2. J.T.M. GIBSON






Note by Aamir Ali

Read at the Memorial Service at St. James Church on 9 December 1994, arranged by The British High Commission, New Delhi. It was read by N. D. Jayal (Vice-President, The Himalayan Club) in the church.

‘I may not know very much, but there JL are two things I do know how to do,' Jack Gibson used to say. 'One is growing sweet peas, the other is teaching boys'. x\nd, indeed, he was a born teacher; he approached the task — as all others — with tremendous gusto. The secret of his success with generations of boys was his enthusiasm. The zeal he put into his efforts: an enthusiasm that was infectious.

And so it was with all the things he taught whether it was geography or English in the classroom; or fencing, boxing or cross-country running outside the classroom; or climbing and skiing in the mountains.

And it was thus that year after year, he took groups of boys into the high mountains, using his vacations, his experience, his money, and above all, his gusto, to introduce them to climbing and skiing. Har-ki-Doon and Bandarpunch in theWestern Garhwal was a favourite centre for this and he became a legend to the locals, who called him, affectionately, Burra Sahib.

To do all the things he did well was an achievement; to teach them and to communicate his enthusiasm for them, was an achievement of an altogether different order.

He also had the ability to convey to others, without sermonising, the importance of integrity. In this day and age, to be a person of integrity is rare; to be able to inspire a belief in its absolute importance, is a gift given to few men. It was given to Jack and the proof of it lives in thousands of hearts and minds all over the country, indeed all over the world.



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'You gave so much pleasure___ a completely natural schoolmaster in full blast, the kind of activity one has as a young man vainly hoped to conduct, and which I have occasionally seen in just a few of the scores of men I have myself selected for the staff of Cheltenham, Shrewsbury and Sandhurst.' Thus H. H. Hardy, a former headmaster, wrote to Jack Gibson in 1952.

And a hundred memories of Jack Gibson 'in full blast' come crowding in: animating a classroom, yodelling in the mountains, on the ski slopes, driving his jeep and swearing at the lorry drivers or stopping for a 'pee and a pipe', cycling, camping, tending his sweet-peas, shooting and fishing, exploring the hills around Ajmer for suitable rock climbs, rehearsing a play, negotiating for a raft on the Jumna by nonchalantly waving a ten rupee note, sailing, writing directly to Pandit Nehru to get a consignment of climbing equipment through the Customs without paying duty, wheedling a sailing boat for Mayo out of the Navy, decrying the politics and morality of the modern world, coaching a group in fencing, charming a group of parents, offering generous hospitality way beyond his means, turning a blind eye on a senior boy sneaking his sherry, showing infinite patience with a youngster in trouble, explaining in rusty French to the patronne of the Auberge at Lac Tannay how he used to carry his skis up there from the Rhone valley, gnashing his remaining natural teeth because he had forgotten his false ones in a tobacco tin in a London hotel before setting out on a gastronomic cruise, conducting a voluminous correspondence, always ready to do the unusual and the unconventional. 'A Renaissance man', one of his former students called him.

Above all, his tremendous gusto. Everything he did was with enthusiasm and verve — 'at full blast.' It was for this that he was a hero to generations of boys at the Doon School and at Mayo College, who continue to repeat legends about him, the legends growing with each telling. And why not? That's how it should be with a legendary figure.

A few facts. John Travers Mends Gibson was born on 3 March 1908, son of a naval officer, and was educated at Haileybury and Cambridge where he got his half blue for fencing — and later almost made the British Olympic team. He joined the staff of Chillon College (near Montreux in Switzerland) in September 1929 with responsibility for winter sports; he also taught history. 'These were the happiest years of my life,' he once said, but one suspects that he made most of his years happy ones. He skied and climbed with the Swiss Alpine Club; this included the Javelle of the Aiguilles Dorees, 'one of the more difficult climbs, so was a great experience for me and quite an honour being asked to go on it,' he worte. He contributed an article recalling his adventures to the Alpine Journal, 1986.

