologist who was president of University of Wisconsin from 1887 to 1892. One of Carter's most memorable trips was to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to see it.

Carter has included a bequest to The Wilderness Society in her will. "I've always believed in conservation," says Carter, who also supports other environmental causes. "With population growing so rapidly, we need to protect wilderness, and that is The Wilderness Society's specialty."

Frances Carter smiling