Tom Richardson: Judgement Days in a Mountaineering Life

The most recent meeting of the camera club was taken to new heights quite literally when club chairman Peter Tickner welcomed mountaineer Tom Richardson. Tom’s presentation was titled ‘Judgement days in a mountaineering life’ and certainly his images showed just how much careful decisions have to be made when lives are at risk at high altitude.

We saw magnificent scenery, plenty of bearded climbers and the highest world peaks of Everest, K2 and many more besides. However, it was Tom’s commentary which really brought home the hazardous nature of his chosen pursuit. It is true to say that there were many shaken heads as he described coping with emergencies, stolen equipment, the regular return to where he had just climbed because of forgotten items, dealing with the problems of using oxygen cylinders and not least the decisions that had to be made to slaughter a sheep if his party wanted to eat.

You might think that after falling off his first mountain in 1979 that this would have been a significant deterrent. But not so. Since then Tom has been climbing mountains all over the world.

Photography up mountains presents its own challenges not least the ability to press the shutter in sub-zero temperatures and so he now works with a small Canon compact with a big on/off shutter button. As a photographer he had just three rules – always have your camera out, take pictures and the more dangerous the situation the better the picture! Not many of us were keen to follow all these rules!

Tom followed his presentation with a lively question and answer session in which we discovered that yes he does do ordinary things like gardening but at the end of the day there is always another mountain to climb.