4. LHASA: the holy city.
  10. CENTRAL HIMALAYA: Geological Observations of the Swiss Expedition, 1936.



BLANK ON THE MAP. By Eric Shipton. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938. 9X5 ½ inches; xvi + 300 pages; illustrations and maps. 18s.

The title of this fine account of Eric Shipton's expedition to the far side of the Great Karakoram is well chosen. The 'blank' of fifty years ago, when Lieut. Francis Younghusband made his historic crossing of the East Muztagh pass and first discovered the Shaks- gam valley, was, in spite of the efforts of subsequent explorers, still considerable in 1937; neither is it yet completely filled, though the efforts of these hardy travellers have done much to reduce it. It was Younghusband himself who located the main river valleys; and it has been the task of his successors to fill in the details of the picture. There is probably no corner of the earth where explorers of so many different nations have co-operated to unravel the secrets of topography: British, Indian, American, Italian, Austrian, Dutch, and Swiss have all lent a hand in this section of the Karakoram. It is fitting that British travellers should finish the work that Sir Francis begun just over fifty years ago.

In view of Michael Spender's summary account of the expedition which was published in last year's Journal (vol. x, pp. 22-39) it is superfluous to describe the journey in a review to Himalayan readers. Shipton's book lays emphasis on his methods of comfortless travel. In actual fact no other course was open to him, and he was undoubtedly wise to rely almost entirely on his British colleagues and his Sherpa porters to move his camps in the Shaksgam. Askole villagers are notoriously untrustworthy, and the experience of preceding travellers showed that the only right course was to employ these as far as they would willingly go and then get on without them.

It is well to remind whole-hearted advocates of comfortless travel that this technique does not always pay, and to compare it with Younghusband's advice. ‘Be as comfortable as you can as long as you can' were the words of wisdom uttered by Sir Francis to a young Himalayan surveyor thirty years ago, and that advice was passed on to his colleagues in the Survey of India. They imply an exactness in organization and a careful calculation of loads almost more perfect than those of Shipton; and they do not necessarily involve large and unwieldy expeditions. Some comfort is essential if exact scientific work is to be carried out, if observations made during the day are to be properly written up in the evening, and if restful sleep is to be obtained after an exhausting day. The reserve power derived from some measure of comfort may be valuable in a crisis. Shipton himself fully realized this, for whenever possible it was Tilman, with his incurable contempt for science, as well as himself and the Sherpas, who did most of the relaying of camps, thus leaving Spender and Auden time for their survey and research. Load- carrying by those engaged on scientific work is not economical or sound policy in the long run. These comments are not intended as a criticism of Shipton's leadership, for which no praise is too high, but rather as a warning lest others should follow his example where such tactics do not pay.

The whole account is of very great interest and should be widely read by all those who follow Himalayan travel and exploration. It is admirably written and very well produced by the publishers. The photographs are magnificent, though opinions may differ regarding the suitability of sepia-toned photogravures for all ice-landscapes. Many think that the chief features of so clear an atmosphere and so terrific a glare are inevitably lost by this medium of reproduction. It is difficult to imagine any one suffering from snow-blindness from a visit to the upper Braldu glacier after seeing the illustration opposite page 240, yet the party presumably wore goggles.

Eric Shipton is about to start on another journey to reduce the 'blank5 still further. No one is more competent than he to complete the work or to describe it afterwards.

Kenneth Mason.



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KARAKORUM: Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der Nieder- landischen expeditionen in den karakorum und die angren- zenden gebiete in den jahren 1922, i925, i929/3o und 1935. Edited by Dr. P. G. Visser and Jenny Visser-Hooft, Band II. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1938. 11X7 inches; viii + 216 pages; illustrations and maps. 12 guilders.

This book is the second volume of a series devoted to the scientific results of four expeditions made by Dr. P. G. Visser and Mme Jenny Visser-Hooft in the Karakoram and neighbouring regions between the years 1922 and 1935. Volume I appeared in 1935 and contains chapters on geography by Dr. Visser, ethnography by Mme Visser- Hooft, and zoology edited by Professor J. B. Corporal. Volume II, the subject of this review, has been written by Dr. Visser and is devoted entirely to glaciology. Botany, geology, meteorology, and physiology remain yet to be described.

