Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal is a new series of short informal interviews with members of the Alpine Club. The articles are designed to profile the breadth and depth of a ‘typical’ AC member and are first published in the Alpine Club Newsletter. 

Back issues of the newsletters can be found HERE.

Up Close with Jim Milledge

Interview by Melanie Windridge

The Silver Hut. Photo: Jim Milledge

90 year old Jim had a fulfilling career as a hospital physician with a special interest in respiratory diseases. Alongside this he pursued a ‘professional hobby’ of high altitude medicine, mainly in the field in the Greater Ranges.

Up Close with Henry Day

Interview by Melanie Windridge

Colonel Henry Day, past Vice President of the Club and past Chairman of the MEF, discusses his early climbing and the first British ascent of Annapurna fifty years ago.

How did you get into climbing?  

It was one particular year at school (I can’t remember which) after we finished our summer exams.  We didn’t used to be allowed to go home after the exams, so they dreamt up entertainment for us.  By the time the list reached me the only vacancies that were left were on a trip going up in the old school bus to North Wales.  And it was a revelation!  We stayed at Helyg.  That first evening we walked out to Little Tryfan.  The masters put top ropes up.  We bounded up and down and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The next day we did one of the pinnacle ribs up on Tryfan and I remember jumping across from the top of Adam to the top of Eve.  The whole thing was absolutely marvellous!  

One thing led to another and onto the Alps.  I was hooked!  One thing we saw [on an early trip] was the Miroir d’Argentine, and that’s still on my list of routes I have to do.  It’s been suggested I do this on the year of my 80th birthday, which is coming up.

Up Close with Rob Collister

Interview by Melanie Windridge

The well-known guide, backcountry skier and writer Rob Collister recently stepped down as vice president of the Club and chair of its Environmental Group. Here he discusses his life, his passion for the mountains and his fears for the future of the natural world.


How did you get into climbing and skiing?

No one else in my family was interested in mountains. I had a privileged education – public school and Cambridge – but my parents crippled themselves financially educating their four children and there was no money left for school ski trips. I had to pay for myself. My first climbs were in the Cuillin on a school camp but I didn’t start climbing regularly until I left school and went up to Cambridge. Then, as now, I loved controlled, precise movement, the sense of space and exposure, the satisfaction of managing risk in potentially dangerous situations and the extraordinary places it allows one to get to, things accessible to all climbers whatever their grade. I was not very talented, did not enjoy frightening myself but was competent enough to get by on most things in the Alps. 

My first Alpine season was nearly my last. We had two unplanned bivis in three routes and I nearly died when an abseil anchor failed on a retreat. On the other hand, I found that I was well suited to the long sustained effort required in the Alps and enjoyed long hut walks that others hated, an attribute I discovered was even more useful when I got to the Hindu Kush in my second long vacation in 1968. 

Up Close with Mike Kosterlitz

Interview by Glyn Hughes

Mike, could you start by telling us about your earliest climbing experiences.

When I turned up in Cambridge in 1962 I had done very little real climbing, but I was very keen to do more, and I had already discovered that I seemed to have some talent for it. I went on a meet to the Derbyshire gritstone as soon as I could, and, wearing my mountain boots (I had not heard of PAs at the time), I got up a few climbs. Shortly after that I fell about 25ft off a VS because the rubber on the toe of my boot was worn away, and I tore my ankle. The more experienced members of the CUMC (Nick Estcourt, Rupert Roschnik, etc) were not amused by this novice showing off. However I managed to show them that I was actually able to climb, and that I could be competitive with them. That winter I joined the Club’s Ben Nevis meet and got my first taste of ice climbing, which I also enjoyed. I think the reason that I was competitive with the best of them was that I was quite strong, and was able to keep my nerve on rock climbs. I reasoned that if other people had done it before me, even if I could not see how to do the next bit, it was obviously possible and there must be holds there, and so I should be able to do it too. I did not frighten easily, and my (flawed) reasoning worked, so I went up the grades quite quickly, and become one of the better climbers in the CUMC.