Himalayan Journal vol.08
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.08

Publication year:
1936

Editor:
Kenneth Mason
Index
  1. THE MOUNT EVEREST RECONNAISSANCE, 1935
    (ERIC SHIPTON)
  2. PEAK 36, SALTORO KARAKORAM, 1935
    (Lieut. JOHN HUNT)
  3. EARLY EXPLORERS OF KAFIRISTAN
    (Lieut.-Colonel B. E. M. GURDON)
  4. A JOURNEY IN WESTERN CHITRAL
    (LIEUT. J. F. S. OTTLEY)
  5. A CLIMB ON ISTOR-O-NAL, 1935
    (CAPTAIN R. J. LAWDER)
  6. THE TREND-LINE OF THE HIMALAYA-ITS NORTH-WESTAND SOUTH-EAST LIMITS
    (D. N. WADIA)
  7. THE HIGH ROAD OR THE LOW ROAD?
    (DR. G. STRICKLAND)
  8. WEATHER CONDITIONS ON NANGA PARBAT, JULY 1934
    (KARL WIEN)
  9. RAINFALL AND RAINY DAYS IN THE HIMALAYA WEST OF NEPAL
    (LIEUT.-COLONEL KENNETH MASON)
  10. AN EXCURSION TO GANGOTRI
    (J. B. AUDEN)
  11. KOLAHOI BY THE SOUTH FACE
    (JOHN HUNT)
  12. THE ASCENT OF KABRU
    (C. R. COOKE)
  13. A CHUKKUR IN THE HIMALAYA
    (Captain H. L. WYNDHAM)
  14. EXPEDITIONS
    (ACROSS SOUTHERN TIBET)
  15. IN MEMORIAM
    (FREDERICK WILLIAMSON 1891-1935)
  16. NOTES
    (EXPLORATION IN CENTRAL ASIA)
  17. REVIEWS
  18. CORRESPONDENCE
  19. CLUB PROCEEDINGS
  20. CLUB NOTICES

THE MOUNT EVEREST RECONNAISSANCE, 1935

ERIC SHIPTON

When the Tibetan authorities granted permission for an expedition last spring, the Mount Everest Committee decided that it was too late to organize an attempt to climb the mountain before the monsoon of 1935. There were, however, several problems to be solved and a reconnaissance was therefore sent out as a prelude to an attack in 1936.

The main objects of this reconnaissance were:

(1) to collect data about monsoon snow conditions at high altitudes and to investigate the possibility of a monsoon or post- monsoon attempt;

(2) to examine possible alternative routes from the west. Two new routes had been suggested: the north-west ridge which rises from the head of the Central Rongbuk glacier; and the almost unknown 'Western Cwm' which is really a tributary of the valley which contains the Khumbu glacier;

(3) to report on the ice formations on the North Col. This would be of use in deciding what equipment would be necessary for the expedition in 1936;

(4) to try out new men as suitable members for the 1936 expedition and to secure for them some preliminary acclimatization;

(5) to investigate the all-important question of provisioning high- altitude expeditions, and to make experiments in food and equipment;

(6) and lastly, and perhaps most important, to carry out a stereo- photogrammetric survey of the immediate neighbourhood of Mount Everest, and to extend the survey of the reconnaissance expedition of 1921.

With regard to the first of these objects: a considerable body of opinion had held that the best time for an attempt on Mount Everest was during, or immediately after, the monsoon. There was much to be said in favour of this view: probably the most serious, and certainly the most dangerous obstacle climbers had had to meet on the mountain had been the terrible north-west wind which is such a constant menace before the breaking of the monsoon. When the monsoon winds are established this obstacle is removed and there follow some months of comparatively calm and warm weather. Weather conditions, indeed, are then ideally suited to prolonged siege tactics, such as those employed with such remarkable success by the Bavarian expedition on Kangchenjunga. It would, however, be quite impossible to employ such tactics on Mount Everest before the monsoon. Whether or not they could be used afterwards depended upon whether the heavy snow which falls on the mountain during the monsoon would cause an insuperable obstacle. We knew very little about it; we knew that the snow falling during the earlier part of the monsoon would consolidate readily on flat glaciers and on the great fluted ridges of the Himalaya, but we were by no means certain about the behaviour of snow lying on extensive faces at altitudes above 23,000 feet. The disastrous avalanche on the North Col in 1922 and the check the Bavarians received on Kangchenjunga as soon as they left their ridge in 1931 were indications that monsoon snow at great altitudes formed at least a temporarily impassable barrier. Whether or not there occurred at any time during the warm monsoon a period when this high snow became manageable was a question badly in need of an answer.

