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Sir Chris Bonnington


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Sir Chris Bonnington

Motivational speaker and mountaineer.

Sir Chris Bonnington is one of the most successful expedition leaders in the history of mountaineering. In 1970 he led the expedition that climbed the South Face of Annapurna and in 1975 achieved success on Everest – the Hard Way, up its huge South West Face. He reached the summit of Everest in 1985 but the challenges that now attract him are the few exciting unclimbed peaks that are left in the World’s further ranges.

He has established a reputation as an outstanding motivational speaker and is a visiting lecturer at Cranfield School of Management. He has been honoured with a Knighthood in 1996, the CBE in 1976 and the Founder’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society.

He is president of The Alpine Club, the Council for National Parks, the British Orienteering Federation and LEPRA (The British Leprosy Charity). He has presented many television programmes including the award winning Everest Years, Lakeland Rock and The Climbers and has written fourteen much acclaimed books, all of which have been bestsellers.

What Sir Chris Bonnington Talks About:


A programme illustrating Bonnington’s management style

  • Visionary Leadership
  • Empowerment
  • Synergy in Teamwork
  • Planning and Organisation
  • Determination and Perseverance

Reaching the highest point on earth requires teamwork of the highest level. Chris Bonnington describes his own personal success in at last reaching the summit of Everest in 1985 at the age of 50, as a member of the Norwegian Everest Expedition. The expedition placed eighteen climbers and Sherpas on the summit in three separate ascents, a record for a single expedition. This was possible because of superb planning and organisation, but most of all, because of the quality of teamwork amongst expedition members.

The leader was Arne Naess, a millionaire ship owner, and Bonnington acted as his chief of staff looking after the logistics and advising on strategy. He studies Næss’s approach to leadership and explores the dynamics of decision making within the team. Bonnington was stretched to the limit in his own bid for the summit and describes how he was helped by the men around him. He also shares his thoughts as he approached the summit. He takes the audience step by step up Everest in such a vivid way that they share in the exhilaration of the climb. Yet he constantly draws parallels between the effort on the mountain and their realities in the business and management world.


  • Crisis management
  • Dealing with obstacles
  • Creating positive reactions to change

The successful climber does not fight his environment. He or she must become attuned to it; interpreting the signs and taking appropriate action . He needs to adapt his strategies to the changing realities of the elements, the terrain and the capabilities of the other team members.

Indeed climbing provides a strong metaphor for the many, at times traumatic changes that today are taking place throughout the work place. Chris Bonnington tells a series of dramatic stories to underline the lessons to be learnt and to help build a strategy for life – not just to survive – but to succeed and prosper.

He uses many powerful images including the story of his epic descent of the Ogre with Doug Scott, who broke both legs just below the summit. They were engulfed by storm and went without food for five days. Bonnington also fell, broke his ribs and caught pneumonia, but through using all their skills and working positively they not only survived the experience but gained from it.

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