Stephen Venables, mountaineer, writer, broadcaster and public speaker, was the first Briton to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen. He reached the summit alone, after climbing with a small American-Canadian team, by a new route up the gigantic Kangshung Face.
Stephen Venables is no stranger to wilderness emergencies. In 1988 he established a new world altitude record for a solo bivouac – surviving a night in the open above 28,000 feet, on his way down from making the first British ascent of Everest without supplementary oxygen. He describes the resultant frostbite – and a later knee injury sustained during the first ascent of Panch Chuli V – as occupational wear and tear. He is also keen to point out that most of his expeditions have been accident free, during a mountaineering career that has spanned 40 years and included many first ascents in the Himalaya, the Andes and the sub-antarctic island of South Georgia, as well as ascents of many of he great alpine classics like the North Face of the Eiger.
His first book, Painted Mountains, won the prestigious Boardman Tasker award and two of his subsequent eleven books have won awards at the Banff International Mountain Festival. He appeared in several television documentaries and the IMAX film Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure; he also wrote the screenplay for the big screen film The Alps. He is a past president of the Alpine Club and the South Georgia Association. Plans for 2013 include leading a sailing and ski-mountaineering expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula with the internationally renowned yachtsman, Skip Novak.
Everest was a thrilling highlight in a career which has taken Stephen right through the Himalaya, from Afghanistan to Tibet, making first ascents of many previously unknown mountains. His adventures have also taken him to the Rockies, the Andes, the Antarctic island South Georgia, East Africa, South Africa and of course the European Alps, where he has climbed and skied for over forty years.
The stories of these travels have enthralled Stephen’s lecture audiences in theatres, schools and university clubs and at corporate conferences all over the world. He has also appeared in television documentaries for BBC, ITV and National Geographic, presented for Radio 4 and appeared in the IMAX movie Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure.
He has written for all the London broadsheet newspapers, covering exploration and adventure, as well as more diverse subjects such as transport, gardening, music and sculpture.
Painted Mountains, Stephen’s first book, won the 1986 Boardman Tasker Prize for mountain literature. Subsequent books have won the Grand Prize at the Banff International Mountain Festival and the King Albert Award. His ninth book, published in 2006, is the Sunday Times bestseller Ollie – the touching story of his elder son who had autism and who died from a brain tumour.
Two further books were published in 2007, which also saw the release of the IMAX movie The Alps, for which Stephen wrote the screenplay. He was also busy that year as President of the Alpine Club, celebrating its 150th anniversary. In 2008 he returned again to South Georgia, guiding a party on the Shackleton Traverse and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University.
In 2011 he led the crux section of World Expeditions’ Great Himalayan Trail. In 2013, celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of his Everest climb include an expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Stephen and the charity Brainstrust are finalising plans for the Everest 25th anniversary celebration – the first time the Kangshung Face team will have got together since 1988. They will be putting on a special presentation at the Royal Geographical Society on 14th March 2013. Download details of the programme here and details of the sponsorship opportunities for companies keen to support this unique event in aid of a very fine charity here.
To find out more about Stephen visit his website here….