- Don Whillans
Don Whillans (18 May 1933 – 4 August 1985) was an English rock climber and mountaineer. Born and raised in a two-up two-down house in Salford, Lancashire, he climbed with both Joe Brown and Chris Bonington on many new routes, and was considered the technical equal of both. He was an apprentice plumber when he first started his climbing career with Joe Brown in 1951. Don met Joe Brown while climbing one day at the Roaches, Staffordshire. When Joe's climbing partner failed to follow Joe up a new route, Don shouted up to ask if he could try—and subsequently led the second pitch of Joe's new route, which became known as Matinee. Don had from an early age walked all around the local Pennine moors; climbing therefore was the next step for an adventurous young boy. From rock climbing he expanded into mountaineering with trips to the Alps. Ascents in the alps included the "Bonatti Pillar" of the Dru and the first ascent along with Chris Bonington, Jan Długosz and Ian Clough of the Central Pillar of Freney. In 1962 with Chris Bonington he made the first ascent of the Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia. With Dougal Haston, he made the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna in Bonington's 1970 expedition.
Whillans was attributed great safety and mountain awareness, as evidenced by the fact that he retreated from the Eiger North Face on several separate occasions owing to bad weather or rockfall. He also had very few climbing accidents although there were several near misses, such as when a fixed rope on the Central Tower of Paine snapped. In this case he managed to put his weight on the holds with split-second timing before calmly retying the rope.
Whillans was well regarded for his capacity to deliver a cracking one-liner off the cuff. One example which perhaps best encapsulates his wry humour concerns him encountering a team of—to his mind—poorly equipped Japanese mountaineers attempting the north face of the Eiger. "You going up?" Whillans asked them. "Yes! Yes!" came the reply. Pause, then Whillans: "You may be going a lot higher than you think." In another story, Whillans was participating in the 1972 European Everest Expedition, attempting to climb Mount Everest's Southwest Face. The expedition had been plagued with several personality conflicts and the withdrawal of many climbers. While in camp, some of the other climbers overheard news that England had lost a soccer game to Germany. "It seems we have beaten you at your national sport", said a German. After a slight pause Whillans replied, "Aye, and we've beaten you at yours...twice." Another notable incident occurred when late one night in an alpine hut two climbers were engaged in a whispered conversation. This was disturbing the sleep of an entire room of slumbering climbers, one of whom was Whillans. Eventually he demanded that they shut up; there was a brief pause before one of the youths aggressively refused to be quiet, remarking into the darkeness "who do you think you are?" The gruff reply of "Whillans" was followed by complete silence. However, Whillans's biographer Jim Perrin suggests many of these stories are myths.
Whillans was well-known for his heavy drinking, which harmed his career after the expedition to Annapurna and may have contributed to his early death from a heart attack. Although he was only 5' 4" tall, he also had a reputation as a mean brawler, with many stories of his prowess circulating including one where he punches a bus conductor from a moving bus. He also designed mountaineering equipment, including the "Whillans Harness", once described as designed to safely transport beer-guts to great height, and the "Whillans-box" expedition tent. He died at the age of fifty-two and was the subject of a biography called The Villain by the author–climber Jim Perrin in 2005.
- Jim Perrin (2005), The Villain : the life of Don Whillans, Hutchinson, ISBN 0-09-179438-2.
- Whillans, Don & Ormerod, Alick (1971), "Don Whillans. Portrait of a mountaineer.", Heinemann, London (ISBN 0-434-86251-7) (Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1973).
- Don Whillans - Myth and Legend (2006) - Film by Leo Dickinson
- Tom Patey - A Short Walk With Whillans - SMC Journal 1963, and included in 'Mirrors in the Cliffs' ed. Jim Perrin, Diadem 1983
- List of Joe Brown's first ascents, including many with Don Whillans
- "The vertical beatnik", Observer Sport Monthly, 6 March 2005
- Peter Donnelly, ‘Whillans, Donald Desbrow (1933–1985)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006
- The Don Whillans Memorial Hut Information page at the BMC website
- A Whillan's tale Leo Dickinson introduces his new film, exploring the myths and legends of rock climber Don Whillans
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Chris Bonington — Sir Chris Bonington Personal information Full name Sir Christian John Storey Bonington Main discipline Mountaineering Other disciplines … Wikipedia
Face ouest des Drus — La face ouest des Drus en mai 2006. La zone plus claire à droite est celle de l éboulement de 2005 La face ouest des Drus (ou du Dru ou du petit Dru) dans le massif du Mont Blanc est une des plus fameuses parois des Alpes. Elle le doit à sa… … Wikipédia en Français
Joe Brown (climber) — Joe Brown (born 26 September 1930) is an English climber, born the seventh and last child of a family in the Manchester suburb of Ardwick. He became famous for climbing during the 1950s, and was a member of the Valkyrie climbing club and founding … Wikipedia
Chris Bonington — Sir Christian John Storey Bonington, CBE (nacido el 6 de agosto de 1934 en Hampstead, Londres) es un montañero británico. Su carrera incluye diecinueve expediciones al Himalaya, incluyendo cuatro al Monte Everest y la primera ascensión de … Wikipedia Español
Yeti — Abominable Snowman redirects here. For other uses, see Abominable Snowman (disambiguation). For other uses of Yeti, see Yeti (disambiguation). Yeti (Abominable Snowman Migoi, Meh teh et al.) Purported Yeti scalp at … Wikipedia
List of climbers — This list of climbers includes both mountaineers and rock climbers, since many (though not all) climbers engage in both types of activities. The list also includes boulderers and ice climbers.compactTOC NOTOC A * Vitaly Mikhaylovich Abalakov… … Wikipedia
Ian Clough — (1937 1970) was a British mountaineer who was killed on an expedition to climb the south face of the Himalayan massif Annapurna. Climbing careerClough was born in the Yorkshire town of Baildon, near Bradford, and grew up to become one of the best … Wikipedia
Jim Perrin — is a British rock climber and travel writer. As a writer, he has made regular contributions to a number of newspapers and climbing magazines. As a climber, he has developed many new routes, and made solo and free ascents of great difficulty. He… … Wikipedia
Dennis Gray — Born 1935 Yorkshire Nationality United Kingdom Known for … Wikipedia
Rock and Ice climbing club — The Rock and Ice club was a British climbing club set up in in the 1950s based in Manchester. The club members, that included notables like Don Whillans and Joe Brown, were at the forefront of British climbing at their time [cite book title=The… … Wikipedia