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Item #: OP1798-478
TWO MOUNTAINS AND A RIVER H. W. Tilman 1949 1st ed Hardcover DJ Near Fine
By Tilman, H. W.
Price: $75.00

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Detailed Product Description

Cambridge, 1949, 1st edition. 233 pp, 84 illustrations. Book and dust jacket are near fine and clean. Near Fine condition.

Attempts to climb Rakaposhi, Mustagh Ata, and visit to the source of the Oxus River.

A scarce book, this is one of the classic mid-twentieth century texts for mountaineers, explorers and adventurers, in which the author treks and climbs including Kashgar, Tashkurghan, Rakaposhi, the Kukuay Glacier, The Fainyor Nallah, Muztagh Ata, Kashgar, the source of the Oxus, Sarhad, Gilgit, and Ishkashim (where the author was arrested!), and others. The book has the noted Tilman qualities, sense of place, descriptive powers, never-failing humor, affection for many kinds of men, and a not too intolerant hate for a few. A unique work by a noted traveler, writer, and raconteur.

From the dust jacket :

When a couple of years ago Mr Tilman left with us a MS. of his book Mount Everest, 1938, he arranged for his own executors to deal with proofs, pictures, maps and index, and went out of civilization. He returned to England some months later. Few of his friends knew what he had been up to. This new book, Two Mountains and a River, now reveals everything.

It appears that he and two Swiss mountaineers went together to the Gilgit region of the Himalaya with the ambitious project of an attack on Rakaposhi (25,550 ft.). Rakaposhi beat them.

After defeat Tilman went on alone to Chinese Turkistan, having an appointment with an old Everest colleague, Mr E. E. Shipton, British Consul at Sinkiang, for a private attempt on the Father of Ice-Mountains which Sven Hedin had four times attempted. They did not reach the summit of their mountain, both got frost-bitten toes, and they had to give up that part of their ambition ; but they did some heavy travelling among strange towns, which provided Tilman with just the travel copy he handles and photographs best.

Finally, Tilman alone took an alternative return route, which included a crossing of the frontier of Afghanistan (for which he had no visa) where he had an anxious and angering setback, being arrested as a spy by strange Afghan officials, and handed on under guard from town to town, until his final release.

The book has the Tilman qualities, sense of place, descriptive powers, never-failing humour, affection for many kinds of men, and a not too intolerant hate for a few. It is risky to say that Tilman reminds one of Borrow, but there is no doubt that this book will maintain his unique reputation as a traveller, writer, and raconteur.

Divided into the following sections :

  • Food and equipment
  • Karachi to Abbottabad
  • The approach march
  • Gilgit - arrival and departure
  • The Jaglot approaches
  • The two ridges
  • The Dainyor Nallah
  • The Kukuay glacier
  • Chalt to Misgar
  • Misgar to Tashkurghan
  • Muztagh Ata
  • To Kashgar
  • Another way home
  • The Oxus source
  • Sarhad to Ishkashim - open arrest
  • Ishkashim - close arrest
  • Destination unknown
  • Faizabad and freedom

Biography from Wikipedia

Major Harold William 'Bill' Tilman, CBE, DSO, MC and Bar (14 February 1898–1977) was a mountaineer and explorer, famous for his Himalayan climbs and sailing voyages.

Tilman was born on 14 February 1898 in Wallasey in Cheshire, the son of a well-to-do sugar merchant and educated at Berkhamsted Boys school. At the age of 18, Tilman joined the British Army and fought in the First World War, including the Battle of the Somme, and was twice awarded the Military Cross for bravery. His climbing career, however, began with his acquaintance with Eric Shipton in Kenya, East Africa, where they were both coffee growers. Beginning with their joint traverse of Mount Kenya in 1929 and their ascents of Kilimanjaro and 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.

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 parachute behind enemy lines to fight with Albanian and Italian partisans, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his efforts, and the keys to the city of Belluno which he helped save from occupation and destruction.

Tilman was involved in two of the 1930s Mount Everest expeditions - participating in the 1935 Reconnaisance Expedition, and reaching 27,200 feet without oxygen as the expedition leader in 1938. After penetrating the Nanda Devi sanctuary with Eric Shipton in 1934, Tilman went on to the first ascent of Nanda Devi with Noel Odell in 1936. During his extensive exploration of the areas of Langtang, Ganesh and Manang in 1949 he 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 cutter Mischief, which he purchased in 1954, and subsequently on his other pilot cutters 'Sea Breeze' and 'Baroque', Tilman voyaged to Arctic and Antarctic waters in search of new and uncharted mountains to climb. Tilman disappeared during a sailing trip to climb Smith Island in the Antarctic in 1977. He had accompanied the youthful Simon Richardson and his crew aboard an old, converted steel tug. They made it successfully and without incident to Rio de Janeiro, but disappeared without trace on their way to the Falkland Islands. Tilman was almost 80 years of age.

He has been described by some as a self-indulgent risk taker impervious to the sensitivities of others; one who had little time for those who didn’t live up to his high standards and expectations; and he was even accused of disliking women. In reality, these labels were grossly inaccurate, for he was in fact a very shy, private man who was self-effacing and hated publicity. He was a deep thinker, an avid reader of the classics, and although he never married, he adored his sister and two nieces with whom he lived when not on some distant shore.

Tilman had a great sense of humour, perhaps too subtle for many of his listeners. It was one of his greatest joys to laugh at himself, and see the funny side of life's little foibles. An example is his 'discovery' of Tilman's Disease, characterized as 'the inability to put one foot before the other'. He wrote seven books about his mountain travels, and eight books on his years sailing to extreme climates. One of the last 'gentleman adventurers', Bill Tilman's stoic and courageous exploits have earned him a place of honour as one of the greatest in the pantheon of explorers.


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