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to wade, or the sand in their bottoms so soft near the top of the mountain rushes down in that it approached the condition of quicksand. great avalanches to its very base, and is preOnce while returning from a camp at the Chaix cipitated upon the surface of the glacier below. Hills to Icy Bay, not being able to find logs Mount St. Elias terminates at the top in a maswith which to make a raft, we had to swim one sive pyramid, from the base of which, as seen swift icy stream, and wade another that was from the south, a prominent shoulder rises on considerably more than waist deep. A plunge each side. The eastern shoulder has an elevainto ice-water on a chilly, rainy day is far from tion of 14,600 feet at its extremity; it then falls pleasant, but can be endured if one takes it off abruptly, and the range terminates about six boldly. To wade slowly out from shore until miles to the east of the main summit. The west deep water is reached is a torture that few can shoulder is 16,400 feet high, and beyond it to withstand. The best way is to take a heroic the west there is a steep descent in the crest plunge where the bank is steep, and make the line, but the range is continued indefinitely tochange from air to water as nearly instantane- ward the northwest, and bristles with magnifious as possible.
cent peaks and sharp crests as far as the eye can From a camp at the foot of the Malaspina reach. Northeast from the Chaix Hills, across glacier we cut a trail, about four miles long, a portion of the Malaspina glacier, are the Sathrough the exceedingly dense vegetation grow- movar Hills, which are also, at least in part, ing on the moraines which cover the outer formed of stratified morainal deposits, and, like margin of the ice-sheet. This vegetation is a the Chaix Hills, have been sculptured into a continuation of the forest covering the flat lands multitude of picturesque tent-like forms. Beto the south, and extends without a break up yond the Samovar Hills rise the sharp peaks of over the steep face of the glacier, and thence the Hitchcock range, and the white pinnacles inland in many places to a distance of from four and domes of Mount Cook and Mount Irving. to five miles. North of the belt of vegetation They are among the most attractive mountains covering the border of the glacier, we crossed in the entire Mount St. Elias region. Between twelve or fifteen miles of exceedingly rough mo- Mounts Irving and St. Elias is the Augusta raine-covered ice and reached the Chaix Hills, range, on which rise Mounts Augusta, Malawhich we climbed. Their southern slope is bare spina, Jeannette, Newton, and several other of vegetation except at the base, and is but- prominent snow-clad peaks. Far away to the tressed by many sharp ridges, too steep to climb, southeast, beyond the Malaspina glacier, is a which unite to form pinnacles above. Joining host of marvelous mountains, lessening in perthe pinnacles are graceful curves formed by spective, until the commanding summit of the exceedingly sharp crest. Their topographic Mount Fairweather terminates the magnificent forms alone are sufficient to show the geologist panorama. On perfectly clear days, when there that they have resulted from a very recent up- is not a vapor wreath anywhere about the mounlift. We are told that the architects of India tains, it is difficult to realize their full magnifiplaced outstanding pavilions from which to cence, owing to the absence of shadows and view the beauties of their“ dreams in marble”; an apparent flattening of the rugged slopes. so in Alaska, on an infinitely grander scale, On such rare, perfect days there frequently the Chaix Hills, situated ten miles in front of comes a change. The cold winds from the vast the vast southward-facing precipice of the St. ice-fields north of the mountains are beaten back Elias range, afford a point of observation that by warm, moist winds from the south, and cloudcan not be surpassed.
