Himalayan Journal vol.15
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.15

Publication year:
1949

Editor:
H. W. Tobin
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. MOUNTAINS OF SINKIANG
    (H. W. TILMAN)
  3. THE SWISS GARHWAL EXPEDITION OF 1947
    (MME A. LOHNER, MM. A. ROCH, A. SUTTER, ERNST FEUZ)
  4. A NOTE ON THE U.S. EXPEDITION TO NEPAL, 19491
    (FRANCIS LEESON)
  5. MONS CLAUDIANUS
    (John Hunt)
  6. ATTEMPT ON NANDA KOT, 1939
    (H. FRANKS)
  7. DESTINY HIMALAYA
    (H. PAIDAR)
  8. MUZTAGH ATA
    (H. W. TILMAN)
  9. REMINISCENCES OF SOME EXPEDITIONS IN THE HIMALAYAS
    (REX CARDEW)
  10. FROM KALINDI KHAL TO THE BHYUNDAR PASS
    (T. H. BRAHAM)
  11. EXPEDITIONS
  12. IN MEMORIAM
  13. NOTES
  14. REVIEWS
  15. NOTES AND NEWS
  16. CLUB PROCEEDINGS

THE SWISS GARHWAL EXPEDITION OF 1947

MME A. LOHNER, MM. A. ROCH, A. SUTTER, ERNST FEUZ

The Schweizerische Stiftung fur Alpine Forschungen have, most generously, permitted to us use the story of the Swiss Garhwal Expedition of 1947, and to make certain abridgements. The translation and adaptation of both French and German versions and of the maps and panorama were done by Barbara Tobin.-Ed.

THE ORIGIN OF THE EXPEDITION

ERNST FEUZ

It is to young Mme Annelies Lohner, a mountaineer of remarkable experience and stamina and a pupil of Gustave Hasler, that we owe the idea of this first Swiss post-war expedition to the Himalaya.

It was one day in March, at St. Moritz, during the last winter of the war; after several glorious days of mountaineering Mme Lohner was discussing plans for the summer with her guide, Alexandre Graven. She suggested: 'Well what about going to the Himalaya one day?' Graven jumped at the idea; usually so silent, he became eloquent; with shining eyes he surrendered to his enthusiasm. They immediately contacted Andre Roch and Alfred Sutter, and won over the Genevan mountaineer Rene Dittert. Each day brought the realization of their plans nearer.

It was agreed that the expedition's goal should be the south-west part of the Garhwal Himalaya, that is the Gangotri Region, in which are the sources of the Alaknanda, Mandakini, and Bhagirathi rivers that unite to form the sacred Ganges. The project was considerably strengthened by observations made by Marcel Kurz in his writings on the Himalaya. Thanks to Marco Pallis's Expedition in 1933, and the Austrian Expedition led by Professor Schwarzgruber in 1938, we found other valuable information as to the possibilities offered by most of the peaks. Besides these there were Roch's own experiences in 1939, when he led an expedition to the neighbourhood.

By strictly limiting the aims of our expedition we avoided falling under the spell of trying the twenty-six thousanders which, up till now, has brought disillusionment to many great climbers. We were content to try twenty thousanders, and liked to think we were disciplining ourselves by renouncing all excessive ambitions.

And now, may I introduce to you the men, who with Mme Lohner, the inspiration of the expedition, formed the team.

Andre Roch, engineer-attache to the Institute of Research on Snow and Avalanches at Weissfluhjoch, is also a guide, editor of this journal1 and author. He is one of our greatest Alpinists and was chosen to lead the expedition. Although he discussed all important decisions with his friends he could be relied on to make his own decisions if need be.

Alfred Sutter is among those mountaineers who distinguish themselves less by famous and romantic first ascents than by the importance with which they regard the essential value of mountaineering and its development. Like Alexandre Graven he has climbed every mountain in the Alps over 13,000 feet, amongst others the north face of the Matterhorn and the Lauper route of the Eiger. The attractions of the Himalaya were greatly enhanced for him by the prospect of hunting wild game.

Rene Dittert, who started his alpine career climbing trees, is among the small number of mountaineers who, even in 1939, were considered capable of taking part in an expedition in the Himalaya. This cheerful, congenial Genevan distinguished himself and contributed greatly to the success of the whole expedition, his first to the Himalayas.

There can be no mountain lover who has not heard of Alexandre Graven. Famous guide at Zermatt, and father of eight children, he passed through the school of the greatest of our mountain climbers. Tall and hardy as a mountain pine, his entire life is dedicated to mountaineering, indeed his profession is his vocation. 1 once asked him for a resume of his life; his reply was: 'The ice-axe is not a pen.1
I must admit that the Fondation Suisse pour I'Exploration Alpine when accepting the patronage of the expedition was not exactly eager that a woman should be included. We hesitated to take the responsibility of exposing her to danger and fatigue which would require great stamina for months on end. However, having conscientiously studied the problem from every angle we concluded that in the main there was little risk. We are indeed happy that the success of the expedition proved us right.

The day before leaving, the Council of the Fondation Suisse, together with the members of the expedition and their families, met for a farewell party at Zurich. On the 7th May the Swissair plane took off from Dubendorf, and at Amsterdam the travellers chartered a K.L.M. plane which landed them in India two days later. According to plan they went to Mussoorie, at the foot of the Himalayas, where they joined Andre Roch who had gone on in advance to choose the Sherpas at Darjeeling, and make the final arrangements.

1 Montagues du Monde in which this article was first published.

TOWARDS THE HIMALAYA

M M E LOHNER

We left Mussoorie on Whit Monday, 26th May, to start the 165-mile-long trek to our proposed Base Camp on the Gangotri glacier. I was in the first group with Sutter, Graven, twenty coolies and four Sherpas, while Dittcrt, Rahul the Indian liaison officer, eighty-four coolies, and four Sherpas were to follow next day. We intended to join up at Uttarkashi. Our route seemed to me to have come straight out of a dream. Far from civilization, dependent only upon ourselves, we had to accept every whim of the broken terrain, where forests of birch, dried up river-beds bordered with cactus, small villages, and rice-fields fol lowed each other in quick succession; at times we followed narrow paths along ravines; often small rivers forced us to make long detours; we learnt patience in a country which has absolutely no idea of time.

Our Sherpas were all excellent. Tenzing, my man, was an absolute gem. Neat and full of initiative, he spoilt me dreadfully. Hardly had we arrived than I found my bedding roll and washing water laid out ready, and my box transformed into an elegant wash- stand. He was the only Sherpa who could speak English and he had a wife and two daughters whose photos he always carried on him in a small frame. He had already been to Camp III on Mount Everest that year in company with an English officer and some porters, and even up to Camp VI with previous expeditions.

