AAC Publications - http://publications.americanalpineclub.org

Himalaya, India, Chamba-Lahul

Chamba-Lahul. Hamish McArthur, leader, and Mrs. McArthur, Frank and Mrs. Solari, Emile Bayle, and Margaret Munro set out from Manali at the head of the Kulu valley on July 24 for the Thirot Nala, a tributary of the Chandra-Bhaga River on the western borders of Lahul. This nala is one of several draining southwards from the Great Himalayan Range, which here runs at about 20,000 feet. Eight days’ march brought us to Base Camp at about 13,500 feet, near the snouts of a number of glaciers falling from the head of the nala where the mountains are a little less steep than the formidable walls which enclose the gorge for most of its length. An easy way was found around two icefalls to a col at about 17,500 feet on the watershed. Camp III was established there and one major and two minor peaks were climbed by various members of the party. The glacier to the north and east of the col was traversed to set up Camp IV at 18,000 feet, beneath an extensive mountain believed to be over 20,000 feet. After an unsuccessful attempt on August 14, we all turned back. On the descent Hamish was taken ill and had to be helped back to Camp IV, where he seemed to recover. Shortly after 5 a.m. on the 15th he suffered violent convulsions and lapsed into a coma from which he did not recover. We hauled him on an improvised sledge into the Thirot Nala, but it was clear by nightfall that he was no longer alive. He was buried near the foot of a terminal moraine about an hour above Base Camp.

The mountains of the Thirot Nala are of a higher order of difficulty than those we encountered further east in 1955 (A.J., Nov. 1956, 61:293, pp. 273-295). Many of them would provide splendid climbing. The glacier beyond the col seems to be merely part of an extensive glacier system draining into the Bara Nala, which is at present inaccessible. The mountains to the south and east of us were very fine indeed, with much snow and ice—and all beyond the limit of the 1921 survey and so not shown on the existing Survey of India maps.

Frank Solari, Alpine Club