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)


SIKKIM - A HIMALAYAN TRAGEDY. By Nari Rustomji. Pp. 173, 23 illustrations, 1987. Allied Publishers, New Delhi, Rs 125).

Nari Rustomji puts us in his debt again - he was the Prime Minister of Sikkim from 1954 to 1959 and both before and after his tenure, he had kept in close touch with its affairs. It was on his appointment to the I.C.S. that he first met and became friends with the young Prince of Sikkim during their attendance at the I.C.S. Administrative Training Course at Dehra Dun in 1942.

His close personal friendship with Prince Thondup, later ruler of Sikkim (designated Chogyal in Sikkimese) never suffered from the impact of the mutual suspicions and formal politicking that enveloped this miniscule State through the machinations of its gigantic neighbour, India.

Here is the heart-rending story of an idealist who played his cards perhaps not too wisely and whose every move was misinterpreted, and his utterances misrepresented until the erstwhile Protectorate was finally swallowed up by the Protector itself.

By the Indo-Sikkim Treaty of 1950, India assumed responsibilities for Sikkim's defence, external affairs and communications - such responsibilities being expected to be exercised in consultation with the Sikkim Durbar and with the respect due to Sikkim's status.

The Chogyal would have been well advised to study the course of history after India gained independence in 1947 - in particular the Indian tactics of winning over concessions with baits of personal benefits; then, *after achieving such concessions, cutting awa: those very benefits from the recipients who had eased the process of territorial gain. As an instance, the Princely states could no clearly survive in post-Independent India - nobody has argued tha they could or should be perpetuated, but the G.O.I, gave eviden of its incredible pusillanimity in withdrawing the promised Privy Purse from the former rulers after only a brief period of years. So much for Indian promises. In the case of Sikkim too, nobody can deny that Indian interests were at stake (and high stakes that) as against the belligerent stance of the Chinese after the annexation of Tibet. What hurts is the crude manner in which they went about securing such interest. The subtitle of t book might better have read 'a tragedy of Himalayan proportion’.

The seeds of annexation were sown by the British and, in particular, by their first Political Officer, Claude White. They enco aged large-scale Nepalese immigration into Sikkim, which hitherto had consisted of a small well-integrated community of Tibetan

stock which blended well with the indigenous Lepcha population and with whom they had been living in harmony for many years. The ruling family in Sikkim had originally evolved from Tibetan stock and enjoyed more than cordial intercourse with Lhasa. The Nepalese entry added a totally different dimension to the status quo. Hungry for land, the Nepalese plundered the forests of timber at the same time bringing under cultivation vast vacant tracts. By their extreme industry, they spread out to all corners of the state, but made little attempt at assimilation with the original Lepcha/Tibetan stock, It was the British tactics that the Nepalese with their closer affinity to India through culture and religion, would progressively preclude Sikkim from looking towards Tibet for direction and support.

Nari Rustomji traces the early history of Sikkim and its rulers with his accustomed thoroughness, and demonstrates how from 1947 onwards India continued where the British had left off - they encouraged the feeling amongst the Nepalese, who by now had far outnumbered the Bhutias (i.e. Sikkimese of Tibetan stock) and Lepchas, that, although they were in the majority, they were being treated as second-class citizens, and also sowed seeds of discontent, propagating that, under the guise of democracy, they could replace the monarchy and transform the country into one where the main voice would be pronouncedly Nepalese. It was plain sailing as the ruler was Sir Tashi Namgyal - a man mainly devoted to prayer and painting who prefered to leave the administration of his country to his counsellors. After his death, his responsibilities devolved upon his son Thondup Namgyal. Rustomji sketches the character and aspirations of Thondup Namgyal through a series of letters exchanged between themselves, building up from the time both of them were training at the I.C.S- Administrative Camp at Dehra Dun, and proceeding to the period he was the Prince and, later as the Chogyal of Sikkim.

Thondup Namgyal, a strong-willed personality, was determined to regain and consolidate for Sikkim its Tibet-Lepcha culture, as also to stem the tide of Nepalese influence. He was apprehensive of India's expansionist intentions and was fortunate to have in Nari Rustomji a friend, philosopher and guide to advise and moderate his attitude vis-a-vis the Indian Government; the G.O.I, was likewise fortunate to have in Rustomji an intermediary as much concerned with the interest and aspirations of Sikkim as with the interests, strategical, political and otherwise, of India.

But changes in attitude between Sikkim and India began gradually manifesting themselves - other factors, both in and out of Sikkim, greatly influenced the relationship - the Chinese invasion across India's borders in 1962 and the consequent G.O.I’s re-appraisal of the strategic importance of Sikkim added fuel to the fire. Apart from this the Sikkim Prince's marriage to an American Hope Cook was regarded by many as a security risk, as the little country began being flooded by "diplomat" guests from all over the world (but predominantly from America). All might have been well if she had adhered to her queenly responsibilities in encouraging social organizations and handicrafts; but in her enthusiasm to out-Sikkimese the Sikkimese she over-stepped the bounds of discretion (especially during her foreign tours with her husband) and her utterances raised eyebrows in the corridors of India's Foreign Ministry - often to the embarrassment of her husband.

Mutual suspicion followed the internecine politicking with rumours, false allegations and misreporting of the royal couple's public speeches, thus further souring relations between the two countries. India had vital stakes in Sikkim - apart from the generous contribution to its development plans with finance, men and materials, the G.O.I, had taken on responsibility for its defence (and incidentally that of its own borders, as the passes into India through Sikkim were easier of access than those further east).

The end came in a rush of unhappy events. Wild rumours of Sikkim planning a Himalayan Federation and of the Chogyal pressing for a revision of the Indo-Sikkim Treaty. The more strenuous his endeavours to safeguard the identity of the Bhutia-Lepcha community, the more he was misunderstood and, as always in such situations, the media exaggerated the scurrilous reports of repression and indignity to the majority Nepalese populace. The G.O.I, encouraged and supported a politician of some ambition, one Kazi Lhendup Dorji (who bore the Palace a grudge for having been dismissed from the headship of the prestigious Rumtek monastery on alleged charges of corruption and defalcation of funds) in leading the Sikkim National Congress - a mixed bag of dissident groups. The Kazi had recently married Eliza Maria, an adventuress of equal ambition and lack of scruple; both set on overthrowing the monarchy and ruling in its stead. Between the two, they managed to fan the embers of Nepalese nationalism while India equipped itself with specious legal semantics to bring about a well-orchestrated state of chaos in the administration and governance, with 'popular' support from slogan-shouting hoodlums surrounding the Palace and effecting a virtual house-arrest of its occupants. At this juncture, Hope Cook thought it prudent ' to shed herself of Sikkim and, so as not to be an added embarrassment to her already much-harried spouse, returned to America.

