Himalayan Journal vol.02
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.02

Publication year:
1930

Editor:
Kenneth Mason
Index
  1. EXPLORATION AND CLIMBING IN THE SIKKIM HIMALAYA
    (LIEUT.-COL. H. W. TOBIN)
  2. THE GERMAN ATTACK ON KANGCHENJUNGA, 1929
    (PAUL BAUER.*)
  3. THE GEM-STONES OF THE HIMALAYA
    (DR. A. M. HERON.)
  4. BIRD NOTES OF A JOURNEY TO GYANTSE
    (L. R. FAWCUS)
  5. THE SHYOK FLOOD, 1929
    (J. P. GUNN)
  6. THE KAGAN VALLEY
    (LIEUT. J. B. P. ANGWIN.)
  7. SONAMARG AS A CLIMBING CENTRE.
    (DR. E. F. NEVE.)
  8. ISTOR-O-NAL AND SOME CHITRALI SUPERSTITIONS
    (LIEUT. D. M. BURN.)
  9. IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE GERARDS
    (W. E. BUCHANAN)
  10. ROUND THE KANAWAR KAILAS
    (H. M. GLOVER.)
  11. THE MAZENO PASS
    (Captain J. BARRON.)
  12. NINE DAYS' SPORT ON THE PAMIRS
    (Captain A. A. RUSSELL.)
  13. THE MUZ-ART PASS IN THE CENTRAL TIEN-SHAN
    (LIEUT.-COL. REGINALD SCHOMBERG.)
  14. EXPEDITIONS
  15. IN MEMORIAM
  16. NOTES
  17. REVIEWS
  18. CORRESPONDENCE
  19. CLUB PROCEEDINGS.
  20. CLUB NOTICES
  21. LIBRARY NOTICES

EXPLORATION AND CLIMBING IN THE SIKKIM HIMALAYA

LIEUT.-COL. H. W. TOBIN

KANGCHENJUNGA

KANGCHENJUNGA



IN the records of exploration and climbing in the Sikkim Himalaya three names stand pre-eminent. They are those of Sir Joseph Hooker, the great botanist explorer of the middle of last century, Mr. Douglas Freshfield, the distinguished Alpine and Caucasian climber, and the late Dr. A. M. Kellas, who conquered a number of peaks in the eastern Himalaya, and has left a record second to none.

To Hooker we owe a great debt for having opened up Sikkim as an unsurpassed field for both climbers and naturalists, for he spent most of the years 1848 and 1849 among its wonderful mountains and valleys, of which he has left us vivid pictures in his Himalayan Journals. Despite political and transportation difficulties, which were far greater eighty years ago than they are now, he blazed trails across Sikkim, which have been followed by his successors of several generations. Starting up the Tambur river in eastern Nepal he visited the Walung and Yangma passes which lead into Tibet a few miles north of Mount Nango.[1] Passing south of that peak and its unnamed sister, through Kangbachen and down across the Yalung, he crossed the Singalila ridge and visited the Pamionchi, Sangachelling and Tashiding monasteries. In the following January (1849) he ascended the Eathong and reached Dzongri, but snow prevented further progress. In April he went up the Tista to Lachen and made several attempts on Takcham.* From Takcham Hooker made his way up the right bank of the Poki Chu (which he called the Thlonak Chu), bridging it near its junction with the Tumrachen Chu. From there he tried repeatedly to reach the Zemu glacier, but failing to do so, he turned to the Lachen and Lachung valleys, which he explored thoroughly, making unsuccessful attempts on Kangchenjau and the Dongkya peak (Pauhunri). North of the Cholamo lake he ascended Bhomtso and returned to the Lachung valley by the Dongkya La, 18,130 feet.

While on their way back to Darjeeling, Hooker and his companion, Dr. Campbell, Superintendent of Darjeeling, were seized and detained as prisoners at Tumlong, under the orders of Namgay, the powerful prime minister of Sikkim, and it was only after protracted negotiations that the explorers were released. As retribution for this outrage, the portion of Sikkim south of the Great Eangit, including the Terai from the Mechi to the Tista, now covered by valuable tea-gardens, was annexed by the British Government. This district had been conquered and annexed by the Nepalese, but after the Gurkha war of 1817, it had been restored to the Sikkim Raja, who in the same year ceded to us the hill-station of Darjeeling.

