Super AlpineSuper Alpine

Scrambles Amongst the Alps

by Edward Whymper


Passage of the Col de Triolet and Ascents of Mont Dolent, Aiguille de Tré-la-Tête and Aiguille d'Argentière

Ten years ago very few people knew from personal knowledge how extremely inaccurately the chain of Mont Blanc was delineated. During the previous half century thousands had made the tour of the chain, and in that time at least onethousand individuals had stood upon its highest summit; but out of all this number there was not one capable, willing or able to map the mountain which, until recently, was regarded as the highest in Europe.

Many persons knew that great blunders had been perpetrated, and it was notorious that even Mont Blanc itself was represented in a ludicrously incorrect manner on all sides excepting the north; but there was not, perhaps, a single individual who knew, at the time to which I refer, that errors of no less than one thousand feet had been committed in the determination of heights at each end of the chain, that some glaciers were represented of double their real dimensions, and that ridges and mountains were laid down which actually had no existence.

One portion alone of the entire chain had been surveyed, at the time of which I speak, with anything like accuracy. It was not done (as one would have expected) by a government, but by a private individual - by the British De Saussure, the late J. D. Forbes. In the year 1842 he “made a special survey of the Mer de Glace of Chamonix and its tributaries, which in some of the following years he extended by further observations, so as to include the Glacier des Bossons.” The map produced fror this survey was worthy of its author, and subsequent explorers of the region he investigated have been able to detect only trivial inaccuracies in his work.

The district surveyed by Forbes remained a solitary bright spot in a region where all besides was darkness until the year 1861. Praiseworthy attempts were made by different hands to throw light upon the gloom, but these efforts were ineffectual, and showed how labor may be thrown away by a number of observers working independently without the direction of a single head.

In 1861, Sheet xxii. of Dufour’s Map of Switzerland appeared. It included the section of the chain of Mont Blanc that belonged to Switzerland, and this portion of the sheet was executed with the admirable fidelity and thoroughness which characterises the whole of Dufour’s unique map. The remainder of the chain (amounting to about four-fifths of the whole) was laid down after the work of previous topographers, and its wretchedness was made more apparent by contrast with the finished work of the Swiss surveyors.

Strong hands were needed to complete the survey, and it was not long before the right men appeared.

In 1863, Mr. Adams-Reilly, who had been traveling in the Alps during several years, resolved to attempt a survey of the unsurveyed portions of the chain of Mont Blanc. He provided himself with a good theodolite, and, starting from a base-line measured by Forbes in the valley of Chamonix, determined the positions of no less than two hundred points. The accuracy of his work may be judged from the fact that, after having turned many corners and carried his observations over a distance of fifty miles, his Col Ferret “fell within two hundred yards of the position assigned to it by General Dufour!”

In the winter of 1863 and the spring of 1864, Mr. Reilly constructed an entirely original map from his newly-acquired data. The spaces between his trigonometrically-determined points he filled in after photographs and a series of panoramic sketches which he made from his different stations. The map so produced was an immense advance upon those already in existence, and it was the first which exhibited the great peaks in their proper positions.

This extraordinary piece of work revealed Mr. Reilly to me as a man of wonderful determination and perseverance. With very small hope that my proposal would be accepted, I invited him to take part in renewed attacks on the Matterhorn. He entered heartily into my plans, and met me with a counter-proposition - namely, that I should accompany him on some expeditions which he had projected in the chain of Mont Blanc. The unwritten contract took this form: I will help you to carry out your desires, and you shall assist me to carry out mine. I eagerly closed with an arrangement in which all the advantages were upon my side.

Before I pass on to these expeditions it will be convenient to devote a few paragraphs to the topography of the chain of Mont Blanc.

