General Notes about the Tadjikistan
THE SOCIALIST Soviet Tadjikistan Republic is the southernmost one in Central Asia, which is formed by four republics. The area is about 1,43,500 km and the extension from east to west is about 600 km and from north to south about 250 km.

On the east the Tadjikistan Republic is bounded by the autonomous Chinese region called Sinkiang-Uighur, while on the south the upper course of the Amu Daria river separates the Tadjikistan Republic from Afghanistan. On the west and north it is bounded by the Socialist Soviet Republics called Uzbekistan and Kirguizistan.

Eastern Tadjikistan
The average height above the sea level of the largest part of the Tadjikistan is about 3000 m.

On the north it is bounded by Alai chain of mountains (in the Kirguizistan) and on the south by the Hindu Kush.

The mountains of this region are commonly known as Pamir. They are constituted by a series of mountain chains placed from east to west. The highest massifs are in the north as a boundary line from Kirguizistan, showing the highest peaks of the USSR: Lenin peak (7134 m) and the Communist peak (7495 m) the topmost point. The average height of this region is about 3000 m above sea level.

The climate is strongly influenced by the heavy precipitation from western depressions. As you go towards the east the annual precipitations become less frequent. That is the reason why the Pamir only receives 100 or 125 mm rain during one year, while the high plateaus receive about 1000 mm.

Winter being the most rainy season, the moisture which becomes snow, melts afterwards in the first days of summer. This natural process provides the lower dry fields with extensive watering. The winters are extremely harsh. This climate favours a vegetation consisting of extended summer meadows.

Most of its population is formed by Kirgiz who live at the Ferghana basin, a very wealthy region with fruit and vegetable crops. In the high plateau men are nomads and shepherds.

The Kirgiz are mongol. They are small and have a white complexion. Their face is round and the eyes are long, the skin colour

is dark and the hair is black. They live as nomads in round wool tents, with a wood porch (called 'Yurts'); there they have herds, horses, goats and yaks. They are frank and friendly.

From Barcelona to the Pamir
On 16 July we started off at noon from the airport in Barcelona to the Pamir. We would try to reach the top of Lenin peak (7134 m).

Before leaving Barcelona we contacted the Director of International Mountaineering Camps (the Russian Mountain Federation) so as to get information about the Pamir. This area is at present unknown to the Spanish mountaineers. Nevertheless, we could not get any information. Anyway it made the expedition even more exciting. We went to Moscow in two stages, first to Copenhagen and the following day to Moscow. When we arrived at Moscow, some translators of the Directorate were waiting for us. They led us to the Intourist Hotel, at the centre of the city. In Moscow we remained one day. We made good use of it and visited the most touristic places in the city. At noon we took off from the airport in Moscow to Osh, the most important city near the Pamir, with airport. This city is the Socialist Soviet Kirguizistan Republic in the Central Asia.

We flew again from Osh but in a light aircraft for twenty people this time. Then, for the first time we saw the mountains. They were the tops of the Alai chain of mountains (4000 or 5000 m). These mountains are parallel to the Pamir. We left civilization behind and went into a new world, both strange and fascinating.

By rickety lorries we went to the International Camp through non-existent ways. This Camp is organized in order to make propaganda about the Russian mountains and at the same time to provide accommodation for the mountaineers who come from everywhere. They also provide people with a series of public services, which otherwise would be very difficult to obtain. These public services are medical services, meteorological information, transmissions, food etc. At the same time the Camp co-ordinates all the foreigners' movements.

The Ascent to the Top
We devoted the three days in the Russian Camp to get the equipment ready for transport. On the third day we went straight up towards Camp 1. The way was long and tiring, for we had to transport all the expedition material by ourselves. First we crossed an enormous,grassy plain, reaching a pass (4150 m). Then we had ta descend and climb so as to cross a small river and enter the Lenin peak glacier. This glacier was long and without crevasses and we had to walk many kilometres. Finally we arrived at the Camp 1, placed at the right side of the glacier (4500 m).

Valencia peak route

This camp became the real base camp for the ascent, for it was just at the bottom of the peak. The landscape seen from this camp was only the north side of the Lenin peak.

For three days we were carrying provisions to Camp 1, 15 km far from the Russian Camp. It was hard work, since we could not use beasts of burden, neither porters. The use of them is not allowed in Russia.

Once we were settled at Camp 1, our first goal was to put up Camp 2. We left the camp and went into the Lenin glacier, we

crossed it till arriving at the bottom of the Lenin peak. The ascent started when we climbed the first two smooth rocks, always following the vertical direction of the peak. Only a few times we had to pass a bit to the right or to the left so as to avoid some cracks.

The higher we climbed the more was the inclination of the rock, though never over 45°. When we were about 5100 m we had to flank towards the right in order to reach a big plateau (5300 m) on a very cracked glacier. There we set up the Camp 2. The following days we brought up the provisions and we could realize the lack of security of the camp. There were persistent wind gusts carrying the snow-dust accumulated in the last snowfall and placing it unsteadily on the north side of the peak. We tried to go en and put up Camp 3 but we had to resign ourselves to carry only a little material above 5000 m. The reason was the lack of a good acclimatization.

From then on, the bad weather made the expedition more difficult, continuous snowfall, temperature about 20° below zero. Besides the lack of provisions, all these elements forced a return to the starting point (Camp 1).

When the weather seemed to be getting better, we were again at Camp 2 but this time on the other side of the plateau (5400 m) under salient stones which sheltered us from the cold, the wind and the avalanches coming from the north of the peak.

While we were climbing Razdelnaia peak the wind was very violent and it was intensely cold. Then we descended to a mountain pass between these tops and the Lenin peak. On an enormous serac we settled Camp 3 (6000 m). The third camp meant the discovery of a new kind of mountains. They were different from those in the Pyrenees and the Alps.

We were surrounded on the right by hundreds of huge and majestic peaks; Hindu Kush and Central Pamir. We attempted to climb an arete but we had to give it up because of the violent wind and intense cold which we had never felt before.

Anyway we got used to this inhospitable environment and succeeded in climbing the arete, though it was very hard.

Then we sent a roped team over 6400 m. We passed one night in bivouac. The following day we tried to reach the top but it was again really impossible to go on due to the violent wind. The second day we made the last programmed attempt.

After going out of the tent in the morning (it was a great effort, due to the height) we started off the climbing slowly. One of us had to give it up due to an inflammation of the mouth. Nevertheless on 6 August at noon we arrived at the top of the Lenin peak (7134 m).

Two Virgin Tops

Just when we climbed the Lenin peak, other members of the expedition, making good use of the sunny day, climbed two virgin tops. Some mountaineers from Valencia joined them.

We have called these peaks: 'Valencia peak, Cerdanyola arete* climbed on 5 August 1981 (5120 m) and 'Concordia Headland* on 9 August 1981 (5360 m).

Technical Summary Pamir expedition 1981.

30 days, from 16 July to 15 August 1981.

