Trustees, Staff, Patrons & Advisors

A diverse and enthusiastic team are ensuring that mountain heritage is protected for now and for the future. We're a small team but we've got big ambitions.

Ian J Smith


Ian is the new Chair of the Mountain Heritage Trust and is a photographer, editor and writer who worked as Deputy Editor on three UK climbing magazines: High, Climb and Climber. He also spent time responsible for the PR and marketing for a UK distributor of outdoor equipment. As a volunteer, he has worked for over 43 years on climbing guidebooks for the BMC and The Climbers' Club and wrote the first-ever climbing guidebook for the island of Jersey. In 2017 Ian was presented with the George Band Award For Exceptional Voluntary Contribution to Mountaineering by the BMC. Ian served as a judge for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature in 2009 and in 2010 as Chair of Judges. In 2012 he was on the judging jury for film at the Kendal Mountain Festival. He has also been the President of The Climbers' Club.

Chris Martin


Chris has just completed his term as Chair and is continuing his work with the Mountain Heritage Trust as a trustee. He lives in the Yorkshire Dales and has been a passionate mountaineer and photographer for over 35 years. Whilst most at home on the fells of Lakeland or in the dales of Yorkshire, extensive travels in the Himalayas, Alaska, Africa, Morocco, Norway, USA, and Canada provide a lifetime of memories and an ever-growing list of ‘things to do’. Chris is a member of the Alpine Club, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and the Explorers Club. He remains a very keen photographer, particularly of wildlife and the natural world, and has seen his work published in international scientific and exploration periodicals. He is also a passionate collector of mountain literature.

Terry Tasker


Terry has walked and camped in the Lake District fells and around the UK and Scotland. She has a wealth of experience in working with community groups and young peoples’ projects. She comes from the field of Youth & Community work, Personal Coaching and Training. She is an independent consultant in her own right and has been instrumental in developing and setting up non-formal education programmes in a range of learning situations. She has written a range of papers and advised the Department for Education and Qualifications Curriculum Authority on structures of learning qualifications. She is also a Trustee of the Boardman Tasker Charitable Trust, which provides an annual literature award to books themed on mountains. She has helped MHT compiling the diaries and writing collections of her brother, Joe Tasker, for the ‘Towering Talent’ Archive Collection and is currently supporting the MHT office operations at Blencathra.

Sir Chris Bonington


Chris started climbing in Britain in 1951 making his mark with important new routes in the Avon Gorge, Snowdonia and the Scottish Highlands. He progressed to the Alps with the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney and the first British ascent of the North Wall of the Eiger before focusing on the Himalaya. He has made many other first ascents including those of Annapurna II, Nuptse and the Ogre. In 1970 he led the expedition that made the first ascent of the South Face of Annapurna and in 1975 he was leader of the famous British ascent of the South West face of Everest. The years spent climbing have given him direct experience of Britain’s post war mountain activities and fostered a deep understanding and respect for our mountain heritage. He has been President of the British Mountaineering Council and The Alpine Club.

John Porter


American born John lives in the Lake District. He works as a consultant to companies developing the capability to comply with standards in high hazard industries. He has climbed for 60 years around the world, serving his apprenticeship in the mountains of North America before moving to England to do post graduate studies. He was President of the Alpine Club 2017-19 having severed as Vice President previously for the BMC and AC. He raised the finance for the National Mountaineering Exhibition at Rheged in 2001 which attracted 39,000 visitors in its first year. His 2014 biography of Alex MacIntyre ‘One day as a Tiger’ won the Grand Prize for Mountain Literature at Banff in 2014 and is a worldwide best seller and award winner in eight languages.

John Innerdale MBE


Ex Chairman of MHT and founding Trustee member of MHT, John Innerdale is an architect, mountaineer, landscape painter and bee keeper based in the Lake District. A lifetime of walking and climbing in the UK, Alps, Norway, Pyrenees, Himalaya and Patagonia has helped him to understand and interpret mountain architecture. He was a member of the Langdale and Penrith Mountain Rescue teams. He now lives, climbs and sails in the Lake District as well as undertaking expeditions further afield. He is the curator and developer of a number of mountaineering and painting exhibitions for MHT. An active member of the Alpine Club, John is also a collector of mountain memorabilia.

David Johnston-Smith

Collections Manager

David is our new Collections Manager, based at the Trust’s office at Blencathra Field Studies Centre. Since qualifying as an archivist in 2018, David has catalogued the archives of sculptor, Dame Elisabeth Frink and documentary photographer, Raissa Page. He has also written a book about the latter. He has a background in libraries – both public and academic, educational administration and in bookselling. Always happiest with a hill or mountain in sight, David enjoys natural history, walking and cycling and cannot wait to get started on working with all the Trust’s collections.

