Doug Scott – Our Favourite Quotes

December 15, 2020 5 min read

Throughout his lifetime, Doug Scott embarked on over forty expeditions to the high mountains of Asia, during which he completed an extraordinary number of first ascents. Some of Doug’s most famous – and, in some cases, dramatic – ascents were recounted in his books. As a tribute to the late mountaineer, we have compiled a selection of some of our favourite quotes or passages from ShishapangmaUp and About and The Ogre.

Above: 'The south-west face of Shishapangma from above the Nyang Phu Glacier' © Doug Scott, Shishapangma

‘The plateau of Tibet, in the heart of Asia, is fifteen times the size of the British Isles and, at an average height of 15,000 feet, all of it is above 10,000 feet. Those of us who go to the mountains will recall reaching those heights above the level of the trees where there are grassy Alps dotted with Alpines below, the crags of ice and rock. It is at those heights, in the clear cold air, that spirits rise noticeably, and cares and worries subside.’– Extracted from Shishapangma

Above: 'The view from Koh-i-Sisgeikh over to the twin peaks of Koh-i-Morusq' © Doug Scott, Up and About

‘But what is “success”? The importance of what we do is not in standing upon the summit of our peak but what happens along the way.’ – Extracted from Shishapangma

Above: 'Changabang in the Garhwal Himalaya. The team contemplating crossing the Shipton Col in the foreground' © Doug Scott, Up and About

‘The sky was mauve, turning deep purple. It should be a good day tomorrow, but what a day this had been – snow, ice and rock, 3,500 feet of it; a journey from the known to the unknown in every sense, physically, psychologically and emotionally, for we had run the whole gambit through tiredness into second wind, from security to uncertainty with a commitment to more of the same, and a whole range of emotions, fear, pride, anger and joy, had surfaced down in the depth of the now dark couloir.’ – Extracted from Shishapangma

Above: 'Breathtaking panoramic views of the Nanda Devi Sanctuary from Changabang' © Doug Scott, Up and About

‘At its finest moments climbing allows me to step out of ordinary existence into something extraordinary, stripping me of my sense of self-importance.’ – Extracted from Up and About

Above: 'The line of our route on the north-east ridge of Pik Lenin' © Doug Scott, Up and About

‘All true wisdom is only to be found far from the dwellings of men, in the great solitudes; and it can only be obtained through suffering. Suffering and privation are the only things that can open the mind of man to that which is hidden from his fellows.’ – Extracted from Up and About

Above: 'The view from the summit of Everest. Ama Dablam is poking out of the clouds in the centre, while the Nuptse-Lhotse ridge is partially shaded in the foreground. I carried two cameras to the top: one with colour film, one black and white' © Doug Scott, Up and About

‘From an early age I never felt so vital, more alive or spontaneously joyous, as when off with the gang, out into the countryside, the quiet of the forest, watching wildlife by the canal or lake, going a little further each time, learning to pace the journey and to find the way back home. One thing led to another; there was never any obvious plan: the country round my home, the Peak District, the mountains of Snowdonia, Scotland, the Alps and the Himalaya, always a little further, no turning back, hooked on steeper ground and higher summits, to the highest place, Everest, and beyond.’ – Extracted from Up and About

Above: 'Nanga Parbat – this magnificent mountain delineates the western end of the Himalaya range' © Doug Scott, The Ogre

‘Part of it was sheer curiosity, to know the lie of the land between peaks I’d climbed, putting another piece of the jigsaw into place, just as the old surveyors recorded details within the triangle of their calculations. I gained this knowledge, both inner and outer, among the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes in the world helped along by local people so attuned to life in the high Himal and elsewhere. Over the years I came to make a strong connection with these people who helped me climb their mountains and eventually responded to their request for help in improving conditions of labour in the climbing industry and the health and education in their villages. This was a good move, since it guaranteed me a continuing presence in their magnificent mountains and helped me know more about them and the nature of things, as if waking up now and again from a deep sleep, if only for a moment, to glimpse the infinite beauty and wonder of what is normally hidden.’ – Extracted from Up and About

Above: 'The Ogre – summit detail' © Doug Scott, The Ogre

‘No one who climbs Everest is ever quite the same. In my own experience, I returned home far more aware, stronger and with an inner peace that lasted quite some time before it dissipated and I left home for more such transformative experiences to Denali, K2, The Ogre, Nuptse and Kangchenjunga. My experience on Everest put me in a good position to tackle bigger challenges in the mountains. All my life I had fought against inertia. Every time I overcame the desire to have just one more cup of coffee, read the paper, watch TV, talk on the telephone, I gained strength to act – to push on with the line of study, to follow up leads – to take the next step.’ – Extracted from Up and About

Above: 'The team at Advanced Base Camp. L–R: Clive Rowland, Chris Bonington, Nick Estcourt, Doug Scott, Tut Braithwaite and Mo Anthoine' © Doug Scott, The Ogre

‘Each of the mountains I have climbed has been unique, presenting my friends and me with a new set of challenges every time. During the course of an expedition, and in overcoming these challenges, we became far more aware of ourselves and of each other. We were, for a time at least, able to return home wiser men, usually more at peace with ourselves and with more enthusiasm to do all that had to be done back home.’ – Extracted from The Ogre

Above: 'Checking out the Main Summit from the West Summit' © Chris Bonington, The Ogre

‘Movement of the continents resulted in an equal and opposite reaction where they collided, producing spectacular results. There the crust buckled and broke and was thrust up into huge mountain ranges. The drama is still in process in many parts of the world and none more so than in High Asia.’ – Extracted from The Ogre

Above: 'On the summit of the Ogre at 7pm anxious to descend to our sleeping bags at the cave bivouac' © Chris Bonington, The Ogre

‘Over the years I had been pleasantly surprised at the spontaneous generosity of people who had so little, with none of the amenities I take for granted, living on marginal land and whose lives are very much at the mercy of natural processes. Time after time my friends and I had received wonderful hospitality from such people who shared with us what little they had especially when the chips were down. Caring for complete strangers seemed to come so naturally to people living precariously on the edge.’ – Extracted from The Ogre

Above: 'All's well that ends well' © Doug Scott, The Ogre