THE PERPETUAL HILLS. By Hugh Merrick. Pp. 247.
lllus. Newnes, London.

Hugh Merrick is probably best known to readers of the Himalayan Journal for his excellent translations. The Perpetual Hills is a personal anthology of mountains written by a man who, while not of the company of great climbers, has nevertheless spent a lifetime among mountains and is in every sense a true mountain lover. The narrative is punctuated by a selection of his favourite quotations from mountaineering literature, and the choice extends to over 100 authors.

Hugh Merrick's direct acquaintance with the Himalaya is limited to a brief trek along the Singalila Ridge before the First World War. He regrettably had to turn down an invitation from Sir Francis Younghusband to join the first Everest Reconnaissance to write the press despatches and, although the opportunity to visit the Himalayas never came again, he must have read and studied practfcally everything that has been written and said about them.

This book is well produced and contains 32 pages of magnificent photographs, most of them by the author; a pleasing addition to one's mountaineering library.

V. S. Risoe



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Taylor. Messrs. Rigby Ltd., Adelaide. Price 37s. 6d.

Langtang Himal is a long way from Cooper's Creek in Australia. It is a long distance in more ways than one for any but the most devoted mountaineer—the path is strewn with hurdles not the least of which involves a passage through a labyrinth of Customs and Import Regulations, first in India, then in Nepal. Several booby- traps are laid in the form of bungling airline and transport agents. Peter Taylor had more than his fair share from ‘the catalogue of follies and frustrations', but came through his experience unscathed, thanks to his sense of humour and everlasting optimism.

Forty-two years old, and describing himself as a domiciled Englishman normally resident in Canada, but now living in Australia', Mr. Taylor has related events from his life prior to his first Himalayan expedition. He paints the scene of the Australian outback, his pre-Himalayan training climbs in the New Zealand Alps; slowly the final picture of Nepal Himalaya is sketched, first in black-and-white, then adding bits of colour to brighten up the canvas.

For a mountaineer, it all seems terribly amusing, Mr. Taylor's trials and tribulations. However, I have yet to come across a mountaineering book from which 1 have not learnt a good deal about the art and science of climbing this book is no exception. Mr. Taylor admits his faults frankly, for the benefit of the uninitiated. Between purely conversational tit-bits, he recollects for the reader some past experience which should not be repeated ; the best way to advise others is to describe one's own lucky escapes (sometimes not so lucky).

For the non-mountaineer the book is a most interesting travelogue—come to sunny Kathmandu, where most characters (foreign, of course) are ' oddballs'. The writing is chatty and possesses considerable wit—this man Taylor has led a pretty full life, quite apart from mountaineering.

What of Langtang II itself ? A hitherto unnoticed peak marked Point 21,592 feet in the Langtang Himal, a mere six miles east of Timure village in the Trisuli nullah, was selected, more for its proximity to Kathmandu than for anything else. As it turned out, it had a name ! The expedition was blessed with some excellent high-altitude Sherpas; calculating back, the successful climb took a surprisingly short time—eleven days after leaving Kathmandu, Mr. Taylor and Pasang Phutar III (the Sirdar) stood on the rocky summit while Pasang Sherpa went to the top alone a little later in the day—they had camped less than 600 feet from the top. On the twenty-second day they were back in Kathmandu, but the actual climb from Base Camp to the summit was a mere four days' work. A good example of a small mobile and technic cally efficient climbing party making a swift recce followed by a purposeful attempt which turned out to be in the right direction. A thoroughly readable book.

S. S. M.



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LIVING HIMALAYAN FLOWERS. By Sasuke Nakao. The introduction by Siro Kitamura, 1964, pp. 1-194, with 253 coloured photographic illustrations. Published by the Mainichi Newspapers, Tokyo, Osaka, Kitakyushu, Nagaya. First edition, 1965. Price Y8.500.

In his opening remarks under the beautiful and accurate photograph of Kangchenjunga seen from the north, the author rightly observes: ‘Symptoms of life begin on the rock screes, even in the domain of ice and snow. As the elevation lowers, the slants of the mountains and the valleys are more and more densely clothed by various kinds of flowers. The spectacle of plant life is open to everyone who seeks it on the roof of the world.' It is also true, as the author states in his opening remarks to the preface: ‘The Himalaya is the place where the flower-lovers shall never be disappointed when they travel for any purpose! 'The author aims’ to show the outline of the rich flower resources in the Himalaya and give the general readers the broad idea of how and what Himalayan flowers are'. His valuable collection of 253 magnificent coloured photographic illustrations of 160 genera, and a little over 200 species of flowering plants of 6 the great chains of mountains lying between the Indus and Brahmaputra Rivers, known as the Himalayas, including the world height of Mount Everest-8,848 m.'.

