Steve Pardoe's uk.rec.climbing Trip Report Archive Pages

Rob Milne's Reports (some were in uk.rec.walking, see headers)

Edition of 15/06/2005 (blog link)


I'm very sorry to have to report that Rob Milne died suddenly on 5. June 2005, apparently from a heart attack, while high on Mt Everest. This was to have been his seventh of the seven continental summits.

I never met Rob, but we had exchanged messages on Usenet and by e-mail, and he came across as a very friendly and sympathetic individual. He was kind enough to offer some specific advice to our son, who was climbing Kilimanjaro. For someone whom I barely knew, his untimely death continues to upset me much more than I might have expected. I'd like to offer my sincere sympathy to his family, and all who were fortunate to know Rob better than I did. There was clearly something very special about him.

More narrowly, uk.rec.climbing has lost a star. Some of Rob's previous Trip Reports had already been archived to this page - if anyone can point to more, I'll be glad to add them.

Apologies for the long quotes below (in case the BBC page gets taken down). Rob's Everest blog is at www.aiai.ed.ac.uk/project/everest/blog/weblog.pl.

Steve P

----

[BBC Reports...]
A British software expert has died during an ascent of Mount Everest, the Foreign Office has confirmed. Dr Rob Milne, 49, from Edinburgh, was 1,200ft short of the summit of the world's highest mountain. Only Everest stood in the way of the climber's goal to reach the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

The artificial intelligence specialist was, among other experiments, testing communications equipment during the climb of Everest. Dr Milne's party had been hampered by bad weather during their ascent.

He left Edinburgh on 3 April for the expedition and arrived at base camp on Everest on 12 April. Dr Milne and his team spent several weeks acclimatising before attempting their ascent and were ready to go by 7 May. However, weather conditions were constantly against them, with high winds making it dangerous to proceed from Camp 3 which was 7,200m above sea level.

On 20 May, the group had returned to base camp at 4,000m with the prospect of another week's wait. By 23 May, Dr Milne, who was married with two children, wrote in his diary that there was a "strong feeling of despair" as the weather refused to break. He said: "The weather is not co-operating, the jet stream is over Everest and the Monsoon too far south. So there is no summit weather window for the south before 29/30 May. There are a lot of frustrated people here and several other expeditions have now run out of time and are going home."

However, he said veterans expressed confidence that conditions would change by the end of the month.

By 27 May, Dr Milne's last diary entry, there was a glimmer of hope. He said: "The long range forecast says we have a good chance the first few days of June, so we are holding out. Around June they have to close the icefall as it gets too warm, so it is down to the wire and getting late. Crossing fingers didn't work before, so please think of something else! Otherwise in good spirits and health. Back to my book..."

Dr Milne was pioneering a system called IM-PACs, which allows climbers and adventurers to plan their expeditions more effectively and report progress to those monitoring.

-----

There's an even longer article on everestnews.com...

"Update June 5, 2005: Rob's expedition leader Henry Todd has sent EverestNews.com the following message: "Just below the Balcony he suddenly collapsed, and was found to have died instantly of a sudden heart attack. This was confirmed by the 3 doctors we have on the team who were climbing with him. He had had no problems prior to this and it was completely unexpected. All his team are shocked and saddened by this turn of events and they are now descending the mountain to Base Camp".

(continues)


Here is the last extract from Rob's weblog from Everest BC (external link).

Posted by Rob
27 May 2005 09:42 GMT+1 14:27 NST

We came back up to base camp on 27 May with a glint of dropping winds and a chance to go for the top. There are an estimated 120 people from other groups at camp 2 waiting, while we are still at base camp. But this morning’s forecast (27 May) says no summit window yet, too much wind. So we wait. The long range forecast says we have a good chance the first few days of June, so we are holding out. Around June they have to close the icefall as it gets too warm, so it is down to the wire and getting late.

Crossing fingers didn't work before, so please think of something else!

Otherwise in good spirits and health. Back to my book...

Rob


Rob Milne's previous TRs follow:

Elbrus, August 2004
Vinson Massif, January 2004
Kilimanjaro Breach Route, September 2003
Kosciusko, May 2003
Arizona bouldering, February 2003
Aconcagua, January 2003
Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro, January 2002
Carstensz Pyramid, May 2001

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rob Milne"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2004 11:58 AM
Subject: TR: Elbrus

If you ever wondered what Kilimanjaro would be like fully covered in glaciers, than visit Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain on the European Continent, 5643m. (~18,500 ft).

