Chris Bonington's latest book 'ASCENT'
After the meal Sir Chris was interviewed by historian and writer Julie Summers. She is the great niece of Sandy Irvine one of my heroes from the 1924 British Everest Expedition. He perished alongside George Mallory near the summit over ninety years ago. Her book 'Fearless on Everest - The Quest for Sandy Irvine' is part of my Everest book collection. It is an excellent book made very exciting by her discovery in May 2000 of a long forgotten and unopened trunk in the attic of an Irvine family home containing a stash of unsuspected source material including Irvine's letters and photographs of Everest!
Sir Chris moved through to a different room for signing his latest book, just out that day, 'ASCENT - A life spent climbing on the edge". On the front cover Leo Houlding states:
"Reads like the pages from an epic saga with
all the battle and victory, triumph and tragedy,
love and loss one would expect of a mythical hero."
I am now over half way through reading the book. It is excellent! As Britain's best known climber he shares both his passion for climbing as well as many aspects of his personal life. Of course along with the successes came the agony of friends losing their lives in the mountains. He did finally reach the summit of Everest at the age of fifty one in 1985. He is now in his early eighties but still retains his passion for mountains and remote places on earth. He is open and honest about the devastating fatal illness of his wife Wendy who died in 2014. In 2016 he married Loreto, the wife of his old friend Ian McNaught-Davies, who also died in 2014. I was truly inspired by the vitality and love of life that Sir Chris displays to everyone he meets. I hope if I reach my eighties I will be able to share my passion for life.
Over the years our paths have crossed. I was really fortunate to spend a few minutes with Sir Chris as he signed my copy of 'ASCENT'. I am also pleased to say that he has visited my website 'Beyond the Sacred Mountains'. I showed him an original postcard signed by himself and the entire climbing team at Everest Base Camp during the 1982 expedition. I gave him a copy of the postcard. You can see a photo of this postcard later in this blog.
I have been fortunate enough to hear many talks over the years by Sir Chris. Indeed the first was back in 1976 following the successful 1975 British Everest South West Face Expedition. We even went to an illustrated talk while living in Hong Kong. It was an account of the 1981 Kongur Expedition to China. Since 1997 we have been living back in the UK and I have been to several talks either about his climbing life or specific expeditions such as that to Sepu Kangri described by Sir Chris as Tibet's Secret Mountain. Amazingly we had been quite close to Sepu Kangri during our travels in Tibet in 2016 when we crossed over the Nyenchen Tanglha range. During early talks Sir Chris always used a pair of Kodak Carousel slide projectors. It was probably because of this that I also invested in a Kodak Carousel so that we could project our own travel slides to a more professional standard.
Books in my Himalayan collection devoted to expeditions to Kongur and Sepu Kangri
The front cover of Chris Bonington's 'Everest the Hard Way'
showing Dougal Haston on the summit of Everest.
One of the most exciting moments on our trek was when we were camping at Machapuchare Base Camp which is at the mouth of the Annapurna Sanctuary. It was at this point on their 1970 expedition that Don Whillans describes footprints found nearby and a possible sighting of a yeti! He describes how they put down their loads after hearing a noise on the ridge behind them. One of the Sherpas, Pemba Tharkay, looked up and simply said "Yeti coming!" While we were at Machapuchare Base Camp on our trek we read this account in Chris Bonington's 'Annapurna South Face'. It was made even more dramatic when in the darkness we huddled round a candle in our mess tent and our sherpas shared their stories of the yeti! Later as we lay in our sleeping bags we could hear strange noises out in the wilderness!!
We took this photo as we entered the Annapurna Sanctuary on our trek in 1980.
You can see the snow plastered South Face of Annapurna on the right.
Lynne at Machapuchare Base Camp.
The location of the yeti sightings! She is holding a pair of socks frozen
solid as they had been left out overnight to dry on a tent guy rope!
All our trekking team signed the inside cover of my copy of Chris Bonington's
'Annapurna South Face' while on the trek. It is one of my most treasured books in my library.
Every child in my class plus myself were sent a postcard from Everest Base Camp
in Tibet signed by all the climbing team!!
The pile of postcards addressed to Beacon Hill School in Hong Kong next to Joe Tasker who is updating his filming notes at Everest Base Camp in Tibet in 1982.
Expedition logo copied by one of the children in my class
Over the last few days I have really enjoyed re-reading the Foreword by the legendary Eric Shipton and the chapters on Annapurna II - The Summit, Nuptse and Success on the Eiger. I can see why this book truly inspired my love of mountains and travel. Indeed it was at time when we were saving up to travel on the overland route from London to Kathmandu. One of the options was to travel on a London bus for £99!!! In the end we decided the best way to see the world was to go and work abroad. In 1977 we worked in Iran for two years until the Iranian Revolution brought our time there to an end. You can read my poem 'Revolution Friday' in the 'Poetry' section on my website. Then from 1979 until 1997 we lived in Hong Kong. Working abroad for twenty years gave us the incredible opportunity to travel and see the world.
So we come full circle to 2017 and the chance to hear and meet Sir Chris Bonington at the Harrogate Literary Lunch sponsored by the Yorkshire Post. Indeed our paths have crossed from the 1970's until the present day and it was such a pleasure to meet him in person at the book-signing. I would like to thank Sir Chris for writing his amazing books. On the back cover of 'I Chose to Climb' the blurb states . . . .
"Chris Bonington ranks among the leader's of this
generation of mountaineers. This is the story of courage,
endurance and uncompromising dedication."
Over 40 years later this statement is still so true! His latest book 'ASCENT' continues this passionate love of mountains and the remote corners of our amazing world.
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Have a great weekend!