Himalayan Journal vol.21
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.21

Publication year:
1958

Editor:
T.H. Braham
Index
  1. BROAD PEAK AND CHOGOLISA, 1957
    (By KURT DIEMBERGER)
  2. MASHERBRUM, 1957
    (By J. WALMSLEY)
  3. THE IMPERIAL COLLEGE KARAKORAM EXPEDITION, 1957
    (By K. J. MILLER)
  4. JANNU RECONNAISSANCE, 1957
    (GUIDO MAGNONE)
  5. THE ASCENT OF GASHERBRUM I
    (THOMAS McCORMACK)
  6. RAKAPOSHI CLIMBED
    (CAPT. MIKE BANKS, R.M)
  7. 1958 AUSTRIAN EXPEDITION THE ASCENT OF HARAMOSH
    (H. ROISS)
  8. THE ASCENT OF CHOGOLISA
    (PROF. TAKEO KUWABARA)
  9. MRIGTHUNI, 1958
    (AAMIR ALI)
  10. THE GYUNDI AND THE BARA SHIGRI, 1958
    (J. P. OF. LYNAM)
  11. DEO TIBBA AND INDRASAN, 1958
    (BOB PETTIGREW)
  12. DISTEGHIL SAR
    (DENNIS DAVIS)
  13. MINAPIN EXPEDITION, 1958
    (DENNIS KEMP)
  14. CHAMBA-LAHUL EXPEDITION, 1958
    (F. SOLARI)
  15. BRITISH CAUCASUS EXPEDITION, 1958
    (RALPH JONES)
  16. NOTES AND EXPEDITIONS
  17. IN MEMORIAM
  18. REVIEWS
  19. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1958

1958 AUSTRIAN EXPEDITION THE ASCENT OF HARAMOSH

H. ROISS

(Translated by Hugh Merrick)

The preliminary history of our expedition to Haramosh was just as full of excitement as its actual development later on. The Osterreichische Himalaya Gesellschaft had planned an attempt on Hidden Peak, 26,470 ft., for 1958. The Government of Pakistan had, however, failed to sanction the project; their alternative objectives, Gasherbrum IV, Chogolisa or Rakaposhi, had found no greater favour, having already been allotted to other expeditions. We had expressly picked Hidden Peak or one of the other great Baltoro summits as our 1958 objective because in 1956 our ascent of Gasherbrum II had kept us in the area for weeks, during which our Base Camp had been at the foot of Hidden Peak, and we had had the opportunity to reconnoitre these mountains very thoroughly.1
In the end, we were granted permission to attempt Haramosh, 24,270 ft. It was a mountain to which I had never paid any close attention until our permission was received ; nor was there much literature to be found about it. There were two articles in Berge der Welt; one by Gyr and Kappeler of the 1947 Swiss Expedition ;3 and another by the Germans under R. Sander in 1955.4 So I got in touch with both my predecessors, from whom I obtained most useful information, for which 1 would here like to express my most grateful thanks. At the time of our departure from Vienna in March 1958, I had not heard anything about Capt. Streather's attempt in 1957. I had of course seen Haramosh in 1956 when we flew across to Skardu from Rawalpindi. But on such an exciting flight so many impressions are crowded in, that one particular peak makes no more striking an impact than hundreds of other wonderful peaks surging around.

1 H.J., XX, p. 27.

2 In 1902 and again in 1903, Dr. and Mrs. Workman explored the Chogo Lungma glacier and penetrated the N.E. approaches of Haramosh.

3 Berge der Welt, Band IV, 1949.

4 The Mountain World, 1956-57, p. 173.

There were eight members of the expedition: three scientists, four climbers and a doctor, who was also an experienced climber.The scientists were 46-year-old Prof. Konrad Wiche of the Geographical Institute of the University of Vienna, who had done scientific work in Africa during 1952 and 1954 ; 40-year-old Prof. Karl Jettmar of the same University's Institute of Ethnology, who in 1955/56 had been a member of the German Hindu Kush Expedition under Prof. Friedrich ; and Dr. Edward Piffl, aged 37, of the University's Zoological Institute. Their areas of activity lay in the Haramosh valley, around Gilgit; and in Tangir, Darel and Swat. Scientists and climbers travelled together as far as Iskere, one of the last hamlets in the Haramosh valley; there our ways separated. Prof. Wiche led the scientists on the way to their special labours, which proved most successful; some of the results have already been published, and more will appear from time to time in scientific journals.

My own team-mates were: Dr. Franz Mandl, 34, a secondary schoolteacher from Graz ; Stephan Pauer, 37, an electrician from Pernitz, who had proved his worth as a climber and cameraman on African expeditions in 1955 and 1957 ; Rudolf Ebner, 28, a chemist from Leoben ; and our doctor, Rudolf Hammerschlag, 36, a gynaecologist from Klagenfurt.

