Himalayan Journal vol.28
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.28

Publication year:
1968

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. MALI-KA-PARBAT, KAGHAN VALLEY, 1967
    (GENE F. WHITE)
  2. THE MOUNTAINS OF MALANA
    (COLIN PRITCHARD)
  3. THE VALLEY OF REFUGE
    (DERVLA MURPHY)
  4. MUKARBEH, 1968
    (JOHN ASHBURNER)
  5. A HIGH WALK THROUGH LAHOUL, ZANSKAR AND JAMMU, 1968
    (YASHODA N. SINGH)
  6. NETHERLANDS HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION, 1967*
    (DR. J. A. NOORDYK)
  7. THE SECOND CZECH EXPEDITION TO THE HINDU KUSH
    (VLASTIMIL SMIDA)
  8. A RECONNAISSANCE INTO NORTH-EAST CHITRAL, 1967
    (GERALD GRUBER)
  9. THE LAMKHAGA PASS AND LEO PARGIAL *
    (SOLI MEHTA)
  10. PERAMBULATORS IN THE LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON
    (PETER STEELE)
  11. KOKTHANG, 1966
    (MISS PUSHPA ATHAVLE)
  12. THE THREE ASCENTS IN ROSH GOL VALLEY
    (KEI KURACHI)
  13. NORTH GARHWAL-HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION, 1968
    (SUNIL CHAUDHURI)
  14. BETWEEN ANJUMAN AND MUNJAN VALLEYS
    (WOLFGANG FREY)
  15. PAPSURA CLIMBED
    (ROBERT PETTIGREW)
  16. N.D.A. EXPEDITION TO THE KUMAON HIMALAYAS, 1968
    (FLT. LT. V. P. SINGH)
  17. THE MANCHESTER KARAKORAM EXPEDITION, 1968
    (J. T. H. ALLEN)
  18. A VISIT TO THE CHIANTAR GLACIER REGION, EASTERN HINDU KUSH, 1967
    (ALFRED LINSBAUER)
  19. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  20. OBITUARY
  21. BOOK REVIEWS
  22. LETTER TO EDITOR
  23. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1967-68

BOOK REVIEWS

AT GRIPS WITH JANNU. By J. Franco and L. Terray. Translated by Hugh Merrick. Pp. 192. Illus. Gollancz. London, 1967. Price 42s.

Three expeditions, two authors, and the ascent of a major mountain, involving technical difficulties of a degree that have seldom been surmounted in the Himalayas. The original French edition, Bataille pour le Jannu, appeared in 1965, and this is a welcome English edition translated with Hugh Merrick's usual skill.

French interest in Jannu dates back to 1955 when Franco's team, flushed with their success on Makalu, were seeking bolder objectives. Returning with their Sherpas to Darjeeling, they met Charles Evans and his party fresh from their success on Kangchenjunga; and there follows a very readable account of joint celebrations at the Planters Club. In his preface, Lucien Devies, President of the French Himalayan Committee, rightly defines 'progressive alpinism' as the pursuit of exploits that require grappling with unsolved problems; but he gives the French too wide a share of credit for innovation in the Himalayas. Devies readily accepted Franco's 'crazy' project for a French attempt on Jannu, which Tenzing had described as a 'ferocious giant'-a point which the reader will readily concede after a glance at the photograph facing page 32 ; but this reviewer does not share the opinion about Jannu's prominence in the overpowering company of Kangchenjunga viewed from Darjeeling.

