1. The Himalayan Club Dinner in London, 1938
  2. The Photo-surveyed Maps of the Mount Everest Region and Nyonno Ri
  3. Photographs of K2
  4. Distant Views of the Great Karakoram
  5. The Scientific Results of the German Expeditions to Nanga Parbat
  6. The Minapin Glacier from the North
  7. Haramukh in Kashmir
  8. Some Observations on the Problem of Mount Everest
  9. 'The Large Cumbersome Himalayan Expedition'
  10. Birds of a Karakoram Trek



1 The Himalayan Club Dinner in London, 1938

The second London dinner of the Himalayan Club was held on the 1st July 1938, when forty-five members and ten of their guests sat at table at the Cafe Royal. The presence of Sir Harry Haig, President of the Club, who was home on leave, was very welcome, and it was also a great pleasure to see Mrs. Townend, Mrs. Williamson, and Sir George Cockerill. A feature of a very successful evening was the speech of General Bruce, the Chairman, who was in his best form.

It is intended to hold the next dinner on Friday, the 30th June 1939, a time which seems to suit the majority of members who have expressed their views; but the organizer, Colonel Tobin, would like to have more opinions. The chief object of the dinner is to get together as many members who are home on leave as possible and to collect as many of those who are resident in Britain as possible to meet them; and it seems that this object can best be achieved about midsummer. More people take their leave from India during the hot weather than in the cold, and, while perhaps later in the summer might be as convenient to them, many British residents are away from London on holiday after the first week in July. With our widely scattered membership the preparations for such a dinner involve a large amount of work, and it will help the organizer very much if those coming home on leave will themselves get into early touch with him. Members are asked to reply as early as possible to the circulars sent out to Lieut.-Colonel H. W. Tobin, d.s.o., o.b.e., Welford Farm House, Newbury, Berks.

H. W. T.



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2 The Photo-surveyed Maps of the Mount Everest Region and Nyonno Ri

The photographic surveys of the 1935 Reconnaissance Expedition to Mount Everest were plotted in Switzerland in February 1939 at the Wild factory in Heerbrugg. The work was done at the direction of the Mount Everest Committee; the principal object was to plot the map of the Mount Everest region. Fortunately, however, Mr. Shipton was able to accompany me for a short while, and with his help and with the valuable assistance of the firm's engineer, Mr. Vogeli, who was enthusiastic about any aspect of the work, it was possible for us also to plot the photographic survey of the eastern face of the Nyonno Ri and the country near Sar. Not only was this comparatively extensive programme of plotting completed between the 16th January and 15th February, but Shipton also learnt to plot, and then plotted his own photographic survey, made in 1938, of part of the western flank of the Nyonno Ri.

The results obtained from this short sojourn in Switzerland are a reminder of the grave handicap exploratory survey suffers in England on account of the absence of any institution capable of dealing with such photographic surveys.

The field-work of these surveys is described respectively in my paper 'Photographic Survey in the Mount Everest Region' (Geographical Journal, vol. lxxxviii, 1936, p. 289) and in an appendix by Shipton to Tilman's paper 'The Mount Everest Expedition of 1938' (Geographical Journal, vol. xcii, 1938, p. 487). The survey of the north face of the mountain had already been plotted and published, first in a preliminary form in my paper mentioned above, and then in a more complete form, together with another account of the work, in the Himalayan Journal, vol. ix, 1937, pp. 16-20, map p. 126, and in Mr. Ruttledge's book Everest: The Unfinished Adventure, describing the 1935 and 1936 expeditions. Reference should be made to these papers for accounts of the technical and circumstantial difficulties of these surveys. Our work of two years later in the Karakoram seemed like a summer holiday in the Alps when compared with the difficulties peculiar to the Mount Everest region. The discussion that took place at the end of the earlier paper, describing the condition of photographic survey in England in May 1936 applies with equal force in March 1939.

The position at the beginning of January 1939 was that the framework for plotting had been prepared for the eastern half of the Mount Everest survey. This existed as a plot on the scale of 1: 50,000 on Correctostat paper. It had been possible to lay this plot down with some sureness on the basis of a preliminary plot started in the Rongbuk valley which showed that certain of the available fixed points were badly out of position (cf. Himalayan Journal). In particular Kharta Changri and the so-called 'Dent Blanche' were erroneously given in the G.T.S. pamphlets. The present plot is based in position and height on Mount Everest, Makalu, and 'Kellas'. The resulting heights, which are reliable, have a general tendency to be some 100 feet higher than Wheeler's determinations.

Before proceeding to Switzerland on the 15th January as much progress as possible was made with the re-plot of the Rongbuk valley and the whole survey was transferred to a large sheet of mounted cartridge paper. The Sar survey was also plotted by Mr. Milne at 1: 100,000 on a large enough sheet to allow room for Shipton's survey and any further work which may be undertaken by future Mount Everest expeditions.

