THE GILGIT GAME, by John Keay. Pp. 275, 27 illustrations,
3 maps. 1979 (John Murray, London, £7.95)
The subtitle of When Men and Mountains Meet by John Keay was 'The Explorers of the Western Himalayas 1820-76' and the book included a wonderful collection of explorers who were actuated by a very bizarre choice of motives. The subtitle of The Gilgit Game is 'The Explorers of the Western Himalayas in 1866-95' and their motivation is almost wholly the struggle against Russia and most of them were employed by the Government of India. The chapters are divided into three parts under the headlines of 'Veni', 'Vidi', and 'Vioi' which was a despatch from Julius Caesar: T came, I saw, I conquered'. When we reach the third part of the book there seems to be an urgent call to cry aloud 'I conquered'.
The first person in the book is a German ethnologist called Leitner who had become interested in the language of the Dards. In 1864 he became Principal of the Lahore College and in 1865 he visited Kashmir. In 1866 he appeared in Gilgit where he gave an all-night party to 150 Dards. After this he relied on entertaining tribesmen in Lahore and in 1877 he published The Languages and Races of Dardistan. In 1886 he was summoned to Simla to advise on the languages of, Dardistan. In the same year he retired to England where he founded the Oriental University of Woking. He pleaded ^or trust to be shown to the Dards. Another character in the 'Veni' group of chapters is George Hayward who also appeared in When Men and Mountains Meet. In 1869 he was sent off by the Royal Geographical Society on his third attempt to unravel the Pamirs but he did not get much beyond Gilgit for he was murdered in Yasin. Various theories about his end are discussed.
Part Two starts off with John Biddulph, A.D.C. to the Viceroy and representative of the Government of India. In 1874 he with other officers travelled from Sinkiang to Wakhan. In 1876 he was sent to Gilgit and two years later given the title of Political Agent, and the Agency Bungalow was built. But he was 220 miles from the nearest telegraph and complained that in ten months he had not seen a white face. He was the first European to visit Hunza and Chitral but in 1881 the Dards looked so dangerous that Biddulph withdrew into Gilgit Fort. He was recalled and the Agency was closed until 1889.
In 1883 William Watts McNair took a year's leave from the Survey and went off disguised as a Pathan trader to Kafiristan. He did not last long and was soon back in India and on his way to Simla where he was reprimanded. He went to England for the remainder of his leave and read a paper to the Royal Geographical Society where he was criticized by Leitner for not knowing the language of Kafiristan. In 1885 Colonel William. Lockhart with a sizeable mission was back in Biddulph's Bungalow at Gilgit. He was a strong man, ultimately to be Commander-in- Chief. He paid a visit to Chitral and Kafiristan but was back in Gilgit in time to hear of the arrival of Ney Elias at Zebak. Although Lockhart had not known of him he was one of the greatest English travellers and that year had left Simla and covered 2000 miles through the Pir Panjal, the Great Himalaya, the Karakorams, Kun Lun and the Pamirs. In fact he turned up twice, in 1885 and in 1886, at Zebak, but he did not appeal to Lockhart. Soon after this Ridgeway of the Afghan Boundary Commission and Lockhart were given knighthoods; but Ney Elias, Gold Medallist of the Royal Geographical Society, was gazetted Companion of the Indian Empire and this was returned to the Government as not considered suitable.
In 1888 Mortimer Durand proposed that the Political Agency in Gilgit be revived and his brother Algernon was nominated for it. Younghusband was to be the roving explorer and in 1889 at Khaian Aksai he managed to meet the Russian, Col. Grombt- chevski. They became good friends and Younghusband gave him his book on Buddha. His Gurkhas were worried that they and Younghusband, who was only 5'6", looked so short and when the Russians took a photo they arranged some logs on which they could stand.
