We owe an apology to the Mountaineering Association for having omitted to mention, in our volume xvi, two first-class books recently published by them: Elementary Mountaineering, with lessons from nine distinguished mountaineers, and A Short Manual of Mountaineering Training, by W. C. Burns, F. Shuttleworthand J. E.B.Wright. These two publications are of first-class value.
We have also to acknowledge with great gratitude the following which have been received from other Clubs, organizations, and publishers: Regard vers Annapurna and Nanda Devi, both superbly illustrated and with good maps and diagrams, and La Chaine de Mont Blanc, vol. ii, by M. Lucien Devies, President of the C.A.F., and recently elected to our Club. All are published by MM. Arthaud of Paris and Grenoble. Also the Jahrbuchs of the German and of the Austrian Alpine Clubs, and the Swedish Alpine Club annual Till Fjalls.
The French, Germans, and Austrians also send their monthly journals regularly, Alpinisme, La Montagne, Mitteilungen des< D. Av., Berg und Heimat, Osterreichische Alpen Zeitung.—Ed.
ZUM DRITTEN POL. Eight-thousanders of the World. By Professor G. O. Dyrenfurth. Munich: Nymphenberger Press. 10x7 inches, 285 pages, 47 illustrations.
This, as the sub-title indicates, is an encyclopaedia covering the seventeen known peaks of over 26,000 feet, or 'Third Pole' as Herr Dyrenfurth terms them collectively: presumably for the reason that they have largely replaced the North and South Poles as objectives difficult to attain.
The author begins with a simple table giving in order of height the outlines of the expeditions with relevant details. In many cases he differs somewhat from the heights accepted by the Royal Geographical Society, although these too are stated.
The Professor then proceeds to take the seventeen mountains, again in order of altitude, first discussing the various names given to them through the years, then describing briefly the various expeditions, their successes and failures, and finally summarizing the possibilities. Mount Everest, of course, is dealt with first, followed by K2 (oder Chagori), then Kangchenjunga and the 'other eight- thousanders in the Everest group, Makalu and Lhotse', and included with them Cho Oyu, almost 20 miles north-north-west of Everest. Then come Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, the former referred to by the author as the 'Mont Blanc of the Himalaya': this is apparently the literal translation of the Sanscrit name. Chapter VII deals with Manaslu, formerly known as Kutang I, and with Gosainthan whose Tibetan name is Shisha Pangma. Neither of these two has yet been attempted and the latter is now, of course, £in the red'. Peter Aufschnaiter, however, did make a hasty examination of its eastern approaches during his escape journey from Lhasa to Nepal last winter.
Nanga Parbat, the German Berg der Kameraden, receives a good deal of attention, 30 pages in all. The last three chapters are devoted to the great Karakoram peaks, mostly those in the Gasherbrum neighbourhood in which Professor Dyrenfurth with his wife carried out much useful reconnaissance in 1934. In conclusion he has added a list of the 'seven-thousanders'.
The Professor has, with one exception, wisely refrained from mixing politics with mountaineering.
The book, which is beautifully produced, is lavishly supplied with excellent illustrations, as well as with maps, panoramas, and a good index. Unfortunately the reviewer's German is not quite adequate to do full justice to a truly fine production, but he hopes that the author, his leader of 22 years ago, will appreciate his good intent.
H. W. T.
Captain Kingdon Ward's recent book (Plant Hunter in Manipur) ends on a pleasantly anticipatory note-'Where next?' Now, in My Hill So Strong (Jonathan Cape), Jean Kingdon Ward gives us the answer.
I must say, at the outset, that I was prejudiced in favour of the book from the moment that I read the dedication, at once so generous and so appropriate!
I was enthralled from beginning to end of this delightfully 'readable' book. Mrs. Kingdon Ward tells the tale of a journey that was essentially a failure, and of the disaster which so nearly overtook her husband and herself. After the vivid description of a most uncomfortable journey, through the jungle-clad hills of far eastern Assam, to Rima just across the Tibetan border where they were yet only on the threshold of the country they had hoped to explore, the appalling earthquake comes almost as a fitting climax.
One who has never experienced the horrors of such a calamity cannot possibly appreciate to the full the feelings of those who have nearly been overwhelmed. However, the author is so happily endowed with the gift of vivid description that the reader is enabled to share, to a small degree, in the terrors of her remarkable experiences, and in the feeling of awful helplessness and uncertainty with which she and her husband must have faced the morning of 16th August 1950.
