• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Ian McNaught-Davis

Mountaineer and television presenter

Mountaineer and television presenter

Born: August 30, 1929; Died: February 10, 2014.

Ian McNaught-Davis, who has died aged 84, was a talented mountaineer and easy-going television presenter with a number of firsts to his name. He was the first to climb the Muztagh Tower in the Karakorum mountains in Pakistan - a 7000ft sheer stone wall which many thought to be unclimbable. He took part in a groundbreaking live broadcast of the ascent of the Old Man of Hoy in the Orkneys in the 1960s. And he was the presenter of the first mainstream programme on computing on British television.

Born in Wakefield, he discovered his love for mountaineering while studying mathematics at Manchester University. He had initially been interested in joining the RAF like his father, who had served as a pilot during the First World War and flown over the Western Front. However, his bad eyesight ruled that out, although he did serve in the RAF during his national service as a clerk.

After graduating from Manchester, he joined BP and went to work for them in Africa on oil exploration, which was where he first developed his interest in computing and the possibility of new technology. He explored the interest further when he became managing director of the European subsidiary of the US firm Comshare Inc.

He first came to public prominence as a climber in 1964 when he took part in a BBC programme in which he climbed the Eiffel Tower instead of taking the lift or the stairs.

Even for an experienced climber like McNaught-Davis, it was a hairy experience. "Normally when you're climbing a mountain you look at the solid rock face," he said. "It's rather terrifying to be able to see right through the girders of the tower."

Three years later, McNaught-Davis was part of the team, including Chris Bonington, which climbed the Old Man of Hoy for the BBC and it was an extraordinary achievement. Not only were the weather conditions difficult, the technology which the BBC had was primitive by today's standards. However, The Great Climb was a big success and was watched by 15 million people.

The programme led to other television work, including presenting The Computer Programme, which explored the mainstream possibilities of computers and how they could change people's lives. He also presented Making the Most of the Micro in 1983 and Micro Live from 1984 until 1987.

As well as his television career, he had a number of leading positions in the mountaineering community. He was president of the British Mountaineering Council from 1991 to 1994 before becoming president of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, a post he held until 2004. He continued to climb into his 80s.

He is survived by his second wife, two sons from his first marriage and a step-daughter. He was pre-deceased by a daughter from his first marriage.

Contextual targeting label: 
Arts and Entertainment

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

213985