« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
WITH CHRISTIAN ALMER IN THE OBERLAND.
When the writer of this paper ignorant of what will be required of announced his intention of climbing them on the Alps, of the little danthe Finsteraarhorn, his friends one gers and difficulties which have to and all shook their heads. They be overcome, and of the amount of pointed out to him the dangers of training and exertion which are such a proceeding. They told him required to overcome them easily of avalanches and crevasses, of steep and pleasantly. It is right to say icy slopes and crumbling rock; that he was used to hard and rough they hinted at the probability of work, could walk all day and all his being frost-bitten or lost in night too, if it were necessary, and fog, of being blown away by wind fancied that he had a tolerably or buried in snow. Some of the steady head. But he knew nothmore sanguine, indeed, half believed ing of work on snow or ice—had that he might possibly be able to never, indeed, been on a snow reach the top, but they were unani- mountain, with the single excepmous in saying that if he did so, he tion of the Titlis, in the Unterwould speedily come down again, walden; and though he had a certhough whether by the way he tain amount of confidence in himwent up or by a route to be dis- self, was by no means sure whecovered by himself seemed, accord- ther he would feel quite comforting to them, more than doubtful. able when creeping up a sharp These prophecies of ill shook his arête, or descending by slippery confidence a little. But he was in steps a steep ice-slope with a couple Switzerland in August. Lucerne of thousand feet of precipice at the and Engelberg, and edelweiss-hunt- bottom of it. He was exceptionting and picnics, were but poor ex- ally fortunate in one respect,—he changes for the deer and grouse of was able to secure the services of Ross-shire and Sutherland; and so, the great guide whose name stands after much doubt and questioning at the head of this paper, and it of friends, and many consultations was to Christian Almer that much of guide-books, he at length made of the pleasure and all the success up his mind to make, at any rate, of the expedition were due. an attempt on some of the great mountains.
The weather was very bad that As may be seen by its preface, year, and made all people dependthere will be little in this paper ent on it very miserable. It rained which will interest skilful and and rained (and rain at Rosenlaui crafty climbers, and they will cer- or Grindelwald meant snow on the tainly find nothing in it which will higher ground), it blew and it add to their knowledge. It is thundered, and mist seemed to merely an account of a man's first have asserted its right always to visits to the regions of snow and be present in greater or less quanice, and of the impressions which tities on every mountain. But at these made upon him; and though last there was a change-patches of its reading will be perhaps flat and sunshine began to be seen-on the unprofitable to the experienced, it snow, and then on the faces of the may be of some small use to those guides. So one September mornwho are-as the writer was—quite ing we started, with Christian
and its pres
Almer and Christian Roth, the along some steep mountain-side, latter the porter—a strong, willing, opening here and there into black silent fellow, who carried his some- holes looking like gigantic graves, times very heavy burden of food Then for a long distance it would and wine and fuel without ever a be covered with snow,
We intended going by ence only be betrayed by the holthe Mönch Joch to the Ægisch- low-by the unnatural dip in the horn, climbing the Jungfrau on otherwise smooth surface of the the way, and then the Finster- névé. Again—perhaps just when aarhorn, but the programme was the passage had to be made it afterwards considerably extended. would show some of its evilness The weather was changeable and by cracks and blotches of darkness, fickle,—dense clouds hung all day some large, and some so small that on the Faulhorn, and the Wetter- a boot would almost cover them, horn's white peak was hid in some- but so deep that the trinkle of the thing worse than mist; but the snow in falling was heard against mountains in front were clear, and the side only (if the side was near), we went on although with some- and not against the bottom. We what doubting hearts. The lower bad a good deal to do with such glacier was crossed, the steep places, especially in the last pass we green slope on the Eiger climbed, made; and there, in addition to the and in the evening the little hut real difficulties of the ground, the on the Bergli rock was reached, feeling of a small amount of inafter a couple of hours on the snow security was heightened, not only -ground which gave to an ignor- in ourselves, but also, perhaps, in amus a good idea of some of the the guides, by the almost certain work before him. One or two of knowledge that in one of the great the slopes were steep, and some of chasms we crossed were lying the the crevasses badly bridged and bodies of three men who, one Sunnot easily crossed. Aud we may day a few weeks before, had begun at once say that it was the crevasses a journey which they never finand bergschrunds, and these alone, ished. which gave us any trouble. We The Bergli hut is a curious place found that we did not mind ice- to spend a night in. It lies in slopes, that we rejoiced in arêtes, a niche of a mass of steep rock, and that we contemplated with a thrown down, as it were, on the certain amount of satisfaction the glacier between the Eiger and the narrow ridge of snow which ran Viescherhorner. There is only one between two precipices. In such place on this rock where there