Sad news – Mountaineer, Ted Atkins killed in the Italian Alps whilst descending Civetta in the Dolimites.

I received this from one of my best pals Terry Moore it is the call you do not want but that I sadly have taken on to many occasions.

“Hello Heavy

After speaking tonight I can confirm that TED ATKINS was killed on descending CIVETTA in the Dolomites today.

We have spoken to his wife SHONA and son LEWIS who are in turmoil during this early stage.

His pal NEV TAYLOR was with him when descending the steep path after completing a via ferrata route.

This is a real tragedy for Shona Ted’s wife and Lewis his son. If there was a man who lived life to the full it was Ted.

Ted on the summit of Everest !

These are the awful calls you dread :

Ted was a legend in the RAF Mountain Rescue Service he lead our successful Everest North ridge expedition to Tibet in 2001. It was his vision that took us to the summit of the world and how he got the powers to be to let us go was incredible. Ted was just a Flight Lieutenant a lowly rank in the military yet he got us the sponsorships and the authority to go to Tibet. I was with Ted for nearly 4 months on that trip. It was unguided just 12 pals who knew each other all bar one was a Mountain Rescue troop and we never fell out. All came back still pals and with our all our fingers and toes. It was a hugely happy expedition where few can say that after being away for nearly 4 months.

Everest 2001 Ted at high camp !

Sadly Ted did not summit on this attempt but had two attempts and on the last attempt winter was coming and we were the last team on the mountain. The weather was crazy heavy snow and I was alone at ABC with the Sherpas fearing the worse. It was great to see him Brian and Jim descending safely after a big storm. They were alone everyone else had gone home but got off safely! That was a humbling experience and I can only thank Ted for having the vision to get us there, for the trip of our lives.

Everest below the North Col after the summit attempt !Ted always came back from his adventures. He was so happy that Dan and Rusty had summitted and got down safely! Ted had been with a huge Joint Services trip to the West Ridge previously that did not Summit so Everest was unfinished business for him! Ted on this trip to Everest took a boat that he sailed at over 20000 feet in the glacial lake just below Advanced Base Camp in true Ted style! He was so wild with his ideas but so incredibly practical and clever. The Navy in MOD were not impressed with the RAF Holding a record for the highest boat in the world. Ted was always thinking out of the box. Ted you took us all on the adventure of a lifetime and we can never repay you for that wonderful trip in 2001.

2001 The Everest Team

Typically Ted he came back and summited a few years later and that was a story on its own. Again he pushed it to the limits on a mountain that takes no prisoners.

I had known Ted for over 30 years at one point as his team leader at RAF Kinloss he kept me on my toes. He was a true MR and RAFMA troop what a man throughout. Ted was a Mountain Rescue and legend climbing in all weathers pushing the boat out as you have to do in this job.

This was a period on the 80”s when RAF Mountain Rescue was at its strongest and Ted was one of a select few who pushed the boundaries and the standards to new levels. This was not just on the classic winter routes but all over the World. This was a Golden era and Ted was one of those who pushed it out.

As a mountaineer he had successful ascents all over the world from Everest, Kangchenjunga, Nuptse, Makalu and Ama Dablam. He also had so many ascents in the Alps including the Eiger North Face with my pal Al MacLeod sadly gone as well.

Ted seemed in the mountains in his adventures he was the one who was always a survivor, some thought invincible,  pushing the boat out so often. He was always sharing his adventures and taking so many young team members with him on his wild adventures. His strength was not through luck but huge experience and as always calculated risk.

In the RAF Mountain Rescue and RAFMA where learned his trade he was a real character and at RAF teams and Kinloss MRT he was  and is a legend. Nothing was out of limits for Ted in these days. He pushed the standards in all weathers pushing the rules in the military to the edge, no easy task. He was the life and soul of the party in every situation and these were crazy days. We played and lived hard these were the days of our lives. Ted would have an outfit for every occasion and was always in full flow if out at the dancing or on social events. Mountaineering was not all about climbing it was a hugely socail event in these days.

Ted ready for a night out in Elgin. He had clothes for every occasion and hats to match, A fashion icon in his own wayout way.

Since he left the RAF Ted had a successful oxygen business in Nepal supplying oxygen to so many expeditions with his unique delivery system that became the industry standard. It was called Topout Oxygeneering and was thriving in Kathmandu .  He was into high altitude free fall diving/parachuting in a big way. He took this like his Mountaineering to the edge pushing his life and the gear to the limits. What a brain he had as an engineer he was always inventing equipment and gear from ice axes to clothing all had the Ted inventiveness.

Ted on his Shed on Everest 2001

His was the idea of the shed on Everest a lifesaver and what an idea a place where we could shelter and sort things out. They said it would never be allowed but we made it happen, Ted had the idea and we got it done.  It made our trip and the memories are so real to this day.

