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Item #: OP1753-8773
HIMALAYAN WANDERER C.G. Bruce 1934 1st ed Hardcover No DJ Very Good-Near Fine 3 Copies Available
By Bruce, Charles Granville
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London, Alexander Maclehose & Co, 1934, 1st edition and a rare volume. 309 pp, 25 b/w photos. Green cloth hardcover, with titles in black along the spine and on the front cover. There is almost no fading to the spine which is common on this book. The book has a strong binding and a solid, though faded, spine. May have minor insect damage to cover and some pages. The book is complete and original and is as such quite rare. Very Good to Near Fine condition.

This is the memoirs of the important pioneer Himalayan climber Charles Granville Bruce. A Gurkha officer, member of Conway's Karakoram Expedition, Mummery's Nanga Parbat and leader of the 1922 and 1924 Everest Expeditions.


The chapters in this volume are:

  • The Gurkha Soldier
  • The Tirah Plateau 
  • K2, In the Evening 
  • A Road in the Karakoram 
  • The Muztagh Tower 
  • The Gokan Peaks, Shishi Koh, Chitral 
  • Chattaboi Glacier, Hindu Kush 
  • A Kafir Woman 
  • A Group of Kafir Tribesmen 
  • Mummery and the Author 
  • Nanga Parbat From Diamarai 
  • Ramzi: Holding the Gurj 
  • Mahomed Buta, Rustam-I-Hind 
  • Conflagration in Tirah 
  • Mount Gaurisankar, The Glorious Impostor 
  • H. H. Maharajah Sir Jang Bahadur Rana, G. C. B. 
  • H. H. General Maharajah Sir Chandra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana 
  • The Temple of Pasupati 
  • The Everest Party, 1922 
  • General Bruce Addressing the Porters, 1924 
  • Everest From the Rongbuk Monastery (The final chapter contains Bruce's thoughts on the Everest expeditions)

An important volume.

Some background: Charles Granville Bruce was the youngest son of Henry Austin Bruce (1815-1895). His father Henry was born at Duffryn, Aberdare, attended Swansea Grammar School, and trained as a barrister. In the 1830's coal was discovered beneath the family's land, and with the development of the industry they became extremely wealthy. Charles father was the stipendiary magistrate for Merthyr Tydfil (1847 - 1844), Liberal MP for Merthyr Tydfil (1852 - 1869) and Home Secretary in Gladstone's Government (1868 -1873). He was created first Baron Aberdare of Duffryn in 1873.

Charlie 'Bruiser' Bruce was the youngest of 14 children. His early life alternated between the 'pompous formality' of London, Harrow, and the family home in Aberdare. Here his mentor was a local farmer and inn-keeper - who in his youth had worked as a hunter in California & British Columbia. He taught Charlie how to hunt, find his way around the local hills, and drink.

One of Charlie's most notable achievements was running down a 'rough crew' of local poachers. Half a century later he was proud to list their names in his memoirs: 'Bill the Butcher, Shoni Kick-O-Top, Billie Blaen Llechau, Dick Shon Edwards & Dai Brass-Knocker'.

He and the local game-keepers chased one to the narrow ally-ways and courts of Georgetown. The poacher was only caught when a furious husband found him snoring in his wife's bed, and threw him out on the street. The gang were duly punished, but gained revenge by returning to Charlie's house and stealing all the weapons from his father's gun-room.

From school, Charlie entered military college. He had enormous physical strength, was an enthusiastic boxer and 300 yard runner - in the 1880's he represented England against France in an international running meet. He joined the Indian Army in 1888 and became a career soldier serving with the Ghurkha regiment (1889 - 1920), rising to the rank of Brigadier-General. As a lieutenant he was assigned to a post at Abbotabad - a British Hill Station in the 'Panjab' - where he developed a passion for the locality, wrestling and climbing.

Bruce had an akhara (wrestling pit) dug near his residence - where he practised on most days. Both the British and the Rajahs wagered thousands of rupees on professional wrestling matches, and took inordinate pride in having the strongest sides. In the 1910's he was patron of the wrestler Rahim Sulaniwala - who went on to become a famous champion.

