Beer, Dora Hallenstein de, 1891-1982 :Negatives of New Zealand's first mountaineering expedition overseas
- Beer, Dora Hallenstein de, 1891-1982
8 August to 13 December 1938 is the time span of this record of New Zealand's first overseas mountaineering trip from Burma to China. The record begins at Myitkyina in north eastern Burma, the end of the railway line from Rangoon and not far from the Chinese Border. From Myitkyina the party made its way by mule caravan to Tengyueh (Tengueh) just across the Chinese border in Yunnan Province where there was a British Consulate. From there they travelled due east crossing the Salween (Nu Jiang) river on the way to Yungchang (Baoshan). Here they connected with a section of the China-Burma road. This took them across the Mekong (Lancang Jiang) river to the turn off to Dali (Tali) and Likiang (Lijiang) at the south western end of Lake Er hai. From Likiang they travelled 20 miles north to the upper reaches of the Yangtze Kiang (Jinsha Jiang) river where it cuts through the ranges of the Yulan Shan (Yulong Xue Shan) and Mount Sansato which was the goal of the expedition.
Bad weather delayed the assault on the mountain and when the weather cleared at 19,000 ft, the intense cold drove them back to their base camp. They tried other approaches, but again were forced back by strong winds above 18,000 feet.
When they decided to leave Sansato, they made an excursion to the gorges of the Yangtze Kiang, 10,000 feet below them. After this three of the party, Mary Byles, Majorie Edgar-Jones, and Mick Bowie set out for home. The other three, Dora de Beer, Kurt Suter, and Frazer Ratcliffe, returned to the mountain to try to recover the gear which had been abandoned in the snow. During this operation they also took time out to climb the 5,900 metre Mount Geena Nkoo.
All of these events and more have been recorded in considerable detail by Dora de Beer. People, villages, cities, shops, inns, temples, and the countryside make it rather like a National Geographic photograph essay made just before changes in modes of transport would turn travellers into tourists.
New Zealand's first overseas climbing expedition was organised by a woman, the English born Australian mountaineer, Marie Beuzeville Byles. Marie Byles had done much of her formative climbing in the New Zealand Southern Alps in the early 1930s where she met guide Kurt Suter whom she asked to lead the expedition. Suter chose Mick Bowie as the second guide after his original choice, Jack Cox, withdrew.
As well as the two New Zealand guides, Marie Byles invited two of the most experienced women climbers that the Southern Alps had yet produced, Dora de Beer and Marjorie Edgar-Jones. A young Australian climber, Fraser Radcliffe (or Ratcliffe), completed the party.
This expedition did not do a great deal of really hard climbing even by the standards of the day, but it remains a memorable one as it involved professional guides and three women who had learned their mountaineering skills in New Zealand. New Zealand women would not begin climbing overseas regularly until the late 1960s, and guides would not take clients away from the Southern Alps again until the late 1970s. (info. from "New Zealand's First Overseas Climbing Expedition": Colin Monteath: "Adventure" Jan/Feb 1989).
The summit of Mount Sansato was first reached by a Chinese research team from Beijing in 1963. (Info from the Lonely Planet Guide to South West China, 1986)
Source of title - Title supplied by Library
Arrangement: Negatives housed at 1/4-083153 to 083524
Quantity: 372 b&w original negative(s). 4 b&w original transparency/ies.
Provenance: After Dora de Beer's death in 1982 her brother Esmond gave this collection of negatives to Francis Russell of Christies as his family had mountaineering interests.
Transfers: The original negative envelopes with Dora De Beer's captions written on them, and some supporting information photocopied from more recent publications are held in the PAColl sequence.
Processing information: Archivists notes - Originally arranged and described in 1999. Reference number changed from PAColl-5874 to PA-Group-00677 in 2011.
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- 372 b&w original negative(s), 4 b&w original transparency/ies, Photographs
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