For the survey the Committee invited Michael Spender to join the expedition. He had very little time to get together his outfit, but managed to do so. The Committee also invited five mountaineers to join the expedition: H. W. Tilman, who had been my companion in the exploration of the Nanda Devi basin in 1934; L. V. Bryant, of New Zealand, who brought with him a considerable reputation for toughness and mountaineering skill, a reputation which was endorsed over and over again during the expedition; Edwin Kempson, a house-master at Marlborough College, who had some twelve years of winter and summer mountaineering in the Alps to his credit; Dr. Charles Warren, who had had previous Himalayan experience with Marco Pallis's expedition in 1933; and E. H. L. Wigram, a medical student of St. Thomas's, the youngest member of the party.

Choosing the members of an Everest expedition is a very difficult task, as it is impossible to foretell a man's reaction to high altitudes. Even though he may be a fine mountaineer in the Alps, he may in the Himalaya be rendered incapable of climbing simply by mountain sickness. This being so, it was of some use to the Committee to test out various men during this preliminary expedition. In the choice of a team for such a project as climbing Mount Everest there is no room for sentiment or favouritism, and it is exceedingly unfortunate for us that the two best men that I have ever travelled with, Tilman and Bryant, were unable to acclimatize sufficiently well to come with the 1936 expedition.

The party assembled inDarjeeling about the 21st May, and moved off three days later. We took with us as interpreter Karma Paul, who has served on all the Mount Everest expeditions except the first, and fifteen Sherpa and Bhutia porters, amongst whom were our old friends Ang Tharkay, Pasang Bhutia, Tsering Tharkay, and Rinzing.

There was no need for us to go straight to Mount Everest. While on the journey out we had conjured up visions of exploring vast areas of country to the west of it. Unfortunately the Tibetans would not agree to this plan, and our field of work was eventually extremely limited. However, we took a route differing from the usual one and, after crossing the Kongra La, struck due west, keeping close along the southern frontier of Tibet. Then, passing the trade-route from the Walung district of Nepal at Sar, we explored the very beautiful ranges of Nyonno Ri and Ama Drime which had been so attractive to Wager and myself in 1933.1 The party was split up into three, and in this way we managed to cover much ground in a short time. There is a great deal of interesting work still to be done in this district if the sanction of the Tibetan authorities can be obtained.

As in 1933 we were received with the utmost courtesy and hospitality by the Tibetans, who welcomed us into their houses and entertained us at each village. We were able, in this way, to get to know something of the charm of their civilization. We gathered also the reason for their hesitation in permitting us to enter their country: it was that when past expeditions had gone through, the districts near the route had been upset and the people had taken some time to recover. Those in authority considered that large sums of money spent on transport, food, &c., are apt to have an unhappy influence on the people. I think that this point of view should be respected.

We reached Rongbuk on the 4th July and were delighted to find that our old friend the abbot of the monastery was alive and well. He received us with his usual good humour, and in his speech of blessing gave us much sound mountaineering advice. We halted one day at Rongbuk, and on the 6th July proceeded straight up to Camp I without visiting the old base camp.2 With us we took what food and equipment we required for a month and, with the help of a few villagers from Chodzang, were not delayed by the necessity of relaying anything up the glacier. The glacier torrents were greatly swollen and sometimes presented us with difficult problems. Occasionally we were forced to construct a rope-bridge in order to get our baggage across. Apart from this there was, as usual, no difficulty whatsoever in reaching Camp III, where we arrived on the 8th July.

Spender, in the meantime, had gone up the main Rongbuk glacier to start his work in that direction. The weather about this time was quite fine and the nights were cold. While exploring the Nyonno Ri range we had had several distant views of Mount Everest and were surprised to see that, although it was already the middle of June, the upper part of the mountain appeared to be completely free of monsoon snow and, as far as we could judge, there was no wind. Evidently in 1935 the monsoon was late; I do not think that it began in the region of Mount Everest until about the 26th June. By now, however, at the beginning of the second week of July, there was a considerable amount of snow on the upper part of the mountain, and it had much the same appearance as when we last saw it in July 1933

1 These groups are shown on the Survey of India map 71 P.-Ed.

2 See the special map of 'Mount Everest and the Group of Ghomo Lungma' (scale = 1 mile), published with Everest 1933 (Hugh Ruttledge); or the Survey of India map 'Mount Everest and Environs' (scale 1" - 2 miles), published in 1930. The sketch-map on p. 7 is published with the permission of the Royal Geographical Society.-Ed.

