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

THE KAGAN VALLEY

LIEUT. J. B. P. ANGWIN.

THIS account of a survey expedition into the Kagan valley will perhaps interest few members of the Himalayan Club who have penetrated the deeper recesses of the Himalaya. It may, however, appeal to those who seek fresh experiences, or who have not the leisure, the means, or the opportunity for more lengthy expeditions ; for here, within two days' journey of Abbottabad, are to be found scenery equal to any in Kashmir, mountains for both the novice and expert Alpinist, and ground suitable for almost perfect ski-ing. For the shikari, however, there is nothing.

This mis-named minor valley-mis-named, for it is really the valley of the Kunhar river-lies between the Kishanganga valley of Kashmir, and the tribal territory south and east of the Indus. The main valley, about a hundred miles long, forms a well-known summer trade-route from Hazara to Chilas and Gilgit; the side valleys and the surrounding hills are, however, almost unknown.

General Bruce, in his Twenty Years in the Himalaya, has given a graphic description of some of his earliest mountaineering exploits among the peaks and passes enclosing the Manur tributary at the southern end of the valley and of his journeys up the main valley. Sir Aurel Stein has taken advantage of a beautiful and secluded camping-ground near Butta Kundi to write his memoirs, undisturbed. And latterly, in the autumn of 1928, Captain D'Arcy and Lieut. Daunt, of the Royal Artillery, made an unsuccessful attempt to climb Mali, the highest peak of this region. Apart from these journeys and the survey visits of long ago, I can find no record of any exploration into the side valleys.*

In the summer of 1926 I was fortunate in being detailed to carry out the triangulation of the whole valley, in order to fix points for a subsequent topographical survey. I had no previous experience of mountain climbing and there was little time to make preparations for a five-months' stay in the high hills. Provided, however, with some invaluable hints and an ice-axe by " Ganpat," with all available information from the local Political and Forest Officers, and with a supply of tinned provisions, I started from Rawalpindi at the end of April.

THE KAGAN VALLEY

THE KAGAN VALLEY



The chain of triangles was to be commenced from the existing survey stations of Ganga Choti (9989 feet) and Miranjani (9780 feet), carried across the Jhelum and Kishanganga valleys to the Kagan border and then across and up the valley. I hoped also to obtain permission to cross the northern border into the Indus Kohistan.

My first move was to Mansehra in the Hazara district, where arrangements had been made for supplies. Here I met the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. A. W. Fagan, i.c.s., to whom I am much indebted for generous hospitality and assistance then and later.

After completing preliminary arrangements I crossed the Kishanganga by motor to Domel in Kashmir on 29th April. From here we proceeded up the Kishanganga valley to a camp at about 10,000 feet just below the snow-line, on the southern slope of Makra (12,744 feet), an old survey station on the Kashmir-Kagan boundary, which I had selected as one of my probable stations of observation. Ignorant as I was of snow-craft, I was somewhat shy of the remaining two thousand feet to the summit. A month later I would have scorned to proceed with the caution that characterized my first ascent, but I was only learning, and was responsible for the safety of some twenty or thirty men, so Khabardar was the watchword. The ascent was over snow, steep in places, but more arduous than difficult. Near the summit we discovered a large cairn almost buried in snow, apparently several yards south-west of the highest point. It was, however, actually on the summit of the hill, as we found by digging; and the cairn was merely screened from the north by a cornice which almost completely shut out the view into the Kagan valley. It was obvious that later in the year this cornice would be reduced in size, and that this site would be the best point on the boundary for linking up the chain.

The following day, after a very trying twenty-four-mile march with three changes of transport and a passage through the Kishanganga gorge in the dark, we arrived back at Domel at 10 p.m. soaked to the skin. Meanwhile my assistants had fixed opaque signals on Miranjani and Sirua (10,444 feet) in the Kashmir hills north of the Jhelum.

At Domel there were further transport difficulties, but eventually, with the help of Raja Natullah Khan of Sanmia, I moved a small camp to Sudhnu Gali, near Ganga Choti on the Kashmir-Punch boundary. This ancient jagirdar, Natullah Khan, was a delightful man, full of reminiscences of " Nikalsain Sahib "-stories doubtless handed down by his father, and so mixed up with his own experiences that he had annexed them as his own.