The economic depression hit Chillon College, and Jack left, but had decided that teaching was what he wanted to do; so he went on doing this at Ripon Grammar School from 1932 to 1936. He continued his skiing holidays at Morgins in the Valais (where he claims to have seen the future King of Siam running naked in the corridors of his hotel, chased by an ayah). It was there he met Sir Malcolm Hailey, Governor of the U.P. and President of the Himalayan Club, who encouraged him to apply to the Doon School. He was accepted and told to study the teaching of geography before coming over. He joined the DS as housemaster in January 1937 and India was his home till his death on 23 October 1994, 57 years later.

On leave from the DS, he served in the Royal Indian Navy Volunteer Reserve from 1942 to 1945, and as Principal of the Joint Services Wing, Dehra Dun and Khadakvasla, when it was set up in 1949 until 1951.

One of his proudest moments was in 1992 when the three Service Chiefs, all former students of his, flew in to Ajmer to pay tribute to him. In a letter of 14 September 1992, he wrote, 'My only bit of interesting news is that about a month ago, the Chiefs of all three Services came to see me here with their wives. They had all been cadets of the first course of the JSW when I was responsible for academics. The General, Admiral, Air Chief Marshal paid me a very great compliment... They had to fly in separate helicopters and to come from the helipad in separate bullet-proof cars. The local army had guards all over the place and my house was throughly searched.'

In 1953 he was appointed principal of Mayo College and in his 15 years there, completely revitalised that noble institution, increased the number of boys from 140 to 586 with a long waiting list, democratised it, raised its academic standards, and established himself as a legend. In 1960 he was awarded the OBE by the British Government, in 1965 the Padma Shri by the Indian Government; a rare instance of someone honoured by both Governments.

He had a very strong sense of family and was deeply attached to his parents and to his sister. He wrote regularly and in detail to his mother; she kept his letters and this enabled him to write As I Saw It, published in 1976, covering the period from his arrival in India in January 1937 till his retirement from Mayo in February 1969. He followed this up with As I Saw It From Shanti Niwas, 1992, covering the period 1969-1984.

Jack loved the mountains and was a mountaineer in the real sense. He loved being in the mountains: climbing, walking, camping, trekking, and above all, skiing. 'You will never convince a skier that there is any sport to compare with skiing,' he once wrote in an article on 'Summer Skiing in the Himalayas'.1 In his very first summer in India, he spent seven weeks in the Himalaya with John Martyn, on Bandarpunch and crossing the Gangotri-Alaknanda watershed. Since then, he was a regular visitor to the Himalaya, mostly to the Garhwal, with skiing holidays in Kashmir and Switzerland for good measure.


  1. The Times of India, 28 July 1956.


But his major achievement was not the conquest of major peaks but the initiation of generations of boys to mountaineering and skiing. His article on 'The Harki Doon' in the H.J. XVIII, 1954 describes three visits to the region he had made his own; twice with parties of boys to whom he taught skiing and climbing. (He made further visits later.) They skied down from 14,800 ft, and 'must be almost the first party to learn at such a height,' he wrote. The 'completely natural schoolmaster' got more satisfaction out of teaching mountain skills to youngsters and imbuing them with the love of the high hills than in setting off to conquer high peaks himself. Though in his article 'An Unclimbed Mountain', in H.J. 39 — 1981/82 he did express his longing to climb Swargrohini; and he did achieve the first ascent of Kalanag, the Black Peak.

When I visited the Har-ki-Doon area in 1956, the men of Osla village spoke with reverence of the Burra sa'ab who used to walk up the snow slopes with his skis the moment camp was set up.

On various occasions on his way to England, he stopped off in Switzerland to ski. Once he brought a couple of his students to Veysonnaz in the Valais — then a new resort, now on the World Cup circuit — and we spent several glorious days, with Jack using skis made to his design by the Forest Research Institute of Dehra Dun, a wonder to all. I think he quite enjoyed the amazement he aroused!

In 1960, he came in April when the snow had disappeared from the lower slopes and I suggested a mountain itinerary starting from the Aiguille du Midi (reached by telepherique) 3800 m down the Vallee Blanche and the Mer de Glace, traversing a heavily crevassed icefall. Jack hadn't skied for over a year and wasn't used to the bindings of the rented skis which clamped your heels. Though a commonly used trail, I was worried because on the same trip the previous year, one of my companions had slithered on an icy patch into a crevasse and fallen some 8 m. Luckily there were five of us to pull him out with only a broken ski as damage. Jack did it all in magnificent style and with his usual gusto; though he claimed to be exhausted at the end, he had enough energy to make caustic and audible comments on the stiletto heels of the girls who passed the cafe in Chamonix where we were having a welcome beer.

