4. BERGE DER WELT (1968-69).




An expedition book—about a mountain of Himalayan proportions. McKinley, 20,320 feet, is the highest mountain in North America. Situated in Alaska at a latitude of 63 °N. it was only remotely accessible through dense sub-arctic tundra until 1932 when the McKinley National Park completed their roadway to a point on the north side of the range about 29 miles from the mountain. Nowadays it is more usual to airdrop climbers and equipment on to its glaciers, rendering possible climbing attempts in a matter of weeks rather than months. Mountain ascents in this group pose all, the logistical and psychological problems familiar to organizers of a major Himalayan expedition. The mountain was first attempted in 1903 ; but it was not until 1913 that it was first climbed ; and up to 1942 only three ascents had been made. Very severe weather conditions are caused by a combination of altitude and latitude; and at 18,000 feet during summer the warmest night temperature recorded by one climbing party was - 18 °F.

With advanced modern techniques and standards, coupled with exceptional air facilities, practically all approaches to McKinley have now been explored and climbed. Bradford Washburn has contributed a valuable article in the Mountain World (1956-57), with superb illustrations ; and has produced, with Swiss collaboration, a map of the massif. Much pioneer work has been done by him on the mountain ; and it was his party which made the first ascent in 1951 of the now well-known West Buttress route.

This book contains the story of the first winter ascent, by the West Buttress route. A party of three reached the summit at 7 p.m. in darkness on 28 February 1967 ; the air temperature was - 58 °F. A bivouac at 18,000 feet followed, where huddled into a tiny ice cave, the climbers survived six nights of storm with wind velocities of about 130 miles per hour, which combined with the air temperature of -54°, would be equivalent to -148 °F.

It is a story of tragedy as well as triumph. The expedition, a heterogeneous mixture of eight climbers from the U.S.A., New Zealand, Japan, Switzerland and France, endured many vicissitudes. On the third day out, one climber died in a crevasse; two days later another very nearly met the same end. Weak leadership, an ill-prepared mental attitude to the project and personal friction threatened to demolish the immense impetus required for success. In the ultimate triumph three men of exceptional stamina descended from the summit by their own strength after the physical disintegration caused by a storm which, their companions believed, had destroyed them.

It would be easy to pick faults in the conduct and strategy of the expedition. Many errors were committed, but nearly all of them are freely admitted; the writing is notable for its frankness. If the book must stand or fall as an adventure story, it will stand on the strength of its perception of human reactions in a crisis; the final test had revealed that it was the instinct for self-preservation that overrode all other human emotions. Whether or not, one may agree with its conclusions, the style is so vivid that I found the book difficult to lay down.




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In a tragically short life of 45 years, Sonam Gyatso—a son of the mountains of Sikkim—earned fame and many laurels as a climber with an impressive tally of Himalayan ascents, including Everest, to his credit. From all accounts Sonam had many lovable qualities, which made him a valuable companion and an asset on expeditions where his courage and determination enabled him to pack many successful climbs of major peaks within a decade. This biography, therefore, is a welcome tribute to the memory of a remarkable man whose story, from his simple obscure origins in an idyllic hamlet to his meteoric rise to eminence, needed to be chronicled.

The author's pride in his godson, whom he groomed in the Frontier Constabulary as several rapid promotions followed climbing successes, is understandable. But the account might have been the better for not over-dramatizing what are really the lesser attributes of mountaineering such as the urge to 6 conquernarrow loyalties, kudos, etc. For so personal a sport, imbued with poetic and philosophic content such an imbalance in the narrative—with exaggerated epithets and overstatements—somewhat tarnishes an otherwise well-documented book. Sonam Gyatso's climbing record surely speaks for itself without embellishment, and he might well have reacted incredulously at being told he was the 'hero of Indian mountaineering, the greatest mountaineer produced so far, either in this country or in the world’.

