AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Clouds from Both Sides

Clouds from Both Sides, Julie Tullis’ autobiography (with a final chapter by Peter Gillman), takes us through her lifetime of climbing, starting with her meeting Terry Tullis and beginning to rock climb with him. They married, had two children and began a life that included running a climbing area and climbing school in England. Julie also became interested in martial arts, whose physical and mental discipline had a great influence on her. She began teaching it, along with climbing, to handicapped children whose horizons it helped to expand. In 1977, in her first overseas expedition, she helped a legless man to climb Huascarán in Peru. She and Terry had long worked in film, and two years later they were sent to Trento as British representatives to the Mountain Film Festival. Here they met Kurt Diemberger, an outstanding Austrian climber and cameraman of mountain films. That changed her life.

In 1980 she climbed in Yosemite, and two years later went to Nanga Parbat as Diemberger’s assistant to film a French expedition. The expedition had its troubles, but Kurt and Julie climbed high, establishing themselves as an outstanding professional team. In the next years they were hired again and again to make expedition films. In 1983 they were with an Italian party that climbed K2 from the Chinese side. I met Kurt and Julie in Urumchi on their way back, sad that bad weather had stopped them at 26,000 feet and kept them from the summit. Next year they were on K2 again, with a Swiss team, on the Pakistan side. Bad weather stopped the expedition, but afterward Kurt and Julie climbed Broad Peak, an 8000-meter mountain, where they were nearly killed by avalanches during the descent. Next came expeditions to Everest, Nanga Parbat (where again they almost reached the top), and K2 in 1986 to film an Italian expedition. Though Kurt was 53 and Julie 47, they were eager to reach the summit, and on August 4 they did, but at great cost. They had a fall, were forced to bivouac very high and descended in storm. Though they reached their high tents, Julie died during the storm, and afterward Kurt was barely able to stagger down to Base Camp. This book is likely to become a mountaineering classic on the development of an international woman climber.