With ample encouragement from New Delhi, the 'popular' uprising against the Palace was built up to the point where India) could manipulate a 'referendum' for the hapless Chogyal to face; under the auspices of the Indian Election Commission and Kazi Lhendup Dorji now armed with the powers that he secured by his representation in the Sikkim Assembly, advocated 'unification' with India as the quickest and surest means of ridding Sikkim of the monarchy.

Nari Rustomji keeps the readers' concentration glued until the devastating chapter ‘The Wheel Full Circle’ where despite his endeavour to be objective and fair to his fellow-countrymen of India he cannot entirely gloss over the skulduggery and meanness that was unashamedly practised by the G.O.I, to 'annexe' Sikkim into its fold.

With greater sympathy and statesmanship Sikkim could perhaps have remained a Protectorate (elsewhere in the world the days of Protectorates are over) - the Chogyal could have yielded somewhat and offered wider representation to the Nepalese majority - a compromise solution could possibly have been worked out to satisfy both parties' security needs and aspirations. But alas, no statesman emerged to retrieve the situation, and the Chogyal, baited from all sides with no one of the calibre of Nari Rustomji to guide him from day-to-day, floundered obstinately to finally succumb to the inevitable force of rotten circumstances.

In 'Retrospect', Rustomji analyses the events and possible alternatives that could have come to pass - but all too late, too late.

In the final analysis, there is some irony in the situation of today where the G.O.I, finds itself at the receiving end of an agitation from the same Nepalese immigrant population in the Darjeeling district, for a separate 'Gorkhaland' State. The chickens have evidently come home to roost!!

Soli S. Mehta

OVER THE HIGH PASSES: A year in the Himalayas with the Migratory Gaddi Shepherds. By Christina Noble. (Collins, 1987),

Christina Noble's engrossing account of how the shepherds of Gadderan in Himachal ferry their flocks from the Kangra valley over two punishing Himalayan ranges make a welcome change from the spate of academic treatises on village life which manage to kill the subject while enabling the author to get a Ph.D. in anthropology. Travelling as a kind of camp follower Ms Noble avoids the other pitfall of letting enthusiasm overrun her critical faculties. Usually those of us who spend the odd night on the mountains in a Gujjar's grass hut or a shepherd's tent tend to wax sentimental about a way of life that is in fact deadly dull and loul destroying. Over the High Passes delivers all the promise of adventure and hardship inherent in the title and unlike mountaineering expeditions which pass through like a whirlwind, hardly aware of what goes on below base camp, this book very sensibly goes at the pace of the shepherds, or rather their flocks. Most important we are shown the annual cycle of migration. Anything less would be a just another tourist's impressions of these sturdy hillmen.

From the tea gardens of Palampur and the narrow gauge Kangra valley railway to Jogindernagar the flocks funnel up towards the Jalsu pass to master the first of the snow ranges they will have to cross to reach their pastures in Lahul, on the northern side of the Great Himalaya. More than a lakh of livestock make this annual crossing, returning before the first snow turns the passes into death traps for jostling animals. In recent years the weather patterns in the Himalaya, by which both shepherds and mountaineers could set their watches, have gone haywire. The author recounts how on their return trip over the ferocious Kugti pass at 16,000 ft, snow hit their passage in the first week of September and forced them to retrace their steps and take the wide detour over the Rohthang.

The book brings out clearly the skills that go into shepherding (silly) sheep and (intelligent) goats. Overgrazing in the Himalaya has led to the shepherds being stigmatized as environment degraders but Christina Noble presents the other point of view. As the hassled flocks pass down the narrow gorge from Kulu tailgated by honking buses and impatient tourist taxis, no one stops to think that the shepherds didn't choose to come this way. When the high passes are closed they have no choice but to use alternative routes. The flock suffers from lack of grazing since human development has gobbled up all the old roadside halting places.

Summing up the shepherd's woes, she puts the problem in a nutshell : there's no insurance if your flock disappears in an avalanche or runs off a precipice when panicked by hungry bears. Three hundred animals represent an investment of more than a lakh of rupees and you cannot afford to take your eyes off them for a moment. During the day they butt one another on steep hillsides where to lose your footing is to die. At night other enemies stal the camp and the shepherds have to think of how to outwit these The most extraordinary fact of these large flocks is that the she pherd knows each and every one of his charges. The moment on is lost he can identify the missing lamb or kid. Possibly the woi 'kidnapping' is derived from the losses shepherds suffer when the are forced to run the gauntlet of more civilised society's Ian and byways.

The need for some religious understanding to stay sane at high altitude is well brought out by the author. There is simply too much to go wrong when you take large flocks of skittish animals over the Kugti. By sacrificing a goat and appeasing the spirit of the pass you might appear primitive to those in their armchairs in cities but it eases the passage when you feel the Devi is on your side. Only if you tread these dauntingly exposed trails where every step could be your last do you understand the linkage between religion and fear. The sterling qualities displayed by many a shepherd are due to this cultivated humility that sits alongside their rugged survival qualities. 'Proud civility' is how the writer sums up the shepherd's courteous welcome when one approaches his tent cold and hungry late in the day.. In their own way they are masters of the high altitude environment yet no one bothers to seek their opinions on how to save the Himalaya from further depredations. Tourist development can do much more damage than goats and the latter because of politics are being made the scapegoats. The author points out that cattle-owning voters in Himachal have more clout than the shepherd lobby and no one stops to think that a cow's hoof on a hill slope causes twice as much damage as a goat's.

The home life of the Gaddis is treated with the right amount of detachment. Caste equations are discussed in this community that prides itself on being ardent worshippers of Lord $hiva. To offset the image of these holier-than-thou hillmen we are told of their drinking sprees and dedication to daru. Drinking at high altitude is very bad (we are told at seminars in Delhi) yet it is access to the bottle that makes life bearable in the Himalayan pastures. And now we are told that smoking is injurious to health. If it wasn't for their bidis the shepherds wouldn't be able to cross the passes. The fads of plainsmen in wiseacring about lifestyles they know little about is illustrated in the author's critique of ideas put forward to help the Gaddi economy by German agricultural experts. Like all Government experts the Germans drove around in jeeps and after five years of omniscient problem-solving, moved to another area. The villagers laughed at these 'Angrez baccha' come to teach them how to suck eggs. Now the Germans have gone to other third world countries with their bright ideas (but without their jeeps which government servants sold off at a profit.)

