The Editor,
Himalayan Journal,
Calcutta, India.

Roberts CottonAssociation Ltd.,
Khanewat, West Pakistan,
May 29, 1964.

Shilla's Height


There has been a certain amount of correspondence in the Alpine Journal and elsewhere in the last few years about the height of this notorious mountain. Shilla will be forever linked with the legendary tale of the survey of India khalasi who, in an excess of enthusiasm during the routine field work, scrambled to the summit in 1860. He was credited with having climbed to 23,050 feet, and was congratulated on having achieved a height record, which was held for about 20 years.

However, when observed by us from Spiti in 1955 at a distance of eight miles, it seemed clear that Shilla's alleged height was suspect. Close research revealed that the height was calculated from a single intersection, and could not therefore be held reliable. I have heard now from our old and distinguished member, Col. R. H. Phillimore, that following official survey operations in 1963, the height of Shilla was found to be 20,050 feet. His Historical Records of the Survey of India, now under publication in Dehra Dun, will embody details of the latest survey.

Whilst it is gratifying to find that our 1955 observations are upheld, I must admit to some disappointment over the demolishing of an old legend. The error of calculation in no way diminishes one's admiration for the zeal and loyalty of the unnamed khalasi, who carried his signal pole to the summit. His salary, I understand, was six rupees per month.

Yours sincerely,
T. H. Braham


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