Early life and expeditions
Bonington's father, who left the family when Christian was nine months old, was a founding member of L Detachment, Special Air Service. Bonington first began climbing in 1951 at age 16. Educated at University College School in Hampstead, Bonington joined the Royal Fusiliers before attending Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and on graduation was commissioned in the Royal Tank Regiment in 1956. After serving three years in North Germany, he spent two years at the Army Outward Bound School as a mountaineering instructor.
Bonington was part of the party that made the first British ascent of the South West Pillar (aka Bonatti Pillar) of the Aiguille du Dru in 1958, and the first ascent of the Central Pillar of Freney on the south side of Mont Blanc in 1961 with Don Whillans, Ian Clough and Jan Dlugosz (Poland). In 1960 he was part of the successful joint British-Indian-Nepalese forces expedition to Annapurna II.
On leaving the British Army in 1961, he joined Van den Berghs, a division of Unilever, but he left after nine months, and became a professional mountaineer and explorer. In 1966 he was given his first assignment by The Daily Telegraph Magazine to cover other expeditions, including climbing Sangay in Ecuador and hunting caribou with Inuit on Baffin Island. In 1968 he accompanied Captain John Blashford-Snell and his British Army team in the attempt to make the first-ever descent of the Blue Nile.
Bonington has written or edited numerous books, made many television appearances, and received many honours, including the chancellorship of Lancaster University from 2005 to 2014. He is honorary president of the and Lancaster University Mountaineering Club and has a boat named after him among Lancaster University Boat Club's fleet. Furthermore, he is the Honorary President of the British Orienteering Federation. He has lived in Cumbria since 1974. He is a patron, and former president (1988–91), of the British Mountaineering Council (BMC). He succeeded Edmund Hillary as the Honorary President of Mountain Wilderness, an international NGO dedicated to the preservation of mountain areas, in their natural and cultural aspects.
Bonington was married to Wendy, a freelance illustrator of children's books. She died on 24 July 2014 from motor neuron disease (MND), inspiring Bonington to support MND charities. The couple had three children: Conrad (died 1966), Daniel ("Joe") and Rupert. The family lived at Caldbeck, Cumbria.
Bonington married Loreto McNaught-Davis on Saturday 23 April 2016. McNaught-Davis is the widow of mountaineer and television presenter Ian McNaught-Davis who died in February 2014. The ceremony took place in London in the presence of about 60 friends and family members, including Bonington's son Rupert.
In 1974 Bonington received the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society. In 1985 he received the Lawrence of Arabia Memorial Medal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. St. Helen's School, Northwood, England has named one of its four houses after him. Bonington was presented with the Golden Eagle Award for services to the outdoors in 2008 by the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild.
Bonington was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1976 in recognition of the previous year's successful ascent of Everest and was knighted in 1996 for his services to the sport. He was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 2010 Birthday Honours for his services to the Outward Bound Trust. He was appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant of Cumbria in 2004.
- 1961 Central Pillar of Freney, Mont Blanc (First ascent) with Ian Clough, Don Whillans and Jan Długosz
- 1962 North Wall of the Eiger (First British ascent) with Ian Clough
- 1963 Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia (First ascent) with Don Whillans
- 1964 Cime de l'Est NE Ridge, Dents du Midi, (First ascent) with John Harlin and  
- 1965 Coronation Street, Cheddar Gorge (First ascent)
- 1966 Old Man of Hoy (First ascent) with Tom Patey
- 1973 Brammah (6411m) (First ascent) with Nick Estcourt
- 1974 Changabang, Garhwal Himalaya (6864m) (First ascent) with Don Whillans, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston
- 1975 Southwest face of Mount Everest (8848m) 
- 1977 Baintha Brakk (7285m) (First ascent) with Doug Scott
- 1981 Kongur Tagh (7719m) (First ascent) with Joe Tasker, Al Rouse and Pete Boardman
- 1983 West Summit of Shivling, Gangotri (6501m) (First Ascent)
- 1983 Vinson Massif (4897m) (First British ascent – solo)
- 1985 Mount Everest (8848m) as member of Norwegian Everest Expedition
- 1987 Menlungtse (7181m) attempted FA of main peak via South Buttress, to 6100m; w/ Odd Eliason, Bjorn Myrer-Lund, Torgeir Fosse, Helge Ringdal (all Norwegian) and Jim Fotheringham (UK).
- 1988 Menlungtse West (7023m) FA via West Ridge, (expedition leader). Summit attained by Andy Fanshawe and Alan Hinkes (both UK), with David Breashears and Steve Shea (both USA) in support.
