You are hereCharles Howard-Bury's 1921 Reconnaissance of Everest

Charles Howard-Bury's 1921 Reconnaissance of Everest


THE KAMA VALLEY


We had not been able to gather much information locally about Mount Everest. A few of the shepherds said that they had heard that there was a great mountain in the' next valley to the South, but they could not tell us whether the Kharta River came from this great mountain. The easiest way to get to this valley, they told us, was by crossing the Shao La, or the Langma La, both of which passes were to the South of the Kharta Valley, and, they said, led into this new valley. They called this valley the Kama Valley, and little did we realize at the time that in it we were going to find one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. Mallory and Bullock had already left Kharta on August 2 to explore this route, which we thought would lead us to the Eastern face of Mount Everest. As Wollaston and Morshead had now arrived at Kharta, there was nothing to prevent my following the others and learning something about the geography of the country. Eleven mule-loads of rations, consisting of flour, potatoes, sugar and rations for the surveyors had just arrived; there was therefore now no cause for me to worry about shortage of supplies. These had been sent off from Yatung on June 15, but had only arrived at Kharta on August 2. Learning that I was about to start off, Hopaphema, the old Zemindar, hurriedly came round with a large basket full of spinach, potatoes, and turnips, which he insisted on my taking with me.

On August 5, taking with me Ohheten Wangdi and a dozen coolies, I started off in the tracks of Mallory and Bullock. For the first few miles we travelled up the Kharta Valley, through rich fields of barley, by far the best that I had seen so far in Tibet. The crops were very even and everywhere quite 3 feet in height. The valley was thickly inhabited, containing villages nearly every mile, and many monasteries, some of which were surrounded by fine old gnarled juniper trees. Our local coolies made very poor progress, taking-six hours to cover the first 6 miles, as they stopped at every village for a drink. After passing the last village, there was a steep climb of 1,000 feet. Here our coolies were very anxious to stop and spend the night, but I pushed on ahead, and they came on behind very slowly and reluctantly. Seeing that it was impossible to get over the Langma La, I stopped at the limit of firewood and camped at a height of 16,100 feet. Poo, who was acting as my cook, had forgotten to bring any matches with him, and I watched him with much interest lighting a fire of damp rhododendron bushes with the flint and tinder that he always carried. The day had been clear and very warm; and on the way up we had had some fine views of the great snowy peaks on the Eastern side of the Arun River. The villagers had told us that this pass was impossible for ponies, and I accord¬ingly left mine behind at Kharta, though we found out that ponies could quite well have crossed the pass. Opposite our camp was a peak of black rock with a glacier just below it. During the night there was a little rain and the morning was unfortunately cloudy. As our coolies had informed us that there were three passes to be crossed in the next march, I had them all started off by 5.30 a.m., after which I left with my coolies, Ang Tenze and Nyima Tendu, who always accompanied me carrying a rifle, a shot-gun and three cameras of different sizes. Above the camp there was a steep climb of 1,000 feet on to a broad, rocky shelf in which was a pretty turquoise-blue lake. This was followed by another steep climb of 500 feet on to another great shelf, after which a further climb of 500 feet brought us to the top of the Langma La, 18,000 feet. The three steps up to this pass were evidently the three passes that the coolies had told us about, as from the top we looked down into the next valley. All the coolies who were carrying loads complained of headaches, due no doubt to the steep climb and the high elevation of the pass. To the East there was a curious view looking over the Arun towards some high snow peaks. Clouds were lying in patches everywhere on the hillsides, as the air was saturated with moisture. To the West our gaze encountered a most wonderful amphitheatre of peaks and glaciers. Three great glaciers almost met in the deep green valley that lay at our feet. One of these glaciers evidently came down from Mount Everest, the second from the beautiful cliffs of Chomolonzo, the Northern peak of Makalu, of which we unfortunately could only get occasional and partial glimpses, an ice or rock cliff peeping out of the clouds every now and then at• incredible heights above us. The third glacier came from Kama Changri, a fine peak to the North of the Kama Valley which later on we climbed. The clouds kept mostly at a height of about 22,000 feet, and prevented us from seeing the tops of the mountains. After waiting for an hour at the top of the pass in hopes of the clouds lifting, I started the descent, catching on the way a very pretty Marmot rat, with huge eyes and ears for his size, and a pretty bluish grey fur. Meeting shortly afterwards some of Mallory and Bullock's coolies, I gave this animal to them to take back to Wollaston. We now descended through grassy uplands for nearly 3,000 feet, past another beautiful blue lake called Shurim Tso, and came to a curious long and narrow terrace about 1,000 feet above the bottom of the valley. Here there was a tent belonging to some yak herds; and as wood and water were plentiful I determined to stop and spend the night with them. They called the place Tangsham. It was certainly a most glorious place for a camp, for it overlooked three great valleys and glaciers. Opposite us, on the other side of the valley, were the immense cliffs of Chomolonzo, which towered up to nearly 26,000 feet, while Mount Everest and its great ridges filled up the head of the valley. I spent the whole afternoon lying among the rhododendrons at 15,000 feet, and admiring the beautiful glimpses of these mighty peaks revealed by occasional breaks among the fleecy clouds. The shepherds were able to give me much information about the district, which proved very useful to us afterwards. They come up here every year for a few months in the summer and in the winter cross over to the valley of the Bong-chu.

