In 1979 I was part of a small team of 4 climbers who made the first ascent of the North Ridge of Nuptse (7861m)  It was a classic Doug Scott trip including attempts on multiple peaks, multi-national climbers, lightweight, alpine style and no supplementary oxygen. Girl friends, wives, kids and mates all joined an expedition that to a bystander would have looked a shambles. Under the veneer of chaos lay Doug’s brilliant expedition planning and climbers at the top of their game.

First ascent of Nuptse N Ridge 1979

As Alan Rouse and I arrived at Everest Base camp the sound of Dylan drifted from the cassette deck, the smell of vegetarian cooking and the murmur of Buddhist philosophical debate drifted from the ramshackle communal tent whilst Doug, sunbathed and his young daughter played between the moraine boulders.


Doug and George Bettembourg had just come from Kusum Kanguru (6367m) and Al and I from Kangtega (6782m). It was post monsoon and all the other expeditions were evacuating the Western Cwm and Base Camp. The weather was perfect. George was somewhere high on Everest acclimatizing by himself.


Next day Al and I went up to Everest Camp 2, situated opposite the bottom of our objective on Nuptse. Al had a horrible night of altitude sickness and we returned to BC next morning. Two days later we packed, regrouped and set off through the ice fall. Over the next 5 days we climbed up and down the beautiful unclimbed ridge. Weather and conditions were perfect but it was cold. Those days have left incredible memories because we had the whole of the cwm and the mountain to ourselves. After, the plan was to climb a new route on Everest, but it was late October and the freezing jet stream was on the mountain, we were elated and satisfied for that season.

Climbing high on Nuptse, Nepal


This was just one of Doug Scott’s forty and more expeditions to the high mountains. He was an inspiration and my life has been enriched and enhanced by the times I have spent with Doug in the hills.


Thirty years later found me rather nervous at the prospect of interviewing Doug for the Mountain Equipment 50th anniversary film. We met up at his Lake District house and talked for hours. Doug has devoted much time recently to his charity Community Action Nepal (CAN) and I was conscious that this fantastic project is now more important to him than standing on high Himalayan summits. But for the film it was his inspirational stories of his mountaineering that were of interest.


‘In Conversation with Doug Scott’ contains the highlights of that conversation.


The Mountain Equipment includes edited interviews from Doug Scott, Reinhold Messner, Heinz Zak, Stephen Venables, Peter Habeler, DaveMacLeod, Andy Parkin, Katie L’Herpiniere. These will be available on SteeEdge for downloading and streaming for free throughout September and October 2011.


Brian Hall


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