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Title: Climbing on the Himalaya and Other Mountain Ranges
Author: Collie, Norman
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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      *      *      *      *      *      *

    _Printed at the Edinburgh University Press_,
             by T. and A. CONSTABLE,
                  FOR DAVID DOUGLAS.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

[Illustration: A Stormy Sunset.]




Member of the Alpine Club

David Douglas

All rights reserved


After a book has been written, delivered to the publisher, and the
proofs corrected, the author fondly imagines that little or no more is
expected of him. All he has to do is to wait. In due time his child
will be introduced to the world, and perhaps an enthusiastic public,
by judicious comments on the virtues of the youngster, will make the
parent proud of his offspring.

Before, however, this much-desired event can take place, custom demands
that a preface, or an introduction of the aforesaid youngster to polite
society, must be written. Unfortunately also the parent has to compile
a list or index of the various items of his progeny's belongings that
are of interest; so that nothing be left undone that may be of service
to the young fellow, what time he makes his bow before a critical
audience. In books on travel, nowadays, it is customary often somewhat
to scamp this necessary duty, and, after a few remarks in the preface,
on subjects not always of absorbing interest, to conclude with the hope
that the reader will be as interested in the description of places he
has never seen as the author has been in writing about them.

Of course, formerly these matters were better managed. In the 'Epistle
Dedicatorie,' the author would at once begin with:--'To the most Noble
Earle'--then with many apologies, all in the best English and most
perfect taste, he, under the patronage of the aforesaid Noble Earle,
would launch his venture on to the wide seas of publicity, or perhaps
growing bolder, would put forth his wares with some such phrases as the
following:--'And now, oh most ingenuous reader! can you find narrated
many adventures, both on the high mountains of the earth, and in far
countries but little known to the vulgar. Here are landscapes brought
home, and so faithfully wrought, that you must confess, none but the
best engravers could work them. Here, too, may'st thou find described
diverse parts of thine own native land.'

'Choose that which pleaseth thee best. Not to detain thee longer,
farewell; and when thou hast considered thy purchase, may'st thou say,
that the price of it was but a charity to thyself, so not ill spent.'

                                                             J. N. C.
     LONDON, _24th March 1902_


Four of the chapters in this book have appeared before in the pages
of the Scottish Mountaineering Club _Journal_ (A Chuilionn, Wastdale
Head, A Reverie, and the Oromaniacal Quest). They all, however, have
been partly rewritten, so the author trusts that he may be excused for
offering to the public wares which are not entirely fresh.

The Fragment from a Lost MS., and part of the chapter on the Lofoten
Islands, were first printed in the _Alpine Journal_.

The author also takes this opportunity of thanking Mr. Colin B.
Phillip, first, for allowing photogravure reproductions to be made of
two of his pictures (The Coolin and the Macgillicuddy's Reeks), and
secondly, for the great trouble Mr. Phillip took in producing the three
sketches of the Himalayan mountains which are to be found in the text.



  CHAP.                                                     PAGE
      I.    General History of Mountaineering in the
                Himalaya,                                     1
     II.   Our Journey out to Nanga Parbat,                  25
    III.  The Rupal Nullah,                                  38
     IV.   First Journey to Diamirai Nullah
                     and the Diamirai Pass,                  57
      V.    Second Journey to Diamirai Nullah
                     and Ascent to 21,000 feet,              70
     VI.   Ascent of the Diamirai Peak,                      85
    VII.  Attempt to ascend Nanga Parbat,                   104
   VIII. The Indus Valley and Third Journey
                     to Diamirai Nullah,                    118

  THE CANADIAN ROCKY MOUNTAINS,                             135
  THE ALPS,                                                 165
  THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS,                                      185
  A CHUILIONN,                                              211
  THE MOUNTAINS OF IRELAND,                                 225
  A REVERIE,                                                263
  THE OROMANIACAL QUEST,                                    283
  FRAGMENT FROM A LOST MS.,                                 299
  NOTES ON THE HIMALAYAN MOUNTAINS,                         305
     INDEX,                                                 311


  A STORMY SUNSET,                           _Frontispiece_
  A HIMALAYAN CAMP,                        To face page  2
  A HIMALAYAN NULLAH,                           "   "   38
  THE DIAMIRAI PASS FROM THE RED PASS,          "   "   62
  THE MAZENO PEAKS FROM THE RED PASS,           "   "   74
  THE DIAMIRAI PEAK FROM THE RED PASS,          "   "   88
  ON NANGA PARBAT, FROM UPPER CAMP,             "   "  104
       DO.         DO.           DO.,           "   "  112
        PEAK,                                   "   "  116
  THE CHONGRA PEAKS FROM THE RED PASS,          "   "  122
  THE FRESHFIELD GLACIER,                       "   "  148
  A CREVASSE ON MONT BLANC,                     "   "  166
  LOFOTEN,                                      "   "  186
  THE COOLIN,                                   "   "  212
  THE MACGILLICUDDY'S REEKS,                    "   "  226

                        LIST OF MAPS

  MAP OF KASHMIR,                        To face page   28
  MAP OF NANGA PARBAT,                       "    "     40



    'Let him spend his time no more at home,
    Which would be great impeachment to his age
    In having known no travel in his youth.'

At some future date, how many years hence who can tell? all the wild
places on the earth will have been explored. The Cape to Cairo railway
will have brought the various sources of the Nile within a few days'
travel of England; the endless fields of barren ice that surround the
poles will have yielded up their secrets; whilst the vast and trackless
fastnesses of that stupendous range of mountains which eclipses all
others, and which from time immemorial has served as a barrier to
roll back the waves of barbaric invasion from the fertile plains of
Hindustan--these Himalaya will have been mapped, and the highest points
in the world above sea-level will have been visited by man. Most
certainly that time will come. Yet the Himalaya, although conquered,
will remain, still they will be the greatest range of mountains on
earth, but will their magnitude, their beauty, their fascination, and
their mystery be the same for those who travel amongst them? I venture
to think not: for it is unfortunately true that familiarity breeds

Be that as it may, at the present time an enormous portion of that
country of vast peaks has never been trodden by human foot. Immense
districts covered with snow and ice are yet virgin and await the
arrival of the mountain explorer. His will be the satisfaction of
going where others have feared to tread, his the delight of seeing
mighty glaciers and superb snow-clad peaks never gazed upon before by
human eyes, and his the gratification of having overcome difficulties
of no small magnitude. For exploration in the Himalaya must always be
surrounded by difficulties and often dangers. That which in winter on
a Scotch hill would be a slide of snow, and in the Alps an avalanche,
becomes amongst these giant peaks an overwhelming cataclysm shaking the
solid bases of the hills, and capable with its breath alone of sweeping
down forests.

[Illustration: _A Himalayan Camp._]

The man who ventures amongst the Himalaya in order that he may gain a
thorough knowledge of them must of necessity be a mountaineer as well
as a mountain traveller. He must delight not only in finding his way
to the summits of the mountains, but also in the beauties of the green
valleys below, in the bare hill-sides, and in the vast expanses of
glaciers and snow and ice; moreover his curiosity must not be confined
to the snows and the rock ridges merely as a means for exercising an
abnormal craze for gymnastic performances, or he will show himself to
be 'a creature physically specialised, perhaps, but intellectually

For in order to cope with all the difficulties as they arise, and to
guard against all the dangers that lurk amidst the snows and precipices
of the great mountains, a high standard, mental as well as physical,
will be required of him who sets out to explore the Himalaya: he must
have had a long apprenticeship amidst the snow-peaks and possess, too,
geographical instincts, common sense, and love of the mountains of no
mean order.

During these latter years few sports have developed so rapidly as
mountaineering; nor is this to be wondered at, for no sport is more
in harmony with the personal characteristics of the Englishman. When
he sets out to conquer unknown peaks, to spend his leisure time in
fighting with the great mountains, it is usually no easy task he
places in front of himself; but in return there is no kind of sport
that affords keener enjoyments or more lasting memories than those the
mountaineer wrests from Nature in his playground amongst the hills.

Mountaineering, moreover, is a sport of which we as a nation should
be proud, for it is the English who have made it what it is. There
are many isolated instances of men of other nationalities who have
spent their time in climbing snow-peaks and fighting their way through
mountainous countries; but when we inquire into the records of
discovery amongst the mountain ranges of the world--in the Alps, the
frosty Caucasus, the mighty Himalaya, in the Andes, in New Zealand, in
Norway, wherever there are noble snow-clad mountains to climb, wherever
there are difficulties to overcome--it is usually Englishmen that have
led the way.

For the pure love of sport they have fought with Nature and conquered;
others have followed after; and the various Alpine Clubs which have
been founded during the last twenty years are witnesses of the fact
that mountaineering is now one of the pastimes of the world. It has
taken its place amongst our national sports, and every year sees a
larger number of recruits filling the ranks.

In one volume of that splendid collection of books which could have
been produced nowhere else but in England--the 'Badminton Library
of Sports and Pastimes'--we find Mr. C. E. Mathews writing: 'I can
understand the delight of a severely contested game of tennis or
rackets, or the fascination of a hard-fought cricket-match under fair
summer skies. Football justly claims many votaries, and yachting has
been extolled on the ground (amongst others) that it gives the maximum
of appetite with the minimum of exertion. I can appreciate a straight
ride across country on a good horse, and I know how the pulse beats
when the University boats shoot under Barnes bridge with their bows
dead level, to the music of a roaring crowd; and yet there is no sport
like mountaineering.' This was written for a book on mountaineering,
but it may be truthfully said, without making distinctions between
sports of various kinds, all of which have their votaries, that a sport
that demands from those who would excel in its pursuit the utmost
efforts, both physical and mental, not for a few hours only, but day
after day in sunshine and in storm--a sport whose followers have the
whole of the mountain ranges of the world for their playground, where
the most magnificent scenery Nature can lavish is spread before them,
where success means the keenest of pleasure, and defeat is unattended
by feelings of regret; where friendships are made which would have
been impossible under other circumstances--for on the mountains the
difficulties and the dangers shared in common by all are the surest
means for showing a man as he really is--a sport which renews our
youth, banishes all sordid cares, ministers to mind and body diseased,
invigorating and restoring the whole--surely such a sport can be second
to none!

But as access to the Alps and other snow ranges becomes easier year
by year, the mountaineer, should he wish to test his powers against
the unclimbed hills, must perforce go further afield. There are still,
however, unclimbed mountains enough and to spare for many years yet to

In the Himalaya the peaks exceeding 24,000 feet in height, that have
been measured, number over fifty,[A] whilst those above 20,000 feet
may be counted by the thousand. Every year, officers of the Indian
Army and others in search of game wander through the valleys which
come down from the great ranges, but up to the present time only a few
mountaineering expeditions have been made to this marvellous mountain
land. For this there are many reasons. The distance of India from
England precludes the busy man from spending his summer vacation there;
the natural difficulties of the country, the lack of provisions, the
total absence of roads, and lastly, the disturbed political conditions,
make any ordinary expedition impossible. Moreover, although the English
are supposed to hold the southern slopes of the Himalaya, yet it is a
curious fact that almost from the eastern end of this range in Bhutan
to the western limit in the Hindu Kush above Chitral we are rigorously
excluded. About the eastern portion of the Himalaya in Bhutan, and the
mountains surrounding the gorge through which the Bramaputra flows, we
know very little, as only some of the higher peaks have been surveyed
from a distance. Next in order, to the westward, comes Sikkim, one of
the few districts in the Himalaya where Europeans can safely travel
under the very shadows of the great peaks. Next comes the native
state of Nepaul, stretching for five hundred miles, the borders of
which no white man can cross, except those who are sent by the Indian
Government as political agents, etc., to the capital, Katmandu. It is
evident at once to any one looking at the map of India, that Nepaul
and Bhutan hold the keys of the doors through which Chinese trade
might come south. The breaks in the main chain in many places allow of
trade-routes, and in times gone by even Chinese armies have poured
through these passes and successfully invaded Nepaul.

The idea of establishing friendly relations between India and this
Trans-Himalayan region was one of the many wise and far-reaching
political aspirations of Warren Hastings. On it he spent much of his
time and thought. His policy was carried out consistently during the
time he was Governor-General of India, and commercial intercourse
during that period seemed to be well established. Four separate
embassies were sent to Bhutan, one of which extended its operations
to Tibet. This first British Mission to penetrate beyond the Himalaya
was that under Mr. George Bogle in 1774. But on the removal of Warren
Hastings from India, these admirable methods of establishing a
friendly acquaintance with the powers in Bhutan and Tibet were at once
abandoned. It is true that a quarter of a century later, in 1811, Mr.
Thomas Manning, a private individual, performed the extraordinary feat
of reaching Lhasa, and saw the Dalai Lama, a feat that to this day has
not been repeated by an Englishman. But when the guiding hand and head
of Warren Hastings no longer ruled India, this commercial policy sank
into complete oblivion. From that day to the present little intercourse
of any kind seems to have been held between the English Government and
those states in that border land between India and China.[B]

On the west of Nepaul lie Kumaon, Garhwal, Kulu, and Spiti. Through
most of these districts the Englishman can wander, which is also the
case with Kashmir to a certain extent.

The sources of the rivers that emerge from these Himalayan mountains
are almost unknown, except in the case of the Ganges, which rises in
the Gangootri peaks in Garhwal. The upper waters of the Indus, the
Sutlej, the Bramaputra (or Sanpu), and the numberless rivers emerging
from Nepaul and flowing into the Ganges, in almost every case come
from beyond the range we call the Himalaya. Their sources lie in that
unknown land north of the so-called main chain. Whether there is a
loftier and more magnificent range behind is at present doubtful, but
reports of higher peaks further north than Devadhunga (Mount Everest)
reach us from time to time. The Indian Government occasionally sends
out trained natives from the survey department to collect information
about these districts where Englishmen are forbidden to go, and it is
to their efforts that the various details we find on maps relating to
these countries are due. Some day the lower ranges leading up to the
great snow-covered mountains will be opened to the English. Sanatoria
will be established, tea plantations will appear on the slopes of
the Nepaulese hills, as is now the case at Darjeeling, and then only
will the exploration of the mountains really begin, for which, at the
present day, as far as Tibet and Nepaul are concerned, we have even
less facilities than the Schlagintweits and Hooker had forty to fifty
years ago.

From the mountaineer's point of view, little has been accomplished
amongst the Himalaya, and of the thousands of peaks of 20,000
feet and upwards hardly twenty have been climbed. The properly
equipped expeditions made to these mountains merely for the sport of
mountaineering may be said to be less than half a dozen. Of course
the officers in charge of the survey department have done invaluable
work, which, however, often had to be carried out by men unacquainted
(from a purely climbing point of view) with the higher developments of
mountain craft. To this, however, there are exceptions, notably Mr. W.
H. Johnson, who worked on the Karakoram range.

To omit work done by the earlier travellers, the first prominent piece
of mountaineering seems to have been achieved by Captain Gerard
in the Spiti district. In the year 1818 he attempted the ascent of
Leo Porgyul, but was unsuccessful after reaching a height of 19,400
feet (trigonometrically surveyed). Ten years later he made the first
successful ascent of a mountain (unnamed) of 20,400 feet. Speaking
of his wanderings in 1817-21, he says: 'I have visited thirty-seven
places at different times between 14,000 and 19,400 feet, and thirteen
of my camps were upwards of 15,000 feet.' During the years 1848-49-50
Sir Joseph Hooker made his famous journeys into the Himalaya from
Darjeeling through Sikkim. Obtaining leave to travel in East Nepaul,
he traversed a district that since then has been entirely closed to
Europeans. By travelling to the westward of Darjeeling he crossed
into Nepaul, explored the Tambur river as far as Wallanchoon, whence
he ascended to the head of a snow pass, 16,756 feet, leading over
to the valley of the Arun river, which rises far away northward of
Kanchenjunga. On the pass he experienced his first attack of mountain
sickness, suffering from headache, giddiness, and lassitude. At this
point he was probably nearer to Devadhunga[C] (Mount Everest) than any
European has ever been, the mountain being only fifty miles away. From
the summit of another pass in East Nepaul, the Choonjerma pass, 16,000
feet, he no doubt saw Devadhunga. From here he returned to Sikkim, and
travelled to Mon Lepcha, immediately at the south-west of Kanchenjunga.
During the next year he visited the passes on the north-east of
Kanchenjunga leading into Tibet and ascended three of them, the Kongra
Lama pass, 15,745 feet; the Tunkra pass, 16,083 feet; and the Donkia
pass, 18,500 feet. From Bhomtso, 18,590 feet, the highest and most
northerly point reached by him, a magnificent view to the northward
into Tibet was obtained; and Dr. Hooker mentions having seen from this
point two immense mountains over one hundred miles distant to the north
of Nepaul. It was during his return to Darjeeling that he and Dr.
Campbell were made prisoners by the Raja of Sikkim.

During the years 1854-58 the two brothers, Adolf and Robert
Schlagintweit wandered through a large portion of the Himalaya. They
were the first explorers who possessed any real knowledge of snow work,
having gained their experience in the Alps. Starting from Nynee Tal
they followed the Pindar river to its source, just under the southern
slopes of Nanda Devi. Then crossing to the north-east by a pass about
17,700 feet high, they reached Milam on the Gori river, whence they
penetrated into Tibet over several passes averaging 18,000 feet. In
this district, never since visited by Europeans, they made more than
one glacier expedition, finally returning over the main chain, close
to Kamet or Ibi Gamin (25,443 feet), on the slopes of which they
remained for a fortnight, their highest camp being at 19,326 feet. An
unsuccessful attempt was made on the peak, for they were forced to
retreat after having reached an altitude of 22,259 feet. Returning
over the Mana pass to the valley of the Sarsuti river, they descended
to Badrinath. The upper valley of the Indus north of Kashmir was next
explored, and Adolf, having crossed the Karakoram pass, was murdered
at Kashgar.[D] In the _Journal_ of the Royal Asiatic Society of
Bengal (vol. xxxv.) will be found a paper by the two brothers on the
'Comparative Hypsometrical and Physical Features of High Asia, the
Andes, and the Alps,' which deals in a most interesting manner with the
respective features of these several mountain ranges.

In the years 1860-1865 Mr. W. H. Johnson, whilst engaged on the Kashmir
Survey, established a large number of trigonometrical stations at a
height of over 20,000 feet. One of his masonry platforms on the top of
a peak 21,500 feet high is said to be visible from Leh in Ladâk. The
highest point he probably reached was during an expedition made from
the district Changchenmo north of the Pangong lake in the year 1864.
Travelling northwards he made his way through the mountains to the
Yarkand road, and at one point, being unable to proceed, he found it
necessary to climb over the mountain range at a height of 22,300 feet,
where the darkness overtook him, and he was forced to spend the night
at 22,000 feet. In the next year, 1865, on his journey to Khutan he was
obliged to wait for permission to enter Turkestan; and being anxious
to obtain as much knowledge of the country to the north as possible,
he climbed three peaks--E^{57}, 21,757 feet; E^{58}, 21,971 feet; and
E^{61}, 23,890 feet (?). The heights of the first two mountains have
been accurately determined by a series of trigonometrical observations,
but there has probably been some error made in the height of the last,

Mr. Johnson was a most enthusiastic mountaineer, and, owing to a
suggestion made by him and Mr. Drew to the Asiatic Society of Bengal,
efforts were made in 1866 to form a Himalayan Club, but through want of
support and sympathy the club was never started. Mountaineering was
indeed in those days so little appreciated by the political department
of India that this journey of Mr. Johnson's in 1865 was made the excuse
for a reprimand, owing to which he left the Service and took employment
under the Maharaja of Kashmir.

About the same time that Johnson was exploring the district to the
north and north-east of Ladák, the officers of the survey, Captain
T. G. Montgomerie, H. H. Godwin Austen, and others, were actively at
work on the Astor Gilgit and Skardu districts. They pushed glacier
exploration much further than had been done before; and it is quite
remarkable how much they accomplished when one considers that in those
days climbers had only just learned the use of ice-axes and ropes, and
the knowledge of ice and snow even in the Alps was very limited. The
exploration of the Baltoro glacier, the discovery of the second highest
peak in the Himalaya--K^{2}, 28,278 feet--and the peaks Gusherbrum
and Masherbrum, by H. H. Godwin Austen, and his ascent of the Punmah
glacier to the old Mustagh pass will remain as marvels of mountain

In the next ten or fifteen years but little mountaineering was done
in the Himalaya. The Government Survey in Garhwal, Kumaon, and Sikkim
was carried on, and more correct maps of the mountain ranges in these
parts were issued. On Kamet about 22,000 feet was reached. In Sikkim,
Captain Harman, during his work for the survey, made several attempts
to climb some of the loftier peaks. He revisited the Donkia pass, and,
like Dr. Hooker, saw from it the two enormous peaks far away to the
north of Nepaul. In order to measure their height trigonometrically,
he remained on the summit of the pass (18,500 feet) all night, but
unfortunately was so severely frost-bitten that ultimately he was
invalided home.

In the year 1883 Mr. W. W. Graham started for India with the Swiss
guide Joseph Imboden, on a purely mountaineering expedition; he first
went to Sikkim, then attacked the group round Nanda Devi in Garhwal,
and later returned to Sikkim and the mountains near Kanchenjunga.

This expedition of Graham's remains still the most successful
mountaineering effort that has been made amongst the Himalaya. No less
than seven times was he above 20,000 feet on the mountains, the three
highest ascents being, Kabru (Sikkim), 24,015 feet, A^{21} or Mount
Monal (Garhwal), 22,516 feet, and a height of 22,500-22,700 feet on
Dunagiri (Garhwal). It is perhaps to be regretted that Graham did not
write a book setting forth in detail all his experiences, though a
short account of his travels and ascents may be found in vol. xii. of
the Alpine Club _Journal_.

Arriving at Darjeeling early in 1883, he and Imboden made their way
to Jongri just under Kanchenjunga on the south-west, and climbed a
peak, Kang La, 20,300 feet. The Guicho La (pass), 16,000 feet, between
Kanchenjunga and Pundim, was ascended, but as the end of March was
much too early in the year for climbing, they returned to Darjeeling,
and Imboden then went back to Europe. It was not till the end of June
that Graham was joined by Emil Boss and Ulrich Kauffmann, who came out
from Grindelwald. They started from Nynee Tal to attack Nanda Devi,
travelling to Rini on the Dhauli river, just to the westward of Nanda
Devi. From Rini they proceeded up the Rishiganga, which runs down from
the glaciers on the west of Nanda Devi, but they were stopped in the
valley by an impassable gorge that had been cut by a glacier descending
from the Trisuli peaks. Obliged to retreat, they next attacked
Dunagiri, 23,184 feet; after climbing over two peaks, 17,000 and 18,000
feet, they camped at 18,400 feet, and finally got to a point from which
they could see the top of A^{22}, 21,001 feet over the top of A^{21},
22,516 feet, and must therefore have been at least at a height of
22,700 feet. Unfortunately hail, wind, and snow drove Graham and Boss
off the peak within 500 feet of the top--Kauffmann had given in some
distance lower down--and it was only with difficulty that they were
able to return to their camp, which was reached in the dark.

The weather then obliged them to return to Rini, from which place they
again started for Nanda Devi. This time they went up the north bank
of the Rishiganga. After illness, the desertion of their coolies, and
all the sufferings produced by cold and wet weather, they reached
the glacier in four days, only to find that again they were cut off
from it by a perpendicular cliff of 200 feet, down which the glacier
torrent poured. Their attempt to cross the stream was also fruitless;
so, baffled for the second time, they were forced to return to
their camping-ground under Dunagiri at Dunassau, from which place
they climbed A^{21}, 22,516 feet, by the western ridge, calling it
Mount Monal. They then tried A^{22}, 21,001 feet, but were stopped
by difficult rocks after reaching a point about 20,000 feet. By the
middle of August Graham was back again in Sikkim and got to Jongri
by September 2. With Boss and Kauffmann he explored the west side of
Kabru and the glacier which comes down from Kanchenjunga. But the
weather was continuously bad; they started to climb Jubonu, but were
turned back. Then they crossed the Guicho La to ascend Pundim, but
found it impossible; more bad weather kept them idle till the end of
the month. They then managed to ascend Jubonu, 21,300 feet. A few days
later they went up the glacier which lies on the south-east of Kabru,
camping at 18,400 feet; and starting at 4.30 A.M. they succeeded, owing
to a favourable state of the mountain, in reaching the summit, 24,015
feet (or rather, the summit being cleft into three gashes, they got
into one of these, about 30 feet from the true top). It was not till
10 P.M. that they returned to their camp. The last peak they ascended
was one 19,000 feet on the Nepaul side of the Kang La. Thus ended this
most remarkable series of ascents, carried out often under the most
difficult circumstances. Graham, from his account of his travels, was
evidently not a man to talk about all the discomforts and hardships
of climbing at these altitudes, and this lack of information about
his feelings and sensations above 20,000 feet has been urged against
him as a proof that he never got to 24,000 feet at all. But any one
who will take the trouble to read his account of the ascent of Kabru,
cannot fail to admit that he must have climbed the peak lying on the
south-west of Kanchenjunga, viz. Kabru, for there is no other high peak
there which he could have ascended from his starting-point except
Kanchenjunga itself; moreover, unless he had climbed Kabru, neither he
nor Emil Boss could have seen Devadhunga nor the two enormous peaks
to the north-west, which they distinctly state must be higher than
Devadhunga. Now, if they climbed Kabru, they were at a height of 24,000
feet whether they had a barometer with them or not, for that is the
height determined by the Ordnance Survey. The heights reached in all
their other completed ascents are vouched for in the same way, for if
a mountain has been properly measured by triangulation, its height is
known with a greater degree of accuracy than can ever be obtained by
taking a barometer to the summit.

The next real mountaineering expedition after that of Graham was
in 1892, when Sir Martin Conway, together with Major Bruce, and M.
Zurbriggen as guide, explored a large part of the Mustagh range. In all
they made some sixteen ascents to heights of 16,000 feet and upwards,
the highest being Pioneer peak, 22,600 feet.

Arriving at Gilgit in May, when much winter snow still lay low down
on the mountains, they first explored the Bagrot nullah. Here they
ascended several glaciers and surveyed the country. But huge avalanches
continually falling entirely stopped any high climbing. They therefore
went into the Hunza Nagyr valley as far as Nagyr. In the meantime, as
the weather was bad, they investigated first the Samayar and afterwards
the Shallihuru glaciers. At the head of the former a pass was climbed,
the Daranshi saddle, 17,940 feet, and a peak called the Dasskaram
needle, 17,660 feet. They then returned to the Nagyr valley and reached
the foot of the great Hispar glacier, 10,320 feet. From here they
travelled to the Hispar pass, 17,650 feet, nearly forty miles, thence
down the Biafo glacier, another thirty miles. The Hispar pass is
therefore the longest snow pass traversed outside the Arctic regions.
About half way up the Hispar glacier Bruce left Conway and climbed over
the Nushik La, but joined him again later at Askole.

From Askole the Baltoro glacier was ascended. Near its head the summit
of Crystal peak, 19,400 feet, on the north side of the valley, was
reached. From the summit, the Mustagh tower, a rival in height to
K^{2}, 28,278 feet, was seen. To quote Conway's description: 'Away
to the left, peering over a neighbouring rib like the one we were
ascending, rose an astonishing tower. Its base was buried in clouds,
and a cloud-banner waved on one side of it, but the bulk was clear, and
the right-hand outline was a vertical cliff. We afterwards discovered
that it was equally vertical on the other side. This peak rises in
the immediate vicinity of the Mustagh pass, and is one of the most
extraordinary mountains for form we anywhere beheld.'

Two days later they made another climb on a ridge to the east, and
parallel to the one previously climbed. From here they first saw K^{2}.
Amongst the magnificent circle of peaks that surrounded them at this
spot, many of which were over 25,000 feet, one only seemed to offer any
chance of being climbed. This was the Golden Throne. It stands at the
head of the Baltoro glacier, differing greatly in form and structure
from its neighbours; and of all the mountains it seemed most accessible.

Amongst, however, the enormous glaciers and snow-fields that eclipse
probably those of any other mountains in ordinary latitudes, even
to arrive at the beginning of the climbing was a problem of much
difficulty. To again quote: 'We struggled round the base of the Golden
Throne, up 2000 feet of ice-fall to a plateau where we camped; then we
forced a camp on to a second, and again on to a third platform ... we
got daily weaker as we ascended ... we finally reached the foot of the
ridge which was to lead us, as we supposed, to the top of the Golden
Throne. It was an ice-ridge, and not as we hoped of snow, and it did
not lead us to the top but to a detached point in the midst of the two
main buttresses of the Throne.' This peak they named Pioneer peak,
22,600 feet. After this climb they returned to Kashmir.

