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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    In the trees

    RIP Blythe Wright

    Blyth Wright, a great and well respected Scottish Mountaineer, died last Sunday. He had worked at the International School of Mountaineering, and Glenmore Lodge, the Scottish National Outdoor Training Centre. He was one of the best known characters in Scottish mountaineering... and tremendous fun to have a few beers with.

    He set up and co-ordinated the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and co-authored: "A Chance in a Million?".... 3 climbers were killed here in an avalanche this year; whilst the fundamentals of avalanche science are the same in the Alps, America or Scotland, the book highlights some of the unique aspects of avalanches in the UK. Its analysis of snow conditions is superb, providing insight into how the climate here affects avalanche formation, and it details techniques for evasion and rescue.

    RIP, you will be really missed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    you know about cause of death?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    The funeral of Blyth Wright, a leading figure in Scottish mountaineering, took place on Friday (20090529).

    A tribute to the co-ordinator of the sportscotland Avalanche Information Service was read by Tim Walker, who was principal at Glenmore Lodge, the national outdoor training centre, up to December last year.

    Tim’s recollection of the life of Blyth Wright follows.

    By any normal standards, Blyth led a very full life. He was mountaineer; skier; motorbike racer; election agent and politician; raconteur, guitar player, singer, performer; author and translator; a significant security threat to then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; professional mountaineering and ski instructor; co-ordinator of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service; member of the Search and Rescue Dogs Association; mentor and coach.

    It was at Kirkcaldy High School that he first became interested in climbing, then through university where he joined the Corriemulzie Mountaineering Club.

    He went on to teacher training college at Moray House, a spell working in Edinburgh and Glenrothes as a youth worker; he then made his way to Fort William to work at the Loch Eil Centre. He was part of a team that developed Polldubh and he went on to co-author the Polldubh Guide Book with Klaus Schwartz.

    Right up until the early 2000s, Blyth was still developing new routes. He always seemed to have a secret crag X.

    His first Alpine trip was in 1963 at the age of 20 and his passion for Alpine mountaineering grew from that which, in turn, led to a position as assistant director at the International School of Mountaineering in Leysin working alongside Dougal Haston. The Club Vagabond scene at the time was something that suited Blyth perfectly. Friendships established there were to last his lifetime.

    He moved back to Scotland to take up an appointment as a permanent instructor in 1976 at Glenmore Lodge, a position he held for 15 years.

    He enjoyed a lifetime of climbing and his ascent of Ama Dablam at the age of 60 was something he was rightly very proud of.

    Blyth had a long association with mountain rescue and, for a time, a particular interest in the Search and Rescue Dog Association. His dog, Einich, was the biggest and most frightening alsatian I have ever seen, and staff at Glenmore Lodge would flee to their rooms or leave the building via fire escapes and windows rather than face Einich.

    The prospect of a rescue by Einich was certainly a factor to take into account when on the hill. Einich was eventually banned from Glenmore Lodge for using the principal’s office as a toilet.

    As an employee of a public agency, Blyth’s contract clearly stated that he should not participate in any political activity – so he didn’t. However, his identical twin brother was very active. Climbing ability meant that SNP placards were placed higher up the streetlamps of Badenoch and Strathspey than the rest of the opposition’s. At election times Blyth would frequently be on leave or would just go missing for weeks on end.

    He was convenor of the Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber Constituency Association for much of the 90s and he was the election agent for Fergus Ewing in the 1992 Westminster election and in 1999 when Fergus won the seat at the first Holyrood election. He attended the official opening of the first Scottish Parliament on 1 July 1999 and was introduced to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh – the meeting made all the more interesting by a few too many pre-meeting drinks – presumably just to steady his nerves.

    His involvement in politics singled him out for special treatment when the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, made an official visit to Glenmore Lodge and, as she wasn’t the most popular of prime ministers in Scotland, security for her visit was very tight. For weeks before, a constant stream of security advisors visited Glenmore.

    The place was searched from end to end and every member of staff had to be vetted. It appears that Blyth was well known to the security agents and it was made very clear to him that he should take leave for that period. Blyth, I think, was proud to be considered a security risk to Margaret Thatcher.

    After a trip in 1977 to the Swiss Federal Institute in Davos, Blyth, along with Fred Harper, Ben Beattie and Bob Barton, began to take a particular interest in the study of snow and avalanches.

    At that time, Hamish McInnes, Eric Langmuir and Fred Harper were actively pursuing ways in which they might improve the level of understanding amongst Scottish mountaineers. This led eventually to the establishment of the Scottish Avalanche Project in 1988.

    Then a carefully planned ambush of the chair of the Scottish Sports Council by Hamish McInnes, Eric Langmuir, Sam Galbraith and Michael Forsyth led to funding being made available for the Scottish Avalanche Information Service. Andy Anderson’s friendship with Michael Forsyth was not insignificant in all of this. Blyth was appointed Coordinator – a job that he performed in an inimitable Blyth-style. He was passionate about the service and fiercely proud of its successes and recognition at an international level.

    Over the years, a parade of avalanche scientists and experts from around the world came to visit Blyth at Glenmore Lodge and, though they might have been surprised by his accommodation – at one point a shed – they were uniformly impressed by the quality of an avalanche forecasting service that produced forecasts in a wide range of areas for a budget that most of them considered tiny.

    Blyth’s contribution to avalanche forecasting in Scotland cannot be underestimated. Without his determination and, sometimes, sheer cussedness, the avalanche service we know today would not exist. He has left us with something to be proud of and, I think, the best possible memorial to him will be to protect and develop it, knowing that whatever we do, Blyth would have done it differently.

    He had the ability to recognise talent – I mean climbing talent – and he acted as coach and mentor to many up and coming young climbers. Whilst people of Blyth’s standing and experience might have been inclined to be aloof and elitist, Blyth gave his time and encouragement to many young people, frequently finding himself climbing challenging routes with people half his age.

    Blyth had a gift for languages: English which he studied at St Andrews University and French which he perfected during his time in the Alps. He co-wrote A Chance in a Million along with Bob Barton plus many other articles and I know he had been working on his memoirs.

    He recently had been responsible for the translation of a number of books and articles from French into English, among them Avalanche by Robert Bolognesi.

    The daily avalanche reports from the observers were carefully scrutinised to ensure correct grammatical presentation.

    Blyth, of course, loved a good party: the stories, the singing and the guitar; the inevitable trips to the Winkie, the Tavern and the Old Bridge Inn. He could be excellent company.

    No one addressed the Haggis in quite such an energetic and theatrical style. Just last September he received a standing ovation for his performance at the Glenmore Lodge 60th birthday celebrations.

    Blyth was his own man. He did things his way. He was single-minded, determined and could be very stubborn.

    And you know, these characteristics were exactly what he needed during the last 18 months of his life. He was faced with the biggest challenge that any of us will ever have to endure.

    He was genuinely surprised and overwhelmed by the support and concern shown by so many. However, this was simply their way of saying thank you to Blyth for all that he had given.

    Blyth was one of life’s characters and we will never see the like again. He enriched the lives of so many people.

    Thank you Blyth – may you now rest.
    "True love is much easier to find with a helicopter"

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