wreaths appear in horizontal bands far below The Chaix Hills rise through a sea of ice, the gleaming summits. Under such condithe limits of which can not be determined from tions the mountains lose their fatness, and buttheir summits. Looking east, and south, there tresses and amphitheaters appear where before is nothing in sight but an apparently limitless were expressionless walls. The mountains seem plateau of ice, forming the Malaspina glacier. to awaken, and to become aware of their own To the north there is a belt of irregular hilly dignity and sublimity. Usually the first sign of ground covered by snow-fields and glaciers, a coming change, when the weather is clear, is and bristling with peaks, which are barren and a small cloud-banner on the extreme summit naked during the summer season. Looking of St. Elias. This signal is a warning that can over these, the entire southern slope of Mount be seen for a hundred and fifty miles in every St. Elias is in full view. A seemingly level field direction and should not be ignored. Soon of ice, forming the Libbey glacier, stretches up other peaks repeat the alarm, like bale-fires in to the immediate base of the vast precipice time of invasion, and Mounts Augusta, Cook, leading to the top of the range. The elevation and far-away Fairweather fling out their beaof the actual base of the mountain is about cons to show that a storm is nigh. 2000 feet. The precipitous slope rising above Repairing to a cache that had been left on It is 16,000 feet high. The snow breaking away the border of the clearing southeast of the Chaix Hills, we made a camp on the glacier, surface. This accident came nearer being sehaving the luxury, however, of a thin layer rious than any other we had while on the ice, of broken slate beneath our blankets; and on and served as a warning. After its occurrence the next day, July 8, advanced about five miles we did not begin our night marches until an northward, when we again encamped on a thin hour or two past midnight, when the twilight moraine composed of black slate, and the day had increased in brightness sufficiently to make following brought up the remainder of our sup- traveling safe. On our return, in passing the plies. On July 1o we had breakfast at mid- same ice-fall, we had another accident similar night, and began a weary tramp through soft to the one just described. We were marching snow to the Samovar Hills. Strange mirage in single file, and, feeling perhaps over-confieffects appeared on the vast ice-fields when the dent after living for weeks on the glaciers, did sun arose. A white mist gathered about us when not attach ourselves to a life-line, as was our the warm sunlight touched the glacier, but we custom in marching over snow which might traveled on, guiding our course by compass. conceal dangerous crevasses. I was in the lead, The light shining through the mist made white and just after passing safely over a snow-covhalos of remarkable beauty, which lessened the ered crevasse heard an exclamation from White, monotony of traveling through the fog. The who followed a few steps in my rear, and on snow became very soft and every step was looking back saw that he had disappeared, wearisome, but still we pressed on, hour after leaving only a hole in the snow to indicate the hour, as there was no halting-place. We finally direction of his departure. Returning quickly, reached the extreme west end of the Samovar I looked down the hole but saw only the walls Hills, and pitched our tents on a little hillock of a blue crevasse ; a curve in the opening had of mosses and flowers, from which the snow carried my companion out of sight. He replied had recently retreated. At our camping-place to my shout, however, and with the aid of a the Agassiz glacier emerges from a deep cañon line was soon on the surface again, uninjured. about three miles broad, and descending a On the night when Stamy and White came so steep slope, which is a continuation of the pre- near losing their lives, several efforts were made cipitous southern face of the Samovar Hills, by the men to continue their march, but creforms a splendid ice-fall that bristles with pin- vasses thinly covered with snow were found nacles and ice-blades separated by deep blue to bar their way in every direction but the one crevasses. Late in the afternoon of July 12 we by which they arrived. At last they abandoned worked our way, with the sled lightly loaded, the attempt to advance, and returned to camp. up the border of the ice-fall near camp, and, Early the following day we all returned to the after reaching its summit and threading the sled, and by skirting along the side of the glamaze of crevasses just above, gained the center cier, and in places climbing along the steep, of the glacier. The snow ahead seeming smooth snow-covered hillside, managed to get around and unobstructed, we left the sled and returned the difficult tract and make a long march ahead. to camp, where each man shouldered a heavy The Agassiz glacier above the fall at the pack and started up the ice-fallonce more, while Samovar Hills is remarkably smooth, and but I remained in camp, having enough to occupy little crevassed, except along its immediate bormy attention during the next day in the neigh- ders. Its principal tributary is the Newton glaboring hills. The plan was for the men to cier, which occupies an exceedingly wild valley advance with the sled as far up the Agassiz gla- between the east end of the St. Elias range and cier as they could during the cold hours of the the west end of the Augusta range. These two night when the snow was hard; then to make ranges overlap en échelon, and each is exceeda cache and return the next day.
ingly steep and rugged. The walls overlooking The men regained the sled in safety, and, the glacier on either side are seldom less than after packing their loads upon it, began the 10,000 feet high, while the peaks that bristle weary tramp; but they had scarcely gone a along their crests rise to elevations of from 12,hundred yards when Stamy and White, who ooo to 14,000 feet. At the foot of the ice-fall were in the lead, felt the snow give way, and over which the Newton glacier descends and fell about twenty feet into a crevasse. The becomes a part of the Agassiz glacier, the ele. snow covering the crevasse had previously fal- .vation is 3000 feet above the sea. The amphilen in, leaving a thin, unbroken dome, but theater where the glacier has its principal source, had caught in the fissure and formed a kind of between Mount St. Elias and Mount Newton, bridge on which the men alighted; except for has an elevation of a little over 8000 feet. The this they would have gone down to unknown glacier makes this descent of about 5000 feet depths. The snow that fell in with them fortu- principally at four localities where ice-falls ocnately prevented their moving until McCarty, cur. Between the falls the slope is quite gentle, with great promptness and presence of mind, and in some places the grade is reversed; that lowered a rope, and they were assisted to the is, the ice rises bodily to some extent when pass
ing over obstructions. We made two camps on long and wide, and separated level-topped tathe broad, undulating surface of the Agassiz bles of snow as large as blocks of city houses, glacier, each of them at the margin of a lake many of which were tilted in various directions. of the most wonderful blue. At the higher of We then came to a second fall, less grand than these camps we abandoned our sled, which had the first, but more difficult to scale, owing to the done good service, and resumed “packing” fact that we could not climb the cliff at the side, our outfit. The first ice-fall above was passed but had to work our way up through partially by scaling the steep rock-cliff where it emerges filled crevasses in the fall itself, and to cut steps from beneath the ice on the west. The actual in the sides of vertical snow-cliffs. Once, after vertical descent is about five hundred feet. The an hour of hard work in cutting steps up an ice in plunging over the precipice is broken into overhanging snow-cliff and gaining the top, we tables and columns of great beauty. This fall found ourselves on a broad table separated from differs in character from the fall in the Agassiz its neighbors on all sides by profound crevasses, glacier at the end of the Samovar Hills, owing and had to retreat and try another way. At to the fact that it is well above the snow-line length we gained the snow-slope on the mounand in the névé region. The columns on the tain-side overlooking the broken region below, steepest part of the fall are not thin spires and and found an open way, although exposed to blades of ice, as in similar situations lower down, avalanches, up to Rope Cliff
, which had given but prisms and pilasters of homogeneous snow, us some trouble the year before. Knowing the which breaks like granular marble and is with- conditions at Rope Cliff, however, it did not out structure, excepting lines of horizontal stra- cause delay. One of us climbed the rock-face tification. Above the fall the glacier is broken and fastened a rope around a large stone at the from side to side into rudely rectangular tables, top, which made future ascents and descents and as these are carried over the steep descent easy. Fragments of the rope left at this place they become separated, and frequently stand the year before were found. This was the only as isolated columns a hundred feet high, sup- trace of our former trail that we saw; all else porting massive capitals. The architectural re- had been obliterated by the deep snows of semblances of these columns, all of the purest winter. white with deep blue chasms between, are often About two miles above Rope Cliff we envery striking, especially in the twilight of the tered a region of huge crevasses, near the place short summer nights, when they appear like the where we had to cut steps
up a precipice of ruins of marble temples. Above the first fall we snow the year previous. The breaks in the traversed a great area where the crevasses were snow were not only numerous, but broad and
VOL. XLIV.- 26.
DRAWN BY JOHN A. FRASER.
deep, extending clear across the glacier. On greater part of the work. Once above the corthe south there was a big wall of snow parallel nice, the slope was less steep, and McCarty, by with the course of the glacier, and connecting using two alpenstocks, was able to ascend the with the cliffs above in such a manner that we rest of the way without using an ice-ax. Placcould not pass around it. We encamped on a ing an alpenstock firmly in the snow at the top, table of snow surrounded on all sides by cre- and making a rope fast to it, our packs were
hauled up and we were all soon at the top.
