Himalayan Journal vol.10
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.10

Publication year:
1938

Editor:
Kenneth Mason
Index
  1. THE SOURCES OF THE SUBANSIRI AND SIYOM
    (F. Ludlow)
  2. THE SHAKSGAM EXPEDITION, 1937
    (MICHAEL SPENDER)
  3. RESUME OF GEOLOGICAL RESULTS, SHAKSGAM EXPEDITION, 1937
    (J. B. Auden)
  4. A WINTER VISIT TO THE ZEMU GLACIER
    (John Hunt and C.R. Cooke)
  5. THE ASCENT OF NANDA KOT, 1936
    (Y. Hotta)
  6. ACROSS THE GANGOTRI-ALAKNANDA WATERSHED
    (J.A. K. Martyn)
  7. KARAKORAM NOMENCLATURE
    (Kenneth Mason)
  8. THE ASCENT OF CHOMOLHARI, 1937
    (F. SPENCER CHAPMAN)
  9. NANGA PARBAT, 1937
    (PAUL BAUER)
  10. THE KASHMIR ALPS, 1937
    (James Waller)
  11. SOME SCRAMBLES ON THE DHAULA DHAR
    (J. O. M. ROBERTS)
  12. THE FUTURE OF CLIMBING IN TIBET
    (F. SPENCER CHAPMAN)
  13. SURVEYS AND VARIOUS EXPEDITIONS
  14. IN MEMORIAM
  15. NOTES
  16. REVIEWS
  17. CLUB PROCEEDINGS
  18. CLUB NOTICES

NANGA PARBAT, 1937

PAUL BAUER

(Owing to pressure of work while preparations were being made for another attack on Nanga Parbat in 1938, the account printed below only reached me after the first part of the Journal had gone to press. Paul Bauer had given me permission to include in his paper the earlier communications of the expedition, and I have therefore had to edit his text in places in order to include the extra material and to connect one part cf the story with another. The final text has been seen by Herr Peter Aufschnaiter, of the Deutsche Himalaja Stiftung, in the absence of Paul Bauer. Some of it is almost identical with reports made at the time of the expedition to The Times, and this is republished with the permission of the Editor of that newspaper. The appendixes are reprinted from the Alpine Journal with the permission of the Editor and of the Deutsche Himalaja Stiftung.-Ed.)

The outcome of the Nanga Parbat expedition of 1934 led to a reconsideration of the development of German endeavour in the Himalaya. In 1929 we had meant to make Kangchenjunga the touchstone of our quality and conception as mountaineers. We wished to experience the joy of exploring untrodden ground and to test our perseverance under the most trying conditions possible in the struggle to conquer one of the great heights of our world; and we then thought that our united efforts should be concentrated on that terrible but sublime mountain in Sikkim. With so large a number of mountaineers as we have in Germany, however, it is understandable that there were others who wished to follow their own aims in the Himalaya. Willy Merkl and his friends chose Nanga Parbat as the goal of their attempts in 1932 and 1934, probably because he wished to avoid the mountain where others had fought, and also, perhaps, because he thought that Nanga Parbat was 'easier'. This Nanga Parbat certainly is, especially since Merkl found the route from the Rakhiot side; but there can also be no doubt that Nanga Parbat has other problems to solve which fully make up for its lesser technical difficulties. The loss of ten lives in 1934 tells its own tragic and terrible story.

For those who felt compelled to carry on the purpose of the dead there arose the question whether they should make another assault on Nanga Parbat, or whether they should turn back to Kangchenjunga, the mountain of their old love. To Karl Wien, however, it would have been intolerable to attack another Himalayan mountain as long as Nanga Parbat held his comrades unavenged. He therefore took upon himself the task, more as a duty than as an inclination, of making a fresh attempt on Nanga Parbat. An onerous duty it was not, for he rejoiced at the thought of following and continuing the gallant tradition of his friends Merkl, Wieland, and Welzenbach.

The same feeling inspired the men who were chosen to go with him in 1937. A good Himalayan mountaineering party must have a strong nucleus of first-class men, and from this point of view the team of 1937 was ideal. It was particularly difficult for Hans Hart- mann, a married man with two children, to go once more through the dangers of such an undertaking. Yet the first pages of his diary, which was found after his death, are a striking testimony to the glowing spirit of the explorer that lived in him.1 Hartmann had come in 1931 with the advanced party on the north-east spur of Kangchenjunga, and his researches on the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes were of fundamental value to his science. These researches were to be continued on Nanga Parbat, and with that object he took with him Dr. Ulrich Luft, his assistant.

