The Julie Tullis Memorial Award

Posted by Lindsay Griffin on 10/09/2009
Julie Tullis

The BMC is pleased to announce the inauguration of the Julie Tullis Memorial Award, a small grant to assist deserving female mountaineers or any disabled climbers or mountaineers, both male and female, to achieve their climbing or mountaineering ambitions.

Julie Tullis was the first British woman to climb an 8,000m peak, but tragically died after summiting her second 8,000er, K2, in 1986. She was a longtime member of the Sandstone Climbing Club (SCC) and after her death the Club initiated the Julie Tullis Memorial Fund (JTMF) as a permanent memorial to her life and achievements.

By 1991 fund-raising had enabled the SCC to create a small memorial campground at Harrisons Rocks. Thereafter, profits from the campground were added to the JTMF, with the intention that the fund eventually be used to support causes close to Tullis's heart.

In recent years the SCC decided that the fund and campground needed to be put on a permanent basis, and the fund used for its original intended purpose. Both have now been handed over to the BMC for administration.

The grant is most likely to be awarded on an annual basis, all applications being reviewed by the BMC International Committee with input from two representatives of the Sandstone Climbing Club; Sarah Cullen, and Chris Tullis, Julie's son.

Applications for the Julie Tullis Memorial Award can be made via the BMC Expedition Grant form, and should include a short covering note explaining how the project fits the award criteria.

  • The BMC will consider applications from individual British females, or a British female expedition, with an interesting mountaineering goal.
  • Also welcomed are applications from British male or female disabled climbers with a specific climbing or mountaineering goal for the year in question.

Closing dates are 1st November (for expeditions or projects taking place before March the following year) or 1st March (for expeditions or projects planned for the rest of that year).

The completed form and relevant additional material should be returned to the BMC International Committee Secretary, Nick Colton (nick@thebmc.co.uk).

Download the application form


K2. Peter Thompson

K2 with Abruzzi Ridge and Shoulder forming the right skyline. Peter Thompson

Julie Tullis 1939-1986
Julie Tullis was born in Surrey in March 1939, started climbing in 1954 and married Terry Tullis in 1959. The two set up a cafe and climbing equipment shop in Groombridge and ran instructional courses on Southern Sandstone. Amongst the many people that they instructed were groups of disabled children, and it was here that Julie's personality began to emerge.

Through the 1960s and into the '70s life was spent bringing up her two children, organising climbing courses, encouraging able-bodied people as well as those with physical and mental disabilities to expand their horizons, and in any spare time riding and making doll's houses for collectors.

Two chance events during this period would later prove decisive in her career as a high altitude mountaineer. The first was an introduction to martial arts. Tullis would pursue this throughout her life with great passion, becoming a black belt in both Judo and Aikido. Many were convinced that these disciplines added great mental strength and endurance to an already determined woman.

Gasherbrums and Broad Peak seen from K2. Bruce Normand

The second was meeting the legendary Austrian mountaineer Kurt Diemberger. She would later organise his lecture tours in the UK and climb with him in Austria.

In wasn't until her children left school that Tullis felt free to go away climbing for extended periods. Her first expedition, in 1978, took her to Peru with, amongst others, double amputee Norman Croucher. There she climbed Huascaran, her first 'high' peak. A productive trip to Yosemite followed, then in 1982 Diemberger, who was now involved with making films in the high mountains, invited her on an expedition to Nanga Parbat as his assistant and sound recordist. This began a great partnership, which would go on to win several prestigious international film awards.

The next few years involved a whirlwind of intense activity on and around the great Himalayan or Karakoram peaks, climbing and film-making with Diemberger. In 1983 the two accompanied an Italian expedition attempting K2 from the Chinese side. Tullis became the first woman to reach 8,000m on the peak and also explored approaches to the Chinese side of the Gasherbrums. In 1984 it was K2 again, this time with the Swiss, but from Pakistan. During this expedition and at the age of 45, she became the first British woman to climb an 8,000m peak, when with Diemberger she summited Broad Peak.

K2 casts its shadow. Bruce Normand

In 1985 they joined a British team on the North East Ridge of Everest and then during the summer returned for another crack at the Diamir Face of Nanga Parbat. That year she spent 52 days above c6,000m. Towards the end of 1985 and in early '86 she finished her highly readable and inspirational autobiography, Clouds from Both Sides, and made a film about village life in East Nepal before travelling to Pakistan and the ill-fated summer on K2.

On the 4th August she reached the summit via the Abruzzi Ridge shortly after Alan Rouse, these two becoming the first and second British climbers to do so (and Tullis only the third woman ever). Sadly, both would die shortly after, succumbing to altitude while trapped in a prolonged storm on the Shoulder.
 


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1) Anonymous User
20/11/2012
An absolutely inspirational but terribly sad story.

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