After a slight frost during the night, we had one of the few really perfect days that fell to our lot in the Kama Valley. As soon as I had finished breakfast I climbed up 1,000 feet behind the camp; opposite me were the wonderful white cliffs of Chomolonzo and Makalu, which dropped almost sheer for 11,000 feet into the valley below. Close at hand were precipices of black rock on which, in the dark hollows, nestled a few dirty glaciers. Mount Everest being some way further off, did not appear nearly as imposing. Our object now was to get as close to it as possible; we therefore descended into the valley, a steep drop of nearly 1,000 feet, through luxuriant vegetation. A very beautiful, blue primula was just beginning to come out. This Wollaston had already discovered a fortnight before near Lapchi-Kang. We then crossed the Rabkar Chu, a stream which came out of the Rabkar Glacier, by a very rickety bridge over which the water was washing. Beyond this was a very fertile plain covered with rhododendrons, juniper, willow and mountain ash. On it were a couple of small huts which were occupied by some yak herds. From here we had to follow along the edge of the Kang-do-shung Glacier which, coming down from Chomolonzo, plunges across the valley until it strikes against the rocks of the opposite side. Between the glacier and these cliffs was an old water-course up which we travelled, but stones kept frequently falling from the cliffs above and the passage was somewhat dangerous. This had evidently been the old channel of the stream that has its source in the glaciers of Mount Everest, but owing to the advance of the Kang-do-shung Glacier, is now compelled to find its way through this glacier and hurls itself into a great ice cavern in it. Opposite this ice cavern we had steep climb for 500 feet, and found ourselves among pleasant grassy meadows, after a few miles of which we came to a place called Pethang Ringmo, where we found some yak herds living. We found that Mallory and Bullock had chosen this place to be their base camp. It was a most delightfully sunny spot at 16,400 feet, right under the gigantic and marvelously beautiful cliffs of Chomolonzo, now all powdered over with the fresh snow of the night before and only separated from us by the Kangshung Glacier, here about a mile wide. Great avalanches thunder down its sides all the daylong with a terrifying sound. Everest from here is seen to fill up the head of the valley with a most formidable circle of cliffs overhung by hanging glaciers, but it is not nearly such a beautiful or striking mountain as Makalu or Chomolonzo. The shepherds would insist that Makalu was the higher of the two mountains, and would not believe us when we said that Mount Everest was the higher. Next morning was foggy but there was a glimpse of blue sky behind the mists, so after breakfast I hurried up the valley, intending to climb a ridge exactly opposite to Mount Everest which I had marked down the night before. After walking for an hour up the valley in a thick fog, by luck I struck the right ridge, which proved a very steep climb. Glimpses of blue sky and white peaks, however, gave us hopes of better views higher up. It took me two and a half hours to climb 3,000 feet, which at last brought me above the mists. The top of the ridge was 19,500 feet high, and from it we had most superb views. Mount Everest was only 3 or 4 miles away from us. From it to the South-east swept a huge amphitheatre of mighty peaks culminating in a new and unsurveyed peak, 28,100 feet in height, to which we gave the name of Lhotse, which in Tibetan means the South Peak. From this side the mountain appeared quite unclimbable, as the cliffs were all topped with hanging glaciers, from which great masses of ice came thundering down into the valley below all the day long. Between Mount Everest and Makalu, on the watershed between Tibet and Nepal, there stands up a very curious conical peak, to which we gave the name of Pethangtse. On either side of it are two very steep, but not very high, passes into Nepal; both of them are, however, probably unclimbable. To the South-east towered up the immense cliffs of Makalu, far the more beautiful mountain of the two. The whole morning I spent on this ridge, taking photographs whenever opportunity offered. The clouds kept coming up and melting away again and were most annoying, but they occasionally afforded us the most beautiful glimpses and peeps of the snow and rock peaks by which we were surrounded. At a height of over 19,000 feet, I had a great chase after a new kind of rat; but it finally eluded me, and I was not able to add it to our already large collection. Even at these heights I found both yellow and white saxifrages and a blue gentian. From the top of this ridge I had been able to see Kanchenjunga and Jannu, though nearly 100 miles away, but their summits stood up out of the great sea of clouds which covered Nepal.

