J. A. K. MARTYN
JOHN to his many friends in India and Jack to some in England, was just short of his 81st birthday when he died at the end of June. In 1935 he had to come to India with Arthur Foot, another mountaineer, to start the Doon School.
When I joined in January 1937 John had already been to Gyantse, and that summer he and I, with Tensing as one of the party, explored an approach to Bandarpunch, and then crossed from Gangotri to Badrinath. The next year we explored bits of Lahul, and in 1939 went for the summer vacation to England. In 1940, with R. L. Holdsworth, we made a first ascent of Mankial in Swat.
We had all three been keen that the boys of the Doon School should learn the pleasures of mountaineering and from its early days had encouraged climbing expeditions to the hills north of Dehra Dun and winter skiing above Gulmarg; but it was not till 1942 that John and Holdy took boys, of whom Nandu Jayal was one, into the real mountains.
I had joined the navy, but after the war John and I did a number of treks and climbs with parties of boys from both the Doon School and the Joint Services Wing of the N.D.A., and after I had migrated to Ajmer John continued to climb with Doon School expeditions upto the age of, I think, at least 60, possibly more.
John was a very strong walker and tough. On Bandarpunch in 1937 he had slipped on our way up a steep snow-filled gully and fallen some 400 ft head over heels, much to the anxiety of Tensing, Rinsing and myself. However he managed to stop his fall with his ice-axe, and rejoined us with apologies. Perhaps we should have been roped, but I did not know that, though he had done a lot of rock climbing, he was not much practised on ice and snow and the rucksack and bedding he had been carrying had upset his balance.
John was also a delightful companion, never flustered by setbacks and always cheerful. He enjoyed scenery and painted it with appreciation. Typical of this is a remark I find in one of his letters: 'The open valleys of Kumaon are more soothing than the narrow gorges of Garhwal.’
The Himalayan Club owes him a big debt for his 56 page 'Story of the Himalayan Club 1928-78' that he wrote for the Golden Jubilee number of the Himalayan Journal
after reading the minutes of Committee meetings and fifty years of the Journal. Even bigger, perhaps, apart from his great successes as a schoolmaster and teacher, is the part he played in introducing young Indians to the high mountains.
J. T. M. Gibson
ONLY TWO MONTHS short of his ninetieth birthday on 5 April 1984 Giuseppe Tucci died in S. Polo dei Cavalieri, a village near Rome, where he had settled some years ago with his wife Francesca.
One month earlier I had the chance of visiting him in the company of a common friend Ambassador Felice Benuzzi and I found him confined to bed, but as bright as ever, his mind always devoted to new ideas on scientific research, the way you would expect a mature young man to think. We recalled our meetings in various parts of Asia and he remembered with enthusiasm the nomadic life spent on Tibetan caravan tracks . I do not remember exactly when we first met in that area of the world, but I think It was in India in 1952 while he had to wait a long time for an entry visa to Nepal, in spite of assurances given in Rome before his departure. At that time I was making preliminary plans for a Himalayan expedition.
In Asia we met again several times. I remember Tucci in Kabul in 1960 recovering from a car accident and again in Kabul in 1981, then in Teheran in 1962 and 1973 when he suffered from a heart ailment. I mention these incidents to put in evidence how he never spared himself even at the risk of losing his health, when work was at stake.
In spite of his high age he was always alert, active and enthusiastic of his scientific research. He was gifted with a prompt and sure memory and before ailing he was physically very fit.
Born on 5 June, 1894 in Macerata, he moved to Rome to the University. He took Ms degree in Literature only in 1919 because his studies had been interrupted by conscription to the Army during World War I, Between 1925 and 1930 he gave lessons in Italian, Chinese and Tibetan at the Universities of Shantiniketan and Calcutta. At Rome University he taught Indian and Far Eastern Religions and Philosophy first as a Joint Professor and from 1930 onwards as Regular Professor.
In 1929 at the age of 35 years he was elected member of the Royal Academy of Italy.
In 1933 he founded the Institute per il Medio e Estremo Oriente' (ISMEO) in Rome, of which he was to be President from 1947 to 1978, at which time he was appointed Honorary President.