My son and I climbed it last week in fine weather and with no problems. The hardest part is that you are constantly slogging up wide snow fields in your 'own private hell' from the altitude. but with fine views of the Caucasus to keep your mind busy.
We used a Russia based company to organise everything, Ersh travels, www.ersh.sp.ru They were very good and all our permits, stamps, passport checks, passport re-checks went without hassle.
First day we took a chair lift across the valley for acclimisation and great views of Elbrus. (Mount Cheget). Found a nice Skye like ridge to scramble on as a bonus.
Then one takes 2 gondolas and a chair lift to the 'Barrels'. But the first Gondola wasn't working, so we had an extra 1.5 hour walk from the valley floor. The upper chair wasn't working either, so we paid a bit for a fun snow cat ride! We camped above the Barrels on a lava flow. Afternoon was a walk to the ruins of the Pruit 11 hut. Amazing tent city there! lots and lots of people doing the peak, about 75 per day!
Next day we moved higher and walked to the Pat Rocks at 4600m. only about 2 hours with the heavy packs to move camp, then 1 hour walk to the Rocks. And then summit day, our 4th mountain day! Cruised up the boring snow in a steady altitude rhythm. I've got the hang of this now, although my son kept pulling ahead. Light winds and not cold, which was lucky and soon we were at the saddle between the summits. An intimidating final steep snow slope where we almost raced each other for an altitude burn. and then we were at the summit cone!
Had to wait 5 minutes to get access to the summit while others were taking their photos. crowded place. 8-( Like the Ben in summer.
The valley clouds had built up so we couldn't see below, but were in sunshine.
One more night in a tent at the high camp and then to the valley in only 2 hours the next morning.

That is my 6th of the 7 summits 8-)
(In fact, with my repeat of Kili, and if you count the Koz variation, I have done 5 of these in the last 18 months).

A few other comments:
The Caucasus mountains look fantastic for walking and alpine climbing! we did a 10 day round trip, but should have allowed at least another 4 days to explore these fine mountains. The amount of fine looking Alpine lines was amazing. Our local guide told me about many of the routes. Seems a great place for Alpine climbing without the crowds of Cham. I had ignored this region before, but is now on the list of Alpine climbing targets for some day!

If the weather is good, anyone with a bunch of Munro experience in winter and used to using plastic boots could do this.

There were lots and lots of groups from many countries. I thought it would be quiet, but lots of people are going. It was totally safe from the political/rebels/Georgia viewpoint.

Rob
6/7


Vinson Massif, Antarctica, January 2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rob Milne"
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Tuesday, January 27, 2004 11:53 AM
Subject: TR: Vinson Massif, Antarctica

What a cool place Antarctica is!
Just back from a 3 week trip there for some summer climbing in the snow. Climbed Vinson Massif (4968m or 16,100 ft), the highest point in Antarctica. The route is mostly flat glacier travel with a moderate headwall to get to the upper plateau. It does have a superb narrow summit ridge which gives some each mixed steps. It was so warm in the 24 hour sun that I was on the glacier most of the time in only thermal underwear and no gloves! Took 5 days from landing at Vinson Base camp to the summit. 4 of us then climbed Mt Shinn, the 3rd highest peak (4600m?). We did more or less a new route, named the Fawkawe Route. (was in We're da Fawkawe). We had expected a ridge leading from a col to the summit, but it wasn't there, so we traversed out onto the face and did some each mixed climbing. Descended another face directly to get back down, making a new loop.

Lots and lots of lines for new routes in the mountains there. Happy to provide details if anyone else is going ....

Other ascents going on:
Di Griffith (sp?), the blond pigtails working at Glenmore Lodge did an ascent a month before me.
Heather Morning also of Aviemore climbed the mountain 'moving independently'. She was with me part of the way, but never tied into our ropes and did the summit on her own.
A 72 year old Japanese lady made it in another group, and some US guy that was well over 60.
Some Spanish did a new direct route above Camp 1 just before we arrived.

So I missed some Scottish Winter climbing, but it was worth it 8-)
That is my 5th of the 7 summits. Only the two E's left ....

cheers,
Rob


From: Rob Milne (rmilne@ciREMOVEx.co.uk)
Subject: TR: Kilimanjaro Breach Route
Newsgroups: uk.rec.walking
Date: 2003-09-09 03:58:32 PST

Hi,
Back from climbing Kilimanjaro (5869m) a second time. We did the Breach Route over 7 days, had a great time, no problems and no rain. Highly recommended.

