Himalayan Journal vol.05
The Himalayan Journal

Publication year:

Kenneth Mason
    (Lieut.-Colonel B.E.M. Gurdon)
    (HELLMUT DE TERRA Tale North India Expedition)
  7. KULU
    (A. P. F. HAMILTON)
    (Captain G. C. CLARK)
    (G. A. R. SPENCE)
    (Lieut.-Colonel KENNETH MASON)
  14. NOTES


The Fourth Mount Everest Expedition, 1933

Members of the Himalayan Club must have been delighted when they heard that permission had been received from the Tibetan authorities to make another assault on Mount Everest. The Himalayan Club was invited to appoint a representative to the Mount Everest Committee, and Sir Geoffrey Corbett accepted the invitation to represent the Himalayan Club on that Committee.

The Expedition is being led by Mr. Hugh Ruttledge, who has had considerable Himalayan experience while in the Indian Civil Service; he is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a member of both the Alpine and Himalayan Clubs, the three bodies represented on the Mount Everest Committee. The other members of the Expedition are: Captain E. St. J. Birnie, of Sam Browne's Cavalry, Major Hugh Boustead, of the Sudan Camel Corps, Mr. T. A. Brocklebank, Mr. C. G. Crawford, Dr. C. Raymond Greene, Mr. J. L. Longland, Dr. W. W. McLean, and Messrs. E. O. Sheb- beare, E. E. Shipton, F. S. Smythe, L. R. Wager, G. Wood-Johnson, and P. Wyn-Harris.

Of these, Mr. Ruttledge, Captain Birnie, Dr. Greene, and Messrs. Shebbeare, Smythe, and Wood-Johnson are members of the Himalayan Club. Messrs. Crawford and Shebbeare were members of the Mount Everest Expeditions in 1922 and 1924 respectively; Messrs. Smythe and Shipton, Captain Birnie, and Dr. Greene were members of the successful expedition to the summit of Kamet in 1931; Messrs. Smythe and Wood-Johnson were members of the Dyhrenfurth Expedition to Kangchenjunga in 1930; while Major Boustead and Mr. Crawford have climbed on spurs of Kangchenjunga. The others are visiting the Himalaya for the first time, but have records in the Alps, Greenland, or on Mount Kenya to their credit. It is a very powerful party.

Soon after the announcement was made that a fourth expedition would take place, the Chairman of the Mount Everest Committee received from the Keeper of the Privy Purse the following letter:

The King read with much interest of the characteristically British decision of the Mount Everest Committee, composed of the Royal Geographical Society, the Alpine Club, and the Himalayan Club, not to be content with the achievements of men like Mallory and Irvine, who lost their lives in their attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, and of Norton and Somervell who so nearly succeeded, but to equip and send out yet another

expedition next year. The experiences of Colonel Howard Bury, General Bruce, and Colonel Norton should, His Majesty feels, be of great assistance to the members of this fresh expedition, and enable them to overcome the appalling difficulties which have hitherto proved insurmountable.

It was with great satisfaction that the King heard that Mr. Hugh Ruttledge had been appointed Commander of the expedition, as his knowledge of mountaineering and intimate acquaintance with the Himalayan people and Tibetans renders him eminently fitted for the post. His Majesty wishes him and the party of twelve who will accompany him every success, and will follow their movements with the keenest interest.

The King knows that expeditions of this nature require careful and costly preparation, and desires me to send you the enclosed cheque for £100, which he wishes to give towards the expenses.

By the time this volume is published, the expedition will be well on the way and will probably have reached the old base camp, and may even be struggling with the difficulties of the North Col.

The leader has studied the problem from every conceivable point of view, but it must be remembered that ice conditions vary very greatly from year to year; the ascent of the North Col may be more difficult than formerly; nine years is a long time, and it would be surprising if the local ice topography is similar to that of 1924. The conquest of the mountain is not merely a question of luck with the weather as has been assumed in some quarters. The lessons of recent expeditions on Kangchenjunga, Kamet, and Nanga Parbat have been studied with the greatest thoroughness, and every detail of the equipment has been perfected as far as possible. We wish, the expedition every success.

Royal Air Forge Flight from Risalpur to Gilgit, 1932

On the 17th October 1932 a flight of 5 R.A.F. Hart aeroplanes under Flight Lieutenant Isaac flew from Risalpur to Gilgit, the distance of 286 miles being covered in 2 hours 20 minutes. The route taken was up the Indus valley over Shang, Jalkot, Bardazasin, Chilas, and Bunji, the general height of the flight being at about 10,000 feet.

On arrival at Gilgit the airmen were met by the Political Resident, Major G. V. B. Gillan, and the Mir of Nagar, a considerable number of whose followers were among the large and enthusiastic crowd who were assembled on the landing-ground.

On the 18th the officers took part in a chukor drive, and on the 19th demonstration flights were carried out over the Hunza, Nagar, and Punial districts. During these flights a number of photographs were taken, among the most interesting being those of Rakaposh (25,500 feet) and Nanga Parbat (26,620 feet) in height. Great enthusiasm was shown by the inhabitants of these inaccessible valleys, many of whom had never seen an aeroplane, whilst many had believed that aeroplanes were a myth.

The return flight was carried out without incident on the morning of the 20th October, when the distance of 286 miles was covered in 2 hours 5 minutes.