Major Bruce, who accompanied Sir M. Conway in this expedition, has been
climbing in the Himalaya for many years. In 1893, whilst at Chitral
with Capt. F. Younghusband, he ascended Ispero Zorn. In July of the
same year he made several ascents near Hunza on the Dhaltar peaks--the
highest point reached being 18,000 feet. During August of the same
year he climbed to 17,000 feet above Phekkar near Nagyr, with Captain
B. E. M. Gurdon, and even in December, at Dharmsala, he had some

Major Bruce has done some excellent mountaineering in a district that
may be said to be his alone, namely in Khaghan, a district south-west
of Nanga Parbat and north of Abbottabad. Here, in company with
Harkabir Thapa and other Gurkhas, a great deal of climbing has been
accomplished, the district having been visited almost every year since

The best piece of climbing in Khaghan was the ascent of the most
northern Ragee-Bogee peaks (16,700 feet), by Harkabir Thapa alone. This
peak is close to the Shikara pass, though separated by one peak from

Another district visited by Major Bruce in 1898 was in Ladák east of
Kashmir--the Nun Kun range. Several new passes were traversed, and
peaks up to 19,500 feet were climbed.[E]

There is certainly no mountaineer who has a record of Himalayan
climbing to compare with Major Bruce's, ranging as it does from Chitral
on the west to Sikkim on the east. In fact, to show how the mountains
exercise a magnetic influence on him, in the summer of 1898 he saw,
what no one had ever seen before, in the short space of two months, the
three highest mountains in the world: Devadhunga, K^2, and Kanchenjunga.

In 1898 Dr. and Mrs. Bullock Workman traversed several passes in Ladák,
Nubra, and Suru; and in 1899, with M. Zurbriggen as guide, went to
Askole and up the Biafo glacier to the Hispar Pass. Then they climbed
the Siegfried Horn, 18,600 feet, and Mount Bullock-Workman, 19,450
feet, both near the Skoro La. Afterwards, returning to the Shigar
valley, Mount Koser Gunge, 21,000 feet, was ascended.

The last mountaineering expedition to the Himalaya was that of Mr.
Douglas Freshfield, who, in company with Signor V. Sella, Mr. E.
Garwood, and A. Maquignaz as guide, made the tour of Kanchenjunga,
crossing the Jonsong La, 21,000 feet.


[A] See p. 307.

[B] _Narratives of the Mission of George Bogle to Tibet and of the
Journey of Thomas Manning to Lhasa._ By Clements R. Markham, C.B.,
F.R.S. 1876.

[C] Tibetan name: Jomo-kang-kar.

[D] Cp. _Travels in Ladâk Tartary and Kashmir_, Lieut.-Colonel Torrens,
1862, pp. 350-360, Appendix.

[E] _Alpine Journal_, vol. xx. p. 311.



                                    'And go
    Eastward along the sea, to mount the lands
    Beyond man's dwelling, and the rising steeps
    That face the sun untrodden and unnamed.--
    Know to earth's verge remote thou then art come,
    The Scythian tract and wilderness forlorn,
    Through whose rude rocks and frosty silences
    No path shall guide thee then, ...
    There as thou toilest o'er the treacherous snows.'
                                        R. BRIDGES.

Amongst mountaineers, who has not at some time or another looked at the
map of India, wishing at the same time for an opportunity to visit the
Himalaya? to see Kanchenjunga, Devadhunga, Nanda Devi, Nanga Parbat,
or any of the hundreds of snow-clad mountains, every one of which is
higher than the loftiest peaks of other lands? to wander through the
valleys filled with tropical vegetation until the higher grounds are
reached, where the great glaciers lie like frozen rivers amidst the
white mountains, while the green pasturages and pine woods below bask
in the sunshine? to travel through the land where all natural things
are on a big scale, a land of great rivers and mighty mountains, a
land where even the birds and beasts are of larger size, a land that
was peopled many centuries ago with civilised races, when Western
Europe was in a state of barbarism? But these Himalaya are far away,
and often as one may wish some day to start for this marvellous land,
yet the propitious day never dawns, and less ambitious journeys are
all that the Fates will allow. Although it had seemed most unlikely
that I should ever be fortunate enough to visit the Himalaya, yet at
last the time arrived when my dream became a reality. I have seen
the great mountains of the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram ranges, from
Tirach Mir over Chitral to K^{2} at the head of the Baltoro glacier; I
have wandered in that waste land, the marvellous gorge of the Indus.
I have stopped at Chilas, one of the outposts of civilisation in the
wild Shinaki country, where not many years ago no white man could
venture. I have passed through the defile at Lechre, where in 1841 a
landslip from the northern buttress of Nanga Parbat dammed back the
whole Indus for six months, until finally the pent-up masses of water,
breaking suddenly through the thousands of feet of debris, burst with
irresistible force down through that unknown mountain-land lying below
Chilas for many hundreds of miles, till at last the whirling flood,
no longer hemmed in by the hills, swept out on to the open plains
near Attock, and in one night annihilation was the fate of a whole
Sikh army. Also I have seen the northern side of the mighty Nanga
Parbat, the greatest mountain face in the whole world, rising without
break from the scorching sands of the Bunji plain, first to the cool
pine woods and fertile valleys five thousand feet above, next to the
glaciers, and further back and higher to the ice-clad avalanche-swept
precipices which ring round the topmost snows of Nanga Parbat itself,
whose summit towers 26,629 feet above sea-level, and 23,000 feet above
the Indus at its base: whilst further to the northward Rakipushi and
Haramosh, both 25,000 feet high, seem only to be outlying sentinels of
grander and loftier ranges behind.

It was in 1894 that the late Mr. A. F. Mummery and Mr. G. Hastings
arranged that if they could obtain permission from the Indian
Government to visit that part of Kashmir in which Nanga Parbat lies,
they would start from England in June 1895, and attempt the ascent.
Early in 1895 I made such arrangements (owing to the kindness of
Professor Ramsay of London University College) that I was able to join
the expedition.

We left England on June 20, joining the P. and O. steamer _Caledonia_
at Brindisi. The voyage was delightful till we left Aden--even in
the Red Sea the temperature never rising above 90°,--but once in the
Indian Ocean we experienced the full force of the monsoon; and it was
exceedingly rough from there to Bombay, which we reached on July 5. Two
days later we arrived at Rawul Pindi, having had a very hot journey on
the railway, a maximum of 103° being experienced between Umballa and
Rawul Pindi.

At the latter place the foothills of the Himalaya were seen for the
first time, rising out of the plains of the Panjab. And that night,
amidst a terrific thunderstorm, the breaking of the monsoon on the
hills, we slept in dak bungalow just short of Murree. From Rawul Pindi
to Baramula, in the vale of Kashmir, an excellent road exists, along
which one is able to travel in a tonga. These strongly built two-wheel
carriages complete the journey of about one hundred and seventy miles
in two or three days. Owing, however, to the monsoon rain, we found the
road in many places in a perilous condition. Bridges had been washed
away, great boulders many feet thick had rolled down the mountain-side
sometimes to find a resting-place in the middle of the road, sometimes
to go crashing through it; in one place the whole mountain-side was
slowly moving down, road and all, into the Jhelum river below at the
bottom of the valley. But on the evening of July 9 we safely reached

[Illustration: MAP OF KASHMIR J. Bartholomew & Co., Edin^r.]

Beyond Baramula it is necessary to take a flat-bottomed boat or punt,
called a dunga, traversing the vale of Kashmir by water. This valley of
Kashmir, about which so much has been written, is beyond all adequate
description. Situated as it is, 6000 feet above sea-level, in an old
lake basin amongst the Himalaya, its climate is almost perfect. A
land of lakes and waterways, splendid trees and old ruins, vines,
grass-lands, flowers, and pine forests watered by cool streams from the
snow ranges that encircle it, with a climate during the summer months
like that of the south of France--no wonder this valley of Kashmir is

In length about eighty miles, and twenty-five miles in breadth, it lies
surrounded by giant peaks. Haramukh, 16,903 feet, is quite close; to
the eastward rise the Nun Kun peaks, 23,447 feet; whilst to the north
Nanga Parbat, 26,629 feet high, can be seen from the hill stations.
The atmospheric colours in the clear air are for ever changing, and
no better description of them can be given than one by Walter R.
Lawrence in his classical work on the _Valley of Kashmir_, where as
settlement officer he spent several years. He says, 'In the early
morning the mountains are often a delicate semi-transparent violet,
relieved against a saffron sky and with light vapours clinging round
their crests. Then the rising sun deepens shadows and produces sharp
outlines and strong passages of purple and indigo in the deep ravines.
Later on it is nearly all blue and lavender with white snow peaks and
ridges under a vertical sun, and as the afternoon wears on these become
richer violet and pale bronze, gradually changing to rose and pink
with yellow and orange snow, till the last rays of the sun have gone,
leaving the mountains dyed a ruddy crimson, with snows showing a pale
creamy green by contrast. Looking downward from the mountains, the
valley in the sunshine has the hues of the opal; the pale reds of the
Karéwá, the vivid light greens of the young rice, and the darker shades
of the groves of trees, relieved by sunlit sheets, gleams of water, and
soft blue haze, give a combination of tints reminding one irresistibly
of the changing hues of that gem. It is impossible to do justice to the
beauty and the grandeur of the mountains of Kashmir, or to enumerate
the lovely glades and forests visited by so few.'

Nowadays Kashmir is a prosperous country. But before the settlement
operations were taken in hand (1887) by Lawrence the country-people
were suffering from every kind of abuse and tyranny. Now it is all
changed, and under the rule of Maharaja Pratab Singh, who resolved
that this settlement should be carried out and gave it his loyal
support, the country-folk are contented and prosperous; the fields are
properly cultivated, without fear that the harvest will be reaped by
some extortionate official; the houses are rebuilt, and the orchards,
gardens, and vineyards are well looked after. It was not till my return
from the mountains that I had a chance of spending a few days in this
fascinating valley.

After leaving Baramula our route lay for some time up the Jhelum river,
which drains most of the vale of Kashmir; but soon we emerged on the
Woolar lake, and in the grey morning light the hills that completely
encircle the valley could be partly seen through the long streams of
white mist that draped them. The lake was perfectly calm, and reflected
on its surface the nearer hills. Soon we came to miles of floating
water-lilies in bloom, whilst on the banks quaint mud houses and farms,
encircled with poplar, walnut, and chenar trees, were visible; and,
beyond, great distances of grass lands and orchards stretched back to
the mountains.

But we were not across the lake. From the westward a rain-cloud was
approaching, and soon the whole face of nature was changed. Small waves
arose; then a blast of wind swept down part of the matting which served
as an awning to our boat, and in a moment we were in danger of being
swamped. The rowers at once began to talk wildly, evidently in great
fear of drowning. Several other dungas, which were near and in the
same plight as our own, came up, so all the boats were lashed together
by ropes. Meanwhile the women and children (for the Kashmiri lives on
the dunga with his wife and family) were screaming and throwing rice
on the troubled waters, presumably to propitiate the evil beings who
were responsible for the perilous state of affairs, and seemingly
this offering to the gods was effective, for the angry deity, the
storm-cloud, passed on, the wind dropped, and without further adventure
we made land at Bandipur on the northern shore of the lake in warm

Here we found ponies which had been hired for us by Major C. G. Bruce
of the 5th Gurkhas. He had travelled all the way from Khaghan to
Kashmir in order to engage servants, ponies, etc., and had spent a
fortnight out of a month's leave in arranging these matters for us who
were strangers to him. Since that time I have seen much more of Bruce,
but I shall always remember this kindness. I may also say that during
the whole of our expedition the military and political officers, and
others whom we met, invariably helped us in every way possible.

On July 11 we loaded the ponies with our baggage and started for Nanga
Parbat. Our route lay over the Tragbal or Raj Diangan pass, 11,950
feet. On the further side we descended to Kanjalwan in the valley of
the Kishnganga river. Up this valley about twelve miles is the village
of Gurais, where we were nearly stopped by the tahsildar, a most
important village official. We wanted more ponies, which he of course
promised, but next morning they were not forthcoming. Messages were
useless, and seemingly persuasion also was of no avail, he assuring
us that there were no ponies, and telling us every kind of lie with
the utmost oriental politeness. Mummery was, however, equal to the
occasion. He wrote out a telegram, which of course he never intended
to send, the contents of which he had translated to the tahsildar. It
was addressed to the British Resident at Srinagar, asking what should
be done with a miserable official at Gurais who would give us neither
help nor ponies. The effect was magical. In less than ten minutes we
had three times as many ponies as we wanted, and that too in a district
where everything with four legs was being pressed into the service of
the Gilgit commissariat. The tahsildar rode several miles up the valley
with us, finally insisting that Mummery should ride his pony, and
return it after two or three days when convenient.

Just above Gurais we left the valley of the Kishnganga, and turned to
the left or north-east up the valley of the Burzil. From this valley
two passes lead over the range into the country that drains down
the Astor nullah to the Indus: the first is the Kamri, 12,438 feet,
the second the Burzil or Dorikoon pass, 13,900 feet, over which the
military road to Gilgit has been made. Both these passes ultimately
lead to Astor. We chose the Kamri, for we were told that better forage
for our ponies could be obtained on the northern slopes. We crossed the
pass on July 14, finding still some of the winter snows unmelted on the

From the summit we had our first view of Nanga Parbat, over forty miles
away, but rising in dazzling whiteness far above all the intervening
ranges. There is nothing in the Alps that can at all compare with
it in grandeur, and although often one is unable to tell whether a
mountain is really big, or only appears so, this was not the case
with Nanga Parbat as seen from the Kamri. It was huge, immense; and
instinctively we took off our hats in order to show that we approached
in a proper spirit.

Two days later we camped at Rattu, where we found Lieutenant C. G.
Stewart encamped with his mountain battery. He showed us the guns
(weighing 2 cwt. each) which he had taken over the Shandur pass in
deep snow when accompanying Colonel Kelly from Gilgit to the relief of
Chitral. During this passage he became snow-blind.

The forcing of the Shandur pass was one of the hardest pieces of work
in the whole of the relief of Chitral, and the moral effect produced
was invaluable. For the Chitralis were under the impression that
even troops without guns could not cross the pass. Imagine their
consternation when a well-equipped force, together with a mountain
battery, was at the head of the Mastuj river leading down to Chitral.

After we had been hospitably entertained by Lieutenant Stewart, and
duly admired his splendid mule battery, we left the next day, July
16, and finally, in the dark that night, camped at the base of Nanga
Parbat. During the day the ponies that we had hired only came as far as
a village named Zaipur, where we paid off our men, and sent them and
the ponies back to Bandipur.

We did not, however, wish to camp at Zaipur, which lay on the south
side of the Rupal torrent, but were anxious to cross to Chorit, a
village opposite, and then go on to Tashing. How this was to be
accomplished was not at first sight very plain. But the villagers were
most willing to help, and those of the Chorit village came down on the
further bank, in all about fifty to sixty men. Then bridge-building
began; tons of stones and brushwood were built out into the raging
glacier torrent; next pine trunks were neatly fixed on the cantilever
system in these piers on both sides, and when the two edifices jutted
far enough out into the stream, several thick pine trunks, about fifty
feet long, were toppled across, and prevented from being washed down
the stream by our Alpine ropes, which were tied to their smaller ends.
Several of these trunks were then placed across between the two piers,
and after three hours' hard work the bridge was finished. For this
magnificent engineering achievement the headmen of the two villages
were presented with two rupees. We did not camp at Tashing, but crossed
the glacier immediately above the village, and in a hollow amongst a
grove of willows set up our tents.

We had taken twenty-seven days from London travelling continuously, but
the weather was perfect. We were on the threshold of the unknown, and
the untrodden nullahs round Nanga Parbat awaited us.



           'And thus these threatening ranges of dark mountain,
         which, in nearly all ages of the world, men have
         looked upon with aversion or with terror, are, in
         reality, sources of life and happiness far fuller
         and more beneficent than the bright fruitfulnesses
         of the plain.'--_Modern Painters._

Our camp in the Rupal nullah was certainly most picturesque, pitched
on a slightly sloping bank of grass, strewn with wildflowers and
surrounded by a species of willow-tree which, during the hot midday
sunshine, afforded most welcome shade. Firewood could be easily
obtained in abundance from the dead stems and branches of the thicket,
and water from a babbling stream which descended from the lower slopes
of Nanga Parbat, almost within a stone's-throw of our tents.

Determined after our week's walk from Bandipur to make the most of our
delightful camp, we spent the next day, July 17, in blissful laziness,
doing hardly anything. We pretended now and again to busy ourselves
with the tents and the baggage. A willow branch which hung in front of
our tent door would need breaking off, or a rope tightening. But the
day was really a holiday, and our most serious occupation was to bask
in the warm sunshine and inhale the keen, bracing mountain air fresh
from the snow-fields at the head of the Rupal nullah.

[Illustration: _A Himalayan Nullah._]

The sense of absolute freedom, of perfect contentment with our present
lot, blessed gift of the mountains to their true and faithful devotees,
was beginning to steal over us. Languidly we talked about the morrow,
our only regret arising from our inability to catch a glimpse of that
monarch of the mountains, Nanga Parbat, and the ice-fringed precipices
which overhang his southern face.

The Rupal is the largest nullah close to Nanga Parbat. It runs
eastwards from the peaks by the Thosho pass under the whole southern
face of Nanga Parbat, till it joins the valley coming down from the
Kamri pass, some eight miles below Tashing. The total length is
about twenty-five miles in a straight line, but only those who have
wandered in these Himalayan nullahs know how that twenty-five miles
can be lengthened. The interminable ups and downs, which with endless
repetition confront the traveller, now descending on to glaciers by
steep moraine walls, now scrambling over loose stones and debris, or
crossing from one side of the nullah to the other, all the variations
which a mountain path strews with such prodigality in the way, set
measurement at defiance, and no man may tell the true length of a
nullah twenty-five miles long. The inhabitants are wise; they speak
only of a day's journey, and later we easily dropped into their ways,
miles being hardly ever mentioned. In fact, to show how deceptive
measurement by the map may be, when late in August we left the Diamirai
nullah with the whole of our camp baggage to reach the next big nullah,
the Rakiot, the traverse over two easy passes just below the snow-line
took us no less than three days from early in the morning till late at
night, though the distance as the crow flies is only ten miles.

Tashing, the village, which lay a few miles below us down the valley,
is large and prosperous, the peasants owning many flocks and herds.
Chickens, eggs, and milk are plentiful, and situated as it is some
distance from the Gilgit road, any surplus stock of provisions is not
depleted to the same extent as is the case with hamlets in the Astor
valley. Sheep, which are small and not easy to obtain at Astor, may be
purchased without difficulty at Tashing. Not many years ago Tashing
used to be periodically raided by the Chilas tribesmen, who lived on
the western slopes of the Nanga Parbat range. They, like the old border
thieves, would swarm over the Mazeno and Thosho passes and lift all
the sheep and goats they could find, sometimes even taking the women
as well. This, however, is now completely stopped since we 'pacified'
Chilas. Mountain robbers of course still harass the land, but they have
been driven further to the westward, and now it is the Chilas folk
themselves who are the victims. In fact we heard later that at the
end of July the tribesmen from Kohistan and Thur (to the south-west
of Chilas) were pillaging the country at the head of the Bunar and
Barbusar nullahs, where they had killed several shepherds and driven
away their flocks.

[Illustration: MAP OF NANGA PARBAT J. Bartholomew & Co. Edin^r.]

The Rupal nullah above Tashing is fairly fertile, the vegetation
stretching up a considerable distance. Pine-trees and small brushwood
flourish at the foot of the Rupal or main glacier, whilst for several
miles further on the north side of the valley grass and dwarf
rhododendron bushes grow. The glaciers from Nanga Parbat sweep across
the valley much in the same way as the Brenva glacier sweeps across the
Val Véni, cutting off the upper pasturages from the villages below. Of
course the highest peak in the neighbourhood is Nanga Parbat itself.
But those on the south-west of the Rupal nullah, rising as they do
some 7000 to 8000 feet above the floor of the valley, present a most
magnificent spectacle. One especially (marked 20,730 feet) which stands
alone at the head of the nullah, charms the eye with its beautiful form
and exquisite lines of snow and rock. We christened it the Rupal peak,
whilst its neighbour further west, almost its equal in size (20,640
feet), we named the Thosho peak.

Another summit (20,490 feet) to the eastward might, as it stands at
the head of the Chiche nullah, appropriately be termed the Chiche
peak, and the glacier which descends from it to the end of the Rupal
glacier, the Chiche glacier. A very good idea of the relative size and
form of the great main range of Nanga Parbat on the north side of the
Rupal nullah may be obtained from the top of the Kamri pass. The ridge
to the westward of the true summit of Nanga Parbat, stretching as far
as the Mazeno La, does not culminate in any very pronounced peaks.
The lowest point, probably 19,000 to 20,000 feet, lies a little over
a mile directly west of the top of the mountain. We have called this
dip in the ridge the Nanga Parbat pass, and two peaks marked 21,442
feet and 20,893 feet the Mazeno peaks. To the eastward of Nanga Parbat
the Rakiot peak, a superb snow-capped mountain, rises to the height
of 23,170 feet, and here the main ridge turns considerably more to
the north-east, ending in the twin Chongra peaks, 22,360 feet, which
overlook Astor and the Chongra valley. Beyond these a sudden and abrupt
fall in height of about 3000 feet occurs, and the ridge running more
and more in a northerly direction, and never rising above 18,000 feet
in height, constitutes the western boundary of the Astor valley.

The height of our camp in the Rupal nullah was calculated from
observations made with a mercurial barometer. The difference in level
between the two cisterns was 531 millimetres, from which observation it
was 9900 feet above sea-level.[F]

We finally decided that it would be best to obtain a good view of the
south face of Nanga Parbat before we made up our minds whether we
should remain in the Rupal nullah. Two of us, Mummery and I, agreed
to start the next day with the intention of combining business with
pleasure; in fact, we had vague ideas about climbing the Chiche peak,
20,490 feet.

On July 18 we set out early. Our route lay up the north side of the
Rupal nullah through the fields of the small hamlet of Rupal. The
morning light, the ripening crops waving in the sunshine, and the
fields backed by pine woods, glaciers, and snow-peaks, were very
beautiful. Unfortunately, as is usual in this part of the Rupal nullah,
we were unable to obtain any view of the great peak of Nanga Parbat,
our path taking us directly underneath it. Above the Rupal village
the Nanga Parbat glacier sweeps across the valley from underneath
the summit of the peak. This glacier, which owes its formation to
avalanches perpetually falling down the southern face of the mountain,
lies across the Rupal nullah almost at right angles, and forms a huge
embankment varying from 500 to 800 feet high. The route up the nullah
here turns off to the right, following a hollow which has been formed
between the mountain-side and the true left bank of the glacier, and
which we found well wooded, with a clear stream running down the
centre. In all the larger nullahs the same conditions were conspicuous:
usually for several miles up the valley above the end of the glacier a
subsidiary valley would exist, between the side moraine of the glacier
and the hill-side. These side moraines are often clothed with huge
pine-trees, whilst below, birches and willows, dwarf rhododendrons and
wild roses, cover the pasturages.

A climb of about 200 feet is necessary to take one on to the Nanga
Parbat glacier, which at this point is flush with the top of the
moraine, and, like so many others in this district, is littered with
stones of all sizes. Though much more uneven, it is similar to the
lower end of glaciers such as the Zmutt or the Miage. On the west side
of the glacier a steep descent must be made down on to the bottom of
the Rupal nullah. The floor of the valley here is carpeted with masses
of brushwood. As one proceeds up the nullah two more glaciers, similar
to the Nanga Parbat glacier, descend at a steep angle from the big
peak, but do not stretch quite across the valley, and can be passed by
walking round between their ends and the Rupal torrent. Just below the
Rupal glacier itself, a well-wooded stretch of pasture-land opens out,
studded with pines and other trees. Here it was that we saw, or thought
we saw, our first red bear; he was some way off, but the keen-eyed
shikari saw the bushes moving, and assured us that the movement was
due to a 'Balu,' and as there were traces of these animals in every
direction, probably the shikari was right.

Having made up our minds to camp just at the end of the Chiche glacier,
we tried to effect a crossing over the Rupal torrent which looked
quite shallow in several places, but these mountain streams are very
deceptive. From a distance of a hundred yards nothing seems more easy
than to wade across, but to any one in the swirling torrent the aspect
of affairs is very different; ice-cold water with insecure and moving
stones below is by no means conducive to a rapid crossing, and our
shikari, who first essayed it, made but little advance. Ultimately
he edged his way safely back to land, but still on the same side of
the stream. Mummery, who was not to be beaten, next made a determined
effort, but in his turn had to retreat after having been very nearly
swept off his feet. There was, however, an alternative route. By
ascending the valley to the end of the Rupal glacier a path would
doubtless easily be found on the ice which would take us across to
our camping-ground for the night. We were not disappointed, and soon
found a spot where our tents could be pitched. The day had been more or
less misty, but towards sunset the clouds began partially to roll off
the peaks. Then in the gleaming gold of a Himalayan sunset we beheld
the southern face of Nanga Parbat. Eagerly we scanned every ridge and
glacier, as naturally we preferred to attack the peak if possible from
the well-provisioned and hospitable Rupal nullah. Should we be unable
to find a feasible route on this side, then it would be necessary
to move our base of operations over the range into the wild Chilas
country, about which we knew very little, but where we were certain
supplies would be difficult to obtain. Knight, who was at Astor in
1891, writes of the Chilas country as follows:--

'That white horizon so near me was the limit of the British Empire, the
slopes beyond descending into the unexplored valleys of the Indus where
dwell the Shinaka tribesmen. Had I crossed the ridge with my followers,
the first human beings we met would in all probability have cut our
heads off.'

Our survey of the south of Nanga Parbat was not very encouraging;
directly above the Rupal nullah the mountain rose almost sheer for
14,000 to 15,000 feet. Precipice towered above precipice. Hanging
glaciers seemed to be perched in all the most inconvenient places,
whilst some idea of the average angle of this face may be obtained from
the map. The height of the glacier directly under the summit is about
11,000 to 12,000 feet--that is to say, in about two miles or _less_,
measured on the map, there is a difference in height of 15,000 feet.
In the Alps one can only compare it in acclivity with the Mer de Glace
face of the Charmoz and Grépon. On the south face of the Matterhorn
or of Mont Blanc a mile measured on the map would probably only make a
difference in height of some 5000 and 7000 feet respectively. To come
to more familiar instances, the top of the Matterhorn rises 8000 to
9000 feet above Zermatt, but it is distant some six or seven miles;
whilst the summit of Mont Blanc, which is 12,000 feet higher than
Chamounix, is about eight miles off.

One route however seemed to offer some hopes of success. By climbing
a very steep rock buttress and then traversing an ice ridge, which
looked like a very exaggerated copy of the one on the Brenva route up
Mont Blanc, a higher snow-field could be gained, from which the Nanga
Parbat pass seemed easy of access. But as the pass was not much over
20,000 feet, at least another 6000 feet would have to be ascended,
and the rocky ridge which connected it with the summit would tax the
climbers' powers to the utmost. An obvious question also arose as to
the possibility of pushing camps with provisions up to 20,000 feet by
this route, for we were agreed that our highest camp must at least be
somewhere about that altitude.

But the evening mists again drifted over the magnificent range opposite
and soon hid the upper part of the mountain. They did not finally
disappear till long after sunset. In the meantime we contented
ourselves with planning our expedition for the morrow by the light of
the camp fire. The height of the camp by mercurial barometer was 12,150

Before daylight next day we started up the middle of the Chiche
glacier, accompanied by two of our Kashmiri servants. Stones without
number covered the ice, and our lanterns only sufficed to show how
unpleasant our path on the glacier was likely to prove. Soon the cold
grey of the morning revealed the Chiche peak straight in front of us,
a dim and colourless shadow. Quickly the dawn rose; we saw the bare
precipitous ice slopes on its northern face, scored everywhere by
avalanche grooves, and the loneliness of the scene impressed itself
upon us. We were entering on a new land, a country without visible
trace of man; probably we were the first who had ever ventured into its
recesses. No breeze stirred, and the eastern sun slanting across the
peaks threw jagged shadows over the snows; soon rising higher in the
heavens, it topped the ridges and bathed us in its warm glow.

At once the glacier wakened into life, and as the stones on the
surface were loosened from the frozen grip of night, those which were
insecurely perched would ever and again fall down the slippery ice;
then would we hear a grating noise followed by a deep thud or booming
splash. These luckless stones had 'left the warm precincts of the
cheerful day,' and deep in the cavernous hollows of each crevasse or
below the still green water of the glacier pools they rested, till
such time as the crushing heel of the relentless ice should grind them
slowly to powder.

