Tim Macartney-Snape

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Tim Macartney-Snape
Personal information
Born (1956-01-05) 5 January 1956 (age 63)
Climbing career
Type of climberMountaineer
Known forCo-founder of Sea to Summit[1]
First ascentsMount Everest via the North Face to Norton Couloir route
Updated on 17 March 2013.

Tim Macartney-Snape AM (born 5 January 1956) is a mountaineer and author. On 3 October 1984 Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer were the first Australians to reach the summit of Mount Everest. They reached the summit, climbing without supplementary oxygen, via a new route on the North Face (North Face to Norton Couloir). In 1990, Macartney-Snape became the first person to walk and climb from sea level to the top of Mount Everest. Macartney-Snape is also the co-founder of the Sea to Summit range of outdoor and adventure gear and accessories,[2] a guide for adventure travel company World Expeditions[3] and a founding director and patron of the World Transformation Movement.[4]

Early years[edit]

He was born in Tanganyika Territory (now Tanzania), where he lived on a farm with his Australian father and Irish mother. In 1967, the family moved to Australia to a farm in north eastern Victoria.[5] He attended Geelong Grammar School and spent a year at the school's outdoor education campus Timbertop.[6] Macartney-Snape studied at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra where he joined the ANU Mountaineering Club (ANUMC) and obtained a BSc.[7]


Australia and New Zealand[edit]

Having rock-climbed all over Australia, his first mountaineering experience was two seasons in New Zealand's Southern Alps.


In 1978, Macartney-Snape travelled to India as part of the ANUMC's expedition to Dunagiri (7,066 m). After prolonged bad weather he and Lincoln Hall radioed to the Expedition Leader, Peter Cocker, that they wanted to make another attempt on East Dunagiri. Cocker, who was alone at the time at Col Camp on Dunagiri, invited them instead to make a final attempt on Dunagiri. If they could force through a route to the Summit Ridge, they could then return to Col Camp and wait for support to make the summit attempt. Maccartney-Snape and Hall agreed, returned to Dunagiri, and then pushed through to the Summit Ridge. The weather cleared, and after they spent a clear but very cold night out without sleeping bags, Macartney-Snape and Hall made an audacious attempt for the summit of Dunagiri. They were successful and the pair then descended through an electrical storm. Maccartney-Snape reached Col Camp at 10.30 p.m.; however, Hall spent another night out on the mountain. During the night, Cocker ascended the fixed ropes to meet him and accompany him back to Col Camp. This was the first major Himalayan summit climbed by an Australian.[5]

Ama Dablam[edit]

In 1981, Macartney-Snape climbed Ama Dablam (6812m) via the north ridge with a small lightweight team. Macartney-Snape reportedly cited this climb as the inspiration for later climbing Everest: "partway up the North ridge of Ama Dablam he looked over and could see Mt Everest and wondered what it might be like to experience the highest point of the world via a new route in good style".[8]

Annapurna II[edit]

In 1983, Macartney-Snape planned and participated in an expedition to Annapurna II (7,937 m) successfully reaching the summit via the first ascent of the south spur. The descent was delayed by a blizzard and the expedition ran out of food during the last five days. They were reported missing and when the expedition eventually returned they received significant publicity.[9]

Mount Everest[edit]

In July 1984, a small Australian team headed to the north side of Mt Everest where they prepared and ascended an unclimbed route on the north face, climbing without bottled oxygen in a lightweight alpine style and without the help of high altitude porters. On 3 October 1984, climbing in cross-country ski boots as substitutes for his high altitude climbing boots that had been lost in an earlier avalanche, Macartney-Snape and Greg Mortimer became the first Australians to climb Mt Everest,[9] an achievement for which they were both awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to mountaineering.[10][11] Mt Everest historian, Walt Unsworth, described it as "one of the greatest climbs ever done on the mountain"[12] and American climber, John Roskelley, said, "the Aussies pulled off the coup of the century".[7] The expedition was sponsored by Channel 9 who produced a television documentary about the expedition.[13]

Gasherbrum IV – second ascent / first ascent of northwest ridge[edit]

