Lectures

Read a summary of Doug’s lectures on this page.


A Crawl Down the Ogre

This is an epic tale of hard climbing and survival that has now become part of mountaineering folklore. The Ogre (7,285 m) is the most difficult high mountain to climb in the world; there is no easy way to the summit. On July 13, 1977, Doug Scott and Chris Bonington reached the summit for the first time after very difficult rock climbing that extended the boundaries of what had been achieved before at that altitude where there is only half the oxygen in the atmosphere than at sea level. Doug’s big wall climbing experience in Norway, Yosemite and Baffin Island were crucial to this achievement.

Crawling down the Ogre

Crawling down the Ogre

The descent in the dark immediately became an epic when abseiling off the summit block Doug slipped on water ice and smashed into rocks breaking both legs just above the ankles. A storm blew in lasting five days during which time Chris smashed his ribs and contracted pneumonia. It took eight hard days to reach Base Camp – that was only made possible by the selfless support of Clive Rowland and Mo Anthoine.

After a five day wait for a stretcher party of eight Balti hillmen, Doug was carried into the village of Askoli three days later. Half an hour after arrival a helicopter flew in and out to Skardu where, to add insult to injury, it crash landed well short of the helipad but without further injury to the occupants.

It was 24 years before there was a second ascent of The Ogre, now recognised to be one of the hardest mountains in the world.

Subsequently Doug was to visit Pakistan on six more occasions for climbs around Broad Peak and K2 and was able to repay the help given by the Balti of Askoli. He had installed a clean water system that dramatically reduced the previous 50% child mortality. He later went on to help establish 40 projects, mainly Health Posts and Schools, through his charity Community Action Nepal, in the Middle Hill Region of Nepal. He touches upon the aid workers’ obligations such as avoiding donor dependency as well as voluntary service overseas.

Insights and References

  • Self-help
  • Team work
  • Apprehension and elation of the unknown, attachment and letting go
  • Channelling energies, new rules for winning
  • One day at a time
  • Stepping out of the known and facing uncertainty to achieve objectivity, enthusiasm and even tolerance and compassion for others
  • Landscape
  • Connecting again with the natural world
  • Local people and their qualities of mutual aid and co-operation

Everest for Kids

The story of the first ascent of Everest’s South West Face is one that always engages with and inspires young people to seek their own adventures.

In a special presentation, tempered with good humour and tailored for young people, Doug Scott tells of his adventures in making the first British ascent of Everest and the first ever ascent of the mountain’s South West Face. This is both a tale of high adventure and an opportunity to learn about the world’s greatest mountain.

Relating to his own experiences, Doug explains why this is such a dangerous summit – having encountered first hand from three expeditions the risks of intense cold, frost-bite, high winds, stone-fall, avalanche, heat stroke and exhaustion – and explains why a climber can’t survive, even in ideal conditions, for anything but a short time on its upper slopes – for here there is only 25 % of the oxygen in the atmosphere that there is at sea level.

He’ll tell of what it takes to organise an expedition of this complexity, and what it is really like to live and try to climb at a place where the human body simply hasn’t evolved to be. It is just so difficult to even do the simple, day-to-day tasks – such as getting dressed, putting on your equipment, making the right judgment and staying motivated when brain cells start to die in the thin, cold air. Serving a long apprenticeship before coming to Everest is obviously so important, as is slowly acclimatising on the walk up to the mountain.

From this talk, young people tend to remember such highlights as the conversation Doug had with both his feet, while spending a night in a snow hole just hundred metres below the summit, or of the reality of relieving himself at 28,000 feet with a 7,000 foot drop below.

In this beautifully illustrated and inspiring lecture Doug will show something of the most wonderful landscape on the planet and explain why it is that mankind has this natural desire to explore it. This is a tale of endeavour and achievement, that will inspire young people to identify their own goals in life – and then to go out and achieve them. They will know the value of team work and mutual aid to achieve a common aim.


Himalaya Alpine Style

In this lecture Doug Scott gets into the heart and soul of mountaineering as it was in the beginning, and as the most inspiring climbs have been done since. For him, there was first the Alps, and by definition alpine style climbing – hiking up as a self-contained unit going for it – as he and his friends did in the Hindu Kush, on seven peaks over 6000 metres.

Then there were three visits to Everest’s South West Face, which while siege expeditions with oxygen gave him the opportunity to become familiar with climbing into the thin, cold air above 8,500 metres; surviving a night out without bottled oxygen or sleeping bag. This experience opened doors to what and how he might climb in the future. And that was back to basics on big peaks in lightweight or pure alpine style climbing – light, fast, cheap and a lot of it.

