DOUG SCOTT 1941-2020

DOUG SCOTT 1941-2020

by LFTO |

DOUG SCOTT, ONE OF THE TRUE GIANTS OF BRITISH MOUNTAINEERING, HAS PASSED AWAY AT HIS HOME IN CUMBRIA AGED 79 AFTER A BATTLE WITH CANCER.

During his climbing career, the Nottingham-raised geography teacher was as renowned for his superhuman powers of survival as he was for his equally incredible mountaineering achievements. Scott’s resolutely itchy feet and hunger for technical, lightweight new routes on big walls and high-altitude peaks led to a CV of extraordinary diversity and length.

In 1974, alongside Chris Bonington, he became the first human to stand atop Changabang (6864m), and a year later made the first British ascent of Everest with Dougal Haston.

Perhaps his most defining moment, though, was an eight-day descent off Pakistan’s Ogre (7285m) in 1977 with broken legs, alongside Bonington, who was suffering from broken ribs and pneumonia.

Below are a selection of our favourite quotes from the many fascinating interviews he gave to Trail magazine during a memorable association with the magazine over the past 30 years.

ON OVERCOMING FEAR IN THE MOUNTAINS...

“Have I ever been afraid? There’s no fear when it’s all happening. It’s only when you anticipate doing something dangerous that you start to panic. You always have nerves before a climb, because anything can happen… but when it’s happening, you’re just there, doing it.”

— November 2009

ON SURVIVING THE HIGHEST EVER BIVVY ON EVEREST…

“When I was 19, on Christmas Eve myself and a friend got hit by a storm on top of Bidean nam Bian and ended up spending the night on the summit. We only had very light clothing and had to get out of the wind, so we made a mound of snow and got our legs into it. We eventually made a dome over our heads and sat there – in this little igloo – for 14 hours. Experiences like that gave me the confidence to not think too badly about an unplanned bivouac near the summit of Everest (in 1975). It can be pretty mean in Scottish winter.”

— May 2013

ON THE TOUGHEST CLIMB OF HIS LIFE…

“The most demanding climb of my career was Kangchengjunga in 1979. First ascent of the south face, alpine-style, without oxygen. When the margin of safety was the most satisfyingly thin… close to the edge, but not off it.”

— November 2009

ON HIS FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL ON THE OGRE...

“Somehow the body copes. It sort of shuts down to let you survive, somehow. But it was very cold, so that helped. If I’d have broken my femur I would not have got off, I would still be up there.”

— July 2017

ON MENTALLY OVERCOMING SERIOUS INJURY...

“Imagine you’re part of a commando group behind enemy lines, operating completely cut-off and self-contained, carrying all your own gear. If anything happens, there’s only you, your little group, to take care of the injured man. It shows how much a small group can take care of something as dramatic as somebody ending up with broken legs.”

— July 2017

ON LOSING GOOD FRIENDS TO CLIMBING…

“You can walk into a pub and meet a guy that you did a hard climb with and pick up where you left off 20 years ago. The sad thing for us is that a lot of the people we did that with are now gone, so the friends that are left are precious.”

— July 1996

ON HIS FAVOURITE LAKELAND PEAK…

“Saddleback (Blencathra) is my favourite mountain. It’s got so many facets. It’s distinguishable from so many directions.”

— July 1996

ON SHAVING OFF HIS ICONIC BEARD…

“I shaved it off to look younger. The only reason I ever grew it was ’cos I was sick of shaving!””

— July 1996

In Trail Articles, Q&A, News, Mountaineering legends, Interviews Tags Doug Scott

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