Guy Bullock

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File:1921 Everest Guy Bullock.jpg
Guy Bullock on the 1921 Everest reconnaissance expedition

Guy Henry Bullock (23 July 1887 – 1956) was a British diplomat who is best known for his participation in the 1921 British Mount Everest reconnaissance expedition. As expedition mountaineers, he and George Mallory found a northern access route to Everest by climbing the 6,849-metre (22,470 ft) Lhakpa La col above the East Rongbuk Glacier and by going on to reach the North Col at 7,020 metres (23,030 ft). They did not, however, reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Early years

Guy Bullock was born on 23 July 1887 in Beijing, the son of Thomas Lowndes Bullock, a member of the Radwinter branch of the Bullock family, and Florence Louisa Elizabeth Horton. Thomas Bullock was Professor of Chinese at Oxford University in 1899, and British Consul to China.[1] Guy had an older sister.[2]

Bullock was educated at Winchester College, where he was a member of the school's Ice Club along with Mallory who was his climbing partner.[3] In 1905, he joined Mallory and the Winchester schoolmaster Graham Irving in the Pennine Alps where they reached the summit of the 4,356-metre (14,291 ft) Dent Blanche.[4][5]:155 In 1906, he played cricket for Winchester against Eton College.[6]

Bullock was elected to the Alpine Club in 1909 at the early age of 22.[5]:155 In 1916 he married an American, Laura Alice McGlois (Alice).[2][5]:203

Diplomatic career

Bullock had a 34-year career in the British Consular Service starting in 1913 when his first posting was to New Orleans to deal with British refugees from the Mexican Revolution.[3][5]:155 In 1914 he was sent to Fernando Pó where he organised operations against the German Cameroons in the run-up to World War I. By 1916 he was in Marseille and moved on to Lima in 1917.[5]:155–156 In 1922 he was posted to Le Havre, followed by Zagreb in 1926 and also to Addis Ababa.[5]:458[7] In 1935 he became British consul in Lyons.[8] While posted to Ecuador (1938–1941), he climbed Cotopaxi and became the first person to take photographs of the crater.[9] In 1944 he became Consul-General for French Equatorial Africa.[10]

After World war II an SS Black Book was discovered of over 2,000 Britons to be arrested after the war. A "Harry Bullock" was included, thought to possibly be a mistake for Guy Henry Bullock.[11] He died in 1956 and was survived his widow.[5]:279

1921 Everest reconnaissance expedition

The back row shows (from left to right) Guy Bullock, Henry Morshead, Oliver Wheeler and George Mallory

Shortly before the 1921 Everest expedition was due to embark, one of the climbing team was asked to drop out and Mallory suggested Bullock as a replacement. He wrote to Sir Francis Younghusband, president of the Royal Geographical Society, that Bullock was "a scholar and a very good runner, the best long distance runner that anyone remembered in my time ... I feel that he would be a valuable man in the party".[5]:155

The Foreign Office rejected Younghusband's request to grant leave to Bullock, who was in Lima at the time, to join the expedition but he gained a special dispensation from the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, so he could have leave on half pay until the end of 1921 but with no chance of this being renewed.[3][5]:156 Bullock and his wife sailed for Bombay on the SS Naldera, arriving on 30 April 1921.[5]:204

The expedition had a climbing team of four but, of the two most experienced members, one died doing the march-in and the other was taken ill. This left only two main climbers, Mallory and Bullock himself. Exploring from the north, they thought that the route from the North Col to the summit looked feasible but that there seemed no good route up to the North Col from where they were, to the west. He and Mallory reached a pass from where they were the first to see the Western Cwm in Nepal.[12]:6–24 Later Bullock, on a one-man expedition, reached the Lho La pass from which he photographed the Khumbu Icefall for the first time.[5][12]:26

To find out whether the North Col could be reached from the east, the whole expedition decamped to the Kharta region, hoping that the Kharta Chu river and valley would reach up to the North Col from the east. This approach led them to discover the Lhakpa La, where they found there was an intervening valley, the East Rongbuk Glacier. At the same time as they were discovering this, they received a message from the expedition's surveyor, Oliver Wheeler, to say that he had found the entrance to this same glacier at a point they had reached previously on their northern exploration – unfortunately they had failed to recognise its significance at the time. Without the time to return to the north after the monsoon, Bullock, Mallory and Wheeler traversed the Lhakpa La, descended to the East Rongbuk Glacier, and climbed to the North Col. At this point they were unable to go further and so had to return, which they safely did.[5][12]:27–35[13] Bullock was reunited with his wife at Lachen in the Teesta valley in Sikkim on 8 October and they eventually sailed home from Bombay.[5]:364–365

Unlike Mallory who could be moody and forgetful, Bullock was a well-organised person, able to get on well with almost everybody.[14]:43–69 He was steady and cheerful, and so was a very good companion for Mallory, the better climber.[15]:81–82 In 1961 Graham Irving considered that Bullock had never received his fair share of the credit for the success of the expedition.[14]:52

Bullock's diary of the expedition was published in 1962 in the Alpine Journal.[16] Bullock had previously declined to lend the diary to Mallory who had been wanting to make use of it for his lectures after the expedition.[5]:460

Jeffrey Archer's 2009 novel Paths of Glory contains a major character "Guy Bullock" (as well as a "George Mallory"). However, the book states: "This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously".[17] This statement is to be relied upon.[18]


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  4. Firstbrook, Peter (5 December 1999). "Lost on Everest: Chapter 1". Book extract. New York: New York Times. Retrieved 12 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 Davis, Wade (2012). Into the silence: the Great War, Mallory and the conquest of Everest. London: Vintage. ISBN 978-0099563839. Retrieved 17 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Cricket Archives".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  8. "London Gazette" (PDF). 29 January 1935. p. 693.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Explorers conquer Cotopaxi Volcano". Spokesman Review. 16 June 1938. Retrieved 17 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Kirkpatrick, Helen (25 June 1941). "British Bank on Youth in Key Positions" (PDF). Syracuse Herald. p. 9. Retrieved 17 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  11. "If Britain had been conquered. 2,300 names on Nazi Black List". Evening Telegraph. British Newspaper Archive. 14 September 1945. p. 8. Retrieved 26 June 2014. (Subscription required (help)).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Murray, W. H. (1953). The Story of Everest. J. M. Dent & Sons.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Shipton, Eric (1955). Men Against Everest. Prentice Hall. pp. 33–35.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 Blakeney, T. S. (1971). "The first steps towards Mount Everest T" (PDF). Alpine Journal. Retrieved 17 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Holzel, Tom; Salkeld, Audrey (1999). The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine. London: Pimlico. ISBN 0712664882.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Bullock, G. H. (1962). "Everest Expedition, 1921. Diaries of G. H. Bullock (Part I)" (PDF). Alpine Journal. 304: 130–149. Retrieved 18 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
    Bullock, G. H. (1962). "Everest Expedition, 1921. Diaries of G. H. Bullock (Part II)" (PDF). Alpine Journal. 305: 291–309. Retrieved 18 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Archer, Jeffrey (2009). Paths of Glory (PDF). Macmillan. p. 6. ISBN 978-0230531437.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Sexton, David (25 March 2009). "Book review: Paths of Glory, by Jeffrey Archer". Scotsman. Retrieved 17 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>