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Dr. Thomas (Tom) Patey


1932 - 1970

Mountaineer. Born in Ellon, the son of a minister of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Patey was educated at Ellon Academy and Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen. His enthusiasm for mountains began in his youth when he started 'bagging' Munros. He began climbing while studying medicine at the University of Aberdeen, where he served as Captain of the university's mountaineering society (the Lairig Club). He was noted for exploring new routes on Lochnagar and in the Cairngorms. He climbed in the Alps, Norway and was a member of expeditions to Mustagh Tower (1956) and Rakaposhi (1958) in the Himalayas. By this time he had gained a reputation for planning and succeeding with new routes.

Patey climbed extensively in Scotland and was part of a team with Hamish MacInnes which made the first winter ascent of Zero Gully on Ben Nevis in 1957 and, also with MacInnes, the first winter traverse of the Cuillin ridge in 1965. He pioneered the climbing of sea-stacks, reaching the top of the Old Man of Hoy with Chris Bonington and achievement repeated in a remarkable live television outside broadcast produced by the BBC in 1967. The same year he was the first to climb the Old Man of Stoer and, in 1968, Patey and Ian Clough became the first to scale Am Buachaille, another sea-stack off the coast of Sutherland. He served as part of a mountain rescue team, for which he was awarded a Queen's Commendation for Bravery. He was elected president of the elite Alpine Climbing Group in 1969.

Patey died as the result of a fall while abseiling from The Maiden, a sea stack off Whiten Head (Sutherland). At the time he was working as the local doctor in Ullapool. A collection of his writings 'One Man's Mountains' was published posthumously in 1971.


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