Himalayan Journal vol.20
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.20

Publication year:
1957

Editor:
H. W. Tobin
Index
  1. THE SWISS EXPEDITION TO EVEREST AND LHOTSE, 1956
    (ALBERT EGGLER)
  2. THE ASCENT OF MANASLU
    (YUKO MAKI AND T. IMANISHI)
  3. AUSTRIAN KARAKORAM EXPEDITION, 1956
    (FRITZ MORAVEC)
  4. THE MUZTAGH TOWER
    (GIJIDO MAGNONE)
  5. MACHHAPUCHHARE
    (MAJOR C. G. WYLIE)
  6. RENEWED ATTACK ON RAKAPOSHI
    (HAMISH MACINNES)
  7. THE GERMAN NEPAL EXPEDITION, 1955
    (HEINZ STEINMETZ)
  8. EXPEDITIONS TO THE RATANG AND PARBATI REGIONS, 1955 AND 1956
    (P. F. HOLMES)
  9. MOUNT CHAMLANG SURVEY EXPEDITION
    (N. D. HARDIE)
  10. TWO VALLEYS IN NAGIR
    (C. H. TYNDALE-BISCOE)
  11. A BINGER HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION, 1956, TO BARA SHIGRI GLACIER
    (JOYCE DUNSHEATH)
  12. CAMBRIDGE EXPEDITION, 1956, TO THE ELBURZ MOUNTAINS, IRAN
    (J. G. R. HARDING)
  13. NOTES AND EXPEDITIONS
  14. IN MEMORIAM
  15. REVIEWS
  16. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1956.

AUSTRIAN KARAKORAM EXPEDITION, 1956

FRITZ MORAVEC



Translated by Hugh Merrick

In the summer of 1955, when I was in the Ruwenzori, I had the opportunity to study Prof. G. 0. Dyhragferth's book To the Third Pole.1 His remarks about Gasherbrum II, 26,360 ft., 'though not easy, it is probably climbable and relatively safe', impressed my mind deeply. Hence was the idea of the expedition formed. The Austrian Himalayan Foundation, before whom I laid the project, agreed to sponsor the expedition. I had been a member of the 1954 Austrian Expedition to reconnoitre Saipal, which was also sponsored by the Foundation.

With five months in which to make all our preparations, select the team, and buy the equipment and food, we all had to work furiously. Many firms generously supported us and we were happily given a guarantee for the full cost of the expedition.

The team comprised the following:-

Sepp Larch, 26, miner; Hans Ratay, 25, photographer; Richard Reinagl, 46, mechanic; Heinrich Roiss, 29, Federal Railways officer; Hans Willenpart, 29, engine driver; Dr. G. Weiler, 36, expedition doctor; Dr. E. Gattinger, 26, geologist; and myself, aged 34, school-teacher.

We left Vienna on March 28th, 1956, and sailed to Pakistan on the m.v. Asia reaching Karachi on April 11th. ThanksŪto the advance arrangements made by our Embassy in Pakistan, our baggage weighing about 4-J tons was cleared through the Customs within half an hour. Two days later, in a separate carriage attached to the Punjab Express, we travelled to Rawalpindi together with all our baggage. Arriving on the 15th, we chartered an aircraft to fly us to Skardu on April 17th.

At 5 a.m. on the morning of the 17th, we were driven to the airfield; there our baggage was weighed and partly loaded into the plane. At noon, we were told, 'The mountains are all covered in cloud and the weather is unsuitable for flying. Come again tomorrow'. This performance was repeated ten times. It was necessary to suffer this ordeal, because absolutely clear weather is essential for the flight. It must be one of the trickiest air routes in the world; but it covers in one hour and a half a stretch of country which pre-war expeditions took three long weeks to cross, thereby saving valuable time, expense and effort.

1 G. O. Dyhrenfurth, To the Third Pole, 1955, London, T. Werner Laurie, Ltd.

Finally on April 27th we found ourselves aboard the aircraft bound for Skardu. We were accompanied by our liaison officer Capt. Quasim Ali Shah, and by a student Capt. Hayat Ali Shah, both of whom provided valuable assistance to the expedition. The flight was of immense interest. The Indus appeared as a tiny ribbon winding in and out of the foothills; whilst Nanga Parbat, 26,620 ft., and Rakaposhi, 25,550 ft., bathed in sunlight, looked very impressive.

