Tom Patey (20 February 1932 – 25 May 1970) was a Scottish climber, mountaineer and writer. Although he was a leading Scottish climber of his day, particularly excelling on winter routes, he was probably best known for his humorous songs and prose about climbing, many of which were published posthumously in the collection One Man's Mountains.
He was born in Scotland and educated at Ellon Academy and Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen. He first became interested in climbing while he was in the Scouts, but it was at the University of Aberdeen, where he trained as a doctor, that he first revealed his full talent as an exploratory climber, captaining the Lairig Club. Much of his early exploratory routes were on Lochnagar and neighboring Cairngorms. A dedicated climber, he often dropped all other commitments for the prospect of a good climb. Patey's preference of travelling light extended to leaving his gloves behind on some ice climbs and he had a disrespect for climbing ropes unless they were necessary.
He climbed extensively in Scotland, (making the first winter traverse of the Cuillin ridge with Hamish MacInnes, David Crabbe and Brian Robertson in 1965), as well as achieving notable ascents in the Alps and the Karakoram including the first ascent of the Muztagh Tower (7273 metres) with John Hartog, Joe Brown and Ian McNaught-Davis in 1956 and Rakaposhi (7788 m) in 1958 with Mike Banks. In 1968, he and Ian Clough were the first to climb Am Buachaille, a sea stack off the coast of Sutherland. He, Rusty Baillie and Chris Bonington pioneered the route up the Old Man of Hoy which was repeated with others on a live televised BBC outside broadcast on 8–9 July 1967. At the time of his death he was working as a general practitioner (GP) in Ullapool, in the far north-west of Scotland. He was killed abseiling from The Maiden, a sea stack off Whiten Head on the Sutherland coast.
- One Man's Mountains, Tom Patey, 1971, ISBN 0-575-01358-3.
- Peter Donnelly, 'Patey, Thomas Walton [Tom] (1932–1970)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
- Sandwood Bay on walkhighlands.co.uk
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