One of the not least remarkable points of this flight was the fact that it took the aeroplanes little over two hours to fly from Risalpur to Gilgit, a journey which could not have been done in less than a fortnight by road. The photographs taken are of the greatest interest, those of Rakaposhi and Nanga Parbat being particularly beautiful.

This is the third time that Service aeroplanes have made the flight from Risalpur to Gilgit. The first occasion was on the 28th March 1929 when four Wapiti planes flew to Gilgit in four hours, including a halt of an hour and twenty minutes at Chakdara to refuel. A brief account of this flight was given in the Himalayan Journal, vol. ii, p. 134. On this first flight the course was over the Kotkai pass and the great gorge of the Indus. The second flight, which commenced from Risalpur at 7 a.m. on the 30th March 1931, took a different course, the five Wapitis, under the command of Squadron- Leader S. B. Harris, passing up the Kagan valley and over the Batogah pass to reach the Indus valley over Ghilas. The distance to Gilgit, by this route, 205 miles, was covered in 2 hours 15 minutes, and the return flight on the 1st April by the Indus valley route, a distance of 248 miles, was accomplished in 2 hours 30 minutes.1 On the latest flight, in 1932, the Indus valley was followed throughout; the distance is lengthened to 286 miles, but the duration of the flight has been reduced by the Hart machines to 2 hours 20 minutes for the outward flight and still further to 2 hours 5 minutes for the return.

By the courtesy of the Air Officer Commanding in India, we are privileged to publish some of the magnificent photographs taken on the flight. The frontispiece shows a Hart plane on the flank of Rakaposhi, the great mountain on the southern border of Nagar State, known up there as Dumani, 'the Mistmaker'.

Flying over the Himalaya is becoming a not uncommon occurence, and it is well to record the names and exploits of these men who are pioneering these early long distance Himalayan flights. In 11 lis connexion Colonel B. E. M. Gurdon, whose interesting 'Memories' hit published in this Journal, has written to me to say that on the u -ik 1 February he received in England a letter from H.H. the Mehtar of Chitral (Shuja-ul-Mulk) by air mail, dated the 5th February. The letter had only taken seventeen days in transit from Chitral to London, while in 1895 it took seven days for the news of Nizam-ul- Mulk's murder to reach Gilgit from Chitral! In his letter His Highness described his journey by air from India to Chitral and his arrival at the Drosh aerodrome!

1 Himalayan Journal, vol. iv, p. 184.

Mount Everest Flight, 1933

These magnificent early flights have taken place with a minimum of publicity on the part of those concerned. By the time this Journal is published it is probable that the two Westland planes, which have been specially built in England for the purpose, will have successfully completed their flight over Mount Everest. This adventure has been made possible by the generosity of Lady Houston, and many columns have appeared in the press concerning it. At the time of writing this note (1st March), the programme is that the planes shall take off from Purnea in northern Bihar on about the 25th March. It should be remembered that the distance from Purnea to Mount Everest is only about 160 miles, and ordinary Service planes have flown for distances of nearly 300 miles over the western Himalaya. The present altitude record for aeroplanes is about 45,000 feet, while the Mount Everest planes made test flights in England at about 35,000 feet. The problem is one of mechanical design, not of physical endurance, though high winds may cause delay.

It is perhaps unfortunate that in issuing official information to the press regarding the flight, no mention was made of the pioneer flights over the Himalaya, while it is not a little unfair on the Survey of India when the Chairman of the Flight Committee issues a long statement for publication in which occur the words:

The aeroplanes chosen for the forthcoming flight over Everest may be expected to reach the summit in less than an hour and a half. But in the course of that climb they will pass over what is virtually unknown country. No surveying party has ever attempted to map it.

In actual fact we have a very fair map of the whole country to be flown over. In 1924 H.H. Maharaja Sir Chandra Shamsher Jung Bahadur, the enlightened Prime Minister of Nepal, asked for the co-operation of the Survey of India for the survey of his country. Work was begun in November that year. Field work was completed in March 1927. The area surveyed in those three years, amounting to some 55,000 square miles, covers the whole of Nepal except three small gaps: 60 square miles north of Manang Bhot near the axis of the Great Himalaya, where the surveyors were driven back by coninuous blizzards; 150 square miles north of Jagdol Lekh, which were sketched very roughly owing to bad visibility and bad weather; and a small area by Rasua Garhi on the Tibet border, invisible from the Nepal side and only accessible from Tibetan territory which could not be entered.

The whole survey was carried out by men trained by the Survey of India; it was under the immediate control of Indian officers of the Department, directed by Colonel M. O'C. Tandy, d.s.o., r.e., of the Survey of India, and completed with the cordial co-operation of Lieutenant-Colonel Ganesh Bahadur Chattri and Captain Ganj Bahadur Karki of the Nepalese Army. The scale of the survey was four miles to an inch. In the report of the work it is stated that none of the triangulation is likely to be as much as 100 feet out in position or 20 feet in height.1
It is very possible that the flight may be able to improve the map of the higher glaciated regions. Every succeeding surveyor can, if he makes intelligent use of his predecessor's work, improve on it. But the proposed flight can only advance our geographical and topographical knowledge of Nepal if it makes use of existing work. In the air photography of mountainous country there is so much distortion in the vertical scale that there is at present no method of accurately plotting the photographs that are to be taken, without the aid of the careful framework of the ground surveyor, whose efforts have been ignored in the preliminary advertisement of the proposed flight.

