The gear shop I mentioned yesterday as having latterly been occupied by Nevisport was, as I said, once a fine retail outlet. It must be about 30 years since Nick Estcourt opened it, in the days when despite Bonington having moved to the Lake District, this area was a focal point of the British Mountaineering Scene.
The demise of the shop turned my mind to a book I recently read, written by an American, Clint Willis, and entitled “The Boys of Everest”. It relates the exploits of a small band of Mountaineers over the period from 1958 to 1985, covering many Himalayan and other successes achieved by a group of climbers of which Chris Bonington became the natural leader. Sadly, the mountaineering accomplishments of these ‘Bonington Boys’ were often tempered by the cost in lives of achieving them. And so it was with perhaps Bonington’s closest of friends, Nick Estcourt, who was swept away by an avalanche on K2 in 1978, shortly after opening his climbing shop. Nick’s wife ran the shop for many years after his death, but it wasn’t until Nevisport got their hands on it that it slipped into the decline that proved terminal a few weeks ago.
Willis crams quite a lot into his 500 page book, many of the climbs and expeditions distilled into this tome being the subject of several books in their own right. I enjoyed it despite being uncomfortable with the style and with Willis’s conjecture as to the last thoughts of the numerous ‘late’ members of the cast.