Legendary Climber Doug Scott Dies at 79
Legendary climber Doug Scott has passed away at the age of 79. He died Monday morning at his home in the northern Lake District. He had been diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year. Along with Dougal Haston, he was the first Brtish mountaineer to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1975. Two […]

Legendary climber Doug Scott has passed away at the age of 79. He died Monday morning at his home in the northern Lake District. He had been diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this year. Along with Dougal Haston, he was the first Brtish mountaineer to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1975.

Two years after Everest, Scott broke both legs while descending Baintha Brakk, the 7,285-meter Karakorum peak known as the Ogre, an infamous peak in the Himalayas. It required a very serious technical climb at high altitude. Scott made it to the top, but during the descent he slipped on the ice, swung like a pendulum on his rope, and broke both legs.

His climbing partner, Chris Bonington, was also injured. Bonington was able to help Doug down at the start, but he too had a fall on the descent that broke ribs and developed pulmonary edema. He was in bad shape. Scott spent nine days crawling into the Ogre with no food or pain medication, before a group of comrades managed to save the two men. The story did not appear at the time, in part because Scott was ashamed of what had happened.

Apart from his first ascent of the southwestern face of Everest with Haston, all of his other Himalayan climbs were made in a light or pure alpine style. He was the pioneer of great wall climbing on Mount Asgard on Baffin Island, El Capitan in Yosemite, Denali in Alaska, Changabang, Nuptse, Kangchenjunga, Shishapangma and Shivling in the Himalayas.

Scott has made over 40 first climbs in the Greater Ranges around the world. On Everest, he bivouated with Haston in a small oxygen-free snow cave, 100 meters below the summit. In January 1985, Scott, Greg Child and Rob Wood made the second winter ascent of Grand Central Corridor V on Colonel Foster on Vancouver Island. Check out the adventures of Wood and Scott here.

He started climbing at the age of 13 after sparking his interest on trips to the Peak District. Scott was a former President of the Alpine Club and received the Piolets d'Or Award of Excellence.

In 2018, Scott visited Canada to participate in the Banff Mountain Festival where he spoke with Geoff Powter for Voices of Adventure.

He then went on several speaking tours and raised funds for a group he co-founded called Community Action Nepal. A spokesperson for the association said: “He passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning, surrounded by his family. He was in a good mood until the end and never stopped fighting.

Captions Doug Scott and Allen Steck in Banff Photo Pat Morrow

Scott's great climbs

1965: Tarso Tiroko, Tibesti Mountains of Chad with Ray Gillies, Clive Davies and Pete Warrington
1967: South face of Koh-i-Bandaka, Hindu Kush with Ray Gillies
1970: Salathe Wall of El Capitan with Peter Habeler
1972: Mount Asgard, Baffin Island with Dennis Hennek, Paul Nunn and Paul Braithwaite
1974: Changabang, first ascent with Bonington, Haston et al
1974: Pic Lenin, Pamirs, with Clive Rowland, Guy Lee, Braithwaite
1975: South-west face of Everest, with Haston
1976: South Face Denali, Alaska, with Haston
1977: Baintha Brakk (more commonly known as the Ogre), Karakoram, with Bonington, and descent with both legs broken to the ankles with the selfless help of Mo Anthoine and Clive Rowland
1978: Mount Waddington, Canada, with Rob Wood
1979: North ridge of Kangchenjunga, with Pete Boardman and Jo Tasker.
1979: Nuptse, north face, Nepal, with Georges Bettembourg, Brian Hall and Alan Rouse
1981: Shivling, India, with Bettemboug, Greg Child and Rick White
1982: Shishapangma, Tibet, south face, with Alex MacIntyre and Roger Baxter-Jones
1983: Lobsang Spire, Karakoram, with Child and Peter Thexton
1984: Chamlang, East Ridge, Nepal, with Michael Scott, Jean Afanassieff and Ang Phurba
1988: Jitchu Drake, Bhutan, with Prabhu and Victor Saunders
1992: Nanga Parbat, peaks from the center of Mazeno, with Sergey Efimov, Alan Hinkes, Ang Phurba and Nga Temba.
1998: Drohmo, south pillar, Nepal, with Roger Mear
2000: Targo Ri, central Tibet, with Julian Freeman-Attwood and Richard Cowper

