Papers of Sir Chris Bonington, one of Britain’s most outstanding mountaineers and expedition leaders, are now available and open to the general public.
Following a generous grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and additional funds from the British Mountaineering Council (BMC), the Mountain Heritage Trust (MHT) has finished a two year project to preserve and provide access to the personal papers of Sir Chris Bonington, one of Britain’s most outstanding mountaineers and expedition leaders.
This funding enabled the MHT Archivist and valued volunteers Tony and Pat Williams to catalogue and make accessible this fascinating collection to the general public and interested researchers. The papers include expedition documents, correspondence, press cutting scrapbooks and manuscript drafts of Sir Chris' books, all of which detail the unique nature and long term value surrounding his lifetime’s work as a mountaineer, journalist, photographer and, at times, diplomat and ambassador. Chris Bonington started climbing in 1951 at the age of 16, pioneering new rock routes in the UK, before moving out to the Alps in the late fifties, making important British first ascents and struck out into the Himalaya in 1960 with the first ascent of Annapurna II, a peak only a few metres short of 8000. He went on to lead the successful Annapurna South Face and Everest South West Face expeditions in the 1970s and took part in the development of compact light-weight expeditions.
Sir Chris Bonington said "I have kept all the correspondence, papers and diaries from all of my expeditions over the last 48 years in a shed at the bottom of my garden which reflects some of the most important British expeditions of the 60s, 70s and 80s. I'm delighted that these are now going to see the light of day thanks to the expertise of Maxine Willett, Archivist of the Mountain Heritage Trust and, most important of all, will be made available to the mountaineering community and anyone wanting to research this element of mountain history."
Photo: Chris Bonington on Prana Black Crag, Borrowdale © Chris Bonington Picture Library
Mountain Heritage Trust
Blencathra Field Centre
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