In 1986 fellow Australian Greg Child was organising an international team to attempt Gasherbrum IV (7980m). The mountain’s first and only ascent had been in 1957 by an elite team of Italian alpinists, as its sheer faces and rocky ridges had since thwarted many attempts. The climb up the previously-unclimbed north west ridge proved difficult; it was one "that challenged even Macartney-Snape’s legendary strength and endurance at high altitude."[7] Macartney-Snape took a film movie camera on the climb, as he had done on Everest, and the subsequent film, was given the title Harder than Everest.[14] After a night without sleeping bags or stove at just under 8000m Child, Macartney-Snape and American Tom Hargis had finally made the coveted second ascent of Gasherbrum IV.[15]

Everest: Sea to Summit Expedition[edit]

In 1990, Macartney-Snape returned once again to Mt Everest with the idea of climbing the mountain from the sea to the summit. The idea had originally been floated by adventure cameraman, Michael Dillon. With sponsorship provided by Australian Geographic, amongst others, it would take Macartney-Snape three months to achieve this goal.

This was the first time anyone had walked from sea level and reached the top of Mt Everest, as even the first expeditions started from Kathmandu, at 1400m above sea level. While planning the expedition, Macartney-Snape and his then wife, Dr Ann Ward, were living in Meekatharra, Western Australia where she was stationed with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Macartney-Snape trained for the upcoming expedition with demanding runs in the 40 degree heat of the surrounding bush and short, solo climbs on the large boulders around Meekatharra.

The 500 vertical metres from the Bay of Bengal involved a 1200 km walk from the sea, leaving Ganga Sagar on 5 February 1990, walking through India to the Nepalese border. He was joined by Ward, his sister Pip, film-maker Mike Dillon, Nepali cook Tenzing Sherpa and Charles Norwood, who drove a Land Rover with gear for the trek.

Macartney-Snape planned to avoid three large expeditions attempting the South Col route, by climbing Everest via the more difficult West Ridge, then traversing to descend the standard South Col route. He reached nearly 7500m on acclimatisation sorties, but bad weather and a strong avalanche risk changed Macartney-Snape’s plans to ascend via the South Col route. After two preparatory trips through the Khumbu Icefall to the Western Cwm, he left his team on 7 May to attempt the summit solo and without supplemental oxygen, carrying a pack with a tent, food, fuel and a movie camera to the South Col at 8000m. Light-headed and plagued by bouts of diarrhea following the challenging solo climb up the Lhotse Face, Macartney-Snape rested a day before setting out for the summit of Everest at 9.30pm on 10 May in bright moonlight. Climbing solo, weak with nausea and diarrhea and having eaten little in the previous days, it took nearly six hours in –30 C cold for him to ascend from 8,230 m and 8,536 m, nearly falling to his death at midnight when stopping to adjust the movie camera he carried. Then he climbed the South-East Ridge from the South Summit to the true summit.[16] He achieved his second ascent of Everest at about 9.45 am on 11 May, the first to climb from sea to summit. On the summit he unfurled the flag of the Australian Geographic Society, his sponsor, and that of the Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood (now named the World Transformation Movement).[17]

In 1993 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for service to mountaineering and to international relations.[18]

Mt Sarmiento[edit]

In 1995 Macartney-Snape, Stephen Venables, John Roskelley, Jim Wickwire and Charlie Porter attempted a new route on Mt Sarmiento, on the western shores of Tierra del Fuego, where Macartney-Snape, Roskelley and Venables summited via new route up the southwest face of the western summit.[19]


In 2010 Macartney-Snape successfully summited a 6,500m unclimbed peak in remote Eastern Nepal with a team that included four members of the ANUMC Himalayan Expedition of 1978 to Dunagiri.[20]

Association with Jeremy Griffith and the World Transformation Movement[edit]

Macartney-Snape is a founding director and patron of the World Transformation Movement (WTM), formerly known as the Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood (FHA), an organisation dedicated to understanding and ameliorating the human condition. In particular the World Transformation Movement supports the work of Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith.[21]

In 1987 the Australian Geographic Society, founded by businessman Dick Smith, arranged a function at which Macartney-Snape made a speech. Griffith attended the function and met with Macartney-Snape. Several months later they met again where Griffith discussed his ideas with Macartney-Snape and gave him a draft copy of his first book Free: The End of the Human Condition. Macartney-Snape said that the explanation given in the book for human nature "made total sense". Macartney-Snape subsequently became involved in the World Transformation Movement and in 1990 on Everest’s summit filmed himself saying "It is time to climb the mountains of the mind". When Griffith published Beyond the Human Condition in 1991 it featured a foreword written by Macartney-Snape.[22]

