IN 1935 the returning members of the Saltoro Kangri (Peak 36) expedition saw the great peak of Masherbrum, 25,660 feet, from near Khapalu on the Shyok river. It rose to the north, 40 miles away, at the head of the Hushe glen.

The memory of that view lived, and towards the end of 1937 James Waller began to assemble a party with the object of attempting to climb it. When completed the party comprised Waller himself, J. B. Harrison, R. A. Hodgkin, T. Graham Brown, and myself. With the help of Mr. A. E. Wale, five first-class porters—Da Thondup, Pasang Sherpa, Nima Tsering, Dawa Tsering, and Pasang Phutar— were recruited in Darjeeling, and I brought with me two Gurkha riflemen from my battalion. In addition, Dr. G. A. J. Teasdale and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Teasdale, joined up as a base camp medical party. They did not intend to climb, but would be ready and at hand in case of illness or accident. Dr. Teasdale and Waller were also responsible for working out our very successful high-altitude ration.2

To the climber Masherbrum was unknown country.3 Those who had seen it from the Baltoro glacier had remarked on the steepness of its ice-hung precipices. Our only chance seemed to lie in an approach from the south. In 1911 the Bullock Workmans had travelled up the Hushe ravine and looked at the Masherbrum and Khondokoro glaciers which flow down from the south and south-east flanks of Masherbrum. Some photographs in their subsequently published book, Two Summers in the Ice-Wilds of the Eastern Karakoram, gave us hopes that from one of these glaciers we might be able to force our way on to the mountain.

Waller went up to Srinagar at the beginning of April 1938 to buy and pack the stores. He was joined there by Graham Brown and Hodgkin, who came out from England, and later by Harrison. The main party of these left Srinagar on the 28th April. They marched by the Zoji La and the Indus valley, where I caught them up with the two Gurkhas, having left Srinagar on the 2nd May. The Teas- dales followed us as a separate party some ten days later.

On the 11th May we turned eastwards up the Shyok valley. After three hot marches we reached Saling, on the north bank of the Shyok and immediately opposite the large village of Khapalu, the head-quarters of the lower Shyok district. At Saling the Hushe torrent flows into the Shyok from the north. We halted one day here in order to reorganize our transport and to buy large quantities of ata, rice, tsampa, sugar, some cigarettes for the coolies, tea, onions, and potatoes. That we were able to complete our business in a single day was solely due to the kind help of the Khapalu missionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Read, who had made all our purchases in advance.


  1. See Appendix, p. 54, and Dr. Teasdale's paper on the diet problem, p. 57.
  2. Masherbrum falls in Map 52A of the Survey of India, 1 inch — 4 miles.—Ed.


1. The road in the Indus valley between Olthingthang and Bagicha. May 1938

1. The road in the Indus valley between Olthingthang and Bagicha. May 1938

2. Masherbrum from the south as seen from near Kunde in the Hushe valley, about 18 miles distant. 16th may 1938

2. Masherbrum from the south as seen from near Kunde in the Hushe valley, about 18 miles distant. 16th may 1938

Harrison now left us for the Saltoro and Dansam valleys, as far as Goma, in search of good high-altitude coolies. The men from these parts had done excellent work on Saltoro Kangri in 1935, and, as the Hushe men had a bad reputation, we had decided to enlist these men from the neighbouring valleys. The rest of us left Saling on the 15th May and two days later we pitched our reconnaissance base camp at 11,000 feet, 3 miles above the village of Hushe and at the junction of the torrents which come down from the Masherbrum and Khondo- koro glaciers.

We now determined to make a rapid preliminary reconnaissance of the Masherbrum glacier before Harrison joined us with the Goma men. The evening of the 18th May found us camped at 13,800 feet on its right lateral moraine. The going had been good all day, with a path most of the way. The following day we separated into two parties, Graham Brown and Waller continuing up the main glacier, while Hodgkin and I climbed a point about 16,000 feet high to the west of our camp.

From our observation point we looked across the Masherbrum glacier to the twin summits of Masherbrum, 25,610 and 25,660 feet respectively.1 At about 22,000 feet there appeared to be a sort of plateau or snow shelf, from which rose the great south-eastern snow- and-ice face of the mountain. This face is enclosed by the south-east and east rock ridges, whose respective merits and disadvantages we had been eagerly discussing ever since we had seen the mountain for the first time on the march beyond Saling. To the west was a forbidding rock shoulder. No route could lie up there. It was obvious that the snow 'plateau' must be our first objective, that the real climb would begin at a height of no more than 14,000 feet, and that higher up it would be the lie of the hanging ice that would dictate the actual route. After careful examination we made out a possible line of attack up through the 8,000 feet of chaotic and broken snow slopes and ice-falls which tumble down to the Masherbrum glacier. Our observations agreed in the main with what Graham Brown and Waller had seen from a point farther up the glacier the same day.

