Cecil Edward Barton spent 11 years as a missionary in the Punjab region of north-west India. After that he returned to England and became the rector of Rousdon in Devon, where he died at the age of 39.

Despite a lifelong affliction affecting one foot, Cecil embarked on several taxing walking tours in the Himalayas near Srinagar where he lived. He kept journals of these expeditions, packed with photographs he had taken himself and snippets of plant matter collected from the area. Three of these journals are known and I (DBHB) am transcribing them when I get time. I have included scans of many pages, but have placed these images at appropriate points in the text rather than in their strict original positions. To aid in on-line readability, I have created my own paragraph breaks in many cases.

To modern eyes Cecil's stereotypically 'Victorian' attitudes towards other races and their beliefs are somewhat embarrassing to behold. Still, these journals are a fascinating window into another time, place and culture.

Volume 1: Kolahoi, 1900


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Cecil was 30 when he wrote this journal. He had three children at this point. One of the twins, Joan, would die of typhoid a few months after this. Two more children would later be born.
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Sringar. Our house and hut [left]. View from the garden of the Takht-i-Suleiman [right].


1900, Prologue


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Our object in going may be briefly set forth as follows:-

i. We were both seedy, and I at least had begun to realize that I had got a ‘liver’.

ii. We wanted to reconnoitre Kolahoi, which may be described as the Matterhorn of Kashmir – in moments of reckless ambition we talked of climbing it, but we neither of us seriously contemplated such a thing, since the peak is 17,839 ft and has never been climbed yet. Still we meant to have a look at it.

iii. We were going to try & get to the famous cave of Amar Nath, a cave high up in the mountains on the borders of Ladakh, which is visited by hundreds of Hindu pilgrims & faqirs every year, on the ground that it is one of the sources of the Ganges [Footnote: Also because the cave contains a somewhat remarkable stalagmite which is the Shiv symbol of Hindu worship.]. It might almost as easily be the source of the Euphrates, but then Hindus for the most part have a fine contempt for geography, and the Rajah makes it comfortable for them here, so why shouldn’t they come? There are some pigeons in the cave & if these fly out when the pilgrim enters, he is happy for life. {p1.3}

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Stalagmite of Shiva in the Amarnath cave temple (image from Wikipedia)

The party consisted of Dr. Ernest Neve, whose knowledge of Kashmir as everybody knows is considerable, and who made the first ascent of Hara Muk (16, ) last year, myself – two servants, Aziza the cook, who could make most things fairly well except soup, and who couldn’t boil an egg decently until we showed him, and Sámdu, who carried a basket of provisions on his back and waited upon us at meals, and whose sole virtue was his toughness, his lack of intelligence being remarkable even for a Kashmiri! and a small army of coolies who carried all our worldly possessions. These varied in number from seven to thirteen as they had to carry their own food, i.e. rice, as well as ours, and as a Kashmiri eats 2 lbs of rice a day the weight soon mounts up, but as we got into civilized regions where rice was obtainable, we gradually reduced the number. Our outfit consisted of the following –

A suit of ‘pattoo’ (Kashmir cloth)
Flannel Shirt, Stockings, Warm underclothes etc, Mackintosh, Pattoo Hat and Solar Topi. {p1.5}
Boots, Chaplis, & Grass Shoes & Socks.

The latter need some explanation. Both are a form of sandal. ‘Chaplis’ consist of a thin leather sock, generally of sheep skin, with a stout buffalo hide sandal worn over it. They are very light & comfortable and admirably suited for walking uphill, where-ever there is a moderate path, but are not good for wet weather. Grass shoes are sandals made of grass rope – they are universally worn by coolies, who make them for themselves out of the rope. We took a large quantity of this rope with us as grass shoes are generally worn out in one march. A thick puttoo (or felt) sock is usually worn by sahibs underneath which has a division between the big toe and the other toes. This is necessary as one strand of the grass rope has to pass between the toes in order to keep the shoe on the foot. They are very comfortable after having been worn a little and are unrivalled for ascending steep snow slopes or climbing slippery rocks.{p1.6}

Our outfit further consisted of 2 Alpenstocks, 2 Ice-axes, a 30 ft alpine rope, Dark Glasses, Blue Veils, Compass, Map, Aneroid & Field Glasses [also a camera]. Then we took Stores with us in the form of Bread, Butter, Jam, Compressed Soup in packets & 2 tins of self-heating soup, Candles – a folding lantern, Tea, Cocoa, etc.

All our stores went into a bag, a leather trunk, and 2 Kilters – an upright basket covered with leather which is used a great deal in Kashmir. We each had also a bundle of bedding, containing a quilt, several thick blankets, waterproof sheet & pillows. I took a camp bedstead – a wooden frame which takes to pieces covered by a piece of ‘davic’ or matting which is stretched on the frame by ropes – but others scorned such luxuries and elected to sleep on the ground.

To crown all, we had three tents. One, a double fly 60 lb Kabul tent measuring about 10 ft. square which Neve & I shared – a small shelter tent for the cook, and a tent for the coolies, also about 10 x 10.{p1.7}


June 11th (Monday)


We had sent on Aziza on Saturday by boat up the river to Aventipur (see map). He took with him a letter to the Tehsildar of that village, instructing him to supply us with the coolies we needed, who were then to march up the valley as far as Sitoor where we would meet them. All our baggage had been sent on in the boat, and the coolies would take it to Sitoor. We had also despatched another man, with a coolie to go as far as Khrew, where he was to get breakfast ready for us. Accordingly when we started at 6.45 AM on Monday we had only ourselves to consider. We were to ride as far as Sathpookrin, a small village lying at the foot of the ridge which overlooked Sitoor, and from there the ponies would return with the sayces and we should begin our journey on foot.

