The Seven Mountain Travel Books

Tilman, H.W.
Year Published: 

"H. W. Tilman has been called ""arguably the best expedition writer and best explorer-mountaineer"" of the 20th century.

· Tilman (on reaching the summit of Nanda Devi): ""I believe we so far forgot ourselves as to shake hands on it.""

· Tilman (after arduous and ultimately unsuccessful attempts on two peaks in Central Asia, and his arrest as a spy): ""as I turned to go down into Chitrail, tired, lousy, and bereft of my diaries, I felt that the year had at any rate been rich in instruction.""

The W. L. Gore Shipton/Tilman Grant is named for Tilman, and his climbing companion, Eric Shipton, but too few Americans are aware of Tilman's remarkable gift for writing. This economically-priced paperbound includes: Snow on the Equator, The Ascent of Nanda Devi, When Men and Mountains Meet, Everest 1938, Two Mountains and a River, China to Chitral and Nepal Himalaya.

An avid collector of Himalayan subject matter, I have also been lucky enough to have wandered around the upper Langtang Valley on several occasions in the last few years. Not only is Tilmans book still accurate in many respects, but it is also highly amusing at the same time. Fact, folklore and quotations are fantastically woven into a single, almost epic tale of discovery. It is, at times, laugh-out-loud funny, and yet one might feel a certain sense of guilt at particular comic moments. Where Tilman describes one of his porters as ""slow in mind and weak in leg, and not, one suspects, long down from his tree"", it is an hilarious turn of phrase, but in our modern standardised and easily-scandalised society one feels the need to look over one's shoulder to make sure the PC police aren't looking.

I would heartily recommend anyone to read the book, particularly if it is available, the Nepal Himalaya single edition, - great, great books for travelling minds (and soles..) so long as you can cope with the mountain of salt required to see some of Tilmans less emphatic points."

5 of 5

Info and links for newer edition (Jan 2004)