The part of the book 'Vici' now begins. Younghusband had been afield in the Pamirs and as far north as Lake Karakul. At Bozai Gombaz, he met the Russians and they demanded that he withdraw. When the news reached Simla Algernon Durand was there and he immediately demanded fifteen British Officers and 200 Gurkhas. Then came war with Hunza and Nagar in which six Victoria Crosses were awarded. In 1893 there was the Indus Rising in Chilas in the course of which Algernon Durand lost his nerve and was replaced by George Robertson. In 1894 a visiting M.P. came to Gilgit, none other than George Nathaniel Curzon. He admired the telegraph wires, visited some passes and shot a Marco Polo sheep. He met Younghusband, at that time posted to Chitral but just going on leave. In 1895 there were disputes about the succession to Chitral and Robertson found himself, together with one of the claimants, besieged inside the Fort there for 48 days. 'An undertaking of great magnitude/ said the Viceroy and an army of 14,000 men, posted at Nowshera, was ordered to advance. Meanwhile Colonel Kelly and his 32nd Punjab Pioneers were brought into play. They fought a decisive action in front of the walls of Chitral and on 20 April were able to relieve the siege. A week later Younghusband galloped in. He was now The Times correspondent and he brought news of the army arriving from Nowshera.
The Gilgit Game ends up with the climax of the siege of Chitral. It is a fascinating story told in a fluent, readable style. A great wealth of documentation has been knit together into a coherent and highly informative account in less than 270 pages. Because of the focus only on what was then called 'The Great Game' no mention is made of either Martin Conway's Expedition to the Karakorams in 1892 nor of Mummery's to Nanga Parbat in 1895.
The title of the last chapter is 'Finis Dardanum', which quotes from a letter Leitner wrote to The Times in 1896 :
No one perhaps has struggled more than myself during the last thirty years on behalf of the Dards and Kafirs, but the cause is now lost and their only chance of survival is a complete and loyal acquiescence to the new order of things.
THE IRVINE DIARIES. By Herbert Carr. Pp. 143, 15 illustrations.
1979 (Gastons — West Col publications, U.K., £8).
When the author sent me this book, that very night I plunged into the Everest chapters, and boyhood nostalgia returned. Only two years ago I had told Odell at the Himalayan Club Golden Jubilee celebrations in Delhi how, 40 years earlier, he held me captive in his moving account of the last search for Mallory and Irvine, and how a little later, as Vice-Captain of Mallory House I came to be the keeper of Mallory's compass, presented to our school in Darjeeling by Mrs Mallory. This, apart from the remote links with the author himself as I was a member of the successor service of his father's ICS. The old Indo-British relationship lingers in strange ways and places.
So the book has so come to acquire a reviewer touched by boyhood nostalgia and unashamed bias. The very nature of the book, a straightforward expedition diary, sandwiched between accounts of Irvine's ancestry and his early years, on the one hand; and Salutes to the Brave, the oxygen apparatus of 1922-4, and the Irvine Travel Trust, on the other, reduced the demands on a reviewer's analytical ability. The diaries of the Spitsbergen and Everest expeditions, and the accompanying writing, are of a piece; lucid, easy to read, and like the subject Andrew Irvine, athletic in quality. There is no fat. Author and reader journey trimly through the book.
But an Asian reviewer must confess he finds it a bit strange for the antecedents of a mountain climber to be traced back to a.d. 1140 for the original spelling of the name Irvine (Irewen), and to the eighteenth centure for his ancestry. The historical sense of the West, not shared in Asia, seems a bit excessive on such occasions. And one would be amused by a similar effort— if it were possible—with Indian and Japanese climbers.
The author's purpose is to contest the traditional view that Irvine, much the less experienced of the two Everest summiters of 1924, must have slipped and caused the accident; and also to revive the lost memory of young Sandy Irvine. He has certainly succeeded with the second; he has a case for the first. Whatever the view of the reader with regard to the author's success or lack of it, he will be greatly indebted to him for the joy of reading Irvine's simple, practical, amusing diaries of Spitsbergen and especially Everest. They are so full of the things of the day, the weather, the terrain, his companions, the locals, food, equipment; and all the way from Calcutta to the last camp on Everest the 'beastly', troublesome oxygen equipment,
Although his main qualification for Everest was his mechanical skill, apart from his strength, Irvine's own choice was for a non-oxygen climb. At heart, the spirit of the climber renounced technology. 'I really hate the thought of oxygen.—Still, as I'm the oxygen mechanic, I've got to go with the beastly stuff.' And how indefatigably and ingeniously he did it all the way, with frames coming apart, leaks developing, valves clogging, flow meters failing. And yet cheerful enough to record his youthful amusement of this and much else. 'I chased a crowd of Tibetans with a loudly hissing cylinder of oxygen. I've never seen men run so fast—they must have thought it a devil coming out.'