On 30th May, about an hour from Dharasu in the Bhagirathi valley, we could see snow peaks for the first time, and on the 31st we arrived at Uttarkashi where we rushed to the Post Office, the first since Mussoorie, and the last one on our route.

Of all the places through which we passed Uttarkashi is the only one of any importance and is composed almost entirely of temples. Our route up the valley was the age-old pilgrim track, for the Bhagirathi is one of the sources of the sacred river Ganges, and therefore many pious Hindus congregate at Uttarkashi. We met strange and interesting people, rich and poor, alone and in parties, mostly over forty years old, and all with the same desire to bathe in the Ganges, drink the water, and perhaps-the supreme privilege- to die on its banks, for according to their religion, those who die on the banks of the Bhagirathi are certain to be admitted to paradise.

Upstream the nights became fresher, but the heat of the days always disturbed us. The innumerable flies that buzzed around us during meals were particularly annoying. At times the swarms were so thick that you could no longer see the crockery, and the cups were a black writhing mass. Luckily they disappeared at night; the fleas and bugs that tormented us in our sleeping-bags were definitely preferable.

Gangotri Region

Gangotri Region



On 4th June we reached Harsil, to my mind the most interesting place we visited. It is surrounded by magnificent mountains and inhabited only in summer. The Tibetans bring salt here with their flocks of sheep and return home laden with rice and peas. We rested a day in an ideal camp on a broad meadow beneath apple- trees. The men were completely hypnotized by the marvellous peaks, similar to those of Bregaglia or the Aiguilles de Ghamonix, but so much higher.

We had to stay on a second day at Harsil as we were changing coolies and this is always a very slow business, so we had time to go and buy flour and sugar, walk in the village, and take photos. We reached Gangotri, the goal of the pilgrims, on the 8th June. Here again there were numerous temples, and the inhabitants were practically all pilgrims. Only the most pious spend the winter there. There it was that we met a yogi who never speaks and lives naked in a small wooden hut without even a bed. Graven, Sutter, and I went to see him. He was extremely courteous and gestured to us to sit down, offering us dates and seating himself in the yogis5 own particular position. We asked him if he lived naked during the winter too, and he nodded 'yes’. It is incredible what strength of will can do: beside him we felt humble and weak. We left him a little later and thanked him for his hospitality, but he merely pointed to the sky whither we should direct our gratitude. Unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph him.

At Gangotri, too, we were surprised how many Hindus came to see us, having learnt of our visit from the papers. They are indeed a likeable and congenial people and we were most interested in their culture.

The road ended at Gangotri, and a narrow path, cut by streams and landslips, followed the valley. It was a region inhabited by bears, and one day we found fresh tracks hardly 20 paces from our camp. Sutter, the ardent hunter, was most excited. During the march he had shot many pigeon and deer, to provide our fresh meat.

On 10th June we arrived at Gaumukh, where the infant Bhagirathi emerges from the snout of the glacier, and although the Ganges has no sacred meaning for me I was very impressed at finding myself at the spot considered most sacred by the Hindu.

On the 11 th we reached the site chosen by Roch for our Base Camp, on the right bank of the Gangotri glacier at about 14,000 feet, near a moraine in a grassy meadow with a little stream. We installed ourselves as comfortably as possible and settled down to acclimatize.

THE FIRST ASSAULTS ON KEDARNATH ANDRfi ROCH

The highest peaks round the Gangotri glacier are Chaukhamba, 23,420 feet, Satopanth, 23,213 feet, Kedarnath, 22,770 feet, and Sri Kailas, 22,740 feet. Of these, the only one that had been climbed was Sri Kailas, conquered by the Austrian Expedition of 1938 led by Professor Schwarzgruber.

Kedarnath, our first objective, is a large peak which appears to be easily accessible. It lay about 10 miles south of our Base Camp from where it could be reached without difficulty across moraines.

After three glorious days at the Base Camp, painting, taking photographs, and idling, we decided to install a camp at the foot of Kedarnath. I had already climbed the flanks of Shivling to inspect the mountain we hoped 10 conquer, and had planned our best route, and the sites for our camps.

We left on 14th June with ten Sherpas, and after four hours' walk over moraines we pitched our tents on a broad meadow at the foot of the enormous mountain which, from there, looked like a gigantic white dome. We had the impression that it was a mere three or four hours' climb to the summit; a false impression indeed, for the mountains are double the height of our Alps, and the lack of oxygen in the air renders one incapable of such rapid progress. Besides, the first peak is only an outlier and Kedainath itself is a mile farther on and some 360 feet higher. A ridge, at first rocky, but soon snow- covered, connects its two peaks. The north-west slopes are seamed by immense glaciers for the first 7,000 feet.

The following day the weather was unpleasant, so we rested. During the night it snowed, and the tents had to he shaken continually to prevent them from collapsing. Our first camp was too low, so on the 16th we packed up and climbed a further 600 feet to establish ourselves on the last of the rocks at the foot of the neve.

Early on 17th June, though the weather was still uncertain, we left to establish Camp II as high as possible on the slopes of the great white dome. At first the going was easy, but deep snow soon made progress more difficult until finally, at 2 o'clock, we stopped exhausted near an overhanging rock at about 20,000 feet, beneath which we decided to pitch the tents. We had to cut steps to the site which was an excellent one, being well sheltered from avalanches and warmed by the afternoon sun. For three hours the Sherpas worked to clear away the blocks of granite that covered the platform. As I was anxious to get a really good camp here I helped them and caught a chill for I had perspired a good deal during the ascent. All night I was delirious and kept my friends awake, so the following day, although the weather was glorious, we decided to beat a retreat and descend to a lower altitude.

Kedarnath

Kedarnath



A week later, on 23rd June, after a good rest, we again took the path across the moraines and this time climbed directly to Camp I. That evening I made tracks in the melting neve to facilitate our climb the following morning in frozen snow. At dawn we climbed rapidly, and by midday we reached the overhanging rock which we christened the 'Sentinel Rouge' after the large rock on the east face of Mont Blanc.

We determined to try the ascent to the summit, starting at 4 o'clock on the 25th, but actually left camp an hour behind schedule. We started up the steep slope leading to the great dome, but the cold was so intense that we congratulated ourselves on the lost hour. The snow, crusted on the surface, became ever deeper as we climbed, the crust breaking continually and making progress extremely slow. To increase our chances I arranged three ropes, so that some slight difficulty should not hold up the rest of the party. Sutter roped up with Sirdar Wangdi Norbu, Head Sherpa ; Alexandre Graven with Ang Dawa, an excellent climber; Dittert and I with Ang Norbu, a young man, but strong and agile as a bear. We gained height very slowly and the slope seemed to grow longer as we climbed, but we made good progress and by 10 o'clock had reached the top of the large snow dome (22,410 feet). We were cheerful and optimistic, for the summit of Kedarnath rose, sparkling, quite near at hand and only 360 feet above us. We took films and photographs and then started off along the ridge, the triumphal road to the summit. To the left snow-fluted precipices dropped a sheer 7,000 feet. To the right slopes looked over the enormous glacier which, had it been in the Alps, would have made a unique ski run.