Doug Scott’s lecture, Himalaya Alpine Style, covers significant moments during original ascents on Koh-i-Bandaka South Face (Hindu Kush, Afghanistan); Shishapangma South West Face (Tibet); The Ogre, Lobsang Spire-Broad Peak-K2 & Nanga Parbat-Mazeno Ridge (Karakorum, Pakistan), Shivling (India Himal) and Baruntse-Chamlang-Makalu & Drohmo South Pillar (Nepal).

pic Warming up for Shishapangma

Whilst he and his friends pushed the limits of high altitude climbing they had to reconcile that, with their desire to help preserve the natural world and the people that live in it. Doug explains briefly, how this was done through creating and managing Community Action Nepal and giving back to the local mountain people who had, in effect, made all his climbs possible.

From the fragments of experience described and the wonderful images shown, the audience will know more about the lure of the unknown and the courage and commitment required to go there. They will also know of the importance of letting go, before going for it. Of intuition and the inner voice. Of going only when ready – with friends who have the relevant experience and are in support of each other, able to channel all their energies in one direction. Mutual aid won the day – as it did on The Ogre when things went seriously wrong…


Life and Hard Times

In this stunningly illustrated lecture, Doug returns to his roots and tells how he first discovered climbing when out with the Boy Scouts in Derbyshire on Grit, then to Snowdonia, the Lake District, Scotland and then the Alps. He started his expedition career early, going to the fabulous Tibesti Mountains of Chad (1965), the Cilo Dag of Kurdistan (1966), The Hindu Kush of Afghanistan (1967) where he and his Nottingham friends climbed seven new peaks and the South Face of Koh-i-Bandaka.

Then came children and a move into Big Wall Climbing, via an obsession with big overhangs in Britain and the Dolomites, followed by climbs on Yosemite’s El Capitan, Norway’s Troll Wall and then to the big walls of Baffin Island and the first Grade 6 right on the Arctic Circle up Mount Asgard’s 5000ft east face. The next and final step of taking big wall climbing into ever harsher environments was to the Himalaya with Shivling’s 7000ft East Pillar and the Karakorum where he put up a new route on the highly technical Ogre, the hardest climbing ever achieved at the time at 7000 metres.

Having established a reputation as one of Britain’s leading mountaineers, he spent over eighteen months of his life, on three expeditions committed to climbing Everest’s South West Face with Dougal Haston, which they did bringing to an end the era of the Himalayan “Siege Style” climbing and ushering in an intense period of lightweight expeditions on the world greatest peaks. He was helped along in this, by the experience of surviving a night, without canned oxygen or a sleeping bag in a snow cave, just one hundred metres below Everest’s summit.

 pic Karakorum from the Ogre

For Doug, this new era got off to a very dramatic start and he tells of his epic adventure and survival against the odds on The Ogre. When, after having made the first ascent with Chris Bonington, of this fearsome spire of granite, Doug broke both legs on the first abseil from the summit block. Isolated from the rest of the world, the story of how he and his three fellow climbers, Mo Anthoine, Clive Rowland and Chris Bonington – complete with broken ribs – survived and then rescued themselves is both one of the greatest mountaineering tales of all times and history’s longest crawl!

Yet within a year, Doug had made a remarkable recovery, to climb Mt Waddington in British Columbia and the following year the world’s third highest peak – Kangchenjunga. Here, he was to fully realise the potential of the new style, lightweight expedition when he made the third ascent of the mountain – a far more dangerous and technically difficult peak than Everest – by a new route up the largely unexplored north west side of the mountain with Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker.

Then there were new routes in completely alpine style up Nuptse’s North Face, Shishapangma’s South West Face, Lobsang Spire, Carstenz Pyramid in New Guinea and other remote places such as Targo Ri in Central Tibet.

Insights and References

  • Start Climbing – developing fundamental skills, starting to explore personal limits, trust and the importance of companionship-mutual aid.
  • Big Wall Climbing – developing highly specialist skills, rationalising exposure.
  • Early Expedition Apprenticeship – organisation, fund raising, travel, overcoming home-sickness, motivation, leadership style, to pursues exploration in remote and difficult places – including Everest.
  • Adaptation to high altitude, intense cold and high winds, Adapting and appreciating different cultures and pace of life.

Moments of Being

In Autumn 1975 Doug Scott and the late Dougal Haston, members of Chris Bonington’s South West Face Expedition, became the first British climbers to reach the summit of Everest. Doug’s lecture will cover this and other climbing experiences including first ascents, explorations of remote regions and long treks through dense tropical rain forests.

pic Climbing on the Ogre


Sacred Summits

All Himalayan peaks are of religious significance to the local people whether Anamists, Buddhists or Hindu. Their mountains are regarded as protectors and due deference is paid to them by way of prayer, offerings and pilgrimages around the local mountain or, in some cases, offerings are made on the summit. The Yelmo sherpa of Helambu make offerings by the large Chorten on the summit of Ama Yangri, once a year for their continued health and prosperity.

On climbing expeditions the sherpa erect prayer flags, burn juniper leaves and make offerings at base camp to the mountain they are about to climb with westerners, for their protection. Most expedition climbers find this a comfort and are reminded to proceed with reverence and to avoid desecrating the mountain with rubbish or evil thoughts.