In this camp we remained in the vilest weather, and it was not until the third evening that I yielded to the persuasion of local inhabitants and sacrificed a goat to the weather god of Ganga Choti. I was told that all sahibs are anathema to this deity; obviously, therefore, something had to be done about it, and I turned pagan for the moment, with the result that the fourth day dawned bright and clear.

A three days' march now took us to Sirua where, after two days of almost unceasing mist and rain in camp some five hundred feet below the top, I moved a small party to the summit in order to observe immediately the weather turned fine. But it remained miserably unsettled and it was a further week before my observations were completed.

On this hill I first experienced the electrical storms which proved later to be such a feature of this part of the Himalaya. It was here that, whilst sitting at table in my tent, I was knocked over backwards by a blow on the forehead; while a little later I was lying on my bed reading, when there was a bang and I received a tap on the knee- possibly a gentle hint that the god of Sirua would also have appreciated a goat!

The move across into the Kagan valley, including observations at Miranjani, Briari (4684 feet) and Phuryai (8158 feet) was uneventful, except that on Miranjani the whole camp was wrecked by a hurricane which raged throughout one night. Much delayed by bad weather, it was not till 7th June that I arrived with a small camp at a gali on the south-west spur of Musa ka Masala (13,374 feet), a hill at the head of the Siran-Kunhar watershed. This hill is clearly visible from Mansehra, about thirty miles to the north-east, and when snow- covered is a most attractive sight.

The local inhabitants endeavoured to dissuade me from going up the hill, saying that it was dangerously near the routes used by cattle- raiders from tribal territory. A more probable reason for this attitude was that the hill is looked upon as sacred. A ziarat crowns the summit, but was not visible at that time as the snow was from ten to fifteen feet deep ; though later in the summer its rough stone walls, festooned with flags, are seen surrounded by scores of low columns, built of flat atones, each testifying to the sacrifice of a goat.

The ascent of this hill presents no difficulty from the south-west or even from the south-east spur, as we discovered later. The summit is a ridge about three hundred yards long and almost level. In the search for signs of a previous survey signal some of us were foolish enough to remove our dark glasses for a few minutes. The results were a mild but painful attack of snow-blindness, and an enforced holiday next day.

Transport difficulties spoilt the enjoyment of our next move into the main Kagan valley, but there was compensation in a delightful camp at Chor Gali, just east of Birla station (9750 feet), where a day was spent in reconnaissance before pushing on to Kagan village.

Below Kagan the valley is enclosed by steep slopes, thickly forested at intervals, and it is not before Narang, one stage above Kagan, that the main valley begins to open out. From just below Kagan village there is a beautiful view up the valley, disclosing the black rock peak of Nakra (15,056 feet), prominent amid the snows. There are finer views further up, but this particular one struck me forcibly, for I knew that Nakra would have to be one of my stations, and it looked a very devil.

We spent two days at Kagan resting, making arrangements for supplies and endeavouring to get the Sayyids down to hard facts. These Sayyids are the land-owners of Kagan, a fine race once, but now sadly degenerated through inter-marriage and multi-partition of hereditary lands. Their influence is alleged to be great; in practice it is almost nil. They still command some respect among their own villagers, but they were able to collect hardly a cooly, and the few who were enlisted bolted at the first opportunity. Later on, one of them, Sayyid Lizzat Shah, accompanied me for several days, always ready with offers of assistance, which seldom materialized. He was, however, a pleasing personality with a fund of interesting conversation, which to some extent counterbalanced his deficiencies as a provider of begari labour.

From Kagan I wished to make a reconnaissance, on consecutive days, to Sirul (13,515 feet) and Chambra (15,344 feet). Sirul was easy, but was unsuitable for a survey station, and, from below, the route to Chambra looked easy too. Actually it proved impossible for laden coolies, being up and down a razor-edged ridge about two miles long, with an eave to the north. It took us two and a half hours to march to a gali about a quarter of a mile along the ridge, and a further three hours to descend, via an unpleasant couloir, which bore traces of frequent stone and snow avalanches, to a suitable camp-site, which we reached after dark.

From Sirul I had spotted a possible site for a base-camp for Chambra on a stony plateau, and the following morning after a very early start we reached it at 7 a.m., to find a camp already there, occupied by my commanding officer, Captain Norman, r.e., and his wife. He had come up on an inspection tour and had arrived late the previous night, having had trouble in getting coolies.

