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able as the pearly lining of a sea-shell. The which always seemed lost in the vast wildersheen on the surface of the frosted snow sug- ness of snow and ice, and when the snow fell in gests the fancy that there the spirits of the fine crystals hour after hour and day after day Alpine flowers have their paradise.
with unvarying monotony, burying our tent Beautiful as were the every-day scenes about and blotting out the trail which was our only our camps in the snow, there came at length connection with the land of verdure and flowone rare evening when the mountains assumed ers in the region below, our life was dreary a superlative grandeur. We had retired to our enough. Camp-fires, the ingleside of tent life, tent early in the evening, but on looking out were impossible, as we were over 6000 feet a few hours afterward to see if the conditions above the timber-line, and fully 30 miles diswere favorable for making a night march, I tant from the nearest trees. During storms was surprised to see the change that had taken there was nothing to be seen from our tent place in the usually pale-blue night landscape. but the white snow immediately around us, and The sun had long since gone down behind the the vapor- and snow-filled air above. The only great peaks to the northwest, but an afterglow evidence of the near presence of lofty mounof unusual brightness was shining through the tains was the frequent crash and prolonged, deep clefts in the Augusta range, and illumi- rumbling roar of avalanches, which shook the nating a few mountain-slopes here and there glacier beneath and seemed to threaten us with which chanced to be so placed as to catch the annihilation. We occupied our camp at the enlevel shafts of rosy light. The contrast between trance of the amphitheater at the head of the the peaks and snow-fields of delicate blue faintly Newton glacier for twelve days, and during illuminated by the light of the moon, and the that time, owing to the prevalence of clouds massive mountains of flame, made one of the and snow-storms, were able to advance only most striking scenes that can be imagined. The once. boldness and strength of the picture, the won- On the morning of July 24, McCarty, Stamy, derful detail of every illuminated precipice and and I were early astir, and, having had our glittering ice-field, in contrast with the uncer- breakfast, left the tent at two o'clock and tain, shadowy forms of half-revealed pinnacles started to climb to the divide between Mount and spires, together with the absence of light Newton and Mount St. Elias, and as much in the sky and the absolute stillness of the higher as possible. The morning was clear mighty encampment of snowy mountains, was and cold, but the snow, owing to its extreme something so strange and unreal that it bor- dryness, was scarcely firm enough to sustain dered on the supernatural.
our weight. On account of the advance of the But the great mountains are not always beau- season, we now had about four hours each tiful or always inspiring. When the clouds thick- night during which the light was not sufficient, ened about us and enshrouded our lonely tent, even during clear weather, to allow us to travel over crevassed ice in safety. When we started, On the morning of July 24, however, all was the twilight was sufficiently bright to reveal the still. Jack Frost, working stealthily throughoutlines of the great peaks about us, but every out the night, had silenced the music of the detail in their rugged sides was lost. All within rills, and fettered the mighty avalanches with the vast amphitheater was dark and shadowy. chains of crystal. As we advanced, the soft twiOn our right rose Mount Newton in almost light grew stronger, and just as we reached vertical precipices a mile in height, with great the base of the icy precipices we were to scale, glaciers pouring down like frozen cataracts on looking up, I saw the summit of Mount from unseen regions above. On the left stood St. Elias aflame with the first ruddy light of the crowning pyramid of Mount St. Elias, its morning, roof-like slope rising nearly two miles in vertical An Apennine, touched singly by the sun, height above the even snow-field we were cross- Dyed rose-red by some earliest shaft of dawn, ing. The saddle between these two giant sum- While all the other peaks were dark, and slept. mits is the lowest point in the wall of the amphitheater, but even that was 4000 feet above us. In front of us rose steep cliffs, the height and
During the earlier portion of our stay in our ruggedness of which appeared to increase as highest camp, when the weather was warm and we approached. Across the slope from side to