Mountaineering in India has indeed made rapid strides over the past two decades, largely through generous official sponsorship, but for which Sonam Gyatso's talent, as of several other leading mountaineers, may never have blossomed. It is this unstinting support in resources and equipment that has facilitated and simplified the problems of tackling major Himalayan peaks. Gone, alas, is the tradition of the light expedition in the Shipton- Tilman style when a few climbers supported by a handful of porters ventured into the deep unknown, unevenly pitting their mite against the towering snows. Such perhaps were the early Indian expeditions: to Trisul in 1951, Kamet in 1952-1955, Sakang in 1956 and Nanda Devi, the highest mountain in India, in 1957 when Sonam Gyatso joined his first major expedition which was even at that stage 6 working on its shoestrings? (sic). In the latter day expeditions these limitations have not operated. Moreover, at Himalayan altitudes perhaps no more than grade four climbs, in terms of technical difficulty, have been attempted as against the ultimate grades of five and six frequently tackled on such gruelling Alpine ascents as for instance the north face of Eiger. These are relevant factors, on par with the ascent of Everest and other major peaks, but apt to be overlooked when assessing in its proper perspective the maturity and greatness of Indian mountaineers.

There are some inaccuracies in rating the Cho-Oyu climb rather than the earlier ventures on Kamet, Sakang and Nanda Devi as ‘the first big expedition organized by the Indians entirely on their own'. A number of avoidable printing errors have also crept in, including the height of Everest captioned under the photograph as 28,028 feet and 6 Upward' for the Outward Bound School. It is unfortunate that no index has been provided. Mr. Mullik's book is nevertheless a valuable record of the life of a gallant mountaineer who is sadly no longer with us, and a useful addition to the growing literature on Indian mountaineering.




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Records of the Swiss Academy for Natural Sciences 1960. Vol 86/1. Volume I. Preliminary Reconnaissance. Attached Plates. Quarto, Pp. 185. 136 figures (sketches and illustrations). 6 plates with maps and cross-sections. Printed by Art. Institut Orell Fussli, Zurich. Publishers, Gefir. Fretz, Zurich, 1969. Price 100 fr.

[Reprinted by kind permission from the Alpine Journal]

We have been awaiting with keen interest for more than a decade the appearance of the great work by Dr. Toni Hagen on the geology of Nepal. For a variety of reasons, which need not be gone into here, we had to be satisfied for a long time with his preliminary reports. Now, at last, the first two parts of his voluminous work are to hand. For reasons of space we have been obliged to limit ourselves to a review of Vol. I only, which, however, is of the greatest interest not only to scientists but also to climbers and travellers seriously interested in the Himalaya of Nepal—and more or less proficient in the English tongue.

An obvious method of going to work would have been to proceed on simple geographical principles and devote a specific territory to each of the five or six volumes, ranging from east to west, but it was considered necessary to start with a general review. It may seem a trifle presumptuous to attempt to write a large comprehensive summary in the first volume instead of waiting for the appearance of the complete work, and even the reviewer thinks it highly probable that some modifications will eventually prove necessary, but this should in no way detract from the importance and magnitude of this classic work on Nepal.

The young Swiss geologist (born in Frauenfeld, Thurgau, on 17 August 1917) was commissioned by the United Nations (United Nations Programme of Technical Assistance— UNTA for short) and began his field-work in Nepal in October 1950, terminating it in April 1958. Five of these eight years were spent in Nepal and the rest in Switzerland. In all, Hagen made nineteen expeditions, the longest of which lasted for months. He travelled more than 14,000 km. on foot, equivalent to approximately the distance between the North Pole and Cape Town, and ascended and descended at least 950 km. in height, which is more than one hundred times the height of Everest (8,848 m.) above sea-level. His field-work, which consisted of observations, drawing, surveying, collecting and photography, was rendered almost unbearable owing to his extreme solitude, somewhat alleviated by his two faithful Sherpas. But during the whole period he entirely lacked white company and had no radio; his sole connection with the outside world was by post carrier every three or four weeks. He was only able to master this by dint of tireless activity, with no rest days and eternal wrestling with fresh scientific problems. Only someone who has worked as a scientist in the wilds can appreciate and admire the accomplishments of Toni Hagen.