Grand and solemn in the perfect summer's morning was my introduction
to the snow world of the mighty Himalaya. The great hills were around
me once more. The peaks, ridges, ice-clad gullies, and stupendous
precipices encircling me, sent the blood tingling through my veins;
I was free to climb where I listed, and the whole of a long July
day was before me. To those whose paths lie in more civilised and
inhabited regions, this enthusiasm about wild and desolate mountains
may seem unwarranted, may, perhaps, even savour of an elevation of
fancy, a vain belief of private revelation founded neither on reason
nor common sense. They probably will agree with Dr. Johnson, who
writes of the Western Highlands of Scotland: 'It will readily occur
that this uniformity of barrenness can afford little amusement to the
traveller; that it is easy to sit at home and conceive rocks, heaths,
and waterfalls, and that these journeys are useless labours which
neither impregnate the imagination nor inform the understanding.' The
'saner' portion of humanity, on the whole, are of one mind with the
great Doctor, at least if one can judge from their utterances, and the
votary of the mountains is often looked upon with pity as one who,
being carried away by a kind of frenzy, is hardly responsible for his

A sport like mountaineering needs no apology. Moreover, it has been so
often and so ably defended by writers with ample knowledge of their
subject, that nothing remains for me to say to this 'saner portion,'
unless perhaps I might be allowed to quote the following oracular
remark: '"But it isn't so, no-how," said Tweedledum. "Contrariwise,"
continued Tweedledee, "If it was so it might be; and if it were so it
would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."'

There are, however, those who accuse the mountaineer of worse things
than a foolish and misguided enthusiasm about the waste places of the
earth. I have often been told that this ardent desire for wild and
rugged scenery is an unhealthy mental appetite, the result of the
restless and jaded palate of the age, which must be indulged by new
sensations, no matter at what cost. Why cannot the mountaineer rest
content with the fertile valleys, the grass-clad ranges, and the noble
forests with the streams flashing in the sunlight? Why cannot he be
satisfied with these simpler and more homely pleasures? To what end
is this eagerness for scenes where desolation and naked Nature reign
supreme, where avalanches thunder down the mountain-sides, where man
has never lived, nay, never could live?

To a few the knowledge of the hills is given. They can wander free in
the great snow world relying on their mountain craft; and should their
imagination not be impregnated nor their understanding informed, then
are their journeys indeed useless. For Nature spreads with lavish hand
before them some of the grandest sights upon which human eye can gaze.
Delicate, white, ethereal peaks like crystallised clouds send point
after point into the deep azure blue sky. Driven snow, marvellously
moulded in curving lines by the wind, wreathes the long ridges; and in
the deep crevasses the light plays flashing backwards and forwards from
the shining beryl blue sides: sights such as these delight the soul of
the mountaineer and tempt him always onward.

The ever-varying clouds, forming, dissolving, and again collecting
on the mountains, show, here a delicate spire of rock, undiscernible
until the white curling vapour shuts out the black background, there a
lesser snow-peak tipped by the sunlight floating slowly across it and
rimmed by the white border of the morning mists.

But it is needless for the lover of the mountains to describe these
sights; the mere stringing together of word-pictures carries little
conviction. The sailor who spends his life on the ocean might just as
well attempt to awaken enthusiasm for a seafaring life in the minds
of inland country-folk, by describing the magnificence of a storm at
sea, when the racing waves drive by the ship and the wind shrieks in
the rigging, or by telling them of voyages through summer seas when
the fresh breezes and the long rolling billows speed the ship on its
homeward way through the ever-changing waters.

The subject, however, must not be taken too seriously. No doubt the
average individual has most excellent reasons for abstaining from
climbing hills, whilst the mountaineer is, as a rule, more competent
to ascend peaks than to explain their attractions; and to quote from a
fragment of a lost MS.,[G] probably by Aristotle: 'Now, concerning the
love of mountain climbing and the excess and deficiency thereof, as
well as the mean which is also a virtue, let this suffice.'

But I have wandered far from the Chiche glacier. Whether it was owing
to our tremendous burst of enthusiasm which reacted on our ambition, or
to a lack of muscle necessary for a hard day's work, nevertheless it
must be recorded that presently our anxiety to climb the Chiche peak
gradually dwindled, and after several tentative suggestions we both
eagerly agreed that from a smaller summit just as good a view of Nanga
Parbat could be obtained as from one 20,490 feet high.

We therefore turned our attention to a spur on our right which ran in
a northerly direction from the Chiche peak. As the day wore on even
this proved too much for us, and after tediously floundering through
soft snow, and cutting steps up a small couloir of ice, a strange and
fearsome process to our Kashmiris, we sat down to lunch, at a height of
16,000 feet, and basely gave up any ideas of higher altitudes. We were
hopelessly out of condition. Below us on our left lay a most enticing
rock ridge, where plenty of fun and excitement could be had, and from
its precipitous nature in several places, it would evidently take us
the rest of the afternoon to get back to our camp.

Clouds persistently interfered with the view of Nanga Parbat, but
now and again its summit would shine through the drifting vapours,
showing precipice above precipice. The eastern face of the Chiche
peak, which we saw edgeways, was superb. Nowhere in the Alps is there
anything with which one can compare the savage black corrie which
nestled right in the heart of the mountain, showing dark, precipitous
walls of rock, with here and there a shelf where isolated patches of
snow rested. This corrie forms one of the heads of the Chiche nullah,
which would be worth visiting for this solitary and savage view alone.
As we descended our rock-ridge we had to put on the rope, and soon
experienced all the pleasures of the initiated. Our bold and fearless
Kashmir servants got more and more alarmed; and the peculiar positions
they occasionally thought it necessary to assume made us feel how sweet
is the joy of being able to accomplish something that an inexperienced
companion regards as impossible. In many places it was only by very
great persuasion that they were induced to move. Many were the things
they told in Hindustani, which we understood but imperfectly, though
we gathered in a general way that no self-respecting Kashmiri would
ever attempt to climb down such places, and that even the ibex and
markhor would find it an impossibility, a true enough assertion, seeing
that many of the small rock faces to be negotiated were practically
perpendicular for fifteen or twenty feet.

We reached our tents late in the afternoon to find that Hastings had
come up from the lower camp. A council of war was then held. Evidently
we were not in condition to storm lofty peaks; and in order to get
ourselves into proper training, a walk round to the other side of Nanga
Parbat was considered necessary. Hastings as arranged had brought up
plenty of provisions, thus enabling the party to brave the snows and
uninhabited wilds in front of them. Our immediate movements decided
upon, we sat round the camp fire, dined, smoked, talked, and finally,
when the stars were shining brightly above the precipice-encircled
summit of Nanga Parbat opposite, retired into our sleeping-bags for the


[F] All the heights given, other than those taken from the Ordnance
Survey, are deduced from observations made with a novel and portable
form of mercurial barometer, which can be coiled up and carried in a
small tin box in the pocket. As we were unable to make comparative
readings with a second instrument at a known height, the barometrical
readings are, in every case, calculated from the pressure at sea-level
being assumed to be 30 inches. This makes the heights, as a rule, about
800 feet _lower_ than if 31 inches were taken as the normal sea-level

[G] Cp. page 304.



                  'Lo! where the pass expands
    Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks,
    And seems, with its accumulated crags,
    To overhang the world.'

Early the next morning, before the sun had risen, we started for the
Mazeno La, which should lead us into the wild and unknown Chilas
country. We soon experienced the kind of walking that afterwards we
found to be more often than not the rule. Loose stones of every size
and description lay piled between the edge of the glacier and the side
of the valley, and it was useless to attempt to walk on the glacier
itself, for not only was it buried deep with debris, but was crevassed
as well. For some distance we followed the northern or left bank,
passing by the snout of a small ice-fall that came down from the main
range of Nanga Parbat, and then turned to the right up and over an
intervening spur, which finally brought us to the level of the glacier
that lay immediately under the Mazeno La. Across this our path lay in
the burning sun of the morning. Before us, about 1500 feet higher up,
was the pass; first the glacier was crossed, and then partly by rocks
and partly over soft snow the way led upwards. Within a few hundred
feet of the summit (18,000 feet) I experienced a violent attack of
mountain sickness, and was hardly able to crawl to the top. This was
the only time any of the party suffered at all, and later a slight
headache or lassitude was the only symptom that I ever felt, even when
at heights up to 20,000 feet.

The western face of the pass is much more precipitous than the one
we had ascended, but by making use of an easy rock arête we soon got
down (2000 feet) to the more level glacier below. The Mazeno La on the
western side somewhat resembles the Zinal side of the Triftjoch, but is
not quite so difficult.

The more active of our coolies, together with servants, were sent on
with the instructions to camp on the right-hand side of the glacier as
soon as they should come to any bushes out of which a fire could be
made, but we were not destined that evening to camp in any comfort.
Caught on the glacier by the darkness we were forced to sleep for the
night on a small plot of grass on the edge of the side moraine, 13,400
feet, and not till the next morning did we rejoin our coolies about a
mile and a half lower down the valley. After we had obtained sufficient
to eat we started down beside the glacier, which I have named the Lubar
glacier on account of the small shepherds' encampment of that name
just below the end of it. On our arrival at Lubar we made our first
acquaintance with the Chilas folk, some of whom looked very wild and
unkempt, but throughout our expedition we found them to be friendly
enough, and never experienced any difficulty with them. Some sour and
particularly dirty goats' milk out of huge gourds was their offering to
us, and a small sheep, price four rupees, was purchased.

Our destination, however, was the Diamirai nullah on the north-west
of Nanga Parbat, so we did not stay long, and winding away up the
hill-side, leaving the Lubar stream far below us on the left, we first
traversed a beautiful wood of birch-trees, and later got out on to the
bare hill-side.

Only two small ridges separate the Diamirai from the Lubar nullah,
but they are only small in comparison with their bigger neighbours;
consequently we did not reach the Diamirai nullah that day, but camped
on the hill-side by a small stream at 12,500 feet. A magnificent view
to the west showed all the country stretched out before us, a country
untravelled by any European, whilst skirting the horizon were some
splendid snow-peaks that lay near the head of the Swat valley beyond
Tangir and Darel. Next day, July 22, before coming to the Diamirai
nullah a herd of markhor was seen on the slope not far in front of us,
and by midday we camped on the south side of the huge Diamirai glacier
that fills up the centre of the nullah, having taken about five hours
from our last camp, and having come over some very rough ground. As
soon as the baggage was unpacked it was discovered that a pair of
steig-eisen had been left at the camp of the night before. One of the
goat-herds from Lubar had come with us, and he, being promised a rupee
should he bring them back, started at about two o'clock, running up the
hill-side like a goat, and by half-past six o'clock was back again with
them. Of course, these men having been trained in the hills are very
agile, and able to cover long distances, but considering the height
there was to climb, and the nature of the ground traversed, his was a
fine performance.

The camp (12,450 feet) was placed amongst some stunted pine-trees and
huge boulders that had rolled down the moraine, the glacier itself
being high (200 feet) above the floor of the valley at the side.

The view to the westward was much the same as we had seen the night
before, only with this difference: it was enclosed now between the two
sides of the Diamirai nullah, whilst the glacier fell away down the
valley in the foreground, towards the Indus, 10,000 feet below. Beyond,
range after range receded to the horizon, the furthest peaks probably
being more than one hundred miles distant. There the mountain thieves
of Darel, Tangir, and of the country west of Chilas live unmolested.

But eastward, at the head of the valley, towered Nanga Parbat, 14,000
feet above us, one mass of ice and snow, with rock ribs protruding
here and there, and vast overhanging glaciers ready at any moment to
pour down thousands of tons of ice on to the glaciers below. Lit up a
brilliant orange by the setting sun, and with the shadows on the lower
snows of a pale green, it certainly looked most beautiful, but up its
precipitous face a way had to be found, and at first sight it did not
look very promising.

From our camp we could see the whole face, and Mummery was not long
before he pointed out a route by which we hoped later to gain the
upper snow-fields just underneath the summit, and thence the topmost
pinnacle which glistened in the sunlight.

The provisions brought over from the Rupal nullah were only meant to
last for a few days, so, after the exploration of the western side
of Nanga Parbat, it became necessary to arrange for the return. The
servants and coolies were sent back by the route we had come, whilst we
made up our minds to cross the ridge on the south side of the valley
sufficiently high up to bring us down either on to the Mazeno La, or,
if we were fortunate, into the head of the Rupal nullah.

I went for a walk about four miles up the glacier, but was unable to
find a break in the great wall at the head of the Diamirai nullah. On
my return I nearly ran into the arms of a huge red bear; and I must
confess that we both were very much frightened.

[Illustration: _The Diamirai Pass from the Red Pass._]

That night, a little before midnight, we started with lanterns, picking
our way first through the small rhododendron bushes by the side of the
glacier for about a mile, then turning to the right obliquely up the
hill-side with the intention of reaching a rock rib which led up to a
gap in the great wall that bounded the Diamirai nullah on the south
side. For a long time we stumbled up what seemed an interminable shoot
of loose stones, but by the time the early dawn gave sufficient light
to enable us to see where we were, a rock arête came into view on our
left.[H] Towards this we made our way, finding the climbing was by no
means difficult. Occasionally the arête would become too perpendicular
for us to follow it, and then we had to cut steps along the top of
ice- or snow-slopes that were underneath the rocks on the top of the
ridge and chance finding our way back up some gully or subsidiary rib
of rocks that might branch out from the main arête.

We did not seem to waste much time, but long after the sun had risen
and the silent ranges of blue mountains had flushed first with the
rosy tints of the rising sun and afterwards glistened with the full
blaze of the morning, the pass was still far away above us. These
Himalaya are constructed on a totally different scale from either the
Alps or any of the ordinary snow mountains. Still, point after point
had to be surmounted. Once in the mist that settled down on us about
eleven o'clock, we at last thought the summit was reached, and began
to descend an arête that led towards the south. Twenty minutes later,
when it cleared, great was our vexation to find the pass still a
long distance above us on our right, and that we had unconsciously
been descending towards the Diamirai nullah. Upwards again we had to
climb, finally finding that the ridge led to the top of a peak on the
west of the pass and about a thousand feet higher. In order to save
the extra fatigue of climbing to the summit and again descending to
the pass, Mummery made a bold effort, striking across the face of the
mountain. In some places rocks stuck out from the steep face, in others
ice slopes had to be crossed, and towards the middle a great circle
of soft snow, with steep ice underneath, gave us an anxious time; for
should the surface snow have avalanched away, it would not have stopped
for certainly several thousand feet. By tying two ropes (eighty and
sixty feet long) together, we spread ourselves out as far apart as
possible, and very carefully made our way across. It was two in the
afternoon before the summit of the pass was reached; its height was
18,050 feet. We have named it the Diamirai pass. Mummery assured us
that he had never been over a more sporting pass, and we were delighted
with the varied climbing that we had experienced. But our enthusiasm
was soon checked; below, on the further side, we could see neither the
wished-for Rupal nullah nor the Mazeno La. Easy rocks and snow led
down to a small glacier, which, flowing southwards, led into another
and larger glacier whose trend was to the west. Evidently the larger
glacier was the Lubar. The position we were in gradually began to dawn
on us. In fourteen hours we had made, as the crow flies, three miles;
of course we had climbed about six thousand feet, but in front of us
lay a descent of three thousand feet, and on to the wrong side of the
range, therefore at least five miles away round the corner on the
left was the Mazeno La, 18,000 feet. We also knew that our camp, and
probably our first food, was nearly twenty miles on the other side of
the Mazeno, and to make matters worse we had only a few scraps left,
a slice of meat, some sticks of chocolate, and about half a dozen
biscuits. There was no time to admire the view, also not much view to
admire, for the customary midday mists completely hid Nanga Parbat
and all the higher peaks. As an heroic effort Mummery suggested that
it might save time to climb up from the pass on the south side, over
a peak nearly 21,000 feet, in order to drop down on to the Mazeno La;
but we soon decided that it was imprudent so late in the day to attempt
it, especially as it would most certainly involve spending the night
out at some very high altitude. We therefore rapidly descended the
easy slopes on the south side of this pass, to which, as I have said,
we gave the name of Diamirai. After running down the foot glacier, the
Lubar glacier was reached at about half-past five. Here we stopped and
rested for about an hour and a half, vainly attempting to get away from
a bitterly cold wind that was blowing up from the west. But there was
no shelter, so the lesser of two evils was chosen, namely to go on.
Slowly we crawled to the foot of the Mazeno La, and about twenty hours
after we had started on our expedition, without food, and with only
the light of our lanterns, we toiled up the slopes that would bring us
at last to the top of our second pass, 18,000 feet above sea-level.
I shall never forget how tobacco helped me through that night, as I
smoked whilst waiting on the summit, in the freezing air and the bright
starlight, for Mummery and Hastings; it almost made me feel that I was
enjoying myself; and it stayed the pangs of hunger and soothed away the
utter weariness that beset both mind and body.

During our wild nocturnal wanderings, first down the Mazeno, and
then down the Rupal glacier, where in the dim candle-light and in a
semi-conscious condition we slipped, tumbled, and fell, but always with
one dominant idea--namely, we must go on!--that pipe continued to
help me. What cared I though Hastings growled?--he does not smoke!--or
whether poor Mummery groaned aloud as he stepped into icy pools of
water. So we stumbled frantically forwards, over the vast wilderness of
stones and ice; and I remember, as we groped our way onwards, I must
have half fallen asleep, for I could not get out of my mind that there
was a hut or a small hotel on the top of the Mazeno La, and that for
our sins we had been doomed to wander for ever in this dismal and waste
land of cold and darkness, whilst rest and food were foolishly left

But daylight came at last, and, after the sun was well up in the sky,
we finally made our way off that dreadful glacier. We also had vague
hopes that perhaps after all we might be able to get something to eat
before we reached our camp, miles away near Tashing. For one of our
Kashmiri servants had been told to wait at the foot of the glacier--a
week if necessary--till we turned up. We were quite uncertain whether
he would follow our instructions, but at seven o'clock Hastings and
I found him camped under a huge rock. At once some provisions and a
kettleful of hot tea were sent back to Mummery, who was resting some
miles up the valley. At half-past ten I left Hastings and Mummery
asleep amongst the flowers in the shade under the rock, and set off
alone for the lower camp, if possible to hurry up some ponies to
fetch them down the valley. Early in the afternoon I met them with
two of the Rupal coolies: they had crossed the Nanga Parbat glacier,
no easy thing to do, but, the steep face of dried mud and boulders
about thirty feet high leading off the glacier, they could not get
up. Engineering operations at once became necessary; with my ice-axe
I cut large footsteps diagonally upwards across this steep face. But
the first pony was afraid. After some talking, one of the men led up a
wise-looking, grey pony to the bottom, and, talking to it, showed it
the staircase. It then climbed up, feeling each step carefully with its
forelegs before venturing on to it. These unshod mountain-horses are
certainly extremely clever on such kind of ground. Several years later,
when travelling in the Canadian Rocky Mountains with a whole pack of
Canadian ponies, a place not one-quarter as difficult entirely stopped
the whole outfit, although for making their way through fallen timber
and across dangerous streams these Canadian ponies are unequalled.

Between five and six that evening I arrived at our Tashing camp and
found Bruce there. He had obtained a month's leave, bringing with
him two Gurkhas--Ragobir and Goman Singh. Over our dinner we forgot
the weary tramping of the last forty hours, celebrating the occasion
by drinking all the bottles of Bass's pale ale--a priceless treasure
in these parts--that we had brought from Kashmir. Then afterwards,
when we turned into our sleeping-bags before the roaring camp-fire,
and the twilight slowly passed into the azure night, and overhead the
glistening stars were blazing in the clear sky, a worthy ceiling to
this mountain land, it was agreed unanimously that it was worth coming
many thousand miles to enjoy climbing in the Himalaya, and that those
who lived at home ingloriously at their ease knew not the joys that
were to be found amidst the ice and snows of the greatest of mountain
ranges. Never would they enjoy the keen air that sweeps across the
snow-clad heights, never would they wander homeless and supperless over
the vile wastes which surround the Mazeno La for the best part of two
nights and two days; and, last but not least, never would such joys
as the marvellous contentment born of a good dinner, after incipient
starvation, nor the delicious rest that comes as the reward after
excessive fatigue--never would joys such as these be theirs.


[H] See illustration facing page 90.



   'And this, the naked countenance of earth,
    On which I gaze, even these primæval mountains,
    Power dwells apart in their tranquillity,
    Remote, serene, and inaccessible.'

Next day Bruce and I with Ragobir and Goman Singh went for an excursion
up the Tashing glacier, in order that the two Gurkhas might have some
experience in ice-work and step-cutting. It was great fun, and although
I was perfectly unable to understand any of their conversation, Ragobir
and Goman Singh were laughing, chattering, and playing the whole time
like two children.

On July 27 the same party, with the addition of Mummery, started for a
ridge which runs south-east towards Tashing from the peak marked 22,360
feet, which we named Chongra peak, as it is at the head of the valley
of that name above Astor. We crossed the Tashing glacier, and camped
at 15,000 feet by some rocks. Next day was spent in a ridge-wander.
Our intention was to climb a rock peak overlooking the Chongra nullah;
but laziness was in the air, the day was hot, and the ridge endless.
Finally a halt was called somewhat short of the peak that we had
intended to climb, and for a long time we basked in the sun, smoked,
ate our lunch, and enjoyed the superb view of the precipices of
Nanga Parbat on the west and of the Karakoram range far away to the
northward. Out of the masses of snow-clad giants in the remote distance
to the north-east, one rose obviously higher than all its neighbours;
in shape it resembled the view of K^{2} as seen from Turmik.[I] Since
then, however, Bruce has told me that the mountain that was seen
from Turmik was probably the Mustagh tower. These two peaks would be
about one hundred miles away, and in that clear atmosphere should be
perfectly visible from our position (about 17,000 feet), for we were
high enough to see over the range on the east of the Astor valley.
We also saw across the Indus and up the Shigar valleys, and further
still the eye was directed straight up the Baltoro with no high peaks
or ranges to intercept its view. Very much nearer and more to the
north just on the other side of the Astor nullah a really magnificent
double-headed peak, the Dichil,[J] sends up a series of perfectly
impossible precipices. Its height on the map is 19,490 feet, but I am
positive this measurement must be wrong. Much later, whilst returning
from the Rakiot nullah to Dashkin, I was at a point 16,000 feet on the
ridge just opposite across the Astor valley, and seen from there it
apparently towered at least 5000 feet above me. In the Dichil nullah at
its foot the valley cannot be more than 10,000 feet, and the view of it
from this nullah must far surpass that of Ushba in grandeur.

During the day a curious haze hung over some of the precipices at the
head of the Tashing glacier just opposite to us, due to perpetual
avalanches of stones which were partly falling, partly sliding, down
the steep slopes.

We returned to camp by a different route. A steep rock ridge led
straight down from the peak we were on to the Tashing glacier below. On
this ridge we had some delightful climbing, ultimately reaching the
upper pasturages lying on the left bank of the glacier. It was a long
tramp from there home, but just as it became dark we marched into our
camp beneath the grove of willows.

The 29th was spent preparing for our start for the Diamirai nullah,
for Mummery had quite given up all idea of attempting to climb the
thousands of feet of almost perpendicular wall that ran the whole way
along the south face of Nanga Parbat. The next day we started with
a perfect caravan of coolies. Our intention was to send Goman Singh
and our servants, together with all the coolies and baggage, over the
Mazeno La by the route we had first taken, whilst we ourselves with
Ragobir should try to cross directly from the head of the Rupal nullah
to the head of the Diamirai nullah.

This time we hoped to have better luck than on our return over the
Diamirai pass. But it was with some misgiving that I started, for I
alone in my walk a week before up the Diamirai glacier had seen the
head of that nullah, and although I did not doubt that we might reach
the head of some pass from the southern side, I could not remember any
place where it would be possible for us to descend on the northern
side, and under any conditions our pass would be at least 20,000 feet,
probably more, for the route lay directly over the spur which leads
westward from the summit of Nanga Parbat to the Mazeno La. That night
we camped about four to five miles short of the Mazeno La at a height
of 13,000 feet. In the dark we started next morning up excessively
steep and broken moraine by the side of an ice-fall, thence we turned
on to the steep glacier, and after some difficulty got on to the upper
glacier, which came down from the north-east. After following this
for some distance we turned to our left up a wide couloir, and partly
on rocks and partly on snow slowly climbed upwards. By three in the
afternoon Bruce, who was not in such good condition as we were, and was
suffering from suppressed mumps (although neither he nor we knew it at
the time), began to feel tired, but under the stimulation produced by
some citrate of caffeine lozenges he went on again bravely. At last
we came out on to the ridge at the head of the couloir, and climbed
some few hundred feet up the arête, which seemed to lead to the very
summit of the peak marked 21,442 feet on the map. But the time was five
o'clock in the afternoon. The height by mercurial barometer was 20,150
feet. We had climbed over 7000 feet; but beyond feeling very tired,
which was natural, we were hardly affected by the rarefied air. Here
we stopped for some short time and had our evening meal. Bruce and I
came to the conclusion that, as we must certainly spend the night out
somewhere, a less exalted position was preferable. We selected a new
route, which would take us down to the foot of the Mazeno La, Ragobir
coming with us. Mummery and Hastings would not hear of beating a
retreat thus early, so they arranged to go on, and should they find the
ridge become too difficult further up, they would return and follow us
down, but they hoped for a full moon and the possibility of climbing on
during the night.

[Illustration: _The Mazeno Peaks from the Red Pass._]

Bruce and I did not make much progress, for our ridge soon became both
narrower and more precipitous; but finally, as the sun was setting, we
found a crack running through the arête into which a flat stone had got
jammed just large enough for three people to sit on. Here we made up
our minds to stop for the night. Roughly we were 19,000 feet, or 1000
feet higher than the Mazeno La, and about two to three miles to the
eastward of it. A stone thrown out on either side of our small perch
would have fallen many hundreds of feet before hitting anything, so we
did not take off the rope, but huddled together as best we could to
keep warm.

I could write a very long description of the wonderful orange sunset
we saw beyond the Mazeno, how the light faded out of the sky, and the
stars came out one by one as the sunset disappeared; how we tried
in vain to get into positions such that the freezing wind would not
penetrate our clothes, how Bruce and Ragobir groaned, and how we
suffered--but I will refrain. Let any one who may be curious on the
subject of a night out on a rock ridge at 19,000 feet try it; but he
must place himself in such a position that, twist and turn as he may,
he still encounters the cold, jagged rocks with every part of his body,
and though he shelter himself ever so wisely, he must feel the wind
steadily blowing beneath his shirt.

Late in the night we heard noises on the ridge above us. It was Mummery
and Hastings returning. But, although they were within speaking
distance of Bruce and myself, and I had lit a lantern to show them
where we were, they could not reach us, and finally had to select the
least uncomfortable place they could. With leaden feet the night paced
tardily on, and brilliant stars and moon that had at first shone from
the zenith gradually sank towards the west, but how slowly!--

   'Yon lily-woven cradle of the hours
    Hath floated half her shining voyage, nor yet
    Is by the current of the morn opposed.'

Would the morning never come, and with it the warm sunshine? Daylight
crept up the sky, however, at last, and as soon as they could,
Mummery and Hastings joined us. After we left them, they had climbed
some considerable distance further, but as the mists did not lift at
sundown and the other side of the range was unknown, they perforce
had to return, having nearly reached the summit of the mountain and a
height of 21,000 feet. It was a long time before we got down on to the
Mazeno glacier, but somewhere about ten o'clock we arrived on the flat
glacier. Here the party, overcome by the warmth of the sunshine and a
great drowsiness, went to sleep on some of the flat slabs of stone that
lay scattered on the ice. Personally, nothing would have given me more
pleasure than to have followed the example of the rest, but visions of
another night out on the Lubar glacier troubled me. Moreover, we had
nothing whatever to eat, the night before having seen the last of our
provisions. Ragobir and I therefore with weary feet started to cross
the Mazeno La.

Very slowly we toiled and toiled upwards through the already softened
snow; but long before we reached the summit, more than once Ragobir
had lain down on the ground exhausted. I found out later that he had
eaten nothing whatever the day before. Ultimately we got to the top and
rested awhile. Our mission was to get to Lubar, and from there send
back up the glacier milk and meat to the remainder of the expedition.
It was already midday, and here was I with a Gurkha who could hardly
crawl, and the rest of the party perhaps in a worse condition far
behind. So after a short rest, I started down from the pass on the
west side, soon leaving Ragobir behind. Then I waited for him.
Repeating these tactics he was enticed onwards again, until crossing
an ice-couloir rendered dangerous through falling stones, I walked
out on to the level glacier at the bottom to await him. Very slowly
he crawled down, and when in the centre of the couloir, although I
screamed to him to hurry, he was nearly hit by a great stone weighing
half a hundredweight that had come from two or three thousand feet
above. Although it only missed him by a few feet, he never changed his
pace; and when at last he reached me, seated on a stone, he dropped
full length on the ice, absolutely refusing to move, and groaning. He
had eaten nothing for the last forty hours.

My position was becoming serious. I could not leave the Gurkha, Lubar
was miles away down the glacier, and some of the rest of the party
might be in the same condition as Ragobir. I could think of nothing
except to smoke my pipe and wait for something to happen. Half an hour
passed, then an hour; and then, far up on the summit of the Mazeno La
a black dot appeared, and shortly afterwards two more. So I waited,
and at last the whole party was reunited. Bruce managed to revive
Ragobir, who had had over two hours' rest, and we all set off as fast
as we could for the shepherds' huts at Lubar. As the sun was setting
we arrived there, very weary, but buoyed up with the expectation of
something to eat. I shall never forget the sight that greeted my eyes
when Mummery and I, the last of the party, walked into the small
enclosure of stones where the goats and sheep were collected.

