Grandad passes on skills from Everest climber

Les Allinson at the Sunderland Wall with two of his grandchildren, Hannah, 8 and Ben, 9 scaling one of the walls.
Les Allinson at the Sunderland Wall with two of his grandchildren, Hannah, 8 and Ben, 9 scaling one of the walls.
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A GRANDAD who climbed with one of history’s most notable mountaineers is passing on his expertise at Sunderland Climbing Wall.

Les Allinson was 14 years old when he climbed Shepherds Crag with Mount Everest adventurer Bentley Beetham.

Beetham was famous for taking part in the ill-fated 1924 expedition to climb earth’s highest mountain, in which mountaineers George Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine disappeared. It was the pair’s third attempt at reaching its summit, and to this day no one knows if they reached the top.

Les, 83, who has taken over the Sunderland Climbing Centre Limited, based at Sunderland Climbing Wall, Pallion, was under Beetham’s instruction during the 1944 Lake District climb.

“Bentley Beetham was my house master at Barnard Castle School,” he said.

“He was very nice. I’ve got pictures of me doing the climb, and of him doing the climb, but unfortunately none of us together.

“He was never really mentioned from the Everest expedition until a few years ago, when there was suddenly an interest in it.”

George Mallory’s body was discovered on Mount Everest in 1999, though evidence collected from it still couldn’t prove if he had reached the top.

Now, Les, who stopped climbing in his 30’s after an accident while serving in the Army, is using his skills to tackle the world of business – running the climbing centre.

“We’re expanding,” he said. “The climbing centre is a big area – you can go from being a very basic climber to advanced – and there is a 60ft high climbing wall.

“But we’ve put in new climbs for children, put in new safety restrictions, retrained staff, and we’re going to start holiday climbing camps for children, and going on climbing trips.”

Les’s family have also picked up the climbing bug.

Daughter in law Jenny, 38, and grandchildren Charles, 14, Ben, 10, and Hannah, eight, all climb.

“They are very interested in climbing,” said Les, married to Janette, 70.

“But the grandchildren and daughter-in-law really enjoy it.

“It’s nice to be able to use my experience, and pass it on in the business.”