  1. For a brief note on the Masherbrum Group see Himalayan Journal, vol. x, 1938, p. 112. The positions of the two summits are as follows: Masherbrum E. (25,660 feet) 35°38'36", 76°i8'3i"; MasherbrumW. (25,610 feet) 35°38'29", 76°i8'23".—Ed.

3. View northwest from near the Bullock-Workman’s ‘Quarzite Peak’, showing the great rock-and ice-wall at the head of the Masherbrum glacier, the Serac glacier, and the Dome

3. View northwest from near the Bullock-Workman’s ‘Quarzite Peak’, showing the great rock-and ice-wall at the head of the Masherbrum glacier, the Serac glacier, and the Dome

4. Masherbrum, 25,660 feet, from south-east. Khondokoro glacier in the foreground. 22nd May 1938

4. Masherbrum, 25,660 feet, from south-east. Khondokoro glacier in the foreground. 22nd May 1938

The ice-system of the Masherbrum massif is bounded on the south-east by a steep broken glaciers which joins the Masherbrum in a series of ice-falls from a large snow-basin, The height of the floor of this basin seemed to be about 18,000 feet. We called the broken glacier the 'Serac glacier' and its basin the 'Serac glacier Basin5. Above it rose the 22,000-foot 'Serac Peak'. From the Basin steep but seemingly safe slopes led up to the 'Dome', a large hog's-back of snow, about 21,000 feet high, and to the south-west of the plateau. What lay beyond the Dome we could not see. We hoped that a route would be found from it to the plateau, but, of course, there might be a complete cut-off.

We discussed these and other things in camp that night, and although it seemed probable that a safe route could be made up to the plateau from the Masherbrum glacier, we all hoped that a better alternative might be found by approaching from the east or Khon- dokoro glacier.

On the 20th Waller returned to our Hushe camp to make the necessary administrative arrangements for a more detailed reconnaissance of the mountain, while the rest of us, with three Sherpa porters, went off to make a pass over to the Aling glacier to the west. We crossed a col of about 16,000 feet at the head of the side glacier which flows into the Masherbrum glacier about half a mile above its snout, and gaily slid down a snow gully towards the Aling glacier on the farther side. About 200 feet, however, above the Aling glacier our snow gully, now enclosed between precipitous rock walls, abruptly terminated at the edge of a waterfall. All attempts at finding a way down to the ice failed and we bivouacked on the rocks above the deceitful snow gully, where-there was juniper for a fire. The next day we recrossed our pass and reached the Hushe camp in the evening.

Harrison had now arrived with eight tough-looking coolies from the Saltoro valley, and it was decided that he and Hodgkin should return to the Masherbrum glacier and try to reach the Serac glacier Basin. From there they were to reconnoitre the route to the Dome. Meanwhile the rest of us would explore the eastern flank of the mountain from the Khondokoro glacier. Both parties left the Hushe camp the next day, the 22 nd May.

That evening we camped near the edge of the wood-line on the left bank of the Khondokoro glacier. Our way had led us along a rhubarb-haunted path and soon after midday we had seen Masherbrum. On the morning of the 23rd we came to a perfect camp site— a small lake surrounded by grass—at 13,600 feet. We dumped our loads and walked a little farther along the moraine, in order to confirm what we had already realized—that the approach to Masherbrum from the Khondokoro glacier would be technically extremely difficult and almost certainly suicidal, because of the masses of ice clinging to this side of the mountain. We therefore returned to camp hoping that Harrison and Hodgkin were having better luck on the other side of Masherbrum.

Waller now returned to our base while Graham Brown and I attempted to explore the origins of a glacier descending from the north-east of the massif. We were, however, unsuccessful, for the weather broke, and having only two days' food for ourselves and the Sherpas we were forced to descend. Up till now the weather has escaped mention; a week of fine days had given us hopes of a record summer; but from the 24th May onwards it was foul. We reached Hushe camp on the 26th May, Harrison and Hodgkin arriving later the same evening. They had reached a height of about 19,000 feet on the slopes above the Basin and reported the way clear to the Dome.

