KENNETH MASON was not only one of the Club’s few remaning Founder Members, he was also the last of the two or three distinguished men who were responsible for the founding of the Club.
Following several years of plans to bring the club into being, it was in October 1927 that Sir Geoffrey Corbett held discussions in Simla which led to the crystallisation of ideas, and on 20 December 1927 he and Kenneth Mason sent out a circular letter addressed to persons in several countries of the world inviting them to become founder members of the new club. The list of names had been carefully compiled and included all those who had to their credit a record of achievement in one or another field of Himalayan activity. The letter aroused an enthusiastic response and the club was formally inaugurated in Delhi on 17 February 1928. Its 127 render Members were “a solid core of men who have done things”.
That the Himalayan Club was built upon solid foundations was largely due to the careful planning and forethought of Geoffrey corbett and Kenneth Mason. It was to become the means whereby those who would otherwise have-hesitated to venture into the Himalaya because of lack of facilities or knowledge or experience could now turn with confidence for advice and guidence to experts eminent and distinguished in their field. The introduction of Himalayan Route-books and their publication was largely Mason’s concept, and the volume on the Western Himalayan and Kashmir was under his authorship.
Kenneth Mason had just then reached what was probably the climax of his active Himalayan years, which began when he in arrived at Karachi in 1909 as a young Royal Engineers officer posted the Survey of India. His early duties included triangulation in Kashmir, where he made the first ascent of Kolahoi with Dr . Earnest Neve in 1912. In 1913, during the course of 3 months’ field work he made a stereographic survey at the junction of the Indian and Russian triangulation stations in the Tagdumbash pamir, fixing the position of several high peaks in the W. Karakoram including Disteghil Sar.
During World War I he served in France and the Middle East, where he was awarded the Military Cross. After the war he returned to India where he continued his survey work. In 1926, he was chosen to undertake an important scientific project, the survey of the bShaksgam valley, for which purpose a photo-theodolite had specially provided by the Royal Geographical Society. He carried out this work during the course of a four months’ journey accompanied by small party including a survey assistant and three gurkhas. The success of his survey was recognised by the award of the Founder’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1927. In 1928 he was appointed Assistant Surveyor-General of India, and in 1929 he became Deputy Director of Surveys.
Volume I of the Himalayan Journal, which appeared under Kenneth Mason’s editorship was a unique publication in its day, when it was practically the sole medium of information in what was then a specialised subject. It contained a note by Corbett on the Club’s founding reports from expedition leaders, and information on a range of subjects carefully collated and coordinated serving equally as an introduction to those unfamiliar with the Himalaya as to its more specialised readership of Himalayan pioneers. Because of Mason’s vast knowledge and experience, the Himalayan Journal under his editorship carried high authority. Not only was it an important source of information, but it encompassed the Himalayan scene in a much wider sense. Kenneth Mason continued as Editor for 13 years, producing Volumes I (1929) to XII (1940) of the Himalayan Journal and this set of pre-war volumes is nowadays regarded as some¬thing of a collector’s item. It is no exaggeration to say that the Journal enhanced enormously the Club’s prestige throughout the world. When publication was resumed in 1948, after a temporary break during World War II, it was not without misgivings that subsequent editors tried to continue the high standards of editorship in the tradition that had been passed down by Mason.
In 1932 Mason returned to England having been elected to the newly-created professorship of Geography in the University of Oxford and to a Fellowship of Hertford College. He was also elected to the Council of the Royal Geographical Society, of which he became a Vice-President in 1937, serving as Deputy President for some months. Later, he was elected to Honorary Fellowship of the Society and he was also an Honorary Member of the Alpine Club, London and the French Alpine Club. During the Second World War he organised the production, with a small staff at Oxford, of Geographical hand-books under the Director of Naval Intelligence.
Not long after his retirement from the professorial chair at Oxford in 1953, he began work on his book Abode of Snow, which was published in 1955. As an historical record of the Himalaya commencing from the earliest surveys to the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953, it is unsurpassed. Written as it were from the inside, Mason himself having been one of the pioneers, it epitomises the work of explorers, mountaineers, and scientists during the period when the Himalaya offered an unlimited and virtually untouched field. The book is extremely valuable as a work of reference, meriting the wide success which it enjoyed.
