Q&A with Stephen Venables
0-6:35 a.m. EDT Apr 23, 2003
The American Alpine Club, Barnes and Nobles, and various other mountaineering clubs have shelves and shelves of books on Everest and climbing. While many of them are coffee tables book size and have breathtaking pictures, the reading is rarely suited for children.
On the 50th anniversary of Everest’s first ascent, famed British mountaineer Stephen Venables, 49, and the Royal Geographical Society are releasing a book about Everest made especially for the young explorers out there, “To the Top.” Stephen Venables has been on expeditions all over the world – one of his most famous achievements was in 1988 when he summited Everest without oxygen from Everest’s Kangshung Face. The price he paid for the daring first ascent was 3 toes and a harrowing night spent at 8500 meters. ExplorersWeb recently caught up with Stephen for a short Q&A.
ExWeb: What are your thoughts on Everest this year - all the people that will be there, 'Survivor-type shows, etc. . . do you think it's going to be a great time, or do you fear that having that many people on the mountain might make things a bit hairy and dangerous?
SV: One half of me wishes that I were on the mountain too. Many friends are there at the moment, including Robert Anderson, who led our expedition in 1988. He deserves more than anyone to reach the summit. I also hope very much that two other American friends, Jim Wickwire and John Roskelley, get to the top. Roskelley was one of THE greatest Himalayan climbers in the 70s and 80s and it would be wonderful if he could add Everest to his amazing list of summits. So, I feel sad not to be there with them. But on the other hand, the mountain is going to be hideously crowded, which is not my idea of fun.
ExWeb: How important will organization amongst the different teams be?
SV: God knows how they are going to cope with all the traffic jams in early May. It sounds a nightmare to me.
ExWeb: What have you been up to these days? Any plans for an expedition in the future?
SV: I earn my living as a writer, lecturer, and broadcaster, which doesn't leave much time for expeditioning. I also have a young family to look after. The only climbing I did last summer was to build a huge tree house and rope bridge in our garden. However, I do get away on the occasional climbing trip and I have just been skiing in the Alps with my 9 year old son Edmond.
ExWeb: Why a children's book about Everest? Was there something that intrigued you about doing it?
SV: Man's involvement with Everest - particularly the early expeditions - is a wonderful story. There are many excellent adult books on the subject but none for children. So we needed to fill that gap.