This is the sheer listing of his teaching carrier to which he devoted many years of his life. But it should be pointed out that this activity was almost a side-line to the intensive scientific work he carried out throughout his life travelling extensively along the caravan tracks of the most remote areas of Central Asia.
In 1956 while addressing members of the 'Camping Club* in Rome, Tucci stated: 'It is true that I was prompted by science to tread the arduous and tiresome paths of Asia, but doubtless this urge went side by side with an inborn will to evade, an instinctive love of freedom and space, an inclination to let loose imagination and dream. This can only be done far away from human conglomeration when one is alone between earth and sky, here today, somewhere else tomorrow, in an ever changing landscape, among people new to me but deeply rooted in that ancient land. There, even the individual of today is an unconscious creation of a millenarian tradition and the vestiges of the past will tell those who dare to interrogate them of dramatic vicissitudes of the past, of vanished dreams and of eternal hopes.'
In such a mood Tucci began his travels in 1929 while teaching at Calcutta University. He first went towards Ladakh or Indian Tibet, as the area was then called, and there he came in touch with the Tibetan world for the first time. I have not been able to retrace exactly his early itineraries, but it can be easily assumed that they were rather similar to those he followed later, i.e. the traditional path leading from Srinagar to Dras across the Zoji la, on to Kargil towards the Indus at Kalatze and from there to Leh.
Tucci went back there in 1930 and 1931. During the latter year he covered 1600 km leaving Srinagar for Leh on the usual route and then on to Rupshu, Lahul, Saraj as far as the Sutlej valley in Bashar State. From there he proceeded to Kinnaur as far as Gartok (4500 m), capital of western Tibet, from there back to Simla on a 4 months' journey.
'Life with a caravan'-he wrote-'exerts a great fascination on me: it represents a chapter of quietness in the confused restlessness ruling nowadays in the Western World.' He further stated: 'When travelling with a caravan you don't miss a single detail: each gorge of a mountain, each green spot, each bend of the toilsome track are deeply and clearly impressed in your mind. Everybody in the caravan is your mate, you are together from morning to night in a friendship and brotherhood that is always born out of shared risks and discomfort.'
Tucci certainly did not have an easy life: he recalls that while crossing the Maricianfule Gorge he became ill at 4800 m altitude and had to stop and wait to overcome his troubles.
In 1930 he led his first expedition to Nepal and a second one followed in 1931 immediately after the one to Western Tibet. He reached Kathmandu crossing the Sisagari and Kandragiri passes. The aim of his researches in that area was in particular the pre-Buddhist Bonpo religion about which he had already collected extremely interesting manuscripts during his previous trip to western Tibet. He also gathered information on local literature, inscriptions and archaeological findings.
J.A K. Martyn
Tucci's next expedition to Western Tibet in 1933 was even more demanding. Accompanied by Capt Eugenio Ghersi of the Medical Corps he entered Tibet on the Spiti track and the Chandra valley he had already covered in 1931 starting from Sultanpur. 'This is by far the worst way to approach Tibet'-he says-'because a caravan faces great difficulties all the time and it risks to be swept away by landslides and avalanches. But it offers the enormous advantage of travelling through Spiti, once part of the State of Gughe that still conceals most important pieces of ancient times of glory.' From Spiti he proceeded east eventually reaching Tashigang after having interrupted the long march by frequent visits to the numerous monasteries. Crossing the Shirang and Karum passes (over 4600 m) he reached Jantang and later Shang-tse. Marching all the time above 4000 m he finally negotiated the Laoche la (5250 m) reaching Gartok.
On his way back Tucci turned towards the west crossing Bogo la at 5900 m to reach Dongru and then, having crossed the river Sutlej, he touched Tsaparang, Puling and Kapra. Near Tinzan he crossed the Sutlej again and followed the track he had used on the first lap of his journey near Nu, following it as far as beyond Shipki. There he left it in order to reach Simla,
In 1935 from May to October Tucci undertook his sixth expedition to Western Tibet. Starting point was the little Indian township Almora. From there he proceeded to Taklakot and on to the famous Manasarovar lake at 4542 m arriving there on 9 July. He then went to Barkha passing at the foot of the sacred mountain Kailash (6414 m). He then proceeded to Darchin, Dongbo and Mangnang reaching Gartok on 1 September. Of course all along the way he stopped to visit each village, each monastery, each ruin taking records of anything interesting from a point of view of religion, history and art.