Hooker's small-scale sketch-map of Sikkim remained untouched until Carter, a sapper subaltern, added to it by his reconnaissance survey between Darjeeling and Tumlong, which was executed during the march of Colonel Gawler's force in 1861. The survey of Sikkim was not again resumed until 1878, when Captain H. J. Harman, r.e., of the Survey of India, penetrated several of the outlying valleys. Harman attempted to reach the monastery of Tulung, but he was forced to return from its vicinity by the hostility of the people. He made several journeys in Sikkim, which undermined his health, and in 1881, when attempting to reach the base of Kangchenjunga, he was forced to give up and take sick leave. The survey was continued under Colonel H. C. B. Tanner, who was, I believe, responsible for the survey training of the three " Pandits," S.C.D., U.G., and R.N. Tanner himself undertook the triangulation, while his assistant, Robert, with the " pandits," carried out and completed the topography.

* Takcham is the Lepcha name. Hooker spelt it Tukcham. The Survey of India name is Lamgebo; Freshfield calls it Lama Anden.

I am unable to place or trace Hooker's Bhomtso peak. Perhaps his guide pointed out the Bam Tso, the lake extending from Guru to north-east of Dochen on the Phari-Gyantse road, which might easily be visible from just north of the Cholamo lake. (There is also a small lake called " Bam Tso " about 3 miles north of Cholamo; it seems more likely that Hooker ascended a peak near this point.-Ed.)

It was in 1879 that Babu Sarat Chandra Das-well known in the Survey of India records as S.C.D., or " the Babu,"-crossed the Rathong to the Kang La, whence he travelled up the vale of Kang- bachen to the Jonsong or Chatang La, and over the Chorten Nima La to Tashi Lhunpo. Again, in 1881, he traversed the Nango La, north of Kangbachen, proceeding thence to Lhasa. In 1883 Lama Ugven Gyatso, of Pamionchi monastery, a schoolmaster of Darjeeling (U. G., or " the Lama " of the Survey records), travelled by the Tista and Lachung routes and over the Dongkya La, whence he also reached Lhasa, sketching a different route. In the winter of the same year, from October to December, the survey of the accessible parts of Sikkim was completed by Robert and his assistant, Rinzin Namgyal.[2] Robert reached the northern frontiers of Sikkim and explored the Zemu valley, while Rinzin Namgyal explored the Talung valley and fixed the Tulung monastery. In October 1884 the latter crossed the Kang La into Nepal, explored the Yalung glacier and followed in Sarat Chandra Das' footsteps to the Jonsong La. Thence he descended the " Zemu Cliu "-in reality the Lhonak or Langpo Chu-to its junction with the Lachen valley, and returned to Darjeeling on 31st January 1885. Later in the year he traversed the south-east of Sikkim to Bhutan, where he carried out further valuable explorations.!

In 1883 Mr. W. W. Graham made the first big ascents in Sikkim, details of which are given later. Between 1888 and 1896, Major Waddell made several journeys, including one to the Yalung via the Singalila spur. Though he added little to our topographical knowledge, his contributions to the discussion on Graham's claim to have climbed Kabru and his fascinating bits of Sikkim folk-lore are of interest. He was accompanied on his travels by the well- known " pandit " Kinthup.

