5. MOUNTAINEERING: Reader's Guide No. 127-second Edition 1972.



(Prepared for the Klub Wysokogorski, Warsaw Poland)

With no official maps available to cover the higher mountains of the Hindu Kush, mountaineers have good reason to be grateful for the pioneer efforts of Jerzy Wala who, working under the auspices of the Klub Wysokogorski, Warsaw (Poland) produced several years ago the first modern sketch-map out-lining the glaciers and peaks which comprise the main groups of the Hindu Kush. The map which is prepared on the scale 1:300,000 covers an area extending from the Afghan-Chitral border in the west to the passes bordering the Karambar valley in the east, with two notable omissions: the Buni Zom group, and the group south of the Yarkhun river known as the Hindu Raj. It might be argued that the former does not fall strictly within the Hindu Kush zone, and that it forms the culminating point of the more southerly mountain groups beginning in Swat and Indus Kohistan which stretch north and north west from Falak Sar across Yasin—areas which still lack adequate maps. In his booklet entitled the Regional Division, both these areas are shown as forming part of the Hindu Raj, though contained in the general Hindu Kush region.

Wala has used as base material for his map the original Survey of India half-inch and quarter-inch sheets, as well as the maps 1:100,000 produced by the Afghan Cartographic Institute, and the 1:1 million World Aeronautical Charts. But the bulk of his material has derived from work carried out in the field by Polish Expeditions in which he took part between the years 1960-1966. Wala acknowledges in addition information pooled from others, notably W. Frey, A. Linsbauer and G. A. Pinelli: with valuable assistance from Dr. A. Diemberger and Ichiro Yoshizawa in the co-ordination of information from many additional sources.

The map has been revised from time to time, incorporating corrections and additions received from later expeditions, and a third edition was prepared in 1969. Three supplements have been added in 1972 following Wala's own expeditions in 1971.These are drawn on a much larger scale, approx 1:125,000, and two of them deal with regions hitherto uncovered: a) an area south of Ishkashim containing several small glaciers and groups of peaks above 5000 m. (highest 5860 m.). b) the Wakhan area situated north of the Baroghil region showing some new 6000 m, peaks the highest of which appear to have been given the provisional names of Koh-i-Pamir 6288 m. Ko-i-Hillal 6281 m. Koh- i-Marco Polo 6174 m. c) The eastern part of the range, showing much amplification of detail in the glaciers and peaks south west of the Baba Tangi group.

Whether these high mountain regions are to be covered by official cartographical survey in the foreseeable future by the respective governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan is uncertain and improbable: the cost one would suspect, of conducting modern field-work designed to provide a high degree of accuracy would be disproportionate to any advantages anticipated. As a result of the co-ordinated efforts that have gone into the preparation of the current edition of Jerzy Wala's sketch maps, there should be little scope left for any of the early disagreements over the heights of the main peaks.

Those desirous of obtaining copies of the maps should write to: J. Wala, Krakow, 31-452 Ul. Pawla. Wiodkowica. 4/57, Poland.

In Mr. Wala's orographic review, prepared in English, entitled Hindu Kush: The Regional Division, he delineates the borders of the range, discussing briefly its geological background related to contiguous areas of the Pamir, Karakoram and Himalaya. Taking the main range from west to east as spreading from the Bamyan valley west of Kabul, to Ishkuman and the borders of Gilgit, a number of sub-divisions have been suggested. After breaking down the range into Western, Central and Eastern areas, the main groups have been sub-clivided in each area, and a table has been prepared for individual group of mountains. Each group is covered by a brief entry describing the landscape and highest peaks with remarks on its climbing potential and reference to the relevant maps and literature shown in a bibliography at the end. Several sketches are provided to illustrate the basis adopted: and on the whole it appears to be a practical and useful system, although inevitably in some cases the divisions appear arbitrary. As would be expected the Tirich Mir area is described as the "most interesting mountain group" whilst second place goes to the Afghan Munjan group. There are said to be 238 peaks above 6000 m., eighteen of which rise above 7300 m. Of the three largest glaciers the Tirich (79 sq. km.) is exceeded in areas by the Chaintar in the Hindu Raj (154 sq. km.) and the Udren in the Central Hindu Kush (106 sq. km.). It is illustrative of the relative size of this range that the length of its largest glacier is about one-third of that of the largest Karakoram glaciers which flow to its east.