At the present time the chain is divided betwixt France, Switzerland and Italy. France has the lion’s share, Switzerland the most fertile portion, and Italy the steepest side. It has acquired a reputation which is not extraordinary, but which is not wholly merited. It has neither the beauty of the Oberland nor the sublimity of Dauphiné. But it attracts the vulgar by the possession of the highest summit in the Alps. If that is removed, the elevation of the chain is in nowise remarkable. In fact, excluding Mont Blanc itself, the mountains of which the chain is made up are less important than those of the Oberland and the central Pennine groups.

The ascent of Mont Blanc has been made from several directions, and perhaps there is no single point of the compass from which the mountain cannot be ascended. But there is not the least probability that any one will discover easier ways to the summit than those already known.

I believe it is correct to say that the Aiguille du Midi and the Aiguille de Miage were the only two summits in the chain of Mont Blanc which had been ascended at the beginning of 1864.23 The latter of these two is a perfectly insignificant point, and the former is only a portion of one of the ridges just now mentioned, and can hardly be regarded as a mountain separate and distinct from Mont Blanc. The really great peaks of the chain were considered inaccessible, and, I think, with the exception of the Aiguille Verte, had never been assailed.

The finest as well as the highest peak in the chain (after Mont Blanc itself) is the Grandes Jorasses. The next, without a doubt, is the Aiguille Verte. The Aiguille de Bionnassay, which in actual height follows the Verte, should be considered as a part of Mont Blanc; and in the same way the summit called Les Droites is only a part of the ridge which culminates in the Verte. The Aiguille de Tré la Tête is the next on the list that is entitled to be considered a separate mountain, and is by far the most important peak (as well as the highest) at the south-west end of the chain. Then comes the Aiguille d’Argentière, which occupies the same rank at the north-east end as the last-mentioned mountain does in the south-west. The rest of the aiguilles are comparatively insignificant; and although some of them (such as the Mont Dolent) look well from low elevations, and seem to possess a certain importance, they sink into their proper places directly one arrives at a considerable altitude.

The summit of the Aiguille Verte would have been one of the best stations out of all these mountains for the purposes of my friend. Its great height and its isolated and commanding position make it a most admirable point for viewing the intricacies of the chain, but he exercised a wise discretion in passing it by, and in selecting as our first excursion the passage of the Col de Triolet.

We slept under some big rocks on the Couvercle on the night of July 7, with the thermometer at 26.5° Fahr., and at 4.30 on the 8th made a straight track to the north of the Jardin, and thence went in zigzags, to break the ascent, over the upper slopes of the Glacier de Talèfre toward the foot of the Aiguille de Triolet. Croz was still my guide; Reilly was accompanied by one of the Michel Payots of Chamonix; and Henri Charlet, of the same place, was our porter.

The way was over an undulating plain of glacier of moderate inclination until the corner leading to the col, from whence a steep secondary glacier led down into the basin of the Talèfre. We experienced no difficulty in making the ascent of this secondary glacier with such ice-men as Croz and Payot, and at 7.50 a.m. arrived on the top of the so-called pass, at a height, according to Mieulet, of 12,162 feet, and 4530 above our camp on the Couvercle.

The descent was commenced by very steep, firm rocks, and then by a branch of the Glacier de Triolet. Schrunds24 were abundant: there were no less than five extending completely across the glacier, all of which had to be jumped. Not one was equal in dimensions to the extraordinary chasm on the Col de la Pilatte, but in the aggregate they far surpassed it. “Our lives,” so Reilly expressed it, “were made a burden to us with schrunds.”

Several spurs run out toward the south-east from the ridge at the head of the Glacier de Triolet, and divide it into a number of bays. We descended the most northern of these, and when we emerged from it on to the open glacier, just at the junction of our bay with the next one, we came across a most beautiful ice-arch festooned with icicles, the decaying remnant of an old sérac, which stood isolated full thirty feet above the surface of the glacier! It was an accident, and I have not seen its like elsewhere. When I passed the spot in 1865 no vestige of it remained.

