Doug Scott - Heason Events

Doug Scott


Mellow, mystical Scott is a unique phenomenon in British climbing. Born 29th May 1941, he still retains the cachet of being one of the lads, while simultaneously possessing maximum respect by the establishment – he is the late John Peel of mountaineering. And like Radio 1’s elder statesman, he has somehow managed to develop this tremendous authority without an encumbering gravitas with which to alienate a younger generation.

Scott is extraordinary by any standards; proof positive that you can still be cool, and collect a bus pass. Never afraid to voice opinions on ethics, philosophy, politics and ecology, he has developed a gently polemical style to a fine art. In amongst the inspiring shots of the mountains of the world Scott plants little revelatory time bombs; from the terrible human and ecological costs of strip mining in Irian Jaya, and the brutal injustices enacted by the Chinese in Tibet, to the pointlessness of towing lardy millionaires up huge dangerous mountains, and the philosophical bankruptcy world climbing faces in the wake of the all-conquering bolt.

You may not always agree with his opinions, but they are worth hearing, being informed and cogently argued. Scott is the nearest we have to an intellectual professional mountaineer, something which in most people’s experience could be taken to be a contradiction in terms. However, don’t worry, because a Scott talk is not an Open University seminar, there are no kipper ties and brown corduroy jackets. Instead the narrative is enlivened by the best of a lifetime’s worth of stunning photography and lubricated by a flat-vowelled wit so dry it could mop up beer tables. A must see performer.

His Lectures


1. Himalaya Alpine Style

Covers significant moments during climbs on -

Koh-i-bandaka – Hindu Kush, Afghanistan
Shishapangma South West Face – Tibet
Baruntse-Chamlang-Makalu – Nepal
Lobsang Spire-Broad Peak-K2 – Pakistan
Nanga Parbat-Mazeno Ridge – Pakistan.

Doug illustrates the lecture using slides from his highly acclaimed personal collection.

2. Moments of Being


MOMENTS OF BEING is an illustrated lecture of Scott’s new climbs and explorations in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Sikkim and the remote Arunachal Pradesh in North East India.

Scott’s climbing credentials are impeccable. In the Autumn of 1975 he and the late Dougal Haston became the first British climbers to reach the summit of Everest as members of Chris Bonington’s South West Face Expedition. Scott went on to make history in 1979 when, alongside Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker he made the first ascent of Kangchenjunga’s North ridge in lightweight style without oxygen.

In all Scott has reached the summit of some 40 peaks, of which half were first ascents and all were climbed by new routes or for the first time in Alpine style, without the use of artificial oxygen, except Everest in 1975.

Scott is a previous President of the Alpine Club (1999 – 2001), the most prestigious climbing club in the UK, and he is recognised as one of the best ever. He has taken part in 45 expeditions to some of the wildest places on earth and has climbed the Seven Peaks – the highest mountains on the seven continents of the world.

Achievements like these are amazing in themselves but of course there are other considerations. The difficulties and dangers of the mountains mean death is closer than your shadow. In 1977 Scott fell near the summit of The Ogre (24,000ft) breaking both legs. The courage and determination to crawl for eight days through a blizzard to get off the mountain is a measure of the man.

The other inspiring thing about Scott’s career is his work to put something back into Nepal, one of the poorest countries in the world. Scott has set up the registered charity (no.1067772) Community Action Nepal to help build schools, health posts and other projects in Nepal. Over the past three years the charity has provided over £200,000 for this work. He visits these projects regularly.

Doug Scott’s lecture will cover all manner of climbing experiences as well as an 18 day trek through dense jungle in the Indo-Tibetan frontier where his group became the first Westerners ever to go in and meet the Nishi tribe, who are still hunter-gatherers.

His witty narrative is supported by inspiring shots of the mountains of the world and the best of his career long collection of astounding photographs, providing a fascinating and sometimes brutal insight into the world in which we live.


3. 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.

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. It is likely to attract wide audiences especially following the 29 May 2003, the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest. The lecture is illustrated with a wonderful set of his slides.

4. Himayalas - Alpine Style

Doug Scott’s lecture, Himalaya Alpine Style, covers significant moments during climbs on -

Koh-i-bandaka – Hindu Kush, Afghanistan
Shishapangma South West Face – Tibet
Baruntse-Chamlang-Makalu – Nepal
Lobsang Spire-Broad Peak-K2 – Pakistan
Nanga Parbat-Mazeno Ridge – Pakistan.


5. The Three Peaks - Everest - K2 - 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 mentioned: climbing beyond ego – out of body experiences – leadership - team spirit –the Sherpas – Don Whillans – Chris Bonington – Dougal Haston.


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 mentioned: 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 mentioned: 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.


6. 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.


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.

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.


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: landscape – connecting again with the natural world – local people and their qualities of mutual aid and co-operation

Doug illustrates the lecture using slides from his highly acclaimed personal collection.