In the Chumbi valley he and Mallory raced their 'frisky ponies', causing a stampede in the whole baggage train : 'I pulled my saddle right over my pony's head trying to stop it !' Reminiscent of the reviewer's attempt to trot (western style) on a mule in the same place 33 years later. The local Tibetans, with their traditional smiles wiped off their faces by the recent Chinese occupation, suddenly realized they had not seen anything more strange and funny. They raced along and spanked his bottom every time he rose in the saddle, with much laughter and public amusement. So much for a lone attempt to impress the PLA !
The book offers mutually admiring insights between the two dramatis personae, Mallory and Irvine. Irvine thought Mallory "an energetic beggar' between lower camps and Everest. 'It was as bad as a boat race trying to keep up with him.' Mallory, the leader of the assault, writes : 'And so Irvine will come with me. He will be an extraordinarily stout companion, very capable with the gas and the cooking apparatus. The only doubt is to what extent his lack of experience will be a handicap. I hope the ground will be sufficiently easy.'
This simple assessment of Mallory's may give a clue to the mistakes of Mallory's judgement, and their likely failure; whatever the unknown cause of their disappearance. Despite two earlier expeditions to Everest, Mallory was still an Alpinist, and not a high Himalayan climber. The 'ground' seemed most important. He perhaps counted on his own confident spirit and skill too much. They had not then fully appreciated the physiological problems of climbing above 27,000 ft. And they had only 5 hours' supply of oxygen at only half the rate considered necessary now from their highest camp. Could Mallory also have underestimated the horizontal distance, apart from the height, which it was necessary to traverse up no easy slope at those altitudes; as many others do in the deceptive clarity of the Himalayan atmosphere ?
Herbert Carr's reconstruction of the scheme of things after Irvine's last entry in his diary of 5 June seems very plausible and likely. A delayed start, probably caused by one more last desperate struggle with the faulty oxygen equipment—as we may conclude from Odell's description of the tent—their later abandoning the oxygen equipment to make a glorious oxygen-less bid for the summit; the terrible exhaustion at the end of much sufferings-'my face is perfect agony' (Irvine); and then the fatal unknown. Carr's hypothesis about Mallory: 'May not the bitterness of his disappointment (the last chance), have accelerated the onset of fatigue ? If they had gone far beyond the first step they would have already covered a considerable distance by the time they got back to the spot where the axe was found.]1 So it is possible to think of Mallory in a state of mental exhaustion greater than that of young Irvine.' And in that situation, one more possible clue of Mallory's condition in Irvine's diary on 31 May : 'Mallory's eye had been touched by the sun a bit.' A possible recurrence of that eye trouble in the terrible glare of those heights; a slight misjudgement of foot, and a slip ?
Whatever the worth of our speculations of this most moving moment in mountaineering history, the whole story is best summed up in young Irvine's comment on the Henley boat race of 1920 : 'bad luck is bad luck and you can't fight it. At any rate, I think we showed what we were made of.'
And for this showing through his diaries we are immensely indebted to Herbert Carr for his labour and his achievement.
A. D. Moddie
The recent press report emanating from Yoshimori Hasegawa that he was informed last November by Nang Hongbao of the 1975 Chinese Everest expedition, that he had found 'the body of an Englishman' buried in the snow at 8100 m provides added interest to the book. (Statesman, 22 Feb, 1980).—A.D.M.
LIFE IS MEETING. By John Hunt. Pp. 286, 24 illustrations, 11 maps. 1978 (Hodder & Stoughton, London, £6.95).
Most people would be able to identify John Hunt as the leader of the first successful expedition to Everest. A few members of the Alpine and Himalayan Clubs would probably be able to recall his exploits in the Zemu glaciers, the Karakoram and the Pamir. It would indeed be a small fraction of his friends and acquaintances who would know the details of a life lived as fully as possible in as varied and colourful a set of scenarios as would satisfy the most avid son of adventure.
As a soldier, he served in several spheres often in capacities far removed from warfare. Even during the war (World War II) he was called upon to take part in exercises which had more of a political background than an actual tactical one of recapturing Europe's occupied areas. He writes with the flair and verve of a raconteur par excellence—he almost makes them sound confidential!
Then comes 1953, and all that. Hunt at last allows an insight into the goings-on which he could not reveal in his 'official' Ascent of Everest, particularly his embarrassment at being offered the leadership after it had been promised to Eric Shipton.
We are next led into the philosophy of the Outward Bound, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, and similar activities for youth, with which he has been associated for a considerable time.
