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Title: Mount Everest the Reconnaissance, 1921
Author: Howard-Bury, Charles Kenneth, 1881-1963, Leigh-Mallory, George H., 1886-1924, Wollaston, A. F. R.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                     *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: _The Summit._]

                               MOUNT EVEREST
                         THE RECONNAISSANCE, 1921


                   Lieut.-Col. C. K. HOWARD-BURY, D.S.O.


                       _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS_

                          LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
                         55 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
                        LONDON: EDWARD ARNOLD & CO.


The Mount Everest Committee of the Royal Geographical Society and the
Alpine Club desire to express their thanks to Colonel Howard-Bury,
Mr. Wollaston, Mr. Mallory, Major Morshead, Major Wheeler and Dr. Heron
for the trouble they have taken to write so soon after their return an
account of their several parts in the joint work of the Expedition. They
have thereby enabled the present Expedition to start with full knowledge
of the results of the reconnaissance, and the public to follow the
progress of the attempt to reach the summit with full information at

The Committee also wish to take this opportunity of thanking the
Imperial Dry Plate Company for having generously presented photographic
plates to the Expedition and so contributed to the production of the
excellent photographs that have been brought back.

They also desire to thank the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation
Company for their liberality in allowing the members to travel at
reduced fares; and the Government of India for allowing the stores and
equipment of the Expedition to enter India free of duty.

                                    J. E. C. EATON }
                                    A. R. HINKS    } _Hon. Secretaries._



         President of the Royal Geographical Society                     1

                 By LIEUT.-COL. C. K. HOWARD-BURY, D.S.O.


      I  FROM DARJEELING THROUGH SIKKIM                                 23
     II  THE CHUMBI VALLEY AND THE TIBETAN PLATEAU                      37
     IV  TINGRI AND THE COUNTRY TO THE SOUTH                            71
      V  THE SEARCH FOR KHARTA                                          86
     VI  THE MOVE TO KHARTA                                             98
    VII  THE KAMA VALLEY                                               112
     IX  THE RETURN TO KHARTA BY THE KAMA VALLEY                       146
      X  THE RETURN JOURNEY TO PHARI                                   156
     XI  BACK TO CIVILISATION                                          170

                        By GEORGE H. LEIGH-MALLORY

    XII  THE NORTHERN APPROACH                                         183
   XIII  THE NORTHERN APPROACH (_continued_)                           203
    XIV  THE EASTERN APPROACH                                          221
     XV  THE ASSAULT                                                   250
    XVI  WEATHER AND CONDITION OF SNOW                                 262
   XVII  THE ROUTE TO THE SUMMIT                                       273

                              NATURAL HISTORY
                           By A. F. R. WOLLASTON

    XIX  NATURAL HISTORY NOTES                                         290

                     *       *       *       *       *

         President of the Alpine Club                                  304


      I  THE SURVEY. By Major H. T. MORSHEAD, D.S.O.                   319
     II  THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SURVEY. By Major E. O. WHEELER, M.C.         329
         By A. M. HERON, D.Sc., F.G.S., Geological Survey of India     338
         Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society                   341
         By A. F. R. WOLLASTON                                         344
         INDEX                                                         351

                           LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  The Summit                                        _Frontispiece_
  Chomolhari from the South                                             46
  Loading up at Dochen                                                  50
  Kampa Dzong                                                           54
  Tinki Dzong                                                           58
  Gyangka Range from near Chushar                                       62
  Shekar Dzong                                                          66
  The Abbot of Shekar Chöte                                             68
  Military Governor, his Wife and Mother                               100
  The Dzongpen of Kharta and his Wife                                  106
  Lamas of Kharta Monastery                                            110
  Makalu from 21,500-foot peak on ridge south of Kama-chu              112
  Makalu and Chomolönzo                                                114
  Cliffs of Chomolönzo from camp at Pethang Ringmo                     116
  The Kama Valley                                                      118
  Sea of cloud from peak north of Kama Valley. Kanchenjunga in
    distance                                                           138
  Chomolönzo from the alp below the Langma La, Kama Valley             150
  Members of the Expedition                                            178
  Cho-Uyo                                                              190
  Summit of Mount Everest and North Peak from the Island, West Rongbuk
    Glacier                                                            210
  Mount Everest from the Rongbuk Glacier, nine miles north-west        214
  Summit of Mount Everest and South Peak from the Island, West Rongbuk
    Glacier                                                            218
  Pethang-tse                                                          222
  Summit of Makalu                                                     226
  South-east Ridge of Mount Everest from above the 20,000-foot camp,
    Kharta Valley                                                      230
  North-east of Mount Everest and Chang La from Lhakpa La              246
  Mount Everest from the 20,000-foot camp--wind blowing snow off the
    mountain                                                           278
  Temple at Lapche Kang                                                286
  Gauri-Sankar                                                         288
  Lower Kama-chu                                                       290
  Junipers in the Kama Valley                                          294
  Forest in the Kama Valley                                            300
  Mount Everest at sunset from the 20,000-foot camp, Kharta Valley     316

                               LIST OF MAPS

    I  Map to illustrate the route of the Mount Everest
       Expedition. Scale 1/750,000                                _At end_
   II  Map of Mount Everest. Scale 1/100,000                          "
  III  Geological Map of the Mount Everest Region                     "



The idea of climbing Mount Everest has been vaguely in men's mind for
thirty or forty years past. Certainly that veteran mountain-climber and
mountain-lover, Douglas Freshfield, had it persistently rising within
him as he broke away from the Swiss Alps and subdued the giants of the
Caucasus and then sought still higher peaks to conquer. Lord Curzon also
had had it in his mind, and when Viceroy of India had written suggesting
that the Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club should make a
joint exploration of the mountain. Bruce, Longstaff and Mumm would have
made this exploration in 1905 if the permission of the Nepalese and
Tibetan Governments had been available. So also would Rawling a few
years later. All these, and doubtless others, had contemplated at least
a preliminary reconnaissance of Mount Everest.

But, so far as I know, the first man to propose a definite expedition to
Mount Everest was the then Captain Bruce, who, when he and I were
together in Chitral in 1893, proposed to me that we should make a
glorious termination to a journey from Chinese Turkestan across Tibet by
ascending Mount Everest. And it is Bruce who has held to the idea ever
since and sought any opportunity that offered of getting at the

It stands to reason that men with any zest for mountaineering could not
possibly allow Mount Everest to remain untouched. The time, the
opportunity, the money, the ability to make the necessary preliminary
preparation might be lacking, but the wish and the will to stand on the
summit of the world's highest mountain must have been in the heart of
many a mountaineer since the Alps have been so firmly trampled under
foot. The higher climbers climb, the higher they want to climb. It is
certain that they will never rest content till the proudest peaks of the
Himalaya are as subdued and tamed as the once dreaded summits of the
Alps now are.

Men simply cannot resist exercising and stretching to their fullest
tether the faculties and aptitudes with which they each happen to be
specially endowed. One born with an aptitude for painting is dull and
morose and fidgety until he can get colours and a brush into his hand
and commence painting. Another is itching to make things--to use his
hands and fashion wood or stone or metal into forms which he is
continually creating in his mind. Another is restless until he can sing.
Another is ever pining to be on a public platform swaying the audience
with his oratory and playing on their feelings as on a musical
instrument. Each has his own inner aptitude which he aches to give vent
to and bring into play. And more than this, he secretly owns within
himself an exceedingly high standard--the highest standard--of what he
wants to attain to along his own particular line, and he is never really
content in his mind and at peace with himself when he is not stretching
himself out to the full towards this high pinnacle which he has set
before him.

Now fortunately all men are not born with the same aptitudes. We do not
all want to sing or all want to orate or all want to paint. Some few
want to climb mountains. These men love to pit themselves against what
most others would consider an insuperable obstacle. They enjoy measuring
themselves against it and being forced to exercise all their energies
and faculties to overcome it. The Duke of the Abruzzi is as good an
example of this type as I know. He was never happy until he had
discovered some inaccessible and impracticable mountain and then thrown
himself against it and come to grips with it in dead earnest and either
conquered it or been thrown back from it utterly and completely
exhausted, but with the satisfaction that anyhow he had exercised every
nerve and muscle and faculty to the full. His native mountains he had
early conquered over and over again, so he had to look further afield to
Mount Elias in Alaska and Ruwenzori in East Africa; and having
vanquished these he would doubtless have turned his eyes to Mount
Everest if for political reasons the way to that mountain had not been
barred, and he was compelled therefore to look to the next highest
mountain, namely, the peak K2 in the Karakoram Himalaya in the
neighbourhood of which he attained to a greater height, 24,600 feet,
than has yet been attained by any man on foot.

The Duke no doubt is human and would like his name to go down to
posterity as having conquered some conspicuously lofty and difficult
peak. But undoubtedly the ruling passion with him would be this love of
pitting himself against a great mountain and feeling that he was being
forced to exert himself to the full. To such men a tussle with a
mountain is a real tonic--something bracing and refreshing. And even if
they are laid out flat by the mountain instead of standing triumphant on
its summit they have enjoyed the struggle and would go back for another
if they ever had the chance.

Others--like Bruce--climb from sheer exuberance of spirits. Blessed with
boundless energy they revel in its exercise. It is only on the mountain
side, breathing its pure air, buffeting against its storms, testing
their nerve, running hair-breadth risks, exercising their intelligence
and judgment, feeling their manhood and looking on Nature face to face
and with open heart and mind that they are truly happy. For these men
days on the mountain are days when they really live. And as the cobwebs
in their brains get blown away, as the blood begins to course
refreshingly through their veins, as all their faculties become tuned up
and their whole being becomes more sensitive, they detect appeals from
Nature they had never heard before and see beauties which are revealed
only to those who win them. They may not at the moment be aware of the
deepest impressions they are receiving. But to those who have struggled
with them the mountains reveal beauties they will not disclose to those
who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And
it is because they have much to give and give it so lavishly to those
who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to
them again and again.

And naturally the mountains reserve their choicest gifts for those who
stand upon their summits. The climber's vision is then no longer
confined and enclosed. He can see now all round. His width of outlook is
enlarged to its full extremity. He sees in every direction. He has a
sense of being raised above the world and being proudly conscious that
he has raised himself there by his own exertions, he has a peculiar
satisfaction and for the time forgets all frets and worries in the
serener atmosphere in which he now for a moment dwells.

And it is only for a moment that he can dwell there. For men cannot
always live on the heights. They must come down to the plains again and
engage in the practical life of the world. But the vision from the
heights never leaves them. They want to return there. They want to reach
a higher height. Their standard of achievement rises. And so it has come
about that mountaineers when they had climbed the highest heights in
Europe went off to the Caucasus, to the Andes, and eventually to the
Himalaya to climb something higher still. Freshfield conquered the
Caucasus, Whymper and Conway the Andes, and the assault upon the
Himalaya is now in full swing.

It is therefore only in the natural course of things that men should
want to climb the highest summit of the Himalaya. And though those who
set out to climb Mount Everest will probably think little of the
eventual results, being perfectly satisfied in their own minds, without
any elaborate reasoning, that what they are attempting is something
supremely worth while, yet it is easy for lookers on to see that much
unexpected good will result from their activities. The climbers will be
actuated by sheer love of mountaineering, and that is enough for them.
But climbing Mount Everest is no futile and useless performance of no
satisfaction to anyone but the climbers. Results will follow from it of
the highest value to mankind at large.

For the climbers are unwittingly carrying out an experiment of momentous
consequence to mankind. They are testing the capacity of the human race
to stand the highest altitudes on this earth which is its home. No
scientific man, no physiologist or physician, can now say for certain
whether or not a human body can reach a height of 29,000 feet above the
sea. We know that in an aeroplane he can be carried up to a much greater
height. But we do not know whether he can climb on his own feet such an
altitude. That knowledge of men's capacity can only be acquired by
practical experiment in the field.

And in the process of acquiring the knowledge a valuable result will
ensue. By testing their capacities men actually increase them. By
exercising their capacities to the full mountaineers seem to enlarge
them. A century ago the ascent of Mount Blanc seemed the limit of human
capacity. Nowadays hundreds ascend the mountain every year. And going
further afield men ascended the highest peaks in the Caucasus and then
in the Andes and have been reaching higher and higher altitudes in the
Himalaya. Conway reached 23,000 feet, Kellas 23,186 feet, Longstaff
23,360 feet, Dr. Workman 23,000 feet, Kellas and Meade 23,600 feet and
the Duke of the Abruzzi 24,600 feet. It looks therefore as if man by
attempting more was actually making himself capable of achieving more.
By straining after the highest he is increasing his capacity to attain

In this measuring of themselves against the mountains men are indeed
very like puppies crawling about and testing their capacities on their
surroundings--crawling up on to some obstacle, tumbling back discomfited
but returning gallantly to the attack and at last triumphantly
surmounting it. Thus do they find out what they can do and how they
stand in relation to their surroundings. Also by exercising and
stretching their muscles and faculties to the full they actually
increase their capacity.

Men are still only in the puppy stage of existence. We are prone to
think ourselves very "grown up" but really we are only in our childhood.
In the latest discussions as to the period of time which must have
elapsed since life first appeared upon this earth a period of the order
of a thousand million years was named. But of that immense period man
has been in existence for only a quarter or half a million years. So the
probability is that he has still long years before him and must be now
only in his childhood--in his puppyhood. We certainly find that as he
inquisitively looks about his surroundings and measures himself against
them he is steadily increasing his mastery over them. In the last five
hundred years record after record has been beaten. Men have ventured
more and shown more adaptability and a sterner hardihood and endurance
than ever before. They have ventured across the oceans, circumnavigated
the globe, reached the poles, risen into the air, and it can be only a
question of time--a few months or a few years--before they reach the
highest summit of the earth.

"What then?" some will ask. "Suppose men do reach the top of Mount
Everest, what then?" "Suppose we do establish the fact that man has the
capacity to surmount the highest summit of his surroundings, of what
good is that knowledge?" This is the kind of question promoters of the
enterprise continually have to answer. One reply is obvious. The sight
of climbers struggling upwards to the supreme pinnacle will have taught
men to lift their eyes unto the hills--to raise them off the ground and
direct them, if only for a moment, to something pure and lofty and
satisfying to that inner craving for the worthiest which all men have
hidden in their souls. And when they see men thrown back at first but
venturing again and again to the assault till with faltering footsteps
and gasping breaths they at last reach the summit they will thrill with
pride. They will no longer be obsessed with the thought of what mites
they are in comparison with the mountains--how insignificant they are
beside their material surroundings. They will have a proper pride in
themselves and a well-grounded faith in the capacity of spirit to
dominate material.

And direct practical results flow from this increasing confidence which
man is acquiring in face of the mountains. A century ago Napoleon's
crossing of the Alps was thought an astounding feat. During the last
thirty years troops--and Indian troops--have been moved about the
Himalaya in all seasons and crossed passes over 15,000 feet above sea
level in the depth of winter. On the Gilgit frontier, in Chitral, and in
Tibet, neither cold nor snow nor wind stopped them. In winter or in
summer, in spring or in autumn, they have faced the Himalayan passes.
And they have been able to negotiate them successfully because of their
increased knowledge of men's capacities and of the way to overcome
difficulties that constant wrestling with mountains in all parts of the
world during the last half-century has given. The activities of the
Alpine Club have produced direct practical results in the movement of
troops in the Himalaya.

More still will follow. When men have proved that they can surmount the
highest peak in the Himalaya they will take heart to climb other peaks
and become more and more at home in that wonderful region, extending for
nigh two thousand miles from the Roof of the World in the North and West
to the borders of Burma and China in the South and East and containing
more than seventy peaks over 24,000 feet in height--that is higher than
any in the Andes, the second highest range of mountains in the
world--and more than eleven hundred peaks over 20,000 feet in height.
This great mountain region which in Europe would stretch from Calais to
the Caspian is one vast mine of beauty of every varied description. And
a mine of beauty has this advantage over a mine of material wealth--that
we can never exhaust it. And not only can we never exhaust it, but the
more we take out the more we find, and the more we give away the richer
we are. We may go on digging into a gold mine, but eventually we shall
find there is no gold left. We shall have exhausted our mine. But we may
dig into that mine of beauty in the Himalaya and never exhaust it. The
more we dig the more we shall find--richer beauty, subtler beauty, more
varied beauty--beauty of mountain form and beauty of pure and delicate
colour, beauty of forest, beauty of river and beauty of lake and
combined beauty of rushing torrent, precipitous cliff, richest
vegetation and overtopping snowy summit. And when we have discovered
these treasures and made them our own we can actually increase their
value to ourselves by giving them away to others. By imparting to others
the enjoyment which we have felt we shall have increased our own

We cannot expect those who are first engaged in climbing Mount Everest
to have the time or inclination to observe and describe the full beauty
there is. They will be set on overcoming the physical difficulties and
they will be so exhausted for the moment by the effort they will have
made that they will not have the repose of mind which is so necessary
for seeing and depicting beauty. But when they have pioneered the way
and beaten down a path, others will more leisurely follow after. Many
even of these may not be able to express in words or in picture the
enjoyment they have felt and be able to communicate it to others. They
may not be given to public speech or writing and may have no capacity
for painting. The flame of their enjoyment may be kept sacred and hidden
within them, and it may be only in the privacy of colloquy with some
kindred soul that the white glow of their enjoyment may ever be shown.
But, others there may be who have the capacity for making the world at
large share with them some little of the joy they have felt--who can
make our nerves tingle and our blood course quicker, our eyes uplift
themselves and our outlook widen as we go out with them to face and
overcome the mountains. Such men as these from their very intimacy with
the mountains are able to point out beauties which distant beholders
would never suspect. And as Leslie Stephen through his love of mountains
has been able to attract thousands to the Alps and given them enjoyment,
clean and fresh, which but for him they might never have known, so we
hope that in the fulness of time a greater Stephen will tell of the
unsurpassable beauty of the Himalaya and by so doing add appreciably to
the enjoyment of human life.

                     *       *       *       *       *

Such are some of the advantages which men in general will obtain from
the attempt to climb Mount Everest. But it is time now to say something
of the mountain itself.

Mount Everest for its size is a singularly shy and retiring mountain. It
hides itself away behind other mountains. On the north side, in Tibet,
it does indeed stand up proudly and alone, a true monarch among
mountains. But it stands in a very sparsely inhabited part of Tibet, and
very few people ever go to Tibet. From the Indian side only its tip
appears among a mighty array of peaks which being nearer look higher.
Consequently for a long time no one suspected Mount Everest of being the
supreme mountain not only of the Himalaya but of the world. At the time
when Hooker was making his Himalayan journeys--that was in
1849--Kanchenjunga was believed to be the highest.

How it was eventually discovered to be the highest is a story worth
recording. In the very year that Hooker was botanising in the Sikkim
Himalaya the officers of the Great Trigonometrical Survey were making
observations from the plains of India to the peaks in Nepal which could
be seen from there. When they could find a native name for a peak they
called it by that name. But in most cases no native name was
forthcoming, and in those cases a Roman number was affixed to the peak.
Among these unnamed peaks to which observations to determine the
altitude and position were taken from stations in the plains was Peak
XV. The observations were recorded, but the resulting height was not
computed till three years later, and then one day the Bengali Chief
Computer rushed into the room of the Surveyor-General, Sir Andrew Waugh,
breathlessly exclaiming, "Sir! I have discovered the highest mountain in
the world." The mean result of all the observations taken from the six
stations from which Peak XV had been observed came to 29,002 feet, and
this Peak XV is what is now known as Mount Everest.

The question is often asked, "Why twenty-nine thousand and two?" "Why be
so particular about the two?" The answer is that that particular figure
is the mean of many observations. But it is not infallible. It is indeed
in all probability below rather than above the mark, and a later
computation of the observed results puts the height at 29,141 feet. In
any case, however, there are, as Sir Sidney Burrard has pointed out in
his discussion of this point in Burrard and Hayden's _Himalaya and
Tibet_, many causes of slight error in observing and computing the
altitude of a distant and very lofty peak. The observations are made
with a theodolite. The telescope of the theodolite may not be absolutely
perfect. The theodolite may not be levelled with perfect accuracy. The
graduations on the circle of the theodolite may not be quite accurate.
The observer himself may not have observed with sufficient perfection.
An error of ten feet may have resulted from these causes. Then there are
other and greater sources of possible error. There may be error in the
assumed height of the observing station; and the altitudes of peaks are
always varying in nature with the increase and decrease of snow in
summer and winter and in a season of heavy snowfall or a season of light
snowfall. Another source of error arises from the varying effects of
gravitational attraction. "The attraction of the great mass of the
Himalaya and Tibet," says Burrard, "pulls all liquids towards itself, as
the moon attracts the ocean and the surface of the water assumes an
irregular form at the foot of the Himalaya. If the ocean were to
overflow Northern India its surface would be deformed by Himalayan
attraction. The liquid in levels is similarly affected and theodolites
cannot consequently be adjusted; their plates when levelled are still
tilted upward towards the mountains, and angles of observation are too
small by the amount the horizon is inclined to the tangential plane. At
Darjeeling the surface of water in repose is inclined about 35'' to
this plane, at Kurseong about 51'', at Siliguri about 23'', at Dehra
Dun and Mussooree about 37''. For this reason all angles of elevation
to Himalayan peaks measured from the plains, as Mount Everest was
measured, are too small and consequently all our values of Himalayan
heights are too small. Errors of this nature range from 40 to 100 feet."

This then is a considerable source of error, but the most serious source
of uncertainty affecting the value of heights is the refraction of the
atmosphere. A ray of light from a peak to an observer's eye does not
travel along a straight line but assumes a curved path concave to the
earth. The ray enters the observer's eye in a direction tangential to
the curve at that point, and this is the direction in which the observer
sees the peak. It makes the peak appear too high. Corrections have
therefore to be applied. But there is no certainty as to what should be
the amount of the correction; and it is now believed that the computers
of the height of Mount Everest applied too great a correction for
refraction and consequently reduced its height too much.

Burrard brings together in the following table the different errors to
which the carefully determined height of Mount Everest is liable:--

                 Source of error.                    |   Magnitude of
                                                     |  possible error.
  Variation of snow level from the mean              |  Unknown
  Errors of observation                              |  10 feet
  Adoption of erroneous height for observing station |  10 feet
  Deviation of gravity                               |  60 feet, too small
  Atmospheric refraction                             | 150 feet, too small

The following table shows how the different values of the height of
Mount Everest have been deduced:--

                       HEIGHT OF MOUNT EVEREST

              |              |           |             |  Determination
              |              |           | Height as   |    of height
   Observing  |   Year of    | Distance  | determined  |  with revised
   station.   | observation. | in miles. | by Waugh.   | correction for
              |              |           |             |  refraction.
              |              |           |    Feet     |      Feet
   Jirol      |     1849     |    118    |   28,991    |     29,141
   Mirzapur   |     1849     |    108    |   29,005    |     29,135
   Joafpati   |     1849     |    108    |   29,001    |     29,117
   Ladnia     |     1849     |    108    |   28,998    |     29,144
   Harpur     |     1849     |    111    |   29,026    |     29,146
   Minai      |     1850     |    113    |   28,990    |     29,160
   Suberkum   |     1881     |     87    |     --      |     29,141
   Suberkum   |     1883     |     87    |     --      |     29,127
   Tiger Hill |     1880     |    107    |     --      |     29,140
   Sandakphu  |     1883     |     89    |     --      |     29,142
   Phallut    |     1902     |     85    |     --      |     29,151
   Senchal    |     1902     |    108    |     --      |     29,134
   Mean       |      --      |     --    |   29,002    |     29,141

The height 29,141 is still, Burrard thinks, too small, as it has yet to
be corrected for the deviations of gravity. But though it is a more
reliable result than 29,002, the latter is still to be retained in maps
and publications of the Survey of India.

As to the name, it was called Everest after the distinguished
Surveyor-General of India under whose direction the triangulation had
been carried out, one result of which was the discovery of the mountain.
From the Indian side and Nepal it is not a conspicuous peak on account
of its lying so far back. No native name for it could be discovered and
Sir Andrew Waugh, the successor of Sir George Everest, called it after
his predecessor. From the Tibetan side it is much more conspicuous and,
as General Bruce stated in his lecture to the Royal Geographical Society
in November 1920, and as Colonel Howard-Bury found in 1921, the Tibetans
call it Chomolungma, which Colonel Howard-Bury translated, the "Goddess
Mother of the Mountains"--a most appropriate name. But the name Mount
Everest is now so firmly established throughout the world that it would
be impossible to change it. It is therefore now definitely adopted.

Now, this mountain so coveted by mountaineers is unfortunately situated
exactly on the border between two of the most secluded countries in the
world--Nepal and Tibet. To reach it the climbers must pass through one
or other of these countries and the difficulty of getting the necessary
permission is what has so far prevented any attempt being made to attack
Mount Everest. But recently access through Tibet has become more
possible, and it so happens that it is on the Tibetan side that the
summit seems most accessible. From the distant views that could be
obtained of it from Sandakphu beyond Darjeeling and from Kampa Dzong in
Tibet, a ridge running from the summit in a northerly direction seemed
to give good promise of access. Major Ryder and Captain Rawling in 1904,
viewing the mountain from a distance of sixty miles almost due north,
thought the mountain might be approached from that direction. At the
same time the Tibetans were distinctly more favourable to travellers
than they had ever been before. The chances therefore of at least
exploring Mount Everest were much more promising, and Major Rawling was
planning an expedition of exploration when the war broke out and he was

Mr. Douglas Freshfield would certainly have taken the matter up during
his Presidency of the Royal Geographical Society, but he had the
misfortune to hold that post during the years of the war and no action
was possible. But as soon as the war was over interest in Mount Everest
revived. In March 1919 Captain J. B. L. Noel read a paper to the Royal
Geographical Society describing a reconnaissance he had made in the
direction of the mountain in the year 1913. He showed how attention
during the last few years had been focused more and more upon the
Himalaya and said, "Now that the Poles have been reached, it is
generally felt that the next and equally important task is the
exploration and mapping of Mount Everest." So he urged that the
exploration which had been the ambition of the late General Rawling with
whom he was to have joined should be accomplished in his memory. "It
cannot be long," he continued, "before the culminating summit of the
world is visited and its ridges, valleys and glaciers are mapped and
photographed." And at the conclusion of his lecture he said that "some
day the political difficulties will be overcome and a fully equipped
expedition must explore and map Mount Everest."

It was not clear whether Captain Noel was advocating a definite attempt
to climb the mountain and reach the actual summit, and Mr. Douglas
Freshfield and Dr. Kellas who followed after him referred only to the
approaches to Mount Everest. But Captain J. P. Farrar, the then
President of the Alpine Club, seems to have considered it "a proposal to
attempt the ascent of Mount Everest," and said that the Alpine Club took
the keenest interest in the proposal and was prepared not only to lend
such financial aid as was in its power, but also to recommend two or
three young mountaineers quite capable of dealing with any purely
mountaineering difficulties which were likely to be met with on Mount

The hour was late, but I was so struck by the ring of assurance and
determination in the words of the President of the Alpine Club that I
could not help asking the President, Sir Thomas Holdich, to let me say a
few words. I then told how General Bruce had made to me, twenty-six
years ago, the proposal to climb Mount Everest. I said the Royal
Geographical Society was interested in the project and now we had heard
the President of the Alpine Club say that he had young mountaineers
ready to undertake the work. I added, "It must be done." There might be
one or two attempts before we were successful, but the first thing to do
was to get over the trouble with our own Government. If they were
approached properly by Societies like the Royal Geographical Society and
the Alpine Club, and a reasonable scheme were put before them and it
were proved to them that we meant business, then, I said, they would be
reasonable and do what we wanted. This was a big business and must be
done in a big way and I hoped that something really serious would come
of that meeting.[1]

  [1] In the enthusiasm of the moment I seem to have displayed a
      regrettable excess of "nationalism"! According to the record,
      I expressed the hope that it would be an Englishman who first
      stood on the summit of Mount Everest. I trust my foreign friends
      will excuse me! I have this at least to plead in extenuation,
      that if I have always striven for my own countrymen when they
      led the way, I have never been backward in helping explorers of
      other nationalities whom I have met in the Himalaya; and I have
      received the thanks of both the French and Italian Governments
      for the help I have given to French and Italian explorers.

Sir Thomas Holdich in closing the meeting advocated approaching Mount
Everest through Nepal, and hoped that at some time not very remote we
should hear more about the proposed expedition to Mount Everest.

Only a few days after the meeting I met Colonel Howard-Bury at lunch
with a Fellow of our Society, Mr. C. P. McCarthy. He was not a
mountaineer in the Alpine Club sense of the word, but he had spent much
of his time shooting in the Alps and in the Himalaya, and becoming
deeply interested in the Mount Everest project, had a talk with
Mr. Freshfield about it and made a formal application to the Society for
their support in undertaking an expedition. Things now began to move,
and the Society applied to the India Office for permission to send an
expedition into Tibet for the purpose of exploring Mount Everest. The
Government of India in reply said that they were not prepared at the
moment to approach the Tibetan Government; but they did not return any
absolute refusal.

During my Presidency the Society, in conjunction with the Alpine Club,
still further pressed the matter. We asked the Secretary of State for
India to receive a deputation from the two bodies, and the request being
granted and the deputation being assured of his sympathy we invited
Colonel Howard-Bury to proceed to India in June 1920 to explain our
wishes personally to the Government of India, and ask them to obtain for
us from the Dalai Lama the necessary permission to enter Tibet for the
purpose of exploring and climbing Mount Everest. Lord Chelmsford, the
Viceroy, received Colonel Howard-Bury most sympathetically and after
some preliminary difficulties had been overcome, Mr. Bell, the Political
Agent in Sikkim, who happened to be in Lhasa, was instructed to ask the
Dalai Lama for permission, and Mr. Bell being on most friendly terms
with His Holiness, permission was at once granted.

The one great obstacle in the way of approaching Mount Everest had now
at last been removed. What so many keen mountaineers had for years
dreamed of was within sight. And as soon as the welcome news
arrived--early in January 1921--preparations were commenced to organise
an expedition. A joint Committee of three representatives each from the
Royal Geographical Society and the Alpine Club was formed under the
Chairmanship of the President of the former Society and was named the
Mount Everest Committee. The three members of the Society were Sir
Francis Younghusband, Mr. E. L. Somers-Cocks (Honorary Treasurer) and
Colonel Jack. The three members of the Alpine Club were Professor Norman
Collie, Captain J. P. Farrar and Mr. C. F. Meade. Mr. Eaton and
Mr. Hinks were Honorary Secretaries.

Our first business was to select a leader for the Expedition. General
Bruce, who had had the idea in his mind for so many years, who knew the
Himalaya as no one else did, and who had a special aptitude for handling
Himalayan people, was now in England, and it was to him our thoughts
first turned. But he had just taken up an appointment with the
Glamorganshire Territorial Association and was not then available. In
these circumstances we were fortunate in having ready to hand a man with
such high qualifications as Colonel Howard-Bury. He had much to do on
his property in Ireland, but he willingly accepted our invitation to
lead the Expedition, and we could then proceed to the choice of the

From the very first we decided that the main object of the Expedition
was to be the ascent of the mountain and that all other activities were
to be made subordinate to the supreme object of reaching the summit. It
was to be no mere surveying or geologising or botanising expedition
which would as a secondary object try to climb the mountain if it saw a
chance. To climb the mountain was to be the first object and the mapping
and everything else was to come afterwards. The reason for this is
obvious. What men really want to know is whether man can ascend the
highest mountain.

Knowledge of the topography, fauna and flora of that particular area is
of very small consequence in comparison with the knowledge of human
capacity to surmount the highest point in men's physical surroundings on
this earth. By some perversity of human nature there are men who shy at
putting the ascent of Mount Everest in the forefront, because it is
adventurous and must therefore, they seem to think, cease to be a
scientific object. They profess to be unconcerned with the climbing of
the mountain so long as a map is made or plants collected. But the
plain man instinctively sees the value of the adventure and knows that
the successful ascent of Mount Everest will show what man is capable of
and put new hope and heart into the human race.

But while it was decided to make the ascent of Mount Everest the main
object of the Expedition, Professor Norman Collie and Mr. Douglas
Freshfield from the first insisted that a whole season must be devoted
to a thorough reconnaissance of the mountain with a view to finding not
only a feasible route to the summit but what was without any doubt the
most feasible route. We knew nothing of the immediate approaches to the
mountain. But we knew that the only chance of reaching the summit was by
finding some way up which would entail little rock-climbing or ice
step-cutting. The mountain had therefore to be prospected from every
side to find a comparatively easy route and to make sure that no other
easier route than the one selected existed. This was considered ample
work for the Expedition for one season, while the following season would
be devoted to an all-out effort to reach the summit along the route
selected in the first year.

On this basis the first year's Expedition had accordingly to be
organised. The mountain party was to consist of four members, two of
whom were to be men of considerable experience and two younger men who
it was hoped would form the nucleus of the climbing party the next year.
Mr. Harold Raeburn, a member of the Alpine Club who had had great
experience of snow and rock work in the Alps, and who had in 1920 been
climbing on the spurs of Kanchenjunga, was invited to lead the mountain
party. Dr. Kellas, who had made several climbing expeditions in the
Himalaya and had in 1920 ascended to a height of 23,400 feet on Mount
Kamet, was also invited to join the climbing party. He had been making
experiments in the use of oxygen at high altitudes and was still out in
India preparing to continue these experiments on Mount Kamet in 1921.
It was suggested to him that he should make the experiments on Mount
Everest instead, and the party would thereby have the benefit of his
wide Himalayan experience. This invitation he accepted.

The two younger members selected for the climbing party were Mr. George
Leigh Mallory and Captain George Finch, both with a very high reputation
for climbing in the Alps. Unfortunately Captain Finch was for the time
indisposed and his place at the last moment had to be taken by
Mr. Bullock of the Consular Service, who had been at Winchester with
Mr. Mallory and who happened to be at home on leave. Through the
courtesy of Lord Curzon he was able to get special leave of absence from
the Foreign Office.

While we were finding the men we had also to be finding the money. As a
quite rough guess we estimated the Expedition for the two years would
cost about £10,000, and at least a substantial portion of this had to be
raised by private subscription. Appeals were made by their Presidents to
the Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society and to members of the
Alpine Club, and Captain Farrar was especially energetic in urging the
claims of the enterprise. As a result the members of the Alpine Club
subscribed over £3,000 and the Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society
nearly that amount. Later on with the advice and help of Mr. John Buchan
arrangements were made with _The Times_ and the _Philadelphia Ledger_
for the purchase of the rights of publication of telegrams from the
Expedition, and with the _Graphic_ for the purchase of photographs. So
eventually the financial position of the Expedition was assured.

The equipment and provisioning of the Expedition was undertaken by the
Equipment Committee--Captain Farrar and Mr. Meade--and the greatest
trouble was taken to ensure that the most suitable and best tents,
sleeping bags, clothing, boots, ice-axes, ropes, cooking apparatus,
provisions, etc., were purchased and that they were properly packed and

In the same way the scientific equipment was undertaken by Colonel Jack
and Mr. Hinks.

Finally the services of Mr. Wollaston, well known for his journeys in
New Guinea and East Africa, were secured as Medical Officer and
Naturalist to the Expedition.

Throughout these preparations the advice and help of the best men in
every line were freely and willingly forthcoming. For such an enterprise
all were ready to give a helping hand. Whether they were scientific men,
or business men or journalists, they were ready to throw aside their own
work and devote hours to ensuring that the Expedition should be a
success along the lines on which they severally had most experience.

And most valuable was the encouragement given to the Expedition by the
interest which His Majesty showed in conversation with the President,
and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in receiving Colonel
Howard-Bury--an interest which was shown in practical form by generous
subscriptions to the funds of the Expedition.

The Expedition was able, therefore, to set out from England under the
most favourable auspices, and it was to be joined in India by two
officers of the Indian Survey Department, Major Morshead and Major
Wheeler, and by an officer of the Indian Geological Survey, Dr. Heron.
It was thus admirably equipped for the acquirement of knowledge. But
acquirement of knowledge was not the only object which the Expedition
had in view. It could not be doubted that the region would possess
beauty of exceptional grandeur. So it was hoped that the Expedition
would discover, describe and reveal to us, by camera and by pen, beauty
no less valuable than the knowledge.



                   LIEUT.-COL. C. K. HOWARD-BURY, D.S.O.

                                 CHAPTER I


Early in May most of the members of the Expedition had assembled at
Darjeeling. Mr. Raeburn had been the first to arrive there in order to
collect as many coolies of the right type as he could. I had come out a
few weeks earlier in order to visit the Indian Authorities at Simla and
to make sure that there were no political difficulties in the way. There
I found every one very kind and helpful and all were anxious to do their
best to assist the Expedition. Owing to the heavy deficit in the Indian
Budget, the expenses of every Department had been rigorously cut down,
and the Government of India were unable to give us financial assistance.
They agreed, however, to take upon themselves the whole of the expenses
of the survey, and to lend the Expedition the services of an officer of
the Geological Department. The Viceroy, Lord Reading, who, together with
Lady Reading, took the greatest interest in the Expedition, kindly gave
us a subscription of 750 rupees, and at Darjeeling the Governor of
Bengal, Lord Ronaldshay, had not only put up several members of the
Expedition at his most comfortable house, but had also given the
Expedition several rooms in which to collect their stores for separation
and division into loads. Local stores, such as tea, sugar, flour and
potatoes had to be bought on the spot. Coolies had to be collected and
arrangements made for fitting them out with boots and warm clothing. The
coolies were to receive pay at the rate of 12 annas per day while in
Sikkim, and when in Tibet were to receive another 6 annas per day,
either in cash or the equivalent in rations. The former proved the most
acceptable eventually, except during the period when the coolies were
up on the glaciers, where there were no villages and consequently
nothing could be bought.

A passport had been sent to us by the Government at Lhasa under the seal
of the Prime Minister of Tibet, of which the following is a

    _The Jongpens and Headmen of Pharijong, Ting-ke, Khamba and Kharta._

  You are to bear in mind that a party of Sahibs are coming to see the
  Chha-mo-lung-ma mountain and they will evince great friendship towards
  the Tibetans. On the request of the Great Minister Bell a passport
  has been issued requiring you and all officials and subjects of the
  Tibetan Government to supply transport, e.g. riding ponies, pack
  animals and coolies as required by the Sahibs, the rates for which
  should be fixed to mutual satisfaction. Any other assistance that
  the Sahibs may require either by day or by night, on the march or
  during halts, should be faithfully given, and their requirements
  about transport or anything else should be promptly attended to. All
  the people of the country, wherever the Sahibs may happen to come,
  should render all necessary assistance in the best possible way, in
  order to maintain friendly relations between the British and Tibetan

  Dispatched during the Iron-Bird Year.
  Seal of the Prime Minister.

Our start had been originally arranged for the middle of May, but the
"Hatarana," in which were most of our stores, was unable to obtain a
berth, as accommodation in the Docks at Calcutta was very insufficient
for the large number of steamers that call there; she had therefore to
lie out in the Hoogly for a fortnight before she could get room in the
Docks. However, by May 11 everything was unloaded at Calcutta. The
Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway had generously given the Expedition a free
pass over their line for all stores and goods, and as the Customs had
granted a free entry into the country, everything was up in Darjeeling
by May 14. The time of waiting at Darjeeling had, however, not been
wasted. Four cooks had been engaged for the Expedition and some forty
coolies. These were Sherpa Bhotias, whose homes were in the North-east
corner of Nepal, some of them coming from villages only a few miles to
the South of Mount Everest. They were an especially hardy type of
coolie, accustomed to living in a cold climate and at great heights.
They were Buddhists by religion and therefore had no caste prejudices
about food, and could eat anything. They proved at times quarrelsome and
rather fond of strong drink; they turned out, however, to be a useful
and capable type of man, easily trained in snow and ice work and not
afraid of the snow. We later on picked up a few Tibetan coolies in the
Chumbi Valley and these proved to be as good as the best of the Sherpas.
They were very hardy and got on well with the Tibetans, who were always
rather suspicious of our Nepalese coolies. They were also less
troublesome to manage and could carry heavy loads at great heights.
These coolies had all to be fitted with boots and very difficult this
sometimes proved to be, as often their feet were almost as broad as they
were long. Blankets, cap comforters, fur gloves and warm clothing were
issued to all of them, and for those who had to sleep at the highest
camps, eiderdown sleeping-bags were also taken. Arrangements had also to
be made for interpreters to accompany the Expedition, as with the
exception of Major Morshead, who knew a little Tibetan, no one was able
to speak the language. It was a matter of great importance to get hold
of the right type of man as interpreter. It was essential to find men of
some position and standing who knew not only the Tibetan language, but
also all their ways and customs. After many names had been suggested, we
were very lucky in getting hold of two men who possessed these
qualifications to a great extent. Gyalzen Kazi, who came from Gangtok in
Sikkim, where he was a Kazi and landowner, was a young and ambitious man
who knew the Tibetan language well and was well read in their sacred
writings and scriptures. The other one, Chheten Wangdi, was a Tibetan
who had been for a time a captain in the Tibetan army, and who had left
them and been attached to the Indian army in Egypt during the war. He
was a most energetic, hard-working man, knew all the Tibetan manners and
customs, and was up to all their tricks of procrastination and attempts
at overcharging. By his knowledge and persuasive powers the Expedition
was saved many thousand rupees.

The Expedition when it left Darjeeling included nine Europeans. The
Alpine climbers were Mr. Harold Raeburn, Dr. A. M. Kellas, Mr. G. L.
Mallory and Mr. C. H. Bullock. Dr. Kellas had unfortunately in the early
spring of this year tried his constitution very severely by climbing
Narsing,[2] and he had also spent several nights at very low
temperatures in camps over 20,000 feet, on the slopes of Kabru,[2] so
that when he arrived at Darjeeling a few days before the Expedition was
due to start, he was not in as fit a condition as he should have been.
The two Surveyors were Major H. T. Morshead, D.S.O., and Major O. E.
Wheeler, M.C. These officers had been lent by the Survey of India. Major
Morshead had already a considerable experience of travelling in the
Eastern borders of Tibet and in the Kham country, where he had carried
out some useful survey work, and under him were three native surveyors,
one of whom was left in Sikkim to revise the existing maps, which were
very inaccurate, while the other two, Gujjar Singh and Lalbir Singh,
accompanied the Expedition and filled in all the details of the country
traversed on their plane tables at a scale of 4 miles to the inch. Major
O. E. Wheeler, the other Surveyor, was a member of the Canadian Alpine
Club and a very keen climber himself. He was an expert in the Canadian
system of Photo Survey--a method especially useful and applicable to a
difficult and mountainous country. The Indian Government had also lent
the Expedition the services of Dr. A. M. Heron, of the Geological Survey
of India, in order to study the geology of the country through which it
was about to go, and about which nothing was known, and to investigate
the problems which surround the age and the structure of the Himalayan
range. Besides these, there was Mr. A. F. Wollaston, a member of the
Alpine Club and a very distinguished traveller as well, who had made
some most interesting journeys around Ruwenzori in Africa and in the
interior of New Guinea. He accompanied the Expedition in the capacity of
Doctor, Naturalist and Botanist, and was equipped with a complete
collector's outfit.

  [2] Narsing and Kabru are two high mountains in the North of Sikkim.

During our time of enforced waiting at Darjeeling, we came in for the
Lebong races--a unique and very amusing entertainment. The course is a
small circular one, where the top of the Lebong spur has been levelled,
and only genuine Tibetan and Bhotia ponies are allowed to race there.
There were always large entries for these races, as they were very
popular among the hill-folk, who flocked into Darjeeling from great
distances, dressed in their finest clothes and with their women covered
with jewellery and wearing clothing of brilliant shades of green and
red. There was very heavy betting on each race, and the amount of money
that the coolies, sirdars or servants were able to put up was
astonishing. In most of the races there was at least a field of ten,
which made the start a very amusing affair. The jockeys were all
hill-boys, and as they and the ponies were up to every dodge and trick,
and were equally anxious to get off first, and as most of the ponies had
mouths of iron, it was always a long time before a start could be made,
and in nearly every race one or more of the ponies would run out of the
course at the point nearest its own home.

On May 13 Major Morshead with his assistant surveyors and fifty coolies
left Darjeeling for Khamba Dzong. They went the direct road up the
Teesta Valley correcting the Sikkim map as they went along. Their object
in going this way was to connect the Indian Survey with the new survey
that it was proposed to carry out in Tibet. This would occupy all Major
Morshead's time until we should be able to join him at Khamba Dzong in

The chief transport of the Expedition consisted of 100 mules belonging
to the Supply and Transport Corps and lent to us by the
Commander-in-Chief. These arrived at Darjeeling a few days before we
were due to start and were camped in the open on the old parade ground
at the top of Katapahar. Sub-Conductor Taylor, who had already had
experience of mule transport in Tibet in 1904-5, and was to have come in
charge of them, was unfortunately laid up at the last moment with a bad
attack of influenza. The next man chosen was passed medically unfit, and
the third man in temporary charge of the mules was, when he arrived at
Darjeeling, already suffering from ague. It was not till May 15 that
Sergeant Fowkes arrived, who was to take charge of the mules. He was a
very capable and energetic N.C.O., and their subsequent failure was in
no way due to him, but solely to the fact that the mules were in no kind
of condition to do hard work in the hills, being sleek and fat from the
plains where they had had very little work to do. The muleteers, or
drabies, were all hill-men and had been picked out specially for us and
fitted out with every kind of warm clothing. Though there were a hundred
mules, this did not mean that there were a hundred mules to carry our
loads--so much extra warm clothing and blankets had been given to the
drabies that together with all their line gear it needed twenty-seven
mules to carry their kit, which left only seventy-three mules for the
Expedition loads, each mule carrying 160 lb., and this was not nearly
sufficient for our requirements. A certain amount of our stores had
therefore to be left behind at Government House, Darjeeling, for a
second journey, and we only took with us sufficient food and supplies
for three and a half months, relying on the mules going back and
returning with the remainder of the stores in July or August. Owing to
the camping grounds being small, and bungalow accommodation limited on
the journey across Sikkim, we divided ourselves into two parties with
fifty mules and twenty coolies in each party; Wollaston, Wheeler,
Mallory and myself being with the first party and Raeburn, Kellas,
Bullock and Heron with the second.

The first party left Darjeeling on May 18, and the second party the
following day. I remained behind to see the second party off, and then
by doing a double march I caught the first party up that evening at
Kalimpong, not, however, without noticing on the way that several of our
mules were already knocked up. The night before we started rain came
down in torrents, and it was still pouring when the mules came round in
the morning, and though the rain stopped soon afterwards yet the
hillsides were all wreathed in soft grey mists and every moss-hung
branch and tree dripped steadily with moisture all day long. The first
day's march from Darjeeling was to Peshoke--a seventeen-mile march and
down hill all the way after Ghoom. From Darjeeling we gradually ascended
some 500 feet to Ghoom and then for 6 miles followed the well-engineered
cart road which leads below Senchal to the new military cantonment of
Takda which is, I believe, about to be abandoned, as the Gurkhas, for
whom it was built, are not at all happy there. During the war it was
used as a German internment camp. Along this ridge there are magnificent
forests of evergreen oaks, all of which were covered with ferns and
orchids and long trailing mosses. This first ridge rising straight out
of the plains condenses all the moisture-laden winds that blow up from
the Bay of Bengal and causes it almost always to be enveloped in clouds
and mists. The path now rapidly descended 4,000 feet, through tea
plantations. The whole hillside was covered with tea bushes, neatly
planted in lines, and showing a very vivid green at this time of the
year. Here and there grew tall tree ferns, 20 feet to 30 feet in height,
their stems covered with ferns and Coelogene orchids. The air was now
growing hotter and hotter as we descended, but the wonderful and varied
vegetation, the beautiful and brilliantly coloured butterflies--for
which the Teesta Valley is famous--that flitted across the path in front
of us, proved an irresistible attraction, and made us forget the fact
that we were dripping with perspiration from every pore. We had already
descended nearly 5,000 feet by the time that we reached the P.W.D.
bungalow at Peshoke, which was situated in a clearing in the forest. We
were, however, still 2,000 feet above the muddy Teesta River which ran
down below us in its steamy gorge, and the next morning saw us
descending 2,000 feet through a Sal forest by a slippery path of clay
leading to the suspension bridge which crosses the mighty river that
with its affluents drains the whole of Sikkim. It rushes along with
irresistible force in mighty waves and rapids, and though attempts have
been made to float timber down it for commercial purposes, yet the
current is too swift and the logs were all smashed to pieces. Here at
the bridge we were only 700 feet above the sea and the heat was intense.
Several mules had been left exhausted at Peshoke and had been unable to
proceed the following day and several more only just reached Kalimpong,
the second day's march, only 12 miles from Peshoke, but the climb of
3,300 feet up from the bridge over the Teesta in the steamy and
enervating heat proved too much for them. The forests here were very
beautiful--huge sal trees and giant terminalia abounded with weird and
wonderful creepers embracing their stems, or hanging down from their
branches. The handsome pothos--the finest of the creepers--grew
everywhere. The curious pandanus or screw pine displayed its long and
picturesque fronds, while here and there among the dark green of the
tropical forest showed up as a brilliant patch of colour the scarlet
blooms of the clerodendrons. Above the forests the hillsides had been
terraced with immense labour into rice fields, which at this time of
year were not yet planted out, but the fields of maize were already
ripening. At Kalimpong there was a large and comfortable Dak bungalow,
surrounded by a well-kept garden full of roses and scarlet hibiscus with
a beautiful and large-flowered mauve solanum growing up the pillars on
the verandah. At Kalimpong we were entertained by Dr. Graham and his
charming daughters, who showed us true hospitality and kindness. They
live in a very pretty house embowered in roses on the crest of the hill
and commanding lovely views over the Teesta Valley and up to the snowy
peaks of Kanchenjunga. Higher up on the spur are the homes and the
industrial schools that many years of hard work have brought into
being, thanks to the indefatigable labours of Dr. Graham and the late
Mrs. Graham; these now hold between 600 and 700 pupils, both boys and
girls, who, when they leave these schools, have all been taught some
useful trade and are sent out as useful members of society. They are
given as practical an education as could be wished for anywhere. At the
Grahams' house I met David Macdonald, the British Trade Agent at Yatung,
who was acting temporarily as political agent in Sikkim until Major
Bailey arrived from England. He was an old friend of mine, as I had met
him before in Tibet. He promised us every assistance in his power and
had telegraphed to Yatung and to the Jongpen at Phari to have supplies
and anything we wanted in readiness at those places. He told me that an
old Tibetan Lama, who knew Mount Everest well, had described it as "Miti
guti cha-phu long-nga," "the mountain visible from all directions, and
where a bird becomes blind if it flies so high." Throughout our journey
across Sikkim the weather was very bad, with heavy falls of rain every
day and night. We had had the bad luck to strike the Chota Bursat, or
little monsoon, which usually heralds the coming of the proper monsoon a
fortnight or three weeks later.

The march to Pedong was an easy one of 14 miles with a gentle climb of
3,000 feet followed by a descent of 2,000 feet past gardens beautiful
with their great trees of scarlet hibiscus, daturas and bougainvilleas,
which grew with wonderful luxuriance in this climate where frost is
almost unknown in winter and where in summer the temperature scarcely
ever exceeds 85° Fahrenheit. We passed some of the most wonderful datura
hedges that I have ever seen with trees 15 feet to 20 feet in height and
laden with hundreds of enormous white trumpet-shaped blooms 8 inches in
diameter and fully a foot long. I could only stand and admire. At night
these great white flowers glowed as though with phosphorescence in the
dark and had a strangely sweet smell. I got thoroughly soaked on the
march, for a couple of minutes of these deluges are sufficient to go
through any waterproof.

Our mules were now beginning to give us great trouble. Several had to be
left behind after each march and fresh animals had to be hired locally
to replace those left behind. At Pedong there were more wonderful
daturas, and all along the next march we kept passing grand bushes of
these flowers. It rained all that night and most of the following day,
so that we had a very wet and trying march to Rongli--the distance was
only 12 miles, but this included a very steep descent of over 3,000 feet
to the bottom of a steamy valley, followed by a climb of 3,000 feet
across an intervening ridge and then down another 2,000 feet to the
Rongli bungalow. The poor mules were very tired by the end of the march
and one had died of colic on the way. Most of the others too were
getting very sore backs from the constant rain. On the way Wollaston and
I stopped at Rhenock to have a look at the Chandra Nursery kept by Tulsi
Dass, where there were many interesting plants, chiefly collected in the
Sikkim forests. There was a tree growing everywhere in the forests with
a white flower which Sikkim people called Chilauni, and all along the
paths the Sikkim durbar had been busy planting mulberry, walnut and toon
trees. There was a curious pink ground plant that grew in the forests
which I was told belonged to the Amomum species. There were also
beautiful orchids in the trees, mauve, white and yellow, belonging to
the Dendrobium, Coelogene and Cymbidium families--some with fine sprays
of flowers 18 inches long. Here at Rongli the mules were so tired that
we had to give them a day's rest before they could go on any further. It
was a hot and feverish spot to stop in, and only necessity compelled us
to do so, as we were unable to get any extra transport the following
morning to supplement the mules that were sick.

All that day we had passed numbers of mules coming down from Tibet laden
with bales of wool, and others were returning to Tibet with sheets of
copper, manufactured goods, grain and rice which had been bought in
exchange. The dark faces of the muleteers with their turquoise earrings
formed a pretty picture and they were full of friendly smiles and
greetings for us. The mules travelled on their own--if any mule stopped
on the path, a stone always aimed with the greatest accuracy reminded
him that it was time to go on. Owing to our having to halt a day at
Rongli, we had to stop the second party, and were able to do this at
Ari, a bungalow 3 miles short of Rongli. I rode up to see how they were
getting on, and found they were having the same trouble with their mules
that we had been having. On May 23 we left for Sedongchen, or Padamchen
as the Tibetans called it. Sedongchen is the old local name, so-called
because there once grew there a very large "Sedong" tree. This is a tree
that has a white sap which irritates the skin intensely and sets up a
rash. Sedongchen was only 9 miles from Rongli, but there was a very
steep climb, from 2,700 feet up to 7,000 feet, and our mules only just
managed to arrive there. The first part of the way is alongside the
rushing stream of the Rongli, through lovely woods and dense tropical
vegetation. Caladiums, kolocasias and begonias were growing on every
rock, and the giant pothos with its large shining leaves grew up the
stems of many of the trees. Climbers of all kinds, such as vines and
peppers, hung down from the branches. Here, too, were magnificent forest
trees, fully 150 feet high, with clean straight trunks and without a
branch for a hundred feet; others nearly equally tall, which the Sikkim
people call "Panisage," had huge buttresses and trunks nearly 40 feet in
circumference. Every branch here was covered by thick matted growth of
orchids. For the first time since leaving Darjeeling the sun shone, and
after we left the forests we found the uphill climb very hot. On
to-day's march, out of the fifty mules with which we started there were
only fourteen carrying our own kit, and of those fourteen we found on
arrival at Sedongchen that none would be fit to proceed on the following
day. It was therefore with great reluctance that I felt compelled to
send back the Government mules, as they could not only not carry their
own line gear, but had become an extra and very large source of expense
and worry to us. That the mules should have completely broken down like
this after a five days' march showed that they must have been in no kind
of training and condition and were completely unfitted for heavy work in
the mountains. The hill ponies and mules that we had hired to supplement
them, although they had been given the heaviest loads, always arrived
first, and made nothing of each march. By this failure of the Government
transport we were now thrown back on our own resources, and obliged to
depend everywhere on what local transport we could obtain, and this
often took some time to collect.

At Sedongchen there was a pleasant bungalow, rather Swiss in appearance,
with fine views down the Rongli Valley and across all the forest ridges
over which we had come, right back to Darjeeling. Opposite us, to the
South-east, were densely wooded hills with clouds and mists drifting
along the tops, while here and there a waterfall showed up white amidst
the dark green vegetation.

Rain came down steadily all night, but the morning proved somewhat
finer. Being on the main trade route, we were luckily able to get other
transport to replace the Government mules and to arrange for hired mules
as far as Yatung. The local animal is a wonderful beast, extremely sure
footed, and not minding in the least a climb of 6,000 feet. The path
from Sedongchen is really only a stone causeway, very slippery and
unpleasant either to walk or ride upon, but probably anything else would
be worn away by the torrential rains that fall here. At one place we had
to make a wide detour, as the rain of the night before had washed away
some hundred yards of the pathway, but luckily this was not in a very
steep part, as otherwise we might have been delayed for several days.
The constant rain had already brought out the leeches, and on most of
the stones or blades of grass beside the path they sat waiting for
their meal of blood and clung on to any mule or human being that passed
by. The mules suffered severely, and drops of blood on the stones became
frequent from the bleeding wounds.

The climb from Sedongchen to Gnatong was very steep with a rise of over
5,000 feet in the first 5 miles, and we soon got out of the zone of the
leeches and on to the most wonderful zone of flowering rhododendrons.
The rhododendrons in the lower forest chiefly consisted of _R.
Argenteum_ and _R. Falconeri_. These grew in a great forest of oaks and
magnolias, all covered with beautiful ferns among which showed up
delightful mauve or white orchids. The lower rhododendrons had already
flowered, but as we got higher we found masses of _R. Cinnabarinum_,
with flowers showing every shade of orange and red. Then came
rhododendrons of every colour--pink, deep crimson, yellow, mauve, white
or cream coloured. It was impossible to imagine anything more beautiful,
and every yard of the path was a pure delight. Among the smaller flowers
were the large pink saxifrage, while the deep reddish-purple primula
covered every open space. There was also a very tiny pink primula--the
smallest I have ever seen--and another one like a pink primrose, that
grew on the banks above the path. We went along quite slowly all the
way, botanising and admiring the scenery. The path mostly led along the
top of a ridge, and the views and colours of the many-hued rhododendrons
in the gullies on either side were very delightful. Gnatong, where we
were to spend the night, was a very small and rather dirty village lying
in a hollow and surrounded by grassy hills. The fir trees (_Abies
Webbiana_) no longer surrounded it, as those anywhere near had been cut
down for firewood, or for building houses. From here I was able to
telephone to Mr. Isaacs, Mr. Macdonald's head clerk at Yatung, to ask
him to make arrangements for ponies and mules for us both at Yatung and
at Phari now that our transport had broken down. Wonderful rumours
seemed to have preceded our advent. Stories that we were coming with
1,000 mules and 500 men seemed to have been spread about in Tibet.

Gnatong is a most depressing place, and only owes its existence to the
fact that it is the first stopping place for the caravans that cross
over the Jelep Pass on the British side of the frontier. Rain always
falls there, the rainfall in the year being nearly 200 inches, and when
rain does not fall the place is enveloped in mist, with the result that
the mud was horrible. It poured with rain all the time that we were
there and we left again in heavy rain for the Jelep Pass 8 miles
distant. We were already over 12,000 feet when we started, and the top
of the pass was 14,390 feet, so that it was not a very serious climb.
There was no view of any kind to be had as the rain fell steadily all
the way and the hillsides were all veiled in mist. We had occasional
glimpses of a hillside pink, white or yellow with rhododendrons, which
now grew only about 5 feet high. I counted six or seven different
varieties of primulas on the way, but near the top there was still
plenty of the old winter snow lying about and the Alpine flowers were
scarcely out. A big heap of stones marked the summit of the pass and the
frontier between Sikkim and Tibet, and a few sticks, to which were
attached strings covered with small pieces of rag on which were
inscribed prayers, fluttered out in the strong wind that always blows up
there. In the cold rain this was not a cheerful spot to linger in, so we
hurried on down a steep and stony path and after descending a few
hundred feet emerged out of the mist and rain and obtained glimpses of a
really blue sky such as we had not seen for weeks. We had arrived at
last in Tibet.

                                CHAPTER II


The range of mountains which here forms the boundary between Sikkim and
Tibet runs nearly North and South, and the two main passes across it are
the Jelep La and the Nathu La, the latter being a few miles to the North
of the Jelep La and about the same height. The Jelep La being the main
trade route across which the telegraph line runs, and over which the
postal runners travel, is kept open all the year round, though often
after a heavy blizzard it is closed for ten days or a fortnight. On the
Sikkim side the snow-fall is always the heaviest; this range of
mountains stops most of the moist currents that drive up from the Bay of
Bengal, with the result that the rainfall in the Chumbi Valley on the
Tibetan side is only about a quarter of what it is at Gnatong on the
Sikkim side.

The descent into the Chumbi Valley was very steep and stony, as there
was a drop of over 5,000 feet from the top of the pass. The beauty of
the valley and its wild flowers made up, however, for the badness of the
path. The rhododendrons on the descent were extremely fine, and the
whole character of the vegetation was altered and became more European.
The great pink rhododendron _Aucklandi_ showed up splendidly in the dark
forests of silver fir (_A. Webbiana_) which here grows into a fine tree.
There was also the yellow rhododendron Campylocarpum and a white
rhododendron, probably Decorum; the beautiful _R. Cinnabarinum_ with its
orange bells of waxy flowers relieved the darkness of the firs. There
was a small Tibetan rest-house called Langra where our coolies wanted to
stop, but we pushed on past this and descended steeply through more
wonderful forests. As we got lower we found birch, sycamore, willow and
elder still clothed in the light green of early spring. A fine white
clematis, a pink and white spiræa, a yellow berberis, white roses and
the dark purple iris grew in profusion on either side of the path.
Underneath these were the small flowers of the wild strawberry, which
the Macdonald family collected later on in the year and made into jam in
great quantities.

Near the entrance to this side valley we came to Old Yatung with its
Chinese custom-house and wall built right across the valley to keep the
British from going any further. All this was now deserted and in ruins.
Soon afterwards we arrived in the main Chumbi Valley where were broad
fields filled with potatoes and ripening barley. The houses here were
mostly built of stone and wood and in two stories. In character they
much resembled Tirolese houses except for the elaborate carving over the
doors and windows and the many colours in which they were painted. We
passed through the prosperous villages of Richengong, Phema and Chumbi
before arriving at New Yatung, or Shassi as the Tibetans still prefer to
call it. Here was a comfortable bungalow overlooking the bazaar on the
other side of the river. Knowing that we had had a long and tiring march
and that our coolies would only arrive late that night, Mrs. Macdonald
had with much thoughtfulness sent over her servants who had tea and
dinner prepared for us on a generous scale. No attention could have been
more acceptable. It rained steadily all that night--a somewhat unusual
occurrence in this valley--but the next morning it cleared up and the
day was delightful.

The Chumbi Valley is one of the richest valleys in Tibet. Yatung lies at
a height of 9,400 feet. Apples and pears do well here, and barley, wheat
and potatoes are grown in great quantities. At this time of the year the
air is scented by the wild roses which grow in large bushes covered with
hundreds of cream-coloured and sweetly scented flowers. The villages
all look extremely prosperous and an air of peace and contentment seems
to pervade the valley. We had to hire a new lot of animals to take us on
to Phari--28 miles further up the Chumbi Valley. These all arrived in
good time, and by eight o'clock on May 27 our loads were all on their
way. Before leaving, I sent off a telegram to Sir Francis Younghusband
to announce the arrival of the Expedition in Tibet, a telegram which
arrived opportunely at the Anniversary Dinner of the Royal Geographical
Society, just at the commencement of dinner.

There is a small garrison at Yatung, consisting of twenty-five men of
the 73rd Carnatics. There was also a hospital and a supply depot from
which we were able to purchase sugar, flour, ata (coarse native flour)
and potatoes, while later on we were able to send back to it for further
supplies. We formed quite an imposing procession as we started off:
Wollaston and myself on our ponies, Gyalzen Kazi and Chheten Wangdi, our
interpreters, on their ponies which they had brought along with them.
There was Mr. Isaacs, the head clerk, with a red-coated chaprassi and a
syce also mounted, who accompanied us on a visit to two monasteries
further up the valley. The path followed close to the banks of the
Ammo-chu, which was now a clear stream and contained many a likely pool
for fish. The valley was full of delightful flowers; curious ground
orchids, with several beautiful varieties of the ladies' slipper grew
there; the wild roses, especially the large red one, were very
sweet-scented and filled the air with fragrance. Berberis, clematis and
some charming dwarf rhododendrons abounded. After going about 3 miles
the valley narrowed, and we passed the spot where the Chinese had built
another wall across the valley to keep us out. Just above this wall
there was a deserted Chinese village, for now all the Chinese have been
driven out of the country and are not allowed to go back and live there.
High above us on the hillside was the Punagang Monastery belonging to
the old sect of the Bhompo's, who turn their prayer wheels the opposite
to every one else and always keep to the right of Chortens and Mani
walls. This monastery was too far off the path for us to visit it. We
soon afterwards passed the large and flourishing village of Galinka
surrounded by fields of barley. Here we turned aside to visit the
Galinka Monastery, which stood in the midst of the village. This was
quite a new building, with a great gilt image of Buddha inside it. The
monks were still busy painting pictures of scenes from the life of
Buddha on the walls. They apparently did quite a good trade in selling
clay images of Buddha in his different forms and postures. These were
stamped by a very well cut brass die, which the monks told me had been
made at Shigatse. In a side room was a huge prayer wheel some 12 feet
high and 5 feet to 6 feet in diameter. It was covered over with painted
leather inscribed with the usual Om Mani Padme Hum (Hail, jewel of the
lotus flower). They told us the inside was also filled with prayers, and
that it contained one and a half million of these, so that each time the
wheel was turned a million and a half prayers were said for the person
who turned it. After each complete revolution it rings a bell. We were
allowed to turn it several times, so that I hope the many million
prayers sent up may benefit us. After leaving the monastery, the path
rose steeply and the river came down in a series of waterfalls. Above us
were masses of pink and mauve rhododendrons, flowering cherries,
viburnum, berberis, roses and other delightful shrubs. Soon afterwards,
at the entrance to the Lingmatang plain, we crossed the river and rode
up a rocky spur formed of great boulders that had some time or another
fallen down and blocked up the valley, forming a lake some 2 miles long,
but this lake no longer existed, and there was only a flat grassy plain
grazed over by yaks and ponies. On the top of the spur was the Donka
Monastery in a grand situation, commanding beautiful views up and down
the valley. I had hoped to see my friend the Geshe Lama or Geshe
Rimpoche, as he is sometimes known, with whom I had lunched last year at
the hot springs at Kambu, but unfortunately he was away at Lhasa. He is
a man of very great learning and held in high veneration throughout
these valleys.

On entering the big stone courtyard of the monastery a crowd of children
and Lamas at once flocked round us. We were shown over the main temple,
but it was badly lit with a few butter lamps and we could see little of
its contents; amongst these were several statues of Buddha under his
different forms. There were also kept there 108 volumes of the Tangyur,
one of the Buddhist sacred writings. These books were very curious. Each
volume consisted of a number of loose oblong parchment sheets 2 to 3
feet long and from 8 inches to a foot wide. These were kept together by
two elaborately carved boards between which they were pressed. The
writing was all done by hand by the Lamas, who copied out and
illuminated books with the greatest care and skill in the same manner
that the monks in the Middle Ages illuminated their missals. The
book-shelves of the library consisted of a number of pigeon-holes in the
walls in which these volumes were kept. Here, too, they were busy making
clay images to bury under the Chorten that they were building above the
monastery. Next door was another and newer temple, built to house the
Oracle, and called the Sanctuary of the Oracle. He, too, was
unfortunately away, as he was taking the hot waters at Kambu, but we
were shown his throne and the robes that he puts on when he prophesies.
There was a curiously shaped head-dress of silver, adorned all round
with silver skulls, and a very quaintly shaped bow and arrow which the
Oracle held in one hand while a huge trident was grasped in the other. I
am told that he is consulted far and wide and has a great reputation for
truth. We were then taken upstairs to a sunny verandah, just outside the
Geshe Rimpoche's private room and commanding fine views up and down the
valley. Here we were given Tibetan tea, made with salt and butter, and
served up in agate cups with beautifully chased silver covers. After
drinking this tea we were shown over the Geshe's private apartments and
chapel, the prevailing colour scheme of the room being yellow. The
little shrines with their silver bowls in front--the incense burner and
the flame that is never allowed to go out--were all very interesting to
us. We then took a photograph of the Lamas in front of their temple,
after which the head Lama accompanied us some way down the path to say
good-bye, hoping we would come and see them again on our return.

I have alluded several times to the hot springs at Kambu. These springs
are two days' journey from Yatung up the Kambu Valley, but can also be
reached quite easily from Phari. There is a curious account of these
springs written by an old Lama and translated by Major Campbell. The
writer describes the Upper Kambu Valley as quite a pleasant spot where
cooling streams and medicinal plants are found in abundance. Medicinal
waters of five kinds flow from the rocks, forming twelve pools, the
waters of which are efficacious in curing the 440 diseases to which the
human race is subject. The springs are then made to describe their own
qualities in the first person:--

  1. THE LHAMO SPRING (The Spring of the Goddess): My virtue is derived
  from the essence of stone--I am guarded by the Goddess Tsering, and my
  virtue therefore consists in purging the sins and obscurities of the
  human body. Those who bathe first in my waters will be purged of all
  sin and the power of all diseases will be abated.

  2. THE CHAGU SPRING (The Spring of the Vulture): My virtue is derived
  from black sulphur. As regards my properties, a vulture with a broken
  wing once fell into my waters and was healed. I benefit diseases of
  women, also sores, gout and fractures. I possess particular virtue for
  all diseases below the waist. I do not benefit neuralgia, nervous
  diseases, or loss of appetite.

  3 and 4. THE PON SPRINGS (The Springs of the Official): We two
  brothers derive our properties from both yellow and black sulphur.
  One of us provokes catarrh, while the other allays it. A learned man,
  who wished us well, once said that we were beneficial in cases of
  hemorrhoids, kidney diseases and rheumatism. We are not aware of
  possessing these qualities, and rather tend to cause harm in such

  5. THE TRAGGYE SPRING (The Spring born of the Rock): My virtue is
  derived from a combination of sulphur and the essence of stone. I was
  formerly efficacious in cases of diseases of the arteries and nerve
  trouble, but later on the Brothers of the Pon Spring rushed down on
  poor me like tyrants so that no one now regards me. The caretaker of
  the Springs and visitors treats me like a beggar and pays no attention
  to me. Even now if some person with the permission of the Brothers of
  the Pon Spring would carry out some repairs, so as to separate my
  waters from theirs, I would guarantee to benefit those suffering from
  arterial diseases, nerve trouble, impurities of the blood and bile.

  6. THE SERKA SPRING (The Spring of the Crevice): My virtues are
  derived from sulphur and carbon. I am not beneficial to those
  suffering from ailments arising from nerve trouble, bile and acidity.
  I am beneficial to those suffering from chapped hands and feet due to
  hard work among earth and stones and also in cases of diseases of the
  kidneys and bladder. I am somewhat hurtful to those suffering from
  headache arising from nervous catarrh, or impurities of the blood.

  7. THE TANG SPRING (The Spring of the Plain): My virtues are derived
  from carbon and a little sulphur. I am beneficial in cases of
  hemorrhoids, kidney disease, rheumatism and other diseases below the
  waist, also in cases of venereal disease. There is a danger of the
  waist becoming bent like a bow through too much bathing in my waters.

  8. THE TRAGGYAB SPRING (The Spring behind the Rock): I am beneficial
  in cases of disease of the arteries and anaemia--I am not aware that
  I am harmful in other cases.

  9. THE TONGBU SPRING (The Spring of the Hole): My virtues are derived
  from a large proportion of crystalline stone and a little sulphur. I
  guarantee to be beneficial in cases of white phlegm, brown phlegm and
  other forms of phlegmatic disease. Also in diseases arising out of
  these, and in cases of impurities of the blood and colic pains. Please
  bear this in mind.

  10. THE NUB (The Western Spring): My virtues are derived from a little
  carbon. I am beneficial in cases of liver disease, impurities of the
  blood, flatulence, kidney disease, dyspepsia, brown phlegm, tumours,
  gout, rheumatism, gleet, and complications arising from these. I do not
  boast in the way that the other Springs do.

  11. THE DZEPO SPRING (The Leper's Spring): I am cousin to the Western
  Spring. He guarantees to cure diseases arising from two or three causes,
  also kidney disease, flat foot, rheumatism and gout. I am beneficial in
  cases of hemorrhoids, gout, rheumatism and diseases of the feet. I
  possess particular virtue in cases of leprosy, sores and wounds.

  12. THE LAMA SPRING (The Spring of the Lama): My virtues are derived
  from a large proportion of lime and a little sulphur. I am beneficial
  in cases of lung disease, tumours, dyspepsia, both chronic and recent,
  poverty of the blood and venereal diseases.



After leaving the monastery we had a pleasant gallop across the
Lingmatang Plain, after which the valley narrowed again and the path
followed close beside the rushing stream. It was a delightful ride
through forests of birch, larch, juniper, spruce, silver fir and
mountain ash. Never anywhere have I seen birch trees grow to such a
size. They were grand rugged old trees that matched the rugged scenery
of the gorge. Blue poppies, fritillaries, ground orchids and
sweet-scented primulas grew along the path, and mixed up everywhere in
the forest were great bushes of _R. Cinnabarinum_, which varied in shade
from yellow and orange to deep red. Wagtails and white-crested redstarts
dodged about from rock to rock in the rushing stream, and the clear note
of the shrike could usually be heard above the noise of the waters. The
weather had luckily kept fine all day, so that we were able to dawdle
along and enjoy the scenery and flowers.

After going about 12 miles we came to the bungalow of Gautsa, situated
at a height of about 12,000 feet, and at the bottom of the gorge; here
we spent the night. During the night there was heavy rain, and when we
woke in the morning, fresh snow was low down on all the hills and within
1,500 feet of the bungalow. However, the day again proved brilliantly
fine. For breakfast we had been given some large wild-goose eggs
belonging to the bar-headed goose. Mine I had boiled, and found
excellent, though one was sufficient for a meal. Two that the others had
were rather _passé_, and were not equally appreciated. The day's path
was at first very stony and climbed steadily uphill beside the torrent
of the Ammo-chu. Pale blue iris, yellow primulas, a pink viburnum and a
large yellow-belled lonicera grew beside the path, but the rhododendrons
were still by far the most wonderful of the flowering shrubs. We passed
many big blue meconopsis, and some of these flowers measured fully 3
inches across. Dwarf rhododendrons, only a foot high--some pure white
and others pink, continued up until about 13,500 feet, and then the
hillsides became purple from another little rhododendron, which looked
in the distance like heather and gave the rounded hills quite a Scotch
appearance. As we rose higher the flowers decreased in number. Larks and
wheatears ran along the ground in front of us, and small tailless marmot
rats dodged in and out of their holes as we approached. The distance
from Goutsa to Phari was about 16 miles, of which the last 8 miles were
over flat country with a springy turf, on which it was a pleasure to be
able to canter again after having passed over so many miles of stony
roads. Chomolhari, the Mountain of the Goddess, stood up as a wonderful
sight with its sharp peak outlined against the clear blue sky. On its
summit the wind was evidently very strong, as we could see the fresh
snow being whirled off in clouds.

