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Alpine Climbing & Skiing: Frost Guiding Blog

Martin Moran

~ Monday 3rd June 2019

My parents bought me a book when I first started climbing. That book was "Scotland's Winter Mountains" by Martin Moran. I didn't meet him until years later when I was a nervous aspirant mountain guide at the Saturday evening guides' briefing in Evolene. That summer was a hectic introduction to life as a mountain guide, exhausting days on the hill, yet Martin always the first to suggest rock climbing at the local crag on Saturday. His infectious enthusiasm for the outdoors (he was horrified when we went to the climbing wall on a wet day!) I did my first work as a fully qualified guide for Martin - reporting our safe return from the Oberland after a "challenging" descent of the Fiescher glacier I received a brief reply..."Character building stuff!" Character indeed - he wasn't short of it.

"Missing" is a euphemism often used by climbers and sailors. Hoping against the odds until shorter, blunter words are unavoidable. We all hoped for good news last weekend. If anyone could bring his team back safe, surely Martin could?

One day, out of the blue, Martin quietly asked if I'd be interested in taking on his Alpine business - an amazing opportunity for me and my family to build a life here in Evolene. I was worried at first that Martin might be retiring from guiding, the toll of a long life in the mountains finally becoming too much. He clearly wanted more time at home where he was extending his home, and more time to spend with his family, but with the old twinkle in his eye he explained that "there are so many more mountains I want to climb".

Sadly that list will never be completed. A list of things climbed doesn't reflect a life. Bodies spotted from a helicopter. The brutal end to a life lived with passion for the mountains. Martin, you will always be missing from our lives.

We took on the business in the understanding that we'd keep the same "ethos" - we'd try to maintain the enthusiasm and energy that Martin - and his wife Joy - had built the company with. I can think of no finer legacy than that. To try to share Martin's passion for climbing and exploring, for sharing the best that the mountains can offer us.

So many times when things have been hard in the mountains I've wondered "what would Martin do?"

Of course, there are 8 people lying on that mountain in India. 8 families trying to come to terms with "missing". This is nothing to do with climbs, grades, times and records. 8 families suffering a human tragedy. They all deserve our sympathy and love.

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