National Geographic : 1906 Dec
HIGHEST CAMP HIGHEST CAMPS AND CLIMBS BY EDWIN SWIFT BALCH. In the summer of 1905, Dr T. G. Longstaff,* with the guides Alexis and Henri Brocherel, of Courmayeur, made a journey in which he ex plored several little known portions of the Himalaya, and also accomplished some remark able feats of mountaineering. On Nanda Devi he camped at 19,100 feet, and the next day climbed to 19,750 feet. On Nanda Kot he camped at 16,300 feet, and the day after ascended to about 21,000oofeet. Later he made a most determined attempt on Gurla Mandhata (25,350 feet), in southern Tibet. After a reconnaissance, through a mis take, on a lower peak (22,200 feet), he went up the western arete of Gurla to an altitude of about 23,000 feet, where they overlooked the 22,200-foot peak. Here the climbers started an avalanche and were carried down nearly I,ooo feet. At the spot to which they had fallen they spent the night. The next day they ascended the Gurla glacier to about 23,000 feet, where they spent the night in a hole in the snow; and the following day they climbed about I,ooo feet higher on Gurla, where they could not have been much below 24,000 feet. It is tolerably certain that this camp at 23,000 feet is the high est altitude at which men have ever had a "good rest." and that this topmost point at tained on Gurla is probably the second highest altitude thus far reached. Dr Longstaff's account is n oiece of bald prose, and to a mountaineer should carry the conviction of his veracity. So far, he has escaped being attacked for having successfully carried out these wonderful feats of endurance, in which respect he has been more fortunate than his predecessor, Mr Graham. Mr Grahamt in 1883. with Herr Emil Boss, landlord of the Bar at Grindelwald and captain m the Swiss army, and Ulrich Kauffmann, a first-class guide from Grindelwald, made a journey in the Sikhim Himalaya, in which they reached about 22,700 feet on Dunagiri; ascended A 21, which they christened Mount Monal, 22,516 feet; ascended Jubonu, 21,300 feet; and finally ascended Kabru, which the Indian Survey triangulates as 24,015 feet high. Mr Graham says: "We were off next morn ing at 4.30, and found at once all our work cut out for us. The very first thing was the worst. A long couloir like a half-funnel, crowned with rocks, had to be passed. The snow was lying loose, just ready to slide, and the greatest pos * T. G . Longstaff: "Six Months' Wandering in the Himalaya." The Alpine Journal, 1906, vol. xxIIi, pp. 202-228. tThe most complete account of Mr Graham's trip is: W. W. Graham: "Travel and Ascents in the Himalaya." The Alpine Journal, 1884, vol. XII, pp. 25-52. Emil Boss and Douglas W. Freshfield: "Notes on the Himalaya and Himalayan Survey." The Alpine Journal, 1884, vol. xnI, pp. 52-6o. ?S AND CLIMBS 73 sible care had to be taken to avoid an ava lanche. Then a steep ice-slope led us to a snow incline, and so to the foot of the true peak. Here we had nearly I,ooo feet of most delight ful rock-work, forming a perfect staircase. At 10 we were at the top of this, and not more than 1,500 feet above was the eastern summit. A short halt for food and then came the tug of war. All this last slope is pure ice, at an angle of from 45 degrees to nearly 60 degrees. Ow ing to the heavy snow and the subsequent frost, it was coated three or four inches deep with frozen snow, and up this coating we cut. I am perfectly aware that it was a most hazardous proceeding, and in cold blood I should not try it again, but only in this state would the ascent have been possible in the time. Kauffmann led all the way, and at 12.15 we reached the lower summit of Kabru, at least 23,700 feet above the sea. The glories of the view were beyond all compare. * * * However, we had no long time for the view, for the actual summit was connected with ours by a short arete, and rose in about 300 feet of the steepest ice I have seen. We went at it, and after an hour and a half we reached our goal. The summit was cleft by three gashes, and into one of these we got. The absolute summit was little more than a pillar of ice, and rose at most 30 or 40 feet above us still, but, independently of the ex treme difficulty and danger of attempting it, we had no time. A bottle was left at our high est point, and we descended." Many attempts have been made to discredit Mr Graham's ascent of Kabru. These were prin cipally done at the time by Anglo-Indians, who had had little or no experience of mountaineer ing. Their arguments have been refuted and the folly of most of their statements demon strated by Mr Freshfield and other writers.* The account of Mr Graham reads clearly and truthfully and should carry conviction to any experienced mountaineer. To any one who will look at the facts intel ligently and without prejudice, there can be no doubt that Dr Longstaff has made the highest camp and the second highest ascent, and that to Mr Graham still belongs the coveted honor of the record ascent. DRAINAGE OF WET LANDS Few people realize how valuable the topo, graphic maps published by the U. S . Geo logical Survey may be in furnishing accurate data on which to base plans for improving swamps and marshes. On these sheets a gen eral drainage plan may be laid down and the feasibility of the proposition definitely deter mined. There are many areas mapped by the Geological Survey in which enough informa tion has already been collected to make a sub * See Edwin Swift Balch: "The Highest Mountain Ascent." Bulletin of the American GeographicalSociety, 1904, vol. xxxvi, pp. 107 og9.