The photographs to be plotted had been made with two cameras of differing focal lengths. The Royal Geographical Society's Wild photo-theodolite had been used in the Rongbuk valley, while in the remaining areas the camera belonging to the Danish Geodetic Institute, converted by Zeiss at my suggestion to use film, and kindly lent by Professor Norlund, had been used on account of its lighter weight. The two instruments had focal lengths respectively of 161.14 mm. and 139.10 mm.; the areas photographed to some extent overlapped. It was for us a matter of the greatest convenience that since the expedition set out a plotting-machine had been developed by the firm of Wild which permitted an instantaneous change from the value of one camera's focal length to that of the other. It was also an advantage that we did not have the expense of making special plotting-cameras, since it was not to be expected that a plotting-camera for the Swiss lens would be found in Germany, or vice versa. This property of the Wild Autograph A5 allowed us to work casually from film to plate and plate to film exactly as the convenience of plotting suggested and entirely without reference to any instrumental idiosyncrasies. It will be recalled that in the A5 the ray-paths are embodied by steel rods and the plotting-cameras have no lenses.

The progress of the plot revealed the following points:

  1. The underlying plot in plan and height was completely reliable.
  2. The film photographs, which in my paper I referred to as being somewhat flat in quality, were in fact excellent to work with, as it was possible to plot on both rock and snow. The film (Perutz Topo emulsion specially prepared on a base of Fliegerfilm) was of an extremely fine grain; there appeared to be no errors arising from irregular distortion of the film; and altogether it was pleasanter to work with the film negatives than with the plates.
  3. No difficulties arose from the plates having been rather badly scratched during transport.

In general, the plot emphasized to Ship ton and me the progress made in co-operation between climbers and surveyors. With the experience we both now have, the work might have been planned a great deal better. In many cases the Watts-Leica instrument could have been used then, or even in 1936 or 1938, to support the stereo-survey; in other cases the panoramas taken by the climbers with hand-cameras might have been better planned and more complete. As it is, valuable rounds of photographs from commanding points are often restricted to the picturesque or imposing section of the view. A clear example of work badly carried out is to be seen at the foot of the Khartachangri glacier, where there is a comparatively small area, liberally surrounded with fixed points and yet unsur- veyed, although it was traversed by a party of four climbers.

From the technical point of view the plot shows that since film has been introduced into exploratory survey technique, there are no effective arguments left in favour of the use of plates. The transport difficulties, the use in the field, and the risks of breakage all speak strongly against the use of plates. There is in fact no point at which the plate is superior to the film in terrestrial photogram- metry. Nevertheless, there is at present no satisfactory photo-theodolite on the market using film. From the specialized point of view of the exploratory or mountain surveyor it is urgently necessary that this gap be filled.

Plotting was done in both areas at 1: 50,000 with contours at 250-foot intervals. The Mount Everest area was about 350 sq. km. and the Sar area about 450 sq. km. In the first area plotting went forward at about 25 sq. km. per day: in the second at about 45 sq. km. per day. The figures are very approximate, but offer some guide to later work. The filling in of the Mount Everest sheet by single picture photogrammetry from photographs taken in 1935 as well as during other expeditions demanded considerably more time than that required for the stereo-plot. Four weeks were spent on this work and the inking in of the sheet.

M. S.



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3 Photographs of K2

Earlier in this volume Mr. Charles Houston has described his fine reconnaissance of K2 during the summer of 1938. It is interesting to recall the Duke of the Abruzzi's pioneer attempt on that mountain in 1909, which was described so ably by Sir Filippo De Filippi and illustrated so beautifully by Signor Vittorio Sella in Karakoram and the Western Himalaya. Since that date until 1938 no attempt had been made on the mountain, and, though routes to the ‘25,000-foot shoulder' had been discussed by mountaineers, it was generally believed that K2 would be one of the last, if not the last, of the six highest summits of the earth to be climbed.

Now K2 has again come into the picture, and it may be that its summit will be reached before those of Mount Everest or Kang- chenjunga. K2 is only perhaps 200 feet higher than the highest point reached on more than one occasion on Mount Everest. Moreover, the great technical difficulties of reaching the ‘25,ooo-foot shoulder' have been overcome, and first-class climbers will probably have little difficulty, with fine weather and good snow conditions, in reaching again the point already attained below the summit pyramid. It is one of the strange facts of mountaineering that a route once looked upon as almost impossible becomes progressively easier every time it is subsequently used, and later comers sometimes wonder how earlier climbers found any difficulty at all.

