Obituary – George Band

George Band OBE.

In 1953 Band was the youngest team member of the Hillary and Norgay ascent of Everest, having himself already impressed on a number of peaks in the Alps. Having also been the president of the Cambridge University mountaineering club, his obvious passion shone through to Hillary. Having served in the Signals during the war, Band was put in charge of the teams radios, and also the food, having also taken charge of the mess, during the war.Bands perhaps largest achievement however, was being the first to ascend Kangchenjunga. Of the fourteen 8000m+ peaks, this is the only one to have been climbed first by a British climber. Band and his partner Joe Brown had only planned to seek out a route to the summit, with many believing that the SW face was un-climbable. Many had tried, since 1905, however none had got higher than 6,400m. With the mountain bearing full brunt of the monsoon weather systems, the mountain is highly avalanched, and very dangerous. During a 24 hour period of climbing, Band counted 48 avalanches, and given that he slept for 8 of those hours, worked out that there was an avalanche every 20 minutes or so.What makes this climb different, to us, was that out of reverence to the local Sikkim culture, they stopped a few feet from the summit. With locals believing the mountains to be sacred, they decided it would be insensitive to complete the summit. As a mountaineer, especially of that time, that must have been an extraordinary decision to make.Despite moving on to pastures new in the oil industry, working in many different countries, Band continued to mountaineer, and completed many notable ascents, including a number of first ascents. Band also remained involved in the mountaineering institutions, being president of both the Alpine Club and the British Mountaineering Council, as well as time spent as a board member of the Royal Geographic Society. Band also wrote a number of books 50 Years On Top of the World (2003), Summit (2006) and Road to Rakaposhi (1955). His OBE was awarded to him in 2009.

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