Don Whillans has an iconic significance for generations of climbers. His epoch-making first ascent of Annapurna's South Face, achieved with Dougal Haston in 1970, remains one of the most impressive climbs ever made - but behind this and all his other formidable achievements lies a tough, recalcitrant reality: the character of the man himself.
Whillans carried within himself a sense of personal invincibility, forceful, direct and uncompromising. It gave him sporting superstar status - the flawed heroism of a Best, a McEnroe, an Ali. In his own circle, his image was the working-class hero on the rock-face, laconic and bellicose, ready to go to war with the elements or with any human who crossed his path on a bad day.