Sir Chris Bonington
After Dinner & Event Speaker (in association with SpeakOut)
Chris Bonington is more than just a mountaineer, writer and lecturer. He is now one of the country's leading motivational speakers for business.
Born in Hampstead in 1934, Chris was educated at University College School, London and the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He was commissioned in the Royal Tank Regiment in 1956. He spent three years in North Germany in command of a troop of tanks and then two years at the Army Outward Bound School as a mountaineering instructor.
It was during this period that he started climbing in the Alps, making the first British ascent of the South West Pillar of the Drus in 1958 and then the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney on the south side of Mont Blanc in 1961 with Don Whillans, Ian Clough and the Pole, Jan Dlugosz. At that time this was one of the most difficult climbs in the Alps and even today is considered one of the great classics of the Mont Blanc region.He made the first British ascent of the North Wall of the Eiger in 1962.
On leaving the Army in 1961 he joined Unilever as a Management Trainee but after nine months realised that he could never combine a conventional career with his love of mountaineering. Now married to Wendy, a freelance illustrator of children's books, Chris Bonington made the decision to go freelance and since 1962 has followed a successful course as writer, photographer and mountaineer. They have two sons, Daniel and Rupert.
Having started climbing at the age of sixteen, Chris reached a high standard of rock climbing while still in his teens. In 1960 he was invited to join the Joint British-Indian-Nepalese Services Expedition to Annapurna II (26,041 ft.), and reached the summit.
Other outstanding climbs followed until in 1966 he was given his first assignment by the Daily Telegraph Magazine to cover other expeditions - climbing the highest active volcano in the world, Sangay in Ecuador caribou hunting with the Eskimos in Baffin Island a story from Hunza.
Chris Bonington's fast-developing career as an adventure journalist and photographer reached a climax in 1968 when he accompanied an Army Expedition, led by the then Captain John Blashford-Snell, in their attempt to make the first ever descent of the Blue Nile. This proved to be Chris's most exciting, and by far most dangerous, adventure yet and by the end of the expedition he knew he should get back to climbing, the activity he loved and thoroughly understood.
In the autumn of 1968 Chris Bonington started planning an expedition to attempt the South Face of Annapurna. At this time no major Himalayan wall had been climbed and tackling this huge, 12,000 ft. wall was a step into the unknown since it involved climbing steep rock and ice at heights of over 24,000 feet. Careful choice of team members and logistical planning was rewarded by success when Dougal Haston and Don Whillans reached the summit on 27th May, 1970.
After the ascent of Annapurna, the 'last great problem' - the South West Face of Everest - was a logical follow-up. In 1972 he led the British Expedition which was defeated by the savage winds and intense cold of that autumn and winter. When the opportunity came for a further attempt, in the autumn of 1975, Chris Bonington led the British Everest Expedition to success when Doug Scott and Dougal Haston reached the summit on 24th September.
Two years later he and Doug Scott made the first ascent of the Ogre (23,900 ft.) in the Karakoram Himalaya and had an epic six-day descent, aided by Mo Anthoine and Clive Rowland, through a blizzard, with Doug Scott crawling all the way as he had broken both his legs soon after leaving the summit. Chris also had a fall and broke a rib, they ran out of food and when at last they reached Base Camp, starving and exhausted, it was only to find that their companions had given them up for lost and abandoned the camp.
In 1978 Bonington led a small team to attempt the previously unclimbed formidable West Ridge of K2, which at 28,741 ft. is the second highest mountain in the world. This ended when, tragically, Nick Estcourt was engulfed by a huge avalanche which swept across part of their route. Then there was a break of two years spent researching and writing his book, QUEST FOR ADVENTURE, which became an immediate best seller and was on the Sunday Times Best Seller list for over ten weeks.
After that, as might be expected, he became involved in yet another 'first' In 1980 Chris, Dr. Michael Ward and Alan Rouse were among the first Europeans to visit China when they re-opened some of their mountain areas to foreign mountaineers. They made a reconnaissance of Mount Kongur, a remote unclimbed mountain in Western Xinjiang, and returned again in 1981 for the successful ascent of the 25,325 ft. peak accomplished by Bonington, Peter Boardman, Joe Tasker and Alan Rouse - which is graphically described in his book, KONGUR, CHINA'S ELUSIVE SUMMIT.In 1982 Chris Bonington, together with Peter Boardman, Joe Tasker and Dick Renshaw, attempted the long unclimbed North East Ridge of Everest without oxygen. Renshaw had to retire when he suffered a mild stroke (diagnosed by Charles Clarke, the expedition's doctor) and Chris decided that as he was moving so much slower than either Boardman or Tasker at high altitude, they should go for the top on their own. Tragically they both disappeared on what Chris Bonington described as 'the happiest expedition any of us had been on' and it was abandoned.
1983 proved to be a full and successful year with the first ascent of the West Summit of Shivling (21,330 ft.), in the Gangotri Himalaya in India, climbed alpine-style in five days and then a fascinating expedition to Antarctica with an American team to climb Mount Vinson (l6,800 ft.), its highest peak. In temperatures down to -35C and with winds of over 50 miles an hour, the other members of the team turned back and Chris Bonington reached the summit by himself. He then dropped back to support his companions in their successful attempt a few days later. This, therefore, is the only British ascent of this mountain.