After breakfasting with them I set off with a small party to reconnoitre Chambra. The route is not difficult and at this season (mid-June) the crevasses on the small glacier about a thousand feet below the summit were easily visible. I left most of the party at a small gali just above the glacier. Here I saw tracks of red bear, so slung my rifle and, accompanied by my recorder Fazal Ellahi, Lizzat Shah and a khalasi, Muhammad Ismail, ascended the last few hundred feet of steep frozen snow. Steps had to be cut almost the whole way. The final ridge is nearly level for about a hundred yards, sloping up to the summit at the east. On the north a sheer cliff descends to the glacier, while the south face is a precipitous snow slope.

I was leading on the rope and Fazal Ellahi was last. Barely had we arrived at the summit when a storm broke. I immediately gave orders to retreat. The atmosphere was alive. We had not gone twenty yards before Fazal Ellahi was knocked down, and Lizzat Shah's ice-axe was struck out of his hand and went hurtling down the Mud. My own rifle hummed like a tuning-fork and I nearly threw it away.

Fazal Ellahi sat rubbing his head. He got up and we moved on once more in the blinding hail. Again within twenty yards he was knocked over, but got up unhurt. We were between the devil and the deep sea. To move fast was to court disaster ; the only course was to go slow and hope for the best. At length we got down to the gali, but for long after we had collected the others and started back to camp the storm continued and lightning flickered round.

On steep snow slopes it was my rule to have one rope for every twelve men, made fast to a man at each end, and with the men in the middle always holding on with one hand. This was as much to prevent straggling as for any other reason, but on this occasion it proved our salvation. I moved Fazal Ellahi back, next to me. He was reeling like a drunken man. I thought we should never get him down the remaining four thousand feet, but he stuck to it like a Trojan, and when at last we arrived, he was on the point of collapse. He was put to bed and dosed with aspirin and hot milk, and in two days was fit for work again.

The day following this experience we fixed a signal post on Chambra, though thick mist prevented a proper reconnaissance.

A pleasant march, with some angling for snow trout on the way, took us from Kagan to Narang, from which place Norman and I attempted to find a way up Urhai (14,552 feet), but we only spotted a practicable route too late to make the ascent. Accordingly, the following day we moved camp across the river to Sukha Singal, and I reached the top, though a biting wind and driving mist made a stay of more than a few minutes impossible.

Mrs. Norman insisted on accompanying us next morning and made the climb of about 3500 feet in three hours, a remarkable performance for a woman on her first climb in the high hills.

Descending once more into the main valley we moved to Butta Kundi, from which place we tried to find a way up the hill shown on the map (43 F/ne) as Safr Maluk Sar. The local inhabitants said that there was no hill of that name, and if there was one, there was no way up it ! This, from what we could see of the hill we meant, seemed to be true, so after bidding good-bye to the Normans, who were returning to civilization, I visited a hill further north on the same ridge, which divides the Dhadr Nala from the Safr Maluk Nala. This hill, subsequently named Chakbari Nar, after the Gujars' encampment at its base, overlooks the lake of Safr Maluk Sar. This lake is alleged to be the home of a sometime fairy princess, who fell in love with a mortal from the Punjab, and, marrying him against her father's wish, was banished to the depths of the lake for evermore. I was unlucky enough to see no princess, and the hill itself is far from romantic. It has an unpleasant habit of throwing stones at all times of the day and night. There was an almost continuous succession of stone-avalanches from all sides, both at this time and later in the year, and we had some narrow escapes. I should not be surprised to hear at any time that the whole hill had slipped bodily into the stream below.

From Chakbari Nar a two-days' march took us to a very pleasant camp-site, just below the snows at the head of the Sapat Nala, and from Sapat station (15,512 feet) I had my first view of Kohistan, at that season of the year a bleak and unprepossessing country, but with promise of good grazing later.

I now wished to march by a back-door route to Gittidas, at the head of the main valley, but having crossed one pass of about 14,200 feet, the coolies refused to cross another into the Lalusar Nala, and we were forced to turn down the Bas Nala to Burawai, in the main valley, whence a long march brought us to Gittidas. Here the valley, which is occasionally visited by predatory Kohistanis, opens out into a wide rolling basin, a veritable pamir, and a skier's paradise.