With Signor Sella's permission two of his photographs have been published to illustrate Houston's paper, and the route taken by the latter has been inserted by Sella from information received from Houston. It should be remembered, however, that the snow conditions at the time these photographs were taken were probably different from those at the time of last year's climb, while the summit pyramid must be slightly foreshortened, owing to the proximity and low altitude of the camera station compared with the summit. I have therefore thought that it might be of interest to include in this Journal two photographs of the mountain taken by me, on the 12th July and on the nth August 1926, from some distance away, which should show the shape of the summit pyramid in truer perspective, though in less detail.6 One of these is from the east-south-east, taken from a distance of 42 miles; the other from the east-north- east, taken from 27 miles away; Sella's are taken from a distance of only 5 miles. My photographs both seem to show that the summit pyramid is considerably steeper than it appears to be from Sella's; and, if this is true, the last 2,000 feet may well offer difficulties comparable to those of the last 1,000 feet of Mount Everest. I remember examining the summit pyramid through a telescope in 1926; the rocks seemed to me to dip unfavourably for the climber, and the great {25,ooo-foot shoulder' seemed to me to be of much greater extent than appeared later on the map of the Duke of Spoleto. This shoulder is very clearly seen on my photographs. Another very marked feature in 1926 was the dangerous overhanging ice- bulge above the rocks at the western end of the shoulder. This ice-bulge is shown in Houston's photograph opposite p. 124 very much foreshortened owing to the tilt of his camera.

K. M.


  1. Frontispiece and illustration No. 1 of these Notes.



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4 Distant Views of the Great Karakoram

It is always interesting to sit back in a comfortable chair, to puzzle over photographs that have been taken by active mountaineers, and to identify peaks in views taken from great distances. Sometimes I am set problems of more than usual interest.

In 1938 I received from the Himalaja-Stiftung in Munich three very fine photographs taken in the early morning of the 16th June 1938 by Herr Thoenes in his aeroplane in the neighbourhood of Nanga Parbat of the view to the east and north-east. These include the highest peaks of the Panmah and Baltoro Muztaghs. The middle one of the three, which shows the great mountains of the latter, is published with this note (Illustration 2). It shows in the foreground the slopes of the Astor valley and the Urdung Gah tributary, which drains the south-western slopes of the Deosai mountains from the neighbourhood of the Banak La. In the middle distance are the central groups of these mountains, where the Deosai plains have been dissected by tributaries of the Astor and Indus rivers. Beyond this dissected plateau is the trough of the Indus valley and possibly some summits of the Haramosh range, which appears as an 'horizon' below a long line of cloud.

The point of greatest interest, however, is the appearance of the mountains above this line of cloud, seen as though through a far clearer stratum of the atmosphere, and possibly thrown up higher by some freak of refraction. These distant mountains are the Masherbrum range and the Baltoro Muztagh, and they appear both darker and better defined than the nearer Haramosh range.

1. K2, 28,250 feet, from east-south-east, upper Shaksgam valley, 42 miles away. 12th July 1926

1. K2, 28,250 feet, from east-south-east, upper Shaksgam valley, 42 miles away. 12th July 1926

2. The distant Karakoram as seen from an aeroplane over Nanga Parbat, in the early morning, looking across the deosai mountains. 16th June 1938

Photograph, Thones

2. The distant Karakoram as seen from an aeroplane over Nanga Parbat, in the early morning, looking across the deosai mountains. 16th June 1938

It is possible to identify a number of these summits by careful comparison with the photographs of earlier travellers from nearer points, and those which are certain have been numbered on the illustration. The Masherbrum range, below the 'horizon line' of the great peaks, extends from the left of the illustration as far as Masherbrum itself, while the high watershed ridge between the Thalle and Hushe valleys can be seen stretching from a point directly underneath Ghogolisa ('Bride peak') to the right of the illustration.

The peaks referred to on the illustration, together with their heights and the approximate distances from the camera, are as follows:

  1. Skyang Kangri ('Staircase'), 24,750 feet, 114 miles.
  2. K2, 28,250 feet, in miles.
  3. Broad peak, 26,414 feet, 112 miles.
  4. Gasherbrum IV, 26,000 feet, 113 miles.
  5. Gasherbrum III, 26,090 feet, 114 miles.
  6. Gasherbrum II, 26,360 feet, 115 miles.
  7. Masherbrum, 25,660 feet, 94 miles.
  8. Ghogolisa, 25,110 feet, 109 miles.

Gasherbrum I, Conway's 'Hidden peak', 26,470 feet, is hidden behind Masherbrum.

Below and nearer these mountains are:

Koser Gunge, 21,000 feet, in cloud between Skyang Kangri and K2, distant 60 miles.

The Skoro La, the pass between Shigar and Askole, almost directly beneath Gasherbrum IV, distant 67 miles.

Mango Gusor, 20,630 feet, seen in faint outline in the gap between the Gasherbrums and Masherbrum, distant 72 miles.

