Low’s Gully is without doubt the single most dramatic feature of the mountain from the climbing point of view, and was for a long time considered to be inaccessible. Reaching more than a kilometer (3,000 feet) down and more then 16 kilometers (10 miles) in length, the gully is shrouded with an air of mystery made only stronger by its inaccessibility. Several parties, including British army expeditions, have tried to penetrate the gully from either the top or the bottom – but all failed.
Look out below: a Canadian team attempts Low’s Gully, March 2002. (Brent Raymond)
More recently in 1998, however, a joint Malaysia-British mountaineering group made another successful attempt. Their success was, in large part, due to the fact that the descent was made during the El Nino induced drought of 1998, and the climbers themselves said afterwards that in wet weather the descent would have been impossible.
Indeed some members of the expedition felt that it was not so much a conquering of the gully, as an acceptance by the mountain to let them through, perhaps due to the spiritual rituals that took place both before and after the climb. The group also succeeded in descending, for the first time, the vertical cliffs at the head of the gully that come down from Commando Cauldron.
Other proposals have been made to descend the gully since, but Sabah Parks, wisely recognizing the great dangers involved have not, so far, given permission for any further attempts.
Though he never climbed Low’s Peak, Sir Hugh Low was the first to look down into the dramatic gully that bears his name, saying “…looking down over the ridge, I gazed into a circular amphitheater about 80 yards broad, the bottom of which from its great depth and my position overhanging it was indiscernible, though I imagine I could see down two thousand feet.”