Sunday, June 24, 2018

Tsum Valley Trek | Route and Timings | Part II

View looking down from Nyile at the Ganesh Himal peaks

A South Col team trekked the Tsum Valley in April-May 2018. This is the second part and final part of the route and timings on this trek.
For updates on trails condiitons please visit  http://sujoyrdas.blogspot.com/2018/05/manaslutsum-valley-updates-may-5-2018.html


April 27 2018 Chumling to Choekhang Paro 
We left the Tashi Delek lodge at Chumling at 7 30 am and decided to go for a walk through the village before heading out on the trail. We hit the trail at 8 am and crossed the first suspension bridge heading east on the trail. The farmland was full of maize cultivation and it was a fairly level walk for the first one hour.  Far above us we could see the village of Ripchet with the Tibetan style houses. We passed a small monastery above the left of the trail and then entered a section of very pleasant woodland forest. In about an hour and 45 minutes we came to a signpost that said Dramba - from here the trail continued to meander up and down for another 15 minutes   On our right we passed the village of Raijam just before a suspension bridge. a signpost here mentions Gho 1 hour. 
We crossed the suspension bridge across the Siyar Khola and started climbing to Gho - we reached Gho in about 40 minutes from the bridge and found two new lodges under construction here which should be ready by the October season.  Gho which is about 2 hrs 45 minutes from Chumling makes a good tea stop. We left Gho around 11 10 am and the trail immediately began to rise steeply passing a number of chortens on the way. It continued up without a break for about 45 minutes and then levelled out for a bit. It then crossed a landslide section which had danger of falling rocks and finally reached a chorten with a sign which said Chaurikharkha 2950 metres. The trail climbed steeply from here for the next 40 minutes before it finally passes three more chortens and entered the village of Choekhang Paro. 
The village of Choekhang Paro with the Ganesh Himal peaks in the background

We walked through the first part of the village and reached the lodge of Bio Hotel Khangsangbo run by my friend Namgyal.  Other than Sky no cell phones work here. Dal Bhat Rs 550 Black Tea Rs 70 Vegetable Omelette 275
Chumling to 1st monastery 1 hour 1st monastery to Dramba 45 minutes Dramba to bridge 30 minutes Bridge to Gho 40 minutes Gho to Chaurikharkha signpost 2 hours
Chaurikharkha signpost to Choekhang Paro 50 minutes.
Chumling 2367m 28 28 24 N 84 57 45E Gho 2500m 28 21 41N 85 0 44E Choekhang Paro 3056m 28 29 25N 85 2 33E


April 28 2018 Choekhang Paro to Nyile
We left Choekhang Paro at 8 am and walked slowly out of the village - the village is fairly spread out and for the first half hour the trail stays within the cultivated fields on either side. It then begins to pass chortens and mane walls and climbs gently out of the village. In some places there are multiple trails including some short cuts which eventually merge with the broader main trail. There are lots of photo opportunities on the way so walking is usually slow. The chortens and mane walls are present at regular intervals so when in doubt about the route just follow the chortens ahead.

