Himalayan Journal vol.19
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.19

Publication year:
1956

Editor:
H. W. Tobin
Index
  1. THREE MONTHS IN UPPER GARHWAL AND ADJACENT TIBET
    (GURDIAL SINGH)
  2. KANGCHENJUNGA RECONNAISSANCE; 1954
    (T. H. BRAHAM)
  3. Kanchenjunga Climbed
    (George Band)
  4. FIRST ATTEMPT ON MAKALU, 1954
    (L. BRUCE MEYER, M.D., AND FRITZ LIPPMANN)
  5. MAKALU-THE HAPPY MOUNTAIN
    (JEAN FRANCO)
  6. JUGAL HIMAL
    (ELIZABETH STARK)
  7. THE 1954 ITALIAN EXPEDITION TO THE KARAKORAM AND THE FIRST ASCENT OF K2l
    (PROFESSOR A. DESIO)
  8. ROUND ABOUT DHAULAGIRI
    (J. O. M. ROBERTS)
  9. TO THE MONK'S HEAD ON RAKAPOSHI
    (ROGER CHORLEY)
  10. THE BATURA GLACIER
    (MATHIAS REBITSCH, GERHARD KLAMERT, AND DOLF MEYER)
  11. CHO OYU 26,750 FEET
    (HERBERT TICHY)
  12. OXFORD UNIVERSITY WEST NEPAL EXPEDITION, 1954
    (IAN F. DAVIDSON)
  13. THE EXPEDITION OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE MOUNTAINEERING ASSOCIATION TO LAHOUL, JUNE 1955
    (GROUP CAPTAIN A. J. M. SMYTH, O.B.E., D.F.C.)
  14. THE ASCENT OF ISTOR-O-NAL
    (JOSEPH E. MURPHY, JR.)
  15. THE RELATION OF SCOTTISH TO ALPINE AND HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINEERING
    (W. H. MURRAY)
  16. THE HEIGHT OF MOUNT EVEREST A NEW DETERMINATION (1952-5)
    (B. L. GULATEE)
  17. NOTES AND EXPEDITIONS
  18. IN MEMORIAM
  19. REVIEWS
  20. CLUB PROCEEDINGS AND NOTES
  21. EDITORIAL

IN MEMORIAM

EDWARD FELIX NORTON

1884-1954

Lieut.-General E. F. Norton, K.C.B., D.S.O., M.C., died last November. He was educated at Charterhouse and 'The Shop' from where he joined the Royal Artillery. During his service he held many distinguished appointments, and achieved high rank in the Army; he was in addition an A.D.C. to the King, a Colonel Commandant R.A. and Colonel of the Royal Horse Artillery- possibly the three appointments he prized above all others.

The first time I served in close association with him was between the wars, at the Indian Staff College. His appointment to that institution was a singularly happy one, by reason of his interest in and sympathy with the younger generation as well as because of his experience in the first war and the prestige attaching to the distinctions which he had earned. He was too a well-known hog hunter and mountaineer and held the Founder's Medal of the R.G.S.

We had many scrambles together and with some of the Staff College students on the Quetta Mountains. It may have been the rumour of these activities which led a strange staff officer to hope, somewhat apprehensively, that-'You, sir, are not one of these eccentric mountaineers'-To my great regret, I was not present to hear Ted's reply, ' dear me no, I merely potter about on the lower slopes'. The story is no doubt still being told at what is now the Pakistan Staff College. Those days are a happy memory for those of us who were privileged to serve with him in Quetta.

He was a founder member of the Himalayan Club and an original member of the Mountain Club of India; his major expeditions were in the Himalayas. He accompanied the Everest Expeditions of 1922 and 1924, and owed his first selection to an Alpine rather than to a Himalayan qualification. How good was the choice became evident in 1924 when, after the retirement through sickness, of Charles Bruce, the leadership devolved on him. On each occasion he was one of those to go highest, and the altitude of over 28,000 feet which he then achieved without oxygen, has only been exceeded with its aid.

His knowledge of Everest was unique, in addition to his first hand experience of it, he had given an immense amount of study to every technical and psychological aspect of the mountain and of those climbing it. Every expedition since 1924 consulted him before leaving England, and Hunt has told of his emphatic advice on the situation of the highest camp on the mountain.

Many fine pictures have been taken on Everest, among them is one of Ted by Somervell from 28,128 feet. Not a very striking picture perhaps at first sight but one which brings out the tenacity of purpose in every line of the solitary figure, 'alone but still advancing'. The magnitude of his achievement on that occasion, is even more strongly brought out, by a comparison of the figure in Somervell's photograph with the elaborately clothed and equipped ones in more recent pictures taken at about the same altitude.

