The Mustakh Exploration

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Abstract

MR. CONWAY'S march from our newly acquired district of Hunza into Baltistan (reported in the Times), up the Hisper glacier on one side and down the Biafo on the other to Askolay, is a splendid feat to have accomplished, a memorable achievement, and his account of it will be something to look forward to on his return to England. The total length of these two glaciers is certainly something between sixty and seventy miles measured upon the map, and over this distance the glacial forces in action are on the grandest scale. The view obtained of the Hisper glacier from the two points we ascended on either side of the Nushik La is hardly to be described, from thence the end of the Hisper glacier is not defined, and could only be indicated from the run of the spurs on the north side of the valley, and what information the guides could give. This made the total length sixty-four miles. By traversing this length of the two glaciers Mr. Conway has been able to get into ground never before visited, viz., that great ice field on the main range of the Mustakh, the full extent of which is quite unknown, and from which the Nobundi Sobundi branch of the Panmah glaciers also descends. Most interesting will it be to read the account of this glacial area from the pen of a man who knows the Alps so well, and has ascended so many of its peaks. He has gone direct and fresh from the one to the other—what an exquisite treat—and he has now seen glacial action on the vastest scale it is presented at the present time in a mountain chain out of Polar latitudes. My experience was the reverse of this, for I had not the opportunity of seeing an Alpine glacier until twenty years after I had been surveying those on the Yarkund and Hunza frontiers, and in the interval the vividness of their aspects and minor details had much faded. It is to be hoped that Mr. Conway has with him, and used, a plane table, properly projected on the four miles to the inch scale, with all the peaks fixed by the Trigonometrical Survey of India, correctly plotted on it, and will thus be enabled to add to and correct much of the previous reconnaissance work. There is no doubt, had Capt. Younghusband, who was another late explorer in this part of the world, worked with a plane table along his line of route towards Hunza, the results of his exploration would have been of tenfold value, and far more extended. The Indian Government should make it a rule that all officers permitted or selected to explore the unsurveyed territory beyond our Indian frontier, should, as a preliminary training, do a season's work plane-tabling with a Himalayan survey party. It would also be an admirable training for officers selected for the Quartermaster-General's and Intelligence Departments.

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GODWIN-AUSTEN, H. The Mustakh Exploration. Nature 46, 464 (1892) doi:10.1038/046464b0

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