We flattered ourselves that we should arrive at the châlets of Pre du Bar very early in the day, but, owing to much time being lost on the slopes of Mont Rouge, it was nearly 4.00 p.m. before we got to them. There were no bridges across the torrent nearer than Gruetta, and rather than descend so far we preferred to round the base of Mont Rouge and to cross the snout of the Glacier du Mont Dolent.

We occupied the 9th with the ascent of the Mont Dolent. This was a miniature ascent. It contained a little of everything. First we went up to the Col Ferret (No.1), and had a little grind over shaley banks; then there was a little walk over grass; then a little tramp over a moraine (which, strange to say, gave a pleasant path); then a little zigzagging over the snow-covered glacier of Mont Dolent. Then there was a little bergschrund; then a little wall of snow, which we mounted by the side of a little buttress; and when we struck the ridge descending south-east from the summit, we found a little arête of snow leading to the highest point. The summit itself was little - very small indeed: it was the loveliest little cone of snow that was ever piled up on mountain-top; so soft, so pure, it seemed a crime to defile it. It was a miniature Jungfrau, a toy summit: you could cover it with the hand.

But there was nothing little about the view from the Mont Dolent. [Situated at the junction of three mountain-ridges, it rises in a positive steeple far above anything in its immediate neighbourhood, and certain gaps in the surrounding ridges, which seem contrived for that especial purpose, extend the view in almost every direction. The precipices which descend to the Glacier d’Argentiere I can only compare to those of the Jungfrau, and the ridges on both sides of that glacier, especially the steep rocks of Les Droites and Les Courtes, surmounted by the sharp snow-peak of the Aiguille Verte, have almost the effect of the Grandes Jorasses. Then, framed as it were between the massive tower of the Aiguille de Triolet and the more distant Jorasses, lies, without exception, the most delicately beautiful picture I have ever seen - the whole massif of Mont Blanc, raising its great head of snow far above the tangled series of flying buttresses which uphold the Monts Maudits, supported on the left by Mont Peuteret and by the mass of ragged aiguilles which overhangs the Brenva. This aspect of Mont Blanc is not new, but from this point its pose is unrivalled, and it has all the superiority of a picture grouped by the hand of a master…The view is as extensive as, and far more lovely than, that from Mont Blanc itself.]25

We went down to Courmayeur, and on the afternoon of July 10 started from that place to camp on Mont Sue, for the ascent of the Aiguille de Tré la Tête, hopeful that the mists which were hanging about would clear away. They did not, so we deposited ourselves and a vast load of straw on the moraine of the Miage Glacier, just above the Lac de Combal, in a charming little hole which some solitary shepherd had excavated beneath a great slab of rock. We spent the night there and the whole of the next day, unwilling to run away, and equally so to get into difficulties by venturing into the mist. It was a dull time, and I grew restless. Reilly read to me a lecture on the excellence of patience, and composed himself in an easy attitude to pore over the pages of a yellow-covered book. “Patience,” I said to him viciously, “comes very easy to fellows who have shilling novels, but I have not got one. I have picked all the mud out of the nails of my boots, and have skinned my face: what shall I do?” “Go and study the moraine of the Miage,” said he. I went, and came back after an hour. “What news?” cried Reilly, raising himself on his elbow. “Very little: it’s a big moraine, bigger than I thought, with ridge outside ridge, like a fortified camp; and there are walls upon it which have been built and loopholed, as if for defence.” “Try again,” he said as he threw himself on his back. But I went to Croz, who was asleep, and tickled his nose with a straw until he awoke; and then, as that amusement was played out, watched Reilly, who was getting numbed, and shifted uneasily from side to side, and threw himself on his stomach, and rested his head on his elbows, and lighted his pipe and puffed at it savagely. When I looked again, how was Reilly? An indistinguishable heap - arms, legs, head, stones and straw, all mixed together, his hat flung on one side, his novel tossed far away! Then I went to him and read him a lecture on the excellence of patience.

