set off down. Nev & Colin want via the red sack, the rest over the
top. Lot of snow gone, so more crevasses. Slow going. Lent Rob crampons.
His back was giving him pain and H stayed with him. Got down to old Moac
site quickly enough, but realized now how tired I really was, the rock
climb would have been out of the question. Had a pog of fish, fruit and
cheese which made me feel sick. Left this site last of all, had really
big solid sh*t, hoped my guts were cured. Going down the steep grass
slope with heavy rucksack was unpleasant. Came across Rob going very
slow. Waited, but finally caught him up and told him he ought to leave
his sack and I’d get it in the morning, otherwise I thought he’d not
get down that night. This annoyed him, I think, and as soon as he got on
to leveler going he shot off leaving me to get down to Pecchus last
and get lost amongst the hedges and fields in the dark. Weighed sack -
only 52 lbs - about the same as the rest though. Had spag and then
relaxed with a good smoke. Went to bed late, slept well.
Festered around base camp. Packed personal gear. Took more than a box. Had enormous and complicated meal prepared by Neville in evening. Then another smoke very late. Thought a lot, and seemed to see things very clearly. The people of Pecchus, despite their apparent poverty, seemed to be the only free people I’d seen. They pay no taxes and virtually live as they please. To pay for this they have a fairly hard life, but whether it’s harder than the restricted, mixed up life of the rest of the world, I don’t know. Finally went to bed very late, thought a lot about Renée, mostly in a way I hadn't done for a long time.
returned. A bloke who had been around the day before turned out to be
his friend who would arrange the horses and porterage. Arranged to leave
next day and fixed price. Let’s hope it goes smoother than on the way
morning clearing up and handing out baksheesh to locals. Two fine
looking yaks appeared, who were to carry our stuff over the glacier by a
higher path. A horse also. Eventually we all got off. Harry and I went
with the porters on the
lower path, and the others took the higher. Took some good photos. The
yaks looked splendid. Apparently they don’t usually come this low
down, usually they stay above 11,000’ [3
350 m ], but these had been along with a
load of barley. I’d seen them the previous evening in Pecchus. They
were breathing very heavily in the heat.
we reassembled by the now repaired bridge we met up with with the man
who was arranging the porterage - a border official from just up the
valley, and there proceeded an interminable and violent argument about
payment. We were glad to be out of it but Ickbal got dragged in and lost
his temper a bit, knocking off a hat here and shouting there. The
Pecchus people were being very unreasonable. The entire manpower of the
village - about 20 men, had turned out. Some had carried 100 lbs, most
less, about 36 to 40 lbs, and now they were saying that each man should
be paid 5 rupees irrespective of load. It was sorted out in the end and
new horses - 4 of them, loaded up. The next problem was that we had 10
: a local weight measure] and they had expected 8. So we took 8 to Vidicot, then a horse
went back for the rest. In Vidicot we found a man called Babu from Meroi,
who was acting as a guide to two Austrian geologists. We had heard of
him as he had been involved in many expeditions. He was very interesting
to talk to and spoke good English. He said he had been with the original
Austrian expedition in 1968, and that in fact they’d turned back short
of the summit on the second attempt, having got to within 1000’ on the
was very interesting news, as it made ours the first ascent - and of the
highest mountain after Tirich Mir in the Chitral region. We’ll have to
write to the Austrians and try to work out the truth, all turning up
various arguments to support this idea while at the same time pretending
we didn’t really believe it. The other news from him was that several
expeditions had tried the mountain since. One, a Japanese expedition,
not even being able to get up the Pecchus glacier. But he said normally
the Chatiboi offered the easiest approach. Apparently there had been
very little snow that winter which could have made a difference. He had
known we were coming, he had a relative in the Pakistan Tobacco Company,
and they had written to him but he’d been away with the geologists and
a government contract when we’d passed through Meroi. He said he
preferred working for expeditions as the money was better : 900 R a
month rather than 600 R, and anyway he preferred the work. He’d
certainly be a useful bloke. Funnily enough he had the sh*ts, so we gave
him some pills. We also swapped some sugar for rice as his party had run
now we had decided to stop in Vidincot, just across from Pecchus, but on
the way. This enabled us to see the geologists when they returned that
evening - in fact they got in so late we waited till morning - the
porters preferred it to Kishmanja and the official had time to go up the
valley to get another horse to take the extra load, then he would come
down to Lasht with us, and arrange better porters. Originally a Pecchus
man was to come to Mastuj with us and we were to pay him, but he proved
to be a general nuisance and not at all reliable. Incidentally, the
Austrians had horsemen from Sanogar some of whom we recognized, and were
paying them 20 R a day if they stayed still and 40 R if they worked.
