Layton Kor is Dead

Layton Kor and his son Arlan

Layton Kor and his son Arlan in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado, in 2012. Photo by Cameron Burns

4/22/13 - Layton Kor, one of the most prolific and accomplished American climbers of the 1960s, has died at age 74. Kor had suffered from kidney failure and prostate cancer. A resident of Kingman, Arizona, he died during the night of April 21.

Kor's name was virtually synonymous with Colorado climbing during the late 1950s and ’60s. Starting as a teenager in Eldorado Canyon, he put up many of the sandstone canyon's most famous and enduring classics, both free and aid, including Ruper (5.8+), Rosy Cruxifiction (5.10), The Naked Edge (5.11), and many, many more. He also did dozens of first ascents in Boulder Canyon, the Flatirons, Lumpy Ridge, Glenwood Canyon, and many other crags in Colorado. Original Kor pitons are still discovered today on obscure crags throughout the state.


Kor on the cover of Climbing No. 2 (1970), leading the Salathé Wall in Yosemite.

Branching into the mountains and beyond, Kor did many new routes in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, the desert Southwest (Castleton Tower, the Titan, Standing Rock), and Yosemite Valley (south face of Washington Column, West Buttress of El Capitan). He took his skills to foreign mountains on walls like the southeast face of Proboscis in Canada's Northwest Territories and the Harlin Directissima on the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland.

Kor was still climbing into his early 70s, including the first ascent of a 150-foot tower in Arizona with friends Stewart Green, Dennis Jump, and Ed Webster. Cameron Burns, who is writing a biography on Kor, said, "If Layton got a nickel for every person who ever climbed one of his routes, he'd have been a wealthy man."


A new edition of Kor's classic book Beyond the Vertical, edited by Stewart Green with newly scanned photos, will be out in June.

Click here to read a Brendan Leonard guide to seven great Kor routes, both famous and lesser-known, from Climbing 291.

Date of death: April 21, 2013

Sources: Cameron Burns,