9. LADAKH.
  12. MADHYA HIMALAYA KA PURATATVA (Archaeology of Mid Himalaya).



HIGH AMBITION. A Biography of Reinhold Messner. By Ronald Faux. Pp. 180, 45 illustrations, 3 maps, 1982. (Victor Gollancz, London, £9.95)

Ronald Faux went to the base camp of Everest in May 1978 on the first Austrian expedition in order to cover for The Times the attempt to be made by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler to climb Everest without the use of oxygen. This successful attempt was described in two books by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler which were reviewed by Soli Mehta in the H.J. Vol. 36, p. 252, who complained that the two ought to have combined to produce a single volume. What we learn here was that Reinhold Messner was unaware that Peter Habeler was writing a book and when it appeared Messner made it clear that he was angry and that Habeler would not be included in any of his future plans. One result of the successful attempt was that Ronald Faux asked Messner for permission to write his life.

Ronald Faux then visited Messner in his village, Villnoss, in the Italian Tyrol where his father was headmaster of the village school. Reinhold was the second son having been born in 1944. He spent his youth climbing mountains around his birthplace. After leaving school he became a student of architecture at Padua University and when he graduated in 1969 he was invited by the Tyrolese Andes Expedition where he made an attempt on the summit with Peter Habeler. In 1970 he and his younger brother, Gunther, went with Herrligkoffer to Nanga Parbat where he made a traverse of the mountain but lost his brother. When the expedition arrived back at Munich airport with Reinhold in a wheel chair with frost-bite he was introduced by a fellow member of the expedition, Baron Max Engelhardt von Kienlin, to his wife, Uschi. In the spring of 1971 Reinhold and Uschi went to the Diamir valley to seek for traces of his brother and in 1972 Uschi was divorced by Max and married Reinhold. Before this happened Reinhold had been to Nepal to climb Manaslu and in 1973 he took Uschi to Argentine where he climbed Aconcagua. In 1974 with Peter Habeler he made a record ascent of the North Face of the Eiger and in 1975 together they went to the Karakoram and without using porters, rope or oxygen, they made the ascent of the Hidden Peak.

In 1977 Reinhold and Uschi were leaving Munich airport for Nepal when Uschi received a letter from her ex-husband saying that one of her daughters had been badly burned. Uschi continued her plan to trek in the Annapurna area while Reinhold went to tackle the south face of Dhaulagiri. When he returned he found that Uschi had left him and was seeking a divorce.

In May 1978 he climbed Everest and returned to give lectures but within two months he was back camping in the Diamir valley with Ursula Grether whom he had met at the base camp of Everest. Leaving her with a liaison officer he started to climb. On 8 August there was an earthquake but he continued to climb and reached the summit. Back in Italy he was more famous and was snowed under by invitations to lecture. At his new home, the restored St Magdalena, from time to time his divorced wife came to stay. In 1979 he joined an Italian-Austrian Expedition to K2. He and Michael Dacher reached the summit without oxygen. In the winter Ronald Faux sought an interview; he had to meet him on a train between Hanover and Hamburg.

In April 1980 Reinhold flew to Peking to enquire about Everest and was given permission to climb during the monsoon. On 29 June he and his Canadian friend, Nena Holguin, left Lhasa in a jeep and a truck and camped near the ruins of the Rongbuk monastery. They hired two drivers with yaks to take them to the foot of the North Col where they made a camp on 13 July. The snow was soft and not fit for climbing. They went to make a recce of Sisha Pangma but returned on 16 August and found conditions perfect. On 17 August Reinhold jogged some way up the mountain and left a rucksack there. On 18 August he started for the summit and reached a camp at about 8000 m. Next day he went on and camped below the Norton Couloir. There he left everything behind, even his rucksack, and at about 3.00 p.m. he saw the tripod which marks the summit. He took some photographs and sat for about half an hour. His foot-prints led him back to his tent but he was too exhausted to make a drink. In the morning he left everything behind except his camera and climbing gear and Nena Holguin was waiting for him when he got back.

Reinhold Messner is a remarkable man and Ronald Faux's story is well told.

John Martyn



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WORDS FOR MY BROTHER. Travels between The Hindu Kush and the Himalayas. By John Staley. Pp. 287, 16 illustrations, 13 maps and figures, 1982. (Oxford University Press, Karachi, £16)

The subtitle tells most of the story (despite the odious 's'). The book is a personalized account of the author's and Mrs Staley's travels, spread over several years, in Kohistan, the 'Land of Mountains', an area which includes the western ends of the Himalaya and the Karakoram and the eastern part of the Hindu Kush. While the plainsman views Kohistan as 'remote and foreign* and 'unpredictable and ungodly' the hillman's attitude is reflected in the words of one of the Staleys' numerous travelling companions. Ghulam Abbas.

'I have never been able to see beauty in mountains — To us — they are harsh and ugly. If only Rakaposhi was a flat plain where we could make fields, grow crops and build our houses' (p. 1). Staley's are the views of an involved traveller, in empathy with the environment yet dispassionate enough to forgo romanticizing and obscene with care.

Certainly Kohistan offers enough for any observer. Glaciers have sexes and the transplantation of female ice onto a dying male glacier has revived the latter. Fairies reside in juniper trees and the knowledgeable farmer will entrust his cattle to them. Evil spirits that reside exclusively in women gather at certain meeting places where they feast upon the spirit form of some normal person. Balamahim, a god of the Kalash people, had dogs set on him while he was blessing the fields at night. And on a more earthy plane, there is the rotation of crops, migration patterns caused by increasing population and construction of irrigation channels. The resourcefulness of the inhabitants evokes the author's admiration, as does 'the fundamental relationship between man and his environment'.

