Remembering Julie Tullis, world’s first female high-altitude mountaineering filmmaker
Julie Tullis

It was on this day, August 7th, 1986, that the climber Juile Tullis suffered her fatal injury in the “Black Summer” of 1986 while descending from the peak of Mount K2 during a storm. He was one of four climbers from different teams who also perished during this time. An audio cassette tape journal that Tullis had made in 1982 was found in 2005, and it was recovered from the glacier that is located below K2.
Julie Tullis was a tough mountaineer and the first female filmmaker to work in the field of high-altitude climbing. Together with Kurt Diemberger, an excellent mountaineer and filmmaker, she formed the “highest film team in the world.” Together, they were responsible for the production of several documentaries that went on to win awards. These films recorded the first trips to the Himalayan peak Nanga Parbat (8126m) that were undertaken by France and Austria in 1982 and 1985. Additionally, Tullis and Diemberger made their first attempt to reach the peak of K2 (8611 meters) in the Himalayas in 1983. They also filmed the Italian ascent of the mountain back then. Even though it was unsuccessful, it cemented Tullis’s love for K2 as her “mountain of mountains.” During the 1984 Swiss expedition to K2, Julie became the first British woman to climb Broad Peak, which is located in the Himalayas and is 8051 meters in height. Kurt and Julie were unsuccessful in their attempt to summit K2 for the second time. She was the first British woman to be requested to climb Everest (8849 meters) by the unclimbed Northeast Ridge in 1985. Her rising notoriety and reputation led to her being invited to climb Everest and she accepted the invitation. Because of the unfavourable weather conditions and the number of people who lost their lives during the Everest trip, Julie had a sense of dissatisfaction and a strong desire to go back. During the dark summer of 1986, Kurt and Julie made two further efforts to climb K2, which resulted in Julie becoming the first British woman to reach the peak on August 4th. Despite this, Julie was unable to descend, and this ultimately proved to be fatal. Even though Tullis has accomplished a great deal and has a big public presence, she has not earned the accolades that her male counterparts have received. This is true for many exceptional female mountaineers. In addition, her autobiography, Clouds From Both Sides, which was published in 1986, has not been acknowledged as a mountaineering classic. Mountaineering is a sport that is influenced by gender, and “for more than two centuries, ideas of what good climbing is, have had the effect of policing who gets to be a climber.” Gender also plays a role in the manner in which heroic and daring exploits are documented, depicted, and published.

Rock climbing was something that Julie Tullis found when she was a teenager. She spent most of her weekends either in the mountains of north Wales or on the sandstone outcrops, which are located on the boundary between Kent and Sussex. Julie Tullis attended Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith until she was seventeen years old.
For the eleven missions that were scheduled to attempt to reach K2, the summer of 1986 turned out to be a dismal one. At the end of July, six climbers had passed away on the peak, despite the fact that several of them had reached the summit. During the first week of August, two more people lost their lives. Diemberger and Tullis were among the individuals who were concurrently attempting to climb the mountain. These individuals were representatives from four different expeditions, and they were still harbouring aspirations of reaching the peak. They, along with a number of other others, including another British citizen named Alan Rouse, were able to climb to the peak of K2 on August 4th. The ascent of K2 by Tullis was the second British ascent; no other British lady had ever climbed to such a height before.

Storms continued to rage for many days. During the night of August 6–7, 1986, Julie Tullis passed away as a result of the effects of high altitude. At Camp 4, she was buried in a crevasse, and a memorial stone was placed on the Gilkey Cairn below her grave.
On August 11, just two of the seven persons who were marooned in the camp managed to escape alive. These two individuals were Kurt Diemberger and Willi Bauer.

Aspirations in mountaineering

Kurt Diemberger, an Austrian climber, was the first person that Tullis met in 1976. By 1980, the two of them were working together on lecture trips. At the beginning of their high-altitude filming career, Diemberger employed Tullis as a technician on an expedition to Nanga Parbat in 1981. This marked the beginning of their career. In the years that followed, it would encompass excursions to the North ridge of K2 as well as the North-East ridge of Mount Everest, which had not yet been climbed. In 1984, Tullis and Diemberger climbed Broad Peak. In 1986, after continuing their employment in the film industry, they embarked on an expedition to climb K2, which ultimately led to their participation in the K2 catastrophe of 1986.

In spite of the fact that Tullis and Diemberger ultimately reached the summit on August 4, 1986, marking Tullis the first British woman to accomplish so, they were tired from spending many days above 8,000 meters, which is also referred to as the death zone. During the descent, Tullis experienced a slip and fall. Although Diemberger’s belay was effective in saving both of them, it is highly probable that Tullis sustained injuries to her brain or internal organs, which began to compromise her eyesight and her ability to coordinate her movements.a citation is required. Upon arriving at Camp IV, they discovered that a storm that had been raging for several days had engulfed them within their tents. After the gas for the stoves ran out, all of the imprisoned climbers lost the capacity to melt snow and make water, which led to their physical and mental deterioration. They were deprived of food, sleep, oxygen, and the ability to produce water. The result of this was that they were susceptible to developing pulmonary or cerebral oedema, both of which would have been deadly in a short amount of time in Tullis’s condition. On the evening of August 6th or 7th, Tullis passed away and was laid to rest on the mountainside. Diemberger and Willi Bauer, who was also there during the incident, had different testimonies regarding the date of his death.


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