Josep Magdalena, Joan Cabau, Josep Verdaguer, Antoni Angla-rill, Jaume Abglarill, Lluis Agusti and Nuria Burgada.

(Members of the 3ki Center Cerdanyola Club and Trip Group 'L Orfeo Gracienc').

Lenin peak (7134 m) through Razdelnaia with four camps: Camp .1 (4500 m), Camp 2 (5300 m), Camp 3 (6000 m) and Camp 4 (6400 m). It was climbed on 6 August 1981.

Razdelnaia peak (6148 m) through the normal route.

Petrosky peak: (4800 m) on 11 August.

Two virgin tops: Valencia peak-Cerdanyola arete (5120 m) on 5 August. Concordia Headland-Mediterranean (5360 m) on 9 August.

Photo 29

Atop the Highest Peak on Sikkim - Tibet Watershed

PAUHUNRI IJS a formidable and challenging peak on the Sikkim - Tibet watershed. It is 23,385 ft in height and is, in fact the highest peak on the watershed. At the base of Pauhunri is Tista Khangse (Tista glacier), the origin of the mighty tumultuous Tista river. On Sikkim side Pauhunri presents a sheer rocky face and has a majestic rise of almost 2000 ft of craggy face above the Tista glacier. The peak presents a more gentle approach from the Tibetan side. In fact, this peak was climbed from the Tibetan side in 191(X and 1945.1
Capt. K. S. Sadashiva, an experienced mountaineer, was choserr as the expedition leader. Volunteers were asked from all units of the Black Cat Division and the homework on administrative support and logistical planning started in July 1983.

After the initial training in rock climbing, the expedition moved to Lotse Khangse (Yumthang valley) and set up camp at 13,400 ft for glacier training. Of the experts only Nb Sub N. B. Gurung and of course Capt Sadashiva were available for imparting training. On 18 August, the expedition had a very narrow escape. A huge avalanche had swept the area chosen for training; the previous night, as the glacier was crevassed, surviving ropes-and pitons were retrieved and glacier training given up. Out of the? original 36 volunteers at this stage only 4 Officers and 17 jawans were finally selected.

Organisation and transportation of baggage and equipment was an intricacy in itself. All stores were broken in 30 kg loads, packed in tarpaulin bags and wrapped over in polythene. Army mules carried them to the first halt at 13,000 ft up to Thanggu. From there on, it was carried by yaks to Gaigong and Kerang. Porters to base camp and expedition members from Camp 1, 2 and 3. It was estimated that the whole process would take about 30 days and one week was kept as reserve. Thus the final assault was planned in last week of September or first week of October. But with the weather gods being kind and unbounded enthusiasm of expedition* members, this was accomplished much earlier - 20 September, 1230 hours to be exact. Graphic picture of the lightning conduct of the expedition is presented by the diary of the expedition leader Capt Sadashiva. Let the excerpts speak for themselves.

19 September 1983: After briefing the Army Commander on 16 September, I have reached Thanggu on foot. On telephoning Pammi, I find the boys well set and happy. I have asked Pammi to carry out recce of base camp and also lay a telephone line.

10 September: Pammi is not happy with Khangchung area, the base camp location selected off the map. The place is too windy. He has selected another area. Laying of telephone line is in progress. I have read out a list of stores to be stocked at base camp.

Note: (1) Pauhunri has attracted mountaineers for a long time. Dr Kellas recceecl it in 1909 in August and October. Dr Kellas made the First ascent via NE face-on 16 June 1910. A British team of J. B. Auden and G. B. Gourlay attempted the peak in October 1934. (H.J. Vol. VII, p. 139). The second ascent was made by C. W. F. Noyce on 24 September 1945 (H.J. Vol. XIII, p. 70). The third ascent is reported by R. Walter, a French climber, in June 1949 (Berge der Welt, issue 7, p. 159). All the ascents were following the NE face, the route of the first ascent from Chumbi valley, Tibet. This ascent by the Indian Army is via NW face-Ed.

11 {September: Base camp is established, telephone line is ready at 1800 hours. All boys have their first look at Pauhunri and Tista Khangse.

12 September: I have reached Giagong with Nima Tashi, instructor from Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling. I have had a restless night. May have to stay a day or two more to recoup.

15(September: I have reached Kerang. Pammi has moved all the boys to base camp. Tashi has left for base camp. Only administrative party with Havildar Sadnanda is at Kerang.

16September: I have caught up with the base camp at 17,800 ft. No doubt it is a good selection of site. Pammi and four boys have gone on a recce of advance base camp and Camp 1. The weather has packed up and I am not in communication with Pammi's party.

17September: Waited in to see over some loads for advance. Reached ABC at 1030 hours. I am shocked and delighted. The ABC is too advanced, in fact, it is just 300 yards short of planned Camp 1. Height of ABC 19,800 ft.

My plan is now to establish Camp 1 at a height of 21,500 ft. I plan to send two assault ropes and two support ropes to Camp 1 led by Pammi and Tashi. Starting from ABC at 0630 hours his party should be back by 1230 hours. Camp 1 would be established by 19 September. My plan then is to let an assault party attempt the peak on 20 September and if they don't succeed, recce and establish Camp 2 at 22,300 ft.

19 September: We are all in ABC. There is a bright moon. The air is bitingly freezing and thick frost is forming on the tents. At 0300 hours, the weather has turned worse. It is windy and foggy. At 0500 hours, Pammi is not well and has vomited once. I have sent back Pammi and with Hav Jageshwar and two boys as escort, upto Khachung Cho. Capt Arora is to meet them.

At 0645 hours, I have despatched the ropes. The pennants are being carried by Dandi Sherpa. I am all hopeful and wish them luck. They are off to Camp 1.

Final Ascent
The assault ropes reached Camp 1 at 1500 hours on 19 September. They all slept by 1930 hours to be ready early morning on 20. At 0130 hours the dome tent gave way and they had to set up spare tent. By 0300 hours assault ropes made breakfast and were ready to move out by 0400 hours.

The assault ropes started off from Camp 1 and were near the summit by 0800 hours. But they could not make any further progress as the route had become very slippery. The glacier slab was also posing serious danger. L/Nk Shy am Bahadur took the lead and started cutting steps and fixing rope. In the next two hours, they progressed 300 ft. The peak was now barely 1000 to 1200 m away (horizontally). Both ropes made very steady, but exhaustingly tiring progress for another 500 m.

L/Nk Dandi Sherpa and Tashi took the lead during the last 500 m. This rope crept up and at 1245 hours stopped 5 yards short of peak, in deference to the local Sikkimese custom. The pennants were unfurled.

The successful summitters were:

Rfn Bala Ram Gurung, Rfn Shyam Bahadur Thapa, Sep Prem Singh, L/Nk Dandi Sherpa, Nima Tashi.

Photo 30

The Aichi Nepal Himalayan Expedition, 1982

THIS REPORT deals with how Masami Okabe, a member of our expedition, met with a disaster.

