After his birth in Ceylon, he grew up in England. In his youth, he already took first mountain tours in the Alps. At the age of 21, he moved to Kenya in 1928, where he earned as coffee growers a living. In 1929 he succeeded in the first ascent of Nelion, a tributary summit of Mount Kenya. In Kenya, he met his future companions rope Bill Tilman and Percy Wyn -Harris, with whom he boarded the doppelgipfligen Mount Kenya. Along with Frank Smythe he defeated on June 21, 1931 Mountain Kamet, his first major Himalayan peaks. With 7816 m was the highest at that time climbed mountain in the world. In the 1930s, Shipton was involved in all British Everest expeditions that you took from the Tibetan side, because Nepal did not let foreigners into the country. The last two pre-war expeditions to the Everest were under his direction.
In the 1940s, Shipton was consul of the United Kingdom in Kashi. This period also saw a climb Muztagh Ata attempt in Central Asia falls. The time of his activity in Kashgar, he used to explore the Central Asian high mountain regions. Later he succeeded in crossing the southern Patagonian Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Sur ).
After the Second World War, he also led the reconnaissance expedition in 1951 on the now opened Nepalese side that climbed the new route via the Khumbutal in Nepal on the highest peak on earth. Now Tibet and the usual north side of Everest were closed due to the Chinese invasion of foreigners. The Shipton expedition, at the Edmund Hillary took part, found the southern approach to Everest through the Khumbu Icefall in the valley of silence, today the " default route ".
Denied, however, remained to him - in favor of John Hunt - directing the successful Everest expedition of 1953: the leaders in London's "Alpine Club" held Shipton now too old and not enough durchsetzungskräftig. Some tried and tested team members of the Everest expeditions would refuse to do under different management than Shiptons further attempts on Everest, but Shipton even campaigned for them to trust for the new expedition leader John Hunt. Under his expedition line then succeeded in the following year 1953 the team Tenzing / Hillary on the route explored by Shipton the proven first ascent.