Jack was President of the Himalayan Club, 1970-73. Thus he represented the HC at the Meet in Darjeeling to mark the 20th anniversary of the climbing of Everest. In his speech he spoke of the relations of the HC with the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, and ended with words that bear repetition: 'Mr. Sarin (President of the IMF) has agreed that any reports we send him of misuse of the environment will be forwarded to the relevant government department, and pressure put on it to put things right. Therefore, if anyone on trek or expedition finds shrubs or trees being overused as fuel, or finds litter left unburied, or that sort of thing, we would be glad if he would let us know.'

On his first expedition in 1937, John Martyn and Jack Gibson had Tenzing with them, and Jack and Tenzing struck up a life long friendship.2 Tenzing was with Jack on two further expeditions to Bandarpunch, which Tenzing dubbed 'the Doon School Mountain': in 1946, accompanied by R. L. Holdsworth ('his clothes and equipment are unsuitable for heights being mostly pre-war and worn out') and Nandu Jayal; and in 1950, accompanied by Gurdial and Jagjit Singh and others. It was typical of Jack that when Gurdial felt unwell on the last lap to the summit, he 'unselfishly volunteered to be the one to go down with him', as Tenzing put it, leaving the others to get to the summit he had coveted for so many years.


  1. In a letter of 3 August 1989 written from England, Jack said, 'I paid a visit to Brigadier Osmaston (now over 90) who put John Martyn and me on to Tenzing and Rinzing for our first expedition — Gangotri to Badrinath with the summit ridge of Bandarpunch on the way — and he was in great form, though a bit weak in his legs, as I am becoming.'


And it was Jack who recommended Tenzing as special instructor in mountaineering to the Operational Research Section of the Army. Tenzing refers touchingly several times to 'my old friend Mr. Gibson' in his autobiography. And it is pleasant to read that on 27 January 1961, Jack 'had Tenzing and his daughter to lunch at the Gymkhana Club in New Delhi. I hadn't met him since he climbed Everest and it was a splendid reunion. He was quite unchanged and unspoiled and said the right thing when he exclaimed that I wasn't looking at all an old man.'

Jack had the knack of getting on with all sorts of people, exemplified by his warm relations with his servants. Samuel was his faithful retainer for several decades; after Samuel's retirement, Tansukh took over. Both of them did well by him, and he did well by them, enabling them to acquire houses of their own, making sure that Samuel stopped increasing his numerous tribe, and helping to educate Tansukh's son.

When Jack took over Mayo its finances were in bad shape. Jack refused any increase in what was a pitifully small salary for the job until the financial situation could be straightened out and the staff and employees could be paid more adequately. After his retirement, the General Council had to authorise a large increase in the Principal's salary in order to get any worthy successor.

Jack had many passions besides mountains. Gardening was one. He wrote in his Christmas letter of 1986, 'As I write this, I look across my verandah at two rows of splendid flowers: Chrysanthemums, Phlox Drummondi, Antirrhinums, Ageratum, Violets, Alyssum, miniature Roses, and Chinese Chillies__' and the litany continues. His mountain articles are also full of the joy of Alpine flowers. And one touching photograph taken in 1990 was of him with 'a Redvented Bulbul that now comes and perches on my knee and eats banana from my hand. It started last winter with crumbs on the floor of my veranda, and when I came back from Mussoorie in August it came to me again demanding food.'

As 'a completely natural schoolmaster', he once wrote, 'The excitement of teaching is when you see that an idea has become clear to someone.' And in an article on teaching in November 1989, he said, 'The first problem for a teacher is, I believe, to awake interest in those he is teaching and to make them keen to find out and understand for themselves rather than rely on text books.'3

He himself was described as an 'inspiring teacher with a great zest for his subjects.' But Jack taught a great deal more than classroom subjects. In everything he did, he conveyed a sense of transparent honesty, of integrity, of the avoidance of hypocrisy, of the importance of being true to oneself. In a world grown hardened to moral corruption, this is well worth remembering.4