The geo-political intrigues of the 'Great Game' are well-covered in an impartial and hence non-offensive manner. Several myths about the region are debunked, and Kohistan appears, as a result, somewhat deglamourised but never prosaic. The conclusion is sensible and relevant to travellers in other regions too.

'What Kohistan gave Elizabeth and me was the different viewpoint, the viewpoint one has while "living second lives" in a different environment, society and culture. But any insights we may have gained have to be integrated into our own lives, and not attributed to the lives of others.' (p. 273). What makes Kohistan so special is also explained.

'I suppose we might have found our different viewpoint in any society sufficiently unlike our own, but in few societies would we have enjoyed the findings so much.' (p. 273).

A book that describes travels amongst unique hill-peoples, echoing the attitude of another distant hill-people towards travelling, bishtare, bishtare (slowly, slowly), and readable, in spite of other merits, for just that.

M. H. Contractor



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KONGUR, CHINA'S ELUSIVE SUMMIT. By Chris Bonington. Pp. 224, 143 illustrations, 11 maps, 1982. (Hodder and Stoughton, London, £9.95)

Central Asia, the name conjures up the memories of sandy plains, Silk Road, forbidden cities and of course mountains. But these faraway ranges were as if always meant for history books. The area was last visited and documented by Shipton in 1940. Since then it was the scene of political upheaval and closed. Hence this book describing the first ascent of the highest peak in Central Asia, Kongur, is the most important contribution to mountain literature.

It was Michael Ward who as Chairman of Mount Everest Foundation made approaches to the Chinese in 1972. After a variety of approaches for 8 years, Ward and Bonington flew to Peking to sign a protocol, for a reconnaissance and finally the ascent in 1981. It is a tale simply told and makes interesting reading. Life in modern China, Kashgar, Urumchi and other small Central Asian villages are described. The route is clearly indicated by excellent maps at regular intervals. The expedition proceeded by air, lorry, on double-humped camels, yaks and even on a donkey. From the base camp at Koksel glacier they investigated all the approaches, climbed a number of peaks and finally made the first ascent of Kongur.

Chris Bonington describes all the happenings precisely and with a sense of self-involvement. He makes no pretensions to hide his own weakness or differences among the team. However he is tactful when writing about Chinese and complimentary when mentioning repeatedly about their sponsors. But perhaps he had his eyes set on Everest NE ridge 1982 from the Chinese side with the same sponsors.

Apart from climbing, a team of 4 scientists carried out an extensive research programme. They carried enormous equipment to do the same. Their study of excersise oedema, started at home and carried on on the trip, contributed a most original study to the high-altitude medical literature. The fact that there was no conflict between the climbing aim and scientific studies speaks of good camaraderie that existed. All along the text, Bonington considers various issues. About the age difference between him and Al Rouse, he writes:

'The age difference between Al and myself was eighteen years, I was the same age as his mother, and yet there seemed very little generation gap between us. Part of the reason might well have been a lack of maturity on my part. I don't think I've ever really grown up. I love playing games, of which climbing is one His climbing is much better, I suspect, than mine has ever been, but that didn't matter.'

Climbers' irritations, their reactions and fears are brought out by quotations from diaries. With their deaths on Everest later on, participation of Joe Tasker and Pete Boardman gains an added importance.

The climbers consider the issue of 'alpine style' climbing quite often. Chris from the older school while Alfrom the modern thought lead the differences. Though Chris respects the modern views he clearly feels that many a high peak still requires siege techniques. Final word is said by Joe.

I think that's a load of shit,' replied Joe. 'You can get the train up to Grindelwald. Is it alpine style if you use the train or tele-ferique?

I just don't feel it's satisfactory for other people to carry my gear, that's all.' (Al).

'Well if I've put a lot of effort into climbing a mountain I don't feel unsatisfactory at all.'

The present expedition was far from alpine-style (as claimed in brochure) with beer crates, regular meat on the hoof and high-altitude assistants. And to celebrate success the sponsors sent a crate of champagne at base camp. Some (alpine) style indeed on Bam-i-Duniya!

The book has exhaustive appendices covering history, medical science, fauna and flora, geology, equipment and even on Buzkashi. Photographs are excellent and get up superb value for money.

Harish Kapadia



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SAVAGE ARENA. By Joe Tasker. Pp. 270, 52 illustrations, 14 maps and diagrams, 1982. (Methuen, London, £6.95)
EVEREST THE CRUEL WAY. By Joe Tasker. Pp. 166, 26 illustrations, 1981. (Eyre Methuen, London, £6.95)

Joe Tasker was one of the foremost climbers of present times. Apart from his abilities as a climber, he was a gifted writer too. Though his untimely death allowed him to write only two books, they give enough evidence of his prowess as an author.

Savage Arena deals with early initiations and climbs which made the man.

'I was alarmed to have succeeded, in a way it would have been more reassuring to have failed. Instead success left me with an uneasy, unsettling questioning about where to go next; something harder, something bigger?' These are the thoughts churning out of Tasker's ever-introspective mind after having achieved the near impossible ascent of Changabang by its west wall.

The book undoubtedly belongs to the genre of mountaineering classics and the reason is not only the stupendous, at times superhuman climbing achievements of Tasker. At every point he is sharing each of his emotions. Unashamedly he talks of his fears, exhaustion and the times when his will is sagging. He is frank and open yet he is never unduly modest which gives fabulous insight into the fire which drives him to climb more and more difficult routes.