A few hundred yards above Camp III, in fact within sight and hail of it, we came upon the body of Maurice Wilson.1 It would seem that he had died in his sleep from exhaustion rather than from starvation, since he had found the cache of food which had been left in 1933, and the dump was still well stocked. From his diary it appeared that he had gone to Camp III with Rinzing and Tewang, both of whom were now with us in 1935. Rinzing had shown him the whereabouts of the food dump near Camp III. Leaving his porters there he had started alone to make repeated unsuccessful attempts to climb the ice slopes of the North Col. He had been in a tent when he died, but it had been blown away from over his body.

We tackled the North Col in a very cautious frame of mind, having no intention of running any obvious risks with the monsoon snow. The weather conditions, however, for the past week, had been ideal for packing the snow, and although we examined each section of our route very carefully we could not detect anywhere the slightest tendency to avalanche. In detail, the aspect of the North Col had changed considerably since 1933. The middle section of our old route, known to us as 'the Punch Bowl', and the 30-ft. wall above it were contorted beyond recognition into a mass of tottering seracs which would have rendered the 1933 route exceedingly difficult, if not impracticable. A tongue of ice a few hundred yards to the right had protruded somewhat and now provided us with comparatively easy access to the old site of Camp IV. The ledge on which this camp had been placed had now completely disappeared, and the ice was far too steep to allow us to pitch a tent on it. In the upper section, great bulges of ice forced us to traverse right across the face before we could climb to the crest of the col, which was reached at a point very close to the site of our old Camp TV a. The big arctic tent and the food dump which we had left in 1933 were buried under some 8 feet of presumably monsoon snow.

We started work on the North Col immediately after we had arrived at Camp III, and after three days we established a camp at the foot of the north-east ridge of Mount Everest, on the very crest of the Col. We stocked it with enough food for fifteen days; it was occupied by Kempson, Warren, and myself, with nine Sherpas. Had conditions been favourable, we were now in a position to launch an attack on the summit with a good chance of success. The ease and speed with which we gained this position and subsequently evacuated it is strong evidence of the tremendous advantage which a light mobile party has over the heavy cumbersome organizations too frequently sent out to attack the great Himalayan peaks. There is no doubt whatever in my mind that an expedition consisting of more than six Europeans labours under the very considerable handicap of immobility and lack of unity; I am becoming increasingly convinced that the ideal number for an attempt on any of the great peaks of the Himalaya is six. This is, perhaps, borne out by the fact that no expedition consisting of a greater number of Europeans has ever achieved its object in the Himalaya.

1 See Himalayan Journal, vol. vii, 1935, p. 169.

Our plan now was to take a light camp to 26,000 feet, to investigate the snow conditions on the slopes on the upper part of the mountain, and to reconnoitre some of the ground about which there had been so much debate. We had established ourselves on the North Col in less than a week after leaving Rongbuk, and it seemed advisable to spend the next two or three days in resting and acclimatization. The weather, however, broke and was bad for the next four days, so that it did not seem advisable to push up the ridge at the moment. It would have been waste of time to wait on the North Col indefinitely; we therefore decided to leave all our food and tents on the North Col, to descend to the East Rongbuk glacier, and to climb peaks in the vicinity until the weather improved. Then we could reoccupy the North Col without further difficulty and go up the ridge to investigate the snow conditions at extreme altitudes.

With this plan in view we started to descend on the morning of the 16th July. In spite of bad weather, only a few inches of new snow had been deposited on the mountain during our stay on the North Col and the slopes below did not seem to have altered materially since we had made our cautious ascent. We descended in two parties: Kempson and I were in front with five Sherpas, while Warren was somewhere behind with the other four. We had not gone far before we were brought up sharp at the brink of a sudden cut-off which stretched for several hundred yards in either direction. This indicated that an enormous avalanche had recently broken away along the line of our ascending tracks: in fact, the whole face of the slope had peeled off to a depth of 6 feet. This was an alarming discovery, and there followed a somewhat heated debate as to whether we should retreat to the North Col or carry on down. The others advocated the former course, but it seemed to me that if, as we had reason to suppose, the avalanche had occurred on the previous night, then its track must indicate a temporary line of strength and it was not likely that another avalanche would fall immediately, while if we returned to the North Col we would later have to face a risk which we had no means of gauging. In the end, my argument was the simpler to put into effect and we went on down to the glacier without coming to any harm.

