Climbing Legend? You Still Have to Do Paperwork

“You’ve got to be joking.”

That’s what Doug Scott scrawled across a piece of paper given to him by the organizers of an event in 1975.

old liability waiver, signed by Scott

The paper? A liability waiver for the Derby Mercury Road Club’s annual Dovedale Dash — essentially a 7.6km fun run. Scott himself?  A legendary English mountaineer who was part of a team that had just made the first ascent of Everest’s Southwest Face. Time between Everest ascent and fun run?

About two months.

portrait of a hippie-looking Doug Scott

Doug Scott was not the kind to consider liability for scraped knees.


So we can understand Scott’s cognitive dissonance. Imagine spending months pioneering a new route up the world’s highest peak, only to return home and be asked to sign a liability waiver promising not to sue in the event of a rolled ankle or scraped knee.

In Scott’s defense, the response came across as lighthearted to all involved, according to a post by the Mountain Heritage Trust.

The post also features a newspaper clipping from the November 3 edition of the Derby Evening Telegraph — a clipping that doesn’t hesitate to take a sly and good-natured potshot at the hometown hero.

newspaper clip of Doug Scott running

“Doug Scott…made a brave effort, but finished well down the field. Obviously, he is not as comfortable on the flat as at 29,000 feet,” reads the caption underneath a decidedly hippie-looking Scott jogging along and presumably avoiding injury.

Doug Scott — an English Legend

Scott spent ten years as a teacher in his early days but quickly became one of the world’s most noteworthy high-altitude mountaineers. In 1975, he became the first Englishman to summit Everest as part of an expedition led by Chris Bonington. The summit push ran into difficulties with oxygen equipment and deep snow but was ultimately successful at 6:00 pm on Sept. 24.

The summit led to an overnight bivouac with Scottish partner Dougal Haston. Neither climber had a functioning headlamp, nor did Scott have his down suit. Nevertheless, both made it down safely the next day.

In his later years, a shorter-haired Scott studied Buddhism, became a mentor to younger climbers, and founded the non-profit Community Action Nepal. He died on Dec. 7, 2020, of cancer.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
You can find more of his work at, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).