Wilderness LecturesSunday, 25th December 2016 to Wednesday, 8th March 2017
Everest The Hard Way is the story of one of mountaineering's most extraordinary achievements told by one of the world's most extraordinary men. By 1975 the South West face had already seen off five previous expeditions consisting of some of the strongest mountaineers of the time. In the autumn Chris Bonington and his British team returned to the face and finally succeeded. Doug and Dougal Haston reached the summit just as the sun was setting and left at 7 p.m. Their torches failed reversing the Hillary Step, wind had blown snow into their steps and they were out of oxygen. They decided it would be prudent to bivouac although it was only 300 feet below the main summit. Doug commented, ‘The main thing was to get out of the wind so we dug a snow cave and sat on our rucksacks for the next nine hours in temperatures around minus forty degrees centigrade. We managed to survive without sleeping bags, without oxygen, and, as it turned out, without getting frostbite. The net result for me was to really widen the range of where and how I would climb in the future. I knew for sure that from then on I would not be carrying cylinders of oxygen”.
This will be a Paul Esser Memorial Lecture, in association with UBSS and UBMC, in aid of Community Action Nepal.
The journey from childhood to adulthood can be fraught one. It certainly was for 'Britain's most experienced teenage alpininst'. The young Steve Bell sought refuge on some of the world's toughest mountains to escape his perceived shortcomings, especially with women. In his talk, Virgin on Insanity, he takes us his epic climbs on the great north faces of the Alps: the Eiger, Matterhorn, Grands Jorasses and the Petit Dru, while wrestling with a confused idea of manhood. Near brushes with death become commonplace, and with every climb he pushes the envelope a little bit further.
During an expedition to Alaska he cracks, and joins a religious cult in Colorado. After two months of indoctrination, he escapes by hitching a ride with a murderer on the run. Eventually he returns to climbing and finds a girl, but he still needs to find his place in the world.
The story in Steve's book ends when, aged twenty-three, he takes a break from climbing and sails to Antarctica. But his talk will cover some of the highlights of his life since then, including leading Britain's first guided ascent of Everest in 1993, and a remarkable deja vu of one of his teenage epics.
The Mazeno was a well known mountaineering challenge and thought to be one of the longest unclimbed arêtes on any 8,000-metre peak. It lies a staggering thirteen kilometers from the Mazeno pass at 5,377 metres, is extremely committing and is unescapable. In 2013, the ascent was awarded the highly coveted Piolet d’Or mountaineering award.