The other members of the expedition likewise belonged to Karl Wien's circle of friends: Giinther Hepp and Adolf Gottner had been with him and me in Sikkim in 1936;2 Pert Fankhauser from the Tyrol, full of good-natured strength and energy, had made friends with him on the most difficult climbs of the Wilder Kaiser; Martin Pfeffer had proved himself many times a great mountaineer; Peter Mullritter had been on Nanga Parbat already in 1934. On that occasion he had been the helpless spectator, high up on the mountain, of the disaster to his friends; and he was now to be official photographer to the expedition. Professor Troll, the geographer, had been with Wien for many months in the highlands of East Africa.

Even in this short account, I must not omit the gallant Sherpas who, in spite of the terrible blow they had suffered in 1934, again volunteered to assist their German companions. Several of the twelve who were chosen had been to the highest camps on Mount Everest. Sirdar Nursang was a man of iron endurance. Nima Tsering and Mingma had been on Siniolchu in 1936. Pasang 'Picture5, Mingma's brother, was the oldest soldier and friend among them; he had come in 1929 for the first time from his Nepalese homeland and had since served every major German and other expedition. His friendly nature made him a good companion and his intelligence was of great service when Brenner and others took him as their photographic assistant, from which he derived his nickname 'Picture'. Other Sherpas were Nim Tsering, who had been with the French in the Karakoram, Mambahadur (Sikkim, 1936), Kami (Mount Everest, Camp IV, 1936), Gyaljen Monjo, Jigmay, Chong Karma, Ang Tsering II (who, by the way, was not the man who had been on Nanga Parbat in 1934, but had been with the Japanese on Nanda Kot in 1936), and Da Thondup, who had been to the high camps of Nanga Parbat in 1934.

1With the permission of the Deutsche Himalaja Stiftung, an extract from the diary of Hartmann is printed in Appendix II to this paper.-Ed.

2 Himalayan Journal, vol. ix, 1937, pp. 58-73.

Camp 2, Nanga Parbat, 1937

Camp 2, Nanga Parbat, 1937




Already in the autumn of 1936 a considerable consignment of baggage had been dispatched from Munich to India and was transported, together with stores bought in India and equipment from the Sikkim expedition, over the passes to Tallichi. This plan greatly eased the problem of transport in the spring of 1937, when only a small number of porters were required in comparison with the cumbersome armies of men which the Himalaya has witnessed on some other occasions.

The march through Kashmir from Srinagar to the base camp was without incident, which is the best that can be said of an approach that leads over two snow-bound passes, the Tragbal and the Burzil, that were crossed in excellent condition. In Astor the party was joined by Lieutenant D. M. B. Smart, of the Gilgit Scouts, who was officially the liaison officer, though he soon fitted in with the spirit of the party and was the best of comrades.

The real attack began on the 22nd May, when the first group, Fankhauser, Hepp, and Miillritter, with five Sherpas, occupied Camp 1 at 14,500 feet. Two days later Camp 2 above the torn ice-fall of the lower Rakhiot glacier was established. The base camp was visited about this time by the Mohammedan priest of Tato, who described in detail the devil residing on the summit of the mountain, who is alleged to provoke storms by waving his huge ears.

On the 26th May a large group of porters and climbers were assembled in Camp 2 a little after midday, sorting out the loads and preparing to return to Camp 1, when there was a thunderous crash high up on the ice-wall of Nanga Parbat below the 'Silberzacken'. Within a few seconds it was seen that the great hanging glacier of the east ridge, the threatening aspect of which had already caused some anxiety, had broken away. Every one threw himself down behind the shelter of the tents and baggage while for half a minute a raging blizzard swept over the camp, tearing down two tents, smashing the tent-poles, and throwing men and loads about. Fortunately the snow particles were fine and there was no large ice debris in the wind, so that no one was hurt. Some one called out: 'Are all of you present, boys?’ The porters replied with grim humour, which seized all present, including the Baltis; and in half an hour the tents were up again and order was restored.

For the next few days the weather became increasingly bad so that the advanced party, which was reduced to Hartmann and Pfeffer, was confined in Camp 2. They dug a hole 6 feet deep for their tent, with strong walls and a snow staircase, and on their sponge mattresses laid on the floor were secure from avalanches and the weather for four days and nights. On the 31st May, however, in view of the continued bad weather, it was decided to withdraw them to the base camp.

