Award-winning author, climber and film-maker Matt Dickinson visited Bishop’s on Monday
On Monday we were thrilled to welcome award-winning author, climber, adventurer and film-maker Matt Dickinson to the school. Matt has made films and documentaries for the BBC, National Geographic TV and the Discovery Channel, as well as being the author of fiction and non-fiction.
Matt spoke to all of years 7, 8 and 9 about his climbing experiences on Mount Everest. We learnt that Matt attended Hemel school, Hemel Hempstead where his passion for climbing was ignited by borrowing a book on climbing from the school library. He was an ardent proponent of reading, saying how he had seen the world of his five children be expanded so positively by books. He urged the girls to be more adventurous with their reading, to push into different genres they wouldn’t normally pick up, try new books of someone they haven’t read before, get recommendations from friends etc as by being more adventurous it would expand their world in the most wonderful way. Matt said: ‘I’m a big reader, I’m always reading and try to engage with books across as wide a range of subjects as I can”.
Matt then proceeded to wow his audiences with a thrilling presentation of his experiences climbing Everest – he has reached the summit once and climbed lower on numerous occasions. He engaged the girls with statistics on the danger of mountain climbing, with a 4% chance of death when climbing Everest although this rises to a staggering 29% for K2, the world’s second highest peak. Perhaps unsurprisingly many of the girls, and staff, were willing to accept a 4% fatality risk for the chance of summiting Everest, but that number dropped considerably in relation to K2. Matt said that despite the danger, if he had a phone call tomorrow offering him the opportunity to go back to Everest or K2 he would go in a heartbeat, despite the fact that he loves his life and his five children and being fully aware of the risks involved. This led to a lively discussion as to the appeal of mountain climbing and the motives that drive people to take such extreme risks – sense of personal achievement, fame, bragging rights, fulfilling a dream etc.
He spoke about his personal experience with frostbite, sharing an astonishing photograph that caused a few squeals of disgust from the girls!, the effects of altitude sickness, the work of Sherpas on the mountain and the sacredness of Everest to them. His talk was peppered with fascinating photographs and video clips that highlighted his journey and experiences.
He encouraged the girls to have a dream and to plan for it in order to succeed. He made reference to numerous female explorers and pioneers that he has worked with, particularly Judy Leden, the British hang glider and paraglider pilot who holds three world champion titles and has combined her love of adventure with also raising a family.
Matt is the author of several teen/young adult novels all of which are influenced by his experiences. He talked about his Everest Files trilogy (The Everest Files, North Face and Killer Storm), featuring strong female protagonists, are thrilling reads set on the highest mountain in the world. “The Everest Files” is a mystery based on the dark side of human nature, which Matt witnessed first-hand during his time climbing Everest. He also mentioned his most recent book “Lie Kill Walk Away”, an action-packed thriller about two teenagers racing to save the world from a deadly bioweapon.
During the day Matt also presented to the Geography students in Years 10-13. Through his extensive adventure travel he has witnessed first hand the effects of climate change and the growth of eco-tourism in the Himalayas over the past 20 years and this led to a really interesting talk. He was also able to link his experience in the extreme environment of Antarctica. He discussed “The Death Zone”, his autobiographical account of his summit of Everest via the treacherous North Face during the most devastating killer storm ever to hit the mountain and one that left eight people dead.
BHGS was fortunate to host such a wonderfully engaging and inspiring speaker. Matt Dickinson – a true action-hero!
Some of the feedback from the girls of the day:
“I think he has inspired many people to accomplish their dreams, but to also have a plan. He has influenced me to make the most of life and to take any possible chances that you are given.” Lotty
“Matt Dickinson’s chat was gripping and informative, he balanced his time between his books and his amazing adventure stories. He interacted with the audience, whilst telling clever jokes and explaining his stories in good detail.” Amelie
“Matt was funny and intriguing. He had many adventures in his past and inpsired many people, me included.” Roxy
“I very much enjoyed Matt’s talk as it made me laugh, however at the same time it taught me many things and inspired me.” Cecile