Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi Trip Report (#5814)

  • Signed By: Cynthia L. Hallen
  • Date submitted: September 20, 2004
  • Number of People Encountered:

Ben Beattie (1945-1978) Ben died in the Himalayas several years ago. I found out when I sent a Christmas card to his address in Scotland. Mrs. C. M. Davidson kindly sent a note dated 12 September 1983, with a clipping of the obituary:

"FORMER CLIMBING INSTRUCTOR DIES. A former Edinburgh instructor has been killed in a climbing accident in the Himalayas. Mr. William "Ben" Beattie (33), who was a ski-ing and mountaineering instructor at Glenmore Lodge outdoor training centre, was a member of a combined British and Canadian expedition attempting a traverse on Nanda Devi.

"Mr. Beattie was the outdoor activity instructor at Ainslie Park School and leader of the tragic school expedition to the Cairngorms in November 1971 when five pupils died after being caught in a storm.

"The incident in which he was killed happened on Friday, September 15 [1978]. His body was recovered and buried on the mountain."

My own father passed away on September 15, 1974, so the news of Ben's death on the same calendar day is particularly poignant to me. I now understand why Ben may have been so worried about keeping us safe in our 1973 descent from Cathedral Peak in Colorado, just eighteen months after the blizzard that took the lives of five teenagers and a young instructor on the Cairngorm Plateau in Scotland. That may explain his stirring traditional ballad at the summit and his melancholy mood at the fireside later that evening. He was a kind teacher and a great exemplar to us in the Challenge/Discovery program June 1973. I will always remember him.


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