There are few regions, in the past decade, which have been more popularly explored that the Hindu Kush. As late as 1960 the range was virtually untouched by mountaineers; but once it was revealed as an oasis of easy access surrounded everywhere by politically inaccessible areas it has become a paradise especially for the "small" expedition, attracting enterprising groups from all over the world, whether pioneers, peak-baggers or specialists: and, more recently, those interested in winter mountaineering and ski touring.

T. H. Braham

This sketch-map of the Karakoram covers, in a single sheet the scale of 1 : 250,000, the whole region extending from the Shyok river and Saser group in the east to Ishkuman and the Karambar river in the west. This spans a very wide area of country indeed, viz., long 78°E, to 74°E, and Lat 34°N to 36° 30'N. The preparation of a composite sheet of this size has been possible by co-ordinating the work carried out by a large number of surveyors during the period 1930-1970. The sources from which Mr. Wala has drawn include Russian and Japanese maps published in 1959 and 1965 respectively, in addition to the records of earlier cartographers such as D. Desio, M. Kurz and G. O. Dyhrenfurth. He has also extracted from climbing journals throughout the world details relating to particular glaciers and groups of peaks, marking as far as possible those mountains which have been climbed. There is a table showing the size of ten largest glaciers; and diagrams of six of the major peaks. Whilst such a map cannot claim to provide the last word as to accuracy of heights and spelling of names, it is an extremely useful reference, showing in proper perspective the gigantic size of the range; and, incidentally, revealing the wealth of mountaineering opportunities which still exist there.

T. H. Braham



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KUNYANG CHHISH Edited by Jozef Nyka, Andrej Paczkowski and Andrez sport & Tourist Publishing House, Warsaw, 1973. Price Z1.50.

This is the official account, dedicted to Julian Godlewski and the Klub Wysokogorski who were its backer and sponsors respectively of the 1971 Polish Karakoram Expedition's ascent of Kunyang Chhish, one among a handful of major peaks until then unclimbed. The book is relatively short, containing just over 200 pages of large print, and nine members of the party have contributed to its 13 chapters. Of the twelve climbers in the team, almost all were in their early thirties, and the oldest at 43 was the leader Andrzej Zawada who was one of the four to reach the 7852 m. summit. A doctor aged 46 and a Pakistan army captain made up the total number of the party of fourteen. Ten of the climbers had taken part in previous expeditions to the Karakoram, Hindu Kush or Pamir. That the expedition encountered no serious obstacles, and was crowned with success was certainly due in part to good management; even their liaison officer proved helpful, largely no doubt owing to their ability to sustain congenial relations, although only one of the climbers could speak fluent English. Four members of the party travelled from Warsaw to Islamabad driving a lorry laden with the expedition's 6000 kg. of baggage. The single tragedy was the death of the youngest member of the party, the 27-year-old Jan Franczuk, who fell into a hidden crevasse near Camp III at 6450 m.

In 1962 the Pakistan Air Force carried out a sortie over the Kunyang Chhish group and made photographs available to the party who made the first attempt that year to climb the mountain, a joint Pak-British army team led by Major Jimmy Mills. In early June 1971 I chanced to meet the Polish expedition encamped at Gilgit, and I offered to enquire through Pakistan Air Force friends whether the use of these photographs could be obtained; alas, a series of rather embarrassed authorities appeared to be ignorant that they had ever existed!

I think that the main achievement of the expedition lies in the manner in which success was gained. Rejecting a lengthy and unsafe route which had repulsed two earlier attempts, the Poles carried out a careful reconnaissance of this difficult mountain and then set up four high camps along their selected route in the face of serious set-backs caused by technical difficulties and by the weather. Above their highest camp, which was placed at 7200 m. a bivouac was made at 7780 m. enabling the summit team on the final day to achieve their objective and return safely the same evening to Gamp III. After the establishment of the Base Camp at 4410 m. the whole operation, which was carried out virtually without the help of high-altitude porters or of oxygen, took 56 days.

