Himalayan Mountaineering Institute,
17th March, 93.
The Himalayan Journal
P.O. BOX 1905
Bombay 400 001 (INDIA)
With Brigadier D.K. Khullar's book the call of Everest, on the Indian man and women's Indian Everest expedition, 1984, doing its rounds of the world's mountaineering circles, I find myself unable to remain silent any longer. Besides being an exercise in slander the book is full of contradictions. His story, which has taken him eight years write is quite sickening in its dishonesty. I feel compelled to write my side of the story, set the record straight.
On the one hand Khullar profusely flatters the pundits and personalities of Indian mountaineering, all those who are in a position to enhance his career once he is off the mountain. On the other, he chooses a set of people and an individual, namely the Sherpas and me, to constantly ridicule, depreciate and malign. I am an object of controversy from the first to the very last page of his book. Indeed, with his liberal use of borrowed rhetoric, coarse humour and unhealthy interest in the personal lives of expedition members, Khullar's book reads more like one of Jackie Collins less inspired pulp novels than a truthful account of a mountaineering expedition.
The expedition was supplied entirely with the latest American and European climbing equipment and clothing. Food above the base camp was imported. Fifty-two selected professional high altitude porters were employed, an uncommonly large number. The team of men and women, prepared after a painful six year's process of training and observation by Col B S Sandhu, was arguably the best the country has ever seen. With such resources at his disposal, there was nothing to stop the expedition from becoming a tremendous success. The tragedy of this expedition, however, was the weakness of the head attached to such a strong body.
1. Refer to the review of this book in the present Journal (vol. 49), 'Book Review' section. - Ed.
Khullar's conjecture regarding the leaking of oxygen cylinders at the South Col (he has even had the temerity to publish an annexure on the issue) is totally false, with the singular intent of maligning Paljor and besides being a shabby attempt to divert attention from his failure.
On the 8, 9 and 10 whilist the Indian summit teams were positioned on the South Col after Rita and Ang Dorji's unsuccessful attempt on the summit (and Phu Dorji's return) the Indian camp, including the summit camp and the south Col camp, were in a bit of a mess, to say the least. The Bulgarian climbers, having descended along the Indian route after their West Ridge climb, found the Indian camps well stocked with food, fuel and oxygen. Indeed, some of these fatigued climbers were still in these camps after the retreat of the Indian summit parties, enjoying high altitude Indian food and hospitality. It is all very well for Khullar to rhapsodise over these times in terms of true mountaineering spirit, fellow feeling, Indo-Bulgarian friendship, etc, but he fails to acknowledge the crucial problems here; namely the confusion that arose as a result of this activity. There was no account of how many full, half or empty oxygen cylinders were lying available at the South Col. Six male members, three female members, eight Sherpas and four Bulgarians passed by the South Col. Lying in his tent at the base camp, Khullar was surely the last person one would expect to be in a position to correctly specify who was using what miles above him at the South Col.
On 15, May when Rattan, Paljor, Rekha and I went to the South Col supported by just two Sherpas, the area was a scene of chaos, with oxygen cylinders lying scattered around the camp (as seen in our south col photographs). The tents were a confusion of oxygen masks, life support bottles, half eaten food, Salewa noodles, pee-bottles of frozen urine and every sort of high altitude junk one could think of. Fatigued as we were, we did little to dear up the mess - which Is the normal reaction expected of any climber at such an altitude.
Now, in retrospect, I must mention that I regret obeying Khullar's orders that day. Had I followed my own judgement as a professional (limber and acted at my own discretion (as I was to do later on 23, May), all four of us would have reached the summit on 16, May. When we left the South Col on the 16th in the morning, Rdttan, Rekha and myself and Paljor, in the same order, we were In line, each almost within touching distance not in the manner Khullar assumes from his catbird seat at the base camp.
The Sherpas, for whom he expresses such contempt in his book, paid no heed to his authority because they considered him undeserving of their respect. He never carried his rucksack beyond the Base Camp, and even had his gaiters and crampons fitted onto him by three personal Sherpas. He made it a habit of paying for every little favour done to him with money, apparently to earn the Sherpas' respect and win them over to his side. The result, unfortunately, was quite the opposite.