We took an off day on the 27th, and then left for our base camp together with some sixty coolies, two sheep, several chickens, and two ladders. The ladders we had had made up in Hushe, since Harrison considered that in a week or two the lower section of our route to the Basin would become impassable owing to the breaking of snow- bridges. On the 29th May we established the Base Camp at 13,600 feet, on the left lateral moraine of the Masherbrum glacier.

The Climb.

30th May. Hodgkin and I left the Base Camp at 6.45 a.m. and prepared a route for the coolies up ‘Scaly Alley'. This was the name we gave to an icy gully, about 300 feet high, between the Serac glacier and its left rock wall. It was a crumbling, unpleasant place, hung with seracs, and never really safe once the sun struck it. We fixed one of our ladders across a gaping crevasse which split the floor of the gully and, above it, fastened a rope to safeguard the passage of a section of hard, sticky ice. The coolies, twenty-one in all, came up well. Higher up, the gully opened out and was topped by a rocky outcrop; for most of us this was the only rock-climbing we had on the mountain. Above, steep but straightforward snow slopes led us steadily up, always skirting round the left side of the ice-fall. We pitched Camp 1 at 17,000 feet at the foot of the steep final slope leading to the Serac glacier Basin. The weather was overcast all day, but there was no fall of snow.

31st May. Graham Brown and Hodgkin, with two Sherpas, stayed to reconnoitre the route to the top of the Dome. The rest of us descended with the coolies and reached the Base Camp at half-past eleven.

1st June. We carried up the remainder of our stores and equipment to Camp 1, reaching it at midday in a snowstorm. Graham Brown and Hodgkin arrived later in the afternoon. They had reached the foot of the corniced ice-wall, about 50 feet high, which defends the Dome on this side, at a height of 20,600 feet.

5. View south-eastwards down the Khondokoro glacier. Peak 27/52A, 23,890 feet, of the group of the Hushe valley, is in the centre background over the distant ridge. 23rd May 1938

5. View south-eastwards down the Khondokoro glacier. Peak 27/52A, 23,890 feet, of the group of the Hushe valley, is in the centre background over the distant ridge. 23rd May 1938

6. The south-east face of Masherbrum from just below the glacier lake of the Khondokaro. 22nd May 1938

6. The south-east face of Masherbrum from just below the glacier lake of the Khondokaro. 22nd May 1938

2nd June. We had some coolie trouble this morning. Nine of the Hushe men decided that they had had enough, and we let them go. The way down to the glacier was safe enough now, for we had roped the difficult sections of Scaly Alley, and our steps were still intact. We were now left with ten coolies, one Gurkha, and five Sherpas. The other Gurkha was sick and had been left behind the day before.

Hodgkin and I made a late start and dumped sixteen loads at the proposed site of Camp 2, a snow bump at 19,200 feet, on the slopes leading to the Dome. From Camp 1 to the Basin the route was steep and, in places, icy. Above the Basin, easier slopes, with one awkward place where we fixed a rope, led to Camp 2. In the afternoon we returned to Camp 1. The weather had been cloudy all day, with some snow showers.

3rd June. The whole party left for Camp 2, arriving in a snowstorm. We had originally intended that only Da Thondup and Pasang Sherpa, with four Goma men, should return to Camp 1 to form a rear party to relay up loads. In view of the fact that the heavy snow would make the slopes above Camp 1 dangerous, however, we now decided that Graham Brown and I should go down with them. On reaching Camp 1 we moved the tents to a safer position in the ice-fall.

4th June. The weather was still overcast on the 4th, but there was no snowfall. In the morning avalanches were rattling off the rocks above the slopes to the Basin, though they all missed our actual route. In the afternoon conditions improved and I dumped six loads in the Basin and returned to Camp 1. We saw the others moving up towards Camp 3.

5th June, Camp 1 a (Serac glacier Basin, 18,000 feet). Graham Brown and I moved all the remaining loads up to the Basin in two relays. It was a fine day at last and all through the afternoon avalanches were thundering off the Basin walls. We could see that Camp 2 was occupied, but our attempts to converse were not very successful.

6th June, Camp 2 (19,200 feet). After a perfect morning it was snowing hard by 11 o'clock. All the others came down to us from Camp 2 in the morning, and we heard their news.

