Home / Sports blog / Rusty Westmorland OBE, Lakeland’s Last Climbing Pioneer – Founding Father of Keswck MRT [1886-1984]

Rusty Westmorland OBE, Lakeland’s Last Climbing Pioneer – Founding Father of Keswck MRT [1886-1984]

Horace Westmorland, was born in Penrith, Cumberland in 1886, the second and final little one of Emma and Thomas Westmorland, Alice being his older sister by a yr.

The Westmorland household ran a profitable tannery enterprise within the city, which afforded them the cash and the time to commit all their spare time to exploring the far corners of the English Lake District at a time when it was wild, primarily un-fenced, devoid of vacationers, and extra importantly, with solely a handful of rock climbs having been achieved, typically the mountain gullies after which solely in winter, this being the coaching floor for the center class Alpinist who got here to the Cumberland hills earlier than going out to the Alps on annual climbing journeys.

For their half, the Westmorland household had been well-known for his or her adventurous life-style, certainly, his father, aunt and uncle had been famous for his or her un-roped ascent of Pillar Rock in 1873, making it the second ascent by a girl.

What is probably not recognized, is that Rusty, as he got here to be referred to as, had a climbing profession that spanned over 90 years, with many first ascents to his credit score, each right here within the English Lake District and the Canadian Rockies.

It all began on his 1st birthday, when he and his 2 yr outdated sister, had been taken for an open air in a single day camp by his mother and father, to Norfolk Island on Ullswater. Two weeks later, they had been each taken to the summit of Helvellyn, to attend the bonfire to rejoice Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. On his 4th birthday, his father took him to Brougham Castle, the place they each climbed as much as the second story and again down once more, with out utilizing a rope.

On his 11th birthday, he was to satisfy the ‘father of English mountaineering’ – Walter Parry Haskett-Smith, together with three different notable Lakeland climbers – John W. Robinson, Ellis Carr and Geoffrey Hastings, as they returned from a failed try on a gully on Tarn Crag above Grisedale. What Rusty was to not know again then, was that it might be his identify that will get the credit score for the primary ascent of this daring climb some 13 years later, and that 2 years after that, he can be strolling within the Canadian Rockies with Haskett-Smith, when a rock fall might so nicely have ended the climbing profession of Haskett-Smith, if not his life, however sources at the moment, stored this incident underneath wraps.

On his 15th birthday (1901), he climbed Pillar along with his sister and father, all un-roped, a daring feat for that point, and made a number of un-roped makes an attempt on some as but, un-climbed gullies in Dovedale and Deepdale..

When his father died in 1909, Rusty grew to become a person of personal means, so he was capable of exit climbing nearly every single day. During this new discovered freedom, he met and have become shut buddies with George and Ashley Abraham, who he was to climb with on many events.

Despite climbing recurrently along with his older cousins – John Mounsey and Arthur North – making exploratory climbs on many native crags, 1910, was for Rusty, the busiest climbing time he had needed to date. It began in January climbing at Tremadoc and Carreg Wasted with George and Ashley Abraham, the place they climbed extensively earlier than returning to the Lakes to proceed their climbing till the top of February. In March with others, he made the first ascent of Easter Crack on Elliptical Crag adopted in April by a 1st ascent of Blizzard Chimney. With his cousins, he climbed extra winter climbs on St. Sunday Crag; Fairfield; The Dodds; Dollywaggon Pike; and Catchedicam. In June he set off for the Alps with the Abraham brothers on a climbing photographic expedition. During their go to, they made many 1st ascents which grew to become the idea for George’s e book: ‘On Alpine Heights and British Crags’.

On returning to the Lakes, Rusty continued to climb along with his cousins, doing 1st ascents of Chock Gully and Dove Crag, along with a 2nd ascent of Dollywaggon Gully, probably the primary full true ascent in a single climb.

In 1911, he went to Canada and secured work with a mountain survey get together run by Arthur Wheeler, the founder of the Alpine Club of Canada. During his three years of working with Wheeler, Rusty climbed many peaks and summits within the Canadian Rockies together with Swiss guides akin to Konrad Cain, the Fuez brothers and others. His record of ascents is spectacular (some 1st and 2nd ascents) some solely inviting a couple of repeat ascents. His climbs totals nicely over sixty summits and peaks, which incorporates being the primary individual to rock climb the cliff face of Mt Whyte.

