In 1977, mountaineer Doug Scott broke both his legs while descending the Ogre, an infamous Himalayan peak. Scott, pictured here, is planning to speak about the ordeal at a fundraiser for earthquake-ravaged Nepal. Photo courtesy Rob Wood

“A Crawl Down the Ogre”: Legendary mountaineer to speak about Himalayan ordeal in Campbell River

Doug Scott’s lecture at the Tidemark to raise funds for relief in quake-ravaged Nepal

A legendary British mountaineer plans to recount his experience crawling down “the Ogre” – an infamous Himalayan peak – after breaking both his legs during a disastrous 1977 climbing expedition.

Doug Scott is slated to speak later this month at the Tidemark Theatre about the ordeal as part of a fundraising campaign for reconstruction efforts in Nepal, a nation still recovering from a devastating 2015 earthquake.

“He’s known in the international mountaineering community as the Great Survivor,” said Rob Wood, a pioneering ice-climber who is introducing Scott at the Campbell River event.

“He’s survived more major Himalayan expeditions than just about anybody else,” Wood said.

Scott is best known for ascending the treacherous southwest face of Mount Everest with Dougal Haston in 1975.

But at the Campbell River event, Scott plans to describe “possibly the greatest epic survival story in modern mountaineering history,” Wood said.

In 1977, when Scott ascended Baintha Brakk – a 24,000-foot summit also known as the Ogre – it was the world’s highest unclimbed peak, Wood said.

“It required very serious technical climbing at high altitude,” he said.

Scott managed to reach the summit, but during the descent he slipped on the ice, swung like a pendulum on his rope and smashed both legs into a mountain face.

His climbing partner, Chris Bonington, was also injured, Wood said.

“[Bonington] was able to help Doug down initially, but he too had a fall on the descent that broke some ribs, and he developed pulmonary edema,” a serious lung condition, Wood said. “He was in bad shape.”

Scott spent nine days crawling down the Ogre without food or painkillers, before a group of comrades managed to rescue the two men.

The story didn’t emerge at the time, partly because Scott was ashamed about what happened, said Wood.

“Years later, the tale is being told,” Wood said.

The talk will also feature “newly discovered photographs and material from diaries from other members of the team,” according to a media release. It will also feature film clips and “audio tapes recently discovered in an attic.”

Scott’s climbing experiences in the Himalayas led him to help establish a workers’ cooperative for Nepalese Sherpas, who weren’t benefiting from money coming in from international expeditions and tourism, Wood said.

Wood described Sherpas as the unsung heroes of the mountain-climbing world.

“The Sherpas are wonderful people, very brave and very hardworking,” said Wood. “They’ve been the mainstay of most successful – certainly Everest expeditions.”

Over the years, the cooperative evolved into a foundation called Community Action Nepal that built schools, medical clinics and other projects.

But in 2015, a massive earthquake destroyed most of those institutions and killed some 9,000 people.

The initial 7.8-magnitude quake was followed by two large aftershocks, and then by dozens of smaller aftershocks in the region.

More than 600,000 structures were damaged or destroyed in and around Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital.

Scott hopes to raise funds for the reconstruction effort through a speaking tour this month, with appearances in Squamish, Victoria, Courtenay and Campbell River.

Experiences like Scott’s underline the importance of solidarity at a time when unbridled competition threatens to undermine democracy and humanity itself, said Wood.

“When it comes to survival, cooperation trumps competition,” he said. “Modern society has been hoodwinked into believing that survival is about competition and aggression.”

Wood – well-known as a mountaineer, author and environmental activist, who lives on a homestead on Maurelle Island, northeast of Quadra Island – will be introducing Scott at the event.

Scott and Wood will also be selling signed copies of their books.

Doug Scott, introduced by Rob Wood, speaks at the Tidemark Theatre on Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $20, or $10 for seniors and children under 10.

@davidgordonkoch
david.koch@campbellrivermirror.com

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