Christina Noble was the best person to write this fine tribute to a hardy breed of men and women. She had a background of sheep breeding in the West before marrying into Himachal society. Thus she has a stake in the development of hill society. This is an excellent book for those who want to experience the flavour of the Dhaula Dhar and Pir Panjal, with the tang of conifers and the sweet smell of wool. Modern man can never hope to relive the drudgery and magic that goes to make a Gaddi's day but reading Over the High Passes will provide a whiff of what we have lost in our quest for the comfortable life.

Bill Aitken

BHUTAN AND THE BRITISH. By Peter Collister. Pp. 210, illustrated, 1987. (Serindia Publications, London, Rs. 225).

In the late 18th century, the British first came into contact with Bhutan. Their interest was confined to securing the safety of Cooch Behar which was frequently raided by the Bhutanese. This was the beginning of a long contact about which this book provides the British viewpoint; largely from reports of political officers who led several missions at different times for various purposes.

The first such mission was led by George Bogle in 1774 who was asked to ‘open a mutual and equal communication of trade between the inhabitants of Bhutan and Bengal’ and to explore the possibility of establishing trade with Tibet thereafter. Several missions followed at irregular intervals in the 19th century to consolidate trade and settle frontier disputes. Their reports brought back minutia of an isolated country of which little was hitherto known. The tone in which Bhutan's administration and people are referred to is quite unflattering and the author attributes this to the prevalent prejudices in the minds of the visitors.

A detailed study of the government was made by the Pemberton mission in 1837-1838. The abject failure of the Eden mission in 1857, which had been insensitive to the internal troubles beesiging Bhutan is covered in detail, as is the war of the 1860s. The period of comparative stability resulting from the establishment of the Wangchuck dynasty around this period was a milestone in Bhutanese history. The role of Ugyen Wangchuk, who also acted as a mediator in Younghusband's expedition to Tibet in 1903, and that of John Claude White in improving Anglo-Bhutanese relationships and thus providing a base for Bhutan's development is given due credit. Bhutan had a very dubious status vis-a-vis the British in India; it was conflictingly referred to as a sovereign state at times and as a princely Indian state at others; liable to be merged with India after independence. Not only were Bhutanese fears on this count allayed by successive governments of independent India, but, as Collister states, assistance ‘as envisaged (by Ugyen Wangchuk and White) was unstintingly given’ (p. 164).

Apart from a mass of information, the book also provides-interesting reading in several sections when the author ceases to be , just a chronicler and opines, for instance, on 'older generation of British in India (who) had acquired wisdom and knowledge from their Indian mistresses' (p. 117) and the likely changes in the characteristics of the peoples of both Bhutan and Britain and the consequent changes in their perception of each other in the 18th and 19th centuries (p. 117). One must complain, however, of the rampant typographical errors. The illustrations are of relevance to the text of the book, which will be of use to everyone interested in a brief history of contemporary Bhutan.

M. H. Contractor

NANDA DEVI. The Tragic Expedition. By John Roskelley. Pp. 240, 71 illustrations, 2 maps, 1987. (Stackpole Books, Harris-burg, U.S.A., $ 16,95).

Sometimes I have this habit of first reading the last paragraph of a book. It often sets the mood. It startled me in this case.

'Those of us who are still alive are not friends so much as fellow prisoners of the same memories. The passage of time has eased the tension, but our eyes don't meet and our conversation is hurried and short. What happened on Nanda Devi could have happened to any group of people. But it happened to us; it was our tragedy and not one of us can explain why. Mountain climbers are usually so reserved, so exact. No one of us expected our differences of opinion to lead to death.' (p. 239)

What unhappy turn of events could have led the author to harbour such bitterness? We all know that Nanda Devi Unsoeld died on the mountain. But what were the events that led to it? There were so many and all unhappy interpersonal differences.

'Recalling the expedition to the "Goddess of Joy" is still painful. For me: What joy is there in death? In laying bare others' weaknesses? In the frailty of our wisdom? There is none.' (p. 239)

In 1975, a brief letter formed the climbing team of Lou Reichardt and John Roskelley. Willi Unsoeld and Ad Carter are joint leaders, with all the confusions of command that a joint-leadership can create. Selecting other members creates tension. Nanda Devi is the obvious choice. But Andy Harvard had 'broken up with a woman he was quite fond of and didn't have his equilibrium back yet.' He fell in love with Nanda Devi on this trip and was, engaged to be married to her during the expedition.

But the first troubles began with the selection of Marty Hoey, who was living with another member Peter Lev. Roskelley and the climbers objected to her coming, not only due to the inexperience but also because of the relationship, which can come in the way of climbing. But Willi came in with a typical American solution.

' "Let's use the Nanda Devi Expedition to show that (unmarried) men and women can do this sort of thing together without problems."

Suddenly aware that I was standing in the way of a great American experiment, I grudgingly conceded.' (p. 16)

Later Roskelley met Marty to be informed by her:

' "Well, John, I'm trying to break up with him (Peter) slowly right now so as not to hurt him. I want to be back on my own."

My worst fears were now reality. I couldn't help remembering Peter's assurance that he and Marty were "inseparable". Peter was in love and this was going to devastate him to the point of being useless on the expedition. I hoped that Marty would let him down easy.' (p. 18)

So much for the great American experiment!

Even before starting, the climbers had no faith in the leadership, what to take and how to go about it. According to them the leaders underestimated the food and equipment. And so while packing, telephone calls would take Ad away from the basement. Immediately extra food would be stuffed in and the boxes packed permanently.

The first open conflict came at Dibrugheta, a lovely glen en route. Marty was ill and Dr Jim advised evacuation. Willi faltered and after it was pointed out that there was danger to her life, he reluctantly agreed to an evacuation. This had a bearing on the ultimate tragedy. Dr Jim constantly advised Nanda Devi Unsoeld against going higher up. But Willi could not decide or forcefully enforce a decision. One of the major contributory reasons for her death - a harsh but true thing to say about the leader-father.

During the approach or on the mountains one regular refrain strikes the reader. The team is busy amongst themselves. They have nothing to do with, the beauty of Nanda Devi, great uniqueness of the Sanctuary or a sunset. They are busy fending against each other, reading Time magazine 'cover to cover, three or four times', eating ice-creams, physically rolling down one another and generally competing with each other.

The route, on the northeast ridge of Nanda Devi is great climbing. Lou, Jim and John reach the summit. The descriptions are quite boring when they are not quarreling as usual:

' "O.K., you guys," I growled.

"Yeah", Peter added.

"Wow, what a place", John cried,' or ' "Sounds great, guys" yelled Lou.'

Things like history, geography, nature or love for the mountains are outdated with the Americans.

Ad leaves early and John Evans joins later and is sick. Despite the clear warnings by Roskelley and Dr Jim, Nanda Devi goes up to the last camp. The doctor warned her about his concern. But he had to do it democratically!