More climbing follows, this time, in the Tatra Caucasus, Greenland, Pamir, and the Yukon.
From climbing to the Chairmanship of the Parole Board is a biggish jump into the unknown. In spite of his original lack of expertise, he pitches into the intricacies of crime and punishment and with his particular flair for clear thinking makes a success of his job. During this time he has an even more delicate assignment in Nigeria—that of, advising and charting out the British Government's relief aid towards those suffering the consequences of the civil war. He attempts to put the record straight—the skilful P.R. work by an American Agency from Geneva hired by the Biafrans had already put the Federal Government in the wrong in the eyes of, the world when actually the facts appear in retrospect, and at the time known only to a few who were helping out, were exactly the opposite. In fact ' .. no civil war in history has ended with less revenge and retribution'.
Throughout the book Hunt's theme and presentation is to portray his interaction with various people. The facts and stories (known and unknown) are only as a backdrop to the play of personal contact that he has made throughout his life—the book becomes all the more readable and interesting as you catch his humour and his human qualities.
Soli S. Mehta
EVEREST EXPEDITION TO THE ULTIMATE. By Reinhold Messner. Pp. 253, illustrated. 1979 (Kaye & Ward, London, £6.75).
EVEREST—IMPOSSIBLE VICTORY. By Peter Habeler. Pp. 223, illustrated. 1979 (Arlington Books, London, £6.50).
Two books, one each from the amazing summit pair who made the first ascent of Everest without the use of oxygen. Does the feat require two volumes ? Could they not write a joint account ? Like many famous teams of two, the characters are very different from each other and the presentation of separate tales is fortunately as different as their personalities.
Of the two I found Habeler's easier on the eye, Messner's technique is towards the transcription of his tape-recorded conversations and thoughts into the written word—interesting and thought-provoking but turns a bit weary after a time.
One of course rushes through the preliminary chapters (a mistake, for both write beautifully) to get at the final section above the South Col. So what do you need to climbs Everest without oxygen—humility first and foremost, utmost fitness, supreme trust in one's companions, and finally guts, plenty of it along with a demoniac zeal tempered by a mind of steel which stops short of causing permanent damage to oneself,. All this consciously planned, rehearsed and carried out like clockwork.
But Messner and Habeler are not a pair of superhuman automatons—they are only too human and the books are worth reading only to learn as to their philosophy and moments of fear, happiness, disappointment and what really makes them tick.
The photographs are outstanding and Messner's appendices most useful. Yes, you'll have to buy both of them.
Soli S. Mehta
SIVALAYA—THE 8000 METRE PEAKS OF THE HIMALAYA,, By Louis Baume. Pp. 316, 29 illustrations. 1978 (Gastons—West Col publications, U.K., £12.50).
A tremendous amount of homework has been done by Louis Baume to compile the climbing history of 14 Himalayan giants. All such chronicles have time limits—1977 in this case.
The author has somehow managed to transform a bibliography and record of climbs into a readable form. Sketches of routes and sketch maps serve not only as a handy reference (and very comprehensive at that) but can be recommended as an interesting bedside reader that one can return to time and again. In my own case, I was rather alarmed at the number of expeditions that had escaped my knowledge—you'll find that too I'm sure. It is an understatement to say that the book has a good bibliography—in this case it reaches encyclopaedic proportions.
One last bit of congratulations and thanks—Baume is the first English author who has spelt Himalaya and Karakoram without the insufferable 'S' at the end. May his tribe increase.
This book should be a constant companion to all mountain lovers and almost a mandatory purchase for climbing club libraries.
Soli S. Mehta
AVALANCHES AND SNOW SAFETY. By Colin Fraser. Pp. 269,
52 illustrations. 1978 (John Murray, London, £6.50).
The subtitle to this book could easily be 'everything you wanted to know about snow, ice and their avalanches and what nobody till now would tell you'. This is by far the most comprehensive discussion on the physics of snow-crystal formation, its properties and its various transformations under various climatic conditions. Colin Fraser has done the climbing and skiing fraternity a service by bringing out in clear unambiguous language what causes avalanches, how to recognize the dangers, how to grapple with them when caught in them, how to rescue the trapped people and all the hundred and one tiny bits of experiences that he has gathered over the number of years he has devoted to the study of the subject.
