Public Presentations


Two Americans, one Canadian and one Briton – alone on the biggest wall of the world’s highest mountain.  No high altitude porters, no ladders, no oxygen, no satellite phone no radios.  And no hope of outside help if anything went wrong.  But they succeeded on a spectacularly difficult new route up the East Face, with Stephen Venables becoming the first Briton to reach the summit without supplementary oxygen.  He also, unintentionally, set a new record for surviving a night alone in the open at extreme altitude.  In this spellbinding and beautifully illustrated talk he recounts one of the most remarkable ascents of Everest.

‘Probably the most adventurous ascent in Everest’s climbing history.’  Reinhold Messner

Stephen Venables was the first Briton to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen, by a new route up the East Face.  He has made many other first ascents in the Himalaya, the Andes and Antarctica.  He is the author of twelve books and has appeared in many mountain documentaries, including the BBC’s ‘Race for Everest’.


A SLENDER THREAD – Escaping disaster in the Himalaya

Like most accidents it happened on the way down. Stephen Venables and three other top British climbers had just made the first ascent of a remote Himalayan peak called Panch Chuli V. The fifth member of the team, Chris Bonington, was waiting at the camp which they had left before dawn. Descending throught the night, exhausted after nearly twenty-four hours on the move, the summit team had almost reached the safety of camp when disaster struck. The anchor securing the abseil ropes failed, sending Venables plunging down the mountainside.

He survived the 80 metre fall, but not without serious injury. Stranded with two broken legs, at nearly 6,000 metres above sea level, with a maze of complex icefalls blocking the way down to the valley, he was in a desperate predicament. What followed was a long painful struggle but thanks to the courage and determination of his companions – and a good dose of luck – Stephen Venables did eventually escape.

The story of that escape, recorded in his acclaimed book A Slender Thread, is a gripping, touching and humorous tale of survival against the odds.


SOUTH – The unclimbed summits of Antarctica

Stephen Venables first saw Starbuck Peak in 1990. Rising sheer out of the Southern Ocean, a thousand miles from the nearest city, this wonderfully pointy summit on the island of South Georgia seemed the perfect inaccessible peak. Twenty-six years later Venables finally led a team to make the first ascent.

That recent fulfillment of a long held dream, after several setbacks, was just one of many expeditions to the mountains of the far south during the last three decades. South Georgia, with its spectacular mountains and teeming wildlife has been a favourite objective. But there have also been expeditions to the fjords of Tierra del Fuego and to the Antarctic Peninsula.



Journeys in the steps of Eric Shipton


Eric Shipton was a legend in the world of mountain exploration. He took part in five Everest expeditions, three times as leader; but was best known for his lightweight, highly mobile approach to other less famous peaks. From the Dauphiné Alps to Mount Kenya, from the Karakoram to Tierra del Fuego, from Garwhal to Everest, Stephen Venables has often found himself following in the steps of Shipton and, occasionally, making first ascents of some of the peaks Shipton missed out. In this lecture he will mix readings from Shipton’s inspirational books with stories of his own journeys through the same mountain ranges, illustrated by stunning photography. Stephen Venables is an award winning mountaineer, author and lecturer. He has made many first ascents around the world and was the first Briton to climb Mount Everest without supplementary oxygen.


In this beautifully illustrated lecture, Stephen Venables draws on his six expeditions to the sub-antarctic island to South Georgia, to bring alive the story of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Endurance expedition. The climax of that extraordinary tale was Shackleton’s crossing of the mountains of South Georgia to reach the whaling station at Stromness. Stephen has retraced that route twice, once on foot and once on skis, as well as making first ascents of several peaks on the island. With classic archive images, stunning modern photography and film, this is a thrilling lecture.


Higher than the Eagle Soars is the title of Stephen Venables’  award-winning autobiography culminating in his epic ascent of Everest. His talk, illustrated with stunning pictures, covers some of the many travels described in the book, ranging from early alpine adventures to great classics like the North Face of the Eiger and overseas expeditions to Afghanistan, the Mountains of the Moon, the mighty Karakoram and, of course, the Himalaya. Two themes run through these trips: the thrill of following in the steps of the great pioneers such as Gertrude Bell, WH Tilman and Anderl Heckmair, but also the joy of finding new ‘blanks on the map’, going where no-one has gone before, setting off on journeys where you are never quite sure what you are going to find round the next corner.