Line of chortens near Choekhang Paro
 In about 60-75 minutes the village of Lete is reached and a number of new lodges are being constructed here. From Lete the trail is almost flat passing through cultivated fields of maize and wheat. From here up ahead you can now see the red roofs of Rachen Gompa.  In about 45 minutes Lamagaon appears from here Rachen is a 20 minute walk. We decided to make the short detour and visit Rachen Gompa - the old monastery is very interesting with the walls adorned with many statues of Avalokiteshwara. There is also a room with a huge prayer wheel which can be rotated. The new monastery in the same complex has been built recently and is very modern.  After lunch at Lamagaon we started out for Nyile around 1 30 pm. The trail in 15 minutes entered the village of Burje with some new lodges being constructed here. High up on the left we could see the Milarepa cave complex around 30 minutes from the trail. The trail then dropped to an open meadow next to the river where yaks were grazing. As usual it then passed several chortens and long mane walls to finally cross a small suspension bridge and then climbed to the village of Phurbe. From Phurbe it agaIn levelled out through the cultivated fields and reached a small old monastery at Pangdun. From here the sign says Chule is 35 minutes Nyile is beyond that. From a little after Pangdum, Chule could be seen on the right of the trail, ahead and Nyile to the left opposite Chule. On the way there is a huge big chorten with cracks on the exterior walls possibly due to the earthquake which can be seen from a little after leaving Pangdum.  Leaving Chule the trail makes a sharp turn and then crosses a small bridge and climbs up to the village of Nyile with two lodges one owned by Lopsang which was open and the other owned by   Mingmar which was closed as he was up in the pastures collecting yarsugumba. No phones are working at Nyile except Sky phone - Dal Bhat 600 Black Tea 75 Vegetable Omelette 330
Choekhang Paro to Lete 75 minutes Lete to Lanagaon 45 minutes Lamagaon to Rachen Gompa 20 minutes  detour and back to Lamagaon after monastery visit 20 minutes Lamagaon to Birju 15 minutes Birju to Phurbe 45 minutes Phurbe to Pangdum 30 minutes Pangdum to Chule 40 minutes Chule to Nyile 25 minutes.
Choekhang Paro 3056m 28 29 25N 85 2 33E Nyilie 3365m 28 32 36N 85 6 19 E



April 29 2018 Nyile to Mu Gompa
The morning was clear was an extensive view of Ganesh II to the south. Just above the village of Chule which is below Nyile there is the big wall of Kipu Himal and the glaciers coming down from the mountain almost to the doorstep of the village.. We left Nyile at 8 am - there are two routes to Mu Gompa on either side of the river - we decided to go up the left bank trail and come down the right bank trail on the way back. The left bank trail gets more sunshine in the morning and is the preferred route of ascent. The trail meanders up the Siyar Khola river valley - far ahead above some zig zag bends the shadowy buildings of Mu Gompa can be just about seen in the distance. In about an hour we came to two buildings one with a blue roof which looked like a government office. The trail then started  to climb passing some small huts and we came to a bridge across the Siyar Khola - we could see the right bank trail on the other side with many chortens and mane walls. From the bridge the trail entered a landslide area and continued uphill through the rocks and debris for about 30 minutes. Two chortens then appeared in quick succession and some zig zag bends followed. Finally above we could see the buildings of Mu Gompa - on the trail there was another chorten and a mane wall. A short cut soon followed steeply uphill and in about 20 minutes we reached the monastery with a number of buildings. The Sky phone connection was also not working properly. Dal Bhat 600 Black Tea 100 Pancake 300
Timing via left bank trail - Nyile to blue roof buildings 1 hr from blue roof buildings to bridge  30 min from bridge to last chorten 30 min from chorten to Mu Gompa 20 min
Nyilie 3365m 28 32 36N 85 6 19 E Mu Gompa 3680m 28 35 9 N 85 6 36E



Notes on Mu Gompa

Mu Gompa
The monastery seemed to be a shadow of its former self once housing thirty to forty monks and in  David Snellgrove’s time “in  1956 one hundred monks were  there -  now  there are hardly three to four monks in residence. On enquiry we learnt that some of the other monks were away in Kathmandu and other monasteries - most of the residential rooms were empty and we were able to get three rooms for our group. Food was a basic menu confined to dal Bhat noodle soup tea and coffee. Many Trekkers have stopped staying in Mu Gompa and make a day visit from Nyile for a few hours which is also possible. 
After lunch we visited the  Dhepudoma nunnery and managed to get a nun to accompany us with great difficulty - it was a steep 225 metre climb up the hill to this small nunnery which is more than 800 years old - 3900 metres. The climb up took around 50 minutes and it was 30 minutes down - some of the frescoes on the walls had been newly repainted. 