- 2014 The Old Man of Hoy (137m) to mark his 80th birthday and to raise funds for motor neuron disease charities
- 1970 1970 British Annapurna South Face expedition, successful, summit reached by Dougal Haston and Don Whillans; death of Ian Clough
- 1972 Mount Everest, (south-west face), unsuccessful
- 1975 British Mount Everest Southwest Face expedition, successful, summit reached by Doug Scott, Dougal Haston, Peter Boardman, Pertemba Sherpa and Mick Burke; death of Burke
- 1978 K2 (west face), unsuccessful; death of Nick Estcourt
- 1982 Mount Everest (north-east ridge), unsuccessful; death of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker
- Although expedition leader, Bonington did not reach the summit of these peaks on these expeditions
Mount Everest record
Chris Bonington briefly became the oldest known person to summit Mount Everest in April 1985, at the age of 50. He was surpassed by Richard Bass (of Seven Summits fame), who summited later that same season at 55 years old, five years older than Bonington. The record has been surpassed multiple times since.
- I Chose to Climb (Gollancz) 1966
- Annapurna South Face (Cassell) 1971
- The Next Horizon (Gollancz) 1973
- Everest South West Face (Hodder and Stoughton) 1973
- Changabang (Heinemann) 1975
- Everest the Hard Way (Hodder and Stoughton) 1976
- Quest for Adventure (Hodder and Stoughton) 1981
- Kongur: China's Elusive Summit (Hodder and Stoughton) 1982
- Everest: The Unclimbed Ridge (with Dr Charles Clarke) (Hodder and Stoughton) 1983
- The Everest Years (Hodder and Stoughton) 1986
- Mountaineer: Thirty Years of Climbing on the World's Great Peaks (Diadem) 1989
- The Climbers (BBC Books and Hodder and Stoughton) 1992
- Sea, Ice and Rock (with Robin Knox-Johnston) (Hodder and Stoughton) 1992
- Great Climbs (Ed with Audrey Salkeld) (Reed Illustrated Books) 1994
- Tibet's Secret Mountain, the Triumph of Sepu Kangri (with Dr Charles Clarke) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 1999
- Boundless Horizons (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 2000
- Chris Bonington's Everest (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 2002
- Chris Bonington's Lakeland Heritage (with Roly Smith) (Halsgrove) 2004
- Chris Bonington Mountaineer (Vertebrate Publishing) 2016
- Ascent (Simon & Schuster UK) 2017
- Rock climbing
- Ice climbing
- List of Mount Everest records
- List of Mount Everest summiters by number of times to the summit
- Tunstall, Interview by Jill (5 December 2008). "My family values" – via The Guardian.
- "Chris Bonington Biography" Bonington.com. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- "TRIBUTE TO WIFE OF CLIMBER SIR CHRIS BONINGTON". News and Star. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015.
- "I was my dad's greatest challenge". The Sunday Times.
- "Sir Chris Bonington to marry today". www.newsandstar.co.uk.
- "Medals and Awards Recipients 1970-2007" (PDF). Royal Geographical Society. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009.
- "Chris Bonington". Bigredbook.info. Retrieved 13 January 2021.
- Willis, Clint (2006). The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragic Story of Climbing's Greatest Generation. London: Robson Books, p 335. ISBN 1-86105-980-9
- "No. 59446". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2010. p. 3.
- "The First Ascent - Alpinist.com". www.alpinist.com.
- Chaîne franco-suisse "Du col des Montets au lac Léman", Ruedi Meier, 2003
- Bonington, Chris (1988). "Menlungtse Attempt". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. 30 (62): 275–278. ISBN 0-930410-33-5.
- Bonington, Chris (1989). "Menlungtse Western Summit". American Alpine Journal. New York, NY USA: American Alpine Club. 31 (63): 284–286. ISBN 0-930410-39-4.
- "Sir Chris Bonington climbs the Old Man of Hoy again after 48 years". BBC. 20 August 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- "Everest Bound Kettle Falls Man Seeks To Be One Of The Oldest Ever To Reach The Top Of The World".
- Chris Bonington on IMDb
- Chris Bonington Home Page
- Interview with WideWorld magazine
- The Everest Years: Reflections of a mountaineer while climbing in the Lake District. BBC Radio 4 documentary first broadcast in 1988. Accessed 26 November 2012.
- Mount Everest Interview with Chris Bonington
- [permanent dead link]
- Chris Bonington's appearance on This Is Your Life