There have been so many descriptions of journeys and approach marches to the Himalaya and Karakoram that I shall deal with ours very briefly. Our party left Vienna on March 28, travelled via Genoa and the Suez Canal to Pakistan, arriving at Karachi on April 11 and reaching Rawalpindi on the 16th. We began our preparations as early as November 1957, and I found my experience from the Gasherbrum Expedition most useful. Our baggage amounted to about tons, 65% of which were provisions, and 35% equipment. Selecting equipment is not much of a problem today, when the leader of an expedition can fall back on the experience of Himalayan climbers of many nationalities, stretching back over many years ; and when there is so much important literature available, supported by factual reports. The difficulty is to obtain really high-class equipment on the very slender financial means unfortunately available to Austrian expeditions. For we are compelled to rely on the generosity of individual firms, contributors and donors ; since the State grants, enormously grateful as we are for them, only cover the cost of the passage and the actual cash expenses on the spot. In 1958, we were once again lucky to find numerous donors, thanks to whose kindness we were able to assemble in the requisite quantities not only first-class equipment, but very high-quality provisions as well.



As I have said, we reached Rawalpindi on April 16. In the remarkably short time of three days we disposed of the countless formalities which have, thanks to political circumstances, built up a I'airly complicated barrier for those wishing to enter Kashmir. On (he 19th we flew to Gilgit; once again the flight over the Himalaya was a wonderful experience, and we left the aircraft at Gilgit deeply impressed by all we had seen. Here they told us that the stage to Sasli in the Indus valley could be covered in jeeps. The Political Agent helped us to hire four vehicles, but we had to cover the day's journey twice over because we could only get half our baggage into them. At Gilgit we also engaged six Hunzas as high-altitude porters, and provided them with all the necessary clothing.

From Gilgit it is 45 miles to Sasli, down the Gilgit river past Chamongarh, then crossing the river by the Alam Bridge, to the Indus. Then the route follows the right bank of the Indus up the valley-the narrow river bed is carved deep into the Karakoram foothills at this point-past Hanujal to Sasli. It poured throughout the trip, so that we could see neither Haramosh nor Nanga Parbat; and we met with every kind of difficulty from the resulting breaches and floods in the road, quite apart from its own extreme exposure. Sasli, where we needed to recruit porters for our 150 loads, had another problem in store for us ; for the villages hereabouts are thinly populated and it is not at all easy to collect enough porters. With the help of Jameel-ur-Rahman, our liaison officer who had joined us at Gilgit, and of the lambadar of Sasli, we succeeded somehow in rounding up 125 porters and 14 donkeys. On April 27, we were at last able to start up the Haramosh valley, which begins here at the junction of the Haramosh river with the Indus. I need hardly say that we were not spared the usual strikes on the part of the porters and similar incidents-they are an inherent feature of the programme of all such undertakings.

We passed through Tasso and Barche, and reached Iskere, a village lying at 8,136 ft., during the evening of the 28th. At this spot the whole enterprise very nearly went to pieces owing to something which seemed at first to be a very minor circumstance. The Dayal or witch-doctor gave notice, during one of his sessions in a trance, that our project had annoyed the demons and spirits into whose realms we intended to push forward, and it would therefore come to grief. Further more, two sahibs and three Hunzas would perish as a result; and every porter who gave us any assistance would have a curse on him for the rest of his life. At first, this sombre forecast caused us nothing but a smile ; it soon disappeared, however, when we noticed that all the locals actually believed it and that nobody was willing to act as a porter for us. The Hunzas too were suddenly different, and frightened, men. And, although they are Ismailis, and thus belong to a different sect from the men of the Haramosh valley who are Shias, they were too steeped in generations of superstition to be able to detach themselves entirely ; so they, too, took the Dayal's prophecies seriously.

In spite of some very hard work we only got a few porters. With these we crossed the Mani glacier and followed its true right bank to near Kutwal Sar, where we found a high pasture and a small beautifully-situated lake at about 10,500 ft. We had originally intended to push on to the top of the Haramosh valley and establish our Base Camp there ; but the porters were nervous and did not want to go any further because of the large quantities of winter snow still lying at that level. So we were forced to set up a temporary camp which we christened ‘Forest Camp’. And we brought up the remaining loads from Iskere in relays during the next few days.

Then we and the six Hunzas spent fourteen exhausting days dragging the loads up to the place we had selected for our Base Camp at 11,155 ft. It was not till May 16 that we were able to occupy this camp, situated right at the foot of the ascent to the Haramosh La. From Forest Camp to Base Camp was about three hours' march and the route, like the ascent to the Haramosh La later on, was continually menaced by avalanches.