Every word of advice or explanation is immediately illustrated by a true-life experience pertinent to the topic under discussion— often a salutory lesson. This book should be read before going on anj expedition by every member of the team. The final crunch of course comes during the actual climb itself when the real experience cannot be substituted by the written word—even so, you'd only have yourself to blame if you ignored the most sensible advice contained in this excellent study. This book is a life-saver.
Soli S. Mehta
MAKALU, EXPEDITION IN DIE STILLE. By Hermann and Dietlinde Warth. Illustrated with photographs and pencil drawings by Dietlinde Warth. (EOS Verlag, St Ottilien, DM 24.80).
This book describes the International Expedition to Makalu in 1978, led by Dr Hermann Warth. The party consisted of 3 Germans, 1 Austrian, 1 Swiss and 3 Nepalese.
Although claiming to be 'greenhorns' in the art of writing the authors have succeeded in producing an interesting account of the expedition. The original idea was to make the first traverse of Makalu, up the southeast ridge and down by the route taken by the French on the first ascent in 1955, but it became evident that this rather ambitious plan would have to be abandoned. In the event, the expedition made the sixth ascent of the mountain and the second by the original French route.
All seven of the mountaineering members of the party reached the top; the ascents were spread over three weeks, the summit being reached on May 1, 10, and 21. For this, small expedition Makalu remained 'the happy mountain'. There was no 'attack', no 'storming of the summit' and the authors quote the words of Mallory that they 'conquered none but ourselves'.
The second part of the book contains much information that might be of use to prospective Himalayan climbers including (in English) the Nepalese Government's 'Mountaineering Rules' as amended in 1978, and a list of peaks in Nepal with the categories of expeditions to which they are open. There is also a chapter on shopping in Nepal; since the expedition claims to be the first to a Nepalese 8000-er to have supported itself almost exclusively on provisions obtainable in the country. This no doubt assisted in keeping down the cost of food to a little over DM 5000. The total cost of the expedition was DM 56,303.83, making it relatively one of the lowest-cost expeditions to ascend an 8000-metre peak.
A final chapter gives some account of present-day conditions in Nepal. The book has no index and it lacks a sketch of the mountain showing the route and camp-sites, which might perhaps have been helpful to readers not acquainted with Makalu.
D. F. O. Dangae
THE SEVENTH GRADE. By Reinhold Messner. Pp. 160, illustrated. 1974 (Kaye & Ward, London, £2.50).
Reinhold Messner's name needs no introduction. He is known to be one of the finest climbers since the past two decades and is known as the 'Messiah' of mountaineering. Here is a translation. of one of his first books. He excels himself as an author as much as he has proven to be on mountains.
The book includes his early exploits mainly in the Alps with the exception of a climb in the Andes and the ascent of Nanga Parbat in the Himalaya. It is a saga of private thoughts, training and the most memorable experience from 'prussiking' up the 'Pala della Cacanga', (a wooden, greasy, smooth pole) at an Italian Fiesta to the climb of the 'Naked mountain'. Rarely one finds a book which contains the thoughts of the climbers and the pre-climb training covering more pages than the climbs themselves.
He advocates innumerable ideas on the sport he has trained, for, achieving what others have not even attempted. His concept of gradeless climbing is very thought-provoking and is aimed to lead the reader to enjoy climbing for its own sake.
He explains his 'mad' solo-climbing attitude that has earned him a special name in the sport. His emphasis on moun- tain safety, the importance of training for the mountain and the art of 'judging one's fitness and capabilities' appropriately for a climb is also not to be missed. He makes his stand, 'Mountains are superior', very clear to the reader by including many of his own failures to reach the summits.
In all it is a book worth reading many times, for the thoughts it provokes and the moral thrust it provides every time you read it, to 'go and get started on the mountain'.
THE BIG WALLS. By Reinhold Messner. Pp. 143, many illustrations. (Kaye & Ward, London, £7.95).
Here is book by a man already known to the world for his ascents of Nanga Parbat, Manaslu, Hidden Peak and Everest. This book, however, does not deal with any single climb, but with those mountain faces which Messner himself has classified as 'The Big Walls'. The author includes in his selection the North Faces of Mount Agner, the Matterhorn and the Eigerwand and the South Faces of Aconcagua (the highest peak in the Andes), Nanga Parbat and Dhaulagiri, as well as the Walker Spur of the Grandes Jorasses.