Ted's views on the use of oxygen were old-fashioned; he was, I suspect, glad to be able to give as the reason-or was it perhaps the excuse-for not using it in 1924 that the apparatus was too clumsy,-maybe he was not satisfied that oxygen was altogether a fair weapon to bring against a mountain such as Everest. He was certainly mildly shocked when professionals, for the first time, appeared in what had previously been an amateur field. His feelings on these matters were in keeping with his dealings with his fellows. He was always scrupulously careful to ensure that no act of his should be in any degree unfair or ungenerous to others, which largely accounted for the respect and love with which he was regarded by those privileged to climb with him or to serve with him in the Army.

On his way Home from the East during the second war, he called at Cape Town, where he addressed the Mountain Club of South Africa, and received from them, the highest distinction the Club can bestow, that of Honorary Life Membership. To do honour to the occasion, he wore the most dignified kit available from his scanty wartime wardrobe, the blue serge of a Colonel Commandant R.A.

Later he told how, on the way to the Club, in a bus, a lady passenger with obvious sincerity, pressed half a crown into his astonished hand-'for the Salvation Army'-This unexpected promotion added greatly to his enjoyment of the evening.

Ted had a love of nature and of wild life-a strong dislike of publicity, and the Englishman's habit of understatement. He had a high regard for the common people of India, particularly those of the Kadir Country and the Mountains, and he took great pains to speak and to understand their languages. It is not only among his Army and Mountaineering friends that his loss will be mourned.

R. C. W.

Dr. Tom G. Longstaff writes:

In parting with Norton the Club has lost a man of the most outstanding character and of the greatest personal charm. He was second to none. Always prepared to undertake any responsibility in the field or on the mountain, his innate modesty also prevented his accepting the most pressing invitations to become President, so that he was not personally so well known to many of our members as he should have been. Although a grandson of Wills and inheritor of the historic 'Eagle's Nest' at Sixt, he insisted that the exigencies of his profession had prevented his acquiring that personal knowledge of the Club and its affairs which he considered essential for a President. Yet at' The Chalet' he had met, as a boy, several of the Fathers of the Club and later entertained there many of the most eminent members of the next generation.

As a Horse Gunner he was pre-eminent; as a horsemaster, as a horseman and as a considerate friend to the men of his Battery: in the old days of long service a battery was a family in a way which is hardly possible today. The writer well remembers staying with him near Norwich when he commanded the Experimental Mountain Battery and his sad reply, on being congratulated on his forthcoming promotion, that this was the last time he would command individual men and that in future his contact with them must be indirect.

He served several years in India in Wardrop's (General Sir Alexander) celebrated Horse Battery and took naturally to polo and pig-sticking, at both of which great sports he proved adept. He also took to tiger shooting, of which Wardrop and his friend Harold Branford were renowned experts. At the Eagle's Nest he and his brother, Major J. H. Norton, were the only successful chamois hunters on that ground; it was not preserved but the natives could not face the difficulties of the terrain. Climbing there with him on one occasion I complained that every single hold was loose: I was coolly recommended to push them in and trust to balance, as he did when carrying down a chamois with its legs tied together round his neck.

He got great pleasure from his love of natural history; especially of birds and flowers. At the Eagle's Nest he would show the great Black Woodpecker or the Wall Creeper, introducing them almost as personal friends. Before the Everest Expedition of 1922 he spent hours at the Natural History Museum examining specimens in the Bird Room and getting from Kinnear a list of those species which were specially wanted for the national collection, for he was most averse to unnecessary collecting. We had to get a specimen of the rare Ibis-billed Curlew for dissection and I well remember his skill in circumventing this wary bird and then wading the deep cold river of the Chumbi Valley to recover the specimen from an island in midstream. He also made a valuable collection of the scanty flora for Kew.

He greatly distinguished himself in the first German war and in the late war held several very important commands, including that of Hong Kong, but to his deep regret was never in the firing line.

He was a Galahad. Yet it is as the perfect companion that he is lamented, but remembered always with joy.

(By courtesy of the Editor of Alpine Journal.)

PHILIPS CHRISTIAAN VISSER

1882-1955

In the fifty-odd years of its existence, the Netherlands Alpine Club has produced no more distinguished mountaineer than our late member, Dr. P. C. Visser.

He was born at Schiedam in Holland on May 8, 1882, and died at Wassenaar on May 3, 1955. He had been a member of the Alpine Club for nearly forty-two years.

