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Chris Bonington

Chris Bonington
Sir Chris Bonington.jpg
Personal information
Full nameChristian John Storey Bonington
Main disciplineMountaineering
Other disciplinesClimbing, Alpinism, Art
Born (1934-08-06) 6 August 1934 (age 85)
Hampstead, London, England
Notable ascentsNorth Wall of the Eiger (1962),
Famous partnershipsIan Clough, Don Whillans, Jan Długosz
SpouseWendy Bonington (m. 1962–2014; her death) Loreto Herman (m. 2016)
ChildrenConrad [died 1966], Daniel (b. 1967), and Rupert (b. 1969)

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

His career has included nineteen expeditions to the Himalayas, including four to Mount Everest.

Early life and expeditions

Bonington's father, who left the family when Christian was nine months old, was a founding member of L Detachment, Special Air Service.[1] Bonington first began climbing in 1951 at age 16.[2] 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 serving 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 Inuit 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 the chancellorship of Lancaster University from 2005 to 2014. 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 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 preservation of mountain areas, in their natural and cultural aspects.

Personal life

Bonington was married to Wendy, a freelance illustrator of children's books. She died on 24 July 2014 from motor neuron disease (MND), inspiring Bonington to support MND charities.[3] The couple had three children: Conrad (died 1966), Daniel ("Joe") and Rupert.[4] The family lived at Caldbeck, Cumbria.

Bonington married Loreto McNaught-Davis on Saturday 23 April 2016. McNaught-Davis is the widow of mountaineer and television presenter Ian McNaught-Davis who died in February 2014. The ceremony took place in London in the presence of about 60 friends and family members, including Bonington's son Rupert.[5]


In 1974 Bonington received the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.[6] In 1985 he received the Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. St. Helen's School, Northwood, England 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[7] 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.[8] He was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria in 2004.

Notable climbs

Expedition leader

Although expedition leader, Bonington did not reach the summit of these peaks on these expeditions

Mount Everest record

Chris Bonington briefly became the oldest known person to summit Mount Everest in April 1985, at the age of 50.[13] He was surpassed by Richard Bass (of Seven Summits fame), who summited later that same season at 55 years old, five years older than Bonington.[13] The record was superseded by Ramon Blanco of Venezuela in 1993 aged 60.[13]


  • 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
  • Chris Bonington Mountaineer (Vertebrate Publishing) 2016
  • Ascent (Simon & Schuster UK) 2017

See also


  1. ^ Tunstall, Interview by Jill (5 December 2008). "My family values" – via The Guardian.
  2. ^ "Chris Bonington Biography" Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  3. ^ "TRIBUTE TO WIFE OF CLIMBER SIR CHRIS BONINGTON". News and Star. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015.
  4. ^ "I was my dad's greatest challenge". The Sunday Times.
  5. ^ "Sir Chris Bonington to marry today".
  6. ^ "Medals and Awards Recipients 1970-2007" (PDF). Royal Geographical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
  7. ^ a b 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
  8. ^ "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 3.
  9. ^ "The First Ascent -".
  10. ^ Bonington, Chris (1988). "Menlungtse Attempt". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. 30 (62): 275–278. ISBN 0-930410-33-5.
  11. ^ Bonington, Chris (1989). "Menlungtse Western Summit". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. 31 (63): 284–286. ISBN 0-930410-39-4.
  12. ^ "Sir Chris Bonington climbs the Old Man of Hoy again after 48 years". BBC. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  13. ^ a b c "Everest Bound Kettle Falls Man Seeks To Be One Of The Oldest Ever To Reach The Top Of The World".

External links

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