At Base Camp, several miles from Haramosh's gigantic northern face, our tents were time and again flattened by the blast of avalanches thundering down its flanks. At about this time we had a series of set-backs. The ascent to the Haramosh La, on which we planned to put Camp I, was not only a rise of 4,600 ft., but was extraordinarily exposed to the threat of avalanches. Here, our doctor met with an accident; he fell 100 ft. in an ice-couloir and broke several ribs. This not only meant the temporary loss of a man ; it also acted as fuel to the superstitions of our Hunzas, who saw in the mishap a further warning in confirmation of the witchdoctor's words, and therefore refused to do any further work for us. The only one who was free from superstitious dread was our liaison officer, and the rage of the Hunzas was primarily concentrated on him because he always had the interests of the expedition at heart and tried to keep them at their work. Relations between the Hunzas and him became steadily more tense, until he eventually went in leai of his life and we had several times to intervene with the utmost severity. Such conditions are, of course, impossible for any undertaking, so we had to send the Hunzas home. We knew what it meant for an expedition to be left without any porters at such a point, but it was the best course. As we obviously would not be likely to find any suitable people in the Haramosh valley after what had happened, we would have to recruit them from Gilgit. So I ordered Dr. Mandl and the liaison officer to go down there. It was weeks before they returned with new men. In order not to waste all that time completely, we tried our luck at the high pasture of Kutwal Sar, which had in the meantime been occupied by its summer population. We managed to get a few people to act as porters by offering very high rewards ; but they always ran out on us half-way to the Haramosh La. They were simply terrified.

We built a dump at about 13,780 ft. On the way to it we had another nasty mishap. For once we were happily on the way with 11 porters to the Midway Camp, as we called it, when an avalanche played tricks with us. The men suffered nothing worse than a bad fright; I suffered the only injury, a dislocated shoulder, but the 11 loads had simply disappeared. From that moment on, not a single local man carried a parcel again. It was some weeks later that we retrieved most of the 11 loads, although at the time we searched the whole slope for days. Somewhere in the snow with our scattered loads lay our entire stock of 8,000 cigarettes, a loss which hit me, a chain-smoker, particularly severely.

It was not a rosy situation. We had no porters for the mountain. Hammerschlag and I were restricted in our activities, and we had lost almost a month of precious time. But we went on tirelessly dragging loads up to the Haramosh La. Hammerschlag and I worked up to the Dump; Ebner and Pauer, who had established themselves there, did the carry to Camp I. We had to cover the 4,600-ft. route to the pass 40 times in each direction before we had all the loads on top and Base Camp completely evacuated. That had to be done, or we would probably have had everything pilfered.

On June 8, Mandl and the liaison officer at long last returned from Gilgit with six new Hunza porters: one of them had to be sent back after a few days, as he was quite useless ; the others were no outstanding performers either. I think I should say clearly at this point that we were by no means satisfied with the Hunzas as high- altitude porters by any normal standards. They were work-shy, blatant malingerers producing every manner of illness in order to wangle rest-days. They were always making improper requests, and stole anything that came to hand. Our first crop of Hunzas had promptly sold in the Gilgit bazar part of the equipment which we had issued to them on the clear understanding that it would be theirs only when the job was finished-after all, the stuff was meant for use while we were at work on the mountain.

On June 15, Mandl and I occupied Camp I situated on the Haramosh La at 15,750 ft. Owing to the terrific gale raging up there at first, we were unable lo put up a tent, so we dug ourselves into the ice instead. We spent days in a vain search lor a safe route through the icefall which bars the way into the upper basin of the Haramosh glacier and access through it to the foot of Mani Peak, the name we gave to the subsidiary summit ol Haramosh. It was not till June 24 that we were successful in establishing Camp II at 18,375 ft. and pushing on beyond it to the l ast ridge of Mani Peak.

We spent till July 4 in equipping and stocking Camp II. We climbers had to do most of the work ; the porters kept on creating difficulties. It seemed a long time before we were able to move into Camp II and occupy it permanently. Stefan Pauer and Dr. Hammerschlag were to go up with three Hunzas to Camp II, prepare a route to Camp III and, if possible, establish a camp there at once. Their attempt on the day after their arrival at Camp II to push on up Mani Peak, however, met with little success. Everything went well enough up the E. ridge to the base of Mani Peak II's summit structure (Mani has four separate summits along its comb-like crest), but they were driven back by the extraordinarily steep summit slope, nearly 700 ft. high. Pauer and the three Hunzas were all suffering from the altitude by then. Mandl and Ebner moved up to Camp II on July 6 and Hammerschlag joined them in a three-man attempt on the ice wall, but this also failed. It was obviously necessary to pitch a tent at its foot if the wall were to be dealt with effectively. Camp II lay too far below to serve as a useful point of support; the time taken to reach the foot of the wall was excessive.