Voices of Adventure with Scott


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Rock climbing is everywhere these days. From the Dawn Wall to your Instagram feed to the new gym going up in town, climbing is no longer the fringe sport it once was. Kids are starting to climb almost before they can walk, and now more than ever, there’s no reason for you not to give it a try as well. However, climbing can be one of those intimidating hobbies to begin. Many ask, “How do I get started ? ” citing fear and feeling overwhelmed with gear and safety as huge barriers to entry. We get it, and so what follows is everything you need to know to get out on the rock.

The term “rock climbing” encompasses a great number of techniques, from bouldering to big wall climbing, to mountain climbing and mountaineering. Before you begin, it might be important to first identify what style of climbing you are interested in, or perhaps to ask, “Why do I want to climb ? ” Do you want to summit peaks, boulder at your local gym, or perhaps learn to lead climb at the local crag ? Do you want to make friends, be outdoors, or get in shape ( or all three ) ? Once these questions are answered, you can work out the potential steps you’ll need to take to get there. Below ( in the Sport vs. trad vs. bouldering section ) we attempt to inform this decision by breaking down the various genres of climbing; each has its own specific culture, gear, and learning curve.

Climbing is a complex sport : it’s potentially expensive to get into, difficult to find mentors, and can be dangerous if not done correctly. With the evolution of climbing gyms, however, it’s easier than ever to give climbing a try : just grab a friend and head to the nearest gym, rent a pair of shoes and a harness, and jump on the bouldering wall. However, if and when your progression leads you to climbing on ropes and outside, technical skills become essential to safety. Many choose to learn from friends; however, safety is so important that we recommend enrolling in a formal class. The easiest and best way to learn the essential skills, which include belaying and tying proper knots, is by taking an introductory course at your local gym. Or, if you’re interested in climbing outside or even more specifically climbing in the mountains, seek out a class either through your gym or a local guide.

The first indoor climbing gym opened in Seattle in 1987. Now just 30 years later, there are 430 gyms across the nation, with over 50 more in construction at the time of writing. Areas like the Denver metropolis have as many as 10 gyms, all stuffed to capacity each day. Whereas climbers used to be a tiny community of mostly adult men with access to the wilderness, the climbing gym revolution has brought climbing to the masses. It’s safe to say that more people now climb indoors than outdoors. The climbing gym has developed its own culture, and climbing inside - “pulling on plastic, ” as climbers often say - is vastly different from climbing outdoors. It is arguably safer, much more convenient to access, and far more social; for these reasons, the gym is an excellent place to begin climbing. Gym passes cost anywhere from $6 to $30/day, with monthly memberships being the best option for those who go regularly. Outdoor climbing takes place on boulders, on cliff bands, and in mountains - anywhere where there is solid rock'n'roll, climbers can be found. Some of the most popular genres of rock'n'roll to climb include granite, sandstone, limestone, basalt, and conglomerate blends. Each of these kinds of rock has its own style of climbing, from overhanging jugs much like gym climbs, to technical slabs, to splitter cracks. Climbing outdoors demands a higher level of spécialité than climbing in the gym, as there are more variables and dangers on real rock. Weather can be a factor, as well as rock'n'roll fall. Climbers will also need to possess a great deal more gear to climb outside, including their own rope and harness, quickdraws or other protection, a personal anchor and locking carabiner, and a helmet. Although many climbers begin in the gym, some learn to climb immediately outside, most commonly with the help of a guide or an instructional course.

