Galashiels date for Everest climbers

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“It will be about everything, the whole of life!” said 72-year-old Doug Scott, CBE, about his upcoming talk in the Borders.

Doug, of Hesket Newmarket, Cumbria, and Paul “Tut” Braithwaite are perhaps best known for being first to climb the south west face of Everest (without oxygen).

The pair are the Royal Scottish Geographical speakers at Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels on Tuesday evening (November 26).

Doug told The Southern: “‘Big Walls and High Mountains’ will be about our early days and influences, then we’ll go on to talk about how we became climbing partners and the climbs in Russia, East Africa, Everest (Sir Chris Bonington’s 1975 ‘Everest the Hard Way’ expedition), Baffin Island’s Mount Asgard, Mount Kenya – we climbed a new route up the east face, it’s become a classic route, even my dentist went to do it.”

From Nottingham and, at that time, a 33-year-old schoolteacher, Doug, along with credited routefinder Tut, were part of the Bonington team to reach the top of Everest on September 24, 1975, via the challenging south west route.

“There had been previous attempts. It was a big thing in the 70s,” Doug told us.

The climbers then spent the night in a bivouac 300 feet from the top.

“If you can survive in a bivvy without oxygen, nor a sleeping bag, and not get frostbite up there, it makes you wonder what you can do and how you might do it,” said Doug.

Why do you love climbing, we asked.

He said: “I get grumpy when I don’t.

“It lifts the spirits every time, so I come back to do everything that has to be done with more enthusiasm and more objectivity,”said Doug.

Early inspirations were found rather closer to home.

He said: “I started climbing trees when I was very young. It was a natural transfer from trees to rock when I was 12 in Derbyshire.

“My parents were very good – there were no restrictions.”

What makes a good climber? “You have got to really enjoy it. It’s great to be out there and do these new routes and see yourself written up in guide books and magazines, but you have got to enjoy it at the time and revel in the excitement of looking round the next corner and solving all the problems that confront you, revelling in uncertainty, which is what our ancestors have done since they walked out of Africa.

“It’s in everyone’s blood: that’s why more people come to our talks who are non-climbers than climbers.”

The three climbing achievements he’s most proud of? “Everest; the first ascent of Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountainl; and the Ogre.”

Doug broke both legs in a fall during the Ogre expedition in the Karakoram range, Pakistan. It took Chris Bonington, the “selfless support” of Clive Rowland and Mo Anthoine and Balti hillmen eight days to get him to help.

Three other achievements he’s proud of in his life? His quarter-acre organic garden; helping rear five “good” children and his charity, Community Action Nepal, which runs over 40 community projects.

The talk starts at 7.30pm. Tickets (£8) are available on the door or ring 01738 455050.