Educated at Schiedam and Rotterdam, he entered the family manufacturing business in Schiedam. He went on a climbing expedition to the Caucasus in 1914, but on account of the outbreak of war had to return by a circuitous route through Russia and Sweden. In 1916, as Secretary to the Netherlands Ambulance organization in Russia, he took up his headquarters in St. Petersburg, remaining there until the 1917 Revolution. His other official appointments were:

1919 Honorary Secretary of the Netherlands Legation, Stockholm.

1931 Netherlands Consul-General in Calcutta.

1938 Netherlands Minister to Turkey: and from 1941 also to Iraq.

1945 Netherlands Minister to South Africa.

1948 Netherlands Minister to the U.S.S.R.

1950 Netherlands Delegate to the United Nations' Balkan Commission.

1952 A member of the Netherlands Defence Centre.

He commenced climbing in 1902 and from then onwards, for every year up to 1913 (the year of his election to the A.C.), he was in the Alps. In 1912 he married Miss Jenny van't Hooft, who became a constant companion on his mountain expeditions, both in the Alps and in the Karakoram (.A.F. 51. 329). To list all his climbs would be pointless, involving as they did most of the standard routes round Zermatt and in the Oberland, the latter a region that he frequently visited. He himself recorded, for those who can read Dutch, some of his experiences in Boven en Beneden de Sneeuw- grens (1910). Professor Finch gives below some account of his 1910 campaign with Visser, but the latter had already done quite a lot of guideless climbing, in the Dauphine and Valais, including what was thought to be a fresh variation on the south face of the Cornes de Pie Berarde.

Between the two wars his four Karakoram expeditions (1922, 1925, 1929-30 and 1935) occupied most of his time spent on mountaineering, though he went to the Alps in 1924 and paid a visit to Nepal in 1932. Whilst Minister in South Africa he took the opportunity to climb on Table Mountain and to visit the Drakensberg; he was an honorary member of the Mountain Club of South Africa.

But it is by his expeditions to the Karakoram that his name will be principally remembered in the history of mountaineering. In 1922 he and Mme Visser-Hooft, with Franz Iyochmatter and Johann Brantschen, visited the Sasir-Kangri, and he read a paper to the Club on the results of the expedition on April 10, 1923 (A.F. 35. 75). The 1925 venture was to the north of the main Karakoram range, in Kanjut, a district of Hunza, and was the subject of a pleasant volume by Mme Visser-Hooft, Among the Kara-Koram Glaciers in 1925 (A.F. 39. 186): Franz Iyochmatter and Johann Perren were the guides on this expedition. The later expeditions took the Vissers northwards as far as Yarkand and Kash- gar, and eastwards of the Karakoram Pass. Dr. Visser's own writings were strictly scientific and abound in details of the zoology, ethnography, meteorology and glaciology of the areas he visited (A.F. 51. 152).

His distinguished services to mountain exploration were recognized by an honorary membership of the Netherlands A.C. (1923), by the Gold Medal of the Societe de Geographie (1927), and by the Back Grant of the R.G.S. (1929). Among other distinctions accorded him was honorary membership of the Guides' Society,. St. Niklaus.

Mme Visser-Hooft died in 1939 and Dr. Visser married again, this time Miss C. A. de Graeff, to whom the Club extends profound sympathy on her loss.

T. S. Blakeney.

Professor G. I. Finch writes from Poona:

My records and photographs of the pre-1914 era are not with me, so I can only quote from memory. I met P. C. Visser first in 1909 in Zermatt. It was late in the season and we went for walks together and patronized the Shoehorn boulder. Eventually we climbed the Lyskamm, after having attended the Schonbiihl hut opening with Whymper. In 1910 we climbed in Chamonix and did the Moine and some interesting needles on the Moine-Aig. Verte ridge; the Requin; traversed the Tour Ronde and a number of other peaks.

I visited Visser and his father in, I believe, 1910 or 1911 in Schiedam and met Miss Jenny van't Hooft, whom Visser later married; she herself was a keen climber. Visser and I did no further climbing together, but we kept in touch throughout the years. The last time we met was in Zermatt in 1949, when Visser made his last ascent of the Matterhorn, an event which we celebrated as it should be celebrated.

Visser was a warm-hearted, kindly gentleman with a strong sense of humour. He had a great love for the mountains and did much to stimulate a like interest in Holland; the Dutch A.C. owes much to him. Visser could climb fast if the occasion demanded, but he preferred to take his time and taught me to do what he himself loved to do, to savour every moment spent on the mountains.

Visser rose high in the Diplomatic Service of his country. As Consul in Calcutta, he found time to explore and climb in the Karakoram with Jenny, and in Istanbul he climbed in the Anatolian mountains. Jenny's death was a terrible blow to him, but later he married again and regained his happiness.

I always remember him for his innate kindliness, his infectious good humour, and his great love of the mountains and sound appreciation of the meaning and aims of mountaineering and mountaineering endeavour.

We much regret to report the death, while this Journal was in print, of the Rt. Hon. L. S. Amery, C.H., President of the Alpine Club, 1944-1946.

With deep regret we have learnt of the recent death, on the Aiguille Noire de Peteret, of Louis Lachenal who, it will be remembered, was Maurice Herzog's companion on the spectacular ascent of Annapurna, losing all his toes on the mountain. Our sympathy has been duly expressed to the Club Alpin Francais.