East of Katmandu, by Thomas Weir. 138 pages, 91 illustrations. Oliver and Boyd: Edinburgh and London, 1955. Price, 16 s.
Small Himalayan Expeditions are becoming more and more feasible. Thomas Weir and his Scottish companions have played a great part in advertising the pleasures of such an expedition.
In East of Katmandu Mr. Weir again puts his case. Despite the irritations that they encountered in Indian Customs and in quibbling porters, they experienced all the pleasures of exploring relatively unknown passes, climbing peaks that do not demand an organized siege, watching the beautiful country with its flowers and birds unfold before them, and sharing their experiences with the Sherpas in the latter’s picturesque homeland.
The majority of the book is the description of the travel through the country and the incidental situations that occur. There are the sick men in the villages who come for medical aid, and the experience of being wined and dined in native houses. Watching the religious ceremonies of a strange people for their sick or for a sacrifice is part of the everyday life of this Scottish party, as are the visits to the monasteries en route. Mr. Weir lets us feel the excitement of each ridge crossed, each corner turned, and in the same paragraph shows us the fascination that the bird life of the area held for him, and which is one of the intriguing features of this countryside.
There is some good mountaineering also. Not spectacular, but the kind that draws most men to the mountains—a climb difficult enough to have some spice, with a rewarding view of the really great mountains of the world. For those who dream of exploring and climbing in distant places, this book should be a pleasant discovery and a worthwhile afternoon’s reading. One might just go to Nepal after reading it.
Henry S. Francis, Jr.