Monday, 30 November -0001


…is a British mountaineer who made the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna. During his career he has been on 19 expeditions to the Himalayas, including four to Mount Everest. He lives in the Lake District.

What are you working on at the moment?
I slipped a disc when I climbed the Old Man of Hoy to celebrate reaching the bright, young age of 80. I made the first descent of it back in 1966. I’m slowly getting better. I’m also just beginning to get back into full-time work.

When are you at your happiest?
When I’m climbing, in the outdoors.

What is your greatest fear?
Getting totally old and doddery, whether it’s Alzheimer’s or becoming bedridden. I hope I have a heart attack just before going climbing at the age of 93 and it does the job.

What is you earliest memory?
I was a great escaper; I think it was because my dad was a prisoner of war. I actually organised a great escape. We stored up bacon rind from breakfast and wandered off. We spent the afternoon playing by the stream, but when it got dark I said, ‘Gosh, what are we going to do in the dark with the wild animals?’ We thought we’d spend the night in a tree, before deciding we should get back to school. We started back and the headmistress, who had a little Morris Minor, overtook us.

What do you most dislike about yourself?
I am over-impulsive. I shoot from the hip and commit myself too quickly without thinking it through.

Who has been your greatest influence?
Wendy. [His wife who passed away last year.]

What is your most treasured possession?
I’ve got a lot of things that I value greatly.

What trait do you most deplore in others?

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I’ve got a little bit of a potbelly. When Wendy was around she would give me a hard look when I helped myself to a second glass of wine but now she’s not around I have to use self-control.

What is your favourite book?
The book that I remember incredibly vividly from my childhood is The Midnight Folk by John Masefield.

What is your favourite film?
Dr Zhivago.


Favourite piece of music?

Abba’s Greatest Hits.

What is your favourite meal?
A really, really good, rare rib-eye steak. You can get incredibly good meat up here in Cumbria.

Who would you most like to come to dinner?
A group of good friends who get on well together.

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?
I don’t see any point in holding grudges or being wounded.

Do you believe in aliens?
Religiously, I’m agnostic but there is no way I would say that there isn’t a god or a greater power, and equally with aliens, surely there must be some kind of cognitive life in this vast, huge universe.

What is your secret vice?
A computer game called Civilization. It’s a strategy game. I waste an awful lot of time over it.

Do you write thank-you notes?
I do. There’s a huge difference between blasting off an email and actually sitting down and writing.

Which phrase do you most overuse?
‘That’s absolutely fantastic.’ Friends say I’m very enthusiastic.

What would most improve the quality of your life?
A man who can get my back sorted out.

Tell us one thing people might not know about you.
I’m pretty open, actually.

What would you like your epitaph to read?
‘He was warm-hearted and kind’. 

Sir Chris Bonington will be in conversation on 11 February at 7pm at the Royal Geographical Society in London: 01768-840911, php?section=adventure_travel_presentations

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