Highlands & Islands

Nanda Devi: Climber Moran had led more than 40 Himalaya treks

Martin Moran Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Martin Moran is a well-known name in the UK climbing community

The Scotland-based mountaineer who is among the eight missing in India had led more than 40 treks up peaks in the Himalayas.

Tyneside-born Martin Moran was leading the group on an attempt to ascend an unclimbed and unnamed 21,250ft (6,477m) summit.

The latest update from the rescuers is that five bodies have been spotted in the Nanda Devi region.

The last contact made with the group was on 26 May, and its members reported that "all was well" and they were to make an attempt on the summit.

The following day a large avalanche is believed to have swept down 7,816m (25,643ft) Nanda Devi and debris from the slide was later found near the route Mr Moran's group was taking.

The alarm was raised on 31 May after the eight failed to return to their base camp. The search effort since has involved fellow mountaineers, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation and air force pilots.

Mr Moran's name is legendary in UK climbing circles.

He graduated in geography at Cambridge University before studying and qualifying as a chartered accountant.

But the outdoors, and in particular mountains, are his passion.

'Risked his life'

In the winter of 1984-85, Mr Moran and his wife Joy made the first completion of all Munros - more than 280 Scottish mountains with a height of 914m (3,000ft) or more - in a single winter season.

He wrote about their adventure in the book The Munros in Winter.

Mr Moran's friend, former RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team leader David Whalley, first encountered the mountaineer in Scotland's mountains in the 1980s.

"Martin had already made his name as a great mountaineer down south and from the early 80s I came across him a few times on walks in the hills," Mr Whalley said.

The friendship grew after the Morans moved to Lochcarron, a small community in Wester Ross in the north west Highlands, and established their adventure holiday business, Moran Mountain.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Moran and his group are missing in the Nanda Devi region

Mr Moran also joined Torridon Mountain Rescue Team, whose patch includes some of Scotland's highest and most striking mountains.

"Torridon has some big cliffs and Martin has helped to rescue people from some very difficult places up there," Mr Whalley said.

"He has risked his life on rescues.

"Martin has a heart of gold and all he wants to do is make sure people get off a mountain safely."

'Incredible climber'

Mr Moran's reputation as a mountaineer has also grown over the years.

In 1993, he and fellow climber Simon Jenkins climbed 75 4,000m (13,123ft) Alpine peaks in 52 days. The men cycled between the different ranges involved, rather than using motorised transport. making it the first self-propelled traverse of Alpine peaks of 4,000m.

The previous year, the Morans' business started offering guided Himalayan expeditions. Since then, the company has run more than 40 treks and climbs in the Indian Himalayas.

The business then offered climbing courses in Norway and Arctic mountaineering in 2005.

Image copyright Dan Bailey
Image caption Martin Moran's friend Andy Nisbet, right, pictured with Steve Perry, died in a climbing accident in February

Mr Whalley said Mr Moran was a climber of the same stature as Hamish MacInnes, the renowned Dumfries and Galloway-born mountaineer and climbing equipment inventor who first ascended the Matterhorn in the Alps when he was just 16.

"Mr Moran is the same sort of person," he said. "Very professional, an incredible climber and famous among mountaineers.

"He is also a great writer. His book Scotland's Winter Mountains has everything you need to know about Scotland's mountains in winter. But it is not a book just about facts, it is filled with stories."

Mr Whalley said Mr Moran's online blogs tackled criticism of climbing that has followed fatalities in the mountains, and he wrote a "powerful" obituary to his friend Andy Nisbet, a well-known Scottish climber who died along with his climbing partner Steve Perry in a fall on Ben Hope in Sutherland in February.

Despite his high profile in the UK climbing community, Mr Whalley described Mr Moran as "very private".

"Martin is very humble, selfless and cares about those around him," he added.

More on this story