THE STORY OF EVEREST. By W. H. Murray. Illustrated with fifteen maps and diagrams by Robert Anderson and with 24 pages of photographs. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. 15s. net. 1953.
It is refreshing to find, in the cover of this book, a short description of its contents which really tells the prospective reader what to expect and is entirely innocent of the false sentiment which one associates with the term 'blurb'. The time was ripe for a condensed yet adequately detailed study, in one small volume, of the efforts made since 1921 to reach the world's highest summit; each effort contributing something to the store of experience to which the splendid and successful team of 1953 has borne such generous witness.
Mr. Murray was indeed well equipped for his task, both as mountaineer and as writer. He knows the mountains of Scotland and of the Alps; was a member of the Scottish Himalayan Expedition of 1950 and of the 1951 Mount Everest Reconnaissance under Eric Ship ton which pioneered the south-west approaches for the Swiss and British parties of 1952 and 1953. He understands his fellow-mountaineers, European and Sherpa, their problems and their reactions. He knows what altitude can do to men. He has the artist's eye for scenery, and the power to describe it. Lastly, he is able to synthesize the struggles of thirty-two years in such a way that the reader will follow with growing interest the gradual improvement in organization, in both strategy and tactics, in judgement of weather and snow, in equipment and food, and in the all-important understanding of acclimatization and deterioration.
Expedition after expedition showed up our national tendency to underestimate the opposition, but also happily our general willingness to learn; and Mr. Murray has, without any pompous dogmatism, laid the necessary emphasis on the lessons.
I find myself in full agreement with his opinion that Mallory and Irvine fell while ascending in 1924; and I think that such evidence as we have indicates inexorably that Odell was mistaken in supposing that he saw them at all.
It is, I suggest, fair to assume that Smythe, Wyn Harris, and Wager reached the same height in 1933 as Norton in 1924. I showed Norton Smythe's photograph (the only one ever taken of the buttress across the great couloir), and he said he recognized the well-marked intersection of two scoops in the rock as the place he reached.
In general, I cordially recommend Mr. Murray's book to all who want a good summary of all that preceded this year's magnificent success. The sketch-maps and diagrams are excellent, so are the photographs; and there is a useful index.
FRANCIS YOUNGHUSBAND: EXPLORER AND MYSTIC. By George Seaver. London: John Murray. 1952. 391 pp. 25s.-
Sir Francis Younghusband, who died in 1942, was elected an Honorary Member of the Alpine Club in 1905, after his return from the Tibet Mission. This mission was the crowning event of his Himalayan career which began when, as a young subaltern in the King's Dragoon Guards, he made an adventurous crossing of the Muztagh pass in the Karakoram at the end of his journey from Peking to India in 1887. His explorations in the Yarkand river headwaters? the passes into Hunza and the Pamirs, in Gilgit and Chitral followed, in days when these districts were virtually unknown, and before Conway and Bruce introduced ice-axes and European guides to the Karakoram in 1892. These adventures are well told by his biographer, who quotes freely from Younghusband's own writings, though there are a few slips wrhen he summarizes the details. The story of the Tibet Mission in 1904 is very good: the three chapters devoted to it show Younghusband to be the pattern of what a great leader should be: thorough and patient in preparation, eager and daring in action, regardless of consequences to himself when he felt justified in departing from the letter of his instructions. His action in signing the Tibet Treaty, though disapproved by the Secretary of State at the time, has since been completely vindicated, and in his chapter 'The Aftermath' the author sets out clearly how wise was Younghusband's settlement of the problem.
Younghusband's qualities were the fruit of his adventurous spirit, his mystical character, and his faith in himself. Many of his friends will remember his almost devotional enthusiasm to the Mount Everest adventure in the early 'twenties when he was President of the Royal Geographical Society and Chairman of the Mount Everest Committee; and the leaders of the early expeditions, Howard Bury, Bruce, Norton, and Ruttledge all testified to his encouragement and support. His biographer traces the mysticism of. his character throughout his life and shows how his experiences, and how in particular specific events in his career, influenced his later years.