One can appreciate the disappointment when they realized that their hopes of ever reaching the alpine meadows (their real objective) in search of plants could never be realized. It is therefore all the more pleasant to read how they continued to pursue Captain Kingdon Ward's objective even when faced with disaster.
Throughout the book most generous tribute is paid to the help received from the Assam Rifles, and to the consideration and fortitude displayed by individual N.C.O.s and men of that justly famous Corps of Military Police. It is no overstatement that to these qualities they probably owe the fact of their survival.
It is fortunate that the author had received some 'training' under the conditions to be met with by an explorer, for on this occasion she was called upon to overcome both illness and semi-starvation in addition to more normal hazards. Despite this she and her husband are now planning a further adventurous journey in the more-or-less unknown, and I look forward to reading her account of a truly successful expedition.
The book is well illustrated well photographs, and I would congratulate Mrs. Kingdon Ward on the excellent map which helps one so much to follow the story of a remarkable journey.
BERGE DER WELT. Schriftenreihe fiir Alpinismus-Expeditionen- Wissenschaft. Himalaya-Anden-Neuseeland. Fiinfter Band, 1950. Buchverlag Verbandsdruckerei A. C. Hern. Edited by Marcel Kurz.
Pp. xvi, 254; 44 illustrations; 4 maps, No price given.
This volume, edited by Marcel Kurz, is the fifth of the series, and is a delight to everyone who knows and loves mountains. It is well printed in clear Roman type, and the illustrations are magnificent. The greater part of the book is devoted to the Himalaya, and is thus of peculiar interest to readers of the Himalayan Journal.
The chief article in the book is the first of 80 pages, and deals with the Swiss expedition of 1949 of Messes. Lohner, Sutter, and others. Although the journey began in Darjeeling, the area explored was almost exclusively the extreme eastern part of Nepal, and chiefly concerns the Lhonak glacier. If a criticism be made, it is that the maps are disappointing. There is one on the first page, and another on page 43, but these are no more than sketch-maps, and on the first map the route of the journey of Dr. Wyss-Dunant is not given. There is, however, a more elaborate map of the Jongsang-Nupchu region at the end of the book; but this map is again not satisfactory, for however accurate it may be, it is not at all clear. It is suggested that in reproducing maps the topography of the maps of the Survey of India be followed. The maps in the book are not worthy either of the book itself or of the splendid photographs. There is a brief account of an aeroplane journey in Nepal (pp. 107-14), but the illustrations between pages 112 and 113, number XXXI of the main chain of the Himalaya between Nepal and Tibet, and showing Dhaulagiri, are not improved by the wing of the aeroplane appearing in the photograph.
There is a most interesting list by Marcel Kurz, the editor, of expeditions in the Himalaya; and it begins with the year 1818. It is, of course, hard to say what constitutes an expedition; or, for that matter, what are the limits of the Himalaya. It is rather strange to find the names of Drew, Vigne, Wilson, and others missing, although they were pioneers in many of the remoter parts of these mountains. Surely there is no book that can vie with Frederick Drew's Jummoo and Kashmir Territories, 1875, but one expects too much from mere chronology. If, however, the brothers Schlagintweit are placed in this chronicle, why have the others been omitted ? The answer presumably would be that a chronicle is not a full bibliography.
But Berge der Welt is a fine book, and these criticisms are only minor grumbles.
R. C. F. S.
BERGE DER WELT. Sixth Volume, 1951. Published by the
Schweizerische Stiftung fur Alpinische Forschungen. Edited by
The Swiss have produced one more beautifully illustrated, detailed, and comprehensive book. Marcel Kurz complains, in his preface, of the difficulty of getting mountaineers to show the same enthusiasm in recording as in climbing their mountains. All the more praise then to the Editor and his assistants, who have not only to collate but to fill in some of the gaps (for instance in the Abi Gamin account) themselves.
The book is again in two parts. The first contains articles on Abi Gamin, by Dr. Chevalley; Annapurna, by Louis Lachenal; and Tirich Mir, by Per Kvernberg. There are two masterly essays by Andre Roch: one, illustrated, on the measurement of glacier movement; one on the purgatorial second ascent of Mount Logan. Piero Ghiglione writes of a winter expedition in Peru, and there is a long account of the 1950 Baffin Land Expedition. This part ends, rather curiously, with an account of Greek mountaineering by Jacques Santorineos.
