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lous, indeed, was it, that had a false step or a slip been made, by any unlucky individual, it would have proved fạtal to him, as well as to some of the guides, since the precarious hold afforded by their position could scarcely have enabled them to sustain the weight of any who should fall, and who must therefore drag with him, into the abyss, those to whom he had been fastened for mutual security. The batons were first banded across, to the first guide who had passed, then the knapsacks, and we followed. Our situation was the more embarrassing, from our uncertainty of the strength of the mass of ice. We greatly feared that, by losing its equilibrium, poised as it was in the crevice, and by the weight of one or two persons on it, it might roll over, consigning to destruction those who might have the unhappy lot to be on it at the moment.'-pp. 30, 31.
At last they attained the Grand Plateau, so called from being the largest of the plains of ice on the mountain, having the base of Mont Blanc on the further side. Having traversed this plateau, and scaled a wedge of ice, which is considered the last great peril to be encountered, the ascent of the travellers became more rapid. Here the rarity of the air began to be felt in an unpleasant manner. . I was seized,' says the author, with an oppression on the chest,
' and a slight difficulty of breathing; a quickness of pulsation soon followed, with a great inclination to thirst, and a fullness in the veins of the head, but still I experienced no headache, nor was there the slightest symptoms of hemorrhagia. Most of the guides suffered in the same way, and to as great an extent as myself.' The lemonade which was prepared for the journey, was lost by the bursting of the bottles. Every step increased the fatigue of the ascent, as the path became more steep, and the rarity of the atmosphere still more distressing. Our author was now attacked with a pain in his head; the difficulty of breathing was every moment greater; he experienced 'violent palpitation of the heart, a general lassitude of the frame, and a very poignant sensation of pain in the knees and muscles of the thighs, causing weakness of the legs, and rendering it scarcely possible to move them.' Such was the exhaustion which our author suffered, that he was strongly tempted to return when he reached the “ Derniers Rochers," being then within an hour's climbing to the great object of his ambition.
The “ Derniers Rochers," or the highest visible rocks, are merely a small cluster of granite pinnacles, projecting about twenty feet out of the snowy mantle which envelopes the summit and clothes the sides of the mountain.
“On reaching these rocks, I was so much exhausted that I wished to sleep, but the experienced guides would not permit it, though all appeared to be suffering more or less under similar sensations. From these Rochers we saw that there were many people on the Breven* watching our progress; among them we recognised some female forms, a discovery which renewed our courage and excited us to still greater efforts than before.
* A mountain on the other side of Chamonix, exactly facing Mont Blanc. Its height is 8310 feet.'
up to the sc
Turning to the side of Italy, a spectacle was presented of great magnificence, from the assemblage of the vast and numberless white pyramids which appeared on the left of the view: Mont Rosa, in its surpassing beauty, being the most distant, the Col du Géant and its' aiguille the nearest; while all the snow-clad rocks which lie on each side of the glacier running from Mont Blanc down the “ Mer de Glace," and again
Jardin," added splendid features to the scene.
The gather'd winter of a thousand years.' On the south, a blue space showed where the plain of Piedmont lay; and far in the back ground of this rose the long chain of the Apennines, and lofty Alps forming the coast of the Mediterranean, and running thence towards the right, meeting the mountains of Savoy. Gilded as they were by the sun, and canopied by a sky almost black, they made up a picture so grand and awful, that the mind could not behold it without fear and astonishment. The impression of so mighty a prospect cannot be conceived or retained.
. It was with some difficulty that I could be persuaded to leave these rocks, for all my enthusiasm was at an end: the lassitude and exhaustion had completely subdued my spirit. I was anxious to get to the summit, but I felt as if I should never accomplish it, the weariness and weakness increasing the moment I attempted to ascend a few steps; and I was convinced that in a few minutes I should be quite overcome. I was induced to proceed by the exhortations of the guides.'--pp. 42, 43.