We attempted to climb to the summit by walking along the Marsyandi valley and then taking a turn to the north at the Manang basin. The mishap took place when Masami Okabe, 30 years of age, who had been carrying his baggage up toward Camp 5, was suddenly involved in a surface avalanche caused by the collapse of an ice-tower.

And he was buried in the crevasse belt approximately 100 m down below. We rushed to rescue him at once, but we failed to get on the track and we were obliged to come to the conclusion that he was dead and gave up our climbing activity. This was a very shocking and terrible accident.

On 12 March, 1982, we set out on a caravan with 90 porters from Dumre, and on 23 March, we put together all the caravan load amounting to 2700 kg at Braga village in Manang basin. In order to get used to the altitude, we stayed there for about one week. During this short period of our stay, we climbed up to the 5000 m high ridge at the end of the Chulu East peak, and on 29 March, we set up our base camp at 3800 m from the end of the right-hand wing of east glacier facing north. The snow lay 1.3 m deep in the forest land. From 31 March, we started our climbing activities, and we opened the route to Camp 1 (4700 m) on 2 April; Camp 2, on east glacier (5000 m) on 5 April; Camp 3 (5750 m) at the end of north glacier plateau on 12 April, Camp 4 (6300 m) on the top of the plateau on 19 April, and Camp 5 (6800 m) on 22 April.

The weather had not changed much since we constructed our base camp on 23 March. We had been well prepared for assaulting the summit. Now, Masami Okabe, Ozawa and Lakhpa Dorje left for Camp 5 at 7.45 a.m., and arrived there at 1 p.m. After a short rest, we began to make preparations for the first pitch of the route, but we were affected by the altitude, which obliged us to postpone the attack on the summit which we had mapped out on the following day. As a result, we climbed down to Camp 3 and took a rest there, so that we might complete the arrangements for the summit attack all over again. It was expected to do so on 26 April.

Maeda, who had left Camp 3 on 24 April, joined with Okabe, the leader of Camp 4, and started for Camp 5 as a preparation group. On their way, they walked past Ozawa and Dorje climbing down to Camp 3, and we could confirm that Masami Okabe was there at Camp 5. Reaching Camp 5, the group obtained Masami Okabe's consent that he would help to carry up to the spot where the necessary arrangements had been made for the route. All the climbing equipments and instruments which the ferry party was carrying had been brought up to Camp 5 from Camp 3. A little past noon Masami Okabe walked down from Camp 5 and received the equipments of Iwase, engaged in the work of loading, and then got back to Camp 5, with Sherpa Sirdar Dawa. Right after the group finished fixing the 50 m rope from the 6900 m spot, say, around 1.30 p.m., the ice-tower at 7100 m collapsed. This sudden collapse resulted in a surface avalanche, 140-150 m wide and 600 m long, and the avalanche swallowed the two men of the group; Okabe, (deputy leader) fell 150 m. Maeda fell too, but he managed to escape narrowly from falling down to the crevasse by the rope fixed at the spot, although he tumbled down about 80 m.

The main current of the snow-avalanche dealt a direct blow to the load-lifting party who were just on the point of arriving at Camp 5. Dawa, who was walking ahead of the group, threw himself flat at a 8 m ice-tower behind Camp 5 and was narrowly saved by a piece of good luck; Ang Ringzin was directly hit by the ice-block and was thrown aside but miraculously he stayed on the spot right before the crevasse belt. Masami Okabe, however, had bad luck; he was involved in the main stream of the snow-avalanche and was buried in the crevasse 1.00 m down below, all of a sudden. I witnessed the terrible scene of the accident, we hastened to get on to rescue, but nothing could be done because the ice-snow covered all the crevasse and we found the ice-snow beyond control. At sunset, we were forced to stop rescue work; we picked up the other four men and took them to Camp 4. Okabe (deputy leader) was seriously hurt and had his chest and limbs broken and also had his right leg sprained badly; Maeda had a pressing pain around the kidney and had a heavy hit on his waist. Both of them could manage to climb down with their own will power. Dawa and Ringzin were found safe.

We instituted a three-day-long search, for Masami Okabe, but found no sign of the missing man.

And we were obliged to come to the conclusion that Masami Okabe had died. We gave up the idea of climbing on 27th April, and withdrew the base camp on 28 April.



FROM THE main summit of Himalchuli (7893 m) to the south a long rib comes off in whose extension Baudha (6672 m) rises. The ridge which joins both summits slopes in the west into the Dordi khola valley by steep ice-walls which are cut by barriers of seracs is the southern ridge of Himalchuli. Its top dome towers by an about 300 m high rocky pyramid which makes a difficult obstacle. This problem, twice attacked in 1981 by the Japanese, was the aim of the expedition of Gdynia to the Himalaya in 1983. The participants were: Andrzej Bielun, Walenty Fiut, Jacek Gronczewski, Czeslaw Jakiel, Czeslaw Jakubczyk, Wojciech Jedlinski, Tadeusz Piotrowski (leader) and Jerzy Tillak.

On 7 April the caravan left Dumre and after a five-days* march it reached the lower border of snow. This year's spring in the Himalaya was extremely cold. Snow covered the southern and western mountain-sides from the level of 3000 m and to make things worse we were faced with new snowfalls every day. In such abnormal conditions the local porters left the loads - only three Tibetans remained with the expedition. And so the whole charge of the further transport fell upon the shoulders of the participants - and it played a prominent part in the further course of the mountain operation. The base (4200 m) has been established not till 31 April, two weeks later than intended.

The weather was still inconvenient, every afternoon from the deep parts of the valleys came layers of clouds and it began to snow. The Camp 1 (5300 m) has been established on 3 May in the west cirque into which a huge, about 2000 m high ice-wall from the ridge sloped. The Japanese went ahead in their attempts upwards along the rib which surmounted the west cirque from the right side. We have decided to get out to the ridge direct by the wall, to the left of their route. The'Camp 2 (6100 m) has been erected on 5 May.

Till this height the route did not present great troubles, the difficult ground began higher up from Camp 2. The wall became steeper and steeper and it had in places an angle of 70 degrees. Therefore one should put fixed ropes and we could not find any place for the next camp. The run of guardrails was longer and longer and the steep icefields made it impossible to pitch the tents. On 17 May the last barrier of seracs has been surmounted and at the height of 7050 m Camp 3 has been established (Bielun, Fiut, Jedlinski and Piotrowski). The ledge of the southern ridge was only 50 m away.

At night from 15 to 16 May - from the southwest wall of Himal-chuli fell a tremendous avalanche of seracs - Camp 1 was hurried under a thick coat of snow. The night before, six people stayed in the camp. . . . As Gronczewski and Tillak did not reach the Camp 3, four people who stayed in it had to go down to take the deposit left down there and only the next day it was possible to begin the summit attack. In front of us was the long snow-ridge and the rocky peak pyramid at the foot of which only Bielun and Piotrowski came on 20 May. The other two people retreated to the base where already the other participants of the expedition stayed. We have smarted from the hardships of mountain-climbing and the rush for the establishment of the base.

