Home > Profiles

Rock Legend Henry Barber’s GoFundMe for Ed Webster’s Family and Collection

Accomplished rock climber Henry Barber is raising funds to preserve the substantial collection of climbing material owned by the late Ed Webster

Photo by: (of) Ed Webster

Ed Webster, one of America’s most prolific climbers died suddenly at his home in Maine in November 2022. Climbing legend Henry Barber has started a GoFundMe account to preserve Ed’s substantial collection of climbing archival material and provide for his daughter. In the 1970s and 80s, Barber was an advocate of clean climbing; in 1973 he free-soloed the Steck-Salathé on Sentinel Rock in Yosemite in two and a half hours.

Henry Barber, Doug Scott and Ed Webster. Photo credit to Seungmo Shin / Henry Barber – Mountain Ventures

Ed Webster, Climbing Legend 
by Henry Barber

Ed Webster was a great friend of mine for 45 years. Sadly he passed away at home suddenly November 22, 2022. Ed was a prolific climber, writer, researcher and lecturer. He meant so many things to so many people but three main things will always stick with me. First if you have ever heard of the Pendulum route on Cathedral Ledge at 5.11d with the crux a huge roof 300 feet off the ground or Women in Love Cathedrals first 5.12 in 1978 these were Ed’s Routes. Perhaps more famous to an international crowd are Super Crack in the Desert at 5.11 first climbed with Earl Wiggins leading only using conventional nuts for protection, or Lightning Bolt Cracks 5.11 on North Six Shooter Peak or perhaps the Primrose Dihedrals 5.11d on Moses or his numerous routes on Castleton Tower, they were all Ed’s a true desert rat in the late 70s and early 80s.

Also during this time he established around 10 first ascents in the notorious Black Canyon of the Gunnison among them he did one with Layton Kor and another the ultra classic Scenic Cruise.
Ed and Bryan Becker established a new variation to the left side of the Emperor Face on Mount Robson in 1983. He also soloed a new route on Changtse (7,543 m) without oxygen in 1986. Probably though Ed was best known in climbing for leading the first ascent of a new route on the Kangshung Face of Everest, 1988. His team of four with no radios, Sherpas, oxygen or other support was able to weave their way up the dangerous face in the purest style. Style was important to Ed, he was inspired by the generations before him.

He revered climbers like Joe Brown, Fritz Wiessner, Canadian/Brit John Turner, early Himalayan and arctic explorers or alpine legends like Anderl Heckmair, Heinrich Harrer. He had interviews with each of these. His in-depth research and exhaustive descriptions of history paid homage to those before him. Third and most important though was Ed was a humble man, when not climbing he retreated to his family, his garden and community on the coast of Maine. There he volunteered, gave vegetables to those in need and supported his wife and daughter in every way, always present. We want to protect Ed’s vast archives in perpetuity for the public to access, which includes photography from around the world, writings and recordings. His lectures on Antarctic exploration he developed over many seasons traveling south. His Everest talks and local history exude his love of enjoying a simple climb from the past discovering and wondering how those guys made it with such rudimentary gear in awful conditions. It prepared him well for his own future.

Ed Webster and Henry Barber. Photo credit to Todd Gregory / Henry Barber – Mountain Ventures

Ed Webster Tribute


Lead photo: (of) Ed Webster