The avalanche-swept route between base camp and camp I on Haramosh La. D= midway camp, 13,780 ft.Photo: H. Roiss

The avalanche-swept route between base camp and camp I on Haramosh La. D= midway camp, 13,780 ft.Photo: H. Roiss



Camp I, 15,750 ft., Looking towards Haramosh, 24,270 ft. camp IV, 19,685 ft., is situated to the left of the letter g (upper centre). Photo: H. Roiss

Camp I, 15,750 ft., Looking towards Haramosh, 24,270 ft. camp IV, 19,685 ft., is situated to the left of the letter g (upper centre). Photo: H. Roiss



On July 7, I took two more Hunzas with me and followed the others up to Camp II. The liaison officer was sick and remained at Camp I. Pauer and Ebner, like their three Hunzas, were sick, too ; there was nothing for it but to send them all down to Camp I together. We had not got much further on Mani Peak ; the weather alone had until now provided an agreeable feature. Hammerschlag, Mandl and I wanted to get to grips with Mani Peak, taking with us the two Hunzas I had brought up. The next day turned out bad, so we had to sit around all day in the ice-caves of which Camp II also consisted. The two Hunzas were soon feeling the altitude and had to be sent down. Eight out of our eleven men were now sick. Fortunately the bad weather confined itself to a single day. On July 9, we three 'survivors' started off for Mani Peak. At about 6 o'clock we reached the foot of the summit-wall of Mani II, but in view of the exceptionally tough obstacle it presented, we decided to try another way first. We climbed Mani Peak I in the hope of being able to traverse over it down into the hollow between the Mani Peaks. Unfortunately our hopes were dashed ; there proved to be no way down. The only possible way was, after all, the fearfully steep wall of Mani Peak II. We were very depressed as we returned to camp, having wasted so much energy. The only ray of light was that Pauer had come up again, feeling a little better.

Once we had pitched a tent at the foot of the wall, Mandl and I moved in and went to work with all the determination we could muster. On the first day we gained three rope-lengths of height. We were dead tired as we roped down to the tent in the evening. We had spent the whole day hanging on to ropes and pitons. The next day at 5 a.m. we were hanging on again to the ice-wall. We struggled upwards at enormous effort, employing artificial technique. Pauer and I bner, who was now somewhat better, came up from Camp II and helped us to haul the loads up. It was tough work achieving the slightest progress ; as we toiled, the sun threatened to roast us and we suffered intensely under the high radiation.

It was on the third day that we reached the top of Mani Peak II. Once again we had begun at 4 a.m.; we were hanging from the ice- wall by the time the first deep-red rays of sunlight touched the summits of K2, Broad Peak, Hidden Peak and our old adversary Gasherbrum II. The ice was fantastically tough water-ice, almost vertical. We had to fight our way up it foot by foot; it usually took about half an hour to fix a piton. The exposure was terrific ; looking down between our legs, we could see the glaciers on the south side of Haramosh and patches of green in the valley 7,000 ft. below. A few feet more of struggle, and we were up. There is an immense joy in fighting one's way up, relying only on one's own strength and that of one's companions.

I was still half a rope's length below the summit-cornice, thrusting yards out into thin air. I would gladly have accepted Mandi's offer to take over the lead, but it just wasn't possible. There was no room to let him pass. I was hanging from a piton ; my cramponed feet, trying to find a foothold, kept sliding off the ice. The distance to the cornice diminished foot by foot; first thirty feet, then twenty- five, then twenty. I found a little crack in the ice and jammed my axe into it; it was the first firm hold for ages. I wanted to tell Mandl, but I couldn't make a sound, I was too parched. He shouted up to call it a day. It was only a few feet, but I had had enough. I hammered my axe as far into the crack as it would go, joined two ropes around it and roped down. Half-way down the face I sat with Mandl on a little stance to rest, for I was dead-beat. Nearly 300 ft. below stood the tent; we tied three ropes together to make the distance and went winging down in a very few minutes.

The next morning we made a hole in the cornice and stood on the summit of Mani Peak II. at about 20.670 ft, Ebner and Hammerschlag came up too From Camp II, but Pauer was still altitude-sick. Together, we roped loads up over the ice-wall. Then Mandl and I dragged them over the summit of Mani II and roped them down into the hollow between the Mani Peaks, There, at a height of 20,340 ft., we sited our Camp III. Mandl and I occupied it on July 15. Hammerschlag stayed down at the tent below the ice- wall ; he was not feeling quite tit, but wanted to stay in support. Ebner and Pauer were feeling unwell, and they had to go down to Camp I.

During the day it was unbearable in our ice-hollow ; the sun simply scorched the tent and we tossed and turned inside, half parched. At last towards evening it cooled, and we climbed Mani IV, 21,160 ft., reaching the summit at about 8 p.m., to reconnoitre the continuation of our route to Haramosh. What we saw was not exactly cheering. The connecting ridge stretched away towards Haramosh for over four miles, with numerous steps to be climbed on the return journey, some of them quite considerable. It could become a trap if the weather deteriorated ; but it was a risk we would have to take, for there was no other possible way of climbing the mountain.

THE ROUTE TO HARMOSH FROM NEAR CAMP I ON HARMOSH LA, 15,750 FT., SHOWING UPPER CAMPS AND MANI PEAKS.