Other great crevasses occurred above White Cliff, but they were in the bordering snow-field and not in the glacier proper, and ran in the direction we wished to travel. By following the broad surface between two of the great gorges we advanced to the point where we had our highest camp the year previous, and then began the ascent of the last ice-fall in the Newton glacier. This fall was higher than any previously encountered, but not so steep, and the blocks of snow were larger. The ascent to the amphitheater above is over 1000 feet. The day we made the climb we reached the foot of the fall about six in the morning, and found the snow soft and traveling difficult. The day was hot, and the elevation being considerable our task proved a fatiguing one. At length we
reached the vast amphitheater in which the vasses, but inclined so that we could cross to a Newton glacier has its source, and pitched our neighboring table, and there spent the night. tent as far within the entrance as safety from An examination of the broken snow ahead from avalanches would permit. This proved to be the upturned edge of a fallen snow-block of our highest camp, its elevation being a little great dimensions failed to show any practicable over 8000 feet. way to advance. From our elevated station During the ascent of the Newton glacier the could see entirely across the glacier, but, in at- weather had become more unsettled than in tempting to pick out a way through the maze the earlier part of the season, which was due of crevasses, always came to a yawning blue in great measure to our increased elevation. gulf or to an impassable wall of snow. At last, While enjoying fair weather near the coast, we almost in desperation, we decided to cut steps did not appreciate the fact that every cloud up the great wall that ran parallel with the gla- which wrapped its soft sunlit folds about the cier, trusting that the surface above would be higher mountains was accompanied by a local connected with the less broken region above the snow-storm. We soon learned, however, that fall. This cliff of snow, which we called White not every cloud has a silver lining. Mist and Cliff, was the upper side of a great crevasse, the rain delayed our progress and made our lower lip of which had fallen and partially filled camps on the snow wretchedly uncomfortthe gulf at its base. To reach its foot we had able, yet they added variety and beauty to to cut steps down a cliff of snow about fifty feet the wonderful scenery of the snow-covered high, and work our way across a partially filled mountains, and brought out a world of beauty crevasse of profound depth to a table of snow that would never be suspected if the air always forming a terrace on the opposite side. From retained its transparency and the sun always this terrace we could cross another small cre- shone with blinding intensity. As we ascended vasse on broken, angular snow-blocks which the Newton glacier, and gained the summit partially filled it, and gain the base of the cliff
. of one ice-fall after another, the panorama of Above us rose a wall of snow 200 feet high, mighty snow-covered peaks and broad, crewith an overhanging cornice-like ridge midway vassed glaciers became more and more unup, which projected five or six feet from the folded, and more and more magnificent. The face of the cliff and was eight feet thick. Mc- view eastward down the glacier is one of the Carty and Stamy were with me, and we began most impressive pictures that even Alaskan to cut steps, taking advantage of a diagonal mountains can furnish. The cliffs of the St. crack in the cliff which assisted considerably in Elias range on the south, and of the Augusta the task. All the way up to the cornice we had range on the north, rise near at hand to great to hold on by alpenstocks while we used our heights, and are as rugged and angular as it is ice-axes. Reaching the cornice, an opening was possible for mountains to be. The snow-covered cut through it, McCarty and Stamy doing the slopes are utterly bare of vegetation; not even a
lichen tints the isolated outcrops of rock. Look- the clustered domes and pinnacles of Mount ing eastward between the two lines of precipices Cook and Mount Irving, two sister peaks of towering over a mile in height, and rising above equal grandeur. Beyond these, glimpses may into pinnacles and crests, the eye follows the be had at certain stations of Mount Vancouver, descending slope of the glacier, which expands and of still other shining summits which are not as new ice-streams pour in flood after flood of named, and perhaps were never before seen by ice. The surface of the glacier appears rugged human eyes. in the foreground, but is softened in the distance The view down the glacier is a winter landuntil only the broadest of the blue gashes that scape. In the full noontide the scene is of dazbreak its surface are visible. Five or six miles zling whiteness, except where cliffs cast their
away is a heavily snow-covered group of hills, shadows or clouds screen the sunlight. The a spur of the Augusta range, which deflects the snow-fields and the snow-curtained precipices, glacier to the south and causes it to disappear when in shadow, have a delicate blue tint that beyond a rugged headland of rocks and snow. seems almost a phosphorescence. Except on Rising above the foot-hills that turn the frozen rare occasions, the only colors are white and current are magnificent peaks, the like of which many shades of blue, with dark relief here and are seldom seen, and are utterly unknown to there where the cliffs are too precipitous to all who have not ventured into the frozen sol- retain a covering. Sometimes the sunlight, itudes of lofty mountains. Mount Malaspina shining through delicate clouds of ice-spicules, and Mount Augusta, cathedrals more sublime spreads a halo of brilliant colors around some than ever human architect dreamed of, limit shining summit, or, striking the surface of a the view on the northeast. To the right of these, snow-field at the proper angle, spreads over it and forming the background of the picture, rise a web of rainbow tints as delicate and change