I would like to begin by expressing deep regret that I have been unable to join this large and enthusiastic gathering to celebrate with them the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the Himalayan Club. As active members, you no doubt know something about the history of the Club which, since its formation, has always been at the forefront of Himalayan activity. It must be a matter of great satisfaction to all of you who are the life and strength of the Club today, to know that this is precisely the position that the Club still occupies after seventy-five years — with a scope that has greatly expanded, a membership that 'continues to grow beyond 900', and a vitality that could never have been imagined by the Club's founders. This is a record of which to be immensely proud.

It might be said that the Himalayan Club is on the threshold of its fourth generation, and I who joined the Club after it had entered its second generation in 1946 experienced feelings of great pride to find my name on the membership register with such illustrious names as Norton, Bruce, Longstaff, Strutt, and the later duo, Tilman and Shipton, acclaimed as the forerunners of modern Himalayan exploration — naively hoping one day to emulate their example. I was very green then, and on the eve of my first visit to Sikkim in 1945 the only equipment that I possessed was a pair of dark-glasses and a borrowed pair of mountain boots ... but the HC managed then, as I am sure they still do, to help out. My membership of the Club has been a source of great pleasure to me. I am happy that I seized my opportunities when I did, and it gives me pleasure now to watch the current generation enjoy their heritage.

Nowadays, when asked about my birth-date, I am sometimes tempted to reply, as a young army recruit is reported once to have done, '22nd of April' — What year? 'Every year'.

The power of mountains arouses feelings of awe and humility. Humility used to be regarded once as a general characteristic of a mountaineer, I can think of no better illustration of it than an anecdote about General E. F. Norton, leader of the expedition to Mount Everest in 1924, who climbed across the treacherous slabs of the North Face alone, without oxygen, to reach a height of 28,126 feet (8572 m). Seven years later, he was stationed at the Army Staff College in Quetta, a region surrounded by mountains that provided good opportunities for rock-climbing on dry limestone, Norton would visit them occasionally, as did many of the younger generation of climbers at the College. A strange Staff officer one day enquired of him 'You, sir, are not one of these eccentric mountaineers?' 'Dear me, no', Norton replied, 'I merely potter about on the lower slopes.'

The Himalayan Club has always been, and let us hope that it will always remain, essentially a Society of people who really care about mountains. I offered my best wishes to the Club for a future filled with strength, spirit, and distinction.

Trevor H. Braham

The message was read out at the celebrations in Mumbai, India on 17th Feb 2003.

The Himalayan Club (75th Year) Managing Committee, at Mumbai, 17th February 2003.

The Himalayan Club (75th Year) Managing Committee, at Mumbai, 17th February 2003. L to r: (Standing): K.K. Ray, Divyesh Muni, Harish Kapadia, Ashwin Joglekar, Rajendra Wani, S.R Mahadevia, Ravi Singh and Rishad Naoroji. (Seating): J. C. Nanavati, Dr (Ms) Rekha Shroff, Dr M. S. Gill, (President), Tanil Kilachand and Meher Mehta. (Kami Pomal)


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