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



he Annual General Meeting of the Himalayan Club was held at New Delhi at 9.30 a.m. on Friday the 24th February 1933. General Sir Kenneth Wigram took the Chair.

The Report of the Honorary Secretary, Major-General W. L. O. Twiss, which is printed below, was read and adopted. The Club accounts for the year 1932, which are being circulated to members, were confirmed. The Officers, Members of the Committee, and Additional Members of the Balloting Committee for 1933 were elected, and Messrs. A. F. Ferguson & Co. were reappointed Auditors to the Club. Details of other business transacted will be found on page 162.

Report on the Work of the Club in the Year 1932

By the Honorary Secretary

Membership.-During 1932, 22 new members were elected to the Club: there were 11 resignations and 2 deaths. The membership of the Club has now risen to 349.

Two lady members were enrolled, bringing up the total to three. It does not seem to be generally known that ladies are eligible for membership under the same conditions as men.

Obituary.-In August a very sad accident occurred on Panjtarni, near Pahlgam, Kashmir, which resulted in the death of Lieut.- Colonel C. F. Stoehr, r.e., and Lieutenant D. M. Burn, r.e. I will say no more here of this tragic occurrence, as obituary notices on these two officers, who were among the keenest members of the Club, are published elsewhere in this Journal, together with a report of the accident. On behalf of the Club and after consultation with General Sir Kenneth Wigram, Vice-President, and Colonel H. L. Haughton, Treasurer, I sent a cheque for Rs. 150 to defray the expenses connected with the rescue operations, that had been so promptly and ably conducted by Major K. C. Hadow. This action has since been unanimously approved by the Committee of the Club.

Although it happened in January 1933, and therefore not actually during the year under report, I cannot refrain from alluding to the death of Wing-Commander C. C. Durston, who was killed by a buffalo on the 11 th January, when on a shooting expedition in the Central Provinces. 'Daddy' Durston was one of the finest characters I have ever met, and I am proud to have been able to number him among my friends. He was a keen sportsman, an airman of great experience, and a very gallant gentleman, who was universally popular. By his death very many of us have lost a valued friend, the Royal Air Force one of their best officers, and the Himalayan Club one of their keenest members. He was most anxious to join the 1933 Mount Everest Expedition, and it was a great disappointment to him not to have been selected to take part in it. I had intended to propose him this year as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Club.

Expeditions.-Among the expeditions of 1932,1 must first record the tragedy on Panjtarni in Kashmir on the 12th August. As stated above, a full report of the accident, as far as is known, is being published in the Himalayan Journal.

The year saw a determined attack on the great western summit of the Great Himalaya, Mount Nanga Parbat, by a combined German-American party of mountaineers under the leadership of Dr. Merkl of Munich. This party, which included an American lady, Miss Elizabeth Knowlton of Boston, was joined at As tor by Lieutenant R. N. Frier, of the Gilgit Scouts, who acted as transport officer, and was of the greatest assistance to the expedition. Repeated efforts were made to reach the north-east side of the plateau near the summit, by means of the upper Buldar-Rakiot ridge, and considerable experience was gained of the difficulties to be encountered before success will be possible. Avalanches were active and these to some extent contributed to the ultimate failure to reach the summit, for much of the equipment was lost and the morale of the porters was lowered. Ice-caves, found to be of the utmost value on Kangchenjunga, were not suitable on Nanga Parbat, and only two porters could be persuaded to go as high as Camp 6 (21,650 feet). Rakiot Peak (23,170 feet), was climbed on the 16th July by Herren Aschenbrenner and Kunigk, but the weather finally broke up on the 19th July and, though several determined attempts were made during August, culminating in a last desperate venture by Merkl, Herron, and Weissner on the 28th August, sickness and bad weather brought the gallant enterprise to a close, leaving the great mountain still unconquered.

An account of this expedition with photographs and a sketch-map is being published in the Journal.

On the way home, a most regrettable accident happened in Egypt. Rand Herron, a young American, and the only American of the party besides Miss Knowlton, was killed whilst climbing one of the Pyramids. It is feared that this sad occurrence may mean abandonment of the plan formed by the members of the expedition before leaving India, to return to the attack on Nanga Parbat in 1933.

Another expedition of considerable interest was the reconnaissance carried out by Mr. Hugh Ruttledge on the south-eastern flanks of the great circular curtain of Nanda Devi. Further details of this expedition will be found in the Himalayan Journal.

