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Asia, India—Garhwal, Kedar Dome Ski Attempt; A Female Liaison Officer

Kedar Dome Ski Attempt; A Female Liaison Officer. I led a four-man party from the Alpine Ski Club, all of us over 50 except for our doctor. Our objective was a ski ascent, up and down, of Kedar Dome (6831 meters, 22,410 feet) and so we set out in late April. Our Base Camp at Tapoban was under ten feet of snow when we arrived. The route around to the Kirti Bamak (glacier) below the south face of Shivling where we placed Advance Base gains little altitude. Our porters didn’t ski and we all wallowed in deep, soft snow with high temperatures. We placed Camp I below the shallow northwest ridge on the right side of Kadarnath Dome’s northern flank, planning to place our top camp just above 6000 meters where the ridge blends into the final “roof’ of Kedar. Cliffs fall abruptly on either side of the broad, flat-topped ridge but skiing up the crest was easy. With the sun shining, we were nearly at our campsite. Then within five minutes, it was snowing hard with visibility down to ten feet. Lightning began and we were engulfed in the worst electrical storm I have ever experienced in 19 Himalayan trips—indeed anywhere. Skis buzzed and hair stood on end. Swiftly we abandoned loads and started down. Our tracks were already obliterated and on several occasions one or another of us all but made a final ski jump over the ridge edge. We only reached the tent because on each marker wand we’d placed a compass bearing to the next. And then it snowed continuously for six days. Expedition finito. What was really interesting about our trip was the liaison officer. We were the first male expedition in India to be assigned a female liaison officer—on an experimental basis. She was magnificent, a young, recently-qualified MD who proved to be extremely helpful andbrilliant company, raising the entire tone of the party. She was given to none of the unpleasant posturing that seems to bedevil the typical male liaison officer. She didn't ski and, at the end, she insisted in handing back all the gear which we had to provide her and which when kept is such a resented and unnecessary drain on the resources of a small informal expedition as ours.

John Cleare, Alpine Ski Club and Alpine Club