On returning to camp in the afternoon, I found that Mallory and Bullock were there. They had climbed a snow peak on the North side of the Kama Valley, about 21,500 feet, and from this view point had been unable to discover a possible route up Mount Everest on the Eastern face; they thought, however, that there might be an alternative approach from the next valley to the North. They therefore intended returning to the Kharta Valley to follow that river to its source.

Next morning was cloudy, and neither Everest nor Makalu was to be seen; but towards the East the view was clear, though the mountains appeared to be much too close. We started all together down the valley. On the way I climbed 1,000 feet up among the rocks opposite to the big glacier that descends from Chomolonzo. I failed, however, to get the good view of Makalu which I had been hoping for, owing to the clouds, and returned to my old camping ground at Tangsham, Mallory and Bullock branching off from here towards the Langma La. The shepherds had told us that there was another pass into the Kharta Valley called the Shao La, rather more to the South. I therefore intended to make use of this pass on the return journey to Kharta. As usual, in the evening, the clouds came up and enveloped us in a thick mist. Every night this happened in the Kama Valley, and was evidently due to the excessive moisture of the air. When we started the following morning, there was still a thick Scotch mist which made the vegetation very wet. We descended the Kama Valley, most of the time keeping high up above the river. On the opposite side of the valley were immense black cliffs descending sheer for many thousand feet. On the way we passed through acres of blue iris, mostly over now, and then through a very luxuriant vegetation which grew more and more varied as we descended lower. There was a lovely emerald-green lake beside the path, and like white sentinels on the hillsides grew the great rhubarb of Sikkim, the Rheum nobile. This was a most conspicuous plant with columns of the palest green leaves sheathing the flower spikes which grew fully 5 feet in height. There were several other varieties of rhubarb here, but none were as handsome as this. At one place we descended as low as 13,000 feet and came once more amongst dense forests of juniper, silver firs (Abies Webbiana), mountain ash, willow, birch and tall rhododendrons. From every tree hung long grey lichens attesting the moisture of the climate. Wherever there was an open space in the forest, it was carpeted with flowers. Two delightful varieties of primula were new to me, and were just coming out, one of them being almost black in color. The big deep red meconopsis grew here, too, in great luxuriance. Gentians of all kinds abounded and many other varieties of flowers and ferns, due to the fact that Makalu seems to attract all the storms, causing the moist Monsoon currents to be drawn into this valley. As the day went on, the weather improved; the sun came out, and the clouds melted away, disclosing the magnificent peaks of Makalu. A big glacier descended from the East face from a side valley into the floor of the valley below us at a height of about 12,000 feet. It was very curious to see fir trees, birch and juniper, and very luxuriant vegetation growing on either side of the ice and on the moraines beside it.