Defamation case[edit]

In 1995 an Australian Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners program was broadcast and a feature article was published in The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper concerning Macartney-Snape, Griffith and the World Transformation Movement. In 2003 and 2005 respectively the publications were found by NSW Supreme Court juries to be defamatory of Macartney-Snape, Griffith and the World Transformation Movement. In 2008 Macartney-Snape was awarded almost $500,000 plus costs for the loss and damage caused by the broadcast, with the total payout expected to exceed $1 million.[23] Macartney-Snape said "Thirteen years later the truth has caught up with the lie".[24] In 2009 The Sydney Morning Herald published an apology for the harm caused by the article.[25]




  • Being Outside: A comprehensive manual for all who want to enjoy the outdoors Terrey Hills, N.S.W. : Australian Geographic, 1993. ISBN
  • Mountain adventurer Milton, Qld. : Jacaranda Press, 1992. ISBN
  • Everest from sea to summit Terrey Hills, N.S.W. : Australian Geographic, 1992. ISBN


  • Everest: The Australian Challenge: The First Australian Mt Everest Expedition's ascent of the great Couloir Route Autumn 1984 Channel 9. 1984.
  • Harder than Everest: Gasherbrum IV Film Australia. 1987.
  • Everest: from Sea to Summit Australian Geographic. 1992.
  • The Australian Alps - Mirka's Palace of Dreams Kestrel Film Productions. 1986.


  1. ^ http://www.seatosummit.com.au/company/started/
  2. ^ http://www.saxton.com.au/default.asp?sd8=113
  3. ^ www.worldexpeditions.com
  4. ^ "World Transformation Movement". Archived from the original on 7 January 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b Macartney-Snape, Tim, Being Outside, Australian Geographic 1993. ISBN 978-1-86276-011-0.
  6. ^ Find me a mountain: Timbertop and the Victorian high country Simon Leslie, Stuart Walker and Tim Macartney-Snape. 1993 Geelong Grammar School ISBN 978-0-947232-01-6
  7. ^ a b c Will Steffen. "Himalayan Dreaming: Australian mountaineering in the great ranges of Asia, 1922–1990". ANU epress. Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  8. ^ Alpinist magazine Issue 27
  9. ^ a b Hall, Lincoln, White limbo: The first Australian Climb of Mt. Everest Random House Australia 1985 ISBN 978-1-74166-864-3
  10. ^ a b "MACARTNEY-SNAPE, Timothy John - Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 26 January 1987.
  11. ^ "MORTIMER, Gregory - Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 26 January 1987.
  12. ^ Unsworth, Walt, Everest: the Mountaineering History 3rd Ed, Mountaineers Books 2000 ISBN 978-0-89886-670-4
  13. ^ Everest: The Australian Challenge: The First Australian Mt Everest Expedition's ascent of the great Couloir Route Autumn 1984 Channel 9. 1984.
  14. ^ Film Australia 1987
  15. ^ Child, Greg, Thin Air: Encounters in the Himalaya Mountaineers Books, Seattle, WA, USA. 1988 ISBN 1-85260-045-4, ISBN 978-1-85260-045-7
  16. ^ http://epress.anu.edu.au/apps/bookworm/view/Himalayan+Dreaming:+Australian+mountaineering+in+the+great+ranges+of+Asia,+1922%E2%80%931990/721/ch29.xhtml[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Everest: From Sea to Summit. Australian Geographic. 1991. ISBN 978-1-86276-009-7.
  18. ^ a b "MACARTNEY-SNAPE, Timothy John - Member of the Order of Australia (AM)". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 26 January 1993.
  19. ^ Wickwire, Jim and Bullitt, Dorothy, Addicted to Danger Simon & Schuster 1999. ISBN 978-0-671-01991-4
  20. ^ "American Alpine Journal". Archived from the original on 26 August 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  21. ^ "World Transformation Movement". Archived from the original on 7 January 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  22. ^ Griffith, Jeremy, Beyond the Human Condition WTM Publishing 1990 ISBN 0-646-03994-6.
  23. ^ Wilson, Lauren (2 August 2008). "ABC to pay climber $448,500 in damages". The Australian. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
  24. ^ The Australian newspaper article 1 August 2008
  25. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald 6 June 2009
  26. ^ "MACARTNEY-SNAPE, Timothy John - Australian Sports Medal". It's an Honour. Australian Government. 14 November 2000.

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