The “enduring legacy” of Alan Blackshaw

Featured, Membership, UIAA

Former UIAA president Alan Blackshaw passed away on August 4 in hospital in Inverness, Scotland. He was born in Liverpool on April 7, 1933.

The following tribute to Blackshaw about his contributions to the UIAA is by Dave Morris, a former President of the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission:

For over 20 years Alan Blackshaw was a major contributor to the work of the UIAA, from when he first represented the British Mountaineering Council on the UIAA Mountaineering Commission in the mid 1980s to the year of his presidency of the UIAA in 2004/5. He brought a formidable intellect, diplomatic skills, perserverence and warm personality to all these tasks. In the words of Tadao Kanzaki, President of the Japanese Mountaineering Association, and Fumio Tanaka, former President:

“Alan was a good friend to us and we acknowledge his great contribution to the UIAA and to the mountaineering community of the world. We shall never forget his gentle smile on the floor of UIAA meetings.”

For much of his time in the UIAA Alan formed a formidable alliance with Roger Payne, former General Secretary of the BMC and then the UIAA’s Sports and Development Director. Together they ensured that the UIAA kept pace with modern world, pioneering new training standards for mountaineering, developing relationships with environmental interests, incorporating competition climbing and ski mountaineering into the UIAA and forging constructive relationships with the International Olympic Committee and United Nations organisations. Alan spearheaded the efforts to provide the UIAA with the organisational structure and reputation that it needed to move forward through the 21st Century.

During the International Year of Mountains 2002 Alan spoke to a UIAA conference in Trento, Italy and called for Access to Nature to be a Fundamental Human Right recognised at UN level. Building on his experience in securing new legislation in Scotland for public access to land and water Alan recognised that the right to have contact with nature, landscape and the natural environment in general should be an essential ingredient in every citizen’s development. As the British mountaineer, Doug Scott, said at his funeral: “He was a lovely man who I have come to admire more than any other for striving towards a better world,” while His Excellency Narinda Vohra, the Governor of Jammu, Kashmir and former Indian Representative to the UIAA, described Alan as “altogether fearless and with straightforward views on major issues and unimpeachable intellectual integrity, whether in the area of civil services or mountaineering.” The UIAA and mountaineers across the world have lost one of their finest supporters but he has left us all with an enduring legacy.

Dave Morris

UIAA Mountain Protection Commission 2001 – 2008