Below this glacier the valley became quite flat with grassy meadows and patches of forest dotted about the pastures-a very unusual type of valley for the Himalayas. Almost opposite to this glacier we turned into a side valley; the path and the stream that came down this valley were often indistinguishable. All round the valley were great black cliffs; in one place where they were less precipitous the path found its way upwards. Our camp was pitched that night on a shelf above the cliffs where for a short time we had some very wonderful views. This place was called in Tibetan "The Field of Marigolds," though at the time we were there they were all over. We were at a height of 15,300 feet, and Makalu's two peaks were almost exactly opposite to us. The cloud effects were very striking; the storms seemed to gather round Makalu, and first one peak and then the other would appear out of the great white cumulus clouds whose shapes changed every minute. As usual, the mists came up in the evening, and we were enveloped in a very wet Scotch mist with a temperature of 46°. Next morning, instead of getting the lovely view that we had expected, a thick Scotch mist prevented our seeing more than 20 yards away. We crawled up to the top of the Shao La, 16,500 feet, in driving rain, but after crossing over it we emerged into finer weather. On the descent we passed several fine lakes, on the cliffs above which were numerous ram chakor (Himalayan snowcock). I pursued a covey of these, and after a chase managed to shoot one. They are very fine birds, weighing between 5 and 6 lb.; they are extremely noisy and fond of their own voices. The parent birds are always very loth to leave their young, and early in the summer it is possible to approach very close to them; but later on in the year, when the young have become nearly full grown, they are very wily, and having excellent eyesight, do not allow anyone to approach within a couple of hundred yards. That afternoon I arrived back at Kharta, where the weather had been quite fine, and where there had been but little rain during my absence.

During that night a thief broke into our store-room, forcing and breaking the lock outside. The only thing he took, as far as we could find out, was one of Wheeler's yak-dans (a leather mule trunk). The thief had probably mistaken this one for one of mine, which contained a considerable amount of money, and knowing that I was away, he thought that my kit must be packed away in the store-room. We informed the Jongpen and the head¬men of the villages around of the theft, and had a couple of suspicious characters watched; but we, never found any trace of the stolen articles, which luckily were of very small value. For the next fortnight I remained at Kharta.

On August 19 Heron suddenly arrived back after a very interesting trip, during which he had explored all the mountains North of Tingri and Shekar Dzong up to the Brahmaputra watershed. He had had very bad weather all time. Every night there had been heavy thunder¬storms and practically all the bad weather had come from the North. The whole country was under water, and it was very difficult to get about. Some of the rivers that we had crossed earlier in the season were now a mile or more the wide.

On the following day Bullock and Mallory returned to Kharta after having explored the Upper Kharta Valley. They thought that they had found a possible way up Mount Everest from this valley, but at present the weather was too bad for them to carry on with their reconnaissance, and they had come down for a fortnight's rest, hoping that the Monsoon would be over by the beginning of September and that they would then be able to make a proper attack on the mountain. As Mallory and Bullock were likely to be at Kharta for some time, Wollaston and I seized this opportunity to visit the lower valley of the Kama-chu.

Therefore, on August 23, with eleven of our own coolies and several Tibetan coolies, we climbed the Samchung Pass (15,000 feet), and then descended into the valley of the fourteen lakes, and after crossing the Chog La camped on the far side of the pass near a dark green and sacred lake called Ruddamlamtso. On the way we saw a new species of black rat in the moraine of a glacier; but Wollaston’s servat, who had the collecting fun with him, was unfortunately far behind; he was always rather fond of drink and loth to leave the villages. The weather was cloudy, and there were no views from the top of the pass. The march was a strenuous one, taking the coolies thirteen hours to cover the whole distance, and they did not arrive till after dark. The Ruddamlamtso, the lake by which we were camped, had wonderfully clear water; I could see every stone at a depth of 20 feet, and it was evidently very deep. It is looked upon as a sacred lake, and to it people make yearly pilgrimages, walking around it burning incense and throwing spices into its waters.