At Skardu, where the senior military and political officer-the Political Agent-put his guest-house at our disposal, we picked our valley and high-mountain porters. We wanted 168; 400 Baltis, however, had turned up. Any expedition is an opportunity to earn good money, which no one is anxious to miss. Everything to do with the porters is wrapped up in regulations; but it was quite clear that their demands had risen since the previous year. It may be useful to quote some of the new regulations.

A porter now gets Rs.3 per day while working in populated areas, but he has to find his own food. Immediately on leaving Askole the rate goes up to Rs.4, and the expedition has to provide his keep. A day's ration for a porter is 30 oz. atta; 2 oz. ghee; 2 oz. sugar; ¼ oz. salt; 1/6 oz. tea; 2 oz. dal; and 3 cigarettes. On the return journey he gets half his ration while in the mountain areas, and 'return' pay fixed at Rs.2-8-0 per day. Every detail about rest-days, the length of stages, glacier equipment (snow-goggles, boots and protective clothing) is laid down. The0 scale for the high-altitude porters was much stiffer. At Base Camp they got Rs.5 per day-Rs.6 if they went above 20,000 ft., Rs.7 above 23,000 ft. Every expedition had to take out an accident and life insurance for Rs.2,000 in case of death, and yielding proportionate benefits for injuries or frost-bite. I have one very disagreeable memory of Skardu. Our loads weighed on an average 66 lb.; our liaison officer ordered them all to be repacked in 56 lb. loads, which was an irritating imposition of extra work.

We started off for the mountains on May 3rd, crossing the Indus in a hand-propelled ferry-boat, after which the caravan proceeded through a sandy landscape; to complete the impression of moving through a desert, a sandstorm fell upon us. The spot where we spent the first night was called Shigar. It had rained directly after the sandstorm and all the streams were bringing down clay and soil, so that there was no clear drinking-water to be found in the place. The end of our second stage was Koshumal. Just before Dusso we left the Shigar Valley, crossing the almost empty Braldu by a log-bridge and then moving up the Braldu Valley past staging- points called Chokpiong and Chongo.

In the Braldu Valley the foot of the mountains was so close to the river that there was hardly room for the track, and we had continually to cross from one bank to the other. We met with a pleasant surprise half-way between Chongo and Askole in the form of hot sulphur-springs, inviting us to a necessary and cleansing bath. Askole (11,500 ft.) is the last and highest inhabited place in the Braldu district and indeed in Baltistan. These valleys are very hot in summer but thanks to artificial irrigation it is possible to grow barley, the basic grain used by the inhabitants for baking bread, even at this great altitude. We reached Askole on the sixth day of our march (May 9th) and had to spend the whole of a rest- day there obtaining the essential provisions and fresh meat for our porters-5,280 lb. of atta, 187 lb. of ghee, 10 goats, 10 chickens, 20 dozen eggs. In order to cope with the additional loads which resulted, we had to take on 84 men of Askole, which brought our porter-roster up to 238.

On May 11th we crossed the tongue of the Biafo glacier and a relatively short stage brought us to Korophon (the big rock) early in the afternoon. Next day we waded through the icy waters of one of the glacier's outflows and our porters spent the night in the rock-caves of Bardumal. On the third day from Askole, as planned, we reached the little hamlet of Paiju, where the Baltoro glacier begins. This is the last place where wood can be obtained; so I had chapattis baked for two days and loaded up the 14° porters thus released with wood. Here the porters demanded the boots to which the contract entitled them. We had brought 150 pairs of new boots along for this purpose, but they proved far too narrow for the feet of the Balti porters. A serious crisis developed, which was solved by our slitting open the uppers of every pair, after which they fitted.

We now moved up the left-hand moraine, as seen from our viewpoint, finally crossing the glacier, whose lower reaches are a colossal expanse of rubble, to reach the camping-site at Liligo, lying on the opposite lateral moraine. On arrival, our doctor found his hands full. The Baltis are accustomed all their lives to going about barefoot and they have a skin on the soles of their feet more than an inch thick and hard as bone; but they are very susceptible to injury above their heels. As a result, every single porter turned up to exhibit blood- or water-blisters or raw places caused by the unaccustomed wearing of boots. Next day they went barefooted on the ice of the glacier and slung their boots decoratively about their persons.

