Himalayan Journal vol.44
The Himalayan Journal

Publication year:

Soli S. Mehta
  4. ZHANGZI - AUTUMN, 1987
  5. BRITISH XIXABANGMA Expedition, 1987
    (LT COL M. W. H. DAY)
  6. MENLUNGTSE, 1987
    (S. K. BERRY)
  8. RATHONG, 1987
  10. MAKALU
  11. CHO OYU, 1987
    (W. J. POWELL)
  16. A RETURN TO LINGTI, 1987
    (J. K. PAUL and S. N. DHAR)
    (A. V. SAUNDERS)
    (N. D. JAYAL)



BY 1978, the economic and strategic importance of the Himalayan ranges was well established in all littoral countries and there were Government bodies regulating, and indeed furthering to some extent, the activities of mountaineers there. It is a vindication of the Himalayan Club's founding principles that in these circumstances, the Club not only managed to abide by them, but also succeeded in adding to its scope of activities.

The fiftieth year of its existence saw the Club make good use of its human resources. The Golden Jubilee celebrations were organised by all sections. The Bombay celebrations were spread over a week and included a photo-exhibition, an exhibition of the art and craft of the Himalayan region and talks by speakers of international stature. Ecology and mountain medicine were also covered along with narrations of some well-known climbs. In Delhi, the theme of the seminar was Himalayan Conservation. Calcutta had a good mixture of lectures and films, while in London, "The bar remained open after dinner' at the Oriental Club, providing the members and other dignitaries present on the occasion to renew old friendships. Prof N. E. Odell chaired the meeting. All these events were well attended and gave ample evidence of the spirit of association promoted by the Club and also of the goodwill that it continued to enjoy. In the face of misgivings, expressed by certain other mountaineering bodies about the Club's future role, the Committee stated that the Club would certainly focus attention on ecological problems, 'but not be confined to only this sphere and it would continue its interest in and active encouragement of Himalayan trekking and mountaineering and in furnishing whatever facilities it could within its resources'. A timely reaffirmation of faith indeed.

Two happy events in 1978 contributed considerably to the growth of these resources. The prestigious Japanese publishing house, M/s. Maruzen, proposed to reprint Volumes I-XV of the Himalayan I Journal. The proposal was accepted. These volumes, covering ? activities in the Himalaya in the period 1928 to 1949, were much sought-after as authentic and exhaustive reference material by mountaineers the world over. They were (and still are) of historical value. Their contents represent a large chunk of what is now referred to as the Golden Age of Himalayan climbing. The efforts of the stalwarts who produced these volumes, viz. Kenneth Mason, C. W. F. Noyce and H. W. Tobin,1 received a renewed and widespread recognition in the course of the reprinting. It also enabled the members of the Club to possess a set of these volumes at a special price and provided a source of income to the Club. The second event was the establishment of a scholarship scheme for training in mountaineering at institutes in India. The Club's efforts, notably those of Meher H. Mehta, bore fruition in the form of the 'Grindlays Bank Mountain Scholarship', thanks to the generosity of Grindlays Bank. Dozens of deserving young persons have benefited from this scheme.

Note: See "The Story of The Himalayan Club 1928-78* by John Martyn, published lished in HJ. Vol. XXXV, pp. 1 to 57.-Ed

Volume XXXV of the Himalayan Journal was published in 1978 and carried reprints from earlier volumes by Dr AUwein, Major H W. Tilman, Eric Ship ton, Michael Spender and Major G. Osmas-ton. It also carried an article by Dr Hermann Warth on the second ascent of Lhotse in 1977. The yet unconcluded boom in the ascents of the 8000 ers was well underway and by 1984, the proliferation was such that D. F. O. Dangar and T. H. Braham, who had kept records of ascents of such peaks since the first one in 1950,2 decided to stop chronicling them.3 It is now hoped that the Alpine Club's computer can cope with the burgeoning data. This volume also saw the introduction of two new Honorary Assistant Editors, R. E. Hawkins and Harish Kapadia.

The next year saw the creation of an independent post of an Honorary Equipment Officer in Bombay with the intention of having better purchase, upkeep and hiring of equipment. Significantly, the hiring rates of the Club were among the lowest of all sources and hence the demand was ever-growing. The post of Honorary Local {Secretary for Bombay was also revived to co-ordinate the Club's meetings for the growing number of members there. The Club also set up a new tradition when it agreed to sponsor expeditions. It was clarified that the purpose of the sponsorship to be given was to provide recognition to deserving expeditions to enable them to approach various authorities for necessary permission and other assistance. The first sponsored expedition was to Satopanth glacier for an attempt on Ft 20,587 ft ('Parvati Parbat'). It managed to climb a point of 20,100 ft on the ridge leading to its objective.4 Trevor Braham, distinguished climber and writer, author Of the contemporary classic Himalayan Odyssey, was elected as Honorary Member of the Club in 1979. He was one of the core group that had nursed the Club in its troubled days and had served In various capacities for nearly a quarter century.