On the 3rd June a second advance began from here and good progress was made. In less than four hours Camp 2 was reached, where it was found that another avalanche had fallen, smashing the pole of the provision tent. The 4th June was another fine day and the terrace for the site of Camp 3 was reached. On the plateau of the peak, however, the weather was bad and the storm was howling and driving huge vanes of snow over the ridge, while fantastic cascades of snow descended on Camp 2. On the 5th June the advanced guard moved up to Camp 3. Part of the terrace on which Camp 2 was built had broken off the night before, which led the group that followed to change the site of this camp.

Camp 3 was pitched on a spacious snow terrace at a height of over 19,000 feet and commanded a magnificent view. On the 6th June the advanced party reconnoitred towards the great terrace selected for Camp 4, at over 20,000 feet. They had a close view of the farther route, the powder-snow slopes to Camp 5, the Rakhiot peak,the 'Moor's Head', and the clean-cut 'Silbersattel', which hid the summit.

Camp 4 was occupied on the 7th June, when a change in the weather set in and operations were again held up. A very remarkable and unexpected climatic feature of early June was the extreme cold, the temperature on the morning of the 12th being 230 Centigrade below zero.

At this point I will quote from Karl Wien's last dispatch, for it was he who had promised to write an account of the expedition for the Himalayan Journal:

Karl Wien's Last Dispatch.

11th June.-Since we carried the advance up to the first camps in good weather as related in a previous telegram, the mountaineers' greatest enemies, fog and heavy snow-falls, have put our patience to a severe test and have shown us once more that the conquest of a peak of over 26,000 feet is necessarily a siege during which one must keep on hoping for a spell of good weather to weaken the defences. The advanced party laid the track from Camp 3 (19,680 feet) to Camp 4 (20,280 feet) on the 6th June and occupied it next day. On the 8th June the main party advanced up to Camp 3, which is situated slightly higher than in 1934 on a rounded snow- crest in grand surroundings. The tents were entrenched up to their tops in snow for protection against the wind and cold, the temperature having dropped to 20° below zero several times. Four sahibs, ten Sherpas, and twelve Balti coolies inhabit this lofty tent city. As the Balti men were fixing up their tent next to that of the Sherpas thick flakes of snow were falling and the following morning we awoke to an ice-cold, hoary winter's day. A deep powder of snow had buried our tents and our tracks. Nevertheless, our advance party started to prepare the way to Camp 5, but bad visibility and deep snow compelled them to return soon.

View from Camp 2 (1937) towards the crevasses of the Upper Rakhiot Glacier. The route to Camp 3 skirts the crevasses to the left

View from Camp 2 (1937) towards the crevasses of the Upper Rakhiot Glacier. The route to Camp 3 skirts the crevasses to the left



 Camp 4 and Rakhiot Peak, photographed in 1934

Camp 4 and Rakhiot Peak, photographed in 1934



On the 9th June, in spite of unfavourable weather, all the porters came up to Camp 4, which is now well equipped with stores to keep the porters for a long time. Therefore we were able to send the majority of the Balti coolies down to the base camp yesterday. An elderly man from Tato, who had been very keen to join us, went sick up here, and descended yesterday with four others. The downward track was obliterated by deep snow; however, three of our best Sherpas led the way, and assisted them at the difficult passages. Below Camp 2 (17,550 feet) Pasang, assistant regisseur of pictures, and also chief assistant of our cameraman, Peter Miillritter, also went down with them to fetch a box of films, and he gave a good account of himself as leader of the party.

Until yesterday Camp 4 was occupied by four men of the advanced party only, while the rest stayed in Camp 3 some two hours' journey below. Today we all moved up to Camp 4, eight sahibs, ten Sherpas, and four picked Baltis. The way up to Camp 5 leads by a steep gradient along the slopes of the ridge to the Rakhiot peak, and our gaze tries to penetrate the mist beyond its windswept, ice-strewn rocks, while we wonder in what condition we shall find the east arete to the 'Silbersattel', which is visible for fleeting moments when the clouds break. Peter Miillritter, a member of the 1934 expedition, compares the conditions then and now as follows: At the moment conditions on the mountain are similar to those met with on the fateful days of July 1934. The deep snow which has been lying since the break in the weather at the end of May is being added to daily, and whereas in 1934, on our second assault, we mounted up to Camp 4 on firm crusted snow, to-day our tracking party furrows deep trenches, only to find them snowed up and windswept the next morning. At that time the sun blazed all day; now a short bright spell tempts us out in the morning until mist and new snow-falls drive us back to camp. However, as we are all in the best of form, and acclimatization and training are being developed gradually by our daily efforts and our long stay at these altitudes, we are working our way up steadily and in good confidence.

