NANGA PARBAT ADVENTURE; A Himalayan Expedition. Translated from the German of Fritz Bechtold by H. E. G. Tyndale . London: John Murray, 1935. 10x7 inches; xx+ 93+80 [Plates] pages; illustrations and sketch-maps. 1 os. 6d.
Readers of this Journal must be well acquainted with the history of the attempts to climb Nanga Parbat. Vol. iii gave us Bruce's reminiscences of the Mummery expedition of 1895; v Willy MerkPs narrative of his in 1932—a narrative which will be treasured for its revelation of personality as highly as those letters of Mummery which are prefixed to the later editions of My Climbs in the Alps and Caucasus—and vol. vii three articles on the 1934 attempt, one of them by Fritz Bechtold himself, the author of this book. It is to be hoped that members possess also the charming account of his perambulation of the mountain in 1913 by Edmund Candler, who, had he lived to see its foundation, would have rejoiced in this Club.
The story of the German expedition of 1934 is, therefore, already available, but this book is indispensable to the right perspective of that story. It is written in the mood of those Homeric seamen
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads,
and, after the final tragedy, as moving as the Antarctic end of Scott and his companions, it closes on just the right note in memorable words:
As we looked upward once more to Nanga Parbat, to the glittering crest high above us, all sense of bitterness against fate was loosed from within us, in the presence of a deeper understanding. Splendid as it must be to return home with the prize of this mighty mountain, it is yet nobler that a man lay down his life for such a goal, to be a way and a light for the young hearts of those that come after.
The magnificent photographs are a great aid to the text; one may note specially the beauty of the sunset scene (Plate 48), and the pathetic group of frost-bitten porters (Plate 74), while that of Peter Aschenbrenner on the way up to Camp V (Plate 72) shows more vividly than any words could the appalling condition of the snow which turned back the rescue party after the blizzard on the fatal 8th July. These photographs and the detailed record of experiences at the camps will be of the utmost value to subsequent expeditions. As on other Himalayan peaks, the weather must remain the most decisive factor, but there are other deductions to be drawn from this narrative, and the first of these, probably, will be the need of one or even two more camps higher than the Camp VIII at 24,540 feet. The difficulties of the final climb are now seen to be far greater than they were supposed to be in the days when Conway wrote of mounting £an easy snowfield or slope to the east end of the long but gentle rocky arete which ends in the summit3.
S. G. Dunn.
NANDA DEVI. By Eric Shipton; with a foreword by Hugh Ruttledge. London: Hodder & St ought on, 1936. 9x6 inches; 310 pages; numerous illustrations. 15s.
The Editor has asked me to review Nanda Devi, Mr. Eric Shipton's account of his conquest of the route leading from the Rishi valley into the great Cercle beneath Nanda Devi. It is a most modest, humorous, but stimulating volume. I cannot believe that any member of the Himalayan Club is not conversant with the history of his magnificent achievements, both on Nanda Devi and during his subsequent adventures in the two crossings of the watershed between Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi.
I have read every word of the book and am petrified. I cannot imagine how they ever came back, and I delight in the whole volume. It is splendid to read of a lover of the mountains like Mr. Shipton revelling in the journey from the plains to Joshimath, the shrine that overlooks the meeting of the Dhauli river with the Alaknanda, and his appreciation of the glories of the Kuari pass. Further, let me quote from Mr. Ruttledge's Foreword when referring to his assistants—I was almost going to say his friends, which undoubtedly they are—the three Sherpa porters, who accompanied him, 'the description of whom in this book is the most understanding and delightful that has ever been written5. I agree. Read the book and I am sure all will agree. But how splendid to think that there are now established in the Himalaya local races which have shown every sign that in time to come they will be the equal, not in education, perhaps, but as mountaineering assistants, of the most ambitious of even modern mountaineering enthusiasts.
