1. Col. F. M. BAILEY, C.I.E.



Col. F. M. BAILEY, C.I.E.

Lieut-Col. Frederic Marshman Bailey, c.i.e., who died at his home in Norfolk in April 1967 at the age of 85, was an original member of the Mountain Club of India, and became a Founder Member of the Himalayan Club. Throughout his life he maintained a deep affection for the Himalayas.

During his adventurous career as soldier, explorer, secret agent, diplomatist and linguist—reminiscent of Sir Richard Burton—he survived many dangers and hazards, and his exploits make fascinating reading.

From Sandhurst he joined the Indian Army, and served with the 1903-1904 Younghusband Expedition to Lhasa and took part in the exploration of Western Tibet. In 1913 he and the late Capt. H. T. Morshead set out on a very hazardous journey through extremely difficult country to solve the mystery of the Tsangpo Gorges and to establish that the Tsangpo did in fact flow into the Brahmaputra. This journey is described in Bailey's book, No Passport to Tibet. They brought back much valuable information and natural history specimens including the celebrated Tibetan blue poppy named Meconopsis baileyi. Bailey was awarded the Royal Geographical Society's Gold Medal.

In the First World War Bailey served with the Indian Expeditionary Force in Flanders and Gallipoli, and during the latter part he was Political Officer in Iraq and subsequently in Persia. Then followed his mission to Russian Central Asia which is described in his book, Mission to Tashkent. Bailey had to go underground to avoid arrest by the newly established Soviets. He repeatedly had to change his identity, and his crowning success in the game of hide-and-seek in disguise was when he was recruited by the Bolsheviks and given the task of tracking down a British agent by the name of Bailey! After many adventures he finally escaped into Persia in 1920 to the great relief of all concerned who had had no news of him for several months.

After the war Bailey was Political Officer in Sikkim from 1921 to 1928, after which followed periods as Resident in Baroda, Resident in Kashmir and Envoy Extraordinary in Nepal. He retired from India in 1938.

Bailey was a personal friend of the late Dalai Lama and during his years in Sikkim he visited Lhasa more than once.

He assisted with the arrangements, including obtaining permission, for the early Everest Expeditions. In 1922 Bailey, accompanied by his wife, his mother-in-law, Lady Cozens-Hardy, and Capt. H. R. C. Meade of the Survey of India were the first Europeans to cross the Monla-Kachung La in Bhutan. They travelled through a part of the country previously unmapped, and a survey was carried out by Capt. Meade. The Hon. Mrs. Bailey and her mother were almost certainly the first European women to enter Bhutan.

Bailey was a keen naturalist and, during the course of his eventful career, found time to make many valuable observations of mammals, birds, butterflies and plants in Tibet and the Himalayas. Many specimens that he collected were deposited in the British Museum (Natural History) at various dates from 1912 onwards.

V. S. Risoe



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Sonam Gyatso, who died in New Delhi on April 22 last year, at 42, was the oldest man to have climbed Everest. During his 14 years of active mountaineering career, he had a large number of expeditions to his credit and was, undoubtedly, the most colourful personality on the Indian mountaineering scene.

I had the pleasure and privilege of climbing with him for a number of years. I first met him in October 1959 in Darjeeling, where we had all assembled for the pre-Everest trials to select the team for India's first expedition to Everest, scheduled for the following year. Two years earlier Sonam had gone to Nanda Devi missing the summit by sheer 500 feet, and, only a year earlier, he had stood on the summit of Cho-Oyu (26,867 feet). He was undoubtedly the most outstanding and well-established mountaineer amongst those assembled at Darjeeling. With his tall and sturdy figure, with a face like a rock and strength of a mountain he exuded confidence. He was extremely cheerful and friendly. At the very first sight we all liked him and knew that he was one of the most obvious choice for the Everest team.

Ever since 1959, Sonam and I have climbed together, almost every year; the trips included three expeditions to Mount Everest, one to Annapurna III and two to Rathong. After each trip I came to know Sonam more.