The book is in two parts. The first, which describes the reconnaissance and first attempt, is by Jean Franco. The account of the ascent, achieved two years later, is by Lionel Terray. It is interesting to compare the two styles ; similar, because of a similar approach and background of the two climbers ; yet different: the one forthcoming and satirical, the other introspective and deadly serious. One might suppose that a book describing one of the most difficult climbs ever done in the Himalayas would be burdened with the details of a step-by-step account. In fact, each author devotes thirty-odd pages to a description of the actual battle with the giant; the rest of the book is an observant and human account of the events which make up an expedition, written in a style that manages to steer clear of flatness or boredom,

Involvement with the mountain began in 1957, when a three- man reconnaissance party was sent out in the autumn under Guido Magnone to estimate the size of the problem and to pinpoint the weak spots. Anticipating difficulties on the grandest Alpine scale in addition to serious objective dangers, a full-scale attempt was launched under Franco in 1959, with Terray as deputy leader and with a party of eight climbers, six of whom were amongst France's top professionals. Perhaps over-confidence, the feeling that there was no technical problem beyond the solution of such a party, led to a too hasty choice of a route on the S.W. face which, on the third day, was swept throughout its 6,000 feet height by a massive avalanche. The route finally selected, leading to the south ridge extended this strong team to the limit of their powers ; but was rendered safe for Sherpas by means of ropes of which about 10,000 feet were eventually attached to the mountain. At about 24,000 feet three of the toughest climbers, having gained 200 feet in a whole day's climbing, had to admit defeat. Both in 1959 and in 1962 on the second expedition, the French were lucky with their Sherpas who performed prodigious feats. How much was attributable to luck and how much to the skilled example of the climbers and their treatment of the men? By a happy compromise reached with the Kathmandu Association, both expeditions were able to handpick their Sherpas from Darjeeling and Solu Khumbu, seventeen in 1959 and thirty in 1962. Two of them including the young Wongdi, sirdar to both expeditions, reached the summit; Wongdi fit enough to disdain the use of oxygen.

With Terray as leader, six Frenchmen of the 1959 party were back in 1962, two of them for the third time. Terray had had a serious accident four months earlier ; and, discouraged by his poor form at the lower camps, feared his total incapacity for further high climbing. In fact, he blazed the very difficult trail to the top camp and was one of the nine Frenchmen to reach the summit. That he went on, later in the same year, to climb Chacraraju in the Andes and Nilgiri Parbat in N.W. Nepal is another story. It is clear that the 1962 party succeeded not because they were a more skilled team, or had better weather, but because benefiting from their previous experience their planning was more meticulous and their reserves stronger. Oxygen was used in the higher camps and it is pretty clear that no ascent would have been possible without it.

The aesthete's feeling for the mountains often breaks through the surface in Terray's writing, such as the moment on the summit I knew that for the rest of my life the memory of those transcendental minutes would be a treasury on which to draw for a ray of light or a shaft of joy when sadness, ugliness and the mediocrity of human existence encompassed me.'

The numerous photographs are well chosen; and sketches illustrate the route, which is easily followed-in an armchair. The book is an essential addition to the history of Himalayan mountaineering.

T. H. Braham

THE HIMALAYAS-A JOURNEY TO NEPAL. By Takehide Kazami. Published by Kodansha International Ltd.

A travel book for the lightest of reading, a clear sketch-map of the author's trek through Nepal and absolutely fabulous photographs in colour on beautiful art paper-all available at a ridiculously low price of $1-95 (I paid Rs.15-60 for the soft cover and Rs.22-50 for the hard cover).

Clearly the publishers have found a unique combination of the highest quality colour printing and economy. This volume (in the series 6 This Beautiful World') will be a best seller for the sheer joy of thumbing through the photographs.

The author has trekked in the Everest region and the territory north of Pokhara-the collection of pictures would rank him amongst the best mountain photographers in the world. The Annapurna and Dhaulagiri ranges figure prominently and some unusual angles of Churen, Ganesh, Jugal and Lamjung Himal have been taken. Flowers, village life and Nepali customs have all been vividly brought to life.

A thoroughly recommended publication-could we have some more for the Karakorams and the Hindu Kush?

Soli S. Mehta

CULTIVATED PLANTS AND THEIR RELATIVES. Edited

by Kosuke Yamashita. Pp. 1-364 {1965).

This book containing text, 39 photographs, route maps of Hindu Kush and Karakoram teams, itineraries and indexes is the result based on the Kyoto University Scientific Expedition to the Karakoram and Hindu Kush in 1955. The present volume is an addition to the following eight volumes already completed and published:

Vol. I. Cultivated Plants and their Relatives, edited by K. Yamashita, 1965.