To my mind the incident had considerable significance. As I have said, very little new snow had been deposited on the slope, and this could not have had any appreciable effect on the old snow of our route which we had unanimously agreed seemed perfectly sound; and yet the avalanche had occurred along that very route. That fact indicated that we were not competent to judge the stability of monsoon snow at these altitudes. I therefore decided then and there to abandon our stores and tents and to have nothing further to do with the North Col during the monsoon. Later we were to have substantial evidence that monsoon snow neither disappears nor consolidates at altitudes higher than 23,000 feet in the region of Mount Everest. We were thus able to provide a definite answer to one of the chief problems which we had come out to solve. In my opinion the only time of year during which one can reasonably hope to reach the summit of Mount Everest is the exceedingly short interval between the end of the winter and early spring gales and the arrival of the monsoon. In 1933 there was no such interval.

The solution of the problem of climbing Mount Everest seems now to be more definite. Our subsequent investigations in the west revealed no alternative line of attack. Climbers and porters can, without difficulty, reach the foot of the yellow band at an altitude of 27,000 feet. It can fairly be said that the only problem lies in solving the difficulty of the last 2,000 feet.

From Camp III we moved the camp across the East Rongbuk glacier up a little side glacier lying at the foot of Khartaphu, and on the following day climbed that peak, which is 23,640 feet high. We carried with us the light photo-theodolite, but we were held up by difficult ice and before we could reach the summit clouds rendered it impossible to do any useful work from there. However, we managed to get some fine telephotographs of the summits of Mount Everest and Makalu, as well as some interesting and instructive views to the east. Meanwhile, Tilman and Wigram had been climbing two other peaks in the vicinity, and Bryant had come up to join us from below. He was still suffering badly from the effects of the altitude and was unfortunately unable to join in our activities at this time.

We returned to Camp II, where we met Spender. He had completed several good stations on both sides of the main Rongbuk glacier and had obtained sufficient data to enable him to draw a large-scale map of the north face of Mount Everest and to calculate with sufficient precision the altitude of any point on that face, both of which achievements will be extremely useful in planning a fresh assault on the mountain.

The party was now divided into two. Spender, Kempson, and Warren were to explore the country lying between the East Rongbuk glacier and the Doya La, while the rest of us remained in the vicinity of Camp II. We moved across to the east and climbed the much photographed Kellas Rock Peak, about 23,000 feet high. This mountain has so often appeared in newspapers under the name of Mount Everest that we experienced quite a thrill in reaching its summit. It was a grand climb and sufficiently difficult for the altitude. Here, as on Khartaphu, we found that there was a very marked and sudden change in the quality of the snow when we reached 23,000 feet. The snow on the ridges below was good and safe, but that lying above 23,000 feet had always to be treated with the utmost caution; in fact, it was very remarkable how suddenly the conditions altered. Later in the year the conditions became bad far below 23,000 feet, but throughout July we found them quite excellent, both for climbing and for moving about on the lower glaciers. We returned to Camp II and climbed the beautiful ice peak which rises above it to an altitude of 22,580 feet, and a very pleasant ice climb it was. After this we explored the little valley which joins the main Rongbuk valley on the east, and climbed two more peaks of 21,000 feet in its neighbourhood. This was done in order to be able to supplement with photographs the work which Spender had done in this valley a fortnight before. We returned to Rongbuk on the 31st July and were surprised to find Kempson was already there. A series of misfortunes had prevented them from completing the task they had set out to do. Their food supply had run short; they had encountered vile weather which seems to pour up the gorge of the Arun river during the whole of the monsoon; two of their Sherpas had developed dysentery, and Spender himself had been down with a complaint with disturbingly similar symptoms. However, they had done some good work and paved the way for a more thorough exploration of that fascinating and complicated district which later we were able to carry out. Spender had completed several good stations in the vicinity of what had come to be known as the Kharta Changri pass, while Kempson and Warren had climbed two peaks of over 22,000 feet, up which they had taken the light photo-theodolite. They had also climbed the beautiful peak of Kharta Changri, which is 23,070 feet high. The rest of the party arrived in heavy rain that evening, and we spent the next two days resting and devouring the luxuries which Karma Paul had collected in our absence: two sheep, twenty-one dozen eggs, and a little rancid butter. Our plan during this expedition was to live mainly off the country, a thing which is very easy to do in this part of Tibet. Sheep are plentiful and not expensive, and one seems to be able to obtain an almost unlimited supply of eggs. We frequently consumed over 100 of these between us in a single day, while on one occasion, when the party was divided, four of us ate 140 in one day. They were by no means always fresh and had to be scrambled or made into an omelette in order to disguise the bad ones. The party kept extremely fit on the whole and lao one lost weight seriously, although we spent some months on the glaciers at considerable altitudes. In my experience it is a great deal easier to keep fit and to keep up one's strength by living off the country than by keeping to a tinned diet, even though the local food may be a bit rough and unpalatable at first, and of course it reduces one's transport difficulties to a minimum.