14th June.-Heavy snow-falls continue. On the 12th June Camp 5 (21,648 feet) was reached. Owing to the unfavourable conditions it was not advisable to occupy it, and the mountaineers and Sherpas remained in Camp 4. To-day a message from Troll reached us stating that he has completed a great part of his research work in the Indus valley and has already been busy for some time in the vicinity of Astor. Troll intends to join us at our base camp before the end of this month, after thoroughly investigating the vegetation of the Rupal nullah to the south of Nanga Parbat.

In spite of the great difficulties the whole party was in fine condition. All had turned out to be good acclimatizers, and they had, in fact, acclimatized very well to altitude. Hartmann, a specialist in high-altitude physiology, had carried out research on each member of the party and knew from their blood-count exactly how fit each had become. Wien had worked out his plans in detail: six men were to push on to Camp 5, and from there four would go on to Camp 8, the other two, based on Camp 6, being responsible for maintaining a safe connexion upwards and downwards. Of the four at Camp 8, two would prepare the way and then act in reserve to the other two who would make the attempt. From Camp 5 onwards the party was to cut ice-caves for the protection of the men in every camp, to equip them with provisions, primus stoves, sponge-rubber mattresses, . and sleeping-bags to enable the party to withstand a siege by the weather and to safeguard retreat. Only the choice of men for the final tasks remained to be decided.

In Germany we were awaiting news from Nanga Parbat with the most intense interest.

I was sitting in my office about noon on Sunday the 20th June when I received a call on the telephone. There was a journalist at the other end. Among the mass of indifferent agency communications he had come across one with the terrible news that seven climbers and nine porters had been killed on Nanga Parbat by an avalanche. It seemed so incredible that I could not believe it. How could disaster once again, we argued, so terrible and of such magnitude, happen to men whose qualifications for the task could not be surpassed, and on a mountain that had once been classed as 'easy'-a word the sense of which in some measure must mean 'not dangerous5?

A brief account of the discovery of the disaster may be given in the words of a dispatch from Ulrich Luft sent from the base camp on the 25th June:

The last message we received from the seven mountaineers in Camp 4 was brought down to the base camp by Lieutenant Smart, who left there on the morning of the 14th June, bringing down five sick porters and also carrying the previous Press telegram.[1] Up till then the party had experienced very unfavourable conditions and had had to fight its way to Camp 4 in deep powder snow. At last the weather showed signs of improving and the track to Camp 5 had been prepared on the 13th. When Smart left for the base camp four mountaineers and a number of porters were starting off for Camp 5 intending to occupy it. This party was seen, however, returning from Camp 5 late in the afternoon of the same day; probably they did not reach Camp 5 in time to build ice-caves before nightfall.

Wien hoped to reach Camp 6 within another two days and from there to proceed up the ridge, taking a day each to reach Camps 7 and 8 on the 'SilbersatteP; from this camp they hoped to reach the summit under favourable conditions. Beyond doubt the following mountaineers were in Camp 4 on the night of the 14th: Wien, Hartmann, Hepp, Gottner, Fank- hauser, Pfeffer, and Miillritter. Nine Sherpa porters also slept there on the same night.

Three days later, on the 17th, I started from the base camp to join the party at Camp 4, leading up five fresh coolies with stores and the mailbag. Having spent the night at Camp 2, we started early in the morning up to the ice-fall in order to reach the upper glacier before the snow softened under the sun. After having gained Camp 3 before ten o'clock, I pushed alone up the comparatively gentle slopes of the upper Rakhiot glacier eager to meet my friends as soon as possible.

At midday I reached the foot of the ridge of rocks and ice which comes down from the Rakhiot peak. I knew that Camp 4 had been built up here on the 10th June. Not finding any trace of the camp I waited in the track of a gigantic ice avalanche. A serac some 300 metres above had split off and strewn a vast field of enormous ice-blocks and debris down the slope. The porters following slowly in my tracks only confirmed the worst of my fea^s. This was exactly the spot on which Camp 4 had stood.

We started at once to try and find some trace of the camp. The avalanche was at least a day old and the ice-blocks had formed a rigid mass. After some rough search we found only the rucksacks of Hartmann, Hepp, and Miillritter. Although it is not possible to fix the exact date of the accident, it is the opinion of Lieutenant Smart and myself that it can only have happened on the night of the 14th June. Knowing that the tents had been deeply entrenched in the snow, I realized that our efforts without suitable tools were futile.

