Ray Colledge 1922-2014

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 20/04/2014
Ray Colledge in 1952

Long time Alpine Club and BMC member, Himalayan and alpine veteran, Ray Colledge died on the 10th April aged 91.

Raymond Leslie Burrows Colledge began climbing after being demobbed from the RAF at the end of the Second World War.

A building reputation as an alpinist - in 1950 Colledge's route included the Innominata and Brenva Spur on Mont Blanc - secured him a place on Eric Shipton's controversial 1952 expedition to Cho Oyu, which was organized as a "training expedition" for an attempt on the first ascent of Everest the following year.

Although the team failed to make much progress on this 8,000m peak, they climbed several other mountains now considered significant, such as 6,705m Ripimo Shar in the Rolwaling, which Colledge summited with Tom Bourdillon.

Griffith Pugh used Colledge to test rates of oxygen flow. These would prove crucial to determine usage on Everest the following year. Colledge also shared a rope with Hillary and George Lowe, who he noted both took pre-planned falls to test Colledge's ability to hold them.

Colledge consolidated his alpine credentials in the '60s with major ascents for the era, such as the north face of the Triolet, Red Sentinel, Cassin Route on the Piz Badile, South Ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey, and Route Major.

But is was in 1969, when he was 47 - an age in those days considered seriously old for attempting cutting edge alpinism, that he suddenly became something of a legend.

Colledge worked in an office, and would squeeze his alpine season into just two weeks' holiday.

With his partner having cancelled at the last minute, Colledge drove to Chamonix alone and immediately met up with James Fullalove, better known in the climbing community as Dan Boone.

Fullalove was a very competent rock climber and had a few hard Dolomite routes under his belt.

However, he had little to no experience on ice and snow, and was not interested in a training climb, so somewhat reluctantly on Colledge's part, the day after he arrived, the two set off for the Walker Spur.

In 1969 the Walker was still considered a very major undertaking, but the pair enjoyed excellent conditions and weather, making a two-day ascent. Fullalove had problems with altitude, though not with the technical difficulty.

A few days later they were persuaded by Pete Scott and Ron Lake, fresh from the Matterhorn north face, to try the highly serious and infrequently climbed Pear Route on the Brenva Face.

The route proved exciting and was Colledge's eighth independent route to the summit of Mont Blanc. Today, this route is considered so serious it is rarely if ever climbed.

With the weather still set fair, it was time for a crack on Colledge's dream, the 1938 Route on the north face of the Eiger, which at that time had only received two British ascents.

The pair completed the route with three bivouacs for the third British ascent.

Trying to gain the Ramp, Fullalove took a ca 30m fall when an ice flake he was laybacking (!) broke.

A storm struck above the Spider, dumping a large amount of snow. In the Exit Cracks, Fullalove's prowess on rock came into its own, and he pulled out the stops to force the route to the summit.

The pair then drove back to Chamonix, after which Colledge had a night's sleep and then began the long journey home to the office.

There were later notable ascents, such as the first British of the impressive north face of the Grosshorn in the Bernese Oberland, and he remained active most of his life, skiing and walking.

Thanks to Paul Davis and Mark Harrison for background material
 



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1) Anonymous User
21/04/2014
what a gentleman......what a climber.....I was very privileged to have climbed with him......had supper with him......skied with him......and got drunk with him.

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