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OXFORD: THE HARD ROAD TO EVEREST with Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott & Paul 'Tut' Braithwaite

  • Museum of Natural History Parks Road Oxford OX1 3PW (map)

Legendary mountaineers Sir Chris Bonington CVO, CBE, DL,  Doug Scott CBE and Paul 'Tut' Braithwaite give a fascinating and humorous insight into how their colourful careers developed from early youth - including temporary careers in the army, selling margarine, teaching geography and painting and decorating - to Everest in 1975.

The name Chris Bonington is synonymous with many of the great climbs of the 1960's when he made the first British ascent of the Eiger and climbed the Old Man of Hoy - shown on TV and repeated when he was 80; the 1970's when his climbing ability, aligned to his formidable logistical skills, resulted in him leading some of the most important large scale expeditions to the Himalaya including the south face of Annapurna and the south-west face of Everest, a climb which became known as Everest the Hard Way. Chris's efforts on the 1975 expedition were solely focused on the first ascent of Everest by a British climbing team and, although he himself did not have a chance to reach the top of the mountain that season, he stood on top of the world ten years later in 1975. 

Doug and Dougal Haston became the first Britons to stand on the summit and were also the first to climb the world’s highest mountain by the south-west face as part of the British Mount Everest South West Face expedition, the expedition led by Chris. Despite running out of oxygen, they managed to survive an unplanned bivouac just below the summit on the descent. Miraculously they accomplished all this without contracting frostbite. They returned home national heroes and fulfilled a fortune-teller’s prophesy given to Doug’s mother: that her eldest son would be in danger in a high place with the whole world watching.

Tut and Nick Estcourt helped pave the way when, using their brilliant rock climbing skills, they found a route through the almost vertical Rock Band at about 8,200 m, setting up fixed ropes. Their heroic efforts in pushing a route through the Rock Band opened the way to the summit for the team but also meant they had sacrificed the chance to make their own summit bid.

Chris and Doug went on to climb and lead other expeditions as two of Britain’s greatest ever mountaineers, pioneering new climbs in the remotest corners of the globe. Their careers span the golden age of British climbing from the 1960's boom in outdoor adventure, to the new wave of lightweight alpinism throughout the 1970's and 1980's. Paul, one of the great Alpinists of his generation, went on to become a businessman and company director. Like Chris and Doug he also became a President of The Alpine Club.

The evening will include a sale of Nepalese goods, cards and posters and will be followed by an auction of signed framed mountaineering prints, all supporting the post-earthquake reconstruction work of Community Action Nepal a UK-based registered charity founded by Doug in 1995, which aims to help mountaineers support the mountain people of Nepal.

Doug will also be signing copies of award-winning Up And About, Volume 1 of his autobiography, and his recently published book on ‘The Ogre- Biography of a mountain and the dramatic story of the first ascent’ and Chris will be signing copies of the latest volume of his autobiography, 'Ascent'. 

Tickets: £25.  For further information contact Phil and Sarah Powell on T. 01865 778536 or via email: sarah.powell.loving@googlemail.com

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