Fred Smith obituary | Mountaineering

My friend Fred Smith, who died aged 96, was an accomplished mountaineer who started the Merseyside Mountaineering Club with a group of friends in 1958. He was asked to be its first chairman, and it still thrives today today.

A few years before the founding of the MMC, Fred had joined Liverpool’s senior climbing club, The Wayfarers, and teamed up with, among others, climbing pioneer Peter Harding, creating a number of new routes in Snowdonia . He was also a regular visitor to the Alps and, accompanied by some of Britain’s best mountaineers of the day, including Dennis Davis and Ray Colledge, climbed peaks such as the Matterhorn, Täschhorn and Monte Rosa.

During this time, Fred also taught basic mountaineering skills to would-be climbers in evening classes, some of whom were women who found they weren’t allowed to join the Wayfarers. To solve this problem, he and a group of fellow night school climbers decided to create the MMC.

Fred Smith, left, during an ascent in Spain in 2007 aged 81, with Benidorm below

Fred was born in Bebington, Wirral, to Arthur Smith, a technician with Lever Brothers, and Ada (née Peers), a nursing sister. He left Bebington High School at 14 to take an apprenticeship with shipbuilders Cammell Laird, the first of several jobs that provided training in all things practical. While working as a draftsman at the Liverpool Telephone Exchange in 1956, he met Elizabeth (Bett) Walker and they were married the same year.

After working for three years in Malawi as a representative of McConnells, an import/export agency, with the encouragement of Bett, Fred changed direction joining the staff of the British Mountaineering Council in 1974 as an administrator.

A year later, he went into business, first as a salesman with mountaineering equipment supplier Karrimor, then as director of his own company, High Places, selling climbing equipment. At first he had mixed fortunes, until a huge order from the Ministry of Defense for 245,000 pairs of socks proved to be the launch pad for future success.

Over the years Fred continued to go to the mountains whenever he could. He climbed in southern Spain until he was 80 and climbed in Austria and the Dolomites when he was 87. When he was no longer strong enough, he walked on the local hills. He also maintained an active interest in the MMC, attending its committee meetings well into his 90s.

Bett passed away in 2020. He is survived by their son, Ian, and daughter, Christine.