Dr. Visser and his wife, with the assistance of Afraz Gul Khan and Muhammad Akram, both from the Survey of India, have mapped extensive areas in the Karakoram and Aghil regions which were previously almost entirely unexplored. In the Karakoram ten glaciers of over 20 kilometres in length have been for the first time accurately surveyed; some, indeed, were new to geography. Those acquainted with these inhospitable regions, with obstacles such as ice-pyramids and seracs, rivers liable to rapid and dangerous flooding, and vertical cliffs of gravel, will appreciate the difficulties under which the Vissers worked, difficulties which are only implicit in these scientific accounts.

The majority of glaciers in this region are classified by Visser in his Firnkessel type (see Table III), a new name given to the Muztagh type of Oestreich. This type is characterized by the absence of neve-fields (p. 49). The glaciers lie in long valleys of uniform width and are nourished almost entirely by snow avalanches. Examples are given by the Batura, Hispar, Pasu, and Baltoro glaciers. The Biafo and Rimo glaciers are regarded as representatives of the Alpine type of glacier (Firnmulden-Vergletscherungstyp of Visser), in which each glacier is considered to be nourished from its own neve-field. The Siachen is classified in both groups, while the Baltoro glacier, in spite of possessing a large neve-field in the neighbourhood of the 'Golden Throne', is evidently considered to be fed principally by avalanches. These Firnkessel glaciers do not appear to differ significantly from the Avalanche or Turkistan type of v. Klebelsberg, which Visser regards as a distinct type but yet maintains not to be present in the Karakoram. If the Firnkessel type is accepted as a distinct group, it would probably be advisable to consider it as transitional in nature between the glaciers of the Alps and Turkistan, a group in which the Biafo and Rimo glaciers would also be placed, as well as the Diamir and Rakhiot glaciers of Nanga Parbat (Finsterwalder: £eitschr. f. Gletscherkunde, vol. xxv (1937), p. 69). The manner of nourishment of these glaciers is indeed somewhat conjectural, because little is known of these regions during the winter months.

The Firnkessel type is compared by Visser (p. 50) with the subpolar glaciers of Ahlmann, though it seems very improbable that the climatic conditions of the sub-polar regions and the Karakoram are similar, and that summer melting of the sub-polar glaciers is ever as pronounced as that of the glaciers in the Karakoram. The name Firnkessel lays emphasis on the importance of firn ice, but it has yet to be established that much of the white ice of these Karakoram glaciers, at least in their middle and lower reaches, is in reality true firn. Firn has a specific gravity ranging from about 0-35 to 0-65 and possesses interconnected air spaces (Geogr. Journ vol. xcii (1938), p. 221). Visser states (p. 56) that the firn ice grows to crystals the size of walnuts, while the grain structure of the glacier ice underlying the white and supposedly firn ice is indeterminable. Recrystallization of firn to yield crystals as large as walnuts would probably cause the elimination of many of the air spaces and would presumably raise the specific gravity of the ice above 0-65. It is clear that there is a distinction between the white and the dark ice of these Karakoram glaciers, but it is perhaps unwise to assume without definite physical tests that the white ice is everywhere firn.

Visser compares the ablation of the Rimo glacier with that of the Aletsch, and comes to the surprising conclusion that the Rimo glacier gives rise per square kilometre of surface to less than half the volume of water delivered by the Aletsch (p. 33). But according to his figures the volume of melt-water given off by the Rimo (1,860 cubic metres per square kilometre per day) is about one- quarter of the calculated surface ablation for the same glacier, which is 7,700 cubic metres per square kilometre per day. Both calculations are based on the volume of water in the Shy ok lake; the former on the basis of two and a half years being required to fill the lake of 1,475 million cubic metres; the latter on the basis of the daily rise of the lake of 20 centimetres, which was observed by Gunn.

