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General Cunningham asserts is the Tibetan name for the Sutlej ; though all the Tibetans I questioned on the subject spoke of it either as the Sang-po, or as the Singí Sang-po. In fact there seem to be numerous local names for the rivers in that part of the world, and it would be hazardous to insist on any one in particular.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE GREAT KÚNG-MA PASS INTO CHINESE TIBET.

TIE OOPSUNG GORGE-NAMGEA FIELDS-CAMP ON THE PASS-THE

GREAT MOUNTAIN LÍO PORG YÚL— EXTRAORDINARY SCENE BY
MOONLIGHT—CHOTA KHAN'S WRATH-POWER OF THE SUN-AN

AWFUL SCENE-CROSS THE CHINESE FRONTIER-SUMMIT OF THE

PASS-THE ROLLING HILLS OF TARTARY-DESCENT TO SHIPKI.

From Khalb there are two ways of getting to Shipki ; the one over the Kúng-ma Pass, which is 16,000 feet high, and the other up the gorge of the Sutlej, across the face of its precipitous cliffs, and over the dreaded Oopsung Gorge. The latter road is never used when the snow will at all allow of the high pass being crossed; and, judging from what I saw of it afterwards, from the mountain Lío Porgyúl on the opposite side of the river, it must be nearly as bad as the path from Shaso to Pú. The cliffs, however, on which the path runs, must be interesting to the geologist. They are often of a bluish and of a purple colour; they present a brilliant and dazzling appearance from the zeolites with which they abound, and probably have other and rarer minerals. But the Kúng-ma Pass, above the height of Mont Blanc though it be, is the only tolerable way of crossing into Chinese Tibet from Pú; and to toil over a 16,000 feet pass in one day is not desirable for an invalid, even though starting from a height of about 10,000 feet. So, after procuring yaks and coolies, for the

passage into Tartary, from the villagesof Khalb and Namgea, we resolved to camp some way up on the pass and to take two days to the business. This can easily be done, because at the height of about 12,500 feet there are a few terraced fields belonging to Namgea, and called Namgea Rizhing, with sufficient room to pitch a small tent upon, and with plenty of water and bushes fit for firewood.

At this height the air was very pure and exhilarating, but the sun beat upon our tents in the afternoon so as to raise the thermometer within them to 82° Fahrenheit; but, almost immediately after the sun sank behind the Spiti mountains, the thermometer fell to 60°. I do not think it got much lower, however, for at daybreak it was 54°. Evening brought also a perfect calm, which was most welcome after the violent wind of the day; but the wind rose again during the night, which fortunately does not usually happen in the Himalaya, otherwise existence there in tents would be almost insupportable.

From the little shelf on which we camped, as also, to some extent, from Khalb and Namgea beneath, the view was savage and grand beyond description. There was a mountain before us, visible in all its terrific majesty. The view up the Spiti valley had a wild beauty of its own, and ended in blue peaks, at this season nearly free from snow; but the surprising scene before us was on the left bank of the Spiti river, and on the right of the Sutlej, or that opposite to which

A mountain rose there almost sheer up from the Sutlej, or from 9000 feet to the height of

we were.

L

22,183 feet, in gigantic walls, towers, and aiguilles of cream-coloured granite and quartz, which had all the appearance of marble. At various places a stone might have rolled from the summit of it down into the river, a descent of over 13,000 feet. In appearance it was something like Milan Cathedral divested of its loftiest spire, and magnified many million times, until it reached the height of 12,000 feet; and I either noticed or heard several great falls of rock down its precipitous sides, during the eight days I was on it or in its immediate neighbourhood. Here and there the white rock was streaked with snow, and it was capped by an enormous citadel with small beds of névé; but there was very little snow upon the gigantic mass of rock, because the furious winds which for ever beat and howl around it allow but little snow to find a resting-place there. At Shipki they told us that even in winter Lío Porgyúl, as this mountain is called, presents much the same appearance as it had when we saw it. Half of it rests on Chinese Tartary, and the other half on Hangrang, a province which was ceded by the Chinese less than a century ago to the Rajah of Bussabir; so that Lío Porgyúl might well be regarded as a great fortress between Iran and Turan, between the dominions of the Aryan and the Tartar race.

Even more remarkably than the Kailas, this gigantic mountain suggested an inaccessible dwelling-place of the gods; a fortress shaped by hands, but not by human hands. And if the scene was impressive by day, it was absolutely overpowering at night, when the orb of night was slowly rising behind the dark precipices on which we midway stood. While itself unseen, the moon's white light illuminated the deep gorges of the Spiti river, and threw a silvery splendour on the marble-like towers and battlements of Lío Porgyúl. It did not at all appear as if any external light were falling, but rather as if this great castle of the gods, being transparent as alabaster, were lighted up from within, and shone in its own radiance, throwing its supernatural light on the savage scenes around.

The word ma in Chinese means a horse, and it is possible that the Kúng-ma may mean the Horse Pass, in contradistinction to the path across the cliffs of the Sutlej along which horses cannot go ; but I am by no means sure of this derivation.

Be that as it may, horses or some animals are needed on the stiff pull up to the top of it, in a highly rarefied air. Here we found the immense advantage of our yaks, and “the comfort” of riding upon them. They grunted at almost every step, and moved slowly enough, but on they went steadily, seldom stopping to rest. Chota Khan, who had not been provided with a yak, was extremely indignant at the exertion which his large body had to make, and I regretted not having been more liberal towards him. As we got up towards the 16,000 feet summit, the effect of the rarefied air compelled him to pause at every step, and quite bewildered him. He and one or two other of our people, also, began bleeding at the nose. These phenomena, together with the novel sight of a glacier hanging above us near the top of the pass, had such an effect upon the bold Afghan, that at one point he sat down and cried, lamenting his fate and cursing every body and everything in general, the word Sheitan, or “devil,” being especially conspicuous in his language. That was only a momentary weakness, however; for on getting to the

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