After 30 years of professional dedication and proficiency in my work, I see Khular's attitude towards me as nothing short of a scathing attack, Providing, perhaps some sort of outlet for his personal frustrations.
As a member of the Himalayan Club, and it's Hon. Local Secretary, a member of the IMF and a life member and a senior staff member of the HMI, I hereby request that this letter, alongwith the true account of the incidents of 1984 herewith attached, may please be published in your esteemed Journal.2 It is my firm belief that truth shall prevail and I have full faith in the mountaineering fraternity's ability to judge for themselves. The facts have only to be laid before them.
Deputy Director, Field Training
West Bengal (India)
'Parikrama', Talla Danda,
Nainital - 263002.
Dear Harish Kapadia,
I enjoyed HJ 48 and would like to correct a few factual mistakes in the articles written by William Mckay Aitken and Sandeep Dutt. (p.58 and p. 196)
1. Gandhiji came to the different parts of Kumaon in June-July 1929 for the collection for the Harijan fund. The crusade against forced labour was already completed in January 1921, at a time when Gandhiji had abandoned the non-cooperation movement and the Khilafat initiative too had proved to be unsuccessful. The 'Begar (forced and unpaid labour) Abolition Movement' was unmatched for its strength and participation, leadership and organisation. It started as a local / regional movement and finally became the part of Indian struggle for freedom. Gandhiji called this movement the 'bloodless revolution' in 1929.
2. The account of the incidents is available with the club in the library - Ed.
The commentary Gandhiji wrote on 'Geeta' at Kausani on 24th June 1929 is known as 'Anashakti Yoga' and the house where he stayed is now known as 'Anashakti Ashram' The tributary of Ramganga, which orginates from Bhutkot range is Gagas and it does not flow through Dwarahat town. The seasonal lake en route from Dunagiri to Ganai Chaukhutia is Taragtal.
2. Lord Curzon trekked from Almora to Kuari or Ramni (though the road was constructed up to Dhak Tapovan via kuari pass and bugyal) via Kausani, Garur, Gwaldam, Deval, Kanaul in 1903, not In 1905. (See Correspondence of Curzon, 1903, Reel 4, Micro Film, National Archives of India, New Delhi.)
With regards and best wishes to you and the HJ family from my point in the Himalaya.
Indian Mountaineering Foundation
Benito Juarez Road, Anand Niketan,
New Delhi - 110021
20 October 1992
No. 39(FE) - IMF/92 Pt. I
Dear Shri Kapadia,
Kindly refer to your letter dated 29th September 1992, and previous correspondence, regarding wrong claims of ascents of Panch Chuli III, IV and V by the 1964 Indian expedition, led by late Capt. A.K. Choudhury.
This Foundation has gone into the details of the 1964 Panch Chuli Dtpedltlon and also of the 1972 1TBP expedition which succeeded In (limbing Panch Chuli I, and has arrived at the conclusion that It would not be possible to approach peaks Panch Chuli IV and V from the junction point of Uttari and Dakhini Balati glacier where the camp was established by the 1964 Panch Chuli expedition and even peak III is extremely difficult to be climbed from the said route.
The IMF 1964 expedition led by the late Gp. Capt. A.K. Chowdhury, mmni'. to have been mistaken in identifying the Panch Chuli III, IV nml V, perhaps due to poor visibility and inadequacy of maps. This Ims now been proved by the joint Indo-British expedition in 1992 |m!miIv led by Harish Kapadia and the world famous British climber Chris Bonington. Therefore, the claim of the 1964 expedition having scaled Panch Chuli Peaks III, IV and V from the said route within the reported time, is untenable and IMF nullifies their claim and treats Panch Chuli III, IV and V as undimbed peaks.
Hony. Secretary, IMF
25 October 1992.
Dear Shri Hukum Singh
Thank you for your letter of 20, October, 1992 No. 39 (EF)-IMF/ 92 -Pt. I.
