THE International Mountaineers' Meet at the Himalayan Moun- taineering Institute in May 1973 served, as with all convoca¬tions of mountaineers, to release a plethora of ideas.
I laid plans to ascend Mount Tharkot in 1975 but circumstanccs led to this being changed to Mulkila in Central Lahoul. M 4 as the peak is otherwise called was the destination chosen as it was the biggest. However, nature decreed otherwise and we ascended M 5-not that M 4 did not receive some very serio attempts (good Rum Doodle stuff!).
This was the first Australian Himalayan expedition and a broad aim could be that of exposing the climbers from Down Under to the needs of Up Yonder. With Mount Kosciusko at 7326 feet being our highest hill, altitude posed new problems although probably the cold was no worse than what our southern climate offers.
Australians hit the mountain scene with a rather unfortunate hang after the War when transmitting their competitive aggres hi oils from the sports field and proceeded to kill themselves on fount Cook, the biggest peak in the New Zealand alps. Sub¬sequently the New Zealand Alpine Club grasped the nettle of responsibility and courses of instruction were offered which have now proliferated to three private, commercial climbing schools. Kor the past ten years Australians have learned safe mountaineer¬ing and attitudes whilst a percentage of British and European migrants have seeded their own European alpine experience.
In 1967 the first feelers of Himalayan mountaineering set forth and recently it became obvious that the scene was set for the mountaineers to try their luck on the big ones. Mulkila seemed to me to meet our moderate needs.
From the roadhead at Darche, the Base Camp at 14,200 feet was reached on the third day; thence Camps 1 to 3 were established at 16,700 feet, 18,200 feet and 18,700 feet. From here a steep ridge climb to the main M 4 ridge proved inhospitable and new, loose (snow drove the climbers to establish several fixed ropes on a mixture of ice and loose rock. Camp 4 at 19,400 feet was a 2-man tent half on a cornice, and an assault pair backed by 6 supporters made fruitless forays on 'silky snow lying on stacked saucers'— to roughly interpret their descriptions. Climbers carried loads of 50-60 lbs. to Camp 3 and acclimatised rather fast and very well.
As time passed and our departure date loomed, it became obvious that the M 4 ridge, if it went at all, could accommodate but a fraction of our forces. Emulating General Buller, who when asked how to win, growled in answer 'More men', I threw in the big battalions and six climbers polished off M 5, a mountain¬ous-looking mountain with a summit of saucers, the top 20 feet of which none dared to tread.
The expeditioners paid their own way and no sponsorships or grants were sought and although I cannot claim to have planned It all on the back of an envelope, it can be said that we had a page kit list and a few "seldom newsletters" prior to departure. We numbered 14 in all, including 3 ladies, and it was altogether a very civilized holiday in congenial surroundings, stemming from a lew beers two years before in Darjeeling.
On return, in Darjeeling, we were entertained by the Himalayan Club and I proposed an Indo-Australian expedition in 1977.
We all had a lot of fun and no-one got hurt—so I suppose it was a success !