the peaks surrounded by clouds or shut out side ran blue walls of ice, marking the upper from view by snow-storms, the roar of ava- sides of crevasses. In several places avalanches lanches was frequent both day and night. had broken away, leaving pinnacles and butSometimes three great snow-slides would come tresses of stratified snow, 200 or 300 feet high, thundering down the cliff at one time, and ready to topple over in their turn as soon as pour hundreds of tons of snow and ice into the sun touched them. Trails of rough, broken the valley. Avalanches of great size were fre- snow, below the cliffs, marked the paths avaquent, both from the slopes of Mount Newton lanches had taken during the day previous. and Mount St. Elias, and from the precipices On the right of the slope leading to the divide beneath the saddle. To venture into the val- rose the frowning wall of Mount Newton, and ley when the south winds were blowing, and on the left the still greater slope of Mount St. the lower ice-slopes were trickling with water, Elias. From each of these we had seen magwould have been rash in the extreme. nificent avalanches descend upon the slope we
were to climb, and then, turning, rush down the slivers of ice crossing a crevasse diagonally into the valley below. The grooved and ice- seemed too weak to hold the weight of a man, sheathed paths of these great snow-slides were should he try to walk across, we would place plainly visible, and were to be avoided if pos- two alpenstocks from the lower lip out on the sible. At first the slope was not so steep but central portion of the bridge, and then one of that we could climb by digging in the long us would crawl out, and lying flat on the bridge, spikes with which our shoes were provided, so as to distribute his weight, advance the and with the constant aid of our alpenstocks; alpenstock to the other side and so gain the but soon we came to a broad crevasse which opposite brink. In one place, where the hangwe had to follow for several rods before finding ing wall of the crevasse offered no ledge or foota bridge by which to cross. Owing to the steep- hold of any kind, we pushed the sharp end of ness of the slope on which the snow rested, the alpenstock well into it, and one of us, standthe crevasses were really faults, their upper ing on the poles, cut a step in the cliff, and then, edges rising high above the lower. This made making a hand-hold with another alpenstock, them especially troublesome in ascending. The cut steps to the top. Some of the way we bridges spanning the chasms were usually poor, climbed in the paths of small avalanches that and in crossing them we had to exercise the had left rough snow on the slope and saved us greatest precautions. In some instances, where the trouble of cutting steps. But for half the way probably to the divide we had to cut our in a short time gained the foot of the slope trail up slopes that were too steep and too leading upward. But I found that the ascent smooth to climb. In this way we slowly ad- was so steep, and composed of such smooth vanced, varying our course now toward the ice, that it would require several hours of hard base of the cliff leading up to Mount Newton, work for us to cut a way to the top, and before and again toward the great pyramid forming undertaking such a severe task I concluded to the summit of Mount St. Elias, according as search for a more practicable route. Being the ascent was more gentle, or the crevasses no longer engaged in cutting steps, I became less difficult, on one side or the other. In two aware that I was in a somewhat dangerous poor three instances our progress seemed barred sition. The dome which I had passed around by impassable crevasses, but a search always curved inward just below me, leaving a sheer revealed a bridge or a place where the openings descent of several hundred feet to the steep were narrow, and we were able to advance. slope beneath, which fell away almost per
At length we could see that only one cre- pendicularly into the valley 3000 feet below. vasse intervened between us and the smooth Had I fallen, I should have gone to the bottom slope leading to the divide. This crossed di- of the cliffs before stopping, if some yawning agonally downward from the south side of the crevasse had not received me. I worked my slope to near the base of Mount Newton. Be- way slowly back to my companions, and we yond where it ended on the right there was an then followed the crevasse in the opposite diexceedingly steep slope, sheathed with ice, that rection. Near its highest portion there was a led to the divide. This seemed the only way narrow space, where the snow blown from we could expect to advance. The upper wall above had built up the snow-bank on the lower of the crevasse rose about fifty feet above its lip of the crevasse until it touched the top of lower edge, and was hung with icicles. At the the cliff of ice formed by the upper wall. The east end a curtain of ice, starting from the top snow had also bridged a deep crevasse that ran of the upper wall, arched over and joined the at right angles to the main one, thus renderlower brink, leaving a hollow chamber within ing us double assistance. These bridges were hung with thousands of icicles. In spite of my of light snow, and were so thin that we had to anxiety to press on, I could not but admire the exercise great caution in crossing them lest we beauty of the glittering mass of fluted columns, should break through. McCarty was now in arranged like the pipes of a great organ and the lead on the line to which we were all fasfully exposed to the morning sun at the top, tened, and, slowly making steps up the curtain while their tapering ends were lost in the ob- of snow that descended from the top of the