BMC Patron and former President George Band, who made the first ascent of Kangchenjunga and was on the 1953 Everest expedition, died at his home in Hampshire on 26 August 2011.
George was born in Taiwan in what was then Japanese-controlled territory to parents working as missionaries. He was educated at Eltham College, London and Cambridge and London Universities, where he studied Geology and Petroleum Engineering. During National Service he was an officer in the Royal Corps of Signals. At Cambridge he was President of the University Mountaineering Club.
Aged 23, he was the youngest climber on the 1953 Everest expedition led by Colonel John Hunt, which saw Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay make the first ascent. Two years later he went to Kangchenjunga on an expedition led by Charles Evans, and with Joe Brown, made the first ascent of the mountain, the third highest in the world, then the highest unclimbed. Further expeditions to the Alps, the Caucasus, Peru and the Karakoram followed.
In 1957, he began an international career with the Royal Dutch / Shell Group, serving in positions of increasing responsibility over 26 years in seven different countries. In 1983 he returned to the UK to become Director General of the UK Offshore Operators’ Association, which represents the oil and gas companies operating on the UK Continental Shelf. He also took on the Presidency of the Alpine Club from 1987 to 1990.
After retiring from the oil industry, George was able to spend more time climbing and trekking, as well as talking about his experiences and writing. In 2003, to mark the Everest Jubilee he wrote Everest: 50 Years on Top of the World, and this was followed in 2007 by Summit: 150 Years of the Alpine Club, in celebration of the founding of the world’s oldest mountaineering club in 1857. George also became Chairman of the Himalayan Trust UK in 2003. He served in a number of other positions including: Chairman of the Mount Everest Foundation; Member of the Council of the Royal Geographical Society and; Appeal Patron for BSES Expeditions.
In 2009, George was awarded the OBE for services to mountaineering and to charity.
George was President of the BMC from 1996 to 1999 and most recently attended the 2011 Annual Dinner at Plas y Brenin to present the newly created George Band Award for exceptional voluntary contribution to the BMC’s work. George’s contribution to the BMC and the mountaineering community was also recognised at the dinner with an announcement that George had been appointed a Patron of the BMC.
George was a great personality and a tremendous spokesman for mountaineering over many years, and will be sadly missed.
Read A Quiet Triumph, written by Ed Douglas for Summit 38, about the first ascent of Kangchenjunga.
Obituary in The Guardian by Ed Douglas.
Obituary in The Independent by Stephen Goodwin
Obituary in The Telegraph
George's funeral will be held at 12 noon on Friday 9th September at Heckfield Church, Hampshire, RG27 8LF.
All who knew him are very welcome.
There will also be a celebration of George's life in London in the Autumn and details of this will be announced in due course.
Photo: George Band with Neville McMillan and George Steele, the first recipients of the George Band Award for Exceptional Voluntary Contribution. Between them Neville and George have given over 60 years of service to the BMC Technical Committee.
Photo by Jim Krawiecki.
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