The Ulsan Ulju Mountain Culture Award is awarded to those who have made exceptional contributions to the progress of mountain culture, such as nature, environment, climbing films and literature.
Born in 1954, Stephen Venables began his mountaineering career aged 17 and became the first Briton to ascend the summit of Mount Everest without bottled oxygen. He is an ‘ambassador for alpinism’ who has shared the deeper world of mountaineering and made significant contributions to establishing ethical standards in mountain sports. He was a president of the South Georgia Association and President of the Alpine Club.
Also, He has written eleven books, Painted Mountains: Two Expeditions to Kashmir won climbing literature’s most prestigious literary award, The Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature, and the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival, and the Best Book-Mountain Literature at the Banff Mountain Book Festival with Himalaya Alpine-style.
Recipient of the Ulsan Ulju Mountain Culture Award 2023 is ambassador for alpinism Stephen Venables.
Stephen Venables (b.1954) is an ambassador for alpinism who has shared the deeper world of mountaineering with readers around the world through pithy remarks and beautiful proses that convey the surreal moments of moving beyond the limits of alpine world. He has written fifteen books, three of which were acclaimed with prestigious awards - the Boardman Tasker Prize, the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival, and the Best Book-Mountain Literature at the Banff Mountain Book Festival.
As a mountaineer Venables has succeeded many challenging climbs, some of which are worthy of note in the history of mountaineering. In 1988, he attempted a new route on the Kangshung Face of Mt. Everest, the face which was and still remain the most difficult area to ascend the peak. While other groups on the mountain chose existing routes, benefited from local workforce, and shared the tasks of climbing with a number of partners, Venables, as part of a four-member team, reached the summit alone and without using supplemental oxygen.
In addition to his climbing achievements, Venables has made significant contributions to establishing ethical standards in mountain sports, such as promoting the style of lightweight climbing with self-responsibility. He has expanded the horizons of exploration throughout his lifetime, serving as president of the Alpine Club and as president of the South Georgia Association.
Venables asserts that even on the mountains that seem to be too familiar and likely not to offer any new discoveries, one may still find out opportunities for adventure. His advice that we can find rich experience in nature and on mountains regardless of their fame or height is a valuable piece of wisdom that can lead us to rediscover and climb the mountains around us, which are increasingly degraded by climate change and environmental crises. He has appeared in various films and, above all, has motivated people throughout his lifetime to seek the true world of adventure, rather than just fame. His spirit of climbing certainly fits well with the meaning of slogan of the 2023 Ulsan Ulju Mountain Film Festival, " Climbing together, cinema mountains".
The Ulsan Ulju Mountain Culture Award ceremony will be held on October 20, 2023, during the opening ceremony of the 8th Ulsan Ulju Mountain Film Festival. Visitors will have the chance to meet the ambassador for alpinism, Stephen Venables, during the festival period through various cultural events such as lecture, exhibition, and Film.
푸르른 창공을 가르는 거대한 암벽, 그 위에 아름다운 점 하나. 눈 쌓인 알프스의 산들을 발아래 펼쳐놓고 손가락으로 암벽의 미세한 틈을 더듬으며 수직 상승하는 캐서린 데스티벨. 창공을 향한 더듬음, 그것은 두 손과 두 발이 한 걸음 나아가는데 온 삶을 바치는 ‘의식’이다. 한 인간이 전력으로 살아온 삶의 무게가 그 손끝에, 엄지발가락 끄트머리에 가볍게 얹혀있다. 겨우내 농축된 생명의 무게를 가장 먼저 가볍게 툭 피워내는 매화처럼 거대한 암벽에 아름다운 점을 찍는 캐서린 데스티벨을 만나보자. (이상은)
“Thank you very much for nominating me. I feel very honored. And slightly embarrassed to be followed on from people like Diemberger and Bonington!”
1. How does it feel to come to Korea after 5 years?
I am really looking forward to returning to Korea, as I remember well our wonderful welcome and enthusiastic audience last time. But I am particularly pleased this time to be coming in the autumn, when your wonderful forests will look incredibly beautiful and it will be cool enough to enjoy some of your fine granite rock climbs.
2. How have you been doing since then? What kind of exploratory activities did you do during COVID-19?
When the big Covid-19 panic broke out in March 2019 I was aboard Pelagic Australis sailing back from the Antarctic Peninsula to Chile. I was only just able to fly back to Spain and then got the last flight from Spain to Britain. I then spent a very pleasant spring, enjoying beautiful weather in Edinburgh and doing little rock climbs in the royal park of Holyrood, just beside our apartment. Since the end of lockdowns, I have been enjoying the mountains and sea cliffs of Scotland and last September, with my colleague Skip Novak, I led a team on a ski traverse across the mountains of South Georgia.
3. What are you going to lecture about at UMFF?
I have not decided yet, but I will try to include some of the best moments from 50 years of mountaineering around the world. And I will certainly took a bit about the wonderful island of South Georgia, where I have made ten expeditions, and which is the subject of the film ‘A Southern Quest’.
4. Which mountain film have you seen that impressed you the most?
‘The Long Hope’ is a fairly recent film about Britain’s biggest sea cliff, on the island of Hoy, in the far north of Scotland. It is an immense precipice of very scary sandstone, with vomiting fulmars (a European sea bird) adding to the danger. The first ascent by Ed Drummond and Oliver Hill, in the sixties, took several days, and involved some precarious aid climbing. Five decades later, Scotland’s rock climber, Dave MacLeod managed to climb the route completely free, in a single day. it was an astonishing piece of climbing. What I liked about the film was its sense of history - using archive photos and interviews from the sixties ascent - combined with the excitement of Dave’s modern ascent. It was a well told story, full of human emotion.
5. How big is the audience for mountain films in the UK? Do people in the UK enjoy watching mountain films?
Good mountain films are very, very rarely shown on mainstream television here. However, they are popular with a specialist audience at film festivals like the Kendal Mountain Festival.
6. Climbing the East Face of Everest in 1988 is probably your greatest memory. This year is the 70th anniversary of Everest's first ascent, and there are over 150 Everest summitter in Korea. What does Everest mean to you as a mountaineer?
I feel a special connection with the 70th anniversary, because we were the official 35th anniversary expedition and John Hunt - leader in 1953 - was our Honorary Leader in 1988. He became a good friend and I also got to know nearly all the other members of the 1953 team and, although I never met Tenzing Norgay, I have got to know several of his relatives. So I fell a personal connection with the mountain and I have very fond memories of our own climb in 1988. We were not good enough to climb in pure alpine style, but by using fixed ropes we came back alive! I was lucky enough to join an outstanding team - just four people, unsupported, on the the biggest face on the world’s highest mountain.
7. What would you like to say to your fans in Korea who are waiting for you?
I am looking forward very much to meeting you!