1936 - 1937 Mission Diary

The official diary of the Gould mission to Lhasa sent by the British government. Read more about the mission diary.

On the road to Lhasa.

see photographs below

August 21st, Friday, Singma-kang-chung, 11,700 feet, 11 miles.

We made an early start in an overcast dawn, and after 2 1/2 hours reached the summit of Nyapso La, at 16,000 feet, i.e., 1,500 feet above our last camp at Pe-de-jong. The first three miles our path ran alongside the lake, and then followed a moderately steep ascent for three miles.

We had some lovely views of the Yamdrok Tso, a most beautiful and impressive lake, bounded on this part of its are by steep to mountains on either bank. It curves round out of sight in both directions, to the south and west towards the Nang-kar-tse plain, and to the North and East bounded by mountains.

Mist and cloud on the Nyapso La spoilt our view down into the deep trough of the Tsangpo valley, where this great river flows from West to East 4,500 feet below us. For most of us the sight of the Tsangpo (or Brahmaputra as it is known in Assam) was like that of a "promised land". To anyone who has ever been interested in and who has studied the geography of Central Asia and especially of Tibet, a thrill must come at at sight of this great and mysterious river. For ages its source and its places of exit through the Himalayas were unknown to Europeans, until the explorer Kinthup practically (but not scientifically) proved its junction with the Brahmaputra of Assam, this was ultimately confirmed by Bailey and Morshead.

The descent from Nyapso La (16,000 feet) to the Tsangpo valley (11,500 feet) is by a very steep and stony path zigzagging down the steep hillside. It is really only just fit for laden pack animals.

These hills are remarkably green, and although this year there has been an usually heavy rain fall, the slopes by the Nyapso La are covered with "pakka" and permanent turf, very different from the Ladakh end of Tibet.

In the glen by which our track debouched into the main valley, there are numerous wild flowers, notably a lovely blue gentian of great size, and many bushes of beautiful berberis.

The Tsangpo valley looks extremely fertile with numerous terraced and irrigated branch valleys. Trees, crops, and hedges are flourishing. We can see from camp the turgid yellow brown flood of the Tsangpo and the place a mile away where we ferry across it in skin boats tomorrow.

Up stream are some giant snow peaks almost veiled in cloud. To the north across the river the hills rise sharply some 4,000 to 6,000 feet above the river so far as one can Judge. No doubt in clear weather the snow range to the north would be visible.

There is a most remarkable change in temperature here. One can sit in shirt sleeves in comfort-very different from the conditions of the past fortnight on the high 14,000 to 15,000 feet plateau.

Singma Kang Chung is a very pleasant camp surrounded by willow and other trees. The local Tibetans have put up some marvellous decorated Tibetan tents for our following.

The usual rain storm came on from 5 P. M. to 7 P. M.

Author: Philip Neame [see handwritten annotations in Diary by Hugh Richardson in MS. Or. Richardson 2, Bodleian Libary, Department of Oriental Collections, University of Oxford]

Page Reference: Pt III p.4

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