To most of us the 'Rundschau,’ or review of world mountaineering in 1950, will be the most interesting part of the book. The exploration described vies in thoroughness with the industry of collation, which is up to the standard expected of a Swiss production. The mountains range from North America to New Zealand; from the Caucasus to the Patagonian Cordillera. And the adventures pass correspondingly from the grim loss of J. W. Thornley and W. H. Crace on Nanga Parbat, to the cat on the top of the Matterhorn which 'admired the view, and had chosen the best day of the summer for its expedition'. For mountain oddities make their appearance too, whether the Italian project of a funicular up the Furggrat, or the astounding, vision-inspired journey of the theosophist Miss Bevan over the Dongkya La into Tibet
There is no space here to give details of the scientific information, the maps, and the excellent photographs which luxuriate through the book. It is a well-bound volume, pleasant to handle, and not too large. As a work of reference it can certainly be called, like its predecessors, a goldmine for those who have access to it.
We understand that future volumes will also appear in English which will be an added pleasure. Ed.
In his latest book -Plant Hunter in Manipur (Jonathan Cape)—the indefatigable Captain Kingdon Ward tells of a ten-month sojourn in the Naga Hills in Assam and what used to be the Native State of Manipur. During this period he and his wife made numerous short expeditions from their base in a basha at Ukhrul, into the surrounding hills that were but little known, in the botanical sense.
Although these journeys were often made under most unpleasant climatic conditions (rain, leeches, and a host of devouring insects), the whole expedition as recounted in this charming book was 'tame' when compared with those that have been described in his many previous books. However, it would seem that it was deliberately planned to 'break in' Mrs. Kingdon Ward to more arduous and ambitious expeditions in the future!
As the title indicates, the book is mainly concerned with botanical discoveries, and although the pages are amply larded with botanical names it should appeal to general reader and botanist alike. As one has come to expect, the author's descriptions of incident, people, and scenery are delightful, while the fact that much of the country described was the scene of fierce fighting and many gallant deeds when the Japanese attempt to invade India was defeated, can but appeal to a wide section of the public. The mere mention of such names as Kohima, Imphal, and Ukhrul stirs the heart with pride and in gratitude to those who 'gave their tomorrow for our today', and lend an added romance to the whole tale.
Throughout the book there is ever increasing evidence of the enthusiasm with which Mrs. Kingdon Ward entered into the pursuits and interests of her famous husband, and it is delightful to see how often and how generously she is given the credit for the successes achieved. Truly, as the dedication says, she appears to have 'enjoyed every day of it'.
To the botanist and gardener the descriptions of the many trees and flowers, with which our gardens have once again been enriched, are truly delightful. One may perhaps be permitted to doubt the justification for the enthusiasm with which the author compares his new lily, Lilium Maclineae, with such giants of the garden as Lilium auratum and Lilium regale!
If I have a criticism to offer, it is the perennial one of maps. At several points I found it difficult to follow the author's journey on the map provided.
The book is well illustrated with twelve of the author's own photographs, though, personally, I should have welcomed more pictures of the flowers described.
The last sentence of the story (p. 231) gives a most welcome indication that we may look forward to further stories of the achievements of this intrepid explorer.
SEARCH FOR THE SPINY BABBLER. An Adventure in Nepal. By Dillon Ripley. Boston, U.S.A.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1952.
This well-produced volume is largely a transcript of the journal kept by Dr. Dillon Ripley, Assistant Professor of Zoology and Associate Curator of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, during the scientific expedition to Nepal of 1948-9 sponsored by the National Geographic Society, Yale University, and the Smithsonian Institution.
Where he is writing on his own subject, ornithology, the author displays an infectious and undeniable charm of manner, but in other respects he tends to weary the reader by his too-obvious preoccupation with petty financial and staff problems of the expedition. He is, too, over-sensitive regarding the inevitably lowly status of the invading Westerner in a very conservative little kingdom like Nepal, while his very American impatience with the Oriental's engaging but often irritating disregard for time-tables and schedules is amusing to anyone who knows the East.
From the scientific point of view, the much-publicised target of the expedition, a specimen of the rare partridge-like Ophrysia Superciliosa, last seen near Naini Tal in 1876, which wefailed to find, is soft-pedalled, and the fortunate acquisition of a Spiny Babbler (Aconthoptila nipalensis) is substituted as the object—at least as far as the title of the book is concerned!