On the 4th June they had taken about eight loads up to a temporary Camp 3, at 20,600 feet, just below the Dome. The final slopes were heavy with new snow, but by making a staircase track straight up they minimized the danger from avalanches. Harrison and Waller remained at this camp with one Sherpa and one coolie, while Hodgkin descended with the rest to Camp 2. On the 5th Hodgkin brought up another relay of loads, while Harrison and Waller explored a route to the summit of the Dome. They traversed along a shelf under the final ice-wall until they discovered a weakness in its defences. The last section was difficult, with 2 or 3 feet of fresh snow lying on ice. From the Dome they saw that the way to the plateau was open. They then descended to Camp 2, and the next morning rejoined us at Camp 1 a.

All the men except the Sherpas and two of the local coolies, Hussein and Rahim—both from a village near Saling Machilu—were completely done up. Waller and Hodgkin therefore took them down to the Base Camp on the 6th, while the rest of us reoccupied Camp 2.

7th June. From Camp 2 we carried seven loads up to the proposed ' site of Camp 3, just below the Dome, at the end of the traverse, and then returned. The weather was fairly fine, but the fresh snow made upward progress slow and laborious. We found two long lines fixed near the top of the steep slopes leading to the site of the temporary Camp 3, and fixed two more at the end of the traverse.

8th June, Camp 5 (20,875 feet). Graham Brown and I established Camp 3 at 20,875 feet and sent the porters down to Harrison at Camp 2. Snow conditions were better than on the previous day and we reached Camp 3 in three hours, though it was snowing when we arrived.

9th June. Graham Brown and I had intended to make the track to Camp 4, but visibility was practically nil all day. Harrison arrived with the porters at half-past twelve, and we were surprised to find Waller and Hodgkin with them. They had taken a rest on the 7th at the Base Camp and then come up to Camp 2 in a single day.

10th June. Graham Brown, Harrison, and I left for Camp 4 in snow and thick mist; but after about an hour of ploughing through knee-deep snow we gave up the struggle and pitched camp, Harrison taking the porters back to Camp 3. The snow continued for the rest of the day and we passed a miserable night.

11th June, Camp 4 (21,300 feet). It was still snowing on the morning of the 11th, but the visibility improved later and we continued with the others when they arrived at about 11.30, slowly and laboriously through knee-deep snow. We pitched Camp 4 at a respectful distance from the foot of an ice-fall descending from the upper plateau. Its height was 21,300 feet. Above was a clearly marked corridor through the ice-fall to our longed-for plateau. Waller returned to Camp 3 with the porters the same afternoon.

12th June. Snow fell almost all day on the 12th and visibility was bad. Harrison stayed in bed with slightly frost-bitten toes; Waller brought up the porters from Camp 3. The rest of us made a track up to the rim of the plateau. We were able to see very little and our track disappeared almost as soon as we made it.

7. On the way up the Serac glacier at about 15,000 feet. 30th May 1938

7. On the way up the Serac glacier at about 15,000 feet. 30th May 1938

8. View from Camp 1A in Serac glacier basin to south-west, showing the enclosing wall of the Masherbrum glacier. 2nd June 1938

8. View from Camp 1A in Serac glacier basin to south-west, showing the enclosing wall of the Masherbrum glacier. 2nd June 1938

13th June. During the night of the 12th a blizzard developed and lasted throughout the 13th. We lay in our sleeping-bags discussing plans. We decided that Harrison and Hodgkin should leave on the morrow with two Sherpas and four days' food to reconnoitre the upper 4,000 feet of the mountain. Meanwhile the rest of us would continue to relay loads from Camp 3 to Camp 4, and then stock a camp on the plateau.

14th June. A promising morning dawned, with bursts of blue sky and sunshine; snow, however, set in again by midday. I took three porters down to Camp 3 and brought up loads of food. Hussein and Rahim were sick and would not move. Harrison and Hodgkin, with Pasang Phutar and Dawa Tsering, went up to the plateau, Waller breaking trail for them up to 22,000 feet. Before returning to Camp 4 Waller advised the other two to try for the summit if the weather turned fine and presented them with the opportunity; for we could not afford to waste good weather, if there was such a thing, which I had begun to doubt. As Waller was descending, an ice avalanche swept 200 yards of ground between him and Camp 4.

15th June. Again we experienced the same foul weather. Graham Brown took two Sherpa porters down to Camp 3 and brought up food. Waller took the remainder up to the plateau and dumped loads there. Rahim refused to start, so that Waller had to carry up his load instead. With five fit Sherpas and two good local men we had had up till now to carry little more than our own rucksacks. This was in accordance with our plans.

