Tony Moulam obituary

·3 min read

My father, Tony Moulam, who has died aged 94, was a pioneering rock climber and mountaineer.

Born in Derby, the son of Albert, a clock repairer, and Mabel (nee Priestley), a housewife, he was rather a solitary child. Receiving a bicycle for his 12th birthday, he cycled out to the Peak District, which was a catalyst to a lifelong love of the outdoors. Tony was inspired by reading Let’s Go Climbing by Colin Kirkus while at Bemrose school, and his expeditions soon centred around scrambling on Derbyshire gritstone.

A chance meeting with Peter Harding, an established climber, at Black Rocks in Cromford, led to serious climbing with hemp ropes. The pair forged a longstanding partnership, tackling numerous climbs in the orbit of their cycle rides and became expert at harder gritstone routes. They employed “hand jams”, necessary when the only feature is a crack in the rock, and my father recalled introducing a young Joe Brown to this developing gritstone art along with Chris Bonington, who remembers Tony as “hugely important” in inspiring his passion for climbing.

Volunteering for the army, Tony never saw active service but was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Signals. Posted to Worcestershire, Catterick and finally Vienna, where he oversaw the military telephone exchange, he used every opportunity to pursue his climbing and took advantage of the army’s encouragement to explore the crags and hills.

Demobbed in 1948, Tony, with Harding, published A Guide to Black Rocks and Cratcliffe Tor the following year. Tony’s exceptional memory meant he could recall intricate details of each route – invaluable to upcoming climbers – a skill he maintained until the end of his life.

Tony attended Manchester University from 1949 to 1951 and graduated with a BSc in electrical engineering. Thereafter, his climbing focused on north Wales, where he developed new routes and techniques in the Carneddau and Glyder ranges. He made many first ascents, including Mur-y-Niwl on Craig yr Ysfa in 1952, and contributed significantly to British rock-climbing, publishing guidebooks to these areas and elsewhere.

Joining the Climbers’ Club in 1947, Tony was president from 1969 to 1972 and variously custodian of two club huts: Cwm Glas Mawr and Helyg. In 1970 he was also president of the British Mountaineering Council, overseeing key negotiations with the Central Council of Physical Recreation.

He accepted a position with ICI in July 1952. Before starting, he had been invited by the Everest Committee to join an expedition to climb Cho Oyu in early 1952 and a year later to attempt Everest, if “his efforts this year should show him worth including in the 1953 party”. Declining this invitation was perhaps his greatest regret.

He wrote articles about his adventures, and these are being collated into a single publication.

Tony married Pauline (nee Chapman), my mother, in 1956; they separated in 1984, and she died in 2020. In 1985 he met Annie Price, and they were in a partnership until her death in 2017. He is survived by me and my brother, Peter, and by Annie’s children, Janice and Russell.

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