1. 27 June, 1991
  2. 28 December, 1991
  3. 15 April 1992
  4. July 30, 1991
  5. 19 September, 1991
  6. 2 April, 1992
  7. 6 July, 1991




Indian Mountaineering Foundation
Benito Jusroz Road,
Anand Niketan,
New Delhi-110 021.

27 June, 1991

Dear President, The Himalayn Club,

Subject: Counter-claims over Swargarohini expeditions

The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi which had organised an expedition to Swargarohini I led by Sqn-. Ldr. A. K. Singh, had claimed that they had made the first ascent of virgin Swargarohini I during 1990. S. P. Chamoli, the leader of the IMF expedition to Swargarohini had also claimed the ascent of Swargarohini I during May-June 1990.

On receipt of the reports questioning the claims of the Sqn. Ldr. A. K. Singh and S. P. Chamoli, this Foundation appointed an enquiry committee, which after scrutinising the documents and photographs produced by them, have reached the conclusion and submitted the following report to the Sponsoring Committee which was approved :1

  1. The unclimbed mountain peak, as per the International Climbing Associations (UIAA), is not considered to have been successfully scaled or climbed if the last difficult obstacle, like a 5 metre cornice, as in the case of NIM expedition, is ascended, unless this last hurdle was withheld for expressly stated and known religious reasons as applied to the Kangchenjunga climb. The NIM thus reached 5 m or so short of the peak but failed to get to the top.
  2. The IMF team, led by S. P. Chamoli, was successful in climbing Peak II (6247 m) and Peak III (6209 m) of the Swargarohini group.
  3. The Swargarohini I is thus still a virgin mountain peak in the Garhwal Himalaya.2

The above decision is reported in the next issue of the Indian Mountaineer. (Issue No. 27, p. 92).

Yours Sincerely,
(Col. G. V. Gautam)


  1. See article "The First Ascent of Swargarohini I ', in H.J. Vol. 47, p. 57. The above letter was forwarded to U.I.A.A. whose view was quoted in this letter. Their reply is printed below.
  2. See U.I.A.A. letter below.

Editor's Note: The l.M.F. team led by S. P. Chamoli had claimed ascents of Peak I and II of Swargarohini. After studying their report and the photographs sent to the Himalayan Journal, it was pointed out that the team had climbed only Peak 11 and III, the fact agreed now by their Enquiry Committee.



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7 Sorbonne
Ardilea Estate
Dublin 14

28 December, 1991

Mr. Harish Kapadia
Hon. Editor, Himalayan Journal
72 Vijay Apartment
16 Carmichael Roadv
Bombay-400 026

Dear Harish,

Thank you for the copy of your letter of 6th December addressed to UIAA. It is obviously in my field to provide an answer, though Alan Blackshaw, as Chairman of the Mountaineering Commission may also have a view.

I haven't yet received my copy of the 1991 Indian Mountaineer (No. 27 I presume), but I think I can answer the question.

Firstly, the UIAA has no published rule on any of the questions you ask.

Secondly, I do not see how one can lay down a rule on a matter which is so subjective. Any decision has to relate to a single situation, and can only be made after the ascent.

The difficulty is that unless one tries to make some definition, the way is open for the less scrupulous climber to claim ascents unjustifiably.

At most, I can suggest some guidelines:

  1. The closer the stopping point is to the summit, the better. It might be reasonable to suggest that it should not be more than 20 m below the summit, or 50 m horizontally away. A photograph of the stopping point relative to the summit would help!
  2. The reason for stopping should clearly be danger, not technical difficulty.

These are guidelines only, and I think immediately of an example which does not really conform to (2). We published last year in Irish Mountain Log an account of an ascent of Nevado Cayesh in Peru. The two climbers made the second ascent of a two-day route on the West Face, and were stopped 15 m below the summit in bottomless vertical power snow, There is a photograph showing climber and summit, and I have no problem In describing this as a successful ascent, although it is debatable whether the snow was dangerous (no possible belay) or difficult!

Hope this helps!
With best wishes
Yours sincerely,


Chairman of Expeditions Commission


Editor's Note: Similar letters were received from Sqn. Ldr. A. K. Singh and Group Capt. A. K. Bhattacharyya, leader of the expedition, and the Principal of the Institute respectively.



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British Mountaineering Council, Crawford House,
Precinct Centre, Booth St. East, Manchester M13 9RZ

15 April 1992

Mr. H. Kapadia
Honorary Editor
Himalayan Journal
72 Vijay Apartment
16 Carmichael Road
Bombay 400026

Dear Harish Kapadia,

Further to your letter addressed to the Secretary of the UIAA regarding a definition for reaching the summit of a mountain which was passed to Alan Blackshaw, President of the Mountaineering Commission. This was discussed at a recent meeting of the Commission held at the Rudolfshutte in Austria on 10-11 April, I, as Secretary, was asked to reply mentioning the following:

  1. There is no official UIAA ruling in this matter.
  2. Mountaineers should respect religious traditions concerning summits.
  3. Mountaineers (and Journals) should make honest accounts about the exact position reached, if not the actual summit.
  4. In the case of a rock summit the highest point should be attained.
  5. In the case of a snow summit it is not necessary to attain the highest point of a dangerous snow structure such as a cornice (which by its nature is not permanent), but reaching a point of the snow above the highest part of the underlying rock would normally be required.
  6. It is neither logical or honest to claim to have reached the top of a mountain if one has not done so.

