Cumbria Crack

Mountaineering’s Greatest Escape: Doug Scott

Doug Scott

[T]his year marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most audacious climbs and tales of survival in mountaineering history. On 15 October at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake, Doug Scott will be telling first hand the story of his incredible escape from The Ogre in Pakistan.

Best known for the first ascent of Everest’s South West Face, this 1977 expedition would test Doug well beyond what he experienced on the world’s highest mountain. At 23,901 feet The Ogre – or Baintha Brakk – is considerably lower than many of the other peaks Doug had climbed. It was, however, to present this outstanding mountaineer with his greatest challenge.

His final push up The Ogre’s summit block involved hard climbing up vertical rock – generally acknowledged to be the most technical ever encountered at high altitude. The climbing was time consuming and he and Chris Bonington only gained the summit at sunset. With the setting sun, the temperature plummeted, triggering a change in conditions.

Doug recalls the moment it all went awry: “Without looking I stepped onto a veneer of water ice that had formed in the evening cold from previously melted snow. In that careless moment I lost control. Without crampons my feet slid across the ice, off into the air and still on the rope, I was galloping faster and faster to try to gain control, before swinging and twisting out across the face at speed towards a wall of rock and ice. Putting my feet up to try to protect myself, I slammed into to the buffers. Splat went my legs!”

With two broken legs Doug had to then descend the mountain in the dark, with assistance from Chris; and so began one of the greatest stories of survival and self-rescue stories of all time.

Join Doug to hear the full tale on 15 October in the Main House at Theatre by the Lake. Tickets are £10 – £15 with proceeds going towards Community Action Nepal as part of their reconstruction programme following the recent Nepalese earthquakes. Find out more at or call the Box Office on 017687 74411.

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