Most of the pictures were taken in the field by Professor Dr. Sasuke Nakao during his six Himalayan travels of 1952-1962. Some of the photographic illustrations have been reproduced in this illustrative volume, for the first time.

The plants collected by the Japanese botanists during 1952- 1953 were studied, and the results were published in Fauna and Flora of Nepal Himalaya, edited by H. Kihara, 1952-1953, pp. 73- 290 with 84 figures and 22 plates in 1955. In the present illustrative volume of Himalayan flowers, the majority of the flowering plants are from East Nepal, and a good number from North, South, Central and West Bhutan. Some of the interesting alpines of Swat Hindukush, Karakoram, Talbo and Gilgit, Biafo and Hispar glaciers in West Pakistan, but the height of Swat Kohistan Peak (5,980 metres) has not yet been challenged by the climber. This area is a more interesting floristic spot of drier sclerophyllous forest than the lower zone. The lithophyllous Arctic alpines of Sedum—Arenaria—Martensia—association are often found blooming in June by the side of Biafo Glacier. The rare interesting arctic species of Macrotomia euchromon Paulson, along with Sedum quadrifidum Pall., and S. crassipes HK. f. and Thorn., association occurs in spreading patches in the Dachigan on Hispar and Biafo glaciers of Karakorum, West Pakistan, between 4,000 and 4,500 metres. A few photographs of the flowers of Sikkim and Darjeeling hills of West Bengal have also been incorporated. It is rather curious that out of so many Prunus sp., only one solitary addition of a flowering twig of the common cherry Prunus carasoides D.Don, of Sikkim, Darjeeling, Nepal and Bhutan is represented and that too from Shillong, Assam only.

In dealing with the origin and distribution of Himalayan plants in the introduction, Professor Dr. Siro Kihara confirms the phyto- geographical observation recorded in Flora and Fauna of Nepal Himalaya, p. 76, 1955, as follows: ‘The long mountain range of the Himalayas is considered to constitute a long corridor between East and West Asia, which has been available for the migration of the temperate and warm-temperate plants, since in the south of the Himalayas, the climate is tropical, while in the north, there are the high Tibetan plateau and deserts of Chinese Turkistan and Mongolia. The Mediterranean and West Asiatic elements become more numerous westwards from Sikkim to Kashmir and Swat through Nepal, Kumaon, Garhwal, Kunawar, while Sino-Japanese elements become more numerous westward. We can find no abrupt change between western and eastern Himalayas '. But there are lacunae in such generalization as emphasized by Kitamura as a result of studies during the last hundred years or so. It has therefore rightly been stated, ‘Most of these plants are now believed to have migrated westward from West China, the older land to the Himalayas, the younger land, which has been raising since the cretaceous period, on the basin of Tethys Sea'. ' Besides there are many endemic species in the Himalayas'—particularly some of the species of Rhododendron and Primula contained in the book obviously being spared by grazing cattle as these genera are mostly poisonous to the domestic animals. Such generalization based on the field studies of the Japanese botanists goes a long way towards the solution of the most complicated problems of distribution, and the still more complicated problems of migration and endemism of the Flora of the East Himalaya extending across Assam and over the hills of North Burma. From the time of William Griffith (1812-1814), Buchanan Hamilton (1814-1816), Nathanial Wallich (1817-1845) to the time of J. D. Hooker (1848- 1849) during his botanical exploration in Sikkim Himalaya up till his publications of Flora of British India (1875-1897), and subsequently his sketch of the Flora of British India (1904) and his coadjutor C. B. Clarke's enormous collections and publications, especially his Subareas of British India (1898) supplemented by D. Chatterjee's theory of Central Himalaya, sufficient works have been done and voluminous literature are available. Moreover, since this period, a large number of monographic works on so many beautiful flowering Himalayan genera and species, and exhaustive accounts of the vegetation of the Himalayas, were published in the Annals of the then Royal, now Indian Botanic Gardens, Calcutta, Records of the Botanical Survey of India and other journals by Sir George King, Sir David Prain, Sir William W. Smith, F. Kingdon Ward, C. E. Lacaita, J. J. D. Llewelyn, J. S. Gamble, G. A. Gammie, O. Staff, Sir George Taylor, J. M. Cowan and K. Biswas, based on their field and herbarium studies. Moreover, a large number of new species, discovered and described in these and more recent works on the Himalayan flora, indicate changes in the trends of distribution, migration and endemism in the Flora of the East and West Himalaya. Many collections of Bhutanese plants by R. E. Cooper, F. Ludlow and G. Sheriff housed in the Herbaria of the British Museum (N.H.), London, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Edinburgh, are being worked out by Ludlow, Sheriff and the writer of this review, and recently by the workers of the Botanical Survey of India at the Herbarium of the Indian Botanic Garden, Calcutta. The new species of Primulas of Smith and Fletcher and 'Orchids of the Sikkim Himalaya' by G. King and R. Pantling, pp. 1-448, with text and 448 coloured illustrations of almost all the known species of Orchids of East Himalaya; Species of Pedicularis of the Indian Empire by Sir David Prain ; Epitome of the British Indian Species of Impatiens by Sir J. D. Hooker published from 1904 to 1906; Species of Rhododendron of the Rhododendron Society—1930; Biswas's New Gentians and Cardamines from the Himalayas published in Hooker's Icones plantarum and Journal of Botany, London, 1938, and Plants of the Lloyd Botanic Garden, Darjeeling, by Dr. K Biswas, 1940, pp. 1-478 and his Presidential Address before the Botany section of the Indian Science Congress Association in 1943, incorporating views of Sir David Prain, Sir William W. Smith and Captain Kingdom Ward regarding distribution of the Himalayan Flora with special reference to the East Himalayas, 1943, if taken into account would have thrown much light on highly complicated and interesting problems of ‘Origin, distribution, migration and endemism of the Himalayan Flora'. This subject has also been dealt with by the reviewer's voluminous work on Plants of Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalaya—in 3 volumes profusely illustrated with photos, pen and ink and coloured sketches of many species. The first volume of this flora is just out of the press. The remark in the second paragraph of the Introduction is, therefore, open to modification in consideration of the data available and results obtained from the field studies already published as mentioned above since Griffith, Wallich, Sir G. King, Sir D. Prain and other most illustrious superintendents of the Botanic Garden, Calcutta, the reviewer's predecessors and other distinguished botanists working on the Flora of the Himalayas, before the Japanese botanists came into the field from 1952 onwards and published their valuable works on the Flora of the Himalayas.