Another interesting photograph is that taken by the German expedition of the same peaks from the South Ghongra peak, 21,155 feet, about 2\ miles north-east of Nanga Parbat (Illustration 3). This shows nearly twice as much of the distant mountain horizon as each of the three photographs taken from the air. On the right half of the illustration can be identified the same great peaks of the Baltoro Muztagh enumerated above, seen over a sea of mist. Again one gets the impression that the photographic rays to these summits pass through a clearer stratum of the atmosphere than those to nearer and lower mountains. The mass appearing in the middle, over a fleck of white cloud, must be, I think, the great peak of the Chiring group, 23,260 feet, according to Michael Spender's survey; while to the left of this the Latok group of the Panmah Muztagh, distant about 70 or 80 miles, can be seen. I have suggested some identifications, but it is possible that the Ganchen group, which is nearer than the Latok and roughly in line with it, may have confused the outline. The identifications suggested are given below:

  1. Pk. 18/43M, 23,900 feet (?), distant 73 miles.
  2. Not identified.
  3. Pk. 19/43M, 23,440 feet (?), distant 77 miles.
  4. Pk. 20/43M, 22,790 feet, distant 78 miles.
  5. Chiring, 23,260 feet (from Spender's survey), 95 miles.
  6. K2, 28,250 feet, in miles.
  7. Broad peak, 26,414 feet, 112 miles.
  8. Gasherbrum IV, 26,000 feet, 113 miles.
  9. Masherbrum, 25,660 feet, 94 miles.
  10. Chogolisa, 25,110 feet, 109 miles.

One more photograph which was referred to me for identification is particularly interesting in view of these illustrations already discussed (Illustration 4). It was taken from near Camp 7 on Masherbrum during the expedition described by J. O. M. Roberts in this Journal. There is no question about these identifications, and they are interesting to compare with those of the Germans taken from the Nanga Parbat vicinity. The mountains here shown are (1) the southern shoulder of Broad Peak; all the four Gasherbrums, viz.: (2) Gash. IV, (3) Gash. Ill, (4) Gash. II, (5) Gash. I; and (6) Chogolisa. It will be remembered that Gasherbrum I, Conway's 'Hidden Peak', was, in the Nanga Parbat photographs, obscured by Masherbrum.

3. The distant peaks of the Great Karakoram seen from the South Chongra Peak, 21,155 feet, across the Deosai mountains

3. The distant peaks of the Great Karakoram seen from the South Chongra Peak, 21,155 feet, across the Deosai mountains

4. View east-north-east from near Camp  7, Masherbrum

4. View east-north-east from near Camp 7, Masherbrum



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5 The Scientific Results of the German Expeditions to Nanga Parbat

The results of the geodetic, glaciological, and geographical work during the 1934 expedition to Nanga Parbat have now been published by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Almost the whole report is written by Professor Finsterwalder of Hannover.

The first section, about 100 pages, is a detailed study of the triangulation and survey of the region, and it includes the field- work, the photogrammetry, and discussions on problems of height and refraction. The second section deals with glacier problems, their types and movements, and details of their profiles. Professor Finsterwalder's summary of his views on glacier types is given elsewhere in this volume, so there is no need to enlarge on them here. The third section describes the form and discusses some of the problems of relief and structure of Nanga Parbat. Here Professor Finsterwalder is obviously less at home than in the first two sections, and he has laboured under a considerable disadvantage. The geo- morphological and geological field-work, as readers of the Himalayan Journal, vol. vii, will remember, was carried out by Dr. Walter Raechl and Dr. Peter Misch. Raechl was unfortunately killed on the 28th December 1934, when traversing the Watzmann in the Bavarian Alps, and so was unable to work out himself the results of his field observations; Misch has, I understand, left Germany and made his home elsewhere, apparently for political reasons. The whole responsibility for the volume has therefore fallen upon Finsterwalder. It contains a number of text diagrams and other illustrations, together with the final edition of the magnificent map of the Nanga Parbat region, on the scale of 1: 50,000, constructed by stereo- photogrammetry. This map is, indeed, the chief result of all these expeditions to Nanga Parbat.

Another paper of interest which has appeared during the last year is that by Dr. Garl Troll, of Bonn University, a survivor of the 1937 expedition. It was published in the Wissenschaftliche Veroffent- lichungen des Deutschen Museums fur Landerkunde zu Leipzig, N.F. 7, 1939, under the title of 'Das Pflanzenkleid des Nanga Parbat'. It deals with the relation of plant-cover and vegetation to altitude and environment in this region. The field-work included the detailed mapping of the vegetation on Finsterwalder's large-scale map, and the subsequent classification of the vegetation into twenty- two groups, which are shown by appropriate coloured symbols on a special edition of the map which appears with the paper. For those who do not read German a useful explanation of the symbols in English is given as an appendix, while some excellent illustrations of the various types of vegetation appear at the end.

K. M.



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6 The Minapin Glacier from the North

Professor Finsterwalder calls my attention to the fine example of Block-schollen movement, such as he describes in his paper in this Journal, shown in a photograph taken by the Royal Air Force in 1933. The glacier is almost certainly the Minapin, descending from the Rakaposhi range, and the ice-covered section of the range in the background lies directly east of the Rakaposhi massif itself.