I climbed Kili the first time when my son was 17. This year my daughter is 17 so back we went ...

The Breach route shares the first 2 days with the Machame route. We then took a rest day and short walk at Shira. Next day move up to Lava Tower ( ~4,500m) a 3 hour walk. Next day to Arrow Glacier, a one hour walk and at 4,900m slightly higher than Mount Blanc. Another lazy day 8-) Left at 00:40 for the summit. The Breach is a long, easy scramble. A lot like doing the Anoach Eagach in the dark, but inclined rather than flat. My daughter with no scrambling experience had no problems. Much more fun than the long scree slopes of the other routes!

We entered the crater at 05:00 and then slowly slogged up the 200m final slope to the summit. Slowly more because I wanted to delay until dawn than the problems of altitude.

Arrived at 6:10 am to watch the dawn. Very cold wind, but great views of the crater. Long, but easy descent. Once again, I noted many people with hardly any experience being successful in climbing the mountain. I can recommend the agency we used. this is the second time I used them and have been very happy.

Rob
BTW, I have now been to 6 of the 7 continents so far this year and climbed on 5 of them (Asia was just work).


From: Rob Milne (rmilne@ciREMOVEx.co.uk)
Subject: TR: Australia's highest
Newsgroups: uk.rec.walking
Date: 2003-05-30 02:43:16 PST

Last weekend, I did Kosciuszko and Townsend in Australia. An excellent day out! Koz is the highest peak in Australia (2228m) and included in one view of the Seven Summits. I've done Carstensz Pyramid, the highest point in the Oceania Continent, but was happy to do Koz to hedge my bets ;-) If nothing else, the highest point of a big island .... Townsend is the second highest peak in Australia and only 4 km away.

Starting at the ski resort of Thredbo, I used the chairlift, because it was there. This means you start walking at 1900m and 3 miles from the summit. The walk is like doing Ben MacDui from the top of the Cairngorm chairlift, with a metal grid walkway all the way. Yes, metal grid walkway. To stop erosion, there is a 8 foot wide metal grid walkway 12 inches above the ground. (no handrails). It does the job and seemed a reasonable idea to protect their landscape.

Took one hour from the top of the chairlift. (3 miles, 300 meters). The area is really like the Cairngorm plateau. With about 6 inches of snow it felt like a moderate winter day out in Scotland 8-) Plenty of other peaks for busy days of peak bagging. Doing the main peaks there would be like running around the Cairngorm plateau doing the Munros and Tops. I then traversed Mueller peak to Townsend (2209m).

Excellent. The ridge on Mueller had lots of little scrambles on boulders and outcrops. It also has an amazing stone arch a bit below the summit, One of those that makes you wonder how nature can do that! The weather kept getting better, so re-ascended Koz on the way back and got a good panorama. I have GPS details if anyone wants them.

Next time your in Oz with a free weekend, worth doing.
Now back to the Corbetts ...
cheers!
Rob


Queen Creek Boulders, Arizona, Rob Milne, March 2003

From: Rob Milne (rmilne@cix.co.uk)
Subject: TR: Arizona Bouldering
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Date: 2003-03-17 06:00:42 PST

While you b*stards were having good weather in Scotland, I spent the day bouldering at the Queen Creek Boulders near Phoenix, Arizona. This is the site of the Phoenix Pump bouldering contest, in fact work crews were there getting ready for this year's contest. Weather was overcast in the morning, but dry. At 12:15 thunder rolled in and the heavens opened! I got well soaked running back to the car. End of climbing for the day. And Scotland had wall to wall blue skies. You pay your money and you take your chances .... you can all gloat.
Rob

ps. A fantastic area in any case.


>From uk.rec.walking:

From: Rob Milne (rmilne@ciREMOVEx.co.uk)
Subject: TR: Aconcagua
Newsgroups: uk.rec.walking
Date: 2003-01-30 03:19:53 PST

Hi,
Just back from a successful ascent of Aconcagua (6869m, 22,840 ft) via the Polish Glacier Traverse route.

Nice trip, but one ugly mountain! The region is more or less a desert and the mountain has lots of huge scree slopes. We had great weather the whole time, very few clouds so always sunny. There was lots of wind, all the time. A bit like hill walking in Scotland ... Arrived at base camp on the third approach day and pottered about (4,000m). The agency served steak dinners at base camp.

The carry to camp 1 was a killer with a large pack and going up to 16,000+ ft, but the second carry wasn't too bad - acclimisation was working 8-)) Lots of penitentes to cross in the snow - an amazing phenomenon. Many were 3 meters high!