THE ROUTE TO HARMOSH FROM NEAR CAMP I ON HARMOSH LA, 15,750 FT., SHOWING UPPER CAMPS AND MANI PEAKS.



By contrast, the evening scene was of exquisite beauty. To the south, above the Indus valley, Nanga Parbat soared like some mighty castle of the Grail. To the north, Rakaposhi raised its peak like the roof of a church. Eastwards, stood all the great and wonderful summits of the Baltoro. The sky seemed to be on fire above the glorious mountain ranges. It was a picture which would have come out as a trashy daub if one had tried to record it on canvas. We were brought back to reality by the cold, and we climbed down to Camp III with chattering teeth. As we lay in our sleeping bags, our thoughts were fully occupied with the venture on which we would be starting in the morning. Our aim was to get to the summit and back in three days. We were full of confidence. All we needed was that the weather should hold.

The drumming and rattling of our tent roof had us sitting up in the middle of the night. It was snowing-hard! The wind was driving ice-crystals against the tent with such fury that it sounded like a drum-roll. We looked at the time: half-past twelve. So much for our plans today . . . We spent two days up at Camp III, but the weather did not once improve, so we had to go down. We reached the site of the tent in a howling blizzard ; luckily we located it and were able to dig it out of the masses of fresh snow. Hammerschlag had gone down. We found fresh gloves and fought our way down to Camp II, of which we could just see traces. We were compelled to go on further and we were dead tired by the time we reached Camp I.

We were very glad to be under cover again. Yet the weather kept us busy enough, even down below. We were continually having to clear the tents of snow and to mend the damage done by the storms. We had at first hoped that it was only a transient bad-weather period, but Radio Pakistan told us that the monsoon had broken prematurely. We were soon to have direct proof of it. For 2 weeks the tempest raged, and gigantic masses of snow turned our lives to bitter agony. Our objective, the summit of Haramosh, had not been reached We definitely did not intend to yield to Nature's forces, for we had just one chance left to us. Even during the monsoon, there are always stretches of a few fine days. Our hopes were fixed on that: wr were going to use one of them. At the beginning, the only place in which one could hope to survive was one's sleeping bag.

We saw the Hunzas only once a day. when they came to fetch their rations. When the storm reached a high pitch of fury, we could hear them praying to Allah Ihey did nothing themselves to ensure their own safety, they simply cowered, terrified, in their tent. We had to force them to clear the snow from the roof and to repair guy-ropes and poles.

Apart from our anxiety for our tents, our whole interest lay in weather reports. We listened in not only to Radio Pakistan, but to every station in Asia which we could pick up. On July 27, New Delhi announced a temporary diminution of the monsoon. Our hopes rose; in three to four days this recession could be operative up here. Here was our chance. And, actually, on July 31 the sun put in an appearance for the first time in 16 days. We immediately decided to push forward the very next day on a new assault, without waiting for the snow to settle. It was a risk, for after so many days of snowfall it is not only exhausting to wade up through chest- deep snow, but the steep parts of the climb are in an extraordinarily avalanchy condition.

During the night, All-India Radio announced a fresh advance of the monsoon. So we had at the most three to four days' reprieve. We could just hope to reach the summit during that time, but the return . . .? All the same, we decided to chance it. We couldn't wait any longer, for our tents would finally have to be struck at the most in a fortnight.

On August 1 at 3 a.m., the whole party of five sahibs, the liaison officer and five Hunzas moved off for Camp III. We ploughed our weary way up through Ihc deep snow for hours on end. It took us eight hours to reach the place where Camp II had once been ; several feet of snow covered the entrances of our ice caves. Clearing them with shovels was a long, tiring job. They were no longer fit for habitation, and we were too tired to build new ones ; so we simply put up three tents, recovered our stores out of the caves and crawled into our sleeping bags. The next morning, before we could move on towards Camp III, we had to send two Hunzas and the liaison officer, all suffering from the altitude, back to Camp I. Once again we were losing three working-units just at a moment when we needed every single man we could muster.

The climb to Camp III meant a renewal of the same old martyrdom. We heaved our way up the steep north face of Mani Peak through bottomless snow, fearful at every moment of dislodging an avalanche or being buried by one. We reached the east ridge without mishap and by the time the sun was getting up over the Baltoro we were at the foot of Mani II's summit-wall. Here again it took us hours of probing and digging before we located and cleared the tent. Our three Hunzas complained of headaches and we had to send them down. Roping nine loads up the 700-ft. ice-wall to the top of Mani II was heavy and exhausting work. Each rucksack took about half an hour. From the top each of us dragged two of them with him and went gasping wearily down into the hollow where lay Camp III. Here, too, everything had disappeared under feet of drifted snow, which meant more probing and digging.