It is evident that climbing had become such an inherent part of Tasker that it was something which just had to be done. While on a mountain he talks of the climb as a job to be completed without which a restlessness overcomes him. Enjoyment, as we understand it, seems to be missing. Yet reaching the summit is not as important to him. After having failed a second time on K2 and having survived an avalanche, he says 'After the ordeal on K2, I felt, strangly, no sense of disappointment, . . . We had pushed ourselves to the limit mentally and physically and stayed at that limit for so long that we scarcely had strength left to drag ourselves back to normal life.' His death seems inevitable with the insatiable quest for climbs going beyond human limits.

The book is as compulsive as was Tasker's urge to climb.

Everest the Cruel way deals with an eight-member attempt on Everest in the most savage conditions — the west ridge in winter without oxygen.

'At this moment, attempting to climb Everest in winter and without oxygen by whatever route seems dangerously close to the limits of what is possible for man, leaving little or no margin for error.'

All the technical details of the climb, which is aborted at 24,000 ft on the west shoulder, are covered. There are short appendices on medicine and movie-making.

Although the climb is as impressive as some of the author's other climbs, the book is not as complete as Savage Arena is, which is definitely a better buy.

Dhiren Toolsidas



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TRESPASSERS ON THE ROOF OF THE WORLD. The race for Lhasa. By Peter Hopkirk. Pp. 274, 18 illustrations, 3 maps, 1983. (Oxford University Press, London, £3.50)

Nothing tantalizes me as much as clear views over high wide spaces in which for miles and days I cannot see a living thing. This is Tibet still. Despite more roads, mechanization, people and progress it will for a long time to come remain a land of mystery. Change will come slowly. For Tibet is so vast and so sterile that even a populous country like China will take a long time to crowd it. Even now it is possible, especially in the Chang Thang (the high plateau) to move for weeks without seeing a single human. That is why books like Hopkirk's Trespassers on the Roof of the World can still be popular even though unlike the authors of old these books have been written not by facing the tearing, freezing winds of Tibet, but by consulting numerous books in centrally heated rooms. This book is a compilation of many books on Tibet retold in a zippy, coherent, chronological way. Hopkirk has something new to tell even avid Tibetologists. Nevertheless there are quite a few discordant notes in it.

The first flaw is that Hopkirk has at no place given any detailed account of routes even though he talks only of routes and exploration. Without such information he only teases and does not cloy. He mentions briefly where a Rockhill started his adventure and where he ended it, but in between there is nothing to distinguish his experiences and wanderings from a Deasy's or Moorcroft's. Perhaps being only a penpusher in a library he felt safer not to comment on such matters. That is why he gives the notorious charlatan Henry Savage Landor a clean chit as far as his travels go, which is amazing. His claim of having reached a height of 22,000 ft beyond Garbyang was disproved by Longstaff, and his boast of having been the first white man to discover the source of the Brahmaputra was laughed at even during his time. Here I must point out that to the average Westerner (and Hopkirk is no exception) a place was unexplored and a blank on the map till the white man had been there. It did not matter if thousands of 'natives' had for centuries been crossing these huge spaces unerringly, and that every river, each range, landmark had been given a name which usually described its physical features and orographical worth. I am not belittling the efforts of a Rawling, de Rhins, Prejevalsky or Annie Taylor. To do what they had done in the teeth of cruel reception, in the most inhospitable terrain in the world, requires exceptional courage. I am just putting their labours in their proper perspective.

The next omission is that Hopkirk inexplicably ignores the fact that before the characters in his book several white men had already made it to Lhasa: e.g. The Jesuits Grueber and d'Orville in 1661, Freyre and Desideri in 1718, and the colourful Englishman Manning in 1811 had all visited Lhasa, apart from the Pandit explorers, Sarat Chandra Das and Kawaguchi, whose visits he ignores as they were Asiatics even though he had written an appreciative chapter on their exploits. Hopkirk has also ignored F. Kingdon-Ward (the introducer of the Tibetan Blue Poppy to English gardens) and Sven Hedin, who between them have brought back more reliable and well articulated information on Tibet than all the explorers mentioned in his book.

The chapters 'Four dreams of Lhasa, Nightmare of Susie Rjinhart, and the Riddle of the Snows' (on the exploration of and attempts on Everest) are well researched and very tenderly written. The passage on Maurice Wilson's pathetic and tragic attempt on Everest; Littledale's brazen effort to enter Lhasa, and plucky Annie Taylor's futile attempt to sneak into Lhasa are very touchingly written.

While reading the book I was impressed by Tibet's central position in Asia. In 1904 the then Dalai Lama fled from the British to seek shelter in Ulan Bator, and the present Dalai Lama escaped in 1960 from the Chinese, with equal facility, to reach Darjeeling . . . Another conclusion that I ruefully drew was that in those halcyon days, despite inconsiderate authority, an exciting adventure could be had by him who dared. Nowadays no matter how much spunk you have you cannot get into say, even Ladakh from Lahulr if you haven't cut through red tape even in this civilized year of 1984.

Hopkirk laments the Chinese presence in Tibet today, but he forgets the iniquitous tax system and inhuman tortures liberally applied which he himself had in an earlier chapter deprecatingly described. Had it not been for the Chinese, crudely torn limbs, filth and plunder would still be common. Life in Tibet must move on, even though, possibly, it is still the last frontier for adventure.