16th June. A perfect day at last! At least it was almost perfect, for at about 4.30 the effort proved too much and the inevitable snow set in.1 We established Camp 5 at 22,500 feet on the plateau, from where we saw three little black figures moving up the centre of the great south-eastern snow-and-ice face of the mountain. One sees this face in all views of Masherbrum from the south. I have mentioned the two ridges which enclose the face. They are mainly of rock, with sections of snow and ice, steep and with gendarmes. Looking at them now, we saw that the south-east ridge looked the most promising. It could be reached by a long diagonal traverse—under good conditions, probably safe from avalanches—across the face. This was the route we thought that Harrison and Hodgkin would choose. The three figures pitched camp as we watched them on a protruding snow boss and one of them then began to descend towards Camp 6, which we could see below. The height of the higher camp was at24,600 feet; and it appeared that at least one more camp would be necessary.

  1. At Camp 7 it was fine all day, except for some mist towards evening. The snowfall was probably confined to Camp 5.—J. B. H.


The east ridge is steeper and more broken, though higher up, under the northern and highest summit, it merges tamely into the snow face. It would be a comparatively easy matter to reach its crest from the plateau,4 but its length and difficulty would probably make the pitching of two higher camps essential; and it is rather doubtful whether camp sites exist on this ridge.

  1. Note by J. B. Harrison: 'This is a matter of opinion, and I do not agree with that expressed above. At 25,000 feet, where the angle of the rocks and the height to be climbed to the summit of the ridge are less than lower down, it was quite difficult enough.'


Given good snow conditions it is possible that a route could be made up the south-east face to the col between the two summits. I feel, however, that it would always remain rather a dangerous choice and camp sites would be rare. Nevertheless, during our stay on the plateau no large avalanche came off the face, nor were there many fallen ice-blocks at its foot.

We now decided that Waller should ascend to Camp 6 with the remaining three Sherpas on the 17th, in order to reinforce Hodgkin and Harrison, who would be running short of food. Together with Da Thondup, he would make up the second assault party. Graham Brown and I, the slow acclimatizers, would form the third party, and, for the time being, would remain at Camp 5 in support.

17th June. Waller was up early, but his departure was delayed by the cold and he did not get away till about 10 o'clock. We saw him pitch his tents at Camp 6, 23,500 feet. The weather was fairly fine, though a strange forbidding haze was creeping up from the west.

18th June. A blizzard came on during the night of the 17th and lasted throughout the 18th. It was the worst one up till now. We spent the day eating and hanging on to the tent-poles. We grew very anxious about the whereabouts of our friends, but consoled ourselves with the thought that they were probably safe in Camp 6, waiting for the blizzard to clear. Towards evening we heard faint shouts and answered them, thinking that men were descending towards our camp, but no one came.

19th June. The blizzard lasted through the morning, but the afternoon was a little quieter. We decided to go up to Camp 6 next day, if the weather permitted. At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, however, a party of snow-plastered men descended on us out of the mists. They were all there, Harrison, Hodgkin, Waller, and the five porters, though the fingers and hands of Harrison and Hodgkin were raw and lifeless from frost-bite. We made them as warm and comfortable as possible, rubbed their frozen feet, and prepared a hot meal. Little by little they told us their story.

9. Foreshortened view of the route to the Dome from Camp 1A, 18,000 feet, 5th June 1938

9. Foreshortened view of the route to the Dome from Camp 1A, 18,000 feet, 5th June 1938

10. View eastwards from Camp 6, 23,500 feet. 16th June 1938

10. View eastwards from Camp 6, 23,500 feet. 16th June 1938

On the 14th June our two friends had pitched Camp 5 at 22,500 feet on the plateau and the following day had established Camp 6, a thousand feet higher. The 16th June was a beautiful day, during which they pushed on up to Camp 7, at 24,600 feet, on the southeast face, though here they were waist-deep in snow. It was here that we had seen three of them. Pasang Phutar had been left at Camp 6 with a bad stomach, and from Camp 7 the other Sherpa, Dawa Tsering, now descended to join him there. Harrison and Hodgkin remained with a small tent and two or three days' food.

