/ NEWS: Obituary of Ian Cummins
Richard Waterton looks back on the life of Ian Cummins, who sadly passed away recently at the age of 58. Whilst in recent years Ian had stepped back from climbing to concentrate on caving, his influence was still felt across the climbing scene. He was an 'under-the-radar' climber, a talented and prolific onsight climber and an excellent boulderer.
Thanks all, for putting this together. A phenomenal climber and nice guy who's achievements were up there with the best of the day and deserve greater recognition.
It's always very sad (and somewhat of a shock) to hear of the death of one of your 'contemporaries', especially at the tragically early age of 58. I first heard of Ian through Stew Wilson and his 'North of England' guides - Ian featured in some of the photos and his name was marked against many of the most difficult and classy looking lines. These were all on far-off places with strange names like Goldsborough Carr and Slipstones that no-one (west of the Pennines!) ever went to. Stew knew everyone and was a native of those parts and would often mention these semi-mythical master technicians (such as Ian) from Teeside and County Durham. Verily a land of giants where mere mortals such as I would never get off the ground. I learned of his death via the UK Caving forum and at first did not realise that this Ian was the same as the climber I'd read about decades earlier. In his caving he seemed to be equally determined to push the boundaries, getting involved in digging projects and later cave diving where he was on the verge of qualifying to join the CDG (no mean feat in itself). I'm sure I would have enjoyed having a chin-wag with Ian as we both shared a love of climbing and caving although he , of course, was moving on a much higher plane than me.
Nice to know about Ian's climbing.
Met him a few times on the local cave digging project. Most understated bloke
Very sorry to hear this. I climbed with Ian on a few occasions both in the UK and on European sport climbing trips. Apart from his obvious ability, Ian was a delightfully modest person who was very encouraging to those of us of lesser talents, and a really nice person to be around.
We'll be having a climbing get together in memory of my dad on 29th Feb 2020 at Goldborough. Everyone is welcome. Thanks for your lovely words and stories!
Hope to see you there.
Looking forward to seeing you there Beth xxx
Absolute legend of North East climbing. An inspiration.
Wow - what an incredible track record! I was actually more aware of Ian’s caving exploits in recent years, having read many trip reports on the White Rose website. Whilst there was little fanfare accompanying these reports, given the territory he and his companions were exploring, it was quite clear that Ian was hard as nails...
As for his climbing exploits described in these wonderful tributes, you really cannot fail to be extremely impressed.
Thanks to Richard for putting this together, and ‘reluctantly’ putting pen to paper. I’m really glad you did...
> We'll be having a climbing get together in memory of my dad on 29th Feb 2020 at Goldborough. Everyone is welcome. Thanks for your lovely words and stories!
> Hope to see you there.
> Beth Cummins
29th feb at Goldsborough! that could be interesting depending on the weather. Your Dad would have loved the idea!!
See you there.
A fitting tribute to a really nice bloke and superb rock climber. NE climbing and caving is poorer by his passing. RIP Ian.
There's actually yet more details and photos and anecdotes that could have been added, but which I assume have been omitted so the article is not over-long: one of my favourites being to do with the photo of Hitchhiker's at Kyloe-In where he's hanging one-handed... Ian would do circuits on this (eight the record apparently!), climbing up the problem, traversing the top break and down-climbing back into the problem! ...I wonder which lap number he's on in the photo!!
(Pedant's Corner: in my opening paragraph it should of course have been edited to say '...June last year...'!! Hopefully has been rectified at some point.)
> it was quite clear that Ian was hard as nails...
Even without knowing anything else about Ian, that much is quite clear to me from the second photograph in the piece. I've never managed to get both feet off the ground on Streetcar, let alone get to the top...
Sorry our paths never crossed - what an exceptional all-rounder!
Imagine coming down from a route and having Ron Kauk say "phenomenal resistance, man".
Great article, thank you.
I didn't know Ian that well but crossed paths with him on many occasions in the early eighties in and around the limestone crags of Yorkshire during the sport climbing boom.
I remember travelling out to Trollers Gill with Dave Pegg and a few others one bitterly cold January day in 84 to look for possible new lines without our climbing gear only to find Ian traversing along the lower traverse with his top off and a weight belt on. We were completely blown away and realised we needed to up our game and i often think about that day when i'm drinking a latte in warm cosy climbing wall - hardcore
A very sad loss great guy and climber
I seconded Ian on Lord of the flies ( preventing an overly ambitious on sight attempt by myself ) and climbed with him for two separate weeks in the States. On the latter of these we did Astroman, on which I led all but the Harding Slot. Knowing the great difference in our climbing abilities, this will surprise those who knew him, as it did me at the time! We did the first pitches in the evening, and both led the pitches we had seconded when we returned in the morning. Ian then very slowly swam up the Harding Slot facing the wrong way, and when I arrived at the belay, he invited me to lead the rest of the climb, because he was exhausted. We did the E4 pitch in the near dark, and the top pitch in the actual dark. We had agreed to climb fast and light, and not to take trainers or a torch. Fortunately Ian had both, so I followed him across the top of the Death Slabs in trepidation and pain.
I moved from the North East shortly afterwards, and never saw Ian again. He was the best, and most dedicated climber I ever had the privilege of sharing a rope with. Not a long life, but so much packed into it, and so much achieved - and not just as a climber.
I still have my Avon guide with Ian's name against the pitches he led on the routes we did together when we were at Bath Uni.
An outstanding person and an extraordinary climber. A privilege to have known and climbed with Ian.
Well done Rich - a fitting tribute.
Much prefer the obituary celebration of someone’s life rather than the short, somewhat morbid news reports.
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