World News – UK – Doug Scott, senior mountaineer and survivor of the tallest open bivouac on Everest, dies at 79 – Rock and Ice


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« Of all British climbers after World War II, » Sir Chris Bonington told Rock and Ice, « Doug Scott was undoubtedly outstanding, joining the rich pantheon of international pioneer climbers from around the world. ”

Posted by Ed Douglas |
7th. December 2020

Doug Scott was his irrepressible self even in his last illness and dragged himself up the short flight of stairs in his Cumbria home to raise money for Community Action Nepal (CAN), which he founded in 1989 to help people in Nepal who had helped him. Climbing the stairs was part of CAN’s 2020 Everest Challenge, a way to raise money during the lockdown as the regular provision of funds, mostly from Doug, who gave public lectures, was no longer possible.

Doug had put on the old wind suit for the occasion, which he wore on the summit of Everest in 1975 during the first ascent of the southwest face. The picture by Dougal Haston shows him without gloves in the twilight next to the old Chinese tripod, ready for anything. It had to be him. That morning he had left the tent without wearing his down suit because it restricted his movement too much. Under the wind suit were silk underwear, cashmere, and nylon pile. It would be dark soon and their headlights would fail as they rappelled down Hillary Step. A bivouac was inevitable.

Back on the south summit, the couple crouched in a snow cave, the highest one had ever stayed overnight, ill-equipped and with exhausted oxygen. As the night went on, they began to hallucinate. Doug spoke to his feet, “who had become two separate, conscious beings who shared our cave. His left foot complained that it felt ignored, so he took off his boot and found it made of wood from the cold. He brought it back to life and Haston opened his down suit to place it against his stomach. When dawn allowed them to begin, they were not only alive, nor were a man frostbitten. Doug was out of luck: he felt empowered. His horizons had expanded. “I knew from then on,” he wrote in his memoir Up and About, “I would never burden myself with oxygen bottles again. ”

Scott died on the morning of Jan.. December at the age of 79 after battling a brain tumor.

His success and marvelous survival cemented Doug’s reputation as « physically and mentally, » as Jim Duff, physician on the 1975 Everest Expedition, put it. Duff saw his friend as « a force of nature with an ironic sense of humor » and shared Doug’s deep interest in spiritual discovery by reading the I Ching – the « Book of Changes » – and studying Buddhism. This combination of strength and curiosity, coupled with an almost frightening level of energy, was the hallmark of Doug Scott’s career, which spanned a revolutionary period in mountaineering when siege tactics gave way to alpine style.

« Of all British climbers after World War II, » Sir Chris Bonington told Rock and Ice, « Doug Scott was undoubtedly brilliant and joins the rich pantheon of international pioneer climbers from around the world. ”

Bonington himself discovered the excellence of Doug on the first ascent of The Ogre in Pakistan’s Karakoram Mountains, which Doug wrote about in his history of the summit. Once again, late in the day, Doug was pushing to secure the summit and Bonington struggled to keep up. Scott roped down the difficult head wall at an angle, slipped, and swung, breaking both legs. Scott was on 7. Stranded 200 meters and had no way to rescue on a mountain with considerable difficulty. In bad weather he crawled back to base camp, supported by teammates Mo Anthoine and Clive Rowland. It became one of the great epic mountain survival stories captured in a photo of Doug traversing steep terrain on his knees, teeth baring against the storm.

Doug Scott was born on Jan.. Born May 1941 in Nottingham, an auspicious day for a future Everest climber. His mother Joyce was a supervisor at the local cigarette factory before becoming a housewife. As a teenager, she visited a fortune-teller who told her she was marrying a man in uniform and that her eldest son would one day be in great danger in a high place. Her husband, George Scott, was a police officer and notable boxer and became a British amateur heavyweight champion in 1945. But he gave up dreams of the Olympics to focus on family and tend his garden. Doug inherited both his father’s stocky body and green fingers. « He grew amazing vegetables and had wonderful vegetable gardens in every house he lived in, » recalled Jim Duff. “You never left home without huge onions or whatever. ”

Many Scott generation British climbers found childhood inspiration in the 1953 Everest Expedition movie, but Doug was a fidgety boy and when his class was brought up the instructor had to tick him off for not sitting still. Doug’s journey to Everest began with exploring his own neighborhood, building caves, or roaming with friends. School was too boring when there was adventure and his education stuttered for a while. Given the prospect of a life in a factory or a coal mine, he knelt, took additional courses and developed a passion for reading that he never lost. He switched to high school and then to teacher training.

Scott discovered climbing during an Easter scout camp in 1955 when he saw climbers on Black Rocks above the Derwent Valley. He was hit immediately, and two weeks later he cycled the 20 miles back on his mother’s clothesline. He had irrepressible energy and lived life to the full. Married to his first wife Jan at the age of 20, he juggled a teaching career in the 1960s – often with his protégés in the mountains – a growing family, rugby and his passion for climbing. There were ambitious exploration expeditions with a close group of Nottingham friends, first to the Tibesti Mountains in Chad in 1963 and then to the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan in 1965, which drove overland in a truck.

Scott’s first reputation was as a rock climber making difficult first ascents in the Peak District and Yorkshire before moving on to The Scoop on the wild overhanging cliff at Strone Ulladale on the Isle of Harris. He climbed several difficult climbs in the Dolomites, including the north face of the Cima Harvest and the Troll Wall in Norway. He also visited Yosemite, climbed with the American star Royal Robbins and then made the first European ascent of the Salathé wall of El Capitan with the Austrian Peter Habeler. Scott liked the California outdoor scene; Once, and more by accident, he tried acid and switched to a less selfish way of life, which only deepened when he discovered the Himalayas and more mystical perspectives.