The various official accounts of the preparations that appeared in The Times led a correspondent to break into song and to quote Dante as a prophet and advocate of wings to assist in the conquest of high mountains. He concluded by quoting:

But here a man had need to fly, I mean

With the swift wing and plumes of high desire.

To many mountaineers Dante is an inspiration. Perhaps we may be forgiven if we ask whom Dante had in mind when he wrote:

Now needs thy best of man, so spake my guide:

For not on downy plumes nor under shade

Of canopy reposing, Fame is won:

Without which whosoe'er consumes his days

Leaveth such vestige of himself on earth

As smoke in air or foam upon the wave.

Thou therefore rise. Conquer thy weariness

By the mind's effort in each struggle formed

To vanquish, if she suffer not the weight

Of her corporeal frame to crush her down.

1 General Report, Survey of India, 1926-7.

Surely he was thinking of the exhausted earth-bound mountaineer struggling upward to conquer a great summit-the summit to which he could fix himself'like a bark arrived at land': the actual summit- not a point a thousand feet above it or below it. The mountaineer is to the airman as the oarsman to the man in a motor launch. He may perhaps admit flying to his technique when the airman can land on the summit of a mountain, wait a short space in 'that new round', turn to his pilot and ask

. . . Loved Sir, Declare what guilt is on this circle purged,

then climb into his machine again, and fly back to his downy-plumed palace in the plains.

Khara-Khoto, Marco Polo's 'City of Etsina'

In the Deutsche Allgemeine Zjeitung for the 30th September 1932 appears an article, entitled 'Ratsel der Schwarzen Stadt' by Sven Hedin, in which reference is made to 'rivers which Sir Aurel Stein is alleged to have found' east of Khara-khoto on the Etsin-gol and which Dr. F. Bergmann, an archaeologist working under Sven Hedin, 'has proved not to exist'. Owing to Sir Aurel Stein's absence in Persia it is not possible for him to correct a statement which attributes to him a geographical inaccuracy of which he is not guilty.

I have carefully looked up the account given by Sir Aurel Stein in his great work, Innermost Asia, vol. i, pp. 453-62, and I can find no reference whatever to any rivers east of the old bed on which Khara- khoto (Etsina) itself stood. Sir Aurel Stein found no rivers or riverbeds in the region east of Khara-khoto. What he did note, after a careful exploration of the whole area, were traces of the ancient canals that evidently carried water from the river of Khara-khoto to the agricultural settlements existing at a distance of six miles east of the town down to late medieval times. Had there been 'rivers' in this area there would have been no need for canals taking off from the Etsin-gol. Sir Aurel indeed suggests that it was this dependence of the agricultural settlements on the water supply of the Etsin-gol that brought about their abandonment when that river changed its course to the westward. He writes (p. 459):

But it is quite certain that the shifting of the river from the old bed passing Khara-khoto to the bed now followed by the Ikhe-gol would inevitably cut off irrigation from the once cultivated area, which lies on an average fully six miles to the east of Khara-khoto, and fourteen miles from the nearest point of the present river channel; for it is clear that the canals upon which its cultivation depended must have been taken off from the Etsin-gol branch, which is still clearly visible at Khara-khoto and which was traced by Lai Singh for more than five miles farther to the south-west.

I have also examined Sir Aurel Stein's map (Chinese Turkistan and Kansu, Serial No. 45, Etsin-gol). There is no indication whatever of any rivers east of the one on which Khara-khoto stood.

There are other inaccuracies and omissions in this paper, possibly due to journalistic haste, which do not do justice to the work of Sir Aurel Stein. For instance, no mention whatever is made of the continuation of the ancient Han Limes to the east of the Etsin-gol having been definitely indicated by Sir Aurel when dealing with his survey of that region in 1914. It was only the excessive heat of the season then that prevented him from following the line farther. The detailed observations of Sir Aurel Stein on this ancient wall are described in Chapter XI of Innermost Asia.

Infra-red Photography in the Himalaya

Captain C. E. C. Gregory sends the following note on some experiments with Infra-red Photography in the Himalaya, together with a number of photographs taken by the method, of which three are reproduced.

'Most people whom I have met appear to think that the use of infra-red plates and filters is only possible with the most elaborate apparatus. From my own limited experience this is not so, and I believe that the method may prove to be of very great value in the Himalaya for the purpose of recording details of distant mountains.

'The camera and lenses used by me in my experiments were all made before the War. The camera was a double-extension Shaw Reflex camera, which I bought for fifty rupees, and had done up in England. Later I broke the front of it and had a new front made in the Srinagar bazaar. I used two lenses: a Zeiss adjustable tele- photo lens (138 mm.) with three negatives (75 mm., 58 mm., 27 mm.) and a Zeiss Teletessar of fixed focal length 32 cm. Both lenses were bought second-hand in England for £10 and £15 respectively. The first two negatives were excellent, but with the third the colour correction was not good enough for enlarging.

'It would be better to have the lens adjusted in the camera for infra-red light, for when the filter is fitted it is impossible to see through it; another method of surmounting this difficulty is to focus with a tri-colour red filter. In my experiments I focused without any filter and stopped down as small as possible; on the whole I obtained quite sharp negatives, fit for enlargement, by using a focal length between eighty and a hundred inches and a stop varying between f 90 and f 128.

'Using the filter the infra-red plate has a speed in sunlight of approximately H and D 10. I found that for a distant view of the snows, at say sixty miles, the correct exposure was from two and a half to three minutes when using a stop of f 90, and six minutes with a stop off 128; but the exposure has to be varied according to the amount of shadow on the distant face of the mountain.