In some ways, Jack was the 'last Englishman in India.' He came ten years before independence and stayed on 47 years after it, rendering dedicated service to the country of his adoption. His name is often linked with those of Martyn and Holdsworth; he was the last survivor of that triumvirate who could occasionally be seen sitting on Martyn's lawn in kurta-pyjama, Holdie with a Pathan pugree, having their evening drink and smoking a hookah. Jack was the last English Principal of Mayo College; he was the last English President of the Himalayan Club. He spoke at the Darjeeling Meet in 1973 on behalf of the Indian delegates and said 'I feel greatly honoured; though not an Indian, I have lived in India for 36 years'. He was the last — and for most of the time, the only — English resident of Ajmer, formerly a very British enclave in the heart of Rajasthan. He was the last Englishman to be accepted completely as a friend by almost all the former ruling houses of that chivalric region. He must have been just about the last Englishman to have been honoured by both the British and Indian Governments.5


  1. Doon School Weekly, about December 1989.
  2. In a letter of 23 June 1986, he wrote, 'I watched on TV Argentina beat England at football and was horrified to see members of the latter team fouling; politicians don't tell the truth; corruption is widespread; etc. And what a mess poor old India is in.'
  3. J.A.K. Martyn had also received the OBE (1958) and the Padma Shri (1984). He died in 1984 and his obituary in H.J. Vol. 41, (1983/84) was written by Jack Gibson.


Mana (7272m) was attempted by an Indian team led by Milind Pote.

Illustrated Note 5
Mana (7272m) was attempted by an Indian team led by Milind Pote. Approching from west
they reached 6400m on a subsidiary peak (6541m) enroute to Mana on 28 August 1994.
West face of unclimbed Mana NW (7092m) on left.

Broad Peak (8047m) wasclimbed by a new route on the west face, solo, by the Mexican<br />
climber Carlos Carsolio.

Illustrated Note 6
Broad Peak (8047m) wasclimbed by a new route on the west face, solo, by the Mexican
climber Carlos Carsolio. He reached the summit on 9 July 1994 after a 25-hour push.

Broad Peak (8047m) wasclimbed by a new route on the west face, solo, by the Mexican<br />
climber Carlos Carsolio.

Jack Gibson

'The end of an era' has become a cliche but Jack Gibson's passing does have a significance for the British connection with India. It is certain that this association brought some harm; it is equally certain that it also brought much that was good. Jack's life exemplified the good; he lives on in the hearts and minds of thousands of Indians whose lives touched his.

I knew Jack Gibson for 56 years and we were on dozens of joyful excursions together in the Alps and in the Himalaya: climbing, trekking, rafting, skiing or just revisiting scenes of former exploits. My admiration and affection for him grew with each passing year. I have not only said good bye to one of my closest friends but to a part of my own life.

Aamir Ali
Photo 52



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Noted climber, scientist and scholar Barry C. Bishop was killed in a one-car accident on 24 September 1994. He lost control of his car near Pocatello, Idaho.

When I try to paint a picture of my father, I am at a loss; there are so many parts to him and my emotions wash over me to confuse my thoughts. However, the more I reflect on my father, the more I come back to a quote by Rene Daumal, of which he was so found:

You cannot stay on the summit forever; You have to come down again ... So why bother in the first place?

Just this: what is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above.

One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen.

There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.

When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.

Barry's life was always influenced by the memory of what he saw higher up. He had a tremendous amount of integrity. There was a pure element to my father that came from another era; he stood by his word and let you know how he felt about issues. You may not have agreed with him, but at least you knew where he stood and the reasons for that stance. It is my belief that this attribute came from the time he spent in the mountains and the lessons he learned in such an environment.

Barry was always fascinated with climbing. At the age of three, he rode on my grandfather's shoulders to the top of Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. From that point on, it was ever upward. Summers found him in the Tetons and the Colorado Rockies. In 1951, at the age of nineteen, he summited Mount McKinley with the first ascent of the West Buttress. His love for the mountains took him to the Himalaya where he made the first ascent of Ama Dablam in 1961. He then summited Everest in 1963 with the first American team. A prolific number of achievements considering the era in which these took place!