The weather of the 17th June has already been described. It was intensely cold, but otherwise not too bad. From their camp the traverse to the south-east ridge looked extremely long and difficult, and they therefore decided to make for the east ridge, which was nearer. After 200 feet of ploughing through waist-deep snow they reached rocks.1 These were covered with ice and snow and were very difficult. A high wind now added to their troubles, and, at about 25,000 feet, the two men, who were becoming exhausted, decided to turn back. They reached Camp 7 at about noon and spent the rest of the day rubbing their frozen hands and feet. They were very tired.

Meanwhile, Waller and the other Sherpas had joined Pasang Phutar and Dawa Tsering at Camp 6.

As already stated, a blizzard came on during the night. At about 4 a.m. on the morning of the 18th, Camp 7 was buried by a snow-slide from the lower lip of the crevasse on which their tent was pitched. The slide was small and entirely local. Harrison and Hodgkin struggled out and decided to descend immediately to Camp 6. They packed their rucksacks and, leaving the buried tent, started down at 5 o'clock. At first visibility was fairly good, but by 7 a.m. the blizzard had so increased in intensity that they were unable to proceed. They sheltered for a time in a crevasse in the vain hope of the weather clearing.

At about 5 o'clock in the afternoon Waller, in Camp 6, heard shouts and went out with his Sherpas to search for the two men; but at last, themselves exhausted and fearing to lose their way in the blizzard, they were forced to abandon the search and struggle back through the waist-deep snow to the shelter of Camp 6. Harrison and Hodgkin spent the night of the 18th down a crevasse. They had sleeping-bags but no tent.

  1. Both Hodgkin and Harrison remark that the height climbed in soft snow from Camp 7 to the ridge was nearer 400 feet than 200 feet. See Note by Hodgkin, p. 56.—Ed.


By the morning of the 19th the weather had improved somewhat, and Harrison and Hodgkin were able to recognize and regain the route of their ascent. Soon a slight clearing showed them the position of Camp 6, which they gained without further mishap, the Sherpas meeting them about 200 yards from the camp and helping them in. During the afternoon, when the snow had slackened somewhat, Waller decided to attempt to reach us at Camp 5. One tent had to be abandoned as it was hopelessly torn while being dug out of the snow, under which it was buried half-way to the roof. The descent was successful, and, as already stated, the party reached Camp 5 about 4 o'clock.

After a short discussion we decided to abandon at once our attempt upon the mountain. It was obviously essential to get the frost-bitten men down to the Base Camp as soon as possible, and even with nine fit men this was difficult enough. On the 20th June we began the descent, jettisoning every ounce of inessential food and equipment on the way down. It was snowing when we left the plateau, but the weather cleared lower down. The snow was deep and we only managed to reach Camp 4 that evening. On the second day the main party camped in the Serac glacier Basin, while I went on down to our Base Camp with Pasang Sherpa. It was already growing dark when we reached the top of Scaly Alley. Its upper section had become a sweep of black ice and the ladder was dangling free in the depths of its crevasse; but we slid down the mercifully intact fixed rope, found a lucky bridge of ice and jammed boulders across the end of the crevasse, and staggered thankfully into camp at half-past nine. A coolie left the same night with a note to the Teasdales, who were camping lower down the valley, asking them to come up at once.

The rest of the party arrived the following afternoon. I had sent off Pasang and a Gurkha in the morning to make good steps down Scaly Alley, but even so it must have been hard work for Harrison and Hodgkin, who could not use their hands and who had no sensation left in their feet. On the 24th we pushed on down to Hushe.

The frost-bitten men's feet had now become extremely painful and they had to be carried on litters made from climbing-rope and skis. We met Dr. Teasdale an hour's walk down the moraine. This was a great effort on his part, for he had only received my letter, 25 miles away, late the morning before. Mrs. Teasdale was waiting for us at Hushe.

We stayed for four days in camp near Hushe. The daily dressings of the invalids' wounds were seldom finished before 3 or 4 p.m. Pasang Phutar's hands were also badly frost-bitten and Graham Brown's feet were affected. The Teasdales decided that it was essential to get Hodgkin and Harrison back to civilization as soon as possible, and we therefore all left for Srinagar on the 28th June. My leave was nearly over and I went ahead by double marches with the Gurkhas and Nima Tsering.