In his later years, with a variety of careers behind him, he preferred sometimes to be regarded as a soldier sometimes as an academic.
With his prodigious memory and his keen sense of accuracy he was equally at home in both roles. I think that it is as a geographer, and especially as an authority on the Himalaya, that he will be best remembered. It was to him that many turned for an unequivocal rendering of some point that seemed imprecise or confused. He willingly gave of his vast store of knowledge.
I cherish my occasional meetings with him ; as I do his several in enlightening letters, written in a firm and flowing hand even when he was well past his 85th year. He married in 1917 Dorothy Helen Robinson, and had two sons and one daughter. His wife died in 1974.
PROF. G. O. DYHRENFURTH
(From the Mountains of the World, Translated by Varena Bolinder)
UNIVERSITY Professor Dr. G. O. Dyhrenfurth was honorary member of the Austrian Alpine Club. It is the task of the apropriate division of the Club to appraise the endeavours of the deceased as Alpine climber, expedition leader, scientist and author of important publications.
To the chronologist of the Austrian Alpine Club it also may be granted to express some words of remembrance and of praise.
In front of me is lying a voluminous file: it contains the complete series of the Himalayan chronology which G. O. Dyhren-furth had issued. Working myself on a much humbler level as chronologist I can very well measure what exorbitant labour, how much care and painstaking work is behind these publications.It means to ask for expedition reports, to lead extensive correspondence to clear up unclarities, to collect photos and to build up a vast archive and it is not easy to get detailed expedition reports from tired-out expedition leaders. The value of the chroniclework of G. O. Dyhrenfurth not only lies therein that the expedition activities in the Himalaya and the Karakoram have forever been reported by an expert. These reports and comments also got to be a conditio sine qua non of reasonable expedition candidates and many went personally to the Himalaya- Professor in his chalet in Ringgenberg to get important information.
In the service of such prospective illumination G. O. Dyhren- furth wrote conclusive publications as ‘The Seven-thousanders and Eight thousanders’ (Les Alpes 1972) and similar surveys, partly in collabration with Anders Bolinder. Especially important was the listing of still unclimbed mountains in ‘Tips for Himalaya-aspirants’ (Osterreichische Alpenzeitung 1328 and Alpine Journal 306)as well as Above 7000 metres—still unclimbed’ (OAZ 1385). Naturally the standard work ‘The Third Pole’ remains the unique event of publishing about the Himalaya—from the view¬point of expedition climbers. This work was begun in 1949 as manuscript ‘To the Third Pole’. At that time none of the Eight- thousanders had been climbed. This book served magnificently for the climbing and scientific exploring of the Himalaya and the Karakoram.
The explosive development of expedition activities in the mentioned regions galvanized the author to write a new book, with the changed title ‘The Third Pole’. It should, for most of the Eight-thousanders, be the conclusive word, a conclusion of the first ascents of the great mountains of the world (Compare: ‘The Third Pole’ page 9). The Himalaya now are about in the same state of climbing exploration as were the Alps after the first ascents of the independent Four-thousanders and it starts already to get from the ‘Golden Era’ into the era of acrobatic alpinism.
In all his publishing activities the author observed a severe objectivity. “As a chronologist well aware of my responsibility I have honestly endeavoured to say the truth and nothing but the truth, without considering all kinds of sensitivities.” With these words we want to remember the pioneer of the Himalayan publications, the great chronologist of the highest mountains in the world, the great helper and adviser of men who again and again ventured into the Himalaya mountains to place their feet or unclimbed peaks or finding new paths up to them.