About this time, unfortunately, Kempson had to leave us and return to England. Our next intention was to proceed up the main Rongbuk glacier and to attempt to cross the main watershed into some of the western valleys of the mountain. The party again divided, this time into three sections. Tilman and Wigram were to go to the head of the glacier to examine the possibility of crossing the Lho La and also to reconnoitre the north-west ridge of Mount Everest which rises from it. This ridge had been strongly recommended as an alternative route by members of the previous expedition. Spender, having recovered from his illness, and Warren followed them up a few days later with the object of establishing some further survey stations in this neighbourhood, while Bryant and I went up the West Rongbuk glacier. We now experienced a period of bad weather, though occasional clearings enabled us to carry out our work without too much discomfort. Bryant and I climbed three 21 ,ooo-foot peaks in the vicinity of the watershed and camped for two nights on the crest of a saddle from which we obtained most superb views over the country regularly referred to by the Sherpas as the Sola Khombu. Our men became quite excited when they recognized so close at hand landmarks which they knew well. We also had fine views into the great Western Cwm of Mount Everest. As far as we could see the route up it did not look impossible, and I should very much like to have the opportunity one day of exploring it, though of course it would involve an expedition with a base in Nepal which, I gather, is for the present out of the question. Unfortunately, we could find no way down on the other side and had to return the way we had come.

We returned to Rongbuk after an absence of about a fortnight, arriving there on exactly the same day as Tilman and Wigram. They had, as we expected, failed to find a route southward from the Lho La and had climbed the peak in its vicinity in order to get a comprehensive view of the north-west ridge, which they had no hesitation in pronouncing to be utterly impracticable in its lower section. From the head of the main Rongbuk glacier they crossed the difficult pass immediately north of the North Peak, Changtse, and ascended direct to Camp II. From here they climbed two more 22,000-foot peaks, thus exhausting the stock of interesting first ascents in the neighbourhood of the East Rongbuk glacier-with two exceptions, Changtse and Mount Everest itself.

Our next objective was Changtse, and after two days' rest at Rongbuk we set out once more up the East Rongbuk glacier, instructing Karma Paul to meet us in three weeks at Kharta with all the surplus gear. Our two main reasons for wishing to climb this peak were, firstly, to secure from its summit some telephotographs of the upper part of Mount Everest, and, secondly, to collect further evidence of the behaviour of monsoon snow at these extreme altitudes. We had not attempted to climb it before because we wished to compare the conditions up high at different periods of the monsoon. Tilman and Wigram had reported a marked worsening of snow conditions, and we began to doubt the advisability of attempting a peak nearly 25,000 feet at this time of year and to regret having left this one until so late. From Camp II we made our way up to and along the great horseshoe ridge of the mountain. We found that the snow was in a frightful condition and that the higher we got the worse it became. We had three camps on the mountain, the highest of which we placed at about 23,300 feet, almost directly above the North Col. In order to reach it we had to flog our way through snow up to our waists. The weather was bad, and at this camp we spent one exceedingly unpleasant night as our Primus stove ceased to function, the burners being unsuitable to that particular altitude, and we could not melt enough snow for drinking purposes. Since then, with the kind help of Mr. Oscar Condrup, we have made extensive experiments in the R.A.F. 'Decompression Chamber at Farnborough and have designed a burner which functions well at a pressure equivalent to an altitude of 35,000 feet. I recommend any one wishing to go on an expedition involving high altitudes to consult Mr. Condrup in this matter.