From Gartok he followed the same itinerary used in 1933 returning to India through the Taglaung pass reaching Leh, for the fourth time on 3 October.
In 1939 Tucci left for Tibet on his seventh expedition pursuing the aim of studying the monuments of central Tibet. He wished to find out if temples and chapels of the early period of Buddhist expansion existed and if so whether they harboured documents of artistic value, particularly paintings. This time he set off from Gangtok in Sikkim, followed upwards the valley of the river Tista and, crossing the Kongra la, he reached Kampa Dzong (4350 m). From there he crossed several very high passes to reach Sakya, the ancient capital of Tibet at the time of the Mongolian dynasty. Then on to Latze Dzong on the river Tsangpo which he followed downstream for a short distance as far as Tashigang. He then proceeded on the usual caravan track towards east which led him to Shigatse. There, he took a long break studying the rich collections of the historical monastery Tashilhumpo. On his way back to India he crossed Gyantse and across Ta la (4590 m) reached Phari Dzong and from there over Natu la (4300 m) he made his way back to Gangtok.
During the Second World War Tucci's explorative action came to a standstill. Only in 1948 was he able to organise a new expedition to central Tibet. He called the Navy Medical Officer Regolo Moise, Pietro Mele and Fosco Maraini to join him. Between April and October they covered about 2300 km by foot or on horseback setting off from Darjeeling to proceed to Gangtok and crossing the Natu la they reached Yatung. At first only Tucci was granted permission to proceed to Lhasa. He used the track to Gyantse he knew since 1939 in the opposite direction, then turned east towards the capital crossing the Karo la (5045 m) and the Yandrok lake.
After visiting all the sacred sites of Lhasa, Tucci hired three boats to navigate the river Tsangpo at over 3000 m, thus reaching the Samye monastery and other famous places, among them Chongyen, where he discovered the tombs of the Tibetan kings and managed to establish their chronology by interpreting ancient inscriptions. The discovery of two ancient Sanskrit manuscripts at Konkarzon was one of the highlights of this expedition.
On his way back, instead of using as previously the 'Wool Route', Tucci went to Shigatze, where he had already been and then proceeded south via Kampa Dzong and the Sebu la, to arrive at Gangtok.
With the 1948 expedition Tucci put an end to his journeys to Tibet and returned to Nepal in order to finalise his research work there. He organised two expeditions (the 4th and the 5th) in 1952 and 1954. Both trips took off from Kathmandu, and on both occasions Tucci and his friends went to Pokhara via Nawakot and Gorkha. He travelled from October to December 1952 in the company of the Navy Medical Officer Concetto Guttuso and Miss Francesca Bonardi, a photographer, who from then on took part in all his expeditions.
In Pokhara Tucci joined a caravan to Ulleri and then proceeding north along a narrow valley deeply dug in between the Dhau-lagiri and Annapurna ranges, then passing through Dana, Tukuche and Mustang, thus getting close to the Tibetan border.
The strenuous itinerary had been used throughout the centuries by pilgrims and apostles. Therefore, it offered bountiful religious, historical and artistic highlights including decorated grottos like in Ranchum, monasteries and ruins of old Tibetan times like in Ghiling, Charang and Mustang.
Back in Dana, Tucci left the path he had already covered and proceeded south to Tansing and then to Bethari and Rummindei. From Tansing he turned north directly to Pokhara, where he took a plane back to Kathmandu.
In 1954 Tucci flew again to Pokhara and followed the previous itinerary as far as Syang, He then turned east for a long track through Jumla and Surkhet crossing again the Indian border towards Nishangara.
During all these expeditions Tucci was able to collect an enormous amount of data, information and documents on religious life and ancient history of local populations. To a great extent they are direct descendants of the Tibetan communities, but others are aboriginals and Indians as for example the ancient dynasty of the Malla (XIHth century) originating from west Nepal.