Rock climbing is generally broken down into three categories : sport climbing, traditional ( trad ) climbing, and bouldering. Climbers tend to specialize in or prefer one discipline over the others, though many climbers participate in all three. Sport climbing is a style of climbing where the leader attaches quickdraws to pre-existing bolts, looping the rope through the quickdraws for protection while ascending the cliff. Sport climbs are often one-pitch climbs where the leader then comes back to the ground after fixing the rope to the anchor, though in some cases these climbs might continue up larger faces for multiple pitches. As a discipline, sport climbing focuses on difficult movement, endurance, learning to face fears, and risking a fall ( and being caught by the rope, bien sûr ! ). Trad climbing is the most rootsy and historical form of climbing, in which the leader climbs weaknesses in the rock ( generally, cracks ) and places gear in these weaknesses that will hold the rope in the case of a fall. Although trad climbs can be single-pitch routes like the majority of sport climbs, they often ascend features that are more than one rope length and end at a summit ( these are called “multi-pitch climbs” ). Trad climbers generally love long and adventurous days of climbing in wilderness areas, focusing on movement, logistics, technical rope and gear skills, and partnership. Bouldering is perhaps the most modern form of climbing, and certainly the fastest-growing. Boulderers ascend boulders or bermuda cliffs ( generally 20 feet and under ), using pads and spotters at the base for protection instead of ropes. Bouldering is a form of climbing that focuses on difficult movement and problem solving, and is more social than the other disciplines. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few other forms of climbing : aid climbing, alpine rock'n'roll climbing, speed climbing, and deep water soloing. Pick your poison ( or shall we say passion ) : each has its own set of joys and défis !

One of the first things you’ll learn when starting to climb is how to choose a route that suits your ability level. In the gym, climbs generally are labeled with a difficulty rating; outside, climbers use guidebooks and often a phone application called Mountain Project to identify the difficulty of climbs. In the U. S., climbs are rated using the Yosemite Decimal System; in short, 5. 3 is a very beginner climb, and 5. 15 is an expert-level route. These ratings do not denote danger, only difficulty. As a beginner, you’ll most likely be choosing routes 5. 7 and under, and often routes that can be top-roped. Top-roping means that the climber establishes an anchor from the top of the climb so that the rope is already in place, rather than leading the route from the bottom. Many routes in the gym are set up with top ropes; outside, climbers can often hike to the top of the cliff or feature to drop a rope down over the climb.

Each discipline of climbing necessitates a different set of gear. For all types of climbing, however, a beginner will need a pair of climbing shoes. For just starting out in the sport, we recommend finding a comfortable pair of climbing shoes ( don’t be persuaded by the salesperson at your local gear site to purchase painfully tight shoes ). Delicate footwork will come later in your climbing career; for now you will just be developing an ability to stand on your feet and trust the rubber of your new shoes. All climbers will generally want to carry a chalk bag and chalk as well, which they will either wear around their waist or keep on the ground ( sometimes the case while bouldering ). Climbers dip their hands into chalk to dry off sweat and keep them from slipping off the rock. Boulderers will need the above two pieces of gear, in addition to a bouldering pad ( and friends with bouldering pads ! ). Bouldering pads are placed in the fall zone of a boulder problem, and the more the merrier ( and safer ! ). tera climb on ropes both in a gym or outside, climbers will need a climbing harness. Climbing harnesses come in a range of weights and specifications - some for sport climbing in particular, some with larger gear loops or more padding for trad climbing. Harnesses need to be replaced every few years for safety reasons, so we again recommend purchasing an affordable harness and replacing it when you have a better understanding of your needs. Along with a climbing harness, it is essential to own a belay device and locking carabiner. This equipment will enable you to belay your partner in the gym or outside, and rappel if needed. If climbing outside, a helmet is extremely important in case of rock fall. The above-mentioned gear provides the basics for personal gear needed for a day of climbing or bouldering, either in the gym or with an experienced and well-equipped partner. If you are looking to buy gear so that you can be fully self-sufficient ( and not need a partner or a group with shared gear ) you’ll want to also purchase a climbing-specific rope ( 60-70 meters, 9-10mm in diameter, dynamic ), a personal anchor ( PAC ) or daisy chain, extra locking carabiners, cams, nuts, quickdraws, and slings. It is extremely important to buy new gear or to know the history and age of the gear if acquiring used. Both soft materials and metals degrade over time and with wear and should be carefully assessed before using.

We wholeheartedly recommend taking a course taught by professionals before attempting to climb or belay on your own. Climbing is inherently dangerous, though when done correctly can be very safe. After all of the proper skills have been learned, it is still incredibly important to stay on top of safety at every moment. Before leaving the ground, or transitioning from climbing to lowering/rappelling, there are a number of safety checks that must be completed.


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