Between 1889 and 1902, the late Mr. Claude White, Political Officer in Sikkim, made some explorations of value, but unfortunately he gives very scant details in his Sikkim and Bhutan. During the rainy season of 1890 he crossed the Guicha La and descended the Talung to the Tista. This was the first investigation of the gorges between the Pandim, and Simvu groups. Intending to open up the little-known Zemu glacier, White, again during the rainy season, with the German photographer Hoffmann, crossed the Tista at Sanklan Sanpo near Singhik on his way to the Tulung monastery. His route took him up the Bingbi, or Rindiang Chu, and over the Yeumtso La to the Poki Chu, on which he halted a short distance below the snout of the Zemu glacier. He ascended the glacier to about 17,500 feet, but was forced by bad weather to return to the Poki Chu, whence he made his way across the Tangchang La and the The La into Lhonak. There he unfortunately ran into the Dzongpon of Kampa Dzong, who claimed that the The La was the proper frontier of Sikkim and Tibet, and demanded his return. A compromise was agreed upon, whereby White turned eastward across the Lungnak La to Tangu. However, in 1902, when on the Sikkim-Tibet Boundary mission, White was able to go further afield in Lhonak. On this occasion he crossed the Lungnak La in the opposite direction, to the Langpo or Lhonak Chu, and ascended the Chorten Nima La.[3] It may be of interest to note here that with the exception of the Chorten Nima La, the Naku La, and Kellas' " Sentinel Peak," the range north of Lhonak is still virgin ground.

In 1899 Mr. Douglas Freshfield, accompanied by Professor Garwood, the brothers Sella, and Rinzin Namgyal, made the " high level tour," so ably narrated in Bound Kangchenjunga. This remains quite the most valuable exploration ever carried out in the Sikkim Himalaya. Leaving Darjeeling on 5th September, they ascended the Poki Chu by its left bank and crossed to the right bank of the Zemu glacier close to its snout. On the 20th they recrossed to the north side and camped a little above 15,000 feet just east of " Green Lake." Freshfield's plans were to ascend the glacier and establish a camp whence he could climb some convenient and accessible peak of about 20,000 or 21,000 feet, from which the practicability of the Nepal gap (21,000 feet) and of the northern approaches to the Zemu gap (19,300 feet) could be determined. Unfortunately abnormal weather set in and a two-days' storm upset his plan of campaign by lowering the snow-level on the mountains by over 4000 feet, i.e., from 18,000 to 14,000 feet. He therefore decided to cross into Lhonak by White's route of 1891 and thence attack the Jonsong La in order to examine the Kangchenjunga group from its northern and western approaches. Leaving the Poki Chu on 28th September they reached Lhonak on 1st October. Most of the party had suffered from the bad weather, and it was with difficulty, owing to new snow, that they crossed the Jonsong La, 20,348 feet, on 6th October.[4] The descent thence by the Kangchen glacier was arduous for the first three days, but once Pangperma was passed, the going was easy, and the hamlet of Kang-bachen was reached on 10th October. In Freshfield's vivid description of the Kangchenjunga group from this side, he makes special reference to the glacier which joins the Kangchen opposite Pangperma. He writes : "It has its origin in a snow plateau, or rather terrace, lying under the highest peak at an elevation of some 27,000 feet, that is, only 1200 feet below the summit : this glacier affords what in my opinion is the only direct route to Kangchenjunga which is not impracticable." Chapter IX of Freshfield's book, from which the above is quoted, deals at some length with this aspect of the mountain and certainly carries conviction.f From Kangbachen the party passed through the small village of Khunza, crossed the Senon La (Chunjerma) and the upper Yalung valley past Tseram, or Kamser, and ascended the Kang La. Proceeding thence to Dzongri, they visited the Guicha La and Alukthang. Garwood's map which accompanies Round Kangchenjunga is a very useful and wonderfully accurate production. Freshfield hardly seems to appreciate properly the Sherpa and Bhutia porter, but it must be remembered that he wrote in " pre-Everest " days. His book is an all-essential study for mountaineers in the Sikkim Himalaya.

Little Kabru, Kabru, The dome, and the Forked Peak, from Kabur.( Photo. N.A. Tombazi.)

Little Kabru, Kabru, The dome, and the Forked Peak, from Kabur.( Photo. N.A. Tombazi.)



In 1920 the late Mr. Harold Raeburn carried out two tours south of Kangchenjunga. The objects of the first, in July and August, on which he was accompanied by myself, were the examination of the south-east outliers of Kangchenjunga, the investigation of possible routes up its south-east face,* and the complete traverse of the Talung glacier .f Leaving the usual forest track to Dzongri, some four miles beyond Yoksam, we traversed the western spurs of Jubonu to Alukthang, and the Guicha La was crossed two days later. Descending to the Talung glacier, the Tongshyong glacier was examined with a view to attaining the Zemu gap at its head, but the narrow entrance and the mountain sides were raked by such a continuous hail of rocks and debris that an approach by this route would have been little short of suicidal. The next eight days were spent in forcing the gorges of the Talung, down to the Tista below Singhik.