Dr. de Terra, who accompanied Dr. Emil Trinkler, on the latter's journey to Eastern Ladakh and Sinkiang in 1927-8, has spent several months during 1932 investigating the geology and geomorphology of the extensions of the Karakoram ranges east of the upper Shyok. His results in the neighbourhood of the Panggong Lake and Chang- chenmo are of considerable interest and will be published in the Journal.

Our old friend the Chong Kumdan glacier, which had advanced across the upper Shyok valley during the winter of 1929-30, as we had expected, came into the limelight again in early July. The accumulated waters of the lake managed to find a weak spot in the degenerate ice near the snout and, as we had hoped, were released without disastrous consequences. Captain C. E. C. Gregory, who visited the glacier in 1931, and whose interesting report was published in the 1932 Himalayan Journal, has again collected some valuable information about the break in 1932, and has forwarded it to the Honorary Editor.

Several expeditions were made into Sikkim by members of the Eastern Section. In one case a party consisting of Captain G. H. Osmaston of the Survey of India, Mr. F. C. Osmaston, Mr. A. B. Stobart, and Mr. J. Latimer, passed over the Lungnak La into Lhonak, and attempted to climb the peak to the east of the Langpo and Jonsong massif, called by the International Himalayan expedition the 'Fluted Peak' (see Himalayan Journal, vol. iv, p. 130), and calculated by the latter to be 20,548 feet in height. They succeeded in reaching a position about 200 feet below the summit, but were unable to reach the top itself owing partly to dangerous snow and partly to lack of time to traverse the final ice-arete. After visiting the Chota Nyima La, the height of which was accurately fixed, the party crossed the watershed between Lhonak and the Zemu glacier, and reached the latter by the Green Lake glacier. Captain Osmaston remarks that there is plenty of room for detailed survey work in the higher parts of these glaciated regions.

Another expedition was an attempt on Mount Chomiomo by Messrs. Spence and Hale. Leaving the route to the Donkya La, north of Thangu, they approached the summit by the northern edge of the north-east glacier. In three days they established a camp at 20,600 feet. On the following day they proceeded some distance in a southerly direction towards the eastern summit, but partly owing to lack of acclimatization and partly because their porters' boots gave out, they were forced to return from a height of 21,000 feet, some 1,400 feet below the summit.

It is unfortunate that M. Marcel Kurz, one of the Swiss members of the Himalayan Club, selected Nanga Parbat as his ground for exploration, for it is impossible for two expeditions to visit the same mountain in the same year. Mr. F. S. Smythe had already stood down in favour of Dr. Merkl, who was the first in the field. But we shall hope to see M. Kurz out in India again another year.

Towards the end of 1932 Herr Bauer published his new map of the Zemu glacier. This is a most beautiful and accurate production, and marks a great advance in large-scale Himalayan cartography. The Himalayan Club made a grant of Rs. 200 towards the expenses of publication, and it is hoped that the success that has attended this new method of stereo-photogrammetric survey in the Himalaya will induce more and more expeditions to make use of it.

On the 17th October an interesting flight was carried out by five Royal Air Force aeroplanes, under the command of Flight Lieutenant Isaac, from Risalpur to Gilgit, the distance of 286 miles being covered in 2 hours 20 minutes. The party spent two days at Gilgit and, during their stay there, carried out flights in the Hunza, Nagar, and Rakiot areas. They returned to Risalpur on the 20th October, the time taken on this occasion being only 2 hours 5 minutes. A number of excellent photographs were taken in the course of this expedition, some of which are being reproduced in the Himalayan Journal; those of Nanga Parbat and Rakaposhi are perhaps of the greatest interest to us, and are wonderfully good and clear.

Expeditions in 1933.-The great event of 1933 will of course be the Mount Everest Expedition, an all-British enterprise, under the leadership of Mr. Hugh Ruttledge, formerly of the Indian Civil Service, and one of the Founder Members of the Himalayan Club.

As is well known, the Tibetan Government had for some years withheld permission for a renewed attack on Mount Everest, but in July 1932, Lieut.-Colonel J. L. R. Weir, our Political Officer in Sikkim, succeeded in obtaining leave from the Dalai Lamai for an expedition to attempt the ascent in 1933. As soon as the welcome news was received in England, a strong Everest Committee was formed under the aegis of the Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club, with Admiral Sir William Goodenough, g.c.b., m.v.o., President of the Royal Geographical Society, as its President. Mr. Ruttledge was selected as the leader of the expedition, an excellent choice in every way; among the members are Mr. F. S. Smythe, the leader of the successful Kamet expedition in 1931, and Captain E. St. J. Birnie, of Sam Browne's Cavalry, and Dr. Raymond Greene, members of the Himalayan Club, who went with him. A number of other members volunteered their services, but it has not been found possible to include them.