The ascent of; each of these walls is described in separate sections along with excellent photographs and sketches indicating the nature of the difficulties confronting the climber. The history of each route and Messner's own experiences on each of them are also well described and make interesting reading. This book is noteworthy not merely for its descriptive contents, which are extraordinarily informative, but for the author's personal views on modern mountaineering.
He expresses frank and critical opinions on the in-fighting present amongst climbers in a non-competitive sport like mountaineering and suggests a mild but safe form of competition to eliminate this. At the same time, he is critical of the practice of hazardously climbing against the clock merely for setting up new records. He believes that climbing provides a means for self-fulfilment and a test of the will to survive, and consequently identifies the success of climbing not with reaching the summit but with the awareness produced by climbing.
Many such observations succeed in making the reader thoughtful and provide an insight into the mind of one of today's best climbers. All said and done, it is a book worth having on the shelf.
Muslim H. Contractor
TRANGO, THE NAMELESS TOWER. By Jim Curran. Pp. 175,
illustrated. 1978 (Author, Dark Peak, Sheffield, U.K., £6.35).
Man will always risk his life in order to climb a little higher, because
... he thinks he knows
The Hills where his life rose . . .
The Trango Tower is a slender spire set in the Karakoram— offshoot of the Great Himalaya; its walls are of uniform steepness, unlike those of most Himalayan peaks.
A British team of six noteworthy mountaineers made an attempt in 1975. It ended in a failure when Martin Boysen jammed his knee into a crack—later named 'Fissure Boysen'. The struggle which followed for three hours to extricate was harrowing. When all efforts failed, finally with the help of a knife which he found in his pocket he started cutting his breeches. '. . . I cut and gouged the thick material within the crack with my last strength ... At last, I felt the material give: I had cut it through, and now ? . . . My body sagged, and then—I could hardly believe it,-—my knee slipped out. . . . When I reached him [Mo] bloody and wrecked, but alive, I burst into the sweetest tears.'
In the words of the author, Jim Curran, climbing film cameraman, 'The only justification for briefly recounting the events of the 1975 expedition is that they tie up so clearly with the second attempt.'
The members of the 1976 expedition were the experienced three mountaineers of the last attempt—Mo Anthoine (leader), Martin Boysen (who had an old score to settle with T. T.), Joe Brown (the veteran 'Baron') and Malcolm Howells plus the two cameramen Jim Curran and Tony Riley, not to mention Zaffer and his gang of porters.
The 'walk-in' through the blistering heat was full of adventures. Curran describes very humorously the crossing of, the Panmah river by a decrepit bridge, the sideways of which had been partially washed away and the bottom strand looked most precarious.
'For Tony and me this was a timely event. . . . The spectacle of Malcolm suspended above the raging torrent like an incompetent spider, spinning a colourful orange web of climbing tape* Iwas too good to miss, and we both filmed with abandon as he inched his way down towards the middle of the bridge. Our concern for his safety was tempered with the cynical thought that should he come to grief we would get some sensational footage of his almost inevitable demise.'
In Section Two we find the setting of the Base Camp and the assiduous preparations stage by stage for the major push and the final assault.
The expedition ends on a happy note. With a great tenacity of purpose and concentrating on the goal to be achieved, finally four of the mountaineers gained the top of the summit. First Martin and Mo and next morning Malcolm and Joe. It must have been frustrating for cameraman Tony Riley who had accompanied his companions almost all the way up, conscientiously filming them, to realize that he himself could not reach the summit due to failure of light. Both Curran and Riley gained invaluable experience and shot splendid photographs and film.
The greatest catastrophe of the entire trip was when Malcolm dropped a whole lot of specially cooked spaghetti—'a huge tidal wave of gastronomic dreams drained away in the sand'. But by now such a camaraderie had grown among them that this mishap was received in utter silence ! A climber's failure or success is not measured by the summits gained but by the mastery he achieves over himself.
Written in a lucid style with a fine sense of humour and punctuated with slang, Trango should be of great interest not only to mountaineers but also to lay people. Curran has a fine insight into people and circumstances. The photographs are fascinating, the coloured plates especially brilliant.
KATHMANDU VALLEY MAPS. 1 map 1:50,000 DM 12.80. 16 maps 1:10,000 DM 195. 1977 (Association for Comparative Alpine Research, Munich).