The following year (1955) Tucci made a preliminary visit to the Swat valley (Pakistan) where my 1954 expedition had discovered and offered to Tucci some Buddhistic high-reliefs of stone. In Swat, Tucci started in 1954 a number of archaeological excavations that continued throughout the years, ‘following the ideal route of three civilizations meeting in this area of ancient splendour: here Alexander waged war and Buddha preached and finally Islam dominated’. After the 1955 journey carried out with vehicles, Tucci was compelled very much against his will, to give up his arduous explorative programmes because of the unsettled political situation. 'As a consequence'-he wrote-'we have to go back in time, bring the dead to life. There is nothing more to explore on earth; I have closed my explorations with Tibet and Nepal; there, too, things are changing. Now, as the East absorbs our poison, all we can do is to plunge into the past and as we are dealing with shadows and images the soul remains in peace. All the rest is irrelevant.'
After this withdrawal, Tucci started new excavations in Afghanistan and Iran. Later he left them to his worthy assistants educated at his school.
I treasure an unforgettable memory of this deeply knowledgeable and rather strange personality, whom I have had the chance of meeting in important cities of the East. Remains with us the legacy of his numerous works full of information and erudition mainly in the field of ancient religions inj Asia, on the origin and the social structure of its populations of whom we know so little and of territories that even today are not fully explored. We owe him gratitude for having created and furthered ISMEO, but even more so for having, in great modesty, achieved a pre-eminence among those who have honoured Science and Italy.1
THE WELL-KNOWN Swiss alpinist Rene Dittert died at the age of 72 on 25 May 1983 in Geneva after three months' severe and incurable illness at the Cantonal hospital.
Dittert joined the Himalayan Club in 1949 and in the same year he made first ascents of the Sphinx (6824 m) and the NE summit of Pyramid Peak (c. 7100 m) in the Sikkim Himalaya. In 1947 Dittert was a member of the Swiss expedition to Garhwal, organized by the Swiss Foundation in Zurich and first summiter of Satopanth (7075 m), Kedarnath (6940 m) and Balba la (6410 m) as well as of Nanda Ghunti (6309 m).
1950 brought Dittert to Abi Gamin (7355 m), another fine first ascent. And in 1952 he went along as technical leader with the Swiss Spring expedition to Everest-reaching well over 8000 m. About this splendid campaign he also wrote as co-author (with Lambert and Chevalley) in the book F'orerunners to Everest,
which preceded the British ascent in 1953.
During his active years of climbing Dittert made several ascents in Mexico, North America, Greenland, Peru, Tibesti, Caucasus and Turkey. And finally in 1969 he visited Wakhan-Hindukush in Afghanistan. Dittert had a brilliant record of climbs in the Swiss, French and Italian Alps, many of which are described in his enchanting Passion des Hautes Cimes.
He was elected an Hon. Member of the Swiss Alpine Club and he was the impelling force of the 'Androsaciens', a group of elite alpinists in the Geneva area often seen in the Saleve-rocks. But in spite of all these successes, Dittert always remained modest, transferring enthusiasm to others and finding joy in his alpine activities. He was an unselfish and much valued friend amongst many climbers. His great warm smile cannot be forgotten by those who had the privilege to know his fine character. He will certainly count as one of an elite group of leading Swiss climbers during the present century.
A. Bolinder and T. Braham
1. I am grateful to Mrs Francesca Tucci Bonardi who revised the content of my1
Italian manuscript and to Mrs Stefania Benuzzi who kindly offered to carry out the translation of it in English.
43 YEAR OLD Naomi Uemura who succeeded in climbing solo the summit of Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, on 12 February, 1984 at 6.50 p.m. had been missing since he communicated with TV reporters on an airplane by wireless on 13 February at 11.00 a.m.
He went to Talkeetna, Alaska, toward the end of January, 1984, and flew to a 2200 m point on the Kahiltna glacier and established base camp on 1 February, 1984. The TV reporters accompanied him to base camp.