Phari is an extremely dirty village dominated by a stone fort and lying
under the shadow of the great mountain Chomolhari, 23,930 feet high. It
is 14,300 feet above sea level, and the climate there is always cold, as
it is never without a strong wind. In the afternoon the Jongpen, or
Governor of the district, came to call on me. He was a young man with an
intelligent and pleasant face, and came from the country between Khamba
Dzong and Shekar Dzong, so that he was able to give us much useful
information about the road; he promised that he would write to his
brother, who was acting as agent for him at his home, telling him to
entertain us and give us all facilities in the matters of transport and
supplies. He told us that he had received written instructions from the
Lhasa Government to arrange for supplies and transport for us, and he
promised that he would do his best. I gave him photographs that I had
taken last year of his fort, and also of Chomolhari; these pleased him
very much, and in return he presented us with a dried sheep which looked
mummified and smelt very strongly, but which proved very acceptable to
our coolies. It was necessary to stop here for several days as the
second party had to catch up, and they too needed a day's rest. Also the
transport that was to carry us along to Khamba Dzong would not be ready
for several days, so the following morning I went to call on the
Jongpen in his fort, where I found him living in some very dark rooms. I
presented him with one of the new lever electric torches, which he much
appreciated, though at first he and his servants were rather frightened
by it. He gave us tea and sweetmeats, and soon afterwards the head-men
of all the villages came in, and were given orders about our transport.
Their quaint attitudes of respect and their darkly bronzed faces, that
just showed up in the light, reminded me forcibly of an old Dutch
picture. Some men, too, had been sent from Khamba Dzong for orders and
to know when we should be likely to arrive there. In the course of the
afternoon Dr. Heron and I rode over to a monastery about 3 miles away
where I had been last year, and where I had taken some photographs. Some
prints of these I brought back to the monastery, and the monks were very
pleased with them. They were in the middle of a service when we arrived,
as it was some kind of festival, and the dark temple was illuminated by
hundreds of little butter lamps. The monks were all chanting their
scriptures, and this they continued to do all the afternoon.

On returning to Phari, we found that a message had come from the Jongpen
to ask us to dine with him the following evening. The change in the
climate and the bad cooking had affected the stomachs of all the members
of the Expedition, and none of us was feeling very well. Dr. Kellas was
the worst, and as soon as he arrived at Phari he retired to bed. The
following morning was misty and the ground was all white with
hoar-frost, though it was the last day in May; but as I was anxious to
get some photographs of Chomolhari we rode, with the Chaukidar as a
guide, through the mist across the plain to some hills just to the South
of the great mountain; after a few miles we found ourselves above the
clouds with the sun shining in a brilliant blue sky. The whole of the
Phari Plain was covered by a sea of clouds. On the far side rose the
Pawhunri group of mountains, while further to the South, Kanchenjunga
towered above all the other peaks, such as Siniolchum, Kabru and
Jonsong, all of which stood out very clearly in this brilliant
atmosphere. I rode up a delightful little mountain valley full of dwarf
rhododendrons and Alpine primulas until I reached a height of 16,000
feet. We then left the ponies and climbed on to the top of the hill,
which was about 17,500 feet; from this point we had glorious views of
Chomolhari immediately across the valley, while on the other side we
looked over to the snowy peaks and ranges in Bhutan far to the South of
us. We found the wind very keen at this height, and after taking several
photographs we rode back again to Phari.


Here I found the place full of troubles. Our Coolie Sirdar was, as we
were beginning to find out, not only useless, but very mischievous, and
he was evidently at the bottom of an attempted mutiny among our coolies,
who refused to go on. The Sirdar strongly objected to our interpreters,
who were preventing him from fleecing us in the matter of stores and
supplies. However, after much talking they were all satisfied. Then it
was the turn of the cooks, all of whom the Sirdar had chosen. I should
not have minded one or two of these going, as they were very bad cooks
and usually drunk, and the fact that all of us had been ill was solely
due to their bad cooking; but I could not let them all go, so it was
necessary to find out which were the most useless, and this we were able
to do in the course of the next few days. Dr. Kellas was getting no
better; he refused to take any food, and was very depressed about
himself. At Phari I was able to change a certain number of our rupees
into Tibetan currency. The then rate of exchange was 33 rupees to 1
sersang--a gold coin--and 4½ silver trangkas to 1 rupee. The trangkas
were a thin and very badly stamped coin about the size of a two-shilling
piece. We found them, however, to be the most useful form of currency as
the gold coin, though much easier to carry, could only be exchanged at a
few places, and it was seldom that we met people who were rich enough to
be able to change them.

That night four of us went over to have dinner with the Jongpen. First
we were given tea and sweetmeats, followed by strong ginger wine, which
was most comforting to our stomachs in their delicate condition. Then
came dishes of mutton in varying forms with vegetables and macaroni.
They were all served up in Chinese fashion in little dishes and some
were quite appetising. We were very late in starting the next morning as
all the loads had to be sorted and laid out for the very miscellaneous
transport that had been given us. This consisted of ponies, mules,
donkeys, bullocks and yaks. For riding-animals we were given mules,
which trotted well and covered the ground quite quickly, though some of
the Alpine climbers found them hard to manage and were apt to part
company with their steeds. Our transport was by now becoming rather
complicated as forty-four animals were going right through to Khamba
Dzong and forty-four were being changed at every stage. Dr. Kellas was
not well enough to ride and was carried in an arm-chair all day. Soon
after starting I passed two of our cooks on the road hopelessly drunk,
and left them there. Our way led over the Tang La, a very gentle and
scarcely perceptible pass, 15,200 feet, but important as being the main
Himalayan watershed. All day there was a very strong South wind blowing,
but it was luckily at our backs, and we did not feel it too much. We
then quickly trotted the 10 miles across the absolutely level
Tang-pün-sum Plain. Here I saw several herds of kiang, the wild ass of
Tibet, and got within 50 yards of one lot, but unfortunately the coolie
who was carrying my camera was not up with me at the time. We also
passed a certain number of Tibetan gazelle, but they were all very wary.
The Monsoon clouds came up to the South of us in great rolling billows,
but not a drop of moisture came over the Tang La. Chomolhari was a
magnificent sight all day with its 7,000 feet of precipices descending
sheer into the plain. Tuna (14,800 feet), about 20 miles from Phari, was
our first halt. We were still on the main road to Lhasa and found a
comfortable rest-house into which the eight of us all managed to stow
ourselves. Dr. Kellas, though rather better the next day, was still too
weak to ride, and was carried for the next march on a litter. We were
now in the true Tibetan climate, with brilliant sunshine, blue skies,
still mornings and strong winds all the afternoon.

The next march from Tuna to Dochen was still on the Lhasa Road. I did
not follow the path, but rode with a local man from the village over the
great Tang-pün-sum Plain in search of goa--Tibetan gazelle. We saw many
of them on the plains, but they were the wiliest and most difficult
animals to approach, and in this flat and bare country it was not
possible ever to get within 300 yards of them. As a rule they ran off
when we were still half a mile away. They are restless little creatures,
always on the move, and never at any time an easy mark to hit. I
thoroughly enjoyed this ride over the plains and our glorious views of
Chomolhari and the great snow-covered and glaciated chain to the North
of it along the foot of which we were travelling. A curious pink
trumpet-shaped flower grew in great quantities on the plain; the leaves
were buried under the sand and only the flower showed its head above the
ground. There were also white pincushions of a kind of tiny saxifrage.
This plain, over which we were riding, was evidently once upon a time a
lake bed, as the pebbles were rounded and there were distinct evidences
of former shores along the sides of the hills. Many kiang were grazing
on it and many thousands of sheep were being pastured there. As we
approached the lake called Bamtso, the country became very marshy, and
our ponies got bogged several times. The bungalow at Dochen was situated
near the shores of the Bamtso. Never have I seen a lake with so many
colours in it. It was very shallow, and the shades varied from deep blue
and purple to light green, while in places it was almost red from a weed
that grew in it. Behind it was a background of snow and glacier-covered
mountains, which in the still mornings was reflected faithfully in its
waters and formed a charming picture. Swimming on this lake were many
bar-headed geese and Brahminy ducks, and along the shores were many
terns and yellow wagtails.

That evening an amusing thing happened in the kitchen. One of our cooks
was heating up a tin of tinned fish and had put it in some hot water
without previously opening it. When he thought it was sufficiently hot,
he started to open it, with the result that it exploded violently,
covering him and every one else in the kitchen with small pieces of
fish. I was able then to explain to the Tibetans who were carrying our
loads that our stores were very dangerous, and that if any were at any
time stolen, they would be liable to explode and hurt them. It was, of
course, the rarefied air that had caused this, for Dochen is at a height
of 14,700 feet above sea level.

Every day on from now the wind used to blow with great violence all the
afternoon, but would die down after sunset. It must have been of a local
nature caused by the rapid changes from high temperature to low, because
the clouds above at the same time were hardly moving. I sent back Dorje,
one of our cooks, from this place, as it was the fourth time that he had
been drunk, and this I hoped would be a lesson to the others. We now
left the Lhasa Road and turned off Westwards, having henceforward to
rely on our tents.

[Illustration: LOADING UP AT DOCHEN.]

From Dochen to Khe was a short march of 11 miles over the Dug Pass,
16,400 feet. I did not follow the road taken by the transport animals,
but took a local guide and rode over the hill-tops in search of ovis
ammon. I did not see any, however, though we sighted two or three goa,
but they were very wild and would not allow me to approach within 500
yards of them. There were numbers of blue hares, however, and some ram
chakor, the Himalayan snow cock. But beyond this the hillsides were very
bare of game. There were pin-cushions of a beautiful little blue sedum
growing at a height of over 17,000 feet, also there was a big red
stonecrop. Khe is now only a small and dirty village with practically no
water except a half-dried muddy pond, but at one time it must have been
a place of some importance, as ruins and buildings of considerable size
extend over an area of more than a mile. The Kala-tso evidently at one
time came right up to this ruined town of Khetam, and the fact that it
is deserted now is probably due to the shrinkage of the lake. This was
only one of the many signs of desiccation that we saw in our travels in
Tibet. There were some curious ruins which looked like old crenellated
walls, but these walls were only places on which barley dough used to be
exposed to feed the crows as a sign of prosperity. It was a curious
custom and could only have prevailed in a very fertile valley, which
this place is no longer. The age of the city I could not find out, but
the few survivors told me that the holy shrine at Tashilumpo, which now
is at Shigatse, ought to have been built here. According to a local
legend, there was a certain stone in Khetam shaped like a ewe's-womb,
and one day a donkey driver finding that his loads were unequal in
weight, picked up this stone and put it on the light load to balance the
other, quite unaware of the importance of the stone. This stone was then
carried from Gyantse to Shigatse, where a high and important Lama saw
it, and recognising that this was a very holy stone, had it kept there.
The powerful monastery of Tashilumpo was built over this stone. We
passed two small nunneries called Doto and Shidag in snug little valleys
to the North of the plain, and on asking why there should be so many
nunneries in these parts when in the greater part of Tibet men
predominated, I was told that this was due to the fact that it was close
to the Nepalese frontier where there had always been much fighting, so
that most of the men had been killed and only women had survived. After
a short and easy march we came to a small pocket in the hills called
Kheru. Here were encamped some people belonging to a nomad tribe who
always lived in tents. They were very friendly, put tents at our
disposal, and did their best to make us comfortable. They told us that
they came here every year in the twelfth month, about January, and left
again in the fifth month of the Tibetan year (June) for a place near
Tuna, where they disposed of their wool, butter and cheese at the Phari
market. There were altogether about twenty families here owning some 200
yaks and 3,000 sheep. Dr. Kellas was slightly better, but Raeburn was
not feeling at all well, and Wheeler was suffering from indigestion, so
that we were rather a sick party. Kheru lies at a height of 15,700 feet,
but it had been very hot all day in the brilliant sunshine, and on the
way we had passed lizards and a number of common peacock butterflies.
Next morning our march was to Tatsang (Falcon's Nest), a distance of 15
or 16 miles, and over two passes 16,450 and 17,100 feet. The going was
easy all the way, as the gradients both up and down the passes were very
gentle. Between the two passes was a broad valley, filled with huge
flocks of sheep and herds of yaks, and after crossing the second pass,
we descended into a great barren and stony plain, more than 10 miles
across which was Tatsang and over which the wind blew very keenly. To
the South of us appeared the snowy crests of Pawhunri, Kanchenjhow and
Chomiomo and the Lhonak peaks. Again I did not keep with the transport,
but followed the crests of the hills, where I had lovely views; on the
way I saw plenty of gazelle, and was lucky enough to shoot one of them,
as they are very good eating. Our camp at Tatsang was pitched just below
the nunnery there, which is on the top of a rock and where there are
about thirty nuns. Our camp was on a pleasant grassy spot where some
excellent springs bubble up out of the ground. These within a few yards
formed quite a big stream full of small snow trout. They do not really
belong to the trout family, although they have somewhat similar spots,
and are very good to eat. Bullock, with his butterfly net, and the
coolies with their hands, managed to catch quite a number of fish, and
we had them for dinner that night. The ground round our tents was full
of holes out of which the marmot rats kept appearing. They were very
tame, and did not seem to be in the least afraid of us. Dr. Kellas had
had a very trying day. He had been rather better, and had started
riding a yak, but he found this too exhausting and coolies had to be
sent back from Tatsang to bring him on in a litter, so that he did not
arrive at Tatsang till late in the evening. Tatsang is 16,000 feet, so
the night was cold, the thermometer inside the tent registering 7° of
frost, though it was June 4; outside there must have been quite 15° as
the running streams were all frozen over, but once the sun had risen
everything warmed up and we had a beautiful warm day. Dr. Kellas started
off in his litter at 7 a.m. in quite good spirits. I did not start till
an hour later, as I had wanted to see everything off, and then went up
to visit the nunnery, over which the lady abbess showed me. There were
thirty nuns living there, all with shorn heads and wearing a curious
wool head-dress. The place where they worshipped was full of prayer
wheels, both large and small. They sat down behind these, and each nun
turned one or two of them if they could manage it. The room was very
dark, with a low ceiling, and at the end were several statues of Buddha
covered over with gauze veils. In another room there was a large prayer
wheel which they said contained half a million prayers.

After leaving the nunnery we jogged along a dry and barren valley which
gradually rose in about 12 miles to a pass 17,200 feet. On the way we
passed Dr. Kellas in his litter, who then seemed to me to be still quite
cheerful. I then rode on and at the top of the pass saw three ovis
ammon, and after a chase of about a mile I shot one, which afforded
plenty of food for the coolies for some days. It was a full grown ram
about five years old and we had great trouble in getting the carcass on
to a mule, as it was enormous and very heavy. After this I rode on down
the valley for another 10 miles to Khamba Dzong. There were actually a
few bushes in this valley, which was carpeted with the pretty pink
trumpet-shaped flower mentioned above, also with light and dark blue
iris. Suddenly the valley narrowed into a fine limestone gorge, and all
at once the fort of Khamba Dzong appeared towering above us on the
cliffs. It was really a very impressive sight and some of the
architecture of the round towers was very fine. I found that Morshead
had been waiting here for about nine days, but had employed his time in
fixing the old triangulation points. Soon after I arrived the Jongpen
came down to pay us a visit. He was quite a young fellow, only about
twenty-four, but very pleasant and polite.

While we were talking, a man came running up to us very excitedly to say
that Dr. Kellas had suddenly died on the way. We could hardly believe
this, as he was apparently gradually getting better; but Wollaston at
once rode off to see if it was true, and unfortunately found that there
was no doubt about it. It was a case of sudden failure of the heart, due
to his weak condition, while being carried over the high pass. His death
meant a very great loss to the Expedition in every way, as he alone was
qualified to carry out the experiments in oxygen and blood pressure
which would have been so valuable to the Expedition, and on which
subject he was so great an expert. His very keenness had been the cause
of his illness, for he had tried his constitution too severely in the
early months of that year by expeditions into the heart of the Himalayas
to see if he could get fresh photographs from other angles of Mount
Everest. The following day we buried him on the slopes of the hill to
the South of Khamba Dzong, in a site unsurpassed for beauty that looks
across the broad plains of Tibet to the mighty chain of the Himalayas
out of which rise up the three great peaks of Pawhunri, Kanchenjhow and
Chomiomo, which he alone had climbed. From the same spot, far away to
the West--more than a hundred miles away--could be seen the snowy crest
of Mount Everest towering far above all the other mountains. He lies,
therefore, within sight of his greatest feats in climbing and within
view of the mountain that he had longed for so many years to approach--a
fitting resting-place for a great mountaineer.

[Illustration: KHAMBA DZONG.]

                                Chapter III


Our camp at Khamba Dzong[3] was pitched in a walled enclosure at the
foot of the fort, built on a great crag that rose 500 feet sheer above
us. They called this enclosure a Bagichah, or garden, because it once
boasted of three willow trees. Only one of these three is alive to-day,
the other two being merely dead stumps of wood. The Jongpen here, who
was under the direct orders of Shigatse, was very friendly, and after
our arrival presented us with five live sheep, a hundred eggs, and a
small carpet which he had had made in his own factory in the fort. Next
afternoon Morshead, Wollaston and myself went up to pay the Jongpen a
visit in his fort. It was a steep climb from our camp, past long
Mendongs or Mani walls covered with inscribed prayers. The Jongpen was
at the entrance waiting to receive us. He then showed us over his
stables, where he had several nice Tibetan ponies, which strongly
objected to Europeans and lashed out fiercely as we approached them.
After looking at them we went up many flights of most dangerously steep
stairs, almost in pitch darkness the whole time, until we came to a
small courtyard. Then after climbing up more steps, we were ushered into
a small latticed room where we were given the usual Tibetan tea and
sweetmeats. I presented the Jongpen with one of the new lever electric
torches, with which he was much pleased, saying it would be of much use
to him in going up and down his dark staircases. After tea he took us up
on to the roof of the fort, which was quite flat, and from which we had
a most magnificent view. We stood on the top of a great precipice and
looked straight down at our camp, which lay many hundred feet below but
almost within a stone's throw. From here too we could look across the
wide plains and valleys of the Yaru and its tributaries to the main
chain of the Himalayas which formed the Southern boundary to the
picture. From this side they do not appear nearly as imposing as they do
when seen from the South. Seen as they are from a height of over 15,000
feet, the distance to the sky line is not nearly so great, and as a rule
we found the Northern slopes to be much less steep than those on the
Southern side. The snow line, too, was also several thousand feet
higher. Every day great masses of moist cumulus clouds came rolling up
and round the peaks to the South of us, indicating heavy falls of rain
and snow on the South, but very little of this came over the
watershed--only an occasional slight hailstorm or a few drops of rain.
From this point we could see as far West as Mount Everest, still over a
hundred miles away. After spending some time up there and admiring and
discussing the view, we descended once more into the fort, where the
Jongpen showed us some of the carpets that his womenfolk were busy
making and promised to have some ready for us by the time that we came
back. We also much admired the curious old locks by which the doors and
boxes were fastened; before leaving, he made me a present of one of
these locks.

  [3] Dzong means fort.

June 7 saw us still at Khamba Dzong, as the transport would not be ready
till the following day. Raeburn, who for some time had been suffering
from the same complaint as Dr. Kellas, was unfortunately getting no
better and was getting weaker every day. We were therefore reluctantly
compelled to send him back again into Sikkim to Lachen, where he could
be taken charge of by the lady missionaries and properly looked after.
Wollaston and Gyalzen Kazi were to accompany him down to Lachen, and if
possible to rejoin us by the time that we got to Tingri. This break-up
of our climbing party was most annoying and seriously weakened our
party, obliging us to alter our plans for reconnoitring in a thorough
manner the various approaches to Mount Everest. The following day, after
a good deal of delay and argument about the loads, we got everything
loaded up and started off for Lingga, a march of about 16 miles to the
West. For the first few miles we rode across a great plain on which were
several small herds of goa, but these were very wary and kept well out
of shot. The path then took us alongside a small isolated rocky hill in
which we kept putting up numerous hares who often got up right under our
ponies' feet. We crossed the Yaru River, now only a small stream, at the
picturesque village of Mende with its fine willow trees, and then after
passing over a spur, formed of slaty rock, we descended into another
great plain which extended all the way to Tingri. Five miles across this
plain was the village of Lingga, surrounded by marshes and ponds, with
barley fields and rich grass growing between the patches of water. There
were several other villages in sight, so that the plain was evidently
fertile and could support a considerable population. This was the first
place where we became bothered by sand flies, which in the morning were
very troublesome; but when the wind got up, as it always did in the
afternoons, it blew them away, and for once was welcome. The villagers
were very hospitable; they produced tea and beer brewed from barley for
us as soon as we arrived there. The latter is quite a pleasant drink on
a hot day, but it did not agree with my inside at all. The people here
had never seen a European before, and though at first inclined to be
rather shy, they soon became very friendly and curious. Some pieces of
silver paper from chocolates quite won the hearts of the children who
flocked around and did not in the least mind being photographed. To the
South extended the chain of snows of the main range of the Himalayas,
and on the way we had several clear and distinct views of Mount Everest.
Morshead, who had left the day before, was camped at a small monastery a
few miles to the North of us in order to follow the crest of the ridge
of hills and to survey both sides, but was to join us again at Tinki.
The weather now was really delightful, though to the South of us we
still saw heavy clouds which brought showers of snow as far as the
mountains, but they did not reach us.

From here to Tinki was about 13 miles over a perfectly level plain. The
midges or sand flies were very troublesome the whole way and came in
hundreds round one's head, got inside one's topee, and were thoroughly
objectionable. The plain appeared very fertile, as there seemed to be
plenty of water and great herds of yaks and flocks of sheep were grazing
upon it. In the marshes and ponds were many bar-headed geese, Brahminy
ducks, mallard and teal. After the rains, it is evident that a great
part of this plain is under water. About a couple of miles from Tinki we
crossed some curious sand dunes, about 20 feet high, which are evidently
on the move, and soon afterwards the Jongpen of Tinki came riding out to
meet us with a few mounted followers, he himself riding a fine white
pony. He was very Chinese in appearance, wearing finely embroidered
silks with a Chinese hat and a long pigtail, and his manners were
excellent. He escorted us to the place where our camp was to be, and had
had three or four tents already pitched for us. Tea and country beer
were at once served, and we rested in the shade of his Chinese tents
until our transport arrived.

[Illustration: TINKI DZONG.]

We were encamped in a very picturesque spot beside a large pond that was
full of bar-headed geese, Brahminy ducks and terns. On the opposite side
of this pond rose the walls and towers of the fort of Tinki. As soon as
we had settled down, the Jongpen came again to pay us a formal visit,
presented us with four sheep and a couple of hundred eggs and promised
to do everything he could to help us and to forward us on our way. Half
a mile above us was a large village and a big monastery belonging to the
Yellow Sect of Buddhists who also owned a fine grove of willows. The
bottom of the valley was all covered with barley fields, now a tender
green and coming up well. As the fresh transport had not arrived, we had
to spend the following day there. This gave an opportunity for Abdul
Jalil, our photographic assistant, to rejoin us. We had sent him back to
Phari in order to change some more rupees into Tibetan currency, as we
found that Indian notes or rupees were not accepted any further to the
West. Abdul Jalil had been very nervous about travelling with so much
money and had borrowed a revolver and a rifle from members of the
Expedition besides two large Tibetan swords and a dagger which he
obtained from the Jongpen. In the morning, with Bullock, I went to
return the call of the Jongpen. His fort at the time was under repair,
so he was living in a small house outside the main building. He was very
affable and gave us tea: we were then able to make all the arrangements
for transport except the actual fixing of the price. For this he said he
would have to consult his head-men. Just as we were about to leave he
insisted on our eating the large meal which he had had prepared for us.
He gave us small dishes of excellent macaroni and mince, seasoned up
with chillies and very well cooked--much better than anything our cooks
could produce. This we had to eat with chopsticks--a somewhat difficult
proceeding, as we were not yet used to them. Later on, however, after
much practice, we found no difficulty in consuming the numerous bowls of
this excellent dish that the Tibetans always set before one. The Jongpen
told us that he had been twenty-nine years in Government service, and he
was expecting to have a better post than this shortly. His health was
poor and he said he had been suffering much from indigestion, so I gave
him some pills and tabloids, for which he was very grateful. On the
return journey, he told me that he had greatly benefited by my
treatment. The bar-headed geese and the wild duck here were
extraordinarily tame, allowing us to approach within five yards of them
and showing no signs of fear. They would come and waddle round our
tents, picking up any scraps of food. The Jongpen had begged us not to
shoot or kill any of them, as he said a Lama had been sent specially
from Lhasa some years ago in order to tame the creatures, and certainly
the result was extraordinary; it was most interesting to watch these
birds, ordinarily so wild, from so close a distance. In the evening the
Jongpen came over to see us again, and after a good hour's bargaining
over the price of the transport, we finally reached a reasonable and
amicable agreement. Every evening, to the South of us, there were
constant flashes of lightning all along the horizon. In the morning I
woke up to the unusual sound of drops of rain, but this only lasted for
five minutes and then cleared up, though the sky remained clouded all
the morning. There was the usual fighting and confusion about the loads,
each person trying to get the lightest loads for his own animal. The
result was that there was much talking and fighting, and nothing was
actually done until some head-man would come and take control and decide
the dispute. The method of adjudication was as follows:--From each of
the families who were regarded as responsible for the supply of a
transport animal was taken one of the embroidered garters by which the
man's felt boots are kept in their place. These garters were shuffled,
as one might shuffle a pack of cards, after which a single garter was
laid upon each load. The family to which the garter belonged thereupon
became responsible for that load and had to pack it upon the animal's
back. Although we had only ninety animals, there were forty-five
different families supplying them.

The march from Tinki to Chushar Nango was about 14 miles and was up the
valley behind Tinki to the Tinki Pass. On the way we passed
well-irrigated fields of barley and then climbed up a spur covered with
a small yellow cistus. After this a long gentle pull brought us to the
top of the pass, 17,100 feet. There was a very fine view from here to
the East looking over Tinki and Khamba Dzong and along the Northern
slopes of the Himalayas. I climbed up a hill about 600 feet above the
pass, whence I had a more extensive view still. I could see far away to
the East to Chomolhari, while in the foreground was the large and
picturesque lake called Tsomotretung backed by the rugged chain of
peaks that separated us from the valley of the Brahmaputra. To the West
we looked down into the valley of the Yaru, which flowed gently through
a broad and flat valley. To the South-west was a range of sharp granite
peaks rising up to 22,000 feet, which ran North and South and forced the
Yaru to flow round them before it could find its way into Nepal. The
descent from the pass was much steeper. We passed many of our old
friends the pink trumpet-shaped flowers, also a curious white and pink
flower, rather like a daphne in shape, and smelling very sweetly, which
grew in masses along the path. It was evidently poisonous as no animal
would touch it. I picked some flowers of it and put them in my
buttonhole, but was warned by the Tibetans not to do so, as they said it
was poisonous and would give me a headache. Lower down the valley was
full of small dwarf gorse bushes--1 foot to 18 inches high--which
carpeted the ground. Everywhere were flocks of sheep and cattle grazing
in the valley. Our camp was pitched on a grassy flat just below the
village of Chushar Nango with its fine old ruined tower of stone with
machicolated galleries all round it. To the South of us was the Nila
Pass, which afforded an easy way into Nepal. The climate here was fairly
warm, but the wind blew very strongly all that evening. Next day we saw
the mountains all covered with fresh snow down to 16,000 feet, but we
only experienced a slight drizzle as most of the snowflakes evaporated
before they reached the ground, though clouds remained overhead all the
morning. Morshead and his surveyors had been kept very busy up till now
surveying and plotting in the intervening country from the tops of the
hills, but owing to the clouds they were unable to do anything. We were
all very late in starting, as our transport animals had been changed and
the yaks that were supplied to us were very wild. In the first few
minutes after starting we saw the plain strewn with our kits and stores,
and yaks careering off in every direction with their tails in the air.

The march to Gyangkar Nangpa to-day was only a short one and led across
a wide plain through which flowed the muddy and sluggish waters of the
Yaru. The existing maps of this country were quite misleading and we
could no longer depend on them. The rivers flowed in opposite directions
to those shown on the map and mountains were shown where there were
none. After about 2 or 3 miles, we had to ford the river, which was
about 80 yards wide and not quite 3 feet deep. We then rode on across
the plain, which was in some parts sandy and in others muddy or
gravelly; evidently during the rainy season a shallow lake. In places
the dwarf gorse grew on it. The sandy tracks were covered with curious
hillocks 5 to 6 feet in height formed by the drifting sand and the gorse
bushes. These in order to keep alive were compelled to push their
branches through the sand which in its turn became piled up around them.
Towards the West end of the plain were marshes and shallow lakes around
which we had to make big detours.

Gyangkar Nangpa, which was our destination, was the country residence of
the Phari Jongpen. His brother, who was acting as agent for him, rode
out to meet us and escorted us to his house, a fine solid stone building
dominating all the small houses. The tops of the walls were covered with
gorse and juniper, rather suggestive of Christmas decorations. Tents
were pitched for us in a grass paddock close to a grove of willows. We
were then conducted upstairs into a pleasant room where were some fine
gilt Chinese cabinets and some good Chinese rugs. Here the Jongpen had a
meal prepared for us. We were first given tea, milk and beer, after
which some fifteen dumplings apiece, each as big as a small apple, were
put down in front of us together with three other bowls. In one of these
was a black Chinese sauce, in another a chillie paste, and a third
contained a barley soup. We were then given chopsticks with which we
were expected to convey the dumplings into the barley soup, break them
up there, season them with the various sauces, and then convey them to
our mouths--a not too easy feat. This meal was so satisfying that we
felt that we did not want to eat anything for a long time afterwards. We
were told that in the rainy season the river here was unfordable, as it
rose several feet and flooded over the plains, and it was then necessary
to keep to the North or to the South of it. In the evening the agent
came to make an official call and presented us with a sheep and a number
of eggs. We invited him to dinner and gave him his first taste of such
European cooking as could be provided by our native cooks.


There was a slight frost during the night, but the day turned out very
fine. Our host accompanied us to the village of Rongkong, one of the
villages belonging to his brother, and here he said good-bye to us. The
day's march was uninteresting. We followed along the left bank of the
Yaru past well-irrigated barley fields, for there was any amount of
water here, until the valley narrowed and the sides came down steeper,
when it became covered with gorse bushes. This valley we descended for
about 10 miles until it debouched into another, a broader sandy valley
where the Yaru changed its course to the South. We forded it at a point
where it was about 90 yards wide and 3½ feet deep, and we then sat down
and waited for our transport to come up. Beyond us lay a wide sandy
valley through which a stream flowed sometimes on the surface, but more
often underground, when it formed dangerous quicksands. When the
transport came up, our drivers were very anxious to cross immediately,
as there was a strong wind blowing and a violent sandstorm. They said
that it would be much safer to cross now that all the fresh sand had
blown over the wet sand. In the morning, they said, after a still night,
it was very dangerous, so following their advice we started off, every
one dressed up as though for a gas attack, with goggles over the eyes
and comforters or handkerchiefs tied over the mouth and nose to keep the
sand out. At first we wound our way through big sand dunes, off which
the sand was blowing like smoke. Under one of these sand dunes we found
our coolies halted and lost. Some of the donkeys, too, had been
unloaded here, as they could not find their way across in the sandstorm.
After leaving the dunes, there were wide stretches of wet sand to cross,
over which the dried sand from the dunes was being blown like long wisps
of smoke so that the whole ground appeared to be moving. In places where
the wet sand shook and quivered we galloped along. Eventually we and our
transport arrived on the far side of the plain in safety. It was now too
late, however, to go on any further, so we camped on the dunes near the
quicksands in the teeth of the gale. The sand was being whirled up on to
us and into our tents until everything and every one was full of sand.
Water was handy, but yak dung, our only fuel, was scarce and scanty.

Just before dark a very beautiful and lofty peak appeared to the
Southwards. Our drivers called it Chomo Uri (The Goddess of the
Turquoise Peak) and we had many discussions as to what mountain this
was. In the morning, after taking its bearings carefully, we decided
that this could be no other than Mount Everest. We found out afterwards
that the name, Chomo Uri, was purely a local name for the mountain.
Throughout Tibet it was known as Chomolungma--Goddess Mother of the
Country--and this is its proper Tibetan name.

Next morning, after an uncomfortable and windy night, we rode for
several miles across a plain covered with sand dunes 20 feet or more in
height. On reaching the entrance to the valley of Bhong-chu, I
determined to separate myself from the main party in order to explore a
peak which attracted my attention on the North side of the valley and
seemed to promise good views of Mount Everest and its surroundings.
After a climb of some 3,000 feet, I found myself on a spur from which I
had a very wonderful view. The view extended to the East from beyond
Chomolhari--over 120 miles away--and embraced practically all the high
snow peaks from Chomolhari to Gosainthan, a distance of some 250 miles.
In the centre Mount Everest stood up all by itself, a wonderful peak
towering above its neighbours and entirely without a rival. I spent
four or five hours at the top of this hill, basking in the sun, as it
was delightfully hot. I saw several swallow-tailed butterflies, also a
number of bees, wasps and horse flies. Major Morshead and his surveyors
soon afterwards joined us, intending to take advantage of the fine view.
In the afternoon I left the peak and descended into the valley in search
of our new camp, for we had now left the Yaru and had turned up into the
valley of the Bhong-chu, a river that flowed from the West, with a very
considerable volume of water. As there was rinderpest in the valley, our
transport consisted now of donkeys only, many of them being very
diminutive in size, but quite accustomed to carrying heavy loads. Our
camp was pitched at a place called Trangso Chumbab, where there was an
old Chinese rest-house. The Bhong-chu here was nearly 200 yards in
width, but there was quite a good ford across it to Tsogo. Here we found
many flourishing villages and much cultivation. We seemed to be entering
a much more populated part of the country; from the top of the hill I
counted in one valley no less than fifteen villages and quite a number
of willow groves. From here a longish march of 18 miles up the valley of
the Bhong-chu brought us to Kyishong--a pretty little village on the
banks of the river. There were a few willow trees here and a lot of sea
buckthorn. I did not keep to the road, but started early across a big
plain on which I was lucky enough to shoot a goa with quite
good horns. The day was very hot and sultry, and after crossing the
plain I went up a side valley which turned out to be extremely pretty.
It was very narrow and a mass of wild rose bushes. These roses were all
of a creamy yellow, and every bush was covered with hundreds of
sweet-smelling flowers. There was also a curious black clematis and
several species of broom and rock cistus. Here and there were grassy
patches with bubbling springs of crystal clearness. Rock pigeons,
Brahminy ducks, blackbirds and numerous other varieties of small birds
came down to drink here and did not mind us at all. About two o'clock
the weather suddenly changed and violent thunderstorms started all
round us, first on the opposite side of the valley and then on every
side. Heavy hail came down at the same time and the ground soon became
white. On descending into the valley, I put up what was to me a new kind
of partridge, also numerous mountain hares. On emerging into the main
valley, I noticed a group of five large Chortens. I was told that the
centre Chorten had been built over a very bad demon, and that it kept
him down. The other four Chortens at the corners prevented his ever
getting away.

The next day's march to Shekar Dzong was a short one of only 12 miles.
We followed the main valley for about 6 miles through some interesting
conglomerate gorges alternating with open spaces covered with sea
buckthorn. We then turned off Northwards up a side valley which led us
to the town and fort of Shekar. This place was very finely situated on a
big rocky and sharp-pointed mountain like an enlarged St. Michael's
Mount. The actual town stands at the foot of the hill, but a large
monastery, holding over 400 monks and consisting of innumerable
buildings, is literally perched half-way up the cliff. The buildings are
connected by walls and towers with the fort, which rises above them all.
The fort again is connected by turreted walls with a curious Gothic-like
structure on the summit of the hill where incense is offered up daily.
On our arrival the whole town turned out and surrounded us with much
curiosity, for we were the first Europeans that they had ever seen. A
small tent had been pitched for us, but there was such a crowd round it
that I retreated to a willow grove close by, which was protected by a
wall. As the Jongpen had not come to see us, Chheten Wangdi went over to
find him; presently he came along with a basket of eggs and with many
apologies for not coming before, but he said that he had had no warning
of our arrival. This was but partly true, for though our passport did
not particularly mention this place, it authorised all officials to help
us to their utmost, and the Jongpen certainly knew and had heard that we
were coming. I asked him to give orders that no intoxicating spirits
should be served out to our followers, remembering the trouble we had
had in one or two places before owing to their all getting drunk. Our
tents were all pitched inside an enclosure and in the shade of the
willow grove, and above us towered the picturesque buildings of the fort
and the monastery. This was by far the largest and most interesting
place that we had yet come across. For our mess tent we were given a
fine Chinese tent such as they always seem to keep for the entertainment
of guests of honour. As in most places, there were two Jongpens residing
here, one lay and the other ecclesiastical, and finding that Tingri was
under their jurisdiction, we asked them to issue orders to their
representatives at Tingri to help us in every way with supplies and

[Illustration: SHEKAR DZONG.]

June 17 we spent resting at Shekar. In the morning Morshead and I went
to call on the Jongpen; he lives in a poor house at the foot of the
hill, his official residence being three-quarters of the way up, but he
wisely prefers to live at the bottom, not being very fond of exercise.
He was busy adding on to his house, and we were shown into the old part
in which he was living. He gave us the usual Tibetan tea and sweetmeats
and then insisted on our having macaroni and meat seasoned with
chillies, which was excellent, followed by junket served in china bowls.
He had some very fine teacups of agate and hornblende schist with finely
chased silver covers, which I admired very much. That afternoon several
of us went up to visit the big monastery of Shekar Chö-te. This
consisted of a great number of buildings terraced one above the other on
a very steep rocky slope. A path along the face of the rock brought us
to several archways under which we passed. We then had to go up and down
some picturesque but very steep and narrow streets until we came to a
large courtyard. On one side of this was the main temple. In this temple
were several gilt statues of Buddha decorated all over with turquoises
and other precious stones, and behind them a huge figure of Buddha quite
50 feet high. Every year, they told us, they had to re-gild his face.
Around were eight curious figures about 10 feet high and dressed in
quaint flounces which they said were the guardians of the shrine. We
then went up steep and slippery ladders, in almost pitch darkness, and
came out on a platform opposite the face of the great Buddha. Here were
some beautifully chased silver teapots and other interesting pieces of
silver, richly decorated in relief. Inside the shrine, which was very
dark, the smell of rancid butter was almost overpowering as all the
lamps burnt butter. The official head of the monastery showed us round.
He was apparently appointed from Lhasa and was responsible for all the
revenues and financial dealings of the monastery. We were given very
buttery tea in the roof courtyard, which was a pleasant spot, and here I
photographed a group of several monks. They had never seen a camera or
photographs before, but they had heard that such a thing was possible
and were very much interested in it. Before leaving we went in to see
the Head Lama who had lived over sixty-six years in this monastery. He
was looked upon as being extremely holy and as the re-incarnation of a
former abbot, and they therefore practically worshipped him. There was
only one tooth left in his mouth, but for all that he had a very
pleasant smile. All around his room were silver-gilt Chortens inlaid
with turquoises and precious stones and incense was being burnt
everywhere. After much persuasion the other monks induced him to come
outside and have his photograph taken, telling him that he was an old
man, and that his time on earth was now short, and they would like to
have a picture of him to remember him by. He was accordingly brought
out, dressed up in robes of beautiful golden brocades, with priceless
silk Chinese hangings arranged behind him while he sat on a raised dais
with his dorje and his bell in front of him, placed upon a finely carved
Chinese table. The fame of this photograph spread throughout the country
and in places hundreds of miles away I was asked for photographs of the
Old Abbot of Shekar Chö-te, nor could I give a more welcome present at
any house than a photograph of the Old Abbot. Being looked upon as a
saint, he was worshipped, and they would put these little photographs in
shrines and burn incense in front of them.


About midnight that night I was suddenly awakened by yells and loud
shouting and hammering close to my tent and next to that in which
Bullock and Mallory were sleeping. The latter turned out and found that
a Tibetan had seized an ice axe and a mallet and was busy hammering on
our store boxes. He gave chase, but failed to catch the intruder. Some
of our coolies, however, found out where he had gone to, and Chheten
Wangdi had him handed over to the Jongpen. On investigation in the
morning the man proved to be a madman whom his parents always kept
locked up during nights when the moon was full, but he had managed to
escape, so we handed him back to his family.

Our transport was very slow in arriving, and there were so many delays
that it was midday before the procession finally moved off. The loads,
too, were very badly put on and kept falling off, also the transport was
quite the worst that we had yet had. For about 5 miles the path went up
and down hill and through much sand until we came to the bridge over the
Bhong-chu. This bridge consisted of four or five stout pillars of loose
stones which acted as piers, on which were laid a few pieces of wood, on
which flat stones were placed. It was a rough form of bridge, but served
at ordinary times for its purpose. During the course of this summer,
however, after heavy rain, these piers so dammed up the water as to
cause it to rise some 4 or 5 feet on the upper side of them with the
result that the immense weight of water swept the whole bridge away.
Bullock and Mallory with half a dozen coolies had left early in the
morning, intending to bivouac out for a couple of nights and climb one
of the hills to the South of the Bhong-chu in order to get a view of
Mount Everest. After we had gone about 5 miles we met them close to the
bridge, as they had lost their way and had been walking for about 15
miles: not having found the bridge, they had forded the river and had
got wet up to their necks in crossing it. At dusk we reached the village
of Tsakor, where we found a tent pitched for us, and here we spent the
night. Our transport did not turn up till nearly nine o'clock, and so we
all slept in the mess tent. From here to Tingri was still another 20
miles--the path following the right bank of the Bhong-chu the whole way.
In places the river was as much as 200 yards wide and flowed very
sluggishly. We were told that the waters were very low, but that next
month, when the rains had broken, the river often filled the whole of
the bottom of the valley. On the way we passed some very handsome
black-necked cranes as large as the Saurus crane. These had black heads
and bills, with red eyes, light grey bodies and black tails with fine
feathers. On this march the midges were dreadfully annoying the whole
way, and we were surrounded with clouds of them the whole time. Their
bite was very tiresome and extremely irritating. On the way we passed a
Mongolian who had taken eleven months in coming from Lhasa and who was
on his way to Nepal. His method of progression was by throwing himself
at full length down on the ground. He then got up and at the spot where
his hands touched the ground repeated the motion again. As we approached
Tingri, the valley widened out and bent round to the South. Tingri
itself was situated on the side of a small hill in the middle of a great
plain, from which, looking to the South, was visible the wonderful chain
of snowy peaks, many of them over 25,000 feet in height, which extends
Westwards from Mount Everest. We crossed the Ra-chu--a tributary of the
Bhong-chu, partly by bridges and partly by fords; it was split up into a
number of small and very muddy channels that took their rise from the
Kyetrak Glacier. Tingri was to be our first base for reconnoitring the
Northern and North-western approaches to Mount Everest. It was June 19
when we arrived there, so that it had taken us just a month's travelling
from Darjeeling to perform this part of our journey.

                                CHAPTER IV


Tingri is a place of some importance, with a considerable trade at
certain seasons of the year. It is the last place of any size on this
side of the Nepalese frontier and boasts of a military governor. The
garrison, however, when we visited it, consisted only of a sergeant and
four or five soldiers. There were about three hundred houses in Tingri,
all clustered together on the slopes of a small isolated hill standing
in the middle of the great plain. On the top of the hill was the old
Chinese fort, now all falling into ruin, but still littered with papers
and books, written in Chinese characters, left behind by the Chinese on
their hasty departure. Inside were quaint mural frescoes of curious old
men riding stags or winged dragons painted in many colours. All the way
up the valley of the Bhong-chu we had seen ruins of walls and evidences
of much fighting. These all dated back, we were told, to the time of the
Nepalese invasions of Tibet in the eighteenth century when the Gurkhas
penetrated so far into Tibet that they actually got to Shigatse, and the
Tibetans had to call upon the Chinese Empire for help. The Chinese came
into the country with a large army, defeated the Gurkhas, drove them out
of Tibet and crossed the Himalayas with a considerable army into Nepal,
an extraordinary military feat considering the enormous difficulty of
moving an army in these unhospitable regions over the high mountain
passes through which it is approached. The Chinese, after this, never
left Tibet until they were driven out by the Tibetans only a few years
ago. In the hills round Tingri we came across many evidences of the
fighting which then took place. This probably accounted for the large
number of ruined and deserted villages that we saw in the valleys
around. At the foot of the hill was a large Chinese rest-house which was
only used to house Tibetan officials when they came there on duty. The
Tibetans themselves did not like to live in or use the place, as many
Chinese had died there and they thought that their ghosts haunted the
spot. This rest-house was, however, swept out and prepared for our
reception, as we had told the Tibetans that we should probably stay
there for some time and should want a house to protect us from the wind
and to provide a dark room for developing our photographs. The
rest-house consisted of three courtyards in the outer one we put the
coolies, in the middle one the surveyors, and the inner one we kept for
ourselves. In appearance the building was quite picturesque with its
mural paintings of flying dogs and fierce dragons; but in spite of its
picturesqueness outside and its handsome appearance, the rooms inside
were small, and when the rain came it poured through the roof and our
beds had to be shifted many times during the night to avoid the drips of
water. It however provided an excellent dark room for us after we had
well plastered the walls, the floor and the ceiling with mud and got rid
of the dust of ages. To do any photographic work in Tibet a house is a
necessity, as with the violent wind that blows every day all one's
belongings get covered with dust which would ruin any negative. At first
we found water a great difficulty as the local water was full of mud,
but we eventually discovered a beautifully clear spring, about half a
mile away, which bubbled up in a deep bluey green basin, and this water
we used always, both for drinking and for photographic work. Tingri had
many advantages as a base. Stores, supplies and transport were always
available there, as it was the headquarters of the district. It also
provided an easy means of approach to Mount Everest from the North-west
and to the high group of mountains that lay to the West of Mount
Everest. After sorting out all our stores and equipment and seeing in
what state they were after the journey, our next business was the making
of a dark room, as we had taken many photographs on the journey that
required developing. The weather at this time was very fine, but the
Tibetans kept on telling us that the rainy season ought to be starting,
so we determined as soon as possible to send out parties in different
directions to make the most of the favourable opportunity. The first
morning after our arrival we were up on the top of the hill by six
o'clock in the hope of getting a good view to the South, but the clouds
were already over most of the mountains. Everest we could see quite
clearly, and Cho-Uyo, the great 26,800 feet peak that lies to the West
of Mount Everest. The Depon here, who was acting as the Governor of the
place, was a nice young fellow and very cheery, and later on I got to
know him very well and went over to his house and was entertained by him
and his wife. He told me that the Tibetans still paid tribute to Nepal
for all that part of the country, and that the amount they had to pay
was the equivalent of 5,000 rupees per annum. The Nepalese kept a
head-man at Tingri and another at Nyenyam to deal with all criminal
cases and offences committed by Nepalese subjects when in Tibet. I found
later on that the Tibetans were very frightened of the Nepalese, or of
having any dealings with a Gurkha. I took photographs of the Depon's
wife and all their children, and of his mother-in-law, which delighted
them immensely; the wife at first was very shy of coming forward, but
after many tears and protestations her husband finally induced her to be
photographed. The great semi-circular head-dresses that the women wear
are usually covered with turquoises, and coral, and often with strings
of seed pearls across them. Round their necks hang long chains of either
turquoise or coral beads, sometimes mixed with lumps of amber. Suspended
round the neck by a shorter chain is generally a very elaborately
decorated charm box, those belonging to the richer or upper classes
being of gold inlaid with turquoises, the poorer people having them
made of silver with poorer turquoises. The officials, as a rule, have a
long ear-ring, 4 or 5 inches long, of turquoises and pearls, suspended
from the left ear, while in the right ear they wear a single turquoise
of very good quality. Nearly every one carries a rosary, with which
their hands are playing about the whole day. We were told that the laws
governing marriage in those parts were strictly regulated. Owing to the
excessive number of males, a form of polyandry prevails. If there were
four brothers in a family, and the eldest one married a wife, his wife
would also be the property of the three younger brothers; but if the
second or third brother married, their wives would be common only to
themselves and their youngest brother. In Tibet, when, owing to the
severe climate, digging is impossible for about six months in the year,
if a man dies his body is handed over to professional corpse butchers,
of whom there are one or two in every village. These butchers cut the
body up into small pieces, which are taken out on to a hill-top and
scattered about for the birds of the air or the wolves to devour. If by
any chance there is a delay in consuming these remains, this is looked
upon as a sign that the man has led an evil life during his lifetime.

On June 22 Wollaston rejoined us again. He had escorted Raeburn to
Lachen, and had there arranged for an assistant surgeon to come up and
take him back as far as Gangtok. Wollaston had then come on as fast as
possible to rejoin us. His kit did not arrive till the following day, as
he had ridden in direct from Shekar Dzong. The following day Bullock and
Mallory left us, making direct for Mount Everest, and intending to
reconnoitre the North and Northwestern slopes. Looked at from here it is
certainly a very wonderful mountain, as it seems to stand up all by
itself, but from this side it looks far too steep to be climbed. On June
25 Wheeler and Heron went off to Kyetrak, from which point Wheeler was
to begin his photographic survey. I had intended to start the following
day and join them, but the acid hypo that I had been using for fixing
had given off so many sulphur fumes that I had been quite "gassed" for
several days and had lost my voice in consequence. Unfortunately my
orderly and Wheeler's bearer, who were both Mahommedans, were taken ill
with enteric. Wheeler's bearer was in a very bad way, and a few days
after my departure he died, but my orderly, after a bad attack,
recovered, and when I returned three weeks later he was able to be up
and to walk about a little. As Wollaston was likely to be detained here
for some time owing to these cases of sickness, and as Morshead wanted
to get in some surveying all round Tingri, I thought it would be a good
opportunity to visit the different parties that we had sent out, and
also to get, if possible, some information about Kharta, which I
intended should be our second base. The coolies that we had still with
us at Tingri were kept busy by Wollaston, and daily they would bring in
rats, birds, lizards, beetles, or fish which they had collected for him.
The local people would not make any attempt to collect these animals, as
they said it was against their religion. On June 26 I started out to the
South and camped the first night at Sharto, a small village about 9
miles across the plain to the South of Tingri. On the way we passed
numbers of bees that seemed to be coming up out of the ground and
swarming. These were all of a very light brown colour. Sharto is only a
small village, but there are no other houses between it and Kyetrak, so
that it was necessary to stop there. As the wind always blows with great
strength here, the tents were pitched within some sheltering walls. In
every place that we went to now we managed to get some kind of green
food which was turned into spinach; a small kind of weed that grows in
the barley fields was generally thus used. At other times we tried
turnip leaves, or again, when we were higher and above the limits of
cultivation, the young shoots of the nettle which grows up to 17,000
feet, and is really very good. I had taken with me this time a Tibetan
whom we had picked up on the way. He was called Poo, and he turned out
to be an excellent cook who could make any of the Tibetan dishes. As he
was a sensible fellow, and very seldom drunk, I made a good deal of use
of him. He accompanied me in all my wanderings, and I could not have
found a more useful servant when travelling, as he never seemed to mind
the cold or the height and could always produce a fire of some kind,
even though he had forgotten to bring any matches. That evening at
Sharto there was a curious false sunset in the East with rays of light
in the deep purple of the sky. All the hills stood out with wonderful
sharpness, and the colours were very beautiful. Towards nightfall we saw
a number of kiang, which came quite close up to the camp and started
feeding on the barley fields in spite of the pillars of stones and the
strings which are put round the fields to keep both them and the hares
away from the crops. The next morning I started off early as I intended
to climb a hill 17,700 feet, on the way to Kyetrak. This hill, however,
proved further off than I anticipated, and we had some difficulty in
crossing a glacier stream, so that I did not get up to the top till 9
a.m., by which time the clouds had hidden a great part of the mountains
to the South of us. The view, nevertheless, was extraordinarily fine.
The top of Everest just showed above a great icy range to the East of
us, and South-east was that great group of mountains of which Cho-Uyo,
26,800 feet, is the highest. Immense granite precipices descended sheer
for several thousand feet until they reached great winding glaciers,
while from over the Khombu Pass long wisps of cloud came sailing round
these peaks and eventually hid them from our view. To the North the view
extended right up to the watershed of the Brahmaputra, 80 to 100 miles
distant. The different colours of the hills, the light and shade from
the clouds, all formed a charming picture. Once over 17,000 feet, I met
my old friend the dwarf blue poppy (_Meconopsis_) and many pretty white,
blue and yellow saxifrages that grew on the rocks. Descending from this
hill into the Kyetrak Valley, we passed a number of goa which were quite
tame, but unfortunately they were all females. We had two more big
glacial torrents to cross which later in the afternoon would probably
have been impassable as by that time they would have risen another 2
feet, due to the melting of the snow and the ice by the hot sun in the
morning; indeed, we only just managed to get across when we did. The
main Kyetrak stream comes from the great glacier that descends from
Cho-Uyo and the Khombu Pass. Opposite the village of Kyetrak it is
luckily divided into a number of small streams, so that it is usually
possible to get across it, though in the afternoons it is always
somewhat difficult.

This village lies at a height of 16,000 feet, at the foot of the Khombu
or Nangba Pass and the Pusi Pass. The former is a high glacier-covered
pass, about 19,000 feet, that leads into the Khombu Valley in Nepal. The
other, the Pusi Pass, is a much lower and easier pass that leads into
the Rongshar Valley. Between these two passes lies a very beautiful
glacier-covered peak called Chorabsang. Here at Kyetrak I met Heron and
Wheeler encamped in the shelter of some walls close to the village,
which consisted of a few dirty stone houses and a big Chorten. The
people told me that they lived here all the year round, and that they
owned the grazing for many miles to the North and possessed herds of
yaks several thousand in number. Traffic could be kept up over these
passes, they said, at all times of the year, though only with great
difficulty, and with much danger, whole convoys being sometimes wiped
out by blizzards when trying to cross the Khombu Pass, as the fine
powdery snow is blown down into their faces from every direction and
they finally get suffocated by it. That night there was a sharp frost,
and the following morning Heron and I started to go up towards the
Khombu Pass, following at first the East side of the Kyetrak Glacier.
For about 6 or 7 miles we rode beside the great moraine that extended
along the East side of this glacier; every now and then we climbed up on
to a mound on the edge of the glacier in order to take photographs of
it. The ice was all torn and riven into wonderful shapes and opposite
us was the finely crevassed peak of Chorabsang. I pushed on, leaving
Heron to come on at a slower pace, as I was anxious to get to the top of
the pass before the clouds should have come up and hidden all the views.
Every day it cost us a race to get up to a point of vantage before the
clouds should have come up and hidden everything. Leaving the pony
behind, with one coolie, I pressed forward for some 4 miles up a very
stony and slippery moraine on the glacier. Here were many curious ice
formations--ice tables with a big flat rock superimposed, curious
upright pillars of ice, and the main glacier itself was worn by stone
and water into the weirdest shapes and forms. In places, too, we came
across that curious formation which in South America is called Nieve
Penitentes. As we passed onwards, new glaciers opened up in every
valley. The views up some of these side valleys, which often widened out
into great amphitheatres, were very grand, especially that of the huge
glacier that swept down from below the rock walls of Cho-Uyo.

On arriving at the end of the moraine, the boots that my coolie was
wearing came to pieces and he said he could go no further across the
snow, so shouldering the big camera, I started off alone. At first the
ice was firm, but soon I came to soft snow and much water underneath it:
they made the going very unpleasant and I kept floundering about up to
my knees in snow and water. At length I came to a large crevasse along
the edge of which I followed for over half a mile as most of the snow
bridges across it were unsafe. At last I found my way across and by
climbing on to some rocks was able to look over the top of the pass and
down into Nepal. The height of the pass seemed to be about 19,000 feet,
and as the day was very hot, I lay down and went sound asleep, only
waking up when it began to snow. I then started, none too soon, on my
homeward journey: all the way back snow fell heavily. I was very
thankful to meet my coolie again and to hand over the camera to him:
carrying a camera for five or six hours in soft snow at a height of
over 18,000 feet is a heavy tax upon the endurance of anyone
unaccustomed to carrying weights. Wheeler meanwhile had moved up his
camp from Kyetrak to a spot on the moraine East of the glacier and
intended to spend a week or fortnight in that valley.

The next morning Heron and I started to go over the Pusi Pass (Marmot
Pass), so called because of the number of marmots that frequent the
Southern slopes. After fording the Kyetrak River, we climbed up the
moraine to the West of the Kyetrak Glacier and then turned up some easy
grass hills until we came to the top of the pass, 17,700 feet.
Here at the very top were growing some delightful little dwarf
forget-me-nots--not an inch high--also many white and yellow saxifrages.
Most of the views were unfortunately hidden by clouds, though one fine
triple-headed peak showed up well to the South. We passed several flocks
of female burhel (_Ovis nahura_), which were quite tame, and allowed us
to ride up to within 50 yards of them. The hillsides were bare at first
and grassy and the air felt distinctly cold and damp. We now commenced
our long descent, and at 16,000 feet began to meet with juniper bushes
and many dwarf rhododendrons. As we got lower, many more varieties of
bushes appeared. There were two or three kinds of berberis, loniceras,
white and pink spiræas, and quantities of white roses; besides these
were masses of primulas and anemones, and pink, white or mauve
geraniums. We now followed the right bank of the Shung-chu, a great
glacial torrent, which joined by several others became an unfordable
stream. The path was well engineered, sometimes close to the river, and
sometimes built out on rocks high above the stream. All of a sudden the
valley narrowed into a great gorge. We had left all the granites and
slates behind and had suddenly come into the zone of the gneiss, which
extended many miles to the South. A little way further down, at a place
where two other valleys meet, we caught sight of some green barley
fields lying round the small village of Tasang where we encamped on a
terrace for the night. We were now at a height of only 13,300 feet, and
were able to get fresh eggs and vegetables again. It was a great
pleasure once more to have wood fires in place of the yak dung with its
acrid smoke, which caused all one's food to taste unpleasantly. Here we
used as fuel the aromatic wood of the juniper.

This valley is looked upon as a holy one, owing to the number of juniper
bushes that grow in it, and several hermits and nuns had taken up their
abode in it and shut themselves up in caves in order to meditate. The
nearest village used to supply them with food, and morning and evening
could be seen ascending the blue smoke of the juniper, which they burnt
as incense before the entrances of their dwelling places. There was a
hermit who lived close to the village and whose cave we could see high
up in the rocks above. The villagers told us that after meditating for a
period of ten years, he would be able to live on only ten grains of
barley a day, and they were looking forward to that day. There was
another anchorite female who was supposed to have lived here for 138
years and who was greatly revered. She had forbidden any of the animals
in the valley to be killed, and that was the reason why the flocks of
burhel we had passed were so extremely tame. The next day, giving our
transport a rest, Heron and I walked for 7 or 8 miles down the valley.
On the opposite side of the valley the only trees were birches and
willow, and it was curious that, at these comparatively low heights,
there were no large rhododendrons or fir trees. On the other side of the
valley, the vegetation consisted wholly of juniper, berberis or wild
roses. We descended to 12,000 feet, most of the time going through
narrow gorges. At one place we came across a number of gooseberry bushes
covered with young gooseberries, of which we gathered a sufficient
supply to last us for several days. The rose bushes were charming all
the way. At first they were all of the white creamy coloured variety,
but lower down we came on the big red one with flowers often more than 3
inches in diameter. Wherever there were springs of water there grew
masses of anemones and yellow primulas. We now returned to our camp at
Tasang, and rain then started and continued the remainder of the day.
The people told us that this valley was passable for animals for three
days' journey, after which the river entered into some terrible gorges
down which it was only just possible for a coolie to get along, and
these latter gorges formed the boundary between Tibet and Nepal. On
July 1 we started to return to Kyetrak; the morning was misty when we
started, and though the higher peaks were all hidden in the clouds, the
sun shone brightly and the day was quite hot. Our kit did not arrive
till between five and six o'clock, and the yaks had a great deal of
trouble in getting across the Kyetrak River, as it had risen
considerably. Wheeler was still at his high camp further up the valley,
waiting for a really clear day. The clouds, too, were his great enemies,
as they came up very early every morning from over the Khombu Pass.

From here Heron and I had decided to go on and see how Mallory and
Bullock had been faring in the next valley, so the next morning, after
breakfasting at 5 a.m., we started off. It was one of the coldest
mornings we had had, with a very hard frost, and being on the shady side
of the valley we did not get the sun till several hours after we had
started. After going down the valley for about 6 miles, we turned off to
the East and crossed several easy passes, the higher of them, the Lamna
La, being 16,900 feet. The country was very barren of flowers and
vegetation, but there was a certain amount of grazing for yaks and
sheep. The march to Zambu was a fairly long one of 20 miles, but the
yaks came along well. This was a more prosperous-looking village than
most of them, and the houses were all whitewashed. We were still too
high for barley fields as we were just 16,000 feet, but the wealth of
the village lay in its herds of yaks and sheep; the villagers told us
they owned 3,000 yaks. Shepherds in this country are but poorly paid,
getting only thirty trangkas (10_s._) per annum. But house servants are
still worse off, getting only eight trangkas (2_s._ 8_d._) per annum.
However, they seem to thrive under those wages and there is no
discontent or trades unionism among them. Our camp was pitched in a
sunny spot not far from the village, looking straight over towards Mount
Everest, whose top appeared over the opposite hills. From this side its
precipices looked most formidable and there was also a magnificent ridge
which we had not seen before. There was a slight frost again that night.

Breakfasting, as usual, at 5 a.m., I started up the hill South of the
camp and was lucky enough to get a clear view of Everest and the Rongbuk
Valley that led up to it. This valley ran right up to the foot of Mount
Everest and seemed an easy enough approach, but the mountain itself
looked absolutely unscalable from this side, showing nothing but a
series of very steep precipices. The day turned out to be a very hot
one. I descended into the valley below, and started to ride up towards
Mount Everest. Presently I came to an unfordable stream, and after
making several attempts to get across this, found myself compelled to
return several miles down the valley to the monastery of Chöbu, where
there was a slender footbridge. The pony that I was riding was swum
across, a rope being attached to its head. He was then pulled over to
the far side, a proceeding he did not at all enjoy. The yaks, too, were
unladen, and the loads carried by hand over the bridge. After this the
yaks were driven into the river and made to swim across, but they only
went as far as an island in the middle of the river. From this place
they would not budge in spite of stones, curses and threats, until at
length a man with a sling, fetched from the monastery, hurled stones at
them with great violence: this procedure apparently so stung them up
that they thought it advisable to cross the remainder of the stream. At
the entrance to the valley, we passed some very tame burhel within a few
yards of the path, and then went along at the foot of some fine cliffs
with limestone on the top and layers of hornblende and granite below.
At first there was quite a rich vegetation growing here, considering we
were just on 16,000 feet. There were juniper bushes, clematis, willows,
a genista, rock roses, and even some yellow primulas, but as we got
further into the valley it became more stony, and on either side of the
path were small piles of stones heaped up by pilgrims. The valley was
considered very sacred and was apparently a great place of pilgrimage.
We found the base camp of the Alpine climbers pitched close to the
Rongbuk Monastery, where there lived a very high re-incarnated Lama who
was in meditation and not allowed to see anyone. This valley was called
the Rongbuk, or inner valley--a name well suited to it; the legend was
that from this valley there used to be a pass over into the Khombu
Valley, but the high Lama who lived here forbade the use of it, as it
disturbed the meditations of the recluses and hermits, of which there
were several hundred here. At first these good people did not at all
approve of our coming into this valley, as they thought we should be
likely to disturb and distract their meditations.

The Rongbuk Monastery lies at a height of 16,500 feet, and is an
unpleasantly cold spot. This monastery contains twenty permanent Lamas
who always live there, together with the re-incarnated Lama. Besides
these, there are three hundred other associated Lamas who come in
periodically, remaining there for periods of varying length. These
Associate Lamas are mostly well-to-do, and having sufficient money to
support themselves are not a drain upon the villagers. They will often
invest several thousand trangkas with some village, and in return for
this money the village will supply them with food, barley, milk, eggs
and fuel. Higher up the valley there was a smaller monastery, and dotted
along the hillside were numerous cells and caves where monks or nuns had
retired to meditate. Every animal that we saw in this valley was
extraordinarily tame. In the mornings we watched the burhel coming to
some hermits' cells not a hundred yards away from the camp, to be fed,
and from there they went on to other cells. They seemed to have no fear
whatever of human beings. On the way up the valley we passed within 40
to 50 yards of a fine flock of rams, but they barely moved away, and on
the way back we passed some females that were so inquisitive that they
actually came up to within 10 yards of us in order to have a look at us.
The rock pigeons came and fed out of one's hand, and the ravens and all
the other birds here were equally tame; it was most interesting to be
able to watch all their habits and to see them at such close quarters.
On July 4, Heron and I walked up the valley to see Mallory and Bullock,
who had got an Alpine camp some 7 miles further up the valley at a
height of 18,000 feet, where they were training their coolies in snow
and ice work and trying to find out whether there was any possible way
of attacking Mount Everest from this side. It was a beautiful morning
when we started, and on the way we passed one or two small monasteries
and numerous cells where hermits and recluses were living in retirement
and meditation. After crossing several small lake beds and old
moraines--for the big Rongbuk Glacier seemed to have been retiring in
the last few years--we came to the big moraine-covered Rongbuk Glacier.
This glacier appeared to be about 8 or 9 miles long, starting
immediately below an immense circle of cliffs which formed the North
face of Mount Everest. We found afterwards that there were several other
side glaciers that joined in it, which were even larger and longer than
the centre glacier. After some steep scrambles up the moraine-covered
glacier and on to a high terrace on the West side of it, we found
Mallory and Bullock with their coolies encamped in a pleasantly
sheltered spot with plenty of water close at hand and commanding the
most magnificent views of Mount Everest, which here seemed to be only
about 6 miles away and towered up above the glacier, showing immense
cliffs 10,000 feet high. Mallory and Bullock were hard at work training
the coolies in snow and ice work and exploring all the different
glaciers from that side. They were, however, much handicapped by there
only being two of them, which made the work more strenuous. After
spending the day with them, Heron and I returned to our camp in the
evening. The evening light on Mount Everest was wonderfully beautiful.
The weather seems nearly always to clear up about sunset, and its summit
then usually towers far above the clouds in a clear sky. At dusk several
of the Lamas came for medicines of different kinds, which we gave them,
and much to our surprise in the morning they presented us with a number
of fresh eggs in gratitude. Having seen Mallory and Bullock well
established in this valley, our next most important duty seemed to be to
select a site for our next base camp. Some place on the East side of
Mount Everest would have to be chosen, and it seemed that somewhere in
the Kharta Valley would be the most likely spot. Heron and I therefore
determined that we would make a quick reconnaissance of that district
before returning to Tingri. On the following day we moved down from the
Rongbuk Monastery.

                                 CHAPTER V

                           THE SEARCH FOR KHARTA

After leaving Mallory and Bullock to continue the search for a possible
route up Mount Everest from the Rongbuk side, Heron and I, on July 5,
started off down the Rongbuk Valley in order to visit Kharta. We had
been told that it was only two days' easy march from the monastery to
get there. It was a cold morning when we started off; there had been a
sharp frost during the night and the sun did not reach us till late in
the morning. Mount Everest stood out at the head of the valley
wonderfully clear and clothed with a fresh mantle of white. Instead of
crossing over the river by the bridge, at Chöbu, we kept straight on
down the valley till we came to Chödzong, where were the first barley
fields and cultivation. There was plenty of water here for irrigation
purposes, and some fine grassy fields on which many ponies were grazing.
We had to change our transport in this village and get fresh animals, so
that it was not till three o'clock in the afternoon that we got started
again. In Tibet they have a system of stages, and animals from one
village are taken, as a rule, for one stage only. As each stage usually
ends at the next village, and as villages are frequent, this is a most
awkward and inconvenient arrangement--as it necessitates three or four
changes a day. In order to avoid these constant changes, we used to
persuade the villagers by promises of extra baksheesh, especially where
we had a large number of animals, to undertake two or three stages.
After leaving Chödzong we climbed up over a steep pass 1,200 feet above
the valley and found a still deeper descent to the village of Halung,
which lay at our feet. Here we waited for our transport, but as this
did not arrive till dark, we decided to camp there, though we had only
done 18 miles from Rongbuk; the yak travels very slowly. We were now
again at 14,800 feet and found a much warmer climate, with green barley
fields and here and there patches of yellow mustard. A large rhubarb
with a curious crinkled leaf grew here and there in the fields. We tried
to eat this rhubarb; it had an unpleasant taste, but this disappeared
when it was cooked and it proved a welcome addition to our diet. The
Tibetans do not use it for food, as sugar--without which it would be
uneatable--is scarce and expensive in the country. The plant serves,
however, as an acid for dyes.

Halung is a very prosperous-looking village with well-built houses. The
villagers soon had three tents pitched for us on a grassy field between
the village and the river; cushions, cooking pots and fuel were also
brought out for us. Here we camped for the night in reasonable comfort.
On the following morning the loads were all carried by hand across a
fragile bridge over the glacier stream, while the yaks and the ponies
were driven across it. We then rode for a mile down the green and
well-watered valley, and afterwards turned up into another valley where
every flat space was green with barley-fields intermixed with brilliant
patches of yellow from the fields of mustard. A small glacier stream fed
this valley and supplied plenty of water for irrigation. After passing
several small villages we rode across a spur also covered with
barley-fields to Rebu, where we had to change our transport. This was
quite a picturesque village situated on a rocky knoll, part of the
village being on one side and part on the other of the river. Along the
various irrigation canals were wild flowers of all kinds. Monkshood grew
there, also black and yellow clematis, rhubarb, ranunculus and primulas
of different kinds. By ten o'clock our transport was changed and we were
given ponies instead of yaks: they travel much quicker and we had
apparently a long way to go yet before we could reach the next village.
We were expecting all the time to get to Kharta that evening, but where
distances are concerned all Tibetans are liars, and after doing 26 miles
we stopped, Kharta being apparently as far off as ever. After leaving
Rebu the path led for some miles up an uninteresting valley, in which
limestone cliffs on one side and sandstone cliffs on the other came down
almost to the stream, the waters of which, in contrast to the muddy
glacier streams that we had been meeting the whole time, were as clear
as crystal. There were many small birds along the banks, all of them
wonderfully tame; these, when we were resting for lunch, hopped all
round us and under our legs, carrying off crumbs or any morsels of food.
We now climbed up on to a pass called the Doya La, 17,000 feet, from the
top of which were fine views of great rocky peaks on either side, those
on the South being covered in parts with hanging glaciers. About a
quarter of a mile from the top of the pass we struck some granite soil
on which grew an extraordinary variety of Alpine flowers; the blue poppy
abounded, pink, yellow and white saxifrages covered all the rocks, and
besides these were many other plants which I had not seen before and
which were quite new to me. The range which we now crossed acts as a
barrier against the approach of the Monsoon clouds and prevents them
from passing over into Tibet. Over on the North side the country is
mostly dry and very little grows there, whereas on the South there is a
rich and varied vegetation and the air feels soft and moist. The road
from the pass led by an easy descent into a fine valley with a green
lake lying at its head under the dark cliffs of some bold rocky peaks.
We followed this valley for many miles, a strong head wind blowing
against us the whole of the time, and found ourselves before long once
more among the junipers and willows. We also saw pink and white
rhododendrons, and in places a small yellow one with waxy blossoms. The
yellow rock cistus, spiræas, roses, yellow primulas, blue monkshood,
campanulas, blue anemones, and hundreds of other wild flowers formed a
rich flora which showed that a considerable precipitation from the
Monsoon fell in this valley.

At last we came to a village, but every one fled at our approach, and we
could get no information about the route. A little further on we came
across more villages, in one of which, with much difficulty and after a
long chase, we captured a man and made him guide us to the village of
Chulungphu, where we decided to stop the night. After a little time we
induced some of the villagers to come out from their hiding-places, and
to produce tents and fuel for us. The camp was pitched in a field of
sweet-scented primulas near the village. The architecture of these
houses was quite different from what we had met before--they all appear
to be strongly fortified, as they have practically no windows and there
are only small loopholes facing outwards. They are all built of a brown
stone--a kind of gneiss, and have sods on the parapet over which are
laid branches of juniper. The next morning we woke to the sound of
pattering rain and found all the hills wreathed in grey mist. This was
their first rain this year, so the inhabitants told us. It was pleasant
to one's skin after the dry climate and biting winds that we had been
experiencing on the other side of the passes to feel oneself wrapped in
a softer and milder air. We rode down this valley for about 6 miles
until it debouched into the main Arun Valley. The people, however, do
not know it by this name here, but call it still the Bhong-chu until it
reaches Nepal. We passed villages all the way, villages brown in colour
and built of a brown gneiss, around which grew fields of barley and
mustard. After the barren valleys which we had left, these appeared very
fertile; rose and currant bushes surrounded every field, while the
hillsides were covered with juniper and willows. Along the path grew
spiræas and clematis, while beside every watercourse were yellow marsh
marigolds and primulas. A feature of the Arun Valley, which was fairly
wide here, was the old terraces on its slopes, now all covered with
barley, pea and mustard fields, the latter being a blaze of yellow.
There were many villages here and some pleasant country houses
surrounded by groves of willows and poplars. Down here the people were
not quite so frightened of us as they were in the valley from which we
had just come, where they had run away from us whenever we approached.
The Bong-chu here is a large river with a very great flow of water, and
quite unfordable. The nearest place where it could be crossed is at a
rope bridge some 18 miles higher up, and during the rainy season this
bridge is impassable, and communication with the other side completely
cut off. To the South and close by, at a height of 12,000 feet, the
Bhong-chu enters a terrific gorge on either side of which tower up great
cliffs with snowy peaks high above them. On some of the slopes which are
not quite so steep there are thick forests of fir trees and
rhododendrons where, I was told, the muskdeer lived. After descending
the valley for 3 miles, we turned up a side valley pointing Westwards.
Down this flowed a very large and unfordable glacial stream. This
evidently came down from the neighbourhood of Mount Everest, but local
information as to its source was very vague, and it was evident that we
should have to prospect for ourselves. Some 3 miles up this valley we
came to a place called by the natives Kharta Shika, where the Governor
of the Kharta District resides. Kharta was not apparently a village at
all, but a district including a number of small villages. We halted a
short distance below Kharta Shika and presently the Governor came out to
meet us with a present of sweetmeats and the usual scarf. He apologised
for not meeting us before, as he said that he had no information as to
the date of our arrival. He begged that we would come over to his garden
where he had ordered a fine Chinese tent to be pitched for us. We
crossed the river by a wooden bridge, and after going through the
village came to the Governor's house. Crossing through the courtyard we
entered his garden, which lay in a nice sheltered spot surrounded by
willow trees with a stream of clear water running through it. Big wild
roses grew there and a few European flowers that he had planted, while
under a very ancient poplar there was a large painted prayer wheel, some
8 feet high, which was turned by a stream of water. Here in his garden
he provided us with a meal of excellent macaroni and a very hot chilli
salad. It was very pleasant to rest the eyes on the luscious green of
the well irrigated garden, and to be for once sheltered from the wind.
During the night we were awakened by a regular shower bath. The Chinese
tent, beautiful as it was in outward appearance, was sadly lacking in
waterproof qualities. As it rained steadily most of the night, we had to
take cover under our mackintoshes on which were pools of water in the
morning. There seemed to be no doubt that the proper Monsoon had at last
broken, and the Jongpen himself told us that this was the first really
heavy rain that they had had. All the people considered that we had
brought this rain with us and were very grateful in consequence; later
on, when we left, they begged us not to stop the rain, as they wanted it
badly for their crops.