Some of the peaks are undoubtedly more holy than others and in particular Kangchenjunga is the chief “Country-God” of Sikkim and his dwelling place is the mountain from which it takes its name. The word Kangchendzonga literally means “the five repositories or snow houses of the God’s treasure.”

pic Kangchenjunga

There is a festival celebrated in Sikkim called the “Phang Labsol” in which Kangchendzonga is worshipped for its unifying power. The festival marks the singing of the Treaty of brotherhood between the Lepchas and the Bhutias and Kangchendzonga was invoked to witness the occasion.

On this day, the guardian deity, Kangchendzonga, is portrayed by masked lama dancers as a fiery, red-faced diety with a crown of five skulls, riding a snow lion and carrying the victory banner.

Shivling known as the Matterhorn of the Himalaya, rears up above the source of the Ganges in the Indian Himalaya. Literally the name means Shiva’s Linga (penis) and is venerated by thousands of pilgrims throughout the year.

Carstensz Peak in New Guinea and the other peaks in the vicinity are revered by the local tribes people. They have witnessed the virtual desecration of one of their peaks which has literally been removed by the Freeport miners, the biggest gold and copper mines in the world. The local Amungme tribal leader said “Freeport is digging out our Mothers’ brains.” In the process 120,000 tons of highly toxic tailings are put into the Ajkwe river every day causing massive pollution to the consternation of the local and international environmental interests.

Doug Scott talks about such concerns of the local people in all the areas covered in this lecture as well as other issues such as modern commercial climbing expeditions. However, the main thrust of his lecture is describing first ascents up the south west face of Everest when he reached the summit with the late Dougal Haston on an expedition led by Chris Bonington in 1975; the third ascent of Kangchenjunga, the third highest summit in the world and the first ascent from the north west with Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker and Georges Bettembourg.

With Greg Child and Rick White he made the first ascent of the east pillar of Shivling after a 13 day, Alpine style push through two major storms. This is regarded as the most technically difficult climb made in Alpine style at the time. He completes the lecture with a first ascent on the 2000’ north face of Carstensz. The lecture is illustrated with a wonderful set of his slides.


Three Peaks
Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga

Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest mountaineers of all time, Doug Scott has made numerous significant first ascents in the Himalaya. In a brand new and stunningly illustrated talk, Doug tells of his adventures and insights on the world’s three highest mountains.

Everest

At sunset on the 24 September 1975, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston reached the summit of Everest, having made the first ascent of its very difficult South West Face – they were also the first Britons to climb the mountain. On their descent, they survived without oxygen or sleeping bags, the highest bivouac ever and at 28,700 feet just one hundred metres down from the summit. This was a ground breaking effort etched into the annals of mountaineering.

It also marked the end of an era. This siege style expedition, brilliantly led by Chris Bonington, demonstrated that with enough experienced climbers and resources and with reasonable weather, anything was possible. Since uncertainty of outcome is the essence of adventure and one of the main ingredients of a great climb, Doug and his friends naturally tackled their next big climb in lightweight style.

Insights and References

  • Climbing beyond ego
  • Out of body experiences
  • Leadership, team spirit, the Sherpas
  • Don Whillans, Chris Bonington, Dougal Haston

pic Pete and Joe on Kangchenjunga

Kangchenjunga

This is the world’s third highest summit, but a much more technically demanding and dangerous mountain than Everest. After two and a half months of climbing through one storm after another Doug Scott with Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker reached a point just 10 feet below the summit – in deference to the local people they left the summit untouched it being regarded as the dwelling place of their deities. This was the third ascent of the mountain, but the first in a lightweight style without bottled oxygen and by a new route. This was a huge step into the unknown, since none of the world’s big mountains had then been climbed by a small team and without oxygen being available. Doug considers this the most demanding of all his expeditions, as the outcome was uncertain until the very end.

Insights and References

  • Margins of safety
  • Homesickness
  • Intuition, inner voice, internal dialogue
  • The fascination of the unknown

K2

“Third time lucky” doesn’t always hold true. In 1978 Doug was high on the world’s second highest mountain, roped to his great friend Nick Escourt, when they were avalanched. The rope broke and Nick was swept to his death leaving Doug to tell the tale. He would return to this dangerous mountain in 1983, when with Andy Parkin, Roger Baxter-Jones and Jean Afanassieff they pioneered a new route up the South Pillar of K2. High on the mountain, on The Shoulder, Afanassief was struck down by Cerebral Oedema, his fellow climbers were, in an heroic rescue able to safely evacuate him, but would be denied the summit. Despite three further attempts Doug never climbed K2, but feels that “two out of three ain’t bad”.

Insights and References

  • Multi-peak method of acclimatisation
  • Main tools for survival
  • Letting go of ambition
  • Prophetic dreams
  • Resourcefulness, imagination
  • Balti Hill Men
  • Landscape
  • Connecting with great nature
  • Putting something back