Doug Scott, Titan of British mountaineering, dies

Posted by Niall Grimes on 07/12/2020
Doug Scott. Photo: Chris Bonington.

Doug Scott – one of the most legendary and respected mountaineers of the twentieth century, has died aged 79.

Scott, from Nottingham, began climbing at nearby Black Rocks in Derbyshire in 1953. From that point on he became a regular climber and within five years he was making his first alpine seasons.

However, it is with the high mountains of the world that Scott will always be associated and he made 45 expeditions to the mountains of Asia.

Two of his climbs, in particular, stand out: the first ascent of the South West face of Everest with Dougal Haston in 1975, where the pair survived an open bivouac at 8,760 metres, and the first ascent of Baintha Brakk  (The Ogre) in 1977. On the Ogre, Scott broke both legs and one of his partners, Chris Bonington, broke ribs, resulting in one of the most epic descents in mountaineering.

But Scott stands out equally for his style: he was a steadfast follower of the lightweight, alpine-style of mountaineering, favouring commitment over equipment. In this way, he shaped the path of climbing in the greater ranges away from their heavyweight, military-style sieges and dependency on bottled oxygen.

Another move away from the siege-style, with its sense of conquest, was his appreciation of, and connection to, the local mountain population. This deep connection led to the founding of Community Action Nepal (CAN), a charity aimed at improving the lives of the Sherpa community living in Nepal. Scott continued to work tirelessly for his charity for 30 years.

This March, he was diagnosed with cerebral lymphoma – a type of inoperable brain cancer – and shortly after lockdown he made one last climb up the stairs to raise funds for Community Action Nepal.



Doug on Everest in 1972. Photo Chris Bonington. 

The BMC greatly acknowledges the contributions Doug Scott has made to the world of mountaineering and to the BMC in particular. He was BMC vice president from 1994 to 1997 and in 2015 became one of our Patrons. He continued to play an active role in the direction of the organisation and, in recent years, was very involved in discussions around the spirit of adventure.

He was President of the Alpine Club from 1999-2001 and received numerous awards in recognition of his mountaineering achievements, including a CBE and the Patron's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. This October, he was awarded UIAA Honorary Membership

“Doug Scott was one of our most talented mountaineers. His Himalayan climbing adventures are legendary, but he was so much more than the mountains he climbed. Doug was a passionate and tireless advocate for both the spirit of adventure and the mountain people of Nepal. He became a BMC Patron in 2015, and everyone here at the BMC will deeply miss his continued enthusiasm and commitment. Our thoughts go to his family and friends.” – Lynn Robinson, BMC President

READ: Doug Scott's obituary in the Guardian by Ed Douglas



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Anonymous User
07/12/2020
This is so sad. Doug Scott was an absolute legend, I had the very great pleasure of meeting my hero at a couple of his talks in Scotland. He came across as a lovely man, and a pleasure to talk to.I had followed him and Douglas Haston from the publication of Everest the Hard Way and have avidly read all there histories, books etc. The photograph of dougal haston, taken by Doug Scott at the Hillary step is in my opinion the best mountain photo ever. My condolences to all who knew him, his family and all the CAN family. Thanks for your life Doug, you have been a total inspiration, in most of my 69years. He was not enamoured with the Everest tourism we have now.John Blake
Anonymous User
07/12/2020
Having shared Doug’s passing on my Facebook account here in Turkey, close on a hundred mountain climber friends of my generation (60s) who grew up and were inspired by Doug’s spirit and exploits in the mountains expressed their grief. Doug Scott gave meaning to Alpinism and touched our hearts as a human being. His indomitable spirit in the mountains was legendary and we took strength from him in our own Alpine endeavours. We feel his loss deeply and offer our heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to his family and friends. His memory will be with us.
Anonymous User
08/12/2020

RIP Doug A REAL MAN OF THE MOUNTAINS
Anonymous User
09/12/2020
do not make them like that anymore , but he did what he loved , RIP Mr Scott.
17/12/2020
so sad. Rest in peace
Anonymous User
21/12/2020
I well remember him at the Cottesmore School for Boys in the late 1950s.
He was the Chief Monitor and our School Captain. Just doesn't seem 65 years ago.
Anonymous User
02/02/2021
One of my heroes. I had the pleasure of meeting him at CAN fundraising events. He was the complete gent, lovely genuine guy with a heart of gold and a will of iron. So sad to hear he’s gone and won’t hear his voice again. Used to try and catch his lectures whenever possible, always a great night out.
Love to his relatives and friends.

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