Aitken James Rae
James Rae Aitken (1930 – 1965)
Jimmy Aitken died in North Wales on Saturday, May 29, 1965, after a fall whilst leading the first pitch of Route 3 on Crib Goch. The accident was inexplicable, of the kind which can happen to the most experienced of mountaineers when climbing well within their capacity.
Jimmy was born in Aberdeen on June 15, 1930, and later moved to Edinburgh with his family. He was educated at George Watson's College and at Edinburgh University, where he was an enthusiastic member of the Air Squadron. When called up for his National Service in 1953 he was granted a commission as a pilot in the Royal Air Force, and served with No. 145 Squadron in Germany.
On completing his National Service he returned to Edinburgh University where he took his degree in 1954. Choosing the Royal Air Force as his career he qualified at the Central Flying School and was posted to No. 5 Training School at Swinderby as an instructor. He subsequently returned to the Central Flying School as a staff instructor, and later joined No. 19 course at the Empire Test Pilots School at Farnborough. In 1961 he commanded the Radio Flight at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, from where he was selected to join No. 54 course at the Royal Air Force Staff College. After leaving the Staff College in December, 1964, he was appointed Personal Staff Officer to the Deputy Controller of Aircraft (R.A.F.) in the Ministry of Supply. He had attained the rank of Squadron-Leader at the time of his death.
Jimmy's many interests included mountaineering, skiing, sailing and golf; of these, mountaineering was his first love. His apprenticeship started when he was very young, when his father (himself a keen mountaineer) introduced him and his brother to the pleasures of the Scottish hills. From that time his mountaineering career continued unabated. After acquiring a thorough knowledge of the British hills he extended his activities to Norway, the Austrian, Central and Southern Alps, where he covered much territory and made many classic ascents. In 1961 he accompanied Tony Smyth on the Royal Air Force expedition to the Karakoram, where his cheerful disposition, masterly handling of the treasury, and sterling work with the survey party, contributed greatly to the success of the expedition.
His breadth of interest and love of life required a sensitive imagination and deep understanding; he had both in full measure. His many attributes were bound together by a sunny and inspiring personality, coupled with a happy knack of making firm friends. His deep love of the mountains expressed itself in many ways, from an ability to argue the deeper whys and wherefores, to the practical discussion of safety and rescue techniques. Always ready to help where he could, his advice was given freely, but only when required, and he was always one of the first to volunteer for rescue work. He will be missed by many people in all parts of the world who were lucky enough to count themselves as being amongst his friends.
A member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club and the Swiss Alpine Club for many years, he joined the Royal Air Force Mountaineering Club in 1953 and was elected to the Alpine Club in 1962. His boundless energy enabled him to support them all, and all will suffer by his death. Men of his calibre are rare, we can only be grateful for his example and extend our sympathy to his parents and brother.
N. M. Ridley.
Group-Captain A. J. M. Smyth writes:
Before 1960 I had not met Aitken at all, but I was then looking for someone in the R.A.F. with climbing experience and academic qualifications for the survey party in the Karakoram. Aitken seemed ideal and I invited him to come along.
Jimmy was a mixture of many things. A first-rate pilot, with a good brain, he had an orderly and meticulous temperament, and rapidly secured the task of expedition treasurer, a job he did with superb efficiency. He was the pleasantest of companions on an expedition except on the rare occasions when his temper blew up, and then he was frightful! He had any amount of initiative, and it is my great regret that we did not use this side of his character to the full.
Except for a climb on Ben Nevis, I have no experience of his actual ability on rock and snow, but from what I know of him I think that, had he lived, he would have done a lot of serious climbing in his next decade.
Quelle: Alpine Journal Volume 70, 1965, Seite 362-363
Jimmy Aitken starb am Samstag, dem 29. Mai 1965, in Nordwales nach einem Sturz, als er den ersten Pitch der Route 3 auf Crib Goch anführte. Der Unfall war unerklärlich, so wie es auch den erfahrensten Bergsteigern passieren kann, wenn sie innerhalb ihrer Leistungsfähigkeit gut klettern.
Jimmy wurde am 15. Juni 1930 in Aberdeen geboren und zog später mit seiner Familie nach Edinburgh. Er wurde am George Watson's College und an der Edinburgh University ausgebildet.
Zu den vielen Interessen von Jimmy gehörten Bergsteigen, Skifahren, Segeln und Golf. Von diesen war das Bergsteigen seine erste Liebe. Seine Ausbildung begann schon in jungen Jahren, als sein Vater (selbst ein begeisterter Bergsteiger) ihn und seinen Bruder mit den Freuden der schottischen Berge bekannt machte. Seit dieser Zeit setzte sich seine Bergsteigerlaufbahn unvermindert fort. Nachdem er sich gründlich mit den britischen Bergen vertraut gemacht hatte, dehnte er seine Aktivitäten auf Norwegen, die österreichischen, mittleren und südlichen Alpen aus, wo er viele Gebiete besuchte und viele klassische Aufstiege durchführete. 1961 begleitete er Tony Smyth auf der Expedition der Royal Air Force zum Karakoram.
Er war jahrelang Mitglied des Scottish Mountaineering Club und des Swiss Alpine Club, trat 1953 dem Royal Air Force Mountaineering Club bei und wurde 1962 in den Alpine Club gewählt.
N. M. Ridley.