Illnesses and indispositions reduced our group to a dyad which had to act in isolation.

In gusts of a stormy wind fluttered the shreds of a Japanese tent set into ice. At the height of 7600 m - on a platform digged out in snow, we have set up a little storm tent. The wind still stormed. In the morning we woke up pressed down by snow. Our sleeping-bags were wet and it still snowed. We have decided to wait one day. By means of an accidentally found saw we have digged out a spacious den in the snow. It gave us a good protection against the wind but the wet sleeping-bags did not protect from the biting cold.

In a drowse interrupted by attacks of feverish shivers, we stayed through the night to start in the morning for the final storm. A strong wind still blew. After an hour's mountain climbing, clouds approached and it began to snow. In a difficult rock climbing, we mounted 50 m over the bivouacking space.

The weather gave us no chance for a success, none the less we spent one night more in the den deluding ourselves that the weather conditions would improve.

Over the summit of Himalchuli streamed a flag of snow. Our food was running out, we could not expect any assistance or help. We had to give in. On 23 May we reached the covered up Camp 3. We were able at last, after a several days' break, to get into touch with the base and to notify our fellows of our return.



THIS WAS the first ascent from the north of the peak of Ganga-purna, 7454 m (district Manang).

With a special bus we transported material, team, five Nepal attendants and forty-two porters to Dumre, where we have started on 28 September the trek to the foot of the mountain. Till the last settlement we walked nine days and stayed the nights at the following places: Bajsjangle, Udaipur, Lete, Bahundanda, Chamche, Bagarcap, Chame, Pisang, Manang.

All the time we had great problems with porters, who were hard to hire. They shortened the day's stages and blackmailed higher prices for carrying. The difficulties intensified before Manang where we have hired mules because of shortage of porters. On the precipitous footpath to the base camp the animals were scared and eleven loads, mainly food fell 300 m deep down into the bottom of the valley. With the remaining porters we reached the plain after the moraine-crest on 8 October at height of 4850 m, from where badly equipped porters rejected to go further.

Though we had planned the base camp much higher on the glacier we had to get familiar with the fact and set there starting Camp Bl.

With the help of the team and remaining porters we managed to deliver all the material to Camp Bl the following day, on 9 October.

We provided the remaining ten porters with clothes and footwear. On 10 October the twentyone head group has broken through to the glacier 5350 m high. There we set two tents of previous planned base Camp B2 next to the camp of Grenoble Expedition to Glacier Dome.

On the evening of 10th the complete group has had to return to Camp Bl because of more and more beastly weather. The blizzard became wild and in the following days we have been snowed with one metre of new snow. That snow hindered many expeditions. On 13 October all of us twenty that have been available have broken through to Camp B2 and found it completely demolished. Till evening we succeeded with a help of bamboo poles to pitch both tents and settled.

Till the end of the post-monsoon period only eighteen days remained.

After heavy snowing the sky cleared but northwest winds strengthened and thrusted paths with snow. At higher altitudes winds at times got hurricane power.

The atmosphere cooled down. In Camp B2 temperatures during the night and in the morning were from 18 and 20 degree centigrade below zero.

The great surprise was also the north mountain ridge of Ganga-purna which swept down to Manang. One part of mountain ridge was turned to west and embraced hidden cwm under the north face. Therefore we have only seen the lower part of the face on 16 October when we had broken*through to the hidden cwm.

The north face of Gangapurna was like alpine face, without seracs and was about 1800 m high. At foot it was icy and at the top rocky.

Being pressed for time and because of strong winds on western side of the face we have made a decision to make the ascent from left (eastern) part, 1300 m high. From there we could have reached north ridge till 7000 m. The upper part of north ridge, more than 400 m, was technically not complicated but exposed to strong winds that might have defeated the ascent. The steepest part of the ascent above T2 to the ridge was an icy slope of 60 - 65° with few rocky shelves.

We succeeded in climbing in 14 days after ascending to B2.

The chronological run of the ascent:

On 14 October Belak and Kregar explored the glacier and thrust the way up to the passage to the cwm below the face.

On 15 October five members of expedition (Kofol, Alic, Tratnik, Beg and Kozjek) brought the loads to depot 5500 m high.

On 16 October Belak, Kozjek and Kregar set up Tl 5550 m under the rocky shelf on north ridge.

On 17 October the same three men discovered usable passage over broken seracs into the hidden cwm under the face, which with its flat bottom without cracks was a pleasant surprise. High snow was the only obstable. At the left part of the face we ascended up to a mighty serac, fastened 200 m fixed ropes and left at 6000 m a depot of equipment for the latter T2.

On 18 October Alic, Kofol and Tratnik with additional equipment mounted to 6100 m and in the crack above the serac set up the tunneled tent T2 and returned to Tl to stay over the night. On 19 October the same three men again reached T2 with new material. During the night T2 was covered with snow, they cleared it and fixed another 100 m of ropes and descended to B2. On 20 October for the first time they stayed over in T2.

On 21 October T3 should have been set according to our plans on the north ridge to serve as final jumping off place for reaching the peak. Till evening Kregar and Kozjek descended to B2 and to T2 ascended the roped party of Belak, Beg and Tratnik. The following day,

22 October, Belak and Beg succeeded to extend the fixed rope up to 6850 m. Tratnik was hit by a stone on his shoulder so he had to descend to B2 for a few days of recovery.

On 23 October Alic and Kofol succeeded to extend the rope for

further 50 m, which was enough for their followers Kregar and Kozjek for their attempt to ascend the peak.

On 24 October a hurricane arose on the mountain and buried any hope for ascent. Kregar and Kozjek hardly crawled back to B2, Tl and T2 were swept away by avalanches. With the hurricane we realized that any camp at the top of the north ridge would be of no use, so we decided to ascend the peak at the first suitable moment from T2 though there was 1300 m of slope from T2 to the peak.

On 25 Belak, Kozjek and Kregar left B2, stayed over the night at Tl and the following night at T2.

The weather was fine that was why they started on 27 October to ascend the peak. Tratnik joined them - he had started the evening before from B2.

With the help of fixed ropes and moonlight they reached the ridge in early morning hours. They fixed the last 200 m of rope to ensure their descent. So we fixed into the face of the mountain all together 1200 m of ropes.

At 9 a.m. in the morning we started unroped on technically simple north ridge towards the peak. The wind was stronger and stronger and prevented us from progressing normally so we had to crawl at times. We reached the peak of Gangapurna at 12.40 p.m. (Kozjek, Kregar and Belak). Tratnik reached it a bit later at 1 p.m. In hurricane wind with speed of 150 kmh and cold of 30 degrees C below zero we could not stand upright on the peak so we had to leave it after 15 minutes.

The power of wind diminished at lower altitudes and we descended by fixed ropes and reached T2 at 5 p.m. There we met the support party of Alic and Kofol who had cleared away T2. Belak, Kregar and Kozjek continued with their descent to B2, while Alic, Kofol and Tratnik stayed the night in Tl.