The book is divided into three parts. First, the most successful adventure up the Rishi valley, the forcing of the great gorge which leads to the Cercle surrounding Nanda Devi, and the subsequent climbs, before the monsoon began, on the prodigious mountain barriers which surround the Goddess. I think the glories and beauties of the Rishi may possibly be realized by photographs, but until one has seen for oneself that terrible gorge leading up to Nanda Devi from the main Rishi valley one cannot really appreciate the magnificent performance of Shipton, his companion Tilman, and his three Sherpas. How they got through so heavily laden is more than I can imagine ! The very view of the cliffs is terrifying. I cannot see myself getting up it without loads, and these five carried a month's supplies over rocks which would test the finest rock climbers. But to break into a hidden valley with game unafraid, that had never seen man before, and to view for the first time that gorgeous circle of mountains and cliffs that surround the Goddess, must have been for the climbers more than an adequate reward for all the difficulties and dangers they had come through. One would have thought that, driven out by the arrival of the monsoon after such labours, they would have been prepared for a rest. Not a bit of it! And so to Badrinath and the second stage. I can recommend any one who wishes to try the most difficult and dangerous of snow and ice work to follow in the footsteps of these adventurers, but only if they are past masters in all that appertains to the highest forms of mountain craft, for truly the accounts of their two explorations over the divide and their descent from the far side to the Gangotri glaciers and to Kalimath are simply appalling. They lived practically on nothing as far as I am able to gather and I do not think there has ever been such first-class work accomplished on the Himalaya on so extraordinarily scanty an outfit. I can, however, imagine the fatigue, and I know how, after crossing the watershed, these five were simply engulfed in Himalayan forest and Himalayan gorges. I know the struggle it must have been to get through, but their experiences were five times greater than anything I have had myself. Even then they looked upon these two desperate expeditions as a mere preliminary to their final solving of the great question that still surrounded Nanda Devi—the third stage of their adventure.
They were determined to explore the Cercle, even the approaches to Nanda Devi itself, and to make a pass over into the valley of the Pindari, thus putting the crown on their explorations for the year. As every one knows, they successfully achieved their object. Such expeditions could only have been carried out by mountaineers of the very first class.
It is rather interesting to compare their attitude of mind with that of old days. I really shudder to think what the very old guard of the '70s, '80s, and '90s would have said to those descents described in the second crossing of the watershed.
But the whole expedition is simply replete with examples of uncanny skill, endurance, and strength in every phase of mountaineering craft, complicated always and without ceasing by the fact that each climber was carrying an enormous load.
Mr. Shipton does full justice to the capacity of his Dhotiali porters, who served him excellently as far as lay within them and, moreover, to his men from Mana; and I think all explorers who have travelled with the Mana men will agree with me that among them can be found splendid fellows. I think, too, that the very fact that this expedition was entirely carried out on the very minimum of expenditure and on the simplest possible food is a very great encouragement to all who wish for mountain adventure in the Himalaya. It has certainly broken down the idea that to achieve great results great expenditure is necessary.
The last paragraph in Mr. Shipton's book is this: Tn the sanctuary of the Blessed Goddess we had found a lasting peace which is the reward of those who seek to know high mountain places.’ I offer up thanks that he is not now enjoying that lasting peace under the shadow of the Blessed Goddess herself, but I marvel that he and his companions are not.
The photographs contained in the book even do such a book as this credit—they are beautiful.
C. G. Bruce.
EVEREST: THE CHALLENGE. By Sir Francis Younghusband.
London: Thomas Nelson, 1936. 9x6 inches; 237 pages; illustrated.
Those who have enjoyed Sir Francis Younghusband’s book The Heart of Nature and later writings will find in this a further development of his natural philosophy. Sir Francis holds that a responsive chord is struck in the heart of man by the beauty of Nature and that the human spirit then perceives and absorbs the divine essence and so raises itself higher in the scale of living things. The purpose of the book is to show how during the last fifteen years successive expeditions of young men have been drawn to the Himalaya by the challenge of the mountains to their manhood, and how that challenge has drawn the best from them.
In the first half of the book Sir Francis summarizes the adventures of the British attempts on Everest, the German attacks on Kangchen- junga and Nanga Parbat, and the lesser climbs and travels of recent years by less ambitious parties of young men. It is not easy to do this in a little over a hundred pages, and though the reader is kept enthralled, severe compression has permitted a few errors to creep in. The origin of the German attempts at Kangchenjunga is not quite correctly stated in Chapter IV, and there are a few slips, for instance, the numbering of a camp on page 94, and the spelling of some of the climber's names (pp. 90, 120). These are, however, very minor points.
