Dougal Haston climbs the Hillary Step of Everest

Here’s the print (complete with apples) of Dougal Haston climbing the Hillary Step, signed by the photographer Doug Scott, that I acquired this time last week at the the Adventure Travel Show, London Olympia. Shortly after the photograph was taken in September 1975, Haston and Scott became the first Brits to reach the summit of Everest.

Doug Scott's iconic photo of Dougal Haston climbing Everest's Hillary Step
Doug Scott’s iconic photo of Dougal Haston climbing Everest’s Hillary Step

For most people climbing Everest the Hillary step is more of a rock climb than an ice climb. Haston and Scott climbed post-monsoon, which means there’s a little more snow to contend with. They had just completed the first ascent of Everest’s Southwest Face, and were reaching the summit late in the afternoon. This meant they needed to bivouac just below the summit ridge on the way down. At his talk last week Scott described never having felt so cold, and it’s difficult to imagine how tough those guys must have been.

Should I get this high during my own attempt on Everest this year, I won’t have this particular obstacle to contend with. The Hillary Step is on the mountain’s southern Nepalese side, and I’ll be climbing from the northern Tibetan side. Its equivalent on the north is a rock face known as the Second Step, more of a barrier than the Hillary Step, but which these days it spanned by an aluminium ladder.

The print cost me just a tenner, and the proceeds go to Doug Scott’s charity, Community Action Nepal.

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