Vol. II Flora of Afghanistan, edited by S. Kitamura, 1963.

Vol. III Plants of West Pakistan and Afghanistan, edited by S. Kitamura, 1963.

Vol. IV Insect Fauna of Afghanistan and Hindu Kush, edited by M. Ueno, 1963.

Vol. V Personality and Health in Hunza Valley, edited by K. Imanishi, 1963.

Vol. VI Zirni Manuscript, edited by S. Iwamura, 1961.

Vol. VII Geology of the Karakoram and Hindu Kush, edited by S. Matsushita and K. Huzita, 1965.

Vol. VIII Additional Reports, edited by S. Kitamura, and R. Yosii, 1966.

Volumes II-VII have already been published. The present volume contains the results of the investigations on cultivated plants and their relatives collected from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

Very important research was carried on by a team of mountaineers and scientists in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram. It has rightly been observed in the preface by Prof. Hitoshi Kihara as follows:

Since the advent of the eighteenth century, the eyes of European scientists were directed to the eastern hemisphere. Many visited the Near East and some of them came to Japan. Thus almost all scientific contributions concerning the Asian Continent have been done by Western scientists. It was high time for us to look at our neighbourhood from our side and to get acquainted with it from our own experience.

Until now seven volumes of the reports including the present one have been published. The series will be completed with the eighth volume, which will contain the further reports on the geological, botanical and zoological investigations.

It was mentioned in the preface to Fauna and Flora of Nepal Himalaya, FFRS is closely affiliated with the Academic Alpine Club of Kyoto University (AACK). Many of us are members of both societies. Therefore, there is no wonder that the projects were directed to high mountain ranges. K2 of Karakoram had been once the object of AACK. Accordingly, the members of FFRS have unanimously agreed to organize a scientific expedition to Karakoram, though the object of the party was not climbing high mountains. There are many peaks, 8,000 metres high above sea-level, and big glaciers which attract not only mountaineers but also geologists. Also there are people with whom we were not familiar. Especially we have been curious whether it is true or not that Hunza Valley is a Utopia, as all inhabitants seem to be there free from diseases. Sensational articles about this paradise appeared in many magazines and even in scientific books. Dr. Imanishi, who started his career as entomologist and specialized later in anthropology, is a member of both FFRS and AACK. He showed special interest in travelling and collecting anthropological materials together with his colleagues in Karakoram. Prof. Matsushita, a geologist, and his assistant accompanied him for geological surveys.

We found also reasons to include Hindu Kush into the area of our exploration. In 1954, Prof. Iwamura went to Afghanistan. He was interested in the Mughal tribes, probably descendants of soldiers of Chingiz Khan, who are said to have kept their old language until the present time. In his preliminary survey, he could obtain indications of the existence of such tribes. As to myself, I became gradually inclined to join this party in order to collect wheat and Aegilops from the viewpoint of the origin of our bread wheat.

As Aegilops squarrosa is now well known to be the donor of D-genome to common wheat, the study of this species became our most important task. This species is distributed in the area skirting Hindu Kush and Elburz, an area rich in many cultivated plants, namely wheats, vegetables, melons, fruit trees, etc. Collecting seeds of those various cultivated plants was also our task. So the scheme of the expedition became wide including Karakoram, Hindu Kush and Elburz.

We were very eager to observe the wild plants in their habitats and to collect the specimens. Prof. Kitamura, a well-known taxonomist specialized in Compositae, was entrusted with the determination of the Nepalese specimens collected by Dr. Nakao. At first it was rather difficult for him to identify the plants, many of them not being familiar to him. Later he could manage very well. In the meantime he found that c. 1,000 plant specimens from Tibet had been preserved in the National Science Museum of Tokyo. These specimens were collected and brought back by a Japanese Buddhist priest, E. Kawaguchi, who went to Tibet twice, in 1900 and 1914. The collection was made during his second visit. Since Kitamura was already familiar with Nepalese plants, he could easily identify the specimens from Tibet. He and his co-workers could determine 92 specimens belonging to seven families. Sixteen of them were new species. If these specimens had been examined immediately after the collection, 20 of them would have been new species.