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A WALK IN THE SKY. By Nicholas Clinch. Pp. 214, illustrated 1982. (The Mountaineers, Washington and The American Alpine Club, New York, £12.95)

Written almost 25 years ago, brought up to date with the addition of a preface and an epilogue but otherwise left untouched, this 'Expedition' book relates the story of the first ascent on 5 July 1958 of Gasherbrum I (8068 m) by a small party of American climbers. So much has changed, especially during the past quarter-century, in concept planning and execution that it is sobering to encounter again an expedition style that marked the end of an earlier era. Nick Clinch was the chief planner, organiser, fund raiser, and live-wire PR man of the party. In that period the widespread indifference he met at home made what seemed an unusually ambitious idea almost unattainable. In the summer of 1958 the Upper Baltoro glacier was 'crowded out' with three expeditions, each of which achieved the first ascent of an 8000 m peak. Very far away was the age of mass expeditions when it has become usual for almost 20 expeditions to fill the Upper Baltoro each summer, repeating ascents by known routes. The style of the book is lighthearted, racy, and filled with the joy of 'just being there'. For a first expedition this was remarkably trouble-free and successful. They came, they climbed their mountain, and they went home filled with happy memories. This was due to a combination of careful planning, excellent personal relations, an enthusiastic liaison officer, and a team of 'HAPS' who performed splendidly. The climbing was not hard even by earlier standards and the weather was kind. The book does not possess a single map or diagram, and the illustrations are not all of good quality. The overtly naive approach is often appealing and the writing is never dull, although the team sometimes felt that the climbing was. On the strength of this success Clinch together with another party two years later, went on to make the first ascent of the NE peak of Masherbrum 7820 m. Might we look out for a second book?

Trevor Braham



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THE SEVEN MOUNTAIN TRAVEL BOOKS. By H. W. Tilman. Introduction by Jim Perrin. Pp. 896, 72 illustrations, maps, 1983. (Diadem Books Ltd., London and The Mountaineers, Seattle, £14.95)

It would be redundant to comment upon this collection as far as literary merit, accuracy and coherence are concerned. As a record of Major Tilman's formidable exploratory and climbing achievements, they impress by their objectivity and yet remain highly readable.

It might perhaps be fashionable to do a little nit-picking and take up issues that might detract from the worth of both the man and the writer. Major Tilman did, after all, belong to the privileged section in a colonial era, and so, is one to take offence at a. statement such as; 'These particular natives, of an agricultural and not very intelligent tribe of Nilotic negroes, had an ingrained fear of the bush?'

(p. 59, Snow on the Equator, italics mine)

Shades of racism? The matter is hardly so simple, as hinted at by the following.

The huts may be dark, dirty, and according to western standards, only fit to be burnt, but darkness is rather pleasant in a country of blinding sunlight, the dirt is more apparent than real, and they are at least habitations adapted to the owners and their environment. The dignity of the Congo forest and the "poor but honest" simplicity of its villages have not yet been menaced by bungaloid growths, corrugated iron, petrol-pumps and Kiosks.'

(p. 120, ibid.)

One could only conclude that Major Tilman had his own convictions and expressed them with refreshing candour. His writing offers a splendid example on the effective use of the understatement. The humour is genteel, unintrusive, and often self-critical. Each book is nothing less than what one would expect from a 'slightly anachronistic, yet profoundly civilised and intelligent man.'.

(p. 8, Introduction by Jim Perrin)

This collection is particularly useful due to the recent unavailability of individual titles. Readers of mountain literature may, I suspect, so far forget themselves as to shake hands.

M. H. Contractor



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THE TREKKERS GUIDE TO THE HIMALAYA AND KARAKO-RAM. By Hugh Swift. Pp. 342, illustrated, maps, 1983. (Hodder and Stoughton, London, £5.95)

This first-rate guide has for its cover a Galen Rowell photo of four coolies toiling uphill with enormous loads, surely not the best way of selling treks to the Himalaya. (The last man appears to be carrying bagpipes so I was immediately switched on.)

Above all this is an intelligent travellers' guide to the Himalaya and the inclusion of chapters on natural history by Rodney Jackson (superb) and glossaries of simple words in several (but not all) pahari languages make it a valuable aid.

Walt Unsworth has mocked the linguistic concern as 'American ethnic guilt' but it is the crucial feature in an attempt to get under foreigners' skins, and Unsworth may be suffering from the insular man's cultural penis-envy of the seasoned cosmopolitan.

What Iozawa did for making the Everest area familiar to the Japanese tourist, JSwift has done along the whole arc of the world's great ranges for the western trekker. Obviously much detail has been left out but the sweep of his knowledge is impressive and even rarer, he leads from the front.

Traditionally the Japanese were said to get along better with the locals of the Himalayan states because of similar thought processes. One only needs to think of Kipling to realize what nonsense this is. Hugh Swift makes many practical suggestions on how to win friends and influence locals and they work anywhere on this planet. Trust, understanding, affection and humour (especially the ability to laugh at oneself). Using a few words of Hindustani to the customs official may cut down your blood pressure considerably. Frankly I should have thought it more useful for short-term visitors to see the words as they are actually pronounced: Aap hub tuck rahengay as well as the academically correct form. And why not a few of the more harmless four-letter words (saalaa, teyrey maa kee) which have the effect of bestowing on the user instant lethal status.

The author treads softly among the mountains and its peoples, willing to learn and open to the teaching along the way. 'The solitude of the mountains has given me back to myself could have been said by him.