'I found no more difficulty in handling the plates than if they had been panchromatic. I used a changing-box and a tank for development. A fairly bright green safety light of the correct composition may be used, but personally I prefer to do all the work in the darkness of the changing-box. For development I found Azol, diluted to one in sixty, satisfactory. Infra-red plates, I consider, should be placed in category 'D5 of the Azol list, when exposed for very longdistance telephotography, but the time of development should be cut down for closer views. Both the exposure and development should, of course, be ample in order to obtain all possible detail.

'It should be remembered that owing to the low speed of the combination of infra-red plate, filter, and telephotography, very much longer exposures than usual are necessary, and therefore in the Himalaya, where there is often a considerable wind, a small camera on a very secure tripod should be employed in order to avoid vibration.

'I may perhaps mention that the plate is useless without the filter unless the object to be photographed is illuminated with infra-red light. The plate also tends to lose its speed with time, and it should therefore be used as soon as possible. I should add, however, that those used by me were imported into India in July and showed no deterioration after being kept in the hills for nearly six months. But I would add a word of warning: Don't expect the impossible. Photographs taken from the foothills into the dust and haze of the plains can show no more detail than can be seen through good binoculars, though considerably more than will be registered on a panchromatic plate used in conjunction with a 'G' filter.'

The Hunza Valley Glaciers, 1932

The Hasanabad, Sasaini, Pasu, and Batura glaciers were visited and examined during May 1932 by Major W. R. F. Trevelyan and Captain M. H. Berkeley and the Minapin glacier in June by Captain L. W. Wooldridge.

The Hasanabad glacier was visited on the 23rd May. Major Trevelyan reports that the appearance near the snout has been altered by a big landslip on the right bank, said to have occurred about July 1931. Although ice is now visible at a point forward of the ice-cave(reported by Mr. H. J. Todd in 1930 to be level with the Ghoshe Bar Nala, and the source of the stream) Major Trevelyan considers that the glacier is in periodic retreat.

'This ice,' he writes, 'about 150 yards forward of the ice-cave and 250 yards back from the terminal moraine mentioned by Mr. Todd, is close against the left bank and may easily represent a narrow tongue of the glacier so hidden by rubble and debris as to have been mistaken previously for lateral moraine. Or it may be a strip of ice forced forward on the left bank by the upheaval on the right. The source of the stream is actually from an ice-cave 150 yards farther back from the cave of 1929 and 1930, and 300 yards back from the foremost ice at the present time. Summer seasonal conditions had commenced, but I do not think these and the accidental variation caused by the landslip could account for the attenuated state of the glacier and the disintegration of the ice near the snout.'[1]
Major Trevelyan considered that erosion by the Ghoshe Bar Nala would confine the glacier near its snout towards the left bank of the Hasanabad stream-bed, where it would be concealed under debris until it definitely retired north of the mouth of the Ghoshe Bar.

The Sasaini glacier is an unsatisfactory glacier to observe owing to its spread. It was examined on the 27th May. The stream was found to issue from the glacier in two nullah-beds at least half a mile apart. At the southern end there was very much more water than at the northern, and the glacier front was smooth, steep, and about 250 feet high. The ice at the northern end showed some signs of disintegration and slight traces of apparently fresh terminal moraine, though little water was issuing from it. In spite of the contrast between the two ends of the snout it maintains a very even front, approximately a thousand yards from the left bank of the Hunza river, and appears to have undergone little variation since 1925.

The Pasu glacier was visited on the 27th May. The cairn erected in 1930 was intact and the magnetic bearing from it to the snout exactly the same (356°). The glacier appeared healthy, clean white ice falling to within 500 yards of the snout. Thence, however, it diminished rapidly in volume, the actual snout almost merging into the rubble of the stream-bed, as reported by Mr. Visser in 1925.

The Batura glacier was crossed on the 28th May and again on the 6th June. The path across the glacier was slightly below that of 1930. The local inhabitants reported that the glacier is deteriorating; Major Trevelyan considered this statement to be correct. The snout reached the bed of the Hunza river as before.

The Minapin glacier was visited by Captain Wooldridge on the 28th June. The snout was only from 5 to 10 yards farther back from the position of the cairn erected in 1930. The tongue was smaller than in 1930 and the actual snout was a small block of ice almost severed from the main glacier.

This glacier was at its last maximum advance about 1913 and has been steadily retreating ever since. It appears to be nearly at its position of maximum periodic retreat and may be expected to commence advancing within the next few years.[2]
The Yale University Expedition to the Himalaya

In another part of this volume Dr. de Terra gives a brief account of the observations made in Ladakh during the summer of 1932. Dr. de Terra has now carried out detailed geomorphological investigations over a very large area east of the upper Shyok river, for prior to his expedition in 1932 he had accompanied the late Dr. Emil Trinkler in 1927-8.[3]
Dr. de Terra's conclusions regarding the extensions of the various ranges of the Karakoram east of the upper Shyok are of very great interest. Without any doubt the main range of the Karakoram, the Muztagh, is cut through south of the Changchenmo confluence by the Shyok, and is to be found between the Changchenmo and the Panggong basin. In this region it changes direction from south-east to east and, for a considerable distance farther east exists only as great isolated massifs rising up from the eroded plateau of eastern Ladakh and western Tibet. Dr. de Terra's observations on the Karakoram range to the south of the Muztagh, which used to be known as 'the Kailas range', are also of great interest. This range, which de Terra calls the Kailas-Karakoram at present for want of a better name, is shown by him to be prominent between the Tang-yar (Map 52 F, Tayar) valley and the Shyok valley between longitudes 770 50' and 78° 12' E. His full account will be eagerly awaited by those interested in the complicated topography of this region.