Himalayan climbing, as the author shows, is a very different matter from Alpine climbing. A considerable amount of time and money has to be spent beforehand for the conquest of a single Himalayan peak, and not necessarily those who have the money and the leisure are the most likely to succeed. Sir Francis stoutly defends the necessity of such a body as the Mount Everest Committee for the organization and control of successive expeditions, and his words carry conviction. Without such a body permission even to approach the mountain would never have been obtained; without its continuance there would have been no organization and control, no co-operation of scientific bodies, and the great altitudes already attained would not have been possible. Not every one who has been once to Everest is fit, mentally or physically, to go again, and the selection of the fittest party should be in the hands of a body unlikely to yield to clamour. In this connexion it is interesting to note that the Germans are forming a similar body to control their Himalayan ventures.
Sir Francis closes his first part with a sympathetic study of Himalayan peoples. He stresses the excellent qualities of the Sherpa and Bhutia porters and shows how these have been brought out in association with British and German mountaineers. 'They had the physique to climb the highest peaks,’ he writes, 'but they had not the technical training in the craftsmanship of mountaineering. Nor had they the vision.’ He then pays a tribute to the leaders of the various expeditions for having inspired trust and confidence in these men to such an extent that they are 'bigger men for it5. They are indeed becoming, if they have not already done so, a magnificent race of first-class mountaineers.
The second part of the book is reflective. Sir Francis describes how the spirit of the mountains has drawn together men of different European nationalities, not only by a bond of common interest and fellowship, but by the much stronger ties of an almost divine fellowship in nature. He shows how in circumstances of elemental danger and hardship artificial barriers are broken down, and humanity is one. Of occasional irascibility on the one hand, and of 'minor peccadilloes’ on the other, the author reminds us, lest we should imagine our friends have all at once become saints; but the great good remains. The proposal towards the end of the book to classify certain spots in the Himalaya as places for meditation and pilgrimage would, however, in the reviewer's opinion, neither be practicable nor would it yield the results Sir Francis so earnestly desires. Surely the cataloguing of places with views of great natural beauty must only open up to vulgar commercialism what are in fact already 'pilgrim sanctuaries5 from the turmoil of a non-stop world. Would not the easier accessibility and advertisement destroy their very atmosphere?
The book is illustrated. Sir Francis confesses to a hatred of all photographs of the Himalaya, but 'reluctantly complied with his publisher's request to include some' because they 'are supposed to give some slight impression of what the mountains are like'. One cannot help feeling that the reproduction of the illustrations in this book leaves much to be desired, but this is not the fault of the author, the photographers, or of photography in general. Here a warning is essential. The greatest care should be shown by authors when they use photographs taken by others to make certain that the titles are correct.
BETWEEN THE OXUS AND THE INDUS. By Colonel R. C. F. Schomberg. London: Martin Hopkinson, 1935. 9x6 inches; 270 pages', illustrations and map. 15s.
Whilst traversing the Hattu Pir, that very inhospitable foothill of Nanga Parbat, I saw a somewhat dishevelled figure coming along the track from Gilgit. As we exchanged news he kept repeating: 'Oxus, not Indus, should be the frontier: Oxus should be the frontier.' Going on our respective ways, the man's Indian servant whispered to me, 'Sahib pagal hogya,' and he tapped his forehead significantly.
That was in 1905, and the man was a famous war correspondent in those days. Since then I have often wondered whether he was right or wrong; and it is almost with relief that one can read the answer in Colonel Schombcrg's book. It is that the sheltering umbrella of the Sirkar has slowly, but surely, done its work, and that for all practical purposes the Oxus is now the frontier.
The ground covered is roughly a rectangle of 100 miles by 120 miles. To the north is a strip of Afghanistan, with Soviet Asiatic Russia beyond; to the south lie British India and Kashmir; eastwards are the nomads of Chinese Turkistan, westwards the Afghans.
The book may be divided into two parts. The first describes expeditions into Punyal, the twin states of Kuh and Ghizr, the lower and upper valleys of Yasin, Ishkoman and its glaciers, and, last but not least, the states of Hunza and Nagir. Crossing by little-used passes from one region to another, Schomberg describes these semi- independent states, the people in them, and the nature of their country, graphically and convincingly. Seemingly able to make friends with these wild men wherever he goes, he found great differences, mentally, morally, and physically, in men living in adjoining valleys, for which he suggests the probable cause.