The features of this glacier, its immense collecting-ground and . basin compared with the extremely narrow trunk valley, through which all the ice must drain, are well shown. As will be seen from the diagram accompanying my paper on 'Threatening Glaciers' in the Geographical Journal, vol. lxxxv(Jan. 1935), p. 30, the glacier tongue made an extremely x'apid advance about 1892, was at a maximum about twenty years later, and then deteriorated for the next twenty years. The vast accumulations of ice which feed the head-branches of this glacier are also well seen in the photograph, yet the snout is still apparently receding and the tongue deteriorating. Block-schollen movement seems to have been active in October 1933, but the year cannot be far distant, it seems to me, when more rapid relief of the accumulated ice must take place. In the last Himalayan Journal, vol. x, 1938, p. 194, I called attention to the interesting condition of this glacier; it would be of great value to glaciologists if we could compare a photograph of the glacier taken in 1939 with the one here published.

K. M.



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7 Haramukh in Kashmir

Herr Peter Aufschnaiter, of the Deutsche Himalaja-Stiftung at Munich, has sent me an interesting photograph taken by Alexander Thoenes during one of his flights to Nanga Parbat. This, I feel sure, is of Haramukh, the massive peak some 15 miles east of the Wular lake, and is taken apparently from a point directly above the sacred lake of Gangarbal to the north-east of the mountain. The steep south-eastern rock face is shown on the left, and the Lolgul Gali, the pass which leads to the Erin nullah and so to Bandipura, is on the extreme right.

Haramukh is particularly interesting, because it was from one of its summits that Montgomerie first sighted and discovered K2 during the year 1858. It was, I think, to the right-hand or northern summit shown in the illustration that Montgomerie transported his great theodolite with relays of coolies in order to make this station of the Kashmir primary series of triangulation. Since his day the other peaks have been climbed, the highest, 16,872 feet, the left of the summits shown, having been climbed first by Dr. Ernest Neve and Sir G. W. Millais in 1900. Brigadier-General G. G. Bruce and others have since climbed most of the other peaks of the massif, and this once-reputed inaccessible home of the gods has become almost ‘a practice climb'.

K. M.

5. An air-photograph of the Minapan glacier, Nagar, from the north, October 1933

Photograph, R.A.F. Crown copyright

5. An air-photograph of the Minapan glacier, Nagar, from the north, October 1933

6. Haramukh, 16,872 feet, from the north-east, seen from the air above Gangabal lake, June 1938

Photograph, Thones

6. Haramukh, 16,872 feet, from the north-east, seen from the air above Gangabal lake, June 1938



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8 Some Observations on the Problem of Mount Everest

An extremely interesting discussion followed Mr. Tilman's lecture on the Mount Everest Expedition of 1938, which he gave before the Royal Geographical Society on the 31st October 1938. This is printed in the Geographical Journal, vol. xcii (December 1938), pp. 490-8, and is well worthy of close study, though many of the views put forward are conflicting.

Mr. Eric Shipton followed the lecturer in whole-hearted support of the methods adopted, stressing the point that the 1938 party kept fitter than that of 1933; and he maintained that the experience of 1938 had 'done much to prove the contentions of those who advocate the small expedition'; he also drew attention to the comparative success of Houston's small expedition to K2.

Mr. Frank Smythe followed by associating himself with those who favoured the small expedition, and then emphasized the difficulty of climbing the mountain in great cold. He expressed his conviction that the mountain could not be tackled in shadow, and that the sun did not reach Camp 6 until 8 or 9 in the morning. 'That is too late to start from Camp 6 for an attempt on the summit.' Smythe pointed out that this fact alone, apart from questions of wind, must rule out success in a post-monsoon attempt, and that therefore the short period in certain years after the cessation of the north-west winds and before the bursting of the monsoon is the only period when success is possible. At the end of his contribution Smythe stressed the importance of proper food.

Dr. Charles Warren's remarks are worthy of very careful study. Without exception, all practising doctors who have climbed high in the Himalaya have emphasized the importance of a suitable diet, and Warren is no exception. Warren agreed that, once the Tibetan sore throat has developed, neither throat sprays nor other remedies have much effect, but he urged the importance of a suitable diet in the prevention of intercurrent infections, and pressed his view that, since it is almost impossible to eat a proper diet above Camp 3, it is all the more necessary to have an adequate and suitable diet at the lower levels.7

After Warren, Mr. Peter Lloyd defended the use of oxygen, and stressed the superiority of the 'open’ type of apparatus over the 'closed'.