In the afternoon of 28 October we cleared away Tl and descended to B2. The same evening the whole team descended to Bl.

The following day we prepared twenty loads of the remaining equipment and left the mountain on 30 October.



THE CROSSING of the main range between the pilgrim centres of Gangotri and Kedarnath is still an interesting proposition as it was in 1939 when J. B. Auden ('A Seasons Work in the Central Himalaya', H.J. Vol. XII, 1940, p. 17) crossed from the Rudugaira to the Khatling glacier by a col (c. 18,000 ft) which now bears his name.

The Rudugaira valley is by now a much frequented place with expeditions attempting the Rudugaira and the Gangotri group of peaks. Members of such expeditions have more than once reached the col from the Rudugaira side, the last on record being a few members from the IMF training camp in October 1982 (H.J. Vol. 39, p. 188). On the other hand little authentic information is available on record about the upper reaches of the Khatling glacier. In H.J. Vol. 39, p. 180 Geoff Cohen makes a passing remark that 'we did a long plod up the Khatling glacier to just below the col over to the Rudugaira glacier'. Further correspondence with Geoff Cohen provides me with some very useful information.

With this background Arun Ghosh and myself leave Calcutta on 13 August for the Bhillangana valley in spite of a late monsoon. We leave Tehri for Ghuttu on the 16th morning. What could be a short bus journey turns out to be a tedious affair. To top it all we are dropped 5 km before Ghuttu because of a landslip and reach our destination in failing light. The village is a quiet one and the valley does not seem to receive a big onslaught of pilgrims and tourists which is a blessing. We put up in a house and between glasses of hot tea we enquire about the weather and terrain.

We leave Ghuttu (4000 ft) on the 17th in bright sunshine and high spirits for the next big village of Gangi which is 20 km away. Overriding prudence with valour we deny ourselves a porter. The track unwinds itself along the foaming Bhillangana and after about 10 km we decide to camp in a clearing above which is the settlement of Reeh. The next morning we leave for Gangi and the rather easy walk of yesterday is replaced by a stiff climb. Our shoulders protest and we promise ourselves a porter at Gangi. At an altitude of 8000 ft Gangi is the last big village enroute. We put up at the village school and recruit the services of Umed Singh. Armed with a French-cut beard and a rifle Umed is not very sure of where we are going. We do not elaborate at first but tell him that we might not need him once we are on the glacier itself. The thought of having to return alone through a dense jungle causes him some discomfort.

Beyond Gangi the track at times becomes faint while the vegetation becomes increasingly dense. We pass the last settlement of Deokhari which lies deserted. The small streams which rush down to meet the Bhillangana are raging torrents and we have to take off our boots to ford them carefully. The trek in the lower region is a wet one indeed but we are amply rewarded by the profusion of flowers in an unspoilt valley. With a slight feeling of guilt we have to wade through fields of flowers. We reach Kharsoli, a Gujjar camp, and pitch our tent beside their hut. The old man is accommodating and we warm ourselves besides a fire. The rain invariably comes down with all its fury at night and we wonder whether our tent will put up with such treatment any longer. We leave Kharsoli on the 20th with the clouds continuing to chase us up the valley. We pass a prominent waterfall on our right and as the trees give way to shrubs we reach a rock projection known as-the Khatling Cave (12,000 ft). A steady drizzle has accompanied us for quite some time and we wait in vain for a glimpse of the snows. For once we don't have to bother about tent poles and pegs and get ready for a night's sleep.

East of the cave a stream from the Dudhganga Bamak joins the Bhillangana. Further east lies Masur Tal, and it is possible to cross a few subsidiary ridges and reach Kedarnath via Masur Tal, Puniya Tal and Vasuki Tal. The route though not very popular has been done more than once and the people of Ghuttu and Gangi are aware of this route. Umed has been on this route and was eager to take us where he could show his guiding prowess. However I note that neither the people of Ghuttu or Gangi nor the shepherds who graze their flocks in the upper Bhillangana are aware of the col at the head of the Khatling or what exactly lies beyond the main range. In 1939, Auden notes that * According to the villagers there is a tradition that years ago people used to cross from the Khatling to the Rudugaira on the way to Gangotri,. though they said the route had never been used in their lifetime or in that of their fathers. Nobody on the Harsil side knew of the route although three people at Gangi independently mentioned the Rudugaira as soon as we spoke of the Khatling.'1 It would be interesting to note that Umed also spoke of the Rudugaira but on further questioning we found out that it was not the valley that he spoke of but of a Rudugaira peak (5818 m), a rocky peak on the southern side of the Phating-Jogin ridge.

We leave the cave on a bright morning and reach the snout where Umed and Arun offer some dried fruit that we might have a safe journey. Here we ask Umed whether he is willing to accompany us all the way. When I tell him where we expect to reach he seems sceptical at first but all the same very eager to try out something new. We leave the snout on our right and ascend the left moraine ridge and camp quite high up leaving the glacier far below. At night the weather turns particularly nasty and it rains heavily the next morning. We treat the 22nd as rest day but do however shift our camp further up. On the map the place is marked as Kachotra, a grazing ground. A very prominent cairn marks the place and is probably the last point up to where the Gujjars come. Opposite us we can make out sheep grazing on some grassy slopes on top of a similar moraine ridge. The Jogin Bamak hangs precariously with blocks of ice falling at intervals. Looking back the way we came we can make out the Ratangrian Bamak sweeping away in a curve towards the Phating-Jogin ridge. None of these glaciers meet the Khatling at present and have left signs of receding by their moraine deposits.

1. H.J. Vol. XII, p. 24-Ed.

On the 23rd we leave Kachotra and all greenery behind. On our right the crevassed glacier is turning into an icefall. We are still able to avoid the glacier by negotiating loose moraine and boulders. We encounter some snow patches till we reach a scarp of rock which blocks the valley. One has to negotiate the icefall on the right or ascend the scarp and descend down the other side. We opt for the latter and camp on top of the scarp about 15,500 ft. The campsite is an excellent viewpoint and the next morning in some very clear weather we are blessed with memorable views of the Gangotri peaks northwards and towards the east that marvel of Phating Pithwara (Thalay Sagar). On our left and westwards the Sangli Bamak joins the Khatling icefall in a gentle sweep. It surprised me then that the Sangli should have no external disfiguration at a place where it meets the Khatling in a jumble of broken ice and gaping crevasses. We descend the scarp of rock and cross the icefall at this place. Arun uses crampons to get onto the icefall and then belays us. We rope up and cross the icefall which proves to be much easier than I thought and we move over to the Jogin side. The icefall is now less severe and all we have to do is to negotiate plenty of open crevasses. We have by now turned the second bend of the glacier and are again moving north. This is why the col is not visible while on the lower half of the Khatling due to the convexity of the topography interrupting the line of sight. In fact even after moving in a northerly direction the col was not visible till we reached a height of about 16,000 ft. It is slightly difficult at first to identify the actual col since more than one depression comes to view on the ridge which joins the Gangotri and Jogin groups. Our estimation proves to be correct and we move towards the col. Westwards there are a number of peaks, the most prominent being Jaonli. We camp on a snowfield and have an unusually heavy shower of rain right here at a height of about 16,500 ft.

