R.I.P. Gary O. Grimm, 1939-2018

Gary Grimm doing what he loved best

Gary Grimm doing what he loved best

You’ve probably never heard of Gary Grimm. WC met him when Grimm was the director of the newly-created Oregon Outdoor Program at the University of Oregon in 1968. He put together the most amazing trips:

  • A float down the Owhyee River
  • A spring ski/climb of all Three Sisters
  • A cross-country ski trip around the rim of Crater Lake
  • A fly-fishing float trip down the Metolius and McKenzie Rivers (WC’s introduction to steelhead trout)

Later WC led a couple of trips for the Outdoor Program, including ice-climbing instruction on Collier Glacier,1 a summit run on Mt. Jefferson and a cakewalk climb of Mt. Hood from Timberline Lodge. There were other trips with Grimm:  a couple of beach hikes in the nascent Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and countless bicycle trips. Gary had developed a careful, safety-focused program and made it work. It was likely the first university program of its kind in the United States and it speaks well from Grimm’s powers of persuasion that he talked the inflexible, closed-minded Oregon university system into the idea..

A few weeks before WC led his first trip – the glacier-climbing/crevasse rescue course on Collier Glacier – WC and Gary did a long bike ride together, up into the Coburg Hills east of Eugene. This was prior to mountain bikes; we were on ten-speed “English racers,” tracking up a jeep trail and then down to the Mohawk River Valley and back through Springfield. On a gorgeous spring day, we biked, walked some steep stretches and the whole way Gary asked WC about his experience, ran hypotheticals by WC and talked about Grimm’s goals for the Outdoor Program. It’s one of WC’s best memories of Oregon, and it was only much later that WC figured out how thoroughly Grimm vetted WC as a possible trip leader.

After graduation, WC lost touch with Grimm. When WC met the future Mrs. WC, who had attended and later worked for Boise State University, WC was surprised to learn Grimm had moved to Boise in the mid-1980s. You wouldn’t have thought you pry Grimm out of Oregon with a crowbar.

In Idaho, Grimm and his partner, Katy Flanagan, pioneered 3D Interative and multi-media presentations. There’s a wealth of content at their website, Mountain Visions.

It was a treat to get to see Grimm briefly just a few months before he died. We didn’t get a chance to talk much, but we did get to reminisce a bit about those wonderful trips back at Oregon.

As much as anyone WC has known, Gary Grimm gave his life and career to the environment and conservation in the Pacific Northwest. WC’s sympathies to his widow, Katy Flanagan.

Grimm talked the talk and walked the walk. R.I.P., Gary.


  1. A glacier that has nearly vanished. It’s little more than a patch of moraine-covered ice today. The nearly hundred foot deep crevasses where we practiced crevasse rescue are long gone.