Klaus J Cramer


Active member
Klaus J Cramer, born 17 July 1932, was killed on 9 August 1993 whilst climbing the flank of Akher Chioh, a 7020m peak in the Hindu Kush range, by an ice avalanche released by an earthquake. It was as if the Earth itself had shook to call home the geologist who had loved her dearly and who had looked at so many of her hidden corners above and below ground.

The Munich Speleological Society thus has lost a founding member and chairman (since 1976), the German Cave and Karst Research Association has lost a former chairman (1980-93), the Salzburg Society and the Austrian Caving Association, as well as the European and international speleological unions, a very active member. And many of us now miss a friend and a fellow caver, a trusted comrade, of robust good humor and infinite knowledge.

Undaunted by tight Alpine shafts and meanders, Klaus had been active in cave exploration right up to the present.  He didn't specialise in cave photography, but was held in high esteem by that demanding bunch as a patient "flash slave" and model: at least we retain many good pictures of him! More often, his camera was heard clicking on the surface where he meticulously recorded Man's sins against Nature.

In Society and Association affairs, he was one of the characters that are so sadly lacking in modern politics - a democrat, but with clear-cut aims, never dominating, always persuasive, happy to let others enjoy themselves after their own fashion, but an eloquent (sometimes verbose) defender whenever caves and karst were under some new threat.

The same traits guided his journeys to the mountains of the Middle East.  Far from the haughty We-pay-and-we-trek attitude, he mingled and made friends with the local population, wearing their clothes and sharing their food. The climbing expeditions he took part in turned to the neglected 6 and 7 km peaks, avoiding the fame and infamy of the "8000s club", and made a nearly unprecedented point of carrying every item of rubbish back down from their camps. In a strange but fitting twist of fate, his body (and that of his rope partner Anita Burkhardt-Fendt killed by his side), were the first ever in that part of the world to be retrieved from the glacier at 4300m altitude by a daring Pakistan Army helicopter crew (who didn't hesitate to stretch the chopper's altitude specification), rather than being buried on the spot.