NEWSLETTER  –  July 2017


Greetings from Scotland and thanks to Danny Carden for his wonderful shot of Edmond and me climbing in Glen Torridon last weekend.  I’m hoping to fit in a lot more climbs over the summer, juggling next month with all the tempting delights at the Edinburgh Festival.
If you live in or near Dorset, please tell people about a talk I am doing at The Lighthouse in Poole on October 4, marking the 25th anniversary of my lucky escape from Panch Chuli, the subject of A Slender Thread.
Also in the autumn, a special fundrasing event for the number one mountain literary prize, the Boardman Tasker Award.  Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton Opera House, October 17.  It is going to be a great evening, with speakers including two former winners of the prize – Andy Cave and me!
I am also putting together a tour for February 2018.  Newcastle is likely to feature amongst other English venues.  Definite bookings in Scotland include Locheldy Centre on February 9 and Birnam Arts Centre on February 13.
I am looking forward hugely to our January 2018 expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula.  That trip is full.  However, I am planning another Antarctic trip aboard Pelagic Australis for January 2019.  Please contact me if you – or anyone you know – might be tempted.
Skip Novak and I have also now firmed up plans for South Georgia 2018.   As usual, we hope to entice a small group of ski mountaineers to do some quite serious stuff, in addition to a support team not less committed to mountaineering.  We board Pelagic Australis in the Falklands on 8 September 2018 and return 13 October 2018.  Full prospectus attached below for anyone tempted.  (This is a low resolution PDF.  If you would like to see the pictures in sharper focus please let me know and I will send a higher resolution version).



With very best wishes for the rest of your summer.  Or winter!

Stephen Venables
+44 (0)7535 908686
skype: smwvenables

A Slender Thread – 25 years on.

Still buzzing from a great evening with a great audience at the Rheged Centre, I am pleased to announce a special 25th anniversary talk at the Lighthouse Centre in Poole, on October 4.

My subject will be the 1992 Indian-British Panch Chuli Expedition.  This was a fantastic adventure, culminating in the first ascent of Panch Chuli V.  However, on our way back from the summit I plummeted three hundred feet, breaking both my legs, when an abseil anchor failed.  The story of the ensuing rescue, which was complicated, dangerous and at times terrifying, was the subject of my subsequent book A Slender Thread, which has been continuously in print since it was published in 2000.   Continue reading

17.10.2016 – Crean Family Shackleton Traverse Update

Following last month’s first ascents of Starbuck Peak and Mt Baume, I am delighted to have completed nine tenths of the Shackleton Traverse with the Crean family, at the end of an extraordinary spell of calm weather in the Southern Ocean. It was just a shame that an unfortunate accident stopped us completing the final part.

When I first did the Traverse in 2000 Reinhold Messner broke his foot on the Crean Glacier. Last week Aileen Crean O’Brien broke her leg at almost the same place, tripping on her sledge just below the famous impromptu toboggan ride made by her grandfather Tom Crean, with Shackleton and Worsley 100 years ago. Unlike Messner, Aileen was too badly injured even to hobble. However, she was able to complete most of the Traverse lying down, towed on a sledge by Crag Jones and me, with Cian, Morgan and Bill sharing out her luggage on the 16 km ski journey to the nearest evacuation point at Fortuna Bay. It all went very smoothly, blessed with calm weather and generally good visibility.

Once we reached Fortuna, skipper Alec Hazell did a brilliant job of getting Aileen back on board Pelagic, in a fairly testing swell. By lucky chance our return to Grytviken coincided with a visit by HMS Clyde, whose captain agreed kindly to give Aileen a speedy comfortable lift to Stanley hospital, 800 miles away. The rest of us hope to go back round to Fortuna Bay during the next few days and complete the final section to Stromness, before sailing more slowly back to Stanley.


08.09.2016 – Prospectus for Jan 2018 Antarctic expedition led by Stephen to climb, ski, sea kayak and watch wildlife now available

The detailed prospectus for an Antarctic Expedition led by Stephen and taking place between 4 Jan to 1 Feb 2018 based on Pelagic Australis can now be viewed at:

If you are interested in taking part please contact Stephen as soon as possible to reserve a place on this trip.


View a copy of the video of the 2016 Antarctic expedition led by Stephen here >>

Pelagic Australis in ice.  Drone Picture by Dave Roberts.

