Weekend Warm-Up: In Conversation with Stephen Venables

British mountaineer Stephen Venables has built himself a vault of Himalayan memories over the years, full of highs and lows, wonders and terrors. In this film, he recalls the goods and bads of his more than 30 years of climbing.

He admits that mountaineering is one of those passions where, if a susceptible person tries it once, they want more and more. Climbing shows what you are capable of, mentally, emotionally and physiologically. Suddenly, limit becomes just another word.

Venables seasoned himself with 10 expeditions before summiting Everest without bottled oxygen in 1988, the first Briton to do so. For him, the natural progression was important to his success. By then, he had become used to those silent white spaces. Even if he had to rest in the snow for seven hours, en route to the summit, he was prepared.

An older, wiser Venables. Photo: Times Series


After Everest, he experienced every climber’s nightmare. His anchor came free on a descent. He fell 80m and broke both his legs. Thereafter, he chose not to risk his life in the higher ranges, rather sticking to smaller mountains out of consideration for his wife and son. The caution worked: Venables has been able to continue climbing at a high level and has survived, where many of his generation did not.

Kristine De Abreu is a writer (and occasional photographer) based in sunny Trinidad and Tobago. Since graduating from the University of Leicester with a BA in English and History, she has pursued a full-time writing career, exploring multiple niches before settling on travel and exploration. While studying for an additional diploma in travel journalism with the British College of Journalism, she began writing for ExWeb. Currently, she works at a travel magazine in Trinidad as an editorial assistant and is also ExWeb's Weird Wonder Woman, reporting on the world's natural oddities as well as general stories from the world of exploration. Although she isn't a climber (yet!), she hikes in the bush, has been known to make friends with iguanas and quote the Lord of the Rings trilogy from start to finish.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments