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Spies in the Himalaya
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nonick


May 23, 2004, 10:08 PM
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Spies in the Himalaya
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Wonder how many people have read this book by Kenneth Conboy and M.S. Kohli.

This book is about the CIA and the Indian intelligence agencies employing top American and Indian Mountaineers to put a remote sensing device on the summit of Nanda Devi (7834 M). The idea being to monitor Chinese nuclear and missile developments.

It was a bizzare and outlandish idea to begin with. The first such device was a nuclear powered sensor! I won't give away the story here...but the story is compelling and makes excellent reading for those interested in this genre.

The American mountaineers involved in this were famous names such as Tom Frost ( of Yosemite), Luke Jerstad, Rob Schaller, Barry Prather etc.

If your a history buff, this book is worth reading! Would also like to know whether you think it was really ethical on the part of the people involved...


Partner coldclimb


May 23, 2004, 10:16 PM
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haha, a new ethical dillema for climbers... should I plant this listening device on the top of a mountain or not? :wink:

Seriously though, that does sound like a really interesting read. If I ever get a chance, I think I'll go for this book.


nonick


May 23, 2004, 10:20 PM
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Coldclimb...

The first device that was planted ...the nuclear powered one was either lost or stolen. Now can you imagine the dilemma....??


glowering


May 24, 2004, 1:52 PM
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In reply to:
Would also like to know whether you think it was really ethical on the part of the people involved...

It depends on the style of how the device was left. Anchored to a natural chockstone or bolted on.


glowering


May 24, 2004, 1:55 PM
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In reply to:
Would also like to know whether you think it was really ethical on the part of the people involved...

It depends on the style of how they left the device: natural chockstone anchor is ok, but if they bolted it down..


brianinslc


May 24, 2004, 2:05 PM
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In reply to:
In reply to:
Would also like to know whether you think it was really ethical on the part of the people involved...

It depends on the style of how the device was left. Anchored to a natural chockstone or bolted on.

Yeah, and whether it was placed from being dropped in from above, or, from the ground up...

Nuke aspect of it was probably for battery or electrical power. The "RTG" or Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator? Anyone know? Wonder how long some of this stuff will stay classified...

Interesting history.

Brian in SLC


nonick


May 25, 2004, 4:47 AM
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The device was anchored on a chockstone in some sort of cavity.

The cavity appeared to have been destroyed in an avalanche of some sorts..or was it?

Indian climbers spent years looking for the device. Had their been radio active contamination due to the device breaking apart, it would have obviously created an enviromental disaster.

I just think the entire idea was pretty stupid..eventually a solar powered device was planted close to the Chinese border again with CIA help.

Wonder how mountaineers got mixed up in all this?


sesh


Jun 11, 2004, 8:11 AM
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In reply to:

Would also like to know whether you think it was really ethical on the part of the people involved...

Are you joking?

The first device they placed was lost, and probably fell into a crevasse ... in a glacier which feeds a river which runs into the Ganga ... a river which runs for about two thousand miles and from which tens of millions of people draw water every day .... You would have thought they'd have more sense!

(Quite apart from the fact that the mountain itself is sacred to the local people. You should read Tilman's account of the first ascent - the very day that it was first climbed down valley they had the worst rains floods and landslides in decades. The locals refused to go near the peak again for a long time.)


cryder


Jun 11, 2004, 8:36 AM
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Sounds like an unintentional dirty bomb to me. Ethics aside - how much did that thing wiegh and how the heck did they get it up there?


Partner j_ung


Aug 13, 2007, 10:59 AM
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Sorry to resurrect this old thing, but I just heard about this for the first time... on ESPN no less. They interviewed Jim McCarthy, Pete Takeda and a few others. I was in Dick's Sporting Goods, though and I couldn't hear much of what people were saying on the TV.

I did learn one or two things. I thought I heard that the device was 30-40 lbs, was the size of a backpack or so, and that, yeah, the nuclear device was the battery cell. On the initial expedition to install it atop Nanda Devi, the team was unable to summit, so they lashed it to a boulder about 2000 feet shy of the top, with the intent to come back in a year and finish the job. Ten months later they returned... and the device was gone. I thought I heard that the whole boulder was gone, but I can't be sure. Avalanche maybe?

Anywho, the Indian government has admitted its involvement in the scheme, but in America, it's still Classified.

As for the ethics, this occurred at the height of the Cold War. If you grew up under the threat of global nuclear war like I did, you probably recall that there was a pretty clear bad guy and a pretty clear good guy.

What a wild story! IMO, it rivals the Yosemite plane-crash tale. Anybody know anything else? Hey Curt, aren't you friends with Jim McCarthy?


thorne
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Aug 14, 2007, 10:08 AM
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http://www.petetakeda.com/


illimaniman


Aug 14, 2007, 10:27 AM
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http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/...09005_spymain26.html

The Seattle PI ran an article about this pretty recently. It's a good summary of what went on.


nonick


Aug 15, 2007, 10:15 PM
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There is a version here in India that talks of the nuclear device being actually stolen by the Indian government either for using it as fuel or for detonating its first nuclear device in 75.

The story goes onto talk about the mysterious circumstances in which India's leading nuclear scientist died in a plane crash shortly following the missing nuclear device. Some people talk of the CIA being involved.

One will never have the answers to this mystery. Suffice to say, India and the United States just concluded the 123 agreement which brings the whole nuclear issue to a suitable and amicable conclusion.


czycat


Sep 18, 2007, 1:27 PM
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Because it was there...

Everybody wants to be like Bond!


marvinz


Sep 19, 2007, 7:49 AM
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czycat wrote:
Everybody wants to be like Bond!

Hell yeah!


Partner angry


Sep 19, 2007, 9:04 AM
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Last year I attended a slide show that Pete put on to hype this book. The scenes in the mountains were absolutely beautiful. Nanda Devi I believe. Looking down, you could see the sanctuary. Truly, the area is as near to Shangri-La as we get on this plane.

He had stories of porters fighting to carry the nuclear device because it kept them warm. Utter denial of everything. I think he even had some documents that were entirely blacked out prior to being released.

Pretty weird stuff.

Given the consequences of a nuclear device in the Ganges and the Indian Govt stealing it. I kind of hope it got stolen. Doesn't sound too likely though.


skinner


Sep 21, 2007, 5:44 AM
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I first read about this in a story called "Spies on the Roof of the World" on
Damn Interesting.net


http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=830

I love this photo!




Oh those dirty little secrets.. Spies in the Himalaya definitely looks like a good read and one I'll be buying for sure.






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