Babu had a shot-gun, and shot a hare that evening.
went to sleep quite happy and speculating on the possibility that we’d
been more successful than we’d thought, also a bit irritated with not
being able to trust the Austrian report - we had wasted a lot of time
looking for new routes up Koyo Zom. If we had known it to be unclimbed
our procedure would have been a lot more precise and we may have got a
lot more done. Harry and I were also thinking that if we’d known we
would have put in a bigger effort to reach the top. Still, overall, we
were very pleased at this new possibility.
to see the two Austrians with Nev. Gave 59 cigs to Babu and went along
with him, hoping to change some money. They were very friendly and we
changed about £20 - at least we could pay pay for porterage to the road
head now. They seemed to believe Babu and told us to write to the Vienna
section of the A.A.C. We had an interesting chat, they had found some
minerals but not a lot - some copper, and they were looking forward to
getting back in a few days time. We thanked them, then off we went,
taking photos as we went. If only it had been clear on the walk in, it
would have saved a lot of reconnaissance, as now we could see the
various approaches clearly. We also saw Thui I, it looked impressive,
but there was no doubt that Koyo Zom was the most impressive in the area
- it looked massive with its huge N. face. All went well to Kishmanja,
we took the low path again, which was easier than before as the river
was low - only the undergrowth was very unpleasant at first. Had a good
sh*t at the end of it, the first solid one for a day or two - I’d been
really bad the last day - base camp soon dropped behind, feeling rougher
and rougher, and the day turned into a real grind, every section proving
longer than expected, especially the last one after the bridge. Got to
Thui II in time to take a good telephoto shot of the N. face. It was
very strange, all the women were standing in the fields shouting and
whistling. It was quite unnerving till I realized that the harvest was
nearly due and they were scaring the birds - we were accompanied by this
for the rest of the walk out in fact. Finally arrived at the police post
in Lasht in the dark, completely shattered, and flopped down down where
the others were cooking. Ickbal had arranged for us to sleep in an
unused room in the little hospital - the doctor was away. He told us a
funny story - a school had been built and teachers arrived, but no
pupils had come to school, so now they had all gone away again. We
arranged to buy potatoes at 25 pesa a sere, very cheap for new potatoes,
they’d be more expensive in Pindi. The people were very helpful. The
border official had by now given up trying to buy things, he seemed to
have forgotten his offer of 600 R for a sleeping bag - funny bloke. He
asked for 350 R to help him sort the porters out, which we reluctantly
paid. The rest to be paid at the end of the journey. H., Nev and I slept
in the room, the others preferring to sleep outside.
up earlyish. The new horsemen arrived. H & I set off a bit earlier,
but were soon overtaken by the others. Now had 2 horses and 3 donkeys,
they seemed a good lot - one of them had carried for us before. Stopped
for lunch at a house, where we had yogurt, skim milk and tea - with
salt instead of sugar. Sugar seems to be a real luxury up here. The day
dragged on and I was soon last again. Took a lower path at Nekhardin.
More interesting, but probably not much quicker. Some went over the top
where they were given apples and chapattis. Eventually reached Dobarger
at dusk, where Rob was waiting for me to show me where they were
sleeping - a pleasant spot under some trees. Had a good smoke, but still
slept badly, the horses and donkeys made a lot of noise all night, or so
it seemed. We were traveling faster than on the way in.
up feeling bad. Set off late after repairing shoes. Again I was last!