It was a lovely fresh morning as we cantered along the Islamabad road past the Sonawár Bág with its row of fine chenar trees & multitude of sahibs camps pitched underneath them, on to the foot of {p1.8} the spur which runs down from Labarwán (9000 ft.) to the Jhelum. Now & again we came close to the river & had glimpses of barges and ‘dungas’ & sometimes House-boats moved to its banks. The final village of importance East of Srinagar is Pámpur, famous for its ‘roti’ – a kind of biscuit which is an admirable substitute for bread and of which we had previously laid in a supply – but we struck off the road on to a footpath before reaching Pámpur & gradually left the river behind us. Here we had left all civilization behind, and nothing was to be seen but the open country – fields of barley and linseed & occasionally a small village with its cluster of fruit trees. Some miles further on we got on to the ‘Kariwa’[?] or high level sandy ‘veldt’ – which intersects the fertile valley at various points near the foot of the hills, & is the only land which defies cultivation, owing to the impossibility of irrigating it.

A little further at the foot of the Kariwa, hidden by splendid chenars was a village, which turned out to be Khrew. {p1.10} Here on a raised platform, built out in the middle of a tank of beautifully clear water, fed by a spring at one corner, which was only disfigured by two grotesque stone idols set up over it, and shaded overhead by the huge chenars we had our breakfast – a group of village children came to look on and see how the sahibs ate – an old hospital patient too appeared and with a gratitude unusual in a Kashmiri offered to bring some food for the horses; this led to some conversation, and soon other would-be patients arrived & recounted their various ailments – but Neve had no medicines with him on this occasion, as it was a holiday tour, so he gave them prescriptions to take to the hospital in Srinagar.

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It was a fascinating spot but we could not stay very long and soon mounting our ponies again we rode on 3 or 4 miles to Sathpookrin. The sun was well up now, and the ride was a hot one as there was no shade at all; we reached the village about noon, and were greeted by some villagers bringing mulberry branches with them – they had mistaken us for agents {p1.11} of the Silk factory in Srinagar, and we had to explain that we were not from ‘Resham Khana’ – Silk manufacture is now one of the staple industries of the country, the eggs are imported from France and given out to the villagers who rear the silk-worms on the indigenous mulberry that grows everywhere, and then bring back the cocoons when they are formed to Srinagar – they get a good price for the cocoons, which are then stripped of their silk in the factory, and the silk exported again to Europe – it is very well superintended and the profits to the State are now very large. We went into a house and saw some of the silk-worms. After a short rest here we dismissed the sayces & started our climb up the ridge – it was not more than 1000 ft. & we soon reached the top – the view was very fine and we could trace out our track for the following day over the high pass that leads from the head of the Sitoor valley into the Nagbaran. Sitoor itself lay just below us & the white tents of the camp were clearly visible proving that our instructions had been carried out and the coolies had arrived.

About an hour later {p1.12} we entered the village – surrounded by rice fields which were irrigated from the main river that flowed down the valley. We had to alter the position of the camp as we found it was below the village, but we soon found another spot higher up under the shade of some fruit trees where we could be very comfortable. During the afternoon we rested and I began reading Dickens ‘Barnaby Rudge’ which I had brought with me, but the flies were troublesome so I strolled off and gathered some yellow jessamine that were growing near. Both white and yellow jessamine grow in any quantity in the valleys of Kashmir, and this and the wild roses white & pink make the air very fragrant. We found that the coolies from Avantipur would not go with us, so we had to get fresh men from this village: this was not difficult however, and we made no further change afterwards, these men, with one or two exceptions keeping with us throughout the tour. {p1.13}




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June 12th (Tuesday)


We had intended to start at 5 A.M. but we did not get off till 6. There is always delay on the morning of the final march as the coolies have to sort out their loads, and this means endless altercation & dispute every man trying to get the lightest load possible! Finally a little strong persuasion had to be used and we set off. It was deliciously cool & fresh – the path was level at first as we followed the stream up the valley, then as we approached the high range of mountains at its head the stream diverged in different directions and gradually decreased in volume, we took a N.E. direction and soon found ourselves steadily climbing. We still had shade as the banks of the stream were thickly wooded. There were quantities of flowers scattered about our feet. Wild wallflower, a kind of big forget-me-not and the handsome campenela shown on the next page. We had climbed 2000 ft. before we halted for breakfast. Sámdu had kept with us and he carried a basket containing provisions also a kettle and a degchi (iron pot) filled {p1.14} with some sort of savoury stew that the cook had got ready & which only needed warming up. So we selected a cool spot and Samdu lit a fire close by and we cleared out the contents of the basket, or most of them – for some had to be kept for later on. From this point the ascent was very steep, about 1 in 2, and progress was slow in proportion. We had got out of the shade moreover and the sun was decidedly hot. But one had compensations in the air & the flowers not to mention the view. We passed up through the zone of firs and pines out on to the ‘marg’ [Footnote: 'Marg’ lit: means ‘meadow’ – it is a Kashmiri term given to any grazing or pasture land & exactly corresponds to the Swiss name ‘alp’ –] above – behind us could be seen range upon range of low hills with the {p1.15} plain beyond and the Pir Panjal range in the distance. Above us was the pass flanked by massive rock peaks patched here & there with snow. There were no trees now only bushes of juniper but such quantities of flowers! The dwarf purple & blue iris grew everywhere, edelweiss, the little gentian (coronella), the white podophylia and purple fritillary, and the delicate little white & mauve anemones, all could be found in abundance.

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Jacob’s Ladder


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The head of the Nágbaran (the cross shows the pass that we crossed over)
Wild Wallflower (8000-9000 ft.)
Primulas and Ranunculus glacialis (?) (the latter only at 12,000 amongst snow).

The top of the pass (11,000 ft) was reached at 2 PM & there we had a long halt – at our feet just the other side was a large patch of snow, it was the first experience of what we were soon to be very familiar with. Below us lay the splendid valley of the Nágbaran, in its way as beautiful as any in Kashmir – we had struck the head of it, and the eye rested upon acres of bright green margs falling like green waves towards the lower end of the valley. Scattered over the margs were the ‘gujaras’ (herdsmen) huts, not very unlike the Swiss chalet tho’ hardly so picturesque – some 500 ft. below a spur, covered with pines {p1.16} ran out overlooking the margs.


