After World War II the main climbing club in the Derby area was the Oread Club (it still is). A number of MAM members helped in its foundation and some Oread members joined the MAM. Ray was one of these.
He was a lifelong bachelor, worked in a Derby factory, was well mannered, and quite reserved. Under his rather unobtrusive exterior was a mountaineer of steely resolve who became one of the UK’s top alpinists of the post war era, usually climbing with his MAM/Oread friends. Such was his reputation by 1952 that he was invited on Eric Shipton’s Cho Oyu expedition, in effect a training/selection trip for the following year’s Everest expedition. He was one of those, with others, who did not progress to the Big Hill and, indeed, many of those who did go were not at Cho Oyu. Everyone on Everest was there on merit, but there were still echoes of the prewar Everest selection of men from the Right Background; Oxbridge, the right schools and regiments, this time allied to some of the bright young things of the Alpine Club. Ray was definitely not one of these, just an “ordinary” club climber.
He continued his Alpine career and fortunately for us described a number of his climbs in the MAM Journal. It should be remembered that all these climbs were before the age of modern ice tools, lightweight bivvi gear and, often, good guide book descriptions. There were far fewer climbers around, especially British, and these climbs were usually very early British ascents. A list is pointless, but includes routes such as the traverse of the Diables Ridge, the Rote Zahne of the Gspaltenhorn, Grosshorn North Face (first British ascent) and the North Face of the Triolet. His best route of all was the third British ascent of the North Face of the Eiger. The previous two ascents had been by “professionals”; Bonington and Clough, and Baillie and Haston. Ray just turned up on his summer holiday, found someone in a campsite who would accompany him (Jimmy Fullalove, a.k.a. Dan Boone) and they just did it as an ordinary few day’s climb.
He was ever present on club meets and in the huts; on one memorable occasion (memorable for the four students involved, that is) persuading some University of Birmingham MC members to climb with him one foul October day. He chose Devil’s Staircase on the Devil’s Kitchen cliffs as appropriate for such a day. It was quite a long time before five sodden, mudd,y tired bodies emerged on top. But oddly satisfied.
He attended Glan Dena Dinners for as long as he could achieving late recognition as a raconteur with his memories of climbs and climbers of his early days. His portfolio of memories must have been truly enormous.