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Snow on the Equator

Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro and the great African odyssey

Paperback (216pp)
  • Paperback £12.00
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‘To those who went to the War straight from school and survived it, the problem of what to do afterwards was peculiarly difficult.’

For H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman, the solution lay in Africa: in gold prospecting, mountaineering and a 3,000-mile bicycle ride across the continent. Tilman was one of the greatest adventurers of his time, a pioneering climber and sailor who held exploration above all else. He made first ascents throughout the Himalaya, attempted Mount Everest, and sailed into the Arctic Circle. For Tilman, the goal was always to explore, to see new places, to discover rather than conquer.

First published in 1937, Snow on the Equator chronicles Tilman’s early adventures; his transition from East African coffee planter to famed mountaineer. After World War I, Tilman left for Africa, where he grew coffee, prospected for gold and met Eric Shipton, the two beginning their famed mountaineering partnership, traversing Mount Kenya and climbing Kilimanjaro and Ruwenzori. Tilman eventually left Africa in typically adventurous style via a 3,000-mile solo bicycle ride across the continent—all recounted here in splendidly funny style.

Tilman is one of the greatest of all travel writers. His books are well-informed and keenly observed, concerned with places and people as much as summits and achievements. They are full of humour and anecdotes and are frequently hilarious. He is part of the great British tradition of comic writing and there is nobody else quite like him.

Harold William ‘Bill’ Tilman (1898–1977) was among the greatest
adventurers of his time, a pioneering mountaineer and sailor who
held exploration above all else. Tilman joined the army at seventeen
and was twice awarded the Military Cross for bravery during WWI.
After the war Tilman left for Africa, establishing himself as a coffee
grower. He met Eric Shipton and began their famed mountaineering
partnership, traversing Mount Kenya and climbing Kilimanjaro. Turning
to the Himalaya, Tilman went on two Mount Everest expeditions,
reaching 27,000 feet without oxygen in 1938. In 1936 he made the
first ascent of Nanda Devi—the highest mountain climbed until 1950.
He was the first European to climb in the remote Assam Himalaya,
he delved into Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor and he explored
extensively in Nepal, all the while developing a mountaineering
style characterised by its simplicity and emphasis on exploration.
It was perhaps logical then that Tilman would eventually buy the
pilot cutter Mischief—not with the intention of retiring from travelling,
but to access remote mountains. For twenty-two years Tilman sailed
Mischief and her successors to Patagonia, where he crossed the vast
ice cap, and to Baffin Island to make the first ascent of Mount Raleigh.
He made trips to Greenland, Spitsbergen and the South Shetlands,
before disappearing in the South Atlantic Ocean in 1977.
  • Title: Snow on the Equator
  • Sub-title: Mount Kenya, Kilimanjaro and the great African odyssey
  • Author: H.W. Tilman
  • Imprint: Tilman
  • ISBN: 9781909461147
  • Rights: Worldwide
  • Publication date: 1 September 2015
  • Edition: Second
  • Foreword: Chris Bonington
  • Classification: Climbing and mountaineering (WSZG); Autobiography: general (BGA); Classic travel writing (WTL); Africa (1H); Kenya (1HFGK); Uganda (1HFGU)
  • Size: 216mm x 156mm
  • Extent: 216 pages, black and white text and photographs
  • Cover: Paperback
  • Retail price: £12.00


Also available as an ebook:

  • Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
  • ISBN: 9781909461154
  • Publication Date: 1 September 2015
  • Price: 4.99

Kindle UK

Kindle USA



 'Snow on the Equator, which is more of a travel than a mountaineering book, has a neat style and often delightful humor.'
American Alpine Journal
'Tilman has an engaging, breezy and often characteristically upper-class understated British style, and is frequently very amusing, though the lightness of his style belies his complex character.' 
Gavin Atkin, In the Boat Shed
'If you like reading about real voyaging, adventures and travel you will enjoy this book and Tilman’s humour.'
All At Sea


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