'"Willi I only advised her to come down," Jim said, "J didn't order her".

“I’m glad you left it that way," Willi replied’.

One cries for a strong leader and father. But that wouldn't fit in with the competitive spirit, belief in American greatness and so called concept of freedom. Nanda Devi died in the presence of her father and her lover and her body was rolled down the mountain.

One questions the uselessness of the death. Even as an Indian, I am not inclined to believe the blurb of 'She was pulled towards the peak or Goddess gone back to her throne' stuff. It was a simple case of not heeding any danger signs. And if at all it had anything to do with the supernatural, it could be the simple wrath of the Goddess against such foolhardiness, And as an Indian I might believe this! The expedition took place 12 years ago (1976), but the story sounds as interesting as ever. It is a very honest book about all the bickering. After reading differences on the American expeditions to K2 {In Throne Room of Gods and The Last Step) my friend stopped going on large expeditions with strong leadership. With this, he would stop going on any expedition at ail-But hopefully this is an exception, not the rule.

Every team performs as per their characteristics. The Germans were thorough on their Nanga Parbat ventures, the British gave that great spirit and gentlemanliness to the sport, the Indians and Sherpas love and worship the mountains, while the Japanese, amidst their plenty, display great tenacity. Here perhaps we are told of the ailments: of competitiveness, of impersonal relationships, of tenacity which kills, and above all, of the lack of respect for the mountains. But kudos for telling such a tale truthfully, even after so many years. This is also mountaineering.

Harish Kapadia

LAND OF THE SNOW LION. An Adventure in Tibet. By Elaine Brook. Pp. 238, 23 illustrations, 4 sketches, 1987. (Jonathan Cape, London, £ 10.95).

The offer is unexpected and the reply an impulsive yes. Along with Doug Scott, Roger Baxter-Jones, Paul Braithwaite, Alex Mac-Intyre and Nick Prescott, the author sets off for Chinese-occupied Tibet where barely a fistful of outsiders have been in thirty years. The aim of the team is to climb Shishapangma from the unknown, virgin southern side; but, to Elaine the goals of climbing were too deeply rooted in military-style conquests and personal glorification ‘...(she) had to break out of these layers of self-justification and explore in other directions'. As the only woman in the team, she finds herself different in more ways than just the physical. Psychologically and temperamentally, she doesn't fit into the picture and from outside the frame she watches their politics and ego-problems, trying hard not to get involved. However, that is impossible. Petty bickerings (including over food) lead to unbearable tension as do the cons against allowing her to climb with the rest. She herself wants to explore Tibet. The higher they go, the strain and constant closeness leads to more irritation which ends, naturally, in an explosion or two. Once, she gets lost and luckily finds her way back. She realizes she won't be able to cope with the rest, yet with unexplained obstinacy she carries on and decides fairly late to turn back . . . alone.

The real description of Tibet begins after one-third of the book, when the author is finally on her own.

Her entire journey is an obstacle race through officials of China. Besides the umpteen seemingly rigid rules were those invented by the individuals in uniform who could be bought by a bribe in cash. A tattered letter written by Wu (the interpreter) and countersigned by the unpopular Pemba (the liaison officer) is her "passport" to the countryside. In her haste to be free and on her own, she has a bad fall and nearly drowns in a river; she has to spend that night in Pemba's hut where he tells her his story and his gratitude to the Chinese whilst her attention is focused on the cans of food that should have been at base camp.

She spends five days in Nyalam because the officials can (do?) not arrange for a truck for her. Finally, she walks to Pankyeling, where the villagers have never seen (probably) an outsider before. She is warmly welcomed by a peasant family.

The Nama (wife) is shared by the brothers (both her Magpa or husband); both are considered to be fathers of the child. Elaine trades her boots for the handmade footwear, the Sompa. After the disgusting food at Nyalam (the Chinese prefer the stale, tasteless
mush brought all the way from China rather than eat Tibetan food), she relishes the tsampa, made of roasted barely flour, which is the staple diet of the Tibetans. In the fifties, the Chinese tried to re place the barley with wheat. Not only did the latter not survive the harsh weather but large-scale export of the grain to mainland China caused a famine in the area and was a major cause of the exodus of thousands of Tibetans. One official could not believe, she ate yak butter.

She has to leave Pankyeling because the 'family may be punished'.

Much of the description of the unadulterated life of a Tibetan commoner is in the chapter 'Embracing Tingri’. Everywhere there are the uniform, ugly commune buildings and the identically clad workers. She is invited by a Tibetan woman to her home, a traditional one. ‘It was as if (Elaine) had suddenly stepped back twenty years into history . . the air smelled of Chang mixed with the tang of smoke, butter and animals*. Here, an extempore party and a jovial, intoxicated member win over the flexible officials and she stays on in Tashi's house, a humble though practical abode. She is treated royally: the rare onions and dried meat flavours the Thukpa, a noodle soup, cooked for her.

After darkness falls, the house is lit by oil lamps and shadows 'flicker with the unsteady flame before fleeing upwards to be swallowed in the deeper darkness of the soot-blackened ceiling’.

To a Westerner, Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. To a Tibetan, it is a way of life which the author has grasped and brought out well. Throughout the book, she tried to find a tangible proof of the existence of the saint Milarepa, spicing her story with snippets from his. She discovers a living tradition more valuable than, say, a preserved monument would be.

Elaine tries to merge with the household, even learns how to churn butter their way and joins in the preparation of food to be stored for the winter.

'It was the weight of the coat that brought home to (her) what the Tibetan winters must be like’. The very dusty high plains would be full of howling, violent winds bringing 'stinging snow and ice particles instead of dust’.

Her peace in Tingri is rudely shattered when she is informed that she is accused of being a spy. 'It had been so easy . . to be lulled into forgetting the harsh reality of life in Tibet beyond these walls’.

The unpopular Pemba traces her to Tingri and she has to leave. From there to Lhatze she travels with a Japanese group that wears gas masks to protect themselves from the dust and lives in sterile conditions.

The description of the monastery at Gyantze gives a fairly good picture of a typical place of worship and the details are interesting: 'a variety of offerings had been left, from traditional coins and tsampa to the more modern imported rice, needles and safety-pins’.

The attitudes of some tourists is brought out in two instances: a group of Germans flinging sweets to kids and clicking the subsequent scramble for them; and an old American lady who says, '. . . they're all into voodoo, all that bowing ... to those statues'.

There is a shocking piece of information (taken from the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, 1960) about how the Chinese treat the 'inferior' Tibetans to 'improve' their race.

