Bill Tilman

Bill Tilman bigraphy, stories - British explorer

Bill Tilman : biography

14 February 1898 – 1977

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

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 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.


Documentary DVD


  • "H.W. TILMAN" The Life & Times of the Legendary Explorer. Author David Glen. Creative Storytellers, Publishers. ISBN 978-0-9824872-0-4
  • 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 Appendix B on the Yeti)
  • 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)

Partial mountaineering timeline: 1929-1950

  • 1929: Tilman is introduced to rock climbing in the Lake District of 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. Brogdon.
  • 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 Badrinath Range.
  • 1935: Tilman unable to acclimatise on the Mount Everest Reconnaissance Expedition led by Eric Shipton, but climbs various 20,000 ft. peaks in the Everest region.
  • 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 Karakoram.
  • 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 Kurdistan.
  • 1942: He makes a night ascent of Zaghouan, in Tunisia.
  • 1947: Tilman leads an attempt on Rakaposhi which 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 Chitral area 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 Annapurna Expedition, 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.
  • 1955-1956: Together with Jorge Quinteros he performs the first longitudinal crossing of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.