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with pain. My eyes were smarting with inflammation; the reflection from the snow nearly blinding me, at the same time burning and blistering my face.” This gentleman desired to proceed no farther; but his guides generously resolved to drag him up, rather than permit him to be disappointed.
“ After a few minutes of rest on the summit, all the exhaustion, faintness, and indifference had ceased: the mountain-top was gained—the dangers of the descent were not for a moment considered—and it was with a thrill of exultation, never felt before, that I addressed myself to the contemplation of the prospect around and beneath. The range of sight, though limited by mountain-chains in various directions, comprehends nearly the whole of Sardinia, [Savoy and Piedmont,] the western half of Switzerland, onethird of Lombardy, and an eighth of France. This immense space is of an oval shape; its longitudinal form extending from Mont Morran, in France, on the north-west, to the neighborhood of Genoa, on the south-east; having Berne and Milan on the one hand, Lyon and Grenoble on the other. In a north-west direction lie the plains of France; in the south-east, those of Lombardy and Piedmont: a mountainous tract containing all the Pennine and part of the Rhetian Alps, with the whole chain of Jura,
forming the space between. But there are directions in which the prospect is still more extended-for example, the mountains of Tuscany may be distinctly seen.
... All this was beheld under a sky literally without a cloud.” De Saussure and Dr. Barry kindled 'fires on the summit of Mont Blanc. The extreme rarity of the air, which rendered the breathing so difficult, also made it no easy matter to kindle and keep alive the fire, oxygen being in both cases defective. Without the unceasing application of bellows, De Saussure found the charcoal expire every minute. The boiling-point of water in this elevated situation was found by De Saussure to be 187 degrees Fahrenheit, being, as we need scarcely remark, 25 degrees below the point at which it boils on ordinary levels. The rarity of the air also diminishes the effects of sound. A pistol fired makes no greater noise than a cracker usually does.
This is partly owing to the effect of the rarity diminishing the tone and force of the vibration, and partly from the absence of all echo and repercussion from solid objects on that elevated summit.
In consequence of the greater distance from the center of attraction, bodies feel sensibly lighter on the top of Mont Blanc. To quote the words of Auldjo: “The most peculiar sensa
tion which all have felt who have gained this great hight, 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. Nothing I ever beheld could exceed the singular and splendid appearance which the sun and sky presented. The blue color of the one had increased to such a depth as to be almost black, while the sun's disc had become excessively small, and of a perfect and brilliant white. 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."" It is proper to mention, that Dr. Barry accounts for the blackness of the sky by the simultaneous reception by the eye of rays from the snow: having lain down upon his back, and excluded all view of the snow, the natural hue was in a great measure restored.
This last gentleman left the summit at halfpast three o'clock, and spent the night on the Grand Mulet. Mr. Auldjo began the descent at noon, with the view of getting back to Chamounix that night. When this gentleman and his party had regained a particular part of the Plateau, they discovered that by a slight
variation in their ascending route, they had escaped a slip of snow, which had been precipitated down the usual track at the moment when they must have been upon it, so that the whole might consider their lives as saved by a mere accident.
“I can not,” says he, “describe my feelings when I saw the poor guides turn pale and tremble at the sight of the danger from which they had escaped. Clasping their hands together, they returned the most heart-felt thanks for this deliverance. A deep impressive silence prevailed for some moments: the contemplation of this danger and escape was too much for even these uncultivated beings, under whose rough character are found feelings which would do honor to the most refined of their fellow-creatures. ... One married man vowed most solemnly that he never would be tempted to make the ascent again, whatever might be the inducement offered.”
In crossing the plateaux, Mr. Auldjo and his party suffered greatly from burning heat, and also from the toilsomeness of the march, the snow being at this period of the day melted to such a degree as to take them up to the knees at every step. The precipitous intervals between the various plateaux were descended by sliding-a method not without its perils, as an individual in attempting it is liable to overshoot
his point, and glide into chasms from which he might never again ascend. As they proceeded, the materials of a thunder-storm gathered in the sky, and a thick sleet began to fall. Some time after passing the Grand Mulet, perplexed by the storm, they lost their way, and soon found themselves wandering amidst numberless crevices, where progress was not less difficult than dangerous. “The storm recommenced with greater violence than before: the hailstones, large and sharp, driven with force by the wind, inflicted great pain on the face; we were exposed to it, standing on a narrow ledge overhanging an abyss. Here we awaited for a short time the return of two guides, sent to explore the crevices and banks around us, in an endeavor to discover the route of our ascent, but with very little hope of success; indeed, it was greatly feared that we should have to remain where we were for that night. The storm, increasing every instant, compelled us to seek some place in the glacier in which we could obtain shelter; following the footmarks of the guides who had gone forward, we succeeded in finding a recess, formed by the projection of a part of the glacier over a narrow ledge in the side of the crevice. We could form no idea of the depth of the chasm, but its width appeared to be about twenty feet, and its opposite side