Chapter 10 introduces Visser's observations on the superposition of glaciers. Washburn has proposed the term 'superimposed glacier' for such a glacier carried upon the back of another (Geogr. Journ., vol. lxxxvii (1936), p. 490). His view is that in Alaska superimposed glaciers are less common than glaciers compressed into adjacent units sharing the same valley floor, and only occur where a tributary glacier is discharged from a hanging valley into a deeper trunk valley. Visser, on the other hand, considers superimposed glaciers to be prevalent, believing that the confluence of glaciers in two valleys at the same level (Gleichsohligkeit) is exceptional (p. 85). This appears to be an overstatement, since observations in regions that were formerly glaciated would suggest the prevalence of the larger confluent valleys at the same level. Moreover, zones of vertical ice are frequently found running down the centres of Karakoram glaciers (the Biafo is an example known to the reviewer), which would find a readier explanation on the classic theory of Agassiz than by postulating superposition. Nevertheless, the emphasis laid by Visser on superposition is valuable, and it is largely through his explorations that this type of union has been in some instances so convincingly demonstrated.

The problem of the ice-pyramids so generally found north of the Karakoram watershed is fully discussed in Chapter 9. Visser's conclusions are that the pyramids consist of a carapace of firn ice floating on and drawn out by faster-moving glacier ice (pp. 63, 64).

Elsewhere, however, it is stated that the firn carapace moves with a greater velocity than the underlying glacier ice (pp. 53, 201), and it may be questioned if the postulated differential velocities are necessarily of significance in the formation of pyramids. The most striking feature of these pyramid glaciers is that they occur almost invariably on the north side of the Indo-Chinese watershed, from which it may be supposed that climatic factors are the most important in their formation. Climatic factors are recognized by the author as playing an important role (p. 59), but are considered as of less significance than the existence of rootless firn ice carried on the back of glacier ice. It is difficult to see why superimposed glaciers should be less common on the south side of the watershed than on the north side, but it is reasonable to suppose that the watershed is a boundary between climatic regions. The importance of climate, even of seasonal changes, is illustrated by observations made on the Pasu glacier. In the spring of 1925 this glacier was a chaos of almost impassable towers and seracs, but by the middle of September it had become almost smooth (p. 74). The origin of these pyramids is still, in fact, a mystery, which will not be cleared up until observations are made on both sides of the watershed throughout the year.

A long chapter is devoted to the nature of glacier movement, and the followers of Tyndall and Forbes are ranged against each other, each armed with definitions of plasticity and rigidity. Visser is opposed to the drawing of geological analogies, criticizing Cloos for comparing the movement of ice with that of crustal blocks, plutonic magma, and viscous lava-flows (p. 113). Some of the examples chosen by Cloos are perhaps unfortunate, for it is more likely that the movement of glaciers is comparable with that of rocks undergoing the processes of metamorphism, in which recrystallization of material takes place in a medium that is for the most part solid and not fluid. To consider glacial movement, however, as a problem by itself, devoid of geological analogies, is unsound. It is indeed surprising the extent to which the sciences of seismology, geology, and glaciology are all concerned with the problems of plasticity and rigidity. In a book devoted primarily to metals Beilby also discussed the flow of ice under stress (Aggregation and Flow of Solids, 1921, p. 199), and realized that the peculiar behaviour of ice, at least in temperate latitudes, is due to its existence above its crystallization temperature (—12° C.) and only just below its melting- point, at a temperature at which the molecules are highly energized. The physical condition of ice has been ably discussed in a paper by Bradford Washburn (Geogr. Journ., vol. lxxxvii (1936), p. 493), which is not mentioned by the author.

A long chapter is devoted to fluctuations in the positions of the glacier snouts. This appears to have been based to a very large extent on a paper by Mason published in 1930 (Rec. Geol. Surv. Ind., vol. lxiii (1930), pp. 214-78).

This volume contains the maps, printed by the Survey of India, of the area surveyed by Dr. and Mme Visser during their travels. Such maps have not hitherto been available to illustrate their description. The upper Shaksgam survey of 1935 is not, however, included, and has not yet been published in any form.

In conclusion, this volume is a most valuable contribution to glaciology, and explorers are indebted to Dr. Visser for this detailed exposition of his observations and views. The work will remain a standard of reference and will encourage others who come to these regions to study the glaciers with the same enthusiasm as has been done by Dr. Visser himself.

