SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Everest ‘free for all’ has got to stop

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: Everest ‘free for all’ has got to stop, says Doug Scott, the first Briton to reach the top

As the death toll on Mount Everest continues to rise, Doug Scott, the first British man to climb the 29,029ft peak, has broken his silence to deliver a devastating indictment on high-altitude tourism in the Himalayas.

The 78-year-old, who with Dougal Haston scaled Everest’s South West face on Chris Bonington’s expedition in 1975, plans to address a tourist conference in Nepal next week.

He will warn that the high death toll of climbers this season will endanger tourism in the area — unless changes are made.

Doug Scott, 78, the first British man to climb Everest, wants changes to be made to ascending the world’s tallest mountain

‘Serious mountaineers no longer have Everest on their radar,’ he tells me. ‘Hauling yourself up a fixed rope to the summit is not adventurous climbing. Why go up the same route as everyone else when there are others less climbed?

‘I proposed some years ago that the Nepalese should require Everest permit applicants to have climbed one if not two 7,000m peaks elsewhere in Nepal.

‘This would ensure that they are at least experienced and less likely to cause hold-ups. It would also give a wider population in Nepal a chance to benefit from this high-altitude tourism.

‘However, it seems that agents rejected this idea as it would interrupt their income stream.’

The world’s highest peak is in the stranglehold of greedy agents and operators who don’t want change, he argues, with bucket agencies undercutting established operators and offering a poor quality of service — and one of which has even been implicated in an insurance fraud.

Scott scaled Everest in 1975 before conquering the toughest mountain in the world, the aptly-named Ogre in the Karakoram range in Pakistan

‘Everest has become a free for all,’ adds Scott. ‘There is a huge environmental impact, too, with 2,000 people in tents at base camp and hundreds more on the mountain. Everest is now more congested than the High Street.’

Scott draws attention to the large number of climbing permits now granted — this season, 381 climbers paid more than £8,000 each for them. In the Seventies and Eighties, only one expedition a year was permitted.

Scott — the founder of the charity Community Action Nepal, which has funded schools and hospital projects in the Himalayas — is renowned for first ascents.

After Everest, he conquered the toughest mountain in the world, the aptly-named Ogre in the Karakoram range in Pakistan, with Bonington in 1977, making the long descent with two broken legs.

It’s a labour of love. Camden council leader Georgia Gould, daughter of the late New Labour adviser Philip Gould and publishing supremo Dame Gail Rebuck, has become engaged to civil servant Alex Zatman. 

Romantically, he proposed to her in Regent’s Park on a bench dedicated to her father, who was a key player in Tony Blair’s project to modernise Labour. 

Georgia, 33, was presented with a ring enscribed with the lyrics ‘dance me to the end of love’, a line from one of her favourite Leonard Cohen songs.

Yasmin’s T-shirt is a Duran Duran hit

Timeless supermodel Yasmin Le Bon knows how to turn back the clock.

When she attended the launch of the Boodles Wonderland Collection at the Serpentine Gallery this week, she sported the very T-shirt that her husband, Duran Duran pop star Simon, wore on stage at Wembley in 1983.

Yasmin Le Bon turned back the clock by sporting the very T-shirt that her husband Simon wore on stage at Wembley in 1983

‘This is classic vintage Simon Le Bon. He wore some great clothes back then and I thought it would go with these trousers,’ she told me.

‘Although it’s sort of annoying, because the trousers keep coming apart!’

Yasmin, 54, accessorised her glitzy outfit with Boodles jewellery, including an 18-carat white gold diamond ring worth £12,700. 

Penguin backs sacked Baker 

DJ Danny Baker certainly scored an own goal after tweeting a tasteless joke following the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first child, Archie.

Not only was he sacked by the BBC, but he also found the nation’s opprobrium heaped upon him.

But I can disclose that Baker’s publisher, Century, which is part of the Penguin empire, is steadfastly standing by him.

For in September, it will publish Behind Closed Doors: Life, Laughs And Football, jointly authored by Baker, 61, and former England star-turned-Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker.

However, Baker’s sense of humour is evidently no laughing matter at The Economist magazine, which has withdrawn its sponsorship of ‘Behind Closed Doors’ — Baker and Lineker’s podcast from which the book is a spin-off.

Mamma Mia, Lily’s chopped her hair off 

Even Lily James has succumbed to the latest hairdressing trend.

The Mamma Mia 2 star has ditched her glossy long tresses in favour of a ‘blunt bob’ hairstyle, so called because of its razor-sharp straight edge and lack of layers. 

It’s a fashionable look favoured by fellow actresses Gemma Arterton and Emilia Clarke.

Cutting it: Lily with her flowing locks (left) at the premiere for Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again, and her new ‘do’ (right)

Let’s hope her boyfriend approves. Natural brunette Lily, 30, has been dating ex-Doctor Who actor Matt Smith, 36, for over four years. 

Of course, as a former Time Lord, he knows all about regeneration.

Note to Madonna: singer Betty Boo would like her leopard print coat back. 

Boo — real name Alison Clarkson — recalls meeting her in the early Nineties when Madge invited her to her New York flat. 

‘She asked me to come over for a cup of tea, which I thought at first was a wind up,’ recalls Boo, 49. 

‘She really liked my Versace leopard print coat, so I gave it to her and she wore it during the promotion for her Bedtime Stories album. 

‘Drop it round when you’re ready, Madonna!’ 

Tennant dings a £250,000 Bentley

Do not entrust David Tennant with a vintage Bentley.

The Broadchurch star, who plays fast-living demon Crowley in Amazon’s apocalyptic new drama Good Omens, was given strict instructions not to damage the series’ most valuable prop.

‘We borrowed a £250,000 1926 black Bentley to use as Crowley’s signature car,’ said a show source. ‘We promised the owner we would treat it like gold dust.

‘The first thing David did was slam the door shut and it nearly fell off. Crowley could repair it with a flick of a finger in the show, but we couldn’t.’

It’s a good job that Amazon has devilishly deep pockets.

Immortalised as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films, ginger mop-haired actor Rupert Grint has evidently picked up some Hogwarts magic along the way. 

Eight years after the final wizarding film — Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 — Grint, 30, continues to accumulate earthly treasures. 

Funds from his acting career are channelled into Clay 10, a company run by his father Nigel, which, latest accounts show, is sitting on £17.5 million — up from £14.6 million in 2017.

Edie’s health warning after she falls off horse 

Edie Campbell is suffering from post-concussive syndrome

Vogue cover model Edie Campbell reveals she is suffering from post-concussive syndrome after a ‘traumatic brain injury’.

The 28-year-old jockey daughter of hedge fund manager Roddy Campbell and architect Sophie Hicks broke the news on social media by posing in a shirt that reads: ‘Adventure before dementia’.

Although Edie, who has starred in campaigns for Burberry and Chanel, did not specify how the accident happened, she added she is ‘itching to get back on a horse’.

Several of her pals commented that she fell off her horse, with one writing: ‘So pleased to see you back on social media, I was at Rockingham and saw your fall — hope you’re fully recovered very soon.’

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