Bryson Allen passed away due to injuries sustained in a climbing accident on the Mendenhall Towers in Juneau, Alaska on June 28, 2019. He was 23 years old.
Bryson died doing what he loved in a place he cherished. He was climbing with friends and co-workers, and they had summited the main tower at Mendenhall on the evening of June 27. The accident occurred during the descent, when Bryson’s protection failed. In spite of heroic rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard and medical staff at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Bryson’s injuries were not survivable.
Bryson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 25, 1996. He moved with his family to Bainbridge Island in 2000 and grew up there. He attended Bainbridge High School, where he participated in varsity rowing. He was the captain of the men’s rowing team in his senior year, and he had a deep appreciation for his teammates and coach who helped him grow as a person.
He attended the University of Montana in Missoula and graduated with a degree in Wildlife Biology in 2018, receiving the University Scholar distinction from the Davidson Honors College. But his most important education came from his deep involvement with the Outdoor Program while a student at U of M, where he took and ultimately helped teach classes and served as a climbing instructor, wilderness guide, and mentor. He loved the ODP and the people associated with the program, and was connected to it even before he started school. He participated in a whitewater rafting trip with ODP the summer before his freshman year and later attended a new student orientation outing in the wilderness. He guided similar outings in subsequent years and continued building wilderness and backcountry skills, eventually earning certification as a licensed wilderness EMT.
Bryson loved hiking and backpacking on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington from the time he was a young boy. He worked as a volunteer for the native plant restoration element of the Elwha River restoration project after dam removals there. He also volunteered two summers with the Washington Trails Association doing trail restoration work. Bryson’s determination to engage in hands-on environmental restoration work reflected a deep and steadfast love of wilderness and public lands, and a passion for protecting the places he held dear.
In the summer after his graduation from University of Montana, Bryson worked for NorthStar Trekking in Juneau, Alaska as a guide on the Mendenhall Glacier. He loved Juneau and the people at NorthStar, and returned in June of 2019 to work on the glacier again, after a winter working at Alta Ski Area outside Salt Lake City. The stunning beauty of Alaska and the commitment and open hearts of the people drew him back, and he felt privileged to be part of such a wonderful team. Commuting to work every day by helicopter was a joy.
Bryson dearly loved climbing to high, remote places, in part because of the wide perspective such adventures afforded him. Climbing and exploring allowed him to discover a larger sense of the landscape, his companions, and the world as a whole. Bryson carried this spirit of joyous exploration into everything that he did, every facet of his life. He possessed the courage, determination and strength to follow his own path, while always striving (in his own quiet, gentle manner) to help others and make the world a better place along the way.
Bryson is survived by his parents Demi and Cezanne Allen and his sister Haley who love him fiercely, as well as his grandparents John and Pat Carroll of Sarasota, Florida and Mark and Bitsy Horton of Henderson, Kentucky, and his aunts, uncles, and cousins.
A celebration of Bryson’s life will be held at 3:00 pm, July 20, at Grace Church on Bainbridge Island. Attendees are invited to wear their favorite hiking clothes and are encouraged to carpool (if they can’t walk or bike). The family invites people inclined to do so to make donations in Bryson’s name to the Washington National Parks Fund (wnpf.org), the Montana Wilderness Association (wildmontana.org), or Juneau Mountain Rescue (juneaumountainrescue.org).