The Spiny Babbler was a bird species that had defied scientists for years. None had been collected since Brian Hodgson's Nepali collectors, working for him from Khatmandu, had secured a few specimens in 1844, and these had been simply labelled 'Nepal'. Was it a highland bird, a lowland species, did it live in grassland or forest? Did it, in fact, still exist on the face of the earth?
The bird rediscovered 6,000 feet up in the Mahabharat hills of western Nepal was a brownish creature the size of an English blackbird. The throat and upper breast were white, the rest streaked brown. The feathers of the upper side, particularly the forehead and crown, had stiff wiry shafts, as did those of the throat. Describing his find the author writes:
As the bird lay in my palm, I could think of no species of laughing thrush known to me which it remotely resembled. I brought it back with me to camp, and in the excitement of unpacking and arranging our camp and getting Christmas dinner ready, I gave the specimen little thought. It was not really until the next day that I began to ponder seriously over the new bird. Meanwhile Toni had skinned it the night before, and I had written up the label very carefully, noting the flock and the open situation where I had seen the birds. Holding my prize and thinking about it I began to turn over all the Indian species in my mind. What could this bird be? In the field a problem like this was not an easy one, when books were not ready to hand, when there were several hundred of species to choose from. Finally the stiff wiry shafts of the leathers gave the bird away. Although it was as big as a thrush, it could only be a Spiny Babbler . . .
Summarizing the results of the expedition Dr. Ripley classifies the 1,600 bird specimens taken into species and subspecies, including ten which had not previously been recorded from Nepal. Tabulating all the forms of resident birds which we had collected along the Himalayan foothills from west to east, he found that a total of twenty-one species had two distinct populations or subspecies within the territory of Nepal. Of these fourteen, or 67 per cent., showed that a distinct break in the fauna occurred in the eastern part of Nepal about the region of the Arun Kosi river.
Dr. Ripley can find no geographical or geological factors to account for this phenomenon, but attributes it to a marked difference in climatic conditions east of the Arun valley from those obtaining in the rest of Nepal—greater humidity and a heavier and more even spread of rainful in the east, drier conditions and more contrast between winter and summer in the west.
Nothing is said regarding the 200 small mammal and river-fish specimens taken in the Nepalese foothills, which is a pity, as I for one was looking forward to learning the results of their collation by the museums sponsoring the expedition.
Dr. Ripley's book is beautifully turned out, with those all too rare occurrences in modern travel books—clear and accurate maps, concise appendixes, and a bibliography. It is a pity that the photographic illustrations are unnecessarily cramped into the middle of wide-margined pages. There is a particularly charming dust-cover which depicts Dr. Ripley at the colourful Court of Nepal as the scene would have been painted by a Rajput artist of the seventeenth or eighteenth century.
F. B. L.
A LHASA E OLTRE. By Giuseppe Tucgi. Rome. Libreria dello
Following an eighteenth-century guide-book written for the use of pilgrims, Professor Tucci spent the spring and summer of 1948 visiting many cities and temples in central and eastern Tibet, returning through Shigatse and Kampadzong in western Tibet. The professor kept a diary during the brief resting periods of the trip, and this book is in the nature of a summary of the observations made on the religious beliefs and customs, the economic situation, and the countryside. It in no way attempts to be highly technical or erudite, nor on the other hand is it a conversational travel book. It is primarily intended for the non-specialist reader anxious to increase his factual knowledge of Tibet. A considerable amount of scientific material was collected from various sources, inscriptions, chronicles, liturgical and theological books and so on, and a further report was being prepared at the time of going to press of Professor Tucci's book. There is a short summary, however, in this volume, by the doctor of the expedition, Lt.-Col. Moise, an Italian naval medical officer. He notes the various illnesses (goitre being particularly prevalent), kinds of food eaten, living conditions, climatic temperatures, &c.
The small party set off from Darjeeling, and after a long wait at Kalimpong were informed that only Professor Tucci would be given permission to enter Tibet. (In fact, four months later, two other members of the party, Mele, who took most of the photographs, and the doctor, Moise, were also granted permission, and they joined the professor at Chushul.)
