I photographed climber Doug Scott in the map room of the Royal Geographic Society in London, 2010.
Written by my friend John Long:
July, 1977. In the remote Karakorum, Pakistan, British mountaineer Doug Scott stands beneath the then-unclimbed Ogre, the Man-Eater-Mountain. “I looked up at the summit and said, ‘I’m going to get this body from here to there.’ I didn’t say, ‘Even if it kills me,’ but sort of along those lines, which was really stupid.” A week later, on July 13, 1977, Scott and partner Chris Bonnington reach the 23,901 foot high summit, squeeze off a few pictures and immediately start descending in near white-out conditions. Barely twenty meters below the summit block, Scott slips on water ice, takes a huge pendulum fall and smashes into rocks, breaking both legs just above the ankles… Further down, Bonnington falls, crushing three ribs. The storm lasts five days. Bonnington contracts pneumonia. It takes the pair eight days to descend the mountain and trek back across the glacier and moraine field (Scott must crawl the entire way) to reach Base Camp, finding it deserted, the support team having given the climbers up for dead. After a five day wait for a stretcher party of eight Balti hillmen, Scott is carried three days to the village of Askoli. An Army helicopter flies in, snags Scott and blades off for Skardu, but crash lands well short of the helipad. Scott survives and later goes on to bag the North Ridge of Kangchenjunga (world’s 3rd highest peak), the North Side of Nuptse, and completes the celebrated Seven Summits, scaling the highest peak on all seven continents. Twenty-four years passed before a German team led by Thomas Huber once more climbed the Man-Eating Mountain. Since then, the attempt-to-success ration has established the Ogre as “The Hardest Mountain on Earth.”
Scott was knighted (CBE), Sir Douglass Keith Scott in 1994.