The 1958 Women’s Overland Himalayan Expedition

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What would you do if your husband decided he was going climbing in the Himalayas for a few months? In 1958 three women were faced with just that decision as their husbands began to plan the British-Pakistani Forces Himalayan Expedition, leaving their wives at home. In a brilliant contradiction of the stereotypical 1950s housewife, Anne Davies, Eve Sims and Antonia Deacock began to plan their own adventure to rival that of their spouses: an 8,000 mile overland journey to India culminating in a 300 mile trek to the Zanskar Valley.

Despite only Davies holding a driving license the team began to plan, obtaining a car from Land Rover and sponsorship from Ovaltine. Their journey took them across Europe and Asia, through Greece, through Yugoslavia, Pakistan and Afghanistan to name but a few. Arriving in India, they required permission to visit Zanskar situated as it was in such a sensitive political area. This was no obstacle for the team however who managed to obtain an audience with Prime Minister Nehru. Nehru willingly cleared the path for their ambitious plans much to the amazement of The Himalayan Club who had often struggled to obtain such permission. They were among the first European women to reach the Zanskar Valley and even managed to bag their own virgin peak, Biri Giri on the way.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the expedition Martin Salter combined original video footage of the journey with interviews with the women to create a short film, well worth a watch. Our expedition has a strong female contingent (sorry Henry!) and it has not passed our attention that it was women such as Davies, Sims and Deacock who paved the way for female adventurers. A brilliant tale of adventure and we can’t help but feel we are somewhat taking the easy way out by flying to India!

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