places we followed Almer readily, would be room for even such a and without any feeling of nerv- small erection as it is, and there it ousness or fear. But with the cre- is placed. Its door and its tiny vasses and the grim half-hidden window--the size of a sheet of bergschrunds it sometimes paper--look out upon the Schreckdifferent. Even when one of these horn, seemingly quite close. Great latter lay in a long, open, naked mountains are all round it, the valline—a huge trench to be crossed ley of Grindelwald is shut out from by some slight and seemingly frail view by a spur of the Eiger, and its bridge of snow—we could manage green is wanting to the view. it without much trouble. It was The sun, after hesitating long as when the great chasm was nearly to the course he should pursue, left hid from view that certain qualms the scene altogether, and then there crossed our mind. It would run was no colour to relieve the dull
surroundings. The rocks stood out uncertain intervals, masses of ice black and cold from the snow- thundered down on to the glaciers coloured ice; the sky, too, was below, sometimes far off towards white-a dull-greyish white—and the Eiger, and sometimes so near soon the clouds lowered, and it that one could almost hear the began to snow. Great preparations individual crash of each great fragwent on inside for supper. At the ment as it parted into thousands foot of the raised platform or shelf pieces at the bottom of the fall. which served as a bed, and which There were other reasons why we was very like that in a dog-kennel did not sleep well, but it is perhaps (indeed the place reminded one not necessary to particularise them very much of an inferior kennel), further than by saying that the was a small stove, and Almer offi- small original inbabitants of the ciated as cook with great grace and hut were very active. The straw dignity. He had some congealed which made our beds was damp substance stuck at the bottom of a and mouldy, and the snow had got tin which looked as if it had once in and wetted the floor and walls. held some of Macdougall's sheep- But it seems ungracious to find dip. This was soup; and really it fault with a place without whose was good, if one could have for- friendly aid we could not have done gotten or had not seen the tin. what we intended without very Tea was made and chocolate, and much more discomfort and exposure many pipes were smoked. The than we experienced; and no one evening was not promisiny-one
not promisiny—one can use these shelters without feelred gleam of light touched for a ing very grateful to the Swiss Alpine moment the wild rocks of the Club for their erection. And it is Schreckhorn, and then the night right to say that the Bergli but is began ominously with a fine gentle an unfavourable example; for others snow. Very early the men went to —those on the Aletsch glacier and bed: we had but a poor time of it the Schreckhorn are instances—are, that night. Perhaps it was the comparatively speaking, palaces. novel feeling of being in the midst We tried hard to sleep, and then of ice, on a little island as it were, failing, read through the visitors' 11,000 feet above the sea, which book of the establishment. Dr. drove away sleep; or the thought Haller and his guides had spent a that two short paces from the door night in the hut before going up would take one over a precipice on the Jungfrau. We followed their to the crevassed glacier below. We route throughout, hearing of them were anxious about the weather at the Ægischhorn and at the too, and about the great mountain Grimsel, from which latter place which we hoped to climb. The they only started to meet with snow soon ceased, the stars came death somewhere on the long slopes out brightly, and when died away of the Lauteraarjoch. the little wind there had been, We started at 4 A.m., and after only one sound was left to break the climbing the steep rock of the Bergnight's stillness. There could be li, followed the tracks of some men no rustle of leaves or grass at that who had tried the pass a few days great height, no hum of insects or before, but had been driven back call of birds, and the streams which by bad weather. The footprints by day trickled over the rocks fed led up to a wide bergschrund ; by the melting snow, were now all we could see them dimly continfast bound by frost. But every ued on the other side, but in the now and then, at frequent though middle there was a hiatus. The
snow-bridge on which they had Schreckhorn was lighted up, and crossed was gone, and a mere film this we could not see, but we had of delicate white, which might have not long to wait. In a few mohad strength enough to carry a rab- ments the warm tint was on the bit or a fox, was all that was left. Eiger, and in a few more on the So a detour had to be made along Mönch; and then we ourselves, the bergschrund towards the Eiger, toiling painfully up the steep slope, to try and find another safer place; saw its pale surface suddenly lit by and failing that, a long and difficult a rose colour so intense that for route by its rocks would have been the moment it almost made us necessary, which would have taken blind. The light ran quickly from much time, and have seriously in- one peak to another, touching each terfered with the long hard days with rosy fingers in its downward work before us. There a flight. It was not necessary then weird look about that bergschrund to be told which of the mountains in the dim morning light: a few round were the highest. The one icicles, not many, fringed its upper that was highest felt the glow first. tier, and then the pale smoky It soon faded away even from the purple of its glossy walls ended in lower glaciers, and the day fairly à deep transparent green, and in