The printers couldn't manage to unduly delay the publication of Volume 36, of the Himalayan Journal and the new Honorary Editor, Harish Kapadia, set a record of sorts by ensuring that all volumes were published punctually thereafter. He was ably assisted by R. E. Hawkins, the venerable man of letters, till Volume 40. Harish held the fort alone till Volume 43 when Soli Mehta (on his return to India) resumed, and wisely retained Harish as his very valuable assistant. These three have contributed so much to the Journal, whose publication has now become the single most important function of the Club, and are entirely responsible for its continuing to be the most authoritative source on the Himalaya and allied ranges today. D, F. O. Dangar, who had meticulously indexed the Journal for over 25 years, now undertook the task of preparing a consolidated index to Volumes I to XXXV. The indixes for subsequent volumes, in individual form and consolidated (Volumes 36 to 42), have been prepared by Dhiren Toolsidas. Harish Kapadia was also instrumental in ensuring that the Club's informative Newsletter was published in February every year. The format has been revised continuously to make it provide interesting reading matter along with information. A consolidated 'Index to the Himalayan Club Newsletter, Volumes 1-37 (1951-1984)' was also prepared by Ms Genevieve DeSa.

The Indian Mountaineering Foundation (I.M.F.) formally inaugurated its building complex in New Delhi in October, 1980 and as a gesture of goodwill the Club donated four enlargements of mountain photographs. At about the same time, it was suggested by the Sponsoring Committee of the I.M.F. that the Club's library be incorporated and housed with the I.M.F. library in its building complex. After due deliberation, the Club declined the offer since the location at the India International Centre (LLC.) was found to be more suitable in all aspects and further, 'a separate location of the Club library as at present was essential to preserve the identity and continuity of the Himalayan Club.'

The following year, Nanabhoy Davar and Mrs Hilla N. Davar generously gifted their collection of about 200 books in memory of their late son, Dr Edulji N. Davar. These books are kept in Bombay. The late Gerard Emerson, O.B.E., also donated 20 maps and 73 books to the Club which were kept in the London section for use by members there. Mrs G. E. D. Waller very generously donated £1500 to the Club in memory of her husband the late G. E. D. Waller. The interest income from this amount is utilized equally for providing scholarships for mountaineering training in India and for the purchase of equipment suitably inscribed in memory of Bob Waller. To date, dozens of deserving young candid dates have benefited from the Bob Waller scholarships and much needed equipment has been continuously added to the Club's stoc" to cater to the increasing requirements of members.

The Club also elected six prominent personalities to Honora Membership, (a) Dr Salim Ali, whose reputation as an ornithologist was deservedly spread all over the world, was also an authority on Himalayan birds. He had authored several books on ornithology, including The Indian Hill Birds, The Birds of Sikkim, Field Guide to the birds of Eastern Himalaya and along with Dr Dillon Ripley had co-authored the monumental Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan in 10 volumes. He was the guiding spirit behind the Bombay Natural History Society for several decades and was instrumental in the formation of the Keoladeo-Ghana Bharatpur bird sanctuary. He inspired at least two generations of wild-life enthusiasts and scientists and was awarded the J. Paul Getty Wild! Life Conservation prize in 1976. (b) H. Adams Carter is the longstanding editor of the American Alpine Journal and has participated in many expeditions to the Himalaya, Andes and the Alps. He was a member of the 1936 expedition which made the first ascent of Nanda Devi and returned 40 years later to that very mountain. Recently, he has completed the classification of the eastern and central Himalaya.5 (c) J. T. M, Gibson, in his long association with the Doon School as a teacher and later as principal of the Mayo College, had introduced many young persons to mountaineering and trekking. He has served as President of the Club during 1970-1974. He has sponsored the cause of smaller expeditions having himself taken part in several of these. His book As I saw It describes his Himalayan experiences, (d) Sir Edmund Hillary, famous for the first ascent of Everest in 1953, has done a lot to improve the lot of the Sherpas in the Solu Khumbu region In Nepal by organizing schools and medical centres, (e) J. A. K. Martyn served the Club as Honorary Assistant Editor during 1966-67 in the course of his long association with the Club. He introduced many young students of the Doon School to trekking and mountaineering in the Himalaya. His exhaustive article on the Club's history is a must for all members.1 (f) Gurdial Singh is known for his numerous expeditions to Tibet, Garhwal and Nepal. One of the early Indian mountaineers and a teacher of the Doon School, he has written extensively about Himalayan geography,, fauna and flora. A member of the Club since 1950 he has actively encouraged small private expeditions to the Himalaya.