The 25th morning is bright and clear and we move confidently towards the col. After passing a glacial pond we encounter a series of undulating snow slopes which leads to a miscalculation of distance. The sun beats down fiercely and the softening snow makes the going considerably worse. The col looms up in front of us and judging by its steepness we decide to keep it for the morrow. Our camp below the col is in quite awe-inspiring surroundings. The massive east wall of Gangotri III is on our left. The ridge contains a number of impressive rocky spires, the col itself being beside two which point upwards like a pair of rabbit's ears. The glacier rolls away and moves out of sight in the south and in the distance a host of smaller peaks are set on an edge like well-arranged snow-cones. Like all other evenings we expect the weather to get bad with bright sunshine again the next morning. But our hopes are belied: the weather closes in and we are confined to our tent for two days and three nights. Heavy snowfall and white-out prevail with an occasional rumble of an avalanche from the eastern face of Gangotri III. Umed had been good company throughout. Lower down the countless crevasses and later the slopes of soft snow had made him slightly nervous. Now with this forced confinement he remains inextricably withdrawn, silent and morose. When finally late in the morning of the 28th the weather clears slightly we decide it is now or never. After the heavy snowfall the snow condition is abominable, and we have to probe carefully for concealed crevasses. The climb up the col is quite steep and is accomplished with countless slips and half-slips. Umed has to be cajoled. The soft snow almost brings progress to a standstill and we use a steep rock gully on our right to gain height. The sky clouds up again and a fierce wind comes up. The cold begins to be numbing. After much self-persuasion and a final snow-traverse we reach the top. It's 2.50 p.m. on 28 August 1983.

Through the clouds we have a fleeting glimpse of the Khatling, familiar and distant. A few pictures and then we start down the col into the Rudugaira valley with a quiet sense of satisfaction. After a slight descent we see in the distance the moraine ridges of the Rudugaira that betoken a lot of boulder-hopping once again, We race down the snow-slopes in an effort to spend the night on the snow-free moraine. The weather is visibly better and we are able to spend the next two nights out under the boulders. Even Umed in his exuberance now tends to our needs assiduously. We reach Gangotri on the 30th morning, thankful that we were able to cross the main range, tracing Auden's pioneering route in reverse.

Footnote: I corresponded with J. JB. Auden intimating him of our crossing. He was very pleased, especially as the news came after a period of 44 years. His reply sounded very nostalgic: 'My memory of the region last visited 44 years ago is somewhat vague. Though I love that part of the Himalaya - Simla to Nainital, Pulamsumda to the Siwaliks - more than any other part of India or of the world there is no chance of visiting it again and a fading memory has to suffice/

Bidyut Sarkar and Atanu Chatterjee with a porter crossed Auden's Col on 18 September 1983 from the Rudugaira side. They continued via Masur Tal, Puniya Tal, and Vasuki Tal to reach Kedarnath, thus completing a high-altitude route from Gangotri to Kedarnath



THE INDIAN MOUNTAINEERING FOUNDATION selected 18 women and 36 men climbers and selected Col Balwant Sandhu to* lead this group for a 'testing-cum-training' expedition to Mana for

The Indian attempt on Everest in 1984. Mana, 7272 m, stands five kilometres south of Kamet. It was first climbed by Frank Smythe along the 3 ridge in 1937 and had been twice climbed by Indian parties. Its south face is a 1000 m icefall. Above the icefall the south ridge leaps sharply by about 400 m and goes on to the summit along an easy broken rock ridge. The snowfield above the icefall extends to an easy-angled NW ridge also leading to the summit.

Prem Chand and the climbers went up through Rishikesh, Joshi-math, Badrinath and left the road at village Mana. We walked east of Saraswati and kept south of Nagthuni gad until the Uttar Nagthuni glacier. Across its moraine lay our base camp at 4532 m in a protected open plateau that had once been a tarn. We did not have enough porters and ferried baggage from Mana village to the base camp.

Balwant Sandhu and Rattan Singh with one porter took a more direct way from Uttarkashi to the base camp. They walked from Gangotri to Tapoban, across the Kalindi khal and down the Arwa valley and reached the base camp on the fifth day. The route after Kalindi khal needed a good nose detouring across the confusion of glacial moraines until it reached the Ghastoli pastures. At Ghastoli we crossed the Saraswati and followed a goat track east of Saraswati to its junction with Nagthuni gad. We could now see the last of our group moving up the south of Nagthuni. We found a snowbridge and crossed over to reach the base camp by nightfall.

We explored the south and north Nagthuni glaciers and preferred the south Nagthuni glacier. The route angled along the moraine for about 3 kms and then along the rock ridge between the glacier and its eastern spur. Camp 1 was reached at 5500 m. A snowfield led to Gupta Khal (Zaskar Col). Across, the route dropped about 30 m down to Banke glacier and then weaved north through the icefall to Camp 2 at 6200 m. Camp 3 was at 6700 m above, in the middle of the snowfield. From the camp to the summit ridge was under a kilometre across the bergschrund; we would have to protect the route.

We grouped into three largely self-selected lots. Prem Chand with better acclimatized climbers opened the route to Camp 1 and then fixed the route to Camp 2. The route meant picking a safe line across avalanche debris and seracs. During this time the groups at the base camp stocked camps and free-climbed to Pt 5730 immediately above the camp and to Pt 5941 across the Dakhani Nagthuni glacier.

While Prem Chand worked to establish Camp 2, Lhatoo and 14 of the better acclimatized climbers were in support. Lhatoo took over the lead on 16 September to continue the route opening. Lhatoo recorded 'We had met Prem's party on their way down and they had said that they had left a "good section" of the route for us to open. Sure enough, when we got there, we found an over- hanging ice-wall waiting for us. Instead of trying to drive in pitons up the length of the wall, we skirted around and above it, anchored a rope and threw it down. We then proceeded to jumar up it. By now it was about 1.30 p.m. but we were determined to set up Camp 3 so we carried on.'

Balwant JSandhu and Rattan moved up with the third group. They passed Lhatoo at Camp 1 and occupied Camp 2 the same evening. If one was late starting from Camp 1, one burnt in the sun and found the pull-up to Camp 2 utterly drying. In the evening, the high perch of Camp 2 made it a magnificent high point with eye-filling vistas to Nanda Devi to the south and across to Sato-panth, to the west.

Above Camp 2 was an overhung ice-wall of about 15 m. Fixed ropes in the morning and for many, any time, remained a tough proposition. An hour above the ropes led one to the snow field below the NW summit ridge. During the day the sun mushed the snowfield: Camp 3 was placed here. It took two hours to get to the ridge on frozen snow and many hours if it was not frozen. But the camp was protected from the wind.