He received a fee within the Territorial Army – 50th Regiment Gordon Highlanders, and following outbreak of WWI, he was commissioned within the Canadian Royal Transport Company. During his time on the entrance, he was nominated a number of occasions for mentions in dispatches for his bravery when he led his ammunition horse provide practice underneath fireplace, to troops on the entrance line at each Ypres and the Somme.

He returned to Canada after the struggle, continued to serve with the Canadian Army and climbed and skied every time attainable. He was to find climbing crags in Nova Scotia, was instrumental in discovering snowboarding venues in Quebec, and made vital climbing ascents in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, some of which have been not often repeated. In addition, he was a eager horseman and took part in lots of competitions in Halifax, Nova Scotia, successful a number of occasions in his class (heavy horse), and, he was additionally a very good novice golfer and all spherical skier.

In 1936, he went to the Alps along with his shut pal Dr. P. B. Finn (Director of Atlantic Fisheries), for 2 weeks and in that point, they climbed the Unttergabellahon, Riffelhorn (by three completely different routes), Rimpfischhorn, after which capped their vacation off with an ascent of the Matterhorn. When again in Cumberland, Gerald Greenback and others, had arrange the Lake District Ski Club which Rusty was invited to be President of, which he remained related to for the remaining of his life.

On his return to Canada, he made the primary winter ascent of each East and West Lion outdoors Vancouver; made the primary winter ski exploration of your entire Yoho Valley; found a crag referred to as Eagle’s Nest and made 1st ascents of all routes in each summer time and winter; wrote infinite climbing and mountaineering articles for native newspapers; gave frequent illustrated talks on the topic, and, was totally concerned within the mountain warfare coaching programme arrange within the Rockies by the Alpine Club of Canada. This led to Rusty occurring a clandestine go to to the War Office in London, which resulted within the Lovat Scouts being despatched on the coaching programme, commanded by Frank Smythe.

With the onset of WWII, Rusty was given the go forward from the Canadian Government, to arrange and run the nation’s first official navy mountain warfare coaching camp at Terrace, east of Prince Rupert. Whilst travelling there on the practice, he took significantly unwell with biliary colic leading to his gall bladder being eliminated. As a consequence, in 1945 he was medically discharged from the Army with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, returned to his beloved Cumberland, and settled all the way down to his retirement in Keswick.

Never a one to permit any grass to develop beneath his toes, he was out on the fells and crags inside days of arriving dwelling.

A yr later in 1946, he went to the help of Wilfrid Noyce (Everest veteran) who had fractured his femur while out climbing on Great Gable. This occasion led to Rusty forming the Borrowdale Mountain Rescue Team which later modified its identify to Keswick MRT. He was finally awarded the O.B.E. for his providers to mountain rescue, along with receiving the Silver Rope Award from the Alpine Club of Canada in 1947, being the one climber to take action that yr.

Throughout his lifetime, he climbed and hiked the fells and hills of each the UK and Canada with many notable climbers; Haskett Smith, George Seatree, Norman Collie, Noel Odell, Bentley Beetham, Harry Griffin, Godfrey Solly, Tony Mason-Hornby (Ogwen Cottage), John Disley and plenty of many others. In the 1960’s he suffered from abdomen most cancers – underwent 15 main operations – given a couple of weeks to dwell in 1964 – however was nonetheless climbing and strolling in 1976 aged 90, with out helmet, harness or different modern-day climbing aides, and, carrying a full time catheter!

He printed ‘Adventures in Climbing’ (1964), wrote articles for a spread of climbing journals, and, did the world’s first ever dwell radio outdoors broadcast while mountaineering with Stanley Williamson in Borrowdale, the broadcaster who was accountable for clearing Captain Thain of blame for the Manchester United Munich air catastrophe.

Rusty was a quiet unassuming individual, preferring to be within the shadows of publicity. He took nice curiosity in introducing many novices to mountaineering and snowboarding, and firmly believed within the adage, that climbers mustn’t fall and as such, ought to be taught to ascend and descend climbs to be able to enhance their climbing approach and skills.

On 24th November 1984, Rusty lastly succumbed to his sickness and sadly, dementia, and handed away in a nursing dwelling close to Kirkby Stephen.

A selected view from Great Gable, regarded as the best in all Lakeland, was marked by his father and uncle by constructing a cairn within the 1830’s, now generally known as the Westmorland Cairn the place Rusty’s ashes had been unfold. He left an solely son Horace Lyndhurst and an solely grandson, Dickon now dwelling in Australia.

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