J. B. Auden.



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HIMALAYAN QUEST. By Paul Bauer. Translated by E. G. Hall. London: Nicholson & Watson, 1938. 10 X 7 ½ inches; xv + 150 pages; illustrations and maps. 21 s.

The main achievements recorded in Himalayan Quest will be familiar to readers of the Himalayan Journal. The ascent of Siniolchu and Simvu North Peak was the subject of an article by Karl Wien in vol. ix, 1937, and the story of the Nanga Parbat expedition in 1937 was told by Paul Bauer in vol. x, 1938.

But this book knits up in an effective manner the sequence of events and relates the men to their adventures and fates in such a way that the whole reads like a Greek tragedy, from prologue to catastrophe. Nor is the Chorus lacking, this being played in part by Bauer himself, and in part by Sir Francis Younghusband and E. G. Hall, the translator, in their forewords. These two English commentators bring out into stronger light the springs of action which may already have been perceived by the understanding reader of Paul Bauer's account.

The psychological interest of Himalayan Quest sets it in a category apart from other mountaineering books. The narrative itself is, indeed, enthralling. Details of the daily routine and the climbs are given their just proportion; we are made to realize, without any sense of an attempt by the writer to impress that upon us, just the magnitude and relentlessness of the difficulties which mountain structure, snow, ice, and weather opposed to the climbers. To take an example from a minor incident in the Siniolchu expedition— Wien's exploration of the Passanram valley. How his diary brings home to the mind that nightmare descent of steep wooded slopes and impassable thickets! 'We camped on a rough pitch without water or fire.5 Their food was already finished. 'However, sleep alone refreshes.' To this vivid and unaffected narrative the magnificent photographs—there are 96 of them-—give a reality which no word-painting, however expert, could reach. The plates, 81 to 88, for example, present such pictorial evidence of the snow conditions on Nanga Parbat that nothing less than actual experience could equal, and make the final disaster seem, to those who can interpret the evidence, almost inevitable.

But it remains true, as Sir Francis writes in his foreword, that 'the chief interest lies not in the detailed description of the climbs, but in the spirit in which they were made'.

Paul Bauer tells us how in the joyless days after the Great War he found hope again in the mountains. 'They proved to us that courage, perseverance and endurance bring their eternal rewards. We needed some means of proving that he who was dauntless and undeterred, he who was prepared to make the greatest sacrifices, and he alone, could aspire to the highest attainments. Defiantly resisting the spirit of that time, we had to show again and again what these virtues could achieve in spite of the heaviest odds. Out of this was born the German Himalaya idea, and it was in this spirit that the first Himalaya team set out in 1929.'

As Sir Francis goes on, 'They have proved this and much more. They have shown that Germany possesses not only very manly but very lovable men. For one cannot read this epic story of their struggle with these tremendous mountains without being filled with admiration of their comradeship and devotion to their leader.'

A reviewer can add little to his admirably worded tribute, which will be echoed by every reader of this remarkable book. One closes it with a feeling of almost personal affection for Paul Bauer himself and with a more understanding sympathy with his fellow countrymen in their struggle against problems as baffling as any that the Himalaya can set to man. The Englishman climbs mountains for varied reasons; for love of the 'truly delectable places', for desire, in the words of Isaac Barrow, of 'the glories of the world', for delight in the exercise of mountain craft, for the sense of achievement. And in that last, perhaps, he can approach the German attitude. But, for the German, this achievement has more than a personal reference ; it is a vindication of Germany's claim to world acknowledgement of her national strength and honour; it has a subconscious— and even, as appears several times in this book, a conscious— political significance.

Is it too much to hope that if we can understand each other's attitude towards climbing, we may learn to live on terms of political understanding also?

'Whenever I have been in contact with the English in India,' writes Bauer, 'I have always felt that we are members of one race and the closest blood relations.'

The sooner our statesmen on both sides can give practical expression to this feeling of us all—for it is reciprocated—the nearer we shall be to our summit of Peace; and, until that time, we are both in danger of an avalanche more terrible than any Nanga Parbat can hurl down.

S. G. Dunn.



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LHASA: the holy city. By F. Spencer Chapman. London: Chatto & Windus, 1938. 10 ½ X 7 inches; 342 pages; 8 colour-plates and numerous illustrations', maps; 21 s.