A short icy drop where we had to put on our crampons took us to the semi-rocky, semi-corniced ridge along which we advanced with great difficulty. Graven led calmly and unhesitatingly, the rest of us spread out behind him. Hours passed, and progress was slow. The summit seemed to be receding. At last the rocky part was behind us and there remained only the sharp, corniced arete. To avoid the cornices we had to cut into the right of the ridge. Graven was still leading, Dittert, Ang Norbu, and I followed, while Sutter and Wangdi Norbu brought up the rear. It was about 1.30 and I had great hopes of success. But then the mountain gods struck. We heard Wangdi cry 'Sahib' and what we then saw actually took place in a fraction of a second. Wangdi had become entangled with his crampons ; he had fallen forward, and was slipping faster and faster down the icy slope of 50°. Hearing his cry Sutter thrust the shaft of his ice-axe hard into the snow and belayed. The rope tautened and Wangdi swung like a pendulum across the ice. For a moment we thought that Sutter had checked his fall, but the snow gave way and both men hurtled downwards at an ever increasing speed. We were terrified. The steep icy slope was 700 or 800 feet long and terminated in a high wall overlooking a considerably less steep slope of soft snow into which the two men somersaulted and stopped after a final ricochet of 30 feet or so. Graven had turned his head away to avoid seeing the catastrophe, but I had followed the fall in the minutest detail and realized the magnitude of the disaster. We could hardly believe it when Sutter stood up, evidently only slightly hurt, and made signs to us with his arms. But Wangdi did not rise, a broken leg, a fractured skull-we could not bear to think of what might have happened.

Before we could get down to our unfortunate companions we had to finish the traverse which took us over an hour and a half, and we estimated that from here we could have reached the summit in little more than an hour. Of course climbing farther could not be thought 6l and we rejoined our comrades. Sutter had only scraped his hands and lace, but Wangdi had broken his left ankle, the point of a crampon had dug deep into his right knee, and his skull was bleeding. We would have to drag him down; but the question was how to plan the descent. We could not possibly climb to the ridge again; the only possible hope was to come down by the big ice-fall to the north-west. We gave the poor man a morphia injection to lessen the pain and reorganized. I took one of (lie Sherpas' loads and, with Sutter and Aug Norbu, descended the slope obliquely to the left so as to join a large couloir running clown the centre of the ice-fall. The snow was deep, the descent difficult, arid it was already 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Aug Dawa, Graven, and Dittert harnessed themselves to Wangdi and dragged him as they descended-a most exhausting procedure. They would advance perhaps 20 yards and then collapse in the snow to get their breath. After more than an hour we reached the couloir where the direct descent was much less tiring. We soon had to leave the centre of the couloir for the sides were sheer ice, and went off to the left in new fields of deep, crusted snow. Night approached, our strength was failing, and we were still well over 20,000 feet. After crossing a crevasse we decided to bivouac, but that particular crevasse offered no shelter whatsoever and we were forced to go on. We could just enter the next one, but it was dangerous to go too far in for the roof was made of enormous blocks of ice which threatened to collapse.

We had to leave Wangdi on the snow bridge over the crevasse. We ourselves had no strength left to build an igloo, dig a cave, or even find a better crevasse. It was most important to be able to find shelter of some sort, for while outside it was between 15 and 20 degrees below zero centigrade, several yards inside the ice the temperature stayed near zero, which made an appreciable difference. We cut a seat in the ice and prepared to spend the long hours of the night side by side, rubbing our knees and feet, fighting against the cold. The night was indeed long and the cold seemed to get more and more bitter. At midnight the moon illuminated our shelter, then all was dark again until 3 o'clock when the light of day began feebly to illuminate the lips of the crevasse.

We left at 4 o'clock. We had to leave Wangdi telling him that we would return when we had found a way down. He was dreadfully thirsty, as indeed we all were. We turned right towards the centre of the couloir, but here it was still too icy and would have taken too long, to say nothing of the danger. We tried to the left again, descending to an icy promontory from where we could see how to proceed. The descent became easier, the snow improved, and towards 7 o'clock we approached the side moraines. The Sherpas came to meet us and we equipped three of them-Thundu, Pasang Urgen, and Arjeeba -to rescue Wangdi. They had our tracks to follow and we hoped they would be able to reach the wounded man, give him something to drink and carry him down.

Utterly exhausted we reached Camp I and went to bed. It was 9 o'clock, and we slept the whole morning. At 1.30 we had bad news. The Sherpas had returned, without being able to reach Wangdi, for the snow had melted with the sun, and they had been frightened by the crevasses. Wangdi, with a wounded skull and a broken leg lay at 20,000 feet alone, without provisions and without drink. It would have been useless to start so late in the afternoon, so we sent the Sherpas to the Base Camp to ask for reinforcements and medicines. At 7 o'clock Tenzing, our best man, arrived and we prepared for an early start.

At 5 o'clock next morning we started off on three ropes to go to Wangdi's rescue. The night had been warmer and it had snowed a bit. We hoped and believed that Wangdi was still alive. Dittert and I had each taken two tablets of Orthodrine, a drug similar to the Pervitine that German airmen took to keep going for twenty- four hours or more at a time.

Dittert, Tenzing, and Ang Norbu led like men possessed; in three hours they reached Wangdi. The meeting was tragic. Wangdi had cut his throat with his knife which, covered with blood, was stuck in the snow at his side. He told us later that he had seen three men coming to fetch him, but that, seeing them turn back, he had thought himself abandoned. He also heard his wife's voice and thought he was dying of thirst. He decided to end his life as quickly as possible so tried to pierce his heart. Being unsuccessful he tried to cut his throat. His neck and chest were covered with dried blood when we found him, but fortunately he had missed the artery and had only succeeded in making a large gash like a second gaping mouth in the middle of his throat.