DR. A. DJEMBERGER
R. L. HOLDSWORTH
IN spite of an unusually euphonious Christian name usually kept secret he was universally known as ‘Holdie’. I first meet him when I joined Harrow as a master in 1925. He had been a boy at Repton, where he was a pupil of Victor Gollancz, later to be a famous publisher, and had as his Headmaster William Temple, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury. He was also ‘up to’ a master whose tremendous strictness is the explanation of Holdie’s chit-giving proclivities at the Doon School. He joined the army at the earliest possible moment and while still in his teens as a subaltern in the Rifle Brigade saw service in the trenches in World War I. On being demobbed he went upto Magdalen College, Oxford, read ‘Mods’ and ‘Greats’ in three years instead of the usual four and won Blues for Cricket and Soccer. He played rugger for Magdalen. He also ran in the University Relays but was prevented from running in the Half Mile by a clash with soccer. In 1922 he joined the Harrow Staff as master in charge of cricket and in the summer holidays played regularly for Sussex, being a contemporary of Duleepsinhji. I first came into contact with him during the General Strike of 1926 when together we patrolled the streets of Harrow as Special Constables from 2.00 to 6.00 a.m. before going into early school at 7.30. In those days he was an ardent socialist and was considerably teased or his part in breaking the general strike. He shared rooms with James Moir, who once complained that Holdie did not do his share of the household shopping and suggested that bought some toilet paper. Next morning 144 rolls arrived. If summer holidays were devoted to cricket, winter holidays were spent skiing and Easter holidays ski-mountaineering. One winter I accompanied him to the Fluela at Davos and did the same in Parsen -Kublis runs, but I went with the rabbits and Holdie with the experts. To encourage ski-mountaineering he established at Harrow a club called the Marmots and parties of past and present, Harrovians accompanied him on his Easter expeditions, His advocacy of skis as an aid to mountaineering made him a controversial figure in mountaineering circles and prevented him from being selected for an Everest expedition. In 1931 he was invited to join Frank Smythe’s Kamet expedition. It was not his first visit to India for he was born in 1899 at Kotagiri. On the Kamet expedition he performed prodigies in carrying his skis up to Meade’s Col 23,000 ft. probably still a high altitude skiing record and he was the envy of the others when he ‘left them standing on the downward journey. The pipe that he smoked at the top (and claims to have enjoyed) is possibly also a record.He was the botanist of the expedition and the real discoverer Hi- Valley of Flowers. After a brief return to Harrow he i up pointed Principal of Islamia College, Peshawar in 1933. Winter holidays were then divided between captaining the N. W. F. P. at cricket and skiing at Gulmarg. Here he became on a for smoking his pipe while doing a slalom. In the summer , he regularly went off to fish in the Kagan Valley, sometimes crossing into Kashmir. He travelled with a large and almost legendary cavalcade of mules. Once at Islamia College he sat beside a Frontier Khan enjoying a performance of ‘Romeo and Juliet. The Khan much appreciated the performance of Juliet so Holdie told him that it was his, i.e. the Khan’s, own son. The KHAN WAS so horrified that the performance had to be forthwith stopped.
In December 1939 Foot, Jack Gibson and I went to Gulmarg thii Icon boys. The number was unlucky because there was hardly any snow, but we met Holdie and heard that he had parted company with Islamia College. We suggested he should come and look at the Doon School. January found us in camp at Kulhul where Holdie not only acquired his taste for jungle- fowl shooting but also caught his first mahseer, some twenty pounders. It was here that there was a lady to whom he claims he was about to ‘pop the question’. She however made such a row at not having his first mahseer for supper (he wanted to photograph it in daylight next morning) that the idea fell through. A few months later ho arrived from Peshawar on his station wagon with his Mahbub, Shamsher Khan his driver, Khara the Ghilzai dog, and Rosalind a golden retriever. He became Housemaster of Tata House with Nandu as the problem boy of the day. That summer he and I were writing our reports at Deoban when we heard of the fall of France. In spite of this Holdie, Jack Gibson and I went to Swat where he made a first ascent of Mankial. After that Jack went to Chitral and Holdie took me on his customary expedition to Kagan and Kashmir. Was that the occasion when he hooked one of the largest trout ever seen and in trying to get it into a net that was much too small broke the cast ? He was all forgiveness. For two or three summers I fished with him, but as we know he is very thorough in whatever he does. He liked a fishing expedition to consist in five or six weeks fishing without respite. In 1942 we took Nandu, Balram and Ravi Matthai to climb on Arwa glacier which had been visited after Kamet in 1931. Balram contracted pneumonia and we brought him back with difficulty. Holdie and Nandu returned to Ranikhet where Holdie, bearded and uncouth, was arrested as an escaped Italian prisoner. It was in one oi those summers that Foot gave permission to masters who wore Indian dress to dispense with the coat and tie that were then compulsory. Holdie then took to teaching in full Pathan dress, pagree and all and looked every inch a Pathan. The winter holidays were devoted to jungle-fowl shooting with an occasional, tiger shoot. In January 1944 several of us were at Motichur when one of the dogs was suspected of rabies. We all returned, to Dehra Dun for injections except Holdie who, rabies or no rabies, stayed on to finish his shooting programme. He eventually knew more about shooting in the Doon than anyone else in Dehra Dun and his knowledge was later to prove useful to the Wild Life Preservation Society when he became Editor of ‘The Cheetal’. He returned to skiing again after independence as skiing instructor at the Winter Warfare School at Gulmarg.