This is an account of the mission taken to Lhasa in 1936 by Mr. B.J. Gould, on whose staff was the author, in the capacity of private secretary. In an introduction Sir Charles Bell summarizes the relation between Tibet and Britain, from and including the Young- husband Mission of 1903, and explains the sequence of events which led up to the dispatch of another mission in 1936. Sir Charles remarks on Mr. Chapman's previous wide experience of other lands and peoples, which makes his impressions the more interesting and his opinions the more independent.

The author is not only a keen observer and a useful ornithologist but has a facility for picking up languages. In the first four chapters he describes the journey through Sikkim and southern Tibet, introducing the reader to a number of interesting characters. One of these was Mondo, the old Rugbeian, but now a monk official, who, as such, welcomed the party outside Lhasa.1 Mr. Chapman describes the many ceremonial visits exchanged with high officials and explains the existing machinery of government. He gives a sketch of Tibetan history from its earliest known date, our seventh century a.d., and draws a vivid picture of the city, with its heterogeneous buildings, its cosmopolitan Central Asian crowds, and its all-pervading dirt.

The Potala, of course, has a chapter to itself. This astonishing building, three hundred years old and of purely Tibetan architecture, completely dominates the vale of Lhasa. To Mr. Chapman it represents the very essence of the Tibetan people: It has a certain untamed dignity, in perfect harmony with the surrounding rugged country, a quality of stolid unchangeableness. ... It has some transcendent quality derived neither from the inspired skill of some master-builder or craftsman nor from.its historical associations.' A quotation from Mr. Percival Landon expresses another thought. 'The Potala', he wrote, 'unconsciously symbolizes the vast erection of power and pride which separates the priestly caste of Tibet from the religion they have prostituted.'

  1. In 1913 Mondo and three other Tibetan boys, all in Mr. Gould's charge, were sent by the Dalai Lama to England. All four went to Rugby and were in what is now Kilbracken House.


From the Potala Mr. Chapman passes to the Norbhu Lingka, the fascinating summer residence of the Dalai Lama, and explains the complicated procedure for finding a successor to the departed 'Precious Protector'. He describes the great monasteries of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, with their 20,000 monks, and shows how the monkhood of Tibet, which constitutes one-sixth of the population, is recruited and trained.

In a more personal chapter, the daily life and recreations of the mission staff make interesting and amusing reading. He talks of polo and paper-chasing on Tibetan ponies, and of 'soccer', which at 12,000 feet, naturally proved exhausting. The football season came to a premature close when the goal-posts were stolen for fuel —-wood is very scarce in Tibet. A photograph of the villainous looking 'Lhasa United' team appears on the same page as one of the immaculately clothed Mission staff. This seems a little unkind.

The mission was fortunate in that their six months in Tibet included those in which the more important ceremonies and festivals take place. Mr. Chapman has done full justice to these, especially in his last chapter, which is devoted to the Tibetan New Year. This was celebrated only a week before the mission began its return journey to India, and has only been witnessed in Lhasa before by two other living Europeans.

A useful botanical appendix, by Mr. C. E. G. Fischer of Kew, has been included. Although his fine ascent of Ghomolhari was achieved in May 1937, soon after leaving Lhasa, the author makes no mention of it. The book is finely illustrated and the colour- photography is especially successful. A beautiful plate of the Potala, at page 70, seems to give point to the impression conveyed by Landon. A delightful note is struck by the cover of the book, which is of the Gelukpa priesthood's yellow and red, with Lamaistic symbols.

H. W. Tobin.



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SALWEEN. By Ronald Kaulback. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938. 9X5 ½ inches; xii+332 pages; illustrations and maps. 15s.

The journey described in this book was the sequel to that undertaken by the author with Captain Kingdon Ward in 1933, when he was turned back at the Ata Kang La, on the borders of Zayul. In Kingdon Ward's foreword to Kaulback's earlier book, Tibetan Trek, he remarked that the latter had won his spurs as a serious explorer at an early age, that he had at least a quarter of a century of exploration in front of him, and that we should hear of him again.