It is exasperating to a reviewer not to be able to fault a fellow travel-writer but looking around hard I found back cover, bottom line of the blurb 'co-leader of The Great Himalayan Traverse'. The word trekking has been left out.

He examines the whole approach for the traveller and this includes those little tips that can make a train or bus journey in the plains switch from insufferable to memorable. The Delhi-belly problem is played down and to prove he's not the usual hysterically hygienic westerner he continues to pop outmoded Mexaform. Those of us who live in the hills however much prefer to play host to amoebae than swallow Flagyl. I was lucky when a student in Quetta gave me the secret of inner strength: isabgol (fleaseed husk with curd). I never travel without this cheap, harmless, subcontinental cementer of bowels.

On the trail he reminds newcomers of the need to carry cool clothes as well as warm. He recommends the use of the airmail edition of Time as toilet paper, a suggestion that most Indians at any rate would approve of, though not necessarily for the same reasons. (Personally I go for rhubarb and saxifrage.) He frowns on the ice-axe as a necessary aid but must be thinking of the ridiculous midget creations from Glencoe. The good old wooden shafted ice-axe can still be bought in Delhi and will prove to be a most useful camping aid. A ski stick is also a tremendous help for walking in the mountains.

'Trekking in the Himalaya is far more than walking through beautiful landscapes . . . (it is a) . . . rich cultural and human experience' says the author, and the word to be noted is 'human'! To get an idea of that bounty witness Hugh Swift's photograph of five Balti herdsmen, which tells you everything about the guide's rapport with his subject. As for the look in the eyes of the Kalash woman from the Rumbur valley I borrow Swift's quotation about Gaumukh by Marco Pallis: 'There are perfections about which the only eloquence is silence.'

Bill Aitken



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LADAKH. Crossroads of High Asia. By Janet Rizvi. Pp. 224, 32 illustrations, maps, 1983. (Oxford University Press, Delhi Rs 140)

The blurb on the jacket of Janet Rizvi's book Ladakh proclaims extravagantly: 'This is the first authoritative and readable study of Ladakh . . . .' Well, that it certainly is not. Instead of describing the topography and routes of the less frequented parts of Ladakh,. which are myriad, she has given a sedate account of Ladakh gleaned through many books and complemented by what she saw. It's a pity that what she saw was not what an adventurous traveller would first seek. There is a lot of information on history, religion, culture, family life, traditions, farming and gompas based on her extensive scholarship as well as her observations. However, the book appears primarily to be addressed to the tourist who is allowed to frequent Leh and its neighbourhood only. For this reason the title is a misnomer. This lack of knowledge of the geography of Ladakh is emphasized when she takes great pains to stress the similarity between Ladakh and Tibet. Such comparisons are usually made by the tourist brochures/booklets printed abroad. Tibet is not Ladakh, which ends where Tibet starts. Tibet's Chang Thang (the high plateau) is 3000 ft higher than Ladakh's. The river Indus does not originate very near Manasarovar but to the north of Kailas about a 100 km away. The Appendix 'Jesuits in Western Tibet' has no bearing on Ladakh at all except that a couple of them commenced their long journeys from Ladakh. Nowhere in the book, though there were many opportunities, has she mentioned the only possible link in Ladakh to the mythical(?) Abyssinian Prester John and the medieval Nerstorian Christian community of Central Asia which she has mentioned too briefly. I refer to the lOth-lltb Century Christian inscriptions and engravings which include crosses, chalice and a star. These are inscribed on massive boulders near Tankse about 160 km from Leh and were first studied by Aurel Stein. Incidentally, if something is not done to preserve these they will crumble away, as the nearby folk have been chipping Buddhist prayers on them endangering the earlier inscription. There is much else that has been ignored, and which would have enhanced the quality of the book had it been included in place of chapters like 'Change'; e.g. Tso Kar, the only large freshwater lake in Ladakh, Rupshu ice-cap, the geysers at Puga, the hot springs of Chang Chenmo, the gorges of the Pamzal and the Chang Chenmo and the road of the dead to the Karakoram pass of which only a photograph misleadingly entitled 'The Yarkand Trail' is given.

It is basically a memsahib's account leavened with the discipline of a practised researcher. Yet, if one is not fussy about learning about fabled areas alone, Janet Rizvi's detailed account about other aspects of Ladakh life past and present is invaluable. This is the first book in recent years to give a readable and satisfying knowledge of the history, tradition and culture of Ladakh. Many times during the narrative I would say 'she has missed this point* but sure enough it would appear in its proper place. I will give just one example. On p. 144 in one of the most discerning descriptions of Ladakhi peasant life she mentions the piercing, melodious, lilting, whistle of a winnower, just when, I had thought that she had missed it.

It is a pity that even in those topics where she is confident she sometimes writes that which she must say not what she ought to frankly state, e.g. eulogizing about government aided schemes she omits mentioning glaring jests like the Stakna hydro-electric project (p. 127) which is nowhere near completion, even after 12 years. Then the 'simple' people of Leh that she describes are nowhere to be found at Leh or around it. They have become smarter and choosier with the advent of the tourist. In hotels, airlines, and bus offices I have been brusquely treated because of the colour of my skin, and only after becoming equally aggressing did I get restitution. This is a common experience. . . , And the army's presence in Ladakh has not been as salutary as Janet would have us believe. Apart from making petrol available at the rate of Rs 2/- per litre they have only introduced, with their a ubiquitous contract system, the obnoxious money nexus, and a hitherto satisfied people in the remote areas now have visions of forsaking their earth for the city's tinsel attractions.