THE MOUNTAIN WORLD. 1953. Edited by Marcel Kurz for the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research. Large 8vo. 220 pages, 60 photographs, 12 maps and diagrams.
The publication in English for the first time of this, the seventh volume of the Swiss Foundation's well-known annual, is the first of a new series to be published in three languages of Berg der Welt.
Priority is given, naturally, to the articles on the 1952 expedition to Mount Everest, written by the several members of the gallant team of Swiss Alpinists who came so close to success. Each of the successive phases has been vividly described and each is most interesting in itself. But there is too frequent repetition, and failure to achieve a connected and continuous narrative makes it difficult to gain a clear picture of an exploit which will live for ever in the annals of mountaineering. In his own Mount Everest. A Century of History, Marcel Kurz gives an excellent review of the history of the mountain and of the exploration of the approaches thereto, and of the many previous attempts to reach the summit. But the desire expressed in the preface for 'disinterestedness regarding the nationality of one's own achievements' does seem to have been overlooked in some of the comments. And it is only right to mention here certain omissions and inaccuracies. For instance, in addition to the so daring air reconnaissance by Robert L. Scott in 1942, a New Zealand airman brought back shortly after the war some valuable photographs. The American expedition referred to on p. 29 was ornithological and not botanical. The Lho La mentioned on pp. 33 and 34 which has hitherto retained that name is between Everest and Lingtren. But on p. 127 the South Col is shown as the Lho La. Even if the translation of the Tibetan name is correct the change in a book of this quality is not only confusing but untimely.
The climbs in the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes by Hans Ertl with Schroder and by Piero Ghiglione with Bolinder (of Sweden) respectively provide first-class reading and the translations are very good indeed. They provide interesting contrast with the Everest story and a not unwelcome reminder that there are other high mountains besides the Himalayas. Ertl's description of the ascent of Hancouma is almost an epic and he concludes with graceful and genuine tribute to the members of the Bolivian mountain troops who assisted them. As Ghiglione points out 'in southern Peru is an immense field for the explorer and mountaineer, with its quantity of virgin summits, many exceeding 20,000 feet in height'. The book ends with an account of exploration in Greenland which provides food for thought on the comparison of the respective problems of arctic mountaineering and those to be faced in other parts of the mountain world.
Throughout the photographs are magnificent and extremely well reproduced. Special mention should be made of the end panorama, from Taweche to Nuptse, which is as perfect as a photograph can be.
The book will be a joy to mountaineers, who without exception will be filled with admiration for the enterprise and fortitude of the men who took part in the various exploits described.
H. W. T.
HORNED MOON. By Ian Stephens. Chatto & Windus.
This is in every way a remarkable book; unbiased and yet a sympathetic account of a revisit to Pakistan. The illustrations, plain and coloured, are truly magnificent. Mr. Stephens is now a Fellow of his old college, King's, at Cambridge. He was first employed in public relations by the Government of India in the early 1930's, and from this he proceeded to the Editorship of the Statesman, the well- known British daily of Calcutta. There he stayed until well after the transfer of power in 1947, although he had incurred the displeasure of Lord Mountbatten and, by implication, of his new Indian Ministers. There is a factual account of the episode in Chapter 10 of Horned Moon, the trouble having arisen out of a leading article in the Statesman on the Indian action over Kashmir in October 1947. Mr. Stephens states, 'Glancing at it since I have found little that I would alter.' He appears to have acted on this and on all other occasions in accordance with the highest traditions of British journalism. Our author remained at his post for another three and a half years, holding the belief that a British-owned newspaper might be impartially helpful to both the new Dominions. This was although, as one result of the very equivocal Indian action over Kashmir, the two were virtually at war, with former brother officers and comrades of the now dissected Indian Army slaughtering one another. He found that his efforts to 'uphold an inter-dominion policy rather than to support one side' were misunderstood in India and he then returned to England. Mr. Stephens fully appreciates the fact that the Hindu and Moslem officers of both Dominions who had been trained at British military institutions approximated more to the outlook of the educated Englishman than did most of their own civilian compatriots, and he hints that had the conduct of affairs been left to the former things would have turned out far better. He furthermore states that the principal