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Expedition supported by the SFAR

Swiss Himalayas Expedition, 1939: Garhwal

Excerpt from: Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, 1939 to 1970. Published in Zurich in 1972

Participants: André Roch, expedition leader; Fritz Steuri;

David Zogg; Ernst Huber, topographer.
Outcomes: Exploration of the Ramani glacier basic, first ascent of Dunagiri (7066 m), Rataban (6156 m), Ghori Parbat (6714 m). Attempt on Chaukhamba (7138 m).

 

This small, modestly-equipped expedition was regarded by the Foundation for Alpine Research as a first attempt at a Himalayan expedition. The aim was to test the people and the materials, and to collect initial results, so that future enterprises could be built upon these foundations at a later date. The high mountains of central Asia were only just beginning to be opened up at that time, and none of the summits over 8000 metres had yet been climbed. In the Garhwal-Himal, wide valleys, glacier regions and countless peaks in the six and seven thousand series were waiting to be opened up.

 

Garhwal was chosen as the most favourable region. It was located in the central Himalayas, between Nanga Parbat and Everest, in what was then British India, bordered by Nepal to the west and Tibet to the north. Its highest elevation is Nanda Devi (7816m). The area is relatively easy to reach, and is particularly suitable for smaller expeditions.

 

Two Swiss geologists, Albert Heim and August Gansser, had already undertaken a research trip to Garhwal in 1936, and had brought home valuable material for future ascents as well as their scientific results.

 

The Geneva engineer, André Roch, was chosen as leader of the expedition. He was known to be one of the best mountaineers in Switzerland, and had already taken part in many expeditions outside the Alps, in Greenland, the Rocky and Colorado Mountains and in Karakorum. Two experienced mountain guides went with him: David Zogg from Arosa, a tireless ice and rock walker, and Fritz Steuri from Grindelwald. Both these men were Swiss ski champions. David Zogg was appointed as the deputy leader. These three mountaineers were accompanied by the topographer Ernst Huber from Frauenfeld, who had just completed his degree in survey engineering from the ETH.

 

The expedition was organised, equipped and despatched in just one month, which must be regarded as an exceptional achievement.

 

The materials were almost exclusively of Swiss origin. They had mostly been made available free of charge to the expedition by the manufacturing companies concerned, and proved to be of excellent quality. The Photogrammetric Institute at the ETH supplied the surveying instruments on loan. The Neue Warenhaus AG took care of the inventory and packed the goods in five solid cases, manufactured for this particular purpose and adapted to the carrying ability of the bearers. The Indian Office in London, the Alpine Club and the Himalaya Club in Darjeeling all supported the expedition by providing valuable information and recommendations.

Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research . Schweizerische Stiftung für Alpine Forschung . Fondation Suisse pour Recherches Alpines . Fondazione Svizzera per Ricerche Alpine
SFAR . SSAF . FSRA . FSRA