The following morning the clouds were low down everywhere on the hillsides and we had no views. There was a steep descent for 4 miles to Sakeding – 12,100 feet, through the most interesting zones of vegetation. We followed the edge of the rushing stream, always white from the rapidity of its descent. On one side of the valley grew rhododendrons of many varieties and mountain ash, and on the other were hoary old junipers with twisted stems. Grey lichens hung down from every branch, and were often 5 or 6 feet in length. We came across some of the finest and largest red currants that we had yet seen. Of these we collected a great quantity, and they formed a very excellent stew. Birches, wild roses and berberies were the commonest shrubs, while nearly every rock covered with an extremely pretty rose colored creeper, which in places caused the hillsides to look quite pink. Earlier in the year the iris must have been a very beautiful sight, as we passed through acres of their leaves. A big yellow rock-rose with flowers 2 inches across was also to be met with here, and many of the lower leaves of the rhododendrons were turning yellow to scarlet, making a great show of colour on the dark green of the hillside. Deep purple-coloured primulas and monkshood, as well as a curious hairy mauve-red monkshood with a very graceful growth, were also to be seen. The pretty white¬crested red-start flitted about from rock to rock, and numerous tits of various kinds flew about in flocks from tree to tree as we descended.

Sakeding (Pleasant terrace) had been at one time a village of considerable size, but a pestilence sent by the local demon had wiped out all its inhabitants. This demon was still reputed to be very active, and no one had dared to re-build the old houses of which the ruins, overgrown with weeds and bushes, could be seen here and there. It was a very pleasant site for a village, situated as it was on a terrace that projected out into the valley 1,000 feet above the stream below. During the summer months there is quite a trade passing through this place, the Tibetans bringing salt from the North, and the Nepalese coming up from Nepal with rice, dyes and vegetables, which they exchange. The rate of barter at this time was two Pleasures of rice or three measures of madder dye for one measure of salt, and no money changes hands. Everything that was brought here was brought on the backs of coolies, and these Nepalese coolies were sturdy, cheery fellows, and thought nothing of carrying 80 lb. of salt on their backs up and down the execrable paths of the district.