Immediately after his return from the Talung glacier, Eaeburn, with Mr. C. G. Crawford as companion, set out via the Singalila ridge for the Yalung glacier, only once before visited, by Guillarmod's ill- fated party in 1905 (see below). From Gamothang and Bogta they crossed the Semo La to the Kangra Lama, which they followed to its junction with the Yalung below Tseram. Working their way up the Yalung glacier, they established on 26th September a camp at 16,500 feet, just south of a great spur which runs westward from the Talung peak. From 19,000 feet on this spur they examined the south-west face of Kangchenjunga and the Talung saddle, both of which looked unpromising. Further reconnaissance took them across a branch of a glacier flowing westward from the Talung saddle and up to a camp at 20,000 feet, below the great snow-slope which has at its upper end the sickle-shaped rock, so distinctly to be seen from Darjeeling. On 1st October they ascended another thousand feet, but realized that their resources in skilled climbers, porters and food were inadequate for further serious attempts. From here, says Eaeburn, " the Talung saddle looked vicious in the extreme, defended everywhere by overhanging masses of ice." They found that steep rock at 21,000 feet was a good deal less exhausting to climb than hard steep snow. Descending to upper Tseram they then set out on a preconceived project of finding a direct route from the Yalung to the Eathong. Starting at 3-30 in the morning, they were by dawn on the high central moraine of a glacier flowing north-west from the Eathong pass, just south of Little Kabru. The route proved less difficult than expected, and before noon they reached the top of the pass. On the descent to the Eathong, they passed the foot of the great Kabru glacier, which Eubenson and Monrad Aas had ascended in 1908, and which Eaeburn described as " really almost one stupendous ice-fall and nearly 8000 feet high." Soft snow made the going arduous, but by dusk they had reached grass. Next morning they crossed a col of some 14,500 feet, below and south-west of Kabur, and on the third day from Tseram they arrived at Pamionchi a few hours ahead of their porters who had gone via the Chunbab La.*

The Forked Peak from Kabur Gap. (Photo.N.A. Tombazi)

The Forked Peak from Kabur Gap. (Photo.N.A. Tombazi)



In 1925 Mr. N. A. Tombazi made a very successful photographic expedition to the southern glaciers of the Kangchenjunga group. He attained 20,000 feet on the Dome Peak from the Alukthang glacier, and also made the first ascent of the Zemu gap from the south, via the Talung and Tongshyong glaciers. This, it was hoped, would prove an easier route to the Zemu glacier than that via Lachen, but it was found quite unsuitable for loaded porters.

In May 1926 Captain Boustead followed much the same route as Tombazi to the Zemu gap. He rightly lays stress on the peculiar risks attending those venturing over the Guicha La on to the Talung and Tongshyong glaciers. From the eastern face of the Talung saddle, from the north-east shoulder of Pandim, and from the eastern ridges of Kangchenjunga avalanches fall with frequency. The thick mists which gather about Zemu (or Cloud) gap and the Guicha La envelop the spurs and fill the gorges, often rendering it impossible for the explorer to locate himself and to realize when he is in peril. Raeburn's experience here in 1920 was similar and showed that the earliest possible start is imperative in this area, before the rocks have been loosened by thaw. With such a start Boustead estimates that the Zemu gap could be crossed from the Talung in about four and a half hours. Boustead also reconnoitred Pandim from the north, ascending a very steep couloir, but was stopped at 20,000 feet by a precipitous ice-fall. An attack up the spur running north-west down to the Guicha La was foiled by foul weather, the monsoon breaking early.

Though definite distinction between exploration and climbing in hardly practicable, the foregoing summaries have been grouped together as being rather of the former category than of the latter. The following paragraphs are an attempt to epitomize the comparatively few ascents of and attacks on peaks of 20,000 feet and over in the Sikkim Himalaya.

See Alpine Journal, XXXIV, p. 33.

See AIpine Journal, XXXVIII, p. 150; Geographical Journal LXVII.