failing of many politicians of 'Delkaria'—a horrible new name he has coined for the old Indian peninsula—is vanity. This is not, of course, confined to Asia. The influence on the author of his intellectual background of Winchester and King's is very apparent as is also his self-confessed early tendency to left-wing politics. Thus he cannot refrain from tilting at the older generation of Anglo-Indian politicians, their occasional pompous- ness and social aloofness, even to the avoidance of Asiatic food. Men of the present generation who have never exercised executive functions, cannot well realize that officials of former days, isolated amongst virile, if primitive communities, had to rely on their own personality to maintain their authority. The author mentions the proximity of sudden death in India and from his own experience of tropical disease may realize tnat oeiore moaern remeaies came miu use extreme care was needed in the dietary. He writes with the affection, so often felt by Britons resident abroad, of his own personal retainers and of his many Asian friends; and with understanding, but not uncritical, sympathy of Pakistan since 1948. He had the uncommon privilege of being permitted to cross the 'cease-fire line5 in Kashmir where he came across a case of brutal and unwarranted slaughter of an old man and his son for trespassing in search of their cattle. As he says, 'Novel frontiers are not easy for the poor to remember.' He had the further privilege of going on patrol with the 'Frontier Scouts', the local corps who maintain order along the Afghan border of Pakistan. There he found no diminution of efficiency. The tribesmen have indeed comported themselves remarkably well towards their new Moslem rulers, setting an example to some of their neighbours.
The inspiration of a Monotheistic Faith has led to the creation of a new State and has moved mountains. A reader should find great profit in this book and a measure of comfort in these godless times. How the Faithful of Pakistan will confront the many and formidable perils that lie ahead depends, under Providence, on themselves and on their continued devotion and selflessness.
W. A. A.
HIGH MOUNTAINS. By Charles Meade. London: The HarviU
Press. 136 pages, 10 photographs.
Mr. Meade has sought for an answer to the age-old problem of why and how mountains, especially high mountains, exercise so deep an effect on certain men, and also women. He considers that a major cause is the sub-conscious urge, the longing for perfection. And he has gone deeply into the co-relation of nature-mysticism and religious mysticism, quoting widely from the writing of clerics, climbers, poets, and philosophers. He turns from De Saussure and Wordsworth to the Victorians—Leslie Stephen, Freshfield, and Conway—and to the moderns—Kugy and Young—to show the influence on all of 'the high hills'. In a striking chapter, 'Contemplation, Action and Memory', he shows how the old spell can return. And under 'The Spirit of Man' he deals with the motives that inspire climbers. After deprecating that of'conquest', often prevalent in Germans, he shows fairness in quoting Paul Bauer after the ascent of superb Siniolchu: 'That we had reached the summit seemed a divine favour—our struggles on the slopes only deepened our reverence for God's creation.' His concluding chapter on 'Mountains and Mortality' affords comfort and encouragement to. those older mountain-lovers in whom 'the impression originally received may, like other human affections, become deeper and more tranquil as time goes on5. Mr. Meade has made a valuable contribution to the literature- of mountains.
H. W. T.
SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET. By Heinrich Harrer. Rupert Hart-Davis. 1953.Pp. 288. Illustrated. 16s.
This is a delightful and illuminating book, in which the author has been well served by his translator. Much of it reads like a fairy story, since the evolution from a fugitive, begging his way to Lhasa, to the confidant of the Dalai Lama seems almost impossible without the assistance of a fairy godmother.
Harrer and others escaped from their internment camp in Dehra Dun at their third attempt in April 1944 and at last, accompanied only by Peter Aufschnaiter, he reached Lhasa in January 1946. The first half of the book tells of their flight across the frontier and their journey to Lhasa, while the second half is an account of life in that city and of how they became valued members of Tibetan society.
The sufferings which they underwent and the subterfuges which they practised to avoid being returned to India, show both Harrer and Aufschnaiter to have been outstanding both physically and mentally. They were clearly helped by being mountain men themselves and by having a very obvious sympathy for the Tibetans. The most outstanding feature of their wanderings was their crossing of the Changthang in winter, as Harrer says, 'days full of hardship and unceasing struggle against cold, hunger, and danger5. Penniless as they were, they suffered the continual risk of death at the hands of the bandits who infest that region. It is improbable that any European has travelled the route they took and none certainly in such circumstances.