While my men rested from their exertions, I went on into Chilas to see Searle, the Assistant Political Agent, who was at Babusar rest- house, a few miles beyond the pass. I had by then a month's growth of beard and fully merited my bearer's Ap padri sahib hog aye; I must have presented an astonishing sight to Searle when I arrived unheralded at the bungalow. However, he took me at better than my face value and was most hospitable.

I spent the night with him on the condition that he would return with me, and on the following morning we set off for Botogah (14,830 feet) a hill on the Kohistan boundary, which I wanted to visit en route. It was an arduous journey and by the time we arrived there was barely time for a short look round before we had to leave. Even so we were benighted and had to ford the Loi Halol Nala in the dark, clinging hand to hand, up to our waists in the icy water, which was rushing down with such force that we were nearly swept away. But for the Chilasi lambardar, Yakiah, who had received an S. 0. S. from my camp and who came in search of us with flares, we must have spent the night in the open, for it was pitch dark and neither of us knew the route. As it was, we arrived in camp about 10 p.m. and ate a colossal meal, washed down with copious draughts of hot tea and whisky.

Botogah is an extraordinary hill which appears to be composed entirely of huge, loose disconnected rocks. The snow water could be heard trickling far down in the centre of it.

On the way to Kotowai station (15,226 feet) an incident occurred which nearly put an end to me. At about 14,000 feet a small bird got up and I discovered a nest containing three eggs in a tuft of grass under some overhanging snow. Small birds are rare in Kagan at this altitude, and full of new-born ornithological zeal I took an egg and put it in my mouth for safe keeping. We were not roped and a little further on I suddenly slipped and shot off down a steep snow slope. Fortunately I kept hold of my ice-axe, and, using this as a brake, eventually stopped myself about two hundred feet down, just above an unpleasant rock fall. It was only after regaining the crest that I remembered the egg. But it was too late. Not even the shell remained!

Only two hills now remained to be reconnoitred; Waitar (15,217 feet), some distance down-stream on the left bank, and Nakra (15,048 feet), the rock peak previously seen from below Kagan.

The ascent of Waitar can only be made, by a laden party, from the north-east, as on the other flanks it is almost sheer cliff. Even on the north-east the rocks are steep and rotten. An ascent without loads might however be made from the Jora Nala to the south-west. There are several delightful little rock-bound lakes in the bed of the nullah running down to the main river and from the summit there are some magnificent views. The rugged peaks of the Burawai group lie to the north, and to the south and south-west are Dabuka and a mass of quaintly-shaped peaks near the Kashmir boundary.

From Waitar it is two long marches to Seh, a good camp-site on a spur running south-east from the Kohistan boundary east of Nakra ; and from Seh to Nakra it is a hard three-hours' climb, but until the last few hundred feet the ascent is not as difficult as it appears from below. The summit is practically sheer cliff on all sides except the north-east, and is divided into two portions, each about thirty yards long and fifteen feet wide, by a " waist " some four feet long, not more than a foot wide, and four feet below the general level of the rest. It was a hair-raising performance getting across until we had a rope in position, and even then some men could not be persuaded to cross. They were fortunate.

Owing to the difficult nature of the hill, servants' tents had been brought up for a small camp, as I wished to observe at once, all the other stations having been marked already. My tent was pitched on the top a few yards away from the station, and the men were on a ledge about twenty feet below, on the Kohistan side.

On the following morning mist soon prevented observation and a storm gathered black over Kohistan. Just before midday the theodolite, which was in position over the mark, began to hum. With some diffidence I dismantled it, getting slight shocks, and had everything put into my tent. The other tents had already been taken down. There was no time to lose. I ordered everyone under cover, using the tents as tarpaulins. Within ten minutes everything and all the men were away except Naran Shah, my Khattak orderly; it would have taken half an hour at least to clear everything from the summit.

The electricity could now be felt. I could hear my orderly's peaked kulllah fizzing. My whole body tingled, and the hair on my spine stood on end. I sent Naran Shah off the summit and crawled into my tent. Surrounded by instruments, I expected the worst and Loped for the best. At first there was silence, except for the crackling from each tent-pole and the rumbling of distant thunder. Then the storm, accompanied by shattering hail, burst right overhead. About one o'clock I received three blows in rapid succession, on the finger, knee and back of the head. Then I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and slunk between my blankets trying to compress myself into nothing, with mixed thoughts of heaven, hell and a problematical home leave.

