Mountaineer, writer and public speaker
Stephen Venables is a writer, broadcaster and public speaker. He is also one of the best known mountaineers of his generation and was the first Briton to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen.
That epic 1988 climb was by a new route up the Kangshung Face the biggest face on Everest with a four man Anglo-American-Canadian team. This was the first time such a small team had tackled such a route this hard on Everest, without Sherpa support or oxygen. Stephen reached the summit alone, seven weeks after first setting foot on the face. Caught out by darkness, he was then forced to spend the night in the open, without shelter, food, or drink, at 28,000 feet above sea level a new record for a solo bivouac. It was not until morning he could rejoin his companions (who had not reached the summit) to make a retreat down the mountain, concluding a journey which the world-renowned mountaineer Reinhold Messner described as 'perhaps the most adventurous expedition in Everest's history'.
During his career Stephen has travelled right through the Himalaya, from Afghanistan to Tibet, making first ascents of many previously unknown mountains. His adventures have also taken him to the Rockies, the Andes, Antarctica, South Georgia, South Africa, East Africa, and of course the European Alps, where he has climbed and skied for over forty years.
The stories of his travels have captivated his audiences ranging from schools and theatres to corporate conferences all over the world. Past clients include Accenture, BP, BlackRock, Boots, Liffe, Masterfoods, Ove Arup, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Shell, Stryker & Zurich. Your pace and pitch were spot on. BlackRock.
Stephen has also appeared in television documentaries for BBC, National Geographic and ITV. He has presented for Radio 4 and appeared in the IMAX movie Shackletons Antarctic Adventure. He recently had his first experience behind the camera, filming Ranulph Fiennes for ITN News. In 2009 he was asked to write the initial treatment and shooting script for the first ever IMAX film on the Alps.
He has also written for all the London broadsheet newspapers, covering exploration and adventure, as well as more diverse subjects such as gardening, transport, sculpture and music. His first book in 1986, 'Painted Mountains', won the prestigious Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature. Sir Chris Bonington, called it an absolute delight. He later helped save Venables life on Panch Chuli during an epic escape related in 'A Slender Thread'. In all Stephen has published twelve books. Reviewing the most recent, 'Higher than the Eagle Soars', the Sunday Times wrote, 'the story of his descent after a night spent near the top [of Everest] is both harrowing and deeply moving'. Closer to home, his book 'Ollie' about his son's struggle with autism and leukaemia, was on the Sunday Times bestseller list.
Stephen is a past president of the world's oldest mountaineering organisation, The Alpine Club, and of the South Georgia Association. He has an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University and, in addition to the Boardman Tasker Prize, his books have won awards at the Banff International Mountain Festival. He is one of only four British mountaineers to have been awarded the international King Albert Mountain medal.
Keen both to find new challenges and to settle unfinished business, over the last few years Stephen has led and co-led a series of expeditions to Antarctica and South Georgia, in collaboration with Skip Novak's famous high latitudes yacht Pelagic Australis. He was particularly thrilled in 2016 to succeed after several unsuccessful attempts in making first ascents of two previously unclimbed peaks on South Georgia which he had had his eyes on for twenty-seven years. Further expeditions are planned for 2017 and 2018.