The second rope consisted of Braham, our liaison officer, Ang Dawa, and Angtensing, while Arjeeba, Thundu, Ghatuk (a porter from Harsil), and I formed the third rope. My idea was to avoid the traverse by clearing a slide in the ice, and to lower Wangdi down the 80 yards. We cut for several hours and I made a belay at the tope with ice-axes, then we went on to meet the first party. They had taken a long time preparing the wounded man and fastening him in such a way as to be able to drag him fairly easily along the snow. At last all was ready and we started off. When we came to the slope I tied the ropes end to end and Wangdi slid, like a package, down to Dittert who was waiting to receive him. The Sherpas were then shepherded down and the rest of the descent brought no difficulties. We harnessed ourselves to the wounded man like dogs to an Eskimo sledge, three of us in front, two at the side for traversing, and four behind to hold him back. The Sherpas decided to carry the wounded man down to the Base Gamp and arrived at 7.30-a really magnificent effort. Dittert and I were so exhausted that we decided to stay at Camp I which had been moved down to its original site.

The following morning we arrived at the Base Camp about 10 o'clock and found our poor Wangdi in a pitiful state. We dressed his wounds, put his leg in plaster, cut his hair to disinfect his skull and sewed up his throat.

Next day we found that the plaster was not holding so we cut it and put on another which seemed better. The wound made in his right knee by the crampon started a bad infection; we put on compresses of acetate, alumina, and Cibazol, but the swelling did not subside and we were at a loss as to whether we should lance the knee or leave it as it was. The swelling was enormous and the pain by this time unbearable. One of the Sherpas grew bold and squeezed the joint with both hands, despite the patient's screams, until the knee was empty when we applied more compresses. Every morning we spent at least a couple of hours with the wounded man, washing, disinfecting, and dressing his wounds with great care. How I envy those doctors who can put their patients to sleep and have everything they want to hand. We did our best and hoped that we would soon be able to have Wangdi transported to the hospital, at Dehra Dun, nearly 500 miles away. He had already made considerable progress and was eventually restored to his wife and two children. We had but narrowly escaped the wrath of the mountain gods, and we were indeed fortunate to be able to wrest Wangdi from the icy grasp of Kedarnath.[1]
KEDARNATH-THE FINAL ASSAULT

ALFRED SUTTER

Everything was ready for our start next day. The fate of Kedarnath hung in the balance. Rucksacks were already full to bursting. We wrote postcards . . . perhaps the last. Graven extemporized as a hairdresser and cut our bushy hair with the skill of a professional. Dittert acted as waiter and competently served us a rich hors d'oeuvre. Roch had quite recovered his spirits. Only Mme Lohner was disappointed because she could not come with us, but Kedarnath demands great stamina and we could not praise her enough for her wise decision. Mr. Braham, our English companion, decided to accompany us part of the way.

We started off on 9th July at exactly 8 o'clock, heavily laden. The weather was far from encouraging; a gentle breeze was blowing and the landscape was veiled by the drizzling rain. The tracks of our first ascent were clearly visible, and we reached Camp II at 1.45 where Tenzing proudly brandished a bottle of cognac which he had brought for us. By then the wind had dropped and it was so hot that I could saunter round the camp in my bare feet. We had our supper outside, and stayed chatting until darkness chased us into the tents.

In spite of the altitude it was fairly warm at dawn on the 10th. We again started off along the ridge and then crossed a crusted snow-field which was perfect going. During the last part of the route to Camp III, however, we had to cut steps. As I could barely use one of my hands I had a certain amount of difficulty crossing the crevasses. At 12.30 we reached Camp III. Roch and Dittert, thinking they had not done enough, started to cut steps in preparation for the next day. It was still warm and the water was trickling down the ice. During the afternoon the weather worsened. Thick dark clouds hung over the flanks and the air seemed to get heavier and heavier. Angtenzing and the shikari returned to Camp II. We slept in the tent; Graven alone preferred sleeping in the open air.

What of to-morrow? The interminable waiting set our nerves on edge. Ang Dawa and Ang Norbu were rather anxious about making the final assault with us, for superstitious fear made them hesitate to return to the scene of the accident, but there was a gleam of determination in Tenzing's eyes.

During the night we left the flap of the tent open so that we could breathe the rarefied air more easily. I made myself as comfortable as possible and a mild drug soon sent me to the world of dreams.

The following morning, on opening my eyes, I saw a light snow scurry. Flakes were falling in Graven's dark hair as he lay sleeping at my side. The weather was hardly encouraging. Blankets of mist covered the valleys and on the heights dark clouds were gathering, but nothing could blunt our determination and we left at 6 o'clock, starting off on firm snow. A bitter south-east wind was chasing the mist over the snow-fields and the temperature fell sharply. Our feet got steadily colder but our hands remained quite warm in their fur gloves. At times a really violent gust of wind would uncover the sun. We panted like plough horses and left deep tracks behind us in the soft snow. At 10.10 we reached the top of the dome and the ridge leading to the summit. Mr. Braham, who had decided not to attempt the long traverse, started back with all the Sherpas except Tenzing. They soon disappeared into the mists.

We could see very little, but from time to time a peak would be unveiled only to disappear again behind the floating clouds.

After an hour's rest we went on. This time Graven took the lead on the rocky part of the ridge. 1 was on his rope, and Roch, Dittert, and Tenzing formed the second rope. The rocks were covered with fresh snow. My sore fingers made every difficult passage, where it was a case of clinging to handholds, extremely arduous.

Graven and I crossed the last rock to join the snowy part of the ridge an hour later; there Roch took the lead. We had not as yet come to the point reached on the previous assault. To the right a steep snow- and ice-covered slope disappeared into the mists below; to the left a granite wall fell perpendicularly into space. The whole length of the arete was patterned with overhanging cornices which demanded somewhat acrobatic feats from us, roped together as we were.

At last we reached the exact place where, on 25th June, the accident had occurred. There was no particular difficulty, but some internal impulse threatened to shake me off my balance, and I had to force my trembling legs to tread firmly in the steps. I reassured myself further by thrusting in my ice-axe which, it is true, hardly found a hold in the soft snow. And we went on. Graven had sensed my uncertainty and, with fatherly solicitude, he reassured me by keeping very close. Without exchanging a single word I knew that not one of my movements escaped him, and I entrusted myself entirely to his safe keeping.

He and I stayed near the cornices while Roch continued along the face. For each length of the rope Graven cut about fourteen steps, and then I followed him. The snow froze the ropes and everv time that we had to pull on them our fingers became more numbed by the cold. The bandages started to come undone under my gloves and my wounds started to throb again.

Despite his difficult stance Graven went on cutting. From time to time the solemn stillness was broken by the thunder of falling rocks and the rumbling of the glacier. We came to a short drop where Roch and Graven prepared a rappel. Tenzing and Roch went down first. They had barely undone the rope when they sunk waist-deep into the snow. They got out again quickly and looked back in surprise at the black hole which had tried to engulf them.