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Our Camp in the Nagbaran.
Edelweiss
Gentian Corona

From this point we could still keep the pass in view and at the same time reconnoitre the head of the valley. So we decided to descend there. We made another fire & had some tea and in about an hour’s time we saw the coolies reach the top of the pass. We then decided to push on, and look out for a camping ground – we were still high up on the S. bank of the nagbaran river and soon found ourselves among birch woods, the only wood beside juniper that is found at this height. The ground here was carpeted with primulas, mauve & pink, and yellow anemones – further on too we came across several rhododendron bushes, with a few pink blossoms on them. It was from this point that I took the photo (page 9) already shown – a break in the birch forest showed the whole snowy range that filled the head of the valley with the pass that we had to cross the following day. The sun which had begun to settled down in the west caught the white peaks & made them shine very white, & the whole {p1.17} scene was extremely beautiful. But we could not camp here, and finally had to descend to the river bank to find a suitable spot (see page 4 [moved to left]) – here after sunset we lit an immense bonfire of birch-wood round which we sat whilst we had dinner for it was bitterly cold. The height was not less than 10,000 ft. – Neve had a mattress madeof juniper boughs which he said was comfortable. As we sat by the fire after dinner we noticed a black cloud ‘the size of a man’s hand’ approaching in the West. We watched it grow larger & larger & then noticed lightning flashes heat through its blackness & came to the conclusion that it was a bad omen for the morrow. Sure enough in the early hours of the morning down came the rain and we made up our minds that our stay in the Nágbaran would be prolonged.


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June 13th (Wednesday)


It was not such a bad day however after all and at seven o’clock the clouds has broken up sufficiently to justify us in making a start. We discovered that we ought to have crossed the river the day before by a bridge further {p1.18} down, however we found a track on the S. bank which was good enough for the coolies to march on, and so having put on grass shoes and packed up we started off soon after 7. The end of the birch forest was soon reached and then crossing a ‘mullah’[?] we climbed a steep slope from which the snow had only recently melted & found ourselves in full view of the pass. It looked fairly near but on snow distances are deceptive, and we had several hours hard work to do before reaching the summit. The coolies kept along the bed of the stream lower down, but we took a direct route round the snow slope. It was here we began step-cutting. The snow was hard and too steep to allow walking on it with only the hold that grass shoes gave so for a mile or more we cut our away along. An island of rocks in the middle of the snow provided a suitable halting place for a cold breakfast. We had now reached the foot of the pass and the last climb was very stiff. Now and again we were enveloped in thick mist and came in for some rain too, though it passed off. {p1.19}

One final struggle round the foot of some rock cliffs and up some more snow brought us to the top. This sketch will give some idea of our track.

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The top was 13,000 ft. at least, probably rather more, and not being in training I found I had got rather a bad sick headache. This was however the only occasion on which I felt the high altitudes at all. 1500 ft. below us lay Lake Tarsar, which with the basin in which it lay was one sheet of white – snow covered everything as far as the eye could reach. To reach the lake we had to descend a very steep snow slope. The coolies had gained[?] the top of the ridge at a different point, some ½ mile distant {p1.20} and we soon saw them evidently perplexed as to how to get down. However it would have delayed us an hour or more if we had gone along the ridge to them, so we decided to descend in a diagonal line and meet them a few hundred feet lower than where they were. The first part they must manage as best they could. And manage it they did though not without some slipping. We cut steps for about 200 yds & then found the slope sufficiently easy to be able to walk on it. When we reached the coolies we kept with them cutting steps the whole time as we worked round at about 200 ft. above the lake until we reached its lower extremity.


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The Pass (crosses show the points reached by ourselves & coolies)

By this time the afternoon was well advanced, and the weather again began to look very unsettled. We pushed on as rapidly as we could, but very {p1.21} soon came in for a tremendous thunder-storm – the hail stones were as large as cherries and there was absolutely no shelter so we simply turned up our coat collars & stood with our backs to the storm, whilst the hail rattled on our solar topis like peas on a drum. The lightning flashes seemed so near that E.N. hurled his ice axe some 20 yds away from him preferring not to make himself into a lightning conductor! I had previously exchanged mine for my alpenstock. All things have an end, and as the storm lulled we pushed on down the valley – then the hail turned to rain, we took shelter for a while under a rock & tried to light a fire to make some tea but wet juniper won’t burn well & we only got smoked out for our pains, so we gave it up. We were within a mile or so now of our camping {p1.22} ground, a spot known by the coolies as Seguás. Soon we reached it – it looked cheerless and uninviting enough – the ground sodden with rain and nothing but withered birch wood, also sodden, available for fire wood. However we got the tents pitched and then got our a tin of self-heating soup, the lamp of which we lit, and presently we found that things were not so bad after all! We had dinner in the tent and turned in very soon after – cold & damp!


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June 14th (Thursday)


We woke to find the storm had cleared off, the sun was shining and there was every prospect of a glorious day – no time was lost in striking the camp and we were soon on the march. Our route lay straight down the valley into the Lidarwat. The path kept on the R. Bank of the stream for some distance and then crossed to the left. How to cross was however a matter requiring consideration as the volume of water was considerable: eventually we discovered a snow bridge which proved quite satisfactory. There were several of these bridges at intervals down the valley {p1.23} where an immense bank of snow had collected completely blocking the stream, and the latter not to be baulked had quietly tunnelled its way underneath it. The view from this point was exceedingly fine – the photo on the opposite page does it scant justice – the great snowy mass of Kolahoi with its two distinct peaks seemed to tower up to the very heaven itself – the height looks less in the picture but it must be remembered that we were ourselves at a height of 11,000 to 12,000 ft. In between lies the valley of the Lidarwat and we had still several thousand feet to descend before we reached it.