April 30 2018  Mu Gompa to Choekhang Paro
We had planned a day hike to around 4300 metres to Choshung to see the views but it rained through the night and the morning dawned with white out conditions and clouds swirling around the peaks. The weather looked ominous and we decided to abandon the hike and head down to the warmer Choekhang Paro as the night had also been very cold and windy. We started out at around 8 am with a weak and watery sun and decided to walk back to Nyile / Chule on the right bank of the river opposite to the side we had come. We crossed the river in around 45 minutes on the smaller wooden bridge and the proceeded down the valley. We met some of the locals with their horses going up to the mountain pastures to collect yarsugumba including Mingmar of Nyile whose home stay was closed as he was up in the pastures every day.  We again crossed the blue government building and passed the chortens and long mane walls and entered Chule by around 10 30 am - we had done a leisurely stroll down the valley with a number of photography stops. 
The rest of our trail to Choekhang Paro down followed our uphill route . 
Namgyal cooking dinner for us at his homestay at Choekhang Paro
Mu Gompa to Chule 2 hr to 2 hrs 30 min Chule to Pandun 30 min Pandun to Phurbe 25 min Phurbe to Birju 35 min Birju to Lamagaon 15 min Lamagaon to Ngaku Leru 30 min Ngaku Leru to Choekhang Paro 1 hour. 

May 1  2018 Choekhang Paro to Chumling
It is possible to go down from Choekhang Paro to Lokpa in one  long 9-10 hour day but as we had extra days in hand we decided to take it easy and walk down to Chumling.  Our timings on the return journey given our leisurely walking speed are:
Choekhang Paro to Gho 1 hr 45 min to 2 hr 15 min Gho to bridge above Raijam 20 minutes Bridge to Dramba 30 min Dramba to monastery 35 min Monastery to lower Chumling Ganesh Himal lodge 45 min Lower Chumling to upper Chumling Tashi Delek lodge 20 min.

May 2  2018 Chumling to Lokpa to Philim
We left Upper Chumling at 7 30 am  and followed the same trail down to Lokpa
The down timings are:
Upper Chumling to the Gadikhola Bridge 30 min
Gadikhola bridge to the top of Sardi Danda 45 min Sardi Danda down the 2nd bridge from Lokpa 1 hr 45 min 2nd bridge upto Lokpa 35 min
We stopped for a long lunch at Lokpa at New Tsum Valley Lodge - there are two lodges at Lokpa both owned by the same person.
Lokpa tones lodge 30 min down New lodge to Manaslu/Tsum junction 30 min Manaslu/ Tsum junction to Chisopani 1 hr 10 min Chisopani to Philim 45 min. 

A newly painted roof of one of the entrance gates (kani) in the Tsum Valley
May 3 2018  Philim to Jagat
It is possible to reach Dovan in one long 8 hour day from Philim but as we had time on our hand we decided to stop in Jagat and take a half day off. We were also quite tired with the long days and poor trail conditions.  It was raining heavily from around 4 am and when I awoke at around 6 am the rain had petered off and it was drizzling. We left at 8 20 am after a late breakfast. The trail had improved after the rain - the dust had settled and it was harder and easier to walk. Our  leisurely timings to Jagat were:
Philim to Sirdibas 1 hr 10 min Sirdibas to Salleri  1 hour Salleri to Jagat 50 min. 

May 4 2018  Jagat to Khorlabesi 
We left Jagat by 7 am as we wanted to be in time to cross from Tatopani to Khorlabesi due to the road blasting work which opens the road to Trekkers and locals from 11 am to 12 noon and again from 5 pm in the evening to 7 am in the morning.  We needed to make the 5 pm crossing which we did despite waiting for one hour at the crossing point for the army to let us across. Our timing on the return leg were:
Jagat to bridge below Jagat 40 min Bridge below Jagat to Yaru Bagar 50 min Yaru Bagar to Yaru Guest house 10 min up Yaru Guest House to Syauli Bhatti - New Mountain Hotel 1 hr Syauli Bhatti to Dovan  50 min Dovan to Tatopani 1 hr Tatopani to  Khorlabesi 1 hour.
 
