British mountaineering titan Doug Scott dies

Doug Scott, one of the 20th century’s most legendary and respected mountaineers, has died at the age of 79.

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

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

Two of his climbs, in particular, stand out: the first ascent of the southwest face of Everest with Dougal Haston in 1975, where the duo survived an open bivouac at 8,760 meters, 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 his ribs, resulting in one of the most epic descents in mountaineering.

But Scott also stood out for his style: he was an unwavering follower of light and alpine mountaineering, prioritizing commitment over equipment. In this way, he shaped the path of climbing the greater distances, away from their heavy military-style seats and reliance on bottled oxygen.

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

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

Doug on Everest in 1972. Photo Chris Bonington.

The BMC greatly recognizes Doug Scott’s contributions to the mountaineering world and to BMC in particular. He was vice president of BMC from 1994 to 1997 and in 2015 became one of our patrons. He continued to play an active role in leading the organization and in recent years has been very involved in discussions around the spirit of adventure.

He was President of the Alpine Club from 1999 to 2001 and received numerous awards in recognition of his achievements in mountaineering, including a CBE and the Patron’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. Last October, he received the title of honorary member of the UIAA.

“Doug Scott was one of our most talented climbers. 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 the adventurous spirit and the mountaineers of Nepal. He became a BMC Patron in 2015, and everyone here at BMC will deeply regret his continued enthusiasm and commitment. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. “ – Lynn Robinson, President of BMC

READ: Doug Scott obituary in Ed Douglas’ Guardian

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