- Bill Tilman
name = Bill Tilman
caption = Bill Tilman by Sandy Lee
birth_date = 14 February 1898
Wallasey, Cheshire, England
death_date = 1977
death_place = South
website = [http://www.tilman.tv]
Early years and Africa
Tilman was born on 14 February 1898 in
Wallaseyin Cheshire, the son of a well-to-do sugarmerchant and educated at Berkhamsted Boys school. At the age of 18, Tilman was commissioned into the Royal Field Artilleryand fought in the First World War, including the Battle of the Somme, and was twice awarded the Military Crossfor bravery. His climbing career, however, began with his acquaintance with Eric Shiptonin Kenya, East Africa, where they were both coffeegrowers. Beginning with their joint traverse of Mount Kenyain 1929 and their ascents of Kilimanjaroand the fabled "Mountains of the Moon" Ruwenzori, Shipton and Tilman formed one of the most famed partnerships in mountaineering history. When it came time to leave Africa, Tilman was not content with merely flying home but rode a bicycle across the continent to the West Coast where he embarked for England.
World War II
He later volunteered for service in the Second World War, seeing action in North Africa, and on the beaches at Dunkirk. He then was dropped by
parachutebehind enemy lines to fight with Albanian and Italian partisans, was awarded the Distinguished Service Orderfor his efforts, and the keys to the city of Bellunowhich he helped save from occupation and destruction.
Tilman was involved in two of the 1930s
Mount Everestexpeditions - participating in the 1935 Reconnaissance Expedition, and reaching 27,200 feet without oxygen as the expedition leader in 1938. He penetrated the Nanda Devisanctuary with Eric Shiptonin 1934, and in 1936 he went on to lead an Anglo-American expedition to Nanda Devi. With the support of a team which included Peter Lloyd and H. Adams Carter, Tilman and Noel Odellsucceeded in making the first ascent of the mountain, which remained the highest summit climbed by man until 1950. Tilman later described their arrival on the summit:::Odell had brought a thermometer, and no doubt sighed for the hypsometer. From it we found that the air temperature was 20°F but in the absence of the wind we could bask gratefully in the friendly rays of our late enemy the sun. It was difficult to realise that we were actually standing on top of the same peak which we had viewed two months ago from Ranikhet, and which had then appeared incredibly remote and inaccessible, and it gave us a curious feeling of exaltation to know that we were above every peak within a hundred miles on either hand. Dhaulagiri, 1,000ft higher, and 200 miles away in Nepal, was our nearest rival. I believe we so far forgot ourselves as to shake hands on it. H. W. Tilman, 'Gentleman's Relish', in "Mirrors in the Cliffs", ed J. Perrin, (Diadem), pp. 220–1. ISBN 0-906371-95-3
In 1939, Tilman was the first man to attempt climbing in the remote and unexplored
Assam Himalaya, exploring the Southern approaches of Gori Chen, 6538 metres, before his team succumbed to malaria. In 1947 he attempted Rakaposhi, then made his way to Kashgar to join up with Eric Shiptonin a lightweight attempt on Muztagh Ata, 7546 metres, which nearly succeeded. On his way back to India, he detoured through Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor to see the source of the river Oxus. During his extensive exploration of the areas of Langtang, Ganesh and Manang in Nepalin 1949, Tilman was the first to ascend Paldor, 5896 metres, and found the pass named after him beyond Gangchempo.
Following his military career behind enemy lines in the
Second World War, Tilman took up deep sea sailing. Sailing in deep seas on the Bristol Channel pilot cutter "Mischief", which he purchased in 1954, and subsequently on his other pilot cutters "Sea Breeze" and "Baroque", Tilman voyaged to Arcticand Antarcticwaters in search of new and uncharted mountains to climb. On his last voyage in 1977, in his eightieth year, Tilman was invited to ship as crew in "En Avant" with mountaineers sailing to the South Atlantic to climb Smith Island. The expedition was led, and the boat skippered, by the youthful Simon Richardson. He and his crew aboard the old, converted steel tugmade it successfully and without incident to Rio de Janeiro. Thereafter, en route to the Falkland Islands, they disappeared without trace - it was presumed the ship had foundered with all hands.
Partial mountaineering timeline: 1929-1950
* 1929: Tilman is introduced to rock climbing in the
Lake Districtof England.
* 1930: He ascends Mawenzi and almost ascends Kibo on
Kilimanjaro, with Eric Shipton.
* 1930: He makes first ascent of West Ridge of Batian, and traverses to Nelion, with Shipton.
* 1932: Tilman ascends Mounts Speke, Baker, and Stanley in the
Ruwenzori Range, with Shipton.
* 1932: In April, he is involved in an accident in the Lake District which leads to the death of J. S. Brogden.