It is noted that the I.M.F. agrees with the view that the peaks Panch Chuli III, IV and V were not climbed by the 1964 Indian expedition led by late Group Captain A.K. Chowdhury and sponsored by the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. We are happy to note that the IMF has taken this objective view to correct the records of their own sponsored expedition.
It may be noted that the first ascent of the Panch Chuli V was made by the Indian-British Panch Chuli expedition this year (1992). Peaks III and IV remain unattempted.
One of the so-called summiteers Sheo Raj Singh in his letters to J.C. Nanavati, Hon. Secretary, The Himalayan Club and Harish Kapadia, Hon. Editor, The Himalayan Journal, wrote that 'they (Nanavati and Kapadia) are not competent to seek clarifications from him or doubt the climb of Panch Chuli III, IV and V.' In his view 'the I.M.F. is the only competent authority' to decide the matter'.
With the result of our studies now corroborated by the IMF the matter is now concluded. It is evident that it was Sheo Raj Singh and his 1964 team members who were not competent - for 28 years.
The Himalayan Journal
CLUB PROCEEDINGS, 1992_
THE HIMALAYAN CLUB COMMITTEE, 1992
(Founded on 17th February, 1928)
President K.N. Naoroji
Vice President K.K. Guha
Honorary Secretary J.C. Nanavati
Honorary Treasurer Arun P. Samant
Members of Committee
M.H. Contractor A.D. Moddie
Harish Kapadia S.R. Shah
Sharavati Prabhu M.S. Soin
Joydeep Sircar Naren Nanda
Sudhlr Sahi Dr Rodhan Shroff
Honorary Local Secretaries
Alrnora N.B. Parekh
Bombay Dhiren M. Pania
Calcutta Prabhat Ganguli
Darjeeling Dorjee Lhatoo
Delhi Sudhir Sahi
Jammu Sat Paul Sahni
Manali John Banon
Shimla Col B.S. Sandhu
Nepal Elizabeth Hawley
Pakistan Nazir Sabir
Australia & New Zealand W.M. Deacock
Czechoslavakia V. Smida
France Bonneau Yves
Great Britain R.G. Pettigrew
Japan H. Ohtsuka
Italy Prof Ardito Desio
South Africa Dr. S.A. Craven
South Korea Sae Bae
Spain Jose Paytubi
Switzerland Eric Bernhardt
U.S.A. West Nicholas Clinch
East H. Adams Carter
Honorary Editor Harish Kapadia
Honorary Assistant Editor M.H. Contractor
Honorary Librarian W.M. Aitken
Hon. Asstt Librarian
Bombay Suhas Kharde
Calcutta A. Guha Thakurta
Hon. Equipment Officer Arun P. Samant
Hon. Asst Equipment Officers
Bombay Ashok Shenvi
Calcutta Prabhat Ganguli
Delhi Sandeep Kapur
An active year for the Himalayan Club, as usual, with many sectional meetings at Bombay (4), Calcutta(2), and Delhi. The Himalayan Journal Vol. 48 was published in April while The Himalayan Club Newsletter 46 was published on 17 February.
The Grindlays Bank Mountain Scholarships were awarded to various trainees. Many new books and items of mountaineering equipment were added to the store.
The Club membership continues to grow beyond 900 members' spread over various parts of the world and consisting of many leading mountaineers. The membership is open to all who are interested in various aspects of the Himalaya and are qualified to be members.-Full details and forms are available from Hon. Secretary. The Himalayan Club. Post Box. no. 1905, Bombay 400001, India. (Full details of the club activities, 1992 are available in the Himalayan Club Newsletter 46)
THE HIMALAYAN JOURNAL
Honorary Assistant Editor
S.P. Mahadevia (Buisness) Naren Nanda (Proofs)
Arun Samant (Sketch-maps) Kaivan Mistry (Proofs and Index)
Dhiren Pania (Despatches) Kekoo Colah (Proof and Index)
Rashmi Palkhivala (Editing)
Trade inquiries with Oxford University Press, Post Box No 31 Oxford House, Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Bombay 400001, India.