David Roberts on Forbidden Peak in the North Cascades. Photo copyright © Jon Krakauer

David Roberts is Dead

Jon Krakauer
2 min readOct 22, 2021


David Stuart Roberts, the renowned mountaineer and author of 32 widely admired books, died on August 20, 2021 of emphysema resulting from throat cancer. I met him in 1972 when I enrolled at Hampshire College, where he was a professor of English and the director of the Outdoors Program.

We had an intense, sometimes acrimonious friendship that spanned 49 years. I would never have become a writer were it not for his relentless encouragement and guidance.

Born in Colorado on May 29, 1943, Dave graduated from Boulder High School in 1961, after which received a bachelor’s degree at Harvard and a doctorate in English from the University of Denver, where he met Sharon Morris, to whom he was married for 53 years. Dave was a complicated man: cerebral, acerbic, relentlessly curious, extravagantly generous, mechanically inept, intensely loyal, incorrigibly pedantic, a swinger of birches, a connoisseur of the human condition. Survived by Sharon and his brother Jon, David was a wonderful friend to many people. Losing him comes as a harsh blow.

We will be holding a memorial gathering on October 24 at the Chautauqua Community House in Boulder, Colorado. There is a mask mandate in Boulder for indoor gatherings. All who choose to attend will need to wear a mask and be fully vaccinated.

UPDATE: A video of the full memorial gathering maybe watched on Vimeo by clicking this link

David Roberts in the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming, 1977. Photo copyright © Jon Krakauer
David Roberts ascending Snaefellsjökull, Iceland’s most famous mountain, 1989. Photo copyright © Jon Krakauer
David Roberts in Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska, 1977. Photo copyright © Jon Krakauer



Jon Krakauer

Author of Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, Classic Krakauer, and Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. www.instagram.com/krakauernotwriting/