Blum to deliver Philip J. Otis Lecture at Bates

Arlene Blum, mountaineer, biochemist and author of Annapurna: A Woman’s Place, will deliver a lecture titled, Across the Himalaya and Beyond: Peoples, Passes and Possibilities, at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16 in Chase Hall Lounge. The public is invited to attend the annual Philip J. Otis Lecture and admission is free.

Annapurna: A Woman’s Place (Sierra Club Books, 1980), is Blum’s compelling and tragic account of the American Women’s Himalayan Expedition to Annapurna I, the tenth highest peak in the world (26,540 feet) and one of only 14 mountains in the world above 8,000 meters. Two American women fell to their deaths during the 1978 ascent of Annapurna I led by Blum and sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

Blum was deputy leader of the first all-woman ascent of Alaska’s Mount McKinley in 1970 and was a member of the 1976 American Bicentennial Expedition to Everest. She also co-led the Great Himalayan Traverse, a 2,000-mile, nine- month trek across Bhutan, Nepal and India.

A biochemist with a doctorate in physical chemistry, Blum has taught at Stanford University, Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, where her research was instrumental in banning Tris, a cancer- causing chemical that was used as a flame retardant on children’s sleepwear.

Her many articles and photographs have appeared in National Geographic, Smithsonian and Science magazines, as well as the New York Times, Washington Post and San Francisco Chronicle.

In 1984 she received the Society of Women Geographers’ Gold Medal, an award previously given to eight other women, including Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead and Mary Leakey.

Established in 1996 by Margaret V.B. and C. Angus Wurtele, the Philip J. Otis Lectureship commemorates their son, Philip, a member of the Bates class of 1995, who died attempting to rescue an injured climber on Mt. Rainier in Summer 1995. Otis was deeply concerned about nurturing a sense of responsibility for the natural environment, and the annual lectureship focuses on environmental issues and the spiritual and moral dimensions of ecology. The endowment also sponsors opportunities for study, exploration and reflection by students, faculty and other members of the Bates community.

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