We have to thank the two first named for their respective typescripts, which, for obvious reasons, have been printed separately, and for the trouble they have taken to provide the photographs and to make up the panorama. Captain L. C. Lind of the 50th Kumaonis was, as stated in H.J. xv, killed fighting against the Japanese.
We have also to thank Major Banon, who is still at Manali,for his co-operation in procuring relevant details.—Ed.
ATTEMPTS ON DEO TIBBA
R. G. EVANS
Once they have succumbed to the lure of the Himalaya, climbers from Britain naturally enough do not pay much attention to such comparatively insignificant hills as those of Kulu. But the quest for the biggest game is only one of many reasons for going to the Himalaya, and the Simla hills have their own rewards for those who are content to go there.
Kulu is rapidly accessible, and its highest mountain, Deo Tibba, is possibly still unclimbed; most of its peaks are unnamed and unexplored, first-rate climbing is to be had on mountains of 18,000 to 21,000 feet, dwarfed by no giant neighbours, and the upland valleys and hillsides, below the snowline, are most lovely. I make this last statement with confidence because one of us said that the country looked like Scotland, another that it was almost as fine as Wales, and the third, who was hard pressed, that there was nothing like it outside of Hertfordshire.
The first reconnaissance of Deo Tibba was made by General Bruce's guide, Furrer, who reported that one of its ridges looked climbable from the Hamta nala. J. O. M. Roberts and, later, E. Peck, whose account accompanies this article, also examined the approaches from the Hamta, and concluded that they were difficult and dangerous. These two also went round, at different times, and looked at the mountain from the head of the Jagat Sukh nala, and both thought that here was a practicable route.
The late Gaptain Lind, accompanied by one shikari, made an attempt on the mountain in 1940, and left with Major Banon, at Manali, some notes about his route, which are reproduced below. He refers, in an accompanying sketch-map, to a 'proposed route', and does not say in so many words that he reached the top. It is not possible, from his notes, to form a clear picture of where he went.
Last year, E. Ker, A. G. Trower, and I wanted to fit a Himalayan holiday into an absence from England of less than six weeks. With a day and a half in Delhi, where we were very kindly looked after by the High Commissioner's staff, we reached Manali in five days from London airport. Our return journey was equally quick, but we were lucky in having no minor delays, and six weeks, we now think, is cutting it a bit fine, if one is to have a reasonable stay actually in the mountains.
At first we had no intention of going to Deo Tibba, but when, at the last moment, we were refused permission to cross the Rohtang pass into Lahul, we had to look round for somewhere in Kulu itself, and chose the Jagat Sukh nala. We had no occasion later to regret our choice.
Three Sherpas, Dawa Thundup, Pasang Dawa, and Da Namgyal, joined us at Pathankot. I knew the last two from a previous expedition, and with Dawa Thundup, who is something of a veteran, they made a hard-working and pleasant trio.
With local coolies from Manali, where Major Banon took us under his wing, we walked for 2 ½ very wet days up the Jagat Sukh nala, and reached Seri, at 12,500 feet, on 14th September, the last day of the monsoon. We had come a little too early from England to be certain of the weather, but for the rest of our stay we had clear nights and fine mornings, although the late afternoons were cloudy, and rain or snow fell each day at about 4 p.m. At Seri we established a permanent camp, and the local coolies were dismissed.
Deo Tibba consists of an extensive ice-cap, the actual summit (19,687 feet) being a snow hump which is probably accessible once the edge of the ice plateau is reached. There lies the difficulty, because the slopes which fall away from the plateau are steep, and crowned in most places by ice cliffs which look unstable.
We thought there were two weaknesses worth exploring. First, a snow-and-rock ridge running down into the Malana basin, and second, the ridge which encloses the head of the Jagat Sukh nala, and forms the watershed between it and the Malana nala. (See map and photo.) The first of these we called the 'Piton' ridge, because at (he foot of it we found an old piton; the second we called the 'Water- shed’ ridge. North of the Piton ridge, running into the head of the Malana basin, is a huge ice-fall. We did not have time to look at it thoroughly, but what we saw of it from the Piton ridge was not encouraging. For the most part it is crowned by massive cliffs of ice.
Trower and I, with Dawa Thundup and Da Namgyal, first tackled the Piton ridge, but after camping on it at about 16,500 feet we were slopped by a gendarme which we could neither climb nor turn. Eight days later, when I had another go at this route with Dawa Thundup, snow conditions having changed very much in the interval, we did manage to get round this gendarme on its south side, but were stopped, after surmounting another pinnacle, by the very last step of the ridge, a smooth, slabby rise of about 150 feet, which we could not climb.