On May 15th we reached Urdokas (13,311 ft.), where the last grass grows. Every expedition has found this overnight camping- place a veritable flash-point for nervous explosions. We were no exception and here our porters also struck for the first time, demanding the following items not specified in the contract:-

(a) A day's rest with pay at Urdokas; (b) Baksheesh; (c) Special porters to carry the chapattis; and (d) A boot-allowance of Rs.8 per pair for the Askole porters, who were wearing their own goatskin footwear.

It may be of interest to record our conclusion that previous Karakoram expeditions have made things far worse for their successors by giving in too easily to the unjustified demands of the porters. This is of course a problem of general importance to all Himalayan undertakings.

With the full agreement of our Pakistani liaison officer we withheld both pay and victuals from our porters for a whole day, a step which resulted in putting an end to the strike, 110 porters declaring their readiness to resume the march. Some, who were very poorly equipped to stand the cold, and others who complained of foot- trouble, 68 men in all, had to be sent back. We, therefore, had to leave 68 loads at Urdokas in the care of our Pakistani student friend Hayat Ali Shah and one of the climbers, Hans Willenpart.

We took three days for the journey from Urdokas to Concordia, with splendid views of the Trango Group, the Mustagh Tower, 23,860 ft., and Masherbrum, 25,660 ft. There was still a good deal of winter snow and fresh snow fell daily, slowing the porters down, and on one occasion they covered only half a day's stage. Unfortunately, the further we moved up the glacier, the worse became the weather. By the time we reached Concordia a proper Karakoram blizzard was raging about us, with a gale of great force and biting cold. The porters huddled together like a herd of sheep, raising their hands skywards and, one after another, praying to Allah. But their prayers never lasted more than half a minute before they turned to a whispered ‘Inshallah'-Allah's will be done!-as the men abandoned the very will to live. We drove them forcibly into the tents and under the coverings. The next night was so bitterly cold that on the following morning every single one of them had only one wish-to go down to the comfort and safety of the villages below. Negotiations lasted half a day and we had to be satisfied with a settlement by which 68 porters agreed to bring up the loads we had left down at Urdokas.

DIAGRAM OF UPPER BALTORO GLACIER SHOWING THE GASHERBRUM GROUP OF PEAKS.

DIAGRAM OF UPPER BALTORO GLACIER SHOWING THE GASHERBRUM GROUP OF PEAKS.



GASHERBRUM II, 26,360 FT., FROM THE SOUTH GASHERBRUM GLACIER, SHOWING ROUYE, ON THE LEFT, GASHERBRUM III, 26,090 FT.

GASHERBRUM II, 26,360 FT., FROM THE SOUTH GASHERBRUM GLACIER, SHOWING ROUYE, ON THE LEFT, GASHERBRUM III, 26,090 FT.



On May 20th Ratay and Roiss reconnoitred the way forward and brought back confirmation of our forecast that we should need two more days' marches to reach the point on the South Gasherbrum Glacier, where we planned to set up our Base Camp. We set up an intermediate camp half-way up at the foot of Sia Kangri, 24,350 ft., below the spur falling from Gasherbrum VI, about a mile and a half above the mouth of the South Gasherbrum Glacier. The climbers and 11 high-altitude porters spent the next days ferrying loads up to this camp. When at last on May 23rd the porters came up to Concordia with the loads which had been left behind at Urdokas, we provided them with tents and cookers as well as an extra ration of cigarettes. These little attentions paid handsomely, for on the next day these 68 porters carried loads as far as the Intermediate Camp, and our advance party, moving up the left- hand lateral moraine of the South Gasherbrum Glacier, was thus enabled to reach a height of 17,400 ft., where we sited our Base Camp, as early as May 25th.

From the crest of the moraine we enjoyed a magnificent panorama of the South Gasherbrum Glacier and the glorious peaks that contain it. We were faced by the enormous precipices of the Gasherbrum peaks from II to IV, the southern slopes of Gasherbrum I, 26,470 ft. (Conway's'Hidden Peak'), an unnamed peak of 25,358 ft. which we later christened Austria Peak, Sia Kangri, 24,350 ft., and the Golden Throne, 24,000 ft.[1]
We spent ten days acclimatizing. During this time we completed the establishment and provisioning of our Base Camp, overhauled the cookers, parcelled the equipment out into loads and got them ready for the high-altitude porters. Every other day our doctor tested our blood-pressure and our pulse, examining every member of the expedition and all the porters, at rest and during periods of activity. When the climbers had nothing to do they examined the route to our mountain, Gasherbrum II, through field-glasses from the top of the moraine. Conversation centred entirely on the approach to the foot of our mountain, still five miles distant as the crow flies and involving a rise of more than 2,000 ft., with two icefalls to be mastered en route. This long approach was our great problem. Our geologist helped the reconnaissance work by estimating the angle of the individual slopes, cliffs and ridges; this technical basis was of great assistance in the choice and planning of our eventual line of approach.

