Dubai: Several of the expeditions Sir Chris Bonington led resulted in the death of his colleagues, but while he feels responsible he can’t feel guilt, he said.
“Sadly, I’ve lost people on all my major expeditions,” he said. “As expedition leader you feel an immense sense of responsibility for your fellow climber’s lives, but you are also intensely aware that all of you have chosen to be in that arena.
“If you are an extreme adventurer, the risk element of the activity is a key part of it and if you are attracted by that level of risk, fatalities are inevitable.
I’ve failed on things, I’ve turned back from things but I don’t worry about it, I believe you live in the present, learn from the past and look into the future.
“You feel responsible to make as good a judgement as you possibly can through that process, but yes, the very fact that people have lost their lives shows that things have happened, but each individual on that expedition also accepted that.
“Provided you made the best decisions, if sadly someone does die you are immensely saddened at their death, but at the same time I don’t feel guilt about it because we were all in that situation.
“At the time yes, one made the best decision one could and very often the actual accident that killed that person was completely out of your hands.
“If I had told someone to go there and they lost their life then yes you’d have that sense of responsibility but that never happened to me. If someone turned to me on an expedition and said they didn’t feel comfortable I’d totally accept it.
“So no, there’s certainly no guilt, it’s part of the game we play, there’s no guilt around it. It’s a game I love playing and the risk element is part of it.
“Life never goes the way you planned and looking back I just think I’m incredibly privileged for the fantastic career I’ve had,” he added.
Bonington talked about meeting tragedy close to home as well.
“I’ve known tragedy and I’ve known the most intense tragedy. I lost my first son Conrad [who drowned in an accident in the UK while he was climbing in Ecuador in 1966] and that’s something you never really get over but again something you have got to face when it happens,” he said.
“I lost my wife to a motor neuron disease, it’s a cruel and bitter thing to have happened once again. But in life we all have tragedy and setbacks, it’s a matter of living through those and living life to the full not looking back but looking forward.”
Of his career, he said, “I’ve failed on things, I’ve turned back from things but I don’t worry about it, I believe you live in the present, learn from the past and look into the future.”