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:
1. The climbing of Everest by
the South West Face with Dougal Haston
2. Surviving the breaking of
two legs near the summit of the Ogre (24,000 ft) and the 8 day descent to
3. 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.
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’.
Big Wall Climbing, 1974;
Shishapangma, Tibet, 1984(with
American Alpine Journal