June 2004


Marjory Bridge

The Original Rock Goddess


By Suzanne Hurt


Though few climbers today recognize the name Marjory Bridge, she was one of the first rock goddesses. Born in San Francisco in 1903, the adventurous redhead was a pioneering climber, photographer, skier and conservationist. Among other feats, Marjory was the first woman to summit Mt. Whitney's East Face -- the hardest route on the highest mountain in the lower 48; ascend Yosemite's Higher Cathedral Spire (the spire's third ascent); and do a roped first ascent in Yosemite Valley, the west side of Illilouette Fall. She was also one of the original female climbing photographers and was among the first to document highly technical climbs, using still and movie cameras.

Thanks partly to the matchmaking of her good friends Virginia and Ansel Adams, Marjory married Sierra Club President Francis Farquhar in 1934. Their Berkeley home became an informal center for the conservation movement and mountaineering community in the 1940s and 50s. Though she eventually stopped technical climbing, Marjory continuned to climb and ski California mountains well into her seventies. She died in 1999 at age 95 of natural causes.