An expedition to Kabru Dome in West Sikkim was sponsored by the Club. Although it failed to reach the summit, Palung was climbed and an attempt made on Frey Peak.

In 1982, the Club sponsored two expeditions - a two men expedition which climbed Sri Kailash (22,744 ft.)6 The other expedition titled The Neora Valley Biosphere Reconnaissance expedition.'7 The i team of 16 members traversed the hitherto unexplored Neora valley in the Kalimpong region near the trijunction of Bhutan, Sikkim Ind North Bengal. The expedition made observations on the fauna and flora and collected several specimens. In this year, two other renowned personalities were elected to Honorary Membership, (a) Prof Ardito Desio, who had led the first successful expedition to K2 in 1954, had also served as the Club's Honorary Local Secretary in Italy for several years. He has undertaken numerous exploratory travels in the Karakoram and has authored several books on its geology, (b) V. S. Risoe had served the Club in various capacities since 1948. In that year, he was a member of the Committee, during 1948-1955, he was the Honorary librarian while in 1956, he served as the President. Upon his departure from India in 1957, he served as Vice-President for the next two years. For several years, he served as the Honorary Local Secretary for the U.K. and has been responsible for organising regularly the Reunion meetings there.

In 1983, S. P. Mahadevia organised a Winter Seminar titled The Himalaya Closer to Nature* in Bombay which met with a very favourable response. It set the trend for similar seminars to be held in Bombay thereafter. To ensure more Club activities in the Calcutta and Delhi sections, sub-committees were appointed at each place. An expedition was sponsored to Kabru Dome in West Sikkim. The team was denied permission to attempt this peak on the dubious grounds of religious sanctity, however, an attempt on the nearby Pt 21,510 ft reached upto c. 19,200 ft8. The publication of the Club's Newsletter and the Himalayan Journal were streamlined since the past two years and printing schedules maintained largely due to Harish Kapadia spending long evenings continuously with the printers and also due to the efforts of various volunteers, notably Dhiren Toolsidas, in various aspects of production. The band of such volunteers is growing steadily.

1984 saw one seminar each organised by the Bombay and Delhi sections. Such seminars have become almost a permanent feature, along with an occasional photography exhibition. The Bombay seminar included an instructive session on mountain photo-orientation by J. C. Nanavati. Only too often, confusing claims about ascents of Himalayan peaks continue to be made. The think-tank of the Club, comprising among others, J. C. Nanavati, Harish Kapadia, Arun Samant and Soli Mehta has on several occasions helped expedition leaders and. summiters to correctly identify the peak climbed or attempted by them. The list of such mistaken claims ranges from the attempt on Neelkanth in 1964, SudarshanJ Parbat in 1970 to the recent attempt on Nanda Khat in 1986. Inj a similar fashion, P. K. Ganguli helped to clarify the long-standing confusion about the climbing histories of Papsura (6451 m) and Dharamsura (6446 m)9 while Dhiren Pania, under Harish Kapadia's guidance, resolved the confusion about CB 54 and neighbouring peak.10 Two expeditions were granted sponsorship. An un successful attempt on Nilgiri Parbat and a successful two man ascent of Uja Tirche.11 A proposal to set up a video library on selected mountaineering films was also approved and a few copies acquired. In 1985, Dr J. C. Patel authored a book The Garhwal-Kumaon Himalaya giving a general topographic account of the region and some of its trekking possibilities. The copyright of this book lies with the Club which is also undertaking its distribution. The following year, the Committee debated as to whether any changes in the membership qualification criteria, which were felt to be rather stringent in the case of ordinary membership, were required. The views of past and present officers of the Club were solicited and after due deliberation, a near consensus was reached on the minimum qualification required. It was decided that the club should retain 'its special character which comes from membership qualification'. A certain amount of flexibility continued to be in-built into the policy but at the same time, it was decided that the Club expected aspiring members to rise up to its requirements.

Three stalwarts were elected to Honorary Membership in 1987. (a) R. E. Hawkins had served as Hon. Local Secretary, Bombay, put in several years on the Committee, had also been the Vice-President, and the Honorary Assistant Editor for 7 years. As mentioned earlier, the new avatar of the Himalayan Journal owes a substantial debt of gratitude to him. (b) Peter Lloyd, whose climbing career dates back to the Everest attempts from the North in the 1930's and includes the membership of the team which first climbed Nanda Devi in 1936, has also been the Chairman of the Mount Everest Foundation and a member of the Alpine Club Committee. He has also been a President of the Alpine Club, (c) Bob Lawford had served on the Club's Committee and also as the Honorary Librarian. During the lean period of the early sixties, he had rendered valuable services as the Honorary Secretary and thereafter, as Vice-President and eventually as the President.

