British mountaineer and high altitude expert Ted Atkins died this week while descending from a via ferrata on Civetta in the Dolomits.
Atkins made a number of ascents in the Himalayas, including Lhotse, Makalu, Ama Dablam, Kangchenjunga and Everest. He also has a world record for the highest boat ride for his glacial lake paddle near Everest.
Atkins joined the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service as a volunteer in 1979. He led the first RAF team up the North Face of the Eiger. He then explored remote areas in Antarctica, making 28 first ascent over a year.
He was awarded a Green Beret for his work with the marines during an Antarctic rescue mission.
“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 his home in Italy,” wrote a friend in a blog tribute here.
“Nothing was out of limits for Ted in these days. He pushed the standards in all weathers pushing the rules in the military to the edge. He was the life and soul of the party in every situation and these were crazy days.”
Soon after his work with the Royal Air Force, Atkins began a business selling bottled oxygen in the Himalayas called Topout Oxygeneering. He invented a new oxygen delivery system that has become the industry standard.
In one of his final articles for the Nepali Times, Atkins wrote, “I echo here the brave words of Upendra Devkota, the neurosurgeon who is battling terminal cancer, ‘Death is not so important. What is important is what the dead person leaves behind.'”
High altitude climber and friend of Atkins wrote, “Ted was someone that I had tremendous respect for he was a friend and an exceptional athlete and professional , I always enjoyed our conversations together, he was just a down to earth cool guy.
“He was the man behind the development of the modern high altitude supplementary breathing apparatus that I and so many others use today on our expeditions in the Himalayas. He is survived by his wife and son. Condolences to Ted’s family and his friends. He will be sadly missed.”