The next morning we started at dawn, but found the snow was even worse than it had been below. We were soon floundering in a seemingly bottomless morass. From where we were we could look down at the North Col and could see that the large Whymper tents which we had left there in July were now buried under fresh snow. The final ridge of the North Peak we found to be sharp; under existing conditions it was impossible to reach the summit, and we were regretfully compelled to abandon the struggle. When we regained the East Rongbuk glacier the next day we found Spender waiting for us in the central trough, having completed with much difficulty two stations in the Eastern Cwm. We at once sent all the porters over the stretch of glacier separating the trough from Camp II to fetch the supplies which had come up with us a week before.

We had decided before leaving Rongbuk to depart from the district by means of a traverse over the passes eastwards instead of coming back into the Rongbuk valley. We could thus explore some new country without touching the sensibilities of the Tibetans who might not like to see us leaving the beaten track. By the 23rd August, when the whole party started moving down the trough towards the Kharta Changri pass, the weather had begun to improve, there was less snowfall, the nights were colder, and the snow we had to cross was in a very much better condition than a week before. The first day's journey was a little tedious; we were also heavily laden although we had jettisoned everything that we could possibly do without. We camped on the moraine above the glacier, some miles short of the pass itself. With the heavy loads that we were carrying it was difficult to split up the party; however, we managed to arrange that Bryant and Warren should cross the glacier to occupy a high camp from which, on the following day, they could climb the triangulated peak, 22,740 feet. We ourselves followed up the glacier, conditions improving all the time. The same day we established ourselves in the camp that Spender had called the Tee-Cap Station'. West of Kharta Changri, at the head of the glaciers which flow down towards the Kharta valley, there is a remarkable sheet of neve, in appearance very like the ice coverings of the Arctic. The similarity to the Arctic is particularly stressed since this ice-cap has in many places a cliff wall surrounded by moraine or exposed rock.

The next day, favoured by fine weather, Bryant and Warren climbed their peak, while Spender, Tilman, and Wigram made a camp up on the ice-cap itself, from which Tilman and Wigram next day climbed a minor peak in the vicinity and Spender carried out survey. As soon as the whole party had rejoined at the ice-cap camp we moved off to the north-east to cross the glacier at the head of the Kharta Chu. From the camp at the head of the glacier we climbed the peak with the clinometric height of 20,750 feet. This was one of the pleasantest days of the whole expedition: the weather was perfect, the climbing good, and we had some of the finest views it is possible to imagine, embracing Kangchenjunga, Makalu, Mount Everest, and the mighty hosts of other satellites. We traversed the peak and joined Spender's party at a camp on the other side.

By now we were in country at the best only roughly mapped and actually very different from the rough indications. The district was dominated by the fine triangulated peak, 22,150 feet, which was known to us at the time as the 'Dent Blanche'. Naturally we were more eager than ever to continue the traverse of this high country according to plan. The more embarrassing, therefore, was it when the Sherpas presented a united front, saying that they had not enough food to carry on with and that we must give up what seemed to them a perfectly hopeless expedition, deliberately chosen along the one tract from which it would be quite impossible to draw supplies. However, they were persuaded that all would be well. Rations were certainly short; but they were adequate, and the Sherpas' lot would have been better had they obeyed our repeated instructions to abandon some of their surplus clothing and chattels, which included two old 1922 oxygen cylinders, in favour of the tsampa which they had left behind.

In order to relieve the situation, however, Tilman, Bryant, and Wigram crossed a pass into the valley of the Kharta Chu, where they would soon come upon yak-herdsmen and could carry out a satisfactory climbing programme, while we remained to climb the £Dent Blanche' and to assist Spender's survey equipment across the high passes which still lay between us and our destination, the Lang Chu.1 The first movement of our party nearly ended in tragedy. We were crossing a pass when we were faced by a very steep snow gulley, down which we had to go. Warren and I could not resist a glissade, but we instructed the Sherpas, who are somewhat unskilled in this method of descent and were carrying heavy loads, to climb down some easy rocks at the side of the gulley. Most of them obeyed and had no difficulty whatever, but Pasang scorned the caution of the others and started to glissade. Very soon he lost control and began to cartwheel down the slope. Fortunately for him his pack became detached and, slithering down the ice slope, shattered most of its contents, including our much prized pressure-cooker, on the rocks below. It is still a mystery to me how Pasang was not killed, but he escaped with no more than a badly bruised leg which, however, prevented him from accompanying us any farther. We sent down for help, and a pony which brought up the carcass of a sheep took Pasang down, while we continued on our way. Before he rejoined us, safe and sound in the Kharta valley, he had equipped himself with a wife, who accompanied the expedition back to India.