Bruce took special pride in the native troops and became fluent in Nepali. He introduced hill racing to his Ghurkha regiment - and in 1891 took his champion runner Pabir Thapa to Zermatt, Switzerland to learn ice-climbing techniques. They stayed in Aberdare en-route - where Thapa enjoyed himself 'running down' poachers. Despite his poor English, he was very popular with the locals. He disappeared for the last 3 days of his visit- and was found living it up with some coal miners in Ton-Y-Pandy. Bruce went on to train the Ghurkhas in mountain-warfare. In 1897 he equipped his troops on the Northern Frontier with shorts, and is widely credited with their introduction to the British Army.

Bruce's climbing experience was impressive. He spent 10 climbing seasons in the European Alps and took part in 3 of the earliest climbing expeditions to the Himalaya. In 1892 he and a troop of Ghurkha soldiers accompanied Conway in his exploration of the Baltoro region of the Karakorum - visiting Muztagh Tower, Broad Peak and K2.

In 1893 he was with Younghusband on the mission to the Hindu Kush to bestow recognition on Nizam-uk-Mulk as Mehtar. He and Younghusband were probably the first to discuss mounting an expedition to climb Everest. In 'Himalayan Wanderer', Bruce says that it was Younghusband's idea. In the 'Epic of Mount Everest', Younghusband says that it was Bruce's. In 1895 he joined Mummery and Collie's attempt on Nanga Parbat, but had to depart early because his leave was up. In 1906-7 he and Longstaff took another troop of Ghurkhas to the Nanda Devi group - visiting Dunagiri & Kachenjanga, and climbing Trisul.

'It is impossible to enumerate all the peaks seen, but when I state that in a county no greater than Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan, there are some 80 peaks all in the neighbourhood of 20,000 ft? it will give an idea? of that mighty range'.

In 1914 Bruce went to Gallipoli commanding the 1st battalion of the 6th Ghurkha rifles. After 2 months in the front line he was severely wounded - and transferred back to India.

He had perpetual good humour, enthusiasm, and love of alcohol - coupled with competence and shrewdness. He was a superb raconteur, and a fund of bawdy stories. Younghusband described him as 'an extraordinary mixture of man and boy..... you never know which of them you are talking to'.

Between 1923 and 1925 Bruce was president of the Alpine Club. Because of his experience in the Himalaya he was appointed leader of the second British expedition to Everest in 1922. He was skillful in bridging the cultural divide between Sahib and Sherpa. He had long advocated training Indians in mountain techniques - with a view to forming a body of porters and guides like those in the European Alps. He called his men porters rather than coolies. He was particularly liked by the local peoples, and for the 1922 expedition collected a cohort of local men, and enthused them with an esprit de corps. He later christened an elite group of high altitude porters the 'Tigers'.

He was universally admired by the expedition team - George Mallory in particular, liked and trusted him. Bruce was wary of oxygen apparatus; nevertheless, George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce (Charlie's cousin) used oxygen to set a new height record of 27,300 feet on Everest, via the North Col.

In 1924 Bruce led the 3rd expedition to Everest, aided by 4 Ghurkha NCOs. Several stories of him survive the trip. On the trek to Tibet, two of his muleteers got drunk and bit a local Tibetan woman. As punishment he fined them, and made them carry the 80 lb 'treasury' - double the normal load - on a 3 day march. Arthur Hinks - the rather mean-spirited secretary of the expedition committee seated in London - was exasperated by the official expedition correspondence reaching London.

'Captain Noel will be arriving in Darjeeling with a box 40 foot long and I am currently scouring the country for an adequate mule'.

'Please note that I am doing my best for this expedition. I have interviewed the Viceroy, I have preached to Boy Scouts, and I have emptied the poes in a Dak Bungalow. This is the meaning of the term General. They are cheap at home, they are more expensive out here. Hurry up with that thousand [pounds] please'.

Sadly, Bruce contracted malaria - from tiger shooting in India before the expedition - and had to be stretchered out of Tibet. Felix Norton took over the leadership, and went on - without oxygen - to set a new height record of 28,000 feet - less than 1000 feet short of the summit. Two days later George Mallory and Sandy Irvine set off on their summit attempt using oxygen. They disappeared, and it is still argued whether they reached the top. Mallory's body was found below the North East ridge in 1999.

Bruce did not return to Everest. Between 1931 and 1936 he was Honorary Colonel of the 5th Royal Ghurkha Rifles of the Indian Army. He died of a stroke in 1939.

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