The Alpine Club, the world’s first mountaineering club, was founded in 1857.  For over 150 years, members have been at the leading edge of worldwide mountaineering development and exploration. 

With membership, experienced and aspiring alpinists benefit from a varied meets programme, regional lectures with notable guest speakers, reduced rates at many alpine huts, opportunity to apply for grants to support expeditions, significant discounts at many UK retailers, extensive networking contacts, access to the AC Library and maps - and more! 

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Death Announcements

Obituaries

Ken Wilson

We are saddened to hear of the recent death of Ken Wilson, one of the most influential and controversial figures in the British mountaineering scene over the last half century.

Ken's training as a photographer, and his involvement with some of the leading British climbers of the day, led to him becoming one of the more recognised recorders of the climbing scene in the 1960s and 70s. He re-launched 'Mountain Craft' as 'Mountain', which became an important international journal covering contemporary mountain stories, ethics, and controversy in general, always illustrated with stunning photography.

His publishing career continued with Granada, Diadem, and finally his own business Baton Wicks, most notably with the hugely successful series of large format volumes covering rock climbs and walks, starting with Hard Rock in 1974.

His application for membership of the AC in 1972 generated a wealth of correspondence, with those members threatening to resign if he were elected neatly balanced by those who would resign if he were not elected.

Happily he was elected.

He continued to court controversy with strong opinions on club membership, climbing ethics, bolts, politics, etc, and with a particularly annoying habit of usually being right.

His last appearance at Charlotte Road was to cast his vote in the Presidential election in 2010.

Ken had been quite ill for some time, and died on 12th June 2016. 

A Celebration of a Life:  Ken Wilson

on Saturday 30th July, starting at 5.00pm (prompt) and finishing at about 6.30pm.

in the Pennine Lecture Theatre, City Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Building, Howard Street, S1 1WB, (about a five-minute walk from the railway station and about a half-hour drive from Stanage Edge).

Organised by the CC and the BMC, all are welcome. Please come and celebrate the life and achievements of one of the biggest characters of the modern climbing scene who revolutionised magazine and book publishing.

The Heartspace Atrium, which adjoins the Pennine will be open serving beer, wine, tea and coffee.

 

Ken Wilson: Photograph by John Cleare

 

Jim Curran

It is with sadness that we report the death of Jim Curran on 5th April, following a long illness. Many will know Jim was a freelance mountain cameraman, writer and artist. He joined the Club in 1985 and exhibited some of his paintings at the AC London Clubhouse in 2004.

Alan Rouse, Dave Wilkinson, Brian Hall, Jim Curran and Al Burgess, K2 Expedition, 1986

J. M. C. Evans

In memorandum - Chuck Evans

Chuck Evans kindly contributed a short story to my book The Pen y Gwryd Hotel: Tales from the Smoke Room (Gomer Press, pending).

I have reproduced this below; it is a reflection of the happy times Chuck and his extended family had at the Gwryd. I trust it makes a small but fitting contribution to his memorial.

Kind regards,

Dr Rob Goodfellow   (New South Wales)

‘Whatever Mr Briggs says is true’ - Chuck Evans

Living in Bangor and then Capel Curig, my brothers Robin and Peter and I were often taken to the Pen y Gwryd when we were boys and, later on with my father (Sir Robert Charles Evans, deputy leader on the 1953 British Everest Expedition and leader of the expedition which first climbed Kangchenjunga in 1955) and mother, Lady Denise Evans (the first female President of the Alpine Club) for the regular Everest and Kangchenjunga reunions. Later still, many times, it was after completing the Snowdon Horseshoe for a well merited pint.

The PyG was, and still is, a magical place. As children, we were often installed in the snug behind the bar and Blodwen, the ‘maid of maids’ (dressed in traditional Welsh black), would look after us by serving hot buttered toast, forever after known in our family as ‘Pen y Gwryd toast’. And I recall that there were funny napkins with a few choice phrases written in both Welsh and English. (Probably this is still the limit of my Welsh.)

As a boy, I was fascinated by the oxygen cylinder and other holy relics of the 1953 British Everest Expedition in the glass case in the Smoke Room. And every member of the expedition had a silver pint beer tankard; and, when my father was not there, I got to drink from it too.

One story I like to recall is about the Police visiting the Hotel, questioning Blodwen about after-hours or Sunday opening. Blodwen gave the policeman a stern look and despite persistent interrogation all she would say was, ‘Whatever Mr Briggs says is true.’

I also remember Jane Pullee organising Hallowe’en parties where the staff were dressed up as ghosts. Such happy times!