Dr. de Terra also spent some time in the Punjab Salt Range and in the Kashmir valley. In the latter he made the important discovery of the tusk of an elephant of extinct species-very possibly a mammoth-together with stone implements of Middle Palaeolithic type. The tusk was, I understand, found in the 'karewa' deposits and was carefully excavated.

Dr. de Terra was accompanied throughout his investigations in Ladakh by Khan Sahib Mian Afraz Gul Khan, of the Survey of India, and speaks very highly of the Khan Sahib's capabilities.

The Accuracy of Himalayan Maps

Some mountaineers, like other human beings, are inclined to be illogical. They like to have good maps of the mountains they wander over and at the same time to experience the thrill of pioneer discovery, to set foot or gaze on a country that has never yet felt the tread of a human foot or the gaze of a human eye. At a meeting of the Royal Geographical Society held on the 2nd November 1931 some of the members of the Kamet expedition showed this rather illogical attitude.

Dr. T. G. Longstaff was present and able, owing to his great experience of our Himalayan maps, to make a very effective and vigorous reply. It expressed so well the views of some of us who have travelled in the high Himalaya that it is well worth repeating here. Dr. Longstaff said:

Now what I am going to say is not a reflection on anything that the speakers have said, but I want to point out that the conditions now are different from what they used to be. The criticism of the Survey of India map is due to a misunderstanding: that survey was made in the 'seventies. It cannot be compared to the work done by the Indian Survey at the present time. I very carefully read up before I went to that part of the world the literature of the country from 1800 onwards, and I looked up the old Survey Reports. I found that the surveyors were definitely ordered not to waste time on uninhabited districts. They were to map the inhabited valleys and the villages. The old triangulation is reliable, but this map is not a topographical survey at all. It was a question of expense. They were definitely told that in uninhabited country they were to spend as little time as possible, and they were simply to sketch in what they could quickly see, without visiting the glacier regions. So those maps are really not comparable in any way with modern work; and they never claimed to be topographical surveys in the modern sense of the word.

Then there is one other thing I wish to say: that our predecessors in those countries, like Sir Richard and Henry Strachey in the 'fifties and 'sixties, Edmund Smythe, Drummond, and Webber of the Forest Department, and so on, even to later expeditions than that, found that the local men had the greatest terror of going into those snow regions inhabited by gods and demons. You have to go very slow with those people. If the earlier explorers had tried to force them to go with them up on to the glaciers, there would have been difficulties for subsequent travellers. Bruce, Slingsby, Meade, Kellas, and others did not, as a matter of fact, force the local people; they were particularly careful when taking natives into any place of real difficulty or danger. That policy is now bearing fruit and that policy has rendered it easier for explorers who have come afterwards to get the local men to accompany them. Fear and distrust have gradually worn off: conditions are certainly a little different now as compared with twenty-five years ago.1
No map is perfect. And no map can ever hope to please every one who may use it. Sportsmen travelling in the Himalaya have been known to prefer the old type of Himalayan map which showed the hill features by hachures. The old Atlas sheets certainly attained a high standard of draughtsmanship and were frequently most artistic. But they are certainly not up to the standard of modern requirements, either for administration or scientific purposes. Much better maps are required, especially for the populated parts and therefore for the unpopulated parts as well, for it is not possible to change radically the system of hill representation in different parts of a map. Also there are other people to be catered for besides the 'sportsman'. The Himalaya are now in process of being explored scientifically, and for geological and geomorphological purposes a much more accurate map is required than one merely fit for valley travel or sportsmen. A good modern, scientifically constructed map should show not merely the general topography of the ground, but it should indicate also the nature of the climate that has made the ground what it is, the economic possibilities of the ground, the difficulties that the inhabitants have to contend with on the ground, and possible solutions of those difficulties. An accurate, scientifically constructed map shows these things by reason of the symbols the surveyor has used to show water features, vegetation, and other facts of geography. Our old maps did not show these things any more than did their contemporaries in Europe. Where the modern survey of the Himalaya has been carried out, as in Kashmir, this information may now be read from the map; and when our administrators are sufficiently geographically minded to realize the value of that information, and when the necessary money is available, doubtless the modern survey will be carried over the rest of the Himalaya.

A great deal of private exploration in the Himalaya has been carried out during the last thirty years. Travellers have criticized the Survey of India for not having incorporated all this material on our maps. The difficulty is to know whose work to accept. We have known travellers who have pointed out 'errors' on a map, and who themselves have been proved wrong by subsequent travellers. See, for instance, the controversy on the Nun Kun topography in the Geographical Journal, vol. Ivi, p. 124. Compare also the maps of the Hispar glacier by Lord Conway and the Workmans, where in many respects the earlier map of Lord Conway is better than the later one; or compare the maps of the upper Baltoro by Dr. J. J. Guillarmod who corrected the Survey of India map, and the Duke of the Abruzzi, who corrected Dr. Guillarmod's. These are but instances of common experience. It is not easy for a small department to publish new editions of the 500 maps on the quarter-inch scale and the 8,000 maps on the one-inch scale that cover India, whenever new material, covering perhaps only a small portion of a sheet, happens to be available.

