Lydia Corfe Press, 1984 – 2008; Vita Brevis.

Lydia died on Friday May 2 in a tragic mountaineering accident on La Tour Ronde, a peak near Mont Blanc. Lydia, aged 24 was from Pootings, Crockham Hill, near Edenbridge, Kent.

Lydia was a special person known to and loved by many people. A climber of trees from the earliest age, she spent many family holidays camping in the mountains with her father, Nigel, a Geologist and keen mountaineer, her mother Julia Corfe, an Artist and her older sister Naomi. She won an academic scholarship to Sevenoaks School where she was also a musician and had already started climbing. In her teens she received formal climbing training in Scotland and Wales. She was a holder of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award at Gold Level and was active in raising money for WaterAid.

On leaving school Lydia performed in chamber opera at The Edinburgh Festival and then became a choral scholar at St Martin in the Fields Church, London and sang with many choirs, including with her parents in The Tallis Choir in Greenwich, before going to St Peter’s College Oxford to study earth science with a choral scholarship. Lydia was a leading light in Schola Cantorum Oxford, broadcasting on Radio 3 and touring with them in Argentina, Mexico and Israel. She also sang with the contemporary music choir Commotio, with whom she recorded new music.

Lydia was President of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club, and represented the University at badminton. She obtained her degree in earth science and did her undergraduate field mapping in the Cantabrian Mountains. In 2006 she undertook fieldwork in Cambodia on behalf of the charity Action contre la Faim studying groundwater geochemistry and presented her results on behalf of her co-authors at The Goldschmidt Symposium in 2007.

At the time of her death she was a postgraduate student of Environmental Policy and Management at The Central European University in Budapest, and typically of Lydia, was the student representative for the course. She was an experienced climber for her age, and had pursued her love of climbing all over the world, including the Rockies, the Alps, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, the Atlas, Thailand, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and throughout Britain.


Her Professor in Budapest wrote:

"I remember some time ago she asked me for a few days leave to attend a funeral of a friend who died after an accident in the mountains. I asked her if she still wanted to continue this sport despite this tragic event. Her reply was that if one admires doing something, one should accept accompanying risks and behave cautiously. I just cannot believe it happened to her."


Lydia was full of life and friendship; she worked hard, played hard and lived life very much to the full, possibly to overflowing. It is difficult to imagine how she achieved everything she did. She was totally aware of the risks of climbing, but she died after a glorious day in the mountains, happy in the sport which was her passion.