Geoffrey Winthrop Young

Geoffrey Winthrop Young

Geoffrey Winthrop Young was born in 1876. While at Trinity College, Cambridge, he developed a love of mountaineering. He was also a talented poet and won the Chancellor's Medal for English Verse at university.

In 1909 Young met George Mallory. The two men became close friends and that summer they climbed together in the Alps. Young also climbed the Brouillard ridge of Mont Blanc and made the first complete traverse of the west ridge of the Grandes Jorasses. In 1913 Young was elected president of the Climbers' Club.

When George Mallory married Ruth Turner on 29th July 1914, Geoffrey Winthrop Young. On the outbreak of the First World War a few months later, Young became a journalist with The Daily News. Young was a pacifist and was a strong opponent of the conflict. However, when faced with the tragic consequences of the war, he resigned as a war correspondent and joined the Friends' Ambulance Unit at Ypres. This involved transporting both casualties and refugees away from the Western Front.

In 1917 Young went to Italy to establish an ambulance service in the mountains of the Italian-Austrian front. On 31st August he was hit by an Austrian shell. His left leg was so badly wounded that it had to be amputated at the knee. He then had to walk sixteen miles in two days to avoid being captured by the Austrian Army.

On 16th September 1917, Young wrote to George Mallory that he was already planning to climb with an artificial leg: "Now I shall have the immense stimulus of a new start, with every little inch of progress a joy instead of a commonplace. I count on my great-hearts, like you, to share in the fun of that game with me."

After the war Young worked for the Rockefeller Foundation. He continued to climb with an artificial leg and over the next few years reached the summits of the Matterhorn and Zinal Rothorn.

Young also had a strong interest in education and along with his friends, George Mallory and David Pye, talked about opening their own progressive school. According to the authors of The Wildest Dream: The Biography of George Mallory (2000): "George Mallory went so far as to prepare a draft prospectus for the school." However, the death of Mallory while climbing Mount Everest in 1924 brought an end to this plan.

In 1932 Young began lecturing on education at London University. He also joined the campaign to persuade Ramsay MacDonald to allow Kurt Hahn to enter the country in 1934. Later that year he helped Hahn establish the international school at Gordonstoun in Moray. The two men were also involved in the creation of Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme and the Outward Bound movement.

Young was president of the Alpine Club from 1941 to 1944 and the main figure behind the founding of the British Mountaineering Council during the Second World War.

Geoffrey Winthrop Young died at eighty-two in 1958.