Stunning pictures disclose British explorers’ battle to scale Mt Kamet in 1931 (25,446ft) in Himalayas

A remarkable set of images have come to light which document a historic British expedition to climb one of the world’s tallest mountains 87 years ago.

When a small team of explorers reached the 25,446ft summit of Mt Kamet in the Himalayas on June 21, 1931, they achieved something which had never been done before.

At that time, it was the tallest mountain to be scaled by humans.

It would be another 22 years before Sir Edmund Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953.

Sherpas carrying drums in the Himalayas taken by photographer and botanist Frank Smythe during a trip to the summit of Mt Kamet in 1931

The small team of explorers reached the 25,446ft summit of Mt Kamet in the Himalayas on June 21, 1931, they achieved something which had never been done before

Explorers look over the stunning Himalayan landscape as they were the first to climb one of the world’s tallest mountains 87 years ago

Scaling the world’s tallest mountains, the Himalayas, become a national worldwide obsession, the ‘space race’ of the 1930s

Mt Kamet, the first peak over 25,000ft ever reached lies northwest of the world’s highest summit, Mt Everest which stands at 29,030ft

One of the explorers on the Kamet Expedition, photographer and botanist Frank Smythe, took breathtaking snaps which documented every stage of their epic quest.

The team also included Eric Shipton, R.L. Holdsworth, Eric Bentley Beauman, Bill Birnie and the physician Raymond Greene, brother of novelist Graham Greene, as well as ten Sherpas.

In total, there are 82 slides in the collection which has emerged for sale for £1,200.

 One stunning photo shows an explorer pitching his tent in the perfect spot to get an awe-inspiring view of the Himalayas.

Another captures the treacherous nature of their trek as they edge their way up an intimidating mountain face.

There is an incredible image of an explorer playing music from a gramophone to captivated natives who had never encountered such technology.

The explorers stopped off at various villages to meet the locals and pose for photos.

The Sherpas who accompanied them on the trek also feature in various photos including one where they have drums around their necks.

Scaling the world’s tallest mountains, the Himalayas, become a national worldwide obsession, the ‘space race’ of its day.

When news broke at home that the Kamet Expedition was a success, it was celebrated in the British press and the explorers became celebrities.

 Smythe’s gripping account of reaching the summit read: ‘At 4.30pm we stood on the summit.

‘It is difficult to render any account of the view. We were too far above the world.

‘One’s eye passed almost contemptuously over mighty range upon mighty range to seek repose in the violet shades of illimitable horizons.

‘Even the turreted thunder clouds, sun-crested above, purple below, could not attain to our level.

‘The breeze fanning us was deathly cold, the silence and sense of isolation almost terrible.

‘There were no green valleys. All about us were peaks of black rock and glaring ice or snow.’

An explorer look out over the Himalayas. The set of  photos have been consigned for auction by a private collector

British explorers (left) were accompanied by Nepalese Sherpas (right) during their trip up Mt Kamet. At the time it was the highest summit ever reached

An explorer is being carried by a sherpa in icy conditions in 1931 when a small team of explorers climbed Mt Kamet

The stunning landscape of the Himalayas, taken by botanist and explorer Frank Smythe, who documented the quest of a small team of explorers in 1931

The expedition party stopping off at a local village. The explorers stopped off at various villages to meet the locals and pose for photos

A British explorer

An explorer sits on the edge of a stunning landscape in the Himalayas on a trip that made the small team of climbers celebrities

A group of sherpas rest of the mountain on their way to the 25,446ft summit of Mt Kamet in the Himalayas on June 21, 1931

The expedition party with a group of sherpas at camp in the icy Himalayas in the 1930s

Smythe, Shipton, Greene and Birnie were all members of future Everest attempts.

The photos have been consigned for auction by a private collector.

Mimi Connell-Lay, of David Lay FRICS auction house in Penzance, Cornwall, said: ‘There are many glorious shots of the Himalayan scenery, unguarded moments between expedition members, wonderful posed images of the Sherpas, the villagers they encountered en route to Kamet and of course the mountain itself.

‘The period from the 1920s to when Everest was finally climbed in 1953 was a unique period in mountaineering history.

‘With basic equipment and limited understanding of the effects of high altitude on the human body, the men endured tremendous hardship in order to achieve their goals.

‘This is a remarkable set of images from that golden age of mountaineering.’

 The auction takes place on March 22.

An explorer makes his way across water on his trip to the top of Mt Kamet. It is one of the many ‘glorious shots of the Himalayan scenery, unguarded moments between expedition members’

Explorers set up camp in the Himalayan mountains. They only had basic equipment and limited understanding of the effects of high altitude on the human body in 1931 when they made their quest

The view from high up Mt Kamet, taken by Frank Smythe, the photographer and botanist who took breathtaking snaps of the 1931 expedition

First published at daily mail

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