BOB ANDERSON (1934 TO 2014)
By Chris Thickett
Robert Shield Anderson was born in 1934 in Newcastle upon Tyne but the family moved to Newcastle under Lyme when Bob was young. His love of the outdoors was developed as a sea scout at Rudyard Lake and on a schoolboy walking holiday to the Pyrenees.
After serving his National Service in the RAF, he studied to become a Chartered Civil Engineer working for various local authorities. He joined the North West Water Authority at its inception in 1973 and when he took early retirement he had become their chief technical officer.
Bob didn’t start mountaineering until his forties when he started climbing with his son Steve. After Steve went off to university, Bob joined the Karabiner Mountaineering Club in 1979 with his main activities centred on their Ty Powdyr hut in North Wales, a time when I regularly climbed with him. After the day on the hill, we would walk down to the Royal Victoria for refreshment then climb the 200 vertical metres back up, bouncing off the walls of the zig-zag path to arrive back at the hut still not too sober.
Although he went to the Alps, his favourite memories were ice climbing on Ben Nevis grade fives with Tony Dilger of the KMC and on crags such as Cloggy with Neville, a university friend of Steve. Other memorable climbs were Vulcan Wall, Dawn Grooves and The Prow in the Skye Cuillin with Phil Ramsbottom.
Phil will tell you that he would sometimes read the guide book without his glasses and consequently find himself lost. Whenever, his climbing partner joined him in these situations, he would calmly hand over the book with “Here! You sort it out!”
Although Bob never held any official position with the KMC, he always went out of his way to welcome and encourage new members attending meets. Many members will tell you they did their first climbs with Bob.
After early retirement, he joined the midweek Down Hill group along with Derek Seddon, Iain McCallum and Jim Taylor. This group of pensioners demonstrated that age did not slow them down on their Thursday walks in the Peak District. When I first joined them, I likened it to chasing old men round Derbyshire.
In 1997, Bob became a member of the FRCC, climbing with Tony Field and others from the Leeds area. It was round about this time we met up again as a climbing partnership. Both retired, we were free to make frequent visits to the Lakes and Snowdonia during the weekdays when climbs were less crowded. Into his 70's, Bob was regularly still leading up to Hard Severe (4c) or scrambling in his usual ebullient style or charging past other hill walkers of half his age.
Bob regularly attended FRCC meets and especially enjoyed the company on the midweek events at High Moss, Glan Dena and those in the Dales.
Unfortunately, he developed a problem that resulted in a lack of feeling in his feet together with a loss of balance. This put a stop to climbing and scrambling, but showing his characteristic determination, he learnt to walk with poles and continued to visit the Lakes. In the last couple of years he completed a 3 day hut to hut, 10 miles a day, which delighted him as for the previous five years he had not been able to do this.
Then, tragically, he contracted cancer last autumn. Initially appearing to win this fight, he finally succumbed on 23 February this year.
Bob was a enthusiastic, determined and cheerful companion in the mountains, and a larger than life character in the huts. He earned the title ‘Uncle Bob’ for his avuncular manner. He is survived by his wife, Elaine, his children Steve, Helen and David as well as 6 grandchildren. He will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him!
Chris Thickett, March 2014