Chris and I were not close friends. I think I should be clear about that. I last saw him just before Christmas, I think. Memory does not serve me well, because the last thing I was expecting was to not see Chris again. He was forty-three years old for heaven’s sake.
In the deceitful way that it does, social media had replaced direct contact. I Iast communicated with Chris just days before his death. He had posted a “memory,” a photograph of the some Cheshire Walkers taken at Ashness Bridge in the July of 2008, Chris casually sitting on the little stone packhorse bridge with his long legs dangling over the waters of Barrow Beck. “11 years? OMG!” I commented and Chris recalled how the photo had been taken the day after we had climbed Scafell Pike, how some members of the group had drunk a little too much that night and had been told off for being rowdy at the campsite. I am looking at Chris’s Facebook page as I write this, in the peculiar way that our social media profiles survive us posthumously.
A regular member of the Merseyside “Fillyaboots” Ramblers’ club, Chris would on occasion appear on a walk with the Cheshire Walkers, the Rambler’s club to which I have been ensconced for many years. So it was through these sporadic appearances that I came to know this tall, enthusiastic Liverpudlian. Again memory fails me as I try to recall the first walk on which I met Chris, but I certainly remember him being with us on some classic days out such as our circuit of the Snowdon Horseshoe in June 2008 and a rather cold and damp linear walk I led one Easter over Mynydd Mawr in Gwynedd when we took the Welsh Mountain Railway from Waunfawr to Rhyd Ddu.
Chris was a consummate mountain man; a fearless scrambler, often leaping ahead over rock steps whilst the rest of us struggled to haul ourselves up at the rear. He often spoke of his joy at completing the Aonach Eagach ridge in Glen Coe, not once but twice. And this is what I will remember about Chris, his joy, his enthusiasm for being in the hills and mountains of the British Isles.
The nineteenth century American environmentalist Henry David Thoreau said “On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devoted to us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfil the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” Death often comes as a wakeup call to those who knew the departed, especially in the case of one taken so young. This weekend I will be out walking in the countryside, and in future, whenever the opportunity arises; whenever I make the opportunity. In some small way Chris will be with me, with others who knew him and walked with him, as his promise continues to be fulfilled.
RIP Chris Grice. Rambler. 1976-2019