Had arranged to stop for lunch at Shorcut, but when I got there, the
others had already left. This annoyed me a lot. Felt a dose of the sh*ts
coming on. Stopped for lunch by the river - but just tinned cheese was
very unpleasant. Stopped for long sleep not long after. Got to Pahr at
5.30. Very pleasant spot. A man there spoke English and asked me in for
food, but declined as I wanted to find the others. Found them a mile
further on, and got very annoyed at them for not waiting for me lunch
time. They had had a good lunch at Shorcut, and told a man to feed me
when I came by, but I hadn’t seen him. The sun was affecting me badly
and I was now wearing goggles and a hat all the time. They had been very
well entertained in Pahr, by a man whose name Ickbal had had. Eggs,
fruit, the lot. The man had continued with them, then gone on to Bang.
He was one of the richest men thereabouts and worth meeting. I wasn’t
amused by these tales of food and so on. Decided hashish wasn’t good
for me when I was walking.
off before the others. Had the sh*ts well and truly. So had Rob &
Bruce. Ickbal wanted to meet a man just past Bang, and soon we were all
stopped for lunch. The man’s brother was a game warden and we were
well entertained with apples, tea and really nice chapatti with fried
egg. The house was off the road and Rob went by oblivious to shouts. Set
off feeling good. It proved further to the bridge than I thought and had
two sh*ts before I got there. Met H & Rob by the bridge. Waited for
Bruce who was really ill now. When he came in sight I set off up the
final hill before Brep. Took a path at half height. Proved to be very
rocky and interesting - quite difficult. H & Rob had meant to take
it but been warned off by the porters who were busy man-handling loads
up the steep main track. Met them on far side. Again took low path, and
had to wade across two channels of the river. The porters doing the
same, man-handling the donkey loads in one place to stop them getting
wet. It was dusk now, but they were still in good spirits - a bit
different to on the walk in.
H. on entrance to village. We were to stay at the school house. No sign
of Bruce. H. stayed and I went on. Ickbal had had some problems with
unhelpful locals, but somehow they found out he was an army officer and
now they were all over him giving apples and trying to give him eggs as
well. Settled for two chapattis. H. came along at 8.45 annoyed no one had
gone back to show him the way - it was fairly straight forward. No Bruce
- he must have dossed down somewhere - very uncharacteristic. Unwisely
ate good meal and went to sleep accompanied by a rumbling stomach.
Hoping Bruce had dossed down and hadn’t had an accident or anything.
out towards Bang & met Bruce just past rest house. He had slept just
short of Brep when it got dark so he stopped. He was feverish all night
and had 20 sh*ts complete with blood - very bad dysentery. Decided the
two of us would stay in Brep for the day. The others left and we had a
pleasant day. Bruce slept, I talked to the two schoolteachers who spoke
English and Chitrali. That evening I had a meal with them. Chicken, chicken
gravy, chapattis, and spring onions. Salt tea, very nice. We had a very
interesting talk then went to bed.
up, said goodbye and went, they brought us some milk for Bruce. I had
bad sh*ts and violent gut ache. Had to drink water and puke it up to
make walking bearable. Stopped in Chaipur for a brew. One teacher passed
us on his way to Grosht, his family home where he had fields to tend.
Eventually got to Mastuj - the afternoon was very tiring. There we met
Harry who had been struck down with the sh*ts. At first we didn’t feel
welcome, but when we asked for chai, it came with chapattis & spiced
tomato salad (green pepper & mint). Slept well on cot.
of tea - nice milk & sugar, egg chapatti & off we went.
Pleasantly surprised to find a new bridge & avoid a 5 mile detour.
Stopped for brew and apples from Mastuj. Reached rest house in Senoa at
about 3.00. The others were sitting around looking very miserable
waiting for jeep. We couldn’t understand the low spirits - it seemed
to be based on a shortage of sugar, which wasn’t available in Senoa -
took to honey tea, had a joint and felt really good all afternoon and
evening. Had big pog, with chapattis. Even apples were in short supply
here. Slept like a log, with one interruption for a huge liquid sh*t.
Colin and Ickbal set off at 5.00 to walk to Awi for a jeep (they
generally left at 7.00). We didn’t wake till 9.00 when one got back to
us. It was the same one with a broken spring.
about load & number of people, cup of tea, then off.
& I on roof, had rough ride and had to walk in places. Driver soon
cheered up, got us some grapes. Met others at Buni at “hotel” where
I’d stayed on way up. Rob & H continued with jeep to Chitral, we
got off to lighten load. Decided to wait here for jeep. Everything was
available here and settled down to wait, food expected......