I seem to be giving the impression that life was all play, even if extremely strenuous play, carried out in a most serious-minded way. He was a single minded and devoted housemaster, as many Tata House, boys will testify, and his devotion continued after his retirement from the house. The qualities of a good housemaster are not less difficult to analyse than those of a good schoolmaster. Holdie has always been extremely popular, in the best sense of the word, but it is absolutely impossible to imagine him doing anything for the sake of popularity. None was ever so full of that courage of his convictions. I have heard parents wonder what was the cause of this popularity. Firstly I would say that it was because he retained all the interest and enthusiasm of a boy, he was keen, with the keenness of a boy, on games and on shikar. At a house feast he invariably gravitated away from the guests to the boys, end of the room. In the second place I would say that he had a certain guileless honesty, that he was incapable of trying to be sarcastic or clever at a boy’s expense. In the classroom with his profusion of quips and his righteous anger with the committers of deadly sins it would almost seem as if he tried to make them enemies; but without success. Many otherwise torpid students must have acquired from him something of the Greek spirit of enquiry. He had moreover a rich if somewhat dry sense of humour: witness the names he invented for his chrysanthemums, the chrysanthemums he always accused my mali of stealing from his garden. One of his most engaging characteristics was his ability to enjoy and even TO TELL a story against himself: an example is the article in Chandbagh I on ‘Mid Terms that went wrong’. I once told him how Goldstein of Aitcheson College fared when he breakfasted with him. Mahbub offered the dish of eggs and bacon first to Holdie who helped himself to the lot and never noticed that his guest got no breakfast at all. Holdie’s reaction was to cap it with a similar faux pas committed by him at Oxford.
On his return Holdie was bed-ridden for some weeks with slipped disc trouble. The surgical specialist gave him three pieces to advice : to keep his bowels open, to use a hard bed, and to have his teeth out. Holdie guaranteed the first, showed his plank his plank bed the second and for the third said that that was easy and promptly displayed his dentures on the palms of his hands. These some dentures I remember creating something of a crisis when they fell on the floor during a rugger match in the ballroom at Gulmarg. This period of being bed-ridden was a sore trial to Holdie, especially as Nusslein the tennis coach, was in the School and some of his best cricketers were being tempted on to the tennis courts while Holdie raged impotently in bed. To top it all the doctors said that he would never be fit to shoot again. He put them in their place by shooting a brown bear and a black bear in Kulu that summer.
I have far only hinted at the greatest love of Holdie’s life cricket. It is hardly possible to exaggerate this. He used to umpire every ball of every match and was most indignant last summer when doctors forbade him umpiring. He was very much of a purist in his love for cricket. He infinitely preferred the beautiful stroke to the one that merely scored runs, and he always wanted his teams to play against he strongest opposition he could raise. Good cricket was much more important than winning mathes. More than one Commandant of the I.M.A. has to face Holdie’s wrath when an unwary cricket officer for some reason or other has attempted to change the date of the fixtures. He shocked he was once returning from a Mayo college match to find that during his absence cricket had been cancelled one afternoon so that boys could see a puppet show! I wish I could reproduce the withering scorn with which he answered anyone who asked him if he had been shooting in February or March. Readers of the Weekly must have enjoyed his accounts of cricket matches. They have had their regular readers even among some who were not connected with the school.To the weekly he was a regular contributor and the editors will find him hard to replace. Not infrequently he wrote in the vein of the Prophet Jeremiah but he was swift to defend the School against what he considered unjustifiable attacks.
