/ Walt Unsworth

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Steve Ashton - on 09 Jun 2017
Sad to hear that Walt Unsworth died on Tuesday night after a short illness. He was 89.

Walt edited Climber & Rambler (as it was then) for many years, and was a founder of Cicerone Press guidebooks. He also wrote the definitive mountaineering history of Everest, along with numerous other reference books.

I have particularly fond memories of 'Uncle' Walt because he gave me my first break as a writer. I still have that first, thrilling acceptance letter from 1977. Despite my young age and inexperience, he was always respectful of my efforts. And now it's too late to tell him how much his kindness and encouragement meant to me.


Offwidth - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

Sad news indeed. Why not write an obituary for him Steve?
Rick Graham on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

I think one of his early books was " The English Outcrops ".
A well researched book that was an inspiration to a teenager, gave me loads of routes to aspire to as alternatives to the mountain areas.

RIP
Doug on 09 Jun 2017

Sad news, never met him but felt I knew him after reading & re-reading Climber & Rambler as a teenager

Trangia on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

Very sad news
Mick Ward - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

> I have particularly fond memories of 'Uncle' Walt because he gave me my first break as a writer. I still have that first, thrilling acceptance letter from 1977. Despite my young age and inexperience, he was always respectful of my efforts. And now it's too late to tell him how much his kindness and encouragement meant to me.

I so know that feeling. You can be the best writer in creation - but if your work doesn't reach an audience, it's not shared, the vital act of communication isn't made. And the people who first believed in you - or just took a chance on you - remain forever in your heart. For me, it was Tim Lewis and Gill Kent; for you, Walt Unsworth.

He was around a long time. My first memory was an article he wrote in a girl's comic annual ('Girl', I think) circa 1961. He was active for decades, did so much. Not as well-known as Ken Wilson but always there, quietly working away, extending his oeuvre, always giving us more.

A good use of a life. RIP.

Mick
Rob Exile Ward on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Mick Ward:

As much a part of my 50 years of climbing life - albeit in a very different way - as Joe Brown. Always there.

Through his writing at least he always came across so positive, so enthusiastic, so respectful of tradition. Traits that are always easy to mock, not so easy to emulate. RIP, and thanks for all the guidebooks.
Steve Ashton - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Offwidth:

> Sad news indeed. Why not write an obituary for him Steve?

There's a comprehensive tribute here:

http://www.owpg.org.uk/2017/06/walt-unsworth-long-standing-owpg-member-golden-eagle-winner/
Chris Craggs - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:
Walt gave me my first chance to write a guidebook - Costa Blanca Climbs - for that I was eternally grateful. We were both pleasantly surprised when it sold out. The rest is history.
R.I.P. Mr Unsworth,

Chris
Post edited at 22:14
Gman - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

The first mountain book I ever bought was a hardback copy of Walt's Classic Walks in the Lake District. I did every route from that book back in the day and it still sits on my shelf. It started me out on an amazing journey of walking and climbing that took over my life. Sad news indeed.
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Dave Cumberland - on 09 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

Walt's Everest book was one of the best books I have ever read.
C & R fondly remembered.
DC
Wayne S - on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

I knew his name simply by the numbers of first ascents attributed to him at Pontesford Rocks.
keith-ratcliffe on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:
That book was an inspiration to me when I started climbing. A long way from guidebooks nowadays but the passion for climbing was there in abundance. Still got the book.
Damo on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

Walt's Everest book is simply one of the greatest mountain books ever written.

It has had a huge influence on me and remains the best literary testament to the mountain.

Martin Bennett - on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Rick Graham:

Me too Rick. In 1965/66 Preston library copy was always out with me or one of my mates. The first guide book we ever used. I bought a copy only last week just for old times sake. Leafing through it was almost like time travel.
Martin Bennett - on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

Me too, although I never pursued writing beyond the few things I did for Climber and Rambler in the seventies. Like you I found Walt to be graciously helpful with suggestions and edits.

I was fortunate enough to climb in the sixties with a group he was in from Lancashire Teachers MC, who extended our Lancs horizon beyond Denham (Brindle as we knew it then, pre Lancashire guide books) and Hoghton to the delights of e.g. Anglezarke, Wilton, Stanworth, Brownstones and others perhaps best forgotten. I only recall roping up with Walt once, on an evening at Wilton Quarries where we did 999 and a few other climbs. As an author I knew him then only as the writer of "The English Outcrops", an inspiration to us at the time.
Postmanpat on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

I'm sorry to hear that. As a schoolboy his books were on semi-permanent loan to me from Wimbledon library!
Pete Pozman - on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

RIP. when you read articles by someone every month for several years, and then re-read them, you begin to feel you almost know them.
Tom V - on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Doug:
I can remember my first copy but the annoying thing is I can't remember what the Climb of Quality was in my first purchase ( a bit like looking forward to the big centre cutaway in Eagle). It was either Inaccessible Pinnacle or Nightshade in the Poisoned Glen.

Not done either so some catching up to do.

+
Doug Kerr - on 10 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

That's sad news. As others have said, I found Walt to be supportive and encouraging for which I will always be grateful. He had a passion for climbing and mountaineering which shone through in his work and served to inspire many. Thank you Walt, rest in peace; you will be missed.
L Abi Attwood - on 13 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

As one of Walt’s Granddaughters it is just wonderful to read all of these heartfelt tributes and memories of him that are popping up all over the internet. The funeral will take place at 11:30am on Monday 19 June at St Thomas’ Church, Milnthorpe, Cumbria, LA7 7QJ.
Phil Kelly - on 14 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

I just uploaded a pic of Walt that I took when I popped over to interview him in Milnthorpe a couple of years ago:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=294815

Walt was very supportive when we had to produce a supplement to the Lancashire guide in the mid 1980s, and then later when we produced the next edition of the full guide. His enthusiasm for the project was lovely to see, and he was always keen to help out with his historical recollections of times at a variety of Lancashire quarries including Brownstones, Anglezarke and Lester Mill.

When I interviewed him at home in 2015 he showed me a number of awards that he had received, including one in articular for his Everest book, which he was obviously immensely proud of, but I think he was justifiably proud of everything that he had achieved as both an author and a publisher.

RIP Walt. A life well lived.
John Blower on 18 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

Walt Unsworth was my science teacher and introduced myself(1961) and many others to rock climbing and the outdoors. A bygone era which couldn't exist today. Walt was a lovely human being. Gentle and humorous. He opened a door in to a wonderful world that I am still exploring today. A brilliant gift for which I could never thank him enough.
Ron Kenyon - on 20 Jun 2017
In reply to Steve Ashton:

Many people over the years will have been inspire by what Walt did. Climber (and Rambler) magazine was a must for me from the 60's. His output of books was amazing including Cicerone. A very knowledgeable but delightful chap.
Just picked up the post and sorry I missed his funeral today

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