Saturday, September 15, 2007
If there is an anti-thesis to this website, it has got to be Doug Scott's lecture on Thursday with Royal Geographical Society of Hong Kong. Every week I dramatised my average Joe's adventures on this blog, but when a real master of adventure speaks, it was in such a casual down to earth manner that I almost fell like going up and re-write his speech for him. Initially I thought time has mellow out this mountaineering hero but more likely he simply no longer dare to believe in the rock star status that media once crowded him. Though despite his best effort to underplay his stories, they are still tales that every climber father will read to his son.
In 1975, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston, the summit team from Chris Bonnington's Everest South West Face Expedition Team, reached the top of the world via one of the most difficult face to be climbed at the time. The poster I held above was the moment they reached the summit and it was 7pm in the evening. As it was too late to make a descent, Doug and Dougal had to bivouac in a snow cave, which they dug, few hundered meters below the summit and survived the night in thin air and bone chilling cold. Probably the highest point anyone has spent a night in open air in the world to date.... and lived.
Two years later, he went for an expedition in Pakistan's Ogre Mountain, the team split into pairs to climb the 7000m Karakorum peak in Alpine Style (light weight small team style). Doug and Chris reached the sumit but on the way down Doug slipped off while abseiling and pendulumed across a few miles across the mountain face (recounted as the older version of Doug stroked the laser pointer across the picture of mountain like it was great fun) and broke both of his ankles. Chris later also cracked 2 ribs and contracted pnemonia. But they survived the week long descent to base camp, Doug did it by crawling on hands and knees and abseil off his bump, even crossing glaciers cravesses that way.
"Why did it happend so soon after the success of Everest.?" Doug asked himself in the lecture. "Probably because I had begun to believe in my own myth created by the media after the Everest Expedition." Hence I can see why he is now so humble when talking about these climbing tales again.
This is the attitude I admired the most from Doug, when he was up there on the moutain face, he was not there to achieve something great, just out there having a good time with his friends, doing the things that he most loved.
As with lectures by famous mountaineers I have come across, the speakers would devolve a great deal of time talking about how his closest friends' death in the moutain. A sudden rock fall, a slip off a rope, an avalanche would just wipe a dear friend away from their lives in an instant. "But we were left with fond memories of our time together on the mountains." said Doug. This is the attitude I admired the most from Doug, when he was up there on the moutain face, he was not there to achieve something great, just out there having a good time with his friends, doing the things that he most loved.
At the end of the lecture, we went up to buy some signed posters of him. We bought two for our buddy, ahdont. We told him "This friend of ours has been a big fan of you ever since he read the expdition report of your Everest trip." He replied with humour "That might have ruin his life, people still ask me when I am going to get a real job!"
Doug Scott's charity, Community Action Nepal, is supporting the poor community of Nepal to build a more sustainable life.