Entity Type:
Tullis, Julie (1939-1986)
Tullis, Julie  (1939-1986)
Julie Tullis was one of the most visible British female mountaineers during the 1980s. At first sight, she appeared to make an unlikely Himalayan mountaineer. Somewhat self effacing and slightly formal she was well into middle age by the time she took up serious mountaineering. This led to dismissive comments by some of her male peers. However, such critics, fooled by the superficial veneer, had underestimated their target. Underneath lay a steely inner strength and gritty determination. She was a black belt in both karate and aikido, and was able to apply the endurance and toughness learnt from martial arts to the mountain arena. Although she was a well known figure in the backwater of the south-east sandstone scene (having worked with husband Terry to develop the Bowles Rocks venue), she was more preoccupied with raising a family and working with disability groups for the first part of her career. She did, nevertheless, ascend the Andean peak of Huascaran in 1978 with double amputee Norman Croucher. However, it was only when the kids had grown up that Tullis really embarked on her high altitude adventures. An invitation from ancient Austrian mountaineering legend Kurt Diemberger to assist with filming on Nanga Parbat in 1982 led to three years of intense activity involving cameras and Himalayan peaks. In 1985 alone they spent 52 days above 20,000 ft. The dangers attendant to such activity made themselves apparent quickly: they were lucky to survive an avalanche on the descent from Broad Peak. Nevertheless their fortunate escape enabled Tullis to claim the record of being the first British woman to climb an 8000er – and, even better, to survive it. She also crammed in a trip as the first British woman to attempt Everest, but it was on the second highest peak n the world, K2, that she lost her life like so many others. Tullis and Diemberger were part of a sizeable international group of climbers trapped on the upper slopes of K2 in 1986 for several days as a prolonged storm engulfed their tents. Tullis eventually succumbed to a probable cerebral oedema, after which Diemberger, the great survivor, managed to battle himself down the mountain, one of only two to survive from the 7 trapped by the storm.
Stand out climbs: Huascaran; Broad Peak (1st British woman to climb an 8000m peak).
Further reading: Clouds from both sides, Julie Tullis.
Biographical information is kindly supplied by Colin Wells.
2006-08-06 00:00:00
Maxine Willett
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Tullis, Julie (1939-1986)
Related Entities:
British University Film and Video Council