Doug Scott

Grizzled guru of the Greater Ranges


Appearance: Northern geography teacher

Style: dead-pan delivery, deep-pan insight

Memorable quote: “anyone interested in buying a Russian tower stove?”

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Mellow, mystical Scott is a unique phenomenon in British climbing. Born 29th May 1941, he still retains the cachet of being one of the lads, while simultaneously possessing maximum respect by the establishment – he is the John Peel of mountaineering. And like Radio 1’s elder statesman, he has somehow managed to develop this tremendous authority without an encumbering gravitas with which to alienate a younger generation.

Scott is extraordinary by any standards; proof positive that you can still be cool, and collect a bus pass. Never afraid to voice opinions on ethics, philosophy, politics and ecology, he has developed a gently polemical style to a fine art. In amongst the inspiring shots of the mountains of the world Scott plants little revelatory time bombs; from the terrible human and ecological costs of strip mining in Irian Jaya, and the brutal injustices enacted by the Chinese in Tibet, to the pointlessness of towing lardy millionaires up huge dangerous mountains, and the philosophical bankruptcy world climbing faces in the wake of the all-conquering bolt. You may not always agree with his opinions, but they are worth hearing, being informed and cogently argued. Scott is the nearest we have to an intellectual professional mountaineer, something which in most people’s experience could be taken to be a contradiction in terms.

However, don’t worry, because a Scott talk is not an Open University seminar, there are no kipper ties and brown corduroy jackets. Instead the narrative is enlivened by the best of a lifetime’s worth of stunning photography and lubricated by a flat-vowelled wit so dry it could mop up beer tables. A must see performer.

Doug Scott has made 45 expeditions to the high mountains of Asia. He has reached the summit of 40 peaks, of which half were first ascents, and all were climbed by new routes or for the first time in Alpine Style.

Apart from his climb up the South West Face of Everest with Dougal Haston during Chris Bonington’s Expedition of 1975, he has made all his climbs in lightweight or Alpine Style, without the use of artificial oxygen.

He has reached the highest peaks on all seven continents -“the Seven Summits”, been a past President of the Alpine Club and was made a CBE in 1994 by Queen Elizabeth II.

In 1999 he received the Royal Geographical Society Patron’s Gold Medal.

The main events of his climbing career are:

  • The climbing of Everest by the South West Face with Dougal Haston
  • Surviving the breaking of two legs near the summit of the Ogre (24,000 ft) and the 8 day descent to safety

Making the first ascent of Kangchenjunga from the North West with Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker – in light weight style and without oxygen. This was the first time one of the big mountains had been climbed with such minimal support and without oxygen being available for climbing.

Photography: Doug Scott’s photographs have been on the front cover of mountain books than those of any other photographer. His work appears in his own book ‘Himalayan Climber – A photographic autobiography’.

Publications:

  • Big Wall Climbing, 1974
  • Shishapangma, Tibet, 1984(with Alex MacIntyre)
  • Himalayan Climber,1992

Contributor to:

  • Alpine Journal,
  • American Alpine Journal
  • Mountain Magazine,
  • Himal Magazine

 

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