However, all was forgotten at the sight of the golden pinnacles of the Patala and they bluffed their way into Lhasa, where they were made surprisingly welcome and treated with extreme generosity. When at length the Cabinet decided that they could remain, they had become one of the sights of Lhasa and in return were able to make themselves fully acquainted not only with the customs and habits of the inhabitants but also with many of the great in the land. Once granted asylum, they were not slow to prove their usefulness and, while Aufschnaiter was commissioned to build an irrigation canal, Harrer designed a garden and fountain for his host, Tsarong, Master of the Mint. From this they progressed to being fully recognized as employees of the Tibetian Government and Harrer’s tasks were varied and interesting, including the construction of a cinema for the personal use of the Dalai Lama.
Most interesting of all was the friendship they had with the parents and brother of the Dalai Lama, from wrhich arose the most unusual and delightful relationship between the Dalai Lama and Harrer. It was much more than that which would exist between pupil and teacher and, of course, gave Harrer an insight into things Tibetan probably unequalled by any other European. He did and saw things normally forbidden and held a privileged position, all the more remarkable in that he apparently did not arouse the jealousy of anyone. His picture of the young ruler is touching and striking. The Dalai Lama is clearly an outstanding young man with great ability and a charming personality.
The closing chapters deal with the sad period of the threat from Communist China and Tibet's final eclipse. Harrer naturally feels sore at the way in which the Tibetans' pathetic calls for help were ignored by U.N.O. Even if physical aid were impossible, surely sympathy and recognition of the tragic events which were taking place could have been shown and the naked aggression condemned in terms which left no doubt of world opinion.
The book has two shortcomings. One is the lack of a really good map, which is essential for tracing the wanderings from Dehra Dun to Lhasa. The sketch provided is not sufficient. The other is an index, which would add greatly to the value of this work.
Whether the reader is well acquainted with Tibet or not, I am sure that he will enjoy this book, since in addition to being an adventure story, it is also an account of an interesting and charming people from an unusual point of view. We should congratulate the author on his work and condole with him on the sad end to an enterprise which had possibilities far greater than anyone could realize. What a privilege it was to be offered the chance of educating a ruler in the ways of the West and of satisfying his craving for knowledge and assistance.
J. E. F. Gueritz
TIBET AND THE TIBETANS. By Tsung-lien Shen and Sheng- chi Liu. Stanford University Press, California (London: Geoffrey Cumber- lege). 40s. SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET. By Heinrich Harrer. Rupert Hart-Davis. 16s.
One day when I was enjoying an excellent luncheon as the guest of the Chief Oracle of Tibet in his little monastery near Lhasa a con- versation developed on the subject of wars of religion between coreligionists of different sects. 'But surely', my host said, 'there may be many different routes by which different people may travel towards the same destination.' Nothing could be more dissimilar than the routes by which, and the circumstances in which, the authors of these two notable books approached Lhasa. But substantially they are in agreement as to what they found there. Between them they give a stereoscopic view of Tibet and the Tibetans during the years which preceded the Chinese Communist invasion of Tibet in 1950.
I first knew Dr. Shen (of Harvard and the Sorbonne and for many years a professor of history in China) and his secretary Mr. Liu as most welcome guests at the Sikkim Residency when Dr. Shen was on his way to take up the post, under the Chiang Kai-shek National Government, of Resident Commissioner in Tibet. Later in 19441 had several talks with him in Lhasa and was impressed by his broad outlook. Of Herr Harrer, a graduate of the University of Graz, an international skier and a distinguished mountaineer, I knew that, having failed to get clear of India after the Nanga Parbat expedition of 1939, he had been interned at Dehra Dun in the foothills of the Western Himalayas, and that he had, at the third attempt, escaped in the summer of 1944 into the high and desolate regions of Western Tibet. By a combination of resolution, ingenuity, tact, and great physical endurance, he and another escaped prisoner of war, Herr Aufschnaiter, in the course of eighteen months made their way to Lhasa— up the head-waters of the Sutlej, down the upper reaches of the Tsangpo, and finally, in mid-winter, across the high, bleak, and bandit-infested Chang Thang.