In June of 1984, Chris Bonington, together with Al Rouse and two Pakistani climbers, attempted the unclimbed 24,607 foot Karun Koh in the Karakoram Himalaya but was defeated by bad weather.
Chris realised a life time's ambition when, in 1985 he reached the summit of Everest as a member of the Norwegian Everest Expedition.
In 1987 and 1988 he led an expedition to Menlungtse, 7150 metres, one of the most beautiful and technically difficult unclimbed peaks in the world. In 1988 the expedition made the first ascent of the West Peak of Menlungtse. In addition they searched for the legendary yeti and were accompanied by a BBC Natural History Unit film team who made a documentary of the search
After two and a half years involved in the writing and production of a picture book, and a television series and book about the history of mountaineering, he joined forces with Robin Knox-Johnston on an expedition to Greenland. They sailed there in the yacht Suhaili, in which Knox-Johnston made the first non-stop, single-handed circumnavigation of the world, to attempt the previously unclimbed, 2660 metre Cathedral peak, in the remote Lemon Bjerge range.
In 1992 Chris led jointly with Harish Kapadia, an extremely successful IndianBritish expedition to the remote Kumaon Himalaya in northern India. Several first ascents were made including the West Ridge of Panch Chuli II (6904m) by Bonington and Graham Little.
In July 1993, Chris joined Jim Lowther, Graham Little and Rob Ferguson on a return expedition to the Lemon Bjerge range in Greenland, this time flying into the Chisel Glacier and making three first ascents, a mixed route on the Chisel and two technically challenging rock routes on the Ivory Tower and the Needle.
In August he visited the Russian Caucasus, climbing Mount El'brus (5642m) - the highest peak in Europe - and the demanding North East Ridge of Ushba.
In 1994 Chris Bonington returned to one of the little explored areas of northern India and, together with Harish Kapadia, led another joint IndianBritish expedition. Their objective was an unclimbed peak of 6553m in the upper reaches of the Tirung Gad in the Kinnaur Himalaya, a region previously unvisited by climbers The expedition succeeded in making the first ascent of this remote and beautiful peak, which they named Rangrik Rang, putting eight members of the team on the summit.
To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the successful 1985 Norwegian Everest Expedition the team came together again, this time to attempt the first ascent of Drangnag-Ri, an unclimbed 6801m peak in the Rolwaling Himal, appropriately not far from Everest itself.
Once more the expedition was successful when on 30th April Chris Bonington, Ralph Hibakk, Bjrn Myrer-Lund and Sherpas Pema Dorge and Lhakpa Gyalu reached the summit after some technically difficult and challenging climbing.
In 1996 Chris made a reconnaissance with Charles Clarke to North East Tibet to find the peak they had seen through a plane window in 12982 on their way to Lhasa in 1982. They found their mountain (Sepu Kangri 6950m) and in the spring 1997 made their first attempt to climb it. Jim Lowther, Jim Fotheringham, John Porter and Chris Bonington made up the climbing team, supported by Charles Clarke, Jim Curran (filming) and Duncan Sperry (Email and Internet technical support). This was the first time that Chris used satellite technology on an expedition to run a web site. The team were beaten by appalling weather and retreated having reached 6100 metres on the North East Face of Sepu Kangri.
Chris returned in the Autumn of 1998 with Victor Saunders, Graham Little, Elliot Robertson and Scott Muir (climbing team), Charles Clarke and a film crew comprising Jim Curran, Martin Belderson and Greg Cubitt from ITN. Clarke and Robertson set out a month early and explored a fresh approach to the mountain from the east but the main party were once again beaten by the weather. This time the team approached the summit by the Western Cwm of the mountain, making two attempts. Victor Saunders and Scott Muir reached a height of 6800 metres, very close to the summit and Graham Little made the first ascent of the Turquoise Flower (6650m), an outlying peak of Sepu Kangri.
In Spring 2000 Chris had a family trip to the Kanchenjunga region in Nepal making the first ascent of Danga II and later that summer climbed in South Greenland making several first ascents.
In 2001 he co-led an Indian, American, British expedition to the Arganglas range in Ladakh, NW India. He also made his first trip to Tafraute region of Morocco to join a group of rock legendary figures, including Joe Brown, Les Brown, Derek Walker and others who had been exploring and making new routes over a period of twelve years. He had a great time and has been going annually ever since.
In 2003, another new development he joined Harish Kapadia and a group of Indian and British friends in an enjoyable trek and climb in Kullu, the following year in Lahoul, and in 2005 in Kumaon. He also climbed Kilimanjaro for a second time with a group of Pentland executives. (Pentland own Berghaus, of which Chris is non executive Chairman.) and an attempt to sail once again into Kangelugsuaq to climb the Cathedral.
Leading the way with audio-visual presentations Chris Bonington is now going digital. This enables him to use his stunning visuals, computer animation and video all together. While Chris talks you through his expeditions, making the links between what he does so successfully on the mountain with business today, you will be inspired, thrilled and more than ready to climb your own Everest.
To book Sir Chris Bonington, contact Emkay Entertainments Agency via email@example.com. Alternatively, speak to a booking agent directly on 01506 855 555.