Matt Dickinson

Matt Dickinson

MATT DICKINSON is a filmmaker and writer who specializes in the wild places and the indigenous people of the world. He has a passion for adventure that has so far taken him to almost one hundred countries, including expeditions to the Sahara Desert, Greenland, and the jungles of South America.

He studied anthropology in college before beginning a career in television. After training for four years at the BBC he went freelance in 1988 to produce and direct adventure documentaries for, among others, the BBC, National Geographic Television, the Discovery Channel, and the Arts & Entertainment Network.

His films have been broadcast in more than thirty-five countries and have won numerous prestigious film festival awards.

His recent film projects have included a sea voyage by yacht to Antarctica, a whitewater rafting film on the Brahmaputra River in India, and an expedition on foot across the inhospitable Namib Desert.

In the pre-monsoon Everest season of 1996, amid the worst weather conditions on record, together with Alan Hinkes, Britain's foremost high-altitude mountaineer, he made a successful ascent of Mount Everest's notorious north side, one of the more technically demanding climbs on the world's highest peak.

Death Zone
(Cornerstone Digital, 2011)

It seemed like any other season on Everest. Ten expeditions from around the world were preparing for their summit push, gathered to-gether to try for mountaineering's ultimate prize. Twenty-four hours later, eight of those climbers were dead, victims of the most devastating storm ever to hit Everest. On the North face of the mountain, a British expedition found itself in the thick of the drama. Against all odds, film-maker Matt Dickinson and professional climber Alan Hinkes managed to battle through hurricane-force winds to reach the summit. In Death Zone, Matt Dickinson describes the extraordinary event that put the disaster on the front cover of Time and Newsweek. The desperate attempts of teams on the southern side of the mountain. . . fatal errors that led to the deaths of three Indian climbers on the North Ridge. . . and the moving story of Rob Hall, the New Zealand guide who stayed with his stricken client, and paid with his life. Based on interviews with the surviving climbers and the first-hand experience of having lived through the killer storm, this book tackles issues at the very heart of mountaineering. Death Zone is an extra-ordinary story of human triumph, folly and disaster.

Everest: Triumph and Tragedy on the World's Highest Peak
(HarperResource, 2002)

This interactive book brings the world's mightiest peak alive in a way no traditional book can. Readers can chart a route on an early map of Everest, hold a Tibetan prayer flag like the ones generations of mountaineers have left at Everest's summit, and examine a dossier (complete with survival tips) for commercial clients attempting to climb the mountain. The pre-war attempts, the dangerous conditions, the recent discovery of long-lost climber George Mallory's body are featured, along with the history of the mountain, its geography, and the myths and legends which surround it.


Black Ice: A Novel
(Hutchinson, June 2002)

Deep beneath the Antarctic Ice cap, scientist Lauren Burgess has discovered a secret which could change the face of human knowledge. Then a desperate mayday call comes in. Two explorers are stranded out on the ice, and a rescue is their only hope.

Lauren is forced to put her ground-breaking scientific programme on hold as she leads the rescue mission into the frozen void.

One of the dying men is Julian Fitzgerald, quintessential British hero and explorer of high repute. Fitzgerald is a PR dream, and a man who stands to lose everything if the truth about his latest expedition is known.

Winter is just days away, and seven months of permanent night is about to fall across this coldest and most extreme of continents. The pressure of total isolation gradually takes its toll, and as Fitzgerald's true, dark nature is revealed, Lauren finds herself fighting—not just for the dramatic ecological discovery that has been her life's work, but for the very lives of her team.

The Other Side of Everest:
Climbing the North Face Through the Killer Storm
(Times Books, 1999)

May 1996 began like most other climbing seasons on Mount Everest. The arrival of spring brought the usual pre-monsoon period, with teams of hopeful mountaineers ready to reach for the roof of the world. Among the dozens of climbers were Jon Krakauer and Anatoli Boukreev (who would both later write their own accounts of what followed) and Matt Dickinson. But on May 10, with ten different expeditions strung out along the mountain, the usual turned deadly. Suddenly, the temperature dropped from merely frigid to 40 degrees below zero. A killer storm with howling winds swept in and climbers were soon blinded in white-out conditions. Before it was over, the blizzard would claim a dozen lives, the worst loss of life in the modern history of climbing on Everest.

Dickinson, an adventure filmmaker, was part of an expedition challenging the treacherous North Face of Everest, on the Tibetan side. Of the nearly 700 people who have scaled Everest since the first ascent in 1953, barely 230 have managed to ascend via the colder and technically more difficult route up the North Face. In addition to climbing through the storm, which would test him beyond his imagining, Dickinson also filmed the ascent. He and his team watched in awe as violent clouds gathered over the mountain and swept them all up in a frightening white force. Dickinson was a relative novice who had never climbed at this crushing attitude, and the storm preyed on his mind, throwing into question his entire mission. Despite this uncertainty and the treacherous conditions, Dickinson and his partner Alan Hinkes continued their climb, compelled to reach the summit.