A major success in the Karakoram for Polish mountaineers has been in keeping with their achievements elsewhere. They have made perhaps the largest contribution, along with Austrians and Japanese to mountaineering in the Hindu Kush commencing from 1960 when they climbed Noshaq 7492 m; in addition, they have prepared what appears to be the only modern sketch- map so far available of that region. And by ascending Noshaq in Jan/Feb 1973, Andrzej Zawada with his small team from Poland have been the first to introduce winter mountaineering to the Hindu Kush.

For a book which is priced at about £2.50 it is very well illustrated. Of the ninety photographs reproduced in monochrome, I was intrigued by the summit pictures which reveal to the north a wealth of glaciers and peaks still untouched by mountaineers. The fourteen colour illustrations, however, are of poor quality. There are diagrams showing the ascent route, also two sketch-maps; and fragments of Shipton's 1939 Karakoram map are reproduced as end-papers. The appendices which comprise the final section of the book contain apart from biographical sketches of members of the team and a calendar of the expedition a note on the mountain's name. This has been rendered variously as Khiang Kish, Khiyang Chish, etc; but the Pakistan authorities have apparently confirmed the form of spelling adopted in the book's title. In a brief historical summary, it is learnt that a Polish officer in the Russian Imperial Service, Bro- nislaw Grabczewski, carried out journeys between the years 1885—1891 in many parts of Baltistan. But it was not until the year 1939 that Polish mountaineers gained their first major achievement in the Himalaya with their ascent of the 7434 m. East Peak of Nanda Devi.

T. H. Braham



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FORESTS OF NEPAL by J. d. A. Stainton. John Murray, London. Nov. 1972. pp. 174 Illus. Price 6.50.

This book is a beaut—that is for a non-botanist. For those more knowledgeable in this science it is a windfall. A lot of erudite observations can be listed in a manner that could make the book no more than a reference. Mr. Stainton's great skill lies in making it a readable thesis which can be read from cover to cover without one's interest flagging for even a minute. How does he do it?

Firstly by noting the constant connection between climate, geography and vegetation. The facts then fall into places so logically and one's understanding of the problem becomes so deeply satisfying that it is often difficult to put the book down. Secondly, by continuous cross referencing his subjects so that one is always comparing some phenomenon or the other with a similar occurrence elsewhere and the central idea or point is thereby knitted into the general pattern, yet retaining its own underlying emphasis.

The heading of the chapters exemplify what I mean— (1) climate, (ii) Climatic and vegetational divisions of Nepal, (iii) Forest types, (iv) Notes on distribution. The colour photographs are a delight—156 of them and each a gem—not only of photography but also of reproduction (which I suppose must be expected in a book of this price). The maps indicating the distribution of the species illustrate well the point they are supposed to make.

This is going to be an extremely popular book—an ideal gift for a mountain traveller interested in Nepal. For a botanist, its a prize.

Soli S. Mehta



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HIMALAYAN WONDERLAND By M. S. Gill. Vikas Publishing House Pvt. Ltd. (1972) Illus. Pries. Rs. 25.

From time to time, Government officials try their hand at writing semi-biographical accounts of their times in "the districts" —naturally of the areas where they have found the people and customs most interesting and where they have enjoyed the mutual trust engendered by their own sympathetic approach and genuine concern. I make a particular point of this, because there are numerous instances where unwilling unsympathetic and totally uninterested administrators have been pushed into sensitive mountain areas not only to make themselves totally miserable but to convey their indifference to the local population and to increase (if anything) the traditional antipathy of the proud but hard working hill people for the plainsman. Mr. Gill is a refreshing exception to the above observation and his account of the time he spent as a Deputy Commissioner of Lahul and Spiti in 1962 (surely it should'nt take ten years to write a book!) is at once anecdotal, historical, anthropological and, above all, very readable.

The author has indeed done his homework as far as the customs and religion are concerned—the various rites and festivals are well described and annotated by footnotes from a number of books (alas now impossible to get hold of).

He describes his travels well. Takes considerable interest in his little empire and proceeds to develop it as best as he can in the time available to him during his tenure of office.

A traveller particularly interested in Lahul (rather than Spiti) will find this volume most readable and of considerable interest —the dull administrative file-like language is happily absent; indeed, I often got the impression of a deliberate and studied attempt by the author to avoid it at all cost! The result is well worth the trouble.

Throughout the book the reader is aware of the love of the author for the mountains and its people—his sensitivity to their needs and aspirations and his total commitment to their welfare. Needless to say their response is equally happy.