She traces history in the chapter 'After Younghusband'. Young-husband is sent to conquer a land (and whose people) the invaders never really understood. The effect on the gentleman was enough to completely change him so that 'never again could (he) think evil or ever again be at enmity with any man’.

Very frequently she is asked whether and when the Dalai Lama was going to return. Talks with various monks, refugees from across the border as well as the Chinese themselves gives her the impression that very slowly the Tibetan culture is being lost to the world, perhaps forever. She feels 'an overwhelming sadness for the Chinese people. A whole history of wisdom and learning wiped out in a single generation and they didn't even understand what it was they had lost’.

In Lhasa, she is bitten by a dog and helped not by the crowd of uniformed Chinese workers in whose midst she is, but by a fellow tourist.

The book is gripping to the end. She explains the Wheel of Life and narrates an incident in the Potala palace where she is attacked by officials, the incident witnessed by helpless devotees (who show their sympathy by clutching her hand) and saved by another tourist. A monk presents her with the life and teachings of Tsong Khapa and requests her to spread the word for 'it is finished here*.

For the armchair traveller, this book is certainly worth a read.

Sheela Jaywant

SUMMIT FEVER. By Andrew Greig. Pp. 281, 24 illustrations, 1985. (Hutchinson, London £11.95).

KINGDOMS OF EXPERIENCE. Everest, The Unclimbed Ridge. By Andrew Greig. Pp. 249, 46 illustrations, 1986. (Hutchinson, London, £12.95).

In 1984, four British climbers set out to climb the formidable west ridge of the Mustagh Tower (23,860 ft) in the Karakoram, in fine, lightweight style. Andrew Greig, until then merely an armchair climber, accompanied them, and this is the story, mostly from his (a 'bumblie' as he labels himself) point of view. And therein lies the secret of this delightfully gripping adventure. It tells the tale from a non-professional climber's point of view and because Andrew Greig makes his living out of writing more than just climbing books, it helps to put climbing in a better perspective. For example:

'To call mountaineering a sport or a pastime is like calling monastic life a hobby. For those who become serious - though seldom solemn about it, it is the core of their lives. Everything else is arranged around it.'

The author is initiated by the leader Mai Duff into the art of Scottish winter climbing at Glencoe, and after a few weekends he begins to see things differently: 'the day was perfect: ice blue, J ice cold, needle-bright. The weight one takes on in committing one's self to the mountain or a route is considerable but it is nothing compared to the weight of the world one leaves behind.’

The expedition, originally planned by an American called Rocky in typical Yankee show-biz style, is reduced to ‘true Brit’ or 'Alpine bin men style' by a series of misfortunes which nearly avalanches the expedition even before it has left gkardu.

The chief interest of this book lies in its amazingly sharp insights into the world of climbing: 'Mountaineers are not monogamous by nature: even while obsessed with one mountain, they are planning how to woo the next, and dreaming of the one after that.' And again: 'For the first time I saw some of the self-centredness that made them mountaineers: they'd sacrifice anything and anyone to get to the Mustagh Tower.'

The final chapters describing the climb to the summit take on a racy, dramatic and suspenseful aspect, like listening to a live commentary (provided by diary excerpts). As one of the climbers, Sandy Allan, might have said, this book is ‘very good jest’. Read it.

In contrast, the second book is about a big-budget, media-sponsored extravaganza to attempt the unclimbed northeast ridge of Everest. The pace is slower, the canvas wider and one feels less involved in the narrative than in the Mustagh book. It is more than an expedition book, it is a travelogue as well: there are good descriptions (and a host of bureaucratic problems as well) as the team go through Beijing, Chengdu, Lhasa, Shigatse and Xejar on their way to the Rongbuk base camp.

The climb is financed by a large commercial organization which means that the equipment is absolutely state-of-the-art: the lightest, warmest, strongest that money can buy and contacts can secure. However, all the media hype is new to the climbers; 'For all of us, apart from Allen Fyffe, this world of contracts, promotions, logos, news letters, interviews and press conferences was new and slightly alarming. At times it felt as though the original point of the expedition - the desire of a handful of people to take on the private and personal challenge of climbing the northeast ridge of Everest was being obscured by the bewildering spindrift of publicity and business. But dreams have to be worked for in an imperfect world and most of us went along with it all.'

Unfortunately, the expedition fails due to a combination of bad weather and unsettled group dynamics: the team fails to gel into one keen incisive force and only the formidable Rick Allen reaches the expedition high point on the first pinnacle.

The book's main interest, therefore, lies in exposing how a modern, big-budget commercial expedition is conceived, launched and conducted and for an insight into professional mountain filming as practised by the legendary Kurt Diemberger and the late Julie Tullis.

Aloke Surin

THE MYSTERY OF MALLORY AND IRVINE. By Tom Holzel and Audrey Salkeld. Pp. xii + 322, 35 illustrations, map, 1986. , (Jonathan Cape, London, £12.50).

This is an unusual book where there is scope for some difference of opinion. It originates in the interest which the American Tom Holzel developed in 1970 in the question whether Mallory and Irvine in fact reached the summit of Everest before they perished in 1924. He found it amazing that Mallory's two biographers do not speculate about how he died and largely ignore the question whether his great ambition to climb the mountain had been crowned with success. He not only read up all the available literature on the subject, he corresponded with Mallory's contemporaries and, since the northern side, of Everest was still out of bounds, planned and got permission for an expedition to Makalu, intending to make a clandestine foray into Tibet 'only 12 miles away' to look on his own for traces of the two climbers. Nothing came of this plan, but it shows the extent of his enthusiasm for the project. In parallel with this activity, appreciating the limitations of existing oxygen equipment he developed a new type of chemical closed-circuit set. This, however, is only briefly referred to in the book.

His interest was further excited in 1980 when the Japanese Alpine Club reported to him, in reply to his enquiries, that one of their Chinese porters, on the day before he was killed by an avalanche on the North Col, had told a member of the expedition how in 1974 the Chinese had found two bodies of Englishmen, one evidently Maurice Wilson, the other 'at 8100 m on the NE ridge route’, presumed to be Irvine.

Holzel's next move was the sensible one of enlisting the help of Audrey Salkeld. He also, as the Tibetan side of the mountain became legitimately accessible, renewed his plans for an expedition there to search for fresh evidence and obtained permission for this after the monsoon in 1986. Surprisingly, the present book was written before the expedition took place, and it was intended to follow it with a second to be entitled The {Search for Mallory and Irvine'. Bad weather and heavy snowfall made the expedition abortive and the second book is presumed to have been abandoned. There is certainly no room for another on the subject, but a film has been made this year (1987) which further examines the evidence about the events of June 1924.

