Himalayan Journal vol.44
The Himalayan Journal
Vol.44

Publication year:
1988

Editor:
Soli S. Mehta
Index
  1. EDITORIAL
  2. MOUNTAINS AND RIVERS OF THE HIMALAYA: THEN AND NOW
    (JACK GIBSON)
  3. MEMORIES
    (MAVIS HEATH)
  4. ZHANGZI - AUTUMN, 1987
    (JOSS LYNAM)
  5. BRITISH XIXABANGMA Expedition, 1987
    (LT COL M. W. H. DAY)
  6. MENLUNGTSE, 1987
    (CHRIS BONINGTON)
  7. KINGDOM OF THE THUNDER DRAGON
    (S. K. BERRY)
  8. RATHONG, 1987
    (MAJOR K. V. CHERIAN)
  9. PANDIM - DIARY OF A WAR-TIME ESCAPADE
    (LORD JOHN HUNT)
  10. MAKALU
    (GLENN PORZAK)
  11. CHO OYU, 1987
    (Dr MAURICIO A. PURTO)
  12. KUMAON SECRETS
    (GEOFF HORNBY)
  13. FIRST ASCENT OF CHIRBAS PARBAT, 1986
    (INDRANATH MUKHERJEE)
  14. KALANAG EAST FACE EXPEDITION, 1986
    (W. J. POWELL)
  15. CHURDHAR MORE OF THE LESSER
    (WILLIAM MCKAY AITKEN)
  16. A RETURN TO LINGTI, 1987
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  17. ASCENT OF KARCHA PARBAT, 1986
    (J. K. PAUL and S. N. DHAR)
  18. A TRYST WITH PHABRANG, 1987
    (ANIL KUMAR)
  19. BRITISH KISHTWAR EXPEDITION, 1986
    (BOB REID and EDWARD FARMER)
  20. CANADIAN KASHMIR HIMALAYAN
    (JOHN A. JACKSON)
  21. UNKNOWN SPITI: THE MIDDLE COUNTRY
    (HARISH KAPADIA)
  22. PICNIC ON A GLACIER -A KARAKORAM JOURNEY
    (STEPHEN VENABLES)
  23. THE GOLDEN PILLAR
    (A. V. SAUNDERS)
  24. PROBLEMS OF ACCURACY IN REPORTING MOUNTAINEERING
    (ELIZABETH HAWLEY)
  25. HIMALAYA-OUR FRAGILE HERITAGE
    (N. D. JAYAL)
  26. THE CONTINUING STORY OF THE HIMALAYAN CLUB
    (M. H. CONTRACTOR)
  27. EXPEDITIONS AND NOTES
  28. IN MEMORIAM
  29. BOOK REVIEWS
  30. CORRESPONDENCE
  31. CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1987

CANADIAN KASHMIR HIMALAYAN

JOHN A. JACKSON

THIS EXPEDITION was co-sponsored by Science North of Sudbury, Ontario, and the Division of Physical Education of Lauventian University. The objectives were: -

(a) An ascent of Kolahoi 5425 m - the 'Matterhorn of Kashmir'.

(b)Field work on mountain geology and glaciology in the Liddarwat/Kolahoi region of Kashmir and later, in Ladakh, a study of the natural history and geology of the Indus valley.

(C)Field study and research of the mountain ecology in the Liddarwat/Kolahoi area.

Twenty people took part but the main resource people, to use a North American term, were Dr David Pearson, Associate Professor of Geology and Director of Science North, Dr Gerry Courtin, Associate Professor of Biology, Dr Peter Beckett, Associate Professor of Botany, Patrick Demegere, Chairman of the School of Human Movement, and Dr Bob Rogers, Director of the Outdoor Education Division of Lauventian University. Rogers was also deputy leader of the expedition. In 1984 I had presented a lecture at Lauventian University on mountaineering and mountain environments in the Himalaya based on the book More than Mountains. This triggered off the idea for the expedition and I was invited to be the leader. Though living far away from Ontario, in Canada (I live in Wales, U.K.). I was still able to play a major part in co-ordinating travel arrangements, and the organisation for trekking, climbing and a journey to Ladakh. N. Raghunathan (Raghu) lecturer at Delhi University proved to be a most splendid liaison officer who became an important member of the mountain team.

