I spent some time this week up at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, along with thousands of others. This fortnight of activity is hugely popular now, and with good reason. There are many speakers from overseas as well as plenty of home-grown talent.

There was a huge preponderance of middle-aged women, which was disappointing – where are the blokes?

I was entranced by a talk given by Huw Lewis-Jones. In 60 minutes he took us right to the top of Everest, following in the footsteps of George Lowe, photographer to the famous 1953 Hillary expedition. Admittedly, the man had good material to work with, but what a speaker he is. I was in tears several times. We were there. Lewis-Jones is an historian of adventure, and also serves as  a Polar Guide annually. He knows what it’s like to get very cold feet, let us say.








Huw Lewis-Jones


Lewis-Jones has written a book using Lowe’s photographs: The Conquest of Everest, which is now added to my wish list. Lowe’s son was in the audience, and lent the speaker Lowe’s wrist-watch for the session. This simple act of connection with the subject of the talk, who died last year, brought him into the room with us in a surprisingly moving way. What an incredible generation of climbers they truly were. ..