I hurried down to the base camp, arriving there after nightfall. Smart sont off runners at once to Chilas and Gilgit asking for suitable tools and men. Our call for assistance found a ready response. Captain Mackenzie, o! (he Gilgit Scouts, accompanied by Mr. Sher Ali Ismaili, the executive engineer, hurried to us from Chilas with some trustworthy men. Major Cropper, commanding the Gilgit Scouts, also rushed to our aid as fast as possible.

Professor Troll arrived from Astor to-day. By now we have secured enough picks and shovels to be able to proceed up to the site of Camp 4 in an attempt to find the bodies of the missing men and to bring them to the base camp for burial. Two parties will be at work on the attempt. Lieutenant Smart offered at once to join me in coming up to Camp 3 with the two remaining Sherpas and several other coolies. In case of our being- successful we will lead a transport party once daily from Camp 4 to Camp 2 after having secured some of the more difficult crevasse crossings with fixed ropes. Simultaneously the second party will climb up to meet us from Camp 1 and continue the transport to the base camp, while we return to work at Camp 4.

The weather has been excellent ever since the disaster. If it remains favourable we hope to complete our task of recovering the bodies, taking all necessary precautions and not risking any addition to the heavy toll which the mountain has taken of us.

When gradually it became evident to us in Germany that the truth of the original dispatch could no longer be doubted, I realized at once that we must do something to relieve the terrible burden on Luft, the only survivor of the climbing party. Troll, who had been away in the Rupal nullah, had already started for the base camp.

I began to calculate how long it would take a relief party to reach the base camp from Munich by the fastest means of traffic. The result was depressing, for even if we went by air as far as civil aeroplanes could take us, we could not reach our goal in less than twenty-four days. Then, just before we left for India, came the news that the R.A.F. would fly us to Gilgit.

One effect of the geographical situation of the Himalaya is that it brings us into contact with English mountaineers and other people of England and the British Empire; and we thus come, again and again, to enjoy their help and hospitality. On the other hand, we must see our debt of gratitude growing indefinitely, while-Germany lacking a similar geographical feature-we have nothing with which to neutralize it save the expression of our grateful thanks to all on every suitable occasion. This time our special gratitude is due to General Sir Roger Wilson, himself a noted Himalayan pioneer and therefore endowed with a particular understanding and sympathy for our needs, who helped to get the Viceroy's permission for the flight to Gilgit; to the chivalrous members of the Royal Air Force, whose hospitality was boundless; and last, but not least, to Professor Kenneth Mason, who directed a mere question of mine in such an efficient manner that the result was an almost immediate response. Our journey was therefore so shortened that we reached the base camp-in spite of some delay caused by unfavourable weather- only twelve days after leaving Munich.1
Climbing out of a crevasse at Camp 2, Nanga Parbat, 1937

Climbing out of a crevasse at Camp 2, Nanga Parbat, 1937



1 The details are of interest. The first unconfirmed report of the disaster reached Munich about midday on Sunday, the 20th June. Early in the week the news was confirmed, and Bauer decided to fly out to India with Fritz Bechtold and Karl von Kraus. His cablegram asking whether it would be any use asking for a Royal Air Force machine in India reached me at Oxford at 8.30 a.m. on Thursday the 24th. Sir Roger Wilson had it by ten o'clock the same day. Karl von Kraus left on Friday in an attempt to catch the Imperial Airways 'plane at Brindisi, missed it, and went on to Athens to catch the next. Bauer and Bechtold left by

Meanwhile, Luft and Smart had gone up the lower ice-fall of the Rakhiot glacier in order to keep open the route to Camp 2. On the 28th June when they reached that camp they found the surroundings entirely changed owing to the rapid movement of the ice. During the recent hot period since the disaster gigantic seracs had been thrown down the slopes, and crevasses had widened considerably. As the conditions had become much more difficult and the remaining equipment was inadequate for the purpose, no attempt was made until our arrival to reach Camp 4. A depot of spades, picks, and ski was made and the track to Camp 2 improved as much as possible.

On arrival at the base camp we started as soon as possible for Camp 4, where we set to work to locate the buried climbers. After digging for four days we came upon the first traces of the party in the evening of the fourth day. The tents were covered by a layer 2 ½ metres thick, consisting of large ice-blocks and hard-pressed snow. It took us two more days of hard work to dig through to two tents. There we found Pfeffer, Hartmann, Hepp, Wien, and Fankhauser, whom we buried together in a tomb below an ice- block as large as a house. The third tent, in which Miillritter and Gottner slept, we could not trace, and we then had to give up any further search owing to the exhaustion of the men and lack of food and fuel.1
The site of Camp 4 was comparatively safe in 1932 and 1934. It was the jumping-off place for weeks for attacks on the summit, and there were never avalanches near the camp. Yet in 1937 huge masses of ice had broken away and carried the new snow with them, sliding over a large and practically level space covering an area 400 metres long and 150 metres wide. The debris of ice had been pushed far over this level space and had, together with the avalanche snow, come to rest just where the slopes of the snow-field steepen. It was at this place, near the lower end of the debris-covered field and from 9 to 10 feet below its surface, that Camp 4 was buried.