Mr. N. E. Odell maintained that 'the swing-over from the large, expensive expedition to the smaller economical one had by no means been all to the good'; that 'the cult for lightness and mobility had been carried unnecessarily far'; that 'the cutting down of spare clothing and other articles of equipment, as practised on this year's expedition, is not only undesirable, but highly risky'; and that what they did on the mountain was 'not because of our meagre rationing, but in spite of it'. He was not satisfied that dispensing with a trans- port officer was sound policy, and put in a plea that a compromise between the lavishness of some earlier expeditions and the frugality of the 1938 enterprise is required. Odell considered that the 1924 expedition should be taken as a pattern in future. He then outlined the scientific work, geological and glaciological, mostly observational, which he had carried out.

From a theoretical aspect, at any rate, Odell's views are of great interest. It has always been held that on the 1924 expedition Odell was a slow acclimatizer. If one accepts the rather amiable doctrine that a beneficent Providence has endowed us with the sense of taste to choose the food that is good for us, Odell's protest against unnecessary frugality is a measure of the starvation his system was undergoing in the effort to acclimatize. After all, one man's food is another man's poison, and men acclimatize at different rates.

Dr. Raymond Greene, the doctor of the 1933 expedition, pointed out that there was more minor illness in 1938 than previously, and that this may very well have been due to faulty diet. After discussing the use of oxygen, he went on to support strongly Odell's plea for a more scientific approach to the Everest problem.

In his reply to the views of previous speakers, Tilman maintained that scientific work was out of place on Mount Everest, and that it should be done elsewhere. He also strongly opposed the view that the diet of 1938 was unsuitable and suggested that professional dieticians had little sympathy with human nature.

The diverse views of these expert mountaineers are well worthy of careful study, if only for the reason that it must be obvious that there is still little definite agreement on many aspects of the Everest problem. In spite of the experience of seven expeditions to the mountain there is still a difference of opinion regarding the size of the party, the question of diet, the use of oxygen, the value of a transport officer, and whether or not science should be invoked. In his paper printed earlier in this Journal, Mr. Tilman writes: 41 hope it will be agreed that a small party run on modest lines has proved itself as likely to reach the top as a large expensive one.' Surely the word 'proved' is rather an optimistic term! We have to compare the achievements of one very small party, equipped on somewhat Spartan lines and operating in a season wholly unfavourable to success with that of earlier and larger expeditions, highly organized and very carefully planned. The last expedition has had the benefit of the experience of six before it. The earlier errors of rushing before acclimatization had developed, of hanging on to Camp 4 in unfavourable circumstances while deterioration set in, and of tackling the North Col slopes after the monsoon had set in earnest could be avoided in 1938. Experience had been gained about the condition of the snow at high altitudes. Tilman claims that two parties of two were in position in 1938 at 27,200 feet, ready to take advantage of favourable weather conditions. In actual fact two of these climbers, and these two the most experienced, had been as high, or higher, in 1933, and it is always far easier to repeat a climb already accomplished than to make a first ascent; and there is no evidence whatever to show that with fine weather either of these two parties would have been any more successful than the two parties which went higher and farther in 1933. In truth, the 1938 party did not get as far as Norton's party in 1924 or Ruttledge's in 1933, and it would be rash to assume that it could have succeeded where Mallory failed, especially bearing in mind the sickness among the party in April.


  1. In this respect it is worth while calling attention to the remarks of Dr. Teasdale in his paper in this Journal, where he holds that it was largely the suitable diet taken by the Masherbrum party that enabled the badly frost-bitten members to come through their ordeal alive.


The lesson that seems to stand out as a result of all these expeditions so far, large and small alike, is the absolute necessity of proper scientific analysis of previous experience, such as was carried out by Ruttledge before both his expeditions, as regards health and diet, acclimatization and deterioration, and then to work to a plan. This is vastly more important with small expeditions than with large. Those who advocate a party of ten are fully alive to the advantages of a smaller party; but they aim at having six absolutely fit men ready at any moment to take advantage of fine weather above Camp 4. If there are ten or twelve men, it is possible to have 40 per cent, of them down with 'flu or sore throats and still to remain a mobile and efficient party; with only six climbers one casualty may render the whole expedition abortive during the only period possible to climb. If medical opinion asserts that the lack of a suitable diet may be responsible for such ailments, or for mountain paralysis, or may be dangerous to life in cases of frost-bite, it is surely folly to ignore that opinion. It may even be worth investigating whether Tilman's own minor ailments on the Nanda Devi expedition of 1934, on the reconnaissance expedition to Mount Everest in 1935, on the Shaks-gam expedition in 1937, as well as his attack of 'flu in 1938, were encouraged by a wrong diet.

This question of health is vitally important to success on Everest; and I have even heard it suggested that the bad weather of 1938, far from having been the direct cause of failure, may possibly have cloaked the failure of too small a party; for had the weather been abnormally suitable at the end of April, when 'none of the party was really fit, owing to coughs, colds, sore throats, and the aftereffects of 'flu'—to quote Tilman's own words—the 1938 expedition must have been too small. It seems, therefore, that the experience of 1938 really shows that the very small party is as likely to fail as a large one, if not more so, though such failure is admittedly less expensive; but to assert that it has as great a chance of reaching the summit as a well-equipped and well-provisioned larger party is quite a different matter, and most certainly open to grave doubt.

