Rick Allen perishes on K2
68-year-old Scottish mountaineer Rick Allen has lost his life while attempting to establish a new route on K2. In 2012, together with Sandy Allan, he completed the historic first traverse of the interminable Mazeno Ridge on Nanga Parbat.
Rick Allen, one of Scotland's most renowned mountaineers, has died on K2 while attempting to establish a new alpine-style on the southeast face of the second highest mountain in the world. The 68-year-old was caught in an avalanche, while his two climbing partners Jordi Tosas from Spain and Stephan Keck from Austria escaped unharmed. Rescued by Pakistani helicopters, they were subsequently transported to Skardu.
Born in 1953, Allen was one of the strongest mountaineers of his generation, a legend in his homeland for his mixed climbs (such as the spectacular Raven's Edge at Buachaille Etive Mor) and for his ascents on the highest mountains in the world. While it is impossible to list all his routes and attempts, his most representative climbs include a new route on the south face of Ganesh II (Lapsang Karbo) in Nepal established over a period of 12 days in the autumn 1984 together with Nikola Kekus, a new route up the southeast face of Pumori in 1986 with Sandy Allan, and a new, extraordinary direttissima on the north face of Dhaulagiri in 1993 with a Russian expedition. Furthermore, he summited Everest in 2000 after failed attempts in 1985 and 1987, and climbed the fearsome Diamir Face of Nanga Parbat in 2009 with Sandy Allan.
Despite this amazing pedigree Allen was not a star on the international climbing scene, but in 2012 this changed when over a period of 18 days together with fellow countryman Sandy Allan he completed what for decades had been described as "one of the last great problems in the Himalayas", the interminable Mazeno Ridge on Nanga Parbat. After two previous attempts with Doug Scott in 1992 and 1995, the two mountaineers, well in their 50’s, completed the historic first traverse relying on their unfathomable determination, resilience and technical ability. Over 13 kilometers at altitude, with eight peaks higher than 7000m, along the insidious crest that divides the Rupal Face from the Diamir Face... Carried out in pure alpine style, the climb was rightly celebrated as an absolute milestone in high altitude mountaineering and rewarded with the Piolet d'Or 2013.
The mountains were evidently an integral part of Allen's life and in the years following the epic Mazeno climb he continued climbing actively; in 2018, during an attempt on Broad Peak, he got lost in descent and miraculously suvived after being guided by a drone.
Allen was on K2 now with Briton Jerry Gore to raise funds for Partners Relief & Development. On the official Facebook page, the charity stated on 25 July, "Rick died doing what he loved the most and lived his life with the courage of his convictions. Rick was committed to serving the worlds poorest and most vulnerable communities, and worked as a key member of the leadership of Partners Relief & Development UK for several years, campaigning for free, full lives for children affected by conflict and oppression."
After spending decades in the mountains, Allen was acutely conscious of both the dazzling beauty and the terrible dangers that the mountains hold. Conversing with his good friend Simon Richardson, who has described him as "not just an incredible mountaineer but a very kind and gentle man", prior to leaving for the Mazeno Ridge in 2012, Allen wrote about precisely these risks: "If you are someone who prays, please pray for us. If not, please pray anyway."