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Sir Chris Bonington
Born 6 August 1934(1934-08-06) (age 88)
Hampstead, London, England
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Wendy Bonington
Children Daniel & Rupert Bonington

Sir Christian John Storey Bonington, CVO, CBE, DL (born 6 August 1934, Hampstead, London) is a British mountaineer.

His career has included nineteen expeditions to the Himalayas, including four to Mount Everest and the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna.

Early life and expeditions

Bonington first began climbing in 1951 at age 16.[1] Educated at University College School in Hampstead, Bonington joined the Royal Fusiliers before attending Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and on graduation was commissioned in the Royal Tank Regiment in 1956. After three years in North Germany, he spent two years at the Army Outward Bound School as a mountaineering instructor.

Bonington was part of the party that made the first British ascent of the South West Pillar (aka Bonatti Pillar) of the Aiguille du Dru in 1958, and the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney on the south side of Mont Blanc in 1961 with Don Whillans, Ian Clough and Jan Dlugosz (Poland). In 1960 he was part of the successful joint British-Indian-Nepalese forces expedition to Annapurna II.

On leaving the British Army in 1961, he joined Van den Berghs, a division of Unilever, but he left after nine months, and became a professional mountaineer and explorer. In 1966 he was given his first assignment by the Daily Telegraph magazine to cover other expeditions, including climbing Sangay in Ecuador and hunting Caribou with Eskimos on Baffin Island. In 1968 he accompanied Captain John Blashford-Snell and his British Army team in the attempt to make the first ever descent of the Blue Nile.


Bonington has written or edited numerous books, made many television appearances, and received many honours, including, since January 2005, the chancellorship of Lancaster University. He is honorary president of the Hiking Club and Lancaster University Mountaineering Club and has a boat named after him among Lancaster University Boat Club's fleet. Furthermore he is the Honorary President of the British Orienteering Federation. He has lived in Cumbria with his wife, Wendy since 1974. He is a patron, and former president (1988–91), of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). He succeeded Edmund Hillary as the Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, an international NGO dedicated to the worldwide protection of mountains.

Personal life

Bonington is married to Wendy, a freelance illustrator of children's books. The couple have two sons: Daniel and Rupert Bonington.


In 1974 Bonington received the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.[2] Bonington has been recognised as one of the great explorers of modern times by St. Helen's School, Northwood, England which has named one of its four houses after him. Bonington was presented with the Golden Eagle Award for services to the outdoors in 2008 by the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.


Bonington was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1976 in recognition of the previous year's successful ascent of Everest[3] and was knighted in 1996 for his services to the sport. He was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to the Outward Bound Trust.[4]

Notable climbs

  • 1961 Central Pillar of Freney, Mont Blanc (First ascent) with Ian Clough, Don Whillans and Jan Długosz
  • 1962 North Wall of the Eiger (First British ascent) with Ian Clough
  • 1963 Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia (First ascent) with Don Whillans[5]
  • 1965 Coronation Street, Cheddar Gorge (First ascent)
  • 1966 Old Man of Hoy (First ascent) with Tom Patey
  • 1973 Brammah (6411m) (First ascent) with Nick Estcourt
  • 1974 Changabang, Garhwal Himalaya (6864m) (First ascent) with Don Whillans, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston
  • 1977 Baintha Brakk (7285m) (First ascent) with Doug Scott
  • 1981 Kongur Tagh (7719m) (First ascent)
  • 1983 West Summit of Shivling, Gangotri (6501m) (First Ascent)
  • 1983 Vinson Massif (4897m) (First British ascent – solo)
  • 1985 Mount Everest (8848m) as member of Norwegian Everest Expedition
  • 1987 Menlungtse (7181m) attempted FA of main peak via South Buttress, to 6100m; w/ Odd Eliason, Bjorn Myrer-Lund, Torgeir Fosse, Helge Ringdal (all Norwegian) and Jim Fotheringham (UK).[6]
  • 1988 Menlungtse West (7023m) FA via West Ridge, (expedition leader). Summit attained by Andy Fanshawe and Alan Hinkes (both UK), with David Breashears and Steve Shea (both USA) in support.[7]

Expedition leader

  • 1970 Annapurna (south face), successful, summit reached by Dougal Haston and Don Whillans; death of Ian Clough
  • 1972 Mount Everest, (south-west face), unsuccessful
  • 1975 Mount Everest (south-west face), successful, summit reached by Doug Scott, Dougal Haston, Peter Boardman, Pertemba Sherpa and Mick Burke; death of Burke
  • 1978 K2 (west face), unsuccessful; death of Nick Estcourt
  • 1982 Mount Everest (north-east ridge), unsuccessful; death of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker
Although expedition leader, Bonington did not reach the summit of these peaks on these expeditions


  • I Chose to Climb (Gollancz) 1966
  • Annapurna South Face (Cassell) 1971
  • The Next Horizon (Gollancz) 1973
  • Everest South West Face (Hodder and Stoughton) 1973
  • Changabang (Heinemann) 1975
  • Everest the Hard Way (Hodder and Stoughton) 1976
  • Quest for Adventure (Hodder and Stoughton) 1981
  • Kongur: China's Elusive Summit (Hodder and Stoughton) 1982
  • Everest: The Unclimbed Ridge (with Dr Charles Clarke) (Hodder and Stoughton) 1983
  • The Everest Years (Hodder and Stoughton) 1986
  • Mountaineer: Thirty Years of Climbing on the World's Great Peaks (Diadem) 1989
  • The Climbers (BBC Books and Hodder and Stoughton) 1992
  • Sea, Ice and Rock (with Robin Knox-Johnston) (Hodder and Stoughton) 1992
  • Great Climbs (Ed with Audrey Salkeld) (Reed Illustrated Books) 1994
  • Tibet's Secret Mountain, the Triumph of Sepu Kangri (with Dr Charles Clarke) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 1999
  • Boundless Horizons (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 2000
  • Chris Bonington's Everest (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 2002
  • Chris Bonington's Lakeland Heritage (with Roly Smith) (Halsgrove) 2004

See also

  • Rock climbing
  • Ice climbing


  1. "Chris Bonington Biography" Retrieved 2013-02-23.
  2. "Medals and Awards Recipients 1970-2007". Royal Geographical Society. Retrieved 26 June 2009. 
  3. Willis, Clint (2006). The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragic Story of Climbing's Greatest Generation. London: Robson Books, p 335. ISBN 1-86105-980-9
  4. "No. 59446". 12 June 2010. 
  5. The First Ascent | Alpinist
  6. Bonington, Chris (1988). "Menlungtse Attempt". New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. pp. 275–278. ISBN 0-930410-33-5. 
  7. Bonington, Chris (1989). "Menlungtse Western Summit". New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. pp. 284–286. ISBN 0-930410-39-4. 

External links

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