The tents were entirely broken down and the hard-pressed snow lay on them like concrete. Included in the snow and on its surface there were ice-blocks of every size up to that of a house. Accordingly it was evident that it was not only ice that had buried the camp, but snow even more; and the snow was, I think, more dangerous than the ice. Bearing in mind all the circumstances and conditions prevailing at the time of the accident, one can obtain a clear opinion of what had happened.

the Dutch K.L.M. 'plane from Halle on Saturday morning, having heard that the Indian Government would place a 'plane at their disposal at Lahore on the following Tuesday, the 29th. Bauer and Bechtold reached Lahore on that day, but had to wait for Kraus, who did not arrive till the 2nd July. Most of the equipment of the expedition having been lost in the disaster, the time of waiting was spent in collecting rope and making Lawinensonden, steel sticks 3 metres long for avalanche sounding, in the R.A.F. workshops. After slight delay owing to bad weather, they were flown by the Royal Air Force from Risalpur to Gilgit, on the 5th, and reached the base camp three days later.-Ed.

1 Dr. Ulrich Luft's account of the work of the search party is printed in Appendix I.-Ed.

The ice broke away from the cliffs of an ice-terrace from 300 to 400 metres distant from the camp. Under normal conditions danger from these cliffs is almost nil, because the slope is nearly level for the last 200 metres above the camp and the ice seracs breaking from that cliff would certainly come to rest about 150 metres above the camp.

At the time of the disaster the glacier was not only undergoing fast movement, probably owing to exceptionally heavy snow-falls during the previous twelve months, but the temperature was very low in June, while snow fell every day. The thermometer had registered on the mornings of the nth, 12th, 13th, and 14th June more than 20° Centigrade below zero. The snow had therefore remained powdery and cold, while up till the 14th, the day of the disaster, there had been more than 10 feet of fresh snow. The whole camp was surrounded by walls of snow so that almost nothing could be seen from the tents.

The cold powder snow unfortunately made a good sliding surface for the ice serac which broke away during the night of the 14th June. The ice boulders travelled much faster than they would otherwise have done and caused the entire layer of snow to move with them. Ice and snow sliding over the glacier swept, as avalanches sometimes do, some 150 metres over the level part, and with its farthest wave covered the whole of Camp 4.

The tents stood in a pit and the snow around them had accumulated higher and higher, so that when Smart left the camp on the morning of the 14th he could hardly see the top of the tents above the surface of the snow. The avalanche did not carry away the tents but buried them where they stood. All the men who were found lay in their sleeping-bags without any sign of alarm in their faces or hands. All their belongings lay around them just as they had left them, when they went to sleep. We found the diaries of Hartmann, Hepp, Fankhauser, Pfeffer, and Wien.1 The first four had all made entries on the 14th, while Hartmann and Pfeffer had added to their diaries again in the late evening of that day. Hartmann's wrist-watch showed 12.20 when we took it from him, but in my pocket it worked again. The cold of the snow hard pressed round Hartmann's wrist had brought it to a stop. The catastrophe must have happened during the night of the 14th, at a few minutes after midnight.

1 Hartmann's diary is given below (Appendix II). All the diaries will be found printed in the Alpine Journal, vol. xlix, Nov. 1937, pp. 219-25.-Ed.

The contents of the diaries were so clear that they could be printed from the original. For me the most precious result of our efforts was that we could clear away any suspicion regarding the cause of the disaster, so that we could establish the fact that it was brought about through no error of judgement. It was the hand of a tragic fate that brought to an end the lives and hopes of our friends. That evidence brings relief to their friends; and it becomes clear to us that we must go again to Nanga Parbat-as soon as possible.