Bah! it was a dull time. Our mountain, like a beautiful coquette, some times unveiled herself for a moment and looked charming above, although very mysterious below. It was not until eventide she allowed us to approach her: then, as darkness came on, the curtains were withdrawn, the light drapery was lifted, and we stole up on tiptoe through the grand portal framed by Mont Suc. But night advanced rapidly, and we found ourselves left out in the cold, without a hole to creep into or shelter from overhanging rock. We might have fared badly except for our good plaids. But when they were sewn together down their long edges, and one end tossed over our rope (which was passed round some rocks), and the other secured by stones, there was sufficient protection; and we slept on this exposed ridge, ninety-seven hundred feet above the level of the sea, more soundly perhaps than if we had been lying on feather beds.

We left our bivouac at 4.45 a.m.and at 9.40 arrived upon the highest of the three summits of the Tré la Tête by passing over the lowest one. It was well above everything at this end of the chain, and the view from it was extraordinarily magnificent. The whole of the western face of Mont Blanc was spread out before us: we were the first by whom it had been ever seen. I cede the description of this view to my comrade, to whom it rightfully belongs.

[For four years I had felt great interest in the geography of the chain: the year before I had mapped, more or less successfully, all but this spot, and this spot had always eluded my grasp. The praises, undeserved as they were, which my map had received, were as gall and wormwood to me when I thought of that great slope which I had been obliged to leave a blank, speckled over with unmeaning dots of rock, gathered from previous maps, for I had consulted them all without meeting an intelligible representation of it. From the surface of the Miage glacier I had gained nothing, for I could only see the feet of magnificent ice-streams, but no more; but now, from the top of the dead wall of rock which had so long closed my view, I saw those fine glaciers from top to bottom, pouring down their streams, nearly as large as the Bossons, from Mont Blanc, from the Bosse and from the Dôme.

The head of Mont Blanc is supported on this side by two buttresses, between which vast glaciers descend. Of these the most southern takes its rise at the foot of the precipices which fall steeply down from the Calotte,26 and its stream, as it joins that of the Miage, is cut in two by an enormous rognon of rock. Next, to the left, comes the largest of the buttresses of which I have spoken, almost forming an aiguille in itself. The next glacier (Glacier du Dôme) descends from a large basin which receives the snows of the summit-ridge between the Bosse and the Dôme, and it is divided from the third and last glacier by another buttress, which joins the summit-ridge at a point between the Dôme and the Aiguille de Bionnassay.]

The great buttresses betwixt these magnificent ice-streams have supplied a large portion of the enormous masses of débris which are disposed in ridges round about, and are strewn over, the termination of the Glacier de Miage in the Val Veni. These moraines27 used to be classed amongst the wonders of the world. They are very large for a glacier of the size of the Miage.

The dimensions of moraines are not ruled by those of glaciers. Many small glaciers have large moraines, and many large ones have small moraines. The size of the moraines of any glacier depends mainly upon the area of rock-surface that is exposed to atmospheric influences within the basin drained by the glacier, upon the nature of such rock, whether it is friable or resistant, and upon the dip of strata. Moraines most likely will be small if little rock-surface is exposed; but when large ones are seen, then, in all probability, large areas of rock, uncovered by snow or ice, will be found in immediate contiguity to the glacier. The Miage glacier has large ones, because it receives detritus from many great cliffs and ridges. But if this glacier, instead of lying, as it does, at the bottom of a trough, were to fill that trough, if it were to completely envelop the Aiguille de Tré la Tête and the other mountains which border it, and were to descend from Mont Blanc unbroken by rock or ridge, it would be as destitute of morainic matter as the great Mer de Glace of Greenland. For if a country or district is completely covered up by glacier, the moraines may be of the very smallest dimensions.

The contributions that are supplied to moraines by glaciers themselves, from the abrasion of the rocks over which their ice passes, are minute compared with the accumulations which are furnished from other sources. These great rubbish-heaps are formed - one may say almost entirely - from débris which falls or is washed down the flanks of mountains, or from cliffs bordering glaciers; and are composed, to a very limited extent only, of matter that is ground, rasped or filed off by the friction of the ice.

