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Miroslav Hruska Himalayan Digital Collection

Mt. Kanchenjunga and Miroslav Hruska, 1950

Miroslav Hruska Himalayan Digitial Collection

Miroslav Hruska Himalayan Digital Collection

1949/1950 Sikkim Expedition

In 1949/1950, my father Miroslav Hruska, went on an expedition with Trevor Braham (photographs #12,13) who was a seasoned mountaineer and who had considerable Himalayan experience. My father had no Himalayan experience. This 1949/1950 expedition to Sikkim would be his introduction to trekking in the Himalayas. In addition, my father was interested to find opportunities for high altitude skiing and a planned visit to the Khangkyong glacier in North Eastern Sikkim would afford an opportunity to try and ski here.

View of Mt. Pauhunri 7125m (3rd peak from left of image) from region near Mome Samdong.

View of Mt. Pauhunri 7125m from region near Mome Samdong

He left Calcutta on 30 October, 1949 by train to Bagdogra and from there by the famous toy train to Darjeeling. On 1st November they arrived in Gangtok where they were met by a team of four sherpas including Ang Tharkay. In Gangtok they arranged their last provisioning needs as well as arrange for the mountain ponies to carry their tents and provisions.

They proceeded along various pathways by the Teesta River and made progress to Chungthang via Dikchu and Singhik, overnighting in Dak bungalows (travellers rest houses) wherever available. As they made their way along the hills and forests of the Teesta River, they passed various yak herders and others making their way to the markets in Gangtok and Darjeeling. They bought fresh meat from these herders whenever they encountered them.

After four days they reach Changthang which was situated at the confluence of two rivers. After leaving Chungthang, they travelled up the Lachung Valley where they overnighted at the Dak bungalow in Lachung.

View of south face of Mt. Chombu 6363m. The Sebu Cho is fed by the ice-fall below Chombu 6363m.

View of south face of Mt. Chombu 6363m. The Sebu Cho is fed by the ice-fall below

The next day they travelled towards the Sebo Valley via the small settlement at Dombang (3100 m) where they struck their tents. The next day they made their way to the lower reaches to the right of the Khangkyong glacier. They spent three days here and looked for a pathway through the steep moraine of the glacier. The way up the glacier was difficult because of the heavy snow. At the top of the glacier, they experienced magnificent panoramas of the numerous mountain peaks, some unnamed, and crowned by the majestic peak of Pauhunri 7127m (photographs #31).

From their campsite it appeared that they were in an amphitheatre of mountains. To the east they could see Pauhunri and various other unnamed peaks. To the south-west in the distance they could see Kangchenjunga and Kabru. To the north they could see Kangchenjau and to the south they could see the magnificent mountain called Chombu (photographs #32,33,38,46), which had still not been climbed.

It was while they were on the Khangkyong glacier that my father was finally able to ski but his run was cut short by the emergence of crevasses on the lower slopes of the glacier. They proceeded to descend through the Jakthang Valley and made their way to Mome Sandong. At this point my father, because of the effects the high altitude sickness decided to return to Gangtok with a Sherpa and two porters.