1 Geographical Journal, vol. lxxix, p. 14.

'Accuracy' on a map, after all, is not an absolute quantity: it is a relative quality. In little-known parts of the Himalaya a modern mountaineer must expect to find that surveys executed perhaps seventy years ago are not up to modern standards. As time goes on surveys become more correct and maps improve. Switzerland is now being completely resurveyed by the most modern and most accurate method, stereo-photogrammetry. Travellers in that country will become accustomed to a map of very high accuracy, where every small fold in the ground is recognizable. It must be very many years before such a magnificent series of maps is available for the Himalaya, and mountaineers will therefore be all the more grateful for the splendid maps of the Kangchenjunga region which have resulted from the recent private expeditions of Professor Dyhrenfurth and Paul Bauer.

Shooting-grounds on the Spiti Border

Lieutenant G. S. Thompson, r.h.a., sends the following notes of two visits he made, in 1929 and 1932, to the strip of Bashahr State east of the Spiti river.1 Bharal (ovis nahura) is the only game animal obtainable there, but they are numerous and there are some good heads. On the outward and return journeys ibex, gooral, and black bear are obtainable. The shooting-grounds are off the beaten track and rarely shot over. The double journey from Simla and back is about 500 miles, but not expensive, and if two subalterns go together, they can manage a two months' holiday and sport on two months' pay.

1 Survey of India Maps 53 I and 52 L, scale 1 inch = 4 miles.

The following are some details of the route. The Hindustan- Tibet road is followed from Simla as far as the crossing of the Thanam river below Shaso, about 180 miles from Simla (3i°45' N., 78°3i/ E., Map 53 I). From this point there are two routes, by the Hangrang pass and by the Sutlej valley. Thompson took the first in 1929 and the second in 1932.

After crossing the Hangrang pass, the northern route descends to the Spiti river and crosses it by a jhula (a single-wire rope-bridge with slings) connecting the hamlets of Leo and Naku. The Sutlej valley route follows the Hindustan-Tibet road to its termination at Poo. Here the Sutlej river has to be crossed to the left bank, which is followed to Namgea, beyond the junction of the Spiti and Sutlej rivers. From Namgea there is a poor but practicable path across the Sutlej by a bridge below the village and a very steep climb to the hamlet of Tashigang on the south-western slopes of Leo Pargial, whence a fairly level track winds round the spur to Naku. This second route, which Thompson considers the better, is not marked on the map, which is from surveys about seventy years old. The disadvantages of the first route are that, having climbed for five hours to the top of the Hangrang pass (14,530 feet), one has to descend almost the same distance to cross the Spiti river. Also the transport of kit by the jhula across the river is a long and tedious performance.

There is good 'bharal ground' all along the slopes of the Leo Pargial massif from Naku northwards to the frontier of Tibet. Thompson considers the best ground to be near the borders of Tibet about 8 miles north of Chango. These are only about 25 or 30 miles from the Hanle border of Ladakh, but there is a narrow strip of Tibet intervening (Map 52 L).

Mules are the best form of transport from Simla to Poo, and, if on only two-months' leave, it is advisable to arrange beforehand to keep them for the return journey. From Poo onwards coolie transport must be used; sufficient men are usually available at each stage, but if there is difficulty in obtaining enough, a certain number are always willing to carry for several marches. Atta can be obtained at each stage as far as Poo, and in bulk at the latter place for the onward journey. Eggs, chickens, and milk can frequently be procured on the Hindustan-Tibet road, but in general supplies should be taken from Simla.

An 'Inner Line pass' is necessary since all the country lying east of the Spiti river in these parts is beyond the 'Inner Line'. The actual frontier of Tibet is not demarcated on the ground nor shown on the map. It is, however, well known locally and runs from a nullah some four miles north-east of Namgea on the left bank of the Sutlej, across that river to Leo Pargial, thence along the crest-line of the massif to about latitude 32°N. From here it runs down to the Pare Chu just above the junction of this tributary with the Spiti river.

Lieutenant Thompson asks me to say that he will be very willing to give further information to any member who wishes to visit the country.

Short Notes on some 'Ammon Blocks' in Ladakh

Captain C. E. C. Gregory sends the following brief notes on the Ovis Ammon blocks Nos. 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12. They are all situated south and south-east of Leh on the left bank of the Indus.[4]
No. 7 (Polakonka). Captain Gregory considers this a good Ammon block for the second half of the year. The ammon from Zara and the neighbourhood of the Tagalaung pass move up into the cooler hills, known as Puthar Takta, immediately to the north of and about twenty miles from the Kar lake as well as to the vicinity of the Tsang La. Gazelle may be found round the Kar lake, but were very scarce in 1932. Excellent bharal are to be found on the hills to the west of the Kar lake and above the Polakonka pass.

No. 9 (Gya). This is a good summer and early spring block for ammon; in the first half of the year they may be found within five or ten miles of Gya village, and in the last half on the hills overlooking the Kiameri La, at the head of the nullah of that name. There is a spring with an excellent plot of grass on the right bank about two miles from the pass which attracts the ammon. There are also bharal on the left bank of this nullah, but Captain Gregory saw no good heads. Gazelle are absent.