K. M.



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9 'The Large Cumbersome Himalayan Expedition'

In the previous note on the problem of Mount Everest allusion has been made to the advocacy of the small Himalayan expedition. I cannot help feeling that in this campaign for a small expedition there has been a great deal of exaggeration regarding the size of expeditions in the past, and that the 'advocates of the small party', far from flogging a dead horse, are in reality flogging one that exists largely in their own imagination. Moreover, in the arguments used, the objective of the expedition, and its results, are not always taken into account.

If we except the attempts on the five great peaks, Mount Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga, Nanga Parbat, and Gasherbrum, I know of no climbing expedition to the Himalaya or Karakoram that has comprised more than six members, and even that number is exceptional. Members of the Himalayan Club have rarely gone in parties larger than four; and I know of no one who has advocated a larger party. Such expeditions as the Duke of the Abruzzi's party in 1909 and Sir Filippo De Filippi's party in 1913-14 were largely scientific expeditions engaged on other scientific work, and actual climbing parties were small. In no way can it be maintained that the Duke's climbing plans were hampered by the size of his scientific personnel, and while the scientific results were considerable, the results of the climbing were a very complete reconnaissance of K2, besides a then world's altitude record on Chogolisa ('Bride Peak'). The photo- grammetric map of the whole region and Signor Sella's magnificent photographs, in fact, must have supplied the whole reconnaissance material for Houston's plan in 1938.

De Filippi's great expedition of 1913-14 had solely a scientific objective; it was indeed several scientific expeditions in one, under extremely capable leadership. Financial and material contributions were made by the Governments of Italy and India for definite scientific purposes; and it would be absurd to suggest that a smaller party could have achieved comparable results. The Duke of Spoleto's reconnaissance expedition in 1928 comprised himself, two other Italians, and one British transport officer; with the experience gained, his 1929 expedition comprised ten members apart from the two Italian guides. It should be remembered that in those days there were no experienced Sherpa porters, or very few, and none had been tried so far away from their own country; moreover, here again the objects were largely scientific, and the scientists in no way hampered the modest climbing programme.

Paul Bauer's two expeditions to Kangchenjunga, in 1929 and 1931, comprised nine climbers on each occasion. No one who reads the account of those fine efforts could seriously maintain that there was a single superfluous man, or that a smaller party would have gone so far. Every fit man was employed from beginning to end. The numbers of the three German expeditions to Nanga Parbat were as follows:1 1932 (Merkl), nine climbers; 1934 (Merkl), nine climbers and three scientists; 1937 (Wien), eight climbers and one scientist. Every climber was fully occupied in methodically establishing the various camps in very difficult conditions, and again it cannot be accepted that a smaller party would have gone nearly so far. There were no passengers on any of these expeditions in 1929, 1931, 1932, 1934 or 1937; yet as the result we have been given large-scale maps, with very considerable additions to our knowledge of the structure and geology, glaciology, climatology, and vegetation of both regions.

On lesser mountains, four British climbers failed to climb Istor-o^ nal, 24,271 feet, in 1928; a party of six, under Smythe, was successful on Kamet, 25,443 feet, in 1931, where smaller parties had previously failed; a party of eight under Tilman was successful on Nanda Devi, 25,645 feet, in 1936. Incidentally, this last was hailed as a victory for the small-party idea; but the argument that because two out of eight can reach 25,645 feet on Nanda Devi, therefore two out of seven can reach 29,002 feet on Mount Everest is hardly sound.

The composition of Mount Everest expeditions has generally been left to the discretion of the leader after he has been selected. The early expeditions were engaged in mapping as well as climbing. The height reached was gradually raised from Abruzzi's record of 24,600 feet in 1909 to 28,000 feet in 1924. Then came the break between 1924 and 1933. The policy of siege tactics and careful acclimatization then held the stage, and a large expedition, comprising sixteen members, including the leader, transport, two wireless and two medical officers, was organized. It reached as far, but no farther than in 1924; and it may have been as much the composition of the party as its size that prevented it from going higher, though most will admit that this party was too large. The reconnaissance expedition of 1935 comprised six; it did valuable work and climbed a large number of minor peaks lower than 23,000 feet; but its programme did not include an attempt on the summit, and its experience has no direct bearing on the size of the party required to reach 29,000 feet. Ruttledge's 1936 party comprised eight climbing members and four not expected to take part in the assault—the leader, the base doctor, the wireless officer, and the transport officer. The specific duty of these four was to relieve the climbers of routine duties, reports, transport and supply, so that these could devote their whole energies to the task of the climb. At any time the climbers were ready for an assault, if the conditions permitted. The 1938 party comprised seven climbers, including the doctor; transport duties had to be taken over by a climber, reports written by the leader, who was also a prospective candidate for the top; and when one man went sick the doctor was to all intents and purposes out of the hunt. The only occasion when the weather has permitted a real chance of success was in 1924; and on that occasion, after the loss of Mallory and Irvine, the party was, owing to casualties, too weak to carry on, and the mountain was actually left when it was still in a climbable condition. It is indeed possible to take the view that the party in 1924 was too small.