His field-work comprised: twenty field-books, containing 2,437 geological sketches and panoramic views; ninety-six geological cross-sections 1:100,000 from the Ganges Plain to the Tibetan border; approximately 8,000 geological negatives; thousands of colour transparencies covering geology as well as human aspects ; the field-original of the geological map of Nepal 1:250,000; several hundred rock and mineral specimens; more than 300 complete fossils; and about 1,200 pages containing various observations on the economic pattern and life of the people, together with personal experiences and adventures.

There is enough material here for six volumes and for further exploration in Nepal. Subsequent to this exciting preface of 7 ½ pages, Chapter 1 (nine pages and two maps) gives a geographical summary of Nepal with its natural divisions, Chapter 2 (ten pages and numerous figures) a short note on the history of geological research in the Central Himalaya. Chapter 3 deals in fifteen numbered sections with the tectonic structure of Nepal, with special reference to the gigantic nappes structure. The complicated formation of twenty-two nappes established by Hagen will arouse much discussion among geological experts. Even in our well-trodden Alps many problems have been disputed for years.

Chapter 4 (twenty-one pages) is devoted to six areas which are also of the utmost interest to mountaineers: Dhaulagiri, Anna- purna, Gurkha-Himal (Manaslu group), Langtrang, Everest- Makalu and Kangchenjunga massifs. Mount Everest is the best known of the 8,000 m. peaks,
also from a geological standpoint. Despite this, the interpretations of the British explorers L. R. Wager and N. E. Odell, the Geneva geologist A. Lombard in collaboration with the penologists M. Gysin and D. Krummenacher, the French P. Bordet and M. Latreille, the Zurich geologist A. Gansser and Toni Hagen himself, differ not inconsiderably. The entirely uncontroversial compilation of the various interpretations, complete with tables, geological cartographic sketches, longitudinal and cross-sections and stereograms partially based upon the beautiful photogrammetric Everest map of Erwin Schneider, makes a comparative study very delightful for all experts, and also gives lay readers an insight into the tectonic structure of the Himalaya.

Lombard and Hagen agree that the limestone cap of Everest summit does not form part of the carboniferous system as was generally assumed, but must be attributed to the Devonian era. Specimens brought back from the successful ascents of 1956 and 1963 contained fragments of fossilized Crinoidea (sea lilies) which, owing to their state of preservation, could not serve as index fossils but would appear to belong to the middle Palaeozoic system. The pelitic rock (finegrained detritus sediments) of the ‘Chang Series’ between the North Col (6,990 m.) and the summit limestone probably belong to the lower Palaeozoic system (Cambrian- Ordovician- Silurian). The well-known 'Yellow Band' between the Lhotse and Nuptse ' Schuppe' doubtless carboniferous, for these ‘Yellow Band Series' appear frequently in the whole of the Himalayan Marginal Schuppen zone, and its incorporation in the carboniferous era is determined by fossils. The magnificent illustrations depicted in Figs. 121-27 (photographs with explanatory sketches by Hagen) indicate clearly the structure of the Everest massif. The very skilfully produced tectonic stereograms in Figs. 29-35 make everything abundantly clear to the non-technical reader by means of a combination of cross-sections and topography.

Chapter 5 (ten pages) deals with the rise of the Himalaya and the origin of the drainage system with its well-known antecedent rivers (older than the mountains), and Chapter 6 (eleven pages) reconstructs the topographical development. This is a precise confirmation of the theory of 'lifted islands' (Hebungsinselti) conceived by G. O. Dyhrenfurth in 1931, and repeatedly defended by him. By this is meant the dissection of the main chain of the Himalaya into blocks lifted above the normal sub-equality of summit level (Gipfelflur). It is not possible to define this dissection as due to erosion, as has often been attempted. The excessive height of the 8,000 m. massifs has mainly come about by early local lifting movement. Mount Everest is a classic example of this, as its summit is tectonical in the dip of a syncline—a trough— and despite this it overtops its surroundings.