The book divides, it seems to me, into two quite distinct parts. The first part, consisting of the first and penultimate chapters, is an exposition of Tom Holzers ideas which are that, contrary to the consensus reached in the twenties and thirties (see for instance the 1924 and 1933 Everest books), the likelihood is that, with insufficient oxygen to get both climbers to the top, they separated, Irvine went down alone and fell where the axe was found in 1933, while Mallory went on alone, very possibly reaching the summit but perishing on the descent. The evidence on which he draws is that of rates of ascent achieved with oxygen on later climbs, but this part of the argument is not presented in detail. More emphasis is laid on recent knowledge, from the Chinese, Japanese and Catalan ascents of the NE ridge, of the nature of the last 300 m of the mountain, including the second step itself. The Chinese climbed this with the help of a ladder and the most detailed description, by the Catalan party, records that it has one pitch of grade IV/IV sup or v.diff / mild severe.

HolzePs preferred scenario is briefly as follows: It is not the first but the second step where Odell sees the two climbers; The ridge brings them to within 5 m of the top of the step which they successfully climb. But it is now 1 p.m. and their oxygen supply is running low. Realizing that they can't both make the top, they decide to separate. In the continuing fine weather Irvine should be able to manage without oxygen the descent over the slabs as far as Camp 6. Having seen Irvine down the second step: on the rope, Mallory transfers Irvine's partly-filled bottle to his own frame and, with about three hours of oxygen supply left, starts for the top. There is still a vertical height of 230 m to climb and, at the speed they achieved from Camp 6 to the second step, it is touch-and-go if he can make it. "The Chinese in 1960 got down on hands and knees and crawled the final stretch to the summit. Would Mallory have done less?' Despite various objections and doubts over this reconstruction of events, it is not inconceivable.

This same penultimate chapter reports in part the vigorous rebuttal which an earlier statement of Holzel's ideas (Mountain 17, 30-35, 1971) drew from $ir Percy Wyn Harris (Mountain 21, 32-36, 1972). Both are worth reading in full in the original source. Wyn Harris castigates Holzel for two things, first the suggestion that Mallory's contemporaries (e.g. Norton and Ruttledge in their comments on the events of 1924) were motivated by jealousy, second for the contention that Mallory could possibly have so far ignored the ethos of the time as to abandon Irvine, high on the mountain, to make his own way down while he, Mallory, sets off alone for the summit 'in one great effort of self-glorification'.

The remainder of the book, by far the greater part of it, is a retelling of the Everest story from the beginning up to the 1924 expedition and its aftermath. Inevitably it covers the same ground as Unsworth's book Everest published in 1981. Sometimes the story and the speculations and the disputes with the Everest committee are spun out too long. 'Because it's there' rates a whole chapter, nor are we spared the fatuous idea quoted by Unsworth that Mallory chose Irvine as his companion for aesthetic reasons. 'It would have been characteristic of Mallory with his own superb proportion! To choose of two objects the more beautiful.' But, though familiar, the story is presented with a new slant, for it is told to a considerable extent through quotations from the letters and writings of Mallory and his friends. There are some fascinating contemporary comments on Mallory from people as diverse as Robert Graves, Karl Blodig, Tom Longstaff, General Bruce and A. R. Hinks. There is a great deal of new material here, and these middle chapters constitute a new and very worthwhile biography, well written and carefully documented, presenting an excellent picture of Mallory the mountaineer. One thing that remains unexplained is the contrast, to which Unsworth drew attention, between Mallory's central position in the mountaineering world of his time, with his interesting and distinguished circle of friends, and his undistinguished professional career. Another puzzle to me is the fact that, while most pre-war Everesters with wide interests found Tibet a fascinating place, Mallory dismissed it as hateful. The whole of the book is eminently readable but this ‘biographical’ part seems to me by far the most valuable, a genuine addition to Everest history.

In the end one must ask oneself the question: to what extent does Holzel's vision of the events of 8 June 1924 carry conviction? One crucial factor is the nature of the second step which is now confirmed as a pitch of genuine climbing difficulty which, at 8500 m and with the encumbrance of oxygen cylinders, would hardly have been quickly overcome in the short interval during which Odell had them in view. The second is, naturally, the point on which Wyn Harris seized so emphatically, i.e. the break with the traditions of the time in sending an inexperienced second down alone over treacherous ground to allow the leader to go ahead solo. (For Norton and Smythe to go on a short distance on the open ground of the N face, when each had very nearly shot his bolt, was quite another matter.) No member of my generation will easily accept this, but contemporary climbers may well see it differently. For my part' I am happy to have the mystery unsolved and let Mallory and Irvine rest in peace in the fame they won.

Peter Lloyd

(Reprinted from The Alpine Journal, 93, 1988 with the kind permission of the author and the editor.)

SMYTHE'S MOUNTAINS. The Climbs of F. S. Smythe. By Harry Calvert. Pp. 223, 20 illustrations, 4 maps, 1985. (Victor Gollanez, London, £14.95).

Some men, as famous as Smythe is, wear a shield of their fame. People have a preconceived idea, however little it is, about who he was and what were his achievements. They wear a kind of a uniform which gives them a rank above others.

One of my good friends remarked about a Colonel. 'Meeting him is like talking to a hanging uniform. Where is the man inside?' So until the man is brought out, in the case of such a book, it never you a true picture. It can only give you the fame.

What all this overlooks is that Smythe purported to be not a rock-climber as such, but a mountaineer and if what is being assessed is the ability to travel with maximum safety over difficult high-mountain terrain in the worst conditions, then Smythe was, in the view of many who travelled with him, brilliant’. (p. 204).

The book assesses the travels and climbs of Smythe. And in the first and the last chapter the author assesses the man. As the author puts it in the Preface 'the book is neither a climbing guide nor a biography except in a most unusual sense'. It portrays Smythe as an author, photographer, visionary and a mountaineer. This is achieved by a kind of summarizing from his books, climbs and travels to the Alps, in Britain, on Kangchenjunga, Everest, Kamet and Rocky Mountains. You can imagine the author's task that Smythe wrote 25 books - either the task is made easy or complicated!