No. 10 (Zara). Good ammon are reported in the extreme south of this block; but there is a greater likelihood of sport early in the year than later. Gregory considers it better ground for bharal than for ammon. From June to September there are large herds of Changpa sheep being grazed in the nullah, which drive the game elsewhere. Gazelle are occasionally found in the Zara and Rukchen nullahs, and used to be plentiful at Pongo Nago (Kar lake region). Gregory saw several good bucks there in 1929, but only one in 1932. The hills between Rukchen and the Kar lake contain very large bharal, the horns of one picked up by Gregory measuring 30 ¼ inches.

No. 11 (Markka). The Markha nullah has very steep rock sides, and though possibly in a very severe winter an occasional ammon might move to the bottom of it, there is no chance of finding one in this block after the 1st April.

No. 12 (Karnak or Khurna). This block is very similar to No. 11. It is possible that ammon come over in the middle of winter at the extreme head of the nullah, but before the season opens they have left. Neither of these last two blocks contain gazelle, and bharal are small and scarce.

The Kohala Bridge

In July 1931 traffic was interrupted on the Jhelum valley road at Kohala where the abutment of the bridge was destroyed by a landslip on the right or British side of the Jhelum. For some years anxiety had been felt owing to the formation of the rock. The destruction of the abutment caused the collapse of the first span.

A new bridge was constructed in 1932 and opened on the 1st August. The work was carried out by the bridge engineers of the North-Western Railway, in conjunction with the Public Works Department of the Punjab, and was, according to reports, completed in under four months. The bridge is designed to suit the difficult river conditions at Kohala, where landslides are of not infrequent occurrence on the right bank. A cantilever extension from the central span projects to within a few feet of that bank. Between the trestle forming the support on that bank and the extremity of the cantilever a light suspended span has been arranged, so that, in the event of displacement of the support by landslip, only the small span will be affected. This can be rapidly set right at trifling cost, thus obviating any serious dislocation of traffic.

The Chong Kumdan Glacier, 1932

I am indebted to Mr. J. P. Gunn, Executive Engineer of the Punjab Irrigation Department, for the gauge readings published below. They were received after my paper on the Chong Kumdan glacier had gone to press, but confirm the remarks made on p. 100. It is interesting to compare these readings with those of 1929.

Khalsar, 1932
Date Hour Gauge Date Hour Gauge
9-7-32 morning 4.9 11.7.32 7 a.m. 22.0
evening 4.9 8 . 19.0
10.7.32 (no readings) 10. I2.0
11.7.32 3 a.m. 50.0 noon 6.0
4 40.0 6 p.m. 2.3
5 35.0 midnight 0.9
6 26.0 12.7.32 4 a.m. 0.0
In 1929 the flood reached Khalsar about 8 a.m. on 16th August when the gauge registered 8 feet. It rose 45 feet in about half an hour, remained at that height till 10 a.m. and then suddenly rose another 18 feet where it remained till 3 p.m. The total rise was 63 feet. It then dropped 50 feet in an hour to a gauge reading of 21 feet and continued to fall steadily till, by the morning of the 17th, the water was 9 ½ feet below its original low level on the 16th.

It is unfortunate that no readings were taken on the 10th August 1932, but the rise appears to have been fairly rapid. There was, however, no sudden fall of 50 feet as in 1929, a fact which indicates a more leisurely flood passage; but on both occasions the level after the flood fell considerably below the previous low level, probably due to flood scour.

Skardu, 1932
Date Time Gauge Date Time Gauge
9-7-32 morning I2.2 11.7.32 morning 14.5
evening 12.4 evening 32.4
10.7.32 morning 12.8 12.7.32 morning 16.0
evening 13.4 evening 16.5
To these figures may be added the remarks of the Tahsildar of Skardu, quoted on p. 100: ‘At 14.20 hours [2.20 p.m. on nth] water seen rising. At 18.00 hours [6 p.m.] gauge reads 32.2. The rise was thus 17.9 feet in about 3 hours 40 minutes. In 1929 the flood reached Skardu at 8.30 p.m. on the 16th August, the gauge having registered 17 feet two hours previously. By 9 p.m. the river had risen 8 feet to a reading of 25 feet. The highest reading was 42 feet at midnight, a total rise of 25 feet in 3 ½ hours. The water remained at this level for 3 hours but still stood at 35 feet at 7 a.m. on the 17th. It was thus still 18 feet above normal seven hours after attaining its maximum.

Date Time Gauge Date Time Gauge
12.7.32 10 p.m. 902.0 13-7-32 midday 918'5
11 ,, 902.0 5 P.m. 918-25
midnight 904.5 7,, 917-6
13-7-32 1 a.m. 906.0 midnight 9I5-2
2 907.7 14.7.32 6 a.m. 912-0
3 ,, 909.5 midday 908-3
4 ,, 911.5 6 p.m. 906-2
6 916.0 15-7-32 6 a.m. 904-0
8 917.o 8 903-9
10 918.0 6 p.m. 903-9
In 1929 the level began to rise at 2.15 a.m. on the 18th August. It rose 16.5 feet in the first 6 hours, a further 6 feet in the next 3 hours, and another 4.5 feet by 2 p.m. The peak of 56 feet was reached at 6 p.m. the same day, giving a total rise of 28.5 feet in about 16 hours. In 1932 the peak, 918.75 was reached at 12.30 p.m. on the 13th July, giving a rise of 16 ¾ feet in 13 ½ hours. On both occasions the fall was very gradual but regular.



