WILLIAM WALLACE Mountaineer and conservationist
Born: August, 1932, in Edinburgh. Died: 25 February, 2006, in the Swiss Alps, aged 73.
SCOTTISH mountaineering has lost one of its best-known and best-loved adherents. Bill Wallace, at over 70 and with two artificial hips, had maintained his vigour as a mountaineer right to the end. On 25 February at the culmination of a week's ski-mountaineering in the Swiss Alps, he did one last sweeping, elegant turn on the snow, stopping beside his companions and died instantly of heart failure. It was a culmination he would have wished for himself. For his friends and family it is a tragedy. He was still vigorous, enjoying a happy and fulfilled life. We had all hoped to have many more years of his company, his kindliness and leadership.
Bill Wallace was born in Edinburgh and was educated at Heriot's. He trained as a chartered accountant in Edinburgh, and on qualifying moved to London, where he worked from 1957 to 1961. There he met his future wife, Maureen Herbert, of Clacton-on-Sea, at Scottish country dancing, an activity which the couple enjoyed all their days. He took the first opportunity he could find to return to Scotland and enjoy his native hills, for which he had a great passion, and huge knowledge. Thus, in 1961, he joined Ship Breaking Industries in the Gareloch, moving to Wilkie and Paul, Edinburgh, as finance director and company secretary in 1966. He remained there until the company went into receivership in 1984. He was quickly snapped up by Miller Group, where he stayed for only two years before joining Graham Tiso, of the outdoor equipment company, as director of finance in 1986. He retired from there in 1996.
He made a number of notable exploits. In 1958, with Hugh Simpson and Myrtle Emslie, he ventured to the Peruvian Andes. They were proud that all their climbs were unsupported by porters. Among seven ascents they made, the most notable was the first British ascent of the second-highest mountain in the Americas, the 6,768m Huascaran, in Peru, a most challenging climb. In 1965, he partook in a physiological experiment organised by Professor Hugh Simpson to test the effects of stress on human bodies (they adapt). The stress was to man-haul a sledge across the Greenland ice-cap, roughly following Nansen's route. Urine samples were taken from each of the team, which consisted of Hugh and Myrtle Simpson, Bill Wallace (the best man at the their wedding) and Roger Tuft.
Bill was involved at an early stage in the development of the John Muir Trust, acting as trustee, secretary and treasurer from 1988 to 2001, an immense contribution to the Trust, which was recognised by the award of an MBE in 2003.
He gave of his time and skill generously. In the 1980s he acted for two years as assistant national treasurer for the SNP. From 1979 to 1988 he was secretary of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, putting him at the centre of mountaineering politics in Scotland. He was appointed president for the period 1988-90.
Bill always had always played golf, but in his later years took it up with great enthusiasm.
He is survived by his wife, Maureen, and daughter, Fiona.