As it cleared up a little about nine o'clock in the morning, though the
hills were still all in cloud, we rode out with Chheten Wangdi, the
Jongpen and Hopaphema, who was the largest landowner about here, to look
out for a site for our next base camp. We wanted, if possible, to get a
house that could be used as a store-room and also for photographic
purposes. We rode down into the main valley, and after looking over
several houses, we eventually selected one on an old river terrace with
fine views all around and standing quite by itself well away from any
village. The water supply was good and handy, and there was a pleasant
garden of poplars and willows, in which we could pitch our tents. After
a certain amount of bargaining, the owners were willing to let us have
the house and the garden for the large rent of one trangka (3½_d._) a
day. It was apparently the first time anyone in that valley had ever
wanted to rent a house, and there were no house agents there to run one
up into exorbitant prices. We then rode on to Hopaphema's house, which
was a fine solidly built dwelling surrounded by large juniper trees,
willows and poplars. Later on we got to know this man very well, and
used to call him always the "Sergeant," as he was supposed to do any
recruiting for the Tibetan army that was needed in that valley. He had a
very kindly disposition, was always very hospitable, and had a great
sense of humour. He had a tent pitched for our reception under a very
old poplar with a grass plot in front surrounded by bushes of wild red
roses. Here we were given tea, milk and beer, and then the usual
macaroni and mince was produced. On leaving, he insisted on my taking
away a large quantity of turnip leaves, as he knew I was very fond of
green food, and they made an excellent "spinach." The Tibetans that we
met have invariably proved very kindly and hospitable.

On returning to Kharta, where I had left Heron, I found that it had been
raining all the time, though in the main valley we had had it quite
fine. In the evening I took a walk up to an old fort not far from our
camp. This fort in old days had commanded the only path from here that
led into Nepal, but now it had all fallen into ruin. Close by it,
however, was a delightful dell full of hoary willow trees, underneath
which the ground was carpeted with yellow primulas growing among the
bushes of scarlet roses. Near by were two old poplar trees, whose trunks
measured between 20 and 30 feet in circumference and were evidently of a
very great age. The primulas everywhere were really astonishing. They
outlined every watercourse with yellow and often grew between 2 and 3
feet high with enormous heads of sweet cowslip-scented yellow flowers.
It rained again during the whole of the night, and the fine spray that
came through the Chinese tent made sleep rather difficult. The next
morning we started to go back to Tingri, and for the first day's march
were given coolies for our transport. In this district coolies are used
a great deal as all the trade with Nepal has to be carried on by them,
the paths over the passes being quite impassable for pack transport;
the Jongpen told us that we would find them quite as fast as ponies.

To-day's march was to Lumeh--a distance of about 17 miles--and the
coolies arrived very soon after we did, having come along
extraordinarily well. Our route for the first 3 miles was down the
Kharta Valley until it joined the valley of the Bhong-chu; we then
followed the right bank of this for some 10 miles. On the way we stopped
at the house of Hopaphema, who insisted on giving us a meal of milk,
macaroni and mince, although it was only just over an hour since we had
had breakfast. On our departure he gave us a basket of eggs and some
more turnip leaves to take along with us, and altogether showed himself
a most friendly and hospitable host. At first we rode through fields of
barley, peas and mustard for several miles, the valley then became much
more barren and the path occasionally was taken high up on the face of a
cliff, where the river swept round close beneath the mountain side. At
other times we crossed broad stony terraces. We came eventually to the
village of Dak, where the monks from the monastery had pitched tents for
us and had another meal provided for us. Coolies had to be changed here,
our old coolies arriving while we were having our meal; after the loads
had been transferred, our new transport proceeded along to Lumeh, where
we intended to spend the night. The path after Dak was in places
dangerous owing to falling stones, and our guide every now and then
urged us to hurry, as owing to the heavy rain of the preceding night
many stones had been loosened. The main Bhong-chu suddenly turned off to
the East from here, unexpectedly forcing a passage through a very
curious and deep gorge, where it burst its way through the highest
mountains. We did not, however, follow the valley of the Bhong-chu, but
kept on up what appeared to be the main valley; this was really only the
valley of the Lower Rongbuk that in its lower portion is called the
Dzakar-chu. This river we crossed by a wooden bridge, built on the
cantilever principle, and which a couple of months later was washed
away. After riding for a couple of miles over a nice grassy turf we came
to Lumeh. Here was a very fine country house around which were grouped a
few smaller houses. This was the residence of Ngawangyonten, who was
managing the district for the big monastery at Shekar Dzong, whose
property it was. He had tents already pitched for us, and fuel, milk and
eggs already prepared. Around this house were five of the largest poplar
trees that I have ever seen. The largest was almost 40 feet in
circumference at the base, and the others were all between 20 and 25
feet in circumference. The villagers told us that they thought these
trees had been planted about 500 years ago. Magpies and hoopoes were
very common in this valley--the former were quite tame and allowed us to
approach very close. The barley-fields seemed to hold many hares. Some
fine crops of wheat as well as barley were grown here, although the
height was 12,800 feet. Every night now we had heavy rain which brought
fresh snow down to 16,000 feet. As the clouds remained low all day we
seldom got any distant views.

The march to Pulme, our next point up the valley of the Dzakar-chu, was
22 miles, a very dull and uninteresting ride. The going was bad--we
often had to follow the bed of the river, which was now in flood and
extended to the cliffs on both sides--at other times we kept high up on
the steep sides of a gorge, sometimes of gneiss, sometimes of limestone
rock. In places where the valley widened out, the river bed was full of
bushes of tamarisk and sea buckthorn, but otherwise the vegetation was
scanty. After going 15 miles we were to change coolies; but the Lumeh
coolies, who were extremely poor and very different from those that we
had taken from Kharta, took eleven hours to cover the 15 miles, and did
not arrive till six in the evening. Much to Heron's disgust, I proposed
to push on to Pulme, late as it was; but the road was good, and we
trotted the 7 miles in an hour and a half, though the coolies and the
donkeys did not arrive till well after dark. Fortunately we found tents
as usual pitched for our reception. We had originally intended to ford
the Dzakar-chu that evening and camp on the far side, but it was too
dangerous to do it in the dark, though the villagers told us that by
morning the stream would be a couple of feet higher. The river is a
great obstacle at this time of the year, as there is no bridge over it
here, the next bridge being at Chöbu, 20 miles higher up the valley.

The following day I started on my return journey to Tingri, leaving at
5.30 in the morning with Chheten Wangdi. I succeeded in fording the
Dzakar-chu, which was deep and very swift. My pony was swept off his
legs once and I got very wet, the icy cold water coming right over the

Heron and the coolies were to follow on slowly and were to take two days
in reaching Tingri, but I was anxious to get back, having been away
already longer than I intended. Four miles away, at Tashi Dzom, I
changed ponies and procured a guide who was to take me on to Tingri,
leaving Chheten Wangdi behind with Heron. This guide proved quite an
amusing fellow, and suddenly surprised me by counting in English one,
two, three, four, and then saying "Right turn" and "Left turn," and
other military words of command. On inquiring where he had learned this
English, I found that at one time he had served as a soldier at Lhasa,
where the military words of command are in English, and these were the
only English words that he knew. After leaving Tashi Dzom we turned up
into a broad side valley with villages every half-mile and surrounded by
barley, mustard and pea fields. What was, however, especially noticeable
about all these valleys that we had been passing through for the last
two days, was the extraordinary number of ruined villages that there
were everywhere. This was not due to lack of water, for there was plenty
of water in all the streams; these valleys, however, must have at one
time been very thickly inhabited, and it is probable that the dearth of
population to-day is due to the wars with the Gurkhas in the eighteenth
century. We had a very wet ride--one storm after another overtook us,
and a cold rain fell heavily all the way to Tingri. We gradually
ascended out of the cultivation and crossing a low pass, about 16,000
feet, looked down again on the great Tingri Plain. There was still,
however, a long way to go, and it was not till after five o'clock in the
evening that I reached Tingri, drenched to the skin. It had been a ride
of between 36 and 40 miles.

At Tingri I found Wollaston and Morshead. The former had been very busy
all the time I had been away in collecting insects, butterflies, rats,
mice, birds and flowers, and had amassed quite a number of specimens.
Morshead had been out a good deal with his surveyors to the North and to
the West, but had been driven in by the bad weather of the last few
days. This had apparently been general and we might say that the rainy
season this year had begun on July 7, which the Tibetans considered very
late for those parts. The following afternoon Heron arrived, and my kit
also, which I was very glad to get, as I had only had a spare tent to
roll around me the previous night.

The next day or two was spent mostly in reading letters and newspapers.
Our postal arrangements were at first rather complicated, there being no
regular postal service to the provinces in Tibet. We had, therefore, to
make an arrangement with each Jongpen to forward on our mail. Phari was
the last post office, and the postmaster there had to arrange with the
Phari Jongpen for a messenger every week to go with our posts to Khamba
Dzong; we had left money with him for the purpose of paying the postman.
At Khamba Dzong we had arranged with the Jongpen there that he should
forward our letters to Tinki, and at Tinki we had made further
arrangements for them to be sent on to Shekar Dzong and from Shekar
Dzong they were to be sent to Tingri. We had left money for this purpose
with the various Jongpens, and each Jongpen as he received the mail bag
was to affix his seal on it and send it on as quickly as he could to the
next Jongpen. This system worked very well for the first two months,
but after we had moved to Kharta, partly owing to floods, and partly
perhaps to the laziness of the Shekar Jongpen, our mails were all held
up and we eventually had to send coolies back from our camp to Phari to
bring them along. The best plan another time would be to take with the
Expedition a certain number of coolies to be used purely for going
backwards and forwards with the mails. On July 13 Morshead and Wollaston
left to go to Nyenyam in response to a cordial invitation from the
Jongpen, asking that some of the Expedition should visit the place. We
were glad to accept, and this should be a very interesting part of the
country botanically.

                                CHAPTER VI

                            THE MOVE TO KHARTA

I had arrived back at Tingri on July 11, and remained there in the
Chinese rest-house until July 24, when I started to move the base camp
and all the stores round to Kharta. During the time I was not left
always alone, for Heron came in occasionally for a night between his
various geological expeditions to the North. Wheeler also came down for
a change and a rest, and to develop the photographs that he had taken.
He had been having a very trying and provoking time in the high camps,
as the weather had been bad, with frequent snowfalls. Nearly every day
he climbed up to a spur 20,000 feet or more in height, yet in spite of
waiting all day there in the icy cold winds or driving snow, it was but
seldom that he was able to get a photograph, and then the clouds would
only lift for a few minutes.

There was always plenty to do at Tingri, so the time passed quickly.
Much photographic work had to be done and much developing and printing
of the many photographs that were being sent in by the various members
of the party. Supplies had also to be sent out and arrangements made for
the comforts of the climbing party in the Rongbuk Valley. There were
also several expeditions to be made round Tingri, and these were full of
interest. Anemometers were very popular in this district; they were
fixed by the Tibetans above small prayer wheels, and owing to the
constant winds, it was seldom that the prayer wheels were not revolving.
Many yaks' horns, carved all over with prayers, were lying about on the
different Chortens or Mani walls. The barley, which was only just coming
up when we arrived, was now 18 inches high and coming into ear, and
though we were over 14,000 feet, the crops looked very healthy and
even. Every evening during this period we had heavy storms of rain with
much lightning and thunder, and fresh snow used to fall during the night
as low as 15,000 feet, but most of it melted again during the day.
During this period the plains round Tingri were rapidly becoming marshes
and the rivers quite unfordable. The storms always gathered to the North
of us, along the Sipri limestone ridge, and the high mountain chain that
formed the watershed between the Brahmaputra and the Bhong-chu. These
storms generally worked down towards the South. Occasionally fine days
came to us when there was a strong South wind to blow the rain back, and
it was seldom that the Monsoon clouds brought rain directly to us from
the South. The Sipri range was a very conspicuous limestone range to the
North of us, the limestone being worn into the most curious shapes. It
was looked upon by the Tibetans as being a holy mountain, and on its
slopes were many small monasteries. Hermits also took up their abode in
the limestone caves below the summit. Pilgrims used to come from great
distances to make the circuit of the mountain. This took generally five
days, and much merit was acquired by doing so.

On July 17 I made an excursion out to the Hot Springs at Tsamda, about 7
miles away to the North-west across the plain. The valley of the
Bhong-chu narrows there for a few miles before opening out again into
the wide Sutso Plain. There were two or three hot springs here, but only
one large one, and this was enclosed by walls within which were little
stone huts in which people could change their clothes. The water was
just the right temperature for a nice hot bath. When I went there, there
was one man bathing and also washing his clothes in it. The Tibetans
said, however, that this was not the proper season for bathing. The
autumn was the correct time for them to have their annual bath before
the winter sets in. The water was saline and had, I think, a little iron
in it, but was not very unpleasant to the taste. The rocks from which it
gushes out are very extraordinary, the strata forming a very steep
arch, on the top of which there is a crack, from the very end of which,
and at its lowest point, the springs came bubbling out. Near by in the
valley there were also a good many saline deposits. In one of the
smaller springs there were a number of little pink worm-like animals
that were swimming about and clinging with their mouths to the sides of
the rock. Riding back to Tingri by a different way across the plain, I
saw a number of kiang and a few goa, but they were very wild and would
not allow us to approach to within 500 yards. I also passed three of the
handsome black-necked cranes. The way across the plain was rather boggy,
and we had some difficulty in finding it. When I got back I found that
Heron had come in for a couple of nights, and the following day Wheeler
too joined us, having walked in from Nezogu, the bridge over the Kyetrak
River. He was anxious to develop some photographs, and as the weather
was very bad, he could do no good by remaining in his high camp.

On July 20 we had very brilliant flashes of lightning, followed by a
heavy storm of rain during the night. This was too much for the flat
earth roof of the rest-house, and the water poured into all our rooms,
causing us to move our beds many times during the night in search of a
dry spot. I started off early in the morning as I had intended to climb
the hills to the East of Tingri, but the rain that had fallen at Tingri
had meant a heavy fall of snow on the mountains and the snow had fallen
as low down as 15,000 feet. We passed several goa on the way, but they
were too shy to allow us to get a shot, also some kiang, which were very
tame, and showed up well in the snow. As we got higher, the snow became
about 4 inches deep, but was melting rapidly. The glare and the heat
were intense. I saw a good many flocks of burhel, but no very large
heads. The views as I followed the crests of the hills were extremely
fine; on the North I looked down into the valley of the Bhong-chu, which
was in flood and had filled the whole of the bottom of the valley with
water, and on the other side I looked over the Tingri Plain to the great
range of snow peaks which finally ended in the mighty mass of
Gosainthan. The weather had been very hot and oppressive all day, and as
usual in the evening we had another very severe thunderstorm with heavy
rain all through the night. The following day was more like an English
November day--cold and grey with drizzling rain--and with the snow on
the hills down to 15,000 feet. I bought a Tibetan pony during the
morning for the large sum of £7. It was a bay, an excellent ambler, and
very surefooted. The Tibetan name by which he was known was
Dug-dra-kyang-po, which means "The bay pony like a dragon."


I went over to have lunch with the Depon's representative. His family
were all dressed up very smartly for the occasion, the women folk
wearing their best head-dresses of turquoises, coral and pearls. He gave
us rice and raisins as an _hors d'[oe]uvre_, and an _entrée_ of junket,
followed by some pickled turnips, which I thought very nasty, after
which we had the usual macaroni and mince. He had been very friendly and
kindly to us the whole time that we were at Tingri, and had always
supplied us with everything we asked for. On July 22 we saw a very fine
solar halo with well-marked rings of yellow, brown, green and white, but
the rain continued steadily nearly all the time. The day before we were
to leave Tingri I sent away my orderly, together with two coolies who
had been sick, and whom the doctor had recommended that we should send
back to Darjeeling. They were given sufficient food to take them back to
Darjeeling and an extra fifteen days' pay, the orderly also being given
a horse to ride. Towards evening the weather improved and we had some
lovely views of Mount Everest and that great group of snow peaks of
which Cho-Uyo is the highest. They all looked very white under their new
coating of snow, which lies thickly down to 16,000 feet.

On July 24 we eventually got off from Tingri; the last few days had been
spent in packing up and re-arranging all the stores. There was the
usual talking, shouting and arguing, but all the loads were eventually
packed on to the animals, or loaded on to the backs of the coolies by
nine o'clock. We then took a last farewell of the Depon's
representative, who was very sorry to see us go, and who had done so
much to make our stay pleasant there.

The first march was to Nezogu, where there was a bridge over the
Kyetrak; this was about 19 miles, partly across the Tingri Plain and
then over a tiresome moraine. While crossing the moraine, I shot a goa
which had quite a good head. Wheeler had accompanied me, as he had left
his camp at the bridge, and on arrival there we found his tents all
pitched and his cook waiting ready to receive us. Our own kit did not
arrive till it was getting dark, when the weather looked very ominous.
Rain fell steadily most of the night, and just before dawn this turned
to snow, so that when we woke up there were a couple of inches of fresh
snow on the ground. As it was still snowing steadily, we were in no
great hurry to start, and did not get off until nine o'clock. The
weather than gradually improved and the fresh snow soon melted, though
the ground was left in a very boggy condition. The march to Chöbu was
about 15 miles over the easy Lamna Pass. Knowing the way, I climbed on
to a ridge to the South, where I had a fine view again of Mount Everest
and the Rongbuk Valley. We pitched our camp on the far side of the
Rongbuk River, our loads being carried across the frail bridge by the
villagers, and our ponies being swum across. Here Mallory and Bullock
joined us. They had been experiencing latterly very bad weather in the
Upper Rongbuk Valley, and constant heavy falls of snow had seriously
hindered their reconnaissance work. Their coolies, too, were getting
rather tired and stale from remaining at such heights for a considerable
time, and were badly in want of a rest. I had therefore arranged for
them to meet me here and to accompany me round to Kharta, from which
place they could then explore the Eastern approaches of Mount Everest.
During the night I suffered much from inflammation of the eyes, due to
the snow that had fallen the day before. They were so painful as to make
sleep quite impossible. I was not, however, the only one to suffer, as
Chheten Wangdi, the interpreter, Acchu, the cook, and several of the
coolies that were with me were all suffering from the same complaint in
the morning. Though the sun had not been shining and the day had been
misty, the glare from the new snow had been very much more powerful than
anything we had expected and taught us a lesson that whenever there was
the slightest fall of snow, we should always wear our snow goggles. From
Chöbu we marched to Rebu--a distance of about 15 miles. Knowing the way,
I took Mallory and Bullock by the upper road over a pass to Halung; from
the top of this pass we branched off on to a spur where there was a very
fine view of Mount Everest and the mountains to the North and North-east
of it. There had been so much fresh snow everywhere that it was often
very difficult to recognize the peaks, but Mount Everest from this side
looked as impossible as ever with the great black bands of perpendicular
cliffs that seemed to encircle it.

The day was actually fine and the march was a pleasant one through a
fertile valley full of fields of barley, mustard and peas. The wild
flowers all round Rebu were still very beautiful. Our camp was pitched
on a grassy spot on the bank of a rushing stream and close to the
village of Rebu.

The following morning the weather was again fine, and as the yaks were
all ready for us, we were started by 7.30 a.m. This start was quite
amusing; we ourselves had first to cross a flooded stream over which
there was a very wobbly stone bridge. With much excitement and noise the
yaks were then driven across the stream, but the current was too strong
for the bullocks, which had to be unloaded and their loads carried over.
While this was being done, the bridge collapsed, and a good lady and a
bullock that were trying to get over by the bridge all fell into the
water together. There was then a terrible excitement and mix-up, every
one shouting and screaming, but they both scrambled safely to the shore,
and beyond a wetting, no one was any the worse. We then took the road
that I had travelled three weeks before over the Doya La. Knowing that
there was a good view to be got from the top of the pass, I hurried
ahead and climbed a rocky hill, 17,700 feet, close to the pass, where I
saw a wonderful scene. Range upon range of snowy mountains extended
right away to Kanchenjunga, and the course of the Arun could be traced
wandering down through Nepal, while to the South towered up the great
walls of Makalu. Mount Everest itself I could not see, as there were a
good many clouds about, but to the South-west were some fine snow and
rock peaks of which I took several photographs. I then basked in the sun
for a couple of hours and enjoyed the view. The wild flowers on the top
of the pass were delightful; I found three different kinds of gentians
and the blue poppies were as numerous as ever. The primulas, however,
had many of them already gone to seed, but the saxifrages still covered
the rocks, and it was a delight to wander along and note the different
varieties. Riding on to Chulungphu, we found tents pitched for us and
fuel and milk all ready. In place of the primulas the ground was now
carpeted with gentians. From here to Kharta the march was only a short
one, but we thoroughly enjoyed riding along between the bushes of wild
rose or juniper. The former were no longer in blossom, but there were
many other new varieties of flowers appearing. I rode on ahead to the
spot that I had chosen, three weeks previously, for our new base camp,
and I found that Hopaphema had already pitched some tents for us. He had
also prepared a meal for us and made every arrangement for our comfort.
Our camp was pitched under the willows and poplar trees in the garden,
and it was pleasant to hear the rustle of the leaves in the wind once
more. We were now at a height of only 12,300 feet, and the change in
altitude was a very great relief to the climbing party and the coolies
who had come down from the high camps. There were also plenty of green
vegetables to be got here, and the coolies appreciated the change
enormously. Just below us flowed the Arun, now a majestic river over a
hundred yards wide. A mile lower down in its course it entered into the
great gorges in which within a space of 20 miles it dropped from 12,000
feet to 7,500 feet, a drop of over 200 feet in the mile. From our camp
we used to watch the Monsoon clouds come up every day through the gorge
in thin wisps, but every day they melted away always at the same spot;
and though rain fell heavily a mile below us, yet with us the sun shone
brightly, and it was rare for any rain to reach us. Twenty miles away to
the North again were heavy clouds and storms, and rain fell there daily,
so that we seemed to be living in a dry zone between the two storm
systems. The forests of fir and birch trees came up to the limit of the
rainfall and then ceased suddenly where the rain stopped a mile below
us. At this point the Kharta River formed a sharp dividing line between
the wet and dry zones.

The next day was spent in settling down, arranging all our stores and
making a new dark room in the house we had rented. The climate here was
delicious and a great change from Tingri. The temperature in my tent
used to go up to 75° Fahr. during the day.

The day after we arrived the Jongpen came down to pay an official call
and brought a welcome present of a hundred eggs and five animals laden
with fuel. He apologised for not coming the day before, but said he had
been very busy trying a murder case where eighteen people had been
poisoned by a family that had a feud with them, the poison used being
aconite, with which they were evidently quite familiar. He told us that
our coolies could collect fuel anywhere on the right bank of the Kharta
River, but begged that we would not collect it anywhere near where we
were living, as the villagers would object.

On July 30 I started off to explore a neighbouring pass and valley
which looked interesting. Mallory and Bullock were having a few days'
rest before starting off again, and so they remained in camp. Riding a
few miles up the Kharta Valley, I crossed the river by a bridge at the
first village, and then had a very steep and stony climb of nearly 3,000
feet to the Samchung Pass, 15,000 feet. As we approached the pass, and
entered a moister climate, the vegetation increased rapidly. On these
slopes there were rhododendrons 5 feet high, mountain ash, birch,
willows, spiræas and juniper. At the top of the pass there was not much
of a view, but prowling round I came across some very fine saussuræas
with their great white woolly heads and a wonderful meconopsis of a deep
claret colour that I had never seen before. There were fifteen to twenty
flowers on each stem, and it grew from 2 to 3 feet high. Eight varieties
of gentians also grew in the same valley, and a quantity of other
attractive Alpine plants. From the pass we descended about 500 feet into
a delightful high level glen full of small lakes, evidently once upon a
time formed by glaciers which must have filled the whole of the valley.
I counted fourteen lakes in this valley, two or three of them being
nearly half a mile long, and all of them of different colours varying
from a turquoise blue to green and black. For some miles we rode and
walked up the valley. The road consisted of big loose stones, often with
water flowing underneath them, and usually with big holes in between, so
that our ponies were lucky in not breaking their legs. There was then a
steep climb which brought us on to a second pass, the Chog La, 16,100
feet, close to which were three small glaciers. Across the top of the
pass there was a wall built many years ago as a second line of defence
against the Gurkhas, the first line being on the top of the Popti Pass.
Unfortunately the clouds now came up, and it began to rain, so that we
had no view into the Kama Valley, though later on I was to make the
acquaintance of this most charming valley. For an hour and a half I
sheltered behind the wall, but as the clouds did not lift I returned
towards Kharta. As we descended into the valley again the glimpses of
the lakes seen between the mists reminded me much of the upper lakes at
Killarney. There were the same ferns, willows, birch and rhododendrons,
and much the same moist atmosphere.


Next day, with Bullock, I went to pay an official visit to the Jongpen
at Kharta Shiga. He had made great preparations to receive us, and had
put up a large tent in which Chinese carpets and tables were set out
with pots of flowers arranged all round. Soon after our arrival we were
given a most copious meal: bowl after bowl of well cooked macaroni and
mince with pickled radishes and chillies were set before us. After we
had finished this meal, I induced the Jongpen and his young wife to be
photographed. She had a most elaborate head-dress of coral and pearls,
with masses of false hair on either side of her head. It was not
becoming. Barely had we finished taking the photograph when another meal
was put in front of us: this time it consisted of Tibetan dumplings and
mince patties, of which I gave the Jongpen's little dog the greater part
surreptitiously; I then hurried off before I should be compelled to eat
a third meal.

On August 2 Mallory and Bullock started off with thirty-two coolies to
explore the Eastern approaches to Mount Everest. It had been very hard
to get any information about Mount Everest. The people knew the mountain
by name, but told us that the only way to get near it was by crossing
over the ridge to the South of the Kharta Valley, when we should find a
big valley that would lead right up to Chomolungma. Where the Kharta
River came from they could not tell me, and whether it took its source
from the snows of Mount Everest they did not know. Tibetans' ignorance
of any valleys outside their own was really extraordinary. I could
seldom get any definite information about places outside their valley,
and on asking two or three people, they would invariably give
contradictory answers. It was the same as regards distance. They would
tell you a place was one, two or three days' march away, but for
shorter distances they had no time-table, and the nearest approach to
this was a measurement by cups of tea. I remember one day asking a
village yokel how far off the next village was, and he surprised me by
answering, "Three cups of tea." Several times afterwards I got the
answer to a question about distance given me in cups of tea, and I
eventually worked out that three cups of tea was the equivalent of about
5 miles, and was after that able to use this as a basis for measurements
of distances.

Two or three hours after Mallory and Bullock had gone, Wollaston and
Morshead arrived from their trip to Nyenyam. They had had bad weather
the whole time. Here, too, the weather remained overcast and
threatening, with a strong South wind, the mountains remaining covered
in clouds above 16,000 feet. To the South of us rain fell steadily all
day, but the rain did not come up as far as our camp. One afternoon
Morshead, Wollaston and I went over to have tea with our hospitable
Zemindar Hopaphema about a mile away from us. On this occasion he gave
us pods of fresh peas and the red hips and haws of the wild rose as a
kind of _hors d'[oe]uvre_, followed by a junket served with pea flour.
Then came bowls of hot milk with macaroni and minced meat, seasoned with
chillies, together with potatoes and a kind of fungus that grew in the
woods. After this meal, from which we suffered no ill effects, for our
stomachs were getting accustomed to queer foods, he produced an old
painted musical instrument with two sounding boards, on which he played
and sang at the same time some old Tibetan love songs. Some of these had
quite a catching and plaintive melody. He showed us also some Tibetan
dances. Our interpreter, unfortunately, refused to give us a literal
translation of some of the love songs, though he seemed very amused at

Another afternoon I rode with Wollaston some 5 miles up the Kharta
Valley to the Gandenchöfel Monastery. This was situated in a
delightfully sheltered spot surrounded by poplars and ancient gnarled
juniper trees of great size. On arrival we were shown into a
picturesque courtyard, the walls of which were covered with paintings
depicting scenes from the life of Buddha. Cushions and tables had been
arranged for our reception and placed on a verandah where, on arrival,
we were given cups of tea and hot milk. The Head Lama presently came out
and after taking some tea with us, proceeded to show us round his
temple. This was a curious building, square in shape, and surmounted by
a cupola. It was very solidly built of stone and was, they
told us, about 500 years old. It was founded by a saint called
Jetsun-Nga-Wang-Chöfel, who after a great flood which swept down the
valley, destroying all the houses in it, had taken a large frog (which
animal is believed to represent the Water God) and buried it under the
centre pillar of the temple. With great reverence they showed us the
spot under which this unfortunate frog had been immured in the centre of
the shrine. This immolation of the frog had apparently not been
completely efficacious in preventing the floods as two other floods had
subsequently occurred, and two small Chortens had been erected to make
quite certain that the frog could not get out again and cause more
floods. The interior of the temple was very dark in spite of numerous
butter lamps. As our eyes gradually became accustomed to the dim light,
we made out three figures of Buddha--a large one in the centre and
smaller ones on either side. On the pillars were figures of the saint
who had founded the monastery. In this temple were also represented some
Indian saints, but these were shown as dark figures, very black and very
ugly. Tibetans always despise the Indian and they therefore represent
him as quite black and with the ugliest features imaginable. Around the
shrine were twelve great plaster figures--about 12 feet to 15 feet in
height--the guardians of the shrine, figures monstrously ugly, and
evidently made so in order to frighten away the evil-doer. Outside the
sanctuary there was a curious passage in the thickness of the walls
leading all round the building, in which were stencilled and painted
curious representations of Buddha. In one of the side rooms there was a
huge prayer wheel, which rang a bell every time it was turned; it
contained, the priests told us, many million prayers. After visiting the
shrine, I took a photograph of the monks with their long trumpets, their
bejewelled clarionets and their drums. After our tour of inspection we
were given further refreshment in the way of macaroni and meat in a
small secluded garden where the monks used to walk reading the
Scriptures and meditating.

On another day Wollaston and I made an excursion down to the gorges of
the Arun. We first rode up the Kharta Valley, crossing the river by the
first bridge, and then following the right bank of the river as far as
we could go. After riding only a short way, we entered into a country
and a scenery where we might have been a hundred miles away from Tibet.
The change was extraordinarily sudden--a dense forest covered the
hillsides, mostly of fir (_Abies Webbiana_) and birch, many of them fine
old trees. The undergrowth consisted of rhododendrons, 8 feet to 10 feet
in height and extremely difficult to get through. Besides these there
were many larch and willow trees growing on the hillside, together with
many new and delightful flowers. We went on until we were brought up by
a series of perpendicular cliffs that descended 700 feet sheer down to
the river below us. It was a grand sight from here to see the mighty
Bhong-chu or Arun River, narrowed now to one-third of its former width,
forcing its way in a series of rapids through these stupendous gorges
covered with woods wherever the precipices allowed a tree to grow and
with trees dipping their branches far below us in the flooded waters of
the river. On the opposite side of the gorge we saw a small track
wandering along the cliffs; the inhabitants told us it was impossible to
get across the river lower down at this time of the year until you reach
Lungdö, where there was a bridge some 20 miles lower down. Kharta now
remained the base headquarters of the Expedition until it was time to
return to India in October, and all the expeditions that we made up the
Kharta Valley, or into the Kama Valley, were made from Kharta. The
Jongpen there and Hopaphema did everything they could to assist us by
giving us coolies and arranging for supplies to be sent up to the
various camps.


                                CHAPTER VII

                              THE KAMA VALLEY

We had not been able to gather much information locally about Mount
Everest. A few of the shepherds said that they had heard that there was
a great mountain in the next valley to the South, but they could not
tell us whether the Kharta River came from this great mountain. The
easiest way to get to this valley, they told us, was by crossing the
Shao La, or the Langma La, both of which passes were to the South of the
Kharta Valley, and, they said, led into this new valley. They called
this valley the Kama Valley, and little did we realise at the time that
in it we were going to find one of the most beautiful valleys in the
world. Mallory and Bullock had already left Kharta on August 2 to
explore this route, which we thought would lead us to the Eastern face
of Mount Everest. As Wollaston and Morshead had now arrived at Kharta,
there was nothing to prevent my following the others and learning
something about the geography of the country. Eleven mule-loads of
rations, consisting of flour, potatoes, sugar and rations for the
surveyors, had just arrived; there was therefore now no cause for me to
worry about shortage of supplies. These had been sent off from Yatung on
June 15, but had only arrived at Kharta on August 2. Learning that I was
about to start off, Hopaphema, the old Zemindar, hurriedly came round
with a large basket full of spinach, potatoes, and turnips, which he
insisted on my taking with me.

[Illustration: MAKALU from 21,500 foot peak on ridge south of Kama-chu.]

On August 5, taking with me Chheten Wangdi and a dozen coolies, I
started off in the tracks of Mallory and Bullock. For the first few
miles we travelled up the Kharta Valley, through rich fields of barley,
by far the best that I had seen so far in Tibet. The crops were very
even and everywhere quite 3 feet in height. The valley was thickly
inhabited, containing villages nearly every mile, and many monasteries,
some of which were surrounded by fine old gnarled juniper trees. Our
local coolies made very poor progress, taking six hours to cover the
first 6 miles, as they stopped at every village for a drink. After
passing the last village, there was a steep climb of 1,000 feet. Here
our coolies were very anxious to stop and spend the night, but I pushed
on ahead, and they came on behind very slowly and reluctantly. Seeing
that it was impossible to get over the Langma La, I stopped at the limit
of firewood and camped at a height of 16,100 feet. Poo, who was acting
as my cook, had forgotten to bring any matches with him, and I watched
him with much interest lighting a fire of damp rhododendron bushes with
the flint and tinder that he always carried. The day had been clear and
very warm; and on the way up we had had some fine views of the great
snowy peaks on the Eastern side of the Arun River. The villagers had
told us that this pass was impossible for ponies, and I accordingly left
mine behind at Kharta, though we found out that ponies could quite well
have crossed the pass. Opposite our camp was a peak of black rock with a
glacier just below it. During the night there was a little rain and the
morning was unfortunately cloudy. As our coolies had informed us that
there were three passes to be crossed in the next march, I had them all
started off by 5.30 a.m., after which I left with my coolies, Ang Tenze
and Nyima Tendu, who always accompanied me carrying a rifle, a shot-gun
and three cameras of different sizes. Above the camp there was a steep
climb of 1,000 feet on to a broad, rocky shelf in which was a pretty
turquoise-blue lake. This was followed by another steep climb of 500
feet on to another great shelf, after which a further climb of 500 feet
brought us to the top of the Langma La, 18,000 feet. The three steps up
to this pass were evidently the three passes that the coolies had told
us about, as from the top we looked down into the next valley. All the
coolies who were carrying loads complained of headaches, due no doubt
to the steep climb and the high elevation of the pass. To the East there
was a curious view looking over the Arun towards some high snow peaks.
Clouds were lying in patches everywhere on the hillsides, as the air was
saturated with moisture. To the West our gaze encountered a most
wonderful amphitheatre of peaks and glaciers. Three great glaciers
almost met in the deep green valley that lay at our feet. One of these
glaciers evidently came down from Mount Everest, the second from the
beautiful cliffs of Chomolönzo, the Northern peak of Makalu, of which we
unfortunately could only get occasional and partial glimpses, an ice or
rock cliff peeping out of the clouds every now and then at incredible
heights above us. The third glacier came from Kama Changri, a fine peak
to the North of the Kama Valley which later on we climbed. The clouds
kept mostly at a height of about 22,000 feet, and prevented us from
seeing the tops of the mountains. After waiting for an hour at the top
of the pass in hopes of the clouds lifting, I started the descent,
catching on the way a very pretty Marmot rat, with huge eyes and ears
for his size, and a pretty bluish grey fur. Meeting shortly afterwards
some of Mallory and Bullock's coolies, I gave this animal to them to
take back to Wollaston. We now descended through grassy uplands for
nearly 3,000 feet, past another beautiful blue lake called Shurim Tso,
and came to a curious long and narrow terrace about 1,000 feet above the
bottom of the valley. Here there was a tent belonging to some yak herds;
and as wood and water were plentiful I determined to stop and spend the
night with them. They called the place Tangsham. It was certainly a most
glorious place for a camp, for it overlooked three great valleys and
glaciers. Opposite us, on the other side of the valley, were the immense
cliffs of Chomolönzo, which towered up to nearly 26,000 feet, while
Mount Everest and its great ridges filled up the head of the valley. I
spent the whole afternoon lying among the rhododendrons at 15,000 feet,
and admiring the beautiful glimpses of these mighty peaks revealed by
occasional breaks among the fleecy clouds. The shepherds were able to
give me much information about the district, which proved very useful to
us afterwards. They come up here every year for a few months in the
summer and in the winter cross over to the valley of the Bong-chu.


After a slight frost during the night, we had one of the few really
perfect days that fell to our lot in the Kama Valley. As soon as I had
finished breakfast I climbed up 1,000 feet behind the camp; opposite me
were the wonderful white cliffs of Chomolönzo and Makalu, which dropped
almost sheer for 11,000 feet into the valley below. Close at hand were
precipices of black rock on which, in the dark hollows, nestled a few
dirty glaciers. Mount Everest being some way further off, did not appear
nearly as imposing. Our object now was to get as close to it as
possible; we therefore descended into the valley, a steep drop of nearly
1,000 feet, through luxuriant vegetation. A very beautiful blue primula
was just beginning to come out. This Wollaston had already discovered a
fortnight before near Lapchi-Kang. We then crossed the Rabkar Chu, a
stream which came out of the Rabkar Glacier, by a very rickety bridge
over which the water was washing. Beyond this was a very fertile plain
covered with rhododendrons, juniper, willow and mountain ash. On it were
a couple of small huts which were occupied by some yak herds. From here
we had to follow along the edge of the Kang-do-shung Glacier which,
coming down from Chomolönzo, plunges across the valley until it strikes
against the rocks of the opposite side. Between the glacier and these
cliffs was an old water-course up which we travelled, but
stones kept frequently falling from the cliffs above and the passage was
somewhat dangerous. This had evidently been the old channel of the
stream that has its source in the glaciers of Mount Everest, but owing
to the advance of the Kang-do-shung Glacier, is now compelled to find
its way through this glacier and hurls itself into a great ice cavern in
it. Opposite this ice cavern we had a steep climb for 500 feet, and
found ourselves among pleasant grassy meadows, after a few miles of
which we came to a place called Pethang Ringmo, where we found some yak
herds living. We found that Mallory and Bullock had chosen this place to
be their base camp. It was a most delightfully sunny spot at 16,400
feet, right under the gigantic and marvellously beautiful cliffs of
Chomolönzo, now all powdered over with the fresh snow of the night
before and only separated from us by the Kangshung Glacier, here about a
mile wide. Great avalanches thunder down its sides all the day long with
a terrifying sound. Everest from here is seen to fill up the head of the
valley with a most formidable circle of cliffs overhung by hanging
glaciers, but it is not nearly such a beautiful or striking mountain as
Makalu or Chomolönzo. The shepherds would insist that Makalu was the
higher of the two mountains, and would not believe us when we said that
Mount Everest was the higher. Next morning was foggy, but there was a
glimpse of blue sky behind the mists, so after breakfast I hurried up
the valley, intending to climb a ridge exactly opposite to Mount Everest
which I had marked down the night before. After walking for an hour up
the valley in a thick fog, by luck I struck the right ridge, which
proved a very steep climb. Glimpses of blue sky and white peaks,
however, gave us hopes of better views higher up. It took me two and a
half hours to climb 3,000 feet, which at last brought me above the
mists. The top of the ridge was 19,500 feet high, and from it we had
most superb views. Mount Everest was only 3 or 4 miles away from us.
From it to the South-east swept a huge amphitheatre of mighty peaks
culminating in a new and unsurveyed peak, 28,100 feet in height, to
which we gave the name of Lhotse, which in Tibetan means the South Peak.
From this side the mountain appeared quite unclimbable, as the cliffs
were all topped with hanging glaciers, from which great masses of ice
came thundering down into the valley below all the day long. Between
Mount Everest and Makalu, on the watershed between Tibet and Nepal,
there stands up a very curious conical peak, to which we gave the name
of Pethangtse. On either side of it are two very steep, but not very
high, passes into Nepal; both of them are, however, probably
unclimbable. To the South-east towered up the immense cliffs of Makalu,
far the more beautiful mountain of the two. The whole morning I spent on
this ridge, taking photographs whenever opportunity offered. The clouds
kept coming up and melting away again and were most annoying, but they
occasionally afforded us the most beautiful glimpses and peeps of the
snow and rock peaks by which we were surrounded. At a height of over
19,000 feet, I had a great chase after a new kind of rat; but it finally
eluded me, and I was not able to add it to our already large collection.
Even at these heights I found both yellow and white saxifrages and a
blue gentian. From the top of this ridge I had been able to see
Kanchenjunga and Jannu, though nearly 100 miles away, but their summits
stood up out of the great sea of clouds which covered Nepal.

[Illustration: CLIFFS OF CHOMOLÖNZO from camp at Pethang Ringmo.]

On returning to camp in the afternoon, I found that Mallory and Bullock
were there. They had climbed a snow peak on the North side of the Kama
Valley, about 21,500 feet, and from this view point had been unable to
discover a possible route up Mount Everest on the Eastern face; they
thought, however, that there might be an alternative approach from the
next valley to the North. They therefore intended returning to the
Kharta Valley to follow that river to its source.

Next morning was cloudy, and neither Everest nor Makalu were to be seen;
but towards the East the view was clear, though the mountains appeared
to be much too close. We started all together down the valley. On the
way I climbed 1,000 feet up among the rocks opposite to the big glacier
that descends from Chomolönzo. I failed, however, to get the good view
of Makalu which I had been hoping for, owing to the clouds, and returned
to my old camping ground at Tangsham, Mallory and Bullock branching off
from here towards the Langma La. The shepherds had told us that there
was another pass into the Kharta Valley called the Shao La, rather more
to the South. I therefore intended to make use of this pass on the
return journey to Kharta. As usual, in the evening, the clouds came up
and enveloped us in a thick mist. Every night this happened in the Kama
Valley, and was evidently due to the excessive moisture of the air. When
we started the following morning, there was still a thick Scotch mist
which made the vegetation very wet. We descended the Kama Valley, most
of the time keeping high up above the river. On the opposite side of the
valley were immense black cliffs descending sheer for many thousand
feet. On the way we passed through acres of blue iris, mostly over now,
and then through a very luxuriant vegetation which grew more and more
varied as we descended lower. There was a lovely emerald-green lake
beside the path, and like white sentinels on the hillsides grew the
great rhubarb of Sikkim, the _Rheum nobile_. This was a most conspicuous
plant with columns of the palest green leaves sheathing the flower
spikes which grew fully 5 feet in height. There were several other
varieties of rhubarb here, but none were as handsome as this. At one
place we descended as low as 13,000 feet and came once more amongst
dense forests of juniper, silver firs (_Abies Webbiana_), mountain ash,
willow, birch and tall rhododendrons. From every tree hung long grey
lichens attesting the moisture of the climate. Wherever there was an
open space in the forest, it was carpeted with flowers. Two delightful
varieties of primula were new to me, and were just coming out, one of
them being almost black in colour. The big deep red meconopsis grew
here, too, in great luxuriance. Gentians of all kinds abounded and many
other varieties of flowers and ferns, due to the fact that Makalu seems
to attract all the storms, causing the moist Monsoon currents to be
drawn into this valley. As the day went on, the weather improved; the
sun came out, and the clouds melted away, disclosing the magnificent
peaks of Makalu. A big glacier descended from the East face from a side
valley into the floor of the valley below us at a height of about 12,000
feet. It was very curious to see fir trees, birch and juniper, and a
very luxuriant vegetation growing on either side of the ice and on the
moraines beside it.

[Illustration: THE KAMA VALLEY.]

Below this glacier the valley became quite flat with grassy meadows and
patches of forest dotted about the pastures--a very unusual type of
valley for the Himalayas. Almost opposite to this glacier we turned into
a side valley; the path and the stream that came down this valley were
often indistinguishable. All round the valley were great black cliffs;
in one place where they were less precipitous the path found its way
upwards. Our camp was pitched that night on a shelf above the cliffs
where for a short time we had some very wonderful views. This place was
called in Tibetan "The Field of Marigolds," though at the time we were
there they were all over. We were at a height of 15,300 feet, and
Makalu's two peaks were almost exactly opposite to us. The cloud effects
were very striking; the storms seemed to gather round Makalu, and first
one peak and then the other would appear out of the great white cumulus
clouds whose shapes changed every minute. As usual, the mists came up in
the evening, and we were enveloped in a very wet Scotch mist with a
temperature of 46° Fahr. Next morning, instead of getting the lovely
view that we had expected, a thick Scotch mist prevented our seeing more
than 20 yards away. We crawled up to the top of the Shao La, 16,500
feet, in driving rain, but after crossing over it we emerged into finer
weather. On the descent we passed several fine lakes, on the cliffs
above which were numerous ram chakor (Himalayan snowcock). I pursued a
covey of these, and after a chase managed to shoot one. They are very
fine birds, weighing between 5 and 6 lb.; they are extremely noisy and
fond of their own voices. The parent birds are always very loth to leave
their young, and early in the summer it is possible to approach very
close to them; but later on in the year, when the young have become
nearly full grown, they are very wily, and having excellent eyesight,
do not allow anyone to approach within a couple of hundred yards. That
afternoon I arrived back at Kharta, where the weather had been quite
fine, and where there had been but little rain during my absence.

During that night a thief broke into our store-room, forcing and
breaking the lock outside. The only thing he took, as far as we could
find out, was one of Wheeler's yak-dans (a leather mule trunk). The
thief had probably mistaken this one for one of mine, which contained a
considerable amount of money, and knowing that I was away, he thought
that my kit must be packed away in the store-room. We informed the
Jongpen and the head-men of the villages around of the theft, and had a
couple of suspicious characters watched; but we never found any trace of
the stolen articles, which luckily were of very small value. For the
next fortnight I remained at Kharta.

On August 19 Heron suddenly arrived back after a very interesting trip,
during which he had explored all the mountains North of Tingri and
Shekar Dzong up to the Brahmaputra watershed. He had had very bad
weather all the time. Every night there had been heavy thunderstorms and
practically all the bad weather had come from the North. The whole
country was under water, and it was very difficult to get about. Some of
the rivers that we had crossed earlier in the season were now a mile or
more wide.

On the following day Bullock and Mallory returned to Kharta after having
explored the Upper Kharta Valley. They thought that they had found a
possible way up Mount Everest from this valley, but at present the
weather was too bad for them to carry on with their reconnaissance, and
they had come down for a fortnight's rest, hoping that the Monsoon would
be over by the beginning of September and that they would then be able
to make a proper attack on the mountain. As Mallory and Bullock were
likely to be at Kharta for some time, Wollaston and I seized this
opportunity to visit the lower valley of the Kama-chu.

Therefore, on August 23, with eleven of our own coolies and several
Tibetan coolies, we climbed the Samchung Pass (15,000 feet), and then
descended into the valley of the fourteen lakes, and after crossing the
Chog La camped on the far side of the pass near a dark green and sacred
lake called Ruddamlamtso. On the way we saw a new species of black rat
in the moraine of a glacier; but Wollaston's servant, who had the
collecting gun with him, was unfortunately far behind; he was always
rather fond of drink and loth to leave the villages. The weather was
cloudy, and there were no views from the top of either pass. The march
was a strenuous one, taking the coolies thirteen hours to cover the
whole distance, and they did not arrive till after dark. The
Ruddamlamtso, the lake by which we were camped, had wonderfully clear
water; I could see every stone at a depth of 20 feet, and it was
evidently very deep. It is looked upon as a sacred lake, and to it
people make yearly pilgrimages, walking round it burning incense and
throwing spices into its waters.

The following morning the clouds were low down everywhere on the
hillsides and we had no views. There was a steep descent for 4 miles to
Sakeding--12,100 feet, through the most interesting zones of vegetation.
We followed the edge of the rushing stream, always white from the
rapidity of its descent. On one side of the valley grew rhododendrons of
many varieties and mountain ash, and on the other were hoary old
junipers with twisted stems. Grey lichens hung down from every branch,
and were often 5 or 6 feet in length. We came across some of the finest
and largest red currants that we had yet seen. Of these we collected a
great quantity, and they formed a very excellent stew. Birches, wild
roses and berberis were the commonest shrubs, while nearly every rock
was covered with an extremely pretty rose-coloured creeper, which in
places caused the hillsides to look quite pink. Earlier in the year the
iris must have been a very beautiful sight, as we passed through acres
of their leaves. A big yellow rock-rose with flowers 2 inches across
was also to be met with here, and many of the lower leaves of the
rhododendrons were turning yellow to scarlet, making a great show of
colour on the dark green of the hillside. Deep purple-coloured primulas
and monkshood, as well as a curious hairy mauve-red monkshood with a
very graceful growth, were also to be seen. The pretty white-crested
red-start flitted about from rock to rock, and numerous tits of various
kinds flew about in flocks from tree to tree as we descended.

Sakeding (Pleasant terrace) had been at one time a village of
considerable size, but a pestilence sent by the local demon had wiped
out all its inhabitants. This demon was still reputed to be very active,
and no one had dared to re-build the old houses of which the ruins,
overgrown with weeds and bushes, could be seen here and there. It was a
very pleasant site for a village, situated as it was on a terrace that
projected out into the valley 1,000 feet above the stream below. During
the summer months there is quite a trade passing through this place, the
Tibetans bringing salt from the North, and the Nepalese coming up from
Nepal with rice, dyes and vegetables, which they exchange. The rate of
barter at this time was two measures of rice or three measures of madder
dye for one measure of salt, and no money changes hands. Everything that
was brought here was brought on the backs of coolies, and these Nepalese
coolies were sturdy, cheery fellows, and thought nothing of carrying 80
lb. of salt on their backs up and down the execrable paths of the

From Sakeding we descended steeply through a forest of the finest
juniper trees that I had yet seen. These grew 80 to 90 feet high, and
many of their trunks were 18 feet to 20 feet in circumference. As a rule
they had clean stems, without a branch for 50 feet or 60 feet. The
branches were all hung with grey lichens. We now descended beside the
muddy and tempestuous waters of the Kama-chu. The juniper forest
gradually gave way to silver firs--wonderful trees of enormous size and
great age. We passed through many open glades, park-like in appearance,
with grand clumps of fir trees or sycamore dotted here and there. The
hillsides were absolutely running over with water, and often for several
hundred yards we walked along logs put down to try and avoid the mud and
the running water. As many of these rounded logs were very slippery,
both we and our coolies had to proceed with caution, and even so we
experienced many a fall. At Chu-tronu--10,200 feet--there was a
well-made wooden bridge, 60 feet long, which spanned the river where it
flowed in a narrow channel between two great rocks. We crossed this
bridge, and finding a broad open space there, I selected a spot suitable
for our camp and ordered the coolies to cut down some of the grass where
we intended to pitch the tents. I could not at first make out why they
kept jumping about when thus engaged, but on going to investigate, I
found that the place was alive with leeches; however, as there was no
other better place in which to camp, we had to make the best of it. The
men collected some dry bamboos out of an old shepherd's hut which was
close by; these they burnt on the sites where we were to pitch our
tents, hoping by this means to drive away the leeches. This method,
however, was not very successful, for all that evening we were busy
picking leeches off our clothes, legs, hands or heads. They climbed up
the sides of the tents and dropped down into our food, our cups and on
to our plates. Wollaston invented the best way of killing them, which
was by cutting them in two with a pair of scissors. Our interpreter
remonstrated with him, as he said this method increased the number of
leeches, thinking that both ends of them would grow. After a somewhat
restless and disturbed night, due to these leeches, we started off next
morning to go down to the junction of the Kama River with the Arun. The
distance as the crow flies was only about 6 miles, but we did not
realise the kind of path that we should have to traverse. In that short
distance we must have risen and fallen quite 5,000 feet. The path was
never level and always very rough and stony. At first it led through
beautiful glades running with moisture and over logs buried, most of
them, inches deep in the water; they were, however, better to walk on
than the soft mud there was on either side. The silver firs were now at
their best--trees over 100 feet in height, and with stems 20 feet to 25
feet in circumference. Here grew great hydrangeas 20 feet or more in
height covered with flowers. Our only halts on the way down, and they
were pretty frequent, were to pick off the leeches from our clothes. We
took them off by tens at a time; they were very hungry, and varied in
size from great striped horse-leeches to tiny ones as thin as a pin and
able to penetrate anywhere. The track now left the upper terraces and
descended very steeply towards the river, at times climbing sharply
upwards again to avoid precipitous rocks and cliffs. During the descent,
we gradually passed from the zone of the silver firs into that of the
spruce, meeting the lovely _Picea Brunoniana_, which grew to an even
greater size than the silver firs. Many of the trees were over 150 feet
in height and without a branch for 70 feet or 80 feet; their stems too,
were often 25 feet to 30 feet in circumference. This valley is so
inaccessible that I am glad to think that these glorious forests can
never be exploited commercially. After passing a great overhanging rock
called Korabak, which is evidently much used as a halting-place, we
descended steeply to the river, which now forms a series of cascades,
leaping from rock to rock, a very remarkable spectacle. During the last
6 miles of its course, this river--the product of four large glacier
streams--descends at the rate of 450 feet every mile. In places there
were waterfalls of 20 feet and more, where the river hurled itself into
seething cauldrons; in one place I saw it confined to a breadth of
barely 5 feet. The junction of this river with the Arun is only 7,500
feet above the sea; just above the junction is a bridge which leads to
the village of Kimonanga, a picturesque village situated on a terrace
some 700 feet above the river and surrounded by some fine trees. In this
valley we came across a few blue pines (_Pinus excelsa_) and also a
large-leafed alder; near its junction with the Arun were many trees and
orchids of a semi-tropical character. On the opposite side of the valley
is a forest of evergreen oak trees, but as I was unable to cross the
river I could not say to what species they belonged. On the way we
passed many yellow raspberries on which we slaked our thirst. Our guide
also dug up some of the roots of the wild arum to show us; it is a great
flattish tuberous root, rather oval in shape. This the inhabitants dig
up and, after allowing it to ferment by burying it in a hole for several
days, pound it up, and then eat it; it was much esteemed by the
villagers. It is necessary to ferment it first, as otherwise the root is
extremely poisonous. We tasted a slice of bread made out of this root,
and I have seldom tasted anything nastier. It is supposed, if not
properly fermented, to cause all the hair to fall out of the head; but I
should be inclined to imagine that it would do this even if it were
properly fermented. Near the junction of the Kama and Arun Rivers, we
climbed up on to a terrace 1,200 feet above, on which was situated the
village of Lungdö. The great Arun gorges here become a considerable
valley; for 20 miles above this point up to Kharta the Arun runs through
a narrow and practically impassable gorge, but here the valley widens
out for a few miles and contains several villages; a short distance
below it enters again into another great gorge. The river now was in
full flood and covered the whole of the bottom of the valley, being in
places many hundred yards in width. At one spot, where it contracted,
there was a well-made bridge leading to the village of Matsang. I was
astonished to meet with maize growing at this height--8,700 feet. The
villagers also grew cucumbers, pumpkins and several kinds of millet,
including an extremely pretty red one. The head-man of Lungdö gave me
some millet beer, which was very refreshing after the long march.
Wollaston did not care for it, but between us we managed to eat three
large and juicy cucumbers. The head-man was very friendly; and a local
official was staying here who had just come from Kharta, who recognised
us, and presented us with some excellent honey cakes. We neither of us
looked forward to the uphill return journey, but after five and a half
hours' hard walking I reached camp just before dark. Wollaston did not
arrive till later, and I had to send a coolie with a lamp to bring him
in. We were both of us much exhausted, as the day had been a long and
trying one. That night we had a grand camp fire of rhododendron and fir
logs. Hundreds of moths insisted on flying into the fire instead of
entering the tent where Wollaston was ready with his cyanide bottle to
catch them.

The following morning the weather was dull and cloudy, and did not look
very promising. We determined, however, to visit the Popti La, the pass
between Tibet and Nepal, over which all the local traffic passes.
Leaving the camp, we entered a small side valley to the South, the path
climbing steeply upwards under big rhododendrons (_R. Falconeri_ and _R.
Argenteum_) with leaves 18 inches long. Noticing many of their leaves
strewn on the path, I inquired the reason for this. Our guide informed
us that the carriers fastened these leaves together with thin strips of
bamboo and thus provided an excellent waterproof cover for themselves
and for their loads. After climbing about a mile, we saw some bamboo
huts in the forest and a number of cows were grazing round them. These
belonged to some Nepalese herds who come over here in the summer,
bringing their cattle to graze. The path now followed the side of a
rushing torrent, peaty brown in colour, which came hurrying down under
the shade of birch, sycamore, silver firs, juniper and rhododendrons. As
we ascended higher, the open spaces became more frequent, though the
grass and weeds grew fully 3 feet in height, attesting the constant
rainfall of this district. On leaving the path to collect a few seeds
from some plants growing a short distance away from it, I found myself
in a few moments covered with leeches which apparently thrive here at an
altitude of over 12,000 feet; this must be almost a record height for
these pests. The path climbed up steeply, the rhododendrons growing
gradually smaller in size as we ascended. After going for four hours, we
reached the top of the pass--14,000 feet. Here on the top was a stone
half hidden in a pile of rocks with a notice, written in Chinese
characters, that this was the boundary between Tibet and Nepal. Across
the top of the pass was a long wall, mostly overgrown with grass,
evidently at one time considered to be some kind of defence. Owing to
the clouds being very low, we unfortunately had no view from the top,
but just below us, on the Nepalese side, was a fine black lake, about
half a mile long, with an island in the centre, which the Nepalese
called Dungepokri. On the top were many interesting Alpine flowers,
amongst them a charming white potentilla with a red centre; and a large
cream-coloured primula, shading into deep orange. We also came across
several new varieties of gentians. Here we rested for a couple of hours,
hoping that the clouds might lift, but a nasty rain began to fall
heavily. While we were waiting several coolies from Nepal passed by:
from these we found out that the pass was closed by snow for five months
in the year and that the trade market at Sakeding was closed by the end
of October. We now turned our footsteps homeward, urged on by cold
showers of rain. On the descent we were able to collect a few seeds.
Autumn was approaching, though the trees had not yet begun to assume
their autumn colours owing to the warm nights. That evening in the camp
we had an enormous bonfire of birch, juniper and rhododendrons, which
made the prettiest blaze imaginable, with flames of green, blue, violet
and orange. The large fire also helped to keep away the leeches. Heavy
rain fell again all night, and the thermometer did not descend below 55°
Fahr. The morning, however, broke fine, and we started back again up the
valley to Sakeding. The sun shone every now and then, giving us
occasional glimpses of distant glaciers at the head of the valley. The
walk through the forest, with the sunlight shining on the dark green
leaves of the rhododendron and the dripping foliage, was very
delightful. The undergrowth consisted of wild roses, berberis with its
necklaces of scarlet berries, wild currants of a great size--sour to the
taste, but excellent when stewed--wild raspberries, light feathery
bamboos, birch, willow and a most luxuriant vegetation of flowers and
grasses. In one or two places the mountain ash were just beginning to
show traces of colour. We soon left the leeches behind us and followed
our old track through the forest beside the rushing waters of the
Kama-chu. Enormous rocks which had fallen from above had in places
almost blocked up the river. Often on these great boulders in the middle
of the stream were growing the graceful Himalayan larch. On the steepest
rock faces grew vegetation of every kind, thanks to the excessive
moisture of the climate, and from every tree and from every bush hung
long and picturesque lichens. Crested tits and bullfinches lived in
great numbers in this forest and gave it quite a homelike appearance.
The climb from the river had been a steep one, and we pitched our camp
at Sakeding in a downpour of rain, but towards the evening the weather
cleared up, allowing us fine views of great snow peaks which showed
above the mists on the opposite sides of the valley. It was too far to
go from Sakeding to Kharta in one day; we therefore decided to camp
before crossing the Chog La. We passed our old camp by the green lake
Ruddamlamtso, and I had a long chase after some ram chakor, but they
were too clever for me and ran up the hill faster than I could follow
them. The large moraines which converged in this valley were specially
interesting, and threw much light on its past history. Each moraine had
its own long line of boulders formed of different kinds of rock,
according to the character of the mountains from which they had been
carried down by the ice. It was not difficult to imagine the vast
glaciers by which these lines of boulders had been deposited; glaciers
which must at one time have completely blocked the valley and the
disappearance of which has made room for the chain of lakes which now
occupy the valley. We pitched our camp at a place called
Mendalongkyo--15,500 feet--in a pleasantly sheltered spot where a
gurgling stream disappeared under an old moraine. In the afternoon
Wollaston went out after rats, of which he secured a new variety. Our
coolies had a great chase after a fat marmot, which they very nearly
caught, but he got down into his hole just in time. Around the camp were
quantities of a very beautiful pale blue gentian--a regular Eton blue
colour. Wandering up the spur North-west of the camp I counted nine
lakes in the next valley and four lakes in the one that we were in; as
the rain began to fall again, I returned to camp.

The next morning, August 29, we began our homeward journey to Kharta.
Getting up early, we climbed on to the high ridge North-west of the
camp, from which we had a fair view; but unfortunately both Makalu and
Mount Everest were hidden by clouds. We waited for a long time in hopes
of a better view, but the clouds only grew thicker. We therefore
followed the ridge above the Chog La. On the way I shot a Tibetan snow
partridge (_Lerwa nivicola_), an extremely pretty bird with lovely
markings. This was the first I had seen.

We now turned our backs upon the Kama Valley with much regret. We had
explored many of these Himalayan valleys, but none seemed to me to be
comparable with this, either for the beauty of its Alpine scenery, or
for its wonderful vegetation. We shall not easily forget the smiling
pastures carpeted with gentians and every variety of Alpine flower that
rise to the very verge of icebound and snow-covered tracks, where mighty
glaciers descend among the forests which clothe the lower slopes.

After crossing the Chog La, we went down once more into the valley of
the lakes and then, crossing the Samchung La, descended to Kharta which
we found bathed in sunshine.

                               CHAPTER VIII


During the early part of August Mallory and Bullock, after they had
found that there was no possible means of attacking Mount Everest from
the Kama Valley, crossed the Langma La and returned to the Kharta
Valley. Up this valley they now proceeded until they reached the
glaciers in which the Kharta River has its source. After exploring a
number of valleys, they at last found one which led straight to Mount
Everest. Accompanied by Major Morshead, who had joined them during their
excursion, they made a long and tiring reconnaissance of this valley,
and satisfied themselves that it afforded a practicable approach to the
North-eastern ridge of Mount Everest. The slopes were fairly gentle, but
were at that time covered with soft fresh snow, knee deep. Over these
snow-covered glaciers, up which they had proceeded with great
difficulty, they found a col from which it was possible to attack the
mountain. Under the existing conditions of soft snow and warm weather it
would have been quite impossible to take laden coolies along this route,
and they therefore returned to Kharta to wait until the monsoon
conditions had abated and the snow should have become hard and frozen.

On our return from the Kama Valley on August 29, we found Mallory and
Bullock still at Kharta, waiting for the weather to improve. About this
time it was showing distinct signs of improvement. The clouds were not
so thick and there were many more bright intervals with blue skies. They
therefore determined to start off on August 31, to form an advanced base
camp up the Kharta Valley.

On September 1, much to the surprise of every one, Raeburn arrived back
from Darjeeling. He reported very wet conditions throughout Tibet, the
rivers everywhere being unfordable, and most of the bridges washed away.
He also reported having seen five bags of our mails at Chushar. Our
posts had latterly been very erratic, and for five weeks no mails had
arrived. We did not know what had happened to them. We were sending in a
couple of our own coolies every fortnight to Phari with our outgoing
mail, and the first lot of these coolies had not yet returned, so that
we were all without news of the outside world. Although it was the
beginning of September, the night temperatures at Kharta were still much
too high, ranging from 52° Fahr. to 47° Fahr. On September 3 Morshead
and Wheeler left for the Upper Kharta Valley, intending to go slowly and
to map and fill in the detail of the valley as they went along.

The tameness of the birds gave us many opportunities of studying their
habits. A large family of redstarts lived in our garden at Kharta, and
used to amuse me very much. The young birds were now fully fledged and
spent most of the day in hopping in and out of my tent; they were not in
the least degree afraid, and the mother would come and feed them
actually inside my tent. On the terrace near the camp there were a
number of prettily marked white rock pigeons which formed a welcome
addition to our diet of Tibetan mutton, of which we were getting very

On September 5 Wollaston, Raeburn and I, with twenty-six Tibetan
coolies, and eleven of our own, started off to join the climbing party
up the Kharta Valley. The first 7 miles of this valley I knew well,
having traversed them many times before. The barley fields were now fast
ripening, and were a beautiful golden colour. Curious to relate, the
barley that grew at 14,000 feet was riper than that which grew at 12,000
feet. Two kinds of barley seemed to be grown here--the ordinary variety,
and another with a red ear such as is, I believe, grown in the
Shetlands. We rode past the tidy-looking monastery of Gandenchöfel,
surrounded by its juniper trees, and after a steep climb past the
entrance of the valley leading to the Langma La, descended on to some
fine river terraces, on which were many prosperous farms and well-tilled
fields. These extended for several more miles up the valley. We pitched
our camp on a grassy flat a couple of miles above the last house, where
willows, rhododendrons and junipers grew plentifully; the marshy ground
was carpeted with gentians, one of the commonest being dark blue in
colour with ten petals, and rather like a star in shape, the other being
larger and of a pale Eton-blue colour. I managed to collect a certain
number of seeds of both of these. We had a grand bonfire that evening,
made of juniper and willow, the last that we were to have for a long
time. The weather was disappointing and a drizzling rain fell all night
with a temperature of 42° Fahr.

It was still raining when we started in the morning, so that there were
no views. A white andromeda was still in flower on the hillsides, but
the rhododendrons were all over. On the opposite side of the valley
juniper alone flourished and grew to an altitude of nearly 17,000 feet.
After going a couple of miles, we passed Morshead and Wheeler's tents
pitched on an old yak camp. When we arrived, they were still having
breakfast, as the weather was too bad to do any surveying. On leaving
them we had a steep climb over grassy slopes, where the drizzling rain
now changed to snow, and for the rest of the day it fell steadily. There
appeared to be many branch valleys, and as our views in the mist were
very curtailed, we were not at all certain as to whether we were going
up the right valley--I only knew approximately the height of the place
at which we were to camp. Therefore, on arriving at that height, I sent
my coolies off in two different directions up two different valleys to
see where Mallory and Bullock's camp might be. The mist lifted for a
moment, and one of them luckily saw Mallory, whose camp was only a few
hundred yards from us. We decided to call this our "Advanced base camp."
It was pitched in some small grassy hollows at a height of 17,350 feet.
The site was well sheltered from the winds, and was a regular Alpine
garden. Gentians of three different kinds were growing there, including
the lovely light-blue one. There was also a beautiful little white
saxifrage with yellow and brown spots inside the flower, a delightful
pink androsace, and dwarf delphiniums with their single deep-blue
flowers. Here grew also the musk-scented hairy light-blue delphinium
with its overpowering smell of musk. The latter flower, the Tibetans
told me, was a great preventative of lice, and I noticed that our cooks
and most of our servants had picked great bundles of it. They also told
me that if a man habitually wears this flower about him during his
lifetime, after his death when cut up and exposed to the birds, no bird
or wolf will touch his flesh owing to the strong scent apparently left
by the musk. A pretty pink aster grew here in great clusters, and a few
blue poppies were still out. Acchu, our cook, and Gyalzen Kazi, who were
coming along behind us, both missed their way and wandered several miles
further up the valley before they found out their mistake, and when they
eventually arrived in camp, were both suffering from severe headaches,
due to the great height. During our stay at this camp we had plenty of
time and many opportunities of observing bird and animal life. Some of
the birds were very brilliantly coloured. There was a snow bunting with
bright scarlet breast and head, also a beautiful redstart with red body
and black and white wings. Overhead the great Lämmergeier, or bearded
vulture, sailed in graceful circles, while the big black raven croaked
on the rocks by the camp. Morning and evening we could hear the
ramchakor (_Tetraogallus tibetanus_) calling on the opposite side of the
valley, and with glasses we could see them chasing one another and
running round in circles. Red foxes I met with on several occasions over
18,000 feet.

Mallory and Bullock, who had already been here for a few days, had spent
their time in carrying wood and stores up to a higher camp further up
the valley; they had been having a certain amount of trouble with their
coolies, due to the Sirdar, who was always trying to create
difficulties. I therefore sent him away on a job to Chushar to collect
some of our stores which were supposed to have been detained there, and
which would keep him busy for a number of days and prevent him from
interfering with our coolies at a critical period. We had brought up
with us six live sheep, and very lively these proved. Dukpa, Mallory's
cook, let three of them escape, but luckily some coolies coming up the
valley saw two of them, and after a great chase brought them back. The
third they could not catch and eventually drove him under a cliff, where
they killed him with stones and brought his carcass back to us. The
weather continued very unsettled. During the night a couple of inches of
snow fell, but until the temperature became colder and the sky cleared,
it was no use trying to go up to the upper camp. I shot a ramchakor on
the opposite side of the valley. They are the most tasty of the Tibetan
birds, and are quite excellent eating.

On September 8, after a frosty night, Bullock, Mallory and I with three
coolies, for the purpose of keeping fit, made a little excursion along a
rocky ridge that lay to the South of us. On the top of the ridge there
were a number of sharp rock pinnacles that had to be climbed. I found
these gymnastics at a height of over 19,000 feet to be very exhausting,
but Mallory did not seem to mind them in the least. There should have
been a lovely view from here, but all we got was an occasional glimpse
of glaciers and rocky peaks through the mist. The sun was trying to
shine through the clouds and at first it was beautifully warm; but after
a couple of hours snow began to fall, so we hurriedly descended on to
the glacier below. Snow fell all the way back to camp, and by nightfall
there were 3 inches of fresh snow round our tents. During the night the
thermometer dropped to 21° Fahr., and the morning broke clear and
frosty. I started off early to climb the hill behind the camp, from
which there was a very extensive view, both Everest and Makalu being for
the moment quite clear and free from cloud. To the North extended a
great range of snow peaks between 23,000 feet and 24,000 feet in height,
rather uninteresting in appearance, and to the East stretched a great
sea of accumulating cloud, out of which appeared the tops of
Kanchenjunga and Jannu. The peak on which we stood was just under 20,000
feet; I spent several hours basking in the hot sunshine, which was
rapidly melting the fresh snow. I was surprised to find growing at this
height a tiny yellow saxifrage.

That evening eight coolies arrived with our long-expected mail, and the
rest of the day was spent in reading letters and sorting out papers, for
over two hundred letters and papers had arrived for me alone. There was
again a sharp frost of 10° that night and the early morning was
beautiful, but clouds came quickly drifting up the valley and obscured
the fine views we had from the camp of Mount Everest and the rocky peaks
to the North of the camp. On September 11, in spite of a warm night,
Mallory and Bullock, being very optimistic, left for the upper camp,
while Morshead and Wheeler rejoined us from their camp below, not having
been able to do any work down there owing to bad weather. Snow fell
steadily all the evening to a depth of about 3 inches. Next day was
cloudy, but warm, and the snow disappeared again with extraordinary
rapidity. I went out with a shotgun to try and shoot some ramchakor, and
while after them saw a very fine grey wolf who was also stalking the
ramchakor. He came up to within 50 yards of me, so that I was able to
have a good look at him. He had a beautiful coat, and it was very
unfortunate that I did not have a rifle with me. I wandered some way up
a side valley to the foot of a glacier, but saw no signs of birds, as
the wolf had evidently been there before me. In the afternoon Mallory
and Bullock returned from the upper camp, having been driven down by the
bad weather: another 5 inches of snow fell that evening, so that we were
kept busy beating our tents to keep the ridge poles from breaking. On
September 13, 14 and 15, snow fell on and off the whole time; but in
spite of the bad weather I managed to shoot a burhel for food. Their
meat is very much better than that of the tame sheep. On September 16 we
had at last a fine day with a sharp frost at night. Wheeler at once
seized this opportunity and took up a station on a hill-top on the
opposite side of the valley, from which he was able to get some useful
views. The next day, after 13° of frost in the night, Mallory, Morshead
and I started off to climb Kama Changri, a peak to the South of the
camp, that overhung the Kama Valley. We left the camp at 2 a.m., by the
light of a full moon, which made the going as light as though it were
day. We soon reached our view-point of a few days before, where, except
for the distant roar of the stream far away below in the valley, there
was no other sound, only an intense stillness. Never anywhere have I
seen the moon or the stars shine so brightly. To the South, far away
from us, there were constant flashes of lightning--the valleys in Tibet,
the great gorges of the Arun, the wooded valleys of Nepal all lay buried
under a white sea of clouds, out of which emerged the higher mountains
like islands out of a fairy sea. In this bright moonlight, mountains
like Kanchenjunga--100 miles away--stood out sharp and distinct. Here on
this sharp ridge, at a height of 21,000 feet, with no obstruction to
hide the view, sunrise came to us in all its beauty and grandeur. To the
West, and close at hand, towered up Mount Everest, still over 8,000 feet
above us; at first showing up cold, grey and dead against a sky of deep
purple. All of a sudden a ray of sunshine touched the summit, and soon
flooded the higher snows and ridges with golden light, while behind, the
deep purple of the sky changed to orange. Makalu was the next to catch
the first rays of the sun and glowed as though alive; then the white sea
of clouds was struck by the gleaming rays of the sun, and all aglow with
colour rose slowly and seemed to break against the island peaks in great
billows of fleecy white.

Such a sunrise has seldom been the privilege of man to see, and once
seen can never be forgotten. After sunrise the climbing became more
unpleasant. We tried to follow the direct way up the mountain, but the
snow was in bad condition and the slope very steep. We therefore crossed
the glacier, putting on our snow-shoes, and followed easier snow slopes
but bad owing to the soft snow. The going was very tiring; Mallory and
Morshead appeared to feel the height very much. After six hours we
reached the top, 21,300 feet, from which we had a most superb view. We
looked straight down on to the Kama Valley. Makalu was immediately
opposite us with its colossal precipices. Glaciers, cliffs of ice, rock
peaks, fluted snow ridges and immense mountains towered all around us
above a vast sea of clouds which stretched for hundreds of miles away to
the plains of India. Here I was able to take many photographs, but no
photograph can adequately portray the grandeur or the impressiveness of
such a scene. We stopped on the top of Kama Changri for over three
hours. It was extraordinarily warm; there was not a breath of air, and
the sun seemed to shine with an intense heat. Clouds then began to roll
up, and we returned to camp by an easier way down the glacier.