Salween describes a very fine journey of pioneer exploration. Kaul- back was unable to complete the whole of his ambitious plan, which included the discovery and mapping of the Salween's source, but he brought back a fine reconnaissance map of the upper Rongto Ghu, the tributary of the Lohit; of the Ngagong and Poto tributaries of the Po Tsangpo; and of a very large amount of country between these valleys and the Salween.

A brief summary of the journey may be given here, since no account has yet appeared in the Himalayan Journal. With his companion, Mr. John Hanbury-Tracy, and three Sherpa porters, Lewa, Nyima Tondrup, and Nyima Dorje, Kaulback entered Tibet from Fort Hertz and the Diphuk La in the early summer of 1935; and from Shugden Gompa explored the upper Rongto Chu and lower Ngagong Chu. Travelling north up the Poto Chu, they reached Shopando on the 'great China road', the Gya Lam, which connects Peiping and Lhasa by way of Batang. They next made for the uppermost Salween, travelling through country unknown to the West, and eventually reached Naksho Biru, on the edge of the true plateau of Tibet. Here, unfortunately, they were refused permission to proceed, and after waiting vainly for three months they reluctantly abandoned the project of reaching the source of the Salween. Returning to Shopando they followed the Gya Lam to Lho Dzong, where they were again held up, and then gradually made their way south-eastwards, parallel to the Salween, fixing the position of that great river at a few places. They eventually returned to Shikathang and followed the Lohit valley to Sadiya, after a journey only a little short of 3,000 miles in rather less than two years.

This brief summary of the route must suffice. Though the main objective, the source of the Salween, was not reached, a great deal of new country was covered and careful fixings of position by modern methods of star observations enabled a sound check to be kept on the detailed survey. Kaulback's journey links with those of Kingdon Ward, Bailey and Morshead, A. K., Pereira, Rockhill, Bower, Bonvalot, Teichman, and others, so that the routes of some of these may require some slight adjustment relative to each other.

The book is written in a lighthearted vein, and makes amusing reading. In spite of considerable discomfort the travellers seem to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Some may think, perhaps, that too much emphasis is laid on the incidents of travel and too little on the more serious results of pioneer exploration. The objects of the expedition included, besides survey, the collection of reptiles, insects, and flowers. Few details are given of these matters in the course of the story and a very brief and admittedly incomplete appendix at the end merely records the animals seen and gives little indication of the locality or environment of the various species. The reader is apt to get a little tired of the descriptions of Tibetan hospitality and 'John's beard'. A similar comment may be made regarding the illustrations; they are excellent in themselves and in their reproduction; but the reader interested in geographical exploration would have preferred more illustrations of actual scenery. There are excellent maps and a full index; but in a book of travel, chapter headings require something more than rather irrelevant quotations. One puts the book down with a lot of questions to ask the author, but he has gone off again on further travels, so that the questions must wait.

Kenneth Mason.



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BLACK RIVER OF TIBET. By John Hanbury-Tragy. London: Frederick Muller, 1938. 8 ½ X 5 ½ inches; xii+306 pages; illustrations and route-map. 12s. 6d.

Two books written rather in the same strain by the two members of the same expedition are perhaps hardly justified; though such criticism lays the critic open to the retort that he need not buy them both. It must be remembered, however, that Kaulback and the author of this book separated more than once on their journey in Tibet, and perhaps this may be held to justify a second and complementary book. There is, however, little in this second book, which incidentally was the first to be published, that is not included in that of Kaulback, who was the organizer of the journey. It seems, in fact, that the two travellers remained such delightful friends throughout that they pooled their information and agreed each to write as the fancy pleased them; it would have been better, in the reviewer's opinion, to have collaborated to write a single volume, with at least some chapters in a more serious vein.

K. M.



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THE VALLEY OF FLOWERS. By F. S. Smythe. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1938. 9x6 inches; xiv+322 pages; illustrations and maps. 18s.