On the 2nd September I received a cable from Sir William Goodenough, asking us to nominate a member of the Himalayan Club to serve on the Mount Everest Committee and, after discussion with General Sir Kenneth Wigram, I replied by cable, nominating Sir Geoffrey Corbett, and also suggesting the utilization of Lieut.- Colonel Kenneth Mason's knowledge and experience. Sir William Goodenough wired at once, cordially agreeing with our proposal, and Sir Geoffrey Corbett gladly accepted his invitation to join the Everest Committee. Since then I have been in correspondence with Sir Geoffrey Corbett regarding the use of wireless, with special regard to the importance of meteorological information, and the employment of Gurkha non-commissioned officers to help with supply and transport arrangements.

The expedition sailed from Tilbury on the S.S. Comorin on the 20th January and is due to arrive at Calcutta about the middle of February, and I am sure I voice the feelings of all members of the Himalayan Club in wishing it every success and in expressing the hope that the year 1933 will see the conquest of the highest peak in our world by an all-British expedition.

It is a great satisfaction to all of us in the Himalayan Club that Mr. Ruttledge, one of our Founder Members, has been selected to lead the expedition. Since his selection, he has been engaged in studying all possible aspects of the enterprise, and we may be sure that no details will be omitted and that full provision will be made for every eventuality that can be foreseen.

In addition to the land expedition, an attempt is to be made to fly over Mount Everest by aeroplane, mainly for survey purposes. I do not know the detailed arrangements for this enterprise, but understand that Major L. V. S. Blacker, formerly of the Guides, is to be leader and in charge of the survey (i.e. observer and photographer), Lord Clydesdale the chief pilot, and Major P. T. Etherton the London manager. The original intention was to carry out the flights in January or February, but it looks as if they will not be attempted until March.

Another expedition of importance is that to be undertaken by a party of four Liverpool climbers under the leadership of Mr. Pallis. The object of this enterprise is to explore the Gangotri glacier, one of the principal sources of the Ganges, and the surrounding mountains. The assistance of the Himalayan Club has been requested, and we are doing our best to meet the requirements of the party.

It is unnecessary to say that the Himalayan Club will always be ready to assist mountaineering parties or expeditions of exploration in the Himalaya by every means in its power. We did our best to help Dr. Merkl's party last summer, and might have done more if we had received longer notice of the expedition. In this connexion I would say that a most appreciative message was sent by the Consul- General for Germany, expressing 'sincere gratitude for the kind assistance which Dr. Merkl's German-American Himalaya Expedition has found from the authorities in British India, as well as in Kashmir, while trying to reach the summit of Nanga Parbat. The friendliness shown by authorities and private people alike finds my warmest appreciation.' The Consul-General goes on to say 'I especially want to mention in this connexion the very valuable help and advice my fellow-countrymen received from Major-General W. L. O. Twiss, of Army Headquarters, and Honorary Secretary of the Himalayan Club '.

I only mention this to emphasize one of the roles of the Himalayan Club, and one of the duties of its Honorary Secretary, but would remind you that the Honorary Secretary, whether a civilian official like Mr. Mackworth Young, or an officer at Army Headquarters, like myself, is usually a very busy man, who cannot give anything like as much time to the affairs of the Club as he would wish to be able to do.

Eastern Section.-At a Committee meeting of the Eastern Section of the Himalayan Club held at the United Service Club, Calcutta, on Monday, the 21st November 1932, the following decisions were made:

  1. It was definitely decided after discussion that the proposed Club hut should be located in the neighbourhood of the Sebu La. A rough specification and estimate has been arrived at by discussion with the State Engineer, Sikkim, and Mr. Gourlay undertook to obtain further details from the Swiss Clubs on the subject.
  2. With regard to the proposed memorial to be erected in Darjeeling, it was decided that the only prospect of raising an adequate sum for its erection would be by the assistance of those in England who had previously suggested a memorial to Chettan, and it was decided to write to them on the subject, sending a copy of the proposed design. The design and plan of the proposed memorial are being taken to England by a member of the Eastern Section Committee, who is going on leave, in the hope of interesting people in England and raising additional funds.
  3. It was resolved to sanction Rs. 100 from the Eastern Section funds for the production of Herr Bauer's map and to inform the Central Committee accordingly, with the suggestion that Herr Bauer might be approached on the subject of making the Himalayan Club or the Eastern Section selling agents for the map.
  4. Mr. Gourlay proposed that the ski now in the possession of the Eastern Section should be made over to Mr. Wyatt for use in Chitral. As there is little chance of ski being used in Sikkim, this was agreed to.