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Kolahoi (from below Seguas)
Coolies crossing snow bridge

The flowers on the ‘marg’ on the L. Bank which we were now following were very beautiful – especially the anemones. We reached the valley about 10 A.M. and had breakfast under some pines close to the stream, we had run short of fresh milk, but a raw egg was not such a bad substitute. Crossing the Lidar-wat river by a rough bridge a little higher up, we continued our way by a very good path along the E. Bank of the river until we reached Aru.

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The Lidar Wat looking towards Aru.

On our way we were reminded of our {p1.25} nationality by meeting a ‘sahib’ who was out by himself shooting red bear . He was rather a typical sporting Englishman – with his face burnt a brick red, a stubbly beard on his chin, a pipe in his mouth, grass shoes on his feet and the rest of him clad in ‘puttoo’. He had shot two bear and wounded another the day before which he had chased for four hours before it got away! Men will undergo many things for the sake of ‘shikár’ . We exchanged notes on the weather which he described as ‘vile’ and then parted. The views looking down the valley through vistas of firs & pines were very lovely. We arrived at Aru soon after 2 o’clock & when the coolies turned up pitched our camp on a high grassy plateau with the roar of mountain torrents sounding on each side of us. So ended another day. {p1.26}


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June 15th (Friday)


The account we got from the ‘lumbadár ’ or head-man of Aru was not exactly encouraging. He said that Har Nag, a small mountain lake which lies at the foot of Kolahoi and which we hoped to reach was under snow, and described it as quite impossible for us to attempt to get to Amar-nath Cave. We had begun to think so too. The fact was that the snow fall in the early spring of this year & even as late as May had been almost unprecedented, and though one can get over snow oneself all right, it is another matter getting your coolies over it, and to camp on snow is unpleasant for you and more than unpleasant for them. However – if it came to the worst we had various alternative programmes which we were prepared to adopt if necessary. {p1.28} Our object was to get to a place called ‘Arumin’, one of the shepherds encampments up the Har Nag valley and reconnoitre from there. The distance was short, not more than about six miles – the path kept close to the stream, rising steadily the whole way.

The ferns & flowers were in great variety, and I was glad to find a rather uncommon species of maidenhair shown on the last page (Adiantum formosum) [see below]. We had some difficulty in keeping to the path as it crossed and re-crossed the stream several times and the rough wooden bridges after the winter snows were in a rather parlous state. We just succeeded in getting over one, of which only one simple tree trunk remained (vide photo) & which required fairly steady nerves with the boiling torrent beneath ready to receive you if you slipped – but the last was gone altogether and there was {p1.29} nothing for it but to keep along the same side of the stream and cross it higher up.

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‘Barasingh’, Maidenhair
A ‘Blondin’ feat!

This we did and reached Arumin about 2 P.M. It was a lovely spot, and we pitched our tent under the shade of forest pines & firs within a few yards of the stream. Whilst the coolies took possession of {p1.30} one of the Gujras huts. The ground all around was carpeted with magnificent yellow anemones. Our tent was pitched on sloping ground, so we took the necessary precaution of digging a deep trench all round it – the use of this soon became manifest, for during the night a heavy thunderstorm broke and only the trench saved us from being flooded out. As we sat around our camp fire we discussed future plans and decided that the following day at any rate must be a day off.

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Gujras hut used by the coolies
Ârumin
Anemones
Our camp



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June 16th (Saturday)


It was a Saturday, but circumstances compelled us to make it a day of rest, so we made it our Sabbath. We had a service in the morning together and spent the rest of the day in quietly reading. Whilst Samdu occupied himself in washing the table cloth! We only had one, and from being {p1.31} continually spread on the ground in close proximity to wood fires it had naturally become rather black. It was washed in the stream, after being rubbed with some soap, and left there with a big stone on one corner of it to rinse itself. I don’t think Samdu will ever qualify as a ‘dhobi’! In the afternoon we had a short walk climbing about 1000 ft. to reconnoitre. It was evident that we had come very nearly to the snow line. There were patches of snow within a quarter of a mile of the tent. Beyond, at the head of the valley the pass was visible beyond which lay Har Nag. The approach to this was entirely snow. From the point we had reached we could just discern the top of a high peak which we thought might be Kolahoi. Everything pointed to our trying to reach Har Nag and doing what we could in that direction whilst we left our camp at Arumin. The faces of the coolies considerably brightened when we suggested this; at Arumin they were comfortable – beyond they knew not what terrors might avail them! The weather had been unsettled all day. {p1.32}


June 17th (Sunday)


It was bitterly cold when we started at 5.30. There had been a hard frost in the night and snow had fallen on the mountains round, but it was cloudless and everything promised well for our days work. We piled on most of the clothing we possessed and with gloves, grass shoes, snow goggles, veils, and ice axes - & plenty of Vaseline on our faces we started up the valley. Three coolies accompanied us carrying provisions. We got on to the snow almost at once, though here & there we had to make our way over ‘moraine’ – huge boulders turned up on edge in every sort of position. The direction we were taking – almost the East – was favourable as the high peaks sheltered us from the sun until we had nearly reached the top of the Pass.

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The top of the Pass looking back towards our camp.


The ascent was without difficulty, the snow being hard & the gradient moderate. We reached the top at 9 A.M. which the aneroid put at 12,000 ft. From this narrow neck we looked down on the frozen waters of Har Nag - & the whole scene was one vast expanse of dazzling white: but Kolahoi was not visible from this point and we had {p1.35} to work around to the right a little so as to avoid the buttress of rock that intercepted our view. Then suddenly it burst upon us – a vast cathedral of rock & snow outlined against the intense blue of the sky beyond.

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Kolahoi from the top of the Pass.