Ascent of Kolahoi 5425 m (17,900 ft)

In 1912 when Kolahoi was first climbed by Dr Ernest Neve and Professor Kenneth Mason the ascent was made by the north glacier to the col thence to a couloir (later named Neve-Mason Couloir) which led to the east rock ridge and summit. In 1952 following the British Garhwal Expedition David Bryson and I had made the ascent of Kolahoi by the same route. However, quite early in the planning I decided that the modern approach of circumnavigating the rock island to the east of the north glacier and setting up two camps would be preferable for this party. All expedition members could be involved with load carrys to establish and supply the camps during which and afterwards they could make many of their environmental observations.

Photos 36 to 39
Base camp was placed on a small marg near the snout of the north glacier on 6 July and a reconnaissance the next day enabled Berrer, Couture, Lehocky and Jackson to work out a cairned route to the rock island. Loads were carried and the late snows of winter so greatly facilitated progress that these were eventually dumped at the point which became Cl. This camp was fully established on 8 July when the above four members plus Raghu, Heatler Baines, Lyette Bernier, and a third lady member Meryl Zuliani carried further loads to the site at around 3900 m (13,000 ft). At this time and for the next seven days the weather was very variable with sudden changes from bright sunny spells to sudden snow squalls and storms involving thunder and lightning. {Snow-slides on the higher and steeper ground were frequent and care had to be taken in establishing C2 at 4550 m (15,000 ft) on 10 July. The initial route to C2 making use of fixed ropes became too dangerous because of possible snow and rock avalanche and a safer route was made straight up the glacier on the 11th. Jackson, Couture, Lehocky and Jacqueline Mitra carried heavy loads to C2 and stayed the night of the 11th. So that on the 12 July they could climb the mountain. All four were up by 3 a.m. and quickly away heading for the Neve-Mason Couloir. Striding across the glacier by the light of a full moon was stunningly beautiful as surface ice-particles reflected the lunar light. Before dawn heavy clouds had begun to form but we hoped that later they would disperse in a hot sun. For the first four or five hundred feet the couloir is at an angle of 45° then the route takes to the rocks as the angle steepens. Danger from snow avalanching down the couloir is normally high but on this day the hard snow-ice was ideal for front pointing in cramp'ons, and this enabled us to continue at upto 60° angle in the couloir making greater height at good speed. Mitra's clip-on crampons had come off several times even whilst crossing the glacier and already I had cut steps for her for most of the way. Now as the ice steepened I put her on the rope and sent Couture and Lehocky ahead. After several rope lengths the thickening clouds began to hide the Kishtwar peaks, it began snowing and wicked gusts of wind whipped spindrift over steps in the ice and into hand holds whenever we traversed rock sections. It became bitterly cold. At approximately 5100 m (17,000 ft) as the wind increased in strength and visibility deteriorated we decided to turn back. Mitra had climbed with real courage in the conditions. Lehocky and Couture had last been seen higher up the couloir at perhaps 5300 m (17,500 ft) and we wondered if they might have tried to reach the summit but the weather had beaten them also. A roll of thunder greeted our return to C2 some 5J hours after leaving it and an hour later our other companions had also returned. The storm continued unabated, putting down half a foot of snow in the first hour but by 2 p.m. there was sufficient lull for us all to descend safely to CI where we found Pearson,, Bernier, and Zuliani in residence. Lehocky descended to base and the rest stayed on. 13 July was an essential drying out and rest day and no one came up from base camp where rain and sleet had flooded the tents. Our only visitors were flocks of mountain choughs, two Yellow Coster butterflies, a Giant Honey Bee (Apis dorsata) and several small spiders that seemed to live quite happily on the glacier. Mitra was left looking after CI the next day whilst the rest made the ascent to C2. Following this carry Jackson then descended back to CI to be able to lead a large party of the environmentalists to C2 on the 15th. On the same day Couture and Pearson with the two girls Bernier and Zuliani in support at C2 would have a final attempt to reach the summit of Kolahoi. They left C2 in calm weather at 3.30 a.m. but by 4.15 a.m. lightning and peals of thunder presaged a sudden blizzard that lasted for over an hour. Numb with cold they returned to the camp to thaw out then again the weather changed abruptly. Two hours after returning, they set out again this time in bright sunshine and very determined. Those of us ascending to C2 in the same conditions felt confident the two climbers would reach the summit in good time. At C2 the previous day Jackson could see that snow had avalanched down the couloirs and encouraged Pearson and Couture to take to the rocks as soon as practicable. This they did. Again the weather was fickle and shortly after mid-day they experienced snow-squalls and cold winds. Later there was thunder and lightning and a static that caused their ice axes to sizzle and sing, but against odds they continued to climb. Because of fatigue and cramp Pearson had to stop the ascent some 200 ft short of the summit but Couture persisted alone until his ice axe pushed through the summit cornice overlooking the unclimbed north ridge. It was 6 p.m. and it had been a brave climb. Eventually both climbers returned safely to C2 in the dark at 9 p.m. Both camps were evacuated from the mountain the next day.