At last we joined up on the col. It was still quite a way to the last slope that leads to the summit. The sun kept peeping through the mist, and the snow-flakes melted as soon as they fell, damping our clothes. The summit itself kept appearing from behind the wandering clouds and seemed so near that we felt we could reach out and touch it. It was a long time since we had seen the other giants of Gangotri. My white cap and dark glasses had been lost during the accident, and my green hunting-hat did not protect me properly from the hard light which shone pitilessly and seemed to stab right through me.

About a hundred yards ahead of us our companions were crouched in the snow, pulling provisions from their rucksacks. They were still resting when we succeeded in dragging ourselves to them. We arrived with throats as dry and as hard as leather, but Graven prepared a mouthful of coffee for each of us and Dittert still had a little tea left in his thermos.

Then Tenzing, sinking in deeply at every step, attacked the slope to the summit. I took nothing with me in my rucksack except my crampons. Even the cinematographic apparatus was given a rest for nothing could have been filmed in the thick mist. Luckily a refreshing wind arose. According to the map we had a further 500 feet to climb, Tenzing still in the lead. I wondered where the man drew his strength from and tried to catch up with him, but he still kept well ahead. Finally, Dittert's voice, which even here had not lost its strength, announced that we had only 150 feet to go.

Just below the summit yawned a last large crevasse; Tenzing went round it to the right. In front of us rose the ‘Arc de Triomphe' -a snow bridge several metres high-but we all avoided it respectfully. Several yards below the summit of Kedarnath those on the first rope stopped. Our good friends wanted to take the last steps to the top in our company.

We were there. At 5 o'clock we reached the highest point of Kedarnath. I felt the hairy beards of my friends on my face; we exchanged congratulations, and our enthusiastic shouts echoed in the air. We were overwhelmed with joy and felt that we were standing on the roof of the world.

In no time all the difficulties and dangers of the ascent were forgotten. Only the present counted, and we felt like crying out with the poet: 'Verweile doch, du hist so schon!' The 11th July was the day we conquered Kedarnath. Henceforth it will shine in letters of gold in the diary of our ascents.

The wonderful panorama we had hoped for was denied us, but from time to time phantom-like peaks would pierce the wisps of mist, bow to us and then disappear, while on the horizon an archway of clouds was most beautifully illuminated by the glory of the setting sun. The centre was quite dark, but as the clouds thinned towards the edges, the sun's rays shone through in all the shades of turtledove grey, pink, and silver-and below was the yellow mist of rain.

Night was falling and soon forced us to descend. We followed our tracks to the col and collected our rucksacks. As quickly as we could we came down the north face by the shortest route. We passed the place where a torn pair of trousers alone bore witness to dangers overcome-where we had bivouacked in the crevasse on the night of the 25th.

We descended farther and farther into the mist, and soon saw the lamps of our Sherpas advancing to meet us. Twice I fell heavily into crevasses, but finally we arrived without further mishap and joined Mme Lohner at 9.15. We were all brimming over with enthusiasm and went on eating, smoking, drinking, and talking until we finally yielded to the joys of well-earned sleep.

The following day we awoke in excellent spirits. No trace of stiffness whatsoever-indeed, we felt reborn. Kedarnath had cured all our wounds! Graven literally seemed to swim with happiness and overflowed with strength and vitality. Nothing can ever surpass the joys of conquering a peak in that part of the world.

Camp I with the White Dome and double peak of Shivling

Camp I with the White Dome and double peak of Shivling



Satopanth

Satopanth



The summit of Nanda Ghunti, 20,000 ft.

The summit of Nanda Ghunti, 20,000 ft.



From Nanda ghunti with Chaukhamba and Nilkanta in the background

From Nanda ghunti with Chaukhamba and Nilkanta in the background



The Swiss Garhwal Expedition of 1947

Satopanth-an unexpected conquest

Andre Roch

We then went eastwards and ascended the Chaturangi glacier, a tributary of the Gangotri. This appears to be a glacier of stone, for an incredible quantity of granite and gneiss covers the ice. We decided to reconnoitre Bhagirathi I, a superb peak of 22,495 feet as yet unclimbed. From what we had seen, the best route appeared to be to climb to the north-east of Sundar Bamak, a glacier which flows past the foot of Satopanth. We established a camp at about 16,000 feet at Chaturangi and on 29th July we started off up the Sundar glacier.

It turned to the right and we could not quite see to the head, but such as was visible was hardly encouraging. The valley was closed by a granite wall topped with blue ice which broke off continually, starting avalanches that swept right over the glacier. I hesitated, for if the entire approach was threatened by falling seracs Bhagirathi would be out of the question. My friends thought the approach to Satopanth seemed better, so we changed our plans, and, not wishing to waste the rest of the day, we decided to establish a camp at its foot. It was pouring with rain, but we climbed to about 18,000 feet and pitched our tents on the moraine of the side glacier which flows from Satopanth itself.

The following day Dittert, Graven, and I left camp at 6 o'clock to reconnoitre. Two ridges looked practicable, one to the north, the other, less steep and more attractive, to the north-west. The weather was fine although a storm was raging beneath us in the valley. We approached the foot of the north-westerly ridge, but our path was blocked by impassable walls of red and green gneiss. In 1938 the Austrians had reached the crest of the ridge by a difficult rocky couloir, but they had been stopped by a deep crack in the crest where a rappel was necessary. This seemed all too complicated, so we turned our attention to the other ridge, to the right of which the long northerly arete rises to Satopanth while to the left a snowy ridge led us in twenty minutes to a little peak and a magnificent view. Chandra Parbat, 22,073 feet, an enormous white mass to the east, had been climbed by the Austrians in 1938. We found traces of the Austrian camp among the rocks on the col and decided to pitch Camp II there the following day. When we descended we dared not follow the steps we had cut that morning for the slope was being swept by falling stones, loosened by the heat of the sun, so followed the rocks right to the bottom of the slope where there was only 6 or 7 yards of ice to cross. We had to put on our crampons, raising our heads every few seconds to try to avoid the murderous stones. Several just missed us; one crashed down without warning close to my foot. At last we were ready and I started off across the ice, cutting as quickly as I could. I reached the rocks on the other side, started to run and arrived on the glacier safe and sound. My friends rejoined me, quite out of breath, and we followed the glacier down to the camp.