He was first class at whatever he set his hand to, teaching English, playing cricket, shooting, fishing. This I take it was partly due to his single minded concentration. By the same token he was strangely oblivious of matters outside the focus of his interest. Mr. Foot once said that if a herd of mad elephants had charged past the field while Holdie was umpiring a cricket match he would not have noticed. I was often astonished in conversation with him to find that he had never heard of even the most prominent characters of Dehra Dun.
An astonishing fact of Holdie’s make-up was dabbling (and that too successfully) in the Stock Exchange. In 1951 he bought his Jeep from his gains.
His great loves were teaching, cricket, shooting, fishing and Alpine flowers—in that order.
J. A. K. M.
R. L. HOLDSWORTH
I first met Holdie skiing in Gulmarg in 1937. I already regarded him as something of a hero as a member of the party that had climbed Kamet, down part of which he had ski’d from 24,000 feet, now over 40 years ago. He at once won my affection and further admiration by taking me down the many fine runs from the summit ridge of Apharwat and those through the forests between Khillan and Gulmarg, and by helping to teach the Doon School boys I had brought up with me to ski.
He was born just in the nineteenth century and was at school at Repton when Victor Gollancz was a master there and comes into the Timothy books. I write from memory and hope I have these details correct. From school Holdie joined the army towards the end of the 1914-18 war, and after service in France went up to Oxford. There he read ‘Greats’ and played, I think for four years running, both soccer and cricket for the University. He also played cricket for Essex and Warwickshire, and the Gentle¬men in the days when they could muster a first class XI.
From Oxford Holdie joined the staff of Harrow where John Martyn was a colleague, and was later appointed Principal of Islamia College, Peshawar. There he eventually quarreled with his Governing Body. Most of them were Muslim League, but a senior member of his staff, a Muslim who belonged to the Congress Party, was accused of some fault of which Holdie was sure he was not guilty, and rather than agree to his dismissal, Holdie resigned. This was about the time of the beginning of the second World War. Holdie tried to join the army, but was over ago. It was then that John Martyn and I, with a party of boys at Gulmarg in 1939-40, persuaded Arthur Foot who was with us, to offer Holdie a housemastership at the Doon School, and John and I persuaded Holdie to accept it.
I shall not attempt to write of Holdie’s time as housemaster to Tata House and then second master to John. I could not do justice to his cricket coaching. I did not know him as a member of his house, and for those who were it is unnecessary to do more than recall the affection he inspired. Nor did I know him as a teacher, though I borrowed his expression ‘deadly sin’ as a mark In the margin of an essay for the misuse of ‘owning to’ and other misdemeanours.
I shall remember Holdie best as a very human companion and rival both on the cricket fields of the Doon School and Mayo college and on numerous fishing and shooting outings. Many old boys of the school will be grateful to him, not only for his instruction and coaching, but even more perhaps for introducing them to the pleasures of a day beside a river, or listening to noises of the jungle as the beaters approach; also for taking them on expeditions in the hills and his infectious love and knowledge of wild flowers, birds and animals.
After retirement Holdie lived in Somerset. There he cultivated charming glade of alpines beside a little stream that tumbled down the hillside through a wood. His other chief interest was watching cricket on T.V. and a third reading the ‘Weekly’.
His sister, who incidentally was also, I believe, known as Holdie before she married, left her grown-up family in Canada to look after him. She too was an enthusiastic and accomplished gardener; and she understood and smiled at his eccentricities. I don’t think she ever found a litter of puppies straw-bedded in his bath as I once did, but she may occasionally have suffered the sort of embarrassment he once caused at the Doon Club when asked how his Dame or Matron, Rosamund was. Mistaking the name for Rosalind, that of his Labrador, he is said to have replied “I’ve had to lock her in my bedroom.”