icescurity of the blue gulf below. Each icicle was cliff, he made his way upward out of sight of frosted on one side with snow-flakes that had Stamy and myself who waited below. When teen blown against it and frozen to its surface. he had progressed about 100 feet, the length The play of rainbow tints among these millions of our line, he planted his alpenstock deep in of flashing crystals and burnished pendants the snow and shouted for us to come up. With made a scene of unusual beauty, even in a re- the aid of the line and the steps that had been gion whose wonders multiply as one advances. made, I was soon beside him, and, detaching The lower lip of the crevasse had been built up myself from the line, continued up the slope, with snow blown from the heights above, and leaving the men to coil up the rope and follow. formed a sharp-crested drift, along which we I was now so near the crest of the divide that worked our way to the north end of the cre- only a few yards remained before I should be vasse. I then fastened the end of a life-line able to see the country to the north; a vast reabout my waist, while Stamy and McCarty, gion which no one had yet beheld. Pressing placing an alpenstock deep in the snow and on, I pictured in fancy the character of the taking a half-turn with the line around it, slowly land beyond. Having crossed this same mounpaid out the slack as I advanced. Where the tain-belt at the head of Lynn Canal, and tradome of ice curved down and met the lower versed the country to the north of it, I fancied edge of the crevasse, there was a little ledge that I should behold a similar region north of about six inches broad, and where this ended Mount St. Elias. I expected to see a comparaonly the overhanging shoulder formed by the tively low, wooded country stretching away to dome remained. Once around the shoulder the north, with lakes and rivers and perhaps we would be able to reach the ice-slope lead- some signs of human habitation, but I was ang to the divide. Cutting holes through the entirely mistaken. What did meet my eager indome a little below the height of my shoul- gaze was a vast snow-covered region, limitless der, I thrust my left arm through, and thus had in its expanse, through which hundreds, and a sure hold while cutting steps for my feet. perhaps thousands, of barren angular mountainProgressing in this way, I was soon around peaks projected. There was not a stream, not the curve, out of sight of my companions, and a lake, and not a trace of vegetation of any
LOOKING UP THE NEWTON GLACIER, MOUNT SAINT ELIAS ON THE LEFT. The on the upper border of the picture is placed over the highest point on the mountain-side reached by the explorers.-EDITOR.
kind in sight. A more desolate or a more ut- land and headland. The dark shade on the terly lifeless land one never beheld. Vast, shore, too distant to reveal its nature, was due smooth snow-surfaces, without crevasses or to the dense forests on the lowlands between breaks, so far as I could judge, stretched away the mountains and the sea. This was the only to unknown distances, broken only by jagged indication of vegetation in all the vast landscape and angular mountain-peaks. The general ele- that lay spread out beneath my feet. The few vation of the snow-surface is about 8000 feet. rocks near at hand, which projected above the and the mountains piercing it are from 10,000 snow, were without the familiar tints of mosses to 12,000 feet, or more, in altitude above the and lichens. Even the ravens, which sometimes sea. To the northward I could see every detail haunt the higher mountains, were nowhere to in the forbidding landscape for miles and miles. be seen. Utter desolation claimed the entire The most distant peaks in view in that direction land. The view to the north called to mind the were thirty or forty miles away. One flat-topped pictures given by Arctic explorers of the bormountain, due north by compass from my sta- ders of the great Greenland ice-sheet, where tion, and an exception in its form to all the rocky islands, known as “nunataks,” alone other peaks, I have called Mount Bear, in break the monotony of the boundless sea of ice. memory of the good ship which took us to Icy The region before me was a land of nunataks. Bay. The other peaks were too numerous to The divide which we had reached was a narname. To the southeast rose Mount Fairwea- row crest at the north end, but broadened to ther, plainly distinguishable although 200 miles about fifty yards at the south. Along each side away. At an equal distance to the northwest were snow-banks facing each other, and inclosare two prominent mountain-ranges, the high- ing a V-shaped area some ten feet lower than est peaks of which appeared as lofty as Mount the bordering crests of snow. We excavated a Fairweather. These must be in the vicinity of little chamber near the base of one of the steep Mount Wrangle, but their summits were un- snow-banks, in which to place a small lamp that clouded and gave no token of volcanic activ- we had brought with us, and melted some snow ity. I could look down upon the coast about to obtain drinking-water. Owing to the lightVakutat Bay, and distinguish each familiar is- ness of the snow it required some time to get