Approaches to Deo Tibba
That, as far as I was concerned, seemed to dispose of the Piton ridge, though there is, immediately to the north of it, an uninviting couloir which, under certain conditions of snow, might be worth a trial.
Now the Watershed ridge. After our first rebuff on the Piton ridge, and a short visit to Seri to enjoy, rather prematurely, the rewards of the faithful, we went up once more to the col at the head of the valley, and put a camp on the Watershed ridge where it steepens and begins to run up against the side of Deo Tibba, at about 17,000 feet.
Our camp on this ridge was very exposed, and after one anxious night of high wind, we moved down to a more sheltered spot. Part of the morning was spent in excavating a camp site, and the rest of the day in prospecting a route through the rock band at the foot of the ridge above us. The rocks were steep enough, very loose, and covered with recent snow, but after one false cast which brought us on to a particularly insecure slope, we found a route that was unpleasant, but nowhere hard.
Trower and I, with Dawa Thundup, started out soon after dawn next day, climbed the lower rocks as on the previous day, and bore well away to the right to reach the foot of a series of snow ridges, which gave a thousand feet of wonderful climbing. The ridges stand out a little from the face, there is a great ice cliff on the right hand, and on the left there is a tremendous drop into the head of the Jagat Sukh nala. By about ten-thirty I was incautious enough to say that with snow like this we were sure of the top.
We were now at the foot of the final curve that leads on to the dome of the ice-cap, and so far we had been cutting steps through a little soft snow into good hard stuff. A few minutes after my rash remark Trower began to find ice under the surface snow. As we went on the slope got worse, and soon we found ourselves on top of four different layers; soft snow, a thin ice crust, 6 inches or so of slushy snow, and under that, ice. Progress was very slow indeed, and it became clear that we were not going to reach the top this way today. Now that we were on it, the shoulder of the ice-cap turned out to be bigger and steeper than we had thought, and the last straw was a muffled 'crack' emitted by the slope itself. 'What was that?' said Trower, and Dawa Thundup, who hasn't much English, and uses it economically, replied 'C-rack, Sahib'. Under those conditions the Watershed ridge is not a good route, and we decided unanimously to retreat.
We now tried the Piton ridge a second time, as already described, and returned to Seri. This last descent was most unpleasant. The slopes below the col had been deteriorating fast since the end of the monsoon, and we now found them long slopes of thin ice, overlaid wilh slush and new-fallen snow. It was late afternoon, snow was fallinp;, there had been a sharp drop in temperature, and our sacks seemed unreasonably heavy. It was a relief to reach the level glacier, a thousand led down; this slope, which on our first ascent of it had been merely a fatiguing plod, had now produced the trickiest climbing of our holiday.
At Seri we still had live clays in hand. One or two sheep were quickly slaughtered, and Ker and I traversed a double summit of 16,500 feet to the south-east, where Da Namgyal found some yeti tracks which had indisputably been made by a bear.
Next day we camped up a grassy valley to the south, and, joined by Trower, climbed a sharp little peak of 16,316 feet, which stands at the head of this valley.
On 5th October, full of good mutton and good memories, we started for home.
CAPTAIN LIND'S NOTES
|1 st route
|Suggest trying via Malana. It looked very straightforward from the mountain, but I've not tried it.
|Via the Jagat Sukh nala.
|At Chika (not on map) about 2 miles before one gets to Dudu. Big rocks, room enough to sleep under, and wood.
|Up above the final waterfalls but below Ghandar Tal some thousand feet. No wood, but good rocks for shelter.
|Keeping well to left of Chandar Tal mound, near the main river bank, make for lowest point of rock-snow wall—quite easy, in July, anyway. Then across snow- field towards ice and snow blocks in far distance. Either camp at bottom or go on up. I suggest the former, never having climbed by that route, but it looks O.K.
|Up by one of the routes and across snowfield. Camp under mountain.
|Up extreme left-hand rock ridge. In my opinion only possible route and safe.