In 'A Brief Life' the motivations for climbing are traced. Smythe lost his father when he was two. Mother over-protected him and he was always considered a weak child and physically phased put of R.A.F. All these led to Smythe wanting to prove himself on the mountains. He achieved this to a great degree through his writing and climbs, particularly in introducing the pleasures of the mountains to many an arm-chair mountain-lover. However, one aspect draws clear from the book, that Smythe was not regarded as an 'all time great' by his contemporaries. But:

'It is doubtful if Smythe would have cared very deeply whether the judgment of experts placed him amongst the greatest of modern mountaineers. His first wish would certainly have been to maximise his delight in mountains, and in this he patently succeeded.' (p. 21)

Smythe started his 'First Steps' in the British hills, served his 'Alpine Apprenticeship', and then completed 'The Great Alpine Routes'. Himalaya came next. Two expeditions to Kangchenjunga and Everest were the only ever to 8000 ers. The expeditions failed on both. But they brought out Smythe as a mountaineer. But what he would be most remembered for, was the ascent of Kamet and later solo climb on Mana. In fact he seemed to have enjoyed the latter or both immensely. He was devoted to small expeditions, but not as emotionally committed to it as Shipton and Tilman. Similarly he was against any artificial aids, particulary pitons in rock climbing. In India he is most known for his naming of 'The Valley of Flowers' to the Bhyundar valley in Garhwal. Though there are many valleys which are equally beautiful with rare flowers, this romantic name given by Smythe caught on. It is situated on the pilgrim route to Badrinath and easy of access. Even Smythe would not have imagined its popularity today. With the number of visitors it attracted, the valley was ecologically damaged and had to be closed to all visitors. All this almost directly related to the catchy name, amongst" other things. Smythe would have hated it all, despite the fame it gave him.

We are also told of detractors of Smythe. Arnold Lunn, himself a writer of many Alpine books, thought Smythe's 'literary reputation suffered from the fact that he rather over wrote himself. Or to Schuster he was 'a copious (perhaps too copious) writer of Alpine books'. But as Raymond Greene pointed out in his obituary on Smythe that 'he is not to be blamed because the public liked his work - such a judgment smacks of snobbery and puts him in the condemned cell with many a better writer. Rather we should be grateful to him for bringing a love of mountain adventure into the lives of thousands who would never otherwise known it'. Smythe, any way, never could become part of the leading members of the climbing establishment of the day till his early death in 1949 at the age of 49.

Faults, to me serious in a book like this, are mis-spellings of Garhwal names in the chapters on Kamet and Valley of Flowers. The photo captions are wrong, even with so few pictures given. The sketch map on p. 213 titled 'Garwhal' (sic) could not be bettered for the number of mistakes it contains. Even the ghost of Smythe would be troubled at these.

The book tells us about the climbs and life of Frank S. Smythe. But can it compress in one book such a varied life and literature? We know the fame but do we get to know who he was - the real man? It is worth a read - at least to question this.

Harish Kapadia

THE HIMALAYA :KAILASA - MANASAROVAR. In Scripture Art and Thought. By Rommel and Sadhana Varma. Pp. 80, 112 illustrations, 9 sketches, 3 maps, 1985. (Lotus Books, Neuchatel, Switzerland, Rs 250).

Fortunately for humanity, there is still a refuge where romance, and so the faculties of imagination, intuition and vision that it nurtures, can thrive; we know it as Nature. The Himalaya: Kailasa-Manasarovar features two of Nature's most enduring elements; rock and water, mountains and lakes/rivers. In this work, Rommel and Sadhana Varma give us a photographic book that illustrates. They are asking usj it seems, to derive not mere aesthetic pleasure but intellectual lessons from the great book that is the Himalayan landscape.

In the recent past, there has been a spate of photographic books about the Himalaya and its cultures. Indeed, such books are fast becoming an art form in their own right, with the critical determinant for success being a good fit between photographs and text. In some books the texts soil the sublime candour of the photographs, in others there is evidence of an uneasy mix of the two. The Varmas have produced a work which proves that, with care, it is possible to have a happy carriage between photographs and text. Much of the beauty of their book lies in understanding the tools they have used, which are beautifully simple - and intelligent; namely, their eyes and the wisdom contained in the Indian scriptures. With these, the authors show us how the Himalaya have breathed life into the mundane monotony of daily life. The text, in large part, retells Indian mythology and quotes India's sages. This pulls the reader from the photographs back to the sources of inspiration for much of India's works of art. The technique has also allowed the authors to discuss art, art in Nature that is, in the context of its meaning rather than purely "aesthetic feeling", something that is less in vogue in modern times.

That the text consists of retellings and quotations is not to say that the authors do not advance some creative reflections vis-a-vis a perspective on the Himalayan region. Two such thoughts should not go unnoticed. First there is an observation: 'The Himalaya':';", connects the four major racial groups that inhabit the earth.' (p. 15) Second, there is the recounting of an important theme: 'Whatever the name, the temple is in the form of a mountain.' (p. 18) The latter statement is wonderfully illustrated by the juxtapositioning of two plates, 30 and 31, across the width of the open book. Perhaps it was felt that an amplification of these two thoughts is something that ought to be pursued in a more specialized work on history or theory of art, but a few more lines on the author's perspective would have been a bonus.

The strongest segments of The Himalaya are the illustrations that show the link between Nature and the sense of art that is contained in the artisan. Thus, the plates seeking this correspondence--24-25; 30-31; 62-63; 74-75; 78-79'- form the core of the book. The black and white photographs, interspersed through the text, serve this aim in a different manner.

The sections entitled 'Pathways of History', and 'Ages of Faith' are good summaries. The latter section puts forth a theory of history that needs increased dissemination as it is representative of all traditional theories of history which see the process as one of devolution rather than of evolution, another notion that is little known to modern times. Perhaps a fusion of the sections on history and faith would have made for a more forceful statement, if indeed such was intended.

The Principal weakness of The Himalaya is the text's silence with respect to pilgrimage, especially as it forms a large part of the selection of photographs. It would seem that some notes on this theme would have completed the treatment of the third part of the book's subtitle which is 'Scripture, Art and Thought’. Some passages seemed incongruous and betray a specialized interest of the author or authors, such as the brief mention of the gruesome means of disposal of the dead amongst the ancient Dards, the Kirati and others. Perhaps more relevant facts about the cultures, such as their ability to adapt to the terrain, would have been more revealing. The tendency to parenthetically include local terms for certain translations and vice versa - e.g, thakurs/jo; Kiratas/ Mongoloids; and investiture/Raj Tilak - is distracting, since the convention is used only in certain places in the book.

However, the book's strengths far out-number its weaknesses. Indeed, The Himalaya: Kailasa-Manasarovar is an important book in its genre. It demonstrates that text and photographs, meaning and art, can be woven into a cohesive and pleasant mosaic. At first glance, the authors' text may seem intimidating, but when one realizes that it is a condensation of massive epics and numerous myths about India, it becomes less forbidding. In fact, it serves as a unique introduction to the land's religious lore and Himalayan geography. Perhaps the best part of the book is that there are more projects on the Himalaya forthcoming to us from Rommell and Sadhana Varma.