First summit party with Prem Chand attempted the summit on 21 September. They were delayed crossing the bergschrund between the snowfield and the NW ridge of Mana. Late in the day they got to the ridge. The wind was now sharp and added considerably to the exposure of the ridge walk. They found it hard going against it. They were beaten back.

Lhatoo's group was in support and now took the lead. Prem Chand stayed back with the third group at Camp 2 to support Lhatoo. 300 m of the ridge was protected in the next two days and all was ready for the following day.

None of our radios worked on the mountain. The group leaders worked off plans hatched at the base camp some days ago: Often with the usual addled results though we did try to offset this by exchanging notes through the ferry parties. These took two days one way and you were lucky to get an answer in three days.

Night of 22 September my Eureka tent collapsed under the weight of snow at the base camp. It snowed throughout the next day and the following night. What on earth was going on up the mountain? Rupender Rai put on his seven-league boots and offered to carry a message to Prem Chand at Camp 2. Prem Chand had waited at Camp 2 for Lhatoo to come down from Camp 3 before getting off the mountain. He found Camp 2 under threat of fresh snow avalanches and at last abandoned the camp at 0900 hours on 24 September. Half an hour later, Lhatoo's group floundered down in the zero visibility and silence of the falling snow. They found Camp 2 partly buried. Lhatoo noted 'Camp 2 was deserted and had been hit by an avalanche. Of the four tents pitched there two were completely buried and were not to be seen. Two others had been partially covered. We spent a couple of hours extricating these. We then descended to Camp 1 where we met Prem Chand and his party; together we returned to the base camp.'

They floundered through the fresh snow and reached base at nightfall. We had been on tenterhooks a whole day and now had to be thawing the women in one tent and men in another, until midnight. Counting their numbers went on the whole night. Did Marshal Ney ever count all his men retreating from Moscow?

We had now time for one last attempt on the mountain. The time for pushing a camp on the NW ridge had been lost. It would have to be one last 'go' on the mountain. Lhatoo, Prem Chand and Rattan Singh now joined forces with about 20 climbers and went back to the mountain, carrying our respective crosses. One or twa pairs of them could still make an alpine-style push to the summit and back: Was that what we had come to the mountain for? The mountain was for the mob not for gladiators.

In two days Camp 3 was occupied. Despite an early start they gained the summit ridge well after sunrise. On the ridge the going was easy and by mid-day they were below the last rock step to the summit; a 30 m steep rock pitch and then an easy-angled slope to the summit.

The snow had not hardened in two days after the storm. It also had not been blown away. It lay precariously on the rock neither fit for anchor nor for free climbing. It wbuld be easy to climb up the ridge; getting down the ridge would be the very devil, if not worse. In a large group, they were 14 attempting the summit, the track could easily get ploughed up to make it dangerous even if the snow were less execrable. They debated the issue for some time. It was desirable to climb Mana; was it worth risking a few of the hopefuls for the Indian Everest Expedition next year? At 1 p.m., under a clear, windless day, they turned back.

The mountain was cleared the next day. Mahavir Thakur had got frostbitten and was sent out in a helicopter. The rest of us ferried loads to a camp above Mana village and then found some ponies to carry the baggage to the road ahead.

56 trainees for the Men and Women's expedition to Everest had been exposed to themselves, a period of pressure climbing and been generally put through their paces. There had been one failure: we had hoped to try out most of the clothing, some climbing gear and trial and high mountain food. These had not arrived.



'DEM BONES, dem bones, dem dry bones' or in this case refrigerated bones. One of the Himalaya's greatest mysteries is how the bones of some 300 human skeletons came to be preserved at the bottom of a tiny, hidden glacial lake at 16,000 ft, tucked away in the interior of Garhwal at the base of the awesome Trisul massif.1
The puzzle is not how these people met their death but how they came to be there in the first place, 30 miles away from the nearest habitation and nearly five thousand feet above the timber (and shelter) line. Except in September when most of the snow has melted it's not easy to reach the lake for the terrain is hostile, bleak and windy. Without a guide you would never find the lake for its situation is perhaps unique. A tiny jade oval concealed in a fold almost at the top of a sheer ridge, that drops down on its far side to the glacier whence the river Nandakini issues, which merges with the Ganga at Nanda Prayag. On the map the distances look piddling but the terrain is so forbidding that it takes a hellish week to penetrate the gorge.

The word 'Nanda' is our first clue to solving the mystery. After crossing the ridge above Rupkund and traversing the Silisamuder glacier you pass Ronti {Saddle the lowest point on the entire curtain wall of the mysterious Nanda Devi Sanctuary. The ancient local name is Homkuni or Homkund. But instead of a lake is an unusual crater and in it a Sri Y'antra, the tantric symbol of Devi. It is a replica of a Yantra to be found in the village of Nauti which stands above Kama Prayag, the home of the Nautiyals, priests to the Garhwal rajas.

Though poor, your Garhwali villager is tough and dependable. At Wan the last village on the way to Rupkund from Gwaldam all the men folk still wear the traditional brown blanket tied across their chest and pinned with two iron needles made by the local blacksmith. The sewing machine has yet to reach them. Unknown to them I was carrying ten thousand rupees of another expedition and decided I would leave it with other excess luggage in the village rather than risk ending up in the lake, to no one's advantage. When I returned after a week, naturally a bit apprehensive about the decision, my kit was exactly as I had left it. Nowadays it is rare to find uncurious villagers!

Every year the local villagers climb up from Wan to Bedni Bugial, a delightful Alpine meadow, to worship at the small temples of Nanda Devi and her herald Latu. Thousands of people come from miles around such is the devotion for the Devi. Traditionally every twelfth year saw a much more impressive procession from Nauti to Homkuni, which followed a four-horned ram. At Homkund the ram's saddlebags would be filled with offerings to the goddess and the ram would be released. It would canter off towards Nanda Devi Sanctuary and the villagers would return down the Nandakini gorge tired but happy in the knowledge that the tantric ritual had been completed and their worship accepted. Many times conditions were unfavourable and the sacrifice could not be completed. According to the Nautiyals their pilgrimage - the Bara Nanda Jat --dates back nearly a thousand years.

1. See H.J. Vol. XX, p. 122-Ed.

Amazingly the British administration were unaware of its existence. Atkinson's Gazetteer and Longstaffs memoirs both make light of it as Hindu mythology. Whoever heard of natives climbing to 16,300 ft?

The presence of the bones was announced in 1942 when a local forest officer discovered the lake by accident while searching for rare herbs. (Wan is still a collection centre for Himalayan herbs.) The British reaction was typical. Think first of how it would fit into Empire history and then bend the evidence to suit imperial theory. The Commissioner grandly announced that the bodies could only be of an army (though no weapons were found), and casting around for a suitable scenario, fell upon the retreating troops of General Zorawar Singh who had perished while his army escaped from a Tibetan campaign in 1840. While officialdom clung to the military explanation (and still does) local people preferred the Tibetan trader version. This appears to have grown out of the discovery of a large leather woven shoe near the bodies which reminded the finder of a Tibetan trader he thought he remembered as a boy. This theory was elaborated by local brah-manical legends about a lost way to Tibet over the Ronti Saddle, only revealed to those whom the goddess chose.