The photographs are adequate but their printing is of indifferent quality. A book of this nature must have a decent map —I wonder why so many authors omit this prime necessity—perhaps the second edition could contain one?

Soli S. Mehta



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MOUNTAINEERING: Reader's Guide No. 127-second Edition 1972. Library Association County Libraries Group, pp 39. Price not stated.

Here is a bibliography of books on mountaineering, the greater part of which is devoted to climbing in Great Britain and the Alps. However, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, the Polar regions, the history of climbing, some biography and fiction are also included. A short section on periodicals and some addresses complete the small but concise booklet.

The section on the Himalaya could of course be enlarged by reference to the Librarian of the Alpine Club/Himalayan Club; similarly the special section on Everest.

I think publications of this kind serve an extremely useful purpose and should be of immense help to mountaineers wishing to gain knowledge of the specific mountain area of the world. The compilers of this bibliography have done some good work. It should be up to the librarians and editors to build upon such a list as has been provided here.

Soli S. Mehta



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Geography Series By Eugene Gordon,
Oxford & KBM Publishing Co. Illus. pp 64. Price not stated.

It is difficult to make out the kind of reader which this book is meant for. The sub-heading indicates a geographical approach but there is very little geography in it. Pictures there are in good number and almost all of them of a high standard—this then is the prime reason for the publication.

Most pictorially oriented books carry some written word as a fill up, and this is what mars the value of the present volume. Without exception, the script is an over-simplification of facts, sometimes to the point of distortion. Paragraphs fly from one subject to an irrelevancy and back again. The pieces of information follow no logical progression and often appear a hotch potch thrown together in haste. The chapters on social customs and history are more suitable for a brochure from the Department of Tourism.

The volume is essentially to illustrate Nepal (55 pages) rather than Sikkim (5 pages) or Bhutan (4 pages).

The map of Nepal is passable but those of Sikkim (Siniolchu lies to the east, not north, of Kangchenjunga) and Bhutan are quite inadequate.

Inspite of the above cribbing, I am glad I bought the book- the pictures are worth it.

Soli S. Mehta



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BIBLIOTHECA HIMALAYA-ICA Edited by H. K. Kuloy Manjursi Publishing house, Kumar Gallery, 11 Surendernagar Market, New Delhi 3.

The first three volumes of Series I were reviewed in the HJ Vol. XXX. Manjusri Publishing House has now continued the good work with a number of volumes in the same series which is devoted to history, geography and travel. The reprints are excellent value for money and extremely interesting to the scholar keen on History, Geograhy, Social customs and the Politics of the sensitive Himalayan region during the Nineteenth Century. Here are more volumes to these series (there are other series which are devoted to linguistics, literature, art, philosophy and religion) and they are entitled as follows:

Series I Vol. 4 Samuel Turner: An Account of an Embassy to the Court of the Teshoo Lama in Tibet, containing a narrative of a journey through Bootan and Part of Tibet (1800). Rs. 100/-
Vol. 5 Dr. Rennie: Bhotan and the Story of the Dooar War (1866). Rs. 54/-
Vol. 6 Clements Markham: Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet, and the Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa (1876).Rs. 54/-
Vol. 7 Sir Ashely Eden:Political Missions to Bootan (1865). Rs. 60/-
Vol. 8 Gazetteer of Sikkim (1894). Rs. 75-/
Vol. 10 Francis Buchanan Hamilton: An Account of the Kingdom of Nepal (1819). Rs. 66/-


One should not be misled by the title of War or political missions for the volumes are very much more than that. The historical incidents are in every case woven into the fabric of a general atmosphere and almost every aspect of life is described in considerable detail.

I would like to make a specific reference to the Gazetteer of Sikkim (Vol. 8) I had prayed for this reprint when reviewing the Himalayan Journals by Joseh Dalton Hooker in the H.J. Vol XXX—here it is now in all its original glory. The flora andfauna and strangely enough butterflies to say nothing of the other natural features of the country and its society make this by far the most attractive volume of the whole series. A few more numbers have been promised by the Publishing House under the editorship of Mr. H. K. Kuloy—may his tribe and library multiply. Lovers of the Himalaya owe him a considerable debt.

Soli S. Mehta


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