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«153 CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS EUROPE Rassemblement International, Chamonix. The Fkde’ratiw Franpise de la Montagne, governing body for the official ...»

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Rassemblement International, Chamonix. The Fkde’ratiw Franpise de

la Montagne, governing body for the official aspects of mountaineering in

France, organized for this past summer, an international meeting of mountaineers. The most prominent climbing organizations in each of several

countries was asked to send two mountaineers to attend the meeting. This Rassemblement International was held in Chamonix from July 15 to August

1. The climbers who attended were given rooms at the Ecole Nationale de Ski et d’Alpinisme and fed there on the days they were not in the mountains. The American Alpine Club was represented by David Sowles and Rowland Tabor. There were also two climbers from England, Poland, Yugoslavia, Norway, Japan, Austria, West Germany, The Netherlands, and three from Spain. The French provided several representatives, whose position was one of advice and assistanceas well as camaraderie. The purpose behind the Rarsemblement seemsto have been simply to foster good will among mountaineers, and, hopefully, to try to stimulate similar further meetings to be held each year in a different country. The idea is a fine one, though the difficulties involved in arranging a like activity in the U.S.A.

seem insurmountable.

Though overall supervision of the Rassemblement was the responsibility of Jean France, Secretary of the FFM and Directeur of the Ecole Nationale, direct control was handled by Andre Contamine, an instructor at the Ecole.

Contamine is probably very little known in the United States, though at one time he was as fine a guide and mountaineer as either Rkbuffat or Lachenal.

M. Contamine would schedule a discussion of objectives. When the various groups had indicated the climbs they wanted to do, he would coordinate these, suggest possible ascents to those who were undecided and finally arrange food and sufficient space at the appropriate huts. The food to be carried up to the huts, as well as the tickets for the telepherique or the cog railway, were distributed just before departure. There was little for the climbers to do but climb. On the whole the group was a young one. The average age was probably in the middle twenties. The finest climb was certainly the Grandes Jorassesby the north spur of the Pointe Walker, done by the Poles with one bivouac. The representatives of the A.A.C. contented themselves with the Mer de Glace face of the Grepon, a traverse of the Aiguilles Mummery and Ravenel, I’EvCque, the north ridge-northeast face of the Aiguille de @ant, and the Frontier Ridge of Mount Blanc. Because of the various language barriers, there was not quite as much mixing of nationalities as there might have been. But notwithstanding these barriers, THE AMERICAN ALPINE JOURNAL

–  –  –

ASIA Nepal The 1959 American Himalayan Mukut Himal and Kanjiroba Him& Expedition returned to Kathmandu on November 30, after a successful trip of two-and-a-half months into the area north and west of Dhaulagiri, in central Western Nepal. The group consisted of four American climbers, John Humphreys, Caspar Cronk, Dr. Fred Dunn and John Noxon ; four Sherpas (under Sirdar Ang Dawa) ; and a Nepali liaison officer, Manik Tuladhar.

The party met its group of Sherpas at the Nautanwa railhead on the Indian border and walked for three weeks across Nepal to reach its area of operations, using successively porters, mules and yaks for transport. The route mainly followed the course of the Kali Gandaki river, which cuts through the main range between Dhaulagiri and Annapuma, until it branched off to the west about 15 miles south of the Tibetan border.

We crossed three high passes (the highest, 18,600 feet) with a yak train and set up base of operations in the heart of the Mukut Himal, just north of Dhaulagiri II, on October 14. After the end of the heavy monsoon storms on October 7, the weather was with very few exceptions uniformly clear; a total of about 70 hours of precipitation were recorded during the next 63 days.

From this first Base Camp, the party made a concerted effort to climb the highest Mukut Himal peak, about 21,900 feet in height, in the process climbing a subsidiary peak of about 20,300 feet. The final attempt on the higher summit was made by Dunn, Noxon and Cronk, while I was recovering below from a short bout with pneumonia. They were not successful because of cornices encountered several hundred feet below the top in the midst of a snowstorm. Some expedition scientific work was also begun while in this area, in the form of preliminary theodolite triangulation, a geological collection and a small high-altitude botanical collection.

Another week of traveling to the west and north up the Barbung Khola valley brought us below a 17,4(X-foot pass leading west into the Kanjiroba Himal, an area as yet unvisited by mountaineers. Slowness and expense of transport and uncertainty about the onset of winter storms contributed to CLIMBS AND EXPEDITIONS 155 the decision to stop and set up a second Base Camp near this pass, rather than push further into the new country. From here four nearby peaks were climbed, none over 19,000 feet (despite the map) and none requiring the use of a rope. Survey stations were set up on two of these summits, as well as on the pass, and the Kern DKMl theodolite was put to good use. Excellent views of all peaks of the Dhaulagiri Himal provided the control for this work.

The return journey began on November 8, with the wind and cold, even at the 18,000-foot level, beginning to be distinctly unpleasant despite completely clear skies. The party returned by a different pass system, well known to the yak drivers, but not hinted at by either the best map currently available or the few existing reports of travel in this region. In general it was found that the Survey of India map is (not surprisingly) highly inaccurate in detail in the high mountain areas, although the large valleys and major trade routes are correctly shown. With the data obtained on this expedition it should be possible to construct a much improved map of about 200 square miles of this county, together with some general conclusions concerning its geological background.

