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Bill Tilman was lost at sea in 1977 en route to an unclimbed peak on a remote Antarctic Island. It was a typical adventure for the sailor and mountaineer who’d already explored many of the world’s mountainous regions.

Bill Tilman January Bill Tiliman photo courtesy Sandy Lee small

Bill Tilman (photo courtesy Sandy Lee)

As a 16 year old he lied about his age to join the fight during WWI. He led expeditions to Everest and climbed Nada Devi, then the highest mountain ever conquered. Many years of Himalayan exploration followed before he was dropped behind enemy lines to fight with the Albanian and Italian Partisans in WWII. He was back to the great ranges of central Asia once fighting ceased before leaving high altitude exploration behind.

Bill Tilman January On board Sea Breeze small

On board Sea Breeze

In 1954 Tilman bought 'Sea Breeze', a beautiful wooden gaff-rigged classic. For over 20 years he sailed to the rudest, iron-bound coasts seeking unclimbed, tide-washed mountains. Antarctic islands, Patagonian fiords and Greenland glaciers became the backdrop to a unique series of adventures that sometimes included Australian and New Zealand crew.

Bill Tilman January Sea Breeze beset in the ice photo courtesy Iain Dillon small

Sea Breeze beset in the ice 1970 (photo courtesy Iain Dillon)

A number of his fellow adventurers tell Spectrum’s Nick Atkinson about a heroic figure tempered by battle while seeking beauty, adventure and the solace of a remote mountain range on the other side of a wide ocean.