Early life and expeditions
Bonington's father, who left the family when Christian was nine months old, was a founding member of L Detachment, Special Air Service. Bonington first began climbing in 1951 at age 16. Educated at University College School in Hampstead, Bonington joined the Royal Fusiliers before attending Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and on graduation was commissioned in the Royal Tank Regiment in 1956. After serving three years in North Germany, he spent two years at the Army Outward Bound School as a mountaineering instructor.
Bonington was part of the party that made the first British ascent of the South West Pillar (aka Bonatti Pillar) of the Aiguille du Dru in 1958, and the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney on the south side of Mont Blanc in 1961 with Don Whillans, Ian Clough and Jan Dlugosz (Poland). In 1960 he was part of the successful joint British-Indian-Nepalese forces expedition to Annapurna II.
On leaving the British Army in 1961, he joined Van den Berghs, a division of Unilever, but he left after nine months, and became a professional mountaineer and explorer. In 1966 he was given his first assignment by the Daily Telegraph magazine to cover additional expeditions, including climbing Sangay in Ecuador and hunting caribou with Inuit on Baffin Island. In 1968 he accompanied Captain John Blashford-Snell and his British Army team in the attempt to make the first-ever descent of the Blue Nile.
Bonington has written or edited numerous books, made a large number of television appearances, and received a large number of honours, including the chancellorship of Lancaster University from 2005 to 2014. He is honorary president of the Hiking Club and Lancaster University Mountaineering Club and has a boat named after him amongst Lancaster University Boat Club's fleet. Furthermore, he's the Honorary President of the British Orienteering Federation. He has lived in Cumbria after 1974. He is a patron, and former president (1988–91), of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). He succeeded Edmund Hillary as the Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, an international NGO dedicated to the preservation of mountain areas, in their natural and cultural aspects.
Bonington was married to Wendy, a freelance illustrator of children's books. She passed away on 24 July 2014 from motor neurone disease, inspiring Bonington to support MND charities. The couple had three offspring: Conrad (died 1966), Daniel and Rupert. The family lived at Caldbeck, Cumbria.
Chris Bonington married Loreto McNaught-Davis on Saturday twenty-third April, 2016. Ms McNaught-Davisis is widow of mountaineer and television presenter Ian McNaught-Davis who passed away in February 2014. The ceremony took place in London in the presence of about 60 friends and family members, including Sir Chris’s son Rupert. 
In 1974 Bonington received the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1985 he received the Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. St. Helen's School, Northwood, England has named one of its four houses after him. Bonington was presented with the Golden Eagle Award for services to the outdoors in 2008 by the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.
Bonington was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1976 in recognition of the previous year's successful ascent of Everest and was knighted in 1996 for his services to the sport. He was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to the Outward Bound Trust.
- 1961 Central Pillar of Freney, Mont Blanc (First ascent) with Ian Clough, Don Whillans and Jan Długosz
- 1962 North Wall of the Eiger (First British ascent) with Ian Clough
- 1963 Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia (First ascent) with Don Whillans
- 1965 Coronation Street, Cheddar Gorge (First ascent)
- 1966 Old Man of Hoy (First ascent) with Tom Patey
- 1973 Brammah (6411m) (First ascent) with Nick Estcourt
- 1974 Changabang, Garhwal Himalaya (6864m) (First ascent) with Don Whillans, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston
- 1977 Baintha Brakk (7285m) (First ascent) with Doug Scott
- 1981 Kongur Tagh (7719m) (First ascent)
- 1983 West Summit of Shivling, Gangotri (6501m) (First Ascent)
- 1983 Vinson Massif (4897m) (First British ascent – solo)
- 1985 Mount Everest (8848m) as member of Norwegian Everest Expedition
- 1987 Menlungtse (7181m) attempted FA of main peak via South Buttress, to 6100m; w/ Odd Eliason, Bjorn Myrer-Lund, Torgeir Fosse, Helge Ringdal (all Norwegian) and Jim Fotheringham (UK).
- 1988 Menlungtse West (7023m) FA via West Ridge, (expedition leader). Summit attained by Andy Fanshawe and Alan Hinkes (both UK), with David Breashears and Steve Shea (both USA) in support.
- 2014 The Old Man of Hoy (137m) to mark his eightieth birthday and to raise funds for Motor Neurone Disease charities
- 1970 Annapurna (south face), successful, summit reached by Dougal Haston and Don Whillans; death of Ian Clough
- 1972 Mount Everest, (south-west face), unsuccessful
- 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition, successful, summit reached by Doug Scott, Dougal Haston, Peter Boardman, Pertemba Sherpa and Mick Burke; death of Burke
- 1978 K2 (west face), unsuccessful; death of Nick Estcourt
- 1982 Mount Everest (north-east ridge), unsuccessful; death of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker
- Although expedition leader, Bonington didn't reach the summit of these peaks on these expeditions
Mount Everest record
Chris Bonington became the oldest known person to summit Mount Everest in April 1985, at the age of 50. He was surpassed by Richard Bass (of Seven Summits fame), who summited later that season at 55 years old, five years older than Bonington.