Villain: A Portrait of Don Whillans

Villain: A Portrait of Don Whillans

by Jim Perrin
     
 
Brawling, harddrinking, hellmanDon Whillans' reputation was as wide as the Yosemite big walls and as high as the Himalayan peaks he risked his life to scale.

  • Whillans has an iconic significance for generations of climbers
  • His epochmaking first ascent of Annapurna's South Face set a standard to which modern Himalayan climbers aspire
  • Whillans

Overview

Brawling, harddrinking, hellmanDon Whillans' reputation was as wide as the Yosemite big walls and as high as the Himalayan peaks he risked his life to scale.

  • Whillans has an iconic significance for generations of climbers
  • His epochmaking first ascent of Annapurna's South Face set a standard to which modern Himalayan climbers aspire
  • Whillans reputation for toughness led to complete strangers punching him in bars, just to see how he'd take it

At age 20, Whillans was 5ft. 4in. tall, a blue collar guy with the build of a miniature Atlas. Within a year of entering the climbing world in 1950 he had acquired parallel reputations of great skill and daring on the one hand, and as a hellraiser with a savage wit on the otherthe Villain of the title, who was denied a Knighthood because of a violent brawl with several policemen. His world was miles away from the uppercrust environment of the wellheeled climbers who had for so long dominated the sport, and this itself led to tensions throughout his life. Whillans exuded an aura of invincibilityforceful, direct, and uncompromising. And in the climbing world, his image was that of a superstar, with the flawed heroism of a Muhammad Ali. In his own circle, his image was the working class hero on the rockface, laconic and bellicose, ready to go to war with the elements or with any human who crossed his path on a bad day. Unlike many other climbers of his day, Whillans was a regular guy. He wasn't physically impressive and, in his later years, he let himself go seriously to seed. (Elizabeth Hawley didn't believe so fat a man could really be a climber.) He was a very competitive climber, and yet he was also willing to risk his life helping others. While he was, in many ways, the archetypal British climber, he also did important climbs in Europe, the Himalaya, South America and Yosemite. Whillans wasn't an easy man to get to know, but The Villain takes its readers into his world and explores his character as no other book has done.

Author Bio: JIM PERRIN has long been one of the Britain's most acclaimed climbing writers. He is the author of a number of books including, Menlove, the first outright winner of the Boardman Tasker award in 1985 and, most recently, Travels with the Flea...and other eccentric journeys.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780898869866
Publisher:
Mountaineers Books, The
Publication date:
09/28/2005
Pages:
354
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.12(h) x 1.08(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >