Doug Scott crawling down the Ogre

Doug Scott during the descent of the Ogre in Pakistan in 1977, which he made with two broken legs. Photo credit: Doug Scott

Honorary Loughborough degree for mountaineer who conquered the Ogre with two broken legs

Adventurer Doug Scott descended The Ogre – the most difficult mountain in Pakistan – with two broken legs.

Doug Scott receives his honorary degree

Doug Scott CBE was made an Honorary Doctor of the University at the 2017 summer graduations

He is also the first British climber to reach the summit of Everest.

He is a Commander of the British Empire, a recipient of the Royal Geographical Society's Patron's Gold Medal and was awarded the prestigious Piolet d'Or, for his visionary mountaineering style and accomplishments.

There are so many more achievements, awards, successes and records for which he is known, and as of yesterday, the 76-year-old had one more to add to his lengthy list of accolades.

He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of the University at one of this summer’s Loughborough degree ceremonies, held at the Sir David Wallace building, on campus.

It was conferred upon him by new Chancellor, Lord Sebastian Coe, in “recognition of his outstanding achievements in mountaineering and his sustained contribution to international charity”.

Accepting the honorary degree, Mr Scott said: “It’s a great honour even though I do have to face my two very academic daughters who spent years getting their degrees and here’s me getting mine in less than three hours.”

The accomplished climber who has scaled more than 40 peaks, used his remarkable story of the painful descent of Pakistand’s Ogre (Baintha Brakk) which he did without the use of his legs in 1977.

Addressing the graduand and their families, he said: “On the Ogre, as you’ve heard, I messed up on the first abseil – at 24,000ft.

“I managed to get this abseil quite wrong while reaching out for some equipment.

“I stretched out, and in the evening when the Sun had gone down I put my foot on some ice which had formed from the melting snow.

“Suddenly, I was off – I skated off – and swung wildly across 80ft and smashed into the rocks on the other side of the chasm.

“I came to, and realised I’d broken both legs.

“I managed to get myself to a ledge and released the ropes so Chris Bonnington could abseil down.

“As Chris came over the overhang I think I yelled up, ‘I’ve broke both legs’.

“He told me not to panic, and I wasn’t going to die, so I thought ‘that’s good news’, and then he took over and fixed the next abseil down towards a snow patch where we were obviously going to have to spend the night.

“Now, it was when he was going down there, in the gloom – I watched him go down, two ropes which were pencil-thin with his weight – I thought ‘well this is going to be interesting, how am I going to do this? How am I going to deal with this one?’

“And, it might sound a bit trite, but I did experience feelings of exhilaration at the prospect – suddenly there’s all this incredible uncertainty – and I couldn’t wait to get going to see how I would sort it out.

“It’s always stuck with me, that.

“Now, you guys are going off into the world now and I’m sure not all of it’s going to be certain.

“In fact, there’ll be great uncertainty.  

“But isn’t that so important in our lives that we do have this uncertainty?

“Aren’t we the best when we face it?

“Like our little group, because of course there was Clive Rowland and Mo Anthoine in the ice cave below, who all pulled together to get first me down and then they helped Chris down after he broke his ribs.

“All-in-all it was quite an epic eight days to get down the glacier.

“So, don’t always think of health and safety – let’s remember when we’re at our best facing uncertainty and the unknown.”

The honorary degree was presented during the graduation ceremony of Loughborough’s School of Business and Economics.

In his oration, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Linton hailed Mr Scott as an inspiration and tireless charity leader. He said: “Dedicated, adventurous and aspirational are some of the traits often associated with Loughborough graduates. So is the notion of giving back. Today I’m extremely pleased to welcome back and present to you a Loughborough graduate who embodies them all.

“Doug Scott is a prominent, highly experienced and respected leader of the international climbing community.

“Now regarded as one of the UK’s most important post-war mountaineers, Doug started climbing at the age of 13, after his interest was sparked by seeing climbers on the Black Rocks in Derbyshire whilst out hiking with the Scouts.

“Prior to pursuing his climbing career, Doug spent two years studying at what was then known as Loughborough Teachers’ Training College, where he studied geography and PE. He subsequently became a school teacher in Nottingham where he worked in the 60s and 70s.

“Of his mountaineering achievements since, his ascent of Mount Everest in 1975 with Dougal Haston is possibly his most famous, when the pair were the first British climbers to reach the summit. This trip alone showed the level of their endurance; as after reaching the top late in the day, they then survived an unplanned bivouac only 100 metres below the summit. 

“Well known for his ability, the routes he has completed and his ethical style; over the years Doug has been on 40 expeditions to the high mountains of Asia.

“This includes The Ogre or Baintha Brakk, one of the most difficult mountains in Pakistan during 1977 with Chris Bonnington. On the way down, he fell just under the summit and broke both ankles.  Continuing on his hands and knees, this incredible feat is amongst one of the most breath-taking in Himalayan history.

“Some years and expeditions later, in 2011 Doug was awarded mountaineering's single most prestigious international award, the Piolet d'Or, for his visionary style and accomplishments.

“Doug was also made Commander of the British Empire in 1994, and received the Royal Geographical Society's Patron's Gold Medal in 1999 for his ‘contributions to mountaineering and knowledge of mountain regions’.

“However, it is not just in mountaineering where his aspirational achievements lie. Doug is also a tireless charity worker, who has pioneered responsible tourism in the Himalayas.

“In 1995, he founded Community Action Nepal, a charity that supports the mountain people of Nepal, and work sustains over 40 community projects in the country, where he remains as Operations Director today.

“Prior to this, since 1989, Doug has worked tirelessly with the Nepalese population, founding the Specialist Trekking Co-operative, which then became Community Action Trek Limited, and whose revenue enabled Community Action Nepal to be launched. These organisations have created many projects in the domains of health, education and local economy, in which Doug has been heavily involved.

“Doug Scott is an inspirational mountaineer whose love of geography, travel and exploration has transcended his visionary climbing achievements to establish and sustain an important international charity.  

“Vice-Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you, and to the whole University, Doug Scott CBE, for the degree of Doctor of the University, honoris causa.”


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/100

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