National Geographic : 1952 Aug
unfolding a sight that made us forget the bit ter cold. In waves of move ment peaks were break ing through. Kamet rose high over Badri nath in a 25,000-foot wedge of silhouette, im mense against fire tinted clouds. Even as we looked, the warmth was with drawn from the sky; the rolling cloud-sea paled to shadow. The immensity of depth, of incredible space, is something I am never likely to forget. It was a feeling of being not on the earth, but on another planet. The Providence that looks after fools and mountaineers had not only submerged the clouds, but had given us a clear sky. From it now shone a three quarter moon to light our campward steps. We reached the tent just 18 hours from the time we left it. Curi ously, no one was hun gry, though we had eaten little all day. Altitude has strange ef- 221 fects. Next morning the S sun shone warmly on whi the tents. It was de- the Thomas Weir A Barefoot Grandmother Spins Wool at Milam he pulls the raw wool into a rough strand, carefully paying it out to the irling bobbin. Gnarled toes power a treadle turning the bobbin and winding yarn. Most Indian hill people spin by hand (opposite page). lightful, but not for MacKinnon. He was snow blind, and the tent had to be darkened to give him relief for his eyes. In the clouds of yesterday, Tom had been much troubled by his dark goggles steaming up, and from time to time he had removed them. He was now paying the penalty. Castor-oil drops cured him in 24 hours. Meantime we prepared for another attack. From what we had seen of a peak we called South Lampak (20,750 feet), there seemed a fair hope of climbing it. We lost no time in descending to the base camp and moving up 2,000 feet to pitch our tents. Wall Creepers Seem Huge Butterflies Around our camp at 15,000 feet, pink and yellow flowers were so thickly massed that we couldn't avoid tramping on them. All about us were many birds-rosefinches, plain-backed mountain thrushes, pipits singing their songs in spiral dives, and a lovely thrushlike bird of cobalt blue and black, afterward identified as an unclassified species of grandala. Alpine choughs circled the ridges. Most beautiful of all was a wall creeper, fluttering its gray and crimson wings like some huge butterfly as it climbed a vertical cliff in search of insects. With three porters we climbed hard and established a camp at more than 18,000 feet on the edge of an airy snow cornice with long drops on either side. The summit was less than 3,000 feet above. Ahead was an 800-foot rock buttress, steep but not capable of stop ping us, we thought. Came the hour of rising for the attempt 3:30 a.m.-and we had to withdraw to our sleeping bags. Wet snow pattered against the tents, and visibility was nil.