APPENDIX I

The Search Party

ulrich luft

The search party consisting of Herren Paul Bauer, Fritz Betchtold, Dr. von Kraus (who had come to our aid from Europe by aeroplane), and myself did not waste much time at the base camp before setting off on July 10 for the Scene of the disaster. Accompanied by six of the most reliable remaining porters we went to Camp 1 to examine the lower ice-fall of the Rakhiot glacier for a suitable route up to Camp 2. Things did not look very promising. The previous period of exceedingly hot weather had caused an unusual increase in the movement of the ice. Numerous seracs had crashed down the glacier and apparently barred the track on which we had passed up to Camp 2 on June 28. This was confirmed when we tried to reach Camp 2 by the old route on July 11. The critical point on this route, a steep couloir leading on to a high serac on the brink of a rocky gully, where Smart and I had fixed a rope on our way up, had disappeared altogether as the serac had crashed 100 yards below, leaving a forbidding wall of ice 30 feet high and impassable for a gang of porters. We tried to find a way out up a slope covered with serac fragments and managed to reach a point where we could see the depot of spades and picks left there on June 28, but a large chasm stretching right across the ice-fall separated us from it. Passage on this side of the glacier was impossible and we had to return to Camp 1.

In the small hours of next morning we were again on our way up the glacier without porters or loads, mounting in the direction of a rock buttress at the foot of a ridge coming down from the 'SilbersatteP. We had noticed a possible way through a gap leading to a terrace in the ice-fall. We gained height rapidly and were soon standing in the gap enjoying a wonderful view into the grotesque labyrinth of the ice blocks. Though not far from Camp 2 we could find no land-marks among the completely changed seracs and crevasses. Eventually we were taken by surprise, for having climbed to the top of an ice pinnacle we saw the boxes and tins of the camp directly below us. A snow bridge led across the last intervening crevasse and we were in Camp 2 four hours after leaving Camp 1. Next day we led up the porters and spent the night there; we were relieved to find our depot of petrol and provisions intact. The track to Camp 3 had also suffered badly, and we had to fix ropes in several places to get the porters across some tricky crevasses and up to the upper ice-terrace below Camp 3.

At ten in the morning of July 15 we arrived at the scene of the disaster. I hardly recognized it, so many had been the changes since I stood there alone on June 18. Very probably another avalanche had descended, as there were many more ice-blocks there now. Three feet of new snow had obliterated all traces of the camp. We started without delay digging deep trenches through the avalanche, which was approximately 1,300 feet long and 500 feet wide, and drove long iron rods far down into the depths of the * ice. Progress was exceedingly slow, for below the new snow we encountered huge blocks of ice. Very frequently we had to interrupt our work as the influence of the rarefied air at this altitude (20,000 feet) made itself strongly felt and soon caused our breath to become short. We had to return that evening without having struck any sign of the missing camp, which was very disappointing. Continuous snow-falls confined us there all next day. On July 17 one of our porters from Baltistan was down with fever and we realized that it was essential to take him down to the base camp without delay. Bechtold led him down that clay, while we moved our camp up to a safe site fifteen minutes below the avalanche. This day and two more of steady work brought no success. July 19 was to see our last attempt, as our friends were awaiting us next day at the base < amp.

We dug several pits 10 feet deep into the snow and at last struck a trace of the missing camp. An ice-axe belonging to one of the porters was brought to light, then some cigarette-butts and tin cans. We were evidently immediately below the camp. With renewed /.<\il we got down to work and eventually struck the tent of the Darjeeling men with our sounding-rods. Beneath 10 feet of snow and ice we uncovered the head of a Sherpa porter. It was Pasang, one of our best, who had answered our call to Nanga Parbat twice. He was lying peacefully in his sleeping-bag and death apparently descended upon him while asleep.

We refrained from searching for the other porters, as Nursang, the leader of our Darjeeling men, had stated that it would be more in keeping with their religious views to leave them to rest where they had met their fate. From here we were able to guess the approximate site of the other tents and dug several pits in the vicinity. Late in the afternoon we found the corner of the tent and managed to extract a rucksack marked H. H. (Hans Hart- mann). So this was the tent in which Hartmann, Pfeffer, and Hepp lay. Not far off was a second tent. Work started early next morning. We were already overdue at the base camp and time was short. To desert our work now after having struck the camp was out of the question and we carried on. At midday we were surprised by the return of Bauer, who had been forced to go down from Camp 1 with fever, but had made a rapid recovery and at once set off to join us with coolies. Now we could work together in our sad task of liberating our dead comrades from the icy embrace of the glacier.

