‘Only a man in the devil of a hurry would wish to fly to his mountains, forgoing the lingering pleasure and mounting excitement of a slow, arduous approach under his own exertions.’
H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman’s mountain travel philosophy, rooted in Africa and the Himalaya and further developed in his early sailing adventures in the southern hemisphere, was honed to perfection with his discovery of Greenland as the perfect sailing destination. His Arctic voyages in the pilot cutter Mischief proved no less challenging than his earlier southern voyages. The shorter elapsed time made it rather easier to find a crew but the absence of warm tropical passages meant that similar levels of hardship were simply compressed into a shorter timescale.
First published fifty years before political correctness became an accepted rule, Mischief in Greenland is a treasure trove of Tilman’s observational wit. In this account of his first two West Greenland voyages, he pulls no punches with regard to the occasional failings, leaving the reader to seek out and discover the numerous achievements of these voyages. The highlight of the second voyage was the identification, surveying and successful first ascent of Mount Raleigh, first observed on the eastern coast of Baffin Island by the Elizabethan explorer John Davis in 1585. For the many sailors and climbers who have since followed his lead and ventured north into those waters, Tilman provides much practical advice, whether from his own observations or those of Davis and the inimitable Captain Lecky. Tilman’s typical gift of understatement belies his position as one of the greatest explorers and adventurers of the twentieth century.