The remainder of the undertaking, however, required extraordinary exertion. When the rarity of the air first became oppressive, the party were obliged to stop for breath at every fifteen or twenty steps. But now the strongest of the guides became exhausted at every
third or fourth step. The sensation of weakness in the legs increased ; the author was nearly choking from the dryness of his throat and the difficulty of breathing. His eyes were smarting from inflammation, in consequence of the sun's rays being so strongly reflected from the snow. From the same cause his face was blistered. Again he gave up the intention of proceeding farther, but the guides, who, of course, knew that he would repent of such an abandonment, determined that they would either carry or drag him to the summit. The narrative here becomes intensely interesting
Being unable to resist, I became passive, and two of the least exhausted forced me up some short distance, each taking an arm. I found that this eased me, and I then went on more willingly; when one of them derised a plan which proved of most essential service. Two of them went up in advance about fourteen paces, and fixed themselves on the snow; a long rope was fastened round my chest, and the other end to them; as soon as they were seated, I commenced ascending, taking very long strides, and doing so with quickness, pulling the rope in; they also, while I thus exerted myself, pulled me towards them; so that I was partly drawn and partly ran up, using a zig-zag direction; and the amusement derived from the process kept us in better humour than we were
before. I was less fatigued, and felt the effects of the air less by this process, than by the slow pace in which I had hitherto attempted to ascend.
I had taken very little notice of the progress we were thus making, when I suddenly found myself on the summit. I hastened to the highest point (towards Chamonix), and, taking my glass, observed that the party on the Breven had noticed the accomplishment of our undertaking, and were rewarding us by waving their hats and handkerchiefs, which salutation we returned. I noticed, also, that the people in Chamonix had also collected in considerable numbers on the bridge, watching our progress and success.
It was exactly eleven o'clock. • The wind blew with considerable force. I was too much worn out to remain there long, or to examine the scene around me.
The sun shone brilliantly on every peak of snow that I could see; hardly any mist hung over the valleys; none was on the mountains; the object of my ambition and my toil was gained; yet the reward of my dangers and fatigues could hardly produce enjoyment enough to gratify me for a few moments. The mind was as exhausted as the body, and I turned with indifference from the view which I had endured so much to behold, and throwing myself on the snow, behind a small mound which formed the highest point, and sheltered me from the wind, in a few seconds I was soundly buried in sleep, surrounded by the guides, who were all seeking repose, which neither the burning rays of the sun, nor the piercing cold of the snow, could prevent or disturb.
• In this state I remained a quarter of an hour, when I was roused to survey the mighty picture beneath. I found myself much relieved, but still had a slight shivering. The pain in the legs had ceased, as well as the headache, but the thirst remained. The pulse was very quick, and the difficulty of breathing great, but not so oppressive as it had been.
Having placed the thermometer on my baton, in a position in which it might be as much in shade as possible, I went to the highest point, to observe my friends on the Breven and in Chamonix once more, but was summoned immediately to a repast, and willingly I obeyed the call, for I felt as if I had a good appetite. Some bread and roasted chicken were produced, but I could not swallow the slightest morsel : even the taste of the food created a nausea and disgust. One or two guides ate a very little; the rest could not attempt to do so.
* I had provided a bottle of champagne, being desirous to see how this wine would be affected by the rarity of the air. I also wished to drink to the prosperity of the inhabitants of the world below me; for I could believe that there were no human beings so elevated as we were at that moment. The wire being removed, and the string cut, the cork flew. out to a great distance, but the noise could hardly be heard.* The wine
"*“If sound has less power at this elevation, it arises, not from any weakness of the organ of hearing, but from the effect of the rarity of the air diminishing the tone and force of the vibration, and from the absence of all echo and repercussion from solid objects on this isolated summit. Indeed, it is so weakened by these united causes, that, on the summit of Mont Blanc, the report of a pistol would make no more noise than that which a sinall cracker would create in a chamber.
rolled out in the most luxuriant foam, frothing to the very last drop, and we all drank of it with zest ; but not three minutes had elapsed when repentance and pain followed ; for the rapid escape of the fixed air which
1 it still contained produced a choking and stifling sensation, which was very unpleasant and painful while it lasted, and which frightened some of the guides. A very small quantity was sufficient to satisfy our thirst, for nine of us were perfectly satisfied with the contents of one bottle, and happily its unpleasant effects were but of short duration.
• The most pecular sensation which all have felt who have gained this great height arises from the awful stillness which reigns, almost unbroken even by the voice of those speaking to one another, for its feeble sound can hardly be heard.
It weighs deeply upon the mind, with a power the effect of which it is impossible to describe. I also experienced the sensation of lightness of body, of which Captain Sherwill has given a description in the following words: “It appeared as if I could have passed the blade of a knife under the sole of my shoes, or between them and the ice on which I stood.” '-pp. 45–49.