This is a tale of a Himalayan holiday, which would be an apt title for a narrative with but little akin to the stern tasks undertaken by those who essay the greatest Himalayan peaks. In 1931, when, after their ascent of Kamet, Mr. Smythe and Mr. Holdsworth were on their way to explore the sources of the Alaknanda and Gangotri rivers, they had noted the Bhyundar valley as a veritable floral treasure-house, to be revisited at the earliest opportunity. And this objective inspired the author to become a gardener and, further, to acquire what was essential to the mission described in this book, a useful knowledge of 'Alpines'. He was able to plan his programme so as to fit in between the seasons of plant-hunting and plant- gathering respectively, two months' mountaineering in the Garhwal Himalaya. After devoting his first month to botanizing Smythe decided to investigate the possibility of climbing Nilgiri Parbat, 21,264 feet. Shortly after leaving the base camp tracks were found of what the porters deposed on oath to be a veritable Mirka or 'Abominable Snow Man'. For a time the morale of the men was affected. Nevertheless, on the following day Wangdi Nurbu and Nurbu Bhutia shared with their leader the honour of attaining the summit after a difficult climb of over 6,000 feet from the highest camp. Two days later Mr. Peter Oliver arrived from the Northwest Frontier and during the next two months the party tried Rataban, 20,231 feet, Nilkanta, 21,640 feet, and Dunagiri, 23,184 feet, but were defeated by each in turn. They reaped their reward, however, in a first ascent of the Mana Peak, 23,860 feet. This was accomplished from the west, after prolonged and arduous reconnaissance of other approaches. The author describes this mountaineering partnership as the happiest of his experience. After Oliver's departure for Waziristan, Smythe returned to his valley to gather the spoils in the shape of bulbs, seeds, and plants. On his way down through Badrinath he received a telegram from London which 'debunked' his 'Abominable Snow Man'. This later produced some amusing correspondence in The Times, but at the moment Smythe roundly abused the materialistic scientists. The Sherpas and Bhutias of course scoffed at them. Mr. Smythe, however, did not allow this shattering of his delusion to mar his enjoyment of the autumn peace and beauty of the Bhyundar valley. He has described the pursuit of his twofold objective with his usual enthusiasm and vividness; but it is unfortunate that his colour photographs do not come up to the standard of his narrative or of his other beautiful photographs. He has, however, produced a very pleasant book in which, moreover, he has shown his gratitude for the many exceptional privileges which have been accorded to him.

H. W. Tobin.



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HIMALAYAN ASSAULT. By Members of the French Himalayan Expedition, 1936. Translated by Nea E. Morin. Foreword by General Bruce. London: Methuen & Co., 1938. 8 ½ x 5 inches; xv+203 pages; 48 plates and 3 maps. 15s.

This translation of the French tale published in Karakoram1 describing the 1936 attempt on Gasherbrum I ('Hidden peak') is not easy to review. It is the tale of an expedition, overloaded with stores and personnel, struggling bravely against continuously bad weather. The party, with no previous experience of altitude or Himalayan adventure, may be said to have done remarkably well.

The first chapter, 'Preparation', by M. Escarra, is one of the most interesting in the book. It describes the reasons why peak after peak, district after district, were turned down by the Committee, and why it was considered necessary to assault an ‘8,000- metre peak’ as the first French attempt in the Himalaya. The two following chapters, 'The Journey' and 'Base Camp Diary', are both by the leader, Henri de Segogne. He writes in most engaging fashion, full of humour if sometimes unconscious. There is no question as to the wisdom of the leader's judgement in eventually ordering the incorrigible optimist of the party to retreat. Segogne's action saved the expedition from what might easily have been overwhelming disaster. The last chapter 'Assault' by Louis Neltner and 'Return' by Jean Charignon are of lesser interest. The former is mostly descriptive of climbing rotten rocks, fixing ropes thereon, sitting in snowed-under tents, trying to communicate by wireless with the leader at the base—in fact all the usual joys of high altitudes. Enforced retreat—despite the assaulter's blandishments— follows, and the sensational if almost innocuous 2,ooo-foot fall of two Sherpas. The 'Return' describes gorge and river adventures and—with much gusto—a looting of stores and food by sahibs as well as porters.

