The George Bogel Memorial Fund has been set up to fund conservation activities of interest to the club. This is usually accomplished by annual donations to environmental and conservation groups as well as other organizations that support and maintain the causes and areas near and dear to the members of the ECP.
In the summer of 1977, 14 members of the Explorers Club of Pittsburgh (ECP) went to the Himalayas to climb Nanga Parbat, at 26,660 feet, the ninth highest peak in the world. It was the first American attempt on the mountain and the difficult Diamir Face was the route selected. After a grueling two week approach on foot, an additional two weeks was spent establishing Base Camp, Camps I and II, plus an intermediate "Depot" camp on a small rock ledge in the middle of the face at 18,000 feet.
As the advance party prepared for a push to Camp III, George Bogel, expedition climbing leader, and Bob Broughton left Base Camp after descending with another member of the team who had been injured by a rockfall. After a long day of climbing, they were forced to bivouac at the "Depot" hoping to join the advance team the following day. That opportunity never came. During the evening a massive rockfall occurred, killing both climbers and scattering most of the expedition's food and fuel supplies.
Climbers have been killed before while attempting difficult summits but this particular accident was especially tragic because of who these climbers were.
Bob was relatively new to the Club but not to mountaineering having spent nearly 20 years in the sport. He was a respected professor of law at Duquesne University and a driving force behind the Environmental Law movement. Thus, it seemed fitting to establish, in accordance with his family's wishes, a memorial fund for Bob which would benefit the Environmental Law Library at Duquesne.
George was a longtime member of the ECP and was proficient in many of the "Earth Sports" long before it became the "in" thing to do. As a rock climber he pioneered new routes, including the classic West Pole at Seneca Rocks, and led the first accent up the face of Angel Falls - the world's highest - in the jungles of Venezuela. As one of the first Big-Water kayakers in the Pittsburgh area, he was known for his solos of the New River and for the first and only decent of the Gauley in a two-man raft. He built a hang-glider from a kit and without benefit of instruction, crashed on his maiden voyage and broke his arm (without much ado). His accomplishments go on and on, not just in mountaineering but as a caver, scuba diver, skydiver and engineer - his profession.
Most of all, he was my friend and I loved him. I was his partner in that raft on the Gauley and in innumerable other escapades of dubious value to any but ourselves. I helped to drag his lifeless body off Nanga Parbat, cursing him for leaving me with so much left to do together.
I didn't have exclusive rights to his friendship. George wasn't that way; he loved and was loved by many. Those of you who never knew him have missed much and those of us who did have established a memorial fund in his name to be used for environmental purposes. It is our way of sharing our feelings about him with all of you. Please feel free to participate in some way, by making a donation or offering suggestions, for use of the funds.
Help us to keep his memory alive.
See also: American Alpine Club article