In March 1983, the unexpected Falkland Islands conflict prevented him going on a planned solo dogsledge journey across Antarctica. Pursuing the plan, he went to the United States in the fall of the year and entered the Minnesota Outward Bound School, where he brushed up his dogsledge operating technique. The solo climb of Mt McKinley in winter, which no one ever attempted, was also one of his ideas to help achieve the solo journey across Antarctica.
In his diary discovered later, he wrote down about his movements in detail from base camp to the igloo at 4300 m point under the West Buttress. According to the diary, it was a struggle against unexpected bad weather, the severe cold and the strong winds, and that without a tent. His climbing on 11 and 12 February was photographed by the TV reporters from the air.
Since 13 February, the bad weather continued and he was out of communication. Repeated searches were conducted. The O.B. alpine club of the Meiji University in Tokyo, of which Uemura was a member, sent a party for a search which was conducted for 45 days in total. It was a large scale search; nevertheless he was not found. The findings were American and Japanese flags on the summit and a part of his equipment at the igloo at 5200 m high point.
In the spring of 1970, he won glory. He joined the Japanese Alpine Club's Everest expedition, of which I was the climbing leader, and became the first Japanese who climbed Everest. In August of the same year, he made a successful solo climb of Mt McKinley in Alaska and then achieved the feat of having conquered the highest mountains in the five continents on the earth, such as Mont Blanc in Europe (solo, 1966), Kilimanjaro in Africa (solo, 1966), Aconcagua in South America (solo, 1968), Everest in Asia (expedition, 1970) and McKinley in North America (solo, 1970).
He was an ace climber on our expedition. In fact, he came up to our expectations. He was a man of patience and his climbing technique was excellent. He cultivated himself through mountaineering in his student days and wandered in Alps, Himalaya, Africa and South America for four years and five months after graduating from school. He was also strong enough for the task. In return for the honour of being the first Japanese Everest sum-miter, he presented each member of the expedition with a stone which he brought from the summit of Everest. His rucksack must have been heavier than when he left for the summit.
In 1971, he returned to Everest with an expedition led by Norman Dyhrenfurth. The attempt was unfortunately a failure, but, his endeavour to support comrades at upper camps by carrying up oxygen cylinders on the vertical southwest face of Everest is still fresh in our memories. On the way back, he visited Uttar Pradesh to see and condole the bereaved family of Major Harsh Bahuguna, member of expedition from India, who died during, attempt. He was really very tender at heart.
He was very friendly to everybody, and also able to adapt himself to any environment. From August 1972 to June next year, he stayed and lived with Eskimos in Greenland, where he learned much about how to live in the severe natural environment. He ate raw meat as the Eskimos do. He learned to operate the dogsledge on icy fields. He was loved by the Eskimos and was called 'Japanese, Eskimo'. In the spring of 1973, he attempted a sola journey of 3000 km by dogsledge in the northwest coast of Greenland. From December 1974 to May 1976 he accomplished a remarkable 12,000 km journey in the Arctic Zone, including Greenland, Canada and Alaska, which is the longest solo journey by dogsledge in the world.
All the world praised him for his glorious achievements and they awarded him a lot of prizes; they are: Rekitei (Japan, 1975),. Asahi Sports (Japan, 1976), Kan Kikuchi (Japan, 1978), Valour in Sports (Great Britain, 1979), American Academy of Achievement (U.S.A., 1979), and The National Honor (Japan, 1984).
Rest in peace!
KEVIN O'CONNELL was killed on Huascaran in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru in July 1984; an intense and prolific climbing career was brought to an end. Widely known in Canada as a mountaineer, lecturer, writer and administrator, Kevin, Presidentelect of the ACC, was 40, Peru last summer, following an Haute Route alpine ski traverse in May, was a shakedown for a winter Himalayan trip to Tilicho peak. This typified his systematic working of the peaks and seasons that had gone on since student days. In the years since meeting him in 1970, I saw, and participated to a limited degree, in a relentless broadening of his activity: a progression from local climbing in Quebec and the northeast, to the Canadian Rockies, European Alps, Mexico, the Yukon, Alaska, Andes and the Himalaya with which he became obsessed.