The early part of Dr. Shen's and Mr. Liu's book contains an account of the history of Tibet as viewed by loyal Chinese subjects. This fills what had been a void in accounts of Tibet easily available to Western readers. The earlier part of Herr Harrer's book is one of the great escape and travel stories of recent years. But history can always be re-written, and of fine escape and travel stories there are many. What, a generation hence, may be valued most in these books are the later chapters.
In Dr. Shen and Mr. Liu's book—the style is restrained and the language admirable, with not a word wasted-Parts III to VI deal with Lamaism, the system of government ('of the God, by the God, and for the God'), life with the Tibetan people and the yearly round in Lhasa. Little of importance is missed and it would be difficult to detect a single false note. Herr Harrer's account is more intimate. Based on the theme that on his arrival in Lhasa he was a stranger and destitute and the Tibetans took him in and made him welcome and clothed him, it describes charmingly and with sincerity his association with Tibetians of every class and the close touch which he established with the young Dalai Lama.. His narrative of the abortive flight of the Dalai Lama towards the Indian border in December 1950, when the Chinese Communists were invading Tibet, raised a lump in my throat as I recalled how, some forty years ago, I had ridden for several days with the previous reincarnation of the god of Mercy, the thirteenth Dalai Lama, when, after the Chinese revolution, he was returning from temporary asylum in India.
Dr. Shen indicates that, if the Chinese Nationalist Government had continued to be in power, a way might have been found to permit of Tibet adjusting itself to the conditions of the present time without loss of essential liberty. Even as things are perhaps it may so happen that the East, to which the West owes so much—religions, writing, mathematics, medicine—may care, in turn, to borrow from the West and to grant to regions such as Tibet liberty to develop on their own lines. But whatever may happen it can hardly be doubted that the Tibet of a generation hence will be very different from the Tibet of yesterday. It is to be hoped therefore that those who know the Tibet of yesterday—some of their names occur in these books— will in the concluding words of Herr Harrer help to 'create some understanding for a people whose will to live in peace and freedom has won so little sympathy from an indifferent world' and whose one wrish, as he writes in another passage, is 'to find God and to serve Him'. The task of future writers may be the simpler because now that the history and religion and the general circumstances of Tibet and the Tibetans have been so fully dealt with by Bell, Spencer Chapman, the present authors and many others, what will be most wanted in future are accounts of the particular experiences of individuals.
Mr. Richard Graves is warmly to be congratulated on his translation of Seven Tears from the German. The one important criticism of these books is the quality of the maps and plans, and of the reproduction of the photographs which is not up to the standard of several recent books on Tibet. And why does Seven Tears lack an index?
B. J. G.
The Swiss Foundation have sent us, most kindly and courteously, under the title of EVEREST a picture album illustrating the doings of their expeditions which came so near to success in 1952. Needless to say the photographs are of outstanding quality. They are conveniently arranged with the connected letterpress printed separately. It is a worthy record of their gallant attempts.
Mountaineering is rapidly catching on with the youth of Pakistan and a number of clubs, both military and civil, have been formed. Several of the high-ranking officers and officials are keenly interested and it is hoped that a controlling body for mountaineering will be established before long. At the moment the new 'Karakoram Club' founded on the former 'Punjab Mountaineering Club' seems to be in the lead, but it is early yet to predict anything definite. The Himalayan Club's former local secretary in Karachi, Peter Goodwin, has recently taken over as Hon. Secretary of the 'Pakistan Ski and Mountaineering Club' which has its headquarters in Rawal Pindi. A Pakistani liaison officer is accompanying the Austro-German Rakaposhi expedition under Mathias Rebbitsch; Professor Desio, the Italian leader, has obtained the services of a liaison officer with some previous experience and it is understood that the Cambridge Baltoro party are also to have one.1