Richard Dennis Hudson
Rick Hudson was born in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1947. As a schoolboy he participated in numerous sports (cricket, rugby, tennis, field hockey), in a country that was sport crazy, but never felt passionate about any of them. In 1965 he began skiing while on a gap year in Europe and later started rock climbing while attending the University of Cape Town. Within a day of putting his hand to rock, he knew where his future sporting passion lay. Table Mountain rose directly behind the university campus and was the perfect training ground with steep, hard rock, an infinite numbers of routes, and all within walking distance.
Rick went on his first expedition in 1968, climbing Kilimanjaro (5895m) as a warm-up for Mount Kenya (5199m) where the group of 4 students spent 3 weeks and repeated numerous classic routes on superb rock. A year later he survived 2 weeks in Glencoe, Scotland, attending Hamish MacInnes' infamous winter climbing school at the Clagaigh Inn. At that time it was a leading centre for ice climbing using newly developed ice tools by MacInnes.
After graduation with a B.Sc. electrical engineering in Cape Town, Rick worked in Johannesburg for a year where he teamed up with the University of Witwatersrand mountain club, making many first ascents in the Transvaal Province, while preparing for an expedition to Patagonia. The granite spires of the Paine area were then completely unknown. There were references in a book written by a monk in the 1940s (in Italian), and one short article in the newly published Mountain Magazine out of the UK. On the strength of those two rather vague references, 9 climbers visited the region in December 1971. They spent 52 days in the peaks, made the first ascent of the Espada (Sword) and Cuerno Norte (North Horn) and pushed the first 700m of the 1400m vertical East Face of the Central Tower, before food, time and energy ran out.
Rick then teamed up with a buddy and spent a month making first ascents in Tierra del Fuego, and later in northern Patagonia, as the weather moved up the Andes. In the Cordillera Real of Bolivia, after bagging the first ascent of the South Ridge of Huayna Potosi (6,088m), he and an American partner made the first alpine ascent of Illampu (6368m). On the descent he fell, so with a sore back he cut short the trip and went up to Cambridge University in the fall of 1972 as a Smith Scholar.
Academe followed. In the summer of 1973 he married his University of Cape Town sweetheart Phee Gardiner; they spent their honeymoon climbing in the Alps. But the mountains of Europe were too crowded, so in 1974 and 1975 Rick led expeditions to south and east Greenland, where the team made many first ascents, including the first grade VI routes there. At Cambridge, he was lucky enough to become acquainted with some of the early Himalayan pioneers like Eric Shipton, Bill Tilman, I.A.Richards, Charles Warren and Noel Odell, many of whom were ex-Cambridge University Mountain Club men themselves.
Rick completed his PhD in early 1976. Phee and he had earlier bought a Volkswagon camper van which they drove overland to the Karakorum in Pakistan (the road was still open, although certain countries were iffy). There, they met 2 friends who had flown out, and together tried and failed on K7, a remote rock spire near Masherbrum. There followed another 3 months climbing in Kashmir and Kulu Provinces of India, where they made a number of successful alpine pushes.
Back in Britain in the dark days before Christmas 1976, they saw little future in South Africa and its apartheid politics, so spent a month crossing Canada, meeting old friends in Toronto, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver. In Alberta they were offered jobs, so returned to South Africa to apply for immigration papers. When permission came, they moved to Canada via another month of climbing in Patagonia, where Rick and partner failed on the huge unclimbed east ridge of Mount San Lorenzo (at 3706m the highest peak in Patagonia), but made the first ascents of a number of other technically difficult summits in the area.
Shortly of arriving in Calgary in 1978 they attended an ACC evening and teamed up with Don Forest who introduced Rick to the Grizzly Group. For the next 3 years, whenever he was in town, Rick climbed with them. The group made numerous summer and winter ascents in the Rockies and Selkirks, which helped Don reach his goal of being the first person to climb all the 11,000'-ers in the Rockies.