Lectures.-On the 31st August 1932, Mr. Ph. C. Visser, Consul- General of the Netherlands and one of the leading members of the Club, delivered a most interesting and successful lecture, illustrated with numerous lantern slides, on his journeys of exploration, especially that undertaken in 1929-30, in the Karakoram and Himalaya mountains. This lecture was given in the Gaiety Theatre, Simla, under the auspices of the Himalayan Club, to a packed and most appreciative house, consisting of nearly all the most distinguished people in Simla. Not the least remarkable feature of Mr. Visser's travels and explorations was the part taken in them by his wife, who accompanied him throughout and shared all the discomforts, fatigues, and hardships inseparable from such a great undertaking.

On the 13th September Mr. Visser gave a second lecture to an even larger and equally appreciative audience at the Prince of Wales' Theatre.

Photographic Exhibition.-A photographic exhibition, organized by Lieut.-Colonel F. B. Scott, was held at Simla in September in connexion with the annual exhibition of the Simla Fine Arts Society. A large number of photographs of very high artistic and technical interest were received. Unfortunately, owing to the limited space available, it was not possible to display them all to full advantage. A selection of the most striking and interesting photographs was made for display on the screens, and the rest were placed in portfolios.

Mr. Ph. C. Visser exhibited a fine series of enlargements taken on his Karakoram expeditions. Lieut.-Colonel H. W. Tobin lent an album of photographs taken at heights from 20,000 to 25,000 feet on Herr Paul Bauer's Kangchenjunga expeditions of 1929 and 1931, and Herr Paul Bauer himself sent six photographs, which he has very kindly presented to the Club. Lieutenant Hugh Rose sent some fine photographs taken on the British Frontier in Upper Kumaun and Garhwal. Dr. Ernest Neve's contribution consisted of a series of fourteen water colours of views in Kashmir. Captain C. E. C. Gregory sent two excellent panoramas and a large number of enlargements of various scenes, including the Shyok lake and dam, and some very interesting photographs of wild animals of Ladakh. Lieutenant G. Sherriff sent a series of fine enlargements and Lieutenant P. R. Oliver the same of the Baspa valley and Kanawar Kailas region and of the Dharmsala Dhauladhar range. Lieutenant N. R. Streatfield sent some photographs taken on a trip to the Rupal Nala below Nanga Parbat, and Lieutenant A. C. K. Maunsell sent photographs taken by Lieutenant E. A. Howard of the Tirich Mir, Madaglasht, and Drosh in its winter coat. Colonel H. L. Haughton contributed a series of three beautiful enlargements representing Dawn, Noon, and Sunset, and Lieut.-Colonel C. H. Stockley, Captain D. G. Lowndes, and Captain M. H. Berkeley sent views of Himalayan scenery. Mr. R. M. Gorrie sent a series of Himalayan forest photographs illustrating very clearly the protection afforded to cultivation by forests in the Himalaya.

Library-Lieut.-Colonel F. B. Scott has very kindly taken over the duties of Librarian, and has already effected a reorganization of the library. A number of books have been received from kind donors, one of the most interesting of which is an album of pictures of Simla in 1846, entitled £Simla', by Captain Thomas, presented by Sir George Barnes.

The Journal.-Owing to our Honorary Editor having left India on leave pending retirement and having been appointed to the Chair of Geography at Oxford University, it has been decided to print and publish the Himalayan Journal in future at the Clarendon Press at Oxford. This will enable proofs to be more expeditiously passed than would be possible if printing were to be continued in India. Distribution to members in India will be made from the branch of the Press in Bombay, where additional and back numbers may be purchased. This arrangement will enable printing to be taken over again in India, should it be advisable when Lieut.-Col. Mason hands over the editorship. Lieut.-Col. Mason asks me to say that he is deeply grateful for all the help and courtesy he has received from Messrs. Thacker Spink, and their printers, Thacker's Press and Directories, Ltd., during the publication of the first four volumes. He also asks me to impress upon members and local honorary secretaries the importance of keeping him informed of their travels and of any events of Himalayan interest, so that he can arrange with contributors for the publication of their papers.