The appendixes are not, we think, of great value to British mountaineers. Skis appear to have been of some slight utility. Diet, medical, and equipment notes explain how despite—probably because of—the 700 Baltis and 35 Sherpas the expedition at times became immobile. It is surprising that progress could even be reckoned on at all, for it is well known that a point can be reached when the greater number of porters, the greater the impasse. The party becomes automatically stationary; retreat then follows to avoid starvation. The leader makes much fun of the food provided; the medical officer in charge thereof and of the issue of rations is roundly abused. 'Navarin' appeared to have been a particularly 'foul concoction' (p. 88). It is curious to read of the insufficiency of food, despite the vast amount carried—4 tons cwt. (sic)—to the base camp, besides (?) no less than 168 bottles of wine and assorted liqueurs. But appetites were gargantuan, witness two of the party consuming the full 'twenty-two courses of a P. & O. lunch, followed by four or five bananas'. Sheep, chickens, and eggs were purchased en route. As regards stores brought from Europe, it is unlikely that future French expeditions will similarly burden themselves. We should add that the medical officer in question appears perfectly satisfied with his own arrangements and, as an argument in favour of such, we have stories of vast quantities of foodstuffs jettisoned on the homeward trek. It is to be hoped that the local villages benefited.

Equipment appears to have been satisfactory and adequate. The 'bivouac integral' seems especially worthy of study by British expeditions—it might have saved frost-bite on the Kangchenjunga and Masherbrum (1938) attempts. It was, of course, impossible to fit out the Balti army with mountaineering kit. Despite this disadvantage, poor clothes and poor physique, the Baltis rendered great services, while the scratch team of thirty-five Sherpas proved as always invaluable. The plywood transport cases were often found unsatisfactory, and the actual packing of the contents was frequently 'deplorable' (p. 179). Health appears to have been excellent throughout and there were but few 'minor ailments'—all to the credit of the same long-suffering medical officer.

The book as a whole is very readable and there are few errors. A certain confusion occurs between the races of Sherpas and Gurkhas. Footnote (2) on p. 14 should read . . . 'described by Ellis Garr under the title of "Two days on an Ice Slope".'1 There is no reference to this article in the original French narrative. The translation by Mme Morin is quite excellent; in fact it reads like an original English work. There is but one criticism; the constant use of that dreadful word 'pitch' instead of the proper mountaineering term, 'step'. The former is permissible for scrambling in the British Isles only. We should hardly describe assaults on the northern faces of Dru or Plan under the category of 'brilliant trips'. General Bruce's foreword is illuminating and characteristic, but there is no index—a very bad omission—while the illustrations and maps are exceedingly poor.

We all wish our French friends greater success in their next venture.

E. L. S.

  1. Alpine Journal, vol. xvi, pp. 422 sqq.



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PEAKS AND VALLEYS. By F. S. Smythe. London: A. & C. Black, 1938. 11 x8 inches; 129 pages; 76 illustrations. I2s.6d.

This book is uniform with Mr. Smythe's album of photographs. The Mountain Scene, which was reviewed in the last Himalayan Journal. It covers rather less ground than the earlier, being confined mainly to the Swiss Alps and the Central Himalaya; but the selection of photographs is very well chosen, and most of them are superbly reproduced. The publishers have wisely refrained from adopting the modern habit of 'bleeding'—I think this is the correct term— the illustrations over the whole page, and by carefully choosing correct margins, have made the very best use of the photographer's art. Smythe has also selected his photographs by the simplicity of their detail, so that the eye is not led to puzzle over some minor point, but rests on the picture as a whole. This is particularly important with photogravure reproductions which are not usually suitable for the finest detail, and sometimes imparts a muddy appearance to ice and snow landscapes. The single-coloured plate, of the Byundar valley, is much less successful, the blues being too vivid.

K. M.



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CENTRAL HIMALAYA: Geological Observations of the Swiss Expedition, 1936. By Arnold Heim and August Gansser. Zurich: Gebruder Fretz, 1939. 12X9 inches; 245 pages; 86 plates, numerous diagrams, sections and maps.

A personal copy from the author of this valuable work reached the Honorary Editor too late for him to have it competently reviewed, and this note is merely intended to call attention to a work of outstanding importance. The authors have wisely published their results in English, considering that the greater part of Himalayan literature is in this language. It is hoped to deal with the volume in detail in the Himalayan Journal for 1940.

K. M.


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