Crossing a bridge near Jagat
May 5 2018 Khorlabesi to Lapubesi 
We left Khorlabesi at around 7 25 am and we had to walk to long way 300 metres uphill and again 400 metres downhill to Machha Khola which would take around 3 hours. Our start was promising but as the sun became hotter our spirits flagged and we were struggling to complete the walk at the end. Our timings for the day are:
Khorlabesi to top of hill ( Shree Shiva Primary School) 1 hr 10 min Shree Shiva Primary School to Machha Khola 1 hr 45 min to 2 hrs 15 min Macha Khola to Laxmi Lodge Lapubesi 2 hrs 45 min to 3 hrs 15 min. 

May 6 2018  Lapubesi to Kathmandu
We had heard on the way down that the Dhading Besi road had been badly damaged due to landslides and in all possibility we would not be able to go back along that route. On arriving Lapubesi we found that our jeep had got stuck in the landslide at Dhading Besi and was going back to Gorkha. We would have to arrange a jeep from Lapubesi to drive us to Gorkha. A Bolero pick up camper was arranged and we left the next morning at 6 am. It took us 5.5 hours of driving through mud, slush and landslides sometimes in pouring rain to reach Gorkha at 11.30 am – there we found our jeep waiting for us. After a quick lunch we left Gorkha and headed to Kathmandu. Luckily the rain had stopped by then and our driver made good progress and we were in Kathmandu before 5 pm.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tsum Valley Nepal Trek | Route and Timings | Part I


A South Col team trekked the Tsum Valley in April-May 2018. A detailed route description and timings are below in this two part post :

For an update of trail conditions in the Manslu/Tsum region please do visit http://sujoyrdas.blogspot.com/2018/05/manaslutsum-valley-updates-may-5-2018.html

April 22nd 2018 Kathmandu to Arughat to Lapubesi
We left Kathmandu at 7 am for Arughat. It took around an hour to exit Kathmandu valley and then follow the Prithvi Highway to Pokhara for around 60 km. The road then crosses the river and starts the climb for Dhading.  Dhading Besi is reached in around 3 hours and then the road begins to climb to a ridge on a dirt track.  The progress is now very slow as the bus careered dangerously over the rutted potholes in the mud. After traversing the entire ridge the road then drops around 500 metres in the Arughat valley  crosses the river on a concrete bridge and enters the small town of Arughat by 2 20 pm.   After lunch you need to send your bus back to Kathmandu and arrange another vehicle to Soti Khola as the syndicate does not allow the same us to go to Soti Khola - we had arranged a bus to pick us up at Arughat and drive us now to a rock cliff called Hawa Danda which is now past Soti Khola - it took around 90 minutes to drive from Arughat to Hawa Danda on a very difficult rough road - from there we walked 30 minutes and reach the pretty Laxmi Lodge at Lapubesi. We had spent almost the whole day in buses on terrible roads. The temperatures at this low altitude around 500-600 metres is warm close to 30 - 32 Celsius in the day.  Cost index Dal Bhat 480 black tea 50. Both Nepal Telecom and Ncell phones are working here with low signals. 
Arughat 495m 28 2 18 N 84 48 40 E Lapubesi 606m 28 8 2 N 84 51 16E

April 23rd 2018 Lapubesi to Tatopani
We left Lapubesi at around 7.10 am following the new jeepable road which is under construction.  We spotted the snow peaks of Shiringi Himal also known as Chamar and Chamar South soon out of Lapubesi.