Bruce was seated on the small wall in his shirt-sleeves, superintending
the slaughter of one of the sheep. And, horrible to relate, in less
than half an hour after we entered Lubar we were all ravenously
devouring pieces of sheep's liver only half cooked on the ends of

The dirty, sour goats' milk, too, was delicious, and as far as I can
recollect, each of us drank considerably over a gallon that evening,
to wash down the fragments of toasted sheep and chappatties that we
made from some flour that had providentially remained behind our
caravan with a sick coolie. Very soon we got into a somewhat comatose
condition, and there was some sort of arrangement made, that should any
one wake in the night he should look after the fire. But next morning
when I awoke the fire was out and I was covered with hoarfrost. We had
all fallen asleep almost in the positions in which we sat in front of
the fire.

I am afraid I must apologise for this second description of the
delights of feeding after a prolonged fast. But few people have any
conception of what it feels like to be really starving and worked till
one longs to drop down anywhere--even on snow or ice. Hunger, exposure,
and exhaustion are hard taskmasters, and the relief brought by rest,
comfort, and plenty of food is a pleasure never to be forgotten. It is
certainly one of the keenest enjoyments I have ever experienced.

Next morning we started for the Diamirai camp, taking with us the
coolie and the precious flour. We preferred to strike out a new route,
keeping higher up the mountain-side and more to the right. Before long
we met some of our Kashmir servants who had come back from the Diamirai
to look for us, and, as was their most excellent custom, brought with
them as many edibles as they could. These of course were soon finished.
We left them to return by the ordinary route to the camp, whilst we
followed up the Butesharon glacier in a south-easterly direction,
reaching at its head a col about 17,000 feet.

From this pass, on that perfectly clear afternoon, an unsurpassed
panorama was spread out before us. The Indus valley lay 14,000 feet
beneath us. Beyond stretched that almost unknown land below Chilas.
A hundred miles away were the snow peaks in the Swat country, marked
on the map as 18,563 feet and 19,395 feet high, standing out distinct
against the sky, whilst much further still, a little more to the right,
rose a vast snow peak nearly flat topped, or at least a ridge of peaks,
several thousand feet higher than any others. It was probably Tirach
Mir above Chitral, 25,426 feet and 24,343 feet high.

From the summit of the Butesharon pass we descended almost straight to
the camp, which had been pitched in the old spot, where we had been ten
days before.

During the next two days, August 3 and 4, we stopped in camp, and on
the 5th Bruce left us, going back to Abbottabad _via_ the Mazeno La,
the Kamri, and Kashmir. As we heard afterwards, it was anything but
a pleasant journey, for, probably owing to the exposure during that
night on Nanga Parbat, his complaint had been aggravated, and the
glands of his neck and face had become so swollen, that when he was met
by a friend on the Kamri he was unrecognisable, and for many months
afterwards was unable to wear a collar.

The day that Bruce left, Mummery and I with the Gurkhas started to
explore the upper end of the Diamirai glacier. We camped at the head of
the valley on the last grass on the northern side. Mummery and Ragobir
started at midnight for the western face of Nanga Parbat. During the
day they managed to reach the top of the second rib of rocks that lie
directly under the summit, a height of about 17,000 to 18,000 feet. In
the meantime I went to look at the Diama glacier between the Ganalo
peak, 21,650 feet, and Nanga Parbat, taking with me Goman Singh and
our Kashmir shikari. We climbed up the ridge that comes down from the
Ganalo peak to about 17,000 feet, but unfortunately the day was cloudy,
so I was unable satisfactorily to see the whole of the Diama valley,
and ascertain what chances we should have if we were to attack Nanga
Parbat from that side. However, on returning in the afternoon, I met
Mummery on the glacier. He was delighted with his exploration, for
there was, he said, magnificent climbing, and he had found a place on
the top of the second rib of rock where a tent might be pitched.

From July 13, the day we left the Kishnganga valley, it had been
gloriously fine; but next day, August 7, the weather broke with heavy
rain. Of course all our energies now were concentrated on the ascent
of Nanga Parbat. Mummery decided that we should push provisions and
supplies up the route that he and Ragobir had prospected; and he was
confident that once beyond the rock ribs and on the upper snow-fields
with some provisions and a silk tent, it would be very hard luck indeed
should we be driven back before we reached the summit.

During August 8 and 9, Mummery, Ragobir, Lor Khan (a Chilas shikari,
who had come up from Gashut in the Bunar valley, and insisted on
stopping with us), and I spent the time in carrying a waterproof bag
of provisions and some odds and ends up the second rib of rock to a
height of 17,150 feet. Here we left it in a safe place on the rocks. We
also had considerable quantities of fuel taken up by coolies, to a camp
15,000 feet, at the bottom of the rocks under Nanga Parbat.

Mummery was not wrong when he said it was magnificent climbing. The
only climbing in the Alps I can compare it to is that on the Chamounix
Aiguilles. In many places it was similar to that on the west side of
the Aiguille du Plan from the Pèlerin glacier.

Between the first and second ribs of rock the glacier was broken up
into the wildest confusion, and it was only by passing a somewhat nasty
couloir, down which occasional ice avalanches came, that the rocks of
the second rib could be reached; thence to the top of the rib was
difficult rock climbing over great slabs and towers of rock set at a
very steep angle. I was extremely surprised that Lor Khan would go, but
he did not seem in the least frightened, and with a little help from
the rope climbed splendidly.

As we returned that night to our camp the rains descended, and we
arrived wet through; the weather was getting worse, and no serious
attempt could be made for the present on Nanga Parbat.


[I] In Drew's _Jummoo and Kashmir Territories_, p. 370, also _Alpine
Club Journal_, vol. xvii. p. 38, there is a sketch showing a mountain
supposed to be K^{2}. Drew also has drawn K^{2} in No. 3 Isometric view
of the mountains on the north-east of the Indus river. When Drew made
these sketches the existence of the Mustagh tower, which rivals K^{2}
in height, was unknown; moreover both from Turmik, and also from near
Gilgit where the Isometric view No. 3 was taken, the Mustagh tower
would be almost exactly in front of K^{2}.

[J] There is a drawing of this peak on page 119 of Sir W. M. Conway's
_Climbing in the Himalaya_.



          'Nothing that is mountainous is alien to us; we are
         addicted to all high places from Gaurisankar to
         Primrose Hill, wherever man has not forked out
         Nature. No doubt we find a particular fascination
         in the greatest and boldest inequalities of the
         earth's surface and the strange scenery of the
         ice and snow world; but we are attracted by any
         inequality, so long as it has not a railroad
         station or a restaurant on the top of it.' DOUGLAS

About this time we were beginning to run short of provisions, though
a month earlier we had ordered all sorts of luxuries--jams, Kashmir
wine, and so forth--from Srinagar, and had heard that they had been
despatched to Bandipur, to be forwarded thence by the Government
Commissariat Department. All inquiries were, however, fruitless,
but Bruce had promised that should he, on his way down country to
Abbottabad, discover their whereabouts he would hurry them on.
Eventually he found them reposing at Bandipur, so he at once packed
them on ponies and sent them to our camp in the Rupal nullah,
knowing how the Commissariat Department had to strain every nerve
to get the requisite grain supplies for the troops over the passes
to Gilgit before the bad weather set in and blocked the Burzil, and
that private baggage and supplies might wait indefinitely till such
time as it pleased the Department to find ponies to convey them to
their destination. Personally we did not wish to leave the Diamirai
nullah, but at the same time it was absolutely necessary that somehow
we should replenish our vanishing stock of food. Already two of
our Kashmir servants had been sent down into the Bunar district to
bring up whatever they were able to collect, but we could not depend
on the Chilas nullahs to yield us all we might want. This question
of provisioning our camp caused perpetual worry. Unless one has
trustworthy servants, every ten days or so one of the party has to
start off to the nearest village for supplies. This may take a week
or more, and as the period during which the big mountains are in a
condition to climb is at the best but very limited, much valuable time
will be wasted.

Bruce told me that whilst he was with Sir W. M. Conway, in the
Karakorams, all the catering was left to Rahim Ali, his servant. If
every fortnight during their stay at the head of the Baltoro glacier
they had been forced, as we were, personally to forage and seek for
dilatory servants, the climbing on Pioneer peak would have progressed
but slowly. A piece of advice which cannot be too strongly urged upon
those who go to the Himalaya is to get good servants at any cost,
not to grudge the time spent, for it will be regained afterwards a
hundredfold. The cook or khansammah ought to be the chief servant in
the camp. He ought to be responsible for everything: it is his business
to provide food, and a good cook who feeds one well, and takes the
responsibility of the endless small details of management and supply
off one's shoulders is worth five times the wages which are usually

Accordingly, after some consultation, Hastings generously agreed to
sacrifice himself and trudge back to our camp in the Rupal nullah and
thence to Astor, not only with the hope of bringing back with him all
the luxuries we had weeks before ordered from Srinagar, but also with
the intention of procuring sheep, flour, rice, and tea from Astor. At
the same time he hoped to shorten to a great extent the journey to
the Mazeno by making a new and direct pass over into the Lubar nullah
immediately south of our camp. In the meantime Mummery and I were to
stay behind in the Diamirai nullah and push provisions up the face of
Nanga Parbat as fast as we could.

Just south of our camp rose a snow peak, about 19,000 feet, which we
have called the Diamirai peak. On July 24, in crossing the pass from
the Diamirai over to the Lubar glacier, we had left it on our right. It
is not on the main ridge of Nanga Parbat, but on a side spur running
to the westward. Camped as we were at its very foot, and looking on
it as but a single day's climb, we determined to try to ascend it,
whilst we waited for the snow to clear off the rocks on Nanga Parbat.
By this time we had learned that the ascent of any peak 20,000 feet
high was a laborious undertaking. At first we had talked about the
'twenty thousanders' somewhat contemptuously, and not without reason,
for our hopes were fixed on Nanga Parbat, 26,629 feet; surely if a
mountain of that height were possible, those whose summits were 7000
feet lower ought to be simplicity itself. In fact, we imagined that, as
far as difficulty was concerned, they should stand somewhat in the same
proportion to each other as an ascent of Mont Blanc to a climb up the
Brévent from Chamounix during the springtime before all the snow has

[Illustration: _The Diamirai Peak from the Red Pass._]

Unfortunately they were not quite so easy as we should have liked; not
only did they involve an ascent from the camp of 7000 to 8000 feet, but
also a considerable amount of the climbing under a pressure of about
half an atmosphere. Then the interminable ice slopes, which in the
Nanga Parbat district are very much more common than in the Alps, meant
many hours of step-cutting, and the softened state of the snow directly
after the sun had shone on it added considerably to our labour. Besides
these drawbacks, which render the ascent of a mountain 20,000 feet high
not altogether easy, the utter confusion and wearisome monotony of the
stony and rugged hill-sides between the valley and the snow-line must
not be forgotten.

On August the 11th, we all started early in the morning by lantern
light, taking with us Ragobir and Lor Khan (as well as Goman Singh and
two coolies who were to accompany Hastings as far as Astor). We first
climbed up a small moraine coming steeply down the side of the main
valley almost to our camp from the glacier on the north-west side of
the Diamirai peak, and in about an hour and a half came to the glacier
itself. Here Hastings parted company with us, and, crossing a pass
(which he has named Goman Singh pass), to the westward of the Diamirai
peak, got safely over down to the Lubar glacier, whence by way of the
Mazeno pass he came to our camp in the Rupal nullah. Mummery and I,
accompanied by Ragobir and Lor Khan, turning slightly to the left, made
for a gully leading higher up to a snow ridge which ran upwards nearly
to the summit of the peak. At the foot of the gully we were confronted
by a small bergschrund. This we easily turned, and began scrambling up
the rocks on our left hand.

Gradually the grey dawn melted into a Himalayan sunrise. Far away over
the lower ridges we could see--

   'The ever-silent spaces of the east
    Far folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.'

Above there was very little colour, pale greens verging into oranges
and yellows, whilst below, in the shadows of the valleys, cold, dark
steel blues, clear and deep, were the predominating shades. For a
long while we watched the orange sunlight, catching first one part
of Nanga Parbat and then another, as slowly the patches widened and
spread creeping always down the mountain-side. Away to the north, on
the opposite side of the Diamirai nullah, two minor rock peaks on the
ridge were tipped with the rays of the morning sun. At the height we
had already gained there was visible over the intervening ridge all the
country above Gor on the further side of the Indus, while to the south
of Gilgit stretched away mile after mile of mountain ranges. But by
far the most striking sight was the enormous snow range beyond Gilgit
and Yasin, the extreme western end of the Mustagh or Karakoram range.
Rakipushi we could not see; it was just cut off by the western spur of
the Ganalo peak, but from a point just west of the Kilik pass almost to
the mountains above Chitral, snow summit after snow summit rose up into
the heavens clear cut and distinct in the wonderfully translucent air.

lines show our various routes.]


With this marvellous view nothing interfered, as the average height of
the peaks on this mighty barrier which divides English from Russian
territory cannot be much less than 23,000 feet, and that of the hills
which lay between us and these peaks was not more than 16,000 feet.
High above the great snow range on the horizon, a long-drawn cloud
floated like a grey bar of silver, but it did not prevent the rays of
the rising sun from covering with their golden light the whole of the
distant and lonely snow world, as yet untrodden by the foot of man. As
usual, a perfect stillness and calm in the morning air seemed to herald
a fine day, but already we had learned to mistrust these signs:--

   'Full many a glorious morning have I seene,
    Flatter the mountaine tops with soveraine eie,

           *       *       *       *       *

    Anon permit the basest cloudes to ride
    With ougly rack on his celestiall face.'

Few days were there during our stay in the Nanga Parbat region that
were clear after 10 A.M., and this morning was no exception.

The sun had risen above Nanga Parbat, and we knew well how soon the
snow would soften under its powerful rays--half an hour usually
sufficing under these conditions to thaw through the frozen outer
crust. New snow, too, had fallen in considerable quantities, so we
did not want to waste any of the valuable early hours on the lower
slopes. Fortunately about this time the morning mists began to gather
as usual, and not only prevented the snow from melting, but protected
us from the fearful glare which would have been our fate on a perfectly
cloudless day. Very narrow and steep was the snow ridge which stretched
up the mountain-side above us, but we knew, although we could not see
from where we were, that it led almost to the summit. The average
angle of the arête was a little over 40 degrees. At first Mummery was
easily able to nick out steps with the axe, but soon the crust began
to give way here and there, leaving us to struggle often knee-deep.
On our right the angle was not very steep, but on the left of the
ridge was a most forbidding ice slope. Every now and then we would
make rapid progress, finding a thinner coating of snow upon the ice,
with but one or two small crevasses to be crossed. Away on our left
was an excellent rock ridge, but we could not reach it without cutting
across the steep ice-slope. However, our arête, some distance further
up, seemed to join the rock ridge, so we pushed on quickly, in the
hope that above we should be rewarded by finding easy rocks to climb.
Before we reached this point a difficult and steep piece on the arête
had to be surmounted. If we could have traversed off to the right it
would have been easier, but the snow was in a most unstable condition;
small zigzags to the right and then back again on to the ridge were
resorted to, and ultimately we succeeded in getting up this somewhat
nasty place. Rapid progress was then made, but we found, much to our
disappointment, that the rock ridge ended where it joined the arête,
and our hopes of an easy rock climb vanished.

Finally we arrived just under the first summit of our mountain. Here
the same difficulty we had experienced down below again presented
itself, but in a worse form. The arête was much steeper, sloping
probably at an angle of about 55 to 60 degrees. Mummery tried the same
tactics as before, but soon had to confess that he dared not trust the
snow any further, for it was thoroughly sodden upon the surface of the
ice, and we might bring the whole face off at any moment. On the arête
itself the snow, where it had drifted and been frozen, lay curiously
deep, so that even at the thinnest point it did not allow of steps
being cut in the ice below. Our only chance, therefore, was to try the
ice slope on the left of the arête. Mummery led, cutting the steps
diagonally across the slope, where a thin coating of snow lay some two
or three inches deep over the hard ice underneath. As he moved slowly
upwards, I came next on the rope, and, to keep my hands employed,
passed the time in cutting the steps deeper into the ice.

The position was a sensational one--we were crossing the steepest ice
slope of any great size I had ever been on; below us it shot straight
down some 2000 feet without a break, till the angle became less in a
small snow basin. The next objects that met the eye were the stone
slopes far below in the valley, and unconsciously I began to picture to
myself the duration and the result of an involuntary glissade on such a

Lor Khan, who came behind me on the rope, seemed to be enjoying himself
immensely; of course he had never been in such a position before, but
these Chilas tribesmen are famous fellows. What Swiss peasant, whilst
making his first trial of the big snow peaks and the ice, would have
dared to follow in such a place, and that, too, with only skins soaked
through by the melting snow wrapped round his feet? Lor Khan never
hesitated for a moment; when I turned and pointed downwards he only
grinned, and looked as if he were in the habit of walking on ice slopes
every day of his life. We were soon all in a line across this ice
face, and whilst I was cutting one of Mummery's steps deeper to make
it safer for our Chilas shikari, I noticed that the rope was hanging
down in a great loop between Lor Khan and myself. At once I cried out
to him not to move again till it was absolutely tight between us, and
always to keep it so for the future. In the East we found that people
were accustomed to obey instantly without asking questions. What the
sahib said was law, at least so long as the sahib was there himself
to enforce obedience. Consequently as I moved onward the rope soon
became taut, and fortunately remained in that condition. Shortly after
this Mummery turned upwards and slightly to his right, cutting nearly
straight up the face, owing to some bad snow which barred our way. Just
as I began the ascent of this staircase I heard a startled exclamation
below. Instinctively I struck the pick of my axe deep into the ice, and
at the same moment the whole of the weight of the unfortunate Lor Khan
came on Ragobir and on me with the full force of a drop of some five
to six feet. He had slipped out of one of the steps, and hung with his
face to the glistening ice, whilst under him the thin coating of snow
peeled off the face of the slope in great and ever-widening masses,
gathering in volume as it plunged headlong down the mountain-side,
finally to disappear over the cliffs thousands of feet below. For the
time being I was fascinated by the descending avalanche, my whole mind
being occupied with but this one thought, that if Lor Khan began to
struggle and jerk at the rope I should without a doubt be pulled out of
my steps. My fears proved groundless. Although Lor Khan had lost his
footing he never lost either his head or his axe, and was just able to
reach with his hand one of the steps out of which he had fallen. After
Mummery had made himself quite firm above me I found myself, with the
help of Ragobir, who was last on the rope, just able to haul up our
Chilas shikari to a step which he had manfully cut for himself. It
was, however, a very unpleasant experience; if the fall had been ten
feet instead of six, I should never have been able to have borne the
strain, and Lor Khan would have fallen considerably more than that if
he had not been opportunely warned that he must keep the rope tight
between himself and me.

Half an hour later we got off our ice slope and stepped almost on to
the first summit. All our difficulties were over. After ploughing
through some soft snow, at about half-past eleven o'clock we were
seated on the true top of our peak, the height of which by the
barometer turned out to be 19,000 feet.

We had climbed between 6000 and 7000 feet, and Mummery had led the
whole way. The last 3000 feet had been very severe, for at first most
of the steps had to be laboriously broken, and later we had to win
our way by the use of the axe. But Mummery was perfectly fresh and
could have gone on for hours, the diminished pressure (fifteen inches
of mercury) having apparently no effect on him; neither was Ragobir
any the worse for his climb; Lor Khan and I had slight headaches, but
otherwise were quite fit for more. As we sat on the top enveloped in
mist, Mummery and I debated afresh the old question, How should we
feel if we ever ascended to 26,000 feet? Mummery reasoned that it
would chiefly depend on our state of training at the time. Had I not
been dreadfully ill at 18,000 feet crossing the Mazeno La, whilst here
we were all right at 19,000 feet? Had we not ascended our last 3000
feet with hardly a rest and at exactly the same pace as if we had been
climbing in the Alps? As it always takes two to argue, I perforce had
to try my best as the opposition. At once I discovered that my headache
was by no means a negligible quantity, and was therefore an excellent
test for abnormal altitudes. Probably also mountain-sickness was a
disease which lurked in the higher mountains and was ready at any
moment to rush on and seize its prey. Luckily for us the particular
bacillus was not just then in the surrounding atmosphere, consequently
we had not been inoculated, yet perhaps should we on some future
occasion go to 21,000 to 22,000 feet, we might be suddenly overwhelmed.
Then I quoted an article I had read somewhere about paralysis and
derangement of nerve-centres in the spinal column being the fate of all
who insist on energetic action when the barometer stands at thirteen
inches. It was no good, Mummery only laughed at me; and at this moment
the mist clearing for a short space to the southward, we were soon far
more interested with the view of the Thosho and Rupal peaks. The summit
we were on fell away on the south directly under our feet in a series
of rock precipices. We started on our homeward journey at about one
o'clock without catching a single glimpse of Nanga Parbat. The descent
of the steep ice slopes of our upward route was far too dangerous to
attempt, so we decided on a rock ridge to the westward which we hoped
would lead us down on the pass that Hastings had crossed earlier in the

Ragobir was sent to the front. He led us down the most precipitous
places with tremendous rapidity and immense enjoyment. It was all
'good' according to him, and his cheery face down below made me feel
that there could be no difficulty, till I found myself hanging down a
slab of rock with but the barest of handholds, or came to a bulging
mass of ice overhanging a steep gully, which insisted on protruding
into the middle of my stomach, with direful result to my state of

At one place where the ridge was a narrow knife edge, with precipices
on both sides, we had a splendid piece of climbing. A sharp descent
of about a hundred feet occurred on the arête which seemed at first
sight impossible. Ragobir tried first on the right hand, but, owing
to the smoothness of the rock slabs and the absence of all handholds,
was unable to get down further than twenty feet or so. Whilst I was
dangling the Gurkha on the end of the rope, Mummery discovered what
he considered to be a possible solution of the difficulty. Ragobir
was to climb about twenty-five feet down a small open chimney on the
perpendicular south face of the ridge; he then would be on the top of
a narrow flake of rock which was laid against the mountain-side in the
same manner as those on the traverse of the Aiguille de Grépon. We
could easily hold him from above whilst he edged sideways along this
narrow way. After a short time he called out that it was all right,
and I let down Lor Khan next. When I myself got on to the traverse I
was very much impressed, not that it was very difficult, thanks to the
splendid handholds, but the face was so perpendicular that without
them one could hardly have stood on the narrow top of the slab without
falling outwards. A loose stone when thrown out about twenty feet
pitched on some snow at least five hundred feet below.

I found Ragobir and Lor Khan on a small niche on the ridge which
divided the arête into two and at the top of an incipient ice gully.
With considerable difficulty I managed to squeeze on to the small
platform of rock and direct operations. Ragobir cut his way down to the
next place where he could rest; and, after carefully hitching the rope
as safely as I could, Mummery was called on to follow. It was just the
kind of place he enjoyed, but it needed some one with iron nerves to
descend the somewhat difficult chimney and then edge along the traverse
without a steadying-rope from above. After the descent of the ice gully
the climbing proved much easier. Rapid progress was made in spite of an
uncertainty as to where we were going, for everything was hidden by the
afternoon mists. Our route kept slowly bending away to the south-west,
and as Hastings's pass lay directly to the west, we hoped that another
bend to the north-west would put us straight again.

We could not leave the ridge and traverse to our right, so perforce had
to keep on descending, and when at last the mists did rise for a short
time, we found our fears amply confirmed. The pass lay about a thousand
feet above on our right, and, what was still more exasperating, the
shortest route to it necessitated a still further descent of at least
five hundred feet, followed by a traverse underneath the overhanging
end of a glacier. An extra fifteen hundred feet of climbing up
the unstable, interminable, and heart-breaking debris, which is so
common on the south faces of the Himalaya, and that, too, late in
the afternoon, was trying even to the best of tempers. I used quite
unpublishable language, and even the imperturbable Mummery was moved to
express his feelings in much more forcible language than was customary.
There are occasions when language fails, and even the pen of Rudyard
Kipling is unequal to depict the situation literally, though he does
his best. There rises before me his description of that scene in the
railway works at Jamalpur, where an apprentice is addressing, 'half
in expostulation and half in despair, a very much disorganised engine
which is sadly in need of repair.' Kipling gives us the gist of his
language, but owns that after all the youth put it 'more crisply--very
much more crisply.'

We reached the top at last, but even then we had to traverse to the
westward half a mile before beginning the descent. Once started we went
at racing speed, sometimes getting a long glissade down soft snow,
sometimes a run down small stone debris; it was rather hard on poor Lor
Khan, who was not shod for this kind of work, and was soon left far

But it was getting late, and we wished to reach the camp before dark.
Just as the sun was setting over the far-away hills in the wild,
unknown Tangir, and shining through a thin veil of an evening shower,
the tents under the Diamirai moraine were sighted; and during the
after-dinner smoke opposite a roaring fire of pine logs we went over
our day's adventures, and both agreed that we had enjoyed ourselves
hugely: and so to bed.



   'An ancient peak, in that most lonely land,
    Snow-draped and desolate, where the white-fleec'd clouds
    Like lagging sheep are wandering all astray,
    Till the shrill whistling wind, their shepherd rude,
    Drives them before him at the early dawn
    To feed upon the barren mountain tops.
    Far from the stately pines, whose branches woo
    The vagrant breeze with murmuring melody,
    Far from the yellow cornlands, far from streams
    And dewy lawns soft cradled deep below,
    Naked it stands. The cold wind's goblin prate,
    Of weird lost legends born in days of old,
    Echoes all night amongst its pinnacles;
    Whilst higher more remote a storm-swept dome
    Mocks the pale moon: there nothing living reigns
    Save one old spirit of a forgotten God.'

[Illustration: _On Nanga Parbat from Upper Camp._]

A week before this, on the same day that Bruce had left us, our cook
and our head shikari, together with some coolies, had been sent to
fetch up from the Bunar valley any provisions they could find. We knew
that if they had travelled with ordinary speed, five days was ample for
the whole journey, and they were therefore two days overdue. Moreover,
in our camp provisions for only one day remained. Our position was
annoying. Of course, as the weather had turned fine again we wished
to carry more necessaries up to the camp at the head of the Diamirai
glacier, just under Nanga Parbat; but even where we were at the base
camp, it was two days' hard travelling from the nearest village and
food. This position of affairs produced a long discussion, and finally
we agreed that we ourselves must go down to Bunar after the dilatory
servants. It was most provoking, but there was no help for it. Leaving
the camp in charge of the goat-herd from the Lubar nullah, and our
water-carrier or bhisti, Mummery and I started off with Lor Khan and
some servants for Bunar. The further we went the worse the path became,
but by skirting upwards along the hill-side, on the left of the valley,
we soon left the Diamirai glacier far below us. About this point we
met our head shikari, who had come on in front of the remainder of the
party from Bunar--at least he said so, but we could get very little
accurate information out of him. In fact, as we afterwards discovered,
he had stopped at the first village he had come to, and remained
there doing nothing, or at least nothing connected with getting us
provisions, which work he left to the cook. After enjoying himself
for three days in this manner, thinking it was time to return, and
collecting what he could, namely some grapes and apples, he came back
to us with them as a peace-offering. Whilst he had been away, however,
unfortunately for him, our other servants had explained several curious
things which we at the time did not understand. These explanations left
in our minds no doubt that this wretched Kashmir shikari had not only
been robbing us, but also all the coolies as well. We in our ignorance
thought that if the coolies were paid with our own hands, the money at
least would be safe. In the East this is by no means the case, for the
moment we were out of sight, this wily old ruffian would return to the
coolies, telling them that they had been overpaid, and that the Sahibs
commanded them instantly to give back half of the money. Our coolies
were mostly Baltis from the Astor district. These poor Baltis have
been a downtrodden race for centuries, harried by their more warlike
and courageous neighbours--the Chilasis and the robbers of Gilgit and
Hunza. So the shikari has no difficulty in making them yield to his

Mummery for some time listened to his obvious lying, but soon lost
his temper. A coolie anxious to go to his home in the Rupal nullah
here served our purpose. The shikari was told to return to the Rupal
nullah with him, and at the same time we gave him a letter to Hastings.
In that letter, which he could not read, we explained the situation,
and instructed Hastings to pay the shikari off and send him about his

The route we were following soon turned away to the left, leaving the
Diamirai nullah on the right. It was afterwards that we found out the
reason for this. It seems to be impossible to descend or ascend this
portion of the Diamirai nullah direct. The valley narrows in below the
bottom of the glacier, and finally becomes a deep gorge with cliffs
thousands of feet high on either side. Our change in direction soon
showed us that we should have to cross the tributary Lubar nullah.
This meant that we had to climb down a very steep rocky face of about
3000 feet. At about four in the afternoon we arrived at the bottom,
finding an impassable glacier torrent thundering over great boulders
and swollen by the melted snows of the morning. Walls of rock barred
our way either up or down the stream, but Lor Khan said we were at
the ford. In vain we tried to place pine trunks across--they were
swept away one by one. It was a fine sight to see Lor Khan, stripped
to the waist, struggling in the icy water with the great pine stems,
a magnificent specimen of fearlessness, muscle, and activity.
Fortunately we had insisted on roping him, for once he was carried off
his feet and had to be brought back to land half drowned but laughing.
It soon became perfectly evident that we could not cross till early
next morning, when the frost on the glaciers above would have frozen
up the sources of this turbulent stream. As we were wondering where
we could possibly find room to lie down for the night, high above us
on the opposite bank a stone came bounding down a precipitous gully.
Who had started it? Some goat or other wild animal; or was it our cook
returning with provisions? Shouting was useless, for the roar of the
torrent drowned every noise. Five minutes passed, then ten, finally a
quarter of an hour, but we were not destined to be disappointed; at
last, more than five hundred feet up the gully opposite, we saw our
cook with all the coolies.