Dickinson's first-person narrative—the only account of the killer storm written by a climber who was on the North Face—places the reader amid the swirl of the catastrophe, while providing rare insight into the very essence of mountaineering. The Other Side of Everest is a portrait of personal triumph set against the most disastrous storm to ever befall the world mountaineering community. Anyone who has ever pushed beyond familiar limits of physical and psychological endurance will cherish this book.

Excerpts from the book:

"The storm lasted less than twenty hours but for those of us who decided to carry on and try to rebuild our shattered hopes of a summit bid, it never really stopped. The fatalities it caused, the doubts it raised, the powers of nature it demonstrated, were with us for every step we took. It altered the physical process of climbing the mountain and turned our plans upside-down. But most of all it played havoc in our minds, preying on the insecurities we all shared in that most dangerous of places, and ultimately stopping in their tracks all but two members of our expedition."

A painful scene as an Austrian climber and comrade lay dying just a few feet away...
"His speech was slurred and barely understandable. He sounded like he was suffering from the onset of high-altitude sickness... 'My friend is dying. I want to you to try to help me rescue him. We're in the tent over there.' He pointed into the night. 'You're talking about Reinhard?' 'Yes. Reinhard. He's dying. If we don't get him down the mountain he'll be dead. You have to help me,' ... 'Is he conscious?' 'He's in a coma.' 'Well, if he's in a coma he is going to die. There's no way anyone can get him off the mountain,' ... The Hungarian went quiet. In his mind he knew that Al was right, ... the fact that he was in a coma was as good as a death sentence here at 8,300 meters."

Finding the first of the Indian climbers lost to the killer storm..."
"Thirty minutes later we rounded a small cliff and found the first dead Indian climber. We knew that the three Indian bodies would still be there on the ridge where they had died a few days earlier, ... As we stepped over the legs of the corpse to continue along the ridge, we crossed a line of commitment in our own minds. Altitude is an unseen killer. Human life, any life, does not belong in the Death Zone, and stepping over the dead body, we made the conscious decision to push further into it.... All places above 8,000 meters belong to the dead because up there human life cannot be sustained."

"As we took the final steps onto the summit of Mount Everest, the wind magically dropped away. I placed my hand on the summit pole and pulled myself up onto the top of the world. To my surprise I found that I was in tears, the first time I had cried since childhood."

High Risk: A Novel
(Times Books, 1999)

In a single day of awesome destruction, nature’s fury is unleashed on opposite sides of the earth. On Mount Everest, a brutal storm rages, while in Alaska a catastrophic avalanche rips through the state.

In her London home, television presenter Josie Turner waits for news of her tycoon husband who is stranded high on Everest. In a remote Alaskan valley, avalanche expert Hal Maher is involved in a nail-biting rescue.

When the carnage ends, Josie and Hal find their lives upside down. When they meet, a fragile alliance is formed. Hal is an ex-Everest guide who promised himself he would never go back. Josie has deep-set reasons of her own to confront the ultimate peak.

The siren call of Everest binds Josie and Hal together in a summit bid which puts them in mortal danger. Their attempt becomes a desperate fight for survival.

Written with Matt Dickinson’s first hand  knowledge of what it’s like to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, this is a breathtaking first novel of rare power and intensity from the best selling author of The Death Zone.

The Death Zone

“Dickinson’s book reads like a thriller, pacy and exciting, giving a good flavour of the sublime misery of climbing at extreme altitude. It is a real page turner...fresh and vivid.”
-- The Guardian

“A very likeable book....his account, The Death Zone, is amiable and entertaining...his excitement at being there is infectious...The Death Zone is a good book.”
-- Times Literary Supplement

“He is a modest, very English writer, funny about the problems of filming in such ferocious conditions, the necessity of bringing mountains of reading material to fill Base Camp acclimatization, and understated in his narration of the catastrophic storm.”
-- The Times

-- Sunday Times

“A damn fine read.”
-- Maxim

“This is a gripping account of filming -- and surviving -- in the death zone.”
-- Mail on Sunday

“It’s an exhilarating ascent at top speed...the author writes with a frank style and the narrative is fine and pacy...when I’d finished the book I still wanted more...enjoy The Death Zone for its admirable and informative narrative.”
-- Wanderlust

“Dickinson brings out splendidly the sheer terror at the heart of the whole mountain climbing project.”
--Independent on Sunday

“A frank and engaging account.”
-- Yorkshire Post

Everest climber Matt Dickinson describes his conference speaking