In the year that my father died (1995), we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ascent of Kangchenjunga and my two year old daughter, Natasha, made the first cut in the cake, whilst my then six month old boy, Charlie, lay asleep on a blanket on the floor in the PyG dining room as we drank champagne opposite the ‘captain’s table’, where for many years Chris Briggs would host, amongst others, the likes of David Cox and Kevin Fitzgerald, two real gentlemen!

Wonderful memories!

Chuck Evans (1959-2016) was the eldest son of Sir Charles and Lady Denise Evans. He also did some Himalayan exploration in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Jaonli in India, Churen Himal in mid-west Nepal and Saipal in far west Nepal, as well as a visit to Khumbu. When not enjoying the mountains or sailing, Evans advised French companies in difficulties with their respective banks.

Roger Chorley

Roger (Lord) Chorley, Alpine Club President 1983-1985, AC President’s Portrait, by John Cleare

Some Memories of Roger Chorley         

I got to know Roger Chorley well when I became the Club Hon. Secretary in 1972. By then he was already distinguished in mountaineering circles as a member of the Alpine Climbing Group, an experienced Himalayan and Alpine climber, a member of the management committee of the MEF, and a former President of the CUMC and Hon Secretary of the CC. He was also an established Partner – soon to become Senior Partner - of the prestigious London Accountants, Cooper Brothers (as they then were). To me, a callow youth still in his twenties, Roger was the embodiment of urbanity and sophistication though, on reflection and making a quick calculation, he was only a decade or so older than me. His friendship and support, however, were extended unconditionally and unstintingly as was his wise advice and assistance.


Two memories of Roger spring to mind from those days. The first, illustrative of the negotiating skills his obituarists have noted, was the anxiety and the wholly benevolent and careful scheming which preceded his bearding of the Club’s housekeeper, the formidable and cantankerous but fiercely loyal Mrs Lewis, with a view to getting her to accept retirement. To the surprise of all involved – perhaps not least herself – she accepted it like a lamb after an interview with Roger. The second memory is of his disarming wit. For some reason some sections of the Club always wanted their sixpenny-worth at the Annual meeting. At the AGM one year Roger’s Hon Treasurer’s report to the assembled members consisted simply of the words ‘In the last twelve months we have made a profit. Are there any questions?’ That silenced even the ‘Tribal Chieftains’, the likes of the late great Douglas Milner.


Of course, Roger’s career became increasingly distinguished in later life when he succeeded his father as an hereditary and later an elected member of the House of Lords. He was Chairman of the National Trust and President of the RGS and he graced many committees, boards and commissions. By no means least was the leadership he gave as President of our own Club. Over the years his contributions to the Alpine Club have been manifold. He played a major role in the reintegration of the ACG into the main body of the Club; he led the move to merge the Club with the LAC when the issue of admitting women was raised; and, perhaps his greatest legacy, it was he who spearheaded the move to form the library into a charitable trust, a move which has enabled us to preserve and nurture our greatest treasures.


Roger’s love of mountains, and especially of the Lakeland hills could be seen in the pictures throughout the Hawkshead house which he and Ann cherished. Understated as he was, he ended his President’s valedictory address with a quotation which reflects exactly that love, and which has a particular poignancy given his disability following polio when he was in his twenties. He said ‘Perhaps the last word should be indeed on our own hills, from Geoffrey Young, in reflective mood at the end of a unique Alpine career, ‘For me, too, our own hills, within the measure of my walking, are as lovely and as full of surprises as they ever were.’


Mike Baker
8th March 2016

As President, in 1985, Roger went out of his way to help us take up Harish Kapadia's suggestion of a joint Bombay Mountaineers-Alpine Club expedition to the disputed Siachen region in the East Karakoram.  We needed money and Roger had the clout to help us get it.  First he generously provided us with a long list of likely names in the City who might – and did – contribute towards our organising and travel costs.  Second he gave us a tipoff that Grindlays Bank might be favourably disposed.  The very day they received my letter – with a covering note from Roger –  Harish was summoned to the Grindlays head office in Bombay to be told that our entire expenses in India were covered.  What was impressive was the way Roger, even though he was no longer able himself to do serious mountaineering, put himself out to help younger climbers set off on a great adventure.  Our expedition to the Rimo massif was a huge and enjoyable success, with many miles of glacier explored and many ascents made, including the first ascent of Rimo III by Jim Fotheringham and Dave Wilkinson.  It was also the start of a long and still fruitful association between Harish Kapadia and the Alpine Club.  And it was all made possible by Roger.

Stephen Venables

5th April 2016