The maps sponsored by the Fritz Thyssen Stif,tung are in 8 colours and on a scale big enough to be used on the ground. They cover the whole Kathmandu Valley. But the area being not mountainous, these maps will have rather limited appeal to a mountaineer. What may interest is the accompanying book; which gives details of the survey, translation of place names and eight aerial photographs by E. Schneider and an original map of the valley by Charles Gramford in 1802-3. Perhaps continuing their good work, we can look forward to maps of other areas of Nepal, covering the mountain ranges.
IN THE THRONE ROOM OF THE MOUNTAIN GODS. By Galen Rowell. Pp. 325, 321 illustrations. 1977 (Allen & Unwin, London, £10).
A detailed account of the unsuccessful American K2 expedition of 1975, complete with the history of earlier climbers on K2 and boldly portrayed with eye-opening conflicts between members. An excellent selection of photographs throughout in this well printed book.
The feelings of members at different instances are well reflected from the information pooled in from personal diaries. The author sometimes withdraws into himself to probe the questions of life, attitude, its purposes, death, the supposedly unconcerned attitude of porters and the unresolveable conflicts.
The author at many stages seems quite critical of the expedition as he notes, 'we had neither achieved mastery nor improvement of our personalities on our expedition to K2 For him, as he puts it, the news of his father's death while on the expedition 'was just too intimate to share with people from whom I felt so distant'.
Intermittent porters' strikes, their demands and settlement account for a good few pages. The Ministry of Tourism of Pakistan seemed to have a good solution to the ever-continuing dictatorial porter demands when it reportedly asked them to resort to police help. The alleged C.I.A. connections of the expedition introduce an undesirable bitter blend of political forces with climbing pleasures.
The account of the expedition, its size and the hardships, the conflict of temperaments, situational dictatorship of porters and the helplessness of the expedition members, give an additional point to small-sized, quick-moving, self-sufficient expeditions— alpine-style indeed ! Anyway here's a 'big-sized' book worth its price.
CIENIU KANGzENDZENGI. By Marek Malatynski. Pp. 305, illustrated. 1978 (Iskry, Warszawa—in Polish)
NOSHAQ. By Bruno Helmle. Pp. 130, illustrated. 1979 (Alpine Hoch Schulgruppe, Konstanz—in German).
EXPEDITION NAVARRA AL HIMALAYA 79, DHAULAGIRI 8172 m. By G. A. Martinez. Pp. 104, illustrated. 1979 (In Forme, Pamplona—in Spanish).
While going through the Club library at Delhi, I was impressed by many handwritten or typed reports by various climbers. These travellers had faithfully recorded their adventures with sketches, photographs and route details. This was in the days when printing industry was in the infant stage. The above three books are perhaps the modern version of that early tradition. They record their particular adventure with text, pictures and organizational details.
The first book, in Polish, records the first ascents of South and Central Peaks of Kangchenjunga. This was a unique expedition which climbed two virgin eight-thousandars. This paperback has many pictures and covers the approach and the climb in great detail.
The second book similarly covers the climb of Noshaq North Wall. Again a paperback with sketches and black-and-white pictures, covering the Hindu Kush in general. The team had also climbed three other peaks for acclimatization.
The book on Dhaulagiri is almost a pictorial essay. Full of many large coloured pictures and printed on the best available paper. Rural life of Nepal as seen on the approach march is well covered. The climb is well illustrated with sketches.
It is a pity that the text is not in English, for they provide reference material essential to anyone intending to climb these mountains.
THE INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORY OF MOUNTAINEERING CLUBS AND ORGANIZATIONS. By George Pokorny, Jim Pearker and George Griffin. Pp. 162. 1979 (Mountain Press Publishing Co., Montana, U.S.A., $5)
As the name suggests, the 'purpose in compiling this book is to provide a resource that is not readily available elsewhere, a comprehensive guide to mountaineering clubs and organizations on a broad international scale'. The clubs and their addresses are divided in nine sections and a separate section covers rescue organizations. U.S. and U.K. Clubs are covered in great detail.
As far as the Himalaya is concerned it is covered under 'Middle East and Asia' in about 2 pages. Unfortunately this is also totally inaccurate—addresses of the Himalayan Club and the Indian Mountaineering Foundation are incorrect. One finds many old and extinct club addresses while almost 50 new clubs in India alone are missing.
A good idea and beginning, but a lot of improvement needed if it is to be useful for climbing in the Himalaya.
Articles on each of the above three expeditions appear in the present volume.—Ed