This has been a marathon of sorts and I am breathless – two volumes of HJ within six months of each other – a small step forward in terms of schedules but a big one in terms of learning. These six months have been about finding feet and sinking teeth; asking folks I know to contribute, asking folks I don’t know to contribute. The support and response has been overwhelming.
The age old magic always works – how does one learn? By reading, always reading. So the Alpine Journal, the American Alpine Journal, the Japanese Alpine Journal and past issues of the Himalayan Journal were constantly referred to in order to understand this business of deciding what goes in to make a Journal exceptional. And there is a pile of treasure recently discovered in the form of meticulous notes kept by Soli Mehta (HJ editor during 1969 – 79), still waiting to be read – ah! the pleasures of coming upon hidden archives! But read Amrita Dhar in this Volume for more on this.
Besides the issues that the climbing world faces, particularly those related to climate change; how the disasters in Nepal are going to impact the nature of commercial expeditions; the real need for safety measures and trained personnel to guide expeditions in this subcontinent, require more study and understanding. At the same time the rising trend of small groups of friends, wandering into new and pretty valleys, climbing mountains that catch their fancy and returning satisfied and with stronger bonds is heartening. Read the Expeditions and Notes section and the summaries of expeditions to the Indian Himalaya and you will understand what I mean.
HJ 71 is filled with exploratory ventures, starting with the Himalayan Club expedition to the hitherto unknown Ryong Kharu Lungpa valley, the Indian Air Force expedition to Kunzang, our intrepid explorer Anindya Mukherjee’s adventures, P.P. Mitra’s journey through unknown valleys in Garhwal and as always, explorations by stalwarts Harish Kapadia and Tom Nakamura. An Indian climb of significance wasthe first Indian ascent of Bhagirathi III led by Debabrata Mukherjee. Of course, Martin Moran’s aesthetic line on Nandadevi East was simply spectacular.
This Volume is also special because it is filled with history – there is a nostalgic article on Sherpa Tenzing Norgay by his friend Dorjee Lhatoo, an article on the history of K2, another on the importance of preserving history and archives, yet another on the history of high altitude medicine; finally, there is a note on a high altitude pole vaulting record set in 1933 which was never broken until 2000!
Another favourite section for me is that of the book reviews and this time around, it is formidable, both in terms of the books published over the last year or so and in terms of the quality of the reviews.
During the year we lost K.K. Guha, one of HC’s pillars, born in the same year as the HC, who worked tirelessly for the HC and the HJ over years – he was Vice President for 17 years and worked closely with Editor Soli Mehta on the HJ. In Volume XXX, Soli acknowledged in his editorial - The editor can consider himself lucky to have roped in Mr Kamal Kumar Guha as his assistant, translator, proof-reader and general adviser. The editor’s life is hard; his secretary’s life is harder, but the recompense lies in the final result and the joy and interest it generates in the reader.
There is one aspect that I would like to work on in future issues of HJ - I would like to explore the huge untapped treasure of writings related to the Himalaya in Indian languages – climbing, exploration, history, culture, literature. In India, for example, in states like Maharashtra and Bengal, there are several hundred clubs that work on minimal budgets but go and climb when they can – they need a space and the HJ would like to work a system where language is no bar. Besides, there are litterateurs and historians who would add unique value to this Journal. Thus calling on Indian climbers, writers, book reviewers and photographers – your records are as important as any other – please get in touch. Another lacuna I would like to fill is the lack of reporting from expeditions to the Western Karakoram.
Finally, the learning has begun on the making of the Journal – getting the recipe is one thing but having the right flourishes, the best finish, the exact grammar and the most balanced syntax is what my friends here are for – thanks to Harish Kapadia for playing chef Emeritus; to Shailesh Mahadevia and Tanil Kilachand for the vital ingredients – advertisements; and to Aparna Joshi for making it look good, to Sheela Jaywant for her sharp eye and Satish Kulkarni for assembly.
Mumbai, April 2016NANDINI PURANDARE