From Sakeding we descended steeply through a forest of the finest juniper trees that I had yet seen. These grew 80 to 90 feet high, and many of their trunks were 18 feet to 20 feet in circumference. As a rule they had clean stems, without a branch for 50 feet or 60 feet. The branches. were all hung with grey lichens. We now descended beside the muddy and tempestuous waters of the Kama-chu. The juniper forest gradually gave way to silver firs-wonderful trees of enormous size and great age. We passed through many open glades, park-like in appearance, with grand clumps of fir trees or sycamore dotted here and there. The hillsides were absolutely running over with water, and often for several hundred yards we walked along logs put down to try and avoid the mud and the running water. As many of these rounded logs were very slippery, both we and our coolies had to proceed with caution, and even so we experienced many a fall. At Chu-tronu, l0,200 feet¬ there was a well-made wooden bridge, 60 feet long, which spanned the river where it flowed in a narrow channel between two great rocks. We crossed this bridge, and finding a broad open space there, I selected a spot suitable for our camp and ordered the coolies to cut down some of the grass where we intended to pitch the tents. I could not at first make out why they kept jumping about when thus engaged, but on j going to investigate, I found that the place was alive with leeches; however, as there was no other better place in which to camp, we had to make the best of it. The men collected some dry bamboos out of an old shepherd's hut which was close by; these they burnt on the sites where we were to pitch our tents, hoping by this means to drive away the leeches. This method, however, was not very successful; for all that evening we were busy picking leeches, off our clothes, legs, hands or heads. They climbed up the sides of the tents and dropped down into our food, our cups and on to our plates. Wollaston invented the best way of killing them, which was by cutting them in two with a pair of scissors. Our interpreter remonstrated with him, as he said this method increased the number of leeches, thinking that both ends of them would grow. After a some¬what restless and disturbed night, due to these leeches, we started off next morning to go down to the junction of the Kama River with the Arun. The distance as the crow flies was only about 6 miles, but we did not realize the kind of path that we should have to traverse. In that short distance we must have risen and fallen quite 5,000 feet. The path was never level and always very rough and stony. At first it led through beautiful glades running with moisture and over logs buried, most of them, inches deep in the water; they were, however, better to walk on than the soft mud there was on either side. The silver firs were now at their best, trees over 100 feet in height, and with stems 20 feet 25 feet in circumference. Here grew great hydrangeas 20 feet or more in height covered with flowers. Our only halts on the way down, and they were pretty frequent, were to pick off the leeches from our clothes. We took them off by tens at time; they were very hungry, and varied in size from great striped horse-leeches to tiny ones as thin as a pin and able to penetrate anywhere. The track now left the upper terraces and descended very steeply towards the river, at times climbing sharply upwards again to avoid precipitous rocks and cliffs. During the descent, we gradually passed from the zone of the silver firs into that of the spruce, meeting the lovely Picea Brunoniana, which grew to an even greater size than the silver firs. Many of the trees were over 150 feet in height and without a branch for 70 feet or 80 feet; their stems too, were often 25 feet to 30 feet in circumference. This valley is so inaccessible that I am glad to think that these glorious forests can never be exploited commercially. After passing a great overhanging rock called Korabak, which is evidently much used as a halting ¬place, we descended steeply to the river, which now forms a series of cascades, leaping from rock to rock, a very remarkable spectacle. During the last 6 miles of its course, this river¬, the product of four large glacier streams-descends at the rate of 450 feet every mile. In places there were waterfalls of 20 feet and more, where the river hurled itself into seething cauldrons; in one place I saw it confined to a breadth of barely 5 feet. The junction of this river with the Arun is only 7,500 feet above the sea; just above the junction is a bridge which leads to the village of Kimonanga, a picturesque village situated on a terrace some 700 feet above the river and surrounded by some fine trees. In this valley we came across a few blue pines (Pinus excelsa) and also a large-leafed alder; near its junction with the Arun were many trees and orchids of a semi-tropical character. On the opposite side of the valley is a forest of evergreen oak trees, but as I was unable to cross the river I could not say to what species they belonged. On the way we passed many yellow raspberries on which we slaked our thirst. Our guide also dug up some of the roots of the wild arum to show us; it is a great flattish tuberous root, rather oval in shape. This the inhabitants dig up and, after allowing it to ferment by burying it in a hole for several days, pound it up, and then eat it; it was much esteemed by the villagers. It is necessary to ferment it first,. as otherwise the root is extremely poisonous. Vie tasted a slice of bread made out of this root, and I have seldom tasted anything nastier. It is supposed, if not properly fermented, to cause all the hair to fall out of the head; but I should be inclined to imagine that it would do this even if it were properly fermented. Near the junction of the Kama and.Arun Rivers, we climbed up on to a terrace 1,200 feet above, on which was situated the village of Lungdo. The great Arun gorges here become a considerable valley; for 20 miles above this point up to Kharta the Arun runs through a narrow and practically impassable gorge, but here the valley widens out for a few miles and contains several villages; a short distance below it enters again into another great gorge. The river now was in full flood and covered the whole of the bottom of the valley, being in places many hundred yards in width. At one spot, where it contracted, there was a well-made bridge leading to the village of Matsang. I was astonished to meet with maize growing at this height¬ 8,700 feet. The villagers also grew cucumbers, pumpkins and several kinds of millet, including an extremely pretty red one. The head-man of Lungdo gave me some millet beer, which was very refreshing after the long march. Wollaston did not care for it, but between us we managed to eat three large and juicy cucumbers. The head-man was very friendly; and a local official was staying here who had just come from Kharta, who recognized us, and presented us with some excellent honey cakes. We neither of us looked forward to the uphill return journey, but after five and a half hours' hard walking I reached camp just before dark. Wollaston did not arrive till later, and I had to send a coolie with a lamp to bring him in. We were both of us much exhausted, as the day had been a long and trying one. That night we had a grand camp fire of rhododendron and fir logs. Hundreds of moths insisted on flying into the fire instead of entering the tent where Wollaston was ready with his cyanide bottle to catch them.
