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Item #: OP1745B
DON WHILLANS: PORTRAIT OF A MOUNTAINEER. Whillans 1976 Paperback
By Whillans, Don and Alick Ormerod
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London, 1976, reprint. 301 pp, 12 photos. A leading figure in mountaineering in the 1950's-60's, who pioneered routes in Britain, the Alps and Himalaya. Paperback, Near Fine. 
 
This is the climbing autobiography of legendary climber Don Whillans. He had a colorful personality and an uncanny ability to crack hard route difficulties by using inventive moves and excellent, innate good route-finding. He pioneered many classic rock climbs in the UK, many with Joe Brown. He climbed several difficult routes in the Alps including the first ascent of the Frêney Pillar on Mont Blanc, Bonatti Pillar on Petit Dru, West Face of Petit Dru, Blaitière, Walker Spur on Grandes Jorasses, Eiger North Face attempt and rescue of another climber, several severe climbs in the Dolomites, near ascents of Trivor and Masherbrum in the Karakoram, climbs in Yosemite, first ascent of the Central Tower of Paine in Patagonia, Gauri Sankar attempt in the Nepal Himlaya, first ascent of South Face of Annapurna.

After writing this book he continued to climb and was on one of the early attempts (big international expedition) to climb the SW Face of Mount Everest. His climbing partners included Dougal Haston, Joe Brown, Ian Clough, Chris Bonington, Wilfrid Noyce, Dennis Gray, Royal Robbins, etc. Whillans died of a heart attack in 1985. 

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If ever there was a climbing legend, it was Don Whillans in the UK. In the 1950's Don was putting up new routes with Joe Brown, at the cutting edge of British rock climbing at that time. Joe and Don also made several first ascents in the French Alps around Chamonix. As well as having a reputation as a top climber, Don also had a fearsome reputation as a hardman, and did thump quite a few people.
 
As a mountaineer Don was a natural, with an uncanny sense of ability on the mountain. One example was Don finding a new route of descent to abseil whilst affecting a rescue with Bonington on the The North Face of the Eiger, enabling the team to descend more rapidly with their injured party. He was also known for this stoic capabilities whilst on expeditions - often surviving for days on cigar smoke and water alone, and was the first to offer his food to others.
 
When it came to cooking however, Don was also famous for his refusal to carry out such tasks. Don missed out on quite a few big British expeditions in his time, but triumphed on the South Face of Annapurna along with Dougal Haston with a British team led by Chris Bonington in 1970. Don was brought up in Salford, Manchester and died peacefully in his sleep on 4th August 1985, at 52 years old.'
 
Born in Salford in 1933, he is undoubtedly one of Britain's finest mountaineers. The contents of the book say it all : 
1. City Child.
2. Early Climbs. 
3. The Rock and Ice Club.
4. Chamonix. 
5. The Girdle Traverse. 
6. The Alpine Climbing Club.
7. Ben Nevis. 
8. The Red Slab.
9. The Blaitiere.
10. The West Face of the Dru.
11. The Old Man of Storr.
12. The White Slab.
13. The Dolomites. 
14. Masherbrun. 
15. The Bonatti Pillar. 
16. The Petites Jorasses. 
17. The Walker Spur. 
18. The Marmolata. 
19. Trivor - The Unknown Mountain. 
20. The Freney Pillar.
21. Aiguille Poincenot. 
22. North Face of the Eiger.
23. The Towers Of Paine. 
24. Gauri Sankar. 
25, Eiger Direct.
26. The Yosemite Valley. 
27. Towards Everest.  Index.  
 
Whillans kept a series of diaries from 1951 onward, and from these he reconstructs his climbs, with ruthless honesty and his north-country humor. It really does capture the distinctive flavor of climbing and climbers.

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