In the towering mountains of northern India, a chilling chapter was
written in the history of international espionage.
After the Chinese detonated their first nuclear test in 1964,
America and India, which had just fought a border war with its
northern neighbor, were both justifiably concerned. The CIA knew it
needed more information on China's growing nuclear capability but
had few ways of peeking behind the Bamboo Curtain. Because of the
extreme remoteness of Chinese testing grounds, conventional
surveillance in this pre-satellite era was next to impossible.
The solution to this intelligence dilemma was a joint
American-Indian effort to plant a nuclear-powered sensing device on
a high Himalayan peak in order to listen into China and monitor its
missile launches. It was not a job that could be carried out by
career spies, requiring instead the special skills possessed only
mountaineers. For this mission, cloaks and daggers were to be
replaced by crampons and ice axes.
"Spies in the Himalayas" chronicles for the first time the
details of these death-defying expeditions sanctioned by U.S. and
Indian intelligence, telling the story of clandestine climbs and
hair-raising exploits. Led by legendary Indian mountaineer Mohan S.
Kohli, conqueror of Everest, the mission was beset by hazardous
climbs, weather delays, aborted attempts, and even missing
radioactive materials that may or may not still pose a
contamination threat to Indian rivers.
Kept under wraps for over a decade, these operations came to
light in 1978 and have been long rumored among mountaineers, but
here are finally given book-length treatment. Spies in the
Himalayas provides an inside look at a CIA mission from
participants who weren't agency employees, drawing on diaries from
several of the climbers to offer impressions not usually recorded
in covert operations. A host of photos and maps puts readers on the
slopes as the team attempts repeatedly to plant the sensor on a
An adventure story as well as a new chapter in the history of
espionage, this book should appeal to readers who enjoyed Jon
Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" and to anyone who enjoys a great spy
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