Next day, in spite of 13° of frost at night, snow and sleet fell all day
again, and made us very depressed. In order to prevent our going to
sleep too soon after dinner, four of us used to play bridge every night,
and I do not suppose that bridge has often been played at so great a

On September 19, after a cold night with 16° of frost, Mallory, Bullock,
Morshead and Wheeler started off for the 20,000-foot camp. The weather
was now steadily growing colder every night. On September 20 we had 18°
of frost, as well as a further fall of snow. During the night a very
fine lunar halo was seen, but the morning broke clear. Wollaston,
Raeburn and I started to join the remainder of the party at the
20,000-foot camp, leaving Gyalzen Kazi, our second interpreter, behind
in charge of the advance base camp. It was very necessary to have some
one here to whom we could send back for any extra stores or supplies
that might be wanted, and who would be able to forward to us anything
that might be sent up from Kharta. A four hours' walk brought us to the
camp. I had a thorough feeling of lassitude all the way. It required,
indeed, some effort to walk at all, and a strong effort, both of mind
and body, to reach camp. On the way beautiful views of Mount Everest
gave us encouragement. The foot of the Kharta Glacier descends to 19,000
feet. From that point on to the camp we travelled beside it. At first
the glacier is cut up into wonderfully shaped "seracs," but as we got
higher the surface became smoother. It was an exceptionally white
glacier; there were no moraines on its surface, and it was covered
everywhere with a fresh coating of thick snow. We found the camp on a
terrace between two glaciers. That above the camp resembled the pictures
of a Greenland ice cap. A thick coating of ice, to a depth of 50 to 60
feet, covered the gentle slopes above us, and came down to within a
couple of hundred yards of the camp. The drainage from the melting ice
percolated through the stony ground, so that on digging to a depth of 6
inches we came upon water. A couple of hundred feet below the camp was
the big white glacier which descended from the Lhakpa La. The day was
gloriously fine, and we obtained magnificent views of Mount Everest and
the snowy chain to the South of us across the Kharta Glacier. Over the
top of this snowy chain appeared the great rocky crests of Makalu. At an
altitude of over 19,800 feet I saw a hare and heard several ramchakor
calling. There grew close to the camp a few gentians with their curious
square leaves, also a dwarf blue delphinium and a little white
saxifrage. It was an extraordinary height at which to find flowers and
their season of summer cannot last long. On arrival at the camp, we
found only Wheeler and Bullock there, as Mallory and Morshead with
fourteen coolies had gone on ahead to carry loads up to the Lhakpa La,
which was to be our next camp. They returned in a very exhausted
condition in the course of the afternoon. The snow, they reported, was
in better condition than last time on the lower slopes; but as they got
higher, they found it still very soft and powdery. These extra loads
that they had taken up to this camp would enable the whole party to go
up to it and to sleep there, if necessary, for several days. As the sun
was setting behind Mount Everest, we were treated to a glorious view.
The ring of clouds that surrounded it were all touched by the bright
evening sunlight, while the mountain itself was in deep shadow except
for great streamers of powdery fresh snow which were being blown off the
whole length of its crests. We stood and watched this extraordinary
sight for some time, devoutly hoping that the wind would soon die down.
Unfortunately we were soon to experience what a strong wind meant at
these heights.

in distance.]

On the following night we had 20° of frost, and the weather appeared to
be getting rather more settled. We were now sufficiently high up to be
above the ordinary clouds, and we could look down upon the great sea of
them which overhung the Arun Valley and the greater part of Nepal. As
the sun warmed the clouds, they used to rise higher, but they seldom
arrived as far as our camp owing to a strong North-westerly wind always
blowing in the upper regions of the air which drove them back again.
Watching the movements of the clouds day by day gave me the impression
that the Mount Everest group forms a dividing line between the two
monsoon systems. The monsoon that causes so much rain in Sikkim comes
from the Bay of Bengal, and these moist currents sweep up to Mount
Everest, but it is only when the current is very strong that they pass
beyond it. At this time of year this monsoon was still active, whereas
the Arabian Sea monsoon--that is to say, the moist winds from the
Arabian Sea--which had given us previously much rain and snow on the
Western sides and slopes of Mount Everest, was now over, with the result
that on the West side of Everest we had blue skies every day and no rain
clouds, whereas on the East side the clouds and the moisture brought up
by the Bengal monsoon still prevailed. During the course of the morning
I climbed an easy hill to the East side of the camp and some 500 feet
above it. We walked along at first just below the ice cap, which was
very pretty with its long icicles gleaming in the sunlight. We then
crossed on to the ice cap and found the snow in excellent condition,
firm and crisp to the tread, so that it was a pleasure to walk along it.
From the top of this hill, 20,500 feet, was a very fine view to the
East, over the great sea of cloud which filled up all the valleys as far
as the Massif of Kanchenjunga which towered up in the distance, and the
more slender peak of Jannu. Amongst the Sikkim peaks I could also
recognise Chomiomo and the Jonsong peak. To the South Makalu towered up
above all the other mountains: while between it and Mount Everest,
beyond the Southern watershed of the Kama Valley, showed up some of the
great Nepalese peaks, among which we noted Chamlang, 24,000 feet. To the
West of us Mount Everest showed up sharp and clear and very white after
all the fresh snow that had fallen in the last month. From this side
Mount Everest certainly looks its best, standing up as a solitary peak
instead of being rather dwarfed by the high ridges that radiate from it.
The weather remained fine all day, and it was a real pleasure to sit
outside one's tent and bask in the sun. Though we were 20,000 feet, we
had breakfast, lunch and tea out of doors in front of our tents, and we
could not have been warmer or enjoyed pleasanter conditions if we had
been down at 5,000 feet.

On September 22, leaving Raeburn behind, Mallory, Bullock, Morshead,
Wheeler, Wollaston and myself started off to Lakhpa La camp. We left the
20,000-foot camp in 22° of frost at four o'clock in the morning,
accompanied by twenty-six coolies, who were divided up into four
parties, each of which was properly roped. It was a beautiful moonlight
night, and the mountains showed up nearly as brightly as in the daytime.
We rapidly descended the 200 feet from our terrace to the glacier, when
we all "roped up." The snow on the glacier was in excellent condition,
and as it was frozen hard we made good progress. Dawn overtook us on
the broad flat part of the glacier, the first beams of the sun falling
on the summit of Mount Everest, which lay straight in front of us, and
changing the colour of the snow gradually from pink to orange, all the
time with a background of deep purple sky, every detail showing up sharp
and clear in the frosty air. We mounted gradually past Kartse, the white
conical-shaped peak climbed by Mallory and Bullock a month ago from the
Kama Valley. We wended our way without much difficulty through the
ice-fall of the glacier, below some superbly fluted snow ridges that
rose straight above us. Then followed a long and at times a somewhat
steep climb over soft powdery snow to the top of the pass. Even at these
heights we came across tracks in the snow. We were able to pick out
tracks of hares and foxes, but one that at first looked like a human
foot puzzled us considerably. Our coolies at once jumped to the
conclusion that this must be "The Wild Man of the Snows," to which they
gave the name of Metohkangmi, "the abominable snow man" who interested
the newspapers so much. On my return to civilised countries I read with
interest delightful accounts of the ways and customs of this wild man
whom we were supposed to have met. These tracks, which caused so much
comment, were probably caused by a large "loping" grey wolf, which in
the soft snow formed double tracks rather like those of a barefooted
man. Tibet, however, is not the only country where there exists a "bogey
man." In Tibet he takes the form of a hairy man who lives in the snows,
and little Tibetan children who are naughty and disobedient are
frightened by wonderful fairy tales that are told about him. To escape
from him they must run down the hill, as then his long hair falls over
his eyes and he is unable to see them. Many other such tales have they
with which to strike terror into the hearts of bad boys and girls.

I reached the top of the pass (22,350 feet) by 10.30 a.m., and was
rewarded by a wonderful view of Mount Everest, now only a couple of
miles away. From the pass there was a steep descent of about 1,200 feet
to a glacier which after many wanderings finds its way into the Rongbuk
Glacier. This valley had never been thoroughly investigated by Mallory
and Bullock in their visit to the Rongbuk Valley. It does not, however,
actually form the main Rongbuk Glacier, but stops several miles short of
it, the entrance to the valley containing this huge glacier being both
small and very insignificant. The bad weather that they had experienced
in the Rongbuk Valley during the latter half of their stay there had
made it impossible for Mallory and Bullock to explore this valley, or
see what lay at its head.

We were now opposite the Chang La (North Col) which joins Mount Everest
to Changtse (the North peak), and from this col was, so far as we were
able to judge, the only route to the summit. The way from the glacier up
to the Chang La looked steep and unpromising, and we doubted whether it
would be possible to take laden coolies up, even to this point. I took
as many photographs as I could, and as quickly as possible, for there
was an icy wind blowing which almost froze my hands. This wind blew the
fine powdery snow off all the crests of the ridges and it penetrated
everywhere. We found a little hollow in the snow a few feet below the
crest, and here we set to work to pitch our camp. There was not much
shelter, but it was the only possible place. We had only brought small
Alpine Meade and Mummery tents with us. Two of us occupied each tent.
They were very small and uncomfortable, and in order to enter them we
had to crawl through a narrow funnel almost as though we were entering a
dog kennel. The effort of crawling in was very exhausting and caused us
to remain out of breath for a considerable time afterwards. Even these
small tents were with difficulty pitched owing to the strong winds:
cooking was quite out of the question until dark when the wind
temporarily lulled. We had brought up with us some Primus stoves and
spirit lamps. No one, except perhaps Wheeler, was very expert with the
Primus stove, and though no doubt under favourable conditions they
would be easy to work, even at these heights, we were never very
successful with them and were forced to rely upon the spirit stoves.
After sunset we had a scratch meal of consommé, which we managed to warm
up, followed by some cold ham and biscuits, after which we retired to
bed. The moment the sun went down there were 25° of frost. Up till now I
had felt no ill-effects from the rarefied air; I had not even had a
headache and my appetite was good, though I owned to feeling rather lazy
and it always needed an effort to concentrate one's thoughts. The
coolies who had accompanied us up to this camp all seemed to be well and
were very cheerful. The eiderdown sleeping-bags were a great comfort;
they were our only means of keeping thoroughly warm with 34° of frost
outside. But I cannot say that I felt comfortable or, in fact, that I
slept at all, as the snow which at most times had been much too soft,
seemed here to freeze into uncomfortable lumps and bumps underneath
one's back, so that I could never get comfortable all night. The wind
howled round our flimsy tents, and I do not think anyone, except perhaps
Mallory, got any sleep that night. In the morning we were all suffering
from bad headaches, due to the airlessness of these little tents, and I
am sure that anyone camping at high altitudes ought to have a much
larger type of tent in which to sleep if he is to avoid headaches. We
blessed the early morning sun when it appeared and began to unfreeze us.
I noticed then that our faces and hands were all a curious blue colour
in the morning, due to what is called, I believe, cyanosis of the blood.
With much difficulty Wheeler made us a little tea, which if not drunk at
once, froze; Mallory thawed out some sardines which had all been frozen
solid. There was luckily less wind than during the night, and as the sun
rose higher, we all became more alive. The coolies, too, were at first
all torpid and complained of bad headaches, but on getting into the
fresh air, out of their small and stuffy tents, the headaches rapidly
passed away. After consultation, we decided that there was no object--in
fact, that it would be dangerous--for the whole party to go on, so we
decided that it would be best for the expert Alpine climbers only,
together with a few picked coolies, to attempt the Chang La. If weather
conditions were favourable, they might, we thought, see how high they
could get on Mount Everest itself. We therefore quickly sorted out and
divided up the stores, and after seeing Mallory, Bullock and Wheeler
off, unpitched our own tents, being satisfied that we could be of no use
by remaining where we were, and that it would be best that we should
return to our 20,000-foot camp and carry down with us as many stores as
we could. We accomplished this without any difficulty, and arrived back
during the course of the afternoon. The contrast here was extraordinary.
We seemed to be in a totally different climate, and our larger tents and
camp beds appeared to us to be the height of luxury. We spent a very
comfortable night in spite of 22° of frost, and all slept soundly after
our exertions, though once or twice during the night I was awakened by
rats gnawing at the food which had been left out on the boxes in my
tent. One of the coolies also started to say his prayers in a loud tone
of voice at 1 a.m., but after a few winged words he relapsed into

The next day was delightfully warm and sunny, though there had been
during the night a good deal of lightning towards the South. The snow
could be seen whirling off the crest of Mount Everest during the
morning, and in the course of the afternoon the wind grew much stronger,
and blew huge clouds of snow off the slopes of the mountain, and from
all the surrounding ridges. We could see great wisps of snow being blown
off the pass that we had just left, so that the climbing party must have
been having a very cold time in their new camp. In the evening there was
a curious false sunset in the East with fine purple and orange rays,
while as usual the Kama and the Kharta Valleys were filled with a sea of
cloud. Here, however, we seemed to be above and beyond the reach of the
clouds. Next night there was again constant lightning to the South and
23° of frost, but the weather kept fine and sunny. On climbing a
snow-covered hill to the West of the camp, about 21,000 feet, I had some
superb views of Everest and Makalu with their appalling cliffs and
beautifully-fluted snow slopes. A strong North-westerly gale still
continued in the upper regions of the air above 22,000 feet, and every
ridge of Everest was smothered with clouds of blown snow. I had a
pleasant glissade down steep snow slopes back to the camp, where the
climate was delicious and where I could bask in the sun at the entrance
of my tent with a sun temperature of 173° Fahr. Earlier in the season we
had often recorded temperatures of 195° and 197° Fahr. in the sun with
the black bulb thermometer. During the afternoon we were able with our
glasses to see black specks appearing on the top of the Lhakpa La. These
were the Alpine climbers and their coolies returning after their
strenuous efforts on Mount Everest. We watched them with the greatest
interest descending the glacier and wondered how far they had been
successful. They all arrived back safely in the course of the evening,
having been extraordinarily lucky in not having had any casualties or
frost-bites in spite of the Arctic gales. Mallory will, however, tell of
their adventures in another chapter.

                                CHAPTER IX


Winter was now rapidly approaching. Every night was growing steadily
colder, and we were all anxious to get down to lower altitudes. Every
one had been feeling the strain of life at these high altitudes. It had
been, however, a great relief to us that all the party had got back to
the 20,000-foot camp in safety, and that we had had no cases of sickness
or frost-bite. The coolies had throughout worked most willingly and to
the best of their ability. They had been well supplied with boots and
socks, warm clothing of all kinds, cap comforters and fur gloves, as
well as blankets, and for those who had slept at the higher camps,
eiderdown sleeping-bags had been provided capable of holding four or
five. Here at the 20,000-foot camp we did not have to depend on Primus
stoves or spirit lamps, as while we were waiting at the advanced base
camp we had daily sent up coolies with loads of wood for our future use,
and even during our stay here the coolies who had been left behind under
Gyalzen Kazi had been sending up further loads. We now divided our party
into two: Mallory, Bullock, Raeburn and Morshead were to be responsible
for taking all the stores back to Kharta, and for this purpose we had
arranged with Chheten Wangdi and the Kharta Jongpen for a number of
Tibetan coolies to help in the work of removal. The remainder of us,
that is to say, Wollaston, Wheeler and myself, were to cross over a snow
pass and return to Kharta via the Kama Valley. Wheeler was anxious to do
this in order to complete his survey work, for up till now he had been
unable to visit the Kama Valley. Wollaston had already seen the lower
parts of the Kama Valley, but was very anxious to see the upper end,
particularly after my descriptions of the scenery and the Alpine flowers
that were to be met with there.

On September 26 the two parties started off in different directions.
Taking with us fifteen coolies, all pretty heavily laden, we descended
to the great Kharta Glacier, which it was necessary for us to cross. We
were not at all certain as to the conditions we were likely to meet with
on the other side of the pass. The climb from the Kharta Glacier to the
Karpo La, 20,300 feet, was quite gentle, though the snow was very soft
and powdery. On the North side of the pass we found the slopes to be a
snow-covered glacier, but on the South side there was a very steep rocky
descent which had to be faced. From the top of the pass we had a
remarkably fine view into the Kama Valley which lay below us. Makalu,
Pethangtse and Everest stood up clear above the clouds which floated
along the bottom of the Kama Valley. Across the gaps between these peaks
we could see other snow ranges in Nepal. Here at the top of the pass we
were luckily just sheltered from the Northwest and the gale, but on
either side of us snow was being blown off the mountains in long white
streamers. Our descent was down a very steep rocky rib. We began by
roping ourselves together, but the coolies were all of them heavily
laden and were, moreover, very clumsy on the rope, sending down so many
loose stones that I found my position as foremost man quite untenable
owing to the amount of débris and rocks which were dislodged above me.
We therefore unroped, and Wollaston lowered the coolies one by one over
the steepest part--a somewhat long proceeding--after which they were
able independently to make their way down to the glacier below without
mishap. We now put on the rope again, and so crossed the easy glacier
which led down to the moraine on which I had been two months before.
Wheeler branched off here and took up a position on one of the ridges.
Here he found the gale very troublesome, his theodolite being nearly
blown over several times. He managed, however, to take a number of
readings and to get a good many photographs--sufficient to map the whole
of the upper part of the Kama Valley. All that day the gale continued
above 20,000 feet. Below this the valley was filled with clouds, over
which at first we had magnificent views. As soon as we descended into
the valley, we gradually became enveloped in the autumn mists, which
lasted all the remainder of the way to Pethang Ringmo. This was the
place where I had met the yak herds two months before when they were
pasturing their yaks on the grassy uplands. They had left the place, and
we were therefore no longer able to draw on them for butter and milk. I
had, however, arranged for Wheeler's fat cook to be sent up from Kharta
to this place to meet us and to bring with him some fresh meat and
vegetables. These we found on arrival, the fat cook having only arrived
an hour before. We all of us slept that night much better than we had
been doing at the higher camps, and though even down here we had 14° of
frost, I was delighted to find that my boots were not frozen as hard as
nails, as they had been all the last week.

From this camp I determined to attempt an expedition which I had long
desired to make. My ambition was to reach the ridge between Makalu and
Everest, and from it to have a look right down into Nepal. Mallory and
Bullock did not much encourage me in my project, and doubted whether it
could be accomplished within the short time which was now available. I
decided, nevertheless, to make the attempt. On the night of the 26th all
our servants overslept themselves, and I had some difficulty in waking
them next morning. We succeeded, however, after a hurried breakfast in
making a start at 5.45 a.m., just as the first sunlight was touching the
highest peak of Mount Everest. It was a most perfect autumn morning,
without a cloud in the sky and with the ground underfoot white with
hoar-frost. After going a mile up the valley, we had to cross the
Kangshung Glacier--here about a mile wide and consisting of a great mass
of ice hummocks, often 100 feet or more in height, mostly covered with
boulders, with the ice showing every now and then below us in curious
caverns and lakes. It took us an hour to cross this glacier, as the
walking was very tiring up and down hill over loose stones all the time;
luckily, however, many of the stones were frozen to the ice, which made
the crossing easier than it might have been later in the day. We then
climbed on to a spur, over 19,000 feet, which jutted out into the
valley. From this we had marvellous views right away to Kanchenjunga in
the East. On the opposite side Mount Everest stood out with every detail
showing clearly in the autumn sunshine. Above us towered the
perpendicular cliffs of Chomolönzo, opening out into a most astonishing
series of peaks, the existence of which we had never suspected when
looking at the mountain from the valley below. For once in a way the air
was drier and the valleys below were not filled with cloud, so there was
a prospect of our having clear views all day. Wheeler had come a short
way along the ridge until he got a good view-point, when he stopped to
set up his theodolite and camera for a station, after which he came
along no further. I followed the crest of the ridge as far as I could,
finding it at times very difficult and rocky and having to make many
detours to get along. A descent of about 500 feet was followed by a
climb of another 1,000 feet, at the end of which we found ourselves
exactly opposite to the great amphitheatre of granite formed by
Chomolönzo and Makalu and facing Westwards. So steep were these great
white granite cliffs that no snow lodged on them. Above them were other
cliffs of ice with rather gentler slopes; at their feet was a great
glacier that filled up the whole of this basin and then swept down till
it almost joined the Kangshung Glacier. I had taken with me as usual Ang
Tenze and Nyima Tendu, the two coolies who always accompanied me, each
of them carrying a camera. We now came to a glacier which it was
necessary to cross, and therefore roped up once more. The snow by this
time had become rather soft, and we were constantly breaking through the
crust. The glare and heat of the sun on this glacier were very intense,
and both Nyima and I were feeling very limp from the heat. Ang Tenze was
extraordinarily active and did not seem to mind heat or height--a quite
exceptionally gifted mountaineer. Having successfully crossed the
glacier, we left the soft snow and found our way over some easy rocks
and eventually reached the top of the ridge for which we were making, at
a height of about 21,500 feet, and some 500 feet above the snow-covered
pass to the East of us. From the top of the ridge we had a most glorious
view looking across range upon range of snowy mountains in Nepal.
Immediately below us was a large snow "névé," towards which glaciers
descended from a number of snow-covered peaks. From this névé a great
glacier swept round towards the Southern side of Makalu, apparently
descending into a valley that ran parallel to the Kama Valley and on the
South side of Makalu. Chamlang and other snow peaks to the South showed
up very clearly, covered with snow and ice to very much lower elevations
than any mountain on the North side of the Himalayas. On either side of
us towered up Makalu and Everest, but seen from this point the huge
cliffs of Chomolönzo presented by far the most astounding sight. From
here I could see a few thousand feet of the Southern slopes of Mount
Everest which we had been unable to see from any other point before.
From the angle at which I saw them these appeared very steep, and even
if it were possible and permissible to go into Nepal, it seems
improbable that a practicable route lies up that face of the mountain. I
spent a couple of hours up here taking photographs, enjoying the views,
and eating my lunch in comfort, for the sun was hot and for once in a
way there was no wind. To the South-west of us, across the névé, there
appeared to be another easy pass which seemed to lead round to the South
of Mount Everest, and Ang Tenze, who came from the Khombu Valley, said
that he thought that he recognised some of the mountain tops that he saw
over this, and that if we crossed this pass, we should eventually
descend into the Khombu Valley. He also told me that there were stories
that once upon a time there was a pass from the Khombu Valley into the
Kama Valley, and that this was probably the pass in question, but that
it had been disused for a great number of years. To support his theory
we found on the way down a kind of shelter built of stones and some
pieces of juniper hidden under a big rock. This would have been too high
up for any yak herds to camp, as it was above the grazing pastures, and
seemed to prove that the spot might have been used as a halting-place
for smugglers or people fleeing from the law before they crossed these
passes. It had taken us six and a half hours from camp to get up to the
top of this pass; and we had had no halts on the way beyond what were
necessary to take photographs. The downward journey took us four hours.
We tried another way by the side of the Makalu Glacier, desiring thereby
to avoid the tiresome and rather difficult bit along the top of the
ridge. This short cut proved, however, to be still more trying and
wearisome. From the cliffs above there had been great rock falls down to
the edge of the glacier, and for a couple of miles we had to jump from
boulder to boulder and to clamber either up or down the whole time.
There was still the Kangshung Glacier to cross, with more up and down
hill work, the stones being much looser and more inclined to slip under
foot than they were in the morning. Eventually we reached camp, just
before dark, and feeling very tired. A cup of tea, however, with a
little brandy in it, completely removed all fatigue. Wollaston had been
able during the day to get some beautiful photographs of the
snow-powdered cliffs of Chomolönzo, and also some interesting ones of
the Kangshung Glacier. Besides these he had been able to collect a
number of seeds. It is astonishing how quickly at these heights seeds
ripen, and how short a time it is after flowering that they are fit for

[Illustration: CHOMOLÖNZO. from the alp below the Langma La, Kama

We had been very lucky in getting such a perfect day in the Kama
Valley, for fine days there were very few. After our one perfect day the
weather changed again, and for the next three days we descended the Kama
Valley in sleet and snow. The first morning our march was only to our
old camp at Tangsham on a glacial terrace 1,000 feet above the valley.
At first Everest was clear and all the mountains to the West, but heavy
clouds came rolling up from the South-east and soon enveloped
everything. On the way I managed to collect for Wollaston a number of
the seeds of that lovely blue primula which I had found in flower here
in August. I shot, too, a common snipe, which I was very surprised to
meet at these altitudes. I flushed him beside a small spring close to
the camp. During the afternoon it snowed and sleeted, and Wheeler came
in very tired in the evening after having spent the whole of the day on
a prominent peak, from which he had been unable to get a single
photograph or to take any bearings. In spite of the snow that evening we
had a cheery bonfire of juniper, willow and rhododendron. The next
morning, though we were down at 15,000 feet, there were a couple of
inches of fresh snow on the ground. The weather at first was very misty,
and we had no views at all. We soon, however, descended below the snow,
and the autumnal colours in the valley began to show. On the opposite
side of it below the great black cliffs, the bushes were all shades of
brown and gold. In the forests the rose bushes had turned a brilliant
red, and the mountain ash showed every shade of scarlet and crimson,
contrasting well with the shiny dark green leaves of the rhododendron.
The golden colours of the birch and the dark junipers also made a
beautiful combination of colour. Rain set in again steadily, and as snow
was falling on the "field of marigolds" where we had intended to camp,
we pitched our tents in the midst of a huge rock-fall--1,000 feet lower
down. Our coolies did not pitch any tents for themselves, but preferred
to scatter in twos and threes and to camp under the overhanging rocks
which they found apparently warmer and more comfortable than the tents.
There had been a wonderful growth of vegetation among these huge
boulders, many of them 40 feet to 50 feet in height, which had come down
from the cliffs above. Wollaston and I spent most of the afternoon
pottering round and collecting seeds of plants of different kinds. The
next morning we had trouble in getting hold of the coolies; they were
scattered among the rocks, and in spite of shouts, refused to budge
until I went round with a big stick and poked them out of their holes. I
crossed the Shao La in thick mist, though Wollaston and Wheeler, who
came along an hour behind, had some beautiful glimpses of Makalu in the
clouds and were able to get some photographs. After crossing the pass,
we descended past several beautiful lakes and arrived in fine weather at
Kharta in the afternoon. The autumn tints on the way down were again
very beautiful, and most of the crops had already been gathered in.
Mallory and Bullock had, we found, left Kharta, being in a great hurry
to get back to civilisation again.

It was September 30 when we reached Kharta. We had now finished our
reconnaissance. We had investigated all the valleys to the West,
North-west, North, North-east and East of the mountain, and had
eventually found that there was only one possible route of approach to
the summit. The bad weather and the furious North-westerly gales had
prevented our attaining any great height this year. The rainy season had
begun some three weeks later than usual. The rains, they told us, had
been much heavier than in most years in Tibet, and the wet season had
lasted until very nearly the end of September, after which time a period
of gales set in which made climbing at heights above 23,000 feet a
physical impossibility. Undoubtedly the best time to try and climb the
mountain would be before the monsoon breaks in May or early June. It
might be possible, if the monsoon happened to end by the beginning of
September, to tackle the mountain early in September, but after the
middle of that month the chances of doing any good grow steadily weaker
and the cold increases with great rapidity. Whether it will be possible
in any conditions to reach the summit I am very doubtful. We, however,
had never intended to make a sustained effort to reach the top in 1921.
The reconnaissance of the mountain and its approaches afforded us indeed
no time to make such an effort, and we felt bound to investigate every
valley that led up to it. The Everest Committee had already before we
left for India in 1921 decided to send out a second Expedition in the
following year, for the express purpose of climbing Mount Everest, and
for this purpose had already then promised the leadership to
Brig.-General C. G. Bruce, whose unrivalled knowledge of climbing and
climatic conditions in the Himalayas specially fitted him for the work.
Whether the task is capable of accomplishment I will not attempt to say,
though I should think the chances are on the whole against success. If
Mount Everest were 6,000, or even 5,000 feet lower, I think there can be
no doubt that it could be climbed. There are no physical difficulties in
the shape of the mountain which prevent it being climbed--the
difficulties are all connected with its altitude. If the snow is soft
and powdery, and the conditions are such as we met with so often; or if,
again, there is difficult rock climbing in the last 2,000 or 3,000 feet
of the climb, I do not think the summit will be reached. I cannot say
what the effect will be if oxygen is taken to aid the human effort. I
only know that cylinders of oxygen are very uncomfortable and heavy to
carry, and that to wear a mask over the mouth and to climb so equipped
would not seem to be very feasible or pleasant. Living at great heights,
and trying to sleep at great heights, lowers the vitality enormously.
Larger tents than those with which we were supplied might well be taken
in order to prevent the depressing headaches that follow from sleeping
in a confined and airless space. Among minor discomforts which count for
much may be mentioned the difficulty of preparing good warm food, and
for this purpose a coolie should be trained in cooking and in the use of
the "Primus" and spirit stoves. This coolie should be a man accustomed
to great heights, and he should accompany the party up to the highest
camps in order to avoid the difficulties we had in connection with the
preparation of our food and then having to live on such makeshifts as
sardines and biscuits. I never lost my appetite at heights over 20,000
feet--I was always able to eat well, though not everything appealed to
the palate. Sweet things were especially wanted. That it is possible to
acclimatise the system to live at heights is true, but only to a certain
extent--up to about 18,000 feet we could acclimatise ourselves very
comfortably, and I know in my own case that after six months' living in
Tibet, I was able to do far more than when I first came into the
country, but at greater heights I think a prolonged stay permanently
lowers the vitality. Sleeplessness is another great enemy at heights,
and most of the party I found slept very poorly at the highest camp.
Mallory, I think, was the only exception. It ought to be possible to
pick out a few coolies capable of carrying loads able to go as far as
any European can get. Some of them seem to feel the height much less
than others, and I believe that an unladen native would be able to go
much higher if he had the knowledge of ice and snow that Alpine climbers
have, and would not improbably reach a greater height than any European.
Twenty-nine thousand feet is, however, a tremendous height for anyone to
attain, and I own that I am not at all sanguine that the summit will be
reached, though I have no doubt that this year will see the Duke of the
Abruzzi's record of 24,600 broken, and I shall not be at all surprised
to see a height of 25,000 or 26,000 feet arrived at.

                                 CHAPTER X

                        THE RETURN JOURNEY TO PHARI

Autumn had already come to Kharta. The willows and the poplars under
which we were camped were fast shedding their leaves, which rustled on
the ground, or blew into our tents, a warning that winter was not far
off. Even here there were one or two degrees of frost every night. The
days, however, were still warm and sunny. The next five days were fully
occupied with strenuous work. Wheeler and I took alternate mornings and
afternoons in the dark room. We had each taken a large number of
photographs during the past month. These had to be developed before we
started on our return journey to Darjeeling, and this would be our last
opportunity. An account of our last month's doings and our final
reconnaissance had to be written out for _The Times_, and this, together
with many other letters, had to be sent off to Phari as soon as
possible. Our stores, tents, Alpine equipment, had all to be collected
and sorted out. Lists had to be made of all of them, and most of them
had to be re-packed. The coolies were perpetually worrying us for money
and advances of pay in order that they might be able to buy Tibetan
clothing, or have money which they could spend on drink at Kharta, where
it was apparently very cheap. Our cook and most of the coolies used
constantly to return to camp in the evening blind drunk, and I had to
see that the cook was never allowed near the kitchen under these
conditions. On such an occasion my servant, Poo, would have to do the
cooking in his place. The chang, or barley beer, that they got must have
been a much stronger brew than what was given to us, as what we had did
not appear intoxicating at all, but the interpreters told us that
coolie beer was double strength.

The Jongpen was rather sad as the moment of our departure drew near. We
invited him to lunch one day, and he seemed to appreciate the beauties
of Scotch whisky, which he said was very much better than his own chang.
We had to pay him a return visit the following day, when he gave us a
great spread. Knowing that we were anxious to collect such curios as
were available, he produced all kinds of things for our inspection. I
bought from him a curious old Tibetan musket, elaborately decorated with
silver, and fitted with a pair of antelope horns on which to rest it
when firing. Some interesting copper and silver teapots we were also
able to get from him, and I remember his showing Wollaston many pieces
of finely embroidered Chinese silk. Both Hopaphema and the Jongpen had a
very good idea of the value of money, and were not at all afraid of
asking a stiff price for any of the curios which they produced. We
managed, however, to pick up some interesting Chinese snuff bottles of
carved agate, some with pictures painted inside. China cups of the
Chienlung and Kanghe periods we were also able to get; there were,
however, many things in the monasteries which we rather coveted, but
which the Lamas would not sell. Their tables were very ornamentally
carved with dragons and weird designs, all painted over in brilliant
colours. The Jongpen had one such table, but unfortunately I found out
that he had only borrowed it from the nearest monastery for the purpose
of entertaining us, and therefore he could not sell it. We left behind
us a good many stores which it was not worth while to bring along. Among
them was a lot of acid hypo-sulphite of soda, which the Jongpen at once
seized upon, and which he said he intended to make use of in washing his
clothes, knowing that soda was used occasionally for this purpose. The
Jongpen, of whom we had taken many photographs, and who had seen the
results, was anxious to buy one of our cameras, and to develop and print
everything himself. He imagined the whole process was very easy, and
was extremely anxious to get hold of one of the Expedition's cameras,
but we had to disappoint him in this. Nothing small would content
him--he wanted the biggest of the lot, and was quite willing to exchange
a sword or any other weapon for a camera. We, however, left behind with
him three pairs of skis, which we had brought out with us, but which had
never been unpacked. These skis had throughout our journeys been looked
upon by the Tibetans with the greatest interest. They had heard about
flying machines, and they thought that these were the framework of a
flying machine which we had brought with us, and on which we intended to
fly to the top of the mountains. Wherever we arrived there was always a
great crowd assembled round these skis, discussing the various methods
by which they could be put together and describing how the white man
would then fly. I left them with the Jongpen and told him that they were
very good exercise for him in the winter time, when the snow was deep,
and that if he wanted to reduce his weight, which was already
considerable, there could be no better method than by making use of them
in the snow.

At last, on October 5, we managed to leave Kharta. There were no pack
animals available; we had therefore to make use of coolies for our
transport for the first march; it took 140 of them to carry all our
loads. For some time the scene of confusion was very amusing. The
Jongpen himself came down, and it was only owing to his help that by
mid-day we got all the loads sorted out and put on the backs of the
coolies. Before he was able to do this he had to have recourse to the
system of drawing lots by putting garters on each load, a system which I
have already described in a previous chapter. Before we left, the
Jongpen and Hopaphema brought us presents of sheep and vegetables, and
they and all the people of the valley seemed genuinely sorry that we
were departing. Throughout our long stay at Kharta they had been most
helpful and had done everything they could for our comfort. They were
both of them very human, with a delightful sense of humour, and we
quickly became great friends. It was with much regret that we turned our
backs on Kharta.

We started off without a cloud in the sky, but with a strong South wind
blowing. High up on the mountains we could see the snow still being
blown off in white clouds. Our route lay up the valley of the Bhong-chu
for about 10 miles until the river suddenly turned to the East to go
through a deep and impassable gorge. We had then to follow the valley of
the Zachar-chu for 4 miles to Lumeh, where we camped beside the great
poplar trees. The bridge by which we had crossed the Zachar-chu in July
no longer existed. It had been washed away in August, but now that the
snows were no longer melting higher up, and the rainy season was over,
the river was very much lower, and it was possible to ford it. The
people at Lumeh were very pleased to see us again; we found tents
pitched and food prepared for our reception. From here there were two
routes open to us. We could either, by crossing two passes, drop down to
Tsogo in the valley of the Bhong-chu, and after fording the river there,
follow our previous route (of the outward journey) to Tingri, or we
could cross a small pass just above Lumeh, meeting the Bhong-chu again
immediately above the gorge, where there was a bridge across it. We
chose the latter route, as it was probably a couple of days shorter and
would take us through new country. On leaving Lumeh, for the first time
for several days we had a cloudy morning, which was unfortunate, as from
the top of the Quiok (Cuckoo Pass) we had hoped for a fine view. Our
transport to-day consisted of yaks and donkeys, which came along very
well. There was a steep climb of 2,000 feet to the top of the pass,
15,000 feet, where we just managed to get a glimpse of Makalu in the
clouds, but Everest was hidden. We thought that this would be our last
chance of a view of the Everest and Makalu group, but it turned out not
to be so. By going over this pass we had avoided the curious and
impassable gorge by which the Bhong-chu cuts through a high range of
mountains. It was only a little over 6 miles to the famous rope bridge
at Gadompa. I could not help laughing when I first saw the bridge. It
was such a comical, ramshackle-looking affair, and everything about it
seemed torn and ragged and uneven. Two crooked wooden posts set up in
piles of stones supported the ropes of raw hide which spanned the river.
During the rainy season one of these posts and all the ropes had been
buried deep under the water, but now that the river had dropped over 10
feet, the posts were out of the water. Between these two wooden posts
were three raw hide ropes, very frail and much frayed, and looking as
though they might break at any moment. On these ropes was laid a
semi-circular piece of wood, like the framework of a saddle, to which
were attached two leather thongs. The person or bale of goods that had
to be pulled across was tied by these two thongs to the framework, and
this was allowed to slide rapidly with its load down to the point at
which the "bridge" sagged most--somewhere about the middle of the
river--which here rushed along in a formidable rapid. If the Tibetans on
the far side failed to pull up the passenger or load and he or it was
left for a minute, either would certainly get the full benefit of one of
the ice-cold waves of the rapids and get thoroughly soaked before
reaching the far side. The Tibetans had great fun with our coolies in
transit, and very few of them were allowed to get over dry. The villages
on either side are exempt from the duty of producing transport, and have
instead to make themselves responsible for working the bridge. On one
side the operators were all women and on the other all men. It took an
average of five minutes to get each load or person across, and we spent
twelve hours before we got all our loads over. For part of the time I
superintended while Wheeler went to get some dinner, and after dinner,
owing to there being a certain amount of moonlight, Wheeler carried on
until the last load was brought over at midnight. It was a very chilly
proceeding, as the wind blew very cold, with a suspicion of snow every
now and then. It was a weird experience to see the loads of baggage
suddenly appearing out of the darkness and then being unloaded and
transferred to the yaks, who apparently were able to find their way
about in the dark. We got everything over in safety without losing
anything except a few eggs, which I saw drop out during the passage
across, and I felt very much relieved that we had had no accident.

That night we camped in a pleasant willow grove at the village of
Kharkhung. In the morning we awoke to find fresh snow on the ground, but
this speedily disappeared when the sun came out. Our new transport
consisted of donkeys and some very wild yaks, which rapidly got rid of
their loads. The march was only a short one of about 12 miles up the
valley of the Bhong-chu. The valley was uninteresting and stony, with
practically no undergrowth, and we eventually camped in a windy spot
near the village of Lashar, nearly opposite to the sandy camp at Shiling
where we had halted on our outward journey after crossing the
quicksands. The night proved much colder here, with 18° of frost, but
the wind luckily died down and the next morning was beautiful. We
continued up the sandy valley of the Bhong-chu, which is here several
miles wide, until we came to its junction with the Yaru, where we
regained the route which we had followed on the outward journey. Just
before leaving the main valley we found, on looking behind us, that we
were in full sight of Mount Everest and its great South-eastern ridge,
and also of the Lhakpa La where we had camped. This was our final view
of Mount Everest, and knowing the geography of these peaks as we now
did, this view gave us an added interest in them. We had climbed slowly
and had not realised the great height which we had reached or the
conspicuous position of our camp on the Lhakpa La which we now saw
sharply defined against the horizon from a distance of 50 miles.

We rode up the gorge of the Yaru, and at the village of Rongme we met
the Phari Jongpen's brother. He was busy collecting the harvest rents,
which are a fixed percentage of the crops. I gave him some of the
photographs that I had taken of him and his house on the way up and very
soon after a big crowd collected around. The Tibetans are very quick at
recognising persons in a photograph, and they at once picked out all the
people by name in a group. I then rode on past his house to the village
of Shatog, where we camped. On the way I shot a couple of snipe and also
saw a number of teal, wild geese and kulan (grey crane), but they were
very wild and I could not get near enough for a shot. Heron joined us
here. He had been exploring some of the valleys to the North, but had
found nothing interesting or remarkable, geologically, and he
accompanied us back as far as Khamba Dzong. We were anxious to push on
as fast as possible, and determined to do a double march from here to
Tinki Dzong, which our transport drivers said they could do quite
easily. We started on a beautiful day after a sharp frost at night,
causing many of the ponds to be frozen over. We crossed the broad swampy
plain to Chushar. Wheeler, going on ahead at first, had a shot at some
geese, but did not succeed in getting anything. We crossed the Yaru
River by a very deep ford, and then kept along the North side of it,
past numerous ponds on which were swimming many bar-headed geese; these
were, however, very wily and would not allow us to approach within shot.
We now had a steep 3,000-foot climb to the Tinki Pass. On the way up I
came across some partridges; they were terrible runners, but after a
good chase I managed to collect two. They turned out to be the ordinary
Tibetan partridge (_Perdrix hodgsoniæ_). I then rode on down to Tinki,
to which place I had sent on Chheten Wangdi in order to make
arrangements for our reception and to have transport ready for us on the
following day. The two Jongpens rode out to meet us; the elder of the
two had been at Tinki when we passed through on the way out, but the
other one I had not seen before as he had been away. I had very pleasant
recollections of our reception there before, and was delighted to see
the elder Jongpen, who was a most pleasant and agreeable gentleman.
They presented us with a couple of hundred eggs, rice and some grain for
the ponies, and had tents already pitched for us under the walls of the
fort. Here the Jongpens came and sat talking with us for a long time.
Our transport showed no signs of turning up, so we were very glad to
make our dinner off the rice and eggs that had been given us. The bulk
of the transport did not arrive till midnight. They had made every
effort to stop at Chushar, and it was with great difficulty that Gyalzen
Kazi had induced them to go on. The animal which was carrying Wheeler's
kit died on the way, and his bedding did not arrive till noon the
following day, another animal having been sent to bring it in. I had had
my maximum and minimum thermometers exposed as usual under the fly of my
tent, but during the night some wretch came and stole them. What good
they could have been to him I cannot imagine, but it was very annoying
and I hope he will drink the mercury. The weather had now changed again
for the worse: all day there were heavy snow showers with snow falling
on the mountains around and preventing any views. The march was only a
short one to Lingga. The wild birds in the lake beside the fort were as
tame as ever, the Brahminy ducks (ruddy sheldrake) almost waddling into
our tents and not paying the slightest attention to us. On the water
were swimming about thousands of duck, bar-headed geese and teal which
the Jongpen's little dog used to have great fun in chasing. We were not
able to follow our former route from Tinki to Lingga as the country had
altered considerably. Most of the plain was now a broad lake several
miles long, and we had to follow the North side of the water along the
foot of the hills. On these big lakes were many duck, but they were very
wild. I managed on the way, however, to shoot two bar-headed geese, a
couple of Garganey teal and a pochard, which proved a very welcome
addition to our bill of fare. One shot was a most extraordinary one. I
was stalking some geese which were getting very restless and starting to
fly away, when just in front of me got up two teal close together. I
fired at the teal and both fell to my shot, and at the same time, to my
great surprise, a goose, which was in the direct line of fire, and about
40 yards away, also fell.

We found the people at Lingga busy thrashing. The thrashing time in
Tibet is a favourite one for drinking, and often the whole village after
a day's harvest will be completely incapacitated as the result of too
great an indulgence in chang. Their thrashing floors consist of an area
of about half an acre of hard beaten earth on which the barley is spread
to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Fifty or sixty yaks are then driven into
this enclosure, followed by thirty people or more, beating drums,
rattling kerosene oil tins, ringing bells and shouting and yelling in
order to frighten the yaks, who, tail in air, are driven backwards and
forwards over the barley. This they continue doing until every one is
tired and hoarse, when the whole of the workers, both male and female,
adjourn for a long drink of beer, after which the same process is

On October 11 we arrived at Khamba Dzong. We were having sharp frosts
now every night, and the mountains, both to the North and South of us,
were covered low down with a thick white coating of snow. It was not,
however, unpleasantly cold, and the cloud effects were very beautiful.
On the way I shot two goa--Tibetan gazelle--with good heads, and horns
over 14 inches long. We had to halt here in order to rest our coolies.
All day to the South there was a furious storm raging along the
Himalayas, and when it cleared up in the evening there had evidently
been a heavy snowfall. In the course of the afternoon we put up over
Dr. Kellas's grave the stone which the Jongpen had had engraved for us
during our absence. On it were inscribed in English and Tibetan
characters his initials and the date of his death, and this marks his
last resting-place.

Raeburn, Wheeler and Heron now left us, as they wanted to return to
Darjeeling by the short way over the Serpo La and down the Teesta
Valley. This route is only possible for small parties; with all our
transport we were unable to return that way as the villages on the way
and in the Teesta Valley are small and can supply but very few animals
or coolies. Wollaston and I had therefore to return to Phari and then to
follow the main trade route, along which it is always possible to pick
up any amount of hired transport. We left Khamba Dzong on October 13 in
20° of frost. Kanchenjunga and the Everest group were just visible, but
ominous clouds were rapidly coming up. Our march was the same as on the
outward journey to Tatsang (Falcon's Nest)--a distance of about 21
miles. We rode through the fine limestone gorge behind the fort,
shooting on the way several Tibetan partridge (_Perdrix hodgsoniæ_). On
reaching the top of the pass, I climbed another thousand feet on to the
ridge to the South of the pass, where I had a wonderful panorama of
snowy peaks, both to the South and to the North. Snow storms appeared to
be raging on either side and the wind was extremely cold. I came across
a fine flock of burhel (_Ovis nahura_), and had an easy shot at a fine
ram, but missed him hopelessly, and they never gave me another chance. A
little further on I missed a gazelle. On the plain below were grazing
numerous kiang (_Equus hemionus_), their reddish-chestnut coats being
well shown off by their white bellies and legs. Their mane appears to be
of a darker colour, which is continued as a narrow stripe down the back.
On the same plain I could see also a large flock of nyan (_Ovis
hodgsoni_), all fair-sized rams. I had a long chase after the latter,
but they never allowed me to approach close to them. Snow began to fall
now and a regular blizzard set in, the fine powdery snow being blown
along the ground into our faces. While riding along in this storm, I saw
two fine nyan which I stalked. My 2·75 rifle was rather small for such a
large animal, and though the larger of the two was badly hit by the
first shot, he went off as though he were untouched and gave me a long
chase after him. It was only possible to get a glimpse of him every now
and then in the blizzard, and whenever I lay down to try and get a shot,
the fine powdery snow blown along the surface of the ground nearly
blinded me, so that it took five more bullets before he finally expired.
He was a magnificent old beast with a grand head and horns, well over 40
inches in length and of great thickness. The weight of the body was
enormous. I had only Ang Tenze with me. With much difficulty we cut off
the nyan's head and then tried to lift the carcass, which must have
weighed well over 200 lb., on to one of the ponies. With the greatest
trouble we eventually managed to get the carcass on to the pony's back,
but the pony seemed gradually to subside on to the ground under the
weight and was quite unable to move. While we were doing this, my pony
took it into his head to run away, and though we made every attempt to
catch him, he completely defeated us, and was last seen galloping away
towards his home. I had therefore an 8 mile trudge through the snow to
get back to camp, not arriving there till well after dark. Five of the
coolies went back after dark to get the meat. They cut off as much as
they could carry, and the remainder had to be left for the nuns, who
sent out their servants to bring it in. I was cheered up, however, by
getting an English mail and many letters. Among these was one from Sir
Charles Bell from Lhasa, who wrote to ask the Expedition not to do any
more shooting in Tibet, as the Tibetans did not approve of it; for the
remainder of the time, therefore, the guns had to be put away.

During the night there were 32° of frost, and everything inside our
tents was frozen solid in the morning; but the wind luckily died down,
and the next day was a most beautiful one. We knew that there was a long
march before us, so our transport was off by eight o'clock. At Tatsang
we were already 16,000 feet, and we gradually climbed higher, spending
most of the day between 17,000 and 18,000 feet. For several miles we
rode across a snow-covered plain over which the tops of Pawhunri,
Chomiomo, and Kanchenjhow appeared to the South. As we rose higher, the
snow gradually deepened to 6 inches and made the going very heavy. We
had to cross three spurs of Pawhunri by passes of over 17,500 feet.
Here the snow had been blown by the wind into drifts over 2 feet deep.
We had arranged to camp at a place called Lunghi, but on our arrival
there found that the nomads, who ordinarily spent the summer there, had
already left and were encamped some 4 miles further down the valley. In
a side valley I found some of their tents where I was able to warm
myself and get some hot milk before moving on down the valley, where we
were told that preparations had been made to receive us. There was
luckily a bright moon and we rode on down to the spot, where we found
some Tibetan tents which had been pitched for us; their owners had,
moreover, had the forethought to have great braziers of cow dung burning
in these tents. The smell was not agreeable, but we sat and warmed
ourselves, waiting for our transport, which did not arrive until eleven
o'clock that night. It was a bitterly cold wait, as the wind got up and
blew down the valley with 25° of frost behind it. We were very glad to
see our transport and coolies when they arrived; they had really come
along very well, as a march of 23 miles in soft snow and at a great
height all the time is no light feat.

Breakfast the next morning was very comfortless, as the wind was still
blowing with 28° of frost, and everything--boots and foodstuffs of all
kinds--was frozen inside our tents. We looked forward with no little
pleasure to finding ourselves inside once more and sitting in front of a
fire out of the everlasting wind which makes Tibet so trying. The march
was a fairly easy one of about 20 miles over gentle undulating country
until we reached the West side of the Tang La; there was, however, a
bitterly cold strong South wind which blew with great violence all day
and penetrated through everything. Many of our coolies had much
difficulty in coming along, as they were suffering from snow blindness
and their feet were also very tender from the cold and the deep snow of
the last few days. Chomolhari was a glorious sight all the way. We were
gradually approaching it, and it seemed to rise directly from the plain
in front of us. From its summit and from its ridges great streamers of
snow were being blown off and the gale--apparently from the
North-west--still continued. Nearly every day since we left Kharta we
saw along the higher peaks of the Himalayas the snow being blown off in
great wisps, showing that a strong Northwesterly current of air sets in
at great heights after the monsoon is over. After reaching Darjeeling we
noticed the same thing; every day, from Kanchenjunga and Kabru, could be
seen the same great wisps of wind-blown snow. That night at Phari we
were once more in a bungalow and out of the wind, and able to spend a
very comfortable and pleasant evening reading our letters and papers in
front of a fire which, though still mostly yak dung, was in a fireplace.
October 16 we spent resting at Phari. Our coolies were much exhausted by
the three days' march from Khamba Dzong, in which we had covered 65
miles, most of the time at considerable heights and in deep snow. We had
returned by the short way, which the people of Phari had told us in the
spring was impassable, and over which they would not go, sending us
instead around by the long way to Dochen, which took us six days instead
of three.

Phari is a place unfortunately too near civilisation. The Tibetans there
have lost their good manners, such as we had been accustomed to meet in
the more distant and out-of-the-way parts of the country. Much trade
passes through the town, and the people there are too well off. They had
an idea that the Expedition was a kind of milch cow out of which money
could be extracted to their hearts' content. Of this view we had to
disabuse them, and in consequence found them all very tiresome. The
transport turned up the following morning, but they refused to load up
unless they were paid in full beforehand and at a most exorbitant rate.
This I refused to do, telephoning at the same time to the trade agent at
Yatung. I sent for the Jongpen, and both Jongpens turned up. I rather
imagine that they were at the bottom of this trouble, for one of them
owed the Expedition some money; he had also, when forwarding on stores
to us, seized the opportunity to charge five times the ordinary rate, on
the pretext that he had supplied some of his own mules. After long
arguments I eventually induced them to accept part of the payment, the
remainder to be paid at Yatung, whereupon the Jongpens gave orders for
the animals to be loaded. It was not, however, until the afternoon that
we were able to leave Phari and to start on our downward march to

                                CHAPTER XI

                           BACK TO CIVILISATION

When we turned our backs on Phari and started to march down the Chumbi
Valley, we had left the real Tibet behind us. I could not somehow look
upon the Chumbi Valley as being a part of Tibet. Its characteristics,
its houses, its people, its vegetation, are all so different from the
greater part of Tibet. There are not the same cold winds that freeze the
very marrow, nor are there the wide plains and the undulating hills with
their extensive views.

In spite of all discomforts, there is a very great charm and fascination
about travelling in Tibet. Is it partly because it is an unknown
country, and the unknown is always fascinating, or is it rather because
of the innate beauty of the country itself, with its landscapes so free
from all restraint and a horizon often 150 to 200 miles distant? Never
anywhere have I seen a country so full of colour as is Tibet. There is
not enough vegetation to hide the rocks and the stones. The foreground
as well as the distant view is wonderfully full of colour and variety.
Contrasts are one of the charms of life, and probably in this lies the
secret of the charm and attractiveness of Tibet. It is essentially a
country of contrasts. The climate, above all, has contrasts of its own.
The sun is burningly hot, but in the shade the cold may be intense. To
such a pitch can the extremes of heat and cold arrive, that a man may
suffer from sunstroke and frost-bite at one and the same time.

The Tibetans themselves are a strong, well-built and hardy
race--Mongolian in type. The women usually put a mixture of grease and
soot on their faces to protect them against the glare of the fresh snow
or the biting winds, for even they, with their thick skins, do not seem
to get used to the severity of the changes. How much more does the
European suffer when he travels in Tibet and seems to need a fresh skin
almost every day. The soot mixture does not add to the beauty of the
women, though I came across some who were not bad looking. Many of the
people are nomads, living in tents all the year round and moving about
from camp to camp pasturing their herds of yaks and their flocks of
sheep. It is curious that even in the winter-time they can find grazing
places, but the secret lies in the fact that the slopes face the South
in the regions where the wind blows strongest, so that the surface is
usually bare. The snowfall in winter in most parts of Tibet is not
heavy, and the climate being so dry, the snow is powdery, and the wind
blows it along and forms great drifts in the hollows, leaving the
exposed slopes usually clear. On these the herds, or flocks of sheep,
obtain sufficient nourishment from such scattered patches of frozen
grass or lichens as they are able to find. Of all the animals that the
Tibetans have, the yak is the most useful. His long black hair, which
reaches to the ground under his belly, is woven into tents or ropes. The
milk, after they have drunk what they want, is turned into butter and
cheese, of which they produce great quantities. When old, he is killed
and his flesh is dried, providing meat for a long time. His hide
supplies leather of every kind. It is always used untanned, for no
tanning is ever done in Tibet and any tanned skins always come up from
India. The yak dung is in many places the only fuel to be got and is
most carefully picked up. To the present generation of young children
the yak is probably familiar from that delightful rhyme in "The Bad
Child's Book of Beasts":--

             As a friend to the children, commend me the Yak--
               You will find it exactly the thing;
             It will carry and fetch, you can ride on its back
               Or lead it about with a string.

             The Tartar who dwells on the plains of Tibet,
               A desolate region of snow,
             Has for centuries made it a nursery pet,
               And surely the Tartar should know.

             Then tell your papa where the Yak can be got,
               And if he is awfully rich,
             He will buy you the creature--or else he will not;
               I cannot be positive which.

The traveller in Tibet can easily live on such supplies as can be drawn
from the country. The Tibetan is always hospitable and will provide
sheep, milk, cheese and butter almost everywhere. Vegetables, however,
of any kind are very scarce, though in the summer a species of spinach
can be got in some places. Living, as the Tibetans do, far away from all
outside influences, their customs and manners have not changed, and are
the same as they were several hundred years ago. I can fully sympathise
with their present desire for seclusion and their eagerness not to be
exploited by foreigners. They sent a few years ago some young Tibetan
boys to Rugby to be educated in different professions. These boys have
now returned again to Lhasa, and with their aid, and with the aid of
others who are being sent out into the world to learn, they hope to be
able to develop the resources of their own country at leisure, in their
own way, and by themselves, without being exploited commercially by

The staple food of the Tibetans is tsampa (parched barley). This is
ground up and either milk or tea is added, forming it into a kind of
dough. This is put in a little bag, which they carry about with them
when travelling, and is often their only food for several days. Tsampa
can be obtained everywhere in Tibet, though it is easier to get it in
the villages than from the tents of the nomads. Tea can, of course, be
obtained everywhere, and, as I have described before, is mixed with salt
and butter, churned up with great violence, and then poured into
teapots. At every camp, and at every house, will be met fierce dogs.
These dogs guard the flocks, or the nomad camps, and rather resemble
large collies; as a rule, they are black and very fierce. The Tibetans
were, however, always very good in tying them up before we approached
their camps. In many of the houses we found tied up just outside the
door another kind of dog, a huge brute of the mastiff type, always
extremely savage and ready, if he had not been tied up, to tear the
intruder to pieces. The peasants are still treated as serfs, though only
in a mild form. For all Government officials, when on tour, they have to
supply free transport and supplies of all kinds, so that official visits
are not popular. At first the villagers were afraid that we might follow
the example of the Tibetan officials and were much relieved to find that
we did not do so.

I cannot leave the subject of Tibet without a few words about the
monasteries. These are divided into two great schools, the Red Cap
School and the Yellow Cap School. The former was founded by the Buddhist
Saint, Padma Sambhava or Guru Rimpoche, in A.D. 749. They are the older
of the two monastic sects, but their morals are much looser than those
of the Yellow Sect, and the Lamas or monks of this sect are often
married. In one monastery belonging to the Red Sect near Kharta, the
Lamas and their wives were all living together. The Yellow Cap, or
Gelukpa Sect, was founded in the fifteenth century by Tsong Kapa, who
instituted a very much stricter moral code, and this sect looks down
very much upon the Red Caps. The State religion of the country is
Buddhism. By the middle of the seventeenth century, after a series of
reincarnations, Nawang Lobsang had made himself master of Tibet and
transferred his capital to Lhasa. He accepted the title of Dalai Lama
(Ocean of Learning) from the Chinese, hence the Dalai Lama at Lhasa, by
this doctrine of political reincarnation, has absorbed all the political
power in the country into his own hands, although the Tashi Lama at
Tashilumpo is in theory his senior and superior in spiritual matters.
The old simple creed of the Buddhists can scarcely be recognised
nowadays and is overlaid with devil worship in all its forms,
supernatural agencies abounding everywhere. The top of a pass, a
mountain, a river, a bridge, a storm; each will have its own particular
god who is to be worshipped and propitiated. In many of the larger
monasteries, too, they have oracles who are consulted far and wide and
supposed to be able to foretell the future. These often acquire
considerable power and influence by methods not unlike those resorted to
in ancient Greece. It has been estimated that a fifth of the whole
population of Tibet has entered monastic life. The conditions probably
much resemble those which prevailed in mediæval Europe. The monasteries
contain nearly all the riches of the country. They own large estates;
they are the source of all learning, and all the arts and crafts seem to
take their inspiration from articles for use in the monasteries. The
ordinary Tibetan, surrounded as he is by the various spirits which
occupy every valley and mountain top, is very superstitious. He
therefore has inside his house his prayer wheel and his little shrine,
before which he offers up incense daily. His Mani walls or mendongs,
covered with inscribed stones or carved figures of Buddha, are alongside
the paths he daily uses; on the top of the mountains or passes, in
addition to these prayer-covered stones, flutter rags printed over with
prayers. All these are intended to propitiate the evil spirits. In
places where there are particularly malignant devils, it may be
necessary to build several Chortens in order to keep them in subjection,
and these Chortens are filled with several thousands of prayers and
sacred figures stamped in the clay.

The country is divided up into districts, each under its own Jongpen,
who is responsible direct to Lhasa or Shigatse and has yearly to send
the revenue collected to headquarters. A certain percentage of the crops
is collected every year, and in a year of good harvest the Jongpen is
able to make a certain amount of money for himself in addition to what
he has to send to Lhasa. Our visit to the Kharta Valley was an
unexpected windfall for the Kharta Jongpen, as I fancy that much of the
money that we paid out to the different villages for supplies or coolie
hire eventually found its way into his pocket and was not likely to find
its way to Lhasa. This may possibly have accounted for his pleasure in
entertaining us and his desire to keep us there as long as possible. The
Tibetans, however, everywhere have good manners and are invariably most
polite--a pleasant characteristic. Although they are all Buddhists, and
accordingly object to the taking of life, they do not in the least mind
killing their sheep or their yaks for food, but they objected to our
shooting wild sheep or gazelles or wild birds for food. I could have
understood this objection better had they been vegetarians and not
killed their sheep for eating purposes, but a real vegetarian, except in
the strictest monasteries, is very rare in Tibet.

There was a great fascination in roaming through the country as we did.
It was the fascination of the unknown, this travelling in regions where
Europeans had never travelled before, and where they had never even been
seen. The people had exaggerated notions of our ferocity, and were full
of fears as to what we might be like and as to what we might do. In
these out-of-the-way parts they had heard vaguely of the fighting in
1904, and they imagined that our visit might be on the same lines. They
imagined, too, that all Europeans were cruel and seized what they wanted
without payment. They were therefore much surprised when they found that
we treated them fairly and paid for everything that we wanted at very
good rates. The Expedition may, I venture to think, take credit to
itself for having certainly done a great deal of good in promoting more
friendly relations between the Tibetans and ourselves, and in giving
them a better understanding of what an Englishman is. Their ignorance of
the outside world was at times astounding. Tibetan officials and traders
were an exception, but it was seldom that the ordinary Tibetan ever left
the valley in which he was born and bred, with the result that except
for the wildest rumours, they knew nothing of the outside world. For
long-distance journeys, the Tibetans used ambling mules or ponies, which
were capable of going long distances and keeping up a speed of about 5
miles an hour. To our idea, the Tibetan saddle with its high wooden
framework is very uncomfortable, but on the top of their saddles they
would put their bedding, spreading over it a brilliant and often
beautifully coloured carpet as a saddle cloth. On the top of this the
rider would sit perched, and, with a good ambling pony, could get along
very comfortably.

I always enjoyed travelling and moving about in Tibet. It hardly has the
climate of Tennyson's Island Valley of Avilion--"Where falls not hail or
rain or snow, nor ever wind blows loudly"--for we used to get samples of
nearly all of these almost every day. But no matter how barren nor how
bare the immediate surroundings were there was a sense of exhilaration
and freedom in the air. There was never a sense of being confined in a
narrow space. There was always some distant view where the colours would
be continually changing. In the summer-time the climate was not
unpleasant, and there was always the pleasure of finding some new and
beautiful flower, oftentimes springing up out of the driest sand.
Wherever there was water, there was sure to be vegetation and many
bright-coloured flowers with every kind of wild-bird life. The shrill
whistle of the marmot would often alone break the silence of the scene.
Animal life in some form was almost always visible, whether it was the
wild kiang roaming on the plains, or the gazelle, or the wild sheep,
there was always something of interest to watch. The little mouse hares
which lived in great colonies would constantly dodge in and out of their
holes and the song of the larks could always be heard.

By the end of October the climate was beginning to get very cold, the
thermometer descending at times to Zero Fahrenheit, so that we were
quite ready to leave the country, being anxious to get warm again, if
only for a short time. There was sorrow in our hearts, however, at
parting with the friendly and hospitable folk whom we had encountered,
and at leaving behind us the familiar landscapes with the transparent
pale blue atmosphere that is so hard to describe, and the distant views
of range upon range of snowy mountains often reflected in the calm
waters of some blue coloured lake. The attractions of Tibet may yet be
strong enough to draw us back again once more. Many years ago the same
attraction impelled me to cross the Himalayan mountains and to visit
another part of Tibet, but my excursion was, I am afraid, not favourably
regarded by the Indian Government and my leave was stopped for six
months. The same attraction, however, still exists for this land of many
colours with its lonely sunsets full of beauty, with its nights where
the eager stars gleam bright as diamonds, and where the full moon shines
upon the nameless mountains covered with snow and still as death.

As we turned our backs upon the country we left winter behind us, and
descending the Chumbi Valley once more found ourselves in autumnal
surroundings. The Himalayan larch were all of a beautiful golden colour;
the birch were all turning brown, and the berberis were a brilliant
scarlet. Red currants and the scarlet haws of the rose were still on the
bushes. The currants were no longer sour to eat raw, and we picked many
of them on the way down. Our pockets, too, were filled with seeds of
rhododendrons and other flowers. On the way I was met by the native
officer commanding the garrison at Yatung, which was now found by the
90th Punjabis. As I passed their quarters, the guard turned out,
presenting arms very smartly, and all the detachment came out and
saluted. They were certainly a very well-trained detachment. Once more
the Macdonald family most kindly sent over a generous meal, besides
presents of every sort and kind of European vegetable. From Yatung we
obtained forty-five mules for our transport. These came along very much
faster than the yaks and the donkeys that we had been using. Here
Gyalzen Kazi, one of our interpreters, left us to return to his home at
Gangtok. I was very sorry to lose him. He had been a pleasant companion
and had been of great assistance to the Expedition. He was always most
willing to undertake any difficult or unpleasant job there might be, and
I never heard a murmur or grumble from him of any kind during the whole
time that he was with us. Our march was only a short one of 11 miles to
Langra, where there was a Tibetan rest-house built in the Chinese style
and rather reminding me of our rest-house at Tingri. It was a most
perfect autumnal day, with scarcely a cloud in the sky. The woods
everywhere were very beautiful, the dark silver fir trees showing up the
scarlet and yellow of the bushes and the gold of the larch. Our cook,
Acchu, was drunk again, but Poo prepared us a good meal instead. The
next morning, to our surprise, on looking out we found a couple of
inches of fresh snow on the ground and the snow was still falling
steadily. The mules, nevertheless, were all loaded up in good time, and
I followed on foot to the top of the Jelep Pass, snow falling steadily
all the way--a fine granular snow. At the top of the pass the wind was
blowing keenly, driving the snow into our faces. Besides the 6 inches of
fresh snow here, there was a good deal of the old snow that had fallen a
week or more ago, and in some places formed drifts several feet deep. It
is seldom that a clear view is ever obtained on the Jelep Pass. It
rained when we came over in May and it snowed now, and twice before,
when I have crossed it, it rained all the time. Snow fell all the way
down to Gnatong, where there were already a couple of inches of slush.
The next morning was luckily fine, as we were to do a long march to
Rongli--a distance of only 18 miles, but with a descent of 9,500 feet.
The first few miles we walked through the fresh snow, but in the
afternoon we were wandering among the sweet scents of a tropical jungle
with orchids still flowering on the trees and ripe oranges in the garden
of our bungalow. We had jumped from winter to summer in a few hours. The
Tibetan mules came along excellently, doing the march in just over eight
hours, a very different proceeding to our Government mules on the way
up, which we were compelled to discard at Sedongchen. We reached
Darjeeling on October 25. Lord Ronaldshay was unfortunately away on tour
on his way to Bhutan, and as he had travelled via Gangtok, we had missed
seeing him on the way. The next few days we spent in getting rid of the
remainder of our stores, selling anything perishable that we could,
getting tents dried and mended, and storing everything else in view of a
second Expedition. We here said good-bye to our other interpreter,
Chheten Wangdi, who had served us most faithfully throughout the
Expedition, and it was with the greatest regret that we took leave of
him on the railway station at Darjeeling.


Our Expedition had accomplished all that it had set out to do. All the
approaches to Mount Everest from the North-west, North, North-east and
East had been carefully reconnoitred and a possible route to the top had
been found up the North-east ridge. Climatic conditions alone had
prevented a much greater height being attained. Friendly relations had
been established with the Tibetan officials and people wherever we went.
Our travels had taken us through much unexplored and new country wherein
we had discovered some magnificent and undreamt-of valleys where
primeval forests existed such as we had never imagined to find in Tibet
and where deep filled glens with the richest semi-tropical vegetation
descended as low as 7,000 feet. Many beautiful flowers were discovered
in these Alpine valleys, and we were able to collect a quantity of seeds
from these which I hope may help to enrich and to beautify our gardens
at home. A new part of the country has been opened up to human
knowledge. It has been photographed and described. The surveyors have
made an original survey at a scale of 4 miles to the inch of an area of
some 12,000 square miles; a detailed photographic survey of 600 square
miles of the environs of Mount Everest has been worked out, and, besides
this, the maps of another 4,000 square miles of country have been
revised. Dr. Heron, our indefatigable geologist, himself travelled over
the greater part of this area, and has carefully investigated the
geology of the whole region. That the Expedition was able to accomplish
so much in such a short time was due to the hearty co-operation and
keenness of all the members of the party. We were a happy family and, to
use a rowing expression, we all "pulled together." Such success as we
attained is entirely due to their strenuous and ceaseless efforts, and I
can only express my gratitude to them for the unselfish way in which
they helped and assisted me on every occasion.

The Expedition of 1921 is over; many problems have been solved, much new
country has been brought within our ken, and many new beauties have been
revealed, but the soul of man is never content with what has been
attained. The solution of one problem only brings forward fresh problems
to be solved, so this Expedition into unknown country brings within the
realms of possibility further travels and further problems to be solved.
There is much that yet remains to be done, much that remains to be
discovered; and though we may not be privileged to discover a new race
of hairy snow men, yet there is a wild and uncharted country full of
beauty and interest that awaits those who dare face the discomfort and
hardships of travelling in Tibet--discomforts which are soon forgotten
and leave behind them only the memories of very wonderful scenes and
places which the passing of time can never efface.

  Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us,
    Let us journey to a lonely land I know;
  There's a whisper in the night wind, there's a star, a gleam to guide us,
    And the wild is calling, calling, let us go.

                                                                  R. W. S.



                          GEORGE H. LEIGH-MALLORY

                                CHAPTER XII

                           THE NORTHERN APPROACH

As a matter of history it has been stated already in an earlier chapter
of this book that the highest mountain in the world attracted attention
so early as 1850. When we started our travels in 1921, something was
already known about it from a surveyor's point of view; it was a
triangulated peak with a position on the map; but from the mountaineer's
point of view almost nothing was known. Mount Everest had been seen and
photographed from various points on the Singalila ridge as well as from
Kampa Dzong; from these photographs it may dimly be made out that snow
lies on the upper part of the Eastern face at no very steep angle, while
the arête bounding this face on the North comes down gently for a
considerable distance. But the whole angle subtended at the great summit
by the distance between the two of these view-points which are farthest
apart is only 54°. The North-west sides of the mountain had never been
photographed and nothing was known of its lower parts anywhere. Perhaps
the distant view most valuable to a mountaineer is that from Sandakphu,
because it suggests gigantic precipices on the South side of the
mountain so that he need have no regrets that access is barred in that
direction for political reasons.

The present reconnaissance began at Kampa Dzong, no less than 100 miles
away, and in consequence of misfortunes which the reader will not have
forgotten was necessarily entrusted to Mr. G. H. Bullock and myself, the
only representatives of the Alpine Club now remaining in the Expedition.
It may seem an irony of fate that actually on the day after the
distressing event of Dr. Kellas' death we experienced the strange
elation of seeing Everest for the first time. It was a perfect early
morning as we plodded up the barren slopes above our camp and rising
behind the old rugged fort which is itself a singularly impressive and
dramatic spectacle; we had mounted perhaps a thousand feet when we
stayed and turned, and saw what we came to see. There was no mistaking
the two great peaks in the West: that to the left must be Makalu, grey,
severe and yet distinctly graceful, and the other away to the right--who
could doubt its identity? It was a prodigious white fang excrescent from
the jaw of the world. We saw Mount Everest not quite sharply defined on
account of a slight haze in that direction; this circumstance added a
touch of mystery and grandeur; we were satisfied that the highest of
mountains would not disappoint us. And we learned one fact of great
importance: the lower parts of the mountain were hidden by the range of
nearer mountains clearly shown in the map running North from the Nila La
and now called the Gyanka Range, but it was possible to distinguish all
that showed near Everest beyond them by a difference in tone, and we
were certain that one great rocky peak appearing a little way to the
left of Everest must belong to its near vicinity.

It was inevitable, as we proceeded to the West from Kampa Dzong, that we
should lose sight of Mount Everest; after a few miles even its tip was
obscured by the Gyanka Range, and we naturally began to wonder whether
it would not be possible to ascend one of these nearer peaks which must
surely give us a wonderful view. I had hopes that we should be crossing
the range by a high pass, in which case it would be a simple matter to
ascend some eminence near it. But at Tinki we learned that our route
would lie in the gorge to the North of the mountains where the river
Yaru cuts its way through from the East to join the Arun.

From Gyanka Nangpa, which lies under a rocky summit over 20,000 feet
high, Bullock and I, on June 11, made an early start and proceeded down
the gorge. It was a perfect morning and for once we had tolerably swift
animals to ride; we were fortunate in choosing the right place to ford
the river and our spirits were high. How could they be otherwise? Ever
since we had lost sight of Everest the Gyanka Mountains had been our
ultimate horizon to the West. Day by day as we had approached them our
thoughts had concentrated more and more upon what lay beyond. On the far
side was a new country. Now the great Arun River was to divulge its
secrets and we should see Everest again after nearly halving the
distance. The nature of the gorge was such that our curiosity could not
be satisfied until the last moment. After crossing the stream we
followed the flat margin of its right bank until the cliffs converging
to the exit were towering above us. Then in a minute we were out on the
edge of a wide sandy basin stretching away with complex undulations to
further hills. Sand and barren hills as before--but with a difference;
for we saw the long Arun Valley proceeding Southwards to cut through the
Himalayas and its western arm which we should have to follow to Tingri;
and there were marks of more ancient river beds and strange inland
lakes. It was a desolate scene, I suppose; no flowers were to be seen
nor any sign of life beyond some stunted gorse bushes on a near hillside
and a few patches of coarse brown grass, and the only habitations were
dry inhuman ruins; but whatever else was dead, our interest was alive.

After a brief halt a little way out in the plain, to take our bearings
and speculate where the great mountains should appear, we made our way
up a steep hill to a rocky crest overlooking the gorge. The only visible
snow mountains were in Sikkim. Kanchenjunga was clear and eminent; we
had never seen it so fine before; it now seemed singularly strong and
monumental, like the leonine face of some splendid musician with a glory
of white hair. In the direction of Everest no snow mountain appeared. We
saw the long base tongues descending into the Arun Valley from the
Gyanka Range, above them in the middle distance an amazingly sharp rock
summit and below a blue depth most unlike Tibet as we had known it
hitherto. A conical hill stood sentinel at the far end of the valley,
and in the distance was a bank of clouds.

Our attention was engaged by the remarkable spike of rock, a proper
aiguille. As we were observing it a rift opened in the clouds behind; at
first we had merely a fleeting glimpse of some mountain evidently much
more distant, then a larger and clearer view revealed a recognizable
form; it was Makalu appearing just where it should be according to our
calculations with map and compass.