 Within 30 minutes we left the road and dropped down to the river initially on a steep short cut trail and then onto a broader trail which followed the river upstream sometimes over rocks and boulders. Within an hour and 15 min we could see the lodges of Khairabesi above us on the old trail which is now being blasted to make the new road. At around 9. 30 am we entered Maccha Khola and stopped for tea at the New Chum Guest House. The permits were also checked at the Police Station here.  We were then informed that due to blasting, the old trail to Khorlabesi which used to take one hour, could not be used and we would have to take a three hour detour. We waited for our group to come in and then left Maccha Khola at around 11 am. It was a relentless 400 metre climb in the hot scorching sun which took around 2 hours- the trail then dropped steeply for about 350 metres on stone steps many of them rubble and mud caked loose and slippery. 
The trail before Macha Khola along the river
We finally entered Khorlabasi around 2 pm and stopped for lunch. We were then informed that due to blasting once again the trail toTatopani would only open at 5 pm. We started out around 4 pm - the trail had been devastated in several places and it was really rough going - in some places it was extremely narrow and there was no trail at all due to the rocks and blasting - we finally entered Tatopani around 5.30 pm and decided to call it a day - we had been on the go for more than ten hours . Cost Index Dal Bhat 500 Black Tea 60 
Lapu Besi to Macha Khola 2 hr 30 min Macha Khola to Khorla Besi 1 hr normal trail 3 hours new detour across the river Khorlabesi to Tatopani 1 hr 30 min 
Lapubesi 606m 28 8 2 N 84 51 16E Macha Khola 834m 28 13 44 N 84 52 46E Khorlabesi 879m 28 15 14N 84 52 59E Tatopani 965m 28 17 42 N 84 54 15 E


April 24the 2018  Tatopani to Jagat
We left Tatopani by 7.20 am and within 15 minutes crossed the river on a suspension bridge - we then entered a landslide area which continued for about 20 minutes - the trail continued to climb and descend gently along the foaming Budhi Gandaki - in about an hour we could see the blue lodges of Dovan - the path then climbed steeply for about 15 minutes and then entered Dovan.  From Dovan the trail followed the valley and in around 30 minutes entered a landslide area which took around 15 minutes to cross - there were a continuous stream of ponies coming and going the whole morning and this delayed our progress. Within 5 minutes of crossing the landslide we entered Syuli Batti with one lodge New Mountain Hotel and Restaurant where we stopped for a cup of tea. I noticed that this lodge had rooms as well so in a crisis it would be possible to stay here.  We left Syuli Bhatti and the trail continued to climb and descend until it reached some houses where ponies were being loaded in about 30 minutes from Syuli. From here the trail started to climb steeply for around 40 minutes until it reached the top of the ridge where it passes the lone Yaru Guest House. The trail then dropped to the river and passed some lunch restaurants - the valley had opened up here in a broad plain and the river flowed gently through the plain.
The Budhi Gandaki at Yaru Bagar
 We stopped for a good dal Bhat lunch at a new lodge without any name at the end of the village and then crossed the river on a small suspension bridge. We were soon on the new cantilever walk away which had been constructed after the 2015 earthquake and then the trail started climbing steeply - in about 30 minutes we reached a bridge which had a sign Jagat 20 minutes ( don't believe it Jagat is at least 45  to 50 minutes from here). 
The new cantilever bridge at Yaru Bagar 




The trail again climbed steeply for about 10 minutes after this bridge and then dropped to the river. We passed two lodges of lower Jagat before making the last 10 minute climb to Jagat. Cost Index Dal Bhat 600 Black tea 60 Nepal Telecom  phones were working here not Ncell - permits are checked here both at the Manaslu Conservation Area Office and at the Police Checkpost.

