The Life of Don Whillans
Joint Winner of the Boardman Tasker Prize 2005 A fascinating and thought-provoking biography of a climbing legend.
Don Whillans has an iconic significance for generations of climbers. His epoch-making first ascent of Annapurna's South Face, achieved with Dougal Haston in 1970, remains one of the most impressive climbs ever made – but behind this and all his other formidable achievements lies a tough, recalcitrant reality: the character of the man himself. Whillans carried within himself a sense of personal invincibility, forceful, direct and uncompromising. It gave him sporting superstar status – the flawed heroism of a Best, a McEnroe, an Ali. In his own circle, his image was the working-class hero on the rock-face, laconic and bellicose, ready to go to war with the elements or with any human who crossed his path on a bad day.
“A packed and entertaining book... Exhaustively researched and beautifully written.”
M. John Harrison, Guardian
“Wonderfully crafted... One of the most gifted chroniclers of mountaineering... Perrin records it all with a subtle sympathy, laying bare British mountaineering's most mythologized figure.”
“An extraordinarily rich and unsentimental vision... The genius of this exceptional biography is that it articulates both sides of Whillans' character... It is by turns funny and tragic... This is a fine book. It was worth the wait.”
“Compelling, beautifully written... There could not have been a better writer qualified to tell it.”
Ed Douglas, Climber