We were now able to make out almost exactly where Everest should be; but
the clouds were dark in that direction. We gazed at them intently
through field glasses as though by some miracle we might pierce the
veil. Presently the miracle happened. We caught the gleam of snow behind
the grey mists. A whole group of mountains began to appear in gigantic
fragments. Mountain shapes are often fantastic seen through a mist;
these were like the wildest creation of a dream. A preposterous
triangular lump rose out of the depths; its edge came leaping up at an
angle of about 70° and ended nowhere. To the left a black serrated crest
was hanging in the sky incredibly. Gradually, very gradually, we saw the
great mountain sides and glaciers and arêtes, now one fragment and now
another through the floating rifts, until far higher in the sky than
imagination had dared to suggest the white summit of Everest appeared.
And in this series of partial glimpses we had seen a whole; we were able
to piece together the fragments, to interpret the dream. However much
might remain to be understood, the centre had a clear meaning as one
mountain shape, the shape of Everest.

It is hardly possible of course from a distance of 57 miles to formulate
an accurate idea of a mountain's shape. But some of its most remarkable
features may be distinguished for what they are. We were looking at
Everest from about North-east and evidently a long arête was thrust out
towards us. Some little distance below the summit the arête came down to
a black shoulder, which we conjectured would be an insuperable obstacle.
To the right of this we saw the sky line in profile and judged it not
impossibly steep. The edge was probably a true arête because it appeared
to be joined by a col to a sharp peak to the North. From the direction
of this col a valley came down to the East and evidently drained into
the Arun. This was one fact of supreme importance which was now
established and we noticed that it agreed with what was shown on the
map; the map in fact went up in our esteem and we were inclined
hereafter to believe in its veracity until we established the contrary.
Another fact was even more remarkable. We knew something more about the
great peak near Everest which we had seen from Kampa Dzong; we knew now
that it was not a separate mountain; in a sense it was part of Everest,
or rather Everest was not one mountain but two; this great black
mountain to the South was connected with Everest by a continuous arête
and divided from it only by a snow col which must itself be at least
27,000 feet high. The black cliffs of this mountain, which faced us,
were continuous with the icy East face of Everest itself.

A bank of cloud still lay across the face of the mountain when Bullock
and I left the crest where we were established. It was late in the
afternoon. We had looked down into the gorge and watched our little
donkeys crossing the stream. Now we proceeded to follow their tracks
across the plain. The wind was fiercely blowing up the sand and swept it
away to leeward, transforming the dead flat surface into a wriggling sea
of watered silk. The party were all sheltering in their tents when we
rejoined them. Our camp was situated on a grassy bank below which by
some miracle a spring wells out from the sand. We also sought shelter.
But a short while after sunset the wind subsided. We all came forth and
proceeded to a little eminence near at hand; and as we looked down the
valley there was Everest calm in the stillness of evening and clear in
the last light.

I have dwelt upon this episode at some length partly because in all our
travels before we reached the mountain it is for me beyond other
adventures unforgettable; and not less because the vision of Everest
inhabiting our minds after this day had no small influence upon our
deductions when we came to close quarters with the mountain. We made
other opportunities before reaching Tingri to ascend likely hills for
what we could see; notably from Shekar Dzong we made a divergence from
the line of march and from a hill above Ponglet, on a morning of
cloudless sunrise, saw the whole group of mountains of which Everest is
the centre. But no view was so instructive as that above Shiling and we
added little to the knowledge gained that day.

On June 23, after a day's interval to arrange stores, the climbing party
set forth from Tingri Dzong. We were two Sahibs, sixteen coolies, a
Sirdar, Gyalzen and a cook Dukpa. The process of selecting the coolies
had been begun some time before this; the long task of nailing their
boots had been nearly completed on the march and we were now confident
that sixteen of the best Sherpas with their climbing boots, ice axes and
each a suit of underwear would serve us well. The Sirdar through whom
coolies had been engaged in the first instance seemed to understand what
was wanted and to have sufficient authority, and Dukpa, though we could
not expect from him any culinary refinements, had shown himself a person
of some energy and competence who should do much to reduce the
discomforts of life in camp. Our equipment was seriously deficient in
one respect: we were short of words. A few hours spent in Darjeeling
with a Grammar of Tibetan had easily convinced me that I should profit
little in the short time available by the study of that language. It had
been assumed by both Bullock and myself that our experienced leaders
would give the necessary orders for organisation in any dialect that
might be required. We had found little opportunity since losing them to
learn a language, and our one hope of conversing with the Sirdar was a
vocabulary of about 150 words which I had written down in a notebook to
be committed to memory on the march and consulted when occasion should

The task before us was not likely to prove a simple and straightforward
matter, and we had no expectation that it would be quickly concluded. It
would be necessary in the first place to find the mountain; as we looked
across the wide plains from Tingri and saw the dark monsoon clouds
gathered in all directions we were not reassured. And there would be
more than one approach to be found. We should have to explore a number
of valleys radiating from Everest and separated by high ridges which
would make lateral communication extremely difficult; we must learn from
which direction various parts of the mountain could most conveniently be
reached. And beyond all investigation of the approaches we should have
to scrutinise Mount Everest itself. Our reconnaissance must aim at a
complete knowledge of the various faces and arêtes, a correct
understanding of the whole form and structure of the mountain and the
distribution of its various parts; we must distinguish the vulnerable
places in its armour and finally pit our skill against the obstacles
wherever an opportunity of ascent should appear until all such
opportunities were exhausted. The whole magnitude of the enterprise was
very present in our minds as we left Tingri. We decided that a
preliminary reconnaissance should include the first two aims of finding
the approaches to Mount Everest and determining its shape, while
anything in the nature of an assault should be left to the last as a
separate stage of organisation and effort. In the result we may claim to
have kept these ends in view without allowing the less important to prey
upon the greater. So long as a doubt remained as to the way we should
choose we made no attempt to climb the peak; we required ourselves first
to find out as much as possible by more distant observations.

Mount Everest, as it turned out, did not prove difficult to find. Almost
in the direct line from Tingri are two great peaks respectively 26,870
and 25,990 feet high--known to the Survey of India as M_{1} and M_{2}
and to Tibetans as Cho-Uyo and Gyachung Kang. They lie about W.N.W. of
Everest. We had to decide whether we should pass to the South of them,
leaving them on our left, or to the North. In the first case we surmised
that we might find ourselves to the South of a western arête of Everest,
and possibly in Nepal, which was out of bounds. The arête, if it
existed, might perhaps be reached from the North and give us the view we
should require of the South-western side, in which case one base would
serve us for a large area of investigation and we should economise time
that would otherwise be spent in moving our camp round from one side to
another. Consequently we chose the Northern approach. We learned from
local knowledge that in two days we might reach a village and monastery
called Chöbuk, and from there could follow a long valley to Everest. And
so it proved. Chöbuk was not reached without some difficulty, but this
was occasioned not by obstacles in the country but by the manners of
Tibetans. At Tingri we had hired four pack animals. We had proceeded 2
or 3 miles across the plain when we perceived they were heading in the
wrong direction. We were trusting to the guidance of their local drivers
and felt very uncertain as to where exactly we should be aiming; but
their line was about 60° to the South of our objective according to a
guesswork compass bearing. An almost interminable three-cornered
argument followed. It appeared that our guides intended to take five
days to Chöbuk. They knew all about "ca' canny." In the end we decided
to take the risk of a separation; Gyalzen went with the bullocks and our
tents to change transport at the village where we were intended to stay
the night, while the rest of us made a bee line for a bridge where we
should have to cross the Rongbuk stream. At the foot of a vast moraine
we waited on the edge of the "maidan," anxiously hoping that we should
see some sign of fresh animals approaching; and at length we saw them.
It was a late camp that evening on a strip of meadow beside the stream,
but we had the comfort of reflecting that we had foiled the natives,
whose aim was to retard our progress; and in the sequel we reached our
destination with no further trouble.

[Illustration: CHO-UYO.]

On June 25 we crossed the stream at Chöbuk. Tibetan bridges are so
constructed as to offer the passenger ample opportunities of
experiencing the sensation of insecurity and contemplating the
possibilities of disaster. This one was no exception. We had no wish to
risk our stores, and it was planned that the beasts should swim. They
were accordingly unladen and driven with yell and blow by a willing
crowd, until one more frightened than the rest plunged into the torrent
and the others followed. We now found ourselves on the right bank of the
Rongbuk stream, and knew we had but to follow it up to reach the glacier
at the head of the valley. An hour or so above Chöbuk we entered a gorge
with high red cliffs above us on the left. Below them was a little space
of fertile ground where the moisture draining down from the limestone
above was caught before it reached the stream--a green ribbon stretched
along the margin with grass and low bushes, yellow-flowering asters,
rhododendrons and juniper. I think we had never seen anything so green
since we came up on to the tableland of Tibet. It was a day of brilliant
sunshine, as yet warm and windless. The memory of Alpine meadows came
into my mind. I remembered their manifold allurements; I could almost
smell the scent of pines. Now I was filled with the desire to lie here
in this "oasis" and live at ease and sniff the clean fragrance of
mountain plants. But we went on, on and up the long valley winding
across a broad stony bay; and all the stony hillsides under the midday
sun were alike monotonously dreary. At length we followed the path up a
steeper rise crowned by two chortens between which it passes. We paused
here in sheer astonishment. Perhaps we had half expected to see Mount
Everest at this moment. In the back of my mind were a host of questions
about it clamouring for answer. But the sight of it now banished every
thought. We forgot the stony wastes and regrets for other beauties. We
asked no questions and made no comment, but simply looked.

It is perhaps because Everest presented itself so dramatically on this
occasion that I find the Northern aspect more particularly imaged in my
mind, when I recall the mountain. But in any case this aspect has a
special significance. The Rongbuk Valley is well constructed to show off
the peak at its head; for about 20 miles it is extraordinarily straight
and in that distance rises only 4,000 feet, the glacier, which is 10
miles long, no more steeply than the rest. In consequence of this
arrangement one has only to be raised very slightly above the bed of the
valley to see it almost as a flat way up to the very head of the glacier
from which the cliffs of Everest spring. To the place where Everest
stands one looks along rather than up. The glacier is prostrate; not a
part of the mountain; not even a pediment; merely a floor footing the
high walls. At the end of the valley and above the glacier Everest rises
not so much a peak as a prodigious mountain-mass. There is no
complication for the eye. The highest of the world's great mountains, it
seems, has to make but a single gesture of magnificence to be lord of
all, vast in unchallenged and isolated supremacy. To the discerning eye
other mountains are visible, giants between 23,000 and 26,000 feet high.
Not one of their slenderer heads even reaches their chief's shoulder;
beside Everest they escape notice--such is the pre-eminence of the

Considered as a structure Mount Everest is seen from the Rongbuk Valley
to achieve height with amazing simplicity. The steep wall 10,000 feet
high is contained between two colossal members--to the left the
North-eastern arête, which leaves the summit at a gentle angle and in a
distance of about half a mile descends only 1,000 feet before turning
more sharply downwards from a clearly defined shoulder; and to the
right the North-west arête (its true direction is about W.N.W.), which
comes down steeply from the summit but makes up for the weaker nature of
this support by immense length below. Such is the broad plan. In one
respect it is modified. The wide angle between the two main arêtes
involves perhaps too long a face; a further support is added. The
Northern face is brought out a little below the North-east shoulder and
then turned back to meet the crest again, so that from the point of the
shoulder a broad arête leads down to the North and is connected by a
snow col at about 23,000 feet with a Northern wing of mountains which
forms the right bank of the Rongbuk Glacier and to some extent masks the
view of the lower parts of Everest. Nothing could be stronger than this
arrangement and it is nowhere fantastic. We do not see jagged crests and
a multitude of pinnacles, and beautiful as such ornament may be we do
not miss it. The outline is comparatively smooth because the
stratification is horizontal, a circumstance which seems again to give
strength, emphasising the broad foundations. And yet Everest is a rugged
giant. It has not the smooth undulations of a snow mountain with white
snow cap and glaciated flanks. It is rather a great rock mass, coated
often with a thin layer of white powder which is blown about its sides,
and bearing perennial snow only on the gentler ledges and on several
wide faces less steep than the rest. One such place is the long arm of
the North-west arête which with its slightly articulated buttresses is
like the nave of a vast cathedral roofed with snow. I was, in fact,
reminded often by this Northern view of Winchester Cathedral with its
long high nave and low square tower; it is only at a considerable
distance that one appreciates the great height of this building and the
strength which seems capable of supporting a far taller tower. Similarly
with Everest; the summit lies back so far along the immense arêtes that
big as it always appears one required a distant view to realise its
height; and it has no spire though it might easily bear one; I have
thought sometimes that a Matterhorn might be piled on the top of Everest
and the gigantic structure would support the added weight in stable

On June 26 we pitched our tents in full view of Everest and a little way
beyond the large monastery of Chöyling which provides the habitations
nearest to the mountain, about 16 miles away. After three days' march
from the Expedition's headquarters at Tingri we had found the object of
our quest and established a base in the Rongbuk Valley, which was to
serve us for a month.

The first steps in a prolonged reconnaissance such as we were proposing
to undertake were easily determined by topographical circumstances.
Neither Bullock nor I was previously acquainted with any big mountains
outside the Alps; to our experience in the Alps we had continually to
refer, both for understanding this country and for estimating the
efforts required to reach a given point in it. The Alps provided a
standard of comparison which alone could be our guide until we had
acquired some fresh knowledge in the new surroundings. No feature of
what we saw so immediately challenged this comparison as the glacier
ahead of us; in so narrow a glacier it was hardly surprising that the
lower part of it should be covered with stones, but higher the whole
surface was white ice, and the white ice came down in a broad stream
tapering gradually to a point when it was lost in the waste of the brown
grey. What was the meaning of this? Even from a distance it was possible
to make out that the white stream contained pinnacles of ice. Was it all
composed of pinnacles? Would they prove an insuperable obstacle? In the
Alps the main glaciers are most usually highways, the ways offered to
the climber for his travelling. Were they not to prove highways here?

Our first expedition was designed to satisfy our curiosity on this head.
Allowing a bountiful margin of time for untoward contingencies we set
forth on June 27 with five coolies at 3.15 a.m., and made our way up the
valley with a good moon to help us. To be tramping under the stars
toward a great mountain is always an adventure; now we were adventuring
for the first time in a new mountain country which still held in store
for us all its surprises and almost all its beauties. It was not our
plan at present to make any allowance for the special condition of
elevation; we expected to learn how that condition would tell and how to
make allowances for the future. We started from our camp at 16,000
feet--above the summit of Mont Blanc--just as we should have left an
Alpine hut 6,000 feet lower, and when we took our first serious halt at
7 a.m. had already crossed the narrow end of the glacier. That short
experience--an hour or so--was sufficient for the moment. The hummocks
of ice covered with stones of all sizes--like the huge waves of a brown
angry sea--gave us no chance of ascending the glacier; one might
hopefully follow a trough for a little distance but invariably to be
stopped by the necessity of mounting once more to a crest and descending
again on the other side. Nevertheless, we were not dissatisfied with our
progress. We were now in a stream bed between the glacier and its left
bank and above the exit of the main glacier stream, which comes out on
this side well above the snout. The watercourse offered an opportunity
of progress; it was dry almost everywhere and for a bout of leaping from
boulder to boulder we were usually rewarded by a space of milder walking
on the flat sandy bed. Our pace I considered entirely satisfactory as we
went on after breakfast; unconsciously I was led into something like a
race by one of the coolies who was pressing along at my side. I noticed
that though he was slightly built he seemed extremely strong and active,
compact of muscle; but he had not yet learnt the art of walking
rhythmically and balancing easily from stone to stone. I wondered how
long he would keep up. Presently we came to a corner where our stream
bed ended and a small glacier-snout was visible above us apparently
descending from the Northwest. We gathered on a high bank of stones to
look out over the glacier. I observed now that the whole aspect of the
party had changed. The majority were more than momentarily tired, they
were visibly suffering from some sort of malaise. It was not yet nine
o'clock and we had risen barely 2,000 feet, but their spirits had gone.
There were grunts instead of laughter.

The glacier's left bank which we were following was now trending to the
right. To the South and standing in front of the great North-west arm of
Everest was a comparatively small and very attractive snow peak, perhaps
a little less than 21,000 feet high. We had harboured a vague ambition
to reach its shoulder, a likely point for prospecting the head of the
Rongbuk Glacier. But between us and this objective was a wide stretch of
hummocky ice which had every appearance of being something more than a
mere bay of the main glacier. We suspected a western branch and
proceeded to confirm our suspicion. After a rough crossing below the
glacier above us we were fortunate enough to find another trough wider
than the first and having a flat sandy bottom where we walked easily
enough. Presently leaving the coolies to rest on the edge of the glacier
Bullock and I mounted a high stony shoulder, and from there, at 18,500
feet, saw the glacier stretching away to the West, turning sharply below
us to rise more steeply than before. Cloud prevented us from
distinguishing what appeared to be a high mountain ridge at the far end
of it.

It was evident that nothing was to be gained at present by pushing our
investigations further to the West. Our curiosity was as yet unsatisfied
about those white spires of ice to which our eyes had constantly
returned. We declined the alternative of retracing our steps and without
further delay set about to cross the glacier. It was now eleven o'clock
and we were under no delusion that the task before us would be other
than arduous and long. But the reward in interest and valuable
information promised to be great, for, by exploring the glacier's right
bank during our descent we should learn all we wanted to know before
making plans for an advance. And we hoped to be in before dark.

The stone-covered ice on which we first embarked compared favourably
with that of our earlier experience before breakfast. The sea, so to
speak, was not so choppy; the waves were longer. We were able to follow
convenient troughs for considerable distances. But at the bottom of a
trough which points whither it will it is impossible to keep a definite
direction and difficult to know to what extent one is erring. An hour's
hard work was required to bring us to the edge of the white ice. Our
first question was answered at a glance. It had always seemed improbable
that these were séracs such as one meets on an Alpine icefall, and
clearly they were not. We saw no signs of lateral crevasses. The shapes
were comparatively conical and regular, not delicately poised but firmly
based, safely perpendicular and not dangerously impending. They were the
result not of movement but of melting, and it was remarkable that on
either side the black ice looked over the white, as though the glacier
had sunk in the middle. The pinnacles resembled a topsy-turvy system of
colossal icicles, icicles thrust upwards from a common icy mass, the
whole resting on a definable floor. The largest were about 50 feet high.

We were divided from this fairy world of spires by a deep boundary moat
and entered it on the far side by what may be described as a door but
that it had no lintel. An alley led us over a low wall and we had
reached the interior. A connected narrative of our wanderings in this
amazing country could hardly be true to its disconnected character. The
White Rabbit himself would have been bewildered here. No course seemed
to lead anywhere. Our idea was to keep to the floor so far as we were
able; but most usually we were scrambling up a chimney or slithering
down one, cutting round the foot of a tower or actually traversing along
an icy crest. To be repeatedly crossing little cols with the continued
expectation of seeing a way beyond was a sufficiently exciting labour;
it was also sufficiently laborious since the chopping of steps was
necessary almost everywhere; but fatigue was out of sight in the
enchanted scene, with the cool delight of little lakes, of the ice
reflected in their unruffled waters and of blue sky showing between the
white spires. We had but one misadventure, and that of no
consequence--it was my fate when crossing the frozen surface of one
little lake to suffer a sudden immersion: the loss of dignity perhaps
was more serious than the chilling of ardour, for we soon came upon a
broadening alley and came out from our labyrinth as suddenly as we
entered it, to lie and bask in the warm sun.

Our crossing of the white ice after all had taken little more than two
hours, and we might well consider ourselves fortunate. But it must be
remembered that we were far from fresh at the start and now the reaction
set in. The stone-covered glacier on this side, besides being a much
narrower belt was clearly not going to give us trouble, and after an
ample halt we started across it easily enough. On the right bank we had
noticed many hours before above the glacier a broad flat shelf,
presumably an old moraine, and a clear mark along the hillside away down
to a point below the snout. This was now our objective and no doubt once
we had gained it our troubles would be ended. But in the first place it
had to be gained. In the Alps it has often seemed laborious to go up
hill towards the end of a day: it was a new sensation to find it an
almost impossible exertion to drag oneself up a matter of 150 feet. And
further exertions were to be required of us. A little way down the
valley a glacier stream came in on our right; we had observed this
before and hopefully expected to follow our terrace round and rejoin it
on the far side of the gully. But it was late in the afternoon and the
stream was at its fullest. We followed it down with defeated
expectations; it always proved just too dangerous to cross. Finally it
formed a lake at the edge of the glacier before disappearing beneath it
and obliged us to make a detour on the ice once more. I suppose this
obstacle was mild enough; but again an ascent was involved, and after it
at least one member of the party seemed incapable of further effort.
Another halt was necessary. We were now down to about 17,000 feet and at
the head of a long passage at the side of the glacier, similar to that
we had ascended in the morning on the other bank. Those who suffer from
altitude on a mountain have a right to expect a recovery on the descent.
But I saw no signs of one yet. It was a long painful hour balancing from
boulder to boulder along the passage, with the conscious effort of
keeping up the feat until we came out into the flat basin at the glacier
end. Then as we left the glacier behind us the day seemed to come right.
One obstacle remained, a stream which had been crossed with difficulty
in the morning and was now swollen to a formidable torrent. It was
carried with a rush--this was no moment for delay. Each man chose his
own way for a wetting; for my part, after a series of exciting leaps on
to submerged stones I landed in the deepest part of the stream with the
pick of my axe dug into the far bank to help me scramble out. After this
I remember only of the last 4 miles the keen race against the gathering
darkness; fatigue was forgotten and we reached camp at 8.15 p.m., tired
perhaps, but not exhausted.

It has seemed necessary to give an account of this first expedition in
some detail in order to emphasise certain conditions which governed all
our movements from the Rongbuk Valley. We now knew how to get about.
Flat though the glacier might be, it was no use for travelling in any
part we had seen, not a road but an obstacle. The obstacle, however, had
not proved insurmountable, and though the crossing had been laborious
and long, we were not convinced that it need be so long another time;
careful reconnaissance might reveal a better way, and we had little
doubt that both the main glacier and its Western branch could be used
freely for lateral communication if we chose. It would not always be
necessary in organising an expedition to be encamped on one side of the
glacier rather than the other. And we had discovered that it was not a
difficult matter to make our way along the glacier sides; we could
choose either a trough or a shelf.

We had also been greatly interested by the phenomena of fatigue. The
most surprising fact when we applied our standard of comparison was that
coming down had proved so laborious; Bullock and I had each discovered
independently that we got along better when we remembered to breathe
hard, and we already suspected what we afterwards established--that it
was necessary to adopt a conscious method of breathing deeply for coming
down as for going up. Another inference, subsequently confirmed on many
occasions, accused the glacier. The mid-day sun had been hot as we
crossed it and I seemed to notice some enervating influence which had
not affected me elsewhere. It was the glacier that had knocked me out,
not the hard work alone but some malignant quality in the atmosphere,
which I can neither describe nor explain; and in crossing a glacier
during the day I always afterwards observed the same effect; I might
feel as fit and fresh as I could wish on the moraine at the side but
only once succeeded in crossing a glacier without feeling a despairing

I shall now proceed to quote from my diary:

_June_ 28.--A slack day in camp. It is difficult to induce coolies to
take any steps to make themselves more comfortable. We're lucky to have
this fine weather. The mountain appears not to be intended for climbing.
I've no inclination to think about it in steps to the summit.
Nevertheless, we gaze much through field-glasses. E. is, generally
speaking, convex, steep in lower parts and slanting back to summit. Last
section of East arête[4] should go; but rocks up to the shoulder are
uninviting. An arête must join up here, coming down towards us and
connecting up with first peak to N.[5] There's no true North arête to
the summit, as we had supposed at first. It's more like this:

  [4] It had not yet been established that the true direction of this
      arête is North-east.

  [5] i.e. the North Peak (Changtse).


G. H. B. thinks little of the North-west arm. But I'm not so sure; much
easy going on that snow if we can get to it and rocks above probably
easier than they look--steep but broken. Are we seeing the true edge? I
wish some folk at home could see the precipice on this side--a grim
spectacle most unlike the long gentle snow slopes suggested by photos.
Amusing to think how one's vision of the last effort has changed; it
looked like crawling half-blind up easy snow, an even slope all the way
up from a camp on a flat snow shoulder; but it won't be that sort of
grind; we'll want climbers and not half-dazed ones; a tougher job than I
bargained for, sanguine as usual.

E. is a rock mountain.

Obviously we must get round to the West first. The Western glacier looks
as flat as this one. Perhaps we shall be able to walk round into
another cwm[6] on the far side of North-west buttress.

  [6] Cwm, combe or corry--the rounded head of a valley.

_June_ 29.--Established First Advanced Camp.

The start late, about 8 a.m., an hour later than ordered. Loads must be
arranged better if anything is to be done efficiently. Gyalzen's
response to being hustled is to tie knots or collect tent pegs--with no
idea of superintending operations. An exciting day with destination
unfixed. We speculated that the shelf on the left bank would resemble
that on right. A passage on stone-covered glacier unavoidable and bad
for coolies--perhaps to-day's loads were too heavy for this sort of
country. From breakfast place of 27th I went on with Gyalzen, following
up a fresh-water stream to the shelf; good going on this shelf for forty
minutes, with no sign of more water, and I decided to come back to the
stream. Just as we were turning I saw a pond of water and a spring, an
ideal place, and it's much better to be further on. Real good luck. Wind
blows down the glacier and the camp is well sheltered. Only crab that we
lose the sun early--4 p.m. to-day; but on the other hand it should hit
us very soon after sunrise.

Coolies in between 3.30 and 4.30. Dorji Gompa first, stout fellow, with
a big load. They seem happy and interested.... It should now be possible
to carry reconnaissance well up the main glacier and to the basin
Westwards without moving further--once we get accustomed to this

_June_ 30.--A short day with second[7] party, following the shelf to a
corner which marks roughly the junction of the main glacier with its
Western branch. A clearing day after a good night; we found a good way
across to the opposite corner, about an hour across, and came back in
leisurely fashion. Neither B. nor I felt fit.

  [7] The coolies had been divided into three parties which were to
      spend four or five days in the advanced camp by turns to be
      trained in the practice of mountaineering while the rest supplied
      this camp from our base.

                               CHAPTER XIII

                    THE NORTHERN APPROACH--_continued_

The reader will gather from these notes some idea of the whole nature of
our problem and the subjects of our most anxious thoughts. The camp
established on June 25 lasted us until July 8. Meanwhile the idea was
growing, the vision of Everest as a structural whole, and of the
glaciers and lower summits to North and West. This idea resembled the
beginning of an artist's painting, a mere rough design at the start, but
growing by steps of clearer definition in one part and another towards
the precise completion of a whole. For us the mountain parts defined
themselves in the mind as the result of various expeditions. We set out
to gain a point of view with particular questions to be answered;
partial answers and a new point of view stimulated more curiosity, other
questions, and again the necessity to reach a particular place whence we
imagined they might best be answered. And at the same time another aim
had to be kept in mind. The coolies, though mountain-men, were not
mountaineers. They had to be trained in the craft of mountaineering, in
treading safely on snow or ice in dangerous places, in climbing easy
rocks and most particularly in the use of rope and ice-axe--and this not
merely for our foremost needs, but to ensure that, whenever we were able
to launch an assault upon Mount Everest, and all would be put to the
most exhausting test, they should have that reserve strength of a
practised balance and ordered method on which security must ultimately

On July 1 I set out with five coolies to reach the head of the great cwm
under the North face of Mount Everest. The snow on the upper glacier was
soft and made very heavy going. Bad weather came up and in a race
against the clouds we were beaten and failed to find out what happened
to the glacier at its Western head under the North-west arête. My view
of the col lying between Everest and the North Peak (Changtse)--the
North Col as we now began to call it, or in Tibetan Chang La--was also
unsatisfactory; but I saw enough to make out a broken glacier running up
eastwards towards the gap with steep and uninviting snow slopes under
the pass. I was now sure that before attempting to reach this col from
the Rongbuk Glacier, if ever we determined to reach it, we should have
to reconnoitre the other side and if possible find a more hopeful
alternative; moreover, from a nearer inspection of the slopes below the
North-west arête I was convinced that they could be chosen for an attack
only as a last resort; if anything were to be attempted here, we must
find a better way up from the East.

I had vaguely hoped to bring the party home sufficiently fresh to climb
again on the following day. But the fatigue of going in deep snow for
three hours up the glacier, though we had been no higher than 19,100
feet, had been too great, and again we had noticed only a slight relief
in coming down; it was a tired party that dragged back over the glacier
crossing and into camp at 6.15 p.m., thirteen hours after starting.

July 3 was devoted to an expedition designed chiefly to take coolies on
to steeper ground and at the same time to explore the small glacier
which we had observed above us on the first day to the North-west; by
following up the terrace from our present camp we could now come to the
snout of it in half an hour or less. After working up the glacier we
made for a snow col between two high peaks. On reaching a bergschrund we
found above its upper lip hard ice, which continued no doubt to the
ridge. While Bullock looked after the party below I cut a staircase
slanting up to a small island of rock 100 feet away; from that security
I began to bring the party up. We had now the interesting experience of
seeing our coolies for the first time on real hard ice; it was not a
convincing spectacle, as they made their way up with the ungainly
movements of beginners; and though the last man never left the secure
anchorage of the bergschrund, the proportion of two Sahibs to five
coolies seemed lamentably weak, and when one man slipped from the steep
steps at an awkward corner, though Bullock was able to hold him, it was
clearly time to retire. But the descent was a better performance; the
coolies were apt pupils, and we felt that with practice on the glacier
the best of them should become safe mountaineers. And on this day we had
reached a height of 21,000 feet[8] from our camp at 17,500 feet. I had
the great satisfaction of observing that one could cut steps quite
happily at this altitude. The peak lying to the North of the col, which
had been our objective on this day, attracted our attention by its
position; we thought it should have a commanding view over all this
complicated country, and after a day in camp very pleasantly spent in
receiving a visit from Colonel Howard-Bury and Dr. Heron, set out on
July 5 determined to reach its summit. The start was made at 4.15 a.m.
in the first light, an hour earlier than usual; we proceeded up the
stone shoots immediately above our camp and after a halt for photography
at the glorious moment of sunrise had made 2,500 feet and reached the
high shoulder above us at 7 a.m. This place was connected with our peak
by a snowy col which had now to be reached by a long traverse over a
South-facing slope. Though the angle was not steep very little snow was
lying here, and where the ice was peeping through it was occasionally
necessary to cut steps. I felt it was a satisfactory performance to
reach the col at 9.30 a.m.; the coolies had come well, though one of
them was burdened with the quarter-plate camera; but evidently their
efforts had already tired them. Ahead of us was a long, curving snow
arête, slightly corniced and leading ultimately to a rocky shoulder. We
thought that once this shoulder was gained the summit would be within
our reach. Shortly after we went on two coolies dropped out, and by
11.30 a.m. the rest had given up the struggle. It was fortunate that
they fell out here and not later, for they were able to make their way
down in our tracks and regain the col below in safety. The angle
steepened as we went on very slowly now, but still steadily enough,
until we reached the rocks, a frail slatey structure with short
perpendicular pitches. From the shoulder onwards my memories are dim. I
have the impression of a summit continually receding from the position
imagined by sanguine hopes and of a task growing constantly more severe,
of steeper sides, of steps to be cut, of a dwindling pace, more frequent
little halts standing where we were, and of breathing quicker but no
less deep and always conscious; the respiratory engine had to be kept
running as the indispensable source of energy, and ever as we went on
more work was required of it. At last we found ourselves without an
alternative under an icy wall; but the ice was a delusion; in the soft
flaky substance smothering rocks behind it we had strength left to cut a
way up to the crest again, and after a few more steps were on the summit

  [8] Calculated from the readings of two aneroids, allowing a correction
      for the height of the camp as established later by Major Wheeler.

It was now 2.45 p.m. The aneroid used by Bullock, which, after
comparison with one of Howard-Bury's was supposed to read low,
registered 23,050 feet,[9] and we puffed out our chests as we examined
it, computing that we had risen from our camp over 5,500 feet. The views
both earlier in the day and at this moment were of the highest interest.
To the East we had confirmed our impression of the North Peak as having
a high ridge stretching eastwards and forming the side of whatever
valley connected with the Arun River in this direction; the upper parts
of Everest's North face had been clearly visible for a long time, and we
could now be certain that they lay back at no impossibly steep angle,
more particularly above the North col and up to the North-east shoulder.
All we had seen immediately to the West of the mountain had been of the
greatest interest, and had suggested the idea that the crinkled summit
there might be connected not directly with Mount Everest itself, but
only by way of the South peak. And finally we now saw the connections of
all that lay around us with the two great triangulated peaks away to the
West, Gyachung Kang, 25,990 and Cho-Uyo, 26,870 feet. While complaining
of the clouds which had come up as usual during the morning to spoil our
view we were not dissatisfied with the expansion of our knowledge and we
were elated besides to be where we were. But our situation was far from
perfectly secure. The ascent had come very near to exhausting our
strength; for my part I felt distinctly mountain-sick; we might reflect
that we should not be obliged to cut more steps, but we should have to
proceed downwards with perfect accuracy of balance and a long halt was
desirable. However, the clouds were now gathering about us, dark
thunder-clouds come up from the North and threatening; it was clear we
must not wait; after fifteen minutes on the summit we started down at
three o'clock. Fortune favoured us. The wind was no more than a breeze;
a few flakes of snow were unnoticed in our flight; the temperature was
mild; the storm's malice was somehow dissipated with no harm done. We
rejoined the coolies before five o'clock and were back in our camp at
7.15 p.m., happy to have avoided a descent in the dark.

  [9] The survey established the height of this peak as 22,520 feet,
      and our subsequent experience suggests that aneroid barometers
      habitually read too high when approaching the upper limit of
      their record.

Our next plan, based on our experience of this long mountain ridge, was
to practise the coolies in the use of crampons on hard snow and ice. But
snow fell heavily on the night of the 6th; we deferred our project. It
was the beginning of worse weather; the monsoon was breaking in earnest.
And though crampons afterwards came up to our camps wherever we went
they were not destined to help us, and in the event were never used.

On July 8 we moved up with a fresh party of seven coolies, taking only
our lightest tents and no more than was necessary for three nights, in
the hope that by two energetic expeditions we should reach the Western
cwm which, we suspected, must exist on the far side of the North-west
arête, and learn enough to found more elaborate plans for exploring this
side of the mountain should they turn out to be necessary. Again we were
fortunate in finding a good camping ground, better even than the first,
for the floor of this shelf was grassy and soft, and as we were looking
South across the West Rongbuk Glacier we had the sun late as well as
early. But we were not completely happy. A Mummery tent may be well
enough in fair weather, though even then its low roof suggests a
recumbent attitude; it makes a poor dining-room, even for two men, and
is a cold shelter from snow. Moreover, the cold and draught discouraged
our Primus stove--but I leave to the imagination of those who have
learned by experience the nausea that comes from the paraffin fumes and
one's dirty hands and all the mess that may be. It was chiefly a
question of incompetence, no doubt, but there was no consolation in
admitting that. In the morning, with the weather still very thick and
the snow lying about us we saw the error of our ways. Is it not a first
principle of mountaineering to be as comfortable as possible as long as
one can? And how long should we require for these operations in such
weather? It was clear that our Second Advanced Camp must be organised on
a more permanent basis. On the 9th therefore I went down to the base and
moved it up on the following day so as to be within reach of our present
position by one long march. The new place greatly pleased me; it was
much more sheltered than the lower site and the tents were pitched on
flat turf where a clear spring flowed out from the hillside and only a
quarter of an hour below the end of the glacier. Meanwhile Bullock
brought up the Whymper tents and more stores from the First Advanced
Camp, which was now established as a half-way house with our big 80-foot
tent standing in solemn grandeur to protect all that remained there. On
July 10 I was back at the Second Advanced Camp and felt satisfied that
the new arrangements, and particularly the presence of our cook, would
give us a fair measure of comfort.

But we were still unable to move next day. The snowfall during the night
was the heaviest we had yet seen and continued into the next day.
Probably the coolies were not sorry for a rest after some hard work; and
we reckoned to make a long expedition so soon as the weather should
clear. Towards evening on the 10th the clouds broke. Away to the
South-west of us and up the glacier was the barrier range on the
frontier of Nepal, terminated by one great mountain, Pumori, over 24,000
feet high. To the West Rongbuk Glacier they present the steepest slopes
on which snow can lie; the crest above these slopes is surprisingly
narrow and the peaks which it joins are fantastically shaped. This group
of mountains, always beautiful and often in the highest degree
impressive, was now to figure for our eyes as the principal in that
oft-repeated drama which seems always to be a first night, fresh and
full of wonder whenever we are present to watch it. The clinging
curtains were rent and swirled aside and closed again, lifted and
lowered and flung wide at last; sunlight broke through with sharp
shadows and clean edges revealed--and we were there to witness the
amazing spectacle. Below the terrible mountains one white smooth island
rose from the quiet sea of ice and was bathed in the calm full light of
the Western sun before the splendour failed.

With hopes inspired by the clearing views of this lovely evening, we
started at 5.30 a.m. on July 12 to follow the glacier round to the South
and perhaps enter the Western cwm. The glacier was a difficult problem.
It looked easy enough to follow up the medial moraine to what we called
the Island, a low mountain pushed out from the frontier ridge into the
great sea of ice. But the way on Southwards from there would have been a
gamble with the chances of success against us. We decided to cross the
glacier directly to the South with a certainty that once we had reached
the moraine on the other side we should have a clear way before us. It
was exhilarating to set out again under a clear sky, and we were
delighted to think that a large part of this task was accomplished when
the sun rose full of warmth and cheerfulness. The far side was cut off
by a stream of white ice, so narrow here that we expected with a little
good fortune to get through it in perhaps half an hour. We entered it by
a frozen stream leading into a bay with high white towers and ridges
above us. A side door led through into a further bay which took us in
the confidence of success almost through the maze. With some vigorous
blows we cut our way up the final wall and then found ourselves on a
crest overlooking the moraine with a sheer ice-precipice of about 100
feet below us.

The only hope was to come down again and work round to the right. Some
exciting climbing and much hard work brought us at length to the foot of
the cliffs and on the right side. The performance had taken us two and a
half hours and it was now nearly ten o'clock. Clouds had already come up
to obscure the mountains, and from the point of view of a prolonged
exploration the day was clearly lost. Our course now was to make the
best of it and yet get back so early to camp that we could set forth
again on the following day. We had the interest, after following the
moraine to the corner where the glacier bends Southwards, of making our
way into the middle of the ice and finding out how unpleasant it can be
to walk on a glacier melted everywhere into little valleys and ridges
and covered with fresh snow. We got back at 3 p.m.

[Illustration: SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST AND NORTH PEAK from the Island,
West Rongbuk Glacier.]

On July 13, determined to make good, we started at 4.15 a.m. With the
knowledge gained on the previous day and the use of 250 feet of spare
rope we were able to find our way through the ice pinnacles and reached
the far moraine in less than an hour and a half; and we had the further
good fortune when we took to the snow to find it now in such good
condition that we were able to walk on the surface without using our
snow-shoes. As we proceeded up the slopes where the snow steepened the
weather began to thicken and we halted at 8 a.m. in a thick mist with a
nasty wind and some snow falling. It was a cold halt. We were already
somewhat disillusioned about our glacier, which seemed to be much more
narrow than was to be expected if it were really a high-road to the
Western cwm, and as we went on with the wind blowing the snow into our
faces so that nothing could be clearly distinguished we had the sense of
a narrowing place and a perception of the even surface being broken up
into large crevasses on one side and the other. At 9.30 we could go no
further. For a few hundred yards we had been traversing a slope which
rose above us on our left, and now coming out on to a little spur we
stood peering down through the mist and knew ourselves to be on the edge
of a considerable precipice. Not a single feature of the landscape
around us was even faintly visible in the cloud. For a time we stayed on
with the dim hope of better things and then reluctantly retired, baffled
and bewildered.

Where had we been? It was impossible to know; but at least it was
certain there was no clear way to the West side of Everest. We could
only suppose that we had reached a col on the frontier of Nepal.

A further disappointment awaited us when we reached camp at 1 p.m. I had
made a simple plan to ensure our supply of gobar[10] and rations from
the base camp. The supplies had not come up and it was not the sort of
weather to be without a fire for cooking.

  [10] In the Rongbuk Valley there was no wood and our supply of yak dung
       had to come up from Chöbuk.

I shall now proceed to quote my diary:--

_July_ 14.--A day of rest, but with no republican demonstrations. Very
late breakfast after some snow in the night. Piquet after tiffin and
again after dinner was very consoling. The little streams we found here
on our arrival are drying up; it seems that not much snow can have
fallen higher.

_July_ 15.--Started 6 a.m. to explore the glacier to West and
North-west. A very interesting view just short of the Island; the South
peak appearing. Fifty minutes there for photos; then hurried on in the
hope of seeing more higher up and at a greater distance. It is really a
dry glacier here but with snow frozen over the surface making many
pitfalls. We had a good many wettings in cold water up to the knees. The
clouds were just coming up as we halted on the medial moraine. I waited
there in hope of better views, while Bullock took on the coolies. They
put on snow-shoes for the first time and seemed to go very well in them.
Ultimately I struggled across the glacier, bearing various burdens, to
meet them as they came down on a parallel moraine. Snow-shoes seemed
useful, but very awkward to leap in. Bullock went a long way up the
glacier, rising very slightly towards the peak Cho-Uyo, 26,870 feet.
Evidently there is a flat pass over into Nepal near this peak, but he
did not quite reach it.

The topographical mystery centres about the West Peak. Is there an arête
connecting this with the great rock peak South of Everest or is it
joined up with the col we reached the day before yesterday? The shape of
the West cwm and the question of its exit will be solved if we can
answer these questions. Bullock and I are agreed that the glacier there
has probably an exit on the Nepal side. It all remains extremely
puzzling. We saw the North col quite clearly to-day, and again the way
up from there does not look difficult.

A finer day and quite useful. Chitayn[11] started out with us and went
back. He appears to be seedy, but has been quite hopeless as Sirdar down
in the base camp and is without authority. It is a great handicap
having no one to look after things down there. Chitayn is returning to
Tingri to-morrow. I hope he will cheer up again.

  [11] A useful coolie with experience in the Indian Army. I had used him
       as second Sirdar.

_July_ 16.--I made an early start with two coolies at 2.45 a.m. and
followed the medial moraine to the Island. Reached the near summit at
sunrise about 5.30. Difficult to imagine anything more exciting than the
clear view of all peaks. Those near me to the South-west quickly bathed
in sun and those to the South and East showing me their dark faces. To
the left of our col of July 13 a beautiful sharp peak stood in front of
the gap between Everest and the North Peak, Changtse. Over this col I
saw the North-west buttress of Everest hiding the lower half of the West
face which must be a tremendous precipice of rock. The last summit of
the South Peak, Lhotse, was immediately behind the shoulder; to the
right (i.e. West) of it I saw a terrible arête stretching a long
distance before it turned upwards in my direction and towards the West
Peak. This mountain dropped very abruptly to the North, indicating a big
gap on the far side of our col. There was the mysterious cwm lying in
cold shadow long after the sun warmed me! But I now half understand it.
The col under the North-west buttress at the head of the Rongbuk Glacier
is one entrance, and our col of July 13, with how big a drop one knows
not, another.

I stayed till 7 a.m. taking photos, a dozen plates exposed in all. The
sky was heavy and a band of cloud had come across Everest before I left.

Back to breakfast towards 9 a.m. A pleasant morning collecting flowers,
not a great variety but some delicious honey scents and an occasional
cheerful blue poppy.

_July_ 17.--More trouble with our arrangements. The Sirdar has muddled
the rations and the day is wasted. However, the weather is bad, constant
snow showers from 1 to 8 p.m., so that I am somewhat reconciled to this

_July_ 18.--Yesterday's plan carried out--to move up a camp with light
tents and make a big push over into the West cwm; eight coolies to
carry the loads. But the loads have been too heavy. What can be cut out
next time? I cannot see many unnecessary articles. Heavy snow showers
fell as we came up and we had rather a cheerless encampment, but with
much heaving of stones made good places for the tents. A glorious night
before we turned in. Dark masses of cloud were gathered round the peak
above us; below, the glacier was clear and many splendid mountains were
half visible. The whole scene was beautifully lit by a bright moon.

_July_ 19.--Started 3 a.m.; still some cloud, particularly to the West.
The moon just showed over the mountains in that direction which cast
their strange black shadows on the snowfield. One amazing black tooth
was standing up against the moonlight. No luck on the glacier and we had
to put on snow-shoes at once. An exciting walk. I so much feared the
cloud would spoil all. It was just light enough to get on without
lanterns after the moon went down. At dawn almost everything was
covered, but not by heavy clouds. Like guilty creatures of darkness
surprised by the light they went scattering away as we came up and the
whole scene opened out. The North ridge of Everest was clear and bright
even before sunrise. We reached the col at 5 a.m., a fantastically
beautiful scene; and we looked across into the West cwm at last,
terribly cold and forbidding under the shadow of Everest. It was nearly
an hour after sunrise before the sun hit the West Peak.

But another disappointment--it is a big drop about 1,500 feet down to
the glacier, and a hopeless precipice. I was hoping to get away to the
left and traverse into the cwm; that too quite hopeless. However, we
have seen this Western glacier and are not sorry we have not to go up
it. It is terribly steep and broken. In any case work on this side could
only be carried out from a base in Nepal, so we have done with the
Western side. It was not a very likely chance that the gap between
Everest and the South Peak could be reached from the West. From what we
have seen now I do not much fancy it would be possible, even could one
get up the glacier.


We saw a lovely group of mountains away to the South in Nepal. I wonder
what they are and if anything is known about them. It is a big world!

                     *       *       *       *       *

With this expedition on July 19 our reconnaissance of these parts had
ended. We proceeded at once to move down our belongings; on July 20 all
tents and stores were brought down to the base camp and we had said
good-bye to the West Rongbuk Glacier.

So far as we were concerned with finding a way up the mountain, little
enough had been accomplished; and yet our growing view of the mountain
had been steadily leading to one conviction. If ever the mountain were
to be climbed, the way would not lie along the whole length of any one
of its colossal ridges. Progress could only be made along comparatively
easy ground, and anything like a prolonged sharp crest or a series of
towers would inevitably bar the way simply by the time which would be
required to overcome such obstacles. But the North arête coming down to
the gap between Everest and the North Peak, Changtse, is not of this
character. From the horizontal structure of the mountain there is no
excrescence of rock pinnacles in this part and the steep walls of rock
which run across the North face are merged with it before they reach
this part, which is comparatively smooth and continuous, a bluntly
rounded edge. We had still to see other parts of the mountain, but
already it seemed unlikely that we would find more favourable ground
than this. The great question before us now was to be one of access.
Could the North col be reached from the East and how could we attain
this point?

At the very moment when we reached the base camp I received a note from
Colonel Howard-Bury telling us that his departure from Tingri was fixed
for July 23 and that he would be sleeping at Chöbuk in the valley below
us two days later on his way to Kharta. It was now an obvious plan to
synchronise our movements with his.

Besides the branch which we had already explored the Rongbuk Glacier has
yet another which joins the main stream from the East about 10 miles
from Everest. It had always excited our curiosity, and I now proposed to
explore it in the initial stages of a journey across the unknown ridges
and valleys which separated us from Kharta. I calculated that we should
want eight days' provisions, and that we should just have time to
organise a camp in advance and start on the 25th with a selected party,
sending down the rest to join Howard-Bury. And it was an integral part
of the scheme that on one of the intervening days I should ascend a spur
to the North of the glacier where we proposed to march in order to
obtain a better idea of this country to the East. But we were now in the
thickest of the monsoon weather; the 21st and 22nd were both wet days
and we woke on the 23rd to find snow all around us nearly a foot deep;
it had come down as low as 16,000 feet. It was hardly the weather to cut
ourselves adrift and wander among the uncharted spurs of Everest, and we
thought of delaying our start. Further it transpired that our
organisation was not running smoothly--it never did run smoothly so long
as we employed, as an indispensable Sirdar, a whey-faced treacherous
knave whose sly and calculated villainy too often, before it was
discovered, deprived our coolies of their food, and whose acquiescence
in his own illimitable incompetence was only less disgusting than his
infamous duplicity. It was the hopeless sense that things were bound to
go wrong if we trusted to this man's services--and we had no one else at
that time through whom it was possible to order supplies from the
natives--that turned the scale and spoilt the plan. Even so, in the
natural course of events, I should have obtained my preliminary view.
But on the night of the 22nd I received from Howard-Bury an extremely
depressing piece of news, that all my photos taken with the
quarter-plate camera had failed--for the good reason that the plates
had been inserted back to front, a result of ignorance and
misunderstanding. It was necessary as far as possible to repair this
hideous error, and the next two days were spent in a photographic
expedition. And so it came about that we saw no more until a much later
date of the East Rongbuk Glacier. Had our plan been carried out even in
the smallest part by a cursory survey of what lay ahead, I should not
now have to tell a story which is lamentably incomplete in one respect.
For the East Rongbuk Glacier is one way, and the obvious way when you
see it, to the North Col. It was discovered by Major Wheeler before ever
we saw it, in the course of his photographic survey; but neither he, nor
Bullock, nor I have ever traversed its whole length.


We should have attached more importance, no doubt, in the early stages
of reconnaissance, to the East Rongbuk Glacier had we not been deceived
in two ways by appearances. It had been an early impression left in my
mind, at all events, by what we saw from Shiling, that a deep valley
came down to the East as the R.G.S. map suggests, draining into the Arun
and having the North-east arête of Everest as its right bank at the
start. Further, the head of this valley seemed to be, as one would
expect, the gap between Everest and the first peak to the North which
itself has also an Eastern arm to form the left bank of such a valley.
The impression was confirmed not only by an excellent view from a hill
above Ponglet (two days before Tingri and about 35 miles North of
Everest), but by all nearer and more recent views of the mountains East
of the Rongbuk Glacier. The idea that a glacier running parallel to the
Rongbuk started from the slopes of Everest itself and came so far to
turn Westward in the end hardly occurred to us at this time. From
anything we had seen there was no place for such a glacier, and it was
almost unimaginable that the great mountain range running North from the
North Col, Chang La, was in no part a true watershed. We saw the East
Rongbuk Glacier stretching away to the East and perceived also a bay to
the South. But how, if this bay were of any importance, could the
glacier stream be so small? We had found it too large to cross, it is
true, late in the afternoon of our first expedition, but only just too
large; and again it seems now an unbelievable fact that so large an area
of ice should give so small a volume of water. The glacier streams are
remarkably small in all the country we explored, but this one far more
surprisingly small than any other we saw.

[Illustration: SUMMIT OF MOUNT EVEREST AND SOUTH PEAK from the Island,
West Rongbuk Glacier.]

It was some measure of consolation in these circumstances to make use of
a gleam of fine weather. When the bad news arrived on July 22 about the
failure of my photographs we had ceased to hear the raindrops pattering
on the tent, but could feel well enough when we pushed up the roof that
snow was lying on the outer fly. It was a depressing evening. I thought
of the many wonderful occasions when I had caught the mountain as I
thought just at the right moment, its moments of most lovely
splendour--of all those moments that would never return and of the
record of all we had seen which neither ourselves nor perhaps anyone
else would ever see again. I was not a cheerful companion. Moreover,
from the back of my mind I was warned, even in the first despair of
disappointment, that I should have to set out to repair the damage so
far as I was able, and I hated the thought of this expedition. These
were our days of rest after a month's high-living; we were off with one
adventure and on with another; tents, stores, everything had been
brought down to our base and we had said good-bye to the West Rongbuk
Glacier. The clouds were still about us next morning and snow lay on the
ground 9 inches deep. But by midday much of the snow had melted at our
level and the clouds began to clear. At 2 p.m. we started up with the
Mummery tents and stores for one night. I made my way with one coolie to
a spot some little distance above our First Advanced Camp. As we pushed
up the stormy hillside the last clouds gathered about Everest, and
lingering in the deep North cwm were dispersed and the great
white-mantled mountains lay all clear in the light of a glorious
evening. Before we raced down to join Bullock my first dozen plates had
been duly exposed; whatever the balance of hopes and fears for a fine
morning to-morrow something had been done already to make good.

My ultimate destination was the Island which I had found before to
command some of the most splendid and most instructive views. I was
close up under the slopes of this little mountain before sunrise next
morning. It has rarely been my lot to experience in the course of a few
hours so much variety of expectation, of disappointment and of hope
deferred, before the issue is decided. A pall of cloud lying like a
blanket above the glacier was no good omen after the clear weather; as
the sun got up a faint gleam on the ice encouraged me to go on;
presently the grey clouds began to move and spread in all directions
until I was enveloped and saw nothing. Suddenly the frontier crest came
out and its highest peak towering fantastically above me; I turned about
and saw to the West and North-west the wide glacier in the sun--beyond
it Gyachung Kang and Cho-Uyo, 26,870 to 25,990 feet: but Everest
remained hidden, obscured by an impenetrable cloud. I watched the
changing shadows on the white snow and gazed helplessly into the grey
mass continually rolled up from Nepal into the deep hollow beyond the
glacier head. But a breeze came up from the East; the curtain was
quietly withdrawn; Everest and the South Peak stood up against the clear
blue sky. The camera was ready and I was satisfied. A few minutes later
the great cloud rolled back and I saw no more.

Meanwhile Bullock had not been idle. He paid a visit to the North cwm,
more successful than mine in July, for he reached the pass leading over
into Nepal under the North-west arête and had perfectly clear views of
Chang La, of which he brought back some valuable photos. But perhaps an
even greater satisfaction than reckoning the results of what we both
felt was a successful day was ours, when we listened in our tents that
evening at the base camp to the growling of thunder and reflected that
the fair interval already ended had been caught and turned to good

In snow and sleet and wind next morning, July 25, our tents were struck.
We turned our backs on the Rongbuk Glacier and hastened along the path
to Chöbuk. The valley was somehow changed as we came down, and more
agreeable to the eye. Presently I discovered the reason. The grass had
grown on the hillside since we went up. We were coming down to summer

                                CHAPTER XIV

                           THE EASTERN APPROACH

The new base at Kharta established by Colonel Howard-Bury at the end of
July was well suited to meet the needs of climbers, and no less
agreeable, I believe, to all members of the Expedition. At the moderate
elevation of 12,300 feet and in an almost ideal climate, where the air
was always warm but never hot or stuffy, where the sun shone brightly
but never fiercely, and clouds floated about the hills and brought
moisture from the South, but never too much rain, here the body could
find a delicious change when tired of the discipline of high-living, and
in a place so accessible to traders from Nepal could easily be fed with
fresh food. But perhaps after life in the Rongbuk Valley, with hardly a
green thing to look at and too much of the endless unfriendly
stone-shoots and the ugly waste of glaciers, and even after visions of
sublime snow-beauty, a change was more needed for the mind. It was a
delight to be again in a land of flowery meadows and trees and crops; to
look into the deep green gorge only a mile away where the Arun goes down
into Nepal was to be reminded of a rich vegetation and teeming life, a
contrast full of pleasure with Nature's niggardliness in arid,
wind-swept Tibet; and the forgotten rustle of wind in the willows came
back as a soothing sound full of grateful memories, banishing the least
thought of disagreeable things.

The Kharta base, besides, was convenient for our reconnaissance. Below
us a broad glacier stream joined the Arun above the gorge; it was the
first met with since we had left the Rongbuk stream; it came down from
the West and therefore, presumably, from Everest. To follow it up was
an obvious plan as the next stage in our activities. After four clear
days for idleness and reorganisation at Kharta we set forth again on
August 2 with this object. The valley of our glacier stream would lead
us, we supposed, to the mountain; in two days, perhaps, we should see
Chang La ahead of us. A local headman provided by the Jongpen and
entrusted with the task of leading us to Chomolungma would show us where
it might be necessary to cross the stream and, in case the valley
forked, would ensure us against a bad mistake.

The start on this day was not propitious. We had enjoyed the sheltered
ease at Kharta; the coolies were dilatory and unwilling; the
distribution of loads was muddled; there was much discontent about
rations, and our Sirdar was no longer trusted by the men. At a village
where we stopped to buy tsampa some 3 miles up the valley I witnessed a
curious scene. As the tsampa was sold it had to be measured. The Sirdar
on his knees before a large pile of finely ground flour was ladling it
into a bag with a disused Quaker Oats tin. Each measure-full was counted
by all the coolies standing round in a circle; they were making sure of
having their full ration. Nor was this all; they wanted to see as part
of their supplies, not only tsampa and rice, but tea, sugar, butter,
cooking fat and meat on the Army scale. This was a new demand altogether
beyond the bargain made with them. The point, of course, had to be
clearly made, that for their so-called luxuries I must be trusted to do
my best with the surplus money (100 tankas or thereabouts) remaining
over from their allowances after buying the flour and rice. These luxury
supplies were always somewhat of a difficulty; the coolies had been very
short of such things on the Northern side--we had no doubt that some of
the ration money had found its way into the Sirdar's pockets. It would
be possible, we hoped, to prevent this happening again. But even so the
matter was not simple. What the coolies wanted was not always to be
bought, or at the local price it was too expensive. On this occasion a
bountiful supply of chillies solved our difficulty. After too many
words, and not all in the best temper, the sight of so many of the red,
bright, attractive chillies prevailed; at length my orders were obeyed;
the coolies took up their loads and we started off again.

[Illustration: PETHANG-TSE.]

With so much dissatisfaction in the air it was necessary for Bullock and
me to drive rather than lead the party. In a valley where there are many
individual farms and little villages, the coolies' path is well beset
with pitfalls and with gin. Without discipline the Sahib might easily
find himself at the end of a day's march with perhaps only half his
loads. It was a slow march this day; we had barely accomplished 8 miles,
when Bullock and I with the hindmost came round a shoulder on the right
bank about 4 p.m. and found the tents pitched on a grassy shelf and
looking up a valley where a stream came in from our left. The Tibetan
headman and his Tibetan coolies who were carrying some of our loads had
evidently no intention of going further, and after some argument I was
content to make the stipulation that if the coolies (our own as well as
the Tibetans) chose to encamp after half a day's march, they should do a
double march next day.

The prospect was far from satisfactory: we were at a valley junction of
which we had heard tell, and the headman pointed the way to the left.
Here indeed was a valley, but no glacier stream. It was a pleasant green
nullah covered with rhododendrons and juniper, but presented nothing
that one may expect of an important valley. Moreover, so far as I could
learn, there were no villages in this direction: I had counted on
reaching one that night with the intention of buying provisions, more
particularly goats and butter. Where were we going and what should we
find? The headman announced that it would take us five more days to
reach Chomolungma: he was told that he must bring us there in two, and
so the matter was left.

If the coolies behaved badly on this first day, they certainly made up
for it on the second. The bed of the little valley which we now
followed rose steeply ahead of us, and the path along the hill slopes on
its left bank soon took us up beyond the rhododendrons. We came at last
for a mid-day halt to the shores of a lake. It was the first I had seen
in the neighbourhood of Everest; a little blue lake, perhaps 600 yards
long, set on a flat shelf up there among the clouds and rocks, a
sympathetic place harbouring a wealth of little rock plants on its steep
banks; and as our present height by the aneroid was little less than
17,000 feet, we were assured that on this Eastern side of Everest we
should find Nature in a gentler mood. But we were not satisfied with our
direction; we were going too much to the South. Through the mists we had
seen nothing to help us. For a few moments some crags had appeared to
the left looming surprisingly big; but that was our only peep, and it
told us nothing. Perhaps from the pass ahead of us we should have better

At the Langma La when we reached it we found ourselves to be well 4,000
feet above our camp of the previous night. We had followed a track, but
not always a smooth one, and as we stayed in hopes of a clearing view, I
began to wonder whether the Tibetan coolies would manage to arrive with
their loads; they were notably less strong than our Sherpas and yet had
been burdened with the wet heavy tents. Meanwhile we saw nothing above
our own height. We had hoped that once our col was crossed we should
bear more directly Westward again; but the Tibetan headman when he came
up with good news of his coolies, pointed our way across a deep valley
below us, and the direction of his pointing was nearly due South.
Everest, we imagined, must be nearly due West of Kharta, and our
direction at the end of this second day by a rough dead reckoning would
be something like South-west. We were more than ever mystified.
Fortunately our difficulties with the coolies seemed to be ended. Two of
our own men stayed at the pass to relieve the Tibetans of the tents and
bring them quickly on. Grumblings had subsided in friendliness, and all
marched splendidly on this day. They were undepressed with the gloomy
circumstance of again encamping in the rain.

In the Sahibs' tent that night there took place a long and fragmentary
conversation with the headman, our Sirdar acting as interpreter. We
gained one piece of information: there were two Chomolungmas. It was not
difficult to guess that, if Everest were one, the other must be Makalu.
We asked to be guided to the furthest Chomolungma.

The morning of August 4 was not more favourable to our reconnaissance.
We went down steeply to the valley bed, crossed a stream and a rickety
bridge, and wound on through lovely meadows and much dwarf rhododendron
till we came to the end of a glacier and mounted by its left bank.
Towards mid-day the weather showed signs of clearing; suddenly on our
left across the glacier we saw gigantic precipices looming through the
clouds. We guessed they must belong in some way to Makalu. We were told
that this was the first Chomolungma, while the valley we were now
following would lead us to the other. It was easy to conclude that one
valley, this one, must come up on the North side of Makalu all the way
to Everest. But we saw no more. In a few moments the grey clouds blowing
swiftly up from below had enveloped us, rain began to fall heavily, and
when eventually we came to broad meadows above the glaciers, where yaks
were grazing and Tibetan tents were pitched, we were content to stop. At
least we should have the advantage here of good butter and cream from
this dairy farm. There was indeed no point in going farther; we had no
desire to run our heads against the East face of Everest; we must now
wait for a view.

The weather signs were decidedly more hopeful as I looked out of our
tent next morning, and we decided at once to spend the day in some sort
of reconnaissance up the valley. Presently away at the head of it we saw
the clouds breaking about the mountain-sides. Everest itself began to
clear; the great North-east arête came out, cutting the sky to the
right; and little by little the whole Eastern face was revealed to us.

As I recall now our first impression of the amazing scenery around us, I
seem chiefly to remember the fresh surprise and vivid delight which, for
all we had seen before, seemed a new sensation. Even the map of the Kama
Valley, now that we have it, may stir the imagination. Besides Everest
itself the crest of the South Peak, 28,000 feet high, and its prodigious
South-east shoulder overlook the Western end; while Makalu, 12 miles
from Everest, thrusts out Northwards a great arm and another peak to
choke the exit; so that whereas the frontier ridge from Everest to
Makalu goes in a South-easterly direction, the Kangshung Glacier in the
main valley runs nearly due East. In this spacious manner three of the
five highest summits in the world overlook the Kama Valley.

And we now saw a scene of magnificence and splendour even more
remarkable than the facts suggest. Among all the mountains I have seen,
and, if we may judge by photographs, all that ever have been seen,
Makalu is incomparable for its spectacular and rugged grandeur. It was
significant to us that the astonishing precipices rising above us on the
far side of the glacier as we looked across from our camp, a terrific
awe-inspiring sweep of snow-bound rocks, were the sides not so much of
an individual mountain, but rather of a gigantic bastion or outwork
defending Makalu. At the broad head of the Kama Valley the two summits
of Everest are enclosed between the North-east arête and the South-east
arête bending round from the South Peak; below them is a basin of
tumbled ice well marked by a number of moraines and receiving a series
of tributaries pouring down between the buttresses which support the
mountain faces in this immense cirque. Perhaps the astonishing charm and
beauty here lie in the complications half hidden behind a mask of
apparent simplicity, so that one's eye never tires of following up the
lines of the great arêtes, of following down the arms pushed out from
their great shoulders, and of following along the broken edge of the
hanging glacier covering the upper half of this Eastern face of Everest
so as to determine at one point after another its relation with the
buttresses below and with their abutments against the rocks which it
covers. But for me the most magnificent and sublime in mountain scenery
can be made lovelier by some more tender touch; and that, too, is added
here. When all is said about Chomolungma, the Goddess Mother of the
World, and about Chomo Uri, the Goddess of the Turquoise Mountain, I
come back to the valley, the valley bed itself, the broad pastures,
where our tents lay, where cattle grazed and where butter was made, the
little stream we followed up to the valley head, wandering along its
well-turfed banks under the high moraine, the few rare plants,
saxifrages, gentians and primulas, so well watered there, and a soft,
familiar blueness in the air which even here may charm us. Though I bow
to the goddesses I cannot forget at their feet a gentler spirit than
theirs, a little shy perhaps, but constant in the changing winds and
variable moods of mountains and always friendly.

[Illustration: SUMMIT OF MAKALU.]

The deviation from our intended line of approach involved by entering
the Kama Valley was not one which we were likely to regret. In so far as
our object was to follow up a glacier to the North Col we were now on
the wrong side of a watershed. A spur of mountains continues Eastwards
from the foot of Everest's North-east arête; these were on our right as
we looked up the Kama Valley; the glacier of our quest must lie on the
far side of them. But the pursuit of this glacier was not our sole
object. We had also to examine both the East face and North-east arête
of our mountain and determine the possibilities of attack on this side.
A plan was now made to satisfy us in all ways. We chose as our objective
a conspicuous snowy summit, Carpo-ri, on the watershed and apparently
the second to the East from the foot of the North-east arête. Could we
climb it we should not only see over into the valley North of us and up
to Chang La itself, we hoped, but also examine, from the point most
convenient for judging the steepness of its slopes, the whole of the
Eastern side of Mount Everest.

On August 6 the Whymper tents were taken up, and a camp was made under a
moraine at about 17,500 feet, where a stream flows quietly through a
flat space before plunging steeply down into the valley. In this
sheltered spot we bid defiance to the usual snowstorm of the afternoon;
perhaps as night came on and snow was still falling we were vaguely
disquieted, but we refused to believe in anything worse than the
heavens' passing spite, and before we put out our candles the weather
cleared. We went out into the keen air; it was a night of early moons.
Mounting a little rise of stones and faintly crunching under our feet
the granular atoms of fresh fallen snow we were already aware of some
unusual loveliness in the moment and the scenes. We were not kept
waiting for the supreme effects; the curtain was withdrawn. Rising from
the bright mists Mount Everest above us was immanent, vast,
incalculable--no fleeting apparition of elusive dream-form: nothing
could have been more set and permanent, stedfast like Keats's star, "in
lone splendour hung aloft the night," a watcher of all the nights,
diffusing, it seemed universally, an exalted radiance.

It is the property of all that is most sublime in mountain scenery to be
uniquely splendid, or at least to seem so, and it is commonly the fate
of the sublime in this sort very soon to be mixed with what is trivial.
Not infrequently we had experience of wonderful moments; it is always
exciting to spend a night under the stars. And such a situation may be
arranged quite comfortably; lying with his head but just within the tent
a man has but to stir in his sleep to see, at all events, half the
starry sky. Then perhaps thoughts come tumbling from the heavens and
slip in at the tent-door; his dozing is an ecstasy: until, at length,
the alarm-watch sounds; and after?... Mean considerations din it all
away, all that delight. On the morning of August 7 the trivial, with us,
preponderated. Something more than the usual inertia reigned in our
frozen camp at 2 a.m. The cook was feeling unwell; the coolies prolonged
their minutes of grace after the warning shout, dallied with the thought
of meeting the cold air, procrastinated, drew the blankets more closely
round them, and--snored once more. An expedition over the snow to the
outlying tents by a half-clad Sahib, who expects to enjoy at least the
advantage of withdrawing himself at the last moment from the friendly
down-bag, is calculated to disturb the recumbency of others; and a
kick-off in this manner to the day's work is at all events exhilarating.
The task of extricating our frozen belongings, where they lay and ought
not to have lain, was performed with alacrity if not with zeal; feet did
not loiter over slippery boulders as we mounted the moraine, and in
spite of the half-hour lost, or gained, we were well up by sunrise. Even
before the first glimmer of dawn the snow-mantled, slumbering monsters
around us had been somehow touched to life by a faint blue light showing
their form and presence--a light that changed as the day grew to a pale
yellow on Everest and then to a bright blue-grey before it flamed all
golden as the sun hit the summit and the shadow crept perceptibly down
the slope until the whole mountain stood bare and splendid in the
morning glory. With some premonition of what was in store for us we had
already halted to enjoy the scene, and I was able to observe exactly how
the various ridges and summits caught the sun. It was remarkable that
while Everest was never, for a moment, pink, Makalu was tinged with the
redder shades, and the colour of the sky in that direction was a livid
Chinese blue red-flushed. Its bearing from us was about South-east by
South, and its distance nearly twice that of Everest, which lay chiefly
to the South-west.

The first crux of the expedition before us would evidently be the ascent
of a steep wall up to the conspicuous col lying East of our mountain.
The least laborious way was offered by an outcrop of rocks. The obstacle
looked decidedly formidable and the coolies had little or no experience
of rock-climbing. But it proved a pleasure reminiscent of many good
moments once again to be grasping firm granite and to be encouraging
novices to tread delicately by throwing down an occasional stone to
remind them of the perils of clumsy movements. The coolies, as usual,
were apt pupils, and after agreeable exertions and one gymnastic
performance we all reached the col at 9 a.m. with no bleeding scalps.

We had already by this hour taken time to observe the great Eastern face
of Mount Everest, and more particularly the lower edge of the hanging
glacier; it required but little further gazing to be convinced--to know
that almost everywhere the rocks below must be exposed to ice falling
from this glacier; that if, elsewhere, it might be possible to climb up,
the performance would be too arduous, would take too much time and would
lead to no convenient platform; that, in short, other men, less wise,
might attempt this way if they would, but, emphatically, it was not for

Our interest was rather in the other direction. We had now gained the
watershed. Below us on the far side was a glacier flowing East, and
beyond it two important rock peaks, which we at once suspected must be
two triangulated points each above 23,000 feet. Was this at last the
valley observed so long ago from the hill above Shiling, more than 50
miles away, to point up towards the gap between Changtse and Everest? As
yet we could not say. The head of the glacier was out of sight behind
the Northern slopes of our mountain. We must ascend further, probably to
its summit, to satisfy our curiosity--to see, we hoped, Changtse and its
relation to this glacier, and perhaps the Chang La of our quest.

from above the 20,000 foot camp, Kharta Valley.]

The task before us was not one which had suggested from a distant view
any serious difficulties. The angle of sight from our breakfast-place on
the col to the next white summit West of us was certainly not very
steep. But no continuous ridge would lead us upwards. The East face in
front of us and the South face to our left presented two bands of
fortification, crowned each by a flat emplacement receding a
considerable distance, before the final cone. We knew already that the
snow's surface, despite a thin crust, could not hold us, and counted on
snow-shoes to save labour at the gentler angles. But the escarpments in
front of us were imposing. The first yielded to a frontal attack pushed
home with a proper after-breakfast vigour. The second when we reached it
was a more formidable obstacle. The steepness of the Eastern slope was
undeniable and forbidding and the edge of its junction with the South
side was defined by a cornice. On that side, however, lay the only hope.

We had first to traverse a broad gully. The powdery snow lay deep; we
hesitated on the brink. Here, if anywhere, the unmelted powdery
substance was likely to avalanche. Confidence was restored in sufficient
measure by contemplating an island of rock. Here lay a solution. By the
aid of its sound anchorage the party was secured across the dangerous
passage. With his rope adequately belayed by a coolie, though the manner
was hardly professional, the leader hewed at the cornice above his head,
fixed a fist-and-axe hold in the crest and struggled over. Such
performances are not accomplished at heights above 20,000 feet without
the feeling that something has been done. Appearances suggested the
necessity of establishing the whole party firmly above the cornice
before proceeding many steps upward, and the first man had the diversion
of observing at his leisure the ungraceful attitudes and explosive
grunts of men strong indeed, but unaccustomed to meet this kind of
obstacle. But with the usual menace of clouds, which even now were
filling the head of the Kama Valley, it was no season for delay; and it
was no place to be treated lightly. The angle was quite as steep as we
liked; on the slopes to our left again we should evidently be exposed to
the danger of an avalanche. It was necessary to avoid treading on our
frail cornice and no less important to keep near the edge. Here a foot
of powdery snow masked a disintegrated substance of loose ice. Nothing
less than a vigorous swinging blow had any other effect than to bury
the pick and require a fourfold effort to pull it out again. Luckily one
or even two such blows usually sufficed to make a firm step. But 400
feet of such work seemed an ample quantity. If was a relief at length to
reach level snow, to don our rackets again and to follow a coolie
bursting with energy now sent first to tread a path. At 12.15 p.m. we
reached the far edge of this flat shoulder lying under the final slopes
of our mountain and at the most 500 feet below the summit.

No one without experience of the problem could guess how difficult it
may be to sit down on a perfectly flat place with snow-shoes strapped to
the feet. To squat is clearly impossible; and if the feet are pushed out
in front the projection behind the heel tends to tilt the body backwards
so that the back is strained in the mere effort to sit without falling.
The remedy of course is to take off the snow-shoes; but the human
mountaineer after exhausting efforts is too lazy for that at an
elevation of 21,000 feet. He prefers not to sit; he chooses to lie--in
the one convenient posture under the circumstances--flat upon his back
and with his toes and snow-shoes turned vertically upwards. On this
occasion the majority of the party without more ado turned up their


The situation, however, was one of the greatest interest. We were still
separated from Mount Everest by a spur at our own height turning
Northwards from the foot of the North-east arête and by the bay enclosed
between this and its continuation Eastward to which our mountain
belonged. But the distance from the North-east arête was small enough
and we were now looking almost directly up its amazing crest. If any
doubts remained at this time as to that line of attack, they now
received a _coup de grâce_. Not only was the crest itself seen to be
both sharp and steep, suggesting an almost infinite labour, but the
slopes on either hand appeared in most places an impracticable
alternative; and leading up to the great rock towers of the North-east
shoulder, the final section, the point of a cruel sickle, appeared
effectually to bar further progress should anyone have been content to
spend a week or so on the lower parts. To discern so much required no
prolonged study; to the right (North) the country was more intricate.
The summit of Changtse was eventually revealed, as the clouds cleared
off, beyond, apparently a long way beyond, the crest of the spur in
front of us. To the extreme right, looking past the final slopes of the
white cone above us was a more elevated skyline and below it the upper
part of the glacier, the lower end of which we had seen earlier in the
day descending Eastward. But its extreme limit was not quite visible. We
had still to ask the question as to where exactly it lay. Could this
glacier conceivably proceed in an almost level course up to Chang La,
itself? Or was it cut off much nearer to us by the high skyline which we
saw beyond it? Was it possible, as in the second case must be, that this
skyline was continuous with the East arête of Changtse, the whole
forming the left bank of the glacier? If no answer was absolutely
certain, the probability at least was all on one side--on the wrong
side alike for our present and our future plans. We could hardly doubt
that the glacier-head lay not far away under Chang La, but here near at
hand under another col; beyond this must be the glacier of our quest,
turning East, as presumably it must turn beyond the skyline we saw now,
and beyond the rock peaks which we had observed to the North of us when
first we reached the watershed.