The following morning the weather was dull and cloudy, and did not look very promising. We determined, however, to visit the Popti La, the pass between Tibet and Nepal, over which all the local traffic passes. Leaving the camp, we entered a small side valley to the South, the path climbing steeply upwards under big rhododendrons (R. Falconeri and R. Argenteum) with leaves 18 inches long. Noticing many of their leaves strewn on the path, I inquired the reason for this. Our guide informed us that the carriers fastened these leaves together with thin strips of bamboo and thus provided an excellent waterproof cover for them¬selves and for their loads. Mter climbing about a mile, we saw some bamboo huts in the forest and a number of cows were grazing round them. These belonged to some Nepalese herds that come over here in the summer, bringing their cattle to graze. The path now followed the side of a rushing torrent, peaty brown in color, which came hurrying down under the shade of birch, sycamore, silver firs, juniper and rhododendrons. As we ascended higher, the open spaces became more frequent, though the grass and weeds grew fully 3 feet in height, attesting the constant rainfall of this district. On leaving the path to collect a few seeds from some plants growing a short distance away from it, I found myself in a few moments covered with leeches which appar¬ently thrive here at an altitude of over 12,000 feet; this must be almost a record height for these pests. The path climbed up steeply, the rhododendrons growing gradually smaller in size as we ascended. After going for four hours, we reached the top of the pass-14,OOO feet. Here on the top was a stone half hidden in a pile of rocks with a notice, written in Chinese characters, that this was the boundary between Tibet and Nepal. Across the top of the pass was a long wall, mostly overgrown with grass, evidently at one time considered to be some kind of defence. Owing to the clouds being very low, we unfortunately had no view from the top, but just below us, on the Nepalese side, was a fine black lake, about half a mile long, with an island in the centre, which the Nepalese called Dungepokri. On the top were many interesting Alpine flowers, amongst them a charming white potentilIa with a red centre; and a large cream-coloured primula, shading into deep orange. We also came across several new varieties of gentians. Here we rested for a couple of hours, hoping that the clouds might lift, but a nasty rain began to fall heavily. While we were waiting several coolies from Nepal passed by: from these we found out that the pass was closed by snow for five months in the year and that the trade market at Sakeding was closed by the end of October. We now turned our footsteps home¬ward, urged on by cold showers of rain. On the descent we were able to collect a few seeds. Autumn was approaching, though the trees had not yet begun to assume their autumn colours owing to the warm nights. That evening in the camp we had an enormous bonfire of birch, juniper and rhododendrons, which made the prettiest blaze imaginable, with flames• of green, blue, violet and orange. The large fire also helped to keep away the leeches. Heavy rain fell again all night, and the thermometer did not descend below 55°. The morning, however, broke fine, and we started back again up the valley to Sakeding. The sun shone every now and then, giving us occasional glimpses of distant glaciers at the head of the valley. The walk through the forest, with the sunlight shining on the dark green leaves of the rhododendron and the dripping foliage, was very delightful. The undergrowth consisted of wild roses, berberis with its necklaces of scarlet berries, wild currants of a great size,¬ sour to the taste, but excellent when stewed-wild raspberries, light feathery bamboos, birch, willow and a most luxuriant vegetation of flowers and grasses. In one or two places the mountain ash were just beginning to show traces of colour. We soon left the leeches behind us and followed our old track through the forest beside the rushing waters of the Kama-chu. Enormous rocks which had fallen from above had in places almost blocked up the river. Often on these great boulders in the middle of the stream were growing the graceful Himalayan larch. On the steepest rock faces grew vegetation of every kind, thanks to the excessive moisture of the climate, and from every tree and from every bush hung long and picturesque lichens. Crested tits and bullfinches lived in great numbers in this forest and gave it quite a homelike appearance. The climb from the river had been a steep one, and we pitched our camp at Sakeding in a downpour of rain, but towards the evening the weather cleared up, allowing us fine views of great snow peaks which showed above the mists on the opposite sides of the valley. It was too far to go from Sakeding to Kharta in one day; we therefore decided to camp before crossing the Chog La. We passed our old camp by the green lake Ruddamlamtso, and I had a long chase after some ram chakor, but they were too clever for me and ran up the hill faster than I could follow them. The large moraines which con¬verged in this valley were especially interesting, and threw much light on its past history. Each moraine had its own long line of boulders formed of different kinds of rock, according to the character of the mountains from which they had been carried down by the ice. It was not difficult to imagine the vast glaciers by which these lines of boulders had been deposited; glaciers which must at one time have completely blocked the valley and the disappearance of which has made room for the chain of lakes which now occupy the valley.