Two hours later the storm cleared. I found that one man only, one of my best men, had been struck on the leg and burnt. Why he was selected is a mystery, as he was wedged in among the others under a tarpaulin, like a sardine in a tin. The injury was not severe, but for some days he was quite useless and he eventually had to be discharged.

After the storm the air was beautifully clear and I was able to observe until about four o'clock. But the nerve of the party was shaken, and, deeming it wiser to avoid another night on the hill, I decided to return to Narang and to come back to Nakra at some later date.

At Narang we found Fagan, the Assistant Commissioner, and Hodder, of the Frontier Constabulary, who had come up to hold a jirga with the Jalkotis and to make arrangements for my party to enter their country. It was now 19th July and even if we succeeded in getting their support, it was rather late in the season, but I was very anxious to get into Kohistan, a country which has never been explored or mapped, and which is utterly unknown except for itineraries obtained by the Intelligence Department. We had hoped to get the jirga in a month earlier, but the snows were late and they could not be persuaded to come. At last they promised to be at Narang on the 17th. By the 21st they had not appeared, and as I could not aflord to waste time, I left Fagan and Hodder to deal with them and moved off down-stream with the object of commencing observations at Makra and working up the valley, peak by peak.

After five days of abominable weather at Makra, it was apparent that we were getting a taste of the monsoon and that observations there would be impossible for some time. It was therefore decided to reverse the programme and go right to the head of the valley, where clearer weather was likely, and to work back.

On our return to Kawai we found Fagan and Hodder, who had at last held the jirga. The result was disappointing. About eighty maliks had come in and after much discussion had decided that they themselves would have no objection to a survey, but that each must refer the matter to his village before giving permission and a promise to aid and protect. They had now returned across the border, undertaking to send a reply within a fortnight. Nothing more was heard from them, although later it proved that in any case there would have been no time to spare. Kohistan is troubled by inter-village disputes and there is no central authority. The inhabitants are of a cheerful appearance which belies their quarrelsome disposition. They must be among the dirtiest people on earth. Fagan puts it elegantly when he says that one Kohistani smells like a concentrated herd of goats. At the jirga, when cigarettes were produced, they broke into cries of Chilam, and, on being given some tobacco, made a little pile of mud on the ground, bored a hole through it horizontally, filled one end with tobacco and lay on their bellies, one after the other in rapid succession sucking with every appearance of enjoyment!

Even at the head of the valley the weather was unsettled and it was a week before the observations from Kotowai and Botogah were completed. The camp on Botogah had little to recommend it as regards comfort, but as a view-point it was marvellous. Eastwards the grassy downs of Gittidas, overshadowed by Nanga Parbat, a shimmering opal at sunset, dark and forbidding at dawn ; to the west a serrated line of fantastic peaks and ever-changing shadows.

At Botogah I was awakened in the middle of the night by a Jchalasi who had come up in the dark from the supply camp, some two thousand feet below, to report the capture of three Kohistanis who had attempted to loot the camp. I was a little terse at being disturbed and I am afraid I did not at the time give him due credit for a really stout effort. I eventually handed over the prisoners to the Chilasi lambardar for treatment, but they got their own back later by wrecking my signal on Botogah after we had left. Fortunately the men whom I sent back to re-erect it, travelled direct across country with such speed that work was hardly delayed at all.

Four days in a tiny camp on Waitar, a week of damp discomfort surrounded by swirling mists on Sapat, and three days at Chakbari Nar were occupied in taking observations, and we arrived at Urhai on 28th August.

Urhai is a stony round-topped hill on which there is plenty of room for a small camp and for once I was able to use a forty-pound tent. For five days misty weather prevailed and I was getting bored to tears, waiting for the brief breaks when observation was possible. At about four o'clock on 2nd September I was sitting gloomily on my bed, listening to a fierce bail-storm pattering on the roof and wondering what on earth to do. Suddenly there was a flash across the tent, a bang-and I found myself lying on the bed. There was a smell of burning flesh. My left heel was in agony ; both legs were throbbing and felt like bursting. I reached down and felt myself. On my left heel there was a hard lump the size of an egg, two burns on my right calf and another on my buttock.

