||Wright, Jerry (1895-1975)|
||Before the Great War professional mountain guides in the Alpine sense had not really existed in the UK. However, a much slicker type of professional climber began to emerge during the 20s. Jerry Wright was the most visible of a new breed of men who used recognisably modern methods in drumming up trade. Well-off clients would pay Wright to guide them up such classic British routes as Napes Needle (it’s perhaps hardly surprising that the Needle is now so polished; Wright claimed to have climbed it more than 600 times). Wright aroused controversy, not so much for what he did, so much as how he promoted his business. The Keswick-based guide consciously marketed his services using the press and consciously strove to retain a high profile. In the still overwhelmingly amateur ethos of British climbers this provoked a distinctly negative reaction. In the politically-charged atmosphere of the late 1930s one of the more extreme insults he received was the charge from one F&RCC member that he had introduced ‘Mountaineering Mussolinism’ to Britain, and that he was a fascist (presumably because he had been responsible for inviting a group of Munich climbers to visit in 1936 and occasionally climbed in a black shirt). In fact Wright was a life-long socialist and conscientious objector who had gone to prison for refusing to serve in the armed forces during the Great War. He developed a thick skin; ‘Criticism flows over me; it never hurts,’ was his sanguine response.
Wright’s legacy was that he helped to introduce hundreds of people to the sport of rock climbing, and his example paved the way for the development of modern guiding in the UK. A magazine he founded became the forerunner to the highly influential Mountain Magazine of the 70s & 80s whose ‘Mountain Info’ section continues to be published and which continues to form the most authoritative journal of record of world mountaineering.
Further reading: A Century on the Crags, Alan Hankinson, 1986
||Wright, Jerry E B (1895-1975)