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Karo La, taken by CG Rawling, 1904, during the British mission to Tibet. British Army Captain Cecil Rawling was in Tibet on an unofficial survey expedition when he joined Francis Younghusband’s infamous military quest to make the country a ‘buffer state’ between Russia and British India. This photograph is of the British camp below a glacier at Karo La, a mountain pass at an altitude of more than 5,000 metres, which Younghusband described as ‘desolate in the highest degree’. The original caption read: ‘Karo La. Scene of a big fight. The highest point on which a fight has taken place in the world. The final advance of the British to Lhasa.’ In 1904, it was blocked by the Tibetan resistance, who had built a wall across the valley. The subsequent ‘big fight’ was won by the British, when Gurkhas bypassed the wall by climbing the valley sides, and the British marched onward to the capital, Lhasa. In 1917, Rawling was awarded the RGS Patron’s Medal for his explorations, both in Tibet – he surveyed an area of 100,000 square kilometres, including parts of Mount Everest – and in Papua New Guinea, but just a few months later, he was killed while serving on the Western Front
The Royal Geographical Society Picture Library is an unrivalled resource, containing more than half a million images of peoples and landscapes from all over the world. The collection holds photographs and works of art from the 1830s onwards and includes images of exploration, indigenous peoples and remote locations. For further information on image licensing and limited-edition prints, or to search our online collection of more than 7,000 images, visit www.rgs.org/images. Rolex kindly supports public access to the Society’s collection of photographs, books, documents and maps.
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