We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Anthoine, Julian Vincent [Mo] (1939–1989), mountaineer, was born at 249 Marlpool Lane, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, on 1 August 1939, the second of two children of Joseph Franklin Anthoine (1907–1972), carpet designer, and his first wife, Enid May Smith (1899–1944). He was educated at Bennett Street primary school and King Charles I Grammar School in Kidderminster, before leaving at sixteen to become a trainee manager in the carpet industry. His first climbing experience occurred during an Outward Bound course that was part of his management training. He began to spend spare time climbing in north Wales, and left the carpet industry after a summer climbing in the Alps to take a job as climbing instructor at Ogwen Cottage Outdoor Pursuits Centre in north Wales.

In 1961 Anthoine hitch-hiked across Europe and Asia to Australia, where he took a variety of jobs. On returning to Britain in 1963, he married on 22 February 1964 Margaret June Golding (b. 1939/40) of Bangor, a hotel receptionist, the daughter of Roland Golding, a Post Office engineer. He enrolled at Coventry College of Education, where he completed his certificate in education in 1967. After teaching for one year in Sheffield he moved to north Wales, where he started a company (Snowdon Mouldings) which manufactured climbing helmets and other equipment. He also became a technical consultant for film and television productions, and worked as a safety officer, camera operator, and stunt double on such films as The Mission, Rambo 3, and Five Days One Summer. His marriage was dissolved on 17 April 1968 and he married, second, on 25 January 1969 Jacqueline Marie (Jackie) Phillippe (b. 1944) of Nant Peris, a clerk, the daughter of John Arthur Percy Phillippe, an accountant.

Anthoine's climbing career falls into two parts: in the 1960s he focused on technical rock climbing and alpine mountaineering in the European Alps, and during the 1970s and 1980s he went on expeditions almost every year to the mountains of North and South America, Africa, and the Himalayas. He made a number of first ascents of British rock climbs, the best-known being The Groove on Llech Ddu in north Wales. However, Anthoine's reputation as a mountaineer began to be established on his expeditions. While a number of the Himalayan expeditions were to relatively unexplored areas (such as Garhwal, Kishtwar, and Langtang), his more notable expeditions include Roraima in 1973 (MacInnes), Trango Tower in 1976, Ogre in 1977, Gasherbrum IV in 1978, and two attempts on the north-east ridge of Everest (1986, 1988). He was a climbers' climber, and his reputation as a strong and safe mountaineer might have remained within the closed world of mountaineering if it had not been for his friendship with the poet and writer Al Alvarez. He probably saved Alvarez's life on a storm-bound ascent in the Italian Dolomites in 1964, of which a fictionalized account (‘Night Out’) appeared in the New Yorker in 1971. Alvarez's biographical profile of Anthoine (‘Feeding the Rat’, 1988) also appeared in the New Yorker. An extended version was published as a book by the same title, which derives from Anthoine's attempt to characterize his ‘itch’ for adventure—his need regularly to feed the ‘rat’ that gnawed away at him.

Anthoine's skill, modesty, and refusal to publicize himself were most evident on the Ogre ascent in 1977, when he and Clive Rowland effected an amazing rescue of Doug Scott (broken ankles) and Chris Bonington (broken ribs). In the blaze of media attention that followed, Bonington and Scott were identified as the heroes; Anthoine was content to remain in the background and take no credit. He was an amateur in the best sense of that term, and always emphasized the process rather than the outcome. Safety, the companionship of friends, and travel to and from the mountains were all more important than the summit. The Times noted that his ‘earthy humour [was] balanced by great warmth and inventiveness’, and Ian McNaught-Davis, who gave the eulogy at his funeral, described him as a ‘rich, generous and unpredictable character’. However, the ‘earthy humour’ could sometimes become cruel, and his ‘unpredictability’ included a very low tolerance for pomposity and officiousness.

Mo Anthoine died of a brain tumour on 12 August 1989 at his home, Tyn-y-ffynnon, Nant Peris, Caernarvonshire, survived by his second wife, Jackie, and two children. He was buried at St Peris Church in Nant Peris on 18 August. At the time of his death, he and Joe Brown had started to use their experience to help organize expeditions for young climbers. Anthoine once told Alvarez, ‘But to snuff it without knowing who you are and what you are capable of, I can't think of anything sadder than that’ (Alvarez, Feeding the Rat, 158). In his short but full life he evidently fulfilled his ambition.

Peter Donnelly

Sources  

A. Alvarez, ‘Night out’, New Yorker (4 Sept 1971), 26–31 · A. Alvarez, ‘Profiles: feeding the rat’, New Yorker (18 April 1988), 89–115 · A. Alvarez, Feeding the rat: profile of a climber (1989) · The Times (14 Aug 1989) · I. McNaught-Davis, Mountain, 130 (1989), 18–19 · J. Perrin, The Guardian (15 Aug 1989) · private information (2004) [A. Anthoine, brother; J. Anthoine, widow; D. Potts, friend] · M. Anthoine, ‘El Toro, Peru’, Alpine Journal, 75 (1970) · J. V. Anthoine, ‘Trango conclusion’, Alpine Journal, 82 (1977), 184–5 · M. Anthoine, ‘The British Ogre expedition, 1977’, Alpine Journal, 83 (1978) · J. Curran, Suspended sentences: from the life of a climbing cameraman (1991) · H. MacInnes, Climb to the lost world (1976) · D. Scott, ‘A crawl down the Ogre’, Mountain, 57 (1977), 38–46 · D. Ackerman, Deep play (1999) · b. cert. · m. certs. · d. cert.

Likenesses  

photographs

Wealth at death  

under £100,000: administration, 25 Oct 1989, CGPLA Eng. & Wales