However, Barry never overtly brought attention to these crowning achievements. His love for the mountains went much further than the glory that came from standing on summits. Barry's love was science and the mountains. He had an undergraduate degree in geology from the University of Cincinatti and a master's degree in geography from Northwestern University. The title of his thesis was Shear Moraines in the Thule Area, Northwest Greenland. As a result of this paper, he was selected to serve on Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd's staff in the Antarctic. My father received his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, Karnali Under Stress: Livelihood Strategies and Seasonal Rhythms in a Changing Nepal Himalaya, is still the paradigm for research of this type. Barry's love of the mountains and science took him in 1959 to work for the National Geographic Society. He started as a picture editor and worked for the organization until his retirement in 1994 as a vice president and Chairman of the Committee for Research and Exploration. He had a deep interest in directing scientific research all over the globe. He worked closely with such renowned scientists and explorers as Jane Goodall, Mary Leaky and Sir Edmund Hillary. He left his stamp on the scientific and exploratory community with his enthusiasm, unfailing standards and joy of science. His own scientific projects took him on over twelve expeditions to the Himalaya and he wrote more than a score of published articles. Barry received numerous awards for his exploration and scientific research. He was the recipient of the Association of American Geographers Honors in 1993, the Explorers' Club Medal in 1987, the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal in 1963, the Society's Franklin Burr prize in 1961 and the William Howard Taft Medal from the University of Cincinatti in 1963, among other awards.

As I read back over the previous paragraphs, I have captured about Barry what can be found in any synopsis of his curriculum vitae. What is missing is a glimpse of his indomitable spirit. Barry personified the old mountaineer persona. He smoked, loved a good drink and was always the first to tell a bawdy joke or make a bad pun that would have the whole group rolling their eyes. His idea of getting into shape was the approach to the climb, not time in a gym. There was always a spark to my father, something mischievous and rebellious. He no doubt caused numerous headaches at the National Geographic by surfing on the waves he created in the bureaucratic environment. He pushed the limits and always had enormous respect for those who could also join him.

Time spent in the mountains made Barry incredibly tenacious and tough. When goals were set, there was no stopping him; obstacles were overcome or just pushed aside. Who else would have driven his family in an International Harvester from Rotterdam to Kathmandu in 1968? My father lost all his toes from frostbite on Everest in 1963. Not once in my life do I recall him complaining about his feet even though the pain and discomfort must have been debilitating at times.

Barry's love of mountains provided an avenue for friendships that spanned the globe. Growing up, I remember a constant stream of house guests from all parts of the world. Each of these get-togethers always started as a party of friends reminiscing about the past but invariably turned into the planning stage for the next adventure. For Barry, there was always another project, another adventure, another bridge to cross or another mountain to climb. Barry was never content to rest on past laurels. I'm still finding out from his friends about projects he was planning that no mortal man could have finished if he lived to be 150 years old.

Nothing was more fun than talking about past climbs or future projects with him while drinking a beer. He and I talked about everything together. We were best friends. As a child, he was my hero, and he still is today. As a youngster, I can remember climbing at Seneca Rocks in West Virginia and how proud I was to be out with him. That pride never faded. It was an honour to follow his footsteps on Everest: an experience that brought me closer to him and gave me immeasurable respect for his achievements. The apogee of the climb for me was not the summit, but being able to call my father from base camp and relate both success and safety.

A quote from Barry's desk read, 'A man should not be judged by the height he reaches but by the distance he climbs.' My father covered a great distance, and he did it with integrity. We all miss him.

Brent Bishop



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Asru Guha Thakurta passed away of suspected cancer at 7.28 p.m. on 9 October 1994 in Calcutta. He was the Honorary Assistant Librarian of the Himalayan Club, Calcutta Section. He was widely known as a trekker, writer, editor and photographer. He had a personal dark room and had won several prizes in photography though he was handicapped by poor eye sight.

He was born in Bhandaria village, Bangladesh on 19 November, 1936. He had three brothers and three sisters and he was the oldest of the brothers. He spent his early years in Darjeeling, where his father was employed.

After passing out from Darjeeling Govt. High School he passed the I.Sc. exam from Darjeeling Govt. College. Then he came to Calcutta to study Chemical Engineering at Jadavpur University. But soon he lost interest in engineering and joined Asutosh College as an Arts student from where he graduated with honours in Economics and Political Science.

In 1958 he joined the State Bank of India, Calcutta branch, and was shortly promoted as an officer. A man of sterling integrity, he could not bear with some irregularities. So he sought and obtained a reversion after two and a half years!

