Edwin Drummond, 73, Who Turned Climbing Into Activism, Dies

Edwin Drummond, 73, Who Turned Climbing Into Activism, Dies


Much of Mr. Drummond’s poetry was connected to climbing. During some readings he cavorted on a 20-foot-tall metal tripod, which he called a “portable mountain.” His poetry and prose were compiled in several books, including the collection “A Dream of White Horses: Recollections of Life on the Rocks” (1987). The title refers to the name he gave one of his first ascents, on a seaside cliff in Wales.

In the opening stanzas of “To Climb or Not To Climb,” the book’s first poem, Mr. Drummond compares struggling to climb to language:

If climbing is speaking a fluent body language,

yesterday was all Greek

to me …

Feet stuttered on doorsteps of granite:

a blank face.

Tongue-tied, my fingers

let me down, looking at the ground

as if I’d forgotten my name.

Edwin William Drummond was born on May 14, 1945, in Wolverhampton, England, to William and Madeline (Parton) Drummond. His father worked for the post office, and his mother was a domestic worker.

After graduating from high school in Wolverhampton, he studied philosophy at the University of Bristol and began climbing; he later wrote that his first lines of poetry came to him on a first climb. He supported his climbing and writing with a series of jobs, his son recounted in a tribute on the British Mountaineering Council’s website: “fireman, painter and decorator, lumberjack, steeplejack and teacher from time to time, to almost make a living.”

Mr. Drummond’s marriages to Josephine Ward, Grace Davis and Lia Simnacher ended in divorce. He lived in San Francisco for many years before moving to the care facility several years ago.

In addition to his son, from his marriage to Ms. Ward, he is survived by two daughters from his third marriage, Fiume Usnick and Areanna Drummond Simnacher, and two grandchildren. A son, Silvan, died before him.

Mr. Drummond developed his climbing protests of the early 1990s into a global effort, with the assistance of the United Nations, to raise environmental awareness and call for universal human rights. The event, called Climb the World, raised money for both causes and called for people in dozens of countries to climb local hills and mountains in a show of environmental solidarity. Thousands took part.



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