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Item #: OP386AB-995
NEPAL HIMALAYA H. W. Tilman 1952 1st UK edition Hardcover DJ Near Fine SIGNED by Charles S. Houston
By Tilman, H. W.
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SIGNED BY CHARLES S. HOUSTON. 


Cambridge, 1952, 1st edition. 272 pp, 61 photos, 7 maps, appendix, index. Three major expeditions; Langtang Himal, Annapurna, and the discovery of the West Cwm of Everest with Charles Houston. [Neate T45.] Original blue cloth hardcover with white lettering on spine. Scare Dust jacket in Near Fine condition, with small chips. 

A rare book about H. W. Tilman's treks and adventures in the almost-inaccessible-to-Westerners land of Nepal. The book is an account of three journeys taken in 1949-50 to Nepal: the first in 1949 to the Langtang Himal; the second in 1950 to the Annapurna Himal; the third (with a bit of luck) with Dr. Charles Houston (once of the Nanda Devi mountaineering party) to the Nepal side of Everest – taken for adventure but also to make a report on the natural history of Langtang Valley. The Appendix, by O. Polunin, lists the birds and plants collected, along with an eighteen-page description of the natural history of the Valley. Tucked into this wet and dry book of travel and climb is the veteran author-traveler-climber, the lover of men and solitudes of all sorts, Tilman with his wit and his allusions, and his crying down of physical feats. A unique work by a noted traveler, writer, and raconteur. 


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 Reconnaissance 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 meters, 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 humor, 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 honor as one of the greatest in the pantheon of explorers.

Charles Snead Houston (August 24, 1913 – September 27, 2009) was an American physician, mountaineer, high-altitude investigator, inventor, author, film-maker, and former Peace Corps administrator. He made two important and celebrated attempts to climb the mountain K2 in the Karakoram Range.


Houston began climbing in the Alps with his big brother where they met T. Graham Brown. He then gained experience on several expeditions to Canada and America making the second ascent of Mount Foraker in 1934, with T. Graham Brown and Chychele Waterston.  In 1936, Houston was a member of the British–American Himalayan Expedition led by the British climber H.W. Tilman to the top of Nanda Devi in India, the highest mountain climbed at that time. In 1938, he was the leader of the first American Karakoram expedition to K2. 


Although he did not reach the summit, his party mapped a route to the top that was later used by the Italian team that first summited the mountain in 1954. In 1950 Houston and Tilman led a trekking expedition to the Khumbu Glacier, just west of Mount Everest. They were the first Westerners to get there (and amongst the first mountaineers to be allowed into Nepal). They examined the Khumbu Icefall to see whether it provided a means of climbing Everest and were the first observers of the higher parts of Everest from Khumbu.


He attempted K2 again in 1953 as part of the Third American Karakoram Expedition. A member of the team, Art Gilkey, became ill (probably with thrombophlebitis) as they approached the summit. The team reversed direction and tried to carry Gilkey down. 


However, he was lost in a disastrous cascade of events precipitated by a fall where upon multiple ropes became entangled, resulting in most of the team sliding out of control roped together down the mountain. When the last roped man, Pete Schoening, was about to be plucked off by the accelerating climbers, he was remarkably able to arrest the fall of all six climbers using an ice axe belay. 'The Belay' was one of the most famous events in mountaineering history.


After the 1953 K2 expedition, Houston (then age 40) never participated on any further technical climbs.


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