By then, he had stopped teaching after asking for leave of absence one too many times, this time to climb Mount Asgard on Baffin Island, and was making a living as a jobbing builder. One morning in February 1972 he received a call from Don Whillans in the bathroom inviting him to go on an international expedition to Everest’s southwest face, led by the stern Karl Herligkoffer, whom Whillans called the Sterling Scoffer, without any illusions as to why he British had the team. The expedition was fraught with problems, but Scott had discovered his real milieu, the otherworldly, physically punishing world of high-altitude mountaineering where his strength and ambition came to fruition.

After putting in a strong performance, he was asked about Chris Bonington’s first attempt in the fall of 1972, when he began an intense period of collaboration in which they climbed Changabang in the Indian Himalayas before the successes on Everest and The Ogre. In 1978, in the middle of an expedition to K2 and after teammate Nick Estcourt died in an avalanche, this productive relationship ended, although the two would later restore their friendship.

Doug’s biggest climb was arguably the new route he had climbed with Joe Tasker and Pete Boardman on Kangchenjunga. An easy climb that paved the way for a cleaner approach to the world’s tallest mountains. In the same year, 1979, he also climbed new routes on Kusum Kanguru and Nuptse. There were more attempts on K2 and a lengthy dispute with Makalu’s southeast ridge – a hugely dedicated climb that in 1984 came close to success thwarted by Jean Afanassieff’s decision to set the time. Although Doug was now in his forties, his pace remained relentless and he added new roles, including that of mentor.

“Doug Scott invited many young climbers to the Himalayas,” recalls Greg Child, “who enriched their lives and started their careers. I found myself at Shivling with him in 1981 after a chance meeting outside a Yorkshire pub. Then Lobsang Spire in Pakistan, 1983. Three more trips by the end of this decade. His expeditions were social experiments, pieces of performance art, sometimes complete failures. It didn’t matter. Bonington described Doug to me as a tribal chief. « To be with him on a hill and watch him clench his teeth against the wind and snow witnessed an unstoppable physical force. I got irritated on Shivling after running out of food 11 days in a 13 day climb. « You will never find enlightenment on a full stomach, » said Doug. Then he set off. He’s had a very good influence on my life. ”

The expeditions continued until the 1990s: a new route on Latok 3 and an attempt on Mazeno Ridge from Nanga Parbat. There were also other voyages of discovery to the Kanjiroba Himal in Nepal and at the end of this decade a brutal 18-day hike with Greg Child in the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh with the Indians Balwant Sandhu and Akhil Sarpu. « In due course, » wrote Doug humbly, « we all found ourselves lost in an environment we didn’t belong in and suffered accordingly. « . As in a Joseph Conrad nightmare, the team endured malaria, typhoid, infected leech bites and cloudy flies, barely seeing the sky through the jungle and barely seeing the mountains when they finally reached base camp, which Doug admitted because of their local Nishi leader. “My lasting impression is of them as professional mountaineers. ”

Doug used to say that he experienced physical decline around the age of 55, although that didn’t stop him, as the Arunachal trip proved. But after 45 expeditions to Asia alone, a knee injury slowed him down. His energy levels seemed more intense than ever, and he was involved in the representative bodies of the sport, particularly the UIAA, and was president of the Alpine Club in the U.. . K. . But he made his greatest efforts with the people of the Himalayas, especially in Nepal.

« He has brought so much back to society, » said Bonington, « with the charity he founded that has worked tirelessly for Community Action Nepal to provide effective relief to the mountain people who need it most. « . ”

Ben Ayers, CAN board member and long time resident of Nepal, understood the extent of Doug’s efforts. “His leadership of Community Action Nepal was defined by his generosity and almost limitless energy. Doug’s nearly constant lectures and fundraising drives have made hundreds of projects of all sizes possible in communities across the country. His strategy was to fully support local leaders with a vision for their communities. CAN’s work ranged from setting up schools for deaf children to building and equipping health clinics in remote villages. Teaching hundreds of local farmers to grow new and more effective crops and build life-saving shelters for porters high along popular trekking routes. After the 2015 earthquake, CAN was active in rebuilding health facilities and schools and has since focused on providing agriculture, health and education for the isolated region of North Gorkha in Nepal in the shadow of Manaslu. ”

In later years, Doug Scott found immense support in this work from his third wife, Trish, who also took care of him when he developed cerebral lymphoma. He had three children, Michael, Martha and Rosie, with his first wife Jan, whom he married in 1962. They divorced in 1988. He married Sharu Prabhu in 1993 and they had two sons, Arran and Euan, before they divorced in 2003. He married Trish in 2007 and she outlives him.

There are all kinds of good options here: long, short, curved gate, straight gate, wire gate . . . the list goes on!

Hamish MacInnes continued to develop the standards of Scottish winter climbing throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s, inventing equipment – including the Terrordactyl ice ax – that changed the game in terms of what was possible.

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Doug Scott, Mount Everest, Mountaineering, Alpine Club, Mountaineer, Baintha Brakk, Chris Bonington

World News – GB – Doug Scott, leading alpinist and survivor of the highest open bivouac on Everest, Dies at 79 – Rock and Ice


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