Scots orienteering pioneer dies on Uganda mountain

File photo of the Wagagai peak on Mount Elgon. Picture: Wiki Commons
File photo of the Wagagai peak on Mount Elgon. Picture: Wiki Commons
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THE Scot who pioneered orienteering has died while making an attempt on one of the highest peaks in Africa.

Dave Prentice, 70, was overcome by breathing difficulties after camping at more than 11,000 feet on Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda.

The 14,177ft mountain is one of the most challenging on the African continent.

Mr Prentice, a retired systems analyst, had conquered it by other routes on previous occasions. He was making his sixth ascent with local guides, whom he had been helping in recent years.

He had scaled five of Mount Elgon’s six peaks and was tackling the sixth when he died.

Nine rangers from the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s offices in Mbale, 36 miles away, were sent to join six guides already on the mountain in an attempt to save Mr Prentice’s life.

He was on the Suam Trail when he collapsed and was stretchered down by the guides and the Rangers, but died as he was carried back to the trail head for medical attention.

His body was taken to Kampala, the Ugandan capital, where an inquest opened yesterday, and is expected to be flown home to Scotland.

Mr Prentice, from Tibbermore, near Auchterarder, Perthshire, is survived by his wife of 44 years, two daughters and a son.

His long-time friend Ron Harrison said yesterday: “It is fair to say that Dave’s deepest interest in life was not his day-to-day job but his love of the high hills and, indeed, all wild, remote places.

“One remarkable early achievement in the late 60s was his solo hitch-hike from Nairobi to Cairo. Perhaps this trip was what first kindled his love of Africa and her peoples, for he has returned to the continent many times since then.

“His impulse for adventure in new places later took him to many other remote mountain areas of the world and he has trekked, camped and climbed in the Alps, the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, the Rockies, the Sierras and the Himalayas.

“He always returned, however, to his beloved Scottish hills.”

Mr Prentice completed all of the Munros in 2013, in Knoydart. Mr Harrison said this achievement give him “great satisfaction”.

He added: “His efforts to help establish orienteering in Scotland have been one of his principal challenges in recent years.

“He put in countless hours developing and mapping courses and administering orienteering events.

“His work via the Perthshire school system to introduce young children to the sport deserves particular mention.

“He had the kind of easy-going nature and outgoing personality that people naturally warmed to and he drew people to him like a gentle magnet.

“He had a huge network of people he had known, worked or climbed with, each of whom regarded him as their special friend. He was that sort of guy.”

Mr Prentice was an avid member of Tayside Orienteers, laying many trails for the club.

The organisation paid tribute to him on its website, saying: “Dave contributed hugely to the club over many years as mapper, event co-ordinator, planner, organiser, controller.

“Dave leaves a huge hole in our club but also a legacy of a commitment to providing high-quality and fun orienteering to people of all ages in Tayside and further afield.”

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