Himalayan Journal vol.22
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.22

Publication year:
1960

Editor:
Dr K. Biswas
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. INDIANS ON MOUNT EVEREST, 1960
    (BRIGADIER GYAN SINGH)
  3. AMA DABLAM, 1959
    (J. H. EMLYN JONES)
  4. ANNAPURNA II, 1960
    (Lt.-Col. J. O. M. ROBERTS)
  5. DHAUL AGIRI, 1959
    ( DHAUL AGIRI, 1959)
  6. DHAULAGIRI, THE 'WHITE MOUNTAIN': A CHRONICLE OF THE 1960 EXPEDITION
    (KURT DIEMBERGER)
  7. THE ASCENT OF MASHERBRIJM
    (THOMAS F. HORNBEIN, M.D.)
  8. YUGOSLAV EXPEDITION TO TRISUL GROUP, 1960
    (A. KUNAVER)
  9. SIKKIM, 1960
    (H. V. R. IENGAR)
  10. ACROSS THE INNER LINE
    (ANNE DAVIES)
  11. SURVEY OF KASHMIR AND JAMMU, 1855 TO 1865
    (COLONEL R. H. PHILLIMORE, C.I.E., D.S.O.)
  12. WANDERING IN THE HIMALAYAS
    (FUKATA KYUYA)
  13. A SMALL EXPEDITION TO GANESH HIMAL
    (P. J. WALLACE)
  14. NORTH-EAST OF POKHARA
    (GORDON JONES)
  15. DISTEGHIL S AR, 1960
    (GUNTHER STARKER)
  16. THE ASCENT OF TRIVOR
    (WILFRID NOYCE)
  17. HIMALAYAN SCIENTIFIC AND MOUNTAINEERŽING EXPEDITION, 1960-61
    (NORMAN HARDIE)
  18. A HIGH WALK IN THE CENTRAL HIMALAYA
    (A. D. MODDIE)
  19. ASCENT OF NOSHAQ
    (DR. YAJIRO SAKATO)
  20. OBITUARY
  21. REVIEWS
  22. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1959-60

NORTH-EAST OF POKHARA

GORDON JONES

This note is merely a follow-up to part of Mr. B. R. Goodfellow's article 'North of Pokhara' in H.J., Vol. XVIII. It refers to ground probably also covered by the German Nepal Expedition of 1955, but it is not quite clear from their account (H.J., Vol. XX, p. 77) which way they went in this region.

In September, 1957, I was in Pokhara on annual leave with a free fortnight ahead of me. On the 18th I set off with one Gurung, cook-porter, from Pokhara, heading for the Namun Bhanjyang, aiming to see how far I could get in the limited time available.

We proceeded directly to Siklis, arriving on the third day out, but, contrary to Goodfellow's experience there in 1953, caused no consternation and were regarded with only a mild and friendly interest. In the meantime the German and Japanese (Manaslu) teams had no doubt accustomed the villagers to foreigners. I did not need to use my letter of authority from the Bara Hakim (Governor) of Pokhara District. We were certainly not forbidden to go further, and next day went on down to cross the Madi Khola. On the map the track is shown on the east side of the Madi's eastern tributary, but by now that track was not in use, probably having been destroyed by landslides. The present track lay past the three-house hamlet of Bhakra Kharki straight up the steep and very long ridge between this tributary and the main upper Madi. Owing to the low level of the river this hillside is very extensive, and formed our longest and most tiring ascent of the trip. At the end of a full day out from Siklis we were still in the jungle and bivouacked for the night (without water), reaching open country at midday next day.

The ridge was topped by open hill pasture almost overhung by the tremendous south face of Point 22,921. With sheer ice cliffs all along its top edge, it was like cut Christmas cake. Avalanches frequently thundered down, particularly at night. We followed up the side of its nala over minor passes to further extensive pastures. I was intrigued by the shepherds' custom of leaving their fierce dogs to guard their huts, while the men and boys scrambled over the hillsides chasing the flocks-almost the exact opposite of sheep- farming practice in New Zealand. We continued up, trying to follow the supposed line of the map, but could find only goat tracks which faded out before reaching the steep parts. After a day lost here, and on the instructions of local shepherds, we followed a small stream east-north-east up a long valley, to cross a rocky pass over the Sunder ridge which runs south-east from the Lam- jung Himal. From here the track skirted several amphitheatres, gradually losing height, and then plummeted some hundreds of feet down an astonishing Jacob's Ladder of flagstones to a beautiful grassy alp, in a valley which fell straight down to the Marsyandi. This was very near the eastern end of the Lamjung Himal, although still on its southern side. The place was called Torju and was distinguished by a large overhanging rock providing a cave-like shelter big enough for about four. This meadow would be ideal for a rest camp, with a generous clear stream, a tiny lake, and fine views of Manaslu and Himalchuli. Even in September there were many flowers, mainly blue gentian, and small ferns.

After another lost day on precipitous grassy slopes, inhabited by pheasants, we went straight up the nala into a vast basin of moraine heaps like a great quarry, ringed by snow peaks. A little later the track turned due left up a slope steep enough for handholds, from the top of which we burst upon a view of the Dudh Pokhri, a lake whose milky blue was a distinct contrast with the blue of the sky. The track continued up some easy firm rock slabs, where grew some excellent specimens of Saussurea, and then disappeared over the edge of vertical rock towers.

At this point my companion said in English, 'Back straight to Pokhara', and I agreed. He was very willing and strong but not good at route-finding and seemed terrified of snow. Where the track went to I could not see, but presumed it followed the west wall of the basin round to a depression visible at its north end. Was this the Namun Bhanjyang?

We returned via the delightful village of Atigar to Pokhara, arriving twelve and a half days after setting out. If one knows the way, the 'cave' at Torju is four strenuous days away from Pokhara.

Weather was quite good throughout. Mornings were clear, with cloud on the peaks by about 10 a.m., while sunshine continued at lower levels. In the late afternoon there was often light rain, sometimes hail.

My main lessons were that the track to the Namun pass (that is, the only one which I could find, and which was confirmed by local shepherds) does not go uniformly north-north-east as the map indicates, but veers a long way east to surmount the Sunder ridge, and then from Torju proceeds in a north-westerly direction up to the Dudh Pokhri; and that it is used as far as Torju by shepherds but seemed very seldom used beyond that point.