The Angry Corrie 65: Jul-Sep 2005

Ralph Leighton

Ralph Storer writes: On 19 February Allan Leighton was killed when he slipped on ice near the summit of Binnein Mor and fell 600ft into the north-east corrie. He was experienced and well-equipped with ice axe and crampons. It was one of those accidents that can happen to any of us who venture on to Scotland's winter mountains.

Having discovered the hills relatively recently, he was aged 42 and in the prime of his climbing life. When I met him by chance a few years ago, his enthusiasm rekindled mine after years of guidebook research had turned a passion into a job. We became best friends. With Allan I found myself, in my fifties, undertaking some of the longest hill walks of my life, such as the South Glen Shiel Ten (nine Munros and a Corbett, and we insisted on counting that darn Corbett). Ironically, one of our many plans for this summer was to bag all ten Mamore Munros in a oner.

Last October, after an especially exhausting day jogging around the Braeriach plateau, we found ourselves lost among the labyrinth of paths in Rothiemurchus forest in darkness without a torch. It was one of those end-of-tether moments that can make or break climbing partnerships. Typically, we dissolved into fits of hysterical laughter at our stupidity and the ridiculousness of our predicament. (In case you're wondering, we survived.)

Allan was a good man to have at your side on the hill - good-humoured, reliable, challenging. Away from the hill, his mail-order lingerie business was expanding exponentially and his personal life was increasingly happy. We became part of each other's support system on the hill, in the pubs and dance clubs of Edinburgh, and in each other's daily life. Every time I climb a hill, and in other places, I shall miss him.

There was still so much he wanted to do in the mountains, but few achieved so much in so little time. I seek solace in the words of Geoffrey Winthrop Young's poem: "I may not grudge the little left undone, I hold the heights, I keep the dreams I won."

Allan Leighton died as he lived, still going for it. Sorry, Allan, I have to go on ahead for a while now. But you'll be with me every step of the way.

Ed. - TAC also sends condolences to the family and friends of Rob Milne, convener of the SMC publications sub-committee and very able all-round hill man, who died aged 49 on Everest on 5 June.

TAC 65 Index