During this time Phee and Rick started a family, with Jacqui born in 1978 and Peter in 1980. In 1981 they moved to Vancouver Island where the climate was milder. Rick started Polar Tech, a company supplying services to the Arctic oil & gas industry, and this subsequently merged with Applied Microsystems, an oceanographic company that grew to be Canada's largest, based in Sidney. Phee became the financial comptroller of Coca Cola's west coast operations, and time was spent raising kids and building careers. Nevertheless, the family took summer holidays in the Rockies and Coast Mountains, where they hiked and climbed easy peaks.
Phee started the very successful Mineral World and Scratch Patch, a tourist attraction that was part jewellery store and part kid's playground. As a result, Rick became interested in prospecting, and after many field trips wrote two field guides on gem and minerals for western BC (Orca Books).
By 2000 the young had moved on to university, and it was time to reconnect with the peaks in a more serious way. Mount Albert Edward, Big Interior Mountain and other peaks became the weekend destinations, as they learned the complex topography that makes up the Island. That same year, Rick began travelling to remote ranges again, something that had been absent for the previous 2 decades. With son Peter they visited the Tien Shen Mountains in eastern Kazakhstan, which had just opened to westerners, and in 2002 he and Peter did the last remaining section of the Haute Route (Alps) on skis, which had previously eluded him.
2002 saw the resurgence of VI section summer camps, driven by the enthusiasm of Gerta Smythe. That first year it was the Tonquin Valley near Jasper; in 2003 it was Lake Lovely Water; then Lake O'Hara (2004), Roger's Pass (2005), and then a summer trip (again with Gerta's lead) to Sorcerer Hut in the Selkirks in 2006; Yoho and the Stanley Mitchell Hut in 2007.
In between, there were trips to the Everest region in 2003 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first ascent, to Sikkim and Kangchenjunga (3rd highest peak in the world) in 2004, a return to Patagonia after 39 years away in 2005, the Bugaboos and Cascades several times, Mount Baker by the North Ridge (Becky route) and the Roman Wall routes, and a 10-day peak bagging trek along the Italian-Austrian border in 2011.
In 2008 he teamed up with his climbing friends from 1968 to re-climb Mount Kenya, but a week of snow (in the dry season) forced them to retreat. That summer he organized a section trip to the Kokanee Hut, and participated in Catrin Brown's ski week in March for the 5th consecutive year, although he slept through most of it because he'd just returned from working in Kazakhstan, a 12 hour time shift away! 2008 was also the year he belatedly finished the IQs (which he'd started in 1989 when John Pratt, Sandy Briggs and he made the first ascent of the Southeast Ridge of Rugged Mountain). Of those nine IQ summits, 3 were via new routes, one was solo, and on Mount Colonel Foster they did the grand traverse. In 2008 he became ACC-VI Secretary, a role he held until 2012 when he took over from Cedric Zala as Chair.
What are Rick's proudest accomplishments? "Both Jacqui and Peter are avid mountaineers, and have achieved a great deal more in their time that I ever did," he said. "That's a source of considerable pleasure to Phee and me." What about ACC-VI achievements? "A section trip during Easter 2004 to the Pebble Glacier stands out as an amazing 4 days. We had perfect weather, a great group, and prime snow. Of course, if it's perfect snow we're talking about, then Catrin's Valkyr ski week in 2006 has to be right up there - deep powder every day and superb tree skiing. Mind you, another of her trips to the Esplanades, when it touched -33?C at night, delivered some amazing powder. And maybe our trip to Peru in 2010 when we pioneered a new high level circuit of the Huayhash Range - it was tough, with 1000m rises and falls every day, roping to over 5000m on almost no food! That was great. In retrospect."
legacy includes starting the 2nd Thursday of the month social evenings
at Swan Lake in Victoria, taking the photo competition from traditional
slides into the world of digital cameras and projectors, and in 2011 organizing
the discount purchase of 'smart' avi transceivers for over 50 members
when the old analog units were no longer acceptable. He started the tented
summer camps which in 2010 went to Mount
Alava/Bate near Gold River, in 2011 to Athelney Pass in the
Coast Range, and in 2012 to Mount McKelvie near Tahsis. In 2011 he received
the ACC's Don Forest Service Award.