Geography and Geology .-It is of interest to note that a second edition of the Sketch of the Geography and Geology of the Himalaya Mountains and Tibet, by Colonel Sir Sidney Burrard and the late Sir Henry Hayden, published in 1907-8 by the Survey of India, is in course of preparation, and that the geographical portion is being revised by Sir Sidney Burrard himself, whilst the geological portion has been revised by Dr. A. M. Heron.

I would also mention that Mr. J. B. Auden has completed a detailed geological map of the Krol belt, from the neighbourhood of Solon in the Simla hills as far east as the Tons river, and that it is hoped to publish a report thereon during the year 1933.

Miscellaneous.-We regret the departure of Lieut.-Colonel J. L. R. Weir, Political Officer in Sikkim, to take up a higher appointment at Baroda, but welcome his successor, Mr. F. Williamson, formerly H.B.M.'s Consul-General at Kashgar, and a prominent member of the Club.

Early in the year the Eastern Section entertained Lieut.-Colonel and Mrs. Weir to dinner, on their return from Lhasa, and had the privilege of hearing a most interesting description of their visit to the famous capital of Tibet.

We congratulate Lieut.-Colonel F. M. Bailey on his appointment as Resident in Kashmir, and are lucky to have such a keen and enthusiastic member of the Club in this important post.

We now exchange our Journal with the publication of many other Clubs of a similar character to ours, and amongst others from which I have recently received requests for the exchange of Journals are the Slovensko Pleninsko Drustvo (Slovene Alpine Society), the largest Alpine Association of the Slovenes, which has a membership of 11,000 and maintains a large number of Alpine hostels and Alpine paths in the Jugo-slav Alps, and the Japan Camp Club, a Club located in Tokyo, which has a membership of over 3,000, and is formed by people interested in mountaineering, ski-ing, and travel and exploration in general. It is needless to say that I have gladly accepted these requests.

Conclusion.-I should like to ask you to authorize me to send a message of thanks to Mr. Mackworth Young for the work he did for the Club whilst holding the office of Honorary Secretary. As Secretary of the Army Department of the Government of India, he was a very busy man, and we owe him a deep debt of gratitude for all he did for the Club.

I am sure you will all agree with me in expressing regret at Sir

Malcolm Hailey's decision to resign the office of President of the Club, which is due to his feeling that he is too far from the Headquarters of the Club to enable him to carry out his duties as he would like to be able to do. Sir Malcolm Hailey has always taken the greatest interest in the welfare of the Club, and I have to thank him for several most valuable suggestions made to me since I assumed my present office.

I would put forward the name of General Sir Kenneth Wigram, Chief of the General Staff of the Army in India, now one of the Vice-Presidents of the Club, as Sir Malcolm Hailey's successor. If you agree to this, I would propose Mr. A. H. Lloyd, Member of the Central Board of Revenue, as Vice-President in Sir Kenneth Wig- ram's place. I would also request you to pass a vote of thanks to Colonel H. L. Haughton, c.i.e., c.b.e., for his services to the Club in the capacity of Honorary Treasurer, an office which he has held for nearly two years; he has had a great deal of his own work to do at Army Headquarters and, in spite of this, has carried out his duties as Honorary Treasurer most ably and efficiently.

Additional Business Transacted at the Meeting

Votes of thanks were passed to Mr. Mackworth Young, c.i.e., i.c.s., Honorary Secretary of the Club from April 1929 to March 1932, and to Colonel H. L. Haughton, c.i.e., c.b.e., the recent Honorary Treasurer.

The resignation of H.E. Sir Malcolm Hailey from the office of President, for the reasons stated in the Honorary Secretary's report, was accepted with much regret, and General Sir Kenneth Wigram, k.c.b., c.s.i., c.b.e., d.s.o., Chief of the General Staff, was elected President in his place.

The Honorary Secretary stated that numerous applications for membership are being received and that he felt sure that, if the objects of the Club and the advantages gained by members were more fully realized, there would be a still greater desire to join. H.H. Major Raja Sir Narendra Shah of Garhwal, was elected recently a Life Member, and has given a most generous donation of Rs. 500. Applications for membership from Indian gentlemen are increasing steadily.