Meanwhile his childhood memories of the enchanting mountains were revived in 1971 when his brother Jahar returned from Marsyandi valley with excellent pictures and exciting stories. Guha Thakurta and his college friend Chanchal Kumar Mukherjee joined the Himalaya Lovers' Association in 1972 and never looked back. Later he became a founder member of 'Arohan', a mountaineering club formed by the employees of the State Bank of India. In 1982 he became a member of the Himalayan Club.

Guha Thakurta never climbed a peak but trekked extensively and was keen on new routes. He trekked to Muktinath, Traills' pass (1972), Ronti saddle (1973, first Indian group), Sunderdhunga, Kuari pass, Panch Kedar, Kugti-Sach pass, Manimahesh, Khatling (1983), Margan pass, Fachukandi-Darwa pass, Kagbhusundi tal, Changsilghati, Sonmuch pass, Jamuna Kanta, Langtang, a coastal trek from Konarak to Chilka etc.

At Khatling the provisions had run out, their porters had deserted them and a frostbitten member was unable to move. Guha Thakurta opted to look after the ailing member while others went down to Dehra Dun for a helicopter. Cold and hungry, he was prepared for the worst but was fortunately rescued after four days.

He was also a member of the climbing expeditions to Chaturangi (1974), Swargarohini (1975), Mrigthuni-Devtoli and Dharamsura-Papsura-Devachen. Besides trekking he did some rafting on the sea near Gopalpur, Orissa with just three logs tied together! He also rafted down from Diglipur in the North Andamans to an unnamed and uninhabited island in 1978. Then he trekked 22 kms through thick jungles elsewhere in Andamans to meet the Ongees.

His articles in English and Bengali appeared in Himavanta, Indian Mountaineer, The Himalayan Club Newsletter, The Trek, Call of the Unknown and many other magazines and journals.

He edited, amongst others, The Trek, The Himalayan Club Diamond Jubilee Souvenir (Calcutta) and Call of the Unknown. The editorial of the Call of the Unknown (1994) was dictated by him from his death bed.

His only book Nandakinir Utsa Sondhane (Bengali) (In search of the source of Nandakini) was published earlier this year. He had completed another book in Bengali Garhwaler Giribarto (Passes of Garhwal). We hope it will be published soon. Moreover all his articles in English and Bengali could be compiled and published in two separate volumes.

Although a smoker, he was a strict teetotaller. This soft spoken bachelor was keen to avoid controversies, and he was always firm in his principles. He was a dedicated conservationist and worked for reforestation in Purulia district in West Bengal. Lately he had joined 'Andhar Manik', a social organisation for the generation of self employment.

He was admitted into the same hospital where another popular mountaineer Sujal Mukherjee died a few months earlier. By a strange coincidence he had written the obituary on Sujal from the hospital a few days before his own death. When he had just finished the write up, I tried to cheer him up 'A separate almarih has been refurnished and alloted for the Himalayan Club library. Get well quickly and take over'. He smiled and replied, 'Sorry Kamalda, it is bit too late now'.

He had a large personal library and loved to read. His last wish was to leave this world while reading books. But that was not to be.

A short life, well lived.

Kamal K. Guha

In 1981 when some of us were trying to give a formal shape to a confederation of mountaineers and trekkers of West Bengal, I had the opportunity to come closer to Guha Thakurta who was popularly known as Asruda. I was impressed with his pleasing personality and profound knowledge on a wide range of subjects. The next year he became a member of the Himalayan Club and after the tragic disappearance of Ranjit Lahiri in 1984 around Kanchni khal area, my immediate choice was none but Asruda as the Librarian of the Calcutta Section in place of Ranjit. We have been associated for over a decade since then. Our journey culminated during the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the Club in 1988 when he single-handedly tackled the press and brought out a special issue for the Calcutta Section as Honorary Editor. Besides he assisted and guided me from time to time when I conducted the two-day seminar and exhibition on Himalayan Ecology and Mountaineering Science.

With the untimely passing away of Asruda I have lost a friend, philosopher and guide and the Himalayan Club has lost a valued member who had dedicated his life to the promotion of mountaineering and other allied subjects.

May his soul rest in peace.

