R. L. Holdsworth

Romilly Lisle Holdsworth, commonly known as R. L. Holdsworth, (25 February 1899 – 20 June 1976) was an English scholar, academic, educationalist, cricketer and a distinguished Himalayan mountaineer. He was a member of the first expedition to Kamet in 1931, which included other stalwarts such as Eric Shipton and Frank Smythe.[1] Holdsworth, along with Shipton and Smythe, are credited with the discovery of the Valley of Flowers, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, during their return from Kamet.[1][2]

R. L. Holdsworth
R.L. Holdsworth, The Doon School.jpg
Born(1899-02-25)25 February 1899
Mysore, India
Died20 June 1976(1976-06-20) (aged 77)
Somerset, England
Other namesHoldie
Alma materMagdalen College, Oxford
OccupationScholar, schoolmaster, cricketer, mountaineer
Known forSchoolmaster at Harrow School, England
Deputy Headmaster at The Doon School, India
Principal of Islamia College University

Early lifeEdit

The Oxford University Cricket Team, 1922; Holdsworth sits on the chair at the left corner.

Holdsworth was educated at Repton School, where he was a pupil of Victor Gollancz, later a famous publisher. He attended Repton under the headmastership of William Temple, the future Archbishop of Canterbury.[3] He later attended the University of Oxford, where he read Literae Humaniores or Classics at Magdalen College.[3] At Oxford he earned a Triple Blue for cricket, football and boxing.[4] He was a first-class batsman and played cricket for Sussex, Warwickshire and Marylebone Cricket Club.[5][6][7][8]

Holdsworth briefly served in the First World War as a lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade in 1918 (he served until 1919), after leaving Repton.[9]


Holdsworth held various distinguished positions in his lifetime. In 1922, he joined Harrow School as a schoolmaster. He was made the master-in-charge of cricket and played for Sussex County Cricket Club. In order to encourage ski mountaineering at Harrow, he established a club called the Marmots.[10] After leaving Harrow in 1933, he took over as principal of Islamia College in Peshawar, Pakistan (at the time in British India), in which position he served for seven years until 1940, when he joined The Doon School in Dehradun.[11] At Doon, he met his old colleague J. A. K. Martyn, whom he had known since his days at Harrow. Martyn was the second headmaster of Doon School.[12]

He later retired in Somerset, England.

Climbing highlightsEdit

  • 1924 – Holdsworth was invited by George Mallory to join him on the 1924 British Mount Everest expedition but he was so adamant on taking his skis along that the invitation was withdrawn. Holdsworth later remarked that his "intransigence saved my life" because it was on this expedition that Mallory disappeared along with Irvine.[11]
  • 1931 – Holdsworth was a member of the first expedition to climb Kamet (7,756 m) in 1931, at the time the highest peak yet climbed.[13][14] During the Kamet expedition Holdsworth, Shipton and Smythe discovered what they called the Valley of Flowers[15] in the Himalaya, now in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Holdsworth also holds the record of smoking a pipe at the summit of Mt. Kamet.[16]

Cricket careerEdit

Holdsworth was active in first-class cricket from 1919 to 1942. He played for Warwickshire and Sussex. He appeared in 109 first-class matches as a righthanded batsman who scored 4,716 runs with a highest score of 202 among eight centuries.[17]


  1. ^ a b "Colonel Frank Smythe – Francis Sydney Smythe, 1900–1949". Voyages in Time ~ The Family Vault. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  2. ^ Nalni D. Jayal (2006). "Early Years of Indian Mountaineering". Himalayan Club. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  3. ^ a b "OBITUARY – KENNETH MASON". Himalayan Club. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  4. ^ Shalini Shah (27 November 2009). "VISHRANTI: an ode to rest". The Hindu : Life & Style. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  5. ^ "First-class Bowling For Each Team by Romilly Holdsworth". Cricket Archive. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  6. ^ "First-class Batting and Fielding Against Each Opponent by Romilly Holdsworth". Cricket Archive. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  7. ^ "County Championship Matches played by Romilly Holdsworth (62)". Cricket World Statistics. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  9. ^ Dale Vargas (2010). "Assistant Masters". Harrow Association. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  10. ^ "IN MEMORIAM – ANDRE ROCH (1906–2002)". Himalayan Club. 2003. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  11. ^ a b Shaw, Michael (1 November 2008). In Search of Time Wasted: Peregrinations from Seil Island. AuthorHouse. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-4343-4443-4. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  12. ^ "Trek to Harkidoon- Ruinsaratal- Kalanag Base camp". My Himalayan Adventure. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  13. ^ Kapadia, Harish (1999). Across Peaks and Passes in Garhwal Himalaya. Indus Publishing Company. p. 40. ISBN 978-81-7387-097-2.
  14. ^ Narinder Kumar and Kapil Malhotra, Kamet East, Kamet West: The Kumaoni Expedition, New Delhi: Vision, 1987, ISBN 978-81-7094-003-6, p. 12.
  15. ^ F. S. Smythe (1949). The Valley of Flowers. W.W. Norton. ISBN 81-85019-98-3.
  16. ^ "In Memoriam" (PDF). The Alpine Journal. p. 307. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  17. ^ Romilly Holdsworth at CricketArchive
  • F. S. Smythe, Kamet Conquered (1932) Gollanz, London
  • F. S. Smythe, An Alpine Journey (1934) Hodder, London
  • F. S. Smythe, The Spirit of the Hills (1935) Hodder, London
  • F. S. Smythe, The Valley of the Flowers (1938) Hodder, London

External linksEdit