1 The Lang Chu is a tributary of the Arun (or Phung Chu), north of and parallel to the Kharta Chu (see S. of I. map 71P).-Ed.

Warren and I camped at about 20,000 feet on one of the easiest of the mighty ridges of the 'Dent Blanche', but partly owing to the conditions and mainly owing to the difficulties of the mountain, failed to reach the summit. The mountain appears to us to be climbable and is well worth a more serious attempt. It involves some very difficult climbing, however, and should not be attempted in a hurry and without a thorough reconnaissance. Beyond the ridge running north-west from the 'Dent Blanche' we came into a complex of ridges and glaciers by no means easy to descend. Travel and survey occupied all our time. From a mountaineering point of view this involved some intricate work as we were a slow and cumbersome caravan consisting of ten heavily laden individuals.

I frequently found myself at the top of a steep rock gully anxiously watching the remainder of the party inadvertently bombing each other with dislodged stones, while once we were compelled to ascend the difficult snow face of a minor peak in order to effect a passage from one glacier to another. Eventually, however, we reached what was for us the Promised Land. Before us were lakes and Alpine flowers, and beyond the gentle rolling pastures, where we knew there would be yak and yak-herdsmen. We were at first far from certain into which valley we had penetrated, and it was not until we saw the familiar features of the Doya La that we established the fact that we were in the Lang Chu. Soon we had as much fuel as we needed and descended gradually, stage by stage, into the luxuries of vegetation, warmth, and plenty.

From Kharta we had hoped to continue our explorations in the Nyonno Ri range, but the local authorities were not favourably disposed towards this plan; we therefore hired ponies and, despite the discomfort of the wooden Tibetan saddles, double-marched most of the way to Sikkim. Tilman, Wigram, Bryant, and I left Tibet by way of the Choten Nyima La and spent the rest of our time climbing in the beautiful Dodang Nyima range. The snow conditions, however, were appalling, and we were very disappointed in the little we were able to do. The monsoon was still effective in Sikkim, which also prevented Spender from carrying out the proposed survey of the country north of the Kangchenjhau.

Tirich Mir, 25,263 feet, Chitral, from a point on the left of the Barum Glacier above Donu Ghari(Photo: R.C.F. Schomberg)

Tirich Mir, 25,263 feet, Chitral, from a point on the left of the Barum Glacier above Donu Ghari(Photo: R.C.F. Schomberg)



2. north east face of Mount Everest, telephotographed from Khartaphu (the North Ridge falls to the North Col on right)

2. north east face of Mount Everest, telephotographed from Khartaphu (the North Ridge falls to the North Col on right)



1. Makalu, 27,79o feet, from Khartaphu, 23,640feet

1. Makalu, 27,79o feet, from Khartaphu, 23,640feet



3. Mount Everest and Kharta Changri from the north east

3. Mount Everest and Kharta Changri from the north east



4. North face  of Kharta Changri, showing typical icew-formation

4. North face of Kharta Changri, showing typical icew-formation



The region of Mount Everest

The region of Mount Everest



6. The highest peak of Lingtren from the east

6. The highest peak of Lingtren from the east



5. Eastern asprct of Kella, Rock Peak

5. Eastern asprct of Kella, Rock Peak



8. The north face of Nuptse and part of the Western Cwm

8. The north face of Nuptse and part of the Western Cwm



7. Looking down towards Sola Khombu, Nepal, from the watershed between Lingtren and Pumori

7. Looking down towards Sola Khombu, Nepal, from the watershed between Lingtren and Pumori



10. View westwards from above the Kharta Chu

10. View westwards from above the Kharta Chu



Khrta Changri, 23,070  feet, from the south-east

Khrta Changri, 23,070 feet, from the south-east



A peak above the Lang Chu climbed by Tilman, Bryant, and Wigram, 31st August 1935

A peak above the Lang Chu climbed by Tilman, Bryant, and Wigram, 31st August 1935



The ‘Dent Blanche’, 22,150 feet, and another peak above the Lang Chu

The ‘Dent Blanche’, 22,150 feet, and another peak above the Lang Chu