Mountaineer, Snowbird co-founder

Passing Date: 
Sunday, July 26, 2015

Richard D. Bass, 85, the Texas oil billionaire who co-founded Snowbird and went on to become the first person to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents, died July 26 in Dallas, of pulmonary fibrosis.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Bass grew up in Dallas, where his father made a fortune in oil and gas drilling and processing. While an undergraduate at Yale he began skiing, and climbed the Matterhorn. He then studied geology at the University of Texas, and served in the Navy during the Korean war before joining the family oil business. He invested in Aspen and Vail and served on their boards of directors.

In 1969 he partnered with Ted Johnson and financed the construction of Snowbird, which opened in 1971. He sold his majority share of the resort in 2014, to the Ian Cumming family (Powdr Corp.).

The high-mountain expeditions were mounted in partnership with Frank Wells and a number of professional guides, beginning in 1981 and culminating with a successful Everest ascent in 1984. Bass and Wells, with co-author Rick Ridgeway, recounted the climbs in the book Seven Summits (1986).

Bass is survived by his third wife, Alice; sons Jim and Richard Jr., twin daughters Bonnie Smith and Barbara Moroney; five stepchildren and 11 stepgrandchildren.

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