The Walk Out





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Tuesday 20th August

All 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 Id get it in the morning, otherwise I thought hed 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.

Wednesday 21st August

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 Id seen. They pay no taxes and virtually live as they please. To pay for this they have a fairly hard life, but whether its harder than the restricted, mixed up life of the rest of the world, I dont know. Finally went to bed very late, thought a lot about Rene, mostly in a  way I hadn't done for a long time.

Thursday 22nd August

Ickbal 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. Lets hope it goes smoother than on the way up.

Walk out

Friday 23rd August

Chaotic 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 dont usually come this low down, usually they stay above 11,000 [3 350 m ], but these had been along with a load of barley. Id seen them the previous evening in Pecchus. They were breathing very heavily in the heat.

When 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 maund  [Note : 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 theyd turned back short of the summit on the second attempt, having got to within 1000 on the first.

This was very interesting news, as it made ours the first ascent - and of the highest mountain after Tirich Mir in the Chitral region. Well 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 didnt 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 hed been away with the geologists and a government contract when wed 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. Hed 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 out.

By 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.

We went to sleep quite happy and speculating on the possibility that wed been more successful than wed 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 wed known we would have put in a bigger effort to reach the top. Still, overall, we were very pleased at this new possibility.

Saturday 24th August

Went 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 - Id 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, theyd 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.

Sunday 25th August

Got 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.

Monday 26th August

Woke 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 hadnt 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 wasnt amused by these tales of food and so on. Decided hashish wasnt good for me when I was walking.

Tuesday 27th August

Set 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 mans 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.

Met 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 hadnt had an accident or anything.

Wednesday 28th August

Walked 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.

Thursday 29th August

Got 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 didnt feel welcome, but when we asked for chai, it came with chapattis & spiced tomato salad (green pepper & mint). Slept well on cot.

Friday 30th August

Breakfast 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 couldnt understand the low spirits - it seemed to be based on a shortage of sugar, which wasnt 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.

Saturday 31st August

Nev, Colin and Ickbal set off at 5.00 to walk to Awi for a jeep (they generally left at 7.00). We didnt wake till 9.00 when one got back to us. It was the same one with a broken spring.

Arguments about load & number of people, cup of tea, then off.

Rob & 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 Id 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......











































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