I am sure that all who loved Holdie will want to send, and on their behalf I do it, an expression of their mutual feeling of loss and their gratitude and good wishes to his sister, Mrs. McQueen, who looked after him in his last days.
ASHOK BAMZAI (1949-1976)
ASHOK BAMZAI WAS EDUCATED AT ST. STEPHEN’S COLLEGE, DELHI, WHERE HE COMBINED AN HONOURS DEGREE IN PHYSICS WITH A MASTER’S PHILOPHY.
At St. Stephen’s, his driving passion was the Hiking Club which he nurtured first as President and then Staff Adviser. Leaving his teaching post at St. Stephen’s in 1975 for the Government, Bammy continued his association with the Hiking Club and, as recently as June, 1976, organised an expedition to Black Peak in Garhwal
He travelled widely in the Himalaya and wrote about his expeditions in the Himalayan Journal. A meticulous organiser, he had built up a vast fund of information and slides on his trips to Ladakh, Kishtwar, Pir Panjal, Kinnaur and Garhwal. He had latterly been busy with several ideas for the Golden Jubilee of the Himalayan Club in 1978.
Bammy was a climber in the classical tradition. He loved the mountains and stood for all that was good in mountaineering. He kept away from publicity arid big budgets and took it upon him-self to share his experience with young enthusiasts.
For the numerous people who knew him, Bammy was a rare human being and a rare friend. His untimely death in a road accident in December, 1976 is a loss which will be felt greatly.
SIR JOHN TYSON
Sir John Tyson KCIE, CSI, CBE, who died on July 1st at the age of 83, had a notable career in the Indian Civil Service.
The son of the Rev. Henry Tyson, some time vicar of Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, he was educated at Aldenham and Magdalen College Oxford. He saw service with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders in France in the first world war. He joined the ICS in 1920 & was chief presidency magistrate of Calcutta in 1926/27. Between 1930 and 1935 he was private secretary to two governors of Bengal, Sir Stanley Jackson and Sir John Anderson (later Lord Waverley) during troubled times—attempts were made on the lives of both Governors. He was secretary to the governor in 1938 and again in 1945/47. From 1940 to 1945 he was Secretary, Government of India, Department of Education, Health and Lands. (He was a former president of the Himalayan Club.)
My brother did no real climbing but took every opportunity to trek when in Darjeeling. He went over the Donkya La and other passes. His interest was in mountain photography. I know he had requests from a firm in Calcutta sending him free film and asking him to take pictures for them demonstrating how well film could cope with the technical problems like high altitude. The film was Dufay colour.
During Kashmir holidays he also trekked over Zoji La and out from Gulnaig to photograph Nanga Parbat.
He made great efforts to meet and assist pre-war Himalayan expeditions to Everest and the German expedition to Kangchen- junga.
In 1930 he married Dorrice, daughter of A.D. Yuill of Durban. They had two daughters. His wife died in 1965.
THOMAS L. TYSON
Joyce Dunsheath became a life member of the Himalayan Club in 1956 and was throughout an enthusiastic supporter of the Club. In recent years she was a regular attender of the Club’s annual reunion in London.
Apart from mountaineering, Joyce was a keen supporter of the Girl Guide movement and was a British Girl Guide Commissioner.
In 1956 she organised the Abinger Himalayan Expedition with three lady companions to the Bara Shigri Glacier. Joyce and another member of the team journeyed to Manali by car which was much more of an adventure in those days than it is now. This expedition and the journey out were subsequently described in her book Mountains and Memsahibs.
Joyce Dunsheath made a notable contribution to women’s mountaineering in India and in 1964 she led the first Indian women’s Himalayan expedition which climbed Mrigthuni, 22,490 feet, which it was felt presented a real challenge without being too difficult technically for a party of women making their first ascent.
Her sudden illness and death were unexpected and our sympathy roes out to her husband Dr. Percy Dunsheath.
V. S. RISOE