On June 4th Larch and Willenpart broke a trail through the ice- fall, and on the following day they reconnoitred a line of ascent to the foot of Gasherbrum II which would be perfectly safe for the high-altitude porters. Next day, moving on by the route they had prepared, they traversed below the south-west face of Gasherbrum I, crossing a rocky spur on the way, and reached a point within 200 yards of the ice-wall. There their progress was halted by a labyrinth of crevasses, through which Ratay and Roiss attempted to find a way on June 6th. At the lower levels they' followed the same route as Larch and Willenpart; but at about 18,400 ft., where the glacier comes down from Gasherbrum I, they took to a little glacier-trough leading towards Gasherbrum V, 24,016 ft., climbed the second icefall and then swung in a wide curve towards the foot of Gasherbrum II. They had found a perfectly satisfactory route to our objective.

It was our intention that Larch, Reinagl and I, with the high- camp porters, should get the loads up the very next day (June 7th) as far as the rocky spur below Gasherbrum II and establish our main Camp I on the glacier falling from it, at a height of about 20,000 ft. Snowfalls upset our plan; climbing was not even to be thought of.

It was not till the 11th, that it proved possible to carry loads to Camp I. Deep, newly-fallen snow had covered the marker-flags along the route and we had only our companions' description to rely on. We gained height very slowly, often sinking in to our thighs. Our Balti porters, with their 44 lb. loads, followed uncomplaining in our tracks, but we could see plainly what bodily exertions the route was exacting from them. We had only covered half the distance by noon and the porters clamoured for an intermediate camp; two of them lay flat on the ground with their loads, utterly exhausted. We shared our rations and our fruit-juice with the Baltis and promised them a day off tomorrow if they would carry to the foot of the mountain. This promise had a miraculous effect; they summoned their last reserves of strength and tramped doggedly on. We reached our chosen camp-site at about half past two and they were at last able to dump our baggage. It was not only the mass of fresh snow which had made things so tough for them, and for us, but the intensive radiation of the sun. The temperature was frequently above 120° Fahrenheit, we were utterly dehydrated by the sun, and it was thirst which racked us far more severely than hunger. The old rule holds good in the Karakoram too; climbing is only half as exhausting in the early morning, when the snow is frozen hard and the sun has not yet over-topped the summits, as it is later in the day.

On the 13th, Ratay and Roiss came up to Camp I and Dr. Weiler took the porters back to Base Camp. Two days later Larch and Willenpart followed suit and Dr. Gattinger led the porters down again. On the 17th, our two Pakistani friends took over the supply-line to Camp I and the loads came up daily as planned.

At this stage, a ten-day period of bad weather set in with snow falling incessantly. The only ray of light to cheer us was the arrival of a courier with our mail. We all buried ourselves in our letters, cards and newspapers, and suddenly somebody read out the news that the Japanese had climbed Manaslu, 26,658 ft., while the Swiss had not only succeeded in scaling 27,890-ft. Lhotse but had achieved a second and a third ascent of Everest. And we were still held up at Camp I, at 20,000 ft.! Our spirits reached the nadir when our liaison officer quoted a passage from the Pakistan Times to the effect that the monsoon was fully three weeks earlier than usual this year. We, of course, promptly decided that we were already caught by its full impact. The whole assault-team were meanwhile back in Base Camp.

On June 30th it cleared up unexpectedly and Ratay and Roiss immediately went up to Camp I again. Two days later, when Larch, Reinagl and I brought the porters up, our two friends met us with the discouraging news that the camp had been almost wiped out by an avalanche. Almost all the loads, tents, ropes, pitons, karabiners, winches, cables and our precious food lay buried under the debris. We could hardly grasp what we were being told, for everything had been dumped on a level glacier at a point apparently safe from any avalanche menace. Besides, the lower part of the mountain consisted of terrace-formations. It was only the immense weight of newly-fallen snow which had produced this enormous avalanche. Great masses of snow had moved down from about 24,600 ft., covering the terraces as they went and building up an evenly-graded slope; it was this alone which enabled the snow to advance so far across the level glacier.