* 1932: Later that year, he makes various climbs in the Alps.
* 1933: Tilman ascends Kilimanjaro (to summit) alone.
* 1934: Tilman and Shipton, with three others, make the first recorded entrance into the Nanda Devi Sanctuary. They also explore the nearby
* 1935: Tilman participates in the
Mount EverestReconnaissance Expedition, and climbs various peaks near Everest.
* 1936: Tilman attempts various peaks and passes, including the Zemu Gap, in
Sikkim, near Kangchenjunga. Later, he leads the first ascent of Nanda Devi.
* 1937: Shipton and Tilman make a major reconnaissance and surveying expedition in the
* 1938: Tilman leads another Mount Everest Expedition; he and three others reach above 27,300 ft (8,320 m) but fail to reach the summit.
* 1938: He traverses the Zemu Gap.
* 1939: He leads an expedition in the remote
Assam Himalaya, which ends in disaster. They attempt Gori Chen, but reach only the lower slopes. The party was ravaged by Malaria, causing the death of one member.
* 1941: Tilman climbs various peaks in
* 1942: He makes a night ascent of Zaghouan, in
* 1947: Tilman leads an attempt on
Rakaposhiwhich explores five different routes, none of which get near the summit. The expedition then explored the Kukuay Glacier on the southwest side of the Batura Muztagh.
* 1947: He attempts
Muztagh Ata, with Shipton and Gyalgen Sherpa.
* 1948: Tilman attempts
Bogda Feng, in northern Xinjiang, with Shipton and two others, but they only reach outlying summits.
* 1948: He attempts
Chakragil, in western Xinjiang.
* 1948: He travels in the
Chitralarea of the Hindu Kush.
* 1949: Tilman leads a four-month exploratory and scientific expedition to the
Langtang, Ganesh, and Jugal Himals in Nepal, in the early stages of that country's re-opening to outsiders. He climbs Paldor in the Ganesh Himal.
* 1950: He leads the British
AnnapurnaExpedition, which gets close to the summit of Annapurna IV, and attempts other nearby peaks.
* 1950: Tilman and Charles Houston view Mount Everest from the lower slopes of
Pumori, on the recently opened Nepalese side of the peak.
Source: "The Seven Mountain-Travel Books".
*"Warrior, Wanderer" The Life & Times of the Legendary Explorer Bill Tilman. DVD. Mistral Films. Due for release July, 2008.
*"Warrior, Wanderer" The Life & Times of the Legendary Explorer Bill Tilman. Author David Glen. ISBN 1-887062-02-5
* Eric Shipton, "The Six Mountain-Travel Books" (Mountaineers Books, 1997), ISBN 0-89886-539-5.
* H. W. Tilman, "Mount Everest 1938" (Pilgrims Publishing) ISBN 81-7769-175-9 (contains the infamous Appendix B on the
* H. W. Tilman, "Nepal Himalaya" (Pilgrims Publishing) ISBN 81-7303-107-X
* H. W. Tilman, "The Seven Mountain-Travel Books" (Mountaineers` Books) ISBN 0-89886-960-9, comprising:
** "Snow on the Equator" (1937)
** "The Ascent of Nanda Devi" (1937)
** "When Men and Mountains Meet" (1946)
** "Everest 1938" (1948)
** "Two Mountains and a River" (1949)
** "China to Chitral" (1951)
** "Nepal Himalaya" (1952)
* H. W. Tilman, "Eight Sailing/Mountain-Exploration Books" (Diadem Books) ISBN 0-89886-143-8, comprising:
** "Mischief in Patagonia" (1957)
** "Mischief among the Penguins" (1961)
** "Mischief in Greenland" (1964)
** "Mostly Mischief" (1966)
** "Mischief Goes South" (1968)
** "In Mischief's Wake" (1971)
** "Ice With Everything" (1974)
** "Triumph and Tribulation" (1977)
* Anderson, John Richard Lane, "High Mountains and Cold Seas: Life of H. W. Tilman" (Gollancz Books) ISBN 0-575-02806-8
* Glen, David, "Warrior, Wanderer: The Life & Times of the Legendary Explorer Bill Tilman" (Progeny Books) ISBN 1-887062-02-5
* Madge, Tim, "The Last Hero - Bill Tilman: A Biography of the Explorer" (The Mountaineers' Books) ISBN 0-89886-452-6
* [http://www.tilman.tv/ 'Warrior Wanderer' The Life & Times of the Legendary Explorer by David A. Glen]
*Chris Bonington, ‘Tilman, Harold William (1898–1977x9)’, rev., [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/31762 Oxford Dictionary of National Biography] , Oxford University Press, 2004
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