Satopanth

Satopanth



On 31st July we climbed to establish Camp II with five Sherpas- Tenzing, Ang Dawa, Ang Norbu, Arjeeba, and Penooree. The icy slope was crossed without danger or difficulty, for so early in the morning the stones were still frozen in. We reached the site by 10.30, pitched our tents in unusually early squalls of rain and snow, and went to bed. Towards 4 o'clock the skies cleared and Dittert, Tenzing, and I decided to reconnoitre the ridge we planned to follow next day and prepare steps. We crossed a treacherous snowy slope and in forty minutes reached the beginning of a long sharp ridge. We were extremely lucky to be able to avoid the actual arete by following the rocks just below and to the left of the crest, for the heat of May and June had caused the snow to melt and recede leaving a passable ledge. If we had had to follow tin corniced crest we would have made very slow progress. This rocky ledge looked over, and in places overhung, a preeipice of some 4,000 feet which dominated the Suralaya glacier. We reached a place where progress was blocked by a very steep snow slope that ended in an overhanging drop, but having no choice other than to cross it I started off, cutting the ice beneath a layer of wet snow. It was most exacting work, but in half an hour I had crossed the slope and could see that the rocky ledge began again beyond this point. By then it was 6.30, so we returned to camp. The clouds cleared leaving a golden moon shining in a clear sky. Luck was with us; to-morrow was to be the day.

Next morning Tenzing started the primus at 2.30 and an hour and a half later we left the camp on two ropes, Sutter and Graven, followed by Dittert and me. It was still dark, but the sun rose as we climbed the first slope.

Beyond the point we had reached the evening before the rocky ledge ended, and we were forced to follow the actual crest. Graven was cutting and moved to the other side of the ridge over a giddy slope which ended in a corridor that dropped 4,000 feet to the long glacier. We were full of admiration for Craven's confidence as he crossed this slope, though Sutter scared us by seeming too confident.

We crossed to the left of the arete and skirted the crest under the cornices; then, to the right again, we climbed straight up on to a dome, Graven having done all the work of step-cutting. Our luck was in, for on the western slopes the snow which had fallen the previous day had already frozen. From the point where we sat the mountain sloped up over a rounded hump to the summit with an average gradient of 450, and the frozen snow enabled us to climb without sinking in more than a couple of inches at each step. At times the gradient increased, and in some places rocks protruded. Hours passed as we slowly made our way up towards the summit. At 11 o'clock we reached the foot of the last slope. The weather was marvellous; we were chilled by a bitter north wind but were able to breathe quite easily. In places there was wind slab and we feared avalanches, but we heard no ominous noises and saw no tracks.

On the last rocks, 500 feet below the summit ridge, we paused. Here the slope became much steeper, the top was overhung with cornices, and the avalanche danger seemed greater than ever. We hesitated, wondering what to do. My friends tied themselves to a rock and I climbed 70 yards, the length of the two ropes knotted end to end. Then I dug a hole in the snow from where I could make a decision. A slightly crusted layer of snow about 2 feet thick rested on the ice without sticking to it, and a small granulous layer separated the snow from the ice. This was perfect for avalanches, but I thought that, had the situation really been as dangerous as it appeared, an avalanche would already have swept down, or at least there would be signs of cracks on the north face. There were neither, and I estimated that the weight of four men on the layer of snow should not be enough to start an avalanche. Besides, it would have been a shame to have given up so near the summit. Unroped I climbed the slope alone to see if it would go. The snow held, and I reached the ridge in about twenty minutes, crossed it and sat down on my sack to rest and look at the incomparable view. My friends soon joined me.

The summit was at the eastward end of the ridge, that is, to the left. The arete itself was partially corniced and the snow to the south was wet. It took us an hour and a half to cover that short distance. Graven led and at times had to cut steps. At 2 o'clock we reached the summit, a very sharp arete where we had no wish to tarry. But the view was breath-taking with all the wild Garhwal mountains visible, from Kamet to Nanda Devi, Dunagiri and Trisul, the strangely formed Gangotri peaks, and finally the immense Chauk- hamba group that dominates the region. Our joy at this unexpected conquest was unbounded and Sutter and Graven spent some time taking photographs.

It took us only a quarter of an hour to return to the place where we had joined the summit ridge, and we climbed down to the long ridge in just over an hour. By now the west face was full in the sun and the snow threatened to slip on the ice, so I descended to the full length of the rope and notched the cornice to make a belay capable of holding the others. They joined me and Graven went on ahead to cut steps. He passed to the east side of the ridge, which was now freezing again. Our difficulties were over. We descended into mist, hailed the Sherpas, and by 6.30 we were back in our tents where we could drink our fill.

The clouds cleared slowly, and the setting sun lit up the summit of Satopanth, which seemed unnaturally far above us. We were still stunned by this unexpected conquest and could hardly realize that we had climbed to over 7,000 metres. We spent an excellent night and the following morning happily descended to Camp I.

An hour later we set off for our camp on the Chaturangi Glacier.

The expedition shortly afterwards left Nandaban and proceeded eastwards up the Chaturangi Glacier, across the Kalindi Khal and down the right bank of the Arwa to Ghastoli. Lack of space has caused the omission of Rene Dittert's account of this crossing. Later in the journal there is a description by T.E. Braham of his journey over the same ground. Members will be glad to learn that Dittert has promised an article on the 1949 Swiss Expedition to Sikkim for our next issue. From Ghastoli the party turned northwards up the Saraswati valley towards the Mana pass and their next objective, Balbala.

A HIMALAYAN DREAM COME TRUE ANNELIES LOHNER

We left for Jagrao on 23rd August at 6.30 and followed the winding track over a sea of stones, sometimes along moraines, sometimes over interminable barren spaces, climbing to about 17,000 feet through the perpetual brown and yellow country-side which Tenzing told me was typical of Tibet. A caravan of yaks and goats came down towards us from the col, and at 2.30 we reached Jagrao where we spent the night.

The following day was damp and misty. We were breakfasting when a lone, limping Tibetan, who had come down from the mountains, appeared before us. His equipment for the journey, which would take him many weeks or even months, was no more than a sack, a sling, a knife, and a needle with which to mend his boots. We cheered him on his way with a hot cup of tea and prepared to leave ourselves.

We crossed the Saraswati and climbed up to the glacier. The sun and mist were fighting for precedence and the heat made the climb so unpleasant that the coolies, exhausted by the weight of their loads, refused to go farther until a tip of two rupees each encouraged them to go on working! They had improvised protection from the glare with makeshift eye fringes from black wool; even with my dark glasses my eyes were hurting me.

Leaving the glacier we climbed down a small incline which led us over snow and ice to a col at about 18,000 feet where we pitched our tents beside the glacier on some debris and we decided to make our attempt on Balbala from this point.

It snowed all through the night of the 24th, and when I awoke next morning my ears and throat were hurting, but a cup of tea soon revived me. We waited an hour for the weather to settle, but at 7 o'clock decided to start in spite of the mist and falling snow.

