Chris Bonington: 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face Expedition

Sir Christian John Storey Bonington, or Chris Bonington is a British mountaineer who became a popular name in the world of mountaineering with the 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face Expedition. He has been on a total of nineteen Himalayan expeditions throughout his life, including that of Mount Everest in the Himalayas. Some of his notable ascents include that of the mountains like Annapurna II (1960), Nuptse (1961), North Wall of the Eiger (1962), Old Man of Hoy (1966), Changabang (1975), Baintha Brakk/Ogre (1977), Kongur (1981), and Mount Everest (1985). Likewise, he has had famous partnerships with other mountaineers like Ian Clough, Don Whillans, and Jan Długosz.

Just like these, there are plenty of other facts about Chris Bonington that are going to interest you. Make sure to read till the end of this article to know more about him!

Early Life of Chris Bonington

Early Life of Chris Bonington

Chris Bonington was born on August 6, 1934. His father was a founding member of L Detachment, Special Air Service. He left home when Chris was only nine months old. Bonington discovered his love for the mountains when he was only 16 years old. He completed his education at University College School in Hampstead and also attended the Royal Fusiliers and Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Upon graduating in 1956, he was commissioned by the Royal Tank Regiment. He also worked as a mountaineering instructor at the Army Outward Bound School.

He became a successful member of the South West Pillar (aka Bonatti Pillar) of the Aiguille du Dru in 1958. The south of Mont Blanc was also ascended in 1961 by the mountaineer alongside Don Whillans, Ian Clough, and Jan Dlugosz (Poland). Thereafter, he became a part of the British-Indian-Nepalese forces expedition to Annapurna II. He eventually left the British Army to become a professional explorer and a mountaineer. After having climbed several mountains in the world that were known notably by everyone, he finally attempted to climb Mount Everest from the southwest face. The first expedition of 1972, sadly, was unsuccessful. However, his second attempt in 1975 was not only successful but also came to be known as one of the most successful ascents of the Mount Everest of all time.

Chris Bonington’s Personal Life and Career

Chris Bonington's Personal Life and Career

Besides mountaineering, Chris Bonington is also a successful writer. He also was awarded the chancellorship of Lancaster University from 2005 to 2014. Bonington also was the honorary president of the Hiking Club and Lancaster University Mountaineering Club. A boat was named after the mountaineer called Lancaster University Boat Club’s fleet. He is also the Honorary President of the British Orienteering Federation. Chris lived in Cumbria since 1974 and was the president of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). In addition, he also succeeded Edmund Hilary as the Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, an international NGO. Chris’s first wife, Wendy Bonington, was a freelance illustrator. She passed away due to a motor disease in 2014, which inspired him to start charity work. He had three children with her: Conrad (died 1966), Daniel, and Rupert. The mountaineer remarried Loreto McNaught-Davis on Saturday, 23 April 2016. Loreto was the widow of television presenter Ian McNaught-Davis, who passed away in 2014.

Chris Bonington 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition

Chris Bonington 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition

After failing to summit Mount Everest from the Southwest Face in 1972, Bonington heard about the withdrawal of another team’s 1975 expedition in December of 1973. Chris’s partners Haston and Scott convinced him to climb the peak from the Southwest Face during autumn. After having changed his mind, Bonington went to the director of Barclays Bank International to ask for sponsorship. There was an agreement of £100,000 with a promise not to overspend. This caused an argument among common people against the bank and led to the voices even reaching the Parliament.

All the logistical planning was done on a mainframe computer. After also preparing all the necessary equipment, the team finally headed towards Kathmandu, trekking to Lukla despite the monsoon. After a two-week trek and at Thyangboche, the team met up with a Lama to get his blessings. At the time, a young porter went missing and was found dead with the help of a search party.

The crevasses and seracs were some of the biggest concerns of the team while they went through Khumbu Icefall and Western Cwm. With a good number of Sherpas, Bonington announced that Haston and Scott were making the first summit attempt from Camp 5. Haston took two days to ascend from the foot face of the peak. Climbing the Rock Band, on the other hand, had become a challenge when Bonington and Burke had to wait for the sherpas to bring and install more ropes and equipment. Thankfully, the Rock Band was crossed in a single day.

Upon wanting to summit Mount Everest, Bonington’s doctor suggested otherwise. Hence, he was not able to make it to Everest at the time and gave his place to Richards.

The expenditure was more than called for at £130,000. Bonington successfully became a holder of CBE and knighthood upon his return to Britain after the 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face Expedition. Unfortunately, despite the successes of their teammates, Mick Burke died in the mountain and was never found again. However, it has been believed that he was successful enough to make it to the summit before disappearing.

After 40 years of the expedition, ten of the expedition members reunited at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The reunion led to fundraising for Community Action Nepal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about chris bonington

Does Chris Bonington still climb?

Yes, he is quite active in climbing to this date.

What is Chris Bonington famous for?

Chris Bonington is famous as a mountaineer.

Who climbed Everest with Chris Bonington?

Don Whillans, John Harlin, Dougal Haston, Doug Scott, Peter Boardman, and Joe Tasker climbed Everest with Chris Bonington.

When was Chris Bonington knighted?

Chris Bonington was knighted in 1996.

How many times has Chris Bonington climbed Everest?

Chris Bonington climbed the Everest four times.


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