 Tatopani to Dovan 1 hr 15 min Dovan to Syuli Bhatti 50 minutes Syuli Bhatti to Yaru Bagar 1 hr 40 min Yaru Bagar to Jagat 1 hr 50 min. 
Tatopani 965m 28 17 42 N 84 54 15 E Dovan 1016m 28 17 43N 84 54 14 E Jagat 1360m 28 21 3N 84 53 44E

April 25th 2018  Jagat to Philim
We had to make a short day to Philim due to a helicopter evacuation of one of our clients who had fallen on the first day and sustained ankle and head injuries. We left Jagat at 7. 20 am and within 15 minutes crossed another long suspension bridge with three beautiful waterfalls in front. The trail then hugged the side of the rock face with the foaming Budhi Gandaki just next to it and meandered around the valley. The village of Salleri is reached in around an hour and the trail then starts climbing steeply out of the valley reaches a high point and then descends to the village of Sirdibas in around two hours from Jagat. 
Entering the village of Sirdibas
 Just before reaching Sirdibas on a clear morning the fluted walls of  Shringi Himal also known as Chamar peak can be seen at the head of the valley. Sirdibas makes a good tea stop with a few lodges. The trail to Philim now follows the hillside and eventually in about thirty minutes comes below another suspension bridge which needs to be crossed before a 20 minute uphill climb to Philim. The lodges are built from the bottom to the top of the village with the New Philim Village Hotel  situated a short distance from the checkpost being the lodge of choice and also having wifi.  Neither Nepal Telecom nor Ncell phones were working - the locals use what is known as Sky phone which works but I found that the signals were very poor.  Dal Bhat 555 Black Tea 60 Veg Omelette 330
Jagat to Salleri 1 hour Salleri to Sirdibas 1 hour Sirdibas to Philim 1 hour
Jagat 1360m 28 21 3N 84 53 44E Salleri 1340m 28 21 35N 84 53 19E Philim 1570m 28 23 38N 84 53 46E


April 26th 2018  Philim to Lokpa to Chumling
Due to our short day yesterday because of the helicopter evacuation which eventually happened at 3.30 pm we needed to walk a long day today. We left Philim at  5 50 am hoping to have breakfast on the way. The trail traverses north out of Philim through some forest and views towards the narrowing gorge. It climbs gently in around  45 minutes reached the village of Chisopani with a number of lodges. We stopped there for a quick breakfast and then carried on to the trail junction of the Manaslu and Tsum valley treks.  The trail traversed high over a spectacular gorge with the Budhi Gandaki thundering through the gorge and in about an hour from Chisopani arrived at the junction known as Gum Pul with an information board.




 We started up on the right fork towards Lokpa. The trail started climbing steeply for the first 30 minutes. We then reached a newly constructed lodge with five rooms which could be useful on our return journey. Far below us we could see the Manaslu circuit trail and the road to Pewa and Deng. Our trail went through rhododendron and pine forests and then the climb eased up a bit and we passed a gateway before entering Lokpa with two lodges. 
Philim to Chisopani  50 minutes Chisopani to Gum Pul  junction 1 hr Gum Pul junction to new lodge 30 min New lodge to Lokpa 50 minutes. 


After a cup of tea we left Lokpa around 9 am. The trail started to descend and reached a suspension bridge in around 20 minutes. It then dropped further to the Siyar Khola and crossed another smaller bridge in another 15 minutes. The trail then started to climb - first on stone steps and then on newly constructed cantilever bridges like the one at Yaru Bagar - most probably constructed after the 2015 Nepal earthquake. The trail continued to climb relentlessly through the forest for about an hour - some of the red rhododendrons were in bloom and the trees were full of bird song. Far below us the Siyar Khola with emerald green waters rushed through the gorge. The climb then eased a bit but continued to gain altitude - from the last high point  known as Sardi Danda it descended for about 30 minutes to the trail junction of Chumling and Ripchet knows as Ghumlong and marked as Gadhikhola over the river. From here we crossed the last suspension bridge and climbed up to the lodges of Chumling in around 45 minutes. The right fork to Ripchet would be a steep climb of around 40 minutes.  The much advertised Ganesh Himal lodge which we did not stay in was supposedly 25 minutes from Ghumlong. 
The Tashi Delek lodge in Upper Chumling
We finally reached Chumling around 1-30 pm a 7 hour 30 minute day. Neither Ncell nor Nepal a Telecom phones were working here - the lodge Tashi Delek where we stayed had a  Nepal Telecom land line which was working.  There are three lodges in Chumling - the Ganesh Himal on the trail and the other two in upper Chumling. Dal Bhat Rs 550 Black Tea Rs 70 Vegetable Omelette 330
Lokpa to first bridge 20 minutes; First bridge to 2nd bridge 15 minutes 2nd Bridge to the top of the climb Sardi Danda 2 hours Sardi Danda top to Ghumlong 40 minutes down; Ghumlong to Chumling 45 minutes. 
Philim 1570m 28 23 38N 84 53 46E Gum Pul 1634m 28 23 33N 84 53 40E  Lokpa 1930m 28 26 32N 84 55 5E Ghumlong 2116m 28 27 58N 84 57 29E Chumling 2367m 28 28 24 N 84 57 45E