After they had descended, a rope was thrown across to them, and we
succeeded by its aid in hauling a slippery pine trunk into position
behind two large stones. Over this we crossed and camped on a narrow
spit of level ground underneath the perpendicular walls of rock:
chickens, sugar, eggs, three maunds of flour, and four sheep were
amongst the spoils brought up by our cook from Bunar. That evening we
ate our meal by the ruddy light of a great camp fire, with the roar
of the torrent making it almost impossible to hear our voices, and
underneath some gnarled and stunted pines, whose roots were firmly
imbedded in the great fissures that ran up the perpendicular rock
face. As the question of provisions had been settled for some time, we
returned much relieved in our minds to the Diamirai nullah.

The next day, August 14th, it again rained hard nearly all day. At 2
A.M. on the 15th we started once more for the upper camp. We took with
us Ragobir, Lor Khan, and a Chilasi coolie, whom I had called Richard
the Third, from his likeness to the usual portraits of that monarch.
More firewood and provisions and a silk tent were taken up to this
camp at the head of the glacier. Two rucksacks had already been left
high up on the rocks on the 9th. It was now Mummery's intention to
take some more odds and ends up to where they were, and if possible
push on with about a third of the provisions to about 20,000 feet, and
leave them there for the final attempt. This necessitated sleeping on
the top of the second rib of rocks. By the time I had arrived at the
upper camp underneath Nanga Parbat I began to develop a headache, and,
being otherwise ill as well, I had reluctantly to give up any idea
of climbing further. Mummery, Ragobir, and Lor Khan went on, whilst I
spent most of the morning watching them climb like flies up the almost
perpendicular rib of rocks above me.

[Illustration: _Nanga Parbat from the Diamirai Glacier._]

But I had to get home that night, and also get the coolie home as well.
This was no easy matter, for there were some steep ice slopes, with
steps cut in them, and crevasses at the bottom, which so frightened
poor Richard the Third, that for a long time I could not induce him
even to try. In fact, ultimately I had to threaten him violently with
my ice-axe. Whether he thought that it was a choice of death by cold
steel above, or cold ice below in the crevasse, I don't know, but
he chose the latter, and was much surprised to find that he was not
going to be sacrificed after all. Then, before we got home it began
to rain heavily, the mists came down, everything becoming dull and
dreary, the wind sighed sorrowfully up and down the valley, and I was
sorry for Mummery on the inhospitable slopes of the great mountain.
Mummery spent the night on the top of the second rib of rocks, and
next day he climbed about a thousand feet up the third rib, where he
left a rucksack with food. The climb was carried out almost entirely
in mist; in fact, in the afternoon down at the camp the mist and rain
made things thoroughly uncomfortable. I was beginning to get anxious
about Mummery, for he did not come back by sunset, and the night
promised to be one of drenching rain. But later, in the dark, he
marched back into camp, entirely wet through, but far more cheerful
than the circumstances warranted, and very pleased with the climbing.
His account of the ice world on Nanga Parbat was wonderful. Nowhere in
the Caucasus had he seen anything to compare with it. Avalanches had
fallen down thousands of feet, set at an angle of over 60 degrees, that
would have almost swept away towns. The crevasses were enormous, and
the rock-climbing, although difficult, was set at such a steep angle
that no time would be lost in making height towards the upper glacier
underneath the final peak. If only the weather would clear, Mummery
was sure that we could get on to this upper glacier. But the weather
sulked and was against us, it rained nearly all the next day, finishing
up with a tremendous thunderstorm. In hope that fine weather would now
set in, we turned into our tents for the night. About midnight, gusts
of cold wind began to moan amongst the stunted pines that surrounded
our tents; then, gathering in force, this demon of the mountains howled
round our tents, and snow came down in driven sheets. The anger of
the spirits that inhabited the mountains had been roused, we were
being informed of what awaited us, should we persist in our impious
endeavours to penetrate into the sanctuaries above.

Many times in the pitch darkness of the night I thought the small
Mummery tent I was in would be simply torn in pieces, but towards
daylight the hurricane gradually died away, and by nine o'clock the
sun came out. The scene, when I emerged from the tent, I shall never
forget. Bright sunshine and dazzling white snow--but where were all
the groves of rhododendron bushes, from four to five feet high, that
yesterday had surrounded our camp? Loaded with the snow, they had been
beaten flat, and lay there plastered and stuck tight to the ground, by
the ice and snow of the blizzard of the night before.

But under the double action of the sun's heat and the rapid evaporation
that takes place when the barometer stands only at about sixteen
inches, the snow, which was over six inches deep, soon melted, and by
the afternoon had all disappeared from around our camp. On the morrow a
cloudless sky and a northerly wind changed the whole aspect of affairs.

[Illustration: Diama Glacier.

Summit (26,629 feet)

Nanga Parbat Pass.

    A--Upper Camp at the base of Nanga Parbat.
    B--First rib of rocks.
    C--Second rib of rocks.
    D--Sleeping-place on the top of the second rib of rocks.
    E--Third rib of rocks.
    F--Mr. A. F. Mummery's highest point (over 20,000 feet).
    G--The foot of the Diama Glacier.
    H--The Diamirai Glacier.
  The dotted line shows route taken.]

We had a long consultation, Mummery arguing that we ought to start for
Nanga Parbat at once, and make an attempt to reach the summit. His only
fear was that Hastings would feel that we were not treating him fairly
by starting before he had returned from Astor and could join us in the
climb. But the weather had been changeable, and the Chilas coolies with
us were predicting that when the next snowstorm came, it would be worse
than the last, and the snow would not clear away so quickly. There
seemed great probability in their predictions. At any rate, with the
cold north wind the good weather would last, but we ought to make use
of that good weather at once.

So, hoping that Hastings would forgive us, we started on the final
attempt to reach the summit of Nanga Parbat.

Our position was as follows:--We had plenty of provisions and firewood
at the camp at the head of the glacier, a tent and more provisions with
some spirits and a boiling tin on the top of the second ridge of rocks,
and a last rucksack with more edibles half way up the third rib of rock.

On the evening of the 18th, Mummery, Ragobir, and I slept at the camp
at the head of the glacier (15,000 feet), but next morning they went on
alone, for the coarse food of the previous three weeks had not agreed
with me: flour that is largely composed of grindstone is apt to upset
one's digestion. Again I sat for a whole morning watching them crawl
slowly up that second rib of rock. Once they were hidden from my sight
in a huge cloud of snow dust, the fringe of one of those tremendous
avalanches that I have only seen in the Himalaya. At last, becoming too
small to follow with the eye, they disappeared from my sight.

That night I was again back in the base camp. There I found a note from
Hastings that had been sent on ahead from the Lubar nullah with the
goat-herd and a coolie; and the next day Hastings himself arrived with
large quantities of provisions. He had been as far as Astor, and said
that without the invaluable help of Goman Singh he would never have got
the coolies back over the Mazeno La.

Late that night Mummery and Ragobir came into camp. They had passed the
second night on the summit of the second rib of rocks. Next morning,
starting before daylight, they had pushed on up the final rib towards
the upper snow-field. The climbing, Mummery admitted, was excessively
difficult, but the higher he went the easier it became. Finally, at a
height of over 20,000 feet, for he could see over the Nanga Parbat col
on his right, Ragobir turned ill: it was therefore folly to attempt to
spend another night on the mountain at that height. Reluctantly he had
to return; and his disappointment was great, for, as he said, most of
the difficulties had been overcome below the upper snow-field, and he
was confident that had he reached these upper snows and been able to
spend another night on the mountain, he might have reached the summit
on the following day.

Thus ended the only attempt Mummery made to reach the summit of Nanga

I shall always look upon it as one of his finest climbs. Part of it I
know from personal experience, and from Mummery's description of the
upper half, there must have been some magnificent climbing, surrounded
by an ice world such as can be seen nowhere except on peaks with at
least 15,000 feet of snow on them. But it was on too large a scale for
ordinary mortals, and the difficulties began just above the camp, at
the head of the glacier, 12,000 feet below the summit of the mountain.
Although the last 6000 feet of the mountain does not look as if it
would present much difficulty or danger, yet above 20,000 feet one
would necessarily make height very slowly, and much step-cutting would
be almost impossible at that height.

The following two days were spent in discussing what we should do next;
for Mummery had very sorrowfully come to the conclusion that his route
up Nanga Parbat from the Diamirai glacier must be abandoned.

Ultimately it was agreed that, owing to all the recent snowfalls,
a purely snow route was the only one that would give any chance of
success. Our last chance lay in finding such a route; in the Rakiot
nullah, there perhaps Nanga Parbat might be less precipitous. So
thither we determined to go.

When Mummery and Ragobir had come down from the mountain, they did
not bring with them the rucksacks from the top of the second rib of
rocks. These were too valuable to leave behind. Mummery, disliking the
interminable scrambling over loose stones which he would have to endure
should he come with the coolies, suggested that the two Gurkhas should
be sent early on the 23rd up the glacier to fetch the rucksacks down
to the camp at the head of the Diamirai glacier. Here later in the day
Mummery should join them, and from this point he could go up the Diama
glacier which lay between Nanga Parbat and the Ganalo peak, 21,650
feet high. A snow pass (Diama pass) would then separate them from the
Rakiot nullah. He left us on the 23rd, and took with him Lor Khan, and
Rosamir, our head coolie, to carry some extra provisions up to the
higher camp. That evening they were joined by Ragobir and Goman Singh,
who had successfully brought down the rucksacks.


The arrow shows the route taken by Mr. A. F. MUMMERY on 24th August.

Diama Pass. Nanga Parbat.]

Next morning, the 24th August, Lor Khan and Rosamir, having seen them
start off up the Diama valley to the east, returned down the Diamirai
valley and joined us later. Mummery, Ragobir, and Goman Singh were
never seen again.



   'For some ...
    Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
    And one by one crept silently to rest.'
                _Rubáiyát of_ OMAR KHAYYÁM.

Our route with the coolies was to skirt along the lower slopes of Nanga
Parbat as near the snow line as possible. This would lead us first
into the Ganalo nullah, and thence to the Rakiot nullah. There we had
arranged to meet Mummery by the side of the glacier. Having crossed
the Diamirai glacier, we went straight up the opposite side of the
valley for a pass on the ridge south-east of a pointed rock peak at
the head of the Gonar nullah. This peak we have named the Gonar peak,
and the pass the Red pass (about 16,000 feet). From this pass a superb
view of the head of the Diamirai nullah was obtained, whilst to the
south and south-west a beautifully shaped snow mountain, beyond the
Lubar glacier, probably the Thosho peak, shone in the sunlight over
the Goman Singh pass. To the east we saw for the first time the great
Chongra peaks on the north-east of Nanga Parbat. On the north side of
our pass snow slopes stretched down some hundreds of feet to a small
glacier. Some of the coolies tried an impromptu glissade here, and
seemed rather pleased at the result; but it was a dangerous experiment,
for various rocks and stones awaited their arrival at the bottom. At
last in the dark after much trouble we managed to get down far enough
to collect wood for our camp fires, and put up our tent by the side of
a small stream.

Next day it was found necessary to climb up again at least 1000 feet
before descending about 2500 feet on to the snout of the Ganalo
glacier. This we crossed on the ice. On the far bank most luxuriant
vegetation covered the hill-side, and for a long time we climbed
rapidly upwards through woods of pines, birches, and other trees till
the rhododendrons were reached late in the afternoon. Still we pushed
on, hoping to get over into the Rakiot nullah, for perhaps Mummery
would be there awaiting tents and food. But the coolies were dead beat;
therefore, when we were still more than 1000 feet below the col, we
were forced to camp beyond the limit of the brushwood in an open grass

Next day we went over the pass, about 16,500 feet, into the Rakiot
nullah. From the summit a splendid view of the Rakiot glacier and
the northern side of Nanga Parbat could be seen. Never have I seen a
glacier that presented such a sea of stormy ruin; the waste of frozen
billows stretched ever upwards towards the ice-slopes that guarded
the topmost towers of the great mountain. Thunder and rain welcomed
us, and amidst dripping trees and cold mist our camp was pitched on
the true left bank of the glacier. From the top of the last pass we
had come over we could see the great face down which Mummery and the
Gurkhas would have had to come had they reached the Diama pass. It
seemed to us quite hopeless. I spent about half an hour looking through
a powerful telescope for any traces of steps cut down the only ridge
that looked at all feasible. I could see none. Hastings and I were
therefore of the opinion that Mummery had turned back. This he had told
us he intended to do should he find the pass either dangerous or very
difficult, for, as he pointed out, he was not going to risk anything on
an ordinary pass. Moreover, he had expressly taken sufficient food with
him, leaving it at the upper camp, so that should he have to return
and follow our footsteps he would have enough to last him for three
days. In the Rakiot nullah we could find no traces of him. Lor Khan and
Rosamir were at once sent back into the Ganalo nullah to meet Mummery
with extra food, Hastings and I in the meantime exploring some distance
up the valley. The day was more or less wet, with the mists lying low
down on the mountains. It cleared, however, in the evening. The next
two days were also wet and disagreeable. We were beginning to get
anxious, and when on the 29th Lor Khan and the coolie returned, having
seen nothing of Mummery, something had to be done.

[Illustration: _The Diama Pass from the Rakiot Nullah._]

We imagined that when the pass had proved to be too difficult, Mummery
had turned back to the high camp where the food had been left. From
there he would follow our route, but as the weather had been wretched,
with mist lying over all the hills, perhaps he had missed his way. Or
perhaps he might have sprained an ankle and be still in the Diamirai
nullah. It was therefore agreed that Hastings should return towards
the Diamirai nullah, and as my time was nearly at an end, if I wished
to get back to England by the end of September, I should make my way
to Astor as quickly as I could. Once there, I could wait a few days,
and Hastings promised that as soon as possible he would send a coolie
down to the nearest spot on the Gilgit-Chilas road, where there was a
telegraph-station, and telegraph the news to me at Astor.

Thus we parted company, Hastings returning along our old route to the
Diamirai, whilst I with a coolie and the cook set off for Astor.

About a mile down the valley we were met by some of the wild folk from
Gor, a village on the opposite side of the Indus. These inhabitants
of Gor have a somewhat evil reputation. Not many years before, an
officer out shooting in one of their nullahs was nearly murdered. They
did succeed in killing his shikari who was with him, but he himself
escaped owing to the lucky appearance of some soldiers from Gilgit who
were going down the valley of the Indus towards Chilas. Bruce also had
some experience of these turbulent tribesmen when stopping at Darang,
on the banks of the Indus below Gor; for whilst partridge-shooting in
the hill-sides the beaters had to be armed with rifles, and played
the double _rôle_ of protecting Bruce and driving the game. The Gor
shepherds that I met were, I believe, the only ones on the south side
of the Indus. Owing to the rich pasturage in the Rakiot nullah, they
kept sheep and goats there. I must say they treated me very well, and
two of them accompanied me for a couple of days, carrying the rucksacks
and showing us the way.

[Illustration: _The Chongra Peaks from the Red Pass._]

The first night we slept in an old and disused shepherd's encampment
high up, just at the limits of the pines. Next day we had to descend by
most precipitous slopes to the bottom of the Buldar nullah. Our second
night was spent high up on the eastern slopes of the nullah and short
of the pass which was called the Liskom pass by the natives.

On the next day we crossed this pass (about 16,000 feet). The view of
the Chongra peaks from here is most striking, backed as it is by the
great upper snow-field of the Rakiot glacier and Nanga Parbat behind.
Just across the Astor valley to the east rises the Dichil peak, a
terrific, double-headed rock pinnacle that is certainly over 20,000
feet high.

These obliging Gor shepherds had accompanied us thus far, but no
amount of persuasion could induce them to go one step further. At
last, becoming frightened, they put the bags down on the snow and fled
down the hill-side back to the Buldar nullah, and I was unable to give
them anything for all their kindness. That afternoon, 1st September,
I reached Dashkin on the Gilgit road, and was back again in civilised
country. From there I made my way to Astor.

It was on the 5th of September that I received a telegram from
Hastings. He had returned to the Diamirai nullah without finding
Mummery. The camp there was just as we had left it. Next day, 1st
September, he made his way up the glacier to the high camp under Nanga
Parbat with Rosamir and Lor Khan; there he found the extra provisions
and some other things exactly as they had been placed by Mummery on the
morning of the 24th There was only one conclusion to draw--Mummery,
Ragobir, and Goman Singh had been killed somewhere up the glacier that
lies between the Ganalo peak and Nanga Parbat. For there was absolutely
no way out, except the way they had gone in. The Diama pass over to
the Rakiot nullah we knew to be impossible on the eastern face, on the
south lay Nanga Parbat, whilst on the north was the Ganalo peak, 21,500
feet high. If, therefore, they never returned for the provisions, some
catastrophe must have overtaken them during their attempt to climb over
the pass.

From what I have seen of the valley, an avalanche falling from the
north face of Nanga Parbat seems the most probable explanation; but in
that vast ice world the hidden dangers are so many that any suggestion
must necessarily be the merest guessing, and what happened we shall
never know.

For Hastings to attempt to explore this glacier alone would have been
a most hazardous and hopeless task. He had no one with him on whom he
could rely, and the area to be explored was also far too large. His
only alternative therefore was to go at once with the greatest speed
possible to the nearest post where he knew an Englishman was, namely at
Chilas. This he did, but it was not till the 5th of September that he
reached Jiliper on the Indus and was able to telegraph to me at Astor.

In the meantime the villagers in the Bunar nullah had been ordered by
the officer in command at Chilas to explore all the valleys round the
Diamirai, and on the receipt of the telegram at Astor, Captain Stewart,
the head political officer of the Gilgit district, sent word to the
people in the Rupal nullah to do the same as far as the Mazeno La. I
felt, however, that there was no help and no hope. Out of that valley
up which Mummery had gone there was but one way: that was the one by
which he had entered it; he had not returned, the provisions were
untouched. It was a dreadful ending to our expedition. The mountains
amongst which we had spent so many pleasant days together no longer
were the same. The sunshine and the beauty were gone; savage, cruel,
and inhospitable the black pinnacles of the ridges and the overhanging
glaciers of cold ice filled my mind with only one thought. I could not
stop at Astor. Moreover, by descending the valley I should at least
meet Hastings sooner, for he was returning by forced marches to join
me at Astor. On the 6th September we met at Doian. Beyond what he had
already told me in his telegram there was nothing.

Together we returned to Astor to arrange our future movements. There
we agreed that it was necessary to return to the Diamirai nullah at
once, and together explore the upper part of the valley beyond the high
camp. Provisions and ponies were hastily got, and after having arranged
with Captain Stewart for as much help as possible, we started for the
Diamirai by way of the Indus valley and the Bunar nullah.

The first day's march down the Astor valley brought us to Doian. There
we were hospitably received by the officers of the Pioneer regiment,
who, earlier in the year under Colonel Kelly, had marched over the
Shandur pass to the relief of Chitral.

Below Doian the road descends rapidly by zigzags towards the Astor
stream: soon all vegetation is left behind, and one enters a parched
and barren land. The valley is hemmed in by precipitous cliffs on both
sides, and the road in many places has been hewn and blasted out of
the solid rock. Bones of horses strew the wayside, and occasionally a
vulture will sail by. The heat becomes oppressive, and the glare from
the hill-sides down which no water runs suggests a mountainous country
in the Sahara.

Before this road was built, the old path led over the summit of the
Hatu Pir, and the traveller now misses a marvellous view of Haramosh,
Rakipushi, and the Indus valley by plunging down into this bare,
desolate nullah, shut in on all sides by precipitous hills.

The small post of Ramghat, or Shaitan Nara, where this road finally
emerges from the Astor nullah into the great valley of the Indus, is
merely a post for guarding the suspension-bridge across the Astor
stream. Here are stationed some Kashmir troops, and here it is that the
roads to Chilas and Gilgit separate.

The Chilas road follows down the Indus on the left bank, through a
country which probably has no equal in the world. How this astounding
valley was formed it is difficult to say; but the valley is there, and
a wilder, grander, more desolate, and more colossal rift cannot occur
elsewhere on the earth's surface.

                            'Is this the scene
    Where the old Earthquake-dæmon taught her young

From the summit of Nanga Parbat to the waters of the Indus below is in
depth nearly 24,000 feet. On the opposite side, the naked hill-sides
rising in precipice after precipice are entirely barren of all
vegetation. Waterworn into innumerable gullies and rock towers, they
present a melancholy and arid appearance; and, although their summits
are 12,000 feet above the Indus, they do not form a north side to this
gorge in any way comparable with that on the south. The floor of the
valley is filled with the debris of countless Himalayan deluges, yet
the Indus looks like a small and dirty stream. To appreciate in any
way the gigantic scale of the whole is quite impossible. What is the
depth of that stealthily flowing flood and the measure of its waters,
who can say? For it is more than six hundred miles from its source,
and its tributaries sometimes are almost as big as itself. From the
borders of Swat and Chitral, from the Darkot pass, from the Kilik
beyond Hunza, and from the Hispar pass, the waters collect to form the
Gilgit river, one only of the many tributaries of the Indus. This tract
of the Mustagh range is nearly two hundred miles long by eighty broad.
The Shigar river drains the waters from the Mustagh range and K^{2},
perhaps the greatest accumulation of ice and snow that exists outside
the arctic regions. The Nubra and Shayok rivers collect their waters
from a yet larger area. But still east of all these tributaries, the
Indus itself rises three hundred miles away in those unknown lands of
Tibet behind the Himalaya and near the source of that mysterious river
of eastern India, the Bramaputra. Yet all these collected waters are
penned into this apparently slow flowing and narrow river, as with
silent but stealthy haste it twists and turns through the gigantic
chasm at the base of Nanga Parbat. Once, not many years ago, in
December 1840, into the upper end of this gorge the side of the Hatu
Pir fell, forming a dam probably over 1000 feet high.[K] A lake was
formed behind it for miles. The water rose to the level of Bunji fort,
300 feet above the river below, and up the Gilgit valley this lake,
newly formed, reached nearly to Gilgit itself. For six months the
waters were held back till, topping the vast accumulation, they burst
the dam, 'and rushed in dark tumult thundering.' The lake is said to
have emptied in one day. A small remnant of the barrier can still be
seen near Lechre on the Chilas road.

The heat in this valley is so great after eleven o'clock in the day,
that it is impossible to travel, and makes it necessary to seek what
shade there may be till the sun has sunk low in the sky. The naked
rocks glisten and tremble in the heat, the staring colours of the
parched hill-sides, and the intense glare of the sun in this desert
land, are in curious contrast to the shady valleys that lie thousands
of feet up, hidden away in the recesses of the great mountain. But it
is after the evening shadows have one by one lengthened, after the last
glow of the hot orange sunset has at last faded out of the sky, and
from out the darkness the rising moon lights up this deserted landscape
with mysterious shadows and perplexing distances, that the whole scene
becomes totally beyond description. The intricacy of form shown by the
silent mountains seem to be some magnificent and great imagination from
the mind of a Turner. The white moonlight, and the grotesque black
shadows and leering pinnacles piercing the starlit sky, can only belong
to a land dreamt of by a Gustave Doré as a fitting illustration to the
Wandering Jew, and only be described by Shelley:--

                            'At midnight
    The moon arose: and lo! the ethereal cliffs
    Of Caucasus, whose icy summits shone
    Among the stars like sunlight, and around
    Whose caverned base the whirlpools and the waves
    Bursting and eddying irresistibly
    Rage and resound for ever.'

But without doubt the dominant sensation in this strange land is that
of fear and abhorrence; and what makes it all the more appalling is
that this thing before one is there in all its nakedness; it has no
reserve, there is nothing hidden. Its rugged insolence, its brutal
savagery, and its utter disregard of all the puny efforts of man,
crushes out of the mind any idea that this spot belongs to an ordinary

Whether in the day or the night it is the same. During the stifling
hours of noon the valley sleeps in the scorching sunlight, but there,
always there, is that monstrous flood below, slowly, ceaselessly
moving. Occasionally the waters will send up an angry and deep-tongued
murmur, when some huge eddy, rising to the surface, breaks, and belches
out the waters that have come from the lowest depths.

At night in the stillness and the heat, as one lies unable to sleep,
imagination runs riot; from out the inky shadows that seam the
hill-sides in the pale moonlight, dragons and great creeping monsters
seemingly appear crawling slowly down to drink at the ebon flood
beneath. And imagination easily in restless dreams becomes reality,
thus adding tenfold to the already accumulated horrors. But at last in
the darkness--

    'Before the phantom of false morning dies'--

suddenly a breath of cold air, as from heaven, descends like a splash
of cool water. It has wandered down from the upper snows. Then a few
moments later comes another; and, tired out, real sleep claims one at

Later, when one awakes, the morning sun has risen, sending his
light slanting across the hill-sides with a promise that before he
sets we may be delivered from the bottom of this singular abyss.
No description, however, can possibly give an adequate idea of the
immensity, the loneliness, and the feeling of the insignificance of
human affairs that is produced by this valley of the Indus below

It was not till the 13th that we reached Bunar Post, a small station
for troops at the bottom of the Bunar nullah. Here we were met by
Captain de Vismes, who was in command of the Chilas district. He had
most kindly come from Chilas to help us with coolies up the Bunar
nullah, and from there to the Diamirai nullah. From Bunar Post to our
destination it took no less than three days' hard travelling; for as
I have already pointed out, it is not possible to go straight up the
valley. If we had been able to travel direct, it meant an ascent of
some 9000 feet, but by the only possible route that existed, nearly
double that height had to be climbed before we finally, on the 16th,
found ourselves once more in the Diamirai nullah. What a change,
however, met our gaze! The great masses of wild rose-trees that had
welcomed us on our first visit were bare even of leaves. The willow
groves now lifted gaunt, leafless branches into the chill air, and
sighed mournfully when the cold wind shook them, and the rhododendrons
were powdered with snow. Winter had set in, as the Chilas herdsmen had
warned us it would, only a month before; and the contrast was all the
more marked when compared with the temperature of nearly 100° in the
shade, which existed a few miles away by the Indus.

Hastings and I soon saw that any attempt at exploration amongst the
higher glaciers was out of the question. We went up the glacier as
far as half-way to the old upper camp where the provisions had been
found untouched, but even there it was wading through snow nearly a
foot deep; ultimately we climbed through heavy powdery snow, perhaps
500 feet up the south side of the valley, to obtain a last look at the
valley in which Mummery, Ragobir, and Goman Singh had perished. The
avalanches were thundering down the face of Nanga Parbat, filling the
air with their dust; and if nothing else had made it impossible to
penetrate into the fastnesses of this cold, cheerless, and snow-covered
mountain-land, they at least spoke with no uncertain voice, and bade us
be gone. Slowly we descended, and for the last time looked on the great
mountain and the white snows where in some unknown spot our friends lay

But although Mummery is no longer with us, though to those who knew him
the loss is irreparable, though he never can lead and cheer us on up
the 'gaunt, bare slabs, the square, precipitous steps in the ridge, and
the bulging ice of the gully,' yet his memory will remain--he will not
be forgotten. The pitiless mountains have claimed him--and--amongst the
snow-laden glaciers of the mighty hills he rests. 'The curves of the
wind-moulded cornice, the delicate undulations of the fissured snow,'
cover him, whilst the 'grim precipices, the great brown rocks bending
down into immeasurable space,' and the snow-peaks he loved so well,
keep watch, and guard over the spot where he lies.


[K] See note, p. 305.


   'A land of streams! some, like a downward smoke,
    Slow-dropping veils of thinnest lawn, did go:

           *       *       *       *       *

    They saw the gleaming river seaward flow
    From the inner land: far off, three mountain-tops,
    Three silent pinnacles of aged snow,
    Stood sunset-flushed.'
                                   _The Lotus-Eaters._

Far away in the west of North America, west of the Great Lakes, west
of Lake Winnipeg, west of the endless prairie, lies a 'Great Lone
Land': a land almost bare of inhabitants, a land deserted, if we except
a few prospectors, trappers, and wandering Indians who spend their
time amongst the mountain fastnesses, either hunting wild animals or
searching for gold and minerals.

