Ian Clough, Yorkshire’s finest climber
Ian Clough

According to Reuters, KATMANDU, Nepal, on May 31, 1970, a British climber was killed on Annapurna I in the Himalayas. He had been assisting two other climbers in making the first ascent of the mountain’s south face.

Ian Clough, who was thirty years old at the time, fell away in an icefall three days after Don Whillans and Dougal Haston attempted to reach the top at 26,545 feet. For twenty minutes, they remained.

At a camp located at an elevation of 20,500 feet, Mr. Clough, who is the director of the Glencoe School of Mountaineering in Scotland, had been participating with a support team. According to a message that was delivered to the British Embassy in this location today, he was in the process of bringing down equipment and was just three hours away from the base camp when the ice fall that occurred.

In the aftermath of successfully scaling the south face of Annapurna alongside Sir Chris Bonington, the most famous climber in Britain, Ian Clough, 33, from Baildon, was tragically killed when he was crushed by a big ice pinnacle.

It is generally agreed upon by experts that the ascent is more difficult than climbing Everest itself.

One of his former coworkers, Kelvin Kent, who currently resides in Colorado, United States of America, was the one who affixed the brass plaque to a stone at Annapurna base camp, which is located 4,100 meters above sea level.

Sir Chris, who was Mr. Clough’s friend for a significant amount of time and who led the trip, has expressed his thrilled response to the gift.

The following is what he had to say: “In 1970, when we climbed the South Face, Kelvin was a member of the team and our base camp manager.”

Having come to the conclusion that this would be a great thing to do, he commissioned a plaque, which I believe is simply gorgeous in appearance. In addition to being a really beautiful touch, I am extremely delighted with it.

“The very first time I became aware of it was when he sent me a message around the time of Christmas. That was a wonderful concept. The fact that Ian was a very good friend of mine is something that I am overjoyed about.

It is a terrible tragedy that he passed away exactly at the conclusion of the mission. As he traveled below the ice cliff, it became unstable and crashed.

Even though Niki, Clough’s wife, passed away from cancer a number of years ago, Sir Chris stated that he continued to maintain communication with his daughter Jenny, who resides in Lancashire.

During that time, Sir Chris gave a brief homage to him in the form of a small funeral service, and Tom Front, the lone American member of the team, said a prayer.

Both an inscription in Tibetan and an inscription in English were carved into the rock at the base of the cliff by the sherpas. The inscription said, “Ian Clough, killed May 30, 1970.”

Towards the end of the previous year, a local physician named Morris Brown, who resides on Cliffstone Drive in East Morton, took photographs of the monument when he and his wife Liz were on a hike in the Himalayan foothills in Nepal.

Annapurna: South Face, a book written by Sir Chris, provided him with the impetus to become interested in the subject when he was there.

“Mr. Clough was one of the greatest climbers that Yorkshire has ever produced, and prior to his untimely death, he ran a climbing school in Glen Coe, which is located in Scotland,” he stated.

It is a suitable homage to one of Yorkshire’s finest sons who was slain at the young age of 33 while climbing the mountains that he loved so much. This memorial, which has now been permanently installed at Annapurna base camp, is a fitting tribute to him.

He was laid to rest in the base camp.

Sir Edmund Hillary, who is now working in Nepal, referred to the ascent of the south face by Mr. Whillans and Mr. Haston as “a fantastic mountaineering effort” today. Hillary is the person who conquered Everest.

Climbing career

The thirteenth of March 1937 saw Clough being born in the town of Baildon, which is located in Yorkshire, close to Bradford. He learnt how to climb on the gritstone edges that were close to his house. The Royal Air Force (RAF) was where he completed his National Service, and he also joined the RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Service. Following his departure from the National Service, he worked a variety of professions to provide for himself. One of these jobs was to operate a small climbing school out of the cottage that he and his wife Nikki Clough owned in Glen Coe. There are numerous challenging ascents that he has accomplished in the Alps, including the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Frêney on Mont Blanc in 1961 with Don Whillans, Chris Bonington, and Jan Długosz, as well as the first British ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1962 with Bonington. He is now considered to be one of the most accomplished climbers of his generation. He also climbed extensively in Britain, releasing a guide to the Scottish Highlands in 1969. In 1968, he and the Scottish mountaineer Tom Patey became the first people to climb Am Buachaille, a sea stack located at Sandwood Bay off the coast of Sutherland. These two individuals were the first to scale the mountain. After two years, both Clough and Patey passed away in separate climbing incidents that occurred within five days of each other respectively. At the time of Clough’s passing on May 30, 1970, he would have been unfamiliar with the fact that Patey had been murdered on May 25 while abseiling down another sea stack in Scotland. Not only was his wife Nikki Clough a mountaineer, but she also climbed the north face of the Matterhorn alongside her husband. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer in the future.

A journey to the Annapurna region

Clough was a member of the expedition to Annapurna that was led by Chris Bonington in 1970. However, after Dougal Haston and Don Whillans had successfully climbed the south face of the mountain, Clough was killed by a falling sérac (ice-pillar) just beyond Camp 2 while he was descending the lower slopes of the mountain. The lines “To IAN CLOUGH, who gave so much” were included in the dedication of Bonington’s book Annapurna South Face (1971), and a gathering place and arts venue in Clough’s village of Baildon was awarded the name “Ian Clough Hall” in his honor.

A Memorial in 1999

A memorial plaque made of brass was installed at Annapurna base camp in Honor of Clough in the month of November 1999. On the plaque, the wording reads as follows:


Kelvin Kent, who had already served as the base camp manager during the expedition, was the one who commissioned the plaque. An previous monument at the location is an inscription that reads “Ian Clough, killed May 30, 1970” and is carved into the rock. The plaque is accompanied by a message that is written in the local tongue. The burial place was recommended by Sherpas who were participating in the trip. It is located below a rock wall that he had previously instructed them on how to climb.


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