Professor Tucci first went to Lhasa where he was further delayed by the non-arrival of his gifts to the Dalai Lama. Among the most acceptable gifts in Tibet were revolvers, cameras, clocks, wirelesses, and various forms of electrical gadgets. The electric power-station built east of Lhasa was no longer working. Its construction had been supervised by Ringang, one of the Tibetans who had received an English education due to the initiative of Sir Charles Bell. A new station was being built when Professor Tucci was in Tibet, under the supervision of two Austrians1 who had escaped during the war from a camp in India. No new works were being started, however, as according to the astrologists—and with some justification—1948 was to be a year of ill-omen for the Dalai Lama.
From Lhasa the professor went to north-eastern Tibet through Yerpa, where the temple is said to be the oldest in Tibet. He then went up the Netang river, in a boat constructed of yak skins stretched over a frame made from willow, as far as Chushul, where he was joined by the other two members of the party. They visited many temples, studying the statuary, the relics and old documents, speaking to hermits who spent their lives in contemplation and meditation. Among the cities they visited were Samye, Densatil, and, right over in eastern Tibet, Oke and Zinji.
Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the journey was the discovery, or rediscovery, of the ancient tombs of the Tibetan kings at Chongye, where incidentally the great Fifth Dalai Lama was born. There was evidence of the existence of the tombs in some old documents, and sure enough, Professor Tucci came across an area of ground covered with tumuli. He was able to identify the tomb of the founder of the Tibetan dynasty. In general, the tumulus consisted of a central cell in which the body of the king was placed together with his armour, and over this cell a stone pillar was erected, bearing an inscription. There was only one pillar which had remained in an upright position, the inscription of which Professor Tucci and a lama managed with great difficulty to copy. Many of the tombs had been violated in the tenth century, when the dynasty had crumbled.
Professor Tucci's account of his travels is interspersed with long digressions on the Tibetan form of mysticism, and an exposition of the Buddhist belief in transmigration, the passing of the soul from the mortal body to a new resting-place. It ultimately reaches its Nirvana in the eternal contemplation of the god of light. These digressions into the sphere of religion and mysticism are by no means misplaced if the Tibetan way of life is to be at all understood, as every event and action is guided by religion. In fact the professor's journey started with the appropriate propitiatory rites to the gods, which no doubt accounted for the success of his visit to Tibet.
OUT OF THIS WORLD. Across the Himalayas to Tibet. By
Lowell Thomas, Jr. New York; The Grey stone Press, 1950. $3.50.
Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., London, 1951. 18s. net. Copiously
illustrated with photographs both in black and white and in colour.
On the 1st August 1949 the author, who has travelled widely, and his father, Mr. Lowell Thomas, Sr., who has long been well known as a traveller in many lands and as an author and radio commentator, arrived at the foot of the Himalayas armed with an invitation from the Tibetan Government to visit Lhasa. Some ten weeks later they were back in India. A similar journey had been undertaken in 1944 by another American, Mr. Arch Steele, who contributed a series of long and excellent articles to the Chicago Daily News. In such accounts of brief visits to Tibet one does not expect evidence of deep research such as is to be found in the late Sir Charles Bell's Portrait of the Dalai Lama, but such accounts have a particular value of their own because men who are familiar with many lands may be trusted, when they visit a new country, to pick out what is essential and to be free from bias.
The book contains a few slips, such as the statement that from 1904 to 1947 the British Trade Agents (who actually were located in Tibet at Gyantse and Yatung) 'kept in close touch with Tibet but mostly from the Indian side of the borders'; that Kangchenjunga is visible from the train as it approaches Siliguri, or that the Bishop Cotton School in Simla is 'for sons of Maharajas'; it was not in September 1939 but in October that the present Dalai Lama first reached Lhasa, nor has it yet been ascertained that the Tibetan Himalayas are unquestionably a virgin source of tremendous mineral wealth—as the author admits, the region is (largely) unexplored and geologists appear to be of opinion that it is well to the north of the Himalayan chain that valuable deposits, which may include oil, are most likely to occur. And it is incorrect to say that 'every devout follower of Tibet's god-king tries to make at least one pilgrimage to Lhasa each year'. But such minor inaccuracies of detail in regard to matters which for the most part did not come within the range of the author's actual observation detract little if at all from the value of the vivid account which he gives of what he himself observed.