If the contrary view were to be adopted, if it could be maintained that “glaciers, by their motion, break off masses of rock from the sides and bottoms of their valley-courses, and crowd along everything that is movable, so as to form large accumulations of débris in front and along their sides,”28 the conclusion could not be resisted, the greater the glacier the greater should be the moraine.

This doctrine does not find much favour with those who have personal knowledge of what glaciers do at the present time. From De Saussure29 downward it has been pointed out, time after time, that moraines are chiefly formed from débris coming from rocks or soil above the ice, not from the bed over which it passes. But amongst the writings of modern speculators upon glaciers and glacier-action in bygone times it is not uncommon to find the notions entertained that moraines represent the amount of excavation (such is the term employed) performed by glaciers, or at least are comprised of matter which has been excavated by glaciers; that vast moraines have necessarily been produced by vast glaciers; and that a great extension of glaciers - a glacial period - necessarily causes the production of vast moraines. It is needless to cite more than one or two examples to show that such generalisations cannot be sustained. Innumerable illustrations might be quoted.

In the chain of Mont Blanc one may compare the moraines of the Miage with those of the Glacier d’Argentiere. The latter glacier drains a basin equal to or exceeding that of the former, but its moraines are small compared with those of the former. More notable still is the disparity of the moraines of the Corner glacier (that which receives so many branches from the neighbourhood of Monte Rosa) and of the Zmuttgletscher. The area drained by the Corner greatly exceeds the basin of the Z’Mutt, yet the moraines of the Z’Mutt are incomparably larger than those of the Corner. No one is likely to say that the Z’Mutt and Miage glaciers have existed for a far greater length of time than the other pair: an explanation must be sought amongst the causes to which reference has been made.

More striking still is it to see the great interior Mer de Glace of Greenland almost without moraines. This vast ice-plateau, although smaller than it was in former times, is still so extensive that the whole of the glaciers of the Alps might be merged into it without its bulk being perceptibly increased. If the size of moraines bore any sort of relation to the size of glaciers, the moraines of Greenland should be far greater than those of the Alps.

This interior ice-reservoir of Greenland, enormous as it is, must be considered as but the remnant of a mass which was incalculably greater, and which is unparalleled at the present time outside the Antarctic Circle. With the exception of localities where the rocks are easy of disintegration, and the traces of glacier-action have been to a great extent destroyed, the whole country bears the marks of the grinding and polishing of ice; and, judging by the flatness of the curves of the roches moutonnées, and by the perfection of the polish which still remains upon the rocks after they have sustained (through many centuries) extreme variations of temperature, the period during which such effects were produced must have widely exceeded in duration the “glacial period” of Europe. If moraines were built from matter excavated by glaciers, the moraines of Greenland should be the greatest in the world!

The absence of moraines upon and at the termination of this great Mer de Glace is due to the want of rocks rising above the ice.30 On two occasions in 1867 I saw, at a glance, at least six hundred square miles of it from the summits of small mountains on its outskirts. Not a single peak or ridge was to be seen rising above, nor a single rock reposing upon, the ice. The country was completely covered up by glacier: all was ice as far as the eye could see.31

There is evidence, then, that considerable areas of exposed rock-surface are essential to the production of large moraines, and that glacial periods do not necessarily produce vast moraines - that moraines are not built up of matter which is excavated by glaciers, but simply illustrate the powers of glaciers for transportation and arrangement.

We descended in our track to the Lac de Combal, and from thence went over the Col de la Seigne to Les Motets, where we slept: on July 13 crossed the Col du Mont Tondu to Contamines (in a sharp thunderstorm), and the Col de Voza to Chamonix. Two days only remained for excursions in this neighbourhood, and we resolved to employ them in another attempt to ascend the Aiguille d’Argentiere, upon which mountain we had been cruelly defeated just eight days before.