The Club's financial position received further strengthening as a result of a donation of one lakh rupees by the Phirojsha Godrej Foundation. The President, K. N. Naoroji was instrumental in lecuring the grant which will be utilized for supporting the Club's various activities. The Club celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in February, 1988. To mark 60 eventful years of involvement in Himalayan mountaineering, each section organised celebrations. In Bombay, these were inaugurated by Major General R. V. Kulkarni, A.V.S.M., U.Y.S.M., who as chief guest, recalled the long association between the Club and the Army. He also presented an illustrated lecture on the role of the Army in the high altitudes, where soldiers were required to practise the craft of the mountaineer in addition to their own. Stephen Venables, a British climber, flew to Bombay especially for the celebrations. He enthralled the audience with a series of five lectures, covering the British hills, the Alps, the Kashmir Himalaya, Eastern and Western Karakoram and Tibet. Each lecture covered the mountaineering history of the respective region. Jean Marc Paris, a young French rock climber spoke on the development and current status of the sport in his country. Harish Kapadia covered his extensive exploration in the Eastern Spiti area while S. N. Dhar spoke of an attempt on Purbi Dunagiri and the second ascent of Karcha Parbat. Nari Rustomji spoke on the aspects of change in Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh while A. D. Moddie presented a summary of recent theories of geological formation of the Himalaya and crucial issues in their ecological decline. W. M. Aitken narrated the story of his epic motorcycle journey of over 3000 kms from Darjeeling to Ladakh; Col J. K. Bajaj showed slides of the Gangotri region, Soli Mehta confessed his inclination for trekking in comfort and Capt M. S. Kohli gave a brief history of climbing in India and added a few suggestions for the future. Two films on mountaineering were also screened and an exhibition of 41 enlargements of Himalayan peaks arranged, the latter largely due to the efforts of Mayank Chandan. As a finale, Colin Pritchard spoke on the first ascent of Papsura on 27 February 1988. The Club's traditional Annual Dinner was also held on that day. In Delhi, H. C. Sarin inaugurated the celebrations over which Dr Charles Houston presided. The 3-day event included lectures and films with speakers like Col N. Kumar and Col B. S. Sandhu. Sir Edmund Hillary was chief guest at the Jubilee dinner at Delhi. In Calcutta, a two-day seminar-cum-exhibition was held.

The Club continues to be well served by its officers, whose efforts continue to remain voluntary. A few names need a special mention. The Honorary Local Secretaries especially Mike Cheney, Sudhir Sahi, M. H. Contractor, P. K. Ganguli, V. S. Risoe, J. Paytubi, R. G. Pettigrew and S. P. Mahadevia have been active in sending news and opinions and in organising sectional activities, besides recruiting new members. The Honorary Business Manager S. P. Mahadevia (his post after being the Honorary Local Secretary) has ensured sufficient funds to meet increasing costs of publication and postage. S. R. Shah has meticulously updated membership lists and other records. V. James handled the growing sub-library at Bombay with great devotion. Arun Samant has painstakingly maintained the stock of the Club's equipment in good shape and has seen to its continuous replenishment and growth. He has also ensured its smooth allocation in several situations where the demand has exceeded the supply! The contribution made by W. M. Aitken as the Honorary Librarian for three years has led to his being persuaded to accept the post again. His dedication should guarantee its smooth functioning, as in the past. Several young volunteers have put in their bit as and when called upon. The efforts of the Honorary Secretary, J. C Nanavati, have been outstanding. His office has been made available for the Bombay section's library, the meetings are conducted there and thanks to his efforts, the hall of the Scindia Steam Navigation Co, Ltd., has been utilised by the Club for most of its meetings. He has administered the Club admirably for a record period of 16 years and his presence inspires the best in others. He has conducted the Club's functioning in its unique fashion and has ensured that this will continue. May we hope for an even longer innings?

To conclude, J would like to quote Trevor Braham12: 'Soon after I joined the Club, what struck me as one of its unique features was the feeling J had, wherever I roamed across the ranges, that there was someone somewhere upon whose advice and support I could always count, whether I found myself in Kulu, Garhwal, Darjeeling or the Karakoram. May similar feelings always remain alive for present and future generations of Himalayan Club members.'

The fact that such feelings continue to exist speaks volumes for its role and augurs well for the future.

1. H.J. Vol. XXXV, 'The Story of the Himalayan Club, 1928-1978' by the Martyn for details of difficulties in producing these Journals, particularly in the early post-war years.

2. H.J. Vol. XVI, p. 9.

3. H.J. Vol. 41, p. 206.

4. H.J. Vol. 37, p. 64.

5. H.J. Vol. 42, p. 203.

6. H.J. Vol. 39, p. 62.

7. H.J. Vol. 40, p. 38.

8. HCNL No. 37, p. 11.

9. H.J. Vol. 37, p. 192.

10.H.J. Vol. 43, p. 189.

11.H.J. Vol. 41, p. 79.

H.J. Vol. XXXV, p. 63.