National Geographic : 1952 Aug
baggage trains-13 Bhotias, 6 Dotials, 1 cow, and 18 goats (page 209). Climbing to 15,600 feet across the snow and rock of the Surans Ka Dhura pass, we contoured through hill sides massed with wild flowers-multicolored primulas, yellow ranun culus, saxifrages, stonecrops, and hosts of other brilliant plants. But what filled our minds as we dropped to a glacier and camped below a huge waterfall was the sight of a peak called Uja Tirche, 20, 350 feet. Clouds hid its summit, but its sides fell sheer for thousands of feet in rock bands and ice bulges. Even as we looked the clouds lifted, dis closing twin sickles of ice and a fringe of cliffs sweeping downward to rock splinters; we knew they must be gigantic pinnacles to show from here. Accepting the moun tain's silent challenge, we sorted out three days' food supply for an attempt next day. By morning every cloud had been swept from the sky, and 217 Himalayan rubythroats A Dunagiri Girl and whistling thrushes Bhotia women vie wi' were singing their nostril (page 207). Be; hearts out. in homespun. In her v Unfortunately, our six Dotials were feeling the altitude. One was sick and the others were going very slowly. It is a tribute to the men that they carried to 17,400 feet, to pitch our tents some 600 feet under the pinnacles. Three then returned to base; the other three stayed with us. Wild Mountain Sheep Share Heights Tom MacKinnon had made a quick recon naissance of the pinnacles and reported them as amazing shapes of crumbly rock. He had "cairned" a route to a giant sphinx head; beyond that he had judged it unwise to go without a rope. We were not alone. To our surprise, flocks Thomas Weir Wears a Nose Ring Bigger than a Bracelet th one another in unusual decorations carried in the left ar claws dangle from the silver breastband of this girl illage the Scots' penicillin proved a boon (page 215). of bharal-wild mountain sheep-appeared at heights equivalent to our own. From our camp the scenic contrast was startling. On the Indian side, from north west to southeast, immense snow peaks spiked the sky, rising from green valleys to glaciers and surging upward to ice walls. North and east, across the Girthi Gorge, lay a land of soft autumnal beauty-rolling hills, their dun uniformity flecked with patches of snow. They might have been the hills of the Scottish border, but no Scottish sky ever had such an electric-blue intensity. We were be holding the Tibetan plateau, stretching through a wilderness of space.