I have been too shrill in castigating Janet Rizvi for her ignorance of things geographical about Ladakh but I think that this is the most important touchstone for such a book to satisfy especially if it is to be reviewed for the Himalayan Journal.

R. Bhattacharji



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THE HIMALAYAS, PLAYGROUND OF THE GODS. By Capt M. S. Kohli. Pp. 244, 45 illustrations, 36 maps, 1983. (Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, Rs 185)

Mountain guide books are of many categories. Some describe a route in great detail with every hold. Some of the Himalayan guides describe even the location of tea-shops and hair-dressers (Japanese). There are few that leave a lot to the imagination of a trekker while giving a broad outline. There is a mine of information available nowadays, by personal experience, involvement with the sport passively and through published material. With the growth of Himalayan Tourism — a term used for trekkers and visitors to the Himalaya, there is a need for information on every aspect of trekking. But these jet-age trekkers do not need full details for they don't have the time, they don't have time to study the minimum literature like location also. They go where they are heralded to by their agents and organisers.

Capt Kohli's above guide book is meant for such a tourist-trekker. Perhaps he will know a thing or two better about where he is going. There are lists of 'open' areas for foreigners and 'open' peaks in each of the Himalayan country given. Government regulations and various authorities to be contacted are elucidated. Addresses of travel agents who can organise treks are given in a few cases. In short all the literature that existed separately is ^brought together under one cover and it does make a easy reference.

The author himself is a renowned mountaineer and one of the pioneers in Himalayan Tourism. But you can hardly expect him to have trekked on all the Himalayan routes. Thus quite a lot of ,information is through published literature, mostly government agencies. Sometimes consistency is missing in presentation and there are numerous different spellings used for a same name. Every time the mention of Baltistan, Hunza or Gilgit is made a footnote ^is added to say that 'all three are under the illegal occupation of Pakistan.' It is jarring to read this. Is it not that mountaineers are above such political considerations?

The book is profusely illustrated with 36 maps, each well drawn and will prove very useful. The terrain covered is wide. Bhutan, Nepal, India, Karakoram, Afghanistan and China. In each a few select treks as would appeal to a trekker with few days at disposal are given. For a serious trekker, it provides a suggestion but he will have to do his own studies. Those areas where foreigners are prohibited are not covered at all. A list of what to take, elementary medicines, on ecology, river running, Himalayan traverses are also touched. Photographs are excellent.

It will be useful to an expedition planner in a limited way also. The list of peaks available and government regulations are given in detail. This is particularly true in case of climbing in China about which not much is known.

Overall the book will prove very useful to have ready information. You don't have to hunt for different sets of information all over, it is all here. It is hoped that this will help more tourists to just pack their rucksacks and get on with trekking and be aware of what they are doing.

Harish Kapadia



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181 CAVES OF INDIA AND NEPAL. By Gebauer H. D. Pp. vi + 164, illustrated, maps, surveys, 1983. (Obtainable from the author at Markplatz 32, Postfach 1926, 7070 S. Gmtind, West Germany, Price not stated)

Herr Gebauer is a remarkable man. Not only has he survived three overland trips through the Ayatollah's Iran and Russian Afghanistan to explore caves in the Indian subcontinent, he has also done his homework in an exemplary fashion. Bearing in mind that most of the 261 references cited will be unavailable in Germany, it is interesting to speculate whether it was the field work or the book work which required more time or effort.

This well-produced book contains all that any explorer of caves in India and Nepal needs to know. The caves are listed by State with long quotations from the original descriptions and, of those which Herr Gebauer was able to visit, modern descriptions and surveys. It is a great pity that the author was unable to get a permit to visit Meghalaya, since this is where the most spectacular caves are likely to be found.

The book is bilingual — German and American, even though the author thanks 'Mary-Ellen Trozzo who saw through the english text*. I nearly overlooked this heinous crime against the English language when I read a mention of good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon 'Bat's piss'! Some readers will be inconvenienced by the absence of an index; others will be amused by the quaint use of American dialect and orthography. However, these minor irritations in no way detract from the wealth of information contained therein. The convenient pocket size of the book will facilitate its use for which it was designed — IN THE FIELD. I commend this book to all resident and other HC members in the hope that it will introduce them to speleology.

S. A. Craven



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MADHYA HIMALAYA KA PURATATVA (Archaeology of Mid Himalaya). By Dr Yashwant Singh Katoch. Pp. .169, illustrated, map, 1981. (Author and Govt, of U.P., Lucknow, Rs 65)

At last the student of Garhwal temple architecture has a reliable guide to the fascinating - remains that litter (since so many are in bad shape) the ancient kingdom. Dr Katoch has written this primer in Hindi to meet the needs of hill students in the fairly new campuses of Garhwal (and Kumaon) Universities. It is only when local people start taking a pride in their cultural history that one comes nearer the solution of so many baffling questions. How could such exquisite (and massive) works of art as Kedarnath or Jageshwar (in Almora) come to be completed in the interior of the Himalaya at a time when Europe was only emerging from the Dark Ages? Was there a living communication between the craftsmen of the plains and the pundits of the hills, of which Shankaracharya's descendants are a symbolic remnant as the hereditary rawals? Or were these monoliths the work of slave labour, the craftsmen being bartered as valuable hostages in time of war?