Field Work in the Liddarwat/Kolahoi area
(a) Dr Pearson made a general survey of the geology in the areas above base camp. Work on the pattern of little Ice Age advance and retreat was important and findings may well assist in establishing some form of global synchroneity. Pearson with Dr Beckett, a lichenologist, worked on establishing moraine sequences. A lichenometric survey was made using the lichen Rhizocarpus geographicus found growing on the rocks of the moraines. From this work some chronological dating of the Little Ice Age that took place from the 17th to the 19th century might be established. The areas above base camp are good for such research and the moraines below the north glacier and on the mountain Harbhagwan were investigated. Any papers have yet to be published.

(b)A portable computerised meteorological station was set up by Dr Courtin at base camp. This automatically measured wind speeds, humidities, maximum and minimum temperatures and solar radiation. Interesting measurements of the variable katabatic air currents flowing down Kolahoi and over the north glacier were made possible.

(c) The long hard winter had served to retard the growth cf flora and Dr Courtin with his group felt some disappointment at the sparsity of botanical specimens. Courtin feels that the Kolahoi and Thajiwas areas are becoming botanical deserts because of the increasing number of goats and sheep brought high by the gujjars. Such a drastic effect on the environment (as happened for various reasons in the Trisul glacier and the Nanda Devi sanctuary in Garhwal) is certainly possible. Since the expedition the writer has received encouraging information from a botanical group that was in the areas one month later. Their findings demonstrate that once the snows melted and the sun warmed the soil flora flourished abundantly. In July and August of 1988 Jackson will lead a photographic botanical trek in these same areas and will hope to bring back visual evidence of this.

(d)Studies continued in Ladakh. Geologically the sorting out of the rocks that mark the suture of India and Asia created the greatest interest. These rocks that were deposited on the ocean floor create a colourful and exciting mixture between Lamayuru and Mulbek as well as at the gorge of Khalser. Having first seen these geological deposits 44 years ago it was interesting for me to have them explained in some detail.

Conclusion
Kolahoi is not a high peak by Himalayan standards but it is a peak of some quality rather than quantity and this plus its accessibility and the surrounding environment made it ideal for the expedition requirements. Yes they set up their camps and climbed the peak as well as made their investigations in the valleys and on the mountains. Doing these things they had much fun and gained great satisfaction. That is what going to mountains is all about.

olahoi (right) and Harbhagwan. 										(J. A. Jackson)

olahoi (right) and Harbhagwan. (J. A. Jackson)



Kolahoi, Neve-Mason couloir and rock ridge. 					(J. A. Jackson)

Kolahoi, Neve-Mason couloir and rock ridge. (J. A. Jackson)



Carry to C 1. Seracs of north glacier. Kolahoi summit beyond.  						(J. A. Jackson)

Carry to C 1. Seracs of north glacier. Kolahoi summit beyond. (J. A. Jackson)



Climbing the Neve-Mason couloir.

Climbing the Neve-Mason couloir.



Kolahoi area

Kolahoi area