After a day's rest, moved up to camp 2 and went for the summit the next morning (8 Jan 03). Started at 6:45 am, long after it got daylight (no early starts here). Summmited around 15:30 and back to the tent for 19:15, so a 12 hour summit day.

We actually did the summit a day of schedule since we were feeling pretty good. I moved pretty well until about 21,000 ft when I slowed down to the same speed as everyone else ;-)

Great views, the Andes are pretty narrow there! Trail starts at 2,300m, so 4,668m of ascent.

Walked all the way from base camp to the road in one day: 30 miles. Then a dip in the hot springs at Puerta del Inca.

Made a short visit to Patagonia before coming home. Weather bad and windy there.

That is my 4th continental summit ...

Rob Milne happy to provide up to date info to anyone going there.


From: Rob Milne (rmilne@cix.co.uk)
Subject: TR: Kenya and Kilimanjaro: BTDTGTTS
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Date: 2002-01-25 02:15:23 PST

Hi,
Just back from a very successful trip to Africa. Climbed the two peaks with my 17 year old son.

For Mt. Kenya, we went in the Simiron route, a great approach, and spent 3 nights at the Austrian Hut. We did the normal route up Nelion (20 pitches mostly UIAA II but some IV), then the traverse to Batian (main summit) and rappelled down in a rain/snow storm. The agency we used provided us with a local climber, part of the local mountain rescue team. I protested initially, but when I heard that everyone was failing to climb both summits, I decide 3 of us were better. We smoked up Nelion in 3.5 hours. He led and belayed my son while I 'soloed' along on 20 feet of slack. We simul climbed many bits as well. The traverse to Batian (5200m) needs ice axe and crampons, but is otherwise easy. hard neve snow. I had to do the last bit to Batian twice, since the rope stuck on the first rappel. There is bolted rappel route, which our local knew. This was good since the weather became very bad. On your own you have NO chance to find it! Other parties ended up finishing in the dark (we were back to the hut 2 hours before darkness). A couple others slept on top, but failed to make the traverse the next morning. Glacier retreat is huge, the Diamond Couloir is not complete!

The on to Kilimanjaro. Did the Machame route. 2 days hiking up, 2 days hiking around, then the summit day. After Mt. Kenya, this was no problem, except we kept waiting for the guide ... We summited (19,340 ft) so fast that we got there before Dawn. I was fine to hang around in the -10 C temp and wait for light, but the guides were freezing. Very impressive place and a huge mountain. Nice walk! We were supposed to go down the Mweke route, but this is closed for recovery, so we went down the new Rau route. nice and easy. T-shirts on sale at the road head.

We 'recovered' with a few days on the beach in Mombasa 8-))

Rob


From: Rob Milne (rmilne@cix.co.uk)
Subject: short TR: Carstensz Pyramid, Indonesia
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Date: 2001-05-02 03:40:22 PST

BTDT, but they don't sell T-shirts.

What a neat mountain of rough limestone in a wild and adventurous setting. I went with Stephen Koch from Wyoming whom I met at the International Meet and Corey Rich, professional photographer from California. (minimal team - 2 climbers and one photographer ;-))

After a few days to acclimatise (peak is 4884m, 16,000+ feet), Stephen and I did 2 new routes; a variation on the normal route which involved a couple of short cuts straight up slabs. Mostly VS and we simul climbed a bunch of it.

Then we did a new route up the North Face to the right of the 'American Direct' on the headwall. Fantastic climbing on rough limestone, amazing water grooves and sharp holds. Rock is razor sharp and gloves are a MUST! I used fingerless gloves and my tips are still trashed. Mostly VS, but a short section of F6a+. (the face is 600m high). This is only the second line up the headwall and the only one on the headwall slabs. We went up the American Direct line on the lower half of the face. Simul climbed its 250m length in about 1.5 hours. (first ascent made a bivvy part way!) Really pleasant limestone slabs with short walls. Mostly F5+.

Stephen is snow boarding the 7 summits (this was number 6 for him). He climbed with his snowboard, looked odd, but Corey liked it for photos. ;-) We also did the nearby peak of Punjack Jaya (4800m+). It has a glacier on it and Stephen snowboarded it.

Anyone wanting to go there can email me for info. We used Adventure Indonesia www.adventureindonesia.com for all the in-country support. They were fantastic and I don't see how you could climb the peak without their local support. Our 'guide' has now done the peak 15 times! and was lots of fun in addition to being a great cook.

cheers,
Rob

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