We dug for two whole days to retrieve our buried loads, but to no purpose, for all our trenching and tunnelling; our equipment and supplies were engulfed under a blanket of snow, fifteen to thirty feet deep. This calamitous loss meant a complete change in our plans for the assault. We would have to establish our high camps much more rapidly now, and they could not be nearly so well equipped as we had intended; the preparation of the route, too, would have to be speeded up considerably.

It was July 2nd. Ratay and Roiss immediately set to work making the route over the ice-spur between Camp I, 19,680 ft., and Camp II, 22,000 ft., passable, cutting an ice-staircase and fixing ropes. Camp II, above the ice-spur, was ready for occupation on the 3rd. Next day Larch and Reinagl went up to it, and on the following day they prepared the route over the ice-bulges to a level ridge of neve where, at 23,450 ft., we intended to site Camp III. The programme for July 6th was as follows: Larch, Reinagl, Willenpart and I, with four porters, were to establish Camp III and, on the following day, Camp IV at the base of the summit pyramid. Between Camps II and III there were no more aids for the porters', such as prepared steps, fixed ropes and the like; they were hard put to it on the steep slopes with their 44 lb. loads and they had to be safeguarded with the rope every yard of the way up. When they reached the site we had picked for Camp III they fell headlong in the snow with their loads. We promised them a whole day's rest as a reward for their amazing and self-sacrificing effort. But the slope overhead was considerably steeper than the passage of the ice-spur below and this veritable wall of ice had a foot of powder-snow lying on it. It was clear beyond argument that the porters could not be used above the point we had reached. A proper preparation of the mountain with ropes and all the necessary safeguards would have taken up at least a fortnight of precious time, during which bad weather-perhaps the monsoon itself- could easily overtake us. I had to take two possible courses into consideration in reaching a decision. I could have the slope made safe for porters, in which case there was the possibility that a break in the weather might rob us altogether of the chance of going for the summit; or, I could take the serious responsibility on myself of letting the climbers carry their own loads and make a dash for the top from a high bivouac below the summit pyramid. We talked it over thoroughly and I chose the second alternative. Well aware of the risks involved in that decision, I decided to join the assault party myself. Reinagl, displaying great strength of character, elected to give up his own chance of climbing the mountain when he simply remarked: 'I'll see the porters down- good luck with the summit!'

BETWEEN CAMPS II AND III ON GASHERBRUM II. IN THE BACKGROUND, THE BALTORO KANGRI GROUP.

BETWEEN CAMPS II AND III ON GASHERBRUM II. IN THE BACKGROUND, THE BALTORO KANGRI GROUP.



GASHERBRUM I, 26,470 FT., SEEN FROM CAMP III ON GASHERBRUM II.

GASHERBRUM I, 26,470 FT., SEEN FROM CAMP III ON GASHERBRUM II.



sIA kANGRI,  FROM S. GASHERBRUM GLACIER.

sIA kANGRI, FROM S. GASHERBRUM GLACIER.



Late in the afternoon of July 6th, as the sun was disappearing behind Gasherbrum IV, Reinagl started down with the porters, while Larch, Willenpart and I climbed laboriously on with the bivouac loads. It was not the safest kind of climbing. The newly- fallen snow went sliding away at every step. We were going un- roped because belaying was simply impossible and we did not want to prejudice one another's safety. Larch and Willenpart, who know the North Face of the Matterhorn well, confirm that the angle is about the same. We reached the foot of the summit pyramid at about 8-30 p.m., and made ourselves snug under a rock there at 24,600 ft. Each of us crept into his Dralon sleeping-bag; we also had with us a bivouac-bag which could take all three of us. The night was bitterly cold and none of us slept much. Larch's toes and one of his thumbs froze during the night in spite of the shelter of the bivouac-bag.