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From the snow ridge – looking back the way we came

The peak that we thus saw was not as we afterwards discovered the highest. That lies beyond and is separated from this nearer peak by a chasm that may or may not be insurmountable. After a rest and some food we decided to take on one coolie with us and working round on the snow slope at the foot of the rocks (see Photo 2), reach the top of the snow ridge on the right which runs right up to the base of Kolahoi. From this point we should have a much nearer view of the peak. It was a four hours climb and the heat reflected off the dazzling snow was terrific. We reached the top of it at 1 P.M. and found that the ridge on the further side terminated abruptly in a snow cornice . We naturally avoided the edge in consequence and contented ourselves with keeping some thirty feet from it & working along till we obtained the view given opposite (no. 4). {p1.36}

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Kolahoi- a nearer view. The highest peak shown beyond.

It was quite clear from this point that the highest peak of Kolahoi lay some distance beyond, & a further examination through field glasses showed that the climb would be a very difficult one – the South peak however which rose up majestically immediately in front of us did not seem to present impossibilities. The photo shows that here again there are two distinct points to be reached, the one approached from the E. & the other from the W. – the former being the highest – it would probably be difficult to get from one point to the other – the snow slope by which the E. & highest summit of the South Peak could be ascended seemed to be continuous, & by pitching a shelter tent on the saddle might easily be managed; & we both came to the conclusion that before the North Peak can ever be reached the South Peak must be climbed and a thorough reconnaissance made of the higher and more difficult summit. The view on all sides was extremely grand, & reminded one of the view from the Gorner Grat . The snows surrounding {p1.37} one on all sides. The descent to the Pass was considerably easier than the ascent. I found that the snow was soft and quite suitable for glissading . I started off therefore and reached the bottom in about ten minutes. Neve having started on some ice & finding his descent more rapid than he cared about, checked himself & walked down the rest of the way. We reached the top of the pass again at 2.30 and accompanied by the coolies proceeded back to camp. We were met by Samdu with the tiffin basket & kettle a mile or so from camp, so we had tea and an hour’s rest & then strolled back leisurely to camp, arriving at 5 o’clock. The day’s expedition had lasted 11½ hours & had been in every way a success. In spite of veils & much {p1.38} Vaseline however the skin was all burnt off our faces and the back of our hands, and for the next few days we enjoyed the not too pleasant sensations of peeling!

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Looking towards Pahlgâm from the top of the pass

It was pleasant to sit round the camp fire & rest after dinner. It was our last night in Ârumin and it had been an ideal camping ground. We read the Evening Service together, and then turned in to sleep the sleep of the just, or at least that of the ‘weary’. {p1.39}

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“Fritillary” {p1.40}



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June 18th (Monday)


Our plans for going to Amarnath being all knocked on the head by the excess of snow the only suitable alternative was to cross into the valley of the Lidar and make our way to Âstânmarg – which is one of the ordinary pilgrim routes to the celebrated cave. There was no difficulty in doing this as a route was accessible direct from Arumin – an easy ascent through birch trees of about 1000 ft. took us on to the ridge from whence another striking view of Kolahoi was obtained – only the South Peak however being visible (see photo). Crossing a stream and a large patch of snow we came in sight of the Lidar valley and could even make out the camping ground at Pahlgâm.

A study of the map will shew that at Pahlgam the river divides – one stream coming from the East, which is fed by the Lake of Shisha Nag & the Âstanmarg valley – this is the Lidar River proper, the other being called the Lidar Wat, and it was to this valley that our course was now directed. We had a long descent of about {p1.41} 2000 ft. before we reached the valley. It was a perfect day and the views exquisite. We halted on a knoll under the shade of some pines for breakfast. On the further side of the Lidar valley were three great snowy peaks rising in tiers one above the other & recalling to my mind the view of the Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger .

The ground was again carpeted with the dwarf iris & podophylla & ‘fritillary’, all of which we had met with before. On reaching the Lidar valley we turned round to the left, keeping up the stream & shortly reached the quaint little village of Paslin. Half-a-mile further we found a camping place in a thick wood of firs & pines on the bank of the river. The coolies arrived soon after and we sent a man down the valley – six miles to Pahlgam to get & take letters and also bring us some bread. He returned soon after dinner but brought us no letters. We had our usual camp fire at night & were very snug.


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June 19th (Tuesday)


Leaving Paslin camp at 6.30 we followed the very well defined track that leads to Tánnin. This is a camping ground at the junction of the {p1.42}



{p1.43}

streams which flow down from Shisha Nag and Astanmarg – Tannin is overlooked by Mount Picu (the ‘Flea’ mountain), a curious name owing its origin no doubt to the somewhat distant resemblance it bears to that domesticated insect which thrives in Kashmir, and we had this black mass in front of us during the earlier stages of the march.

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near Paslin
‘Holly fern’
Primulas
Below Tánnin


The path keeps along the left bank of the river and now and again we had glimpses of the rushing torrent, foaming down between huge boulders framed in green foliage. The two pictures on the previous page will give some idea of the extreme beauty & picturesqueness of this walk. The distance to Tánnin was very short so we pushed on into Ástánmarg.

