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The Next Horizon Ebook: a word with Sir Chris Bonington

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Many stories have been told about the feats of endurance and spectacle in Sir Chris Bonington’s mountaineering history. Climbing from the age of sixteen, Chris has impressed us with countless world-class ascents, stunning photographs from across the globe, over seventeen books and a collection of captivating lectures.

First published in 1973, The Next Horizon – the second volume in Chris’s autobiography – is now available in ebook format for the first time. The book picks up where the first volume, I Chose to Climb, left off, recounting expeditions to the Central Tower of Paine, the Old Man of Hoy, the Eiger, Annapurna and Sangay. Over forty years later, we were keen to speak to Chris about the book.

What were the biggest challenges and the highlights of writing about your experiences in The Next Horizon?

The hardest part for me writing any book is getting started. I am a master of distraction – I’ll start tidying my office, make endless cups of tea, anything. At the start of the process I’ll begin typing, then start again and retype it, then retype again – don’t forget that back in 1973 I was writing it all on typewriter! I actually thought I had finished the book just before I left for the Everest expedition in 1972, but in the end my secretary helped me to finish the last chapter about Annapurna … which funnily enough is probably the best chapter in the book. My favourite part of the whole process is finishing it, of course. I’d read it back and think ‘yes, that’s all right, it’s readable’. I wanted it to be interesting, honest and exciting.

The Next Horizon is very open and revealing with your personal thoughts and feelings. Is it scary putting this sort of thing into the public domain?

I’m under no pressure – I have a choice of how much I want to reveal. Personally, I don’t like climbing books that solely have the details of the climbs, I think it’s boring without any feelings or anything about the people involved. People are interested in interactions between others. Also, a crucial part of the story and the journey is what’s happening at home with your loved ones, too. It’s all interlinked.

Do you re-read your books, in particular your much earlier works?

I am sometimes asked to read from one of my books when I attend an event. I’m currently writing my full autobiography, which is a massive undertaking, so I am re-reading some of my previous works to refresh my memory on the finer details – the details that make the story real and exciting.

What’s your favourite expedition, of those in The Next Horizon?

Patagonia. It’s a fantastic mountain and was a superb objective in every way. It was also the only expedition that Wendy came on. The Eiger is also particularly memorable to me because my role in the expedition changed so much throughout the trip, and I ended up joining them at the end as their photographer – it launched my photojournalism career.

What does The Next Horizon mean to you?

The clue is in the title – I am always thinking about what’s over the next horizon, I always have done. It’s a poignant phrase in relation to an expedition because sometimes you might spend two or three weeks in the same place on a mountain with the same view, and then when you can finally summit you have a 360-degree view. You then start to look beyond it and into your next adventure, the next horizon.

The Next Horizon is available as an ebook for Amazon Kindle, and will be available from other ebook retailers very soon.


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