It was a great relief to get up when morning came at last. It took ages to get the spirit-stove going with our numbed fingers. We drank hot milk and ate some cereal-our whole sustenance for the day. The continuation of the route-a gently-rising traverse below the south-east wail of Gasherbrum's summit-remains in my memory as a particularly horrid bit of the climb. We literally had to force ourselves forward step by step. We were feeling the full effects of our exertions of the previous day, when we had come up some 2,700 ft. from Camp II. The weight of the heavy rucksacks we had carried up, the cold, sleepless night and, not by any means least, oxygen-starvation were all affecting us seriously. It took us till 9 o'clock to reach a little notch in the East Ridge at about 25,250 ft., which we had all looked upon as the crucial point. We would have liked to sit there for a long time, but the steep neve-slope leading to the summit still lay above us and our eyes continually came back to it; for there were still more than a thousand feet between us and the top. The sun had softened the snow and plodding in the wet, difficult, cloying stuff was even more exhausting than climbing on the hard-frozen neve below. At every other step we had to lean against the slope in exhaustion, then rest, fighting for breath, quite a while before taking the next two strides forward. Then the battle with oneself began all over again, and after another couple of steps we were exhausted again. It needed a tremendous effort of will to make the next movement forward.

The mountain confronted us with a final obstacle in the form of

a rock-buttress. At 1-30 p.m. on July 7th we reached the summit of Gasherbrum II, a plateau of neve crowned by rock-teeth 10 ft. high. We measured our length in the snow with a last gasp of relief. At first nobody said a word; it was some time later that Willenpart declared-'It has been an incredible grind, but this is the best moment in my life.' We could only agree with him. After about ten minutes, during which we recovered somewhat, we shook hands to celebrate our success. I planted my ice-axe, with the Austrian and Pakistani pennants, upright in the snow. This was the third eight-thousander to be successfully climbed by Austrian mountaineers.

We spent an hour on the top in fine weather. Other Himalayan expeditions, with the exception of the French on Makalu, had only had one thought-to get down as quickly as possible, out of the wind and the cold. It was so fine on the summit of Gasherbrum II, that we were able to take off our anoraks and enjoy an unforgettable summit-hour. To the north-west K2 soared above our heads with the mountains of Afghanistan beyond; to the south, towards Kashmir, stood the countless summits of the Karakoram; eastwards lay the innumerable snow-covered mountains of Tibet," with the ranges of Chinese Sinkiang to the north of them. The mountains out there are much lower and the blanket of snow is less heavy. At last we had to say a regretful good-bye to the summit. We left behind us a German and English record of the climb in an empty film-case, added a medallion of the Holy Virgin, wrapped the tin in a large Austrian flag and built a cairn on top ofit.

The descent was very much less exhausting, but the weather deteriorated rapidly. A snow-storm caught us on the last part and we did not reach Camp III, 23,450 ft., until half past seven. There we spent the night, before continuing down to Camp II on July 8th. On arrival there, we were greeted by our Balti porters with victory dances to demonstrate their joy at our success in climbing Gasherbrum II. They could not have been more delighted if they had done it themselves. They raised a crescendo of 'Zindabad Austrian Expedition! Zindabad Austria! Zindabad Pakistan!-in fact, long live all of us!'

On the 11th I was back at Base Camp. My first action was to send two of our high-camp porters down to Skardu with the news of our success, to be cabled home from that point. I worded the message as follows: 'At 1-30 p.m. on July 7th 1956, three members of the expedition reached the summit of Gasherbrum II, 26,360 ft. I had intentionally omitted individual names in order to underline the fact that any successful climb in the Himalaya is achieved only by team-work. It is quite irrelevant whether one climber or another reached the top, or what feats any individual performed on the way; what matters is that everyone had done his best to contribute to the expedition's success, and so earned an equal share in its achievement.

All the high camps were evacuated according to schedule, and by July 14th all climbers and porters were safely back at Base Camp.

Soon after our return to Base, Ratay and Roiss told me of their plan to climb the unnamed 25,358-ft. peak which shuts off the Upper Baltoro glacier and looks very much like our Gross Glockner at home.3 I liked the idea very much, but I had to remind them that we had very limited provisions and in particular no more high-altitude rations./We'd like to have a shot just the same', was their reply.