The second part of the book deals with the habits, customs, folklore, and history of the various tribes and states. A separate chapter is devoted to those two untrammelled states, Darel and Tangir. For sheer cold-blooded murder and ruthless assassination, the palm must surely be given to them. As the author writes: 'They obey no man; the one interest of their lives, their one obsession, is murder.'
Reading between the lines, one can see that Schomberg has a soft spot for the men of Hunza, although he does not try to excuse their besetting sin, which is avarice and greed. Others before him have been attracted by these men, and General Bruce considers that of all the tribes of the Hindu Kush the men of Hunza come first as movers over the hill-sides. Hardy and likeable fellows they must be.
Colonel Schomberg has visited Hunza several times in the course of many treks to and from Central Asia, and he knows the people intimately. In him they have a stout friend; and he deplores the fact that 'the curse of peace in a congested country is rotting them'. He stands up firmly for Safdar Ali, the former Mir of Hunza, who was exiled after the 1891 campaign. Schomberg, who knew Safdar Ali well, considers that he was a maligned man, and that he never received justice. But he was proud, and no historian. When Sir Francis Younghusband crossed over the Mintaka pass into Hunza from the north, forty-five years ago, he asked Safdar Ali if he ever visited India. The Mir made the astonishing reply that great kings like himself and Alexander never left their own country.
Many stories are put forward as to the origin of the Hunza men. Perhaps the one we like best to believe is that which tells of five soldiers of Alexander being left behind, from whom the present race is descended.
The book is illustrated by several excellent photographs, including an especially fine view of Rakaposhi from summit to the Hunza river, taken from Hindi. There is a first-rate map at the end, clear and easily read. Incidentally Colonel Schomberg gives the height of the Mintaka pass as 15,450 feet, while Sir Francis Younghusband put it at 14,400 feet. One supposes that the Survey of India has since fixed the greater height.1
Only to British political officers who have served in the Gilgit Agency, to British officers serving with the local Gilgit and Chitral Scouts, and to a few fortunate travellers and sportsmen is known anything at first hand about this rough country of extremes. And all those who have only been able to look upon the land from afar owe a debt of gratitude to Colonel Schomberg. The book stands alone, for it is the only one of its kind which gives a clear, full, and accurate account of present-day happenings, of what has happened during the past fifty years, and of the tribesmen themselves. It is written by a master, with much experience of the Himalaya and of Central Asiabehind him; and it is written by a man with keen powers of observation, sympathy, and understanding. One puts down the book with mingled feelings: of wonder, that a handful of Political Officers should have been able to do so much in so short a time as fifty years, and of anxiety perhaps, that more ought to be done, possibly by bringing Tangir and Darel into the Gilgit Agency, possibly by forming a frontier battalion of those hardy men of Hunza, Punyal, and Yasin, possibly by looking a little more closely into that almost unknown 'chamber of horrors', Kohistan
O. L. Ruck.
MINYA GONGKAR: Forschungsreise ins Hochgebirge von Chinesisgh Tibet. By Arnold Heim. Bern: Hans Huber, 1933. 9 ½ X 6 ½ inches; 243 pages ; numerous illustrations, text-figures, and map; price not stated.
MEN AGAINST THE CLOUDS: The Conquest of Minya Konka. By Richard L. Burdsall and Arthur B. Emmons, 3rd. London: John Lane, 1935. 6x8 ¾ inches; 272 pages', illustrations, charts, and map. 12s. 6d.
As recently as April 1930 attention was called in the Geographical Journal to the mystery surrounding the mountains about Tatsienlu, in the new Sikong province of China, between Szechwan, Burma, and Tibet; and in a review of that delightful book Trailing the Giant Panda, by Theodore and Kermit Roosevelt, in which the authors tickled our fancy by attaching the height 30,000 feet with a large query against the loftiest peak of the range, we suggested that 'it would be worth somebody's while to determine the altitude of this summit'.1 At that time Joseph Rock had already visited the mountain's neighbourhood in 1929, though his results were unpublished; from approximate measurements he subsequently gave it a height of 25,600 feet. His beautiful photographs appeared in the National Geographic Magazine, vol. 58, 1930. In the latter year an expedition from the Sun Yat Sen University in Canton, led by Professor Arnold Heim, carried out a detailed geological study of the region. The first of the two books under review gives a description of the journey.