(A complete report, including a map and a summary of the results of all scientific work done, will be published in the next issue of the A.A.J.)


Preliminary Scientific Report of the 1959 American Himalayan Expedition. The scientific aims of the party included surveying of the inaccurately mapped area of central Nepal that was visited and reconaissance geology and glaciology. Since the expedition was almost continually moving, it was possible to make only very brief investigations in the areas visited.

The most important work, from a mountaineer’s point of view, was the surveying. Using a Kern DKM-1, lo-second theodolite, the party triangulated the locations of the major peaks in the region north of Dhaulagiri, between the Kali Gandaki and the Kanjiroba Himal. Several short baselines were measured, and elevations will be calculated using Dhaulagiri I and II as a base. Since these peaks have been surveyed from the south by the Survey of India, they will also be used to connect the expedition’s map with the Survey of India maps. Observations of the sun were made to determine proper latitude and longitude. Many black and white photographs were taken to help fill in some of the topographic detail. The expedition map will, it is hoped, be compiled during the coming year.

The most important geologic finds were collections of fossils from several new localities. Rough sketches of the geologic structure were also


made. It will be at least a year before the study of the geologic data is completed, including the identification and dating of the fossils collected.

Many features related to the glacial history of the area were recorded, including a study of a group of recessional moraines formed by one of the smaller glaciers. Some of the planned glaciology studies had to be omitted because of bad weather at the only time when the party was high enough to make the proposed temperature and accumulation studies.

The scientific work of the expedition was greatly aided by a grant from the Gilkie Fund of the American Alpine Club.


Cho Oyu. The International Women’s Expedition, which was attempting the third ascent of Cho Oyu (26,867 feet), met with tragedy, resulting in the death of the Belgian, Claudine van der Stratten, of two Sherpas and of the leader Claude Kogan, the petite French climber who held the women’s world altitude record and made numerous first ascents in the Himalaya, Andes, and elsewhere. The group reached Base Camp (18,350 feet) on September 14 and despite the unsettled weather following the monsoon, in the next two weeks set up Camp I (19,700 feet), Camp II (21,000 feet), an intermediate camp (21,650 feet) and Camp III (22,300 feet). On October 1, Claude Kogan, Claudine van der Stratten and the Sherpa Ang Norbu were established at Camp IV (23,300 feet). The weather turned both bad and warm. The next day, while the lower camps were being evacuated, the Sherpa Sirdar Wongdi and Chhowang tried to climb to the high camp but were buried by an avalance a little above Camp III. After a two hour struggle Wongdi freed himself but could not rescue his companion. Although the weather began to clear on the 4th, it was not until October 11 that Dorothy Gravina, English, and Jeanne France, French, could reach the site of Camp IV. They had already days before seen through field glasses that the camp had been swept by an avalanche. On the spot they could find no traces of their companions. The other members of the party included Margaret Darvall and Eileen Healey, English; Micheline Rambaud and Colette LeBret, French ; Loulou Boulaz, Swiss and Nima and Pem-Pem, Tmzing’s daughters and his niece Dhoma.

Jannu. A strong French party, led by Jean Franc0 and composed of Lionel Terray, Jean Bouvier, Pierre Leroux, Maurice Lenoir, Robert Paragot, Guido Magnone, RenC Desmaison, P. Dreux, J.-M. Freulon and Dr. J.

Lartizien, failed to climb Jannu (25,294 feet), which straddles the border of Sikkim and Nepal. They ascended the Tamar valley to the Yamatari


Glacier, intending to try the route up the “Pear” ridge reconnoitered by the 1957 French expedition. After this whole route was swept by a huge avalanche in mid-April just after their arrival, they abandoned it in favor of a much longer one along a ridge south of Jannu. From Base Camp, which they had established on April 4 at 14,600 feet, they set up Camp I at 15,750 feet and continued up an easy glacier to Camp II at 17,700 feet.

A rock gully, snow ridge, glacier and a mixed rock and snow slope, where 650 feet of rope were fixed, led to Camp III (19,000 feet). The route became extremely difficult above there, and over a mile of rope was fixed.

Some ice couloirs were of more than 60°. Camp IV (21,000 feet) lay below the “Buffer Head” (T&e du Butoir) and the ‘Lacework Ridge” (1’ArCte de la Denteile), an extraordinarily difficult ice ridge. They established Camp V (22,650 feet) on the plateau of the Throne on May 9.

The next day Terray, Bouvier, Desmaison and Leroux climbed a 1000-foot ice slope and nearly vertical rocks above it to reach the south ridge at 24,000 feet, but the extremely difficult ascent took them all day. On May 11 France, Magnone, Paragot, Lenoir and the Sherpa Wongdi climbed this same slope. The latter two returned below but the first three established Camp VI there. That night France discovered that he was snowblind, a condition that persisted even during their descent two days latter. Magnone and Paragot climbed upwards all day from Camp VI but ascended only about 250 feet. No further attempts were made, the climb being judged too risky. The weather had been generally unfavorable throughout.

Under the leadership of Fritz Moravec, an Austrian expediDhadagiri.

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