Sir Christian John Storey Bonington, CVO, CBE, DL (born 6 August 1934, Hampstead, London) is a British mountaineer.

His career has included nineteen expeditions to the Himalayas, including four to Mount Everest and the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna.

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.[2] Bonington first began climbing in 1951 at age 16.[3] 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 other 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 many television appearances, and received many 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 among Lancaster University Boat Club's fleet. Furthermore, he is the Honorary President of the British Orienteering Federation. He has lived in Cumbria since 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.

Personal life

Bonington was married to Wendy, a freelance illustrator of children's books. She died on 24 July 2014 from motor neurone disease, inspiring Bonington to support MND charities.[4] 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 23rd April, 2016. Ms McNaught-Davisis is widow of mountaineer and television presenter Ian McNaught-Davis who died 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. [5]


In 1974 Bonington received the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.[6] 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.[7]

Notable climbs

Expedition leader

Although expedition leader, Bonington did not 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.[10] He was surpassed by Richard Bass (of Seven Summits fame), who summited later that season at 55 years old, five years older than Bonington.[10]