Looking at a map of North America, one sees how a vast range of
mountains stretches from far south in the United States to Alaska,
more than two thousand miles away. This backbone of a continent in
reality is made up of a series of ranges, running parallel with one
another. In Canada there are, roughly, only two: the Rocky Mountains
to the east, and the Cascade range to the west, forming the shore of
the Pacific Ocean. In breadth about five hundred miles, in length over
fifteen hundred, if one includes the continuation of the Cascade range
into Alaska, where are situated the highest mountains in North America:
Mount St. Elias, 18,090 feet, Mount Logan, 19,539 feet, and Mount
M'Kinley (at the head waters of the Shushitna river), 20,874 feet.
Much of this country still has 'unexplored' printed large across it,
and until a few years ago, when a trans-continental railway connected
the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean, parts of the western portion of
the Dominion of Canada, stretching as it does for thousands of miles,
covered with dense forests, watered by unnumbered rivers, was as
difficult of access as Siberia.

The magnitude of the Dominion, even at the present day, is hard to
realise. It can only be appreciated by those who have travelled through
its mighty woods, over its vast lakes and prairies, and explored the
fastnesses of those lonely canyons of the West. Halifax, in Nova
Scotia, is nearer to Bristol than to Vancouver on the Pacific coast,
and Klondike is further north of Vancouver than Iceland is of London.
Since, however, the Canadian-Pacific Railway has bridged the continent,
these mountain solitudes of the Far West are much more accessible
to the ordinary traveller, and the wild, secluded valleys of the
Canadian Rocky Mountains are becoming more frequented by sportsmen and
mountaineers. It does not need a prophet to foretell their future. A
land where the dark green valleys are filled with primeval forest,
where the pine, spruce, and fir, poplars, white maple, and cedar,
vie with each other in adding colour to the landscape and beauty to
the innumerable rivers, lakes, and streams: a land where endless
snow-clad mountains send up their summits into the clear air from
great glaciers below, where ridges of crags, pinnacles of rock, and
broken mountain-side, catch sometimes the glow of the early dawn or the
sunset, or at others bask in the glare of the midday heat, changing
their colour perpetually from grey to crimson, from gold to purple,
whilst below always lie the mysterious dark pine woods, filled with
scents of the trees, and the noise of the wind as it sighs amongst
the upper branches: such a land can only be employed by man for one
purpose, it must become a playground where the tired people can make

It must become the Switzerland of North America, and, like Switzerland,
no doubt, some day will be completely overrun; at present, however, the
valleys are unspoilt; wild, beautiful, untouched and unscarred by the
hand of man. Fortunately the Canadian Rocky Mountains never can be the
centre of any great manufacturing district; and as they are in extent
vastly greater than the Alps, for a very long time to come they will
remain the hunting ground for those who care to spend their spare time
in breathing pure air, and in living amidst splendid scenery.

At the present time the exploration of these mountains is going rapidly
forward, at least in those portions near where the Canadian-Pacific
Railway passes through them; and the mountaineer of to-day is offered
great opportunities. For should he climb to the summit of any peak,
even near the railway, high enough to give an extensive view, by
far the greater number of the mountains and peaks that can be seen
stretching in every direction, as far as the eye can see to the
horizon, are as yet untrodden by human feet.

The approach also to this splendid range is exceptionally fine. From
the east, as the traveller leaves Winnipeg and enters on the prairie,
till he reaches the foot of the mountains at Morley, nearly nine
hundred miles away, the broad endless spread of the open country is
seen. On many this apparently desolate, never-ending expanse of rolling
grassland produces a sensation of weariness. But it is like the open
sea in its size, and, like the ocean, has a charm that ordinary
country does not possess. Its very immensity gives a mystery to it:
sometimes the air is clear as crystal, and the white clouds on the
horizon seem to be touching some far-distant fold of the landscape; at
others the plain dances in the heat, and great mirage lakes can be seen
covering the middle distances; again, thunderstorms pass along the sky,
whose piled masses of cumuli clouds send down ribbons of fire, often
causing fires that sweep for miles over the open grassland. At early
dawn and sunset, however, are produced the great scenic effects of the
prairie, and to look down the sky from the zenith to the setting sun,
a great red ball just disappearing below the horizon, and count the
colours that light up the islands, bays, promontories, and continents
of that marvellous cloudland, makes one forget that one is in a railway
train, or has anything to do with everyday life; it is like actually
seeing for the first time some fairyland that one has read of in one's
childhood. Afterwards, when the full moon comes out, the distances
seem almost greater, and one can lie comfortably in bed and gaze at
the landscape sliding swiftly by, comparing the ease and rapidity of
modern travel, which does hundreds of miles in one night, with that of
the pioneers who first traversed these endless plains a century or more

Near a station called Gleichen, the Rocky Mountains can be seen more
than one hundred miles away, but it is not till one approaches them
that it is recognised how abruptly they rise out of the prairie, like
a long wall, with apparently not an opening; and, even when a few
miles away, they seem an impenetrable barrier. The railway, however,
follows the bank of the Bow river, which from its size must at least
come down a moderate-sized valley, and just above where the Kananaskis,
a side river, is crossed, a sudden bend of the line takes one through
the gateway of the hills and the Bow valley is entered, which is then
followed westward up to the Great Divide, or watershed, sixty miles

The approach to the Rocky Mountains from the Pacific coast is through
country of a totally different nature. From Vancouver to the Great
Divide is five hundred miles; along the whole of this distance the
railway line is surrounded by the most splendid mountain scenery.
At first the line runs up the great and broad valley of the Fraser
river, which when seen in the light of a fine September afternoon is
magnificent. For it is shut in on all sides by high mountains (one,
Mount Baker, being 14,000 feet), and filled with such timber as only
grows on the Pacific coast, all of it the natural forest, vast
Douglas firs of giant girth, cedars, poplars, and maples, with their
autumn-colouring of crimson, green, and gold, adding beauty to this
lovely valley; whilst winding backwards and forwards across it, flows
the vast flood of the Fraser. Certainly it is one of the finest large
valleys I have ever seen. Then further up is the world-famous Fraser
canyon, not so beautiful as the greater valley below, but grand and
terrible in its own way. There are fiercer and bigger rivers and gorges
in the Himalaya. Here it is that for over twenty miles the railway
track has been hewn in many places out of the solid wall of the canyon,
whilst below rush the pent-up waters of the great river, sometimes
slowly moving onwards with only the occasional eddy coming up to the
surface to show the depth of water, again rushing with wildest tumult
between narrow walls of black rock, tossing up the spray, and foaming
along, afraid that unless it hastened madly through its rock-girt
channel the almost overhanging walls, hundreds of feet high, would
fall in and prevent it ever getting down to the open sea. Leaving the
valley of the Fraser, the railway follows the desolate gorge of the
Thompson river, and after passing through a series of minor mountains,
comes down to the valley of the Columbia river, which here is running
almost due south. If it had been possible to have built the line up
the Columbia valley to the Rocky Mountains, no doubt that route would
have been followed, but the railway has been taken over the Selkirk
range instead. It is whilst crossing the Selkirks that by far the most
wonderful part of this mountain line is to be seen. From the Columbia
to the summit there is a rise of 2800 feet, and the descent on the
other side to the Columbia river again is 1775 feet in less than twenty
miles. Here are to be seen the miles of snow-sheds through which
the train has to go, whilst towering into the sky are all the white
snow-peaks of the Selkirks, and the glaciers that almost come down to
the railway itself.

From the Columbia to the Great Divide another ascent has to be made,
this time of 2800 feet, and the last 1250 feet of this is done in the
short distance of ten miles. It is not in any way exaggerating to say
that these five hundred miles of line give by far the most extensive
and varied wild mountain scenery that can be obtained from any railway
train in the world. The Fraser valley, and canyon, the Selkirk
Mountains, and the scenery of the Rocky Mountains, before the Great
Divide is reached, are each one of them wonderfully beautiful, and each
one of them possesses so much individuality of its own, that to forget
the impressions they make would be impossible.

The Great Divide is at the watershed, or on the top of the Kicking
Horse pass. One of the most curious features of the Canadian Rocky
Mountains is the lowness of the passes, also their number. The average
height of the mountains is between 10,000 and 11,000 feet, yet none
of these passes are much over 6000 feet, so that the simplest way to
describe the range is to take the various masses of mountains that lie
between the passes.

Twenty miles south of the Kicking Horse pass lies first the Vermilion
pass (5265 feet), next comes the Simpson pass (6884 feet), thirteen
miles further south, thus giving three groups of mountains which can be
named as follows:--

  (1) _The Temple group_ (or Bow range); and _the
           Goodsir group_ (or Ottertail range).
              This group is south of the Kicking Horse
                 pass and north of the Vermilion pass.

  (2) _The Ball group_, which lies south of the
           Vermilion pass and north of the Simpson pass.

  (3) _The Assiniboine group_, which lies south of
           the Simpson pass.

North of the Kicking Horse pass the peaks and glaciers of the Rocky
Mountains have been more carefully explored and for a greater distance
than on the south side of the railway. It will be sufficient, however,
only to mention the passes through the mountains which are to be found
in that tract of country (120 miles long), lying south of the Athabasca
pass, and north of the Kicking Horse pass. The first pass across the
Rocky Mountains is the Howse pass, 4800 feet, and thirty miles north
of the railway; thirty miles further north is the Thompson pass, 6800
feet; next comes Fortress Lake pass, thirty-five miles distant, and
only 4300 feet high; and lastly, twenty-five miles further, still to
the north, the Athabasca pass, 5700 feet. Thus if we omit the mountains
north of the Athabasca pass, there are four more groups. Taking them in
order, they are:--

  (4) _The Balfour group_ (or Wapta range), lying
           between the Kicking Horse pass and the Howse pass.

  (5) _The Forbes group_, lying between the Howse
           pass and the Thompson pass.

  (6) _The Columbia group_, lying between the
           Thompson pass and the Fortress Lake pass.

  (7) _The Mount Hooker group_, lying between the
           Fortress Lake pass and the Athabasca pass.

[Illustration: CANADIAN ROCKY MOUNTAINS Showing the Ice Fields and the
Mountains _Heights when marked? only approximate_ J. Bartholomew & Co.,

In the Temple-Goodsir group, which is situated just to the south of
the Canadian Pacific Railway, are a very large number of rock- and
snow-peaks; in fact, probably more varied rock climbing can be found
here than in any of the other groups of mountains. Mounts Temple,
Lefroy, Victoria, Stephen, Cathedral, Vaux, and the Chancellor have
all been ascended, but Goodsir, Hungabee, and Deltaform, all of them
first-class peaks, yet wait for the first party to set foot on their
summits. Besides the numerous good mountain climbs that can be found
in this district, many most charming lakes and pine-clad valleys lie
hidden away in the narrow valleys. It would be hard to find in any
mountain-land a more perfect picture than that afforded by Lake Louise,
a clear, deep lake, surrounded by pine woods and snow-clad peaks whose
reflection in the water seems almost more natural than the reality in
the distance. The O'Hara lakes and Paradise valley also possess the
wild grandeur and rich fertility that is one of the chief attractions
of the Rocky Mountains of Canada.

Of the Mount Ball group nothing need be said, Mount Ball being the only
peak in it which reaches 11,000 feet. As seen from the summit of Mount
Lefroy, Mount Ball is a long, somewhat flat-topped mountain covered
with ice and snow. Perhaps, however, on the southern side it may be
more precipitous and rocky. In the Assiniboine group there seems only
one important mountain, Mount Assiniboine itself. But what is wanting
in quantity is certainly atoned for by the excessive grandeur and
beauty of Mount Assiniboine. For long called the Canadian Matterhorn
(11,830 feet), it towers a head and shoulders above its fellows, the
highest peak south of the line. For several years it withstood many
determined attempts made to scale its sharp, pyramid-shaped summit;
but in August of 1901 the Rev. J. Outram, with two Swiss guides, was
fortunate enough at last to conquer this difficult mountain.

The chief feature of the Balfour group is the great expanse of upper
snow-fields on the Wapta névé. The highest peak, Mount Balfour, 10,873
feet, was ascended in 1898 by Messrs. Charles S. Thompson, C. L. Noyes,
and C. M. Weed. Once on this central reservoir of ice none of the
peaks are difficult to climb. The Bow river, which has its source at
the north-eastern corner of this Wapta snow-field, flows down the Bow
valley, which skirts for more than twenty-five miles the eastern slopes
of the Balfour group. This Bow valley is an excellent example of the
numberless valleys that are to be found amongst the Rocky mountains,
flat-bottomed and filled with pine woods and marshes or muskegs. Two
beautiful lakes, the Upper and Lower Bow lakes, filled with trout, give
good sport to the fisherman; but to fish successfully a raft must be
built, for there are no boats as yet on the lakes. The Upper Bow lake
is particularly beautiful, for in many places on its shores are great
expanses of open grassland, covered here and there with clumps of dwarf
rhododendron bushes, or, it may be, studded with thickets of pine and
other trees, whilst on the opposite shore the mountains rise sheer for
several thousand feet, and more than one glacier hangs poised high up
on the cliffs, above the clear blue water beneath.

The next group further north, the Forbes group, has not been visited
as yet by many mountaineering parties. But it contains possibly the
highest peak in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Mount Forbes, which is
certainly considerably over 13,000 feet, and may be as much as 14,000
feet high. The Bush peak and Mount Freshfield also must be about 12,500
to 13,000 feet, and Mount Lyell is not much less, perhaps 12,000 feet.
Many ice-fields lie underneath these high peaks: the Freshfield, Bush,
and Lyell snow-fields being the most important. In this group as yet
none of the peaks have been ascended, and up to the present only on the
Freshfield glacier has any one set foot. This is largely due to the
difficulty of getting to the foot of the peaks and the time necessary
to expend on such an expedition. To get to the bottom of Mount Forbes
from Laggan, the nearest spot on the Canadian-Pacific railway, would
take about nine days, and, should the Saskatchewan be in full flood, it
might take four or five days more.

The Columbia group, which is still further north, was only discovered
in 1898 by Messrs. Stutfield, Woolley, and myself. It is by far the
biggest accumulation of glaciers that we have yet seen, covering
an area of at least one hundred square miles; moreover, from a
geographical point of view, it claims additional interest, for it is
the source of the two great rivers, the Athabasca, the Saskatchewan,
and formerly probably of the Columbia as well. The mountains also
that rise out of these untrodden snow-fields are amongst the highest
peaks in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, with the one exception of Mount
Forbes. At present it is impossible to say with certainty whether Mount
Columbia or Mount Forbes is the higher. Personally I should like to
give the preference to Mount Columbia. Another peak situated near the
centre of this group, the Dome, 11,650 feet, on whose summit we stood
in 1898, is the only mountain in North America the snows of which when
melted feed rivers that flow into the three oceans--the Atlantic, the
Arctic, and the Pacific. North of Mount Columbia another peak was
discovered, Mount Alberta, over 13,000 feet. This mountain, unlike
Mount Columbia, is a rock-peak and flat-topped. Its summit is ringed
round with tremendous precipices, and its north-western face must
be particularly grand, for it rises straight from the valley of the
Athabasca for nearly 8000 feet.

[Illustration: _The Freshfield Glacier._]

The outlets from the great Columbian ice-field are very numerous; and
many large glaciers flow into the valleys to feed the head waters of
the Saskatchewan, the Athabasca, and the tributaries of the Columbia.

Of the mountains in the next group further north practically nothing
is known. Only three parties in modern times have even penetrated into
the valleys of this land south of the Athabasca pass--Professor Coleman
(1893), during his search for Mounts Hooker and Brown; and Wilcox
(1896) and E. Habel (1901). It is improbable that there are any peaks
as high as 13,000 feet, but many covered with ice, snow, and glaciers
were seen from the summits of the Dome and Diadem peak in 1898, when
we were on the Columbian ice-fields. That this mountain-land remains
unexplored is not to be wondered at, for the country is so far away,
and so difficult to get at, from any human habitation that it takes
weeks of hard work battling with the rivers and forests before even the
valleys are reached which lie at the bottom of these ranges of snow-and
glacier-covered mountains.

When one has got accustomed to it, however, travelling in these vast
mountain solitudes becomes by no means either irksome or unpleasant.
But before one is capable of understanding all the woodcraft and
knowledge requisite for successfully guiding a party through the
endless forested valleys, the apparent monotony is apt to weary
the traveller; afterwards, however, when a thousand and one things
in the woods or on the mountain-side are for the first time seen
and understood, then the environment no longer dominates one. For
instance, a peculiar notch or 'blaze' on an occasional tree means that
some prospector or Indian has been there before, or perhaps a newly
overturned stone amongst the moss tells how a bear has recently been
searching for food; or, again, some half-obliterated mark by the side
of a stream means cariboo, or, if higher up, goat or the wild sheep.
Then, often by the kind of tree one can roughly guess how high one is,
for certain poplars, for instance the balsam poplar, I have never seen
higher than 5000 feet.

Of course amongst the Canadian Rockies it is necessary on every
expedition to take men and horses. The men are to look after the horses
and the camp, and to cut the trail. The horses carry the food or
'grub-pile,' the tents, etc.

At first one is quite unaccustomed to the leisurely method of
progression, and quite unacquainted with many mysterious things that
afterwards appear obvious. Now that I look back on my first day with
ponies in the Rockies I blush for my incompetence and ignorance.

To begin with, we were late in starting--our men, with most of the
ponies and heavy baggage, had gone up the Bow valley, leaving us three
ponies for the remainder of the luggage. At the very start, if it had
not been for the help of an obliging man at Laggan railway station, I
do not think we should ever have satisfactorily tied on all the odd
packages. To pack an Indian pony, and finish all off neatly with a
good tight diamond hitch, is an accomplishment not possessed by every
one. After three summers' experience I really now can tie it: at
least I know I could, but it is a wonderful hitch; and although you
think that you have got it all right, when you begin to pull the rope
tight, somehow it all comes undone and one must start again from the

The ponies having been packed, we started, but soon lost our way
amongst the most dreadful tangle of fallen timber; the men had 'blazed'
the way, but we were new at the work, and so soon got out of the trail.
After getting the ponies with great difficulty through some miles of
this timber, we gradually worked ourselves free, getting into more
open ground, but it was out of Scylla into Charybdis, for now it was a
question of how to get through endless swamps or muskegs that filled
up the floor of the valley. Here the blazes of course stopped, and
soon we missed the tracks of the other horses and got hopelessly lost,
floundering about in every direction trying to find a way through.

Several times the luckless ponies, dead tired and overladen, had sunk
up to their bellies, but with terrified snorts and plunges had just
managed to get out again. At last the sun went down, then daylight
disappeared, and finally the moon came out, and we were still in that
swamp. Ultimately we tried to make for the forest at the side of the
valley, but one of the horses got so deep into a hole that only with
difficulty we managed to prevent him vanishing altogether. He was at
last rescued with an Alpine rope; and we also were rescued from a night
out in a swamp by our headman, Peyto, who had come down the valley to
look for us. The horses had to be left for the night, but we, wading
through everything, got safely into camp at about midnight. These
Indian ponies are wonderfully clever in thick timber or in the streams
and rivers that have every now and then to be crossed.

One old grey that I rode for two different trips was a most wise old
animal, rather stiff in the knees, but wonderfully sure-footed, and
never once did he even brush my leg against a tree trunk even in the
thickest timber. He was also a very gentlemanly old animal, never
frightened (unless he got into a muskeg), never in a hurry, very fond
of going to sleep, also of having his own way, and his way was usually
the right one.

To those who wish to spend all their time, during a short holiday,
climbing peaks, the Canadian Rocky Mountains cannot be recommended
without some explanation. Firstly, they are a very long way off; and
secondly, many of the finest groups, lying, as they do, perhaps fifty
or a hundred miles from the railway, necessitate days of travel with
ponies, provisions, etc., before even their base is reached. Still
undoubtedly the pleasure of the leisurely advance through the charming
valleys and dense pinewoods is to

   'Those who love the haunts of Nature,
    Love the shadow of the forest,
    Love the winds among the branches,
    And the rain-shower and the snowstorm,
    And the rushing of great rivers'

of quite an equal importance to the joys of a first ascent.

The absolutely free life that one experiences in camp never palls, let
the weather be good or bad; as one jumps out of one's sleeping-bag into
the fresh morning air, one is always ready for the day's work.

Perhaps it is a glorious morning. The men have gone off to find the
ponies, which, if they have strayed far afield during the night, can
be found by listening for the tinkle of the bell always tied to the
neck of the bell-mare. Then after a breakfast of porridge, bacon, and
whatever else there may be, the horses are packed--an operation which
is hard work, and takes perhaps the best part of two hours when there
are over a dozen horses to load. Each pack has to be finally tied on
with the diamond hitch, otherwise in a very short time the pack would
work loose, and, if once lost bit by bit in the dense undergrowth of
the forest, would never be recovered.

Then comes the start, and the cavalcade files off into the virgin
forest, led by the headman, whose business it is to pick out a trail
amidst the dense undergrowth and the fallen trees along which the pack
train can go. Soon the sound of the axe is heard, and the single file
of ponies comes to a standstill whilst some fallen tree which bars
the way is cut through. Sometimes the path leads along the bank of a
swiftly flowing, muddy white river, swollen by the melting snows of the
glaciers, which every now and then are seen through more open parts of
the forest, glaciers that glimmer and shine high up amongst the peaks
that wall in the valley below. It is in places such as this that the
greatest danger to the horses and baggage is experienced. The banks of
the river may be rotten, or a horse more self-willed than the others
may suddenly plunge into the water, and often it is next to impossible
to prevent others following; so that in one moment of time perhaps half
the outfit may be sweeping down stream to perdition, and the expedition
ruined by being left provisionless. Fortunately, although I have often
seen our horses helplessly drifting down rivers that at first sight
seemed hopeless to get out of, owing to the undercut banks, depth of
water, and strength of current, yet somehow or other these plucky
little ponies always have managed to scramble out again.

The silent forests, through which one sometimes has to march for days
together, are not so dense, and the trees are not so large on the
eastern side of the Divide as on the western, that is to say, in the
valleys leading to the Columbia river.

In the valley of the Columbia itself, down which we travelled in 1900
from Donald to the Bush river, for several days we hardly saw the sky.
The vast forest far surpassed in size anything we had seen on the other
side of the range--huge pines, cotton-wood trees, firs, and spruces
reaching to a height of 150 feet or more. The undergrowth too was very
dense--cedar, white maple, and alder (near the streams), were found;
whilst the fallen trunks of dead trees, sometimes six or eight feet
in diameter, lay scattered with others of lesser size in every kind
of position. Some in their fall had been arrested by others, and were
waiting for the first gale to bring them crashing to the ground; whilst
at the will of every breeze that wandered through the upper branches
of the higher trees, these half-fallen monarchs of the forest would
break the heavy stillness of the air by their complaints and groans
against their more sturdy brethren for thus preventing them lying at
peace upon the moss-covered ground below. Others that had lain perhaps
scores of years in the wet underbush had decayed and rotted, leaving
rich masses of decomposing vegetation, from which trees had sprung
that in their turn also must fall and suffer the same change. There
is a marvellous fascination about these quiet shady fastnesses of the
western valleys. As one wanders day after day through this underworld,
cut off from the glaring sun of noonday and the blue sky, hardly a
sound breaks the stillness, whilst all around the ruin of ancient woods
lies piled with a lavishness most absolute--that of Nature's self, the
tangled wreck of a lifetime, the luxuriant growth of centuries.

It is in these western valleys that the rainfall is far greater than
on the other side of the range, hence the forests are thicker and the
muskegs and streams more dangerous. Only in the western valleys also
is found that pest of British Columbia forests, the Devil's Club--a
plant with large, broad leaves and a stem covered with spikes. Amongst
the moist undergrowth it grows to a height of from five to six feet,
trailing its stems in every direction and emitting a dank, unwholesome
smell. Woe betide any one who with bare hand should roughly seize one
of those stems, for the spikes enter the flesh, and, breaking off,
produce poisoned wounds which fester. But whilst cutting trail it is
impossible to prevent the long, twisted roots flying up occasionally,
leaving their detestable thorns in all parts of one's body.

Sometimes instead of these virgin forests the trail--and this
is especially true when one is near a pass at 6000 feet or 7000
feet--passes along wide expanses of meadow, with small rhododendron
bushes and clumps of pines every here and there. Masses of flowers
can be seen in every direction, many kinds of anemone, large yellow
daisies, and many others. Near the watershed of a pass beautiful lakes
of pure blue water are often found, and in a quiet summer afternoon the
long slanting shadows and the reflection of pines, peaks, and glaciers
lie still in the clear water. The contrast of colours often is almost
dazzling. One instance in particular I shall never forget: it was in
a valley thirty miles north of the line called Bear Creek, near two
lakes where some years before a fire had burnt out several square
miles of forest. The gaunt, shining black stems of the trees formed a
curious but fitting background--shining like black satin--for the mass
of brilliant golden yellow daisies that were in full bloom amongst the
stones at their feet. There was no green of grass, in fact no other
colour except that of the sky. This blaze of golden orange against
satin black tree trunks, with a sapphire sky beyond, formed a contrast
of colours but rarely seen in a landscape.

These burnt forests are one of the worst obstacles for delaying a party
with horses. For a few years the ground is cleared excellently; but
soon an undergrowth of pines springs up, then for many years the burnt
dead trunks, which never seem to rot after having been charred by the
fire, and the new thick undergrowth, make often a mile a day with a
pack team good work. Often even without burnt timber to delay one,
the progression up an unknown valley is very tedious. In 1900, whilst
exploring the Bush valley on the western side of the mountains, our
first view of the valley held out hopes to us that we should soon get
to the head waters and the snow peaks fifteen miles away. Stretched
out at our feet, as we looked down from a neighbouring hill, lay the
valley, wide and level. There were no canyons or defiles that might
necessitate lengthy détours up precipitous hill-sides. The valley was
open and flat. It is true we saw some muskegs at the sides, but along
the level bottom stretched shingle flats, with streams all tangled
together, looking like a skein of ravelled grey wool thrown down
between the dull green hills, whilst the main river, winding first
toward one hillside and then towards the other, sometimes branching,
again reuniting, formed a veritable puzzle of interlacing channels,
islands of pebbles, stretches of swamps, and small lakes all hopelessly
intermingled. The first ten miles up that valley took us ten days'
incessant work. Our way was alternately through immense timber, dense
thickets of willows, through swamps, streams, small lakes, along
insecure river banks, climbing up the hill-sides, jumping logs, cutting
through fallen trees and undergrowth so thick one could hardly see
a yard ahead, splashing, fighting, and worrying ahead; we had an
experience of almost everything that could delay us, and whether the
woods, the streams, or the muskegs were worst, it was impossible to say.

So the days go by, and often real mountaineering is a luxury which
has to be left till the last. But we were the pioneers; now the
trails are partly made, and the way to get at the peaks is known,
therefore the expenditure of time in arriving at any particular spot
can be calculated with much greater certainty. But with this gain in
time-saving comes also the lost pleasure of the uncertainty of an
unknown land; now the country is being mapped and all the peaks are
being named.

However, it will be many a long year before much real change can be
made in the valleys that lie thirty or more miles from the line; also
the snow peaks, the marvellously clear atmosphere, the woods, lakes,
and scenery will remain the same. After a long day through these
valleys of the Canadian Rocky Mountains one will be just as able to
pitch one's tent and enjoy over the camp fire the stories of the hour,
to eat one's dinner with the mountaineer's appetite, to smoke by the
light of the smouldering logs, and to go to sleep safely, surrounded by
these mysterious and dark forests.

I always think that the supreme moments of a mountaineer's existence
are, more often, not whilst battling with the great mountains, but
afterwards, when the struggle is done and the whole story is gone over
again quietly by a camp fire. Violent action no doubt appeals to many
people, but the delightful sense of content that wraps one round after
a long and successful day on the mountains, after the victory has
been won, is a very pleasant sensation. One such evening I remember
in the Bush valley when no victory had crowned our efforts. We were
returning, in fact, from an attempt to reach Mount Columbia which
had proved an undoubted failure; still somehow I felt that although
beaten, we had been honourably beaten, we had struggled hard, but two
things had failed us--time and provisions--and we were retracing our
steps towards civilisation. The camp that evening had been pitched
on the banks of the Bush river. In the foreground, water and shingle
stretched in desolate fashion westward to where ridges of dark pine
woods sloped down from dusky peaks above, sending out point after point
to strengthen the forms of the middle distance; whilst beyond, far away
across the Columbia, the Selkirk mountains raised their snow peaks into
the calm, clear sky, a mysterious land unexplored and unknown. Through
a rift in the clouds in the far west shone the setting sun, tinging the
dull grey clouds overhead and the stealthily flowing river below with
its many-coloured fires. A faint evening breeze softly moved the upper
foliage, a couple of inquisitive chipmunks were chattering near at
hand, and a small stream could be heard whispering amongst the thickets
near the banks of the river.

