‘Kathmandu is still a place of magic’: Sir Chris Bonington

Despite much change, the Nepalese capital’s staggering views and warm memories are as vivid as ever for the veteran mountaineer and leader of 19 Himalayan expeditions

My first sight of Kathmandu and the Himalayas was in 1960 as part of Lt Col Jimmy Roberts’s expedition – we made the first successful ascent of Annapurna II. At 7,937 metres, it’s a superb peak that’s just short of what mountaineers see as the magical height: 8,000 metres.

Arriving in Kathmandu was extraordinary. There was only one hotel, the Royal, an old palace run by a wonderful, eccentric Russian called Boris. There was also just one guesthouse, and practically no tourists.

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