Our route lay along a glacier leading to an ice-wall, thence to the foot of a ridge below the summit. Dittert, Sutter, and Ang Norbu were leading and cut steps to the ridge where Graven, Tenzing, and I took over the lead. We had difficulty in forcing our way through snow-drifts and on account of the bad visibility could not be sure whether we were on the ridge itself or on a cornice. Crevasses lay in wait for us, and every step seemed a problem.

At last we set foot on the rocks of the ridge and sighed with relief. Roch went ahead and we struggled against the lash of the wind, still hardly able to see, and damp to the marrow of our bones. We rested a moment to weigh up our chances, for there was no hope that the weather would improve, but no one favoured retreat.

From there to the summit every step I took seemed to be a victory over the elements and danger until, at 10.30, we reached the summit of Balbala, 21,057 feet. We hugged and congratulated each other joyously. But this conquest meant far more to me than to my friends for it represented the crown of my adventures in the Himalayas, a crown which I had desired greatly and which had been denied me for a long time, for which I had paid the price of many hard and weary days. The poor visibility deprived us of the view we had hoped for, for this peak rises high over the Tibetan frontier- a bitter drop in our overflowing cup of joy.

We descended, cheerfully, through a snow-storm. After celebrating we struck the higher camp and while the Sherpas returned to Jagrao we made a detour as far as the Mana col which leads to Tibet. A sudden parting of the clouds gave us a glimpse of an endless vista of mountains tinted with purple, brown, and brick red; a fairy world shone before our eyes, only to vanish immediately behind the curtain of mist. We hurried back to camp in driving rain, but stopped a moment beside the Saraswati lakes to read the age-old phrase devoted to prayer, meditation, and magic which was inscribed on a stone tablet-'Om Mane Padme Hum'.

THE ASCENT OF NANDA GHUNTI

ANDRE ROCH

Sutter, Graven, Dittert, and I arrived at the village of Sutol where our Sherpas found us cucumbers, pumpkins, potatoes, and green vegetables. What was more they unearthed a guide to take us through the jungle, and arranged for him to meet us the following day. We pitched camp on a grassy patch overlooking the junction of two mountain torrents, in one of which we had a glorious bathe during the early afternoon.

A troop of monkeys was playing in the trees not far off when, just before our evening meal, the guide arrived dressed in a partly rolled up blanket, leaving his legs bate to the thighs. He wore ear-rings, and the hair beneath his little Hindu hat was short and bushy. We immediately christened him 'man of the woods' but his real name was Gulab Singh. We fixed his salary at three rupees a day, with a further rupee for the food he was to bring with him. He warned us that on the first day the track would be very bad, but the second day it would be even worse because there would be no track at all!

Dittert and I left Sutol on 7th September with three Sherpas, Ang Tenzing, Ang Norbu, and Penooree, three of our Harsil porters, Gathuk, Buang Singh, and Bagar Singh, and nine Mana porters.

A long steep climb over a good path led us to the hamlet of Tatra from where the long Nandakini valley slopes up eastwards. The valley is overgrown with woods of fir and sycamore, under which bamboos and nettles crowd so densely that if a path had not been cut with kukris it would have been impossible to move at all. The weather was far from pleasant; a watery sun showed its face for a short while in the morning, but was soon hidden by rain which got heavier and heavier. The trees dripped and we were drenched. In the early afternoon we came to a clearing in the trees where the undergrowth was so thick that we had to cut our way through. We camped under a species of tall oak and dried our clothes in front of a good fire. It rained all night, so next morning we started off on our second stage through the jungle, wet through. We thought it could be no more difficult, but in point of fact our experiences of the previous day were a mere nothing! A good track led into the woods but ended suddenly, after which we had to fight our way through incredibly matted undergrowth. It is very tiring never to be able to see where to set your feet and we often slipped or fell into holes. In places we found progress was made exceedingly difficult by moss-covered rocks. Later we had to cross several ravines with all but vertical sides, holding on to tufts of grass and trying to avoid the many thistles, nettles, and thorn bushes. The latter became more and more numerous, tore our clothes, scratched our hands and faces, and generally infuriated us. The north face, on the other side of the torrent, was very wild. Rocky, moss-covered walls, broken here and there by wild cascades, rose sheer for several hundred feet out of the jungle. Gradually the undergrowth thinned, but after the woods came slopes of rhododendron bushes which were even worse, for our feet kept slipping on the roots and we had to hold on with our hands all the time. However, we eventually descended to the torrent and climbed the left side where, having crossed moraines all summer, we were thoroughly at home on the stones and gravel.

Kamet to Nanda Ghunti

Kamet to Nanda Ghunti



The immense west face of Trisul (23,365 feet) which we had not yet been able to see on account of the mist, rose some 14,000 feet above us, closing the eastern end of the valley. A stone-covered glacier flows from the Hanks ol the mountain, while Nanda Ghunti stands at the head of a side valley whic h runs down from the north, to the left.

As yet we had not even been able to see the mountain we had come to attack, and in such conditions it was of course impossible to decide on a route, but towards evening the clouds parted and at last we could see the sparkling mountain. To the right was the southern ridge, snow-covered high up but rocky lower down. The eastern ridge sloped down gently to a shoulder which was connected to the Humkum Gala col (18,000 feet) by a long ridge, partially snowy, partially rocky, the lower part absolutely bristling with gendarmes. We were still too far away to make a definite decision, moreover, part of the mountain was obscured from view, but Dittert was of the opinion that we should try the southern ridge. I had not yet made up my mind but tended to prefer the eastern ridge.

I knew that Nanda Ghunti had already been attempted during the war,1 but I had no idea of the route taken, nor of the causes of failure. We were therefore quite uninfluenced and had to depend entirely on our own judgement.

The following day we were in luck. It was fine, glorious sun bathed the entire valley. To our right the enormous and indescribably forbidding face of Trisul reared into the azure sky. At the end of the valley to the north rose Nanda Ghunti, proud and mighty. From what we could see the eastern ridge, although much longer than the southern, presented no great difficulties. If we could turn the rocky gendarmes at the beginning of the ridge, the rest of the arete as far as the top of the shoulder did not seem to be particularly steep. From the shoulder to the summit itself appeared to be fairly easy. Dittert optimistically supported my views; we decided to try the eastern route and establish a camp on the Humkum col.

1 A spirited attempt on Nanda Ghunti had been made in October 1945 by the brothers Peter and Jeremy Wood with R. H. Sams. Vide H.J., vol. xiv, pp. 44 ff.-Ed.

We made good progress over some easy moraines at first, and then slowly ascended the enormous scree slopes which led to the col.

All this time the sky had been cloudy; mists hid the view and it was raining. We reached the col together with the Sherpas and the three porters from Harsil, and prepared to return for the loads left by the coolies, but our Sherpas would not let us go down again. They went themselves and in three-quarters of an hour all the loads were on the col. In the meanwhile we had been preparing a site for the tents.