Siddiq Wahid

MOUNTAIN NAMES. By Robert Hixson Julyan, Pp. 233, sketches, 1984. (The Mountaineers, Seattle, £8.95).

All human beings have an individual name by which they are identified. The names belong to the oldest elements of human speech and they have possibly even antedate the verbs or nouns. Thus place names like other names result from the fundamental and uniquely human need to label with words, and therefore the concepts of naming and identity are inextricably linked. In the old ages people started naming places and other geographical features like rivers, lakes, springs on need basis. It was difficult for man then to conceive of mountains as he did not have maps, his capacity for travel was limited and could not study the topography by any other means. Hence identification of mountains by their names is a recent phenomenon.

This informative book reveals the stories behind the name of more than 300 of the world's mountains - including the famous and the not-so-famous. In the introductory chapter the author dwells on the evolution of mountain names. The names originally given to mountains to identify it from the others could have been derived from the physical features of the same like shapes, colour and size. Or in other words we can call these as descriptive names, like Broad peak, the third highest summit in Karakoram which was named such as Sir William Martin Conway was impressed by its bulk. Similarly the mountains might have been named as Dhaula-giri (white mountain - in Sanskrit) or Himalaya (Sanskrit - the abode of snow).

The mountain can have an associated name like Matterhorn - in German 'peak of meadows', or The Bear Mountains of NE USA. A few of the mountains have incident names like Mt Fairweather in Alaska which was named by Captain James Cook because of good weather on the day of its discovery, or Mt Jebel Musa (Arabic - Mt Moses) named after the ascent of Moses to the top of the Sinai massif. Commemorative names such as Everest, Mt McKinley are there in plenty. Many a mountain bears the name of mountaineers like Torre Egger (after Austrian Toni Egger) Mt Mallory and others. Commendatory or religious names are quite common like Kilimanjaro (Africa - 'Mountain of the snow devil'), Anna-purna ('the bountiful goddess'), Trisul ('trident of Shiva'). The geographic features transfer their names to mountains like Finsteraarhorn (Switzerland, from the river Finste) and Hindu Kush (from the river Indus). Mountains which bears resemblance to other mountains often take their names from the famous ones like Kishtwar-Shivling.

The author narrates details of how the mountain got its name, brief historical details, location of the mountain, its height - both in feet and metres, year of 1st ascent with name of climbers. The names are in aphabetical order. The book contains at the end a useful reference list of books and articles referred while compiling this book. There is also a selective index which lists the mountains whose names are explained or translated in the text but for which there is no separate alphabetical entry.

It is rather interesting to note that the second highest peak in the world K2 is still known as such. This mountain located in one of the world's wildest and least visited regions, had no local name when Lt T. G. Montgomerie of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India named it as K2, K standing for Karakoram and 2 designating the second peak listed during the survey. Though there had been constant efforts to put a proper name, K2 remains as it is. Similarly Pumori in Nepal was named by Mallory, a Britisher in 1921 presumably taking the word 'pumori' from the language spoken by his Nepalese guides and porters, the meaning of which when translated literally means ‘daughter peak’. The name Gurla Mandhata, a mountain entirely in Tibet can be best explained as a corrupted combination of the Sanskrit word Guru, ‘mentor’ and Mandhata, a mythical Hindu ruler.

The author has researched to find out the reason why mountains received their official and unofficial names. His efforts have borne fruit as he has been able to obtain a horde of information which is narrated in simple clear language. However, proper justice has not been done to mountains in India and Pakistan as the number of mountains covered are very few. Similarly not many mountains of Bhutan have been covered. The book is printed well and is appropriately illustrated with historical pictures from old publications. A recommended reference book for the mountaineer, geographer, historian, the browser of maps and the collector cf oddities.

A. B. Ghoshal

K2 - SAVAGE MOUNTAIN. SAVAGE SUMMER. By John Barry. Pp. 187, 41 colour illustrations, 5 maps, 1987. (Oxford Illustrated Press, Somerset, £9.95).

Savage Mountain Savage Summer is about the J986 eight-member British expedition to the world's second highest mountain led by Alan Rouse. Barry was a member of this expedition which also had a doctor, a film-maker and a base camp manager.

The expedition, one of the eleven attempting K2 that summer, proposed to take the 1982 Polish route along the notoriously difficult NW ridge to the summit. They established base camp on the Savoia glacier on 22 May and very quickly pushed ahead to site CI (6100 m) at the' cwm below the NW ridge on 29 May. Things slowed down from then. It took the team another three weeks to establish C2 at 6700 m, and shortly after reaching their high point of 7400 m on 23 June, they decided to give up the attempt on the route mainly because of technical difficulty and bad weather conditions prevailing at that time.

While the rest of climbers decided to call it a day Alan Rouse stuck on and joined a mixed group comprising members from 5 different expeditions in an attempt to reach the top via the Abruzzi Spur. He achieved his objective on 4 August but was trapped in the summit camp for 3 days due to heavy snowfall and ultimately had to be left in his tent as he had 'drifted into delirium'. A total of13 lives were lost on K2 that summer of 1986.

Barry is an excellent story teller and has a vast repertoire of Irish wit; He manages to weave a binding spell on the reader in WHat turns out to be not 'just another expedition book'.

The sour aspect is the almost nagging criticism of Alan Bouse and his leadership qualities. One therefore looks forward to reading Jim Curran's interpretation of the account. Curran, the filmmaker on the expedition, was a personal friend of Rouse and had stayed back on the mountain while Rouse made his fatal attempt on the Abruzzi Spur.

Allwyn Carvalho

CLOUDS FROM BOTH SIDES. By Julie Tullis. Pp. 322, illustrated, 1987. (Grafton Books, London, £1.75).

It is apt that the title is from a line of a song written by a celebrated writer of the flower-child era, Joni Mitchell. A life story as rich as Julie Tullis' deserves to be told and happily, she does this well herself.

It would detract from the singular vivacity that permeates this book if one chronicles the events of her life, remarkable as it was. One cannot avoid, however, highlighting a few quantitative aspects. Tullis was a highly-qualified martial arts exponent and regarding them she quotes Jean-Lucien Jazarin;

It would be better never to become involved but if you do, it is essential to carry on to the end, until one's being is regenerated to the point of being made man again - a real man.' (p. 58)

And adds:

That for me epitomises mountaineering too.’ (p. 58)

This attitude probably explains the breadth and depth of her climbing, covering as it did Britain, the Alps, the Andes and the Himalayan giants, Broad Peak, Everest and K2. There is, mercifully, no pretentious mumbling about her motivation for climbing.

'For me, climbing is recreation, and must, first and foremost, be fun. I want to remember the routes with enjoyment, for the thrill of moving freely in harmony with the rock and the person I am climbing with.'