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
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