Everest pioneer Mike Westmacott: memorial service

Posted by Ed Douglas on 07/09/2012
Mike Westmacott on Everest

A memorial service is planned for Mike Westmacott at Kendal Parish Church on 5 October - anyone is welcome.

Mike Westmacott, one of the last remaining members of the first team to climb Everest in 1953, died aged 87 in June. A former president of both the Alpine Club and the Climbers’ Club, Mike was a constant presence in the British climbing scene for over 60 years.

A memorial service is planned for Mike Westmacott at Kendal Parish Church on 5 October at 3:30pm. Anyone is welcome, but please contact Sally Westmacott on 01539 822 684 in advance.

Born in 1925, Mike read mathematics at Oxford University, where he was also president of the mountaineering club, after serving with the Indian Army Engineers at the end of the Second World War.

Although he was an experienced rock climber and alpinist, the expedition to Everest was his first to the Himalaya. He learned of the expedition from a friend as they descended the Matterhorn, and when he got home, Mike applied and was invited to an interview with Col John Hunt at the Royal Geographical Society.

“I’d been a humble lieutenant in the Indian army,” Mike later told the BBC, “so the thought of meeting a full colonel was a little bit daunting in those days. But that feeling didn't last more than 10 seconds. When one met him he was instantly welcoming and friendly.”

Mike’s job was to help find the route through the Icefall – climbing dangerous features including ‘Mike’s Horror’ – and then keep it open to provide a safe passage for the climbers working higher on the mountain as it changed and melted through the season.

When Hillary and Tenzing reached advanced base with the news of their success, Mike accompanied Jan Morris in her dash to get the news out in time for the Queen’s coronation.

It was not, he later recalled, “the most sensible thing I've done from a mountaineering point of view. By the time we got to the bottom we were very tired indeed and it was getting dark.”

When he went to Everest Mike was working as an agricultural statistician at Rothamsted Experimental Station, but then moved to Shell where he spent the rest of his career before retiring in 1985 to the Lake District.

Mike was a true servant of British climbing, not only as a club president but also as a committee member of the Himalayan Trust in the UK.

Perhaps his most lasting contribution was his conception and realisation of the Himalayan Index, a reference resource that lists over 2,500 peaks in the Himalaya and provides an essential research tool for exploratory mountaineers.

The BMC offers its condolences to Mike’s wife Sally and his family. Fuller obituaries appear in The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.



« Back

Post a comment Print this article

This article has been read 756 times

TAGS

Click on the tags to explore more

RELATED ARTICLES

Nirmal Purja climbs all 14 of the world's highest peaks in six months
1
Nirmal Purja climbs all 14 of the world's highest peaks in six months

The 36-year-old Nepalese mountaineer and former British Special Forces soldier summited Shishapangma (8,027m) at 08:59 on Tuesday 29 October. Beginning in April, the extraordinary mission had taken him 6 months and 7 days. Sarah Stirling has the whole story.
Read more »

Kenton Cool: the truth about Everest
0
Kenton Cool: the truth about Everest

Are regulations necessary on Everest? How bad are the queues and dead bodies really? In the murky wake of Nepal's proposed new Everest rules, Sarah Stirling gets some honest answers from Kenton Cool, who, having summited Everest 14 times now, is something of an expert.
Read more »

Everest: the proposed new rules
3
Everest: the proposed new rules

A spike in deaths on Everest this year provoked media attention and an outcry of opinions. At a press conference last week, Nepal's Ministry of Tourism proposed stricter access regulations. But what should change, and will anything actually happen?
Read more »

Post a Comment

Posting as Anonymous Community Standards
3000 characters remaining
Submit
Your comment has been posted below, click here to view it
Comments are currently on | Turn off comments
0

There are currently no comments, why not add your own?

RELATED ARTICLES

Nirmal Purja climbs all 14 of the world's highest peaks in six months
1

The 36-year-old Nepalese mountaineer and former British Special Forces soldier summited Shishapangma (8,027m) at 08:59 on Tuesday 29 October. Beginning in April, the extraordinary mission had taken him 6 months and 7 days. Sarah Stirling has the whole story.
Read more »

Kenton Cool: the truth about Everest
0

Are regulations necessary on Everest? How bad are the queues and dead bodies really? In the murky wake of Nepal's proposed new Everest rules, Sarah Stirling gets some honest answers from Kenton Cool, who, having summited Everest 14 times now, is something of an expert.
Read more »

Everest: the proposed new rules
3

A spike in deaths on Everest this year provoked media attention and an outcry of opinions. At a press conference last week, Nepal's Ministry of Tourism proposed stricter access regulations. But what should change, and will anything actually happen?
Read more »

BMC MEMBERSHIP
Join 82,000 BMC members and support British climbing, walking and mountaineering. Membership only £16.97.
Read more »
BMC SHOP
Great range of guidebooks, DVDs, books, calendars and maps.
All with discounts for members.
Read more »
TRAVEL INSURANCE
Get covered with BMC Insurance. Our five policies take you from the beach to Everest.
Read more »