I lay there for about half an hour until the storm ceased, visions of a pale-faced paralytic being carried into Mansehra crossing my mind. Then I yelled for my bearer, who came and tended the burns with ointment. His distressful " My Gods " were almost as disturbing as the storm. His English is limited, but picturesque. By six o'clock I found that I was not paralysed after all, and could hobble about. It cleared up beautifully and I was able to complete the observations in the hour and a half before dark. I found later that there was nothing left of my shaving mirror but a few fragments, and there was a neat hole about the diameter of a pencil burnt right through my bed and bedding.

It took two days to get back to Kagan as I could barely walk, riding was equally painful, and lying across the saddle is neither dignified nor comfortable. There I lay up in the rest-house for nearly a week spending part of the time making a dhooly out of the scanty materials available.

On the 10th we started for Chambra. The dhooly proved a ghastly and uncomfortable failure and almost impossible to carry up the steep hills, so it had to be left. It took three days to get to the top and now that the deep snow had gone, it was ticklish work clambering up the huge loose rocks of which the south slope is composed.

The observations were completed in two days, but during the night there was a fresh fall of snow and it was still snowing in the morning. Fortunately the coolies arrived about 3 p.m. having, as I discovered later, narrowly escaped disaster in a crevasse whilst crossing the glacier in the mist and driving snow. The march down over loose rocks, partly covered by new snow, was a nightmare, and it was a relief to reach camp on a small plateau at the foot of the final slope.

After a day's rest at Kagan we again attacked Nakra, this time with more success, as although the fresh snow added to the difficulties of the climb, there was almost perfect weather, and observations were completed in a single day. Only four stations now remained : Birla, Makra, Musa and Phuryai ; and I was anxious to get back, as the burns of three weeks ago refused to heal.

At Birla I had my last experience of lightning that year--rather an amusing one. This hill is on the end of a long low spur and lies roughly at the centre of a circle of much higher hills. One evening there was a furious storm moving round the circle, but it did not worry me much as I thought it unlikely to leave the heights. I had developed the habit of subconsciously counting the seconds between the flash and the thunder and had just got into my bath, when I realized that the storm was coming down the spur ! A dry man was probably safer than a wet one, so I leapt out, and drying myself as well as possible with a damp towel, dressed. Then without thinking, I blew my nose loudly. This was always the signal for dinner, and my bearer appeared at once with food.

I hated the thought of it at the moment but had to get through dinner with a calmness I was far from feeling, under the eye of my admirable bearer, who throughout the season had appeared entirely unconcerned at thunderstorms, or indeed at any of the difficulties and discomforts we had met. I bolted my food with the utmost speed and packed him off to his tent with orders not to move till the storm was over, what time I crawled into bed in a blue funk. And nothing happened !

Apart from spending my birthday on Makra nearly perishing with cold in a semi-blizzard, the three remaining hills were completed without incident, and we returned to Mansehra on 2nd October.

In conclusion, a few notes on the possibilities of the Kagan valley as an inexpensive playground for members of the Himalayan Club may not be amiss.

The peak of Mali and the groups of Burawai, Dabuka and Dam- dama provide ample scope for any climber. Although none of the peaks, with the exception of Mali, is much over 16,000 feet, and the Damdama group is only about 14,000 feet, there is almost every type of climbing to be had.

A very good ski-ing camp could be made on the northern slope of Makra, with the rest-house at Kawai, one march up from Balakot, as a base. Runs of four to five miles of varying slope should be easily obtainable about Christmas time. There is a village with a good water supply at about 8000 feet, on the spur almost due north of Makra, and of course firewood abounds.

Runs of about eight miles would be found between the Kashmir border and Gittidas (11,930 feet) at the head of the valley, but special arrangements would have to be made for transport and supplies and there is no firewood within many miles south of the Babusar pass There is, however, forest just across the pass in Chilas, and there should be no insuperable difficulties in planning a delightful ski ing camp.

The possibilities are well worth investigating, but as I had done no ski-ing in 1926 I did not examine the country from a skier's point of view.

Yaks are not available, and mules should be used for transport. I hired about forty mules from Balakot, as permanent transport, and they did magnificent work. On occasions, when the coolies failed, I took them to over 14,000 feet across the roughest country. They would be quite capable of getting up to Grittidas in winter, along ski tracks. Forage would have to be taken or dumped previously, at the various rest-houses en route.