He ended up being an officer in the RAF after going through the ranks. Ted then was running the Mountain Rescue Teams a job he loved. The annual Inspections by him were very different from the norm. Ted was still a troop loving the climbing the freedom  and still had such crazy exploits. These ranged from falling off a wire bridge after hand traversing across in Glen Tilt , smashing his ankle to riding a “Garron “ highland pony bareback that he fell off ! All are in the  RAF Mountain Rescue folklore. He loved the troops and they loved him. He loved the Scottish Sea stacks Hoy, his overnight bivy on the top when he left his soul mate Smudge to get some more stuff.  The old man of Storr, Am Buachaille and of course the great adventure on the Maidens all with his partner Smudge Smith.

The Maidens Ted abseil Photo Smudge Smith – A marvellous 40 metre stack where Tom Patey was tragically killed abseiling off after the first ascent in 1970. Remote and rarely visited the stack now sports several routes of which the easiest is HVS. The approach is a long walk and 40 metre swim from Whiten Head or a long boat trip across Loch Eriboll from the vicinity of Rispond.
The Maiden, Whiten Head

On the Maidens the pair of them complete extroverts road a motor bike from Kinloss in Morayshire to the far North. They were dressed in dry suits had a crash and various minor trails before climbing that Classic sea stack. It was a Ted adventure in the classic tradition.  All huge adventures that deserve to be told to a bigger audience and are incredible tales that only a few can tell with the storytelling of a Ted epic fun day !

Ted Atkins collection!

Ted was spending so much time in the Himalayas on business and expeditions and always up to something. Every year it was a new peak hew adventure testing oxygen to extremes life was full .He even ran the Everest marathon after a successful ascent of a 8000 metre peak. Ted was now an accomplished mountaineer. He had changed like many from his early days from that crazy man from night ascents after work as a young troop in the Cairngorms with the Mountain Rescue team . Once he had a fall and the team and Glenmore lodge and the team carried him off . This never stooped Ted and soon he was climbing again . His adventures took him all over the world his life was incredible. He is one of the few who were awarded the Polar Medal for his efforts in the arctic during another expedition to Brabent Island another epic tale and hence a love of this specail place,

2001 the boat on Everest Highest boat in the world.

Everything Ted did was to the max. He had so many adventures, fun and epics it is hard to believe he fell on the way down from a via Feratta near his home in Italy where he was now living. This is where he made his home and was sorting it out and spending family time with Shona and Lewis.

Ice climbing January 2018 with TMoore and Gerry McGarry. Many of his pals came out to climb in his new home he loved it there and was so happy living in Italy .

My thoughts are with Shona his wife who always understood his adventurous life and his son Lewis in Italy. Lewis lived his life with his Dad running, skiing and climbing in his local Italian hills. They have a great bond and I loved seeing Ted’s big smile on the photos with Lewis. He was a proud man of his son and you could see this when he wrote about their latest adventures.

It is with great sadness I put these inadequate words together!

Terry Moore will update any arrangements and I will share them to Ted”s many pals. Please take time to think about Ted and his amazing life.

Our condolences to Shona and Lewis and the family.

Yesterday we lost a true man of the mountains and the skies. A true adventurer and lover of life . Ted was everything we all want to be in one huge exciting bundle, he did things that so many dream about was always pushing it and life to max. We will miss him.

Ted – Returning from the summit of Monte Pelmo Sep 2017 photo Terry Moore

Heavy  Whalley – August 2018

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Expeditions - Alaska - Himalayas etc, Friends, Himalayas/ Everest, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Sad news – Mountaineer, Ted Atkins killed in the Italian Alps whilst descending Civetta in the Dolimites.

  1. Bill Skelson says:

    Sad sad news. Was a privalege to have know a wonderful man. Rest in Peace Ted. Whensoever.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynn Stokes says:

    What a loss! Thoughts and sympathy to all his family and friends at this sad time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike Jones says:

    Sad, sad news.
    Ted was such a big influence and inspiration on my life from our time up at RAF Troodoes, climbing, skiiing, walking, mountain biking and some fabulous meals with Shona.
    Often heading out on a baking afternoon to find something climbable around the mountain villages.
    Our trips together culminated in an expedition to Wadi Rumm Jordan to climb in the footsteps of the great Lawrence of Arabia, im sure they would have been great friends.
    The world is a lesser place with Teds passing, hope he finds new adventures among the moon and the stars.
    Much love to Shona and Lewis.
    Go in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sam Marshall says:

    A sad loss to the Mountaineering community and of course to his wife and family – you are in our thoughts.

