As a fellow skier, I am writing this article some 2,200m above sea level, high in the Alps, a place that Rupert felt most at home and one of the many places that he described and photographed in his book “Mountain Views – A lifetime’s enjoyment”, written in the final six months of his life. I understood Rupert’s intense love for the mountains, although he disliked piste-skiing due to the ugliness of the associated lift systems. For Rupert, there was only one way to ascend a mountain – by walking, skiing and climbing to the very top. The extent of his climbing adventures ranged far and wide.
Rupert was a born explorer. After receiving a BSc in geology from the University of Exeter, he began his career in the E&P industry in 1977, joining Seismograph Service for what was advertised as ‘a life of science and adventure’. Rupert was already destined for adventure from his early climbing days at Winchester College, visiting Arctic Norway with the British Schools Exploring Society, and then at Exeter University with further visits to Norway, Scotland and South Africa. His love of the outdoor life fitted well with oil exploration, with the associated periods of leave allowing him time to pursue his sport and visit a wide variety of climbing locations for weeks at a time.
In 1981 he joined Lasmo as an interpreter in London and then South-east Asia, finally returning to his seismic roots with Geco in London in 1995 and later in Aberdeen. Rupert’s career in the industry placed him in many parts of the world, enabling him to climb in Japan, New Zealand, Tasmania, Nepal, Iran and closer to home in Greece, Corsica, Spain, the Alps, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, Norway and Greenland.
The accounts of his exploits range from the humorous to the heroic and in some instances to the tragic, all supported by spectacular photographs, many of which he took himself. His attention to detail was legendary, with routes meticulously researched and planned weeks in advance. His pragmatic approach was typified in one instance, where, after falling from a ridge on Aonach Mor in Scotland during a ‘white-out’, he considered suing the Ordnance Survey for mispositioning a vital landmark he had used as a reference, but then decided that his efforts would be much better spent finding himself a new job, having recently parted company from Lasmo.
His underlying passion for the sport and the mountain environment that he cherished shines through on every page of his book, and as he himself said, if it encourages just one youngster to take up the sport, then he would have been more than satisfied.
With only 16 out of the 283 Munros of Scotland left to climb and much to the shock of everyone who knew him, Rupert was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in January 2011 and died in September 2011.
All profits from the sale of his book go to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, which has also benefited from donations given in the memory of Rupert Hoare.
Mountain Views: A Lifetime’s Enjoyment by Rupert Hoare. Vertebrate Graphics Ltd, 2011