We offer our heartiest congratulations to the members of the Mount Everest Flight, which successfully accomplished the flight from Purnea over Nepal to Mount Everest on the 3rd April.

A selection of magnificent photographs taken by the expedition appeared in The Times of the 24th April and in the Illustrated London News of the 29th April, while there has been a good deal of Press thunder about 'the conquest of Mount Everest' and 'Nature's Last Terrestrial Secret Revealed'.

That these two statements are somewhat wide of the mark (apart from the fact that the summit is as yet still untrodden) is shown by the published photographs themselves and by comparison with existing ground surveys. As will no doubt be realized before this note is printed, 'the awe-inspiring summit of Everest as seen slightly from the north-west', shown as the first full-page picture in The Times supplement, is actually a view along the northwest arfoe of Makalu (27,790 ft.), some thirteen miles south-east of Mount Everest; while the illustration showing 'the amazing cliffs of black rock and terrific ice-slopes' of the 'north-east slopes of Everest, looking along the climbers' path', almost certainly shows a considerably lower mountain, possibly about 22,500 feet, between Makalu and Pethangtse, and standing at the head of the Parichokarma tributary of the Imja Khola, in which lies the Dingboche Monastery, visited by the Survey of India during the Survey of Nepal in 1926. There is no shadow of doubt that neither of these two mountains is Mount Everest, nor one and the same. The snow plume of Everest is absent and the local topography and mountain-structure are not Everest's.

The problems of identification when surveying on foot or in the air are very great, and the error of identification that has been made is perfectly intelligible under the circumstances. Fortunately a second flight was made, and it is to be hoped that when the second batch of photographs are examined they will enable us to improve the existing maps. But once more it must be asserted that until the foot of man is placed on the actual summit of Mount Everest, the problem that man has set out to solve has not been solved.

[1] Mr. Todd visited the Hasanabad glacier on the 18th April 1929. The end was then hidden under debris and the stream issued from a dirty ice-cave about 400 yards upstream of the line joining Hayden's marks. The snout was level with the Ghoshe Bar Nala. The local people reported that the glacier was shrinking year by year. (Records, Geological Survey of India, vol. Ixiii, p. 234.)

[2] See Himalayan Journal, vol. iii, pp. in, 112; also Records, Geological Survey of India, vol. lxiii, pp. 230, 232, 235, 236, 239.

[3] A brief account of Dr. Trinkler's expedition appeared in Himalayan Journal, vol. iii, p. 42. Some notes commenting on Dr. de Terra's observations will be found in the same journal, p. 143, and a review of Dr. Trinkler's general account of the journey in vol. iv, p. 194. The scientific accounts are published in two large volumes entitled Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der Dr. Trinkler'schen £entralasien- Expedition. Berlin: Dietrich Reimer and Ernst Vohsen, 1932. Vol. i, by Dr. Trinkler, deals with the geography, and vol. ii, by Dr. de Terra, deals with the geology. A comprehensive review of the two volumes appeared in the Geographical Journal, vol. lxxxi, p. 156.

[4] See Survey of India Maps 52 G and K.

Over Jalkot in the Indus Valley (350 17` 30`` N. 730 19` 00``E.) Indus Kohistan in background Crown Copyright

Over Jalkot in the Indus Valley (350 17` 30`` N. 730 19` 00``E.) Indus Kohistan in background Crown Copyright

Over the Indus valley by Shatial (350 33` 00`` N. 730 33` 00`` E.) Crown Copyright

Over the Indus valley by Shatial (350 33` 00`` N. 730 33` 00`` E.) Crown Copyright

Nanga Parbat from the North-west. Mummery’s route was by the Diamirai face, shown on the right; Merkl’s by the Rakiot glacier, shown on the left. Merkl’s Camp 7 was on the ridge immediately to the right of Rakiot to the right of Rakiot peak Photo. Royal Air Force; Crown Copyright

Nanga Parbat from the North-west. Mummery’s route was by the Diamirai face, shown on the right; Merkl’s by the Rakiot glacier, shown on the left. Merkl’s Camp 7 was on the ridge immediately to the right of Rakiot to the right of Rakiot peak Photo. Royal Air Force; Crown Copyright

Looking south towards Nanga Parbat over the Indus valley at Rakiot.  Rakiot glacier in the background  Photo. Royal Air Force: Crown Copy right

Looking south towards Nanga Parbat over the Indus valley at Rakiot. Rakiot glacier in the background Photo. Royal Air Force: Crown Copy right

Badrinath (or Chaukhamba), 22,880 feet. Infra-red photograph from a distance of 69 miles Photo. C.E.C. Gregory

Badrinath (or Chaukhamba), 22,880 feet. Infra-red photograph from a distance of 69 miles Photo. C.E.C. Gregory

Trisul, 23,360 feet, in the morning. Infra-red photograph from a distance of 72 miles Photo. C. E. G. Gregory

Trisul, 23,360 feet, in the morning. Infra-red photograph from a distance of 72 miles Photo. C. E. G. Gregory

Kedarnath, 22,770 feet. Infra-red photograph from a distance of 69 miles Photo.  C.E.C. Gregory

Kedarnath, 22,770 feet. Infra-red photograph from a distance of 69 miles Photo. C.E.C. Gregory

A family party of Bharal (Ovis Nahura) Photo.  C.E.C. Gregory

A family party of Bharal (Ovis Nahura) Photo. C.E.C. Gregory