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The Himalayan Journal

The Himalayan Journal

The Himalayan Journal was started to carry expedition reports and articles about the Himalaya. Volume 1 appeared in April 1929 with Major Kenneth Mason as the editor. He remained editor for 12 years till 1940 when WWII made it impossible to continue functioning. In the issue for 1940, Maj. Mason wrote:

As may readily be imagined, The Himalayan Journal has been edited and published this year under considerable difficulty and great pressure of other work. Some papers have had to be held over until 1941. There is little time in England now for anything but concentration on the task of ridding the world of the disgusting cruelty and sadistic brutality of the creed which permeates Hitler’s Germany.

The next issue of the journal did not make an appearance till the war was over, and this time with C. W. F. Noyce as editor. However, it was to be the only volume he edited as he had a climbing accident in 1946 – his third – and he withdrew into a retired life.

1946 was also the year that C. R. Cooke of the Eastern Section designed a badge for the Club consisting of the initials ‘H.C.’ superimposed on the outline of the Chorten that can be seen on the way to the Rongbuk glacier. The badge was first used on notepaper and then on Club ties. From 1960 it acquired a permanent place on the cover of The Himalayan Journal.

In 1947, H. W. Tobin took over as editor in England and continued editing the journal till his death in 1957. Interestingly, when he began in the year of India’s Independence, Tobin thought his job would be to lay the journal to rest. He wrote:

… alas, the swift evolution as independent states of India and Pakistan brings in its train the early repatriation of nearly all active members of the Himalayan Club.

Nationalization of the Club or its successor will mean production of its Journal by a national editor and a national publication. So it seems that volume xiv is almost certain to be a final issue.

An apologetic Tobin acknowledged in the next issue:

It is devoutly hoped that the issue of this volume of our Journal will help to dispel from the minds of members the unnecessarily dismal apprehensions expressed last year in vol. xiv.

The Himalayan Journal did indeed dispel apprehensions and continued to grow in strength having over the years a string of illustrious and successful editors. T.H. Braham (1958–1959) took over after Tobin and in turn was succeeded by the first Indian editor – Dr K. Biswas in 1960. Soli Mehta took the reins from 1969 – 1979 and then again from 1987 – 1989. Harish Kapadia became one of the most successful editors with the longest spell of any from 1980 – 1986 and then again from 1990 – 2010. Rajesh Gadgil was editor of The Himalayan Journal in 2011. In 2012 and ’13 Rajesh and Nandini Purandare were joint editors and since 2014, it Ms. Purandare has been editor – the first woman to hold this prestigious post.

The Himalayan Club newsletter was started in 1951 and published annually to wide appreciation. Technological advances however also necessitate appropriate responses, so The Himalayan Club website was launched in 2002 and in July 2005, an E-Letter was started. In its inaugural issue, the following announcement was made:

The Himalayan Club annually publishes The Himalayan Journal and The Himalayan Club Newsletter. Between them they cover mountaineering and related activities in the Himalaya. Now with the availability of electronic media and its quick reach this is the first “E-Letter” sent to members and others. This will be ultimately posted on the Himalayan Club website for a permanent record. In the “E-Letter” series we intend to cover activities of the Himalayan Club members with other topical news.

To date (Apr 2021) 42 volumes of the E-Letter have appeared.

In 2006, an E-group in the form of Facebook group was launched to provide a forum for queries, interaction and the sharing of experiences. This has proved immensely popular and at the time of writing this article (Apr 2021) the group has over 861,828 followers and counting.

The Himalayan Journal - vol. 75