Pelagic Australis in ice. Drone Picture by Dave Roberts.

07.09.2016 – To South Georgia for the 7th Time

After a summer in Andalucia and Edinburgh, Stephen leaves this week on his seventh expedition to South Georgia.  In fact he is doing two expeditions, back to back.  The first trip, aboard Pelagic Australis, is to the southern Salvesen Range, where he and Skip Novak are leading a team hoping to make first ascents of peaks which Stephen first admired 26 years ago when he made the first ascent of Mt Carse.

P1030537_sgeoSouth Georgia bivouac

Then, around the second week of October, Stephen and Caradoc Jones are jumping ship to Pelagic, to join a grand-daughter and great-grandsons of Tom Crean, who are hoping to follow in their ancestor’s footprints, 100 years after he made his legendary crossing of the Island with Frank Worsley and Ernest Shackleton.  With a reasonably generous window of opportunity, Stephen is very optimistic about managing to do the traverse successfully before sailing back to the Falklands at the end of October.


Antarctica 2018 and South Georgia 2016 Expeditions

Following the success of his recent Antarctic Peninsula expedition, Stephen is planning another similar ski mountaineering trip for January 2018. If you are interested in joining him, either for skiing or on the boat-based support team, please get in touch at

In the meantime he is getting ready for this year’s South Georgia expedition, departing in September. There are still two places available on what will be a great adventure – visiting South Georgia at the end of winter, before the regular cruise ships arrive.

Download Hi res pdf file here of the South Georgia 2016 prospectus here >>

Video of Antarctica Mountaineering Trip January 2016

01.02.2016 – Antarctic Peninsula expedition complete

Yesterday we tied up in Puerto Williams, Tierra del Fuego, at the end of another magnificent Antarctic expedition.  Departure at the beginning of January was delayed by missing baggage and adverse weather, but our skipper, David Roberts, managed to sneak out into Drake Passage during a brief acceptable weather window.  Four days later we tied up in the Melchior Islands – the first of many magical anchorages amongst the islands and channels of the Antarctic Peninsula.

There was a lot of old winter sea ice this year.  At Port Lockroy, Pelagic Australis was driven, bows up, onto an ice sheet where she usually anchors in clear water.  During one passage up the famous, picturesque Lemaire Channel, the boat became a virtual icebreaker.

Pelagic Australis run up onto the ice at Port Lockroy

Pelagic Australis run up onto the ice at Port Lockroy

The support team, Stephen Davis, David McClean and Joakim Ramen, visited numerous wildlife sites, put in some cold hours laying shorelines at difficult anchorages and did a lot of kayaking.  The mountaineering team had a near miss on Mt Luigi di Savoia, sent back by cold winds and an apparent break in the weather.  On Anvers Island we had better luck.  After a two day approach over the Marr Ice Piedmont, Stephen, Jamie Pearson and Geoff Heigh spent a long day (15 1/2 hours) skiing over the Menelaus Ridge and up the Iliad Glacier to the summit of Mt Francais, highest peak in Grahamland.  The descent was fantastic.  As our New Hampshire snow addict, Geoff, put it, ‘Holy Shit.  Six thousand vertical of powder!’  Actually, it was more like seven thousand feet.  What a treat.

Geoff enjoys 7,000 vertical feet of powder

Geoff enjoys 7,000 vertical feet of powder

A few days later the three of us were joined by Mark and Sally Dravers, and Kim from the support team (Chung Kin Man’s skis were still at Istanbul airport), on a traverse of Hovgaard Island, before returning to the boat to help with efforts to tow a large ice floe out of the way of another boat – Icebird – which was locked in her anchorage.  The towing failed, but the floe did move later that night, of its own accord, allowing Icebird to escape.

Summit of Mount Scott

Summit of Mount Scott

The next day the six of us climbed what must be one of the world’s finest ski mountains – Mt Scott.  Apart from the last few hundred metres of unfathomable slush, the whole descent was on powder snow – a perfect end to the trip, before the return passage across the Drake, reaching Cape Horn on January 28th for the celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of the first rounding of the Horn.  A big thank you to our wonderful crew – skipper David Roberts, Thomas Geipel and Lizzie Fitzsimmons – for another excellent adventure aboard Pelagic Australis.

Pelagic Australis in ice.  Drone Picture by Dave Roberts.

Pelagic Australis in ice. Drone Picture by Dave Roberts.