While never aspiring to the leading edge of mountaineering development, his main impact was in exploring new areas, principally Baffin and the St Elias, and in the sheer Fred Beckeyian volume of routes done. This urge to get to remote places and climb everything feasible in sight, dominated his outlook and his> life, and there are many of us who were willingly tangled in his; organisational webs. Few have such a singleminded drive to optimise their time in the mountains. Intensity of this kind, and the recognition it brings is often best admired from afar. Close up it makes for exacting schedules, exciting tempestuous living, and those endless trips away; an amalgam that his wife Christine MacNamara seemed to handle so well. Few too, combine action and administration concurrently, Kevin always did, he ran whatever bureaucracy he was in; McGill Outing Club, Montreal Section ACC, Eastern Vice-President ACC, President-elect ACC. His enthusiasm for these tasks seemed endless, and he ran things well, with an inimitable if sometimes infuriating style. An endearing quality was his interest in and availability to others. He was always willing to ferry someone to the airport, advise on the best deal in town or take another newcomer climbing.
There are many viewpoints on what to do with mountain experiences; Kevin's was clear: communicate them to the world. In his early years, climbing instruction in Quebec and in the Rockies with army cadets, gave way to climbing lectures and a journalistic output of articles. I counted 23 in the Canadian Alpine Journal alone since 1978, including an incredible 11 articles in the 1984 edition. To a considerable extent then, his autobiography is likely there on your shelf. His engineering background led to a keen and critical interest in the mechanics of protection. Characteristically, he carried out extensive equipment testing, and served on the ACC and UIAA safety committees. In his climbing though, the evolution was towards the big mountains, away from the cocoon of gadgets.
In Zermatt, weeks before his death, Kevin and I spent an hour in the churchyard there, discussing risk taking, among the climbers' tombs. Fresh from our ski mountaineering exploits we concurred, with what I suppose is a conventional climber's view, that the enterprise transcended the dangers. Today, some months after Kevin, Carl Lund and Dave Findlay were swept away, I feel less sure. The increased risks we run in the great mountain ranges and their consequences for those left behind, have to be faced again in a grimmer light. But I can't end this in middle-aged sorrow for my friend. Rather let's remember the raw enthusiastic dynamism and uncomplicated vision of this exceptional man; and that damned knack he had of keeping just that little bit ahead on the approaches!
RANJIT LAHIRI and ARUN GHOSH
RANJIT LAHIRI, (31) and Arun Ghosh, (29) set out from Madmaheshwar on 14 September with one porter to try and force a route to Badrinath. They reached Kanchni Tal on the 16th, and after camping for two days, set out again on the 19th. On the same day, or a few days thereafter (the details are not very clear), they became separated from their porter and disappeared. The porter made his way back, suffering from severe frostbite, and reported the disappearance to the authorities on 1 October. Subsequent searches found nothing.
Ranjit, an M.A. in Economics, and Arun, an M.A. in Philosophy, worked together in a bank and I became acquainted with them in 1980. Arun joined an expedition to Bauljuri in 1981, and from then on they were an inseparable and energetic pair. Ranjit excelled at painstaking planning and was the foil for Arun's wicked wit. They did their Basic Course at NIM in March-April 1982, made a two-man attempt on Haramukh in June the same year, and then took part in an expedition to Jogin III that autumn. Next year they achieved the second crossing of Auden's Col, tracing in reverse the route followed nearly forty years ago by J. B. Auden. In March 1984 they trekked along the Singalila ridge to Phalut, and then descended into Nepal, going up to the snout of the Yalung glacier along the route of the 1955 British Kang-chenjunga expedition. They accomplished the crossing of the Kang la during the return. In June 1984, they took part in the Gangotri expedition led by me, and traversed the entire length of the glacier, narrowly failing to gain Meade's Col or Jaulabi Khal at its head. Not content with that, they set out again in September to open a new route from Madmaheshwar to Badrinath: no one knows what really happened to them after they set out eastwards from Kanchni Tal.
In Ranjit and Arun the Club has lost two of its brightest and most energetic members, and I have lost two friends I admired.
Faint bells on a crystal wind
a gentle pass
mist drifting on the cold turquoise glass
of a mountain tarn
but a tranquil ambience.