Ratay and Roiss had not had the luck to be in the Gasherbrum summit party; both felt extremely fit arid were very keen to see their project through. The 15th was spent on preparations for the venture, assembling equipment and provisions, weighing out the loads and distributing them. At 4-30 on the morning of the 16th they set out with Dr. Weiler and eight porters. They made swift progress towards their mountain across the dry and level Baltoro, covering the five miles to its foot in about 3J hrs. Thence, they found a route through icefalls and crevasse-systems to the prominent saddle which separates the Upper Baltoro glacier from the Siachen, and also joins Sia Kangri to Hidden Peak.4 It was a marvellous day and we were able to watch every stage of the climb through our glasses. Our friends established their Camp I about 150 ft. above the saddle in the shelter of a rock-crest, at sabout 21,300 ft. Four of the porters remained with them in the camp, the other four came down to Base Camp unaccompanied. July 17th was a day of bad weather, confining the climbers to their tents, and we were fully aware of how depressed they must be feeling; for if the break in the weather lasted two days their rations would run out and they would have to come back empty-handed. Moreover, soon after setting up camp, the climbers had pushed on some way, cutting steps up to the feature they called the White Backbone; all that work would then have been in vain.

3 See footnote 2 above.

4 The prominent saddle referred to is probably the well-known 4 Conway' saddle, c. 20,000 ft., first visited by Conway in 1892, and by later expeditions, particularly those of 1929 and 1934. This saddle actually lies between the Upper Baltoro and the Kondus glaciers. See H,JVol, VII, p. 144.- Editor.

Luckily July 18th turned out fine. At about 6-30 a.m. the climbers left, camp; two and a half hours later they had gained the corniced ridge and were traversing the mountain's south face. The summit ice-slope soared fully 3,000 ft. high overhead. Tired as they were, the heavily-laden porters managed to climb another 1,000 ft. up the slope, and there, under an icy protuberance at about 23,300. ft., Camp II was established. During the night the weather deteriorated again and a driving blizzard set in. On the morning of the 19th, the storm abated a little and the climbers went on alone. The weather grew worse again, but the three men ignored the appalling conditions and battled their way up the ice- slope through a gale and driving snow. The last three hundred feet proved to be ice-coated rock sticking out of the snow. A final ice- gully brought them to the top, and at 5-30 p.m. the climbers were shaking hands on the summit, in a bitterly cold gale. They stayed long enough to hoist the Austrian and Pakistani pennants and to leave a record of the ascent of what was later to receive the name of Austria Peak; then they started down again. Darkness overtook them all too soon, and at about 9 o'clock they contemplated digging a hole in the snow for shelter overnight. As they were wet through and there was a change of clothes at Camp II, they decided to push on down through the darkness. Two hours later they reached the tent, utterly worn out, but they had been spared a night in the open.

On July 20th, the weather being fine again, the porters went all the way up to Camp II, as arranged, except the last 300 ft., which they could not manage without a safeguarding rope; so the climbers sent the loads sliding down to them over the snow slopes. Early in the afternoon they were all back at Camp I, where they spent the night before returning to Base Camp at about noon next day. There we at once began our final packing operations, for it could only be a day or two before the 60 Balti porters we had ordered for the transport of our baggage on the return journey put in an appearance.

The expedition brought back scientific as well as mountaineering prizes. Dr. T. E. Gattinger's work has resulted in the full geological coverage of the Upper Baltoro and South Gasherbrum glaciers. He was also able to relate these geological data with those of adjacent areas, and so broaden the existing knowledge of the structure of the Karakoram Range. A separate report on his activities will be published in due course.

The glaciological-geological research work embraces a study of the stages and measurements of earlier and more recent periods of glaciation.

Our doctor, Dr. George Weiler, carried out physiological research relating to high altitudes, among other studies. He also made observations of the blood in order to determine variations of the calcium content at high altitudes. Physiological tests showed that even at great heights, as for example Camp III at 23,450 ft., where he conducted his experiments shortly after the ascent to the summit of Gasherbrum II, the power of mental co-ordination and concentration was not impaired, but that the power of self- expression seemed to diminish.


[1] It would appear unlikely that the early triangulators, the Dnke of Abruzzi's surveyors in 1909, Collins in 1911, Grant Peterkin in 1912, and the Duke of Spoleto's photogrammetric survey in 1929, missed a peak here of over 25,000 ft. It is believed that Austria Peak* is, in fact, the westernmost of the four peaks which comprise the Sia Kangri group. AH four peaks, formerly referred to as the 4Queen Mary' group, were climbed by an International Expedition led by Prof. G. O. Dyhrenfurth in 1934. The height accepted