THE death of Major Harsh Vardhan Bahuguna on his way down from Camp III (22,966 ft.) in the International Everest Expedition came as a great shock to all mountain lovers in India and abroad. He died of 6 exposure and frost-bite' on Sunday, 18 April, on the West ridge at an altitude of 22,900 feet. He rests in the lap of the Himalayas, he loved so much.

Death robbed him, for the second and the last time, at the fortune that he had always yearned for—to stand on the summit of Everest. The first time was on the dawn of 29 May 1965 when he was with the fourth and last successful summit team of the Indian Everest Expedition. An allergic rash had broken all over his body on the previous night and he was debating whether to give up so close to success. The decision was probably made for him ; Maj. H. P. S, Ahluwalia found his oxygen regulator defective and even the standby was not working. He looked around in desperation and asked if anyone could spare one. There were only four other persons. The peak was within reach. No one answered. But Bogie could not keep quiet. ‘You take my regulator,' he said. Phu Dorji and Ahluwalia roped together and set off for the peak. Bogie roped up with H. C. S. Rawat and followed them. But after a restless night Bogie was feeling weak. He felt he was holding down Rawat, who was leading the rope. He pleaded with a reluctant Rawat to go ahead, unroped himself and went down. He descended the snowy waste from 28,300 feet to Camp VI (27,930 ft.) and left his oxygen bottle there for the use of the three who had gone ahead. Then he went down alone to the South Col Realizing that the summiters would be cramped for space when they returned, he left this camp too and went further down to Camp IV.

The second son of Mr. and Mrs. Surya Datt Bahuguna of Dehra Dun, Bogie was born in Garhwal 32 years ago. He was educated at Allen Memorial School, Mussoorie. In 1956 he joined the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. He was commissioned in the Armoured Corps in 1958 and was posted to the Central India Horse. He took his Basic Course at the H.M.I. (Darjeeling) in 1962 and after that never looked back. Within eight years he became one of the most popular mountaineers of our country.

He joined the expedition to Leo Pargial (22,280 ft.) shortly after the course in 1962. The following year he was appointed an Instructor of Skiing and Mountaineering at the Highaltitude Warfare School, Gulmarg. In 1964 he joined the successful expedition to Nanda Devi (25,645 ft.). Later during the year he climbed Rathong (21,911 ft.) along with the present Principals of H.M.I, and N.I.ML—Lt.-Col. A. S. Cheema and Maj. J. C. Joshi. 1965 was an eventful year for him. He joined the successful Indian Everest Expedition, married Rekha and was involved in the Indo-Pakistan armed conflict, in that order. In 1969 he led the Indo-British Expedition to Chamba (his article appeared in HJ., Vol. XXIX, 1969, p. 118). Last year (1970) he led an Indian expedition to Saser Kangri (25,170 ft.) and in March 1971 he returned to Everest, which lured him to his death.

Bogie was endowed with a pleasant personality. Norman G. Dyhrenfurth, the Jt. Leader, wrote to Mr. H. C. Sarin, the President of I.M.F.: ‘Harsh is a truly delightful person and fits in perfectly with the entire team of twelve nations. In fact everybody has told me how much they like him and how pleased they are to count him among the members. Your selection has been an excellent one indeed/ The admiration was mutual as Bogie also wrote to Mr. Sarin: 6 The fine set of members are getting on well despite the language barrier/ Cdr. Kohli, the leader of the 1965 Indian Expedition, received a letter from Bogie on 19 April a few hours before his death was known: 41 do feel a little out of place here in the company of mountain kings. So far I am doing very well and have been very active—four times up and down the ice-fall. A great deal of hard work lies ahead and I do hope I can withstand this . . . There is one thing that keeps on playing in my mind and heart. I must do well so that foreign mountaineers go back with a good impression of Indian mountaineers.

He was cremated at Gorakhshep (17,000 ft.) on 28 April and a part of his ashes were sprinkled over the snowy mountains, the rest having been brought down to Dehra Dun. A memorial plaque will be erected on this grazing ground below the Base Camp, where he was cremated.

The I.M.F. have posthumously awarded him the Gold Medal for Distinguished Mountaineering. He becomes the sixth recipient of the medal since its inception in 1961.

Besides his old parents and a young wife, Bogie has left behind two daughters, two sisters, elder brother, Col. S. Bahuguna, and a younger brother, Cadet J. V. Bahuguna of I.M.A., Dehra Dun.

We offer our sincere condolences to them and pray that his soul may rest in peace.


* * *

I first met Harsh on the H.M.I. Basic Course in 1962. He was my rope leader and tent mate. We not only shared the tent but also our thoughts and ideas—the rapport was immediate—we had such common interests and outlook that it was one of the many privileges I enjoyed during
those eventful six weeks.

He seemed to be everywhere, helping here, amusing someone in the dumps, beating back the circulation into a numbed porter s foot—genuinely concerned about the welfare of all those around him.

Since that year I met him only once when he came to Bombay prior to the 1965 Everest Expedition, but we managed to correspond regularly on a variety of mountaineering activities—his last letter enclosed his article on Saser Kangri which appears in this issue of the Journal. I shall miss him greatly—the country can ill afford to lose such soldiers as Harsh.


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