Mystery hunter – nearly there…

Little-by-little we are getting closer to identifying the mystery hunter mentioned in previous posts. Already we have been able to identify his shikari (guide) as Rahima Lone, well-known for guiding the Roosevelt brothers and other prominent personalities in the early years of the 20th century. I have been reading the accounts of hunters and travellers who crossed the Pamirs during this period. Many have already been ruled out, due to their routes or intentions. However, today I made another little discovery that may help find our elusive trophy-hunter.

In 1941 a 19-year-old Norwegian apprentice called Wilfred Skrede decided he would make his way from Oslo to the training camp for the Norwegian Air Force at Little Norway in Toronto, Canada. His route was unusual, in that he went across Russia and Siberia before heading south through Xinjiang, across the Taklamakan Desert, then across the Karakorums and Himalayas to Kashmir, and thence from Mumbai via a ship to Singapore and then New York.

Some years after the war, in 1954, he published an account of his journey in English, called Across the Roof of the World (Staples Press, London, 1954). Looking through the book today I was struck by one photograph in particular entitled ‘Kazaks on the way to Kuldsha‘. Here is its:

Photo from Skrede’s book

As soon as I checked with my collection of 87 slides from the hunter’s journey I realised it was identical to one of them, as you can see below:

One of the hunter’s slides, identical to that used by Skrede

The Skrede photo is credited to the Royal Geographical Society in London. The hunter’s slide has a different caption, ‘A yurt on the Pamirs‘, but is otherwise identical. My guess is that this caption is more accurate that that of the Skrede photo. The ‘Kuldsha’ (actually Kuldja and now known as Yining) he mentions is a long way to the north in the Ili Valley and it would have been out of sequence amongst other slides of Hunza and Kashgar. Skrede used none of his own photographs in his book, but used several from the RGS and others by Sir CP Skrine and Col R Meinertzhagen. Presumably the RGS gave him permission to use a slide already in their collection. So the next job is to find out if the RGS can identify the slide and then, presumably, the identity of the photographer. Watch this space…

2 thoughts on “Mystery hunter – nearly there…

  1. I’m fascinated by your search for the mystery hunter; it’s a brilliant story within itself. Along the way, you have met extraordinary characters. First, the guides, the Roosevelts and now Wilfred Skrede, whose journey is filled with adventure and set back. Onward and upward, the mystery hunter is waiting to be found…


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