It would, however, be admitted on all hands that the voluminous contributions of the Japanese botanists incorporating systematically floristic works particularly on the lower plants along with those of the higher flowering plants undoubtedly advance considerably our knowledge of the Himalayan Flora as a whole.

The present illustrative work on the Himalayan Flora supplemented by the Fauna and Flora of the Nepal Himalaya and Plants of West Pakistan and Afghanistan reviewed by the reviewer in the Himalayan Journal, Vol. XXV, pp. 197-200, 1964, is a valuable supplement to our first-hand knowledge of the wonderful vegetation of the Himalayan mountain ranges. The set of coloured photographic illustrations taken on the spot with their natural colour is a unique publication of its kind. Some of the colours of the flowers, however, have not been registered correctly due obviously to the defective films or light reaction at higher altitude or perhaps to some defects during the process of developing and printing. It would have been a little more convenient for the botanists if the illustrations would have been arranged in classified order.

Nevertheless, the present admirable photographic illustrations of so many common, beautiful Himalayan flowering plants representing the entire ranges from east to west increase considerably our knowledge of the Himalayan Flora. Moreover, these beautiful sets of coloured photos will be a constant source of joy, inspiration and recreation to many mountaineers during strenuous climbs in the high hills. The coloured photography, though results of amateur photographers, will, as the author rightly stresses, ‘induce travellers in the Himalayas to contribute further works on the line of this bookThe relevant explanatory notes on the habitat, nature and structures of the flowers, syn-ecological and micro-ecological associations of the species and last but not the least notes on the economic and medicinal value of some of the plants pictured will prove to be extremely helpful not only to the botanists but also to all lovers of the wonderful flowers of the great Himalaya.

Mainichi Newspaper, Tokyo, deserves congratulations from all concerned with the Himalayan plants for printing such a splendid monumental work in such an attractive form.

K- Biswas



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CLIMBING DAYS. By Dorothy Pilley (Mrs. I. O. Richards).
Seeker & Warburg Ltd., 1965. Price 42sh.

This book was first published in 1935 and a second edition has been brought out in 1965. A lot of climbing and exploration have been accomplished during the intervening years and Mrs. Richards begins with a chapter entitled Retrospection where she has recorded the progress of women's mountaineering. Most of the book relates to climbing in the British Isles and the European Alps but there is one chapter of eleven pages with brief accounts of some climbs in the Rockies and of a trip from Darjeeling to the Guicha La in Sikkim. Although Mrs. Richards states that her Canadian, American and Himalayan adventures would fill another book one is left with a feeling of injustice that she hints at, but does not describe, climbs achieved in Japan, Korea, China, Ceylon, Turkey, Greece and Lebanon. For such a well-travelled person, one is still surprised that she followed on foot the trail from Tali in the Yunnan province of China to Bhamo in Burma. The reference to Deo Tibba as a notorious toughie sounds strange today. Kangchenjunga is treated with rapture and awe. This book should be attractive to those interested in the well-known climbs in Europe. There are several good illustrations, but also some of doubtful quality.

H. V. R. Iengar


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