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Himalayan Climber: A Lifetime's Quest to the World's Greater Ranges

by Doug Scott

San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1992; 192 pages

Himalayan Climber is a glorious new production, designed by Ken Wilson of Diadem and produced by Hodder & Stoughton's Maggie Body, with a supporting cast of thousands, starting with the Nottingham gang and broadening out to embrace a galaxy of British, French, Australian, Indian, Icelandic, American, Austrian, Italian and Canadian super and not-so-super stars.
The title Himalayan Climber is perhaps misleading, for the book extends beyond the subcontinent to Africa, the Middle East, America, the Arctic and, of course, Europe. For younger climbers who might know Scott purely as the grand old man of the Himalaya, it may come as a surprise to discover that he was a talented and dedicated big wall rock-climber before he ever set foot in the Himalaya. (…)
The great joy of the book is the wealth of previously unpublished photos, but where old favourites reappear, like the classic shot of Haston on the Hillary Step, the tyrannical Wilson seems to have forced the printers into squeezing out a little more depth and colour and luminosity.
Himalayan Climber is a fine record of a remarkable mountaineering career by an unusually talented photographer. Unlike so many 'coffee table' books, it is original and inspiring, at the cost of less than two bottles of whisky, it is a bargain.”
Stephen Venables, “High” 1992, May, No. 114, p. 56-57

“Each time frequent-flyer Scott leaves England, his Pentax accompanies him, and this book shows his photographic talents to spectacular effect: Himalayan Climber is basically a coffee-table picture book. About 300 photos, virtually all in breathtaking colour, grace this volume, though this profusion leads to one of the problems with the book: repetition. How many shots do we need of a figure struggling up an icy couloir?
But photographic repetition is nothing compared to the textual. Each of the twelve chapters opens with a block of text covering Scott's climbs of a certain year, or in a certain area. This several-page section is followed by short accounts of the identical climbs, in the form of extended captions. I found it insulting to have to read the same stories twice, as if I were a child made to learn Tennyson by rote.”
Steve Roper, “American Alpine Journal” 1993, p. 301-302

“The book contains some of the best high-altitude climbing photographs ever taken, superlative studies of light and shadow that portray spectacular bivouacs and dramatic climbing action with wispy clouds and a sea of peaks in the background. Informative views of the peaks, numerous images of local people and villages, close-ups of Scott's partners, and extended captions help fill in the details of the trips described.
The book is a stunning visual diary of his climbs, but in the minimal text you will find only tantalizing glimpses of what makes Doug Scott tick, and this is the major failing of Himalayan Climber. The pictorial nature of the book and the need to keep it to a reasonable size undoubtedly worked against the sort of introspective, philosophical musing that one might expect from Scott. (…)
Much of the writing in Himalayan Climber seems hurried, as if the words were an annoyance to their author, and Scott comes close to glossing over what must have been some of his most powerful and enlightening experiences. (…)
Despite its paucity of perceptive writing, Himalayan Climber remains a very important and compelling volume. Some of Scott's best writing comes in the book's postscript, where at last, if only briefly, he reflects on climbing and its meaning in his life.
Michael Kennedy, „Climbing” 1992, October/November, No. 134, p. 137



See also
Big Wall Climbing
Doug Scott, b. 1941, Great Britain
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