Professor Heim was accompanied by Professor Ed. Imhof, who has given us the first detailed map of the region and its glaciers. This map, on the reduced scale of 1: 275,000, is included in the book. The expedition approached Tatsienlu from the Yunnan-fu railhead in the south, crossing the Yangtse near Huei-li and the Tung-ho at Fulin. A detailed study of the structure and glaciology of Minya Gongkar was made. Professor Heim considers that the mountain itself is a great batholith, a huge mass of granite which has been forced up to its present position after consolidation beneath the earth's crust. The whole region is subject to frequent earthquakes, and some of the magnificent illustrations in the book show the great fissures due to this cause. Professor Heim assigns a provisional height of 7,700 metres (25,280 feet) to Minya Gonkar.1 He concludes from his glaciological and geomorphological observations that the mature landscape of late Tertiary times has been subsequently uplifted during the Pleistocene. Further work in the region to the west and north-west of this region should throw important light on the structure and orogeny of the Himalaya east of the Tsangpo, and it is to be hoped that Professor Heim will be able to co-operate with the Geological Survey of India with this object in view.
The second book under review tells the story of the conquest of the mountain by a party of four Americans in 1932. This expedition reached Tatsienlu by way of the Yangtse by steamer as far as Kiating and thence by road. A careful triangulation of the immediate neighbourhood of Minya Gongkar was made from a measured base in the Yulongshi valley on the west. The heights of the stations of observation were determined carefully by mercury barometric readings from which the altitude of Minya Gongkar was determined by theodolite. Richard Burdsall gives the details of his survey work in a useful appendix, and attaches a height of 24,900^85 feet to the peak.
Having completed this important preliminary, a reconnaissance of the Pawa valley to the south was carried out in the hope of finding a practicable route for an ascent from this direction. The head of the valley was, however, completely enclosed by stupendous rock ridges, too steep to hold snow, and any attack from this direction was ruled out before the end of September.
This left the north-west ridge as the most likely line of ascent, and during October a Base Camp was gradually established with the aid of porters on the north side of the 'Little Gompa glacier', which had been studied by Heim. From here onwards all carrying was done by the Americans. Camp 1 was placed at 18,000 feet on the spur leading to the north-west ridge and, after considerable difficulty, the ridge was reached (Camp 2, 19,800 feet). The third camp was established below the prominent 'hump' on the ridge, at 20,700 feet. Beyond this point considerable technical difficulty was met with before the 'gap' was passed. A single tent was set up at Camp 4, 22,000 feet; and from here, on the 28th October, two of the party reached the summit and returned.
These are the bare facts of a very fine achievement. The four climbers carried their own equipment and tents from their base camp at 14,400 feet, and established each forward camp methodically after careful reconnaissance. It was very late in the season and very low temperatures were recorded. A stroke of bad luck prevented Emmons from sharing in the last day's success, but where all pulled their weight, the credit must be equally shared by all. The descent was much hampered by two members of the party being badly frostbitten; deservedly high praise is given to the devotion and courage of the Tibetan folk who assisted the victorious cripples back to Tatsienlu. It was indeed fortunate that there were available here and at Yachow doctors and missionaries, Dr. and Mrs. Cunningham and Dr. Crook, to look after their wounds.
The story of the expedition is attractively written and finely illustrated. Mention has already been made of the appendix giving notes on the survey work. There is also an interesting appendix on hunting, by Jack Theodore Young. His trophies included five blue sheep, which seems to be identical with the Himalayan bharal; a grizzly bear (the rare Spelaeus lagomyiarus, Severtzow), which some authorities claim to be identical with the Himalayan Spelaeus pruinosus, Blyth; a black bear, two wild boars, three goral, and a musk deer. North of Tatsienlu he obtained later a specimen of the Giant Panda, Aeluropus melanoleucus, and two live Tibetan grizzly bear cubs. The latter eventually arrived safely in February 1934 at the Bronx Zoological Park in New York City. Until these grow up it must remain uncertain whether they belong to the Severtzow species.
A final appendix gives some mountaineering notes by Arthur Emmons. These deal briefly with equipment, food, frost-bite and its treatment, altitude, and acclimatization. Useful charts illustrate these notes.