He found the Tibetans devoted to their religion and to their Dalai Lama, welcoming and hospitable, but apprehensive of the threat of Chinese domination which has since the time of his visit become a reality. He gives attractive accounts of the young Dalai Lama and of Lhasa society, and manages in little more than 200 pages of easy writing to give a remarkably full account of much of Tibet's history and of present conditions in the country. The illustrations are well chosen and of excellent quality and help greatly towards making the reader feel that he is at home in Tibet. In the American edition but not in the English edition there are useful sketch-maps, printed as end-papers, (1) of Tibet and adjacent regions and (2) of the author's route. To these might well have been added a map on a larger scale of Lhasa and its immediate neighbourhood. In the English but not in the American edition are included Tables of Contents and of Illustrations and Indexes of Persons and of Places. Messrs. Macdonald and Co. are to be congratulated on the fact that in get-up and print and paper and especially in the reproduction of the illustrations the English edition is markedly better than the American edition.
B. J. G.
CHINA TO CHITRAL. By H. W. Tilman. Cambridge University
Press, 1951. 128pages, 69 illustrations', 4 maps. 25s.
Mr. Tilman's second visit to Chinese Turkistan was no doubt inspired, and certainly facilitated, by the presence in Kashgar of his old friend Mr. Eric Shipton who, as Consul-General, was 'still spreading his beneficent rays' over Kashgaria. Access to Sinkiang (the modern nomencla ture) had normally been by way of Gilgit and the Mintaka pass, or by way of Kashmir, Leh, and the Karakoram pass. But on account of the political situation both these routes were ruled out and the author was transported by air to Shanghai and Lanchow, and continued his journey thence by post bus to Urumchi. We feel at one with Mr. Tilman in his distinction between the traveller who takers time to look about him and the passenger who is 'carried' swiftly by machine, and his agreement with the missionary author of Through Jade (late and Central Asia who laments the ousting, in the Gobi desert, of the camel caravan by motor transport. To their minds, as to ours, 'a truck is a vehicle fatal to romance'. However, flying in China seemed to be remarkably cheap, especially when compared with a hair-cut which cost 70,000 kuchen.
In the neighbourhood of Urumchi, now capital of Sinkiang, rises Bogdo Ola, the 'spirit mountain' which was the chief objective of Mr. Tilman and Mr. Shipton. Although the author states in his preface that his theme is to be 'mountains unsullied by science and alleviated by Chinese brandy' a great deal of his book is given to vivid description of 'that fascinating country, Chinese Turkistan' and of his many strange encounters there, while the fact that their attempted ascents of Bogdo Ola and Chakra Agil were unsuccessful does not detract in the least from the interest and charm of the story. Failure seems to give even more scope for the exercise of the Tilman brand of humour and wit which apparently thrives on adversity and frustration, notably when, baulked of his wish to return to Chitral by a route following the south side of the Hindu Khush, he finds comfort and resignation in 'double-marching' towards the rumoured scene of another rumoured world-war, and, frustrated again, is almost disappointed to learn that 'a more or less deep peace still broods over Europe, Africa and Asia'!
The four maps and the many photographs provided are most interesting. This is a very pleasant book.
H. W. T.
MOUNTAINS WITH A DIFFERENCE. By Geoffrey Win- throp Young. (The New Alpine Library.) London: Eyre & Spottis- woode. Pp. ix and 282. 18s. 1951.
This book has a good title, for mountains can mean so much or so little to so many different people or even to the same people on different occasions. The significance of mountain scenery is hard to estimate, because its values are by no means exclusively materialistic and cannot therefore be measured. To people with divers temperaments, mountains may mean almost anything between two extremes; to some they may represent a fine well-aired gymnasium; to others an excursion outside time into Paradise. Perhaps among mountaineers the ideally comprehensive experience can only be achieved by an athlete who is a poet with a logical mind, a climber who has been able to assure himself of his devotion when in that fine and terrible phrase, best understood perhaps by the French, he has become 'un grand mutile de la guerre'.
Mr. Young's book will certainly make many of us conscious of our limitations, perhaps, for instance, of our unnecessary dissatisfaction with mountains of the smaller sort merely on account of their limited dimensions or their lack of perpetual snow. One cannot imagine the author speaking contemptuously of any mountain, even the easiest. Probably, like Mummery, he would have climbed if there had been no view, or would have walked to the top if there had been no difficulty. Above all he is interested in the psychology of mountaineers as it is affected by mountain scenery and climbing. He is an explorer at heart and he used to rejoice in discovering virgin rock-faces and ridges among British hills. He appreciates, too, the charm of an old rock-climb because it is old, no less than a new climb because it is new. The man who 'may climb and climb and prove a villain' he accounts for by the adequate explanation that he will have climbed from vanity.