One more effort was now required so that we might see a little more.
Chang La itself was still invisible. Might we not see it from the summit
of our mountain? And was it not in any case an attractive summit? An
examination of the various pairs of upturned toes where the prostrate
forms were still grouped grotesquely in the snow was not encouraging.
But the most vigorous of the coolies was with us, Nyima, a sturdy boy of
eighteen, who from the very start of the Expedition had consistently
displayed a willing spirit in every emergency. To my demand for
volunteers he responded immediately, and soon persuaded a second coolie,
Dasno, who had been going very strongly on this day, to accompany him.
As the three of us started off the clouds suddenly boiled up from below
and enveloped us completely. A few minutes brought us to the foot of the
steepest slopes; we took off our snow-shoes and crossed a bergschrund,
wading up to our thighs. Dasno had already had enough and fell out. But
the conical shape of our peak was just sufficiently irregular to offer a
defined blunt edge where two surfaces intersected. Even here the snow
was deep enough to be a formidable obstacle at that steep angle; but the
edge was safe from avalanches. As we struggled on I glanced repeatedly
away to the left. Presently through a hole in the clouds all was clear
for a moment to the West; again I saw Changtse, and now my eyes followed
the line of its arête descending towards Everest until the col itself
was visible over the spur in front of us. The view was little enough;
the mere rim appeared; the wall or the slopes below it, all that I most
wanted to see, remained hidden. We struggled on to the top, in all
nearly an hour's work of the most exhausting kind. The reward was in the
beauty of the spot, the faintly-defined edges of clean snow and the
convex surfaces bent slightly back from the steepness on every side to
form the most graceful summit I have seen. To the North-east we saw
clearly for a minute down the glacier. The rest was cloud, a thin veil,
but all too much, inexorably hiding from us Changtse and Chang La.

A disappointment? Perhaps. But that sort of suffering cannot be
prolonged in a mind sufficiently interested. Possibly it is never a
genuine emotion; rather an automatic reaction after too sanguine hopes.
And such hopes had no part in our system. We counted on nothing. Days as
we found them were not seldom of the disappointing kind; this one had
been of the best, remarkably clear and fine. If we were baffled that was
no worse than we expected. To be bewildered was all in the game. But our
sensation was something beyond bewilderment. We felt ourselves to be
foiled. We were unpleasantly stung by this slap in the face. We had
indeed solved all doubts as to the East face and North-east arête, and
had solved them quickly. But the way to Chang La, which had seemed
almost within our grasp, had suddenly eluded us, and had escaped, how
far we could not tell. Though its actual distance from our summit might
be short, as indeed it must be, the glacier of our quest appeared now at
the end of a receding vista; and this was all our prospect.

Our next plans were made on the descent. With the relaxation of physical
effort the feeling of dazed fatigue wears off and a mind duly strung to
activity may work well enough. The immediate object was to reach our
tents not too late to send a coolie down to the base camp the same
evening; on the following morning a reinforcement of four men would
enable us to carry down all our loads with sufficient ease, and with no
delay we should move the whole party along the next stage back towards
Langma La--and thus save a day. The main idea was simple. It still
seemed probable that the elusive glacier drained ultimately Eastwards,
in which case its waters _must_ flow into the Kharta stream; thither we
had now to retrace our steps and follow up the main valley as we had
originally intended; it might be necessary to investigate more valleys
than one, but there sooner or later a way would be found. Only, time was
short. At the earliest we could be back in the Kharta Valley on August
9. By August 20 I reckoned the preliminary reconnaissance should come to
an end, if we were to have sufficient time before the beginning of
September for rest and reorganisation at Kharta--and such was the core
of our plan.

These projects left out of account an entirely new factor. In the early
stages of the reconnaissance I had taken careful note of the party's
health. One or two of the coolies had quickly fallen victims to the high
altitudes; but the rest seemed steadily to grow stronger. Nothing had so
much surprised us as the rapid acclimatisation of the majority, and the
good effects, so far as they appeared, of living in high camps. Both
Bullock and myself left the Rongbuk Valley feeling as fit as we could
wish to feel. All qualms about our health had subsided. For my part I
was a confirmed optimist, and never imagined for myself the smallest
deviation from my uniform standard of health and strength. On August 7,
as we toiled over the névé in the afternoon, I felt for the first time a
symptom of weariness beyond muscular fatigue and beyond the vague
lassitude of mountain-sickness. By the time we reached the moraine I had
a bad headache. In the tent at last I was tired and shivering and there
spent a fevered night. The next morning broke with undeniable glory. A
photograph of our yesterday's conquest must be obtained. I dragged
myself and the quarter-plate camera a few steps up to the crest of the
moraine--only to find that a further peregrination of perhaps 300 yards
would be necessary for my purpose: and 300 yards was more than I could
face. I was perforce content with less interesting exposures and
returned to breakfast with the dismal knowledge that for the moment at
all events I was _hors de combat_. We learned a little later that
Colonel Howard-Bury had arrived the night before in our base camp. It
was easily decided to spend the day there with him--the day I had hoped
to save; after the long dragging march down the green way, which on the
ascent had been so pleasant with butterflies and flowers, I was obliged
to spend it in bed.

Three days later, on August 11, our tents were pitched in a sheltered
place well up the Kharta Valley, at a height of about 16,500 feet. Two
tributary streams had been passed by, the first coming in from the North
as being clearly too small to be of consequence, and the second from the
South, because wherever its source might be, it could not be far enough
to the North. Ahead of us we had seen that the valley forked; we must
follow the larger stream and then no doubt we should come soon enough to
the glacier of our quest and be able at last to determine whether it
would serve us to approach Chang La. August 12, a day of necessary
idleness after three long marches, was spent by the coolies in
collecting fuel, of which we were delighted to observe a great
abundance, rhododendron and gobar all about us, and, only a short way
down the valley, the best we could hope for, juniper. The last march had
been too much for me, and again I was obliged to keep my bed with a sore
throat and swollen glands.

It seemed certain that the next two days must provide the climax or
anticlimax of our whole reconnaissance. The mystery must surely now be
penetrated and the most important discovery of all be made. A
competition with my companion for the honour of being first was, I hope,
as far from my thoughts as ever it had been. From the start Bullock and
I had shared the whole campaign and worked and made our plans together,
and neither for a moment had envied the other the monopoly of a
particular adventure. Nevertheless, after all that had passed, the
experience of being left out at the finish would not be agreeable to
me; I confess that not to be in at the death after leading the hunt so
long was a bitter expectation. But the hunt must not be stopped, and on
the morning of August 13, from the ungrateful comfort of my
sleeping-bag, I waved farewell to Bullock. How many days would he be
absent before he came to tell his story, and what sort of story would it
be? Would he know for certain that the way was found? or how much longer
would our doubts continue?

It was impossible to stay in bed with such thoughts, and by the middle
of the morning I was sitting in the sun to write home my dismal tale. A
hint from one of the coolies interrupted my meditations; I looked round
and now saw, to my great surprise and unfeigned delight, the approaching
figure of Major Morshead. I had long been hoping that he might be free
to join us; and he arrived at the due moment to cheer my present
solitude, to strengthen the party, and to help us when help was greatly
needed. Moreover, he brought from Wollaston for my use a medical dope;
stimulated by the unusual act of drug-taking, or possibly by the drug
itself, I began to entertain a hope for the morrow, a feeling
incommunicably faint but distinguishably a hope.

Meanwhile Bullock, though he had not started early, had got off soon
enough in the morning to pitch his tents if all went well some hours
before dark, and in all probability at least so far up as to be within
view of the glacier snout. As the night was closing in a coolie was
observed running down the last steep sandy slope to our camp. He brought
a chit from Bullock: "I can see up the glacier ahead of me and it ends
in another high pass. I shall get to the pass to-morrow morning if I
can, and ought to see our glacier over it. But it looks, after all, as
though the most unlikely solution is the right one and the glacier goes
out into the Rongbuk Valley."

Into the Rongbuk Valley! We had discussed the possibility. The glacier
coming in there from the East remained unexplored. But even if we left
out of account all that was suggested by the East arête of Changtse and
other features of this country, there remained the unanswerable
difficulty about the stream, the little stream which we had but just
failed to cross in the afternoon of our first expedition. How could so
little water drain so large an area of ice as must exist on this

In any case we were checked again. The mystery deepened. And though the
interest might increase, the prospect of finding a way to Chang La, with
the necessary margin of time before the end of the month, was still
receding, and, whether or no the unexpected should turn out to be the
truth, the present situation suggested the unpleasant complication of
moving our base once more somewhere away to the North.

On the following day with the gathering energy of returning health I set
forth with Morshead: we walked in a leisurely fashion up the valley
rejected by Bullock and had the surprising good fortune of a clear sky
until noon. I soon decided that we were looking up the glacier where we
had looked down on the 7th, as Bullock too had decided on the previous
day: at the head of it was a high snow col and beyond that the tip of
Changtse. What lay between them? If a combe existed there, as presumably
it did, the bed of it must be high: there could hardly be room, I
thought, for a very big drop on the far side of the col. Might not this,
after all, be a sufficiently good approach, a more convenient way
perhaps than to mount the glacier from its foot, wherever that might be?
The near col, so far as I could judge, should easily be reached from
this side. Why not get to the col and find out what lay beyond it? The
time had come to abandon our object of finding the foot of a glacier in
order to follow it up; for we could more easily come to the head of it
and if necessary follow it down.

I was sanguine about this new plan, which seemed to have good prospects
of success and might obviate the difficulties and inconvenience of
shifting the base (possibly again to the Rongbuk side, which I had no
desire to revisit) and, as I still felt far from fit, I was in some
hopes now that two more days would bring us to the end of our present
labours. Bullock very readily agreed to the proposal. He brought no
positive information from the col which he had reached, though he
inclined to the idea that the water crossed at Harlung on our journey to
Kharta, a moderate stream, but perhaps too clear, might provide the
solution of our problem. A fresh bone was now thrown into our stew. A
letter arrived from Howard-Bury with an enclosure from Wheeler, a sketch
map of what he had seen more particularly East of the Rongbuk Glacier,
on which the Eastern branch, with its Western exit, was clearly marked
where we now know it to be. It was, unfortunately, a very rough map,
professedly nothing more, and was notably wrong in some respects about
which we had accurate knowledge. We were not yet convinced that the head
of the East Rongbuk Glacier was really situated under the slopes of
Everest, and not perhaps under the Eastern arm of Changtse. Still, we
had some more pickings to digest. Our business was to reach the nearer
pass, and I felt sure that once we had looked over it to the other side
whatever doubts remained could be cleared up in subsequent discussion
with Wheeler. Meanwhile, I hoped, we should have discovered one way to
Chang La, and a sufficiently good one.

It took us in the sequel not two but four days to reach the pass which
was ultimately known as Lhakpa La (Windy Gap). The story may serve as a
fair illustration of the sort of difficulty with which we had to
contend. It was arranged on the 15th that we should meet Bullock's
coolies at the divide in the valley; they were bringing down his camp
and we could all go on together: but our messenger succeeded in
collecting only half their number and much delay was caused in waiting
for the others. From here we followed the Western stream, a stony and
rather fatiguing walk of two hours or so (unladen) up to the end of the
glacier, and then followed a moraine shelf on its left bank, I hoped we
should find an easy way round to the obvious camping place we had
previously observed from the Carpo-ri. But the shelf ended abruptly on
steep stony slopes, clouds obscured our view, and after our misfortunes
in the morning we were now short of time, so that it was necessary to
stay where we were for the night. A thick layer of mist was still lying
along the valley when we woke, and we could see nothing, but were
resolved, nevertheless, to reach the col if possible. We went up, for
the best chance of a view, to the crest of the hill above us, and
followed it to the summit (6.30 a.m.). The view was splendid, and I took
some good photographs; but the drop on the far side was more serious
than our hopes had suggested. We tried to make the best of things by
contouring and eventually halted for breakfast on the edge of the
glacier a long way North of the direct line at 8.45 a.m. Before we went
on we were again enveloped in mist, and after stumbling across the
glacier in snow-shoes to the foot of an icefall, we turned back at 11
a.m. By that time we were a tired party and could not have reached the
col; and even had we reached it, we should have seen nothing. Still we
felt when we found our tents again that with all we had seen the day had
not been lost, and we determined, before renewing our attempt on Lhakpa
La, to push on the camp. There was still time to send a message down to
the Sirdar so as to get up more coolies and supplies and move forward
next day. From this higher camp we hoped that the col might be reached
at an early hour, and in that case it would be possible for a party to
cross it and descend the glacier on the other side.

The first coolies who came up in the morning brought a message from the
Sirdar to the effect that supplies were short and he could send none up.
The rations were calculated to last for another three days, but their
distribution had been muddled. However, enough was subsequently sent up
to carry us over into the next day, though it was necessary of course to
abandon our project of a more distant reconnaissance. Our camp was
happily established in the usual snowstorm. The weather, in fact, was
not treating us kindly. Snow was falling in these days for about eight
to ten hours on the average and we were relieved at last to see a fine

On August 18, with the low moon near setting, the three of us with one
coolie set forth on the most critical expedition of our whole
reconnaissance. Failure on this day must involve us in a lamentable
delay before the party could again be brought up for the attack; at the
earliest we should be able to renew the attempt four days later, and if
in the end the way were not established here the whole prospect of the
assault in September would be in jeopardy. We scaled the little cliff on
to the glacier that morning with the full consciousness that one way or
another it was an imperative necessity to reach the col. The first few
steps on the glacier showed us what to expect; we sank in to our knees.
The remedy was, of course, to put on rackets--which indeed are no great
encumbrance, but a growing burden on a long march and on steep slopes
most difficult to manage. We wore them for the rest of the day whenever
we were walking on snow. About dawn the light became difficult; a thin
floating mist confused the snow surfaces; ascents and descents were
equally indistinguishable, so that the errant foot might unexpectedly
hit the slope too soon or equally plunge down with sudden violence to
unexpected depths. Crevasses forced, or seemed to force, us away to the
right and over to the rocks of the left bank. We were faced with one of
those critical decisions which determine success or failure. It seemed
best to climb the rocks and avoid complications in the icefall. There
was an easy way through on our left which we afterwards used; but
perhaps we did well; ours was a certain way though long, and we had
enough trudging that day; the rocks, though covered with snow to a depth
of several inches, were not difficult, and a long traverse brought us
back to the glacier at about 8.30 a.m.

Our greatest enemy as we went on was not, after all, the deep powdery
snow. The racket sank slightly below the surface and carried a little
snow each step as one lifted it; the work was arduous for the first man.
But at a slow pace it was possible to plod on without undue exhaustion.
The heat was a different matter. In the glacier-furnace the thin mist
became steam, it enveloped us with a clinging garment from which no
escape was possible, and far from being protected by it from the sun's
fierce heat, we seemed to be scorched all the more because of it. The
atmosphere was enervating to the last degree; to halt even for a few
minutes was to be almost overwhelmed by inertia, so difficult it seemed,
once the machinery had stopped and lost momentum, to heave it into
motion again. And yet we must go on in one direction or the other or
else succumb to sheer lassitude and overpowering drowsiness. The final
slopes, about 700 feet at a fairly steep angle, undoubtedly called for
greater efforts than any hitherto required of us.

The importance of breathing hard and deeply had impressed itself upon us
again and again. I had come to think of my own practice as a very
definite and conscious performance adopted to suit the occasion. The
principles were always the same--to time the breathing regularly to fit
the step, and to use not merely the upper part of the lungs, but the
full capacity of the breathing apparatus, expanding and contracting not
the chest only, but also the diaphragm, and this not occasionally but
with every breath whenever the body was required to work at high
pressure. Probably no one who has not tried it would guess how difficult
it is to acquire an unconscious habit of deep breathing. It was easy
enough to set the machine going in the right fashion; it was another
task to keep it running. The moment attention to their performance was
relaxed, the lungs too would begin to relax their efforts, and often I
woke from some day-dream with a feeling of undue fatigue, to find the
cause of my lassitude only in the lungs' laziness. The best chance of
keeping them up to their work, I found, was to impose a rhythm
primarily upon the lungs and swing the legs in time with it.

The practice employed for walking uphill under normal conditions is
exactly contrary, in that case the rhythm is consciously imposed on the
legs and the rest of the body takes care of itself.

During the various expeditions of our reconnaissance I came to employ
two distinct methods of working the legs with the lungs. As soon as
conscious breathing was necessary it was my custom deliberately to
inhale on one step and exhale on the next. Later, at a higher elevation,
or when the expenditure of muscular energy became more exhausting, I
would both inhale and exhale for each step, in either case timing the
first movement of lifting the leg to synchronise with the beginning, so
to speak, of the breathing-stroke. On this occasion as we pushed our way
up towards Lhakpa La I adopted a variation of this second method, a
third stage, pausing a minute or so for the most furious sort of
breathing after a series of steps, forty or thirty or twenty, as the
strength ebbed, in order to gain potential energy for the next spasm of
lifting efforts. Never before had our lungs been tested quite so
severely. It was well for us that these final slopes were no steeper. It
was difficult and tiring enough as it was to prevent the rackets
sliding, though without them we could not possibly have advanced in such
snow. But happily the consequences of a slip were not likely to be
serious. We were able to struggle on without regarding dangers,
half-dazed with the heat and the glare and with mere fatigue,
occasionally encouraged by a glimpse of the skyline above us, a clean
edge of snow where the angle set back to the pass, more often enveloped
in the scorching mist which made with the snow a continuous whiteness,
so that the smooth slope, even so near as where the foot must be placed
next, was usually indistinguishable. We had proceeded a considerable
distance and I was satisfied with our progress, when the leader broke
the monotony; he was seen to hesitate in the act of stepping up, to
topple over and fall headlong downwards. This time he had guessed
wrong; his foot had hit unexpectedly against the steepening slope.
Somehow he had passed in extreme fatigue from the physical state of
stable equilibrium; he had become such a man as you may "knock down with
a feather," and this little misadventure had upset his balance. Mere
surprise gave him strength to stop his slide. He raised himself,
disgusted, to his feet again and after sundry gruntings the party went

Some little way further up Major Morshead, who was walking last in the
party, with one brief exclamation to tell us what he intended, quietly
untied the rope and remained where he was in his steps, unable to go

At length we found ourselves on flatter ground; the pass was still
invisible, how far ahead of us we could not guess. Unexpectedly we came
upon the brink of a crevasse. We worked round it, vaguely wondering
whether after all our pains we were to meet with many troubles of this
sort. And then after a few more steps we were visibly on some edge of
things; we had reached the col itself.

Some twenty minutes later, as we sat on the snow gazing most intently at
all that lay about us, Bullock and I were surprised by a shout. A moment
later Major Morshead rejoined us, to the great rejoicing of all three.

It was about 1.15 p.m. when the first two of us had reached Lhakpa La;
the clouds, which had been earlier only a thin veil, rent occasionally
to give us clear glimpses, had thickened perceptibly during the last
hour, so that we had now no hope of a clear view. In a sense, despite
our early start from a high camp, we were too late. Little was to be
seen above our level. The slopes of Everest away on our left were
visible only where they impinged upon the glacier. But we were not
actually in cloud on the col. The South-facing rocks of Changtse
presented their profile, steep and jagged, an imposing spectacle so far
up as we could see; between them and Everest we looked down on a broad
bay, the smooth surface of which was only occasionally broken by large
crevasses. The descent to it from where we were could also be seen well
enough, and we judged it perfectly simple and not much more than 800
feet.[12] The East ridge of Changtse had no existence for us; we looked
across at what presumably were the splayed-out slopes supporting it.
Below them was a narrow glacier (it grew when we crossed it to broader
dimensions), shaping its course somewhat to the West of North, joined
after losing its white snow-covering by another and cleaner glacier
coming steeply down from the left, then apparently bending with this
confluent to the right, and finally lost to view. We could see no more;
the mountain sides, which must hem it in on the North, remained
completely hidden, and for all we had seen the exit of this glacier was
still a mystery.

  [12] It turned out to be a full 1,200 feet.

Another great question remained unsolved. We had been able to make out
the way across the head of the glacier towards the wall under Chang La;
and the way was easy enough. But the wall itself, in spite of some
fleeting glimpses and partial revelations, we had never really seen. We
conjectured its height should be 500 feet or little more; and it was
probably steep. It had been impossible to found an opinion as to whether
the col were accessible. Nevertheless, I held an opinion, however flimsy
the foundations. I had seen the rim of the col from both sides, and knew
that above it on either hand were unserrated edges. When we added to
whatever chances might be offered by the whole extent of the wall, which
was considerable, the possibilities of finding a way to the col by the
slopes of Everest to the South or by those of Changtse to the North, I
felt we had enough in our favour. I was prepared, so to speak, to bet my
bottom dollar that a way could be found, and was resolved that before we
turned homewards this year we must get up from the East. When I thought
of the 4,000 feet on the other side, the length combined with the
difficulties, the distance that would necessarily separate us there from
any convenient base and all the limitations in our strength, I could
have no reasonable doubt that here to the East lay the best chance of

from Lhakpa La.]

It remained to determine by which of two possible routes we should reach
the glacier-head between Lhakpa La and Chang La. Presuming that Wheeler
was right we could use the old base at the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier
which was only one stage, though a very long one, from Chöbuk, and
proceed simply enough by two rough marches and one which should be
easier to a camp at the foot of the wall or possibly to the col itself.
On the East we could use as an advanced base a place two easy marches
from Kharta; from there I reckoned one long day and two easy ones,
provided the snow were hard, to Chang La. Against this route was the
loss of height in crossing Lhakpa La; and for it the convenience of a
good encampment on stones at 20,000 feet, better than anything we might
expect to find at a similar elevation on the other side. So far the pros
and cons were evenly balanced. But there was one great and perhaps
insuperable obstacle in working from the Rongbuk Valley. We had always
found difficulties there in obtaining an adequate supply of fuel. There
is no wood at Chöbuk or for some distance below it. A few small bushes
grow in a little patch of vegetation by the riverside an hour higher up.
But it is a very niggardly supply, and when I thought of the larger
scale of the preparations we should now have to make, it became clear
that we should have to rely on gobar, which, besides being a more
extravagant fuel in the sense that it gives less fire for a given weight
than wood, is also difficult to get in the Rongbuk Valley, for little
enough is to be found there, and the monastery at Chöyling is a large
consumer. On the other hand, in the Kharta Valley we were in a land of
plenty. Gobar and rhododendron were to be had within a stone's throw of
our present advanced base camp, and a little lower was an abundance of
juniper. Food supplies also were better here; fresh vegetables and eggs,
luxuries never seen on the other side, could easily be obtained from
Kharta, and even the sheep in this region could be praised at the
expense of the Rongbuk breed, which was incomparably skinny; lurking in
the thigh of one recently killed we had actually discovered a nugget of

And presuming Wheeler were wrong? In any case we knew enough of the
country to be sure that a valley further to the North would offer us
little better than the Rongbuk Valley, for it must be situated in the
drier area unvisited by the monsoon currents from the Arun. The
conclusion was drawn as we came down from Lhakpa La more swiftly than
the reader of these arguments might suppose. We had now found a way to
approach Chang La--not an ideal way, because it would involve a descent,
and not one that could be used immediately; but good enough for our
purpose. If laden coolies could not be brought to the Lhakpa at present
over so much soft snow they might find the march to their liking later;
for good snow at angles not too steep involves far less labour than
rougher ground; and might we not expect the snow to harden before long?
The whole plan of campaign had been founded upon the belief that
September would be the best month for climbing, and our greatest
efforts, some sort of an assault upon the mountain, were timed to take
place then. We must now proceed upon the assumption that what the wise
men prophesied about the matter would come true; and they promised a
fine September. About the beginning of the month the monsoon would come
to an end; then we should have a succession of bright, clear days to
melt the snow and cold, starry nights to freeze it hard. At worst the
calm spell would only be broken by a short anger. In September, perhaps
a fortnight hence, on these same slopes where now we toiled we should
find a solid substance beneath our feet and an easy way.

The abiding thought, therefore, after the first rush downwards on the
steep slopes below the col contained a measure of solid satisfaction. We
had now brought to an end our preliminary reconnaissance. Ahead of us
was a new phase in our operations, and one which should hold in store
for us the finest adventure of all, the climax of all reconnoitring
expeditions, that advance which was to bring us as near to the summit as
our strength would take us. As we plodded on, retracing our steps, some
little satisfaction was highly acceptable. To the tired party even
descent seemed laborious. We reached the edge of the glacier where we
had come on to it at 5.30 p.m. But the march from there to our lower
camp was both long and rough. Major Morshead, who had not been trained
with Bullock and me to the pace of such expeditions, had kept up so far
in the gamest fashion; but he was now much exhausted. The day ended with
a series of little spurts, balancing over the snow-sprinkled boulders
along and along the valley, in the dim misty moonlit scene, until at 2
o'clock in the morning we reached our lower camp, twenty-three hours
after the early start.

On August 20 we went down to Kharta for ten days' rest and
reorganisation. The party was gathering there for the assault, in which
all were to help to the best of their powers. Col. Howard-Bury and
Mr. Wollaston were there; Dr. Heron came in on the following day, and a
little later Major Wheeler. A conversation with this officer, who had
been working in the Rongbuk Valley since Bullock and I had left it, was
naturally of the highest interest, and he now confirmed what his
sketch-map had suggested: that the glacier on to which we had looked
down from Lhakpa La drained into the Rongbuk Valley. But this certain
knowledge could have no bearing on our plans; we remained content with
the way we had found and troubled our heads no more for the present
about the East Rongbuk Glacier.

                                CHAPTER XV

                                THE ASSAULT

In the agreeable climate of Kharta we were sufficiently occupied with
the results of photography and preparations for the future; and there
was time besides for unmixed idleness, which we knew how to appreciate.
Our thoughts turned often to the weather. Local lore confirmed our
expectations for September, and we looked each day for signs of a
change. It was arranged, in hope if not in confidence, to move up on the
first signs of improvement. Already before we came down to Kharta our
Advanced Base Camp had been moved up; it was now situated at about
17,300 feet on a convenient grassy plateau and only a reasonable stage
below our 20,000-foot camp, where some light tents and stores had also
been left. At these two camps we had, in fact, left everything which we
should not absolutely require at Kharta, so that few mountaineering
stores would have to be carried forward from the Base when we came up
again. Our first task would be to supply the Advanced Base with food and
fuel, and a start had already been made by collecting here a pile of
wood, nominally thirty loads. Transport in any case was not likely to be
a difficulty in the early stages. Local coolies could easily be hired,
and Howard-Bury was to follow us up after a short interval with all
available strength to help in every possible way.

The first object which our plans must include was, of course, to reach
Chang La; by finding the way to this point we should establish a line of
attack and complete a stage of our reconnaissance. Secondly we must aim
at reaching the North-east Shoulder. In so far as it was an object of
reconnaissance to determine whether it was possible to climb Mount
Everest, our task could never be complete until we had actually climbed
it; but short of that it was important to have a view of the final
stage, and could we reach the great shoulder of the arête we should at
least be in a better position to estimate what lay between there and the
summit. Finally we saw no reason to exclude the supreme object itself.
It would involve no sacrifice of meaner ends; the best would not
interfere with the good. For if it should turn out that the additional
supplies required for a longer campaign were more than our coolies could
carry, we would simply drop them and aim less high.

In organising the assault we had first to consider how our camps could
be established, at Lhakpa La or perhaps better beyond it at a lower
elevation, at Chang La, and finally as high as possible, somewhere under
the shoulder, we thought, at about 26,500 feet. From the camp on Chang
La we should have to carry up ten loads, each of 15 lb., which would
provide tents enough, and sleeping-sacks and food for a maximum of four
Sahibs and four coolies; sixteen coolies were allowed for this task;
twelve therefore would have to return on the day of their ascent and
sleep at Chang La, and on the assumption that they would require an
escort of Sahibs who must also sleep at this camp, four small tents must
remain there, making six in all to be carried up to this point. The
lower end of the ladder must be so constructed as to support this weight
at the top. It was comparatively a simple matter to provide the earlier
camps. The first above the advanced base--that at 20,000 feet--could be
filled before we moved up to sleep there, the coolies returning on the
same day whenever they carried up loads. And the same plan could be
adopted for the second at Lhakpa La; only one journey there, I
calculated, would be required before we started in force from the
20,000-foot camp to go straight ahead without delay. The crux would lie
in the stage from Lhakpa La to Chang La. At the most we should have
twenty-three coolies, sixteen who had been all along with the climbing
party, three whom Wheeler had partially trained, and four more Sherpas,
the maximum number being determined by the supply of boots. But it would
not be necessary to carry on all the loads from Lhakpa La; and return
journeys could be made from Chang La both by those who were not to stay
there and by the twelve already mentioned who might fetch supplies if
necessary on the final day of the assault. This plan was never executed
in its later stages, and we cannot know for certain whether it would
have held good. But it may be conjectured, in view of our experience,
that the weakest link would have broken; either an extra day would have
been spent between Lhakpa La and Chang La, or, if we had reached Chang
La according to programme with the minimum of supplies, the coolies
would not have been brought to this point a second time and the climbing
party would have been cut off from its reserves. And, granted the most
favourable conditions for the attempt, in asking the coolies to carry
loads of 30 lb. on two consecutive days at these high altitudes, we were
probably expecting too much of them. It must be concluded, if this
opinion is correct, that we had not enough coolies for what we intended.

On the last day of August, Bullock and I were established once again at
our Advanced Base. The weather had not yet cleared, though it was
showing some signs of change. But it had been necessary to move up for
the coolies' sake. At Kharta, where they found little to amuse them and
no work to employ their time, they had sought diversion with the aid of
liquor and become discontented and ill-affected. They were badly in need
of a routine, which at the Advanced Base was easily enough provided.
Besides, I wanted to be ready, and it seemed not too soon to begin
carrying loads up to the next camp. There was no occasion for hurry in
the event. We were obliged to wait nearly three weeks, until September
19, before moving forward. The delay served no useful purpose, the work
of supplying our present needs and providing for the future was
sufficiently spread over the long tale of days, but interspersed with
more rest and leisure than anyone required.

In some respects life at the Advanced Base compared favourably with our
experience at other camps. The place had a charm of its own. The short
turf about us, the boulders and little streams reminded me of Welsh
hillsides; and these high pastures were often decorated by the brilliant
blues of _Gentiana ornata_ and by the most exquisite of saxifrages,
which, with the yellow and ochre markings on the cream glaze of its tiny
bowl, recalls the marginal ornament on some Persian page. Whenever the
weather cleared for a few hours we saw down the valley a splendid peak
in a scene of romantic beauty, and by walking up to a stony shoulder
only 2,000 feet above us, we had amazing views of Everest and Makalu.
And it was an advantage during these days of waiting to be a larger
party, as we soon became.

Bury and Wollaston, and also Raeburn whom we rejoiced to see again, had
come up on the 6th, Morshead and Wheeler on the 11th, and for two nights
Heron was of our company. We made little excursions to keep ourselves
fit, and on one occasion enjoyed some rock-climbing. But it amused
nobody to watch the procession of clouds which precipitated sleet by day
and snow by night, and our appetite for adventure could not be
stimulated by making time pass in some endurable fashion and counting
the unhopeful signs.

Under these circumstances I became more than ever observant of the
party's physical condition. I find a passage in one of my letters
written during this period of waiting in which I boast of finding myself
"still able to go up about 1,500 feet in an hour--not bad going at these
altitudes"--a reassuring statement enough but for the one word "still,"
which betrays all my anxiety. In fact there was too much cause to be
anxious. Three of our strongest coolies were ill at this camp; others
seemed to be tired more easily than they should be. And what of the
Sahibs? At least it must be said that several of them were not looking
their best. Bullock, though he never complained, seemed no longer to be
the fit man he was at the end of July. And for my part I began to
experience a certain lack of exuberance when going up hill. I came to
realise that all such efforts were unduly exhausting; my reserve of
strength had somehow diminished. The whole machine, in fact, was running
down; the days continued to pass with their cloud and rain and snow,
always postponing our final effort to a later date and a colder season;
and with them our chances of success were slowly vanishing.

When at last the weather cleared, it was evident that the fate of our
enterprise would be decided by the sun's power to melt the snow. In a
subsequent chapter I shall have more to say about the snow's melting; it
may suffice to remark here that, before we left the Advanced Base, I had
good reason to expect that we should meet adverse conditions, and was
resolved at the same time that nothing was to be gained by waiting. The
coolies were lightly laden up to the First Advanced Camp and
sufficiently unfatigued to proceed next day. On the 20th, therefore,
leaving Bullock to accompany Wheeler, Morshead and I set forth to get
fourteen loads up to Lhakpa La. We had one spare coolie who carried no
load, and Sanglu, who was now our acting Sirdar, four of us in all, to
break the trail for the loaded men. Snow-shoes were not carried because
there were not enough to go round. Though our prospects of reaching a
high point on Everest were already sufficiently dim, I intended to carry
out the original plan until obliged by circumstances to modify it; it
might prove necessary to spend an extra day in reaching Chang La, and in
that case we could perhaps afford to stop short of Lhakpa La and
establish our camp below its final slopes. But if the strain on this
first day was likely to be severe, I argued that the coolies could rest
to-morrow, and that the second journey in frozen tracks would be easy
enough. That we should be passing the night a few hundred feet higher
(at 22,500 feet) was a relatively unimportant consideration. The great
matter was to put heart into the coolies; it would be infinitely more
encouraging to reach the crest with a sense of complete achievement, to
see the clear prospect ahead and to proceed downwards on the other side.

Our start at an early hour on the 20th was propitious enough. It was the
same moonlit glacier of our expedition a month before as we made good
our approach to its surface. But the conditions were altered. For the
first time since we had come to these mountains we experienced the
wonderful delight of treading snow that is both crisp and solid. We
walked briskly over it, directly towards Mount Everest, with all the
hope such a performance might inspire. The night was exceedingly cold
and there was no untoward delay. In less than an hour we were at the
foot of the icefall. We were determined on this occasion not to avoid it
by the rocks of the left bank, but to find a quicker way through the
tumbled ice. At first all went well. A smooth-floored corridor took us
helpfully upwards. And then, in the dim light, we were among the
crevasses. To be seriously held up here might well be fatal to our
object, and in the most exciting kind of mountaineering adventures we
had the stimulus of this thought. We plunged into the maze and struggled
for a little time, crossing frail bridges over fantastic depths and
making steps up steep little walls, until it seemed we were in serious
trouble. One leap proposed by the leader proved too much for some of the
laden coolies and a good deal of pushing and pulling was required to
bring them over the formidable gap. We had begun to waste time. Halted
on a sharp little crest between two monstrous chasms Morshead and I
discussed the situation, and thereafter gravely proceeded to reconnoitre
the ground to our left. In ten minutes we came to another corridor like
the first, which brought us out above the icefall.

We were well satisfied with our progress as we halted at sunrise, and it
was a pleasant change to get our feet out of the snow and knock a little
warmth into chilled toes. But our confidence had ebbed. Even as we
entered the icefall our feet had occasionally broken the crust; as we
came out of it we were stamping a trail.

Dorji Gompa, our unladen coolie, and perhaps the strongest man of all,
took the lead when we went on, and plugged manfully upwards. But already
the party was showing signs of fatigue. One coolie, and then two others,
fell out and could not be induced to come further. I sent Dorji Gompa
back to bring on one of their loads. Morshead, Sanglu and I took turns
ahead and soon came to the worst snow we had encountered anywhere. In it
no firm steps could be stamped by the leaders to save the coolies
behind, and each man in turn had to contend with the shifting substance
of fine powder. The party straggled badly. It was necessary for some of
us to press on and prove that the goal could be reached. Many of the men
were obliged to halt at frequent intervals. But time was on our side.
Gradually the party fought its way up the final slopes. As we approached
the pass I looked back with Morshead over the little groups along our
track and saw some distance below the last moving figure another lying
huddled up on the snow. I soon learnt the meaning of this: it was Dorji
Gompa who lay there. He had carried on not one load as I had asked him,
but two, until he had fallen there dazed and exhausted.

At length eleven loads reached the pass and two more were only 800 feet
lower. If we had not done all we set out to do I was satisfied we had
done enough. We had established tracks to Lhakpa La which should serve
us well when they had frozen hard, and not too many loads remained below
to be brought up two days later.

We now obtained a clear view of Chang La; it was possible to make more
exact calculations, and it was evident we must modify our plans. We saw
a wall of formidable dimensions, perhaps 1,000 feet high; the surface
was unpleasantly broken by insuperable bergschrunds and the general
angle was undoubtedly steep. The slopes of Everest to the South were out
of the question, and if it were possible to avoid a direct assault by
the North side the way here would be long, difficult and exceedingly
laborious. The wall itself offered the best chance, and I was in good
hopes we could get up. But it would not be work for untrained men, and
to have on the rope a number of laden coolies, more or less mountain
sick, conducted by so small a nucleus as three Sahibs, who would also
presumably be feeling the effects of altitude, was a proposition not to
be contemplated for a moment. We must have as strong a party as possible
in the first place, simply to reach the col, and afterwards to bring up
a camp, if we were able, as a separate operation. With this idea I
selected the party. Wollaston felt that his place of duty was not with
the van; only Wheeler besides had sufficient mountaineering experience,
and it was decided that he alone should accompany Bullock and myself on
our first attempt to reach the col. Nevertheless, it seemed undesirable
to abandon so early the hope that Bury and Morshead would be of use to
us later on; and Wollaston clearly must start with us from the
20,000-foot camp where all had gathered on the 20th.

I had hoped we should have a full complement of coolies on the 22nd, but
when morning came it was found that three, including two of the best
men, were too ill to start. Consequently some of the loads were rather
heavier than I intended. But all arrived safely at Lhakpa La before
midday. Visited by malicious gusts from the North-west, the pass was
cheerless and chilly; however, the rim afforded us some protection, and
we decided to pitch our tents there rather than descend on the other
side with the whole party, a move which I felt might complicate the
return. I was not very happy about the prospects for the morrow. For my
own part I had been excessively and unaccountably tired in coming up to
the col; I observed no great sparkle of energy or enthusiasm among my
companions; Sanglu was practically _hors de combat_; some of the coolies
had with difficulty been brought to the col and were more or less
exhausted; and many complaints of headache, even from the best of them,
were a bad sign.

There was no question of bustling off before dawn on the 23rd, but we
rose early enough, as I supposed, to push on to Chang La if we were
sufficiently strong. Morshead and I in a Mummery tent had slept well and
I congratulated myself on an act of mutilation in cutting two large
slits in its roof. The rest had not fared so well, but seemed fit
enough, and the wonderful prospect from our camp at sunrise was a
cheering sight. With the coolies, however, the case was different. Those
who had been unwell overnight had not recovered, and it was evident that
only a comparatively small number would be able to come on; eventually I
gathered ten, two men who both protested they were ill casting lots for
the last place; and of these ten it was evident that none were
unaffected by the height and several were more seriously
mountain-sick.[13] Under these circumstances it was necessary to
consider which loads should be carried on. Bury, Wollaston and Morshead
suggested that they should go back at once so as not to burden the party
with the extra weight of their belongings, and it seemed the wisest plan
that they should return. Certain stores were left behind at Lhakpa La as
reserve supplies for the climbing party. I decided at an early hour that
our best chance was to take an easy day; after a late start and a very
slow march we pitched our tents on the open snow up towards the col.

  [13] I use this expression to denote not a state of intermittent
       vomiting, but simply one in which physical exertion exhausts the
       body abnormally and causes a remarkable disinclination to further

It might have been supposed that in so deep a cwm and sheltered on three
sides by steep mountain slopes, we should find a tranquil air and the
soothing, though chilly calm of undisturbed frost. Night came clearly
indeed, but with no gentle intentions. Fierce squalls of wind visited
our tents and shook and worried them with the disagreeable threat of
tearing them away from their moorings, and then scurried off, leaving us
in wonder at the change and asking what next to expect. It was a cold
wind at an altitude of 22,000 feet, and however little one may have
suffered, the atmosphere discouraged sleep. Again I believe I was more
fortunate than my companions, but Bullock and Wheeler fared badly. Lack
of sleep, since it makes one sleepy, always discourages an early start,
and hot drinks take time to brew; in any case, it was wise to start
rather late so as to have the benefit of warm sun whenever our feet
should be obliged to linger in cold snow or ice steps. It was an hour or
so after sunrise when we left the camp and half an hour later we were
breaking the crust on the first slopes under the wall. We had taken
three coolies who were sufficiently fit and competent, and now proceeded
to use them for the hardest work. Apart from one brief spell of cutting
when we passed the corner of a bergschrund it was a matter of
straightforward plugging, firstly slanting up to the right on partially
frozen avalanche snow and then left in one long upward traverse to the
summit. Only one passage shortly below the col caused either anxiety or
trouble; here the snow was lying at a very steep angle and was deep
enough to be disagreeable. About 500 steps of very hard work covered
all the worst of the traverse and we were on the col shortly before
11.30 a.m. By this time two coolies were distinctly tired, though by no
means incapable of coming on; the third, who had been in front, was
comparatively fresh. Wheeler thought he might be good for some further
effort, but had lost all feeling in his feet. Bullock was tired, but by
sheer will power would evidently come on--how far, one couldn't say. For
my part I had had the wonderful good fortune of sleeping tolerably well
at both high camps and now finding my best form; I supposed I might be
capable of another 2,000 feet, and there would be no time for more. But
what lay ahead of us? My eyes had often strayed, as we came up, to the
rounded edge above the col and the final rocks below the North-east
arête. If ever we had doubted whether the arête were accessible, it was
impossible to doubt any longer. For a long way up those easy rock and
snow slopes was neither danger nor difficulty. But at present there was
wind. Even where we stood under the lee of a little ice cliff it came in
fierce gusts at frequent intervals, blowing up the powdery snow in a
suffocating tourbillon. On the col beyond it was blowing a gale. And
higher was a more fearful sight. The powdery fresh snow on the great
face of Everest was being swept along in unbroken spindrift and the very
ridge where our route lay was marked out to receive its unmitigated
fury. We could see the blown snow deflected upwards for a moment where
the wind met the ridge, only to rush violently down in a frightful
blizzard on the leeward side. To see, in fact, was enough; the wind had
settled the question; it would have been folly to go on. Nevertheless,
some little discussion took place as to what might be possible, and we
struggled a few steps further to put the matter to the test. For a few
moments we exposed ourselves on the col to feel the full strength of the
blast, then struggled back to shelter. Nothing more was said about
pushing our assault any further.

It remained to take a final decision on the morning of the 25th. We were
evidently too weak a party to play a waiting game at this altitude. We
must either take our camp to the col or go back. A serious objection to
going forward lay in the shortage of coolies' rations. Had the men been
fit it would not have been too much for them to return, as I had
planned, unladen to Lhakpa La and reach Chang La again the same day. I
doubted whether any two could be found to do that now; and to subtract
two was to leave only eight, of whom two were unfit to go on, so that
six would remain to carry seven loads. However, the distance to the col
was so short that I was confident such difficulties could be overcome
one way or another.

A more unpleasant consideration was the thought of requiring a party
which already felt the height too much to sleep at least a 1,000 feet
higher. We might well find it more than we could do to get back over
Lhakpa La, and be forced to make a hungry descent down the Rongbuk
Valley. There would be no disaster in that event. The crucial matter was
the condition of the climbers. Were we fit to push the adventure
further? The situation, if any one of the whole party collapsed, would
be extremely disagreeable, and all the worse if he should be one of the
Sahibs, who were none too many to look after the coolies in case of
mountaineering difficulties. Such a collapse I judged might well be the
fate of one or other of us if we were to push our assault above Chang La
to the limit of our strength. And what more were we likely to accomplish
from a camp on Chang La? The second night had been no less windy than
the first. Soon after the weather cleared the wind had been strong from
North-west, and seemed each day to become more violent. The only signs
of a change now pointed to no improvement, but rather to a heavy fall of
snow--by no means an improbable event according to local lore. The
arguments, in fact, were all on one side; it would be bad heroics to
take wrong risks; and fairly facing the situation one could only admit
the necessity of retreat.

It may be added that the real weakness of the party became only too
apparent in the course of our return journey over Lhakpa La on this
final day; and it must be safe to say that none of the three climbers
has ever felt a spasm of regret about the decision to go back or a
moment's doubt as to its rightness. It was imposed upon us by
circumstances without a reasonable alternative.

                                CHAPTER XVI

                       WEATHER AND CONDITION OF SNOW

Without consulting the meteorologist at Simla it is difficult to accept
assertions about the monsoon as ultimate truth. Beyond a general, rather
vague, agreement as to what should normally be expected, opinions differ
not a little as to the measure and frequency of divergences from the
norm. And individuals who observe in one locality more or less than they
hope or expect are apt to forget that their dearth or plenty may be
elsewhere compensated by capricious incidence. Nevertheless it seems
certain that this year's rainfall in North-east India was above the
normal both in amount and duration. "We had good rain," people said, and
I was tempted to reply, "We had bad snow." Travelling through India I
frequently asked questions on this point, and almost invariably heard of
an unusually bountiful rainfall, seldom of one which was merely
sufficient. Inhabitants of Darjeeling, who have observed the hills in
the changing seasons for many years, told me that it was almost unheard
of that so much snow should fall in September and lie so low. The
general tenor of such remarks may probably be applied to an area
including not only Mount Everest itself and the great peaks in its
neighbourhood, but also a considerable tract of country to the North.
The monsoon, according to Tibetan information, started perhaps a little
later than usual, but was still more late in coming to an end; the
Tibetans ordinarily lie with an object, and there could be no object in
deceiving us about the weather. It may be concluded the year was
abnormally wet, though to what extent on Everest itself can hardly be

During our outward journey through Sikkim we saw nothing of the high
peaks. It was not until the day of our march to Phari Dzong (May 28)
that we had a clear view of the snows, and we had then the good fortune
to see Chomolhari late in the morning. But Chomolhari and the range to
the North of it were less visited by clouds than the peaks further
South. Pawhunri, Kanchenjunga, Chomiomo were less often visible, and
even at this early season we began to observe the usual habit of clouds
to rise from the valleys or to form about the summits at an early hour,
to be dissipated not before evening. The weather was not necessarily bad
because the peaks were veiled. When we first saw Everest from Kampa
Dzong on June 6, it was obscured some three hours after sunrise, but the
weather seemed fine: and on two subsequent days we made the same
observation. On June 13, from the hills above Shiling, Bullock and I
were trying to make out the Everest group through glasses for about
three hours. When first we looked in that direction, it appeared that a
storm was in progress, with dark clouds drifting up from the West; but
Kanchenjunga at the same time was a glorious sight, and all the
mountains were clear before sunset. The most splendid of the distant
views was from Ponglet on June 19: we were up our hill half an hour
after sunrise and half an hour later there was nothing to be seen. There
may have been malice in the clouds that day. It was radiantly fine where
we were; but in the afternoon we came under the edge of a thunderstorm
which drenched the main body of the Expedition as they were approaching
Tingri; and there was a definite break in the weather at this time.

I suppose this break may be taken as the forerunner of the monsoon on
Mount Everest. Storms there may have been before; but, generally
speaking, it had been fine over the mountains since the beginning of
June, and though the evidence is slight enough it seems probable that
Everest received little or no snow before June 20. When first we saw it,
a few days later, from the Rongbuk Glacier, it was still comparatively
black. It appeared a rocky mass with a white arm to the right, some
permanent snow on the ledges and in the gullies of the face turned
Northwards in our direction and some snow again on the high North-east
arête; but with no pretensions to be a snow-mountain, a real sugar-cake
as it seemed afterwards to become. We were lucky in having a few fine
days at the outset of our reconnaissance. The conditions then were very
different from those which obtained later. The recent snow must have
melted quickly; we found clean ice on an East-facing slope at 21,000
feet and also at a gentler angle on one facing West. On Ri-ring the
slopes were generally covered with snow near the crest, thinly but
sufficiently, or we should never have got up; near the summit we found
ice on both sides, North and South. It is impossible to say up to what
height one might have found ice in June. Appearances suggested that on
all but the steepest slopes above 23,000 feet the surface was hard snow
rather than ice.

It was on the day following our ascent of Ri-ring, July 6, that we first
experienced a real snowfall; and we woke next morning to find 3 or 4
inches covering the ground. In so far as an exact date can be ascribed
to what is hardly a single event, July 6-7 may be taken as the beginning
of the monsoon. We imagined at first that this snowfall was an important
matter, sufficient to prevent climbing at any considerable height for
several days. But from subsequent observations we came to treat such
snowfalls with a certain degree of contempt. It was more often than not
the case during the whole of July until the date of our departure that
snow fell during the day--sometimes perhaps for a comparatively short
period between noon and sunset, not seldom for many hours,
intermittently during the day from the middle of the morning, and
continuing into the night. But it was often so far as we were concerned
a harmless phenomenon. Snow was precipitated from clouds so thin that
they were easily penetrated by the sun's heat; it melted where it lay,
and the moisture so readily evaporated that the snow had hardly stopped
falling before the ground was dry. One might suppose that a few hundred
feet higher, where the snow could be seen to lie where it fell, the
effects would be more severe; but it was remarkable after half a day's
unceasing precipitation of this fine granular snow that one might go up
early next morning, perhaps to 20,000 feet, and find no more than a thin
covering of 2 or 3 inches on the stones.

In saying that this sort of weather was harmless, I am not denying that
it hindered our operations; but from the point of view merely of the
climber it was remarkably innocuous. A case in point is our ascent of
Ri-ring. As we were nearing the summit a thunderstorm gathered to the
North and dark clouds came up on every hand, threatening a violent
disturbance. I have related in an earlier chapter how we hurried down,
expecting at the least a cold unpleasant wind and some nasty snow
showers; but the air remained calm and the temperature warm and such
grains of snow as fell were hardly remarked in our flight. A more
disagreeable experience was our first journey to the col from which we
afterwards looked into the West Cwm of Everest; we reached the pass in
the teeth of a wind which drove the snow into our faces; but the weather
had no real sting, and the wind, though cold, seemed to touch us
lightly. Wind, in fact, was never an enemy to be feared during the whole
period of the monsoon, and snowstorms, though they prevented more than
one expedition, never turned us back. The delays in our reconnaissance
caused by bad weather were of course considerable; we were forced to
push our camps higher than would have otherwise been necessary, and
often found ourselves hurrying after a start before dawn in a desperate
race with the clouds to reach a view-point before the view had
disappeared. And the precipitation of snow on the glaciers forced us
invariably to wear snow-shoes on névé, and consequently limited the
numbers in our parties.

I have already alluded to a more serious snowfall which took place from
July 20 to 25. Another occurred during the first days of August and
another again on August 20 and 21, when snow came down below 16,000
feet. In September, towards the end of the monsoon, the weather was more
monotonously malicious and the snowfall tended to be heavier; I find two
heavy falls noted particularly in my diary. But on the whole it was the
habit of snow to fall lightly. It is remarkable, when one calls to mind
such a big snowfall as may occur during the climbing season in the Alps
before the weather is resolved to be fine, how little snow by comparison
fell on any one day in the region of Mount Everest. And perhaps in the
end the slopes were more laden by the smaller precipitations which
deposited a daily accretion.

We naturally sought an answer to the interminable query as to how much
melting took place at the highest altitudes. Melting of course was
always quicker on rocks. But even on the glaciers it was remarkably
rapid whenever the sun shone brightly, and we were more than once
surprised after a period of cloudy weather with constant snow showers to
find how much the snow had consolidated. It seemed to us on more than
one occasion that while snow had been falling at our camps and on the
lower peaks, Everest itself must have escaped. But, generally speaking,
after July 6 the mountain was remarkably white and became increasingly
whiter, and only at the least two perfectly fine days, which rarely came
together, made any perceptible difference. It was remarkable how little
ice was ever observable on the steep Eastern face, where one would
expect to see icicles hanging about the rocks. It is my own impression
for what it is worth, and its value I fear is small, that though snow
will melt readily enough low down, at least up to 23,000 feet during the
warmer weather even on cloudy days, at greater altitudes, perhaps above
25,000 feet, it rarely melts even in bright sunshine. In September this
year I doubt if it melted at all above 23,000 feet after the weather
cleared. At lower elevations the direction and angle of the slope made
all the difference. After one fine day the snow on a steep East slope
had solidified to a remarkable degree at about 20,000 feet; on a
North-facing slope at a similar elevation it had been quite unaffected;
on flat surfaces 1,000 feet higher a perceptible crust had formed, but
the snow remained powdery below it as on the day when it fell. After
three and four fine days the snowy surface of a glacier was absolutely
hard at about 20,000 feet and remained solid in the afternoon. Fifteen
hundred feet higher we were breaking a hard crust and sinking in a foot
or more. This condition may have been partly due to the local behaviour
of clouds, which were apt to cling about a ridge overlooking the glacier
and cast a shadow on this part of it. But higher, on more open ground,
we met the same condition; and again the slopes facing North preserved a
powdery snow which never changed before it was blown down in avalanches.
Perhaps the most convincing phenomena were the powdery snow high up on
the Eastern slopes under the North col and the snow on the Western
slopes at a similar elevation under Lhakpa La, which was hardly more
solid, while 1,000 feet lower we found excellent snow. It is difficult
to resist the conclusion that altitude is a determining factor in the
sun's power of melting. It is possible that a line might always be drawn
on any given day above which the temperature of the air is too cold for
snow to melt where it has fallen on snow, and another to meet the case
where it covers rocks. From our all too limited observations in June I
should judge that in the middle of summer such imaginary lines would be
above the height of Everest, but in other and cooler seasons we should
quickly find them lower and a long way below the summit.

In close connection with the snow's melting we had to consider the
possibility of avalanches. Our observations on this head were so meagre
that I can only make with the greatest diffidence a few statements about
them. It is astonishing to reflect how seldom we either saw or heard an
avalanche, or even noticed the débris of one under steep slopes which
had been laden with snow. Only on two occasions, I believe, were we
confronted in practice with the question as to whether a slope could
safely be crossed. The first was on August 7 in ascending the peak
Carpo-ri, of which I have previously made mention. The heavy snowfall at
the beginning of the month had ceased during the night August 4-5; the
following days had been warm but cloudy, and on both there had been
prolonged snow showers of the lighter sort in the afternoon and evening.
On the night of August 6 we had hard frost at 17,500 feet, and there was
a considerable sprinkling of fresh snow on the stones of the moraine.
Between the col and the summit we met some very steep snow slopes on the
South side: we carried no clinometer and I shall not venture to estimate
their angles of inclination. It was on this occasion, as I have
narrated, that in crossing a shallow scoop I was very much afraid of an
avalanche, but was able to choose a safe line where we were protected
and helped by an island of rocks. The snow here was inclined to be
powdery; but it had solidified in some degree and, where we had to tread
it, adhered sufficiently to the slope so as to give one a distinct
confidence that it would not slide off wherever it might be crossed.
Above this place we were able to avoid danger by following an edge where
the snow was not so deep; but here again I noticed with surprise the
adhesion between new snow and old. The ice below was not solid and
smooth, but frothy and rough, and easily penetrated by a strong blow of
the axe; it seemed to have been formed very quickly. The snow showed no
inclination to slide off, though it was not of the substance in which a
secure step could be made: and I concluded that the process of
assimilation between the old surface and the new snow must proceed very
rapidly whenever the temperature was warm enough. On the final slope,
which was even steeper, more snow was lying--it was a more powdery
substance: I was able again to escape danger on an edge dividing two
faces; but it was surprising that no avalanche had already taken place
and that the snow contrived to stay where it was.

The other occasion when we had to face and determine the possibility of
an avalanche was in traversing the slopes to the North Col. Here our
feet undoubtedly found a solid bed to tread upon, but the substance
above it was dubiously loose. It was my conviction at the time that with
axes well driven in above us we were perfectly safe here. But on the way
down we observed a space of 5 yards or so where the surface snow had
slid away below our tracks. The disquieting thoughts that necessarily
followed this discovery left and still leave me in some doubt as to how
great a risk, if any, we were actually taking. But it is natural to
suppose that at a higher elevation or in a cooler season, because the
snow adheres less rapidly to the slopes on which it lies, an avalanche
of new snow is more likely to occur.


Before attempting to draw conclusions as to the relative chances of
finding favourable conditions between one month and another, a few words
must be said about temperature.

So far as the temperature of the air was concerned, we experienced no
severe cold and suffered no hardships from first to last. I do not mean
to affirm that it was always warm. We welcomed frost at nights as one
does in the Alps. One night so early as July 18, in a camp above 19,000
feet, was exceptionally cold. At our two last camps in September the
thermometer went down to two or three degrees below zero (Fahr.) and the
wind at the final camp made it more difficult to keep warm; with as
little protection as the coolies had, I should no doubt have shivered in
my tent. The air also seemed very cold before sunrise on September 20,
though we were walking fast; but it did not bite the tip of my nose or
ears or cause any disagreeable result. In general it may be said that
there could be no difficulty in providing equipment against any cold we
encountered. Heat was a much more dangerous enemy, as I indicated in
describing our first ascent to Lhakpa La. Personally I never felt the
sun's power on my head, but I felt it on my back so early as 8 a.m. as a
definite attack on my energy and vital power, and more than once, though
the sun was not shining, in crossing a glacier late in the day I was
reduced from a state of alert activity to one of heavy lassitude.

The temperature of the snow is another consideration of very great
importance. Even in July I felt the snow to be cold in the middle of the
day towards the summit of Ri-ring, and when wearing snow-shoes in fresh
snow under 20,000 feet coolies and all felt the cold in their feet.
Later I apprehended a real danger from this source. The coolies were
encouraged to anoint their feet with whale oil, and we avoided accident
and even complaint: but I always admired their resistance to cold.
Personally, though I am not particularly a cold-footed person, I took
the precaution of wearing two pairs of long socks which were both new
and thick, and a third from which, unfortunately, the toes had to be
amputated owing to the timid miscalculation of my bootmaker: this
equipment sufficed and I found my feet perfectly warm, while one of my
companions was obliged to pull off a boot in order to restore
circulation, and the other went on with numb feet and barely escaped
frost-bite. And I must again emphasise the fact that this was on an
Eastern slope well warmed by the sun in the middle of the morning and at
an altitude no higher than about 22,500 feet. It may readily be
concluded that forethought and care are in no respect more necessary
than in guarding against frozen feet among a large party at the highest
altitudes. And the difficulty of guarding against this danger might well
determine the limits at either end of the warmest weather within which
an assault should be launched on Everest itself or any one of the
half-dozen or so highest peaks.

                       THE BEST SEASON FOR CLIMBING

It will hardly be doubtful from the whole tendency of my preceding
remarks about weather and conditions that my opinion inclines
decisively to the earlier rather than the later season as offering the
best chances of climbing Mount Everest. We cannot of course assume that
because September was a bad month this year it will always be a bad
month. But supposing the monsoon were to end punctually and a fair spell
to have set in by the first day of September--even then it appears to me
improbable that the fresh snow fallen during the monsoon would
sufficiently melt near the top of the mountain two and a half months
after midsummer. As to the prospects of wind, we can only be content
with the statement that in this particular year the wind after the end
of the monsoon would alone have defeated even the most determined
attempt to reach the summit. A wind strong enough to blow up the snow
must always, I believe, prevent an ascent. A superman might perhaps be
found, but never a party of men whose endurance at high altitudes would
warrant the risk of exhaustion in struggling for long hours against such
adverse circumstances. For the earlier season it may be said again, as a
simple observation upon which little enough can be built, that the
appearance of the clouds before the monsoon did not suggest wind, but
rather a calm air on the summit. What precisely the conditions may be,
for instance, in May and June, 1922, or what we ought normally to
expect, cannot be determined with certainty. Will the whole of the snow
fallen during the monsoon of 1921 have melted before the next monsoon,
and if so by what date? Will the amount of snow on the mountain be the
same in June, 1922, as twelve months before? Or will black and white
appear in altered proportions? And if the snow has melted, where will
ice be found? It might well be that under the North Col all the steeper
slopes will have lost their snow. And what of the final arête? One
conjecture seems as good as another, and the experience of more
travelled mountaineers will suggest the most probable answer to these
questions with an instinct less fallible than mine. Nevertheless, I
think it may be said that the chances are all in favour of the earlier
season. We know, for instance, about this year that snow must have
melted since the last monsoon and actually was melting fast in June, but
the summer's snow does not always melt before the winter--not this year,
for instance: the chances, therefore, of finding it melted in June are
better than those of finding it melted in September. It may be contended
that it might then have melted too much so that a party would find ice
where they would wish to find snow. But one must prefer the lesser of
two evils. Ice is far from an insuperable obstacle on Mount Everest;
almost anywhere above Chang La crampons would overcome it: but powdery
snow, in case the snow has melted too little, is a deadly handicap.
Finally, the earlier is the warmer season with less danger to vulnerable
feet and requiring a lighter equipment.

                               CHAPTER XVII

                          THE ROUTE TO THE SUMMIT

The reader who has carefully followed the preceding story will hardly
have failed to notice that the route which has been chosen as the only
one offering reasonable chances of success remains still very largely a
matter of speculation. But the reconnaissance, unless it were actually
to reach the summit, was obliged to leave much unproved, and its value
must depend upon observations in various sorts and not merely upon the
practice of treading the snow and rocks. Speculation in this case is
founded upon experience of certain phenomena and a study of the
mountain's features; and it is by relating what has been only seen with
known facts that inferences have been drawn.

It may perhaps be accounted a misfortune that the party of 1921 did not
approach Chang La by the East Rongbuk Glacier. The Lhakpa La proved a
bigger obstacle than was expected. But in conditions such as we hope to
find before the monsoon, this way would have much to recommend it. It
avoids all laborious walking on a dry glacier, and with hard snow the
walk up to the pass from the camp on stones at 20,000 feet should not be
unduly fatiguing. Still the fact remains that the descent from the
Lhakpa La on to the East Rongbuk Glacier is not less than 1,200 feet.
Would it not be better to follow up this glacier from the Rongbuk
Valley? The absence of wood on this side need not deter the party of
1922. For them plenty of time will be available sufficiently to provide
their base with fuel, and the sole consideration should be the easiest
line of approach; and though no one has traversed the whole length of
the East Rongbuk Glacier, enough is known to choose this way with
confidence. Here, as on other glaciers which we saw, the difficulties
clearly lie below the limit of perpetual snow, and the greater part of
them were avoided or solved by Major Wheeler, who found a practicable
way on to the middle of the glacier at about 19,000 feet, and felt
certain that the medial moraine ahead of him would serve for an ascent
and be no more arduous than the moraines of the West Rongbuk Glacier had
proved to be. The view of this way from the Lhakpa La confirmed his
opinion, and though it may be called a speculation to choose it, whereas
the way from the East has been established by experiment, it is a fair
inference from experience to conclude that the untraversed section of
the East Rongbuk Glacier, a distance which could be accomplished very
easily in one march if all went well, will afford a simple approach to
Chang La.

The Eastern wall, about 1,000 feet high, by which the gap itself must be
reached, can never be lightly esteemed. Here reconnaissance has forged a
link. But those who reached the col were not laden with tents and
stores; and on another occasion the conditions may be different. There
may be the danger of an avalanche or the difficulty of ice. From what we
saw this year before the monsoon had brought a heavy snowfall it is by
no means improbable that ice will be found at the end of May on the
steepest slope below Chang La. In that case much labour will be required
to hew and keep in repair a staircase, and perhaps fix a banister, so
that the laden coolies, not all of whom will be competent ice-men, may
be brought up in safety.

The summit of Mount Everest is about 6,000 feet above Chang La; the
distance is something like 2½ miles and the whole of it is unexplored.
What grounds have we for thinking that the mountaineering difficulties
will not prove insuperable, that in so far as mere climbing is concerned
the route is practicable? Two factors, generally speaking, have to be
considered: the nature of the ground and the general angle of
inclination. Where the climber is confined to a narrow crest and can
find no way to circumvent an obstacle, a very small tower or wall, a
matter of 20 feet, may bar his progress. There the general angle may be
what it likes: the important matter for him is that the angle is too
steep in a particular place. But on a mountain's face where his choice
is not limited to a strict and narrow way, the general angle is of
primary importance: if it is sufficiently gentle, the climber will find
that he may wander almost where he will to avoid the steeper places.
Long before we reached Chang La Mr. Bullock and I were fairly well
convinced that the slope from here to the North-east Shoulder was
sufficiently gentle and that the nature of the ill-defined ridge
connecting these two points was not such as to limit the choice of route
to a narrow line. Looking up from the North Col, we learnt nothing more
about the angles. The view, however, was not without value; it amply
confirmed our opinion as to the character of what lay ahead of us. The
ridge is not a crest; its section is a wide and rounded angle. It is not
decorated by pinnacles, it does not rise in steps. It presents a smooth
continuous way, and whether the rocks are still covered with powdery
snow, or only slightly sprinkled and for the most part bare, the party
of 1922 should be able to go up a long way at all events without meeting
any serious obstacle. It may not prove a perfectly simple matter
actually to reach the North-east arête above the shoulder at about
28,000 feet. The angle becomes steeper towards this arête. But even in
the last section below it, the choice of a way should not be
inconveniently restricted. On the right of the ascending party will be
permanent snow on various sloping ledges, an easy alternative to rocks
if the snow is found in good condition, and always offering a detour by
which to avoid an obstacle.

From the North-east Shoulder to the summit of the mountain the way is
not so smooth. The rise is only 1,000 feet in a distance of half a mile,
but the first part of the crest is distinctly jagged by several towers
and the last part is steep. Much will depend upon the possibility of
escaping from the crest to avoid the obstacles and of regaining it
easily. The South-east side (left going up) is terribly steep, and it
will almost certainly be out of the question to traverse there. But the
sloping snow-covered ledges on the North-west may serve very well; the
difficulty about them is their tendency to be horizontal in direction
and to diverge from the arête where it slopes upwards, so that a party
which had followed one in preference to the crest might find themselves
cut off by a cliff running across the face above them. But one way or
another I think it should be possible with the help of such ledges to
reach the final obstacle. The summit itself is like the thin end of a
wedge thrust up from the mass in which it is embedded. The edge of it,
with the highest point at the far end, can only be reached from the
North-east by climbing a steep blunt edge of snow. The height of this
final obstacle must be fully 200 feet. Mr. Bullock and I examined it
often through our field-glasses, and though it did not appear
insuperable, whatever our point of view, it never looked anything but

                     *       *       *       *       *

To determine whether it is humanly possible to climb to the summit of
Mount Everest or what may be the chances of success in such an
undertaking, other factors besides the mere mountaineering difficulties
have to be considered. It is at least probable that the obstacles
presented by this mountain could be overcome by any competent party if
they met them in the Alps. But it is a very different matter to be
confronted with such obstacles at elevations between 23,000 and 29,000
feet. We do not know that it is physiologically possible at such high
altitudes for the human body to make the efforts required to lift itself
up even on the simplest ground. The condition of the party of 1921 in
September during the days of the Assault cannot be taken as evidence
that the feat is impossible. The long periods spent in high camps and
the tax of many exhausting expeditions had undoubtedly reduced the
physical efficiency of Sahibs and coolies alike. The party of 1922, on
the other hand, will presumably choose for their attempt a time when the
climbers are at the top of their form and their powers will depend on
the extent of their adaptability to the condition of high altitude.
Nothing perhaps was so astonishing in the party of reconnaissance as the
rapidity with which they became acclimatised and capable of great
exertions between 18,000 and 21,000 feet. Where is the limit of this
process? Will the multiplication of red corpuscles continue so that men
may become acclimatised much higher? There is evidence enough to show
that they may exist comfortably enough, eating and digesting hearty
meals and retaining a feeling of vitality and energy up to 23,000 feet.
It may be that, after two or three days quietly spent at this height,
the body would sufficiently adjust itself to endure the still greater
difference from normal atmospheric pressure 6,000 feet higher. At all
events, a practical test can alone provide the proof in such a case.
Experiments carried out in a laboratory by putting a man into a sealed
chamber and reducing the pressure say to half an atmosphere, valuable as
they may be when related to the experiences of airmen, can establish
nothing for mountaineers; for they leave out of account the
all-important physiological factor of acclimatisation. But in any case
it is to be expected that efforts above 23,000 feet will be more
exhausting than those at lower elevations; and it may well be that the
nature of the ground will turn the scale against the climber. For him it
is all important that he should be able to breathe regularly, the demand
upon his lungs along the final arête cannot fail to be a terrible
strain, and anything like a tussle up some steep obstacle which would
interfere with the regularity of his breathing might prove to be an
ordeal beyond his strength.

As a way out of these difficulties of breathing, the use of oxygen has
often been recommended and experiments were made by Dr. Kellas,[14]
which will be continued in 1922.

  [14] See _Geographical Journal._

Even so there will remain the difficulty of establishing one or perhaps
two camps above Chang La (23,000 feet). It is by no means certain that
any place exists above this point on which tents could be pitched.
Perhaps the party will manage without tents, but no great economy of
weight will be effected that way; those who sleep out at an elevation of
25,000 or 26,000 feet will have to be bountifully provided with warm
things. Probably about fifteen, or at least twelve loads will have to be
carried up from Chang La. It is not expected that oxygen will be
available for this purpose, and the task, whatever organisation is
provided, will be severe, possibly beyond the limits of human strength.

Further, another sort of difficulty will jeopardise the chances of
success. It might be possible for two men to struggle somehow to the
summit, disregarding every other consideration. It is a different matter
to climb the mountain as mountaineers would have it climbed. Principles,
time-honoured in the Alpine Club, must of course be respected in the
ascent of Mount Everest. The party must keep a margin of safety. It is
not to be a mad enterprise rashly pushed on regardless of danger. The
ill-considered acceptance of any and every risk has no part in the
essence of persevering courage. A mountaineering enterprise may keep
sanity and sound judgment and remain an adventure. And of all principles
by which we hold the first is that of mutual help. What is to be done
for a man who is sick or abnormally exhausted at these high altitudes?
His companions must see to it that he is taken down at the first
opportunity and with an adequate escort; and the obligation is the same
whether he be Sahib or coolie; if we ask a man to carry our loads up the
mountain we must care for his welfare at need. It may be taken for
granted that such need will arise and will interfere very seriously with
any organisation however ingeniously and carefully it may be arranged.

                     *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: MOUNT EVEREST
from the 20,000 foot camp--wind blowing snow off the mountain.]

In all it may be said that one factor beyond all others is required for
success. Too many chances are against the climbers; too many
contingencies may turn against them. Anything like a breakdown of the
transport will be fatal; soft snow on the mountain will be an
impregnable defence; a big wind will send back the strongest; even so
small a matter as a boot fitting a shade too tight may endanger one
man's foot and involve the whole party in retreat. The climbers must
have above all things, if they are to win through, good fortune, and the
greatest good fortune of all for mountaineers, some constant spirit of
kindness in Mount Everest itself, the forgetfulness for long enough of
its more cruel moods; for we must remember that the highest of mountains
is capable of severity, a severity so awful and so fatal that the wiser
sort of men do well to think and tremble even on the threshold of their
high endeavour.

                              NATURAL HISTORY

                           BY A. F. R. WOLLASTON

                               CHAPTER XVIII


By a liberal interpretation of the expression "Mount Everest" we
considered it necessary to explore the surrounding country as far as a
hundred miles or more from the mountain, East, North and South; in all
directions, that is, excepting toward the forbidden territory of Nepal.
So it happened one day in July that Major Morshead and I, already nearly
fifty miles from Everest, set out in a South-westerly direction, he
anxious to add a few hundred square miles of new country to his map, and
I intent on animals and plants. Our way lay across the Tingri Plain to
Langkor, both names famous in the annals of Tibetan Buddhism. The
following story was told us by an old monk in the monastery at

Many generations ago there was born in the Indian village of Pulahari a
child named Tamba Sangay. When he grew into a youth he became restless
and dissatisfied with his native place, so he went to visit the Lord
Buddha and asked him what he should do. The Lord Buddha told him that he
must take a stone and throw it far, and where the stone fell there he
should spend his life. So Tamba Sangay took a rounded stone and threw it
far, so that no one saw where it fell. Many months he sought in vain
until he passed over the Hills into Tibet, and there he came to a place
where, although it was winter, was a large black space bare of snow.
The people told him that the cattle walked round and round in that space
to keep it clear from snow, and in the middle of it was a rounded stone.
So Tamba Sangay knew that the stone was his, and there he made a cell
and dwelt until he was taken on wings to Heaven. And the place is called
Langkor, which means "the cattle go round," to this day. The people for
many miles about had heard the stone as it came flying over the Hills
from India; it made a whistling sound like _Ting_, so the country came
to be called Tingri, the Hill of the Ting.

We visited the Langkor monastery and saw the casket in which the stone
of Tamba Sangay is kept, only to be opened once a year by a high
dignitary from Lhasa. Close by was a fair-sized river, the bridge over
which had been carried away by a recent flood. The greater part of the
population was busily engaged in repairing the bridge, to the
accompaniment at frequent intervals of hideous blasts on a large
conch-shell: this, we were told, was to keep the rain away and stop the
floods. Rain fell heavily in spite of the noise, but the bridge was
finished before nightfall.

On the following day we had a long pull of many miles up to the Thung
La, a pass of 18,000 feet, from which we had hoped for fine views over
the surrounding country. A driving storm of snow blotted out the views
and covered the ground, so that nothing was to be seen but little
clumps, a few inches high, of poppies of the most heavenly blue. Going
down the steep track beyond the pass I was stopped by hearing the
unfamiliar note of a bird, so it seemed: the cry was almost exactly that
of a female peregrine when its eyrie has been disturbed, but coming from
a labyrinth of fallen rocks it could not be. Tracking the note from one
rock to another, I came suddenly within a few yards of a large marmot,
which sat up and waved her tail at me; she called again and two
half-grown young ones appeared close by; then all dived into a burrow.
These marmots are larger and far less timid of mankind than the marmots
of the Alps.

