Edinburgh teacher killed in Alps fall tragedy

Des Rubens.
Des Rubens.
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A popular schoolteacher and experienced mountaineer has died after falling into a crevasse in the Swiss Alps.

Des Rubens, 64, who recently retired from his role as outdoor education teacher at Craigroyston High in Edinburgh, was climbing the 4,274m (14,022ft) Finsteraarhorn – the highest mountain in the Bernese range.

Des had climbed all over … we’re absolutely stunned by his loss

John Fowler

According to police, loose rock caused a fall while he was crossing a ridge, and he fell into a glacial crevasse. His companion raised the alarm, but rescuers were unable to save Mr Rubens.

Former pupils and members of the climbing community paid tribute to a “lovely” man who inspired generations of children in Edinburgh.

One wrote on Facebook: “RIP Mr Rubens. A massive loss to all who knew or had the privilege to work with or be taught by him. Deepest condolences to his family and [he] will never be forgotten.”

Another said: “RIP Des, you were an inspiration to so many young people who had the privilege to work alongside you.”

Others shared fond memories of school trips canoeing under the Forth bridges, abseiling at Blackford Quarry and sharing packed lunches at the top of Munros.

Staff at the Alien Rock climbing centre in Newhaven said Mr Rubens was a “long-time” member and would be “sadly missed” at the facility.

John Fowler, secretary of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, was among those to pay tribute.

He said: “Des was a hugely experienced, competent and safe climber. He was a member of the club for 30-plus years and a previous president for two years.

“He’d climbed all over Scotland, the Americas and the Himalaya and we’re absolutely stunned by his loss – I’ve never received so many comments and tributes.

“Outdoor activities have been his life. He is probably the person we would have least expected to have had an accident of this nature.

“Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”

David Gibson, of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “We’d always been happy to contribute to his expeditions. It’s a sad loss. Our thoughts are with his family.”