L. Lind. 3.8.40
RECONNAISSANCE OF DEO TIBBA
E. H. PECK
In June 1950 Mr. E. H. Peck and Mr. C. R. Patterson, in the course of a stay at Manali in the Kulu valley, prospected the Piang- neru nala, the principal easterly tributary of the Hamta nala, to see if any route were possible on the west face of Deo Tibba. Camp was pitched on the Piangneru Alp at about 12,000 feet and a route taken along the right-hand (N.) lateral moraine of the Piangneru glacier to where it abuts on the flat surface of the lower section of the glacier. The upper end of this section terminates under a 400-foot cliff which is in turn surmounted by some 1,000 feet of extremely broken ice-fall; above this a snow-plateau apparently runs below both the jagged north (20,410) and the dome-like south (19,687) summits of Deo Tibba, but access to either summit or to the saddle between them seems barred by ice-walls. A direct attack on the west face was thus out of the question, but the opportunity was taken to explore the hidden north-east bay of the lower Piangneru glacier. Steep snow couloirs lead up to the north towards point 17,356 but are exposed to stone-fall; a snow-ledge might then lead across the cliff to the plateau above the ice-fall. From here access to the south summit might be possible by a devious traverse across the southwest face to the south ridge. This possible route was confirmed by observations made the following day from a point above Tikru Tapri south of Piangneru Alp, but it would be difficult, devious, and dangerous.
Deo Tibba from the south-west
On the Piton ridge, Deo Tibba. Thedistant peaks are those grouped at the head of the Tos nala
Unnamed peaks of 18,000 ft. south-east of the Malana nala
Panorama from Saddle between Deo Tibba (S. ridge) and Pt. 17,155 (height approx. 16,600 ft.) From Point East of Chander Tal: 320 10’ N., 770 23 ½’ E.
In May 1951 an approach to the south ridge, following the directions of the late Captain Lind, was reconnoitred by Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Peck by way of the Jagat Sukh nala. Leaving Manali early on 22nd May by the left bank of the Beas, they followed a path rising behind Shuru hamlet above Jagat Sukh village to the wooden temple of Banhara and from there a steep but well-defined path led up and along the north side of the Jagat Sukh nala, rejoining the track up the steep valley bottom at about 8,500 feet. After a long day for the porters, camp was pitched at the lowest point of the Chika Alp, at about 9,000 feet, and on the following day (23rd May) porters made easy progress to Seri, 12,000 feet, the broad alp at the head of the nala. Continuous snow-beds began soon after the Dudu Alp and the Seri meadow was completely under snow. The shepherd's cave under the large rock was a bed of ice and unusable by porters, who huddled together on the only small spit of exposed earth. Two herds of ibex (about twelve head) were noted on the cliffs to the north and a pika made its appearance to forage for scraps. On 24th May camp was carried up on to the snow-covered moraines at the south foot of Deo Tibba. The route taken ( limbed the slopes to the south of the waterfall before dipping into the moraine basin past two overhanging rocks which would, in less snowy conditions, provide shelter for porters. Camp was eventually pitched at 14,500 feet on the open snow-slopes near the small crag which supports the Chandra Tal basin. Snow conditions were good up to midday but track-breaking became laborious in the afternoon. The porters were persuaded only with difficulty to bring camp up to 14,500 feet, and since no shelter could be provided for them they had to return to Dudu for the night. A thunderstorm and a shower of hail brought doubtful weather on the morning of 25 th May and a start was postponed until after 6 a.m. The snow was, however, in excellent condition and good progress was made up the steep 1,000- foot snow-wall to the saddle at 16,600 feet, reached at 9 a.m. The weather had improved but it was clearly too late to attempt the long ascent of the south ridge of Deo Tibba without a further camp, which time and lack of shelter for the porters did not permit. Snow conditions would, however, have probably been favourable for reaching the 18,ooo-foot preliminary dome. The party contented itself with turning southwards and ascending the sharp snow edge to the summit of point 17,155. In spite of mists rising from the Malana nala to the south, the view was perfectly clear across the broad glacier plateau to the row of 21,ooo-foot peaks on the other side of the Tos nala; these stretched eastwards to the junction of the Pir Panjal range with the Great Himalayan range north of the Pin Parbati pass (see panorama). The prominent rocky peak of Ali Ratni Tibba presented a severe challenge to climbers approaching from the Malana or Parbati valleys. The route from the 16,6oo-foot saddle to the preliminary dome (18,000 feet) of Deo Tibba by way of the south ridge did not appear to present any serious obstacles if snow conditions remained constant. The route from the 18,ooo-foot dome to the south summit might have entailed some step-cutting but did not appear to be threatened by ice-falls. A glimpse was obtained of the rocky spires of the north summit, presenting an inviting bare red-rock surface in contrast to the icy gullies of the Piangneru (W.) and Hamta (N.) faces. On the descent the snow was in soft but not dangerous condition and the party returned to Dudu for the night without difficulty, and to Manali on 26th May.
R.C. Evans, E. H. PECK, L.C. Lind