This book does not go deeply into the background of Garhwal social history but sticks to the conventional (western) system of analysing the temples, sculptures and inscriptions according to the ancient canons. It is an interesting thought that though Indian art has been profoundly affected by the Himalaya, the temples built in the backyard of the Himalaya are all imported versions from the plains. Every traveller can think of pre-Hindu religious structures (e.g. the oblong stone tower in Aunter and the wooden pagoda nearby in Deolsari on the way to Nag Tibba) in Garhwal, neither of which seems to have been inspired by the snow peaks, and the latter almost certainly based on the worship of the magnificent cedar forest in which it lies. {Similarly the Latu temple at Wan is only a a footnote dwarfed by the roots of this incredible lone deodar in a cypress forest, the archetypal sacred grove. While every dinar in Uttarakhand has its pre-Hindu named devta (wood and rock spirit), as every mountaineer knows, many impressive snow peaks are nameless, suggesting that the locals were content to wait for poets and pundits from the plains to make the Himalayan myths.

For a hundred years Atkinson's Gazetteer has been regarded as holy writ, the last word on Uttarakhand, when in fact of course it was intended to be the first word. It is sometimes overlooked that Atkinson was an editor going on hearsay: the pundits were the encyclopaedists. And the greatest drawback of any official survey is that its conclusions will have to suit official policy rather than historical fact. However Atkinson laid the foundations for an objective study of Garhwali culture. One hopes hill students will be fired by Dr Katoch's example of not being overawed by Atkinson and will perform their own legwork, a concept that remains foreign to many of the twice-born.

Though the plates are by no means clear they serve the purpose at least of whetting the reader's appetite to go and see for himself. It appears that most of the author's researches have been in the environs of Gopeshwar and Tehri where I understand he had been teaching. Clearly there is much treasure to be unearthed off the beaten track. For example how many people are aware of the exquisitely carved naula (spring), covered in muck, lying to the north side of the Nanda Devi temple at Lata? This jewel of medieval stone carving isn't even a protected monument and we have the muck to thank for hiding it from the Art dealers. Almost every old village on the pilgrim chatti routes have something of archaeological interest provided you are willing to 'dig' a little and forget the bus timings. Often newer buildings have been constructed with carved pieces from earlier collapsed shrines. In a village (town?) like Gopeshwar one reconstructed shrine may contain pieces from several ancient ruins. Oddly while there have been digs near the temple (famous for its metal inscribed Trisul) no one has thought of opening up the Gurkha earthworks nearby.

Another spot worth visiting is Chandrapur Garhi near Adi Badri. Though a tiny ruined hill fort the stonework is so finely embellished (and luckily it is too heavy to be stolen) that it points to a definite level of elegance in this the first 'capital' of Garhwal. A month's trek along the Ganga from Rishikesh will find any student of temple architecture wishing he had brought more notepaper with him.

Eventually one hopes this book will find an English translator. Though Hindi can claim to be an international language in the Himalaya in the sense that Nepalis can also read it, the fact remains Dr Katoch's scholarship will not find the readership it deserves until it is put in a vehicle that Bengalis, Tamils and Punjabis not to mention Russians, Americans and Japanese have access to, i.e. Angrezi.

Bill Aitken



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NA SZCZYTACH HIMALAJOW. By Zbligniew Kowalewski and Januz Kurczab. Pp. 462, 180 illustrations, 20 maps, 1983. (Sport i Turyztyka, Warszawa, 520 zl)

'On the summits of Himalaya' is the book that all Himalayan climbers and enthusiasts have been waiting for. The authors are both renowned authorities: Kurczab, leader of several expeditions, Kowalewski, mountain topographer and historical researcher. Their work unites the study of geography and history with wide mountaineering practice. After introductory essays (geography of the great Himalayan system, its flora and fauna, organization of expeditions, history of exploration — together 40 pages) the book presents in 14 chapters (260 pages) all eight-thousanders, giving at the end of each chapter full summary of ascents up to end of 1981. The third section contains a selection of 8 lower points of special importance to the development of the mountaineering in the Himalaya-Kara-koram range (Jannu, Mustagh Tower, Changabang and others). The final part of the book is devoted to the activity of women in the world's highest mountains. No Himalayan book is complete without appendices. Here we have two of them. A comprehensive Himalayan bibliography of 132 items and a complete gazetteer of 300 climbed and yet unclimbed eight- and seven-thousanders with height and main first-ascent data.

This unique book succeeds outstandingly in presenting exact and topical information in a highly clear and readable style. Likewise, the photographs (most of them printed for the first time) are of great interest and unique value. Though written in Polish the book has international importance. Owing to concentrated factual information and the instructive summaries it can be useful also to foreign readers, even those who are unfamiliar with Slavic languages.

The index of the book contains about 3000 names, among them 2200 proper names. Because the authors try to be far from being national snobs, the index is an objective measure of the Himalayan activity of different nations. The most active nations were: Japanese (425 names, 19%), Germans (240 names, 11%), English (225 names, 10%), Frenchmen (134 names, 6%), Poles (115 names, 5%), Austrians (113 names, 5%), Americans (112 names, 5%), Swiss (83 names, 4%), Italians (68 names, 3%) and Yugoslavs (46 names, 2%).

In general, the work of Kowalewski and Kurczab is one of the most comprehensive additions to the literature of the marvellous Himalaya-Karakoram mountain system. Climbers who are interested in keeping up with mountaineering history as it happens must have it in their libraries. The book should also appear in English, Japanese, French or German; it certainly merits translation.