The author has given us his own testimony, at least, that the sea cannot be seen from the summit of Mont Blanc. Captain Sherwill has produced evidence on the other hand, to shew that Mont Blanc is never seen from the sea. This evidence, which is of an interesting character, is published in the French edition of Captain Sherwill's Narrative of his ascent to Mont Blanc, and is cited by Mr. Auldjo.
«« On my return from the south of Italy, towards the end of the year, I passed two days with the governor of Genoa, the Marquis D’Yenne, who loaded me with politeness and attention. Wishing to profit by this kindness, and by my stay in the city, I inquired among the pilots and fishermen who frequent the Mediterranean, whether there was not some one of them who, during his short trips, had seen Mont Blanc. The numerous voyages they take to the coast of Africa in search of coral, one of the most important objects of commerce to this city, appeared to me to offer good opportunities for observing the snowy summit of that mountain, if it be true that it can be perceived at so great a distance.
6." Monsieur D'Yenne had also the complaisance to order a sort of inquiry to be made on this subject, by the commandant of the port, among the oldest of those who had navigated this sea, and he was unable to find one who could say that any of them ever had perceived the summit of Mount Blanc from it.
«« The organ most affected by the rarity of the air is that of respiration, and the circulation is consequently affected in the same degree. It is necessary that a certain quantity of air should traverse the lungs in a given time. If the air is twice as rare as that generally breathed, the number of respirations also must be doubly frequent, so that rarity may be compensated by volume. Now, as the respiration is accelerated, so is the circulation.
““ One guide's pulse beat 98 times in a minute, a servant's 112 times, and De Saussure's 100. At Chamonix they severally beat 49, 66, and 72. They were all suffering, therefore, under a very high state of fever." ?- De Saussure.
"" The bishop of Savona happened to be present at the table of the governor when the conversation turned on this point. In the opinion of this learned prelate, the nearest station to Genoa from which it would be possible to distinguish Mont Blanc was the island of Elba, distant from the city about 45 leagues. Now, from Genoa to Mont Blanc, as a bird would fly, we may reckon 45 or 50 leagues ; so that the whole distance from Elba to the mountain amounts to 90 or 95 leagues. The bishop did not doubt that it was possible to discover the object in question at such a distance, provided the atmosphere was perfectly clear, the plains of Alessandria and Marengo freed from their eternal mists, and a telescope of the greatest power made use of; the point to be observed, and consequently the line of direction, being previously fixed.
"" All travellers who have visited the Allée Blanche,' or ascended the Cramont,' to enjoy from that side the perspective of Mont Blanc, have observed that there is much less snow on this flank than on the side of Chamonix. We may therefore conceive that it is more difficult to distinguish, on the Italian side, a naked and grey rock, at the enormous distance of 90 leagues, than a mass of snow, the dazzling whiteness of which offers to the eye a mark very perceptible.
6“From these observations we can, I think, conclude, that if Mont Blanc, raised, as it is, about 100 toises above all the surrounding mountains, cannot be seen from the Mediterranean, for the strongest reason that sea ought not to be distinguished from the summit of the mountain. In fact, the one forms a point in the horizon: the other, confounded with the whole region of Savoy, Piedmont, and the countries adjacent, is, as it were, lost in immensity."--pp. 49, 50.
The signs of an approaching storm warned the expedition to prepare for their return. But the prospect having been remarkably clear from clouds and mist, our author had, in the mean time, an opportunity of observing the matchless panorama which was spread around him.
Beyond the line of the Jura mountains appeared a wide and confused blue space, which comprehended those plains and hills of France lying behind this chain, one or two mountains of which, gently sloping to the lake of Geneva, whose bright crescent, apparently lying right under Mont Blanc, and surrounded by a dark border of lofty eminences, rising in varied and interesting forms, presented a beautiful picture; the valleys intersecting these mountains being distinctly visible, and the richness of their meadows and cultivated fields easily distinguishable from the dark woods of fir which surrounded them.
* The valley of Chamonix particularly called forth my admiration ; the river Arve, in wandering through it, resembled a silver thread on soft velvet of the deepest green: the rough rocks and pointed glaciers surrounding this Eden of the Alps with a formidable barrier. Among the mountains on the other side of the valley, the “ Buet” reared its glaciercrested head; beyond it, on the other side of the lake of Geneva, appeared the Mont Jorat and the great vale of Switzerland, with the lakes of Neuchatel, Morat, and Bienne. Lausanne is situated at the foot of the Jorat, but was hid from our view by a mountain on the Savoy side of the lake. On the right of this mountain were seen the Diablerets and