The great gnarled trunks of pine and fir, festooned with moss, fungi,
and grey lichen, the dead, drooping branches, and the half fallen,
decaying trunks propped up in dreary, melancholy array, caught for a
moment the sunset's ruddy glow, whilst the mysterious shadows of the
dense forest darkened by contrast. It was one of those evenings

   'When, upon a tranced summer night,
    Those green robed senators of mighty woods,
    Tall oaks, branch charmed to the earnest stars,
    Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
    Save from one gradual solitary gust,
    Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
    As if the ebbing air had but one wave.'

Such evenings compensate one for many a wet, dreary day spent amongst
the mountains. Nature suddenly offers them to the traveller without
any toil on his part. He has only to sit watching, surrounded by the
dark forest, the stretch of waters, and the ever-changing glory of
the setting sun; then, unmindful of the worry of yesterday, or the
uncertainties of to-morrow, amidst the great stillness, he feels with
absolute conviction one thing and one thing only--that it is good to
be alive and free. Civilised life no doubt teaches us much, but when
one has once tasted the freedom of the wilds, a different knowledge
comes. The battling with storm, rain, cold, and sometimes hunger, and
the doubt of what any day may bring forth, these at least teach that
life--that mere existence--is beyond all price.


          'Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth,
         while the evil days come not, nor the years draw
         nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in

Many years ago I remember quoting once some paragraphs which seemed at
the time to portray so exactly the attitude of certain people towards
the Alps, that they were instantly plucked from their seclusion, for
the purpose of enforcing some rather flippant and idle remarks of my
own. These flippant efforts of mine, I may add, were not intended to
be taken seriously. The paragraphs, however, were written in 1868, and
can be found in the _Alpine Journal_.[L] I now presume to use them
once more. 'So far as the Alps are concerned, we can now, I fear,
expect nothing free altogether from the taint of staleness. For us the
familiar hunting grounds exist no longer as they once existed.' Again:
'Those waters of oblivion which have overwhelmed the Jungfraus and
Finsteraarhorns of our youth.' And, 'It only remains for us to dally
awhile with the best recollections of the now degraded mountains.'

As I have said, when I first quoted these sentences I did not believe
one word of them. It is true that then I was younger and more
enthusiastic; moreover, the Alps were new to me, and I was still able
to appreciate to the full the beauties of that region of streams,
glaciers, and snow peaks: then the sun still shone, then the morning
and the evening, arrayed in their coat of many colours, called either
to action or bid a cheerful good-night, and even then the fleeting
clouds, flung abroad like 'banners on the outer wall,' would often make
me stop and watch, till the mists dissolved into thin air left the high
battlements of the mighty mountains once more clear against the blue
sky. Yes! although I quoted these paragraphs, yet at that period, to
me it was impious to question the sway of the monarchs of the earth.
Degraded mountains, taint of staleness, waters of oblivion, Jungfraus
overwhelmed, a truly depressing picture! but when one comes to examine
into the real truth of the matter, the fact remains that the mountains
are still there, and really after all in much the same condition as
they were fifty years ago. Of course one must admit that many parts
of Switzerland below the snow line and some infinitesimal bits higher
up possibly have been degraded, but not by a natural process. This
degradation is the work of the animal, Man; and it is difficult to say
why he alone of all the inhabitants of this world, wherever he sets
himself down, should always besmirch and befoul the face of Nature.
Some literary and inquiring spirit should write a monograph on the

[Illustration: _A Crevasse on Mont Blanc._]

What sight is more depressing than the gaunt, soot-begrimed trees
that struggle for a pitiful existence around our centres of so-called
civilisation? Where can a more squalid picture be either seen or
imagined than a back slum in one of our manufacturing towns where the
teeming millions are born, bred, and die? The inhabitants of a London
back street never see this earth as Nature made it, beyond perhaps
occasionally a green field. They know nothing of the great face of the
world. What do mountains, streams, pinewoods, and lakes ruffled by
the wind, mean to them? they only have seen the lower Thames and its
mud banks. Expanses of heather moorland where the birds, the breezes,
and the many summer scents wander to and fro: probably their nearest
approach to these is Hampstead heath and oranges! The nations of the
East can teach Western civilisation several things, and the people of
the Staffordshire Black Country would not lose were they to copy some
of the methods of living in Japan.

Now the worst of all this is that as the nations expand and
communication becomes easier, the several, as yet unspoilt, corners
of the world, where man has not yet 'forked out' Nature, are in grave
danger of being swept bodily into civilisation's net. Unfortunately
the majority of mankind is hopelessly lacking in imagination, they are
incapable of accommodating themselves to their environment, trying
always instead to force their surroundings to fit their own small ideas.

Brighton becomes more civilised in direct ratio as it becomes more
like London; and Switzerland--that is to say, where many unimaginative
tourists go, and nowadays they go to most places from Lucerne to the
tops of the highest mountains--is thus degraded. It becomes a herding
place during August for the nations, each brings his own special
atmosphere, his family, his newspaper, and himself. The money pours
in, the state becomes civilised, and the hotels flourish. If Zermatt
possessed first-class beer halls, a golf course, and plenty of motor
cars, a very large number of the German, English, and French tourists
would gladly amuse themselves each with his particular native pastime,
and would never bother themselves about whether Monte Rosa was covered
with ice and snow, or was merely a mud heap, or whether glaciers,
Matterhorns, Dent Blanches were or were not.

It would be foolish to deny that the interest of mankind in man must
necessarily be stronger than the mere abstract pleasure obtained from
the contemplation of wild and beautiful scenery. So it follows that
when a vast concourse gathers, such as is seen during the season at
Zermatt, mankind naturally dominates the environment, and the study of
man, not of scenery, prevails. This must be so. Take, for instance, any
of our best novelists: of course they deal with people, not things.
When Clive Newcome and J. J. (artists too, if you please) crossed the
Alps, does Thackeray give us a long account of the scenery? Certainly
not: the whole matter is disposed of at once, and in a sentence they
are whisked from Baden to Rome. On the other hand, the descriptions of
the beauties of Nature by Sir Walter Scott or by Wordsworth, who reads
them now except with an occasional yawn? Far more interesting, and
properly so too, are narratives of real, live people, their thoughts,
their hopes, their disappointments. _Soldiers Three_ appeals to every
one; but should one begin to talk about the merits of Claude and
Turner as painters of hills, and even quote some of Ruskin's very
finest passages about Alps and Archangels, your neighbour at _table
d'hôte_ will either think that you are a great bore, or, perhaps, an
extremely clever person; but will be far more interested, when the
old lady opposite begins to tell how Mr. Jones was caught that very
afternoon proposing to Miss Robinson, and how the Bishop of X. is
really coming to stop at the hotel for a few days. All this is meant
to show that by far the greater number of the hordes that invade
Switzerland every year does not in reality take any interest at all,
or at best a very feeble one, in the only really national dish that
Switzerland has to offer. They neither care for it, nor do they
understand it.

Naturally, therefore, the majority with their outside influence, with
their own objects, ends, and atmosphere, entirely swamps the small
remainder who appreciate the natural beauties of the land, and who
fifty years ago practically held undivided possession. In those days
the tourists, and they were few in the land, did not in the least mind
suffering certain minor hardships owing to the absence of hotels: it
was nothing compared with the pleasure that they obtained from the free
life and the scenery; also, should they be mountaineers and scale some
of the till then unvisited summits, on their descent into the valleys
they were looked upon with wonder by the simple village folk and the
herders of cattle of the small hamlets; these inhabitants would crowd
round, when with arm extended and finger pointing to the distant peak
of snow they described how yesterday, at such a time, they and their
friend the chamois hunter of the district were on its summit. This
sort of thing has most certainly gone, gone for ever. In this respect
the Alps are as dead as Queen Anne--they have been overwhelmed in the
waters of oblivion. The self-sufficient modern traveller now holds
undivided sway in the chief central places of the Alps; and were it
possible for him to impress his puny individuality on the great crags
and the snow-fields of the mountains, to interfere with the colours
of the sunset or the dawn, or to compel the clouds, then perhaps
we might agree with the bitter cry of Ruskin, who, speaking of the
artistic creative faculty of the present day, says that we 'live in
an age of base conceit and baser servility--an age whose intellect
is chiefly formed by pillage, and occupied in desecration; one day
mimicking, the next destroying, the works of all noble persons who made
its intellectual or art life possible to it: an age without honest
confidence enough in itself to carve a cherry-stone with an original
fancy, but with insolence enough to abolish the solar system, if it
were allowed to meddle with it.'

Fortunately they cannot meddle with the mountains and the snow-fields.
Still, as in those bygone days, man there is a mere speck. The peaks
are as high and the snows as deep. Above, the glories of the sunset
and the sunrise are the same, amidst the ice, the snow, and the black
rocks; there the taint, and the adverse influence of this invasion of
civilisation, is unfelt, although it may have overwhelmed the valleys
below. The Jungfrau and the Finsteraarhorn still are as untouched and
unspoiled, as far from vulgarisation as in the days when they were
first conquered.

It is only when we descend from the mountains, and at the huts once
more enter into contact with this other world, that the change begins
to be felt, or when we have returned to our hotel, donned our dress
clothes, and are seated before a bad imitation of a dinner, that we
finally recognise that the waters of the great modern sea of vulgarity
and mediocrity have engulfed us.

Forty years ago Switzerland, or at least the finest part of
Switzerland, belonged to the tourist or traveller, call him which you
will, who really cared for the healthy, out-of-door existence and
the scenery; and to the mountaineer, who, as a rule, appreciated both
the natural grandeur of the Alps, and at the same time the pleasure
of spending his holidays high up amidst the ice and snow. At that
time we find in the _Alpine Journal_ (a record of mountain adventure)
endless papers on the climbing and the exploration of the Alps. But
if we examine the pages of the _Alpine Journal_ of to-day, a distinct
scarcity of papers on the Alps is at once apparent. In the year 1900,
out of fourteen articles only five dealt with the Alps, for there
nowadays exploration and new climbs are almost impossible. Moreover,
records of mere mountain adventure without any description of an
ascent of some unconquered peak have become too common. Therefore
it is not remarkable that the mountaineer is driven further afield,
preferring to win laurels amidst new ranges. But still the Alps are
both broad and wide, and after all it is only along certain lines
that the great civilised mob disports itself. It is true that all the
mountains have been ascended, but surely that only destroys a minor
attraction; moreover, fortunately almost anywhere on the Italian side
of the watershed one is free from that lamentable state of affairs that
obtains at such places as Chamonix, Grindelwald, and Zermatt; and
should the mountaineer possess a tent and a sleeping-bag he can always
camp out, thus being entirely free. There are places on the south side
of Mont Blanc, in the Rutor or in the Grand Paradiso district, in the
Valpelline, and in many others, where delightful camps can be made and
where one would hardly ever see a stranger for weeks together. There
the mountaineer can live practically undisturbed in his own hunting
ground of peaks, passes, and glaciers.

Amongst the most pleasant recollections I have of the Alps are those
connected with our camps. We always had sleeping-bags, and I may say
that during all the years I spent climbing with Mummery only twice have
I slept in a hut with him.

There are few more pleasurable sensations than to be comfortable and
warm under the lee of some great boulder, watching the stars as they
slowly move westward; or to sit by a camp fire after the sun has set,
and to recall all the enjoyment of the climb just finished; a feeling
of most profound contentment with everything in the world steals over
the party; the conversation becomes more and more disjointed as first
one and then another turns over and sleeps.

When I look back and think of all the various places where Mummery,
Hastings, Slingsby, and I have slept out in the open, far away from the
haunts of men, and remember how we enjoyed ourselves, I for one would
go back year after year to the Alps if those times could be brought
back again. In those days the glass of time, when shaken, ran in golden
sands. Now all that is left of them is the memory.

It was in those days long ago, that I remember, how on one perfect
evening at the beginning of August, we camped high up by the side of
the Brenva glacier, having been well prepared for struggling with the
tremendous southern face of Mont Blanc by the delightful dinners of M.
Bertolini. The sun went down behind the Pétéret ridge--a ridge which
always seems to me to be unsurpassed in the Alps--and we hoped that
in another twenty-four hours we should be on the other side of the
great mountain. But one of the great charms of mountaineering is its
uncertainty, and instead of twenty-four it was forty-eight hours before
we arrived at the Grands-Mulets. It would be distinctly perverting the
truth to say that, at the time, we enjoyed the whole of our expedition,
but often have I during winter evenings recalled that climb. I cannot
now reproduce the unpleasant sensations, but the satisfaction and
recollection of success becomes more pleasing as lapse of years adds
enchantment to the memory of that fierce battle with Mont Blanc. I
shall never forget how, hour after hour, Mummery, following a wrong
direction of E. Rey's (who, as it turned out afterwards, had never
been up Mont Blanc by this Brenva route), persistently kept towards
the left; how at last the hard blue ice became so steep that it was
almost impossible to cut steps in it; and how the ice also had a sticky
feel when touched with the fingers, for we were in the shadow of the

Unfortunately we were 1500 feet from the summit; and as the daylight
was only good for a few more hours, we had reluctantly to turn and
make our way down that icy staircase. At one place where Hastings had
thrown a portion of his breakfast into a small crevasse, we carefully
recovered the discarded provisions, coming at last, just before
darkness enveloped everything, to a small rock jutting out of that
almost vertical face. The Brenva glacier was thousands of feet below
us. One of the penalties of guideless climbing is that when prolonged
step-cutting has to be undertaken, no amateur can compete with a
first-class guide. Naturally, therefore, nights out on the mountains
are often the price paid. Our penance on this particular expedition
was to sit on that rock all night. The cold was intense, and it was
not till the sun had risen next day that we were capable of moving.
Once started, the blood began again to circulate, and keeping this time
more to the right, a passage was forced with very great difficulty
indeed through the almost overhanging edge of the great snow cap of
Mont Blanc. In more than one place we had to use the axes forced home
to their heads as a staircase for the first man. It was a magnificent
climb, in fact the finest I have ever had. That ice world on the south
side of Mont Blanc is on a larger scale than anything I know of outside
the Himalaya. On the afternoon of the third day out from Courmayeur
I arrived on the summit by crawling up on my hands and knees. But
although the ascent had taken so long, the descent was accomplished
much more expeditiously. In two hours we reached the Grands-Mulets.
There, being supplied with omelette after omelette, I basely refused to
roam any further; but Hastings and Mummery, unsatisfied, rushed down
the remainder of the mountain, to lose themselves in the pine woods
below in the darkness, reaching Couttet's and luxury late that night.
If I was to recount all the splendid expeditions that we were taken by
Mummery--how we sometimes failed, but much more often succeeded--this
chapter could be made into a dozen; and yet, in spite of all these
ascents, my knowledge of the Alps is extremely limited.

Curiously, however, I have found that sometimes those who most loudly
complain of the Alps being played out are quite unacquainted with, or
at least have never attempted, most of those ascents which it was my
good fortune to make with Mummery. Certainly they were mostly made in
the Mont Blanc range, a part which does not seem to commend itself
so much to mountaineers of the present day as the eastern portion of
the Alps. Yet where can be found anywhere else, in the whole range,
rock pinnacles that are finer than the Aiguille Noire de Pétéret. Few
people know that its west face is a sheer precipice of several thousand
feet. In 1899 I was camping for a couple of days with Major Bruce and
Harkabir Thapa, just opposite to it on the ridge between the Brouillard
and Fresnay glaciers. It was then I watched a slab of rock fall from
about twenty feet below the summit. It was a mass weighing perhaps
fifty or a hundred tons. For over 1000 feet it touched nothing, then
striking on a ledge it burst into a thousand fragments with a noise
like thunder, and hardly one of the fragments touched rock again, but
descended straight to the snows of the Fresnay glacier beneath.

We were investigating the south-west corner of Mont Blanc, intending
if possible to make the ascent by the continuation of the Brouillard
ridge. With this prospect in view, we ascended the Brouillard glacier
to near the top of the Aiguille l'Innominata, but went no further.
The Brouillard is a glacier that to try and descend on a hot summer
afternoon would be foolish, to say the least of it. For, set at a very
high angle, and broken up in the wildest fashion, although presenting a
magnificent spectacle, it does not lend itself to safe mountaineering.
Harkabir was much disappointed that we refused to go on, for he thought
he could see his way up the rock escarpment at the head of the glacier,
and, were that possible, probably no more difficulty would be met with
from there to the summit. But in spite of the climber of the party
being confident we could proceed, I as conductor insisted on turning
back, being only a 'mere mountaineer.' One thing at least I was certain
of: Bertolini lived at Courmayeur, not Chamonix, and forty-year old
Barolo, together with countless other delicacies, was to be obtained
from him alone. To return, however, from the excellences of the cuisine
at Bertolini's to those of the range of Mont Blanc, should the jaded
climber of 'degraded' mountains want more rock peaks, the ascent of
the lesser Dru, in my opinion, can be repeated profitably. Not even
amongst the Dolomites can one get the sensation of dizzy height and
appalling depth to the same extent as on this mountain; moreover, there
is a most sporting though small glacier to cross before one begins the
rock ascent. Then the Charmoz and the Grépon are not to be despised.
For a most varied climb, requiring every kind of mountain craft, the
traverse of the Aiguille du Plan is to be recommended, from the Glacier
des Pèlerins over the summit, down the Glacier du Plan, and back by the
Glacier du Géant. Again, without doubt, the finest snow and ice climb
in the Alps, surrounded the whole time by superb scenery, is from the
Montanvert to the hut behind the Aiguille du Midi, thence over Mont
Blanc du Tacul and the Mont Maudit to the summit of Mont Blanc, and
down to the Grands-Mulets. Of course, I know that to recommend any one
to climb Mont Blanc will certainly be regarded as a bold suggestion by
those who have noticed a taint of staleness in the great mountains. For
of all the peaks that have been overwhelmed by the waters of oblivion,
surely Mont Blanc outrivals both the Jungfraus and the Finsteraarhorns
of the happy childhood of the Alps. Personally, however, I am a staunch
adherent of the 'ancient monarch of the mountains.' But as Leslie
Stephen says, the 'coarse flattery of the guide-books has done much
to surround him with vulgarising associations.' Surely, though, Mont
Blanc is far too magnificent, far too splendid to be much affected by
such associations, and as if to shake them off every now and then,
after he has been patted on the back by those of every nationality who
swarm over his sides, he arises in his anger, hangs out his danger
signal above his summit, and sweeps his glaciers and snows clear of the
invading crowd. The Föhn wind and the angry clouds envelop him, his
snow-fields glare with a ghastly dead white colour, and whirlwinds of
clouds, snow, and gloom descend. But the storm passes, and once more he
emerges clean and glistening in all his beauty.

But at Chamonix the Föhn wind of vulgarity seems to blow perpetually,
enveloping always the great mountain in pale and dim eclipse, and
obscuring the romance, the charm, and all honest appreciation of
the old monarch. Fortunately one can easily run away, leaving this
depressing atmosphere behind, and can bask once more in the sunshine,
and camp amidst the unspoiled valleys near the snows. Why there are
not more mountaineers who take small tents to the Alps is always to
me a mystery. For long ago most of the huts have become abominations,
whilst the free life that is afforded by camp life adds a very great
charm to mountain expeditions. Having tried it so often in the
Himalaya, in Skye, in Norway, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and
Switzerland, perhaps I may be biassed, but even if I never again had a
chance of climbing a first-class peak in the Alps, I would return there
to live the lazy, delightful, disreputable life in a tent, near the ice
and the snows and the pine woods, to smell the camp fire, lie on my
back all day amidst the grass and the flowers, listening to the wind,
and looking at the sky and the great silent peaks. On the other hand,
the idea of spending a month at Swiss hotels, arising in the darkness
to wander forth in a bad temper, chilled to the bone, in order merely
to finish off the remaining peaks of some district, so that I might
say I had been up them all, and therefore never be bothered to return
again--rather than perpetrate such a hideous waste of time I would go
to some secluded spot on the western coast of these islands where the
waves were for ever rolling in with that long, lazy, monotonous sweep
that is only seen on the shores of the Atlantic, and there I would
lie day after day on my back on the sands watching the ever-changing
colours of the sea.

These things, however, can be done in their proper season, but until
there are restaurants all over Mont Blanc, and railways up most of
the peaks, illuminations of the Matterhorn every night by means of
electricity and coloured fires, and all the avalanches are timed to
be let loose only twice a day, namely at a morning and an afternoon
performance--until that time arrives mountaineering in the Alps will
still be worth while indulging in occasionally. Till then there will
be plenty of space for the enthusiast who likes to wander amidst the
snow-and ice-covered mountains. The ledges of rock high up, with the
grey lichen on them, will still afford a resting-place from which
the long glaciers far down below can be seen as they descend to the
green-hued woods and the hazy valleys filled with sunshine. The
overhanging cornices high above, for ever on the point of breaking off,
will still hang poised in unstable equilibrium. The storms will sweep
as frequently as of old across that mountain land, hiding for a brief
space all in gloom; the lightning flashes, the roar of the thunder, the
driving snow, and the keen biting wind will hunt the too presumptuous
climber back to lower altitudes, as they have done often before; and
afterwards the sun will again shine, dissolving the clouds, drying the
lower slopes, and showing how the old mountains have once more put on
a clean garment, which in magnificence, in glittering splendour, is as
unmatched or unequalled as the deep, glowing colour of that 'solitary
handmaid of eternity,' the open ocean, or the glories of the heavens at
dawn or at sunset. Those who have learned to understand the language of
the hills can appreciate the many-voiced calls of the mountains, and,
I am sure, are not in the least afraid that, for the present, the Alps
will be wholly ruined or degraded. For my own part, they will always
possess an attraction which I care neither to analyse nor to destroy.
I shall go back there just as the swallow at the end of summer goes
south; and if by an unfortunate combination of circumstances anything
should happen to prevent me ever returning from that world of snow,
my ghost, could it walk, would then at any rate be surrounded by
nothing common nor unclean, which might perhaps not be so should it be
compelled to wander amongst the tombstones of a London cemetery.


[L] Vol. iv. p. 185.


   'Near the outer lands of the silent mist,
      The waves moan wearilie;
    Yet hidden there lie the Isles of the Blest,
      The lonely Isles of the Sea.'
                                    _Olav's Quest._

Many years ago I remember the first time I read that marvellous
description of the Maelström by Edgar Allan Poe, where he tells how
a fisherman from the Lofoten Islands, driven by a hurricane, was
caught in the Maelström's grip, and descended 'into the mouth of that
terrific funnel, whose interior, as far as the eye could fathom it,
was a smooth, shining, and jet-black wall of water, speeding dizzily
round and round with a swaying and sweltering motion, and sending
forth to the winds an appalling voice--half-shriek, half-roar--such as
not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its agony to
Heaven'; and I remember how I used to picture to myself precipitous,
polished cliffs of terrific height and grandeur encircling a writhing
pool of dusky waters; above, the rocks glowing red and golden in the
light of a stormy sunset; below, stray flakes of foam ever and again
flashing back the fiery glories of the angry sky, as they glided with
a stealthy, increasing haste for ever nearer and nearer and yet nearer
to the awful abyss of the devouring whirlpool. This, like so many tales
of one's youth, although told by that consummate artist Poe, must be
relegated to the realms of fiction.

But his description of one of the Lofoten Islands--of the 'sheer,
unobstructed precipices of black, shining rock,' against which the
ocean surf howled and shrieked, and of the endless array of gloomy
mountains, 'outstretched like ramparts of the world, hideously
craggy and barren'--is far nearer the truth; for in it is much that
is characteristic of the outer islands. But after all he has only
portrayed the Lofoten Islands when enveloped in storm. Of course,
when the south-west gales sweep on to the rock-bound coast of Röst
and Moskenesö, even Poe himself could hardly do justice to the scene,
for the battle between the great waves coming in from the open ocean
and the tremendous tides that surge past the outer islands must be
magnificent. Truly the picture would have to be of

      'An iron coast and angry waves,
    You seemed to hear them rise and fall
    And roar rock-thwarted under bellowing caves,
      Beneath the windy wall.'

[Illustration: Lofoten.]

But these mere rude phases of Nature's moods do not for ever encircle
Lofoten in flying surf and with winds that shriek and howl. In the
summer months, at least, the sun shines, and often one may look in
vain over the untroubled water, rippled by the warm west wind, for
the dreaded Maelström, whose thunderous voice and angry whirlpool
for the moment is stilled; whilst in its stead a gentle murmur rises
from the clear water which possesses just sufficient motion for the
waves to lazily rise and fall against the bare rocky shore, and yet
is calm enough for the reflection of the white clouds and craggy
hill-sides to repose sleepily on its surface. From their geographical
position these islands should have a very different climate from that
which they possess; and perhaps it may be due partly to this cause
that the mountains are so craggy and barren. For the rainfall during
several months is excessive, and is quite capable of washing away any
superincumbent earth from the sides of the numerous needle-shaped peaks
that are to be found on most of the Lofoten Islands; moreover, in the
valleys the whole country has been worn down to the bone in prehistoric
times by enormous glaciers, and to-day the abnormal summer rainfall
and the frosts of the long Arctic nights are continuing the work of

Although the Lofoten Islands are south of the North Cape, yet one does
not at once appreciate how far north they lie. From London they are
more than twelve hundred miles; and they are one hundred miles nearer
the North Pole than the northernmost part of Iceland. Moreover, most of
Siberia, Bering Straits, and Klondike are all further south than the
Lofoten Islands.

If it were not for that warm current which, starting from the Gulf of
Mexico, after thousands of miles sweeps past this northern coast of
Norway, these islands would during the whole year be covered with ice
and snow, and be surrounded by a frozen ocean.

The influence of the Gulf Stream on the temperature of the northern
coast of Norway is well illustrated by the fact that every winter the
sea round the Lofoten Islands, and even further north at Hammerfest and
the North Cape, is always open; yet in Southern Norway, six hundred
miles to the southward, the Kristiania Fjord, which the Gulf Stream
does not touch, is during the winter months covered with ice. The exact
reverse in climate is experienced in Newfoundland, the shores of which
are washed by the Labrador current, coming from the frozen north out
of Baffin Bay. In the straits of Belle Isle, which are in the same
latitude as London, and which separate Newfoundland from Labrador,
may be seen snow-drifts on the seashore even in July, whilst the bare
uplands behind are covered with far-stretching fields of snow.

The icebergs, too, which drift south on this Labrador current, are
sometimes found in such low latitudes that if on the map the latitude
were followed due east it would be found to pass through Cairo, and
not many miles north of Lahore in India. The approach to the Lofoten
Islands from the south after one has passed the Arctic Circle is
particularly grand and beautiful. The mountains, owing to excessive
prehistoric glaciation, possess forms at once curious and peculiar,
giving an individuality to the view which is lacking further south on
the Norwegian coast. Lofoten, however, is not seen till the great West
Fjord is reached; then far away across thirty miles of blue waters,
which slowly pulsate with the long waves of the open sea, appears a
wonderful land of sharp-pointed peaks that with a deep sapphire colour
outshines the deeper purple of the restless sea.

The west coast of Scotland can give similar views. Rum, Skye, and
the Hebrides, as seen from the mainland at Arisaig or Loch Maree, in
some respects resemble these islands, but the Lofoten mountains are
far wilder and far more fantastic in shape, and the number of peaks
infinitely greater than in the western islands of Scotland.

Ages ago the West Fjord must have held an enormous glacier, although it
is improbable that the great ice-sheet which then covered the country
ever was thick enough to submerge the loftier summits of the Lofoten
Islands, the highest of which now stand 4000 feet above sea-level; yet
this ice-sheet must have been thousands of feet thick, for from any
mountain-top it is easy to see how whole masses of solid rock appear to
have been cut away, leaving valleys whose cross-section is a perfect
half-circle. To those who are sceptical of what ice will do, a visit to
the mainland opposite the Lofoten Islands would prove very instructive.

Even the most gigantic of Himalayan glaciers are feeble in comparison
with an Arctic ice-sheet such as that on Greenland or on the Antarctic
continent. On Nanga Parbat I have seen a vast glacier turned to one
side by its own moraine. Near Elvegaard on the Ofoten Fjord there
exist valleys whose sides for miles are perpendicular walls of rock
sometimes a couple of thousand feet high, and which undoubtedly have
been excavated and then polished by the power of the ice.

For many years I had been anxious to see the Lofoten Islands, for I had
heard rumours that they were more beautiful than Skye and the Coolin.
But it was not till 1901 that I was able to go there. It was in good
company that I went; Woolley, Hastings, and Priestman, all of whom had
been there before in 1897, were the other members of the party. They
were able to advise where to go, how to best overcome the difficulties
of provisioning our camp, and, what was still better, were all able to
speak Norsk fluently.

We landed from the steamer at Svolvaer, a curious harbour amongst a
maze of ice-polished rocks. Svolvaer is the point where all the large
steamers call, although on a rough day as the vessel approaches the
harbour it looks as if there was not even a passage for a rowing-boat
anywhere along the rock-bound shore. The small town of Svolvaer is
built on a series of rocky islands, consequently the only convenient
way of getting from one part of the town to another is by boat, and of
course there is no such thing as a road in the town.