Ascent route and mani Peaks seen from shoulder of Haramosh. Z=caprice peak, 20,340 ft., leading to camp IV.  Bachground left, rakaposhi; right,k2 and the gasherbrums. Photo: H. Roiss

Ascent route and mani Peaks seen from shoulder of Haramosh. Z=caprice peak, 20,340 ft., leading to camp IV. Bachground left, rakaposhi; right,k2 and the gasherbrums. Photo: H. Roiss



Haramoshi seen from the top of Mani Peak IV, 21,160 ft. The Intervening ridge is over 4 miles long. L4= camp IV, 19,685 ft. G= upper Pleateau, 19,030 ft. S= shoulder, 22,640 ft. Photo: H. Roiss

Haramoshi seen from the top of Mani Peak IV, 21,160 ft. The Intervening ridge is over 4 miles long. L4= camp IV, 19,685 ft. G= upper Pleateau, 19,030 ft. S= shoulder, 22,640 ft. Photo: H. Roiss



It was late in the afternoon before we got the much-needed rest we had earned. By then Hammerschlag and Ebner were complaining of headaches. How we hoped that they would be fit again by the morning, or at least sufficiently restored to be able to help with the carrying of loads ; for we would have to place one more camp somewhere along the ridge which connects Mani Peak and llaramosh. And every pound we didn't have to carry ourselves would mean a tremendous easing of the labour. Only Mandl and I were completely fit now ; Pauer, too, was complaining of symptoms. I Ihner got worse as night drew on ; there seemed little hope that he would be able to lend a hand next day. Our doctor by now had diarrhoea as well as headache. It was the story of the first attempt all over again ; we were laid low by mountain-sickness. What an end to our great hopes that all five of us might get to the summit. lnshallah\ There is only one certain cure for mountain-sickness: get down the mountain!

We crawled out of our sleeping bags at 5 a.m. on August 3. As foreseen, Ebner was right out. Hammerschlag felt pretty low, but said he was prepared to help breaking a trail to the top of Mani IV. Pauer felt sufficiently improved to want to come with us. We packed our rucksacks gloomily and we were sorry that Ebner and Hammerschlag couldn't come along. Their absence would also mean that we would have to hump heavier loads and do more arduous trail- breaking. In spite of every conceivable economy, we were left with three enormous packs, far heavier than our worst fears. We reckoned it would take three days to the summit and so we needed at the least a tent, three sleeping bags, a petrol stove, provisions and fuel, a change of clothes, photographic equipment, 200 ft. of rope, and ironmongery. We couldn't leave a single thing behind, because we were going into a mouse-trap, as we had christened the way to Haramosh, and if the weather were to turn bad, the way back out of that trap would become a fight for life. We also knew we had at the most a day or two of fine weather to play with. We were starting out on a race against time.

By 7.30 a.m. we were on the summit of Mani IV. Here Hammerschlag said good-bye and we started off on the long; ridge towards Haramosh The first few hundred feet were not difficult and we made rapid progress, though the heavily corniced ridge dictated great caiv Time and again we had to climb up and then down again ; each time it meant that on the way back we should have to regain every foot of height we lost on the way out. We were able to turn one or two steps in the ridge by exposed traverses to the north. One rocky step, which we named 6 The Little Moor's Head ', called for a descent on the doubled rope. While I was negotiating the descent I had the misfortune to fall into a crevasse, ripping open my rucksack in the process. Finding and re-assembling its contents was a tedious and tiring job.

Some hours after leaving Mani IV we came to a col at about 19,350 ft. The next rise in the ridge was impossible, but we turned it by climbing down a little on the northern side. After that we went up over the top of a snow dome at about 20,340 ft. We named it Caprice Peak, for we later found out that we could have turned this feature, too.

Early in the afternoon, after disposing of many steps and cornices in the ridge, we found ourselves on a second col at about 19,685 ft. We were almost too tired to stand, utterly exhausted by the weight of the packs we were humping, the endless succession of ups and downs and the great length of the ridge. So we decided to place Camp IV here, and climbed down a few feet into a hollow where we could erect the tent. Then we lay for hours, restlessly tossing and turning in our bags. We could not eat a morsel ; all tluit our parched throats demanded was liquid.

During the evening, yellow clouds, the first heralds of the monsoon's fresh advance, showed up on the horizon. If only the weather would hold for one more day! All through the lonp night hours sleep was impossible. In the first place, we kept listening anxiously to the organ-notes of the wind ; secondly, we were afraid of over-sleeping. At 00.10 hrs. on August 4 we could stand it no longer, and decided to push on again. Shivering with cold, we got together our mass of stuff by the light of our torches. Our boots were frozen stiff and getting them on was a special torture. Soon after 1 a.m. we were out in the moonlit night. The cold positively hurt. We had to lose about 700 ft. in height along an ice-trough which led to the foot of Haramosh's summit-structure. We moved on for hours across the great plateau which lies at about 19,030 ft. between huge icefalls glinting supernaturally beautiful in the moonlight. Then at last the sun came up to shed its first light on the peaks of the Karakoram and everything all around us began to glitter ; we halted, in spite of the intense cold, unable to gaze our fill on the beauty of the scene. The play of colour and light was altogether too beautiful, but we knew it presaged the bad weather we feared so much.