11. View southwards from Camp 6. The Shyok valley can be seen in the distance. 16th June 1938

11. View southwards from Camp 6. The Shyok valley can be seen in the distance. 16th June 1938

12. Above Camp 7, at about 25,000 feet. The heighest point reached was about half-way up the rocks ahead. The view is foreshortened owing to the tilt of the camera. 17th June 1938

12. Above Camp 7, at about 25,000 feet. The heighest point reached was about half-way up the rocks ahead. The view is foreshortened owing to the tilt of the camera. 17th June 1938

I can only speak from hearsay of the difficulties the others went through from the 28th June to the 16th July, when they arrived at Srinagar, where Harrison and Hodgkin immediately were taken to hospital. Harrison had to be carried the whole way; during the journey he lost all his toes. Hodgkin managed to ride, aided by a Sherpa, while Pasang Phutar also rode. On some of the days the Teasdales were dressing their wounds late into the night, and that after a 15-mile march up the hot, barren trough of the Indus valley. To Dr. and Mrs. Teasdale we owe the lives of our two friends, who, although in continual pain, never complained and maintained amazing cheerfulness.

We hope that some one some day will revisit Masherbrum and finish our work. Up to 23,000 feet it is technically not a very difficult mountain; but for the last 2,500 feet fine weather must always be essential. Given four fine days, which are certainly rare enough in the Karakoram, a strong party ought to be able to reach the summit; and for six days after our retreat Masherbrum was clear of cloud.

It is a fascinating part of the Karakoram which one approaches from Hushe; and if one does not care to attempt a climb to one of the highest summits there are many smaller ones, no less attractive, waiting to be explored.


By James Waller

For the benefit of other members of the Himalayan Club who may consider undertaking a similar expedition, I should like to suggest the following amendments to my Appendixes to John Hunt's mountaineering analysis of our climb on Saltoro Kangri (Peak 36), published in the Himalayan Journal, vol. ix, 1937, pp. 134-143.

Appendix I. Plan and Equipment 1. Plan.

Item 4. Fresh food was no longer used during any part of the climb. A modified high-altitude ration was used from Camp 1 inclusive. (For composition of ration, see Dr. Teasdale's paper which follows.)

Item 6. The principle of a minimum-sized party of climbers and carriers was retained, but it was planned to have a proportion of 2 carriers to 1 climber at the higher camps. Actually 7 carriers to 5 climbers proved satisfactory, allowing the climbers to waste little energy on load-carrying, permitting them an occasional day's rest, and leaving a pair usually available for forward exploration.

2. Equipment.1

Tents. No tent weighing more than 10 lb. was taken above Camp 2. High-altitude tents were of two types: an 8-lb. tent and a 6-lb. wedge tent. A modified 5-lb. wedge tent would be satisfactory for two men; the material used in the 6-lb. tent was unnecessarily heavy.

Sleeping-bags. Throughout the climb I personally used a Cubicell single- bag sleeping-bag, weighing lb. complete with its generously sized wind- proof outer cover. This bag was outstandingly more satisfactory than the double 7-lb. bags previously used. It was very warm at high altitudes, and I was able to use it on the return journey until we reached the heat of the Indus valley. With pyjamas it is therefore satisfactory for ordinary trekking expeditions, as well as for high climbing.

Boots. I still have not found a satisfactory boot for Karakoram conditions. The pattern which we had had specially modified for this expedition was an advance on previous patterns. The frost-bite suffered by members of the party was not attributed to their boots.

Porters were equipped with new Army boots which were satisfactory, in so far as they were not frost-bitten in the feet.

Windproofs. These were made of Jacqua material and cost about £2 each. The material was satisfactory.

Clothing—Europeans. A clothing scale, adapted from Mr. C. R. Cooke's plan, was used as a basis, but modified by individuals. The following is an example, which proved highly satisfactory:

2 pairs inner Shetland wool combinations.
1 inner silk combination suit.
2 to 4 pairs Shetland wool pants and sweaters.
1 outer windproof. 3 pairs socks. 2 pairs woollen gloves. 1 pair canvas gauntlets.

Cookers. Mr. C. R. Cooke's modified Primus stove proved highly satisfactory. Its disadvantage was its bulk, which is, I believe, being reduced in a revised pattern.

Fuel. Much less paraffin was required for these stoves. As a rough guide, about one pint of paraffin should be allowed for each 30-lb. food box (see ration list). A reserve should also be carried.

Appendix II. Stores and Rations (See H.J., vol. ix, 1937, p. 138.)