Young's love of nature is catholic and includes in it that great alternative or accompaniment to mountains—the sea, and he refers with sympathy to Andrews, the climber who spent a lifetime exploring the cliffs on the Cornish coast. Nor does his love of British hills yield to his love of the Alps. Ingleborough, Snowdon, Ben Nevis, Matterhorn, the south side of Mont Blanc have all seemed equally sublime to him at different times, and he devotes a chapter to the west coast of Ireland with the tremendous cliffs of Mount Brandon falling sheer to the Atlantic.
The splendid praise that the book accords to British climbers is sure evidence that the 'death or glory5 type of stunt climbing played no part in the development of mountaineering in this country, and, says Young, 'it has remained true of our best climbers that they are fonder of the mountains than of their own skill'.
It is interesting to read of the impressions made on a great mountaineer by the fierce fighting on the Isonzo in which he took part. The resemblances between modern warfare and the seamier side of mountaineering are obvious, but the contrasts are more real than the resemblances, for the good mountaineer is expected to mitigate risks constantly, whereas the good soldier has to grasp 'this nettle, danger' more often than he plucks the flower, safety.
Young's loss of his leg in the fighting on the Isonzo is vividly described, but what is probably most interesting both to him and his mountaineering readers is the enthralling story of the indomitable attempts to overcome the handicap of his disablement by climbing in the British hills and the Alps, liven more interesting is his own analysis of the psychological results. To judge by his unique experiments and experience, the practical lesson seems to be that the conventional mobility and ac tivity of a ma n as disabled as Young was can be vastly extended. On the other hand, Young's greatest feats of one- legged climbing can only be within the capacity of an exceptional being, and it is doubtful whether it can be profitable to emulate them. As he himself says in an early stage of his Alpine campaign, 'I climbed only on the undying hope that things would not be so bad with me, and with the leg, as 1 knew them to be'.
A disheartening moment accepted by him with remarkable composure was the last decision that Young made on the summit of the Rothorn not to recommence his formidable experiments on the great peaks. It was a sudden moment of deeply pondered disillusion: 'The mountains as I looked at them looked to me—-just, mountains', and he asks, had the climbing done since the disastrous wound never really served to re-create more than a simulacrum of himself as he once was? As he says, something surely had gone wrong; the mountain did not feel the same, he was no longer part of it. This may be the same tragedy that is to be feared in old age, even if its onset is less acute and at a cost of less suffering. It is evident that the mountain is always the same, but that man never is.
Young's conclusion was that neither in the mountains nor in himself had the virtue of mountaineering lain, but only in the relationship which could be created and constantly renewed between the two; and that this on his side depended on the technique of climbing. Does not this imply that a mountaineer may perhaps come to depend on technique too much as an end in itself and too much for peace of mind?
Later there is an account of a fearful fall that Young had during the descent of the Rothorn on the same day. It was caused by a lack of balance due to his disablement and could hardly have been predictable. The incident is brilliantly described and I think that all climbers who have had serious falls agree that a state of semi-anaesthesia—or, as Young calls it, dream consciousness—supersedes ordinary consciousness in such emergencies. The result is that an unexpected fall from a great height is not always such an appalling experience as might be supposed.
The book is delightful to read. We have heard very often of how the sun rises in the Alps, many of us have seen it do so and many writers have attempted descriptions, seldom successfully. In the chapter dealing with the author's return to the great peaks after his disablement the real thing is produced; perhaps it has never been done better, but the paragraph deserves to be left in its setting and shall not be quoted here.
C. F. Meade
THE SCOTTISH HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION. By W. H.
Murray. Dent. 30j.
When, as too often occurs, a book on a Himalayan expedition opens with a long and dreary account of depressing approach marches, I skip through the opening chapters, take a passing technical interest in the description of the actual climbing and only accompany the writer as far down as Base Camp on his return journey. Happily this does not apply to Murray's account of the 1950 Scottish Himalayan Expedition. The Garhwal Himalaya having been chosen, the writing does ample justice to what is acknowledged to be the most beautiful region of the whole great chain. In the valleys we are spared long-winded rhapsodies brimming over with milk and honey; rather do revelations of beauty appear as naturally in the book as they did to the author, in brief, unexpected and often trivial instances. An example is his fleeting vision of a cloud-girt Nanda Devi which in turn is revealed to us briefly, but with great force. Obviously written by a man who takes an intense interest in human nature, we are treated to many a shrewd and penetrating character study. The over-zealous Swami (Hindu priest) was quite delicious; the porters were old friends by the end of the book.