Chapter 7 (six pages) is a comparative study of the Alps and the considerably younger Himalaya, illustrated by Plate 5 and Figs. 119-20. At the end of this volume are lists of the pictorial supplements and a bibliography up to 1960.




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BERGE DER WELT (1968-69). Edited by HANS MULLER.
Published by the Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich. Nymphenburger, Munich, 1969. Pp. 272. Maps, lllus. Price DM.29.80.

It is sad to know that we shall no longer have the pleasure of welcoming fresh volumes of The Mountain World. This seventeenth volume, in a series which began in 1946, is to be the last. The Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research in Zurich who launched and financed the
publication, which in 1953 was supplemented by the addition each year of an English edition, are to be congratulated on their valuable contribution to the literature of mountaineering. The volumes, which contain articles on various aspects of mountains, and which cover every major mountain range of the world, will remain as a valuable source of reference, attractive to handle, and beautifully illustrated and presented. They have indeed set a high standard which few other publications have been able to achieve.

The first eight volumes were published under the editorship of Marcel Kurz, whose Chronique Himalayenne published in 1959 is an authoritative reference work on the 4 golden age9 of Himalayan climbing and exploration covering the years 1940-1955. Kurz remained as editorial adviser to Berge Der Welt until 1963 and he receives a fitting obituary tribute in this volume, written by his friend and old colleague on the board of the Swiss Foundation, Dr. Walter Amstutz. The series later flourished under the Director of the Swiss Foundation, Othmar Gurtner; and Hans Richard Muller, the editor of the present volume, who succeeded Gurtner in 1961. Those who are fortunate enough to have a complete set of those volumes possess a veritable treasure trove of information, including many rare and exceptional photographs.

The contents of this last volume cover the usual wide range of mountain regions ; the Swiss Alps, New Zealand, the Andes, Ethiopia, Turkey, Iran, Bhutan, Nepal, the Pamir, the Hindu Kush ; and a chronicle of climbs in the Himalaya and Karakoram up to 1966, in continuation of a similar series which began in 1960 in previous volumes. There is also a table of heights, revised according to latest official records, of the highest mountains of the world numbering 113 peaks, including details of first ascents. Last, but not least, there is a complete index for the whole Berge Der Welt series, covering authors, biographies and regions/groups.




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Part of the attraction of an expedition from Europe to the Himalayas lies in the journey. And for many British climbing parties in Pakistan, a highlight of the journey is a visit to Colonel Buster Goodwin's house in Rawalpindi. Here, through Buster's reminiscences, one is suddenly and memorably transported to the world of Kipling. Colonel Goodwin has lived all his life in the Indian subcontinent, and for over twenty years he was stationed among the Pathans of the North-West Frontier. He has now published a collection of his anecdotes about the Khattak tribe of Pathans. Khattak country is to the south of Kohat and in the time of the British administration was flanked on the west by the independent tribal territory of Waziristan. The frontier with Waziristan was a turbulent one. Marauding bands of Wazirs crossed it to pillage Khattak villages and to kidnap Hindu traders who were held for ransom. The Khattaks themselves are a wild people quickly roused to anger, and a Khattak may be driven by the Pathan code to kill a man in the name of his family's honour or when his personal courage is questioned. Blood feuds are maintained between families which are quite closely related.

Colonel Goodwin's tales from the hills are based on some of the tragic and amusing incidents in which he was involved. They will make entertaining reading for anyone who has an interest in the proud and fierce Pathan people. Life Among the Pathans has been published privately and can be obtained from 56 Addison Avenue, London Wll, U.K., at a price of one pound.