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Âstânmarg

We had some difficulty in finding the path here as instead of following the stream it takes an abrupt turn to the left and climbs a cliff of some 100 ft. or more. This leads on to the marg – it can scarcely be called a marg properly as it is nowhere level but the whole of the valley on the north {p1.44} side is one continual stretch of pasture land sloping down to the stream & intersected at intervals by mountain torrents – the top of the cliff we had climbed formed a sort of natural gateway to the marg and a few yards further gave us a most exquisite view of the whole valley to its further limit. The following picture was taken from this point; we decided to have breakfast here and called a halt. At the most we had not more than five or six miles further to go and we decided to camp if possible at the foot of the great mass of snow that blocked the head of the valley. Scattered over the marg were a number of native ponies – they were practically wild as no one was looking after them, and they were left to graze wherever they pleased. As it happened their presence here was a fortunate chance for me, as will shortly be seen. The last part before we reached our camping ground was more difficult walking than we had foreseen, the track traversing some steep cliffs with loose shady sides, where {p1.46} a slip would have landed you in the stream some hundred feet below – it was really better to cross the stream by a snow bridge and then recross it again in the same manner higher up, and this was the route the coolies took. The spot we selected for the camp was without shade but plenty of wood & water was available, and the position was favourable for further advance. We found quantities of wild rhubarb growing round about which though rather tasteless, formed a not unpleasant variety of pudding when cooked. The wind was bitterly cold at night as it blew straight down from the snows but an excellent bonfire & rugs helped to keep us warm, and when we turned in we slept in half our clothes as we had already done at Arumin & in the Nâgbaran.


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June 20th (Wednesday)


We decided to take another day off before attempting another climb. So again we had a rest day. The sun was hot, so we erected a rough shelter with blankets stretched across poles driven into the ground. Seated under this I borrowed needle & thread from Sámdu {p1.47} (Kashmiris always take these things about with them) and set to work to do some amateur tailoring to both my boots & my trousers which were the worse for wear. The result if not highly ornamental was at least serviceable. During the day we reconnoitred a little further up the valley over the snow field. Somewhat to our surprise we found another small marg beyond with birch trees and quantities of flowers mostly primulas & anemones. This was the real head of the valley and from here it branched to the right & left each side being bounded by high mountains - that to the right was the pass leading to Amarnáth, to the left a way might possibly be found to Har Nag – but in each case it was evident that it would be a heavy march on snow from start to finish and as there was no prospect of finding wood the other side it seemed useless to take the coolies. We decided therefore to make our camp our base and attempt the ascent of Sachkats, a peak 15031 ft. lying beyond the pass to the East. {p1.48}

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Sachkats (15,031) and the ridge continued


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View from the top of the Pass – looking back. (Kolahoi in distance) {p1.49}


June 21st (Thursday)


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Dotted line shows route taken.

It is difficult to reproduce from memory a rough sketch which will give some idea of the appearance of the Pass from the upper marg when we reached it soon after 6 A.M., accompanied by the coolies. The approach to the foot of the pass was a long snow field resembling the upper part of a glacier – in fact I am not sure it was not a glacier in process of formation. The gradient was at first easy but gradually got steeper until we reached the foot of a wall of snow & rock some 2000 to 3000 ft. in height. The snow was broken {p1.50} up into steep couloirs by long ribs of rock running down its centre. To the right and left were immense precipices terminating in high peaks that looked down on to the pass. The snow peak to the right is shown in the photo, where it appears as a continuous ridge with Sachkats. The snow was very hard and was strewn with pieces of rock detached from the precipices on the right. We soon found that if we kept to the snow couloirs we should have to cut steps the whole way to the top, since the gradient was too steep to allow of walking up it even with grass shoes. To avoid the tedious delay of this, we attempted the main rib of rock that ran diagonally across the face of the cliff, hoping it would prove easier. I think we were wise in doing so, though the rock arête proved no very easy task as it neared the top and at one point I doubted whether we should get the coolies to go on.

Once having reached the top however the rest was easy as it led us out on to the snow field which {p1.51} from here sloped away easily to the top of the pass. As in our climb to the Har Nag Pass so here again we were very fortunate in our direction being due East which enabled us to keep out of the sun until we had very nearly gained the top. The aneroid showed that we were just about 14,000 ft. at this point. The view was indescribably grand. Immediately in front of us was Sachkats and to the right the huge mass shown in the photo – a nameless peak, but one that would be well worth climbing, though it did not seem to be so high as Sachkats . A snow cornice seemed to line the top of this and from here huge masses of ice had detached themselves and rushed down in headlong career some 4000 ft. to the snow field below. This seemed to be at an immense depth below us and beyond were tier upon tier of snowy peaks prominent among them being the great mass of Rajdam which overlooks Har Nag and the needle shaped cone of Kolahoi’s north peak which seemed {p1.52} to almost touch the sky.

The South Peak was visible too but seemed a good deal dwarfed by the higher north Peak – (for this panorama see photo 3). But we had no time to study the view for very long. We rested half an hour & had breakfast & then started again – below us on the further side of the pass was a small lake completely frozen over and covered with snow . We now skirted this on the S. side keeping high up above it and crossing the snow field climbed the steep slope leading to the neck shown in photo 1. This presented no difficulty except a lot of step cutting which we set one of the coolies to do for a change & found he managed to wield an ice-axe most creditably. On arriving at the neck a new view presented itself of the snowy peaks beyond Shisha Nag (see sketch at end).

We found that the arête leading to the top of Sachkats was very sharp and precipitous on both sides, but the S. side less than the north, and it was from {p1.53} the S. side that we practically made the climb. The rock formation was not unlike the Aiguilles of M. Blanc but the rock itself was not so good, being crumbly & necessitating a good deal of care in finding hand & foot holds. A short scramble up some loose scree brought us to the first point. Then came a short traverse over a snow couloir descending to the S. – then we descended some few feet on the S. side in order to work round the foot of some cliffs that were too difficult for direct attack – then up another couloirs full of scree, which E.N. did not like but I did not mind owing to constant familiarity with such in the Lake District. Then came another traverse of a snow couloirs very near the top of the arête – the getting on & off from this necessitated five minutes hard work as the edge was solid ice & the step had to cut deep. Then came a little more scrambling over rocks and we were at the top.

It was really a very interesting climb & gave a good deal of {p1.54} variety in the plan of attack. From the top we looked straight down on to the frozen lake some 2000 ft. below. The top was reached at 12.30. We descended to the neck by the same way as we had come up helping the coolies over the difficult parts. From the neck we had a delightful glissade – the snow was soft and we could see the bottom so we all came down in style in a very few minutes. Arriving at the pass we picked up some of our belongings that we had left there & then continued our descent.

