Climb every mountain

This is an image familiar to the mountaineering fraternity, but I guess it is less well known to the classic motorcyclist.

The pic shows Chris Bonington (now Sir Chris) on the pillion of Don Whillans’ Triumph Trophy at Hampstead in July 1962.

They were off to climb the Eiger in Switzerland and rode all the way up the footpath to the base of the mountain, crashing spectacularly on the way back down when the brakes failed! 

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More famous than Bonington in those days, Whillans was as hard a man on the rocks as he was on two wheels. Enjoying a modicum of support from Meriden, before this exploit to the Alps Whillans had shipped his ’57 Trophy out to Karachi in May 1960 to join an expedition to the Himalayas.

After about eight weeks climbing, and with only about £45 left in his pocket, he left Rawalpindi in September for the 7000 mile ride home to Manchester.

The first 2000 miles were on dirt roads and, apart from numerous punctures and a broken rear mudguard, the bike seems to have caused no trouble.

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Shortly after getting home on November 4, Don and his wife Audrey were involved in a collision with a lorry; only one of the many times this intrepid adventurer wrote off his many motorcycle mounts and almost killed himself.

Strangely, the man rarely made a mistake in the mountains and always survived the most horrendous situations imaginable!
Mike Powell

Read more Letters, Opinion, News and Views in the December 2018 issue of OBM – on sale now!

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