It happened in this way: Reilly had a notion that the ascent of the aiguille could be accomplished by following the ridge leading to its summit from the Col du Chardonnet. At half-past six on the morning of the 6th we found ourselves accordingly on the top of that pass, which is about eleven thousand or eleven thousand one hundred feet above the level of the sea. The party consisted of our friend Moore and his guide Almer, Reilly and his guide Francois Couttet, myself and Michel Croz. So far, the weather had been calm and the way easy, but immediately we arrived on the summit of the pass we got into a furious wind. Five minutes earlier we were warm - now we were frozen. Fine snow, whirled up into the air, penetrated every crack in our harness, and assailed our skins as painfully as if it had been red hot instead of freezing cold. The teeth chattered involuntarily; talking was laborious; the breath froze instantaneously; eating was disagreeable; sitting was impossible.

We looked toward our mountain: its aspect was not encouraging. The ridge that led upward had a spiked arête, palisaded with miniature aiguilles, banked up at their bases by heavy snow-beds, which led down at considerable angles, on one side toward the Glacier de Saleinoz, on the other toward the Glacier du Chardonnet. Under any circumstances it would have been a stiff piece of work to clamber up that way. Prudence and comfort counseled, “Give it up.” Discretion overruled valor. Moore and Almer crossed the Col du Chardonnet to go to Orsières, and we others returned toward Chamonix.

But when we got some distance down the evil spirit which prompts men to ascend mountains tempted us to stop and to look back at the Aiguille d’Argentiere. The sky was cloudless; no wind could be felt, nor sign of it perceived; it was only eight o’clock in the morning; and here, right before us, we saw another branch of the glacier leading high up nto the mountain - far above the Col du Chardonnet - and a little couloir rising from its head almost to the top of the peak. This was clearly the right route to take. We turned back and went at it.

The glacier was steep, and the snow-gully rising out of it was steeper. Seven hundred steps were cut. Then the couloir became too steep. We took to the rocks on its left, and at last gained the ridge, at a point about fifteen hundred feet above the col. We faced about to the right and went along the ridge, keeping on some snow a little below its crest, on the Saleinoz side. Then we got the wind again, but no one thought of turning, for we were within two hundred and fifty feet of the summit.

The axes of Croz and Couttet went to work once more, for the slope was about as steep as snow could be. Its surface was covered with a loose, granular crust, dry and utterly incoherent, which slipped away in streaks directly it was meddled with. The men had to cut through this into the old beds underneath, and to pause incessantly to rake away the powdery stuff, which poured down in hissing streams over the hard substratum. Ugh! how cold it was! How the wind blew! Couttet’s hat was torn from its fastenings and went on a tour in Switzerland. The flour-like snow, swept off the ridge above, was tossed spirally upward, eddying in tourmentes; then, dropped in lulls or caught by other gusts, was flung far and wide to feed the Saleinoz.

“My feet are getting suspiciously numbed,” cried Reilly: “how about frost-bites?” “Kick hard, sir,” shouted the men: “it’s the only way.” Their fingers were kept alive by their work, but it was cold for their feet, and they kicked and hewed simultaneously. I followed their example, but was too violent, and made a hole clean through my footing. A clatter followed as if crockery had been thrown down a well.

I went down a step or two, and discovered in a second that all were standing over a cavern (not a crevasse, speaking properly) that was bridged over by a thin vault of ice, from which great icicles hung in grooves. Almost in the same minute Reilly pushed one of his hands right through the roof. The whole party might have tumbled through at any moment. “Go ahead, Croz: we are over a chasm!” “We know it,” he answered, “and we can’t find a firm place.”

In the blandest manner my comrade inquired if to persevere would not be to do that which is called “tempting Providence.” My reply being in the affirmative, he further observed, “Suppose we go down?” “Very willingly.” “Ask the guides.” They had not the least objection; so we went down, and slept that night at the Montanvert.

