[This section is intended for briefer accounts of journeys of interest to Members of the Himalayan Club, where fuller accounts are not available.—Ed.]


No. 1 Party of the Survey of India continued surveys in the Central Himalaya in the autumn of 1938. Surveying in the spring, before the monsoon, has now been given up in the Himalaya, chiefly because there is too much snow at that time, and also because of the difficulty of judging the true snow-line, which it is desirable to put on the map. The best time for survey in these parts has proved to be from about the 15th September to the 15th November.

The new area surveyed lies in northern Almora (map-sheet 62 b) and comprises the sources of the Girthi river and the basins of the Goriganga and Darmaganga. The survey of the Nanda Devi basin is thereby completed, both from the inside and outside. The area also includes the well-known peaks of Nanda Kot and the Panch Chulhi group. The new half-inch maps of Garhwal are under publication, but advance blue-prints can be obtained from:

The Officer in charge, No. 1 Party,

Survey of India, Dehra Dun, U.P.

Any one who proposes visiting the snowy ranges of Tehri-Garhwal, Garhwal, or Almora, will do well to obtain these blue-prints, as the old maps are unreliable in the glaciated regions.


It is possible from private sources to add some further details of Major Osmaston's journeys during his inspection of the surveyors who carried out the detail survey of these parts. This summary is from private letters, and I have been unable to get the details checked by Osmaston before going to press. I must therefore plead responsibility for any inaccuracies.

It seems that Osmaston left Almora in September and caught up one of his surveyors on the 25th at Milam, a village of some 200 houses, on the Goriganga. This time of the year, which is in other ways suitable for surveying, has the disadvantage that many of the higher villages and hamlets are deserted, all inhabitants moving south of the Great Himalaya.

It is interesting to note that the new survey of the snout of the Milam glacier, when compared with the detailed measurements made by the Geological Survey in 1905, shows a recession of 560 yards since that date.1

Travelling very light, with two Sherpas, Tensing and Rinzing, Osmaston followed the Goriganga, by Shillong and Bamlas, over the Anta Dhura pass, 17,600 feet. Then, returning to Milam, he visited a surveyor working near the head of the Milam glacier, which he describes as an ideal place for an Alpine holiday camp, with fine camping-grounds all up its northern side, plenty of wood and water, and the grandest scenery. He also examined the side valleys leading towards the Nanda Devi basin, but saw only two possible routes and these were both very difficult.

Osmaston's next journey was up the Lwanl Gad, west of Martoli, leading towards Nanda Kot and Nanda Devi East, where another surveyor was encamped; the existing map is very inaccurate in this neighbourhood. Here he reconnoitred a route for a subsequent crossing of Traill's pass later in the year.

After concluding his inspections in the Goriganga, Osmaston now crossed a ridge south-east of Martoli and descended to Ralam, in the valley of the same name, with the object of crossing the Ralam pass to the Lissar and Dhauliganga (or Darmaganga) valleys.4Ralam is a tiny village of half a dozen huts, at about 12,000 feet, deserted at this time of year. Very great difficulty was experienced in locating the Ralam pass. Visibility was bad, there were no guides, and the existing map was inaccurate. Four days were spent before a practicable route was found over the watershed, the pass being eventually discovered 2 miles south of its supposed position. The approach led over a much-crevassed glacier, and the final camp was pitched in a blizzard, at about 17,000 feet, the temperature falling at night to about — io° F.—42 degrees of frost. The height of the pass is about 18,550 feet. Great difficulty was also met with on the east side, camp having to be pitched above an ice-fall before a way could be found for the descent. Eventually the party of eight, two Sherpas, five coolies, and Osmaston, reached the little hamlet of Sepu and the Dhauliganga valley, where various surveyors were inspected.

Returning to Martoli in the Goriganga, Osmaston left that place on the 16th November with Tensing, Rinzing, three coolies, and old Diwan Singh, the 62-year old villager who had guided several parties over Traill's pass previously, in an attempt to take that route back to Almora.5 A camp was pitched at about 15,200 feet on the Lwanl glacier, 2 miles from the pass; but, after only a quarter of a mile the next morning, Diwan Singh collapsed from the cold and had to return. The rest went forward for a time, ploughing their way through snow over 3 feet deep, but they eventually had to give up at about 16,000 feet. There is no doubt that once the winter snow-falls have set in, the crossing of this pass becomes almost, if not quite, impossible.

K. M.


  1. The Ralam pass is known to be extremely difficult at the best of times. It was crossed in difficult circumstances during the monsoon of 1936 by Arnold Heim (Himalayan Journal, vol. ix, 1937, p. 40). This crossing by Osmaston was a fine achievement.
  2. The last crossing of Traill's pass was made in the second week of October 1936 by some of the Japanese party after their successful ascent of Nanda Kot. Diwan Singh of Martoli was with them on that occasion, cleverly guiding them down the ice-falls on the south side (Himalayan Journal, vol. x, 1938, p. 77).


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