Geographical Journal, LXIX, pp. 344-350.

The first climber of note in these parts was Mr. W. W. Graham,[5] whose claim to have climbed Kabru in October 1883 has been the subject of much controversy. His climbs in the Sikkim Himalaya were briefly as follows. On 1st October, with two Swiss guides, Boss and Kaufmann, he ascended " Jubrun " (= Jubonu) in the Pandim group. This mountain Graham estimated at 21,400 feet, but it has since been triangulated at 19,530 feet. He pronounced Pandim to be " quite inaccessible owing to hanging glaciers," he having been " all round the base of the ice-wall, seeking for a crack and finding none." With his guides he camped on 5th October at 18,500 feet on the southeastern arete, " the only possible one " of Kabru.

Next morning they crossed a dangerous couloir to a steep ice- slope, which led to another snow incline and so to the foot of the eastern peak. Above this snow incline they had a thousand feet of " most delightful rock work," which was accomplished five and a half hours after the morning's start. " Not more than 1500 feet above this was the eastern summit " to which led a slope of pure ice standing from 45 to 60 degrees. On the ice lay three or four inches of frozen snow, and up it they cut their way to the top, " at least 23,700 feet above the sea."f The eastern was connected with the western and higher summit by a short arete from which the latter rose for three hundred feet of extremely steep ice. This summit, but for one ice- gendarme some thirty feet high, was conquered in another hour and a half, and the descent commenced about three o'clock. This proved more difficult, but with the help of a brilliant moon camp was reached by ten.

Such authorities as Conway, Tanner, Freshfield, Collie, Workman, Garwood, Waddell and Raeburn have argued for or against the validity of the claim, the point of those against it being generally that Graham was entirely mistaken as to his actual location. Raeburn suggests that the peak climbed was probably the " Forked Peak." It need only be remarked here that most of the controversy took place prior to the attempt of Rubenson and Monrad Aas, which was twenty-four years after Graham's attack.

In August 1905 Dr. Guillarmod, M. Reymond, M. Pache, M. de Righi and Mr. Crowley proceeded via the Singalila ridge to the Yalung glacier. From the head of the glacier they tackled the ice-slopes below the south-west cliffs of the main peak of Kangchenjunga, and on 1st September established a camp at 20,500 feet. That afternoon Guillarmod, Pache and de Righi with three porters started to descend to a lower camp. While traversing a snow-slope the two middle porters slipped and the whole party was dragged down, Pache and three porters being buried. Reymond came down alone from the upper camp on hearing shouts, and assisted in attempts at rescue, but the bodies were only recovered three days later, buried under ten feet of snow. The expedition was naturally broken up.[6]
In October 1907 two Norwegians, Mr. C. W. Rubenson and Mr. Monrad Aas, made a gallant attempt on Kabru. Starting from the Rathong glen on 6th October and skirting the " Dome Peak " by the south and west they established their first high camp at 19,500 feet near the lower end of the ice-fall of the Kabru glacier. From this they cut their way for five days " between a chaos of ice-needles and crevasses." Half-way up this ice-fall they halted for two days and thereafter found the route slightly less difficult, though enormous crevasses had to be crossed. At about 21,500 feet they formed a camp on the lower part of the big " snow flat," seen from Darjeeling between the two peaks, and from here tackled the eastern summit. At the first attempt they started the climb too late and had to return to camp. On 19th October they took their camp to 22,000 feet and on the 20th made their second assault, but owing to the intense cold they again could not get started until eight-thirty. By 6 p.m. they were at about 23,900 feet with only one short snow-slope between them and victory. The cold was almost unbearable and the wind nearly swept them off their feet. They had discarded their nailed boots at their 22,000-foot camp, as the nails conducted the cold to their feet. There was to be an early moon but the late hour made a descent imperative. On their way down they had a very narrow escape, Rubenson, who was behind, slipping in his unnailed boots and shooting down past his companion. Monrad Aas was luckily able to check his fall, but four out of the five strands of the Swiss tourist rope parted. When they reached camp it was found that six of Monrad Aas' toes were badly frost-bitten. They were most unfortunate in failing to conquer Kabru, but the experience gained was most valuable. They spent twelve days at above 20,000 feet without apparent physical deterioration, despite shortage of proper food, and proved the possibility of climbing much higher peaks than Kabru. In this connection it is interesting to note that according to Monrad Aas, Rubenson had never climbed a mountain previous to the Kabru expedition. Another source of satisfaction was the capability and reliability of the Sherpa porter, especially when properly equipped and well treated.[7]
Pre-eminent in Himalayan records stands the name of that indefatigable but extremely modest and reticent climber, the late Dr. A. M. Kellas, who lies in a lonely grave at Kampa Dzong. It is perhaps more convenient to chronicle his many fine achievements by locality rather than by date.

