TONY SMYTHE and myself teamed up to explore some of the more remote ranges in these fairly accessible regions, the actual objectives being left to the moment when we met up in Manali, Kulu, on 29 May 1972. As we needed more time for a Liaison Officer to join us for Lahul, we made for the Ravi-Chan- dra Water-shed, a western extension of the Fir Fanjal range, since it had several 19-20,000 ft. peaks which were unclimbed, though the logistics were difficult because of the rather remote and foodless terrain. Starting on 1 June, it turned out to be an extremely adventurous enterprise. We ran into stormy weather on the Beas Kund, had an avalanche just miss the party (which included Wangyal and six porters) on the Taintu Pass and, owing to porter defections, we did the rest of the trip with Wangyal and three porters, in which everyone carried heavy loads. It was interesting to push west down the Ravi valley and north to the watershed, a final carry up the Tapni Laluni glacier resulting in our climbing the dominating peak at its head (19,777 ft.) for which we proposed the name of Wangyal Peak, a tribute to this outstanding Himalayan mountaineer and Sirdar.1
I fell on the descent, plunging 400 feet over an ice fall to land at the mountain's foot with arm and back injuries. Our need to return to Manali and a hospital led to our moving along a southerly route and we crossed the Kali Hain Pass and descended a short cut to reach Manali on 18 June. Besides Wangyal, our porters for this continuously demanding trip were all beyond praise—Sonam, Dorje and Surin—and I have never felt so much part of a team on an expedition.
Photo Plates 32 and 33.
That same evening Major J. K. Bajaj met us, our liaison officer for Lahul. It was rather a battered twosome that he found for this further bventure, but he helped organize the expedition arranged for truck transport in which the party traveled north over the Rohtang Pass on 22 June. The members were Tony Smythe, Major Bajaj, myself, Wangyal, and three high altitude porters—Sonam, Paljor and Dinas.
We made great friends with our liaison officer and received most generous hospitality from Army and Police units on our way to central Lahul. Our plan was to attempt Mulkila (21,380 ft.) in the course of making a reconnaissance of some outlying peaks and glaciers and towards this end we set up a Base Camp besides the Milang glacier. Our route was the same as that of the first expedition in 1939 (an Anglo- Austrian one led by Fritz Kolb) 2 and by several other Indian expeditions. Camp I was pitched at 16,000 ft. and then Camp II at 19,000 ft. near Mulkila's southern ridge. Unfortunately our liaison officer had altitude sickness and went back to base, so the summit party comprised Tony, myself, Wangyal and Paljor. Flurries of monsoon snow hampered our attempt; however it was made on 1 July and we reached a point about 21,000 ft. up a snow gulley on the final pyramid before turning back due to lack of time and the unsettled weather, not an easy decision but justifiable. It enabled us to gather much useful topographical information; and unforgettable views of remote ranges towards Spiti and Tibet were obtained.
A further reconnaissance was made of the northern Milang glacier on the other side of the Mulkila massif; but at 18,000 ft. on 5 July heavy monsoon storms started up and continued as we struggled back for a week over a storm-lashed landscape. We returned to Manali on 11 July.
I was grateful to have the opportunity of thanking the President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation in Delhi, Mr. H. C. Sarin, for their aid and advice. We much appreciated the friendship shown us by Indian mountaineers.