Prabhat Kumar Ganguli



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Gordon Jones was a long time and keen member of the Himalayan Club. On 8 February 1992 my late husband died on Kaitarakihi, a small peak 852 m, in the Coromandel ranges behind the town of Thames where we lived during the 70's and up until 1983 when we moved to the city of Auckland.

He was a great lover of the mountains and had done many treks in the Himalaya before he met me. Together, and later with our children we spent every holiday we had in the Himalaya trekking and climbing during the period 1954-1970.

There were two articles I could find in the Himalayan Journal written by Gordon, 1965 Volume XXVI page 148, and 1970 Volume XXX Page 214.

We enjoyed the Kullu valley and its surrounds but also spent time in Thajiwas valley in Kashmir on occasion and in the east, in and around Darjeeling, doing the long trek round, in, and through, Sikkim a couple of times. Before I met Gordon he had trekked in the Armapurna region and I had long wanted to visit it. In 1992 I was able to visit Pokhara and also went to the place of his birth, Chandpur, which is now in Bangladesh, to plant a tree in his memory.

On 8 February he was leader of a small tramping party of seven climbers to Kaitarakihi. It was very inclement weather when they reached the top. One of the women members of the party was not in good shape and Gordon decided that they should immediately descend to a sheltered place in the bush for a lunch break. They started off down the ropes attached to the cliff at the top. He was to come down last but he didn't. They found he had a sudden and massive heart attack. CPR was attempted without any success. The Westpac rescue helicopter was called by two of the climbers who went to a farm house but the pilot could not land because of bad weather. Gordon was left on the mountain until the next day when a Search & Rescue party (SAREX) was able to carry him out. Gordon had often been out with SAREX himself and we had continued together tramping and climbing in the New Zealand Southern Alps on our annual holidays from 1971 when we returned from India to live in New Zealand.

I have looked through Gordon's Himalayan file and found some correspondence which may be of interest for the records of the Club. It is sad of course for me to be without him now but it was certainly appropriate that the man who loved the mountains so much should have ended his life on top of one.

Elizabeth Jones



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The letters suddenly stopped arriving. When I last heard from Mrs. Mavis Heath, she was in a hospital in Kenya. Finally, a brief fax message informed me that she had passed away in August 1994.

Though I never met Mrs. Heath, we corresponded very regularly for many years. In fact she read The Himalayan Journal from cover to cover and corresponded in detail, first with my predeccesor Soli Mehta, and later continued the association when I took over as the editor. She had travelled to the Himalaya twice and very vividly wrote about her first view of this great range. She used to write little poems and describe the life in Kenya, where she lived in a small place called Naro Maru with her husband. Her husband passed away a few years ago and she choose to imagine that he had gone to the Himalaya! Her love for the range was so strong that she wanted some permanent association with it.

Through her several letters, I gathered that Mrs. Heath was British, settled in Kenya for many years. After the war she arrived in India in August 1947 at the time of Indian independence. She was employed as a cypher officer with the British High Commission. In two years, till end of 1949, she had her fill of the Himalayan range. She trekked to Kullu, in and around the Kashmir valley and extensively in the Garhwal range. Like many of us, the first view of Nanda Devi made her dance, as she quotes the Indian bard Kabir about this in one of her articles,

Dance my heart, O dance today with joy!

Mad with joy,

The hills... and the earth dance with joy...!

In her last years she had troubled eyesight and after an operation, doctors advised her limited hours of reading. She reserved lots of it for The Himalayan JournaV. Through letters she became a family friend, sending postal stamps for my children, inquiring about their studies and recommending some friends to visit us, which they did.

Life's associations are sometimes very strange. This is one such association where the Himalaya, letters and the Journal brought two persons from distant countries in contact with each other. We are sad at her passing away. I am sure she is looking to the Himalaya in spirit, wherever she is, and dancing with joy!

Harish Kapadia



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Class 0f membership and year of election
J.T.M. Gibson (H. 1938)
Barry Bishop (Dr.) (L. 1961)
James Waller (Maj.) (L. 1934)
W. O. Field (L. 1945)
Mavis Heath (L. 1949)
A. J. Cohen (L. 1974)
Gordon H. Jones (Rev.) (O. 1958)
A. Guha Thakurta (O. 1982)
(H: Honorary, L: Life, 0: Ordinary Member)


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