Sonam was born in November 1922 in North Sikkim, in village Kewzing, at a height of 5,500 feet, at the foot of Kangchenjunga. His father, Rinzing Ngodup, was then working as a postal clerk in the Kewzing Post Office. The name of Sonam Gyatso—which means 4 occean of fortune'—was chosen by a Lama from the nearby monastery. From his very childhood Sonam was hardworking and adventure-loving. He used to take great interest in climbing trees and walking long distances. At the age of eight, Sonam was admitted into the Scottish University Mission Institute at Kalimpong. He did well in school except that he was weak in mathematics. He also took keen interest in football and athletics and was in the first eleven of the school team.

In 1941, when Sonam was still in school, he was married to Kunzang, the beautiful youngest daughter of Chewang Dorjee, a prosperous noble man from Western Sikkim. Marriage brought happiness but added responsibilities too. The following year when Sonam was to appear in his final school examination he was forced to discontinue his studies on account of domestic problems. Sonam was now able to secure a petty job in a village post office in Kalimpong at a small remuneration of Rs.15 per month. Every month on pay-day he handed over Rs.10 to his mother and kept only Rs.5 for himself. This job was to last only for a year. The following year he joined the Royal Indian Air Force. This, too, was short-lived and Sonam soon returned to Sikkim to take over the job of a teacher at Lachung in North Sikkim. As a teacher, Sonam worked hard but hardly had a year passed when his father persuaded him to move to Kalimpong to join him in his newly started cottage industry. The cottage industry did not make much headway and soon after Sonam took up another job of a salesman to a local store at Kalimpong.

Sonam's mountaineering career started in 1954, with the establishment of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. He was in the first batch selected for the Basic Mountaineering Training under Tenzing Norgay, the Everest Hero. Sonam showed great promise during the training and was earmarked for future expeditions.

Three years later, in 1957, Sonam was picked up by Maj. Jayal for his expedition to Nanda Devi, in which Sonam reached 500 feet short of the summit in miserable weather conditions. The following year, along with Sherpa Sirdar Pasang Dawa Lama, he climbed Cho-Oyu. In 1960, when the first Indian expedition to Mount Everest was launched, Sonam was one of its outstanding members. He was one of the three climbers who reached 700 feet short of the summit in raging blizzard. In 1961, Sonam was with me on Annapurna III when we both climbed the summit. In the autumn of 1961, Sonam led an expedition to Kangchenjau (21,603 feet), and succeeded in reaching the western summit which was hitherto unclimbed.

In 1962, Sonam was again with me on Everest. This time, Sonam, Hari Dang and I roped up together for the summit attempt. During the summit attempt, Sonam, Hari Dang and myself had to spend three nights at the highest camp, most of the time without oxygen.

In 1963, Sonam led a successful expedition to the virgin peak of Hathi Parbat (22,070 feet) in the Kumaon Himalayas. The same year he was selected to represent India at the International Meet of Mountaineers at Chamonix, France. During his short stay in France he climbed Mont Blanc. The following year he was once again with me on Rathong which he climbed along with ten other climbers who were now preparing for the third Indian attempt on Everest in 1965.

When Sonam Gyatso and Sonam Wangyal moved up to the last camp of Everest on May 21, the wind was blowing at over 100 km. an hour. It was inconceivable that anyone would attempt the summit during such aweful weather, but Sonam was a man made of different fibre. Accompanied by his three faithful Sikkimmese Sherpas he reached the last camp, and during this trip he was frost-bitten on his back and had to spend the night in great agony. They reached the summit on May 22 and the two Sonams spent almost an hour on it.

Sonam was undoubtedly the most remarkable mountaineer I have come across in my life. He loved mountains and really enjoyed each and every climb which came his way.

The real basis of his confidence was not only in his physical capacity, which undoubtedly was very high, but also in his deep faith in religion.

On most of the expeditions where Sonam and I were together, we shared the same tent. He used to get up early in the morning, and used to pray for about half an hour before starting the day's climb. This deep religious faith gave him the exceptional willpower and hope and enabled him to take every challenge and difficulty and even dangers cheerfully. This confidence and hope remained with him till the last days of his life. I was with him several times by his deathbed in the Military Hospital, Delhi. A couple of hours before he finally collapsed and died from the incurable disease, he had rallied round and addressing his wife Kunjang had remarked, 4 Why are you getting worried ? I am all right now. I shall get up soon.'

Although he is no more with us, his spirit will continue to live so long as there are mountains and his life and work will continue to inspire the youth of India for years to come.

M. S. Kohli

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