Mountain Rescue Magazine Winter 2021


thinks Gone to greater climbs... It goes without saying that 2020 was a very difficult year and we have also lost some of the greats of mountaineering who died last year. Joe Brown in April, Jan Morris and Hamish MacInnes in November, and Doug Scott in December. Alan Hinkes takes a walk down Memory Lane recalling four remarkable people, fellow climbers who were friends and mountaineering colleagues for many years.


oe Brown was dubbed ‘The Master’ and the ‘Human Fly’ and one of the world’s greatest rock climbers but he was also a mountaineer. He made the first ascent of Kangchenjunga in 1955, with George Band, Tony Streather and Norman Hardie. In many ways a greater achievement than Everest two years earlier. Certainly it was a more difficult ascent. I climbed Kangchenjunga fifty years later, in 2005, my final 8000m peak. There was rock climbing and scrambling at 8600m, so no easy plod. I remember seeing pictures of Joe with his gloves off climbing the final rocky sections to the summit and he finished on a typical ‘Joe Brown crack’. I managed to traverse round this crack and scramble to the top. Over the last thirty years, I had got to know

Joe and even climbed a route together: Coronation Street at Cheddar in the early 1990s. The first time I came across him was when I was eighteen and rock climbing in North Wales. My mates said they were going for a beer in the Padarn, a pub in Llanberis, now a hotel. They told me that the legendary Brown drinks there and plays darts. Yeah, I thought. I had to go to the bar to buy a couple of pints and squeezed past a bloke drinking at the bar only to realise it was Joe Brown. I was speechless. Years later I would often call in to chat and have a brew when I was in North Wales. If the weather was good, he would encourage me to get out on the hill or go rock climbing. Joe was well known for his sharp wit and sense of humour, a lovely man.

Jan Morris was the last living link to the 1953 Everest expedition. On that trip she was James Morris, and covering the ascent for The Times . Somehow, James got the scoop and got word out that Everest had been summited, just before the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. I met Jan a couple of times and was most impressed by her eloquent oratory and bright personality. She was a well known character in Pwllheli, and an excellent travel writer and author. Hamish MacInnes should be well known to all mountain rescuers. He was known as the ‘father of modern mountain rescue’, especially in Scotland. He invented the lightweight, foldable alloy stretcher — the eponymous MacInnes — and developed modern metal ice axes, as he was aware of wooden shafts often snapping and not being strong enough for rescue work. He also developed modern technical dropped pick ice tools — the first being Terrodactyls. I made a lot of steep ice climbing ascents with ‘Terrors’, as they were known. They had very short alloy shafts with steeply dropped flat-forged picks, and a piece of thin polypropylene cord as a wrist loop. As well as the wrist loop digging into your wrist, if you were not careful how you placed these tools you could seriously bash your knuckles on the ice. There is no doubt Hamish, the ‘Fox of Glencoe’, made a major contribution to mountain rescue. Doug Scott was diagnosed with cancer in March, and died on 2 December. I first met Doug, or ‘Scotty’ as he was affectionately known, in North Wales, in the late 1970s, just after he’d climbed the south west face of Everest with Dougal Haston. This was the first British ascent in September 1975. In 1953, the summit pair was Edmund Hillary, a New Zealander, and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali-Indian. I was probably a bit nervous and in awe of meeting this legend who had survived a high bivvy on Everest, and yet he was just like one of the lads and soon had me at ease. He was driving a battered estate car, probably a Ford Cortina, I remember that it was bare sheet metal inside — apparently the interior lining had been eaten by a dog he’d left inside.

Above: Climbing with Doug Scott on a 5000m peak in 1988. This was an acclimatisation climb above Advance Base Camp ABC with Makalu West Face behind. Opposite page: Trekking into Makalu with Doug in 1988 © Alan Hinkes.



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