Steele, Peter 1935-

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STEELE, Peter 1935-

(Peter R. Steele)

PERSONAL: Born May 5, 1935, in London, England; son of Gerald Hector and Sylvia (Walsh) Steele; married Sarah Fleming; children: Adam, Judith, Lucy. Education: Clare College, Cambridge, M.A., 1957; St. George's Hospital Medical School, London, M.B., B.Chair., 1960.

ADDRESSES: Home—138 Dalton Trail, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada YlA 3G1. Office—Klondyke Medical-Dental Clinic, 3089 3rd Ave., Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada Y1A 5B3.

CAREER: St. George's Hospital, London, England, intern, 1960–61; United Mission Hospital, Katmandu, Nepal, physician and surgeon, 1961–62; West Suffolk Hospital, Suffolk, England, resident in obstetrics and gynecology and in anesthetics, 1963–64; Grenfell Association, Labrador, Canada, acting medical officer in charge of flying doctor service, 1964–65; general practice assistantship in Suffolk, England, 1966–67; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, demonstrator in anatomy, 1967; Bristol Eye Hospital, Bristol, England, resident in ophthalmology, 1967–70; Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, resident in plastic surgery, 1970–71; served as senior medical officer on International Everest Expedition, 1971; Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, resident in general surgery, 1971–72; Bristol University Health Service, Bristol, general practice of medicine, 1973–74; Bristol Eye Hospital, Bristol, clinical assistant, 1973–74; Klondyke Medical-Dental Clinic, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, general practice of medicine, beginning 1975.

MEMBER: Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (fellow), Royal Geographical Society (fellow), Alpine Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Royal Society research grant, to study endemic goiter in Bhutan.


Two and Two Halves to Bhutan, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1970.

Doctor on Everest: A Memoir of the Ill-fated 1971 International Everest Expedition, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1972, Raincoast Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2005.

Medical Care for Mountain Climbers, Heinemann (London, England), 1976, second edition published as Far from Help!: Backcountry Medical Guide, Mountaineers (Seattle, WA), 1999.

Atlin's Gold, Caitlin Press (Prince George, Canada), 1995.

Eric Shipton: Everest and Beyond, drawings by Bruce Paton, Mountaineers (Seattle, WA), 1998.

The Man Who Mapped the Arctic, Raincoast Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Geographical.

SIDELIGHTS: Writer, physician, and mountaineer Peter Steele is also a biographer whose books often focus on rugged adventurers, mountain climbers, and explorers. His The Man Who Mapped the Arctic, for example, is a biography of George Back, which Booklist reviewer Roland Green described as a "literate, coherent biography [that] introduces one of the undeservedly obscure figures in arctic exploration." A sailor in the Royal Navy from a very young age, Back spent five years as a POW during the Napoleonic Wars. He became a lieutenant and returned to the sea after the war, and became a major figure in the search for the Northwest Passage. He served as second-in-command under noted explorer John Franklin, and survived perilous overland expeditions and sea-based explorations to chart the northern coast of the Arctic regions. He eventually retired to England and became a mentor to other Arctic explorers before dying at the age of eighty-two. Back "was a man of great strength and constitution, a leader and survivalist who exerted himself and risked his life in defense of his comrades," stated Stephen Bown in the Beaver: Exploring Canada's History.

In Far from Help!: Backcountry Medical Care Steele combines his mountain-climbing and medical experience to present a medical guide for hikers, mountaineers, and other adventurers who might find themselves facing an injury or medical condition while in a remote location far from a hospital or emergency room. Steele provides practical solutions that are based on the use of simple techniques and improvised equipment. For Steele, knowledge and ability are more important in wilderness medicine than proper equipment, and a person treated with simple but effective techniques will benefit just as much as one who was treated in a medical facility. Reviewer Buck Tilton, writing in Backpacker, commented that "as a reference for folks who have some prior training, this little book should prove valuable."

About his first book, Steele once told CA: "Two and Two Halves to Bhutan was written as an afterthought for the children who had participated in the journey. I was greatly helped in the project by a university don who corrected the manuscript like a school essay and instilled into me the essential respect for grammar and style. It was a nice story of a journey that every fireside traveler would like to make. Then the Everest expedition came along and the story told in Doctor on Everest: A Memoir of the Ill-fated 1971 International Everest Expedition was a natural because the expedition was not a success and no one else was going to write about it. I had written long letters home minute by minute and these became the foundation for the book and gave it much of its liveliness. My mother-in-law became my best critic and one whom I hold in awe. I think the Everest adventure was considerably less than our Bhutan journey.

"When I returned from Everest I began writing essays for a medical bi-monthly publication and this gave me a platform to try out different forms of writing and to hone my skills. I tried writing a novel about South America based on a journey I took there with my son, but I do not have the imagination for fiction. I would like to try again one day…. I really enjoy writing but cannot spend enough time at it while I am practicing medicine full-time. Perhaps I'll retire early and write more."



Backpacker, October, 1994, Buck Tilton, review of Far from Help!: Backcountry Medical Care, p. 26.

Beaver: Exploring Canada's History, April-May, 2004, Stephen Bown, review of The Man Who Mapped the Arctic, p. 43.

Booklist, October 1, 2004, Roland Green, review of The Man Who Mapped the Arctic, p. 295.