A word about the spelling of the name Minya Gongkar. On pp. 74, 75, Burdsall discusses the name and gives his reasons for preferring the spelling Minya Konka. The word is apparently derived from Mi-nyag Kangs dKar, 'the white snow Minyag'. Burdsall notes that in his Tibetan dictionary Jaeschke writes that, according to the Tibetan Book of Kings, Minyag is the name of one of two provinces in north-east Tibet. It would be well to have an authoritative decision on the spelling from the Tibetan-speaking missionaries of Tatsienlu.
SNOW STRUCTURE AND SKI FIELDS. By G. Seligman, b.a. London: Macmillan, 1936. 9x6 inches; xx+539 pages; numerous illustrations and text figures. 25s.
Those members of the Himalayan Club who belong also to the Ski Club of Great Britain will require no introduction to Mr. Gerald Seligman or to his writings on snow structure. In the book under review he has brought together in masterly manner the work of numerous writers on ice and snow, sifted their views, and elaborated his own prolonged studies on the subject. The result is a text-book, treatise, and bible, all in one, for those interested in high mountain travel, particularly on ski. Members of the Ski Club of India and active members of our own Club will do well to possess themselves of this book and digest its contents.
The book is in three parts. In a brief review it is only possible to summarize its contents. The first part, the text-book, comprising about half, deals entirely with the structure of snow, its various forms, and the changes which it undergoes owing to varying circumstances in nature. Some of it we were taught at school, but much less attractively, and a knowledge of it is essential to a full understanding of the later parts. The author describes his own observations, the apparatus he has used for his experiments, his classification of snow structures from microscopic examination, and then goes on to discuss hoar and rime, the formation of neve, wind-packing, and so on. Here I will only stress the importance of the chapters on 'Firnification5 (including the conversion of firn snow into glacier ice and the fine series of photographs illustrating the process), on the careful analysis of wind-crust and wind-slab, and on snow cornices. In the Himalaya wind-slab structures are more common than in the Alps, and probably harder to detect.
Parts II and III, the treatise and the bible, deal with avalanches, and apply the principles laid down in the first part. Four chapters deal with the mechanical processes of avalanche development and the general conditions favouring them. The nature of the under- layer, the influence of the weather, the restraining effect of surface features, grass, trees, the structure of the surface snow, and the cohesion of the particles in the mass itself are all dealt with in detail, as well as the resulting movements and effects of the avalanche when in motion.
Part III is devoted entirely to the practical aspects of avalanches. The author gives the various classifications of earlier authorities, suggests a new one, and emphasizes the importance, especially to a ski-runner, of keeping some such classification clearly in his mind, so that he will not only 'rule out certain types at certain places, but if caught in an avalanche he may be able to adopt certain tactics, according to its type, which may save his life'. Each type is then described in detail, with the conditions of its occurrence, both meteorological and structural. In the more important types warnings and the special precautions to be taken when caught are laid down, supported by notes of personal experience of Swiss guides and others who have survived an avalanche.
Ice-avalanches are perhaps treated rather summarily in Chapter XIX, but they are of far greater importance in the Himalaya than in Europe, and have been, therefore, much less closely studied. It is right in a book of this nature to present the facts as they are known and not theorize too much about the different measure of plasticity in the Alps and the Himalaya. Chapters XX ('Safety in the Mountains') and XXI ('Tactics on Avalanche Ground') are of supreme importance and are faithful corollaries of what has gone before. Colonel Bilgeri's six points of avalanche danger are stressed, the tactics that should be employed when caught in an avalanche are laid down, and, to complete the picture, the systematic procedure of rescue work is described. In this last, time is all important and lives may be saved by working on the right lines.
The whole book is magnificently illustrated, as we have a right to expect from an officer of the Ski Club of Great Britain. The explanations are well put and easy to follow. Each chapter has a full synopsis at the beginning, which makes the finding of any special point a simple matter, and a valuable bibliography at the end; but for my own part I shall be content with Seligman's exposition, and shall not worry about his 'references' or his 'other authorities'.
I have said enough to emphasize the scope and importance of this volume. Expert physicists will no doubt disagree on certain minor points, but I can imagine no book of greater interest or value to the newcomer to the Himalaya on which to build his own experience. Many of us in the past have gone to work in the Himalaya on the light-hearted principle: 'Where ignorance is bliss, 'twere folly to be wise.' We have been lucky!