to be continued in Part II next week...

Friday, June 8, 2018

Mallory of Everest | 8th June 1924

 Members of the 1924 expedition - Standing from left Irvine, Mallory, Norton, Odell, Macdonald. In front: Shebbeare, Bruce, Somervell, Beetham. Members not in the photo : Noel, Hingston, Hazard.
"And yet as I gazed again another mood appeared to creep over her haunting features. There seemed to be something alluring in that towering presence. I was almost fascinated. I realized that no mere mountaineer alone could but be fascinated, that he who approaches close must ever be led on, and oblivious of all obstacles seek to reach that most sacred and highest place of all." 
Noel Odell gazing at the North Ridge of Everest June 1924 after Mallory and Irvine were lost.

Members of the 1921 Expedition - Standing: Wollaston, Howard-Bury, Heron, Raeburn.
Sitting: Mallory, Wheeler, Bullock, Morshead.  

"Higher in the sky than imagination had ventured to dream, the top of Everest itself appeared"

On 8th June 1924, two men left  Camp VI (26,700 feet)  to make an attempt on the summit of Everest. Camp VI  was the highest camp of the British 1924 Everest expedition.

On the same morning, another British climber, Noel Odell, was making his way up from Camp IV to Camp VI. Odell was a geologist and he was collecting fossils from the slopes of Mount Everest. Odell recalls that it was not the perfect morning to climb Everest. " Rolling banks of mist" were sweeping  across the mountain and covering the north face. Neither the face nor the summit ridge could be seen by Odell. There was also a sharp wind which was making climbing very difficult.

Suddenly at 12.50 pm the mist cleared and Odell spotted high above on the ridge, a black dot climbing a rock step, which Odell at that point identified as the Second Step. Soon after Odell saw another black dot following the first black dot. But before Odell could be sure that the second black dot had joined the first,  the mist rolled in and blanketed the mountain and this fantastic vision was lost forever.

The two dots that Odell saw were George Mallory and Andrew Irvine "going strongly for the summit of Everest". Mallory and Irvine were never seen again.

But even today, ninety four  years after the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine, the legend of Mallory is still alive. Books are being written about Mallory, expeditions are being planned to find Andrew Irvine and his camera because Everest experts believe that the camera will unlock the secret of Mallory's last climb.

In this post we take a look at some photographs and other memorabilia from the Everest expeditions of 1921, 1922 and 1924.

“It was a prodigious white fang, an excrescence from the jaw of the world.”
A  current day telephoto view of Everest from the Pang La  identifying the important features of the mountain - please click on the photo to enlarge.