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Manjusri Publishing House, Kumar Gallery, 11 Surendernagar Market, New Delhi.

Here is a marvellous idea of reprinting rare and out-of-print books concerning travels, adventures and reports on the lands of the Himalayas. The publisher is to be congratulated for not only bringing these rare books within the easy reach of the reader of today but also making the process a little less expensive than paying fancy prices for the dishevelled and the disintegrating originals. Three volumes have been published in this series.

Series 1, Volume 1—'Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet' by Sarat Chandra Das, CLE., first published in 1902.

The original was edited by Hon. W. W. Rockhill, a noted Tibetologist; their joint effort (for Rockhill's footnotes are almost as abundant as Das' text) gives us a wonderful insight into the land, the people, the customs and the way of life of those he met on his travels—the minute detail is both interesting and amusing to the modern reader—the exactness of description and his notes on everything he did or heard sometimes becomes a subject of unconscious humour.

Series 1, Volume 2—'Report on a Visit to Sikkim and the Thibetan Frontier' by J. W. Edgar, C.S.I., first published in 1874.

This is a more straightforward account of the author s travels through Sikkim and Tibet in October, November and December of 1873, in his capacity as the Deputy Commissioner of Darjeeling with a mission that involved a number of political as well as commercial points for resolution with both the Sikkim Durbar and the Tibetan Government.

Series 1, Volume 3—‘An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul' by Col. Kirkpatrick, first published in 1811.

Again a most detailed account of the author's travels. For a land which had never (or hardly) been visited by an European, the original at the time must have sold like hot cakes.

In all these three volumes the political uncertainty and the activities, particularly of British India(n) (Government) and China with rumblings and fears of the Russian influence in Tibet, are quite vividly brought out. A most valuable addition to one's library of Himalayan lands.




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The celebrated Hooker's Himalayan Journals has been reprinted by the Today & Tomorrow's Printers and Publishers, 11/7 Milestone, Mathura Road, Faridabad. Hurrah! for the few copies of the original I saw in the bookshops were priced at figures ranging from Rs.250 to Rs.300. Now I paid Rs.60 for a new copy and read it without the fear of the pages crumbling in my hands!

One need hardly elaborate on the value of this book. Anyone with the slightest interest in the travels in Sikkim, Nepal and the bordering territory of Bengal, to say nothing of naturalists requiring detailed information on the flora, fauna (and even insects) of these areas, would welcome this reprint as a literary and an encyclopaedic windfall.

And now, all ye reprinters, may we have the Sikkim Gazeteer and Douglas Freshfield's Around Kangchenjunga ?




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Price £3.25.

In a matter of twenty years, Himalayan climbing has achieved progress which took about a hundred in the Alps. This acceleration, of course, has been due to the newer techniques that have been developed in the Alps—tried and improved, so that very soon our usual concept of Himalayan climbing as a snow plod, monotonous treadmilling without any redeeming features (except the scenery), will need to be changed more than somewhat.

The South Face of Annapuma has been likened to the North Wall of the Eiger placed one on top of each other and the route described as equivalent to the ascent of the Eiger Direct—but surely it is much more than that, because in this case two and two do not make four. First of all, you have the logistics, in this case slightly haywire in the initial stages due to shipment difficulties. Then you have all the objective dangers multiplied (not added in a simple summation). Then you have the question of fitness and the common ailments of high altitude, in this case compounded by attacks of pleurisy and piles. Then multiply each of these difficulties with the problems of great height and the constant fight against deterioration and exhaustion—and you now have a mere inkling of what Chris Bonington and his men had to go through.

Bonington particularly, who as a leader, bore the brunt of all decision making and the consequent emotional upheavals—I have yet to read a more frank account of the tensions that can be created between eight superb climbers who all have their own ideas and ambitions which had to be often controlled so that the team could achieve success. How many times would a

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