Jozef Nyka



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EVEREST. By Walt Unsworth. Pp. 561, 7 illustrations, 5 maps, 1983. (Pelican, London, £4.95)
EVEREST THE UNCLIMBED RIDGE. By Chris Bonington and Dr Charles Clarke. Pp. 119, 96 illustrations, 2 maps, 1983. (Hodder and Stoughton, London, £10.95)

'Yea, in my mind these mountains rise,
Their perils dyed with evening's rose;
And still my ghost sits at my eyes
And thirsts for their untroubled snows'
Walter de la Mare

The snowy summit of the highest mountain in the world has been the ultimate objective for generations of mountaineers. Walt Unsworth's book does not merely document the achievements of all those who have responded to this challenge; it is an attempt to take the Everest story out of the realms of the Boy's Own Paper to which it has sometimes seemed to belong, by showing the other side of the coin. So there is a great deal of emphasis on obstacles like bumbling officialdom, international rivalry and plain double-dealing that almost every expedition has had to contend with. There can be. no doubt that the other side of the coin has been very thoroughly dealt with: Unsworth devotes an entire chapter to the details of the machinations of one Major Bailey, Political Officer in Sikkim between 1921 and 1928 who, in his capacity as the middleman between the Tibetan government and the Everest Committee seriously obstructed the early British expeditions. Then again, Unsworth dwells on the constant bickering between the Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club over the composition of the teams in the pre-war expeditions. He relates with relish the facts about the acrimonious in-fighting that took place on the two star-studden international expeditions that attempted the formidable Southwest face in the early seventies. And of course, he discusses the all too human failings of various expedition leaders such as Hunt, Dyhrenfurth and Bonington, who succumbed to 'the Everest Syndrome' and were quite determined (at least for a short while) to secure 'the glittering prize' themselves. Yet it cannot be said that Unsworth concentrates unduly on the murkier aspects of climbing Everest, because Everest does have a very special importance from a political point of view and most of these unseemly squabbles have resulted from this fact.

According to Unsworth, 'the last innocent adventure' ended with the conquest of the peak in May 1953. Of all the members of Hunt's expedition, he writes, 'perhaps only W. Noyce, the philosopher-poet, had uneasy feelings about the aftermath of climbing Everest: he could sense vaguely that the Everest they knew, a great shoulder of rock and ice symbolizing not only majesty but also pain and discomfort, would give way to another Everest, the Everest of public acclaim, adulation, sycophancy and misunderstanding/ Once the ascent of Everest came to be associated with the enhancement of national prestige, many expedition leaders discovered that their range of choices was severely curtailed. Achieving the summit at all costs became the primary aim, and challenging routes that seemed doubtful were often not attempted. The classic example is that of the West ridge route, first climbed in 1963 by Hornbein and Unsoeld after a protracted battle with other members of their expedition who feared the wrath of their disappointed sponsors in case the bid failed to come off. The international expeditions of the 1970,s were torn by strife for precisely the same reasons. Motives of personal aggrandisement got entangled with national chauvinism and turned these expeditions into the hysterical affairs which delighted the press all over the world. Yet this was not always so. Unsworth asserts that in the days before the fall (in the case of Everest, 'before the ascent'), the conquest of this Himalayan giant was not imbued with national prestige the way it is now. Part of the reason could be the fact that the British had a virtual monopoly over the mountain in the first half of this century, and the competition between nations was not fierce only because no other competitors were allowed to join the fray.

Unsworth ends on a hopeful note. He claims to have detected a recent reversal in the trend and says that climbers in the tradition of Shipton and Tilman have begun to reappear on the Everest scene. The emphasis is now on the more difficult ascents and on climbing the mountain in a 'purer' way i.e. without the use of oxygen, rather than on a simple bid for the summit using the oft-trodden 'Yak route' (the Sherpas' disparaging euphemism for the South Col route). The last story he recounts is that of the oxygen-less ascent made by Habeler and Messner in 1978, which represents the rejection of the harsh 'expedition vs mountain' doctrine and a return to the 'man vs mountain' ideal.

The other book (Bonington and Clarke, Everest, The Unclimbed Ridge) describes another such attempt. Taking advantage of the Chinese government's decision to open certain peaks to foreign expeditions in 1979, a small six-man expedition led by Chris Bonington decided to attempt Everest from the north in 1982. Given the fact that it is much more difficult to raise funds for a small venture than for a full-blown expedition, Bonington's team was extremely fortunate to be sponsored by a multinational corporation whose links with China date back to the days of the opium trade. The team intended to reach the top using the still-unclimbed northeast ridge route. The climbing team received a severe setback when Dick Renshaw suffered a stroke and had to return. Further tragedy struck soon after. This was the expedition on which two remarkable mountaineers, Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker, lost their lives. They were last seen trying to traverse the steep pinnacles above the North Col on their way to the summit.

Quite apart from giving a very vivid account of the expedition itself, the book provides us with some very interesting insights into life in Tibet today. Though appalled by the destruction of Tibetan monasteries during the Cultural Revolution, Dr Clarke finds some evidence of 'material gains in a country which may have lost its spiritual leadership but also perhaps its former poverty.' Almost as shocking is the devastation of the village of Kharta, described in the early Everest books as 'a leafy paradise', Deforestation for fuel has completely destroyed the legendary loveliness of the Kharta valley. The Tibet that the 1982 expedition members saw was very different from what they had heard of it from their pre-war predecessors.

Finally, Bonington and Clarke's book is a visual treat. And Uns-worth has provided us with a book that is a useful reference and delightful reading besides.

Chandana Mathur


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