A few miles below the pass the valley widened into an almost level
bottom of half a mile or more, with steep bare limestone hills on either
side. Here and there were small hamlets, where the inhabitants used the
water of the river to irrigate their fields of barley and of blazing
golden mustard, whose sweetness scented the valley in the sunshine. Like
most of the butter, which is made in vast quantities in Southern Tibet,
the mustard seed produces oil for monastery lamps. At one place we came
across a spring, almost a fountain, bubbling out of the foothill, of
clearest sparkling mineral water that would be the envy of Bath or of
Marienbad; in a few yards it had become a racing stream a dozen feet in

Four days of leisurely walking down the valley brought us to the village
of Nyenyam, where the whole population, a most unpleasant-looking crowd
of four or five hundred people, came out to stare at us. A few only were
Tibetans; the majority were obviously of Indian origin, calling
themselves Nepalese, but without any of the distinctive features of that
race. We had received some weeks earlier a cordial invitation from the
Jongpens of Nyenyam to visit the place, and we were accordingly much
disappointed to find that no person of authority came out to welcome us.
A Jongpen, it should be said, is an official appointed by the Lhasa
authorities to administer a district and collect revenues: in a place of
any importance, as at Nyenyam, there are often two, the idea being that
one will keep an eye on the other and prevent him from over-enriching
himself. We visited these worthies, whom we found dressed in priceless
Chinese silk gowns and cultivating the extreme fashion of long nails on
all their fingers, in strange contrast to the squalor and dilapidation
of their dwelling, and were annoyed to find that they denied all
knowledge of the invitation. The bearer of the message was produced and
lied manfully in their cause; the name of Nyenyam was not, as it
happened, mentioned in our passport, and we were made to look somewhat
foolish. Finally the Jongpens said (with their tongues in their cheeks
and reminding us of a vulgar song) that they were very glad to see us,
but they hoped that we would go. They then went out of their way to give
us false information about the local passes and made our prolonged stay
in the place impossible by discouraging the traders from dealing with

  [15] In fairness it must be said that this was the only occasion on
       which we met with anything but help and civility from Tibetan

Nyenyam, though more squalid and evil-smelling than any place in my
experience, is of some importance as being the last Tibetan town before
the frontier of Nepal is reached. It is well placed on a level terrace
above the junction of the Pö Chu with an almost equally big river
flowing from the glaciers of the great mountain mass of Gosainthan.
Immediately below the town the river enters the stupendous gorge that
cuts through the heart of the Himalaya to the more open country of
Nepal, 8,000 feet below. To the West of Nyenyam rises a great range of
mountains culminating in the beautiful peaks of Gosainthan, which we had
hoped to visit, and somewhere to the East lay the mysterious sacred
mountain of Lapche Kang. Our friends the Jongpens assured us that there
was no direct route to Lapche, that we must go back the way by which we
had come, and so on; but we were weary of their obstructions and made up
our minds to find a way to the holy places.

So far our transport animals had been the yak, or the cross-bred ox-yak,
a stronger beast; we were now going through country where only coolies
could carry loads. We retraced our steps a few miles up the valley to a
village ruled over by a friendly woman, the widow of the late headman.
True, she demanded for the coolies an exorbitant wage, which we cut down
by about a half, but she pressed into our service every able-bodied
person in the neighbourhood, young and old, men and women. They have a
fair and simple way of apportioning the loads. All Tibetans, men and
women alike, wear long rope-soled boots with woollen cloth tops
extending toward the knee, where they are secured by garters, long
strips of narrow woven cloth. When all the loads are ready, each person
takes off one garter and gives it to the headman, who shuffles them well
and in his turn hands them over to some neutral person who knows not the
ownership of the garters. He lays one on the top of each load, and whose
garter it is must carry the load without any further talk. It is amusing
to watch the excitement in their faces as the garters are dealt out, and
to hear the shrieks of delight of the lucky ones and the groans of the
less fortunate. It makes one feel weak and ashamed to see a small girl
of apparently no more than fourteen years shouldering a huge tent or an
unwieldy box, until one remembers that they begin to carry almost as
soon as they can walk and are accustomed to far heavier loads than ever
they carry for us.

Our path led us up a steep side-valley from the Pö Chu, ascending over a
vast moraine to the foot of a small glacier about two miles in length.
Here I saw a rare sight: a Lämmergeier (bearded vulture) came sailing
down in wide circles and settled on the ice barely a hundred paces from
us, where he began to peck at something--a dead hare perhaps, but it was
impossible to see or to approach nearer over the crevasses. The
Lämmergeier, vulture though it is, is one of the noblest birds in flight
that may be seen: hardly a day passes in the high mountains without one
or more swooping down to look at you, sometimes so near that you can see
his beard and gleaming eye; but to see one on the ground is rare indeed.
The long-tailed aeroplane at a very great height resembles the
Lämmergeier more than any other bird.

We struggled up the glacier, inches deep in soft new snow, crossed
crevasses by means of rotten planks which gravely offended our
mountaineering sense, and came through dense fog to our pass at its
head. Here began the sacred mountain of Lapche Kang, and on the rocks
beside the pass, and on many of the pinnacles high up above the pass as
well, were cairns of stones supporting little reed-stemmed flags of
prayers. Some of our party had brought up from below such little flags,
which they planted where their fancy prompted. As we went down on the
other side we came to countless little "chortens," miniature temples,
and, where the ground was level for a space, to long walls of stones,
each one inscribed with the universal Buddhist prayer OM MANI PADME HUM.

Yaks are most satisfactory beasts of burden; if their pace is slow--it
is seldom more than two miles an hour--they go with hardly a halt,
cropping a tuft of grass here and there, until daylight fails. But the
Tibetan coolie is of quite another nature; he (or she) starts off gaily
enough in the morning, but very soon he is glad to stop for a gossip or
to alter the trim of his load, and then it is time to drink tea, and
again at every convenient halting-place more tea, not the liquid that we
are accustomed to drink, but a curious mixture of powdered brick-tea,
salt, soda and butter, of a better taste than one would suppose. So on
this occasion it was long after noon when we had crossed the pass, and
when the day began to fade in a drenching cloud of rain, the Tibetans
found shelter in some caves, and persuaded us to camp. An uneven space
among rocks just held our tents; we dined off the fragrant smoke of
green rhododendron and soaking juniper, and we slept (if at all) to the
roar of boulders rolling in the torrent-bed a few feet from where we

But it was well that we had not stumbled on in the dark. In the morning
light we walked over grassy "alps" still yellow with sweet-scented
primulas, and the steep sides of the narrowing valley below were bright
with roses, pink and white spiræas, yellow berberis and many other
flowers. Soon it became evident that we were approaching a place of more
than ordinary holiness; every stone had its prayer-flag, and the tops of
trees, which began to appear here, were also decorated. Great boulders
were defaced with the familiar words engraven on them in letters many
feet in height. In a little while we came to a small wooden hut filled
from floor to roof with thousands of little flags brought there by
pilgrims; the posts and lintel of the door were smeared with dabs of
butter, and the crevices of the walls were filled with little bunches of
fresh-cut flowers. Outside was a rude altar made of stones from the
river-bed, where a Lama was burning incense and chanting prayers.

[Illustration: TEMPLE AT LAPCHE KANG.]

We passed through the village, a tiny hamlet of a dozen houses, and came
to the celebrated temple of Lapche. A square stone wall, about 60 yards
each way, on the inner side of which are sheds to shelter pilgrims,
encloses a roughly paved courtyard where stands the temple, a plain
square building of stone with a pagoda-like roof surmounted by a
burnished copper ornament. There is nothing remarkable about the temple
excepting the hundred and more prayer wheels set in the wall at a
convenient height for the pilgrims to turn as they walk round the
building. Inside are countless Buddhas, the usual smell of smoky
butter-lamps, and an effigy of the saint. The whole place is dirty and
dishevelled, in the supposed care of one old woman and a monk, and
nobody would believe that this is one of the most famous places in the
country and that every year hundreds of Buddhists from India and from
all parts of Tibet make pilgrimage to it.

Mila Respa, poet and saint and (it is said) a Tibetan incarnation of
Buddha, spent his earthly life in this mountain valley, living under
rocks and in caves, where the faithful may see his footprints even now.
He seems to have been not lacking in a sense of humour. He was walking
with a disciple on the mountain one day, when they found an old yak's
horn lying in the path. Mila Respa told the disciple to pick it up and
take it with him. The disciple refused, saying that it was useless, and
passed on without noticing that the saint himself had picked up the horn
and put it under his cloak. Soon afterwards a mighty storm descended on
them--whether or not it was caused by the saint is not known. He took
the horn from under his cloak and crept inside it. "Now," said he, when
he was safely sheltered from the rain, "you see that nothing in the
world is useless."

We stayed for two days at Lapche Kang, picking flowers and enjoying the
beauty of the place, in spite of the clouds which swept up from the
South and filled the valley from early morning onwards. To a naturalist
it was a tantalizing place; there were many unfamiliar birds that we had
not seen in Tibet, but in such a sacred place I dared not offend the
people by taking life, and I even had some qualms in catching
butterflies. One of the prettiest sights I saw was a wall-creeper, like
a big crimson-winged moth, fluttering over the temple buildings in
search for insects.

Having found Lapche Kang, where no European had before penetrated, and
having placed it on the map, our next object was to go over the ranges
Eastward to the Rongshar Valley, the head of which had been visited by
members of the Expedition a few weeks earlier. This was accomplished in
two long days of rather confused climbing over two passes of about
17,000 feet, crossing sundry glaciers and stumbling over moraines, and
nearly always in an impenetrable fog. Our views of mountains were none
at all, but the beauty of the flowers at our feet was almost
compensation for that. Among many stand out two in particular, both of
them primulas. One was ivory-white, about the bigness of a cowslip, with
wide open bells and the most delicate primrose scent: the other carried
from four to six bells, each as big as a lady's thimble, of deep azure
blue and lined inside with frosted silver.[16]

  [16] Both of these are new species; the former has been described as
       _Primula Buryana_, the latter as _P. Wollastonii_.

As we went down the last steep slope into the Rongshar Valley, the
clouds parted for a few moments, and across the valley and incredibly
high above our heads appeared the summit of Gauri-Sankar,[17] one of the
most beautiful of Himalayan peaks, blazing in the afternoon sun. It was
a glorious vision, but it rather added to our regret for the views of
peaks that we might have seen. The next morning at daybreak the whole
mountain was clear from its foot in the Rongshar River (10,000 feet) up
through woods of pine and birch, to rhododendrons and rocks, and so by a
knife-edged ridge of ice to its glistening summit. It recalled to me the
Bietsch-horn more than any other Alpine peak, a Bietsch-horn on the
giant scale and seemingly impassable to man.

  [17] Gauri-Sankar (23,440 ft.) was for many years confused with Mount
       Everest, which is still misnamed Gauri-Sankar in German maps.

[Illustration: GAURI-SANKAR.]

The valley of the Rongshar, like the Nyenyam and other valleys we had
visited, though within the Tibetan border, is really more Nepalese in
character. The climate is much damper than in Tibet, as one can see by
the wisps of lichen on the trees and the greenness of the vegetation far
up the mountain sides, especially at this season of monsoon, when the
South wind blows dense clouds of drenching moisture through the gorges.
Like those valleys the Rongshar is sacred, which is inconvenient when
the question of food supply is pressing. The people had cattle and
flocks of goats; they would sell us an ox or a goat, but we must not
kill it within the valley, or ill-luck would come to them. They were a
friendly and good-tempered people, much given to religion. In many
places we had seen prayer wheels worked by water, but here for the first
time we saw one driven by the wind. Though it does not do much work at
night, it probably steals a march on the water wheels in winter, when
the streams are frozen.

We walked up the valley of Rongshar, which in July should be called the
Valley of Roses; on all sides were bushes, trees almost, of the deep red
single rose in bloom, and the air was filled with the scent of them.
After a journey of about 150 miles through unknown country we came to
the village of Tazang, which had been visited by some of us before.
Thence over the Phüse La (the Pass of Small Rats) we came into real
Tibet again, and so in a few days to the Eastern side of Mount Everest.

                                CHAPTER XIX

                           NATURAL HISTORY NOTES

To a naturalist Tibet offers considerable difficulties: it is true that
in some places animals are so tame that they will almost eat out of your
hand; for instance, in the Rongbuk Valley the burhel (wild sheep) come
to the cells of the hermits for food, and in every village the ravens
and rock-doves are as fearless as the sparrows in London. But against
this tameness must be set the Buddhist religion, which forbids the
people from taking life, so that, whereas in most countries the native
children are the best friends of the naturalist, in Tibet we got no help
from them whatever. Also, in order to avoid giving possible offence, we
were careful to refrain from shooting in the neighbourhood of
monasteries and villages, and that was a very severe drawback, as birds
congregated principally about the cultivated lands near villages.
Another difficulty we found was in catching small mammals, which showed
the greatest reluctance to enter our traps, whatever the bait might be.
One species only, a vole (_Phaiomys leucurus_), was trapped; all the
others were shot, and that involved a considerable expenditure of time
in waiting motionless beside burrows. In spite of these disadvantages we
made considerable collections of mammals and birds, and we brought back
a large number of dried plants and seeds, many of which it is hoped will
live in the gardens of this country.

[Illustration: LOWER KAMA-CHU.]

Crossing over the Jelep La from Sikkim into Tibet in the latter part of
May we found the country at 12,000 feet and upwards at the height of
spring. The open level spaces were carpeted with a dark purple and
yellow primula (_P. gammieana_), a delicate little yellow flower
(_Lloydia tibetica_) and many saxifrages. The steep hillsides were
ablaze with the flowers of the large rhododendrons (_R. thomsoni_, _R.
falconeri_, _R. aucklandi_) and the smaller _Rhododendron
campylocarpum_, an almost infinite variety of colours.[18] A descent
through woods of pines, oaks and walnuts brought us to the picturesque
village of Richengong, in the Chumbi Valley, where we found
house-martins nesting under the eaves of the houses. Following up the
Ammo Chu, in its lower course between 9,000 and 12,000 feet, we found
the valley gay with pink and white spiræas and cotoneasters, red and
white roses, yellow berberis, a fragrant white-flowered bog-myrtle,
anemones and white clematis. Dippers, wagtails and the white-capped
redstart were the commonest birds along the river-banks. From Yatung we
made an excursion of a few miles up the Kambu Valley, and there found a
very beautiful Enkianthus (_Enkianthus himalaicus_), a small tree about
15 feet high, with clusters of pink and white flowers; in the autumn the
leaves turn to a deep copper red.

  [18] We marked many of the best-flowering specimens with the
       intention of collecting their seeds on our return in the autumn.
       Unfortunately when we came over the Jelep La in October it was
       in a heavy snowstorm which made collecting impossible.

At about 11,000 feet is a level terrace, the plain of Lingmatang, where
the stream meanders for two or three miles through a lovely meadow
covered in the spring with a tiny pink primula (_P. minutissima_): it
looks a perfect trout stream, but what fish there are (_Schizopygopsis
stoliczae_) are small and few in number.

Between 11,000 and 13,000 feet you ascend through mixed woods of pine,
larch, birch and juniper with an undergrowth of rhododendrons and
mountain ash. The larches here have a much less formal habit of growth
than those of this country, and in the autumn they turn to a brilliant
golden colour. The berries of the mountain ash, when ripe, are white and
very conspicuous. At this altitude _Rhododendron cinnabarinum_ reaches
its best growth, in bushes of from 8 to 10 feet in height, and the
flowers have a very wide range of colour. In the woods hereabouts may
often be heard and sometimes seen the blood pheasant, and here lives
also--but we did not see it--the Tibetan stag.

At about 13,000 feet at the end of May you find a yellow primula
covering the ground more thickly than cowslips in this country; the air
is laden with the scent of it, and growing with it is a pretty little
heath-like flower (_Cassiope fastigiata_) with snow-white bells. Here
and there is seen the large blue poppy (_Meconopsis_ sp.) and a white
anemone with five or six flowers on one stem. Soon the trees get
scantier and scantier, pines disappear altogether and then birches and
willows and junipers, until only dwarf rhododendrons (_R. setosum_) are
left, covering the hillsides like purple heather.

In a few miles the country changes in character completely, and you come
out on to the open plain of Phari. Here at 14,000 feet we saw the common
cuckoo sitting on a telegraph wire and calling vigorously. This is Tibet
proper, and henceforward you may travel for scores of miles and hardly
see any plant more than a few inches high. In some places a little
trumpet-shaped purple flower (_Incarvillea younghusbandii_) is fairly
common, it lies prone on the sand with its leaves usually buried out of
sight; and as we went Westward we found a dwarf blue iris (_I.
tenuifolia_). Animals are few and far between: the Kiang, the wild ass
of Tibet, is occasionally seen in small parties; they are very
conspicuous on the open plains in full daylight, but almost invisible at
dusk. The Tibetan gazelle is fairly numerous, and it is not uncommon to
see one or two in company with a flock of native sheep and taking no
notice of the shepherd, but when a stranger tries to approach they are
off like a flash. Another animal of the plains is the Tibetan antelope
(_Pantholops_), which is found in large numbers a little to the North of
the region we visited, but the only signs of it we saw were the horns
used as supporting prongs for the long muzzle-loading guns of the
Tibetans. The Tibetan antelope was probably the Unicorn described by the
French priest Huc in 1845.

The only mammals that are commonly seen on the plains are the small
mouse-hares or pikas (_Ochotona_), which live in colonies on the less
stony parts of the plain, where their burrows often caused our ponies to
stumble; they scurry off to their holes at your approach, but if you
wait a few moments you will see heads peeping out at you from all sides.
These engaging little creatures have been called "Whistling Hares," but
of the three species which we found none was ever heard to utter a sound
of any kind. The Tibetan name for them is Phüse. It is interesting to
record that from one specimen I took three fleas of two species, both of
them new to science.

Birds are few on these stony wastes, larks, wheatears and snow-finches
being the commonest. Elwes' shore-lark was found feeding young birds at
the beginning of June, when the ground was not yet free from snow, and
the song of the Tibetan skylark, remarkably like that of our own
skylark, was heard over every patch of native cultivation.

A small spiny lizard (_Phrynocephalus theobaldi_) is common on the
plains and on the lower hills up to 17,000 feet; it lives in shallow
burrows on the sand and under stones.

Rising out of the plain North of the Himalayas are ranges of rounded
limestone hills, 18,000 to 19,000 feet high, running roughly East and
West. The hills between Phari and Khamba Dzong are the home of the big
sheep (_Ovis hodgsoni_), which are occasionally seen in small companies.
There are many ranges to the West of Khamba Dzong, apparently well
suited to this animal, but it was never seen. On the slopes of these
hills are found partridges (_Perdix hodgsoniæ_), and in the ravines are
seen Alpine choughs, rock-doves (_Columba rupestris_) and crag-martins.
Once or twice at night we heard the shriek of the great eagle-owl, but
the bird was not seen.

At rare intervals on these plains one meets with small rivers,
tributaries of the Arun River; along their banks is usually more grass
than elsewhere, and here the wandering Tibetan herdsmen bring their yaks
to graze. The wild yak is not found anywhere in this region. It might be
supposed that so hairy an animal as the yak would become dirty and
unkempt. Actually they are among the cleanest of creatures, and they may
often be seen scraping holes in soft banks where they roll and kick and
comb themselves into silky condition. The usual colour of the
domesticated yak is black, more rarely a yellowish brown. A common
variety has a white face and white tail. The calves are born in the
spring, late April or early May.

Here and there the rivers overflow their banks and form lakes or meres,
which in the summer are the haunt of innumerable wild-fowl: bar-headed
geese and redshanks nest here, families of ruddy shelducks (the Brahminy
duck of India) and garganey teal are seen swimming on the pools.
Overhead fly sand-martins, brown-headed gulls, common terns and
white-tailed eagles. Near one of these lakes one day I watched at close
distance a red fox stalking a pair of bar-headed geese, a most
interesting sight, and had the satisfaction of saving the birds by
firing a shot in the air with my small collecting gun just as the fox
was about to pounce on his intended victim.

Tinki Dzong is a veritable bird sanctuary. The Dzong itself is a
rambling fort covering a dozen or so of acres, and about its walls nest
hundreds of birds--ravens, magpies, red-billed choughs, tree-sparrows,
hoopoes, Indian redstarts, Hodgson's pied wagtails and rock-doves. In
the shallow pool outside the Dzong were swimming bar-headed geese and
ruddy shelducks, with families of young birds, all as tame as domestic
poultry. A pair of white storks was seen here in June, but they did not
appear to be breeding. In the autumn the lakes in this neighbourhood are
the resort of large packs of wigeon, gadwall and pochard. The Jongpen
explained to us that it was the particular wish of the Dalai Lama that
no birds should be molested here, and for several years two lamas lived
at Tinki, whose special business it was to protect the birds.


Crossing over a pass of about 17,000 feet (Tinki La), the slopes gay
with a little purple and white daphne (_Stellera_), said by the natives
to be poisonous to animals, we came to a plain of a different character,
miles of blown sand heaped here and there into enormous dunes, on which
grows a yellow-flowering gorse. Here, near Chushar, we first met with
rose-finches (Severtzoff's and Przjewalsk's) and the brown ground-chough
(_Podoces humilis_): the last-named is a remarkable-looking bird, which
progresses by a series of apparently top-heavy bounds, at the end of
which it turns round to steady itself; in the middle of June it was
feeding its young in nests at the bottom of deep holes in sand or old
mud walls.

Following up the valley of the Bhong-chu we crossed the river by a stone
bridge near Shekar Dzong. Here we found a colony of white-rumped swifts
nesting high up in cliffs and ruddy shelducks nesting in holes among the
loose boulders below. Occasionally we saw a pair of black-necked cranes,
which are said by the natives to breed near lakes a little to the North,
but we had no opportunity of visiting them. The slopes of the hills
facing South were covered with a very pretty shrub (_Sophora_) with blue
and white flowers and delicate silvery grey leaves, and among the loose
stones a small clematis (_C. orientalis_) was just beginning to appear.
Groups of small trees, like a sea buckthorn, growing 15 to 20 feet high,
indicate a gradual change in the climate as you go Westwards. Here also
for the first time we began to find a few butterflies, of the genera
_Lycæna_ and _Colias_.

At Tingri we found ourselves in a large plain about 20 miles long by 12
wide; a large part of the plain is saturated with soda and is almost
uninhabited by bird or beast. In our three weeks' stay at Tingri we
collected several mammals, including a new subspecies of hamster
(_Cricetulus alticola tibetanus_) and a number of birds. This was the
only place where we ever received any natural history specimen from a
Tibetan. A woman came into our camp one day and, after making certain
that she was not observed by any of the villagers, produced from a sack
a well-worn domestic cat's skin stuffed with grass and a freshly killed
stoat (_Mustela longstaffi_). The skin of the stoat is highly prized by
the Tibetans, who say that it has the property of restoring faded
turquoises to their former beauty. About the houses of the village were
nesting tree-sparrows, hoopoes, rock-doves and ravens, the latter so
tame that they hardly troubled to get out of the way of passers-by. In a
tower of the old fort lived a pair of the Eastern little owl (_Athene
bactriana_), which appeared to live principally on voles. On the plain
the commonest birds were the long-billed calandra lark, Brook's
short-toed lark, the Tibetan skylark, and Elwes' shore-lark, all of
which were found with eggs, probably the second brood of the season, at
the beginning of July. The nest of the yellow-headed wagtail, rare at
Tingri, was found with eggs, and Blanford's snow-finch was found feeding
its young more than 2 feet down the burrow of a pika (_Ochotona
curzoniæ_). The common tern and the greater sand-plover nested on the
shingly islands in the river.

Plants at Tingri were few and inconspicuous: a small yellow cistus, the
dwarf blue iris, a small aster and a curious hairy, claret-coloured
flower (_Thermopsis_) were the most noticeable. Along the rivers which
traverse the plain is very good grazing for the large flocks of sheep
and goats of the Tibetans; the sheep are small and are grown entirely
for wool. By a simple system of irrigation a large area of land near
Tingri has been brought into cultivation. The principal crop here is
barley, which constitutes the chief food of the people; they also grow a
large radish or small turnip, the young leaves of which are excellent
food. The animals usually used for ploughing are a cross between the yak
and ordinary domestic cattle, called by the Tibetans "zoh"; they are
more powerful than the yak and are excellent transport animals. We found
barley grown in many districts up to 15,000 feet--it does not always
ripen--and in the valley of the Dzakar Chu near its junction with the
Arun River is a small area where wheat is grown at an altitude of about
12,800 feet. Peas are grown in the Arun Valley near Kharta, where they
ripen in September and are pounded into meal for winter food of cattle
as well as of the Tibetans themselves. Mustard is grown in the lower
valleys below 14,000 feet. It is to be regretted that we did not bring
back specimens of these hardy cereals.

During the course of an excursion of about three weeks in July to the
West and South of Tingri we covered a large tract of unexplored country,
much of which is more Nepalese than Tibetan in character. Going over the
Thung La we found numerous butterflies of the genus _Parnassus_, and
near the top of the pass (18,000 feet) we found for the first time the
beautiful little blue _Gentiana am[oe]na_; it is not easy to see until
you are right over it, when it looks like a little square blue china
cup; some of the flowers are as much as an inch in diameter. Here also
was just beginning to flower the dwarf blue poppy (_Meconopsis
horridula_), which grows in a small compact clump, 6 to 8 inches high,
with as many as sixteen flowers and buds on one plant; the flowers are
nearly 2 inches across and of a heavenly blue. In this region, too, we
met for the first time marmots, which live in large colonies at about
16,000 feet; the Himalayan is larger than the Alpine marmot, and it has
a longish tail which it whisks sharply from side to side when it is
alarmed; it has a twittering cry, curiously like that of a bird of prey.

Continuing down the valley of the Pö Chu to Nyenyam, we found several
birds that we had not met hitherto, notably the brown accentor,
Himalayan tree-pipit, Adams's snowfinch, the Himalayan greenfinch and
Tickell's willow-warbler. At about 12,500 feet we first found the
white-backed dove (_Columba leuconota_), which inhabits the deep gorges
of the Himalayas but does not extend out on to the Tibetan plain. Beside
the big torrent that flows South from Gosainthan we saw a pair of that
curious curlew-like bird, the ibis-bill (_Ibidorhynchus struthersi_); it
was evident that they had eggs or young on an island in the torrent, at
about 13,800 feet, but unfortunately it was impossible to reach it.

The most conspicuous flowers in this region were a little bushy cistus
with golden flowers the size of a half-crown, a dwarf rhododendron (_R.
lanatum_) with hairy leaves, a white potentilla with red centre, which
carpeted the drier hillsides, a white gentian (_G. robusta_), and a very
remarkable louse-wort (_Pedicularis megalantha_) with two quite distinct
forms--one purple, the other yellow.

Crossing a pass to the East of Nyenyam, we camped on a level spot
covered densely with white primulas (_P. Buryana_) six to eight inches
high; an inch or two of snow fell during the night, and so white are
these flowers that it was difficult to see them against the snow. Near
the top of another pass we found at about the same altitude, 15,000
feet, another primula (_P. Wollastonii_) with three to six bells on each
stem, the size of a small thimble, of a deep blue colour, and lined
inside with frosted silver. In the moister valleys hereabouts a pretty
pink-flowered polygonum (_P. vacciniifolium_) rambled everywhere over
the rocks and boulders. The Rongshar Valley in July was chiefly notable
for the large gooseberry bushes, 10 to 12 feet high, and for the
profusion of red and white roses. A wall-creeper, the only one we saw in
Tibet, was seen creeping about the temple at Lapche, a few miles to the
West of Rongshar.

From the beginning of August our headquarters were at Kharta in the Arun
Valley, about 20 miles East of Mount Everest, and from there we made
excursions South to the Kama Valley, and West up the Kharta Valley in
the direction of Everest. Kharta itself is curiously situated as regards
climate: the wide dry valley of the Arun narrows abruptly and the river
passes into a deep gorge, where it falls rapidly at a rate of about 200
feet to the mile on its way to Nepal. The heavy monsoon clouds roll up
the gorge to its mouth, where they are cut off sharply, so that within a
mile you may pass from the dry climate of Tibet to the moist, steamy air
of a Nepalese character, with its luxuriant vegetation.

In the immediate neighbourhood of Kharta were several birds we had not
met elsewhere, notably Prince Henry's laughing thrush (_Trochalopterum
henrici_), which is very much venerated as a sacred bird by the
Tibetans, the Central Asian blackbird, almost indistinguishable from our
blackbird except by its voice, the solitary thrush, Indian brown
turtledove, and a meadow-bunting (_Emberiza godlewskii_), probably a
migrant from the North.

Several species of small gentians and two very fragrant onosmas were
flowering in August, and in this place _Clematis orientalis_ attains its
best growth, clambering over the trees and the houses of the natives;
the flower of this clematis has a very wide range of colour from an
apricot yellow to almost black. About the houses are often planted
junipers and poplars, and it was about 10 miles from Kharta that we saw
a poplar nearly 40 feet in girth, which we were informed was five
hundred years old.

A few miles to the south of Kharta is a valley filled with a dozen or so
of small lakes or tarns, inhabited apparently only by tadpoles (_Rana
pleskei_); no fish could be seen. Not far from here was discovered
an interesting toad of a new species (_Cophophryne alticola_).
Growing about the lakes were large beds of purple and yellow iris
(_I. sibirica_, near); the steeper banks were blue with a very striking
campanula (_Cyananthus pedunculatus_); growing out from among the dwarf
rhododendrons in dry places were tall spikes of a claret-coloured
meconopsis, now going to seed--some spikes had as many as twenty
seed-pods; and in the moist places beside the lakes and streams was the
tall yellow primula (_P. elongata_), growing to a height of over 30

Ascending from the lakes to the Chog La we saw a small black rat amongst
the huge boulders of a moraine; it appeared to be a very active little
animal, and though four or five were seen at different times in similar
situations we failed to secure a specimen. Near the Chog La we found the
snow-partridge (_Lerwa lerwa_), and one was shot out of a flock of very
beautiful blue birds--Hodgson's grandala. Another very handsome bird in
this region is the red-breasted rose-finch, which is found up to 18,000
feet. Descending from the Chog La towards the Kama Valley we found at
16,000 feet the giant rhubarb (_Rheum nobile_), and at 14,000 feet we
picked quantities of the wild edible rhubarb. A little lower down we
came to large blue scabius, 3 to 4 feet high, a dark blue monkshood and
quantities of the tall yellow poppy. Rhododendrons, birches and junipers
begin at about 13,500 feet, and at 12,000 feet the junipers are the
predominating tree; they are of immense size, upwards of 20 feet in
girth and from 120 to 150 feet in height and of a very even and perfect
growth. Here we met with the Sikkim black tit (_Parus beavani_), and a
little lower down among the firs (_Abies webbiana_) we came upon
bullfinches (_Pyrrhula erythrocephala_). At 11,000 feet I saw a langur
monkey (_Semnopithecus entellus_), the only monkey I saw in Tibet.
Excepting one solitary bat, the only other mammal we saw in this valley
was another species of pika (_Ochotona roylei nepalensis_), which
appears here to be confined to a zone between the altitudes of 12,000
and 14,000 feet; it is not found in dry valleys.

Among the trees in the lower Kama Valley grow many parnassias, a tall
green fritillaria, a handsome red swertia and a very sweet-scented pink
orchis. We found the tubers (but not the flowers) of an arum, which the
Tibetans collect and make of it a very unpalatable bread. We went down
through large rhododendrons, magnolias, bamboos, alders, sycamores, all
draped in long wisps of lichen (_Usnea_), to the junction of the Kama
with the Arun River, where we found ourselves in the region of the blue
pine. The lower part of the Kama Valley is unpleasantly full of leeches,
and in the course of an excursion to the Popti La (14,000 feet), one of
the principal passes from Tibet to Sikkim, we were astonished to find
them very numerous and active at an altitude of 12,000 feet. At our
low-altitude camps in this valley hundreds of moths were attracted by
the light of our camp fire, and a few came to the dim candle lamps in
our tents. A collector who came here with a proper equipment could not
fail to make a large collection of moths.


Proceeding up the Kharta Valley in the beginning of September we found
that most of the roses and rhododendrons had gone to seed, but some of
the gentians, particularly _Gentiana ornata_, were at their best. Near
our camp at 17,000 feet, along the edges of streams, a very handsome
gentian (_G. nubigena_) with half a dozen flowers growing on a single
stem was very conspicuous, and growing with it was an aromatic little
purple and yellow aster (_A. heterochæta_); in the same place was a
bright yellow senecio (_S. arnicoides_) with shining, glossy leaves. A
curious dark blue dead-nettle (_Dracocephalum speciosum_) was found on
dry ground at the same altitude. In the stony places grew up to 19,000
feet the dwarf blue meconopsis mentioned above, and many saxifrages,
notably a very small white one (_S. umbellulata_). On the steeper rocks
from 16,000 feet to the snow-line (roughly 20,000 feet) were found
edelweiss (_Leontopodium_) of three species. Very noticeable at these
altitudes are the curious saussureas, large composites packed with
cotton wool; if you open one of them on the coldest day, even when it is
covered with snow, you find it quite warm inside, and often a bumble bee
will come buzzing out.

Another very interesting plant at 17,000 to 18,000 feet is a dwarf blue
hairy delphinium (_D. brunnoneanum_) with a strong smell. The Tibetans
dry the flowers of this plant and use them as a preventive against lice.
This has its disadvantages, for when a Tibetan dies his body is
undertaken by the professional butcher, who cuts it up and exposes it on
the hills to be disposed of by the vultures and wolves. A body tainted
with the delphinium flowers is unpalatable to the scavengers, and it is
known that a man must have been wicked in life whose body is rejected by
the vultures and wolves.

The smallest rhododendrons (_R. setosum_ and _R. lepidotum_) disappear
before 19,000 feet, after which vegetation is almost non-existent. A
few grasses and mosses are still found to 20,000 feet, and the highest
plant we found was a small arenaria (_A. musciformis_), which grows in
flat cushions a few inches wide up to 20,100 feet.

Mammals in the upper Kharta Valley are not numerous. A pika of a new
species (_Ochotona wollastoni_) is found from 15,000 to 20,000 feet, and
a new vole (_Phaiomys everesti_) was found at 17,000 feet. The small
black rat previously seen was here too, and an unseen mouse entered our
tents and ate our food at 20,000 feet. Fox and hare were both seen above
18,000 feet, and undoubted tracks of them on the Kharta Glacier at
21,000 feet. Wolves were seen about 19,000 feet, and those tracks seen
in snow at 21,500 feet, which gave rise to so much discussion, were
almost certainly those of a wolf. Burhel were fairly common between
17,000 and 19,000 feet, and we found their droppings on stones at 20,000

Birds of several species were found from 17,000 feet upwards. The
Tibetan snow-partridge (_Tetraogallus tibetanus_) is common in large
parties up to the snow-line. Dippers (_Cinclus cashmirensis_) are found
in the streams up to 17,000 feet, and at about the same altitude lives
in the big boulders of moraines a small and very dark wren, which is
almost certainly new, but only one immature bird was brought home.
Snow-finches and the Eastern alpine accentor appeared to be resident up
to the snow-line. Several migrating birds were seen in September at
17,000 feet and above, among them Temminck's stint, painted snipe,
pin-tailed snipe, house-martin and several pipits. More than once at
night the cry of migrating waders was heard, curlew being unmistakable,
and (I think) bar-tailed godwit.

Our camps at 17,000 feet and at 20,000 feet were visited daily by
Lämmergeier, raven, red-billed chough, alpine chough and black-eared
kite, and I saw twice a hoopoe fly over the Kharta Glacier at about
21,000 feet; a small pale hawk flew overhead at the same time. The
highest bird seen was a Lämmergeier (bearded vulture); when I was
taking photographs from our camp on the Lhakpa La (22,350 feet) I saw
one of these birds come sailing over the top of the North peak of
Everest and apparently high above the peak, probably at an altitude of
not less than 25,000 feet.[19]

  [19] Detailed accounts of the collections made will be found: Mammals,
       _Annals and Magazine of Nat. Hist._, Feb. 1922. Birds, _Ibid._,
       July, 1922. Insects, _Annals and Magazine of Nat. Hist._, May and
       June, 1922.

                                CHAPTER XX


                    BY PROFESSOR NORMAN COLLIE, F.R.S.

                       President of the Alpine Club

The chance of wandering into the wild places of the earth is given to
few. But those who have once visited the Himalaya will never forget
either the magnificence or the beauty of that immense mountain land,
whether it be the valley country that lies between the great
snow-covered ranges and the plains, where wonderful forests, flowers,
clear streams and lesser peaks form a fitting guard to the mighty
snow-peaks that lie beyond, or the great peaks themselves, that can be
seen far away to the North, as one approaches through the foot-hills
that lead up to them. The huge snow-covered giants may be a week's
journey away, they may be far more, yet when seen through the clear air
of the hills, perhaps 100 miles distant, they look immense,
inaccessible, remote and lonely. But as one approaches nearer and nearer
to them, they ever grow more splendid, glistening white in the mid-day
sun, rose-red at dawn, or a golden orange at sunset, with faint
opalescent green shadows that deepen as the daylight fails, till when
night comes they stand far up in the sky, pale and ghostly against the
glittering stars. Those who have been fortunate enough to see these
things, know the fascination they exert. It is the call of the great
spaces and of the great mountains. It is a call that mocks at the song
of the Lotus-eaters of old, it is more insidious than the Siren's call,
and it is a call that, once heard, is never forgotten.

One may be contented and busy with the multitudinous little events of
ordinary civilised life, but a chance phrase or some allusion wakes the
memory of the wild mountain lands, and one feels sick with desire for
the open spaces and the old trails. The dreams of the wanderer are far
more real than most of the happenings that make up the average man's
life. It may be the memory of some desolate peaks set against an angry
sky, or of islands set in summer seas, or some grim fight with deserts
of endless sands, or with tropical forests that have held their growth
for a thousand years; it may be the memory of rushing rivers, or lakes
set in wild woods where the beavers build their houses, or sunsets over
great oceans--the spell binds one, the present does not exist, one is
back again on the old trail--"The Red Gods have called us out, and we
must go."

There is no part of the world where lofty mountains exist at all
comparable with the Himalaya. Elsewhere the highest is Aconcagua, 23,060
feet. But in the Himalaya there are over eighty peaks that tower above
24,000 feet, probably twenty above 26,000 feet, six above 27,000 feet,
and the highest of all, Mount Everest, is 29,141 feet.

The huge range of mountains, of which the Himalaya forms the chief part,
is by far the greatest mountain range in the world. Starting to the
North of Afghanistan, it sweeps Eastwards, without a break, to the
confines of China, over 2,000 miles away. Yet in this vast world of
mountains, very few have been climbed. For many years to come the
Himalaya will provide sport for the mountaineer when most of the other
mountain ranges of the world will have been exhausted, as far as
exploration and new ascents are concerned.

Mountaineering is a sport of which Englishmen should be proud; for they
were the first really to pursue it as a pastime. The Alpine Club was the
first mountaineering club, and if one inquires into the records of
climbing and discovery amongst the mountains of the world, one usually
finds that it was an Englishman who led the way. It is the Englishman's
love of sport for its own sake that has enticed him on to battle with
the dangers and difficulties that are offered with such a lavish hand by
the great mountains.

As a sport, mountaineering is second to none. It is the finest mental
and physical tonic that a man can take. Whether it be the grim
determination of desperate struggles with difficult rocks, or with ice,
or whether it be the sight of range after range of splendid peaks
basking in the sunshine, or of mists half hiding the black precipices,
or the changing fairy colours of a sunrise, or the subtle curves of the
wind-blown snow, all these are good for one. They produce a sane mind in
a sane body. The joy of living becomes a real and a great joy, all is
right with the world, and life flies on golden wings. It is, of course,
true that there are many other beautiful and health-giving places
besides the mountains. The great expanses of the prairie lands, the
forests, the seas set with lonely islands, and in England the downs and
the homely lanes and villages nestling amongst woods, with clear streams
wandering through the pastures where the cattle feed--all these are
good; but the mountains give something more. There things are larger,
man is more alone, one feels that one is much nearer to Nature, one is
not held down by an artificial civilisation. And although the life may
be more strenuous (for Nature can be savage at times, as well as
beautiful), and the struggle may be hard, yet the battle is the more
worth winning.

Nowhere in any mountain land does Nature offer the good things of the
wilds with more prodigal hand than in the Himalaya. On the Southern
slopes, coming down from the great snow-peaks, are the finest river
gorges in the world, wonderful forests of mighty trees, open alps
nestling high up at the head of the valleys, that look out over great
expanses of the lesser ranges; and as one ascends higher and higher, the
views of the great peaks draped in everlasting snow, changing
perpetually as the clouds and mists form and re-form over them, astonish
one by their magnificence.

All things that the Himalaya gives are big things, and now that the
mountaineer has conquered the lesser ranges, he turns to the Himalaya,
where the peaks stand head and shoulders above all others. Up to the
present, however, owing to the difficulties of distance and size, none
of the greater peaks have been climbed.

In climbing the great peaks of the Himalaya, the difficulties are far
greater than those of less lofty ranges. On most of the highest the mere
climbing presents such difficulties that it would be foolish to attempt
their ascent. Thousands of feet of steep rock or ice guard their
summits. Unless climbing above 24,000 feet is moderately easy, and no
strenuous work is required, it could not be accomplished. For in the
rarefied air at high altitudes there is insufficient oxygen to promote
the normal oxidation of bodily tissue. Above 20,000 feet a cubic foot of
air contains less than half the amount of oxygen that it does at
sea-level. As the whole metabolism of the body is kept in working order
by the oxygen supplied through the lungs, the obvious result of high
altitudes is to interfere with the various processes occurring in the
system. The combustion of bodily material is less, the amount of energy
produced is therefore less also, and so capacity for work is diminished
progressively as one ascends.

But that one is able still to work, and work hard, at these altitudes is
evident by the experiences of Dr. Longstaff and Mr. Meade. On Trisul,
23,360 feet, Dr. Longstaff in ten and a half hours ascended from 17,450
feet to the summit. Whilst on Kamet, Mr. Meade's coolies carried a camp
up to 23,600 feet. Dr. Kellas also in 1920 found his ascent on
moderately easy snow above 21,000 feet approximated to 600 feet per
hour. All these climbers were, however, acclimatised to high altitudes.
The effect on anyone making a balloon or aeroplane ascent from sea-level
would be different. Tissaudier in a balloon ascent fainted at 26,500
feet and on regaining consciousness found both his companions dead. Even
on Pike's Peak, 14,109 feet, in the United States, many of those who go
up in the railway suffer from faintness, sickness, breathlessness and
general lassitude. Yet there are places on the earth,--the
Pamirs,--where people live their lives at higher altitudes than Pike's
Peak, without any effects of the diminished pressure being felt. They
are acclimatised; their bodies, being accustomed to their surroundings,
are good working machines.

Although it is true that at high altitudes there is less oxygen to
breathe, the body rapidly protects itself by increasing the number of
red blood corpuscles. These red corpuscles are the carriers of oxygen
from the air to the various parts of the body. An increased number of
carriers means an increase of oxygen to the body. It is just possible,
therefore, that anyone properly acclimatised to, say, 23,000 feet would
be able to ascend the remaining 6,000 feet, to the summit of Mount
Everest. Moreover, if oxygen could be continuously supplied to the
climbers by adventitious aid there is little doubt that 29,000 feet
could be reached.

The physiological difficulties met with in ascending to high altitudes
are doubtless of a very high order, but can to a certain extent be
eliminated by ascending gradually, day after day, so as to allow the
body to accommodate itself by degrees to the new surroundings.

There are, however, other difficulties that must be reckoned with, such
as intense cold and frequent high winds. In any engine where loss of
heat occurs, there is a corresponding loss of available energy. A
bitterly cold wind not only robs one of much heat, but lowers the
vitality as well. At altitudes above 24,000 feet, the temperature is
often arctic, and the thermometer may fall far below zero. On the other
hand, the rays of the sun are intense. The ultra-violet rays, that are
mostly cut off by the air at sea-level, are a real source of danger
where there is only one-third of an atmosphere pressure, as in the case
at the summit of Mount Everest.

The mountaineer also encounters dangers in the Himalaya, on the same
scale as the difficulties. A snow-slide on a British mountain or in the
Alps is an avalanche; often in the Himalaya it becomes almost a
convulsion of nature. The huge ice-fields and glaciers that hang on the
upper slopes of the mountains, when let loose, have not hundreds of feet
to fall, but thousands, and the wind that is thereby produced spreads
with hurricane force over the glaciers below, on to which the main body
of the avalanche has fallen. Sometimes even the broken débris will rush
across a wide glacier.

Rock falls also assume gigantic proportions in the Himalaya. But all
these dangers can be largely avoided by the skilled mountaineer, and he
can choose routes up a mountain where they are not likely to occur. Some
risks, however, must be always run, but they can be reduced to a

On Mount Everest, as we now know, most of these dangers will be less
than on any of the other very high mountains in the Himalaya. Also there
are no difficulties in the approach to Mount Everest from India. In this
respect it differs from such peaks as K^2 and others. As a rule the
highest mountains in the Himalaya always lie far back from the plains in
the main chain, beyond the foot-hills and the intervening ranges. To
approach them from the South in India, weeks of travel are often
necessary, up deep gorges, and over rivers, where it is next to
impossible to take baggage animals. Fortunately the approach to Mount
Everest by the route from Darjeeling to Phari Dzong and thence over an
easy pass into Tibet avoids all these difficulties. In Tibet a high
tableland, averaging 13,000 feet, is reached.

Travelling in Tibet, North of the main range of the Himalaya, is
entirely different from that on the South of the range. Instead of
deep-cut gorges, a rolling, bare, stone-covered country exists, over
which it is easy to take baggage animals, the only obstacle being the
rivers that sometimes are not bridged, and are often swollen by the
melting snow. From Kampa Dzong to Tingri Dzong, the base of operations
for the Expedition, is an open country. Mount Everest lies 40 to 50
miles South of Tingri Dzong; the approach also is without difficulty.

The ascent of Mount Everest was not the primary object of the Expedition
of 1921. A mountain the size of Mount Everest cannot be climbed by
simply getting to it and starting the ascent immediately.

A reasonable route has to be discovered to the summit; which usually can
only be done by a complete reconnaissance of the mountain. This has been
admirably done, and a most magnificent series of photographs has been
brought back by the members of the Expedition.

Mount Everest consists of a huge pyramid, having three main arêtes, the
West, the South-east, and the North-east. It is the last, the North-east
arête, that is obviously the easiest, being snow-covered along most of
its length. Nowhere is it excessively steep, and nowhere are there
precipices of rock to stop the climber. We now know that it can be
reached, by means of a subsidiary ridge, from a col 23,000 feet, the
Chang La, that lies to the north of the North-east arête. This col was
the highest point on Mount Everest reached by the Expedition, and had it
not been for savage weather a considerably higher altitude would have
been attained; for above the col for several thousand feet lay an
unbroken snow-slope.

It was only after much hard work, and over two months' exploration, that
a route to this col was discovered. As is usually the case even with
mountains far smaller than Mount Everest, it can be seen that if a
point, often a long way below the summit, can be reached, not much
farther difficulty will be encountered. But the puzzle is, how can that
point be arrived at from below?

Quite early in the exploration of Mount Everest it was obvious that if
the 23,000-foot col could be reached, most of the physical difficulties
of the approach to the mountain would have been surmounted. But it was
not so obvious how to win to the col. It lies on the South-east at the
head of the main Rongbuk Glacier; it was therefore to this glacier that
the mountaineers, Messrs. Mallory and Bullock, went from Tingri Dzong on
June 23. They spent a month exploring the country to the North and the
West of Mount Everest from the Rongbuk Glacier. Much valuable
information was accumulated. A peak, Ri-Ring, 22,520 feet, was climbed
and a pass on the West ridge of Mount Everest was visited, from which
were seen views of the South-west face of the great mountain and also
many high peaks in Nepal. Unfortunately, however, no feasible route from
the main Rongbuk Glacier to the 23,000-foot col could be found. The next
attempt was made by leaving the Rongbuk Glacier and exploring the Kama
Valley that flows South-east from Mount Everest. Here a most magnificent
ice-world was discovered. For a chain of giant peaks running South-east
from Mount Everest to Makalu, 27,790 feet, guards the whole of the
South-west side of the valley. But as an approach to the North-east
arête of Mount Everest this valley was found to be useless. From the
point of view, however, of exploration it was most fortunate that this
valley was visited. The photographs of Makalu and its satellite
Chomolönzo, N.^{53}, 25,413 feet, are superb; moreover the lower reaches
of the Kama Valley, as it dips down to the deep Arun Valley, was full of
luxuriant vegetation, totally different from the wind-swept wilderness
of Tibet.

The Kharta Valley, that runs North-east from Mount Everest, was the next
exploited, to see whether from it an easy approach to the North-east
arête existed. But by this time the monsoon weather was at its worst.
Days of rain and mist, with snow higher up, succeeded one another,
making climbing impossible. However, towards the end of September a high
camp at 22,500 feet was made at the head of the Kharta Valley. From this
camp the 23,000-foot col, Chang La, was finally reached, by crossing the
head of a glacier that ran to the North. Higher climbing was out of the
question; a furious North-west gale lasting for four days drove the
party off the mountain.

The glacier mentioned above, running to the North, was found to be a
tributary of the main Rongbuk Glacier, and has been named the East
Rongbuk Glacier. There is no doubt that the easiest route to Chang La,
the North Col, will not be all the way round by the Kharta Valley, but
up this East Rongbuk Glacier.

Several other interesting expeditions were carried out by other members
of the party. Colonel Howard Bury visited the group of five great peaks
(25,202 to 26,867 feet), that lie about 15 miles North-west of Mount
Everest. He explored the Kyetrak Glacier to its summit the Khombu La,
also crossed the Phüse La with the Rongshar Valley that drains down into
Nepal. Later he visited another pass on the ridge that connects Mount
Everest with Makalu. From this pass most interesting views of the
country South of Mount Everest were obtained.

Major Wheeler's and Major Morshead's map of the country that lies
between the Himalaya and the Bramapootra River will be of the highest
value, and the results of Dr. Heron's geological survey and
Mr. Wollaston's collections of birds, beasts, insects and flowers, when
they have been thoroughly examined, will certainly yield much new
scientific information. The Expedition therefore has accomplished all
that was expected of it, and has brought back material of the greatest
interest, from a part of the world about which almost nothing was known,
and into which Europeans had never been.

The attempt to ascend Mount Everest itself necessarily had to be
postponed, but this year the Expedition that is being sent out will have
for its primary object the ascent of the mountain. There will be easy
access to the base of the peak from Chöbuk, where a base camp will be
established, and from thence a feasible route on to the summit of the
great North-east arête has been discovered.

Most fortunately this year General Bruce was able to undertake the
leadership of the Expedition. His unrivalled experience of climbing in
the Himalaya and particularly his special capacity for handling
Himalayan people will be invaluable to the Expedition. Not only will he
be able to organise and instil the right spirit into the coolie corps
upon whom so much will depend for ultimate success, but he will also be
able to give much wise advice to the actual climbers who are to take
part in the ascent of the mountain.

Moreover, with his long experience of dealing with Asiatics he can be
trusted to deal with the Tibetan people and officials in such a way as
to retain their present good-will.

As the main object of the Expedition this year is to make a definite
attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest, it has been decided that
the actual climbing party should be as strong as possible. But a limit
to the size of the Expedition was imposed by the necessity of respect
for the feelings of the Tibetans, and a warning had been received from
Lhasa to keep the numbers as small as possible. For, although the
authorities at Lhasa might be friendly enough, and although there might
be no difficulty in obtaining transport from the district round Tingri
Dzong, where animals were plentiful, yet a large party might press
hardly on the inhabitants in the matter of food, such as wheat and
barley. This consideration had therefore to be regarded. Still it was
thought that the district would not be unduly pressed by a party of
twelve Europeans. This number will include a climbing party of six
chosen mountaineers, with two in reserve, making eight in all. With
General Bruce, a doctor (who would also be a naturalist), a photographer
and a painter, the expeditionary force of Europeans will be complete.

Colonel E. L. Strutt, C.M.G., has been chosen as second in command. He
possesses first-rate mountaineering experience, and has been
Vice-President of the Alpine Club.

Mr. Mallory fortunately has been able to accept the invitation of the
Committee to return to Mount Everest again this year. The remainder of
the climbing party are: Captain George Finch, who was unable to join the
Expedition last year on account of his health; Mr. T. H. Somervell, a
surgeon, a member of the Alpine Club and an extremely energetic climber;
Major E. F. Norton (Royal Artillery); and Dr. A. W. Wakefield, renowned
for his strenuous climbing in the Lake District and work in Labrador.
Besides these six mountaineers, Captain Geoffrey Bruce and Captain C.
J. Morris, both of Gurkha Regiments, and able to speak the language of
the Himalayan coolies, will assist General Bruce both in looking after
and encouraging the coolies, and also help in the general arrangement
and organisation of the Expedition as a whole. They also are accustomed
to mountaineering and will act as a reserve to the six climbers.

As doctor and naturalist Dr. T. G. Longstaff has been invited to join
the Expedition. He has made many climbs in the Himalaya and other
mountain regions, including the ascent of Trisul, 23,360 feet. He is not
expected to join the climbing party, but his experience will be of great
benefit to the Expedition generally.

As photographer, Captain J. B. L. Noel has been selected. He had
reconnoitred in the direction of Mount Everest in 1913. For several
years he has made a special study of photography in all its various

But besides photographs of the mountains, the Expedition is anxious to
bring back pictures which would alone be able not only to serve as a
record of the infinitely delicate colouring of that lofty region, but at
the same time would show how probably some of the grandest scenery of
mighty mountains should be represented from the point of view of an

Difficulty was experienced in finding a suitable painter, for painters
capable of doing justice to mountain scenery, and who are also
physically fit to travel amongst them at such altitudes as those round
Mount Everest, are few. We have, therefore, to depend on Mr. Somervell
to paint us pictures.

In the meantime communications were also passing between Colonel Bailey,
the Political Agent in Sikkim, and the Mount Everest Committee regarding
the enlistment of coolies for the special corps, and the engagement of
the very best headman obtainable to look after them. Many of the coolies
who were with the Expedition in 1921 had volunteered to rejoin this
year. But a stronger corps and more carefully selected men were needed.
The Maharaja of Nepal has been asked to allow some of the most famous
Gurkha mountain climbers to join the Expedition, and the Government of
India has been asked to put two or three non-commissioned Gurkha
officers at the service of General Bruce, to assist him generally in
looking after the coolies, and seeing that they were properly fed and
paid, and that they behaved themselves properly.

The members of last year's Expedition on their return were freely and
fully consulted as to equipment and provisioning of this year's party;
the experience gained last year has been therefore made use of in every
way possible. Suggestions for the improvement of the Mummery-Meade tents
have been adopted. Better clothing has been provided for the coolies.
General Bruce has purchased leather coats, waistcoats, socks, jerseys
and boots from the equipment provided for our troops in North Russia
during the war, which will be admirably suited for the majority of the
coolies, whilst for the few chosen for high climbing on Mount Everest
itself, clothing precisely similar to that worn by the British climbers
has been provided.

Captain Farrar and the equipment committee have provided a most varied
and ample supply of provisions which was despatched to India in January.
The Primus-stoves have been overhauled and retested by Captain Finch.

Colonel Jack and Mr. Hinks have carefully examined all the instruments
brought back. The aneroids have been retested, and all broken
instruments replaced.

The photographic outfit has been considerably enlarged, including a
cinematograph instrument. The question of supplying oxygen has been most
thoroughly gone into. All flyers in aeroplanes at high altitudes find
oxygen absolutely necessary. In mountain climbing, however, the almost
insuperable difficulty is the weight of the apparatus supplying the
oxygen. As far as possible, this weight has been reduced to a minimum. A
large number of cylinders, the lightest and smallest obtainable, have
been sent out full of compressed oxygen, and it is hoped that they will
be capable of being used by the party that will attempt to climb to the
summit of Mount Everest. If the climbers are capable of carrying them,
and so getting a continuous supply of oxygen during the whole of the
climb, there is little doubt that climbing up to 29,000 feet is
possible. In aeroplanes considerably higher altitudes have been reached
with the help of oxygen. Moreover, there is this fact in favour of the
climbers on Mount Everest, they will be acclimatised to altitudes of
20,000 feet, whilst anyone in an aeroplane is not so acclimatised,
having risen from sea-level. The climbers will have to accommodate
themselves only to an increased height of 9,000 feet, whilst those in an
aeroplane have to suffer a diminution in pressure equivalent to 29,000

Finally, arrangements have been made with the Press for the publication
of telegrams and photographs from the Expedition. Full information of
the progress of the Expedition will therefore be available for the
public, and it will be possible to follow the climbing party, after they
leave the base camp, which will be somewhere near Chöbuk, as they ascend
the East Rongbuk Glacier to the advanced base under the North col.
Afterwards all the preliminary arrangements will be reported, and
finally there will be an account of the great attempt to reach the

The Expedition will be starting nearly two months earlier than in 1921.
The weather in May and June, before the monsoon breaks in July,
apparently is more or less settled, and so the most must be made of it.
In 1921 from the end of July till September high climbing was
impossible. It is therefore obvious that a determined attempt to climb
Mount Everest should be made before the monsoon sets in.

The ascent from the North col, Changa La, 23,000 feet, to the summit of
Mount Everest, 29,000 feet, is only 6,000 feet, and the distance to
traverse is about 2 miles. As far as can be judged from the numerous
photographs of Mount Everest, the climbing is straightforward with no
insurmountable difficulties in the form of steep rock precipices. There
will be no glaciers overhanging the route which might send down
avalanches, and no excessively steep ice-slopes.

[Illustration: MOUNT EVEREST AT SUNSET from the 20,000 foot camp, Kharta

But the final ascent will test the endurance of the climbers to the
utmost. Many people have found the last 1,000 feet of Mont Blanc more
than they could accomplish. The last 1,000 feet of Mount Everest will
only be conquered by men whose physique is perfect, and who are trained
and acclimatised to the last possible limit, and who have the
determination to struggle on when every fibre of their body is calling
out--Hold! enough!

The struggle will be a great one, but it will be worth the while. To do
some new thing beyond anything that has been previously accomplished,
and not to be dominated by his environment, has made man what he is, and
has raised him above the beasts. He always has been seeking new worlds
to conquer. He has penetrated into the forbidding ice-worlds at the two
poles, and many are the secrets he has wrested from Nature. There
remains yet the highest spot on the world's surface. No doubt he will
win there also, and in the winning will add one more victory over the
guarded secrets of things as they are.

                                APPENDIX I

                                THE SURVEY

                      BY MAJOR H. T. MORSHEAD, D.S.O.

The personnel selected to form the Survey Detachment under my charge
were as follows: Brevet-Major E. O. Wheeler, M.C., R.E., Mr. Lalbir
Singh Thapa, Surveyors Gujjar Singh and Turubaz Khan, Photographer Abdul
Jalil Khan, sixteen khalasis, etc.

The tasks allotted to the detachment were:--

(1) A general survey of the whole unmapped area covered by the
Expedition, on a scale of 1 inch to 4 miles.

(2) A detailed survey of the immediate environs of Mount Everest on the
scale of 1 inch to 1 mile.

(3) A complete revision of the existing ¼-inch map of Sikkim.

With the exception of a few rough notes and sketches by early travellers
and missionaries in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, our first
knowledge of the Southern portion of the Tibetan province of Tsang dated
from the epoch of the Survey of India by trained native explorers in the
middle of the nineteenth century. Thus, much of the area visited by the
Expedition in 1921 was traversed by the explorer Hari Ram during the
course of his two journeys in 1871-2 and 1885 respectively. At that
time, however, foreign surveyors were not regarded with favour in Tibet;
work could only be carried on surreptitiously, and the resulting map
merely consisted of a small-scale route traverse which gave no
indication of the surface features beyond the explorer's actual route.

The first rigorous survey undertaken in the neighbourhood was that
carried out by Captain C. H. D. Ryder, R.E. (now Colonel Ryder, C.I.E.,
D.S.O., Surveyor-General of India), during the Tibet Mission of
1903-1904. During the stay of the Mission at Kampa, the ¼-inch survey
was carried as far West as longitude 88°; while, on the subsequent
return march up the Tsangpo Valley, surveys were extended as far as the
Southern watershed of the great river--the so-called Ladak Range--in
latitude 29° approximately.

West of longitude 88° there thus remained a stretch of unsurveyed
country some 14,000 square miles in area, between the Ladak Range on the
North and the Great Himalaya Range on the South--the latter forming the
Northern frontier of Nepal. The Mount Everest Expedition provided an
opportunity of making good the whole of this area, with the exception of
some 2,000 square miles at the extreme Western end, into which, in view
of the restrictions of the Indian Foreign Department, I did not feel
justified in penetrating.

Fortunately, Colonel Bury's plans contemplated an outward Northerly
journey via Shekar and Tingri to the Western flanks of Mount Everest,
whence the reconnaissance of the mountain was to be carried out from
West to East, parallel to the Northern frontier of Nepal. This rendered
feasible the mapping of the whole unsurveyed area between the Southern
watershed of the Tsangpo and the Great Himalaya Range, as far West as
longitude 85° 30', without in any way infringing the Foreign
Department's orders and restrictions.

For the purpose of the detailed survey of the Mount Everest regions, it
was arranged for my Assistant, Major Wheeler, to make a thorough test of
the Canadian pattern of photo-survey apparatus, of which he had had
previous experience in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. This method of
survey, which had not hitherto been employed in India, is particularly
adapted for use in high mountain regions. Fortunately, the experimental
outfit, which had recently been ordered from England, was delivered just
in time to accompany the Expedition. Wheeler's account of his season's
work will be found in Appendix II.

With a view to carrying out the revision survey of Sikkim while awaiting
the arrival of the members of the Expedition from England, the Survey
Detachment was authorised to assemble at Darjeeling early in April, six
weeks before the date fixed for the start of the Expedition. In spite of
an unusually wet and cloudy spring, the three surveyors made such good
use of their time that 2,500 square miles of country were completed
before the advance of the Expedition necessitated the temporary
abandonment of this work.

After completing the necessary preliminaries with Colonel Bury, I myself
left Darjeeling on May 13, intending to rejoin the remainder of the
Expedition in Sikkim. Continuous rain, however, rendered the latter task
impossible; the Sikkim roads were, moreover, blocked in several places
by severe landslips, so that I was only with difficulty able to reach
Kampa by the 28th. It transpired, however, that there was no cause for
hurry, since the main body of the Expedition, travelling via the Chumbi
Valley, had encountered greater difficulties than mine, and did not
arrive at Kampa until June 5. While awaiting their arrival, I filled in
the time by occupying and re-observing from Colonel Ryder's old
triangulation stations of 1903, overlooking the Kampa Plain.

I had received no news whatever of the Expedition or of the outside
world since leaving Darjeeling three-and-a-half weeks previously.
Consequently the death of my old friend Dr. Kellas on the very day of
their arrival at Kampa came to me as a very severe shock.

The Sikkim revision-survey having been so much hampered by bad weather,
I decided to take only two of the three surveyors with the Expedition
into Tibet, leaving Surveyor Turabaz Khan to complete the comparatively
dry areas of Northern Sikkim before the arrival of the monsoon. This he
succeeded in doing at the cost of considerable personal discomfort,
returning to Darjeeling in July.

It was not until we reached the summit of the Tinki Pass on June 11 that
we found ourselves for the first time looking into unsurveyed country.
From here onwards as far as Tingri the survey was kept up by Lalbir
Singh, whose unflagging energy alone enabled him to keep pace with the
long marches of the Expedition. Each morning he was away with his
plane-table and squad of coolies long before our breakfast was served,
seldom reaching camp before nightfall. The gathering clouds and other
ominous signs of a rapidly approaching monsoon, however, forbade any

On arrival at Tingri, after spending a week in fruitless efforts to
observe the triangulated peaks of the main Himalayan Range through the
dense monsoon clouds which were daily piling up more and more thickly
from the South, I departed on June 26 with Surveyor Gujjar Singh on a
short trip to explore and map the upper valley of the Bhong Chu.

Our first march led across the wide Tingri Plain, past the hot spring
village of Tsamda, to the hamlet of Dokcho, at the Southern extremity of
the Sutso Plain. This plain is covered with the ruins of numerous
villages and watch-towers, the haunt of countless rock-pigeons. They are
all of loftier and more substantial construction than the miserable
hovels which form the scattered hamlets of to-day--indicating,
apparently, the former presence of a large and warlike population. It is
impossible even to hazard a guess at the age of these ruins, which may
have preserved their present state for generations in the comparatively
arid climate of Tibet. Many of the towers are 60 feet or more in height;
roofs and floors have all disappeared, but the massive mud walls in
many instances still bear the marks of the wooden shuttering used in
their erection. This method of construction is unknown, I believe, in
Tibet at the present day.

The next day's march, skirting the Western edge of the plain, brought us
to the village of Phuri, where the river flows in a flat-bottomed,
cultivated valley, between bare brown hills. On the 28th we camped at
Menkhap-to, the highest village in the valley. The headman, a sort of
local "warden of the marches," refused to see me and shut himself up in
his house, guarding his door with three huge mastiffs who effectively
frustrated the efforts of my messengers to establish communications.
Evidently he feared the subsequent results to himself of harbouring
strangers. The remaining villagers were quite friendly, however, and
supplied all my requirements. One man, the owner of a gun, surprised me
by a request for 12-bore cartridges just after I had greatly shocked his
neighbour's Buddhist susceptibilities by killing a butterfly for my
collection! Much snow is reported to fall at Menkhap-to, which is
deserted during the winter months, when the inhabitants descend to
Menkhap-me ("lower Menkhap") and the Sutso Plain.

Above Menkhap-to the road leaves the main valley and proceeds Westwards
over a spur known as the Lungchen La (17,700 feet). This spur commands
an extensive view across the wide, uninhabited Pekhu Plain, with its
three lakes, as far as the snowy range running North-west from the
summit of Gosainthan. On a fine day, the whole panorama can be sketched
in from a couple of fixings on either side of the pass; unfortunately,
at the time of our arrival bad weather had set in, and the whole
snow-range was hidden in cloud. I had therefore to leave Gujjar Singh
camped near the summit of the pass to await a fine day for the
completion of his surveys, and myself returned at the end of the month
to Tingri, where I rejoined Mr. Wollaston, who had been detained at
headquarters by an outbreak of enteric fever amongst the Expedition

Wild game is plentiful in the Upper Bhong Valley. I shot numerous hares,
some ramchakor and a bar-headed goose during the trip; while Gujjar
Singh caught a young, week-old burhel lamb on the summit of the Lungchen
Pass, which, however, died after three weeks in captivity. Gazelle are
common on the Sutso Plain.

By the end of June, Lalbir Singh had finished the inking of his previous
surveys, and was ready for fresh work. Accordingly, after spending a
couple of days in examining his board, and checking the spelling of his
village names with the aid of the local Tibetan officials, I despatched
him on a lengthy programme of work in Pharuk and Kharta. It was three
months before I saw him again.

About this time a messenger arrived from the Dzongpen of Nyenyam,
inviting us to visit his district, which lay four marches to the
Southwest, in the valley of the Po Chu or Bhotia Kosi R. Although
Nyenyam was not one of the districts specifically mentioned in our
passport, Wollaston and I decided, with the concurrence of Colonel Bury,
to avail ourselves of the opportunity of visiting this little-known

Leaving Tingri on July 13, with the interpreter Gyalzen Kazi and
Surveyor Gujjar Singh, who had now returned after completing his work on
the Lungchen Pass, we camped that evening at Langkor, a small village at
the Western edge of the Tingri Plain. A cantilever bridge which spans
the Gya Chu opposite the village had been carried away by floods shortly
before our arrival, and the whole population of the hamlet, male and
female, were busily engaged in its reconstruction, working in relays to
the accompaniment of prolonged and vigorous blasts on a "conch" which a
monk was diligently blowing in order--as it was explained to us--to
avert further rainfall until the bridge should be completed. His efforts
were rewarded with tolerable success, as the rain held off all day in
spite of the threatening storm-clouds which loomed up from the

The most interesting feature of Langkor is an ancient temple, an
appanage of the great Drophung monastery of Lhasa. This building, which
is said to be over 1,000 years old, contains a sacred stone alleged to
have been hurled across the Himalayan Range from India, and to have
pitched in the Tingri Plains. The name Tingri is said to be derived from
the noise ("ting") made by the falling stone. The stone is carefully
preserved inside a wooden box, which is opened with much ceremony on the
first day of the Tibetan new year. The temple, which is managed by a
committee of fifteen civilian monks (nyakchang), also contains a library
of 4,400 books, and an image of the Indian saint Tamba Sanye which is
popularly believed to have grown by itself from the ground _in situ_.

Crossing the Tang La (17,980 feet) in a driving snowstorm, a long march
of 22 miles brought us next day to the bleak village of Tulung, in the
upper valley of the Po Chu. As we descended the Western side of the pass
the snow-clouds gradually dispersed, disclosing glimpses of the
magnificent twin summits of Gosainthan (26,290 feet), 30 miles to the
West. Several of our coolies succumbed to mountain sickness on the pass,
with the result that my bedding and the kitchen box only reached camp at
9 p.m.

On July 15 our road lay for 8 miles along the flat valley of the Po Chu;
the river then turns sharply Southwards, passing for 3 miles through a
gorge of granite and schist. Bushes of wild currant, gooseberry,
berberis and dog-rose here begin to appear, and around the village of
Targyeling, where we camped, were smiling fields of mustard and
buckwheat, in addition to the usual Tibetan crops of barley and dwarf
pea. After a month spent in the bleak Tibetan uplands, it was a relief
to pitch our tents in a homely green field, alongside a rippling brook
lined with familiar ranunculus, cow parsley, forget-me-not, and a
singularly beautiful pale mauve cranesbill, and to feast our eyes on the
glorious purple of the wild thyme which clothed the hillsides in great
patches of colour.

The next day, still following the course of the Po Chu, we reached
Nyenyam, a large and very insanitary village which is known under the
name of Kuti by the Nepalis who constitute the majority of its
inhabitants. These Nepali traders (Newars) have their own Hindu temple
in the village. There is also a Nepalese chauki (court-house) with a
haqim (magistrate) invested with summary powers of jurisdiction over
Nepali subjects; he is specially charged with the settlement of trade
disputes, and with the encouragement of Tibeto-Nepalese trade and

As is customary in all important districts of Tibet, there are here two
Dzongpens, who by a polite fiction are known as "Eastern" and "Western"
(Dzongshar and Dzongnup) respectively. Actually, the functions of the
two Dzongpens are identical; the _raison d'être_ of the double regime
being an attempt to protect the peasants from extortion by the device of
providing two administrators, who, in theory at least, act as a check
upon each other's peculations. At the time of our arrival, those two
worthies were so busy preparing a joint picnic that we had considerable
difficulty in getting their attention.

I spent three days in exploring the neighbourhood of Nyenyam, while
Wollaston was engaged in his botanical and zoological pursuits. Gujjar
Singh, with the plane-table, was detained by bad weather higher up the
valley. Below Nyenyam the river enters a very deep, narrow gorge; pines
and other forest trees begin to appear. The road, which here becomes
impassable for animals, crosses the river four times in 6 miles by
cantilever bridges before reaching the village of Choksum, but I could
find no trace of the portion described by explorer Hari Ram in 1871 as
consisting of slabs of stone 9 to 18 inches wide supported on iron pegs
let into the vertical face of the rock at a height of 1,500 feet above
the river. At Choksum (10,500 feet) the river falls at an average rate
of 500 feet per mile. The Nepal frontier is crossed near Dram village,
some 10 miles further down stream, but owing to the vile state of the
weather, which rendered even the roughest attempts at surveying
impossible, I abandoned all idea of reaching the spot.

On July 20 we retraced our steps 9 miles up the valley to Tashishong,
where we found Dr. Heron encamped, together with Gujjar Singh, whose
work had been hung up for a week by continued cloud and rainfall. Heron
returned Northwards next day, while we followed a rough easterly track
leading over the Lapche Range to the village of the same name in the
valley of the Kang Chu. The weather on this day was atrocious, and our
last pretence of accurate surveying broke down. We were unable to reach
Lapche village by dusk, and spent a somewhat cheerless night on boulders
in drenching rain at 14,600 feet, with no fuel except a few green twigs
of dwarf rhododendron.

Lapche (La-Rimpoche, "precious hill") is sacred as the home and
birthplace of Jetsun Mila Repa, a wandering lama and saint who lived in
Southern Tibet in the eleventh century, and who taught by parables and
songs, some of which have considerable literary merit. The two principal
works ascribed to him are an autobiography, or namtar, and a collection
of tracts called Labum, or the "myriad songs." They are still among the
most popular books in Tibet.[20] His hermit-cell still remains under a
rock on the hillside, and his memory is preserved by an ancient temple
and monastery, the resort of numerous pilgrims, alongside which we
pitched our tents.

  [20] _Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet_, by S. C. Dass, C.I.E., page
       205, footnote by Hon. W. W. Rockhill.

Lapche village is situated on a spur overlooking the junction of two
branches of the Kang stream--the latter being a tributary of the
Rongshar River, which, in turn, joins the Bhotia Kosi River in Nepal.
The extreme dampness of the local climate is indicated by the trailing
streamers of lichen which festoon the trees, and by the pent roofs of
the buildings. The village contains some ten or twelve houses, of which
half are occupied by Tibetans and half by Nepalese subjects
(Sherpas)--each community having its own headman. The inhabitants were
very friendly and pleasant, and gave us a good deal of information. The
village is deserted during the winter months, when the whole population
migrates across the border into Nepal. The Tibetans pay no taxes to
Nepal during their half-yearly sojourn in the lower valley; conversely,
the Nepalis during their summer residence in Lapche are not subject to
Tibetan taxation or to the imposition of ulag (forced labour). The
Tibetans of Lapche pay their taxes in the form of butter direct to the
Lapche monastery, the head lama, or abbot, of which resides at Phuto
Gompa near Nyenyam. The Nepal frontier is some 10 miles below Lapche,
opposite the snow-peak of Karro Pumri. Katmandu can be reached in eight
days, but the track is bad and very little trade passes this way.

Transport arrangements necessitated a day's halt at Lapche, which was
fortunately enlivened by the timely arrival of a large parcel of letters
and newspapers, which Colonel Bury had thoughtfully sent after us from
Tingri--almost the last news of the outside world which we were to
receive for over two months.

From Lapche we proceeded to the Rongshar Valley, crossing the Kangchen
and Kangchung ("big snow" and "little snow") passes. Descending the hill
to Trintang village, where we camped on July 25, the clouds lifted
momentarily, disclosing an amazing view of the superb snow summit of
Gauri-Sankar towering magnificently above us just across the valley.
This mountain, which is called by the Tibetans Chomo Tsering, or Trashi
Tsering, is the westernmost of a group of five very sacred peaks known
collectively as Tsering Tse-nga ("Tsering five peaks"). Unfortunately,
owing to constant clouds, I was unable to identify with certainty the
remaining four peaks of Tingki Shalzang, Miyo Lobzang, Chopen Drinzang
and Tekar Drozang. Owing to the sacred nature of the Rongshar Valley,
the slaughtering of animals is strictly forbidden; the large flocks and
herds of the villagers are only sold for slaughter in the adjoining
districts of Tingri and Nepal, and we were only able to buy a sheep on
promising not to kill it until after quitting the valley.

Trintang village occupies a plateau 1,750 feet above the level of the
river; 1,400 feet below is the village of Tropde, to which the Trintang
residents all descend in winter. Rongshar Dzong, which is situated in
the lower village, has no importance; at the time of our visit the
Dzongpen had gone to his home on leave of absence, leaving his affairs
in the hands of a steward.

A day's halt being necessary in order to collect transport, I took the
opportunity of descending the Rongshar Valley as far as the Nepal
frontier, while Gujjar Singh endeavoured, without much success, to pick
up the threads of his survey by identifying the snowy peaks which
occasionally afforded brief glimpses through rifts in the clouds. The
Rongshar River drops 1,400 feet in 7 miles between Tropde and the Nepal
frontier, which is crossed at an altitude of roughly 9,000 feet.