At first we were able to glissade for some 200 ft. but then the gradient became too steep & the snow too hard for it to be safe so we adopted the slower process of walking or sliding down a snow couloirs a couple of steps at a time anchoring behind with ice axes. When we were three quarters of the way down it seemed to be possible by making a traverse across some rocks into a wider & more open snow couloir to again try a glissade.

We were within 200 ft. of {p1.55} the bottom where the broad snow field began. I tested the snow and it appeared soft, so I started to glissade cautiously, but I had reckoned without considering my grass shows – the heels by this time were worn to pieces and I was deprived of that invaluable brake that is obtained by driving your heels hard into the snow, consequently I had only my axe for a brake. The snow very soon got hard again and I found that the axe would not check my descent sufficiently. There was a fair sized rock straight in my way ahead. With heels I could have turned & avoided it. Not having heels I ran full tilt into it! It was rather a jar but it stopped me – my axe was jerked right out of my hand but I easily got it again and making fast considered the position. I was all right except for my left foot which had collided with the rock – that was decidedly painful, and it seemed pretty clear that the ankle was damaged, however I had to get down somehow and I limped down the rest of the way until I met {p1.56} Neve at the bottom – he had not felt encouraged to try glissading again after witnessing me performance and had come down cautiously.

He kindly helped me back to camp which we reached at 5 o’clock, and there our coolies gathered round with much solicitude and helped me get off my shoes & stockings. The ankle was a good deal black & swollen & Neve said it was undoubtedly a sprain. So he tied it up with a bandage and we had tea & made ourselves comfortable after the exertions of a pretty heavy day.


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June 22nd (Friday)


There was no doubt at all about it next morning, my walking was over for the present and I must make shift as well as I could till I could get back to Srinagar. My foot was very painful & swollen and I could not put it to the ground at all. It was most unfortunate, but not nearly so much so as it would have been had it occurred early in the tour. The previous evening some of the coolies had gone down into the valley and captured two of the ponies {p1.59} which were wandering about at will on the marg. We selected the most docile looking of these and manufacturing a bridle & stirrups out of ropes and putting a tent on its back for a saddle we started off next morning to try & get down as far as Tannin. It was easier said than done, but that pony really did splendidly – the path was of the roughest description. To begin with we had to cross the stream by a snow bridge & then recross it again in similar fashion to avoid the cliffs that I have already described. The snow was soft and the pony did not like it but it gallantly struggled along: however when we got to the top of the steep descent down to Tannin, it gave up altogether and quietly rolled over on one side obliging me to dismount. With Neve’s assistance I hobbled halfway down the descent on one leg, & found it pretty tiring – then near the bottom I mounted again & got safely down.

Crossing a rustic bridge over the stream we soon reached the camp and I sat myself down at the foot {p1.60} of a fir tree, feeling that I had done enough for that day. In the afternoon we sent off a coolie to Pahlgam again in the hope of getting letters but none arrived. The same men made arrangements for another pony to carry me on to Pashin, and I had written to Srinagar for my own pony to be sent out to meet me if possible as far as Pahlgam.

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Our camp at Tánnin

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Wild Peony - Single - pure white



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June 23rd (Saturday)


There was not much to be done as far as I was concerned. Neve however did some exploring on his own account. My foot was still very painful and I could not walk at all. The weather was perfect fortunately and I sat under a tree and read ‘Barnaby Rudge’ and enjoyed myself. Our camping place was on some high ground that formed the delta of the two streams – the edge of the plateau was lined with magnificent firs and pines and all around us were the most exquisite white peonies. A specimen is given herewith but alas in pressing the pure white petals {p1.61} have turned to a dirty brown & nothing is left but the form of the flower. I longed to be able to paint one, and indeed actually made a feeble attempt at doing so, but it was so appalling it shall not be entered here! Immediately above us up the Shisha Nag valley an immense mass of snow had fallen, completely blocking the stream which however had burrowed its way underneath it.


June 24th (Sunday)


This was a very quiet Sunday. E.N. walked as far as Shisha Nag & back & found the lake buried in snow. In the evening we had service together.


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June 25th (Monday)


Set out on our homeward journey. My pony was a strong little beast & carried me well though the road was so bad at first that it was impossible to ride, and I had again to limp along with the aid of a stick. We reached Pashin early as the distance was short and made for our old camping place. Much to our disgust we found that it had been invaded by ‘gujras’. {p1.62}

These herdsmen came into Kashmir like an invading army, and in similar fashion they leave brazen desolation behind them wherever they go! Their buffaloes are very coarse eaters and clear away all the luxuriant undergrowth in the forests in a very short time, then when they have eaten the place bare they move on to higher pasture ground. The language the ‘gujras’ talk is not Kashmiri but a kind of mongrel Panjabi called ‘pahári’ – it is an interesting proof of how very local the Kashmiri dialect is, that immediately you get beyond the valley up to its high hills you find it is not understood at all. It was obviously quite impossible to camp where their people had been but we soon found a place about thirty yards or so higher up on the bank of the stream which would do equally well. We again sent a coolie to Pahlgam and this time he returned with a good bundle of papers and several letters, so we were once more well set up with literature.


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June 26th (Tuesday) [Mistitled June 24th by CEB]


Early in the morning before we had had breakfast which was usually about 10 o’clock {p1.63} I was considerably astonished to see my sayce arrive with my pony from Srinagar. He had certainly lost no time in coming having marched from Pámpur to Pahlgám in one day, a very considerable distance. Again I spent a lazy day but my ankle was much better and in the afternoon I was able to limp along for about a mile on the path & explored the other side of the stream by means of a bridge which had been built for the wood cutters. A good deal of timber is cut here & floated down the stream to Pahlgám.