The following morning the clouds did not lift as usual, the mist clung to the ridges, and we could see nothing. We decided to establish a camp as high as possible on the eastern ridge, and succeeded in passing the first imposing group of gendarmes to the south. Then, over an unpleasant slope of scree we reached the ridge. We had to cross several rocky projections and admired the surefootedness of the Sherpas who surmounted such obstacles with ease in spite of their heavy loads. At about 18,000 feet we reached a very steep slope formed of wet slabs overlapping like fish scales. Roped and belayed Dittert tried to ascend, but his feet kept slipping. To climb this we would have needed to use countless pitons so we tried to find some alternative. To the left there was a sheer precipice of fluted ice. To the right, by descending a couloir of rotten rock, we reached some shelves leading to slabs over which we rejoined the ridge some 200 feet higher. From here it was only an easy ioo yards or so along the ridge to where the snow began. We thought that the passage we had just climbed was too tricky for the heavily laden Sherpas, so decided to pitch the two tents lower down on the north face. Two of the Sherpas stayed with us while the others went down to the camp on the col, and we went to bed as soon as possible to get as much shelter as we could from the pouring rain. It was only 2 o'clock but we were very demoralized. In spite of our optimism the weather had not improved. If it snowed during the night conditions would be deplorable and our attempt would fail.

I woke at 2 in the morning and put my head outside the tent. I could see some stars and called cheerfully to Ang Tenzing to light the stove and prepare some food. Half an hour later Dittert looked at the sky which had clouded over again: more bad weather! There was, however, one star shining through the mist; it really needed unshakable optimism to decide that it was going to be fine. Ang Tenzing had got up and we asked him whether conditions were good. As a reply he threw us a stone. By the light of our candle we saw it was covered with verglas! Dittert and I looked at each other horrified, and resigned ourselves to tackling the rocks in crampons.

At 3.40 we left by the light of the lantern. Dittert led, I followed, and Ang Tenzing came third. We left Norbu at the camp because we foresaw that it was going to be no joy-ride. In the dark the ascent of the verglas-covered slabs took us nearly an hour. Once we had climbed the short rocky part of the ridge we reached excellent snow where we could make steps with one kick. Dittert led like a bat out of hell and climbed quickly. The slope became extremely steep, but in such good conditions climbing was a real pleasure, though I was hard put to keep up with my friend. Day dawned and the sky almost cleared. To the north, we could see the wild circus of the Ronti glacier over which towered the two peaks of Nanda Devi. To our left a chain of peaks of about 20,000 feet culminated in the pointed summit of Dunagiri and the even more awe-inspiring Changabang and Kalanka group. Behind us the panorama was completed by the great glacier of the west face of Trisul.

The ridge that we were following got less and less steep and then reared up sharply to the sky in a slender arete bordered with a cornice. Here the gradient was severe and we had to cut every step. Luckily the snow was firm and Dittert was in good form. We climbed quickly and reaching the top of the steep slope found that the ridge continued fairly level, but was so sharp that the impression it gave was somewhat terrifying. Dittert cut steadily on the north side till we reached the top of the shoulder where we crossed the arete and descended several feet to a rocky ledge to rest and photograph the magnificent view. From this perch the ridge, more slender than ever, rose to Nanda Ghunti. Just to look at it made us shiver, but the summit itself, only half a mile farther on and 1,000 feet above us, sparkled in the sun and appeared to be quite accessible. We progressed with great caution, making a belay at every rope's length. In one place the cornice reared up sharply in the form of an eagle's beak and hung several yards over the southern side of the ridge, forcing us to climb some little way down the very steep north side, an extremely unpleasant manoeuvre. A second small cluster of rocks was a welcome oasis, but brought disappointment; the ridge did not lead to a snow-field as I had hoped, but stretched on for another 300 feet or so. The cornices formed the most delightful lace patterns rising above the flutings of the precipitous slopes. We would indeed have preferred less beauty and more comfort. However, confident that these difficulties would soon be behind us, Dittert attacked this last ridge.

At last the shoulder was passed. It was 9 o'clock already and had taken us five hours of unrelenting work. The sky was clouding over gradually and the next stage of the ascent was not exactly enticing. We had either to continue along the tapering ridge for some way, or alternatively to skirt it on snow 'terraces' below, which were separated the one from the other by very steep slopes or by impassable serac.

We compromised by starting along the ridge and then climbing down to the south on to one of the terraces from where we hoped to descend to a second. The slope connecting them was all but vertical but there was no alternative so we resigned ourselves to descending in a small gully of powder snow. Mist surrounded us, but it could no longer hold us back, for from what we had seen our difficulties were at an end.

Ang Tenzing was leading. A steep slope led to the foot of a large serac which we by-passed over a snow-filled crevasse, and then rejoined the rounded ridge which led to the summit. For a second the mists parted and we saw the peak quite close at hand. We almost forced marched up the last slope which was cut by an icy wall above which a slender and very steep arete led to the summit. To the right the wall was impassable, but to the left we found a way up to the melting snow of the crest. The slope soon eased and finally, at midday, we reached what we thought must be the summit for, although visibility was practically nil, we could climb no higher. We had no time to give vent to our enthusiasm and after congratulating ourselves soberly on this, the hardest ascent of the expedition, we turned and started the climb down.

It was snowing and our tracks had either melted or been covered. On the terraces I mistook the way and went down too low. We had to climb up again, and at 2 o'clock we had only just reached the sharp ridge starting from the shoulder. We could not contemplate starting along this for the snow was rotten and melting; it no longer clung to the ice beneath, and any attempt to descend would have been suicide. We looked at some of the crevasses, but none would have been of any use as a bivouac, so we decided to build an igloo. We piled blocks, cut with our ice-axes, one on top of the other and by 3 o'clock our house was ready. We got in on our hands and knees and sat in a row on a sort of bench where we prepared to spend the night as comfortably as possible. With great foresight Ang Tenzing had brought with him three packets of meta so that we could have any amount of hot drink and he proceeded to make us some Tibetan tea and chapati soup. We succeeded in partially drying our stockings, and also in burning our gloves. Luckily the night was cold and clear, but in our little hut we hardly felt the cold. It was 5.20 before we were ready to leave, Ang Tenzing roped up between Dittert and me. When I attacked the first slope I was absolutely numb but the work soon warmed me. The whole way along the ridge we could remake our steps, often with a single blow of the ice-axe, sometimes with two or three. The view was marvellous, for we could see all the Garhwal mountains from Kedarnath to Kamet and the two peaks overlooking the Niti pass. The sun rose, bringing into relief the fluting of the north face, and started to melt the top snow