Everest view from the Pang La pass in Tibet


Mallory and Irvine on the ship S S California  which brought them to India in 1924
Andrew Irvine working on oxygen cylinders


Norton and Somervell with their sherpas before their summit attempt

Norton and Somervell's climb - Norton reaches 28,000 feet without oxygen 

Norton set an altitude record  in 1924 without oxygen reaching 8570 metres which remained unchallenged until Messner and Habeler climbed Everest in 1978 without oxygen

"I cannot tell you how it possesses me"


Mallory and Irvine's climb


Mallory's watch found in  1999 by Conrad Anker and the team
Note from Mallory to Noel - the 8 pm in the note is obviously a mistake and should be 8 am!


Mallory's note to Odell which he found in Camp VI - the weather when they started out was good as Mallory mentions in the note - Perfect weather for the job!

"Again and for the last time we advance up the Rongbuk glacier for victory or final defeat "

Letter from George Mallory to his daughter

Memorial of the three Everest Expeditions 1921,1922 and 1924



1924 oxygen cylinders at the Planters Club Darjeeling


"...some day you will hear a different story..."

All photographs in this post are copyright ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY and the respective owners

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Everest May 29th 1953 | Sixty Five Years since the 1st Ascent

Hillary and Tenzing arriving at Advance Base Camp 30th May 1953 after the successful summit.  On the left is Charles Evans and to the left of Tenzing is Tom Bourdillon and George Band. 
Today is sixty five years since the first ascent of Everest.

On 29th May 1953 at 11.30 am, a Sherpa and a New Zealander became the first men to stand on top of the highest peak on this planet.  However the intervening years has seen a sea change as far as Everest is concerned. The mountain   has now become a playground for guided expeditions, with clients paying between twenty five to sixty thousand dollars or more to stand on the highest point on earth. The South Col route climbed in 1953 is now disdainfully referred to as the “yak trail”. The dangerous icefall below the Western Cwm is maintained by a team of sherpas right through the season led by a senior “Icefall Doctor.” 


In order to make it possible for the clients to summit Everest, the entire mountain has fixed rope from bottom to top. This year 2018 the first ascent of the mountain was made by a team of  sherpas from different expeditions who fixed  the rope right to the summit and they were followed by the guided clients. 


 The summer of 2018 has been a record year on Everest. There has been 700+ summits till date from both the south and north side and for the first time there were eleven straight summit days when the weather was favourable for the climb.  Kami Rita Sherpa made his 22nd ascent of Everest - the highest number of Everest ascents till date. Lhakpa Sherpa climbed Everest from the north for the ninth time - the most Everest climbs by a woman. 

A Chinese double amputee Xiya Boyu made a successful ascent of Everest while astronaut Maurizio Cheli also successfully made the summit becoming the first man to have flown in space and climbed the highest mountain in the world.

There was also a major problem this year  with faulty oxygen bottle regulators on the Tibet north  route and some teams had to cancel  their summit attempts. 

However, this post recounts through photographs,  the 1953 climb, the historic ascent of the first two men to summit Everest and the team of climbers and sherpas who supported them through this endeavour.


Bourdillon and Evans on their return from the South Summit on May 26th 1953 - Bourdillon had wanted to make a push for the summit

Nawang Gombu crossing the icefall ladders - Gombu later became the first man to climb Everest twice in 1963 and 1965
The five men who helped  Hillary and Tenzing to carry to Camp 9  27,800 feet - John Hunt, Da Namgyal, Alf Gregory, Any Nyima and George Lowe - Photo George Lowe Collection

The map of the Khumbu icefall and the route followed by the 1953 expedition


From left: John Hunt, Ed Hillary, Tenzing, Ang Nyima,  Alfred Gregory and George Lowe after the ascent

The code which was later used in the telegram to send the news before the Queen's coronation

The telegram sent by John Hunt after the ascent

Hunt, Hillary and Tenzing in London

The full expedition team with the sherpas
Tenzing and his mother at Tengboche monastery after the climb
Tenzing and Hillary at Tengboche monastery after the successful climb
Sketch map drawn by Tenzing for his biographer James Ramsay Ullman 

The signed colour supplement of The Times




All photographs in this post are copyright the ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY and the respective owners.

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