The results of research reports including field investigation and laboratory work of far-reai hing value to science with special reference to applied aspects of investigation relating to agriculture, horticulture and fruit culture in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran have been comprehensively dealt with in this book. Possibilities of improvement of the cultivated crops by hybridization and cytogenetical investigation from wild varieties of these regions have also been indicated.

The subjects treated in these voluminous contributions are of very great value to human needs from nutritional points of view in spite of somewhat dry and barren ecological conditions in these zones with the background of high Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountain ranges. Nevertheless, these areas in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran, as far as can be judged, proved to be a highly interesting attractive belt and productive field in the neighbourhood of India for mountaineering and researches on geographical, geological, botanical, zoological and anthropological studies, the results of which are likely to throw more light on various problems of these mountain regions of the north-western boundary of India.

K. Biswas

THAT UNTRAVELLED WORLD. An Autobiography. By

Eric Shipton. Hodder & Stoughton. London, 1969. Pp. 278.

Illus. Price Rs.45.

About two years ago during discussions relating to an embryo expedition, I remarked to Eric Shipton that I had managed to make contact with him not without much difficulty. He replied in that quiet diffident manner of his that he had buried himself in the country to work on his autobiography. I knew at once that here was something really to look forward to ; and the book has satisfied my highest expectations. Although he acknowledges that the essence of a readable autobiography is the revelation of oneself, I suspect that he senses towards the last pages that he might have failed to carry this out wholly. And it is only on this score, this inability of the reader to see in sharp focus the image of the man projected through the pages, that I must confess to some disappointment.

But the story itself provides ample compensation. Details of his early life ; a backward lonely schoolboy; a diffident youth unable to enter university ; above all, the intense enthusiasm of a mountain explorer and traveller in Africa, the Himalayas, the Karakoram, Central Asia and South America. In an earlier book, he has described himself at the cross-roads in the early 1930s. Whether to seek the security of a settled existence ; or to indulge his passion for exploration, and thereby to forswear the indulgence and comfort that most men count as their natural right. Initial doubts and difficulties disappeared when his early exploits won recognition and fame. During the 1930s the Himalayan achievements of Shipton, mostly with Tilman as his companion, became legendary. But light, inexpensively-run expeditions were not adopted as a form of masochism or as a test of toughness-only as a means of achieving wider objectives unattainable by traditional methods. He was an innovator ; and his methods, revolutionary at the time, have continued to serve as a basis for many similar exploits. Despite a love of simplicity and of wild places, gregariousness and a fondness for company, rather than asceticism, are amongst his articles of faith. And his Conversation and sense of humour are amongst his many personal attractions.

Probably no one has had a closer acquaintance with Mount Everest than Shipton ; not only by his participation in four climbing expeditions ; but also in the wider exploration of the whole Everest region ranging from Tibet to Nepal. It is fitting that it fell to his small party in 1951 to pioneer the eventual ascent route, and to unravel the geography of the areas lying to the south and west of the mountain. This exploration opened up a flood of achievement, and there followed the richest decade in Himalayan mountaineering.

Shipton s removal from the Everest scene in 1953, to be followed by the break-up of his marriage, had a cathartic effect upon the shape of his future life. Though many essentials had changed, the explorer and traveller seemed ageless and unchanging. There were always new worlds to seek and to find ; and to approach in the same spirit as before, but in step with new ways and processes ; and on equal terms physically with men a generation younger.

Eric Shipton is one of the most distinguished explorers of the century. Measures in terms of physical and aesthetic satisfaction, few men can have reaped a fuller harvest in their chosen way of life.

The book is well produced and illustrated with useful maps appearing as end papers ; and I like especially the black and white line drawings used as chapter headings.

Autobiographies have a way of spelling finis to a career. In anticipation of fresh exploits to be recorded, let us hope that this one will prove to be an exception.

trevor braham