Rick Allen - Obituary

Ash Routen, summarised by Dave Windle

You will have seen the sad news about the death of local climber Rick Allen - BBC News

Rick lived in Aboyne and until his retirement had recently worked in Aberdeen.

©Sandy Allan

Rick Allen died in July in an avalanche on K2 while attempting a new route on the southeast face. He was comparatively unknown, being described by Cathy O’ Dowd as having “a fair claim to being the best UK mountaineer that no one had ever heard of”.

This calculated obscurity was possibly the result of combining cutting edge mountaineering with a virtually full time job in the oil industry. Most modern mountaineers pay for their exploits by giving lectures and sponsoring various products. Rick Allen took a different course and could afford to do without publicity.

He, and frequent partner Sandy Allan, put up a series of new Himalayan routes, pushing the limits of alpinism on numerous occasions. He climbed with the legendary Doug Scott and also on international teams, putting up a new route on the north face of Dhaulagiri in 1993 with a Russian team. Over 40 years, he participated in countless cutting edge ascents, many involving hard expeditions on the 8,000’ers.

Despite his low profile, he shot to fame in 2012 when he and Sandy Allan managed to climb the Mazeno Ridge on Nanga Parbat after an 18 day epic. This ridge is 10 - 13 km long and runs from 5377m to the summit. It had been attempted a number of times, but Sandy and Rick were the first to pull it off, even if they rode their luck on the descent. It was a truly audacious feat and earned them the Piolet d’ Or, an international award for mountaineering excellence. It is brilliantly described in Sandy Allan’s book In Some Lost Place.

Rick Allen came close to death in 2018, when he fell while descending after a successful solo summit ascent on Broad Peak. He was assumed dead until he was located using a drone and was rescued just in time.

Unfortunately, in 2021, there was no happy ending.

This is a summarised version of an obituary written by Ash Routen and available on Explorersweb

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