June 27th (Wednesday) [Mistitled June 25th by CEB]


We started fairly early with the intention of getting some three or four miles below Pahlgám before pitching our camp. There were obvious reasons for avoiding this fashionable resort if possible as Neve did not want to be waylaid by European patients! Riding was easy {p1.64} with my own pony and a very fair road. Just before reaching Pahlgam we saw a very interesting & picturesque sight. The river is crossed here by a bridge which is the only way of getting either up the Pashin valley or into the Lidarwat. On the further side of the bridge thousands of sheep were collected and were being driven slowly across the bridge which they could only cross singly. On our side of the bridge some native officials were counting the sheep as they crossed, as the owners of the herds (who lived mostly in Srinagar) are taxed so much a head for the right of grazing in the upper valleys. We got across the bridge with some difficulty and were simply surrounded with sheep on the other side, and for more than a mile on the further bank we could see flocks of sheep all being driven up to this gateway.

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Counting sheep near Pahlgám.


I called at the Post Office – a tent in the English camp, for letters & rejoined Neve further on. This camp is delightfully situated on some high ground amongst splendid pines, & there were at least 20 camps even then, later on they {p1.65}



{p1.66}

amounted to sixty – and the place has been fuller this year than ever before: but the enjoyment of the visitors has recently (August) been much interfered with by the outbreak of cholera which reached Islamabad and spread up from there to the Pahlgam village. Undoubtedly the situation of Pahlgam is very charming for it is the starting point for both the lovely valleys that we had been visiting. There is a fine river – and plenty of fishing and now most of the necessities of civilization are to be found there including a Post Office, a baker, and some native shops where stores can be purchased. The altitude is about 7000 ft. On the other hand it is neither so pretty or so bracing as Tánnin or Âru. Two excellent roads lead to it, one from Islamabad on the E. Bank of the river, the other to Bijbehara on the W. Bank. The latter has been made recently and is the shortest route from Srinagar. A little below Pahlgam we crossed the river and obtained a good view of the S. peak {p1.67} of Kolahoi. We began to feel it much warmer now as we were steadily descending and soon we had left the pines behind & got down amongst the wild roses and white & yellow jessamine. Further on still and we saw walnut trees, and it was in the shade of some splendid specimens of these that we pitched our camp for the night.


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June 28th (Thursday) [Mistitled June 26th by CEB]


Making an early start we again pushed on down the valley. It was very hot and there was not much shade, but the road was good and as I was riding I did not find it unpleasant. We passed various Europeans going up towards Pahlgám and strings of pack ponies & coolies carrying their worldly goods. We noticed the Bogmoor pass on our right which is a short way to Srinagar via Traal & Avantipur saving a long stretch of river. We had now reached the rice fields and it was curious to notice how the immense volume of the Lidar River was split up & diverted into innumerable irrigation canals until {p1.69} no one could say where the river joined the Jhelum. The immense utility of water is a fact that is always prominent in India & not less in Kashmir. We pitched our camp (see Photo) under a chenar, near a rather famous Mussulman Shrine. The shrine was insignificant & dirty as most of those sort of places are, but not so some magnificent cedar trees that grew behind it, one of which is seen in the picture. It was quite one of the most splendid trees I have ever seen, at least 70 ft. in height & with a truly gigantic girth. E.N. is standing beside it so this can be fairly estimated. This was our last camp and we were not sorry. The flies & mosquitoes were troublesome and when we left Pahlgam we had left the real mountain scenery behind us. The Kashmir valley too has its beauty but it can hardly compare with the magnificent scenery of the mountains. The weather had certainly been all that we could have wished, & we had no grievance on that score. {p1.70}


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Our last camp. Dwarf columbine.

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Podophylia. A magnificent Cedar.



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June 29th (Friday) [Mistitled June 27th by CEB]


We had only a very short distance to go to Bijbehara, across a stretch of the ‘Kariwa’ & then down through fields & villages & groups of chenars and we were there. It was 10 o’clock and we soon found our ‘dunga’ which had come up from Srinagar to meet us. We also found some letters & papers which were most acceptable.

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Dwarf Iris. Yellow Monkshood. Bijbihara. Primulas

The coolies appeared at about 11 o’clock and getting them and our baggage on board we loosed our moorings & started down the river. It was a very pleasant & easy way of travelling after the marches we had had & by force of contrast we rather enjoyed it. You can soon however have enough of this ‘dolce far niente’ existence. The boatman and his family did some fitful paddling in the stern but our progress mostly depended on the rate the stream flowed. We reached Avantipur by mid day and Khakipur later on where we spent an hour trying to get rice which for some unexplained reason was unobtainable. At dusk we drifted into Pámpur and there we had another brief halt and {p1.72} got out our bedding for the night. We turned in soon after 9 o’clock, and tried to get what sleep we could, but that was not very much, there was too much noise going on. Early in the morning we moored at a Bagh (‘garden’) on the S. bank of the river about a mile above Srinagar. Here at 5 A.M. I bid farewell to Neve who was going to cut across country with the coolies & make his way to Nil Nág, our little sanatorium in the Pir Panjal range: he had a week more to spend (I reserved the rest of my holiday till July & August) & I may mention that during this week he made a very good attempt to climb Tatakuti – a difficult peak of over 15,000 ft. which has never yet been ascended. Another year he hopes to get to the top. I meanwhile went on to Srinagar & got back to our house at 6.30 A.M. much to Esther’s surprise who had not expected me so soon.

Finis. {p1.73}

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{p1.74} The following sketches are by Dr. E. Neve.

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1. The first shows the head of the Âstânmarg valley, with the snow bank in foreground & cliffs beyond, taken from our camp.

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2. This is a somewhat dramatic sketch of Sachkats from the neck, where we got on to the arête: the actual top is not visible being hidden by nearer pinnacles of rock which we skirted on the right.

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3. This gives a good idea of the Snow Peaks on the further side of Shisha Nah taken from the same point as the last.

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4. A sketch of Kolahoi from the valley below Seguas.