The last few feet to the summit: 2 p.m., August 4, 1958. Photo: H. Roiss

The last few feet to the summit: 2 p.m., August 4, 1958. Photo: H. Roiss



At about 5 a.m. we were at the foot of Haramosh's East ridge at nearly 20,670 ft. The summit was still 3,600 ft. vertically above us. We reckoned it would take us another eight to ten hours. We encouraged each other and pushed on as quickly as we could. It was turning into a real race against time. We hoped that the spirits of Haramosh would for a change turn more benign ; until now they had done nothing but vent their spite on us.

Four hours later we were on the ‘Shoulder' of Haramosh at 22,640 ft. All the peaks around us were wrapped in cloud ; Haramosh alone stood up before us like a reef in the ocean. The route was less steep here, but no easier, for we had to stamp our way through friable crust; we were glad to be on the steeper surge of the ridge beyond, where the snow was firmer. Foot by foot we drew nearer to the huge mushroom of ice just below the summit which we had christened the 6 whipped-cream rollThe high wind and exposure were getting us now. At times we dared only to crawl forward, for fear of being blown away into the abyss.

It wasn't only the gale, though, which made us crawl; we were utterly exhausted. Every five or six steps the leader fell down, the second man took over for the next few yards, and was then relieved by number three. We gained ground, though appallingly slowly it seemed to us. Presently we were only a few hundred feet from the cream-roll, which was not as terrible an obstacle as we had gauged it to be. Much more terrible was the raging tempest and our own weariness. We had climbed over 4,000 ft., in twelve hours of uninterrupted effort. Over the roll we went, on to the short ridge which alone separated us now from the summit. Staggering rather than walking, we reached Haramosh's 24,270-ft. summit safely at 2 p.m., thirteen hours after leaving Camp IV. Drained of breath but unspeakably relieved, we threw ourselves down in the snow. There was hardly room for the three of us. We were much too tired to enjoy the pleasure of having succeeded. All we wanted was some air and a little rest.

After a time we shook hands and fastened the pennants of Pakistan, whose guests we were, and of Austria to an ice-axe. We left a small wooden cross for the two British climbers who lost their lives on the mountain in 1957,5 and enclosed the facts and date of our climb in a small tin canister. Our rest on the summit was by no means comfortable, the tempest raged about us and tatters of cloud surged up to engulf us. The spirits, however, were kind again ; it cleared for a few minutes, enough to allow us to take pictures. While we were photographing, the gale snatched the Austrian pennant and bore it away into the unknown-a small, gladly-granted tribute to the spirits of the mountain.

There was nothing more to keep us up there. Our rest had lasted less than a quarter of an hour ; then we gladly turned our faces down the mountain again. The clouds grew thicker and thicker, as did the snow, which had set in with fantastic suddenness. Now we knew it was indeed a matter of life and death. The monsoon broke upon us in its full fury; the spirits only seemed to have waited for their chance to avenge the profanation of their mountain. The tracks of our ascent became gradually less recognizable until we were finally stumbling down in a grey emptiness, fighting the storm with every ounce of our strength. We were not going to let ourselves be wiped out as easily as all that! We kept on finding traces which confirmed that we were on the right route. The thought that the ridge fell away on either side for many thousands of feet gave me the horrors. We fought our way downwards for hours towards the safety of our tent. In due course we left the 3,600 ft. of the East ridge behind us and reached the great plateau ; here the wind was a little less fierce and at times we could even see a few yards ahead.

At about 6 p.m. we had reached the lowest point in the day's descent. Now we had to get up some 700 ft. to the tent. It wns sheer agony. Wecould no longer stand, but crawled forward on our knees or on our bellies ; frequently we just lay there, utterly exhausted. We could see the tent above us, at first 150 ft., then 100, then 70 ; it just didn't seem possible to get there. Our progress grew slower and slower, our halts for rest longer and longer. We crawled into the tent somewhere around 8 p.m. We had been under way for 19 hours, during which we had been up and down 6,000 ft. We hadn't an atom of energy left. We were speechless, our throats were dry and burned like fire ; we had not eaten anything for two whole days. Our exhaustion, the raging of the storm, our anxiety about the remainder of the return journey, all these conspired to rob us of rest. We drank endless quantities of tea and fruit-juice; we drank till our stomachs ached, but our thirst was unquenchable. The gale never for a moment ceased to whip the ice-crystals against the tent, but we hardly heard it. We weren't going out again today ; and tomorrow-well, tomorrow was another day . . .

We would have liked to have slept through the next day or at least enjoyed a longer lie-in, but we had to get on down. We were in real danger of having our retreat cut off. We began to get ready at about 5 a.m. We felt as if we could only move in slow-motion. Packing up took an hour and a half. We took only the bare necessities, leaving the tent, the stove and the fuel behind. Even then our packs were heavy enough for our present condition. We managed the few feet up to the crest of the ridge quite well, but there we met the full fury of the storm. We could barely stand upright, but we had to keep moving. We simply had to ignore the icy needles which the tempest drove into our faces. It was a simple question of keeping on and on and on ; or else death would have us.

