In Celebration of Rob Cochran

Here are two short films in celebration of the life of Rob Cochran, who died from cancer on 12th August 2015, aged sometime in his mid seventies.

 

Rob talking about everything and anything in his own inimitable way

 

Rob was one of the people we met through skiing in Val d'Isère, and over the course of 25 years he influenced our life in innumerable ways. He was a true original, a highly intelligent and well-informed man whose interests went from world politics and economics right down to the fit of his cherished Lange ski-boots - and he knew as much about both of those.

A successful solicitor, by the age of 49 he had burned himself out and decided to make a fundamental change in his life, turning his back on the law and on a life of being ground down by a 70 hour working week, in order to spend his time doing what he loved - skiing in the winters, and in the summers keeping fit by exploring the natural world of his beloved, and occasionally hated, Scotland.

To fund his winters he went to work as what he described as "an erk" in a ski shop in Val, the shop being Top Ski run by Pat and Jean Zimmer, one of the first "off-piste" ski-guiding companies in Val d'Isère. With them, he skied the off-piste all over the Éspace Killy in the company of the best guides and teachers, amongst whom was Wayne Watson, whom he credits with bringing him to Val in the first place. He was as enthusiastic about the minutiae of skiing technique and ski technology as anyone, and could spend any number of hours discussing ski-bindings or the amount of heel to use in turns in bottomless powder. After a number of years, a group of the guides, including Wayne, Chris Souillac and TJ Baird, broke away from Top Ski and left to set up their own ski-company Alpine Experience. Rob went with them and spent his time organising their groups of off-piste skiers, making sure the groups were of comparable skill levels and, most importantly, compatible temperament - and not to mention doing even more skiing himself.

But what, for us, really set Rob apart and what was most surprising in a middle-aged, Midlands solicitor was his love of music, all music - that is, all of what he considered good music. He was turned on to the emerging American rock and roll scene by the American armed forces radio as a teenager in the 50's and whenever we spent an evening listening to selections from his truly staggering collection it could be anything from Professor Longhair, Little Richard, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Shirley Brown, Cannonball Adderley, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson or the Neville Brothers. You never knew what would come next, only that it would be an enjoyable surprise. Nor was Rob's enjoyment of the music diluted by his appreciation of a single malt - even though the malt itself would be (only) slightly diluted, by water he collected from a mountain spring further up the valley.

When his enjoyment of the music reached its peak he would inevitably and loudly describe it as "Peabody" - a dance craze in the US in the early 20th Century. Peabody became the ultimate accolade from Rob and could apply to anything to the first turns in untracked powder under a ski-lift to a drum-solo from Art Blakey.

Rob brought a completely unique way of looking at the world to all of us who were lucky enough to know him. Even though he will be sorely missed, the lives of those who did know him are richer for having done so.

Watch the film and get a taste of his unique outlook on life as well as his quirky sense of humour.

 

 

Rob skiing some of his favourite routes in Val d'Isère