  1. The figures are exclusive of the British liaison officer.

These notes are intended to state facts and not criticisms. They are the result of discussing the question with many men, including several who have been to Everest; and I find that many of them consider the party of ten, organized on lines similar to 1936, to be the best.

K. M.



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10 Birds of a Karakoram Trek

As mentioned in the footnote on page 65, several of Dr. Elizabeth Teasdale's identifications of birds are more than doubtful. The Great Himalaya forms a sharp demarcation line in ornithology as it does in many other branches of science—a fact which should be borne in mind when trying to identify the various species. The region dealt with by Dr. Elizabeth Teasdale has been examined very thoroughly, and the species are now generally well known. It may therefore be worth while publishing the suggestions of Mr. Hugh Whistler, the Technical Correspondent of the Club on Ornithology, who has himself worked over much of the region, together with some of his comments. It is, of course, most important to note the exact position of the markings on a bird before coming to a decision regarding the species to which it belongs. The following are some of Mr. Whistler's notes. The pages given refer to those of Mrs. Teasdale's paper.

Page 66, line 8. Red-rumped Swallows are very scarce in the Kashmir vale. They are birds of the outer Himalayan ranges, as, for instance, between Murree and Baramula. The species that breeds on the house-boats and in Srinagar is the Common Swallow (Hirundo rustica rustica), the same as the European bird —an important point as illustrating the Palaearctic character of the Kashmir vale.

Line 22. There is no record of any species of Stork breeding in Kashmir, though the Vale has been thoroughly worked by egg-collectors. I believe, however, that Common Herons nest round the Dal Lake.

Line 34. There is no record of the Black-headed Oriole west of Kangra, and there it is only a straggler. The birds seen may have been Black and Yellow Grosbeaks (Perissospiza icteroides).

Page 67, line 31. Crested Larks are found in the Punjab plains and there is another race in the Gilgit valley, but they are not found in between these areas. The Lark at Baltal is the Indian Skylark (Alauda gulgula lhamarum). This bird often erects the feathers of the crown so as to give the impression of a small crest, but this is very different from the sharp-pointed crest of the real Crested Lark (Galerida cristata).

Page 68, line 2. The Cinnamon Sparrow is a forest-loving species found in the Sind valley up to Baltal. It has never been recorded across the Zoji La.

The Streaked Laughing-thrush is also a bird of the forests or of thickish cover on hill-sides. Mat ay an is unsuited to it, and it has never been recorded between the Zoji La and Leh on this route, though it is found in Astor and Gilgit.

Line 35. The Short-billed Mini vet, again, is a bird of the high forest, and is not recorded between the Zoji La and Leh. Its female is not drab brown, but partly bright yellow. The pair seen may have been Common Rosefinches (Carpodacus erythrinus).

Line 42. The White-capped Redstart is normally a bird of higher elevations than the Plumbeous Redstart, and one may meet it in the highest and most desolate places, where the Plumbeous Redstart is not found (see also page 72, line 32).

Page 70, line 19. The so-called Tawny and Black Eagles were probably both different plumages of the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetus). Neither of the two mentioned would be normally found in this area and the Black Eagle is entirely a forest bird.

Line 20. I am doubtful about the Montagu's Harrier, as one would hardly expect it there on the 3rd June.

Page 71, line 13. The little birds at the foot of the Masherbrum moraine may have been Stolicza's Mountain Finch (Fringillauda nemoricola altaica). They wander about the hill-sides in big flocks in an erratic manner.

Line 25. The Red-billed Liothrix (Liothrix luted) is a low- and medium-elevation forest bird, common from about 3,400 to 7,400 feet in the Darjeeling area, and scarcer and lower, from 2,500 to 5,000 feet, in the western Himalaya, as far west as about Simla. It could not exist in the Masherbrum area. I can only suggest that the birds were really Red-fronted Serins (.Serinus pusillus).

Page 72, line 4. The call at night sounds like that of some species of Nightjar, but none is known to occur just in that area. It might, however, have been the distant call of an Eagle-Owl. Different people's descriptions of sound seldom agree.

Line 9. I can make nothing of the other species seen through glasses. No bird found in this area agrees with the description. The Dark Grey Bush-chat does not occur north of the Great Himalayan range; neither can the Red-headed Tit occur up here; possibly the birds seen were Fire-caps (Cephalopyrus Jlammiceps).

Page 73, line 35. The vivid purple thrush was probably the Himalayan Whistling-thrush (Myiophonus caruleus temminckii), with the light catching it at an unusual angle.

K. M.


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