Of ANNAPURNA III Major Harold William “Bill” Tilman had written “From the broad back of the main ridge west of the Annapurna II or Annapurna IV either of these peaks could be reached, while Annapurna III, bristling with gendarmes and cornices, could not be reached at all.” This passage in Tilman’s book, Nepal Himalaya, came to the notice of Captain Kohli then Lieutenant in the Indian Navy. It is a gripping, first-hand account of the most sensational mountain story by the leader in an intimate style, of the gallant band of men who risked their very lives to keep alight the torch of human endeavour. This book on the maiden ascent of Annapurna III, with far more sensational drama, deserves to be read by adventure lovers all over the world.
At the age of seven he crossed a river and climbed the 2,000 feet high peak immortalized by his ancestors in 1824 who were executed by the Afghan rebels during the conquest of North West Frontier by General Hari Singh Nalwa. At the age of fifteen, he saw his native town of Haripur burnt to ashes and the entire population annihilated. After harrowing journey of two months, witnessing massacre of over 4,000 displaced persons in two trains, encountering death at every step, finally saved by his family friend Ayub Khan (later to become Field Marshal and President of Pakistan), he staggered into Delhi barefooted and in tattered clothes but full of joy to breathe air of freedom.