British mountaineer Ted Atkins has died

Ted Atkins, a British mountaineer, entrepreneur and frequent contributor to Nepali Times on climbing safety in the Himalayas died on Tuesday while descending Civetta in the Dolomites.

Ted Atkins

Ted Atkins (C) Ted Atkins

Atkins was an aero-systems engineer and a member of the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service and led the Mt Everest North Ridge Expedition in 2001. He summited Everest later from the Nepal side, and went on to climb Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Lhotse and Ama Dablam.

He also set a world record for the highest ever boat ride by paddling a raft on a glacial lake at 6,300m below Everest. Colleagues remember him as a man who pushed the limits to get the job done, and was always trying out new adventures like high altitude free-fall diving.

After leaving the RAF, Atkins ran a thriving business selling bottled oxygen to Himalayan expeditions at a time where there had been several fatalities caused by faulty equipment. His cylinders had a new kind of delivery system that he invented himself.

“Everything Ted did was to the max, he had so many adventures and epics it is hard to believe he fell on the way from a via Feratta near home in Italy,” wrote a friend in a blog tribute.

The article he wrote for Nepali Times this year in May recounted a close brush with death when his oxygen cylinder exploded before a climb. Many expeditions reported malfunctioning cylinder regulators procured in Kathmandu this year. In the article he blamed it on greed of unscrupulous businessmen. Atkins was working to make it safer with his company, Topout Oxygeneering.

Atkins also often lamented the commercialisation of mountaineering in Nepal in his columns and also had suggestions for improving Nepal’s tourism image. For instance, he thought Kathmandu Airport gave a very bad first impression of Nepal to visitors.

Atkins seemed to have a premonition of his death when he quoted in his last column in this paper the words of Upendra Devkota, the neurosurgeon who passed away in June after battling terminal cancer: “Death is not so important. What is important is what the dead person leaves behind”.

Atkin’s last words in that piece were: ‘Wise words that make me wish I knew the doctor. What do we leave behind, did we make anything better, what will our children say about us? Think about the future, their future.’

Source: Nepali Times