On July 27 we marched 20 miles up the Rongshar Valley to the village of
Tazang (Takpa-Santsam, "limit of birch trees"), which, as its name
implies, is situated at the extreme upper limit of the forest zone. On
the way we passed the village and monastery of Chuphar, whence a track
leads South-east over the difficult snow-pass of Menlung ("vale of
medicinal herbs") to the villages of Rowaling and Tangpa in the Kangphu
Valley of Nepal.

Tazang had already been visited by Colonel Bury, a month previously. The
local headman was too drunk, on the evening of our arrival, to send out
the necessary messages summoning the village transport-yaks from their
grazing grounds. In consequence, our baggage was only got under weigh at
11 a.m. next morning, and we were compelled to pitch our tents at a
grazing camp (16,500 feet) after only covering 9 miles. The weather
showed signs of improvement in proportion as we receded from the
Himalayan gorges, but dense banks of cloud still obscured all the
hill-tops. An easy march over the Phuse La (17,850 feet) brought us on
the 29th to the bleak village of Kyetrak, situated at the foot of the
great Kyetrak Glacier, on the extreme Southern edge of the Tingri
plain--an area which we had already surveyed six weeks previously.

From Kyetrak we proceeded via the Lamna La to Chöbuk, thence following
the tracks of the Expedition headquarters which Colonel Bury had just
transferred from Tingri to Kharta in the lower Bhong Chu Valley. On
reaching headquarters on August 2, we found Colonel Bury in sole
occupation--Mallory and Bullock having left that very morning on a
reconnaissance of the Eastern approaches to Mount Everest.

The weather during the whole of August was such as to render out-of-door
survey operations impossible. Gujjar Singh was occupied during the month
in adjusting and inking his surveys, while I filled in several days in
making tracings of all work so far completed, after which, for the
remainder of the season, I joined the mountaineers, whose doings are
recorded elsewhere in this book.

On the return journey in October I despatched Gujjar Singh from Gyangkar
Nangpa to complete the remaining portions of the Sikkim revision-survey;
at the same spot I picked up Lalbir Singh, who, after completing his
survey of the Pharuk and Kharta areas, had crossed the Bhong Chu below
Lungdö and worked his way back via Tashirakar and Sar. Travelling via
Kampa and Lachen Valley, we reached Darjeeling on October 16. Tracings
of the new survey were hastily finished and sent to press, with the
result that a complete preliminary ¼-inch map in six colours was
published before the last members of the Expedition had sailed for
England. A ½-inch preliminary sketch-map of the environs of Mount
Everest was also prepared by Major Wheeler at the same time for the use
of the mountaineers in discussing the details of their next year's

The out-turn of work during the Expedition was as follows:--

  ¼-inch revision survey                             4,000 square miles
  ¼-inch original survey                            12,000 square miles
  Detail photo-survey (environs of Mount Everest)      600 square miles

The surveyors all worked splendidly under difficult and trying
conditions. Major Wheeler had probably the hardest time of any member of
the Expedition, and his success in achieving single-handed the mapping
of 600 square miles of some of the most mountainous country in the world
is sufficient proof of his determination and grit. It is difficult for
those who have not actually had the experience to conceive the degree of
mental and physical discomfort which results to the surveyor from
prolonged camping at high altitudes during the monsoon, waiting for the
fine day which never comes. Such was our fate for four months during the
Expedition of 1921, yet on looking back one feels that the results were
well worth while. The discomforts soon fade from recollection; the
pleasures alone remain in one's memory, and there is not one of us but
would gladly repeat our season's experiences, if so required.

                                APPENDIX II

                          THE PHOTOGRAPHIC SURVEY

                       BY MAJOR E. O. WHEELER, M.C.

I had purchased a set of photo-topographical surveying instruments of
the Canadian pattern, on behalf of the Survey of India, while on leave
in 1920. A trial of this method of surveying mountainous country was to
be carried out in Garhwal in 1921; but when Survey of India officers
were asked for to accompany the Mount Everest Expedition, I was detailed
to carry out the trial there. Possibly a word of explanation of the
method used may not be amiss.

The "Canadian" method--if I may call it so; for although it was invented
and has been used elsewhere, it has been far more extensively applied in
Canada than in any other part of the world--may be briefly described as
"plane-tabling by photography." It requires, equally with the
plane-table, an accurate framework, on which to base the detailed
survey; and simply substitutes a small (3-inch vernier) theodolite and
camera for the sight-rule and plane-table. Stations are fixed and
photographs oriented by means of the theodolite; the photographs, which
are taken so as to be as nearly as possible true perspectives, represent
the country as it would be seen by the plane-tabler, and detail on them
may be fixed by intersections or sketched in by eye in exactly the same
way as on the plane-table.

Angles are read and photographs taken in the field; and, if considered
necessary to test exposures or protect photographic plates from
deterioration due to climatic conditions, development of plates is also
carried out there. Otherwise, the map is made wholly in the office,
using either contact prints or enlargements, from the negatives taken in
the field. The latter are usually preferable. The main advantages at
high altitudes over the plane-table are, that a much larger area can be
covered in a given time in the field, that the instruments are more
portable for difficult climbing, that there is no necessity to do
accurate drawing with numbed fingers, and that the draughtsman may see
the country from several points of view at one time. On the other hand,
more equipment is necessary, and--a great disadvantage sometimes, as in
this case--the map does not come into being as one goes along.

After carrying out various preliminary adjustments and tests at the
office of the Trigonometrical Survey at Dehra Dun, I reached Darjeeling
on April 30, and Tingri on June 19, travelling with Expedition
Headquarters via Ph[=a]ri Dzong.

_En route_ Tingri, we had caught glimpses of Everest and the
neighbouring peaks; so that by the time we arrived there, I was able,
with the help of the existing maps and what local information we had
obtained, to decide on the area I would attempt to survey. I say
"attempt," for little was really known then about the geography, and
still less about the weather conditions throughout the summer. As it
turned out in the end, the area had to be much curtailed, and certain
parts surveyed in considerably less detail than I should have liked:
almost wholly on account of the weather. Although it was often fairly
clear at 6 a.m. or so, photographs taken before 8, particularly at the
latter end of the season, were of little use for surveying purposes.

However, at the outset, I had hoped to map, on the scale of 1 inch = 1
mile, the whole area between the Arun Gorge on the East and the R[=a]
Chu on the West: and from the Nep[=a]l-Tibet boundary Northwards for
some 20 miles; i.e. to the point where the various streams, flowing in a
Northerly direction from the high boundary ridge, issue from the
mountains proper into the more rolling foot-hills on the Southern
outskirts of the Tibetan Plateau. This area includes Mount Everest
itself near the centre of its Southern side, Mak[=a]lu and Pk. 25,413 to
the South-east, Pks. 23,800 (Kh[=a]rtaphu), 23,420, and 23,080 to the
North-east and North, and Pks. 25,990 (Gy[=a]chung Kang), 25,202, 25,909
and 26,867 (Cho Oyu) to the North-west; and comprises some 1,000 square
miles of country: a suitable season's work, given reasonably fine
weather. This unfortunately we did not get.

On June 24, the day after Messrs. Mallory and Bullock had started for
the Rongbuk Valley, Dr. Heron and I marched South across the plain to
the village of Sharto, _en route_ Kyetr[=a]k, in the R[=a] Chu Valley,
where I intended to establish my base camp while surveying the
Kyetr[=a]k Glacier and West face of the Cho Oyu--Gyachung K[=a]ng group.
The next day we moved on to Kyetr[=a]k, 1 mile below the snout of the
glacier, and made camp there. This bleak village and the route to it and
over the Phüse La have already been described.

June 26 was fine, so after crossing the R[=a] Chu on local ponies,
ourselves and our ice-axes and rucksacks perched on Tibetan saddles--a
cold and uncomfortable proceeding in the early morning--we ascended the
18,000-foot hill immediately West of the village. Up to 1 p.m. we had
excellent views across and up the Kyetr[=a]k Valley; but only a glimpse
of Gauri Sankar (Chomo Tsering) to the South-west, where heavy clouds
soon began to roll up. Cho Oyu and Pk. 25,909 and their spurs
unfortunately cut out all distant views to the South-east, as they did
everywhere in the upper part of this valley; so that my first view of
Everest was from Tingri a month later. Next day, we started shortly
after daylight for a spur on the East side of the valley;
unfortunately--and this happened in the case of almost every peak I
started for until mid-September--clouds began to roll up, and we were
forced to stop to take the photographs before we had reached a really
good view-point.

Colonel Bury arrived at Kyetr[=a]k shortly after we got back to camp. On
the 28th he and Heron started off early for a flying visit to the
Kyetr[=a]k Glacier and Nangba La; I started later, after getting kit
together, for a camp half-way up the glacier, and about 6 miles from
Kyetr[=a]k. About 2 p.m. I found a comparatively dry spot on shale at
18,000 feet, and pitched my tents there, the last of the coolies
arriving only at 6 p.m. The place was bleak enough, but was as far as I
could get that day, and seemed suitable for two climbs--one on either
side of the glacier.

My equipment consisted of the camera, theodolite, and a small
plane-table--to help in identifying triangulated points--by way of
instruments, which were carried by three coolies who remained with me.
Ten other coolies slept at the base camp at Kyetr[=a]k, and carried
stores up to me or moved the camp, as required; the camp consisted of a
Whymper tent for the three coolies and a Meade for myself; bedding,
food, a Primus stove and tin of kerosene for my own cooking, and yak
dung fuel for the coolies. My servant remained at the base camp and sent
up cooked meat and vegetables; otherwise I cooked for myself.

June 29 and 30 were useless days; but on July 1 the weather cleared a
bit, and after crossing the glacier, I went up a sharp rock shoulder of
Cho Rapzang. The peak was mainly loose granite blocks at a steep angle,
so that progress was slow: it was noon when I reached the top (about
19,500 feet), and as I did so the clouds settled down, and it began to
snow. However, at 4 p.m. it cleared sufficiently for some work to be
done; after that we came down as quickly as possible in another
blinding snowstorm, and reached camp just after dark; I for one very
tired. I found the coolies exceedingly slow in coming down the loose
blocks, I think because their balance was bad--they had to use their
hands far more than I did.

I had a good view of the glacier from here: the East side is very steep
and broken, with several tributary glaciers flowing down from Cho Oyu
and Pk. 25,909, and from a 23,000-foot Peak (not triangulated) to the
North of the latter. The West side, except for Cho Rapzang, round which
the glacier flows, is a snowfield falling more or less gently from a low
ridge running from the pass to the West of Cho Rapzang. The glacier
itself is like many others in this region, moraine covered for 3 or 4
miles above its snout, "pinnacled" for another mile, and finally
practically flat. But this flat portion gives by no means good going;
when frozen it is very irregular and trying to walk over; and when
thawed, is slushy and water soaked. There are two large water channels
in the ice which are unpleasant to cross; these are from 10 to 15 feet
wide and 20 feet deep, and carry a large volume of water in the
afternoon. Crossing without a rope is distinctly dangerous, for although
one can find places easy enough to jump, a slip would be certain death,
for once in the channel it would be quite impossible to get out, or even
to stop oneself on its smooth ice floor and sides.

Cloudy weather then set in; but on the 3rd I got a few photographs from
a shoulder near by, and moved camp 2 or 3 miles farther up the glacier
(at about 18,500 feet). I was in this camp for nine days and only
succeeded in taking two low stations, one on either side of the glacier
and each about 1½ miles from the pass (Nangba La) to Nep[=a]l; but the
valley on the South side, leading down to Khungphu, turns sharply to the
East just below the pass, and little could be seen of the Nepalese side.
Each of these stations I went up twice--to wait all day long the first
time, in each case, for weather which never came. To reach the station
on the East side of the glacier I had the only comparatively difficult
rock climbing which I met with during the course of the Expedition; and
on the way down watched my theodolite coolie, whom I had left behind
exhausted in the morning, tumble off a steep rock arête, theodolite and
all; fortunately he jammed in a crack a few feet below, and was unhurt.
During the day he had started up after us on his own, and had lost his
way in the clouds.

On July 12--another wet day--I moved camp some distance down the main
glacier and up a tributary flowing from Pk. 25,909 and Cho Oyu, and next
day ascended a shoulder whence a good view into the cirque below these
two peaks was obtained--or should have been obtained! But again I sat
till dusk and saw little or nothing. Early the following day, however,
it was fairly clear, so I got my photographs and then moved camp back to
the base at Kyetr[=a]k.

The next three days were spent in moving my base camp to the bridge
across the R[=a] Chu, 6 miles below Kyetr[=a]k; taking a light camp up
to about 18,000 feet on the prominent hill immediately East of the
bridge, climbing the latter, sitting through the usual storms without
doing any work, and returning to the bridge. Time was getting on, and
the weather was still bad, so I then decided to leave my camp at the
bridge and move into Headquarters myself to get developing, etc., up to
date, and have a short rest. I walked into Tingri, with two coolies, on
July 18, and found Colonel Bury there alone: and the Headquarters house
felt very comfortable indeed after a Meade tent, in spite of nightly
pilgrimages from one dry spot to another, as the roof leaked!

Five busy days were spent at Tingri developing and printing; and as the
weather showed little sign of improvement, I decided to go on with
Headquarters to Chöbuk, in the Rongbuk Valley and work on that side, so
as to make sure of completing the most important part, in the vicinity
of Everest, and return to the Kyetr[=a]k Valley if there should be time.
So on the 24th Colonel Bury and I left Tingri and reached Chöbuk on the
25th, where we met Mallory and Bullock, just in from their
reconnaissance of the North and North-west sides of Everest. A talk with
them gave me some idea of the country, and the view from an 18,000-foot
hill above Chöbuk enabled me to make a plan of campaign: far more
extensive, as always, than the weather eventually allowed.

Colonel Bury, Mallory and Bullock had gone on to Kh[=a]rta on July 26;
on the 27th I moved up the right bank of the Rongbuk Valley some 10
miles, to the monastery, above which I took a 20,000-foot station the
next day. The weather was dreadful, but at 6 p.m. I got a round of
photographs, which really turned out very well considering the time of
day at which they were taken: it took me four and a half hours to get up
this peak--fresh snow and scree--and although I had no glissades, only
half an hour to come down.

On the 27th I moved camp to a grassy hollow near the snout of the
glacier--Mallory and Bullock's base--and next day occupied another hill
overlooking the main glacier and valley, and looking up the side valley
on the East, which joins the Dz[=a]kar Chu just below the glacier snout.
The next three days were spent in establishing a light camp on the left
bank of the East branch of the Rongbuk Glacier, about 3 miles from its
snout, and taking a station on its left bank to overlook both the East
and main glaciers.

The Rongbuk Glacier is made up of two large branches, one flowing from
the snow basin immediately below the great North wall of Everest, and
the other, the "West Rongbuk" which joins the main stream about 4 miles
above the snout of the glacier, flowing East in the basin between the
high North-west ridge of Everest and the South-east slopes of Pk. 25,990
(Gy[=a]chung Kang). At one time there was a third branch, the "East
Rongbuk," which must have also joined the main stream, but this has
receded until its snout is now a mile or more East of the main glacier,
and only its torrent pours into a large cave in the latter. The East
Rongbuk itself consists of two branches: one, the more southerly, flows
from the great snow basin (which we eventually crossed to reach the
North Col) between Everest, its North Peak and Col, and Pk. 23,800
(Kh[=a]rtaphu); and the other, which joins the South branch about 2
miles from its snout, from between Pks. 23,800 and 23,420. The former
gives a 20,000-foot pass, very steep on the South side, to the K[=a]ma
Valley; and the latter, an easy pass of about the same height to the
head of one branch of the Kh[=a]rta Valley.

I camped, at about 19,500 feet, on the moraine-covered glacier opposite
the junction of the northerly branch from Pks. 23,800 and 23,420. On the
way up I followed the watercourse between the ice of the Main Rongbuk
Glacier and the scree and conglomerate slopes to the East of it, as far
as the mouth of the East Rongbuk stream (3 miles), which gave good
though boulder-strewn going. Thence a short scramble up "cut-bank" on
the right bank of the East Rongbuk stream to the shelf of an old lateral
moraine of that glacier, and along the latter--excellent going--to near
its snout. The stream is pretty big in the evening; but quite easy to
cross--except for iced rocks--in the early morning: and from there I
followed up a series of lateral moraines on the left bank, to my camp.
It was not till I was coming down that I discovered that the
moraine-covered glacier itself--here covered with shale instead of
boulders and scree as in the case of the main glacier--gave comfortable

A little distance below my camp site, the moraine-covered snout gives
place to pinnacled ice, divided into three sections by two broad, shaly
medial moraines. Either of the latter would be very suitable for a camp,
and would give an excellent route to our 21,500-foot camp below the
Chang La. The latter might, I think, be reached by this route in three
days from the base camp at the snout of the main glacier, camping the
first night at 19,000 feet at the start of the medial moraine, the
second at 20,000 feet on the medial moraine some 2 miles above the
junction of the Northern and Southern branches of the East Rongbuk, and
the third night on snow at 21,500 feet below the North Col. The better
moraine to ascend would require reconnaissance; for the pinnacles
between them are difficult and slow to cross. The valley sides are steep
in the lower reaches of the glacier, but more shaly and gentle on both
branches, above their junction.

August 3 broke clear; and I started up a likely looking peak behind
(South of) camp, which appeared to be on the ridge between the East and
main glaciers. I afterwards found that this was not the case; at the
time I had to stop on a lower point as the clouds settled down. From
here I had a glimpse of a big peak--Mak[=a]lu, I thought--over the pass
at the head of the southerly branch of the glacier: and this gave me the
idea that there must be a comparatively low pass from here to the
K[=a]ma Valley. But clouds prevented me seeing more and studying the
topography more carefully. There were heavy snowstorms on August 4 and
5, but the 6th looked better, and after four hours' most strenuous
step-cutting up and slithering down pinnacles, I crossed the glacier and
ascended a 21,000-foot station on the other side, from which I obtained
good, if cloudy, views of the East Rongbuk Glacier. Snow in the night
and a dull morning made me decide to abandon this area--I could get my
camp no farther up owing to having insufficient warm clothes to camp all
my coolies at this height--and I returned to the base camp, preparatory
to tackling the West side of the Rongbuk Valley. Six hours' easy going
took me to my base camp.

After two days' rest and office work, I crossed the glacier and put a
light camp at about 19,000 feet in a small hanging valley below the
"Finger," a black rock gendarme which is a very prominent landmark on
the left bank of the Rongbuk Valley. On August 11 it snowed heavily, and
I found my bed, in which I spent the day, very hard indeed--the camp
being pitched on large boulders on top of the moraine. On the 12th,
13th, and 14th, I started for the "Finger," the first time by the ridge
immediately above camp, which gave some nice climbing with the rocks
partly snow covered as they were, and the other two days, by a much
quicker but less interesting route up soft snow and scree. Each day the
clouds came down, and although I waited till nearly dark at about 20,500
feet on the ridge, it was not till the third day that I got a round of
indifferent photographs.

Time was getting on, so on the 15th I called my "Finger" station "good
enough" and moved camp up the left bank of the main glacier to a point
on the old lateral moraine, opposite the entrance of the stream from the
East Rongbuk; and the next day round the corner to the West, some
distance up the West Rongbuk Glacier, and about 1,000 feet above it. _En
route_, I tried to get some photographs from the high moraine at the
junction of the West with the main glacier; but again the weather
defeated me, and I got into camp--another uncomfortable one--soaked to
the skin.

I was in this camp for five days; most of them spent huddled under rocks
waiting for the clouds to lift. I had one beautiful day, my only one in
six weeks, and got some very nice photographs of Mount Everest and its
West ridge. It is surprising how a little good weather and the feeling
of having really done some work affects one's spirits!

On August 21 I moved back to my base camp at the glacier snout, again
trying for a station at the corner--and failing. I had not done nearly
as much as I wanted to do; but there seemed to be no end to the bad
weather, and only a month or a bit more remained in which to map the
whole of the East side of the mountain: and I had heard from Colonel
Bury that there would be a considerable amount of work on that side.
Originally, I had hoped not only to return to the bridge over the R[=a]
Chu to complete the work in the Kyetr[=a]k Valley, but also to take
several stations in the valleys running North from the 23,000-foot group
North of Everest. But again apart from shortage of time, the weather
made it out of the question, and I went through to Kh[=a]rta, via the
Doya La, arriving there on August 27.

The change in scenery immediately one crosses the Doya La is most
marked, both as regards rock and vegetation. The former--mostly
gneiss--is far more rugged and interesting, and there is infinitely more
of the latter. The Headquarters camp at Kh[=a]rta, in a little poplar
grove, was pleasant indeed after the bleak, uninteresting Rongbuk
Valley; and I thoroughly enjoyed my five days there, developing and
printing; busy days, but very different from lying on one's back on the
sharp boulders of the Rongbuk moraines. Mallory, Bullock and Morshead
were in Kh[=a]rta when I arrived; Colonel Bury and Wollaston returned
from their excursion to the Popti La soon after, and Raeburn arrived on
September 1. It was a great treat to me to be able to "swap lies" with
so many people, after two months almost wholly alone!

On September 3 Morshead and I started up the Kh[=a]rta Chu in the wake
of Mallory and Bullock, who had gone up to get the "bundobust" for the
final fling going. As usual, bad weather dogged my footsteps, and
although the weather while I was in Kh[=a]rta had been glorious,
Morshead and I spent seven days in taking two very indifferent stations
in the lower part of the Kh[=a]rta Valley, before joining the remainder
of the expedition at the "Advanced Base" on September 11. A further
eight days were spent there, waiting for the weather; but in that time I
was able to get two very useful stations, one on either side of the

On September 19 I moved up to "No. 1 Camp" with Mallory, Bullock and
Morshead; and shared the fortunes of the rest of the Expedition as far
as Kampa Dzong on the way back to Darjeeling, where Raeburn, Heron and I
left Headquarters to return to Darjeeling via L[=a]chen and the Teesta
Valley. I was delighted to get into the "final push," and enjoyed the
few days' change from surveying to climbing, enormously; except that I
felt the cold very much in my feet, and had it not been for Mallory's
good offices--he rubbed my feet for a solid hour after we came down from
Chang La--I feel sure that the result might have been much more serious
than the slight discomfort I afterwards experienced.

I took three stations in the neighbourhood of No. 1 Camp--one on either
side of the Kh[=a]rta Glacier, and one at 22,300 feet on the "Lhakpa
La." This was on snow, with my instrument resting on, and steadied by,
bags of "tsampa"; which proved to be a most excellent substitute for

On September 26 I crossed with Colonel Bury and Wollaston to the K[=a]ma
Valley; unfortunately, we only had two clear days there, and I had to
leave it without covering as much ground as I should have liked,
though--as usual--I spent my days in snowstorms, hoping for breaks in
the clouds.

The return to Darjeeling via the Serpo La, L[=a]chen, and the Teesta
Valley, made a pleasant change from the Ph[=a]ri route; but again bad
weather spoiled our views, and we saw nothing at all of Kanchenjunga
and its neighbours. Raeburn went in by the usual road via Gangtok; Heron
and I followed the river--an excellent route in spite of the prevalence
of leeches--and reached Pashok on October 19. Heron went on to
Darjeeling, a further 18 miles, the same day. I followed on the 20th.

I enjoyed the Expedition and my work with it, thoroughly; but in my
opinion, Tibet, at any rate that portion of it in which we were, is a
place to have _been_, rather than one to go to!

                               APPENDIX III


         BY A. M. HERON, D.Sc., F.G.S., Geological Survey of India.

The area geologically examined is somewhat over 8,000 square miles,
comprising the Tibetan portion of the Arun drainage area, with, in the
West, the headwaters of the Bhotia Kosi and its tributaries.

The circumstances of the Expedition were not favourable for work in any
detail, but an endeavour was made to traverse and map as large an area
as possible on a scale of ¼-inch to the mile, on skeleton maps very
kindly furnished by Major Morshead and his surveyors as their
plane-tabling proceeded; my work must therefore be considered as a
geological reconnaissance pure and simple.

If I am accorded the privilege of accompanying the second Expedition, by
which time Major Wheeler's map on a scale of 1-inch to the mile will be
available, I hope to be able to make a detailed survey of the vicinity
of Mount Everest and investigate the complicated inter-relationships of
the metamorphosed sedimentaries and the associated gneisses and

My survey continues to the Westward Sir Henry Hayden's work during the
Tibet Expedition in 1903-4.

Geologically this area is divided into two broad divisions: (_a_)
Tibetan and sedimentary, (_b_) Himalayan and crystalline, a distinction
which is clearly displayed in the topography resulting from the
underlying geological structure, for to the North we have the somewhat
tame and lumpy mountains of Tibet contrasting with the higher, steeper
and more rugged Himalayas on the South.

The Tibetan zone consists of an intensely folded succession of shales
and limestones, with subordinate sandstone quartzites, the folds
striking East-West and mainly lying over towards the South, showing that
the movements which produced them came from the North.

The uppermost rocks consist of the Kampa system of Hayden, a great
thickness of limestones, which, where the rocks have escaped
alteration, yield an assemblage of fossils which determine their age as
Cretaceous and Eocene.

Below these is a monotonous succession of shales, practically
unfossiliferous, with occasional quartzites and limestones representing
the Upper and Middle Jurassic with at the base beds probably belonging
to the Lias.

These Jurassic shales are by far the most conspicuous formation in this
part of Tibet, being repeated many times in complicated folds.

The Cretaceous-Eocene limestones form comparatively narrow bands,
occurring as compressed synclines caught up in the folded complex of
Jurassic shales.

Along the Southern border of the Tibetan zone, below the base of the
Jurassic shales, is a great thickness (2,000 feet-3,000 feet) of thinly
bedded limestones in which the fossils have been destroyed and the rocks
themselves converted over considerable areas into crystalline limestones
and calc-gneisses containing tremolite, epidote, tourmaline, etc., but
still retaining their original bedded structure in the banding of the
altered rock.

The absence of determinable fossils makes it impossible to determine the
age of these with certainty, but from their lithological character and
position in the sequence, it is possible that they correspond with the
Tso Lhamo limestone in Sikkim (Lias) and the Kioto limestone of the
Zangskar range (Lower Jurassic and Upper Trias).

The Himalayan and crystalline zone is essentially composed of foliated
and banded biotite-gneiss, usually garnetiferous, on which lie, at
comparatively low angles and with a general Northerly dip, the
above-mentioned calc-gneisses.

These occur most abundantly to the North and West of Everest, in the
Keprak, Rongbu, Hlalung and Rebu Valleys. The group of high peaks to the
North-west of Everest (overlooking the Khombu Pass) is made up of these
and intrusive schorl granite, and it would seem that the precipitous
North-western face and spurs of Everest are the same.

The Eastern and North-eastern valleys, Chongphu, Kharta and Kama, which
are in general at a lower level than the North-western valleys, are
excavated in the biotite-gneiss. On the North-eastern face of Everest
fresh snow was too abundant at the time of my visit to make out what the
rocks were.

Associated with the limestones and calc-gneisses are quartzites and
tourmaline-biotite schists which probably represent the lowest portions
of the shales immediately overlying the limestones.

It is probable that the biotite-gneiss is an igneous rock intrusive in
the calc-gneisses and schists, but this and many other puzzling features
of the crystallines require more detailed study than I was able to give
this year.

Both biotite-gneiss and metamorphosed sedimentaries are crowded with
dykes and sills, of all dimensions, of schorl granite or pegmatite to
such an extent that this granite is frequently the predominant rock. It
is highly resistant to weathering and it is doubtless due to its
presence in large amount that such comparatively soft rocks as the
calc-gneisses take part in forming some of the highest summits.

In the same way the scattered peaks of over 20,000 feet on the watershed
between the Arun and the Tsangpo owe their prominence to their being
groups of veins of a very similar granite, differing in that it contains
biotite in place of schorl. Around these separate centres of intrusion
are areoles of metamorphism in which the Jurassic shales have been
converted into slates and phyllites.

Economically the area traversed by the Expedition is devoid of interest.
Barring a little copper staining on a few boulders on moraines no traces
of ore were seen.

                                APPENDIX IV

                         THE SCIENTIFIC EQUIPMENT

   BY A. R. HINKS, F.R.S., Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society.

The most important scientific work of the first year's expedition should
have been the study of the physiological effects of high altitude that
Dr. Kellas had undertaken, with the support of Professor Haldane,
F.R.S., and of the Oxygen Research Committee of the Department of
Scientific and Industrial Research. In his work on Kamet in 1920,
Dr. Kellas had tried, and provisionally decided against, the use of
oxygen compressed in cylinders: but he laboured under the grave
disadvantage that the light cylinders he hoped to obtain had been, after
his departure for India, pronounced unsafe; and the cylinders sent out
were clearly too heavy for effective use in climbing. Dr. Kellas had
therefore fallen back on the use of oxygen prepared from the reaction
between water and oxylith in an apparatus which included a kind of gas
mask. He was prepared also to make several difficult researches into the
physiological processes of adaptation to low oxygen pressure; and some
delicate apparatus was prepared and sent out to him by the Oxygen
Research Committee. Unhappily these interesting and important enquiries
came to nought, for there was no one competent to carry them on after
his lamented death at Kampa Dzong; and the Expedition of 1922 was
thereby deprived of much information that should have been at its
disposal in studying the use of oxygen for the grand assault.

The scientific equipment for which the Mount Everest Committee were
directly responsible was not ambitious: the Survey of India were
responsible for the whole of the survey and brought their own equipment,
which is described elsewhere in this book. It was necessary to provide
the climbing party only with aneroids, compasses, reserve field-glasses,
thermometers and cameras, with subsidiary apparatus for checking the
aneroids at the base camps, and heavier cameras for work at lower

The aneroids by Cary, Porter & Co. and by Short & Mason were
constructed in pairs, to operate from 15,000 to 23,000, and 22,000 to
30,000 feet respectively. They seem to have performed well on the whole,
and tests made at the National Physical Laboratory since their return
show that they have changed very little; but it cannot be said that
their performances were very effectively controlled in the field, for
until late in the season there were no trigonometrical heights
available, and the climbers had little opportunity in their rather
isolated circumstances of employing their aneroids to the best
advantage, for purely differential work. Nor is there much to be said as
yet on the value of the shortened form of George mercurial barometer, to
come into action only at 15,000 feet (Cary, Porter & Co.). These
instruments will find effective use only in the second season, when the
reference points of the trigonometrical survey will be available as
fundamental data.

The climbers carried "Magnapole" compasses with luminous points, and
sometimes a Mark VIII prismatic; these all worked well. The simpler
compass is the more convenient for use on snow when goggles must be
worn. A luminous liquid compass (Short & Mason) was found very useful on
long reconnaissance rides.

For the record of temperatures in camps Messrs. Negretti & Zambra had
made three small pairs of maximum and minimum thermometers in leather
travelling cases. These suffered some casualties, by theft, or being
accidentally left out in the sun; and the pattern has been repeated for
the second year's work.

The heavier photographic equipment included an old and well-seasoned
7½ × 5 Hare Camera, lent to the Expedition, but newly fitted by Messrs.
Dallmeyer with a Stigmatic lens of 9 inches focal length, a negative
telephoto lens of 4 inches focal length giving enlargement up to 6
times, and a set of Wratten filters. With this camera Mr. Wollaston
secured some of the finest pictures taken on the Expedition.

There were also two quarter-plate cameras for glass plates: a Sinclair
Una camera fitted by Messrs. Dallmeyer with a Stigmatic lens of 5.3
inches focal length, and Adon telephoto lens; and a second Sinclair
camera lent by Captain Noel.

One or the other of these two was used by Mr. Mallory at many of the
high camps, and both the Hare 7½ × 5 and the Sinclair quarter-plate went
to the 22,500-foot camp at the Lhakpa La: doubtless the greatest height
yet attained by so large a camera as the former. The principal
difficulty with these cameras was unsteadiness in a heavy wind when the
telephoto lens was in use: and the tripods have been strengthened and
the lens supports stiffened before they go out again.

The plates were of two kinds: Imperial Special Rapid and Fine Grain
slow. The latter were generally preferred, and could hardly have been
better. The Imperial Dry Plate Company, who generously made and
presented these plates to the Expedition, deserve special thanks for
their skill and for their generosity.

The cameras which used films were a Panoram Kodak of 5 inches focal
length, with films 12 × 4 inches; a No. 1 Autograph Kodak, and two Vest
Pocket Kodaks, all three fitted with Cooke lenses by Messrs. Taylor,
Taylor & Hobson. The Panoram Kodak was used very successfully by Colonel
Howard-Bury, and the splendid series of panoramas is the most useful, if
not quite the most beautiful, set of photographs brought home. The
smaller cameras were used by the climbing party with many good results.

Finally it must be said that a large part of the best photographs were
taken by Colonel Howard-Bury with his own 7 × 5 Kodak, and the results
very generously placed at the disposal of the Committee.

All the instruments were examined and tested at the National Physical
Laboratory, and the thanks of the Committee are due to the Director and
his staff, who gave most valuable advice and assistance.

                                APPENDIX V


                           BY A. F. R. WOLLASTON

                       A.--LIST OF MAMMALS COLLECTED

  Stoat. _Mustela temon_
  Stoat. _Mustela longstaffi_
  Marmot. _Marmota himalayana_
  Hamster. _Cricetulus alticola tibetanus_, subsp. n.
  Vole. _Phaiomys leucurus_
  Vole. _Phaiomys everesti_
  Vole. _Microtus_ (_Alticola_), sp.
  Pika. _Ochotona roylei nepalensis_
  Pika. _Ochotona wollastoni_, sp. n.
  Pika. _Ochotona curzoniæ_

                        B.--LIST OF BIRDS COLLECTED

  Central Asian blackbird. _Turdus maxima_
  Solitary thrush. _Monticola solitarius_
  White-breasted Asiatic dipper. _Cinclus cashmirensis_
  Indian stone-chat. _Saxicola torquata indica_
  Gould's desert chat. _Saxicola montana_
  Bush chat. _Pratincola prjevalskii_
  Indian redstart. _Ruticilla rufiventris_
  Guldenstadt's Afghan redstart. _Ruticilla grandis_
  White-capped redstart. _Chimarrhornis leucocephalus_
  Hodgson's grandala. _Grandala c[oe]licolor_
  Tickell's willow-warbler. _Phylloscopus affinis_
  Mandelli's willow-warbler. _Phylloscopus mandellii_
  Smoky willow-warbler. _Phylloscopus fulviventris_
  Spotted bush-warbler. _Lusciniola thoracica_
  Prince Henry's laughing thrush. _Trochalopterum henrici_
  Eastern alpine accentor. _Accentor rufiliatus_
  Red-breasted accentor. _Accentor rubeculoides_
  Rufous-breasted accentor. _Accentor strophiatus_
  Brown accentor. _Accentor fulvescens_
  Sikkim black tit. _Parus beavani_
  Wren. _Troglodytes_, sp.
  Hodgson's pied wagtail. _Motacilla hodgsoni_
  White-faced wagtail. _Motacilla leucopsis_
  Yellow-headed wagtail. _Motacilla citreola._
  Blyth's pipit. _Anthus citreola_
  Indian tree-pipit. _Anthus maculatus_
  Hodgson's pipit. _Anthus rosaceus_
  Grey-backed shrike. _Lanius tephronotus_
  Slaty-blue flycatcher. _Cyornis leucomelanurus_
  Himalayan greenfinch. _Hypacanthis spinoides_
  Tree-sparrow. _Passer montanus_
  Cinnamon tree-sparrow. _Passer cinnamomeus_
  Blanford's snow-finch. _Montifringilla blanfordi_
  Adams' snow-finch. _Montifringilla adamsi._
  Hodgson's ground-finch. _Fringilauda nemoricola_
  Brandt's ground-linnet. _Leucosticte brandti._
  Walton's twite. _Linota rufostrigata_
  Red-breasted rose-finch. _Pyrrhospiza punicea_
  Scarlet rose-finch. _Carpodacus erythrinus_
  Hodgson's rose-finch. _Carpodacus pulcherrimus_
  Severtzoff's rose-finch. _Carpodacus severtzoi_
  Prejewalk's rose-finch. _Carpodacus rubicilloides_
  Red-headed bullfinch. _Pyrrhula erythrocephala_
  Godlevski's meadow bunting. _Emberiza godlevskii_
  Elwes' shore-lark. _Otocorys elwesi_
  Long-billed calandra lark. _Melanocorpha maxima_
  Tibetan skylark. _Alauda inopinata_
  Short-toed lark. _Calandrella brachydactyla_
  Brook's short-toed lark. _Calandrella acutirostris tibetana_
  Chough. _Pyrrhocorax graculus_
  Brown ground-chough. _Podoces humilis_
  Common hoopoe. _Upupa epops_
  Pied crested cuckoo. _Coccystes jacobinus_
  Eastern little owl. _Athene bactriana_
  White-backed dove. _Columba leuconota_
  Snow partridge. _Lerwa lerwa_
  Temminck's stint. _Tringa temmincki_
  Redshank. _Totanus calidris_
  Dusky redshank. _Totanus fuscus_
  Greater sand plover. _Aegialitis mongola_
  Common tern. _Sterna fluviatilis_

In addition to the above the following birds were identified, but
specimens of them were not obtained:--

  House martin
  Sand martin
  Rock martin
  Alpine chough
  Black crow
  Siberian swift
  Himalayan vulture
  Sea eagle
  Pallas' sea eagle
  Black-eared kite
  Barheaded goose
  Ruddy sheldrake
  Hill rock-dove
  Chinese turtle dove
  Tibetan partridge
  Tibetan snow partridge
  Blood pheasant
  Black-necked crane
  White stork
  Painted snipe
  Pin-tailed snipe
  Brown-headed gull

12,000-20,400 FT.

  Clematis orientalis, L.
  Ranunculus pulchellus, C. A. Mey., var. sericeus, Hk. f. & T.
  Ranunculus pulchellus, C. A. Mey.
  Anemone obtusiloba, Don
  Anemone polyanthes, Don
  Anemone rivularis, Ham.
  Geranium Grevilleanum, Wall.
  Caltha scaposa, Hk. f. & T.
  Delphinium Brunonianum, Royle
  Aconitum gymnandrum, Max.
  Aconitum orochryseum, Stapf, sp. nov.
  Delphinium Pylzowii, Maxim.
  Halenia elliptica, Don
  Delphinium grandiflorum, L.
  Hypecoum leptocarpum, Hk. f. & T.
  Meconopsis horridula, Hk. f. & T.
  Meconopsis grandis, Prain?
  Meconopsis, sp.
  Corydalis, sp.
  Corydalis juncea, Wall.
  Corydalis Moorcroftiana, Wall.
  Arabis tibetica, Hk. f. & T.
  Lepidium ruderale, L.
  Arenaria ciliolata, Edgew.
  Dilophia salsa, Hk. f. & T.
  Cardamine macrophylla, Willd.
  Arenaria Stracheyi, Edgew.
  Silene Waltoni, F. N. Williams
  Silene Moorcroftiana, Wall.
  Arenaria musciformis, Wall.
  Arenaria melandrioides, Edgew.
  Polygonum islandicum, Hk. f.
  Geranium collinum, A. DC.
  Impatiens sulcatus, Wall.
  Thermopsis barbata, Royle
  Thermopsis lanceolata, R. Br.
  Sophora Moorcroftiana, Benth.
  Stracheya tibetica, Benth.
  Astragalus strictus, Grah.
  Oxytropis microphylla, DC
  Gueldenstædtia uniflora, Benth.
  Desmodium nutans, Wall.
  Potentilla coriandrifolia, Hk. f.
  Potentilla multifida, L.
  Potentilla sericea, L.
  Potentilla microphylla, Don
  Potentilla peduncularis, Don
  Potentilla Griffithii, Hk. f.
  Spiræa arcuata, Hk. f.
  Saxifraga Lychnitis, Hk. f. & T.
  Saxifraga nutans, Hk. f. & T.
  Saxifraga aristulata, Hk. f.
  Saxifraga near S. saginoides, Hk. f. & T.
  Saxifraga flagellaris, Willd.
  Saxifraga Hirculus, L.
  Saxifraga Lychnitis, Hk. f. & T.
  Saxifraga fimbriata, Wall.
  Saxifraga pilifera, Hk. f. & T.
  Saxifraga Caveana, W. W. Sm.
  Saxifraga microphylla, Royle
  Saxifraga pallida, Wall.
  Saxifraga umbellulata, Hk. f. &  T.
  Parnassia ovata, Ledeb.
  Parnassia pusilla, Wall.
  Eutrema Prewalskii, Hk. f. & T.
  Sedum fastigiatum, Hk. f. & T.
  Sedum trifidum, Wall.
  Sedum crenulatum, Hk. f. & T.
  Sedum himalense, Don
  Epilobium palustre, L.
  Epilobium reticulatum, C. B. Cl.
  Pleurospermum Hookeri, C. B. Cl.
  Scabiosa Hookeri, C. B. Cl.
  Valeriana Hardwickii, Wall.
  Aster, sp.
  Aster heterochætus, C. B. Cl.
  Allardia glabra, Dene.
  Aster tibeticus, Hk. f.
  Cremanthodium Decaisnei, C. B. Cl.
  Aster diplostephioides, C. B. Cl.
  Erigeron, sp.
  Leontopodium fimbrilligerum, J. R. Drum.?
  Leontopodium monocephalum, Edgew.
  Leontopodium Stracheyi, C. B. Cl.
  Anaphalis xylorhiza, Sch. Bip.
  Anaphalis cuneifolia, Hook. f.
  Tanacetum tibeticum, Hk. f. & T.
  Senecio arnicoides, Wall. var. frigida, Hk. f.
  Cremanthodium pinnatifidum, Benth.
  Chrysanthemum Atkinsoni, C. B. Cl.?
  Artemisia Moorcroftiana, Wall.
  Sonchus sp.
  Senecio glomerata, Decne.
  Senecio (§ Ligularia) sp.
  Senecio chrysanthemoides, DC.
  Tanacetum khartense, Dunn, sp. nov.
  Aster sp.
  Lactuca macrantha, C. B. Cl.
  Senecio sorocephala, Hemsl.
  Saussurea gossypina, Wall.
  Saussurea tridactyla, Sch. Bip.
  Tanacetum gossypinum, Hk. f. & T.
  Saussurea wernerioides, Sch. Bip.
  Crepis glomerata, Hk. f.?
  Saussurea graminifolia, Wall.
  Senecio arnicoides, Wall.
  Saussurea uniflora, Wall.
  Morina polyphylla, Wall.
  Saussurea glandulifera, Sch. Bip.
  Lactuca Dubyæa, C. B. Cl.
  Lactuca Lessertiana, C. B. Cl.
  Cassiope fastigiata, D. Don
  Daphne retusa, Hemsl.
  Rhododendron lepidotum, Wall.
  Rhododendron setosum, Don
  Rhododendron near R. lepidotum, Wall.
  Rhododendron campylocarpum, Hk. f.
  Rhododendron cinnabarinum, Hk. f.
  Rhododendron lanatum, Hk. f.
  Rhododendron arboreum, Sm.
  Rhododendron Thomsoni, Hk. f.
  Cyananthus incanus, Hk. f. & T.
  Glossocomia tenera, DC.
  Cyananthus pedunculatus, C. B. Cl.
  Campanula modesta, Hk. f. & T.
  Campanula colorata, Wall.
  Campanula aristata, Wall.
  Androsace chamæjasme, Hort., var. coronata, Wall.
  Androsace villosa, L. var.?
  Androsace strigillosa, Franch.
  Primula minutissima, Jacq.
  Primula Buryana, Balf. f. sp. nov.
  Primula Wollastonii, Balf. f. sp. nov.
  Primula pusilla, Wall.
  Primula sikkimensis, Hook, microform
  Primula capitata, Hook.
  Primula capitata, microform.
  Primula uniflora, Klatt
  Primula Dickieana, Watt.
  Primula obliqua, W. W. Sm.
  Primula indobella. Balf. f.
  Primula minutissima, Jacq.
  Primula glabra, Klatt
  Primula Younghusbandii, sp. nov.
  Primula tibetica, Watt.
  Primula denticulata, Sm.
  Primula sikkimensis, Hook.
  Primula nivalis, Pallas, var. macrocarpa, Pax.
  Gentiana am[oe]na, C. B. Cl.
  Gentiana ornata, Wall.
  Gentiana sp. Probably new but the material is too imperfect to decide
  Gentiana Elwesii, C. B. Cl.
  Gentiana robusta, King
  Gentiana micantiformis, Burkill
  Gentiana nubigena, Edgew.
  Gentiana tubiflora, Wall., var. longiflora, Turrill, var. nov.
  Gentiana stellata, Turrill, sp. nov.
  Gentiana tenella, Fries
  Swertia cuneata, Wall.
  Arenaria Stracheyi, Edgew.
  Swertia Kingii, Hk. f.
  Swertia Younghusbandii, Burkill
  Swertia multicaulis, D. Don
  Nardostachys grandiflora, DC.
  Trigonotis rotundifolia, Benth.
  Eritrichium densiflorum, Duthie
  Microula sikkimensis, Hemsl.
  Onosma Waddellii, Duthie
  Onosma Hookeri, C. B. Cl.
  Verbascum Thapsus, L.
  Lancea tibetica, Hk. f. & T.
  Lagotis crassifolia, Prain
  Pedicularis trichoglossa, Hk. f.
  Pedicularis Elwesii, Hk. f.
  Pedicularis megalantha, Don, forma
  Pedicularis megalantha, Don, var. pauciflora, Prain
  Pedicularis Roylei, Maxim.
  Pedicularis siphonantha, Don
  Pedicularis cheilanthifolia, Schrank
  Pedicularis tubiflora, Fischer
  Pedicularis integrifolia, Hk. f.
  Pedicularis globifera, Hk. f.
  Incarvillea Younghusbandii, Sprague
  Escholtzia eriostachya, Benth.
  Nardostachys Iatamansi, DC.
  Dracocephalum breviflorum, Turrill, sp. nov.
  Dracocephalum tanguticum, Maxim.
  Dracocephalum heterophyllum, Benth.
  Dracocephalum speciosum, Benth.
  Veronica lanuginosa, Benth.
  Nepeta discolor, Benth.
  Nepeta Thomsoni, Benth.
  Atriplex rosea, L.
  Polygonum vaccinifolium, Wall.
  Polygonum viviparum, L.
  Polygonum tortuosum, Don
  Polygonum affine, Don
  Polygonum amphibium, L.
  Stellera chamæjasme, L.
  Euphorbia Stracheyi, Boiss.
  Orchis cylindrostachys, Kränzl.
  Liparis sp.
  Goodyera fusca, Lindl.
  Dendrobium alpestre, Royle
  Pleione Hookeriana, S. Moore
  Orchis Chusna, Don
  Roscoea purpurea, Sm.
  Iris nepalensis, Don
  Iris goniocarpa, Baker
  Iris tenuifolia, Pallas
  Lloydia tibetica, Baker
  Lloydia sp.
  Fritillaria Hookeri, Baker
  Fritillaria near F. Stracheyi, Hk. f.
  Fritillaria cirrhosa, Don
  Allium, sp.
  Allium Wallichii, Kunth
  Allium Govenianum, Wall.?
  Allium cyaneum, Regel
  Larix Griffithii, Hk. f.
  Dryopteris Linneana, C. Chr.
  Dryopteris Filix-mas, var. serrato-dentata, C. Chr.
  Cryptogramma Brunoniana, Wall.
  Calophaca crassicaulis, Benth.
  Glaux maritima, L.
  Androsace sessiliflora, Turrill, sp. nov.
  Astragalus oreotrophes, W. W. Sm.
  Thamnolia vermicularis, Schær.
  Stereocaulon alpinus, Laur.
  Thelochistes flavicans, Norm.

NOTE.--The material of some of the numbers was insufficient for accurate
determination; in a few cases the material necessary for comparison was
on loan, and in the case of one or two genera, such as _Aster_, revision
of the North Asian and Indian species will have to be undertaken before
certain plants can be definitely named. The numbers in the list coming
under these categories are named "---- sp."

                                          ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS, KEW.

                                                         _March 7, 1922._


  Abdul Jalil, photographic assistant, 59, 319
  Abruzzi, Duke of the, 2, 3, 5, 155
  Acchu, cook, 103, 133, 178
  Acclimatisation to high altitudes, 277, 308, 341
  Alpine Club, 1, 7, 14-19, 305
  Altitude, effects on human frame, 5, 102, 104-5, 137-8, 154-5, 199, 204,
    206-7, 253-4, 276, 307-8, 315, 341; on breathing, 200, 243-4, 277; on
    tinned fish, 50
  Ammo-chu, river, 39, 44, 291
  Aneroids, 341
  Ang Tenze, coolie, 113, 149-51, 166
  Ari, bungalow, 33
  Arun, river, 89, 104-5; gorges, 110, 125, 221, 297, 298; _see_ Bhong-chu
  Avalanches, 231, 267-9, 308-9

  Bailey, Major, 31, 314
  Bamtso, lake, 49
  Bell, Sir Charles, 16, 24, 166
  Bhompo's, Buddhist sect, 39
  Bhong-chu, river, 64-5, 69-71, 89-90, 93, 99, 100, 110, 159, 161, 295;
    upper valley, 320, 322; _see_ Arun
  Bhotias, 24
  Bhotia ponies, 27
  Bhotia Kosi, river, 338
  Birds, 290-303, 312, 344-6
  Brahma Putra, river, 61; _see_ Tsangpo
  Bridges, 69, 93-4, 103, 115, 123, 159-60, 191
  Bruce, General, 1, 3, 13, 17, 154, 312
  Buchan, J., 19
  Buddhism and Buddhists, 25, 67-8, 173; books, 41; red cap sect, 173;
    yellow cap sect, 58, 173; regard for animal life, 59, 80, 166, 290;
    _see_ Monasteries, prayer-wheels
  Bullock, G. H., 19, 26, 52; _see_ Mallory
  Bullocks, 48, etc.;  _see_ Transport
  Burrard, Sir S., 10-12
  Carpo-ri, mountain, 227; ascended, 117, 229-35, 268
  Chamlang, mountain, 140
  Chandra Nursery, 32
  Chang La (North Col), 142; first view of, 204, 207, 212, 220; way to,
    233-40, 246-8, 256; camp on, 259-60; best route to, 273-4, 311-12,
  Changtse, North peak of Everest, 142, 213, 215, 233-4
  Chelmsford, Lord, 16
  Chheten Wangdi, interpreter, 25, 39, 69, 91, 95, 112, 162, 179
  Chinese in Tibet, 38-9, 71-2, 173; in Nepal, 71
  Chitayn, coolie, 212
  Chöbuk, monastery and bridge, 82, 95, 190, 191, 312, 327
  Chödzong, village, 86
  Chog La, 106, 121, 129, 299-300
  Choksum, village, 324
  Chomiomo, mountain, 52, 54, 140, 166
  Chomolhari, mountain, 45, 48, 60, 64, 167, 263
  Chomolönzo, mountain, 114, 116, 149-51
  Chomolungma (Mount Everest or Makalu), 13, 24, 107, 224
  Chomo-Uri (Mount Everest), 64
  Chorabsang, mountain, 77-8; (= Cho Rapsang, 331)
  Chortens, 40, 66, 174, 286, etc.
  Cho Uyo, mountain, 73, 76, 78, 101, 207, 219, 330
  Chöyling monastery, 194
  Chulungphu, village, 89, 104
  Chumbi valley, 25, 37-44, 170, 177-8; village, 38; fauna and flora, 291
  Chushar Nango, village, 60-61, 131, 134, 295
  Chuphar, village and monastery, 327
  Chu-tronu, 123
  Collie, J. N., 17-18
  Compasses, 342
  Conway, Sir M., 4, 5
  Coolies, 23-5; behaviour, 47, 146, 156, 213, 216, 222-3, etc.; as
    carriers, 92-4, 113, 122, 158, 284-6; _see_ Transport; in
    mountaineering, 84, 188, 195, 203-6, 212, 230, 251 ff., 332
  Crampons, 207-8, 272  Cups of tea, as measures of distance, 108
  Curios, 67, 157
  Curzon, Lord, 1, 19

  Dak, village, 93
  Dalai Lama, the, 16, 173
  Darjeeling, 23-28, 179
  Dasno, coolie, 234
  Desiccation, 51
  Dochen, bungalow, 49, 168
  Dokcho, village, 321
  Donka monastery, 40-42
  Donkeys, 48, 64, 65, etc.; _See_ Transport
  Dorje, cook, 50
  Dorji Gompa, coolie, 202, 256
  Doto nunnery, 51
  Doya La, 88, 104, 336
  Dram, village, 325
  Drophung monastery, 323
  Dug pass, 50
  Dukpa, cook, 134, 188
  Dunge pokri, island, 127
  Dzakar (or Zakar) Chu, river, 93-5, 159, 297, 333

  Eaton, J. E. C., 17
  Equipment, 20, 315, 341
  Everest, Mount, 1-2, 183; position, 9, 13; height, 10-12; names, 13, 64,
    225; seen from Khamba Dzong, 54, 56, 183-4; from Shiling, 64, 186-88,
    217, 230, 263; from Rongbuk Valley, 192, 263-4; from Kama Valley, 116,
    226; local ignorance of, 107, 112, 116; structure, 192-4, 203, 215,
    310; best season for ascent, 153, 248, 270; difficulties of, 154, 276,
    308; plans for, in 1921, 250-52
  -- -- Committee, 16 ff.
  -- -- Expedition, origin of, 14-16; value of, 5; objects, 17-18; cost,
    19; equipment, 20, 315, 341; results, 179-80, 310-12, 338, 341. _See_
  Everest, Sir G., 13

  Farrar, Captain J. P., 14, 17, 19, 315
  Finch, Captain G., 19, 313, 315
  "Finger," the, station, 335-6
  Fourteen lakes, valley of the, 106, 121; fauna and flora, 299
  Fowkes, Sergeant, 28
  Freshfield, D. W., 1, 14-16, 18
  Fuel, 80, 105, 171, 211, 237, 247, 273, 331

  Gadompa, village and bridge, 160-61
  Galinka, village and monastery, 40
  Gandenchöfel monastery, 108, 131
  Gauri Sankar, mountain, 288, 326, 331
  Gautsa, bungalow, 44
  Gelupka (= Yellow Cap) sect, 173
  Geshe Rimpoche, Lama, 40
  Ghoom, 29
  Glaciers, ancient extent of, 128; characteristics, 194, 197, 218;
    atmosphere, 200, 243, 270
  Gnatong, village, 35-6, 178
  Gosainthan, mountain, 64, 101, 284, 322-3
  Graham, Dr., 30-31
  _Graphic_, the, 19
  Gujjar Singh, surveyor, 319, 323-7
  Gurkhas in Tibet, 71, 95, 106
  Guru Rimpoche, saint, 173
  Gyachung Kang, mountain, 207, 219, 330
  Gyalzen Kazi, interpreter, 25, 56, 133, 137, 163, 177-8, 188, 190, 202,
  Gyangka-nangpa, house, 62, 184
  Gyanka range of mountains, 184

  Haldane, J. S., 341
  Halung, village, 86-7, 103, 240; valley, 339
  Hari Ram, explorer, 319, 324
  Harvest rents, 161, 174
  _Hatarana_, steamer, 24
  Hayden, Sir H., 338
  Hermits, 80, 83-4, 99
  Heron, Dr. A. M., 20, 26; expeditions from Tingri, 74, 77-85, 98, 120,
    325; first expedition to Kharta, 86-95, 162, 164, 179-80; in Upper
    Kharta Valley, 253; returns by Kama Valley, 146-153, 337, and Teesta
    Valley, 164, 337; note on geological results, 338-340
  Himalaya, 7-8, 11, 304 ff.; H. and the Alps, 194
  Hinks, A. R., 17, 20, 315; notes on scientific equipment, 341-2
  Holdich, Sir T., 15
  Hopaphema, landowner, 91-3, 104, 108, 111-12, 157-8
  Hot springs. _See_ Kambu, Tsamda
  Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K., 13, 15, 17, 20, 343; author of the general
    narrative of the expedition, 23-180; expeditions from Tingri, 75-85;
    first expedition to Kharta, 86-95; expeditions from Kharta, 106-111;
    visits Kama Valley, 112 ff.; ascent of 19,500 ft. ridge, 116;  of Kama
    Changri, 136-7; of Lhakpa La, 140-145, 257 ff.
  Huc, abbé, 293

  India Office, 16
  India, Government of, 16, 23
  -- Survey of, 20, 26-7, 341
  Interpreters, 25, 47; discretion of, 108
  Isaacs, Mr., 39
  "Island," the, 209, 213, 219

  Jack, Colonel E. M., 17, 20, 315
  Jannu, mountain, 117, 135, 140
  Jelep La, 36, 37, 178, 290, 291 note
  Jetsun-Nga-Wang-Chöfel, saint, 109, 325
  Jongpens, 174-5, 283, 324
  Jonsong, mountain, 47, 140

  Kabru, mountain, 26, 47, 168
  Kala-tso, lake, 51
  Kalimpong, village, 29-30
  Kama Valley, 112-119, 146-52, 225-7, 311, 339; fauna and flora, 300-01
  Kama Changri, mountain, 114, 136-7
  Kama-chu, river, 122-4
  Kambu hot springs, 40-43; valley, 291
  Kanchenjunga, mountain, 9, 46, 117, 135, 140, 185
  Kanchenjhow, mountain, 52, 54, 104, 166
  Kang-chu, river, 325
  Kangchen and -chung passes, 326
  Kangdoshung glacier, 115-16
  Kangshung glacier, 149-51
  Karpo La, 147
  Karro Pumri, mountain, 326
  Kartse, mountain, 141
  Kellas, A. M., 14, 18, 26, 341; illness and death, 46-49, 52-54, 164,
  Khamba Dzong, fort and village, 13, 24, 53-57, 96, 164
  Kharkung, village, 161
  Kharta, 24, 90; first visit to, 88-93; headquarters of the expedition,
    104-5, 110; survey of, 323, 327; valley formation, 339;  fauna and
    flora, 299, 301-03
  Khartaphu, mountain, 330
  Khe or Khetam, village, 50-51
  Kheru, 51
  Khombu pass, 76, 78-9, 312, 339
  -- valley, 150-51
  Kimonanga, village, 124
  Korabak, rock, 124
  Kuti (= Nyenyam), village, 324
  Kyetrak, village and valley, 74-77, 327, 331
  -- glacier, 70, 77-79, 312;
  river, 79
  Kyishong, village, 65, 102

  Lachen, 56, 337
  Lalbir Singh Thapa, surveyor, 319, 322, 327
  Lamna La, 81, 327
  Langkor, village and temple, 281, 323
  Langma La, 112-13, 130, 224
  Langra, rest-house, 37, 178
  Lapche, village and monastery, 287, 325-6
  Lapche Kang, mountain, 115, 284-5, 325
  Lashar, village, 161
  Lebong, races at, 27
  Leeches, 34-5, 123-4, 126, 300, 337
  Lhakpa La (Windy Gap), 138, 161, 273-4; first visits to, 240-249, 255-6;
    camp on, 140-44, 257-8, 261
  Lhasa, 16, 24, 173, 174; road to, 48-49
  Lhonak peaks, 52
  Lhotse, mountain (S. peak of Everest), 116, 213
  Lingga, village, 57, 163-4
  Lingmatang, plain, 40, 44, 291
  Longstaff, Dr. T. G., 1, 5, 314
  Lumeh, village, 93-4, 159
  Lungchen La, 322
  Lungdö, village, 110, 125
  Lunghi, 167

  Macdonald, David and family, 31, 38, 177
  Makalu, mountain, 104, 116, 118-19, 137, 186, 225-6, etc.; glacier, 151
  Mallory, G. H. L., 19, 26, 313; reconnoitres N. approach to Everest, 74,
    181-220; ascends Ri-Ring (23,050 ft.), 205-7, 264; moves to Kharta,
    102-106; reconnoitres E. approach to Everest, 117, 221-249; back to
    Kharta, 130; ascends Kama Changri, 136-7; final assault and ascent of
    North Col, 131-145, 250-261; leaves Kharta, 153; views on weather
    conditions, 262-72; on the route up Everest, 273-79
  Mammals, 290-303, 312, 344, etc.
  Mani Walls, 40, 174, etc.
  Maps of Tibet, 62
  "Marigolds, Field of," 119, 152
  Matsang, village, 125
  Meade, C. F., 5, 17, 19
  Mendalongkyo, 129
  Mende, village, 57
  Menkhap-to and -me, villages, 322
  Menlung pass, 327
  "Metohkangmi," 141
  Mila Respa, saint, 287
  Monasteries, 99, 113, 173. _See_ Donka, Galinka, Ganden Chöfel, Rongbuk,
    Shekar Chöte, etc.
  Monsoon, 31, 48, 88, 91, 139, 216, 248, 262 ff. _See_ Rainfall
  Morshead, Major H. T., 20, 25-27, 54, 65, 75, 96; trip to Nyenyam, 97,
    108, 281-9, 323-5; at Kharta, 112; survey of Kharta Valley, 131-2,
    135; first ascent of Lhakpa La, 130, 230-49; ascends Kama Changri,
    136-7; second ascent of Lhakpa La, 140-144, 253-8; map by, 312, 338;
    account of survey by, 319-28
  Mountain sickness, 207, 258, 323. _See_ Altitude
  Mountaineering, 2-4, 6-8, 305-6
  Mules, lent by Government, 27-8; breakdown of, 33-4; Tibetan, 32-33, 48,
    etc. _See_ Transport

  Nangba (= Khombu), pass, 77, 331
  Narsing, mountain, 26
  Nathu La, 37
  Nawang Lobsang, first Dalai Lama, 173
  Nepal, 13
  Nepalese coolies, 25, 122; invasion of Tibet, 71, 73; traders, 122, 127,
    324; herdsmen, 126
  Nezogu bridge, 100, 102
  Ngawangyonten, official, 94
  Nieves penitentes, 78
  Nila pass, 61, 184
  Noel, Major J. B. L., 14, 314
  Nomads, 51, 171
  North Col of Everest, 212, 215. _See_ Chang La
  North cwm of Everest, 200, 203-4
  North peak. _See_ Chang-tse
  North-East Arête, 215, 227, 235, 250-51, 259, 274-6, 310
  Norton, Major E. F., 313
  Nuns and nunneries, 51, 80, 83, 166
  Nyenyam, 73, 97, 108, 283-4, 297, 324
  Nyima Tendu, coolie, 113, 149-51, 234

  Oxygen for climbers, 154, 277, 307-8, 315-16, 341

  Padamchen (= Sedongchen), 33
  Padma Sambhava, saint, 173
  Pashok, 337
  Pawhunri mountains, 46, 52, 54, 166
  Pedong, 31-2
  Pekhu plain, 322
  Peshoke, bungalow, 29
  Pethang Ringmo, 116, 138
  Pethangtse, mountain, 117, 147
  Phari, fort and village, 24, 35, 45-8, 168; plain, 46, 292
  Pharuk, district, 323, 327
  Phema, village, 38
  _Philadelphia Ledger_, the, 19
  Photography, 68, 72-3, 91, 156, 216-17, 314, 315, 342-3, etc.; perils
    of, 74-5; surveying by, 320, 329-30
  Phuri, village, 322
  Phuse La. _See_ Pusi pass
  Pilgrims, 70, 99, 121
  Plants, 290-302, 312, 346-50, etc.
  Pö-chu, river, 284-5, 297-8, 323-4
  Ponglet, view from, 188, 218, 263
  Ponies, 27, 34, 48, 87, 101, etc. _See_ Transport
  Poo, coolie, 75, 113, 156, 178
  Popti La, 106, 126-7, 300
  Postal arrangements, 96-7, 131, 135
  Prayer wheels, 39-40, 53, 91, 98, 110, 174, 289
  Primus stoves, 142-3, 154, 208, 315, 331
  Pulahari, village, 281
  Pulme, 94
  Pumori, mountain, 209
  Punagang monastery, 39
  Pusi pass, 77, 79, 289 (= Phuse La, 327, 330)

  Quiok, pass, 159

  Rabkar-chu, river and glacier, 115
  Ra-chu, river, 70, 330
  Rainfall, 29, 37, 56, 99, 105, 262 ff.
  Rawling, Major, 13-14
  Reading, Lord, 23
  Rebu, village, 87, 103; valley, 339
  Rhenock, 32
  Ri-Ring, mountain, ascended, 205-6, 270, 311
  Richengong, village, 38, 291
  Ronaldshay, Lord, 23, 179
  Rongbuk, glacier, 84; central and W. branches explored, 194-220;
    E. branch, 142, 216-18, 238-40, 247-9, 273-4, 334-6; stream from,
    199, 218
  -- monastery, 83
  -- valley, 82, 191, 339
  Rongkong, village, 63
  Rongli, bungalow, 32, 178
  Rongme, village, 63
  Rongshar, valley, 77, 288-9, 298, 325-6
  Ruddamlamtso, lake, 121, 128
  Rugby, Tibetan boys at, 172
  Ryder, Colonel C. H. D., 13, 319

  Sakeding, village, 121-22, 127-8
  Samchung, pass, 106, 121, 129
  Sand dunes, 58, 63-4, 295
  Sandakphu, 12, 13
  Sanglu, coolie, 254, 256-7
  Sedongchen, village, 33-4
  Senchal, 29
  Serpo-La, 164, 337
  Shao La, 112, 118, 153
  Sharto, village, 75, 330
  Shassi (= New Yatung), 38
  Shatog, village, 162
  Shekar-Chöte, monastery, 67-8, 94
  Shekar Dzong, fort and village, 45, 66-7, 96, 295
  Sherpa Bhotias, coolies, 24, 188, 224, 252
  Shidag, nunnery, 51
  Shigatse, 51, 55, 174
  Shiling, 161, 188. _See_ Everest, Mount
  Shung-chu, river, 79
  Shurim Tso, lake, 114
  Sikkim, survey of, 27, 320-21, 327; journey through, 29-36; flora of,
  Siniolchum, mountain, 46
  Sipri mountains, 99
  Skis, 158
  Snow, 248, 254, 264-8;  temperature of, 270; powdery, 171, 231, 243,
    256; powdery snow and wind, 139, 142, 144, 159, 167-8, 259-60, 271,
  Snow-blindness, 103, 167, 171
  Snowfall, 37, 171
  Snow line, 56
  Snow men, the abominable, 141
  Snow shoes, 137, 211-14, 232, 243, 254, 265, 270
  Somers Cocks, E. L., 16
  Somervell, H. T., 312, 313
  Strutt, Colonel E. L., 313
  Sun's rays, 270, 308
  Survey work of expedition, 179, 312. _See_ Heron, Morshead, Wheeler
  Sutso plain, 99, 321-22

  Takda, cantonment, 29
  Tamba Sanye, saint, 281, 323
  Tameness of animals, 59-60, 76-77, 80, 83, 88, 94, 131
  Tang La, 48, 167, 323
  Tang-pün-sum, plain, 48
  Tangsham, 114, 117, 152
  Targyeling, village, 324
  Tasang, village, 79, 289, 327
  Tashi Dzom, 95
  Tashilumpo monastery, 51, 173
  Tashishong, 325
  Tatsang, nunnery, 52, 165-6
  Teesta Valley, 27, 29-30, 164, 337
  Temperature, 269-70, 308, 342
  Tents, airlessness of, 143, 154, 258
  Thermometers, 342
  Thrashing, 164
  Thung-La, 282; fauna and flora, 297
  Tibet, 13, 36, 170 ff.; geology of, 338; Government, 173-4; helps the
    expedition, 16, 24, 45, etc.
  Tibetans, 170 ff.
  Tibetan beer, 57, 125, 156; bread, 125; burial, 74, 133; climate, 49,
    176; coinage and currency, 47, 59, 123; coolies, 223-4; houses, 38,
    89, 321; marriage, 74; meals, 48, 59, 62, 67, 101, 108, etc.; mules,
    177-9; ornaments, 73, 101, 107; ponies, 27, 55, 101, 176;
    superstitions, 66, 72, 109, 122, 141, 174, 282; tea, 41, etc.
  _Times_, newspaper, 19, 156
  Tingri, 70-75, 95-101; plain of, 70; its fauna and flora, 96, 295-7;
    origin of name, 282, 323
  Tinki, fort and village, 58, 162; birds of, 294; pass, 60, 162, 321;
    flowers of, 295
  Trangso Chumbab, rest-house, 65
  Transport, 27-8, 34-5, 45, 48, 60, 65, 69, 86, 92, 158-9, 165, 173, 284.
    _See_  Coolies, Mules, Yaks
  Trintang, village, 326
  Tropde, village, 326
  Tsakor, village, 70
  Tsamda, hot springs, 99, 321
  Tsampa, 172-3, 222, 337
  Tsang, province, 319
  Tsangpo, river, 319-20
  Tsering, five peaks, 326
  Tsogo, 65, 159
  Tsomotretung, lake, 61
  Tsong Kapa, monk, 173
  Tulsi Dass, gardener, 32
  Tulung, village, 323
  Tuna, rest-house, 48
  Turubaz Khan, surveyor, 319, 321

  Wakefield, Dr. A. W., 313
  Waugh, Sir A., 10, 12, 13
  Weather. _See_ Monsoon, Rainfall, Wind
  West cwm of Everest, 208-9, 212, 214
  Wheeler, Major, E. O., 20, 26, 52, 164, 252, 320; expedition to Kyetrak,
    74, 77-81, 98, 330-33; to Rongbuk Valley, 102, 333-36; discovers
    E. Rongbuk glacier, 217, 240, 247-8, 334; arrives at Kharta, 249; to
    Lhakpa La, 140-44, 257; to Chang La, 144-5, 258-61; returns by Kama
    Valley, 146-153, 337, and Teesta Valley, 164, 337; map by, 312, 328,
    338; account of photographic survey by, 329-337
  Wind, 50, 72, 75, 147-8, 171, 178, 265, 308, 342. _See_ Snow
  Wollaston, A. F. R., 20, 26; returns with Raeburn to Sikkim, 56; rejoins
    at Tingri, 74, 75, 96; trip to Nyenyam, 97, 108, 323-25; described by
    him, 281-89; at Kharta, 249; to Lhakpa La, 140 ff., 257-8; returns by
    Kama Valley, 146-153, 165, 342; natural history notes by, 290-303,
    344-350; collections, 312

  Yaks, 61, 81, 161, 171, 286, 294, etc.
  Yaru, river, 56-7, 61-3, 101-2
  Yatung, 38-9, 177
  Younghusband, Sir F., 1, 15-17, 19, 20
  Zachar-chu. _See_ Dzakar-chu

  Zambu, village, 81

                     *       *       *       *       *

_Printed in Great Britain by_ Butler & Tanner, _Frome and London_

                     *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: MAP I.


Reduced from the map on the scale 1/253440

by Major Morshead and assistants of the Survey of India, accompanying the
expedition: the neighbourhood of the Mountain from Map II.

Scale 1/750,000 or 1 Inch = 11·84 Stat. Miles.]

                     *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: MAP II

Preliminary Map of MOUNT EVEREST

constructed at the R. G. S. from photographs and sketches made by the

                     *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: MAP III

THE GEOLOGY of the MOUNT EVEREST REGION from the surveys of

Geological Survey of India 1921.

The topography from Map I.

Scale 1/750,000 or 1 Inch = 11·84 Stat. Miles.

                     *       *       *       *       *

The table below lists all corrections applied to the original text.

  p ix: Kama Valley. Kangchenjunga -> Kanchenjunga
  p 12: Ladnia     |     1849     |    108    |   29,998 -> 28,998
  p 13: call it Chomo-lungmo -> Chomolungma
  p 24: Despatched -> Dispatched
  p 26: two, Gujar -> Gujjar
  p 44: of the Ammochu -> Ammo-chu
  p 64: known as Chomo-lungma-> Chomolungma
  p 101: and raisins as a -> an
  p 107: right up to Chomo-lungma -> Chomolungma
  p 109: saint called Jetsun-Nga-Wang-Chhöfel -> Chöfel
  p 133: the great lammergeier -> Lämmergeier
  p 138: VALLEY. Kangchenjunga -> Kanchenjunga
  p 146: to Kharta viâ-> via
  p 149: cliffs of Chomolonzo -> Chomolönzo
  p 149: formed by Chomolonzo -> Chomolönzo
  p 163: a couple of Gargany -> Garganey
  p 188: might be required we -> required. We
  p 236: toiled over the nevé -> névé
  p 265: snow-shoes on nevé -> névé
  p 271: before the next moonsoon -> monsoon
  p 275: offering a détour -> detour
  p 290: Rongbuk Valley the burrhel -> burhel
  p 291: Dippers, wag-tails -> wagtails
  p 294: packs of widgeon -> wigeon
  p 302: of a wolf. Burrhel -> Burhel
  p 302: Dippers (_Cinclus cashmiriensis_) -> cashmirensis_)
  p 302: daily by lammergeier -> Lämmergeier
  p 302: seen was a lammergeier -> Lämmergeier
  p 303: Birds, _Ibis._ -> _Ibid._
  p 309: the broken debris -> débris
  p 311: its satellite Chomo-Lönzo -> Chomolönzo
  p 322: hares, some ram-chakor -> ramchakor
  p 322: a young, week-old barhal -> burhel
  p 323: with the interpreter Gyaldzan -> Gyalzen
  p 325: by Nepalese subjects (Sharpas) -> (Sherpas)
  p 326: summit of Gaurisankar -> Gauri-Sankar
  p 327: Bhong Chu below Lungdo -> Lungdö
  p 330: plain to the village of Shärto -> Sharto
  p 333: I took a 20,000-foot tation -> station
  p 337: Darjeeling via Lachen -> L[=a]chen
  p 337: on either side of the Kharta -> Kh[=a]rta
  p 337: at all of Kangchenjunga -> Kanchenjunga
  p 339: Lhamo limestone in Sikhim -> Sikkim
  p 339: overlooking the Khumbu -> Khombu
  p 345: Calandrella acutirostris tibitana -> tibetana
  p 346: Greater sand plover. _Aægialitis -> _Aegialitis
  p 346: Lammergeier -> Lämmergeier
  p 351: Bhompos -> Bhompo's
  p 351: _see_ Tsan-po -> Tsangpo
  p 351: Carpo-Ri -> Carpo-ri
  p 351: Chang La (North Col) -> (North Col),
  p 351: first view of, 204; -> 204,
  p 351: Chodzong -> Chödzong
  p 351: Choyling -> Chöyling
  p 352: 65, etc. -> etc.;
  p 352: results -> results,
  p 353: to Kharta, 86-95; -> 86-95,
  p 353: Jetsun-Nga-Wang-Chhöfel -> Chöfel
  p 354: Lungdo -> Lungdö
  p 354: Monasteries, 99, 113, 173 -> 173.
  p 354: Ganden Chhofel -> Chöfel
  p 354: _See_ rainfall -> Rainfall
  p 354: _See_ altitude -> Altitude
  p 355: Samchang -> Samchung
  p 355: flora of, _ibid_ -> _ibid._
  p 356: Tsang-po -> Tsangpo

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