Fortunately a Sherlock Holmes has emerged to solve the Rup-kund mystery. Shambu Nath Das is a Bengali mountaineer and a member of the Himalayan Club who has made an exhaustive study of the remains found in the lake as well as local folklore. His findings support the enquiry carried out by the government department of Anthropology who carbon-dated the bones as circa-1400 ad and were strongly of the opinion that they belonged to the Nanda Jat pilgrims.

The military theory is absurd not only chronologically but geographically. Rupkund leads to nowhere unless like the grand old Duke of York the troops were being marched all the way to the top of Trisul (over 23,000 ft) and then marched back down again. But General Zorawar Singh by all accounts was a very decisive commander. Between Rupkund and Tibet lie at least three high passes uncrossable except by well-equipped mountaineering parties, and significantly even until today, no one has succeeded in crossing Nanda Devi Sanctuary from south to north let alone face the barrier beyond it.

The trader theory is even more fantastical. To build a theory around one of the most common objects to be found anywhere in the mountains - an old shoe - is unsatisfactory. It could havt been left there much later by shepherds seeking new pastures. To argue that it couldn't be part of the Bara Nanda Jat, since pilgrims are expected to go barefoot, will also not bear scrutiny. Tht modern tradition js remove one's shoes after Bedni Bugial and climb barefoot to Homkund. But all villagers carry their shoes fof', the rest of the journey.

One danger in accepting the modern local version is that it tilty in favour of brahmanical prejudices. Thus the accident was Sfl to be caused by the anger of the goddess at a prince taking wife who polluted the mountain by giving birth to a child, larly in the more recent pilgrimages the harijans have been eluded because the goddess doesn't like their drumming! these slanted versions ignore is the physical evidence that wor (and drummers) did take part in the pilgrimage until the accide~ for not only bangles but female bones have been found.

Ironically under a secular government (which has taken over patron of the pilgrimage from the Garhwal raja) funds for next Bara Nanda Jat scheduled for September 1984, are not lil to be forthcoming if all classes cannot take part.

Shambu Nath Das our Sherlock Holmes has very convincing reconstructed how the 'crime' took place from a study of the ings of a pilgrimage in 1968. Early morning the procession comprising of several hundred men walking barefoot starts climbing slowly from Pattar Nachani. They do not reach the lake until afternoon, tired, cold and dazed by the altitude. After worship at the lakeside they climb the sheer side of the bowl that swe up 300 ft to the ridge. It is nearly dark and they still have to and descend the horrifying 2000 ft steep side to the Silisamud glacier. Their mood is a mixture of elation and concern at tricky route ahead. Probably after the accident this slope has co to be known as Jyuri Gulli which translates literally as ‘Death Alley'. One slip and you are on a crest a run into the lake, party were to slip they would all avalanche into the waiting kund.
The rest of the action I almost experienced myself. In late thanks to my porter Natha Singh I was able to struggle up thro five kilometres of snow slopes to be the first party to view the that year (1983). It was an exquisite sight, a piece of cosmic jewelery set in a natural amphitheatre. The tiny jade lake surround fcy virgin snow slopes sweeping down clean on all sides, and abo the red perpendicular cliffs curving round, an immaculate chastity belt of granite.

A lull in the driving sleet enabled us to scramble up towards the ridge. Nathu, route-finding, floundered up to his waist in snow. As w» panted up to the sharp divide above the immense snow spread uf the glacier, sweeping off Trisul were all the winds in hell. We clutched one another to keep our feet and when I inched towards the jagged edge to photograph the lake straight below Nathu held firmly to my knees in case I was blown over. This was eleven in the morning. By evening it would be ten times worse. As far as I was eoncerned the mystery was solved. Elementary, my dear Watson.

As a footnote to western attitudes to mountaineering by local Villagers, it is revealing to find that in the Himalaya hundreds of ordinary people have been climbing barefoot to a height greater than Mont Blanc (15,782 ft) for getting on to a thousand years. The ftnt ascent of Mont Blanc was in 1786 - nearly 400 years after the Rupkund accident.1
SATOPANTH (7075 m)

Sixth ascent on the northeast ridge

PRANZ HUBER (21 years), Thomas Kurschner (18), Bernd Ritachel (19), Armin $iwy (28), Georg Welsch (35) and myself (21), all from Munich, reached Delhi at the end of June 1983. We did all the organisation which is necessary for such a climb without any help from a travel agency. Also did the journey by public bus via Uttar-kashi to Gangotri with our 500 kg luggage and searched for 17 porters. It was quite an experience for us, because most of us are very young and all of us were coming for the first time to the Himalaya, lut we can recommend this way of travel to anyone. The feeling of adventure is much higher, the contact with the local people is much closer and it is cheaper and takes not much longer.

On 3 July we established the base camp at Nandanban (4400 m). The beautiful but sometimes crowded spot was now lonely during monsoon. For the first days we explored the surroundings for orientation and acclimatization. The weather had bad rainy and Inowy periods of three to four days. Usually three better days followed with clear weather during the morning but some snow in the late afternoon. Then came the bad period again. It snowed down to 4000 m.

On 12 July we started with heavy packs to try an alpine ascent Of Satopanth via NE ridge. The first night we slept at 5000 m, the Mcond at 5500 m and the third at 5850 m. The snow on the glacier was very deep and the dangerous crevasses were hidden under the snow. Tracing the route was very exhausting. We disappeared in the deep powder snow up to the hips. From 5850 m, a saddle on the NE ridge, we started at midnight to ascend the summit. A very sharp and long ridge, with hard ice on one side and dangerous powder snow on the other, was the most difficult part of the climb. After the ridge we dug our track through the summit flank (40°). The weather was bad and it snowed. 1200 m of climb on deep snow and thin air demanded all our energy. After 13 hours all six of us reached the summit (15 July). Only the fact that we are in the Himalaya prevented us from thinking about the paradoxical situation, because the view was about 10 m. At home in the alps we could have the same in foggy weather. But the adventure, the contact with another culture, the big dimensions and deeper impressions gave us a lot of new experiences. At darkness we reached the saddle exhausted and needed one and a half day more to descend to the base camp.

1. All credit for solving the Rupkund mystery should go to Shambu Nath Das.

This expedition wasn't spectacular, but for us it was a big thing. We are happy, that we managed all the organization alone, that we climbed in alpine style during monsoon, that all of us reached the summit, that the group was harmonized and that we could have a look into the beautiful nature and culture of the Himalaya. Maybe some other expeditions, more performance-oriented, don't have such feelings. And I think the feelings and experiences are most important, not the performance.



THE PRIMARY objective of trek to Khimloga was to study the zone around Khimloga pass. Time, logistics and weath