THE SPIRIT OF THE HILLS. By F. S. Smythe. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1935. 9X5 ½ inches; yawpages; illustrations. 20 s.
The advice of Polonius to proceed by 'indirections' applies to all who would write of the Spirit of the Hills; in other words, the author of this book comes nearer to imparting the true spirit of the hills when he is describing, with the power which has been displayed in previous volumes, his own experiences in climbing them, than when he attempts to explain the sources of his enjoyment. Here he is on heights where the greatest masters have faltered. Perhaps, this region must be left to the other harmony of verse; certainly, nobody has yet approached in prose, not even Ruskin or Kugy, to the mystical intuition of Wordsworth, who, as certainly never climbed even to the summit of Napes Needle. But it is all to the good that, in these days, when so many of the younger generation regard climbing as a sport of records, times, and technical achievements, one who has shown himself, as the evidence here proves, as good as any of them at these, should make a declaration of his faith in the religion, as it may be called, as well as in the craft of the mountaineer. 'The greatness of mountaineering lies in the doing and the experiencing, not in the fact of success.’ That sentence may be taken as the key-note and the claim of his book.
Its appeal is to the young, and to the young it does appeal, as your reviewer has found. For some of us who are older, some crudities of thought or expression may spoil the enjoyment of it, the platitudes exasperate, the 'occultisms’ antagonize, but that is, probably, good for us, and anyhow, Chapters V and VI give ample satisfaction. The illustrations are well chosen and beautiful, but hardly justify the price of the book.
S. G. Dunn.
DAMON HIMALAYA. By Prof. Dr. G. O. Dyhrenfurth and others. (International Karakoram Expedition, 1934.) Pp. vii+ 110, with 123 illustrations. Basel: Benno, Schwabe & Co., 1935. Price 8 Marks.2
The title and the sensational wrapper of this book might arouse expectation of cheap thrills. Here, however, is a clear, straightforward account of an expedition which, despite endless difficulties of finance, achieved the ascent of two Siebentausender in the Karakoram Himalaya.
As Dr. Dyhrenfurth himself says, the title is one of deep, tragic truth. Whether there be a Damon which keeps man from treading an Achttausender summit, or in the absence of some European Maecenas entrusts the financing of a Himalayan expedition to a group of Berlin film magnates, there can be no doubt that in this case the attempt to combine mountain exploration with the creation of a film story was fatal to the success of both.
On the 23rd March 1934 the film contract was signed. Only twelve days later the whole gigantic work of packing was completed. It was a little hard on Frau Dyhrenfurth that she should receive a police visitation on Easter Sunday to inquire into complaints of desecrating the Sabbath. The system of packing followed the principle of British Everest expeditions, whereby special care was given to placing delicacies in the high-altitude provision-boxes; but this system was not proof against the carnal lusts and appetites of certain members of the expedition.
Trouble began even in Bombay, where the money expected was not forthcoming. It is intelligible that the film financiers in Berlin should have felt more interest in the success of the film than in the conquest of'Hidden Peak5; but it is inexcusable that they should have gone behind the leader's back, and given their own orders straight to their film director.
One breathes again when the film group is left at Rodokas, and the climbing party moves up the Baltoro glacier to the foot of 'Hidden Peak'. A spur running westward into the 'Duke of the Abruzzi glacier promised a reasonable access to the wide glacier basin from which the final pyramid rises to a height of 8,068 metres. Ertl and Roch attacked this spur: a short passage up a couloir threatened by falling ice, then very rotten rock and brittle ice, until after four hours of somewhat exposed climbing they reached a small platform of ice at about 6,300 metres, having thus ascended some 700 metres. Above them rose an ice arete for several hundred metres, crowned with three steep rock towers, beyond which little further difficulty was anticipated. They returned to the porters, confidently intending next day to prepare the route for transport; but the porters, while warmly applauding the climbers' achievement, one and all refused to follow. It remained therefore either to approach the peak over the summit of 'Queen Mary' peak to the south, a very long detour, or to explore the approaches from the north-west. The latter proving abortive, the expedition must now turn its steps to establishing two high camps in the region of the saddle between 'Queen Mary' peak and 'Golden Throne', which is here called 'Conway Saddle'.1 Owing to delay in leaving Europe, the season was already well advanced and the arrival of monsoon conditions was imminent. At this moment Dr. Dyhrenfurth, just back from a moonlight descent through a maze of crevasses, finds orders from Berlin for a totally new film book, followed immediately by the unexpected arrival of all the film artistes. When eventually Camp 6 was established, close to the 'Conway Saddle', further delay is caused by the sudden appearance of Ghi- glione, the newspaper man, accompanied by three porters armed only with his personal effects and typewriter, but with none of the material for Camp 7. One can sympathize with the sufferings of the film group at Camp 6, and still more with the climbers, when after two fine days they dispatched the artistes to their destination in the lower regions, where they ransacked the provision-boxes and vanished into Lesser Tibet. And now we can get on with the job.
