Climbing Editor and Photographer Bernard Newman dies

© The Climbers' Club

Bernard Newman, an influential and widely-respected climber, photographer, writer and editor who managed and contributed to multiple UK climbing and mountaineering publications, has died. 

Bernard Newman.
© Ian Smith

Newman was born in Birmingham in 1950 and began climbing on the day that England won the World Cup (30 July 1966). He studied geology at the University of Leeds and became a key part of the talent-heavy Leeds climbing scene in the 1970s, developing into a highly capable climber and editing the mountaineering club's journal.

A skilled photographer as well as writer and editor, Newman collaborated with Ken Wilson to produce Extreme Rock, part of Wilson's iconic Classic, Hard and Extreme Rock triptych.

Newman later worked as editor of Mountain magazine, where he became known for his anti-bolt editorials. When Mountain magazine folded in 1992, he joined Mountain Review as a contributing editor.

Bernard Newman (left) in conversation with Italian mountaineering giant Reinhold Messner.  © John Porter
Bernard Newman (left) in conversation with Italian mountaineering giant Reinhold Messner.
© John Porter

Newman went on to become editor at Climber magazine for nine years, from 1998 to 2007, and later held positions as editor of the Alpine Journal and vice-president of the Climbers' Club.

An active climber up until the weeks before his death, Newman is reported to have died of a heart attack.

John Porter, former Alpine Club President and a Leeds University friend of Newman, shared a tribute on Facebook:

'Bernard Newman was a visionary commentator on climbing and its characters. I remember in 1972 Bernard commenting on the white-cotton-costumed John Syrett performing on the Leeds climbing wall saying: "Here is a star that will be the future." I was privileged to share some of the happiest days of my life with Bernard; from editing the Leeds UNCC Journal in 1973 and to many days on the hills with Bernard and [his wife] Janine. He is a muse I will miss in life but take with me forever.'

Fellow university friend and climbing partner Brian Hall shared: 

'He was always so enthusiastic and supportive. Things happened around Bernard, because he made them happen. And what a photographer, recording the life and times at Leeds University Climbing Club for posterity. Then onto helping Ken Wilson on Mountain Magazine. He was steel-fingered and a star boulderer before bouldering became popular and before pads were invented. So sorry and shocked to hear the news … Goodbye my friend.'

Full tribute to follow.

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That is sad news. RIP Bernard.

It is indeed sad. Bernard phoned me from Spain only about a week ago to confirm the death of Mike Mortimer (another stalwart of the Leeds University climbing club whilst I was there), who was killed in a climbing accident at Murla at the end of January. Hard to believe that now Bernard has gone as well; he died of a massive heart attack.

In reply to John Stainfort

Yes I just looked on the CC website to see that Mike had died, more sad news.

15 Feb

Very sorry to hear this quite shocking news. Apart from his self-evident skills in editing and photography Bernard was a very nice bloke and rose above the often petty rivalries that could often mark the bad old, good old heyday of climbing magazines.

He was always friendly and encouraging (at least to me!) even though we worked for 'different teams' & in my opinion some of best and most impressive issues of Mountain were achieved under his editorship.

Definitely feels like yet another 'End of an Era' punctuation mark in British climbing history.

I thought it would be appropriate to put up this nice photo of John and Bernard in 1972:

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