I hope the above is of use to you. May I take this opportunity of extending the best wishes of the Mountaineering Commission to you and all mountaineers in India.

With best wishes.

Yours sincerely,


Roger Payne
Secretary to the Mountaineering Commission



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361 Centre Street
Milton, Mass. 02186

July 30, 1991

Dear Harish,

I have just received my Himalayan Journal Vol. 47 and I compliment you on it. It is splendid and I have found much of interest in it. The cover is particularly striking. I think you should be very proud of it.

I do have one comment. On page 122 it states, 'The glaciers of the Karakoram are the biggest of the world (along with the Fedchenko glacier in the Pamir and excluding those of the Polar regions such as Antarctica, Greenland, Alaska, etc.)'.

There simply are no great glaciers in the Arctic parts of Alaska. All the great Alaskan glaciers are in the temperate zone. They are about as far north as Helsinki and Stockholm in Europe, which no one has ever placed in the Arctic. I refer you to pages 142-3 of the AAJ 1990 in which the greatest 31 temperate zone glaciers are given, those of 50 kilometres length or more. The nine longest are in Alaska or Canada. The Siachen and Fedchenko are 10th and 11th. Next in Asia comes the Hispar in 17th place. The Biafo, Batura and Baltoro are in 22nd, 23rd and 24th place. The Chogo Lungma is 31st.

There is no reason whatsoever to exclude the great glaciers of Alaska and the Yukon from a listing of temperate glaciers. They are simply not Arctic glaciers.

Yours sincerely,



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C/o. The Postmaster,
Naro Moru
Kenya, E. Africa

19 September, 1991

Dear Harish,

How wonderful of you to have sent me the latest The Himalayan Journal Vol. 47 1989-1990. Romesh D. Bhattacharji's The Most Spectacular Flight in India' was most impressive. This too was the first way I saw the Himalaya but NOT on a scheduled flight. A friend of mine was Pilot with Indian National Airways and he had to do a Test Right after an engine had been mended so asked if I'd like to come along. I of course said 'Yes Please'. And there were the mountains like a great ocean of white crested waves as peaks stretched right across the horizon — fantastic. On the ground my first view was on a cloudy afternoon in Nanital when after tea at Essex House the good lady who ran it said 'You can see the peaks if you'd like to come onto the lawn'. I could not see them to begin with as I WAS LOOKING TOO LOW. There they were far above the clouds so high up in the sky — quite fantastic. Amazing how your first impressions always stay.

With all greetings.




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121 Tourist Road,
Toowoomba Queensland,
Australia 4350

2 April, 1992

Dear Harish,

What follows is not of sufficient impact for publication but may perhaps be of interest to you. It arises from your excellent obituary notice on J. B. Auden in which you comment on the coincidence that he and Michael Spender, members of Eric Shipton's expedition of 1937, were both brothers of distinguished poets.

As it happens, Michael Spender and W. H. Auden the poet were exact contemparaires and were at school together. I know because I was at the same school and knew them both: Spender very talkative and gregarious, Auden quiet and aloof, neither in the least bit attractive. Spender as i expect you know was one of the pre-war Everesters, going to the mountains in 1935 to do a photogrametic survey of the north face. He might well have joined the H.C. He died in an air crash in the war.

W. H. Auden too became interested in the quest for Everest and wrote a play on the theme, The Ascent of F6.

I hope all goes well with you. My wife had a sucessful trip to U.K. last year and managed to renew some old friendships there. But we're too old for long journeys now. I said to friends, 'Either you come to Queensland or else our next meeting would be in heaven'.

With all good wishes.




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21, Manor Drive,
Newcastle Upon Tyne
U.K. NE7 7XN

6 July, 1991

Dear Sir,

In my reading of the journal I get the impression that expeditions are by now highly technological in nature, which makes them "artificial' to some extent, and I begin to question the attitudes and motivation of the national expeditions who are either too idle or just indifferent to the problem of clearing up their mess before they leave for home. Your last edition, with its accounts of 'end of expedition' rubbish fouling up the base camp sites, makes shameful reading.

I hasten to add that, in spite of our clearing up operation at our 1945 Thajiwas valley base when we vacated it, we had contributed to the pollution problem by our very presence: man Is pollution. For this reason alone, the least man can do is to limit the pollution to his presence by taking his left-overs with him when he leaves. In any civilized society it is the least one can do anyway.

This point of view, being highly specific, is wide open to rebuttal but, in its expanded form, it amounts to the statement that the increasing pressure on the Himalaya will lead to a bosta brava result (as typified by the deforestation of Nepal) just as man's materialistic impact on the biosphere is causing its degradation. We are all guilty in this by virtue of being alive but why make it (unnecessarily) worse? Would penalties be in order for the fouling of camp-sites?



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