High-altitude ration. The ration list which is given in Dr. Teasdale's paper2 was used at all camps above the Base Camp. It is designed as a balanced ration at all heights, and for continuous use up to a period of six weeks. It was packed in three-ply boxes, each making up a load of approximately 32 lb. Each box contained 14 man-day rations at about 2 lb. per man- day. At lower camps up to 20,000 feet it was augmented by Army biscuits, carried up in a separate 30-lb. box.


  1. Almost the whole of the equipment was obtained from firms whose advertisements appear in the pages of this Journal.—Ed.
  2. See below, Dr. Teasdale's paper, 'The Diet Problem for Mountaineers in the Himalaya', p. 63.


In addition, to replace vegetables, Yestamine tablets, cocoa and extract, acid drops, tea, sugar for tea and other drinks, and salt should be taken. Indian climbers were given a modification of the ration, which reduced the protein and increased the carbohydrate content, mainly by the addition of tsampa and the reduction of meat elements. The ration proved satisfactory in practice, and health was good throughout the climb.

Appendix III. Costs

The cost worked out at about Rs. 1,500 per member, exclusive of the journey to and from Kashmir.

Appendix IV. Transport

For the approach march we had 53 loads of from 60 to 70 lb.

Appendix V. Photography

The exposure guide we used appears to be incorrect, erring on the short side. I am not, however, in a position to suggest a better type.

Karakoram Weather. I was under the impression that the weather we experienced in 1935 was exceptional. I think now that it was probably slightly worse than that experienced on Masherbrum in 1938; but in both seasons there was room for considerable improvement, without which climbing cannot be really enjoyed. Snow conditions in 1938 were as bad as in 1935. From 16,000 feet upwards there was always a layer of powder snow, varying from ankle deep low down to waist deep at the highest camps. Climbing under such conditions of weather and snow is really rather a labour. It seems to me that it might be well worth attempting high climbing in the Karakoram in the winter, or during the period between September and December, when both weather and snow conditions might be better. I have no data on which to base my belief that the conditions in the Karakoram in winter might be better than those in the summer, but climbers in the winter in Sikkim have usually enjoyed hard snow, and the same might apply to the Karakoram.


By R. A. Hodgkin

It is interesting to note that Dawa Tsering, when he descended on the 26th June from Camp 7 to Camp 6 in ready-made tracks and in perfect weather, was able to cover the distance in one hour, whereas under the extremely bad conditions prevailing two days later we spent 28 hours on the same slopes.

The height climbed in the soft snow above Camp 7 is stated as being 200 feet both in the above article and in the Alpine Journal.1 Actually it was considerably more; probably 400 feet is nearer the mark.

The site of Camp 7 has been variously described as on a 4boss' and on the 'lower lip of a crevasse'. It would give a more complete impression to say that the tent was pitched on a short neck of snow connecting a 30-foot mass of ice with the main slope from which it had split outwards. On the east side was the protection of a wide crevasse; on the other, the slope fell steeply to a shoot leading away from the camp. It was unfortunate that the apparent safeguard was, in fact, our undoing.


By J. B. Harrison

With regard to the climbing-route on Masherbrum, although it is impossible to state categorically that there is no other route than the one we took, I am of the opinion that there is no feasible alternative as far as our Camp 7 (24,600 feet). Here one is above the broken lower slopes of the east face and from here there are three possibilities:

  1. The east ridge.
  2. The south ridge.
  3. The east face.

Our struggle on the rocks of the east ridge shows how deceptive it is. The rocks looked very easy but proved very difficult to climb at that height. Also at the point where the ridge merges into the face just below the summit there are some ice bulges which might prove difficult.

From the first, the south-east ridge was the one the look of which we liked most. I believe, however, that it is impossible to gain this ridge from the plateau at about 22,000 feet, and to gain it from our Camp 7 would involve a long and laborious traverse right across the east face, with those doubtful slopes of steep, soft snow hanging above the party. Also, the rocky south summit, which would have to be traversed or turned, might prove difficult. Another point is that this route would require at least two camps beyond Camp 7.

This leaves the east face. If I were attempting the climb again I should try this route by making a direct 'staircase' ascent from Camp 7 and by endeavouring to strike the slight snow col which lies between the two summits. Such a route would reduce the danger from avalanches and is the most direct. I agree that the climb would be almost entirely on snow and ice, and that we found that the higher we went the looser and more powdery the snow became, but I have now a great respect for rock at that height.

These are my own personal views and I tender them somewhat diffidently.

1 Alpine Journal, vol. 1, p. 208.

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