Don Whillans Last Climb (1985)

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Don Whillans Last Climb (1985)

Don Whillans (18 May 1933 — 4 August 1985) was an English rock climber and mountaineer. Born and raised in a two-up two-down house in Salford, Lancashire, he climbed with both Joe Brown and Chris Bonington on many new routes, and was considered the technical equal of both. He was an apprentice plumber when he first started his climbing career with Joe Brown in 1951. Don met Joe Brown while climbing one day at the Roaches, Staffordshire. When Joe’s climbing partner failed to follow Joe up a new route, Don shouted up to ask if he could try—and subsequently led the second pitch of Joe’s new route, which became known as Matinee.

Whillans had from an early age walked all around the local Pennine moors; climbing therefore was the next step for an adventurous young boy. From rock climbing he expanded into mountaineering with trips to the Alps. Ascents in the alps included the „Bonatti Pillar“ of the Dru and the first ascent along with Chris Bonington, Jan Długosz and Ian Clough of the Central Pillar of Freney on Mount Blanc. In 1962 with Chris Bonington he made the first ascent of the Central Tower of Paine, Patagonia. With Dougal Haston, he made the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna in Bonington’s 1970 expedition.

Don Whillans was attributed great safety and mountain awareness, as evidenced by the fact that he retreated from the Eiger North Face on several separate occasions owing to bad weather or rockfall. He also had very few climbing accidents although there were several near misses, such as when a fixed rope on the Central Tower of Paine snapped. In this case he managed to put his weight on the holds with split-second timing before calmly retying the rope.

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