North-east Sikkim.

Chomiomo, 22,430 feet. In July 1910 after trying several approaches, he ascended to the summit from the north-west.

Donghya PeaJc, or Pauhunri, 23,180 feet. At his first attempt in August 1909, with only two coolies, he was driven back by snow and storm from 21,700 feet. In October 1909 he tried again, reaching 23,000 feet, but was forced by deep snow and high wind to retreat after sunset. His third attempt, from 13th to 17th June, 1910, was successful.

Kangchenjau or Kangchima, 22,700 feet: Kellas, in August 1912, took a route from his 19,200-foot camp on the north side of the mountain up a steep neve and ice-slope, which led to a col lying north of the Sebu La at 21,000 feet. Reaching this col in two hours, he turned west on steep snow, at 45 to 60 degrees, climbing another thousand feet to a belt of rocks. Skirting the north side of these rocks, by which he was protected from the prevailing south wind, he attained the summit plateau some seven hours after starting to climb, the last seven hundred feet being up soft snow. The summit plateau is about two miles from east to west and a few hundred yards across. Mist prevented him from investigating the western summit, but he suggested a better and comparatively easy route to it, via the north-eastern Kangchenjau glacier. By working up this glacier south-westward, the south side of the col referred to above might be reached, and thence the west peak should present little difficulty. This route was tried by Tombazi at the end of July 1919, but he was driven back from 20,000 feet by a heavy snow-storm.

In this part of Sikkim Kellas also crossed the Sebu La, 17,600 feet, which leads from the Lachen to the Lachung, near Mome Samdong. It is believed that this was the first crossing by a European.

Pandim from the South. (Photo. N.A. Tombazi)

Pandim from the South. (Photo. N.A. Tombazi)



About the Zemu Glacier.

Simvu, 22,360 feet. In September 1907 Kellas made three attempts with European guides but failed owing to fresh snow and foul weather to reach the summit.

Simvu Saddle, 17,700 feet and Zemu Gap, 19,300 feet. He ascended from the Zemu glacier in May 1910.

Nepal Gap, 21,000 feet. Two attempts in 1907 failed, the first at 18,000 feet owing to mist, the second at 19,000 feet owing to crevasses. A third attempt in September 1909 was defeated at 20,000 feet by a heavy snow-storm. At his fourth attempt in May 1910 he reached approximately 21,000 feet, but did not scale a small rock wall at the summit.

Tent Peak, 24,089 feet. In May 1910 Kellas ascended the ice-fall to the south and crossed the " Lhonak La," 19,500 feet, which leads to Lhonak, but which he pronounced too difficult and dangerous for loaded porters.

About the Jonsong La.

In early September 1909 Kellas visited the Langpo and Kangchenjunga glaciers.

Langpo Peak, 22,800 feet. He ascended this from the west, on the 13th and 14th September. In May 1910, he ascended it to 22,500 feet in order to examine the summit ridge of Jonsong peak.

Jongsong Peak, 24,340 feet. From the end of the Lhonak glacier, in September 1909, he ascended to 22,000 feet on the west ridge of Jonsong, but owing to thick mist and storm, he was obliged to descend to the glacier near the Chorten Nima La.

"Sentinel Peak," 21,240 feet (or 21,700 feet), east of the Chorten Nima La. Kellas ascended this peak in May 1910.