Off the ridge we were out of the wind. In fact, a hundred feet down to windward, on the slope fronting the Glacier du Chardonnet, we were broiling hot: there was not a suspicion of a breeze. Upon that side there was nothing to tell that a hurricane was raging a hundred feet higher; the cloudless sky looked tranquillity itself; whilst to leeward the only sign of a disturbed atmosphere was the friskiness of the snow upon the crests of the ridges.

We set out on the 14th, with Croz, Payot and Charlet, to finish off the work which had been cut short so abruptly, and slept, as before, at the Chalets de Lognan. On the 15th, about midday, we arrived upon the summit of the aiguille, and found that we had actually been within one hundred feet of it when we turned back upon the first attempt.

It was a triumph to Reilly. In this neighbourhood he had performed the feat (in 1863) of joining together “two mountains, each about thirteen thousand feet high, standing on the map about a mile and a half apart.” Long before we made the ascent he had procured evidence which could not be impugned that the Pointe des Plines, a fictitious summit which had figured on other maps as a distinct mountain, could be no other than the Aiguille d’Argentiere, and he had accordingly obliterated it from the preliminary draft of his map. We saw that it was right to do so. The Pointe des Plines did not exist. We had ocular demonstration of the accuracy of his previous observations.

I do not know which to admire most, the fidelity of Mr. Reilly’s map or the indefatigable industry by which the materials were accumulated from which it, was constructed. To men who are sound in limb it may be amusing to arrive on a summit (as we did upon the top of Mont Dolent), sitting astride a ridge too narrow to stand upon, or to do battle with a ferocious wind (as we did on the top of the Aiguille de Tré la Tête), or to feel half frozen in midsummer (as we did on the Aiguille d’Argentiere). But there is extremely little amusement in making sketches and notes under such conditions. Yet upon all these expeditions, under the most adverse circumstances and in the most trying situations, Mr. Reilly’s brain and fingers were always at work. Throughout all he was ever alike - the same genial, equable-tempered companion, whether victorious or whether defeated; always ready to sacrifice his own desires to suit our comfort and convenience. By a most happy union of audacity and prudence, combined with untiring perseverance, he eventually completed his self-imposed task - a work which would have been intolerable except as a labor of love, and which, for a single individual, may wellnigh be termed herculean.

We separated upon the level part of the Glacier d’Argentiere, Reilly going with Payot and Charlet via the châlets of Lognan and de la Pendant, whilst I, with Croz, followed the right bank of the glacier to the village of Argentiere. At 7.00 p.m. we entered the humble inn, and ten minutes afterward heard the echoes of the cannon which were fired upon the arrival of our comrades at Chamonix.


23. Besides Mont Blanc itself.

24. Great crevasses. A bergschrund is a schrund, but something more. (See Chap. 14)

25. The bracketed paragraphs in this chapter are extracted from the notes of Mr. Reilly.

26. The Calotte is the name given to the dome of snow at the summit of Mont Blanc.

27. Much more remarkable cases might be instanced.

28. Atlas of Physical Geography, by Augustus Petermann and the Rev. T. Milner. The italics are not in the original.

29. “The stones that are found upon the upper extremities of glaciers are of the same nature as the mountains which rise above; but, as the ice carries them down into the valleys, they arrive between rocks of a totally different nature from their own.” - De Saussure, § 536.

30. I refer to those portions of it which I have seen in the neighbourhood of Disco Bay. There are moraines in this district, but they were formed when the great Mer de Glace stretched nearer to the sea, - when it sent arms down through the valleys in the belt of land which now intervenes between sea and glacier.

31. The interior of Greenland appears to be absolutely covered by glacier between 68° 30′ - 70° N. Lat. Others speak of peaks peeping through the ice to the N. and S. of this district; but I suspect that these peaks are upon the outskirts of the great Mer de Glace.