Expedition supported by the SFAR
Dittert expedition to the Garhwal Himalaya in 1950
Excerpt from: Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, 1939 to 1970. Published in Zurich in 1972
Participants: René Dittert, expedition leader; Dr. Alfred Tissieres; Dr. Gabriel Chevalley; Prof. Kenneth Berrill.
Outcomes: First ascent of Abi Gamin (7355 m), Exploration in the Garhwal-Tibet border area.
Several Swiss expeditions had already been active in the Garhwal Himalayan region: the scientific expedition run by geologists Arnold Heim and August Gansser in 1937, a group of mountaineers under the leadership of André Roch, which climbed Dunagiri (7066 m) in 1939, and the Lohner-Sutter expedition in 1947, the most important result of which was the ascent of Satopanth (7075 m).
This new Garhwal expedition was initiated by the Swiss Dr. med. Alfred Tissierès and two Englishmen, Prof. Michael Vyvyen and Prof. Kenneth Berill, who were all working at the University of Cambridge. They were joined by Dr. med. Chevalley, who was friend of Tissières, and was a doctor in Bex. Prof. Vyvyen was the only one of these men who had any experience of the Himalayas.
The undertaking was initially planned as a small, easy expedition of a purely private nature, to be conducted during the university vacations, from the beginning of July to the end of September. The Foundation became a patron of the enterprise at a later stage, making it possible for René Dittert from Geneva to join the existing group. He had already proven himself on two Himalayan expeditions. His experience and mountaineering flair made him the natural choice as expedition leader. Unfortunately, Vyvyen had to withdraw from participation in the end, though he had played a major role in the preparations.
Almost all of this expedition took place during the monsoon period, which made the goals it achieved doubly remarkable.