Rachael Kelly


Rachael is a Professional qualified Parish Clerk & AAT qualified in Accounts. She lives in Penrith with her husband and two children. She is a Parish Council Clerk works part-time for the Mountain Heritage Trust. Rachael is also a keen walker and committed mum to her family. Although she was born in Kent, she moved to Threlkeld in 1995 where her maternal family goes back generations. Rachael’s skills as an administrator supports the Blencathra office operations.

Jeff Ford

Heritage Liaison Officer

Jeff Ford lives in the Northern Fells of the Lake District. He is a collector of mountaineering literature and ephemera as well as being a keen cyclist and walker. He has completed four rounds of the 214 Lake District Wainwright fells and all the Nuttalls, namely the 446 mountains of England and Wales over 2000 feet. Further afield he was a member of the British Nanda Devi Expedition in 2000 – Nanda Devi Inner Sanctuary and 1936 base camp led by John Shipton in the footsteps of his father, Eric Shipton. Two years later he trekked to Kangchenjunga and again in 2005 trekked with George Band and others to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Joe Brown and George Band’s first ascent of the mountain. In 2003 he visited Peru on an expedition that re-discovered the lost Inca city of Llactapata that was first discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1913. He was previously Chair of the MHT Board for four years until September 2018.

Nigel Vardy


Nigel is a keen mountaineer and collector of antiquarian mountaineering equipment and literature. He has studied history since childhood and believes strongly in promoting Mountain Heritage in education. As a teenager, his secondary school undertook outdoor pursuits as part of the curriculum and these experiences shaped his life. He is a great believer in outdoor education for all from an early age.Nigel has climbed in most of the worlds greater ranges, but when he’s not wandering the globe, he speaks in schools, outdoor centres and at mountain festivals. He suffered severe frostbite in Alaska and uses his experiences to motivate audiences across the UK and Europe. He’s often on TV and Radio, writes articles for the climbing press and is a core presenter at the Kendal Mountain Festival.

David Litherland

Honorary Project Development Officer

David started climbing as a teenager and has now been climbing for around 60 years. He has lived in Australia, Tanzania, Kenya and Malaysia and has climbed in all of those countries. He has climbed extensively in the European Alps from the Maritime Alps in the south west to the Julian Alps in the east and he is one of only around 20 British climbers to have climbed all the main 4,000 metre mountains in the Alps. He has also climbed extensively in New Zealand, North America and Africa. After retiring from the Oil and Gas Industry, he now spends his time between London, Llanberis and Penrith. When not walking and climbing, he spends time on his other main hobby of photography.

Will Lownsbrough


Will is a British entrepreneur who has spent the past ten years founding and growing businesses across a range of industries, focusing mainly on technology and marketing. Born and raised in the Peak District, Will grew up a passionate climber, being fortunate enough to have Curbar Edge on the doorstep of his parent’s house. In 2015, Will decided to take an opportunity to change how he worked, allowing him to pursue his love of climbing while being able to combine it with his background in technology and marketing. Will also acts as an adviser to businesses and individuals and is CIO at the award winning digital agency, Starberry.

Doug Scott CBE (1941-2020)


Doug was one of the leading mountaineers of his generation; he is a former President of the Alpine Club and Vice-president of the BMC. He stepped down as the UK’s representative on the UIAA, the world body for mountaineering. He was a former member of the UIAA Management Committee, and his aim was to help to preserve the best traditions of mountaineering. Naturally he considered the MHT vital in the role of informing the current generation of climbers of the great traditions of our sport. He was patron of, and an active supporter of a range of charities aimed at providing health and education to Nepalese communities and to improving the welfare and working conditions for the porters in Nepal.

Joe Brown CBE (1930-2020)


Patron 2012-2020. Joe Brown was one of Britain’s greatest rock climbers and his impact and influence has been profound. He made his name climbing on gritstone in Derbyshire before transferring his attention to climbing in Wales and the Lake District. He was well versed in mountaineering further afield too, having made the first ascent of Kangchenjunga in 1955, the first ascent of Mustagh Tower by the west summit in 1956 and the first ascent of Trango (nameless) Tower in 1976. Joe also climbed extensively in the Alps, the Dolomites, Morocco, Spain, Alaska, Kenya, Russia and South America. Having started his climbing at the age of 17, Joe was still putting up new routes at the age of 77. His achievements are legendary and we are extremely honoured that he was our first Patron.

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About Mountain Heritage Trust

From the first rock climbs on Napes Needle, to daring first ascents in the Greater Ranges, and incredible feats of competitive athleticism; our archive of films, images, books and artifacts echoes with some of Britain’s most iconic achievements and its boldest personalities. 

Now though we’re looking to the future, and asking what stories might lie amidst the crags and climbing gyms up and down the country. We all have own our mountain history, and in 2019 we're telling those inspiring stories from our incredible community.