    Whilst I only met Ted a couple of times, your write up has definitely captured the spirit of a be man I remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stuart Moss says:

    Shocked and saddened by this news. Our thoughts are with Shona and Lewis and all who were close to Ted.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glen Burcher says:

    Love your words Heavy…. you have painted a picture of a true MRS legend. I came to know Ted whilst on the team at Leeming and a young troop. He was such a kind, generous man, full of enthusiasm and a true inspiration to new team members. I remember him having a dog that he brought out on the hill with him! He lived his life doing what he loved, and whilst it must be devastating for Shona and Lewis, they should be justly proud of all that he has achieved. Vale Ted….. I’m honoured to have been ‘on the hill’ with you……Whensoever.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. andybeck074 says:

    This is very sad news. I didn’t know the guy but he was a legend in the RAF climbing circles. RIP.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pasang Dawa says:

    So sad news. My heartfelt condolences to family. May his soul rest in the peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Biffa Wilcox says:

    Sad news Heavy. The world is always a poorer place with the loss of “troop”. Thoughts and prayers with Shona and Lewis.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Steve Beverley says:

    Very sad news. A truly effervescent character. I witnessed his struggles through initial officer training and the aerosystems course. His gritted determination there meant he could lead the MRT on the greatest of adventures. A real gentleman of the mountains. Thoughts are with his family and friends

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dave Curtis says:

    This is terrible news and to say very sad, sad news is putting it too mildly. Ted was my SNCO in charge of the vehicle maintenance section in Cyprus. He was a marvellous character and I mean that in the best sense. Full of humour and even though I was the Station Commander I was still a victim to one of his pranks. My thoughts are with Shona and their family. Never to be forgotten RIP.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kirstie says:

    I am saddened to hear this news. Ted was a friend & neighbour when he lived in Dunphail. My thoughts are with his family.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Organiser at says:

    RIP never met the chap but a fellow Trade Group 6 – what an amazing life full of adventure God Rest his Soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Richard Brand says:

    We are very saddened to hear this ..our thoughts are with all the family.
    Tich and Jennifer Brand ….. MTMS Raf Kinloss

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Chris Fielding says:

    Very sad to come home and given this news. Was best mates from 1979 at st mawgan and although I have not seen him for a few years it was a friendship that you could pick at any time. We lived a wild existence and sometimes I don’t know how we made it, but they were also great times and maybe had some affect on how we turned out.
    God bless you Ted

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Bill Brogan says:

    I only knew Ted when we were on the GST 2 course together at Hereford and in that short time he left a positive impression on me, as I really cannot remember anyone else. RIP Ted and sincere condolences to his family.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. jimqlr says:

    A sad lose to all that knew Ted, I knew him when we were on the Brabant Island Expedition. My thoughts go to Shona and Lewis. Jim

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Jed Corbett says:

    I am deeply saddened to hear that Ted has died in the Italian Alps.
    I had the privilege of stepping on to the summit of Mt Parry, Brabant Island, Antarctica twice with him in 1984. An experience not surpassed in my life.
    Not knowing many climbers, certainly not climbed many mountains and never the desire to
    free fall from an aeroplane it was always rather breath-taking to hear of his latest adventure or achievement when he dropped in to see us in London as he did only late last year.
    He always reminded me, in his typically modest northern way, that with determination,tenacity,courage and sometimes a little luck any goal was achievable and on reading about him i realise he achieved so much more than I could ever have imagined.
    Today I have lost a very special friend.
    My heart goes out to Shona and young Lewis who i know he adored from the bottom of his heart.

    Jed Corbett

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Alan Copeland Alan Copeland says:

    Heavy, this is really sad news. Ted was an adventurer who lived life to the full but was also always a ‘troop’ at heart and his loss will be keenly felt. This must be really tragic for his family and my thoughts are with them.

    Al Copeland

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Susan Beattie says:

    Last saw Ted, Shona and Lewis at the Brabant Island 30 Year reunion in Buxton June 2014 where he was full of enthusiasm for the upcoming move to Italy. Had to smile when Shona shrugged her shoulders on asking where they were going to live as Ted had told her the country but not the where. Truly sobering news, I never thought there would be a situation where Ted couldn’t talk or get himself out of. I’m sure everyone who knew him will have many more stories to tell. Our thoughts are with Shona and Lewis.

    Sue & Jon Beattie

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Andrew Durant says:

    You will be sadly missed, I was on GDT at RAF Leuchars and you always made me feel welcome, whenever I popped over for a brew.
    Per Ardua

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Dave Taylor says:

    Hello Heavy, a fb comment from Ida and I . Dave Taylor RAFLeucharsMRT. 1987 –

    A tribute from Ida and I to former RAF Mountain Rescue colleague and friend, Ted Atkins, 61 who sadly died on Monday 20th August whilst descending Civetta in the Dolomites in Italy. Our thoughts are with Shona and young son Lewis who are currently living in Italy. A larger than life character who died in the environment he loved.
    Dave and Ida

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Vinod S M says:

    Royal salute to Ted and heartfelt condolences to his family. Our prayers will always be with him and family. RIP Ted

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Mark Williams says:

    Wilbo cotgrave what a guy no big head just big heart will miss him,….inspirational

    Liked by 1 person

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