In 1920 Kellas was back again in Sikkim and during the autumn conquered Narsingh, 19,130 feet. It is believed that he also reached the summit of Lama Anden (or Lamgebo), 19,250 feet, about the same time. The following spring he worked out a new route on the ice-fall of Kabru, intending to use it later. Here he reached 21,000 feet. He returned from Sikkim to Darjeeling only a few days before starting on the first expedition to Mount Everest, but died on his way through Tibet with the party. His expedition in 1907 appears to have been the only one on which he was accompanied by Europeans while climbing. Though he wrote some valuable papers on the physiological and physical aspects of climbing, accounts of his actual ascents are unfortunately few and scanty.

The German Kangchenjunga Expedition of August to October 1929 is described later in this volume. But as this article would be incomplete without mention of their achievements, it may be said that from the Zemu glacier they made a most gallant and determined attack on the summit of Kangchenjunga by its eastern spur, or rather buttress, attaining in their final effort an altitude of approximately 24,400 feet. All their technical climbing difficulties were behind them and victory appeared to be almost within their grasp, when the weather broke and forced a descent, which was attended with great difficulties.

Though Sikkim is reasonably accessible, only some half-dozen of its countless lofty peaks have been conquered, and many of its fascinating valleys and uplands have scarcely been trodden by Europeans. There is therefore plenty of scope for explorers and naturalists as well as for climbers. Here, more than anywhere else, weather is the deciding factor in climbing, for again and again we see that snow or storm have forced a retreat when, under more favourable conditions, the final effort would have been crowned with victory. Nevertheless he is a bold man who, reading of these determined assaults, sometimes successful, sometimes splendid failures, will pronounce the summit of any peak in the Sikkim Himalaya to be definitely inaccessible.

Postscript. In compiling the foregoing brief summary of exploration and climbing in and near Sikkim, I have been greatly helped by Mr. N. A. Tombazi, who has not only advised me, having special and intimate knowledge of the subject, but has also supplied me with extracts from certain Geographical and Alpine Journals ; he has also provided several fine photographs to illustrate the article. I have also to thank the Editor for much valuable assistance and advice.

The following works have been consulted :

Himalayan Journals, by Sir Joseph Hooker.

Among the Himalayas, by Major L. A. Waddell.

Sikkim and Bhutan, by Claude White.

Round Kangchenjunga, by Douglas Freshfield.

Gazetteer of Sikkim, edited by H. H. Risley, for the Bengal Secretariat, 1894.

Geographical Journals, Alpine Journals, and Records and General Reports of the Survey of India.


[1] No attempt has been made to adopt a uniform or consistent system of transliteration for the names in this paper. The Gazetteer and the Survey of India names require complete revision. A sketch map of Sikkim is at the end of this volume.-Ed.

[2] Rinzin Namgyal, sometimes called in the Survey of India records " the explorer R. N.," is spelt " Rinzin Nimgyl " by Tanner in his report. Both he and Lama Ugyen Gyatso were uncles of Sirdar Laden La, the distinguished police officer and member of the Himalayan Club.

For details of the survey of Sikkim, see General Reports of the Survey of India, 1881-82, 1882-83, 1883-84. For details of the " pandits " explorations see Explorations in Silckim, Bhutan and Tibet, published by the Survey of India in 1889, and also General Report of the Survey of India, 1884-85. These have been reprinted in Records of the Survey of India, Vol. VIII, part 2.

[3] See also "The Chorten Nima La in Sikkim." Alpine Journal, XX, p. 413.

[4] Seo also " Tho Jonsong La." Alpine Journal, XXI, p. 136. t See also " How to climb Kangchenjunga : a topographical note." Alpine Journal, XXII, p. 122.

*See Alpine Journal, XXXIV, pp. 33-50.

[5] See Alpine Journal, XI, pp. 402-407 ; XII, pp. 25-52. t The latest value for the height of Kabru is 24,002 feet.-Ed.

[6] See " The Disaster on Kangchenjunga." Alpine Journal, XXIII, p. 51.

[7] See Alpine Journal, XXIV, pp. 63-67; pp. 310-321.

Brief summaries of Dr. Kellas' climbs are given in Alpine Journals, XXVI, p. 52, 113 ; XXVII, p. 125; XXXIV, p. 408.