The expedition itself, considering that it was their first Himalayan venture, manifested extraordinary balance and maturity in eschewing the obvious temptation to attempt one of the mammoth peaks. Recognizing the fact, not easily palatable to the British or Alpine school, that the Himalayas involve much travelling and little climbing, they enjoyed four months of mountain exploration, during which time, nevertheless, nine peaks were attempted and five attained. The strength of the party is well known so that on each occasion when they were stopped on a route by pure mountaineering difficulties it is sufficient evidence that the climb really would not go.
Of his Dhotial porters Murray's praise is unstinted. Goodwill is two-way traffic and that the men gave such cheerful and devoted service is testimony not only of the inherent goodness of the hillfolk but also a very clear indication that the Sahib's conduct and genuineness evoked this selfless service. I envy and admire the enterprise of these four Scots, none of whom are blessed with extensive private means, who decided to leave their jobs for the expedition. 'We had to make a choice of values. Mountains or money. We chose mountains.'
Listening to lectures by Murray and Weir had made me thoroughly familiar with the events, yet I still enjoyed the book immensely for the very good reason that it is so well written. Murray writes with more assurance and lightness than in his earlier works and although deeply interested in Hindu philosophy he wisely (but I suspect only just) refrains from indulging in a chapter on Man and the Universe. It is pleasing to read that Murray is now fully occupied in the profession of writing. Good climbing, good writing; what more can we ask?
M. E. B. Banks
We have to thank the Alpine and the Climbers' Club Journals for permitting us to reproduce several of the above reviews.—Ed.
This cold weather we shall be celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of our founding. Though Geoffrey Corbett, in his preface to Volume I of the Journal, indicates that the Himalayan Club was born on the path behind Jakko on the afternoon of 6th October 1927, its formal inauguration took place on 17th February 1928 in Field- Marshal Sir William Birdwood's room at Army Headquarters, New Delhi. The following year amalgamation with the Mountain Club of India was agreed on, and as Sir Geoffrey writes, ‘the combined Club will not forget how selflessly Allsup advocated this "for the benefit of our common aims".'
It seems appropriate to reprint here an extract from the Pioneer kindly furnished by Sir Clarmont Skrine, one of our founder members:
Sir William Bird wood is the first President of the Club and Major- General Sir. Kenneth Wigram and Brigadier-General E. A. Tandy, Surveyor- General of India, are Vice-Presidents, Sir Geoffrey Corbett is Hon. Secretary, Major Kenneth Mason Hon. Editor, and Mr. T. W. Young Hon. Treasurer. The Club has already enrolled a large number of members, among the Founder Members being the Viceroy, Lord Halifax, and Their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of the Abruzzi and Spoleto, Sir George Baines, Colonel Sir Sidney Burrard, General Sir Alexander Cobbe, Brigadier-General Sir George Cockerill, Sir Martin Conway, Maggiore Cav. Sir Filippo de Filippi, Sir Malcolm Hailey, Colonel Sir Thomas Holdich, Colonel C. K. Howard Bury, Sir Frederick O'Connor, Sir Aurel Stein, Sir Francis Younghusband, Mr. Douglas Freshfield, Professor J. Norman Collie, the Most Reverend Foss Westmacott, Metropolitan of India, Sir Edward Pascoe, the Rajah of Jubbal, Sirdar Aodor Rahman Effendi, Brigadier W. H. Evans, Colonels E. F. Norton and E. L. Strutt, Mr. N. E. Odell, Mr. E. O. Shebbeare, Mr. C. P. Skrine, Dr. Ernest Neve, Captain F. Kingdon Ward, Mr. Hugh Whistler, Brigadier R. C. Wilson, Mr. P. C. Visser, Major E. O. Wheeler, Colonel F. Muspratt, Colonel A. Shuttleworth and many others.
Lastly we would quote some of the closing words of the late General C. G. Bruce in his Himalayan Wanderer—'by no means the least of these children of the parent Club is the Himalayan Club.' . . . It has been founded on the wisest of lines.' . . . 'The Himalayan Club are doing their utmost to facilitate access to these glorious countries and it will undoubtedly be a work worth doing . . . and may good luck go with it.'
In spite of changing times and difficulties we have prospered. May we continue to do so.
C. E. J. C.
H. W. T.