They were lying side by side in their sleeping-bags in the restful attitudes of sleep, to all appearance unaware of the catastrophe. The tent had collapsed over them, but had not been dragged away, probably because they were deeply entrenched in the snow. We were greatly relieved to find their diaries, scientific notes, and letters to their families near them. All their diaries show entries up to June 14. We read that Wien, Gottner, and Hartmann had led up a gang of porters towards Camp 5 that day, dumping the loads some way up and then returning to Camp 4. It had been the first day with fair weather and all were looking forward to occupying Camp 5 soon. Their watches had mostly stopped soon after twelve o'clock. We laid the three side by side in a tomb of ice, which we dug in front of a gigantic ice block. By this time it was getting late, and we had to descend to our camp, hoping to complete our work next day.

Two of our porters had worked incessantly. Next day they were unable to continue. All the coolies in the camp had mountain sickness and were clamouring to go down. In spite of this we went up once more and extricated the bodies pf Wien and Fankhauser from beneath a colossal piece of ice. The only way we could get at them was by digging a tunnel from below. Both were laid beside their comrades.

It was long past noon and we had not as yet found any sign of the third tent of Miillritter and Gottner. We dug in all directions and sounded with our rods. To prolong our stay up there with sick coolies was impracticable because, apart from a shortage of petrol for cooking and signs of bad weather coming, the strenuous work of the last week was telling on ourselves as well. Reluctantly we decided to go back without having found the last two of our dead friends. Thunder and lightning were already playing around us as we heaped a mound of snow over the dead, laid rope and ice-axe on the mountaineers' resting-place, and hoisted the German colours on the ice block above.

For some time we lingered, taking leave with sore hearts of the spot which had taken our friends in keeping. Often will our thoughts travel up from afar to this sublime resting-place in the midst of the mightiest peaks of the mountains of Asia, a shrine of manly endeavour and of the spirit of true comradeship for all who follow on.

APPENDIX II

The Diary of Hans Hartmann

13th and 14th June

June 13. Camp 4.-Weather still more uncertain. Yesterday's tracks to Camp 5 are not to be distinguished. We are resting to spare the porters. The tracks must once more be trodden out if laden porters are to follow with the necessary emergency rations. The sun shone till 11.00, then came the usual snow-flurries driving us back into the tents from our cooking and lasting till 14.30. Then the loads for Camp 5 and high camps were sorted. There was some excellent coffee and cake, a sort of farewell banquet for Smart, who has to leave us to-morrow-weather permitting-for Camp 1. At night we sat up long, all the eight of us in one tent, singing, playing the mouth-organ, and yarning. So passed this day of storm-enforced rest, but hope still remains of good weather and, above all, our longings towards the great objective.

June 14. Camp 4.-To-night we had but - 210, while at 06.30 the sun shone so brilliantly that we all thought of weather improvement. Moreover, it is my little son's, Karlo's, second birthday. Breakfast was at 08.00, which, since yesterday afternoon when we had pitched a private cook-tent, was with the Sherpas' aid arranged in the large camp cooker. To-day all the loads arranged for Camp 5 are to be carried up to the glacier-terrace, 6,350 metres, ready, with really improved weather, to be transported over the fatiguing stage on the following day to Camp 5.

Towards 09.30, Gottner, Wien, and I set off to make the track. Nine laden Sherpas followed besides Miillritter with his films and camera, to take the party trekking through the deep, powdery snow. At first we led alternately, but when it grew steeper I remained in front, and although breaking through often to the knee, yet made height with so little exertion that I soon widened considerably the distance between me and the others. Then came the abrupt step where conditions became so hard that I had to kick five or six times to make a reliable step. Soon after I reached the fine snowy nose immediately under the ice-terrace where the loads were to be dumped (1 hour). It was wonderfully fine and I was making height so easily without breathing spaces, and that, moreover, in snow where usually I broke in more deeply than the others and had consequently to undergo greater fatigue. I wondered at all this and was confident and grateful. I think, moreover, that I smiled all day to myself-well, it was all because of my son's birthday! Slowly, one after the other, came the Sherpas, each throwing his load down on the ice nose.

Extract from the Diary of Martin Pfeffer 14th June

... In Camp 4 for the first time we could lie out warm in the sun; morale grew high as the weather appeared to be improving at last and to-morrow Camp 5 should be in order. Then the assault will progress and perhaps on Hartmann's birthday, June 22, will the top itself be conquered. Hepp and I remained outside longest in the evening sun, as it set gradually into the distant mountain ranges. I am indeed lucky to have seen all these glories.

At 18.00, as the storm blowing over the peak began to disturb our own camp, Hepp and I returned into the tent long lit by the waning sun which caused a pleasant radiance within. The storm rattles our tent at frequent intervals while we write up our diaries.


[1] Karl Wien's last dispatch, quoted above.