The storm of the 8th July, which brought disaster on Nanga Parbat, rendered hopeless all thought of reaching 'Hidden Peak'. It was therefore decided to concentrate on climbing the two peaks on either side of the 'Conway Saddle', 'Queen Mary' to the east, and 'Golden Throne' to the west. Lack of time and bad weather prevented the party from gaining the summit of 'Golden Throne', the east peak only being climbed. Despite bad snow conditions, the main summit of 'Queen Mary', which is hidden from view below, was attained at the third attempt. Nothing is said concerning the possibilities of approaching 'Hidden Peak' by this route; but from Camp 7 it was discovered that a passage across the southern flanks of'Queen Mary' peak could establish connexion between the Baltoro and Siachen glacier systems. Whatever may be the true height of 'Queen Mary' peak, we may congratulate Frau Dyhrenfurth on establishing a new altitude record for women, a feat for which she gives all the credit to the help and encouragement of her companions.
In summarizing the expedition, Dr. Dyhrenfurth contrasts the harmony existing between the climbing, scientific, and photographic groups of his 1930 expedition with the constant struggle between mountaineering and film interests which marred the endeavour of 1934; even greater is the contrast between the simple narratives of the climbers and the lamentations of the film director. Here are none of your Hollywood comforts: long rides on horseback, corpses by the way, with attendant vultures; wading waist-deep through icy torrents; rope bridges; and six weeks' sojourn on a glacier—no wonder if one loses 20 kilograms in weight! But the film director puts his finger on the weak spot: Bergsteigende Filmleute und jilmende Bergsteiger, and he adds, 'reason enough here for a world-war'.
Dr. Dyhrenfurth recognizes that the film contract alone made the expedition possible, but he disclaims responsibility for the film story. His original idea, seeing that a mere travel film could not be a commercial success, was to draw a contrast between the hurly-burly of modern Occidental life, with its financial crises and war scares and all the horrors of'technocracy', and the peace of an unchanging East.
This was too much for the gentlemen of Berlin, who resented any suggestion of western inferiority, and therefore gave a free hand to their film director; the result may be studied in A.J., vol. xlvii, P- !55.
It is noteworthy that this book, written as it is by several hands, yet bears the mark of continuity. Of the various contributors, Frau Dyhrenfurth writes the best. The style throughout is simple, and the book is well printed in Roman type. A certain coarseness might well have been omitted in places.
Difficulties of finance, the bugbear of the whole expedition, made it impossible to engage any of the Darjeeling porter cadre. But a word of praise is duly given to the Baltis, whose loyalty must at times have been sorely tried in the conflict of rival interests. One can hardly over-estimate the services of Frau Dyhrenfurth in getting the best out of the porters. The first strike occurred low down on the Baltoro glacier, when she was left alone with the prospect of dealing with eighty-one discontented 'burglars'. 'Those aren't men,' said her Kashmiri cook, 'they are wild animals, thieves and murderers.' In a very short time the wild animals were eating out of her hand, and throughout the expedition they showed her a courtesy and sympathy such as no rough Bajuwar method could call forth from them.
The illustrations are placed at the end of the book—the best are the well-known Sella photographs; they provide a magnificent series of pictures, with the aid of which the narrative can be followed easily. We could have done without Nos. 66 and 72.
Dr. Dyhrenfurth and his fellow-mountaineers deserve our congratulations both for their successful climbs and for the modest manner in which their story is told. Let us hope that some Maecenas may look with favour on the leader's next expedition to those mountains which are for him mein daimonion.
H. E. G. T.