Wearily we dragged our limbs over cornices and gendarmes, along the route we had covered two days earlier in the opposite direction. Every ascent we managed to accomplish demanded a prolonged rest. We just fell down in the snow. The effort required to get to our feet again with our packs made heavy demands on our strength and determination. We now had to get up all the pitches which we had descended on the rope by means of difficult and exhausting rock-climbing. Not a stitch on us was dry ; every inch of our clothing was frozen stiff as boards. Our will to survive mastered our weariness and failing powers ; otherwise we could never have moved ahead, rope's length by rope's length. This time we left Caprice Peak to our left and toiled onwards towards Mani Peak over gigantic cornices. After six hours we reached the 19,350 ft. col. From there it was 1,800 ft. up to Mani IV, all of it exposed again to the full intensity of the storm. We crawled forward on our bellies. Six hours later, we crawled over the summit of Mani IV and lay there for some time. We had escaped from our 6 mouse-trap '!

The tent must be about 700 ft. below. We wanted to attract the attention of our team-mates by shouting, but we couldn't produce a single sound. It would have been grand if they had come up to meet us, lake our loads, help us: we crawled on down. At last we saw the npex of a tent sticking out of the snow ; there was no movement, no sound. Then at last we realized that our companions had gone down. Their altitude-sickness must have got worse, or they would have waited for us. We threw off our packs, left them lying where they fell, crawled into the tent and brewed masses of hot drinks. The torturing, unquenchable thirst worried us more than the bitter cold. We could not eat: how long would our emaciated bodies stand the exertions we were inflicting on them ? Our night at Camp III was about as uncomfortable as it could be. We could not sleep, but there were times when we could stretch at full length foi a bare quarter of an hour. We had to get up several times to get rid of the mass of snow on the tent.

On August 6, we packed our rucksacks and went up to Mani II. We were each of us carrying two packs now. We were not quite clear how we proposed to carry on doing so, with one on our back and one on our chest. Our idea was to fetch down as much as we could from Camp III safely, for who knew whether we would ever have another chance of coming up again ?

It took us rather more than an hour to get up Mani II. The ropes down the ice-wall were completely snowed under. We told ourselves that we had already escaped down this route once in appalling weather, so it must go a second time. We roped down into the unseen void, flung about by the storm, our gauntlets in tatters, our hands bleeding. My nose was bleeding, too-I had fixed my second rucksack in front of me on a snaplink in the rope and kept on getting its full weight bashed into my face. It required a terrific effort of strength and will-power not to be hurled off the rope. In .the end we were all safely at the bottom, and so were all our six loads. It had taken close on three hours. Mandl and I left one rucksack each there, Pauer both of his. One of them contained his 35 mm. camera from which he had never parted before.

On we went down Mani's East ridge. We kept on having to stop, to let the cloud tatters part, so that we could find our bearings. After hours of nerve-racking struggle, we reached the site of Camp II. There was not a trace of the camp itself. It was nil snowed under. Another hope had been shattered ; there was no shelter to be found here. We would have to go all the way down to Camp I.

Hours passed before we reached the saddle of the Haramosh La Once again we couldn't lit id out tents. We kept on crossing and re crossing our own tracks. It was enough to drive lis to despair. Were we going to have to bivouac after all, perhaps thirty paces from the tents ? The last glimmer of daylight revealed a lent, and we fell stumbling into the arms of our team-mates. It was six days since we left here-six days that had eaten up our last ounce of strength. We could not have gone any further. Now all those exertions lay behind us. We were safe.

At first the joy of our companions and their congratulations on our successful climb passed over our heads. We could tell them nothing, moreover, in answer to all their questions. We were dead- beat. It was days later-days during which the tempest continued to rage outside the tent-that we first enjoyed our own success. We slept, we ate, we drank. Gradually time softened our struggles and exertions away, leaving us the memory of our thrilling experience on Haramosh.

On August 9 and 10, we tried to salvage further loads from Camp II ; bad weather prevented us from doing so until the 18th, when we also retrieved the packs from the foot of the ice-wall. By the 21st, we had all our loads safely down at Kutwal Sar. We moved on from there to Sasli on the 23rd. On the 25th, we drove to Gilgit in jeeps.

We wanted to do the return trip by road in jeeps instead of flying out. We hired three vehicles and covered the 300-mile stretch in an exciting day-and-night-journey lasting 48 hours. The route lay down the Gilgit river to its junction with the Indus, then down the Indus to the Rakhiot Bridge ; this we crossed, and the road then lay through the Babusar nulla to the 13,780-ft. Babusar Pass ; thence down the Kaghan valley through Naran, Balakot and Abbotabad to Rawalpindi, where we arrived on August 31.