began. nothing else, for no eye could see There was no particular difficulty the bottom. The new snow-bridge in the climb up the Jungfrau except crossed this gulf at a high angle, in one place. Not very far from and though it was probably safe the top, a slope of snow lying at the enough, it was rather a relief to be highest possible angle is bottomed well over it, for owing to the width by a bergschrund, while its top of the chasm two of the party had forms the Roththalsattel or ridge to be on the bridge at the same which looks down into Lauterbruntime; and if this had gone, the nen. This slope has to be crossed third man would probably have nearly at a level, and if that was been dragged out of his precarious all it would merely require good footing. We had a good look into step-cutting and care; but the dim mysterious depths of the ally a cornice, of ice and frozen crevasse, and then were glad to say snow overhangs it, varying in size good-bye to it. The little detour, according to the late state of the though provoking at the time, had weather,--sometimes a mere fringe its compensation, for it enabled us sometimes extending outwards to see, without constantly looking for many feet. It was here that Dr. round, the great magnificence of the Haller's party met with their first sunrise—the herald of the splen- check, and Inabnit, one of the did weather of the next few days. guides, by a terrible fall, received a Long lines of colour showed them- dreadful injury to his back which selves gradually in the east; gold saved his life; for if he had not faded into emerald, and emerald been disabled, he would have been ran into deep starry violet. Soon with his employer and Rubi on the every tint seemed to be repre- Lauteraarjoch. He was trying to sented, and then the sun came up make a way through this cornice and showed himself proudly to with his axe, when a large piece of the world. For a little while it came down and threw the whole the mountains still remained white party over; and while they escaped and cold, and the dark rocks stood with little damage he was dreadfully out still unrelieved by shadow. injured—so much so, that on the way The east side of the peak of the down to the Concordia hutohe often piteously begged his companions to the only unpleasantness was the leave him to his fate. There is a sudden feeling of collapse, and an note in pencil on the door there occasional barking of shins on the mentioning the accident. The cor- sometimes sharp edge. The hotel nice we had to pass was a suffi- on the Ægischhorn was reached in ciently disagreeable-looking affair; fifteen hours from the start. A the slope joined it in smooth un- pleasant day was spent there, and broken line, and this place appeared then we retraced our steps up the perfectly impassable. But Almer great glacier, and sleeping at the never hesitated; he cut his way Concordia hut, the next day climbalong it, and we followed, driving ed the Finsteraarhorn. Here again the axes in almost to the head, to we found not much difficulty, and get good hold, and doing this with here again our labours were rewarddifficulty for fear of disturbing the ed with a most superb view. Every treacherous overhanging mass above. great mountain in Switzerland was But at last we had to lie almost flat in sight. Far away, but with his and wriggle under it, while bits of great bulk clearly defined against snow and long icicles skimmed the bright sky, was Mont Blanc, quickly in a continuous stream into with his aiguilles ; and to the left, the yawning schrund below. Then Monte Rosa, the Weisshorn, the there came a break in the fringe. splendid Matterhorn, and the long Almer climbed through it and all range which ended in distant Italy. danger was over. We toiled up the Far away on the other side, too, last long steep slope, and before ten could we see—to the Jura and the stood on the top of the Jungfrau. Black Forest. The view on the
Of the view it is difficult to say south side is like that seen from anything: from here, as from the the Ægischhorn, with the increase Finsteraarhorn and Schreckhorn, and of power which 4000 feet of addiindeed from all the great heights we tional elevation gives it; but from reached, we saw all that was to be there you cannot, as from here, look seen. There was just a tiny fringe north. The near prospect, too, lookof haze round this fair horizon, but ing down, is most grand: the near never a cloud in the sky. Though circle of mountains which stand there was a sharp wind about half- round the Finsteraarhorn is a most way up, there was none on the stately one. There is the Jungfrau, summit, and we could enjoy the no longer able to make the proud wonderful array of peaks in com- boast of “maiden,”—a mistress fort. The descent to the Aletsch now—sometimes gentle, sometimes glacier was soon made; and then coy, and sometimes terribly stern. its long stretch of smooth surface There is the Eiger, and the treacherfollowed, a somewhat monotonous ous Mönch, whose long, seemingly journey, the only delays in which easy slope is one of the more diffiwere caused by the partial disap- cult of climbs; and there, too, the pearance into crevices of one or wild rocks of the great mountain other of the party. We went into we hoped soon to climb reared four, Almer into two, and Roth themselves up into the sky,—the into one.
On the upper part of “grimmest fiend of the Oberland,” the glacier the snow was so smooth the peak of terror"—the Schreckand level that it was impossible horn. often to see the slightest sign of a There was no wind on that most gap, and when any one sank in, it perfect day. At the height of over was without warning. The rope 14,000 feet the air was as warm of course prevented danger; and and gentle as it had been at the