The finest mountains in the Lofoten Islands congregate round the
Raftsund, a narrow waterway which separates the islands of Hindö and
Öst Vaagö; but further down the islands are other isolated peaks whose
pointed spires of rock look almost inaccessible. Vaage Kallen is one,
whilst several in Moskenesö also would give excellent climbing. As far
as I could see, these mountains to the south-west are without glaciers,
which is not the case of those round the Raftsund.

The highest peak in Lofoten, Mösadlen by name, had been climbed, but
the next three highest, Higraf Tind, 3780 feet; Gjeitgaljar, 3560 feet;
and Rulten, 3490 feet, had as yet summits untrodden by the foot of man.
Moreover, of all the lesser mountains only about half a dozen had been
ascended. Here, then, should the climbing be good, was a mountaineer's

On August 2, with the help of two men and a couple of boats, Woolley,
Hastings, Priestman, and I conveyed our camp-baggage from Svolvaer
to a spot marked Austavindnes near the head of the Östnes Fjord. A
Norwegian porter, E. Hogrenning, who had been with Hastings before
on the mountains for more than one season, also came and helped to
pull the heavily laden boats through the waves of the fjord. It was a
pleasing sight to me as I sat idle in the stern of the boat in which
were the two local fishermen, to watch Hastings and Priestman in
their shirt-sleeves pulling the second boat, and trying their best to
show that Englishmen were just as capable of rowing as Norwegians.
In this they were successful, for we soon parted company, Hastings'
boat finally disappearing on the opposite side of the fjord. In time,
however, they came back again to us, but what they had been doing was
not quite clear--Hastings had probably been trying to borrow something
from a house on the shore, a pole or a cooking-stove, or some nails or
a spade. All these things and many more were ultimately collected by
Hastings, and before we left our camp a fortnight later there were few
houses on the Östnes Fjord that had not contributed something towards
our wants. Hastings' tent in the meantime had assumed the appearance of
a really first-class gipsy encampment.

The place where we had decided to camp was finally reached, and all our
provisions, tents, and baggage landed on the beach. One of the boats we
kept, and our two fishermen, bidding us farewell, returned to Svolvaer.

The views from our camp, although rather restricted, were occasionally
most beautiful, when during the long summer nights the peaks at the
head of the Östnes Fjord to the north-west were a dark purple against
the evening sky. Opposite to us was the peak Gjeitgaljar, a veritable
little Dru in appearance, and in front of it a ridge of pinnacles that
looked hopelessly inaccessible.

Every few moments some change in light and shade or in colour would
shift over the landscape. As soon as we had got our camp into order,
Woolley and I determined to start the attack on the mountains at once.
As far as we knew, all the peaks on the east side of the fjord were
unclimbed. We were not joined by Hastings and Priestman, they having
to return to Svolvaer for some more baggage. Straight behind our camp
the hill-side rose sheer; up these precipitous slabs of glacier-worn
rock we made our way, using the small ledges on which grew grass and
moss. So steep was the mountain-side that when a spot was reached fully
a thousand feet above our camp, it looked as if we could almost have
thrown a stone on to the white tents below by the water's edge.

After that we came to more easy travelling, still, however, over
glaciated rocks, finally reaching a small glacier.

All along the head of the glacier were precipitous rocks, rising here
and there to peaks forming the watershed of the island. At the head and
towards the right lay a snow col, filling a deep gap in the rock wall
in front of us. Towards this we made our way. The ascent of the ridge
from this col to the left was by no means easy climbing, and we soon
found that ridge-climbing in the Lofoten, even though there was no ice
on the rocks, was often difficult and sometimes impossible. Eventually,
by a series of traverses on the south-east side and by climbing up
some cracks, we succeeded in reaching our first summit. Here a cairn
was built, and I photographed an exceedingly tame ptarmigan in the
foreground against an excessively savage-looking peak in the background
named Rulten. We were at a height of about 3000 feet. Rulten, from
where we were, looked hopelessly inaccessible; but Higraf Tind, the
second highest peak in Lofoten, when examined through a glass, promised
not only a fine climb, but also success.

One of the great charms of climbing in Lofoten is that to hurry is
unnecessary, for it is daylight through all the twenty-four hours: a
night out on the mountains in darkness is impossible. Moreover, owing
to the comparative smallness of the mountains more than one first
ascent may be made in a morning or an afternoon.

As Woolley and I saw several more summits on our ridge (the
Langstrandtinder) towards the north-east, we started off for them after
we had fully exhausted the view, and smoked as many pipes as were
necessary to produce a sensation of rest. In fact, to me one of the
chief reasons for moving on to the next peak was that again I might
have the excuse for being lazy, again look at the sky, the far-off
mountains, and the endless expanse of the sea beyond. The climbing
along the ridge was easy, and two more summits were ascended; a small
cairn was left on each of their tops.

Further progress along the ridge was, however, impossible, for a
deep gap of about five hundred feet cut us off from the next peak.
We therefore descended on the north side of the mountain to a steep
snow slope, which led down for several hundreds of feet to the glacier
below. Thence following our route of the morning we descended the steep
rock face above our camp, and got home in time for dinner.

During the next two days we paid a part of our penalty for being on
the shores of the Gulf Stream. Clouds hid the mountains, and rain and
dull weather kept us at sea-level. But magnificent weather followed
on August 7, and we were all impatient to start for the virgin peak,
Higraf Tind, 3780 feet, the second highest mountain in Lofoten.

In order to get to the base of the mountain we rowed in our boat across
the small arm of the Östnes Fjord, by whose shores we were camped,
and beached our boat at Liland. Thence making our way through the
thickets of dwarf birch up the lower stretches of the small valley
of Lilandsdal, we arrived at the foot of the great precipice which
constitutes the upper part of the mountain.

Rimming the head of the valley was the rocky ridge which connects
Higraf Tind with Gjeitgaljar. To follow this ridge to the summit of our
mountain would have necessitated climbing over various pinnacles and
notches, and as we were very sceptical as to whether we should be able
to surmount these difficulties, we turned to our left along a small
ledge which appeared to run in and out of the gullies that seamed this
southern face of Higraf Tind.

On more than one occasion we found ourselves in places where great
care was necessary, and our spirits rose and fell as we either found
a narrow ledge which would safely lead us into one of the many rock
gullies and out again on the far side, or were forced back to try
higher up or lower down on the face of the mountain.

Eventually we emerged on the arête which led up to the topmost peak.
The summit of the mountain consisted of huge monoliths of what I should
call granite (it may, however, be gabbro), similar in appearance to
those on the top of the Charmoz, and also similar to the Charmoz in
being very narrow with tremendous precipices on each side.

A short distance below the top a small promontory on the ridge afforded
a splendid point from which a photograph could be taken. Woolley was
sent on so that he might be photographed, proudly planting his ice-axe
on the topmost pinnacle. In due time he appeared clear cut against
the sky; but immediately afterwards from his gesticulations I could
see that something was wrong. The reason was obvious when after a few
moments I joined him. Twenty feet away was another summit a few feet
higher, and between the two a gulf was fixed.

Below us the rock fell sheer for over thirty feet with never a crack in
it, whilst on the opposite side of the chasm the great blocks overhung,
so that even had we descended hand over hand on the rope into the gap,
direct ascent on the other side was hopeless.

But remembering our tactics lower down we tried further back for a
traverse, and soon found that by climbing down a crack between two huge
blocks on the eastern side we could get round into the gap. So far so
good, but how to surmount the difficulties on the further side! An
attempt to traverse on the western side was seen to be hopeless, but
an obliging ledge on the other face ran round a corner. Where would
it lead to? Cautiously we edged along it, passing under the summit
of the mountain. Another crack between great slabs was found; up this
we clambered, and once at its top all difficulty disappeared. We had
conquered Higraf Tind, and all that remained for us to do was to crown
the vanquished mountain with a cairn.

Then we returned to the lower summit, where the cameras and baggage had
been left. After toil came repose. The afternoon was perfect, only a
few clouds floated in the clear sky. Far away to the south-west could
be seen the outer Lofoten Islands, a mass of tangled mountain forms, in
colour every conceivable shade of atmospheric blue and purple, whilst
beyond lay the calm glittering ocean, and far, far away the last and
loneliest of the Lofoten, the island of Röst. Nearer and beneath us
were numberless peaks, the majority of them unclimbed; of them, next
in height to Higraf Tind were Gjeitgaljar and Rulten. In the distance
across the Raftsund in the island of Hindö we could see Mösadlen and
its two attendant pinnacles of rock. These pinnacles, from their
appearance, should be excessively difficult to climb.

At our feet lay the Blaaskovl glacier with the Troldfjordvatn beyond,
a solitary iceberg floating on its waters, and further the Trold Fjord
and glimpses of the Raftsund. All these combined to give an effect of
space and depth to the view far in excess of what one would expect from
mountains not 4000 feet above their base.

We lingered for a long time on the summit; but in a land where, at
that time of year, night never comes, what need was there to hurry?
The extraordinary atmospheric colours, the ever-changing forms of the
clouds, and the slowly slanting rays of the sun, flashing first on one
peak and then on another, produced a wonderful picture. Also it was the
first time that I had been able to master the complicated geography of
the district, and the peaks Store Trold Tind, Svartsund Tind, Isvand
Tind, and others that my friends had climbed when they were last camped
by the Raftsund, were pointed out to me. No icy wind shrilled across
the mountains, darkness would not visit this land for many days yet; to
hasten would have been as foolish as it was unnecessary.

After our victory over Higraf Tind came the deluge; for three nights
and days the heavens were opened and the rains descended. Had it
not been for strenuous efforts on our part in trench digging, our
camp would have been bodily washed into the fjord. On one morning an
aluminium pan out in the open served as an amateur rain-gauge; in
three hours about three inches of water were registered, proving that
Lofoten can easily compete with our Atlantic coast as regards rainfall.

On the return of fine weather we determined to attack Rulten. In our
boat we rowed to his base, landing in a small bay named Flaeskvik. The
lower slopes of the mountain were very steep, and the usual climbing
from ledge to ledge and up gullies had to be resorted to.

After a toilsome climb, for the day was moist and warm, we finally
emerged on to the true south-west arête, having discovered on our way
up a most remarkable window in one of the ridges.

The difficulties now began, for the ridge at once steepened; moreover,
in slimness it almost resembled the Grépon. I tried to climb straight
up the ridge, but perpendicular slabs, with only small cracks in
them, barred the way. To be entirely outside the mountain, when in a
peculiarly difficult place, is by no means pleasant. The imagination
is far less troubled with ideas of what might happen should one fall,
when the extreme steepness is partially hidden from one's view in the
privacy of a rock chimney.

Baffled in my attempt to make a direct ascent, I looked to the left for
some convenient traverse. There was none; vertical slabs, many hundreds
of feet high, entirely stopped the way. To the right hand a ledge was
found which led for a short distance along the side of the mountain,
but smooth rocks, bending over into space, brought my investigations
there also to an abrupt conclusion. It might have been possible from
the end of this traverse to climb upwards on to the ridge, but later
we saw, on our return journey, that should we have surmounted this
difficulty, further along the sky-line more than one gap would almost
certainly have prevented our reaching the top. The point where we
stopped was below 3000 feet, therefore there was at least 800 feet more
of the mountain to climb.

Rulten is undeniably a difficult peak; at present I have seen no likely
way up it, but no doubt by a systematic attack, by trying first one
side and then another, a weak spot would be discovered.

During the day we had seen the Östnes Fjord dotted over with thousands
of boats, and as we descended on to the beach, we found many of the
fisherfolk on shore drying their herring-nets on the rocks, for it was
the herring fishery that had brought them into the fjord.

These nets are often as much as 800 feet long by 100 to 130 feet deep,
and a really fortunate haul will bring in often many hundreds of pounds
worth of fish; enough, in fact, to fill more than one small steamer.

It is, of course, in the early spring, from January to April, that the
great cod fishery is carried on, for it is then that the cod migrate to
the coast. The fish are caught with hooks and lines, and it is the cod
fishery which forms the chief trade of the Lofoten Islands.

There are two usual methods of preparing the fish for the market,
either by drying (Törfisk) or salting (Klipfisk). The former is the
old-fashioned method, and is carried out by drying the cod on wooden
scaffolds, after they have been cleaned and the heads removed. And an
ancient rule forbade fish being hung up after April 12th, or taken
down before June 12th. By far the greater portion of the cod, however,
are exported as Klipfisk, Spain being the chief customer, taking about
three-fifths of the whole amount exported. Of the remainder of the cod,
the liver produces cod-liver oil, the roe is exported to France for
sardine bait, and the heads and other parts are turned into manure.

The next day was gloriously fine, so we stretched our Alpine ropes to
their fullest extent, between the birch trees, and hung everything
in the camp on them to dry. Then we bathed in the clear water of the
fjord, taking headers into the deep water from the smoothly polished
rocks on the shore.

Ever since we had pitched our tents by the side of the fjord,
Gjeitgaljar Tind had waited patiently. Day by day we had seen the mists
play hide-and-seek behind his jagged pinnacles of rock; now we thought
the time had arrived for us to attack this formidable looking aiguille.
In appearance by far the most difficult peak we had seen, it turned out
the most easy to climb; in fact, there was no difficulty experienced
anywhere on the ascent.

Our route lay up a deep gully partly filled with snow, on the left of
the peak, which led us on to a small snow-field behind the summit. On
the way up this gully a splendid view of the pinnacle ridge, in front
of the top of the mountain, was obtained. A more formidable series of
rock towers I have never seen. From the snow-field to the highest point
is easy climbing. The top consists of some flat slabs of rock, but the
eastern edge is most sensational, and is best investigated by lying on
one's stomach before looking over, for it drops sheer for many hundreds
of feet. A small stone let fall from the outstretched hand is almost
out of sight before it hits the vertical side of the mountain.

A more ideal summit for a cairn could hardly be imagined; moreover,
there were plenty of loose stones, so Hogrenning was set to build one
worthy of the mountain. He produced one seven feet high, and big enough
to proclaim to all interested the fact that somebody at least had
scaled that impossible looking rock pinnacle Gjeitgaljar.

On the next day we broke up our camp, putting on board the steamer
_Röst_ all our baggage; but it was not till late on the day following
that we arrived back again at Svolvaer, for the _Röst_ had to call at
all the small hamlets on the outer islands, almost as far down as the
end of Moskenesö. We stopped just short of the historic Maelström, but
had we gone further the Maelström would not have been seen, for we
voyaged through summer seas.

Hastings now left us in order to go to the Lyngen peninsula, whilst
Woolley, Priestman, and I went to Digermulen on the Raftsund.

From there, that most extraordinary fjord, the Trold Fjord was visited,
and we also walked up to the Troldfjordvatn. This mountain tarn,
hidden away amongst the mountains and flanked with dark and forbidding
precipices, has a beauty all its own, and in some respects reminds one
of Loch Coruisk.

At its head is a small glacier, whose snout, occasionally breaking off,
produces icebergs. The precipices along its shore fall sheer into its
dark waters, and the surrounding peaks are wild and savage, but its
sides lack the wonderful soft-coloured clothing of the heather, and the
rocks are not of such rich hues as the gabbro of Skye. Perhaps I may
be wrong, yet it seemed to me that the mountains themselves are not so
graceful, neither are the long curving lines so fine as those that can
be seen amongst the Coolin from the shores of Coruisk.

From Digermulen we attempted the ascent of another of the unclimbed
peaks of Öst Vaagö. It is an unnamed peak north of Rörhop Vand. But
the weather was bad, and clouds prevented us ever seeing the summit of
our peak. We had, however, a most delightful climb, first up a small
glacier, marked Dijerna on the map, thence up some steep rocks to the
ridge, which joined our mountain with the Troldtinder. Following this
ridge, we ultimately got into a gap, but beyond this we could see no
possible way; traversing for a short distance on the western face only
showed us that there was little likelihood of our ever getting back
again on to the arête, so reluctantly we returned, and got back to
Digermulen in the rain.

The weather then went from bad to worse. So we boarded the steamer
_Röst_ once more, and went for a trip in mist, rain, and storm round
Langö, one of the outer islands of Vesteraalen. All that we saw
were the grey seas, the clouds lying low on the mountains, and most
extraordinary places bristling with rocks, into which our captain took
the small _Röst_, tossed to and fro by the great rolling waves of the
Arctic ocean. The voyage in fine weather must be superb.

On our return to Svolvaer, Woolley and I travelled south with
Priestman, as far as Trondhjem, and from there went home to England.

It is a very curious fact that so few mountaineers go to Lofoten. As
far back as 1867 the Rev. St. John Tyrwhitt read a paper before the
Alpine Club, in which he says, 'An exploration of the Loffodens would
be a work worthy of the Club in every sense of the words.' Again, in
1869, Professor Bonney, who visited these islands with E. Walton,
speaks 'strongly of the wonderful grandeur and beauty of some parts of
the Lofotens,' and then the next paper in the _Alpine Club Journal_ is
that of Priestman in 1898 nearly thirty years later.

It is true that the peaks are only 4000 feet high, and therefore
cannot compete with those of 14,000 feet; also, they possess no large
glaciers, neither are the valleys filled with pine forests, and the
foregrounds, as a rule, are desolate and the rocks without much colour:
but the rock climbing is as good as any one could wish to get, the rock
resembling in many respects that of the Chamonix Aiguilles.

Moreover, and herein lies the strong charm of this mountain-land, it
is a land of exquisite atmospheric effects. For those who care to
climb where great expanses of sky and clouds arch slowly down to the
far-off horizon, and where lonely islands are set in open spaces of
blue water, these remote Lofoten mountain fastnesses beyond the Arctic
Circle are difficult to equal. The low circling sun making it for ever
afternoon, flooding sky and mountain-land in warm, luminous colour,
which deepens the distances, and adds perspective to ridge after ridge
of serrated and barren peaks, all these purely æsthetic qualifications
are possessed in a high degree by the Lofoten Islands. Also for those
who are willing to spend a lazy, delightful summer holiday in camp by
the side of the many-voiced sea, far from busy crowds and the worries
of civilisation, there are few spots more peaceful, more fascinating,
or more beautiful than these Lofoten Islands, where the wondrous summer
skies slowly change their exquisitely rich colouring of long-drawn-out
evening for the more delicate tints of the early dawn, and where the
restless waves of the great Arctic Ocean are for ever washing against
the precipitous sides of the bare, rock-girt mountains.


   'But in the prime of the summer-time
    Give me the Isle of Skye.'
                             A. NICOLSON.

Once upon a time, as the story-books say, Dr. Samuel Johnson was
bold enough to forsake his beloved Fleet Street, and, at the age of
sixty-four, journey northwards in company with Boswell to the Hebrides,
the Ultima Thule of those days. He finally arrived in the Island
of Skye, 'without any memorable accident,' about the beginning of
September 1773, where he experienced all the severities of ordinary
Skye weather--much rain and many gales--and this state of things
continuing throughout the month, the Doctor found some difficulty in
getting back again to the mainland. He writes, 'Having been detained by
storms many days in Skie, we left, as we thought with a fair wind; but
a violent gust which Bos had a great mind to call a tempest, forced us
into Col, an obscure island.'

The wild and beautiful scenery of the Island of Skye does not seem to
have made any impression on Johnson, and he leaves with no regret,
merely admitting, that he has 'many pictures in his mind which he
could not have had without his journey,' and that these pictures 'will
serve later for pleasing topics of conversation.' What these pictures
were he does not say, but they probably had little to do with what
we now call the beauties of the Highlands; for he mentions that he
found little entertainment in the wildernesses of the Hebrides, the
universal barrenness oppressed him, and he points out that 'in those
countries you are not to suppose that you shall find villages or
enclosures. The traveller wanders through a naked desert, gratified
sometimes but rarely with sight of cows, and now and then finds heaps
of loose stones and turf in a cavity between the rocks, where a being,
born with all those powers which education expands, and all those
sensations which culture refines, is condemned to shelter itself from
the wind and the rain.' Also, that 'a walk upon ploughed fields in
England is a dance upon carpets, compared to the toilsome drudgery of
wandering in Skie.' But it is not surprising that Johnson at the age
of sixty-four looked upon hilly country with aversion--the mountains
interfered with his convenience. He only mentions the hills in Skye
once. 'Here are mountains that I should once have climbed,' he writes
to his friend Mrs. Thale; 'but to climb steeps is now very laborious,
and to descend them dangerous.' No doubt at the Doctor's age he was
right; still we feel somewhat disappointed that during his stay at
Talisker, he was apparently unconscious of the Coolin, and we receive
but small consolation from his elegant epistolary communications, when
they tell us instead, that he was gratified sometimes but rarely with
sight of cows, and that Mr. Boswell was affected almost to tears by the
illustrious ruins at Iona.

[Illustration: The Coolin.]

All this shows us, how the attitude of people towards the wilds of the
Highlands has become completely changed in one century, for Johnson
was not in any way peculiar in his ideas. Look where we will in the
literature of that time, we find the same sentiments. Pennant, who
visited Skye the year before Dr. Johnson, describes the Coolin as 'a
savage series of rude mountains,' whilst Blaven, 'affects him with
astonishment.' Thirty years later the only natural objects in the
island that interested Forsyth, at least so far as one can judge
from what he writes in _The Beauties of Scotland_, were 'an obelisk
of uncommon magnitude' in the parish of Snizort, (probably the Storr
Rock,) and a waterfall and sea cave near Portree.

But a new school was growing up, and Sir Walter Scott was one of the
first to insist, that a visit to the Highlands would reveal objects
more interesting than cows, waterfalls, and sea caves. People were
beginning to find in the torrents, mountains, lochs, and pine woods,
beauties they had not seen before. No longer were the hills chaotic
masses of rock, ready at any moment to fall and overwhelm the valleys,
nor were the moors and glens expanses of uniform barrenness or gloomy
mountain fastnesses. Robson, at the beginning of last century (1815),
writing of one of the most remote and wild regions of the Highlands,
namely the head of Glen Tilt, says: 'Of all the romantic scenes which
are presented to those who explore the recesses of the Grampians, none
will be found to possess a more picturesque combination of wild and
characteristic beauty than this'; and in the preface to his accurate
and delightful volume on the scenery of the Grampian mountains, he
writes: 'With the man of taste few districts in this kingdom have equal
claim to admiration.'

Robson was not a Scotchman, but a London artist; yet one has only to
look at his sketches, and read the letterpress of his book to see
how well he appreciated mountain form, and how he understood, in no
uncertain manner, that which now delights us nearly a century later
in the Highlands. His water-colour picture of Loch Coruisk[M] is an
honest attempt to accurately reproduce the wonderful colour and savage
beauty of the grandest of all Scotch lochs, and one is only sorry that
he has introduced into the foreground a fully dressed Highlander--a
legacy, no doubt, of that old feeling that made Dr. Johnson crave for
cows, and that even now survives at the present time in the pretty
sketches of Scotch hills, where the foreground is animated by Highland

Since Robson's time, many people have been to the Highlands and to Skye
and the Coolin. Turner visited them, and the impression produced may be
seen from his drawing of Loch Coriskin. This drawing is described by
Ruskin in _Modern Painters_ as 'a perfect expression of the Inferior
Mountains,' yet any one who had really seen the Coolin would hardly
be justified in asserting that Turner's drawing (Fig. 69, vol. iv.,
_Modern Painters_) was the perfect expression of the hills round Sgurr
Dubh, even though it may be the perfect expression of an inferior

Fortunately the Coolin are never inferior mountains, unless we measure
them by the number of feet they rise above the sea. 'Comparative bulk
and height,' says the late Sheriff Nicolson, 'are of course important
elements in mountain grandeur, but outline and features are, as with
human beings, even more important.' Clachlet at Easter, covered with
snow and seen across the moor of Rannoch at a distance of a few miles,
towers up into the heavens just as grandly as a peak five times its
altitude does in the Himalaya, when that peak is seen from a point
thirty miles away.

It is the atmosphere that adds both dignity and charm to these Scotch
hills, making them appear far bigger than they would in the clearer
air of the larger mountain ranges, and giving them all the softened
colour and perspective so necessary to emphasise the real beauty of
true mountains. Their form also helps them in no small degree. The
long-flowing lines of the lower slopes gradually rising from the
moorland below, and the beautifully carved corries that nestle into
their sides, all tend to strengthen and serve as a fit substructure for
their more wild and broken summits.

At their feet lie no valleys with dirty-white glacier streams tearing
down between mud banks, and never a proper pool in them; their sides
are not disfigured with monotonous pine forests of a uniform light
green colour, but the heather and the grey rocks, lichen-covered,
mingle together on their slopes, lighting up with every flash of
sunshine, or deepening into every shade of brown and purple gloom, as
the storm clouds sweep over their summits; whilst, below, brown trout
streams wander between wild birches and Scotch firs, staying here in
some dark pool hidden away under the rocks covered with ferns and
heather, flashing out again there into the sunshine over the pebbles,
and across the low-lying moor.

Those who have seen the Coolin from the moors above Talisker in the
twilight, or who have watched them on a summer's evening from Kyle
Akin, apparently clothed in deep purple velvet broidered with gold, and
rising out of the 'wandering fields of barren foam,' whilst

   'The charmed sunset linger'd low adown
    In the red west';

or lazily spent a whole day on the sand beaches of Arisaig point,
gazing, towards Rum and Skye lying light blue on the horizon, and
across a sea brilliant in colour as the Mediterranean amongst the
Ionian islands; or lingered at the head of Loch Coruisk till the last
pale light has faded out of the heavens behind Sgurr Alasdair, and only
the murmur of the streams breaks the stillness of the night air--those
who have thus seen the Coolin will know that they are beautiful. But
the fascination that these mountains exercise over those that know
them well is manifold; there are more pleasures that the Coolin can
offer than those of being merely very beautiful. For the mountaineer
who wanders in the heart of this marvellous mountain land there are
rock climbs without end. He can spend hour after hour exploring the
corries, or threading the intricacies of the narrow rock edges that
form so large a part of the sky-line. From the summits he can watch
the mists sweeping up from below, and hurrying over the bealachs in
tumbled masses of vapour, or he can dreamily follow the white sails of
the boats, far out to sea, as they slowly make for the outer islands;
then clambering down the precipitous faces he can repose in some
sheltered nook and listen to the sound of a burn, perhaps a thousand
feet below, echoed across from the sheer walls of rock on the other
side of the corrie; there is always something new to interest him--it
may be a gully that requires the utmost of his skill as a mountaineer,
or it may be a view of hill, moor, and loch backed by the Atlantic and
the far-off isles of the western sea. Nowhere in the British Islands
are there any rock climbs to be compared with those in Skye, measure
them by what standard you will--length, variety, or difficulty. Should
any one doubt this, let him some fine morning walk up from the head of
Coruisk to the rocky slabs at the foot of Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh. There
he will see the bare grey rocks rising out from the heather not 500
feet above the level of the loch, and there walls, ridges, and towers
of weather-worn gabbro stretch with hardly a break to the summit of
the mountain, 2800 feet above him. Measured on the map, it is but half
a mile, but that half mile will tax his muscles; he must climb up
gullies that the mountain torrents have worn out of the precipices,
and over slabs of rock sloping down into space at an angle that makes
handhold necessary as well as foothold; he must creep out round edges
on to the faces of perpendicular cliffs, only to find that after all
the perpendicular cliff itself must be scaled before he can win back
again to the ridge that is to lead him to the topmost peak. There are
many such climbs in the Coolin. The pinnacles of Sgurr nan Gillean, the
four tops of Sgurr a'Mhadaidh, and the ridge from Sgurr Dearg to Sgurr
Dubh, are well known, but the face climbs have been neglected. The face
of Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from Tairneilear, the face of Sgurr Alasdair from
Coire Labain, are both excellent examples of what these mountains can
offer to any one who wants a first-rate scramble on perfect rock. Sgurr
a'Coir' an Lochain on the northern face gives a climb as good as one
could anywhere wish to get, yet it is only a preliminary one to those
on the giants Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Dearg that lie behind.

But splendid though the climbing on the Coolin may be, it is only
one of the attractions, possibly a minor attraction, to these hills,
and there are many other mountain ranges where rock-climbing can be
found. It is the individuality of the Coolin that makes the lover of
the hills come back again and again to Skye, and this is true also of
other mountain districts on the mainland of Scotland. To those who can
appreciate the beauty of true hill form, the ever-changing colour and
wonderful power and character of the sea-girt islands of the west, the
lonely grandeur of Rannoch moor, the spacious wooded valley of the
Spey at Aviemore, backed by the Cairngorm mountains, wild Glen Affric
prodigal of gnarled pines abounding in strange curves of strength, or
the savage gloom of Glencoe--all these scenes tell the same tale, and
proclaim in no doubtful manner, that the Scotch mountain land in its
own way is able to offer some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in
the world.

The Highlands of Scotland contain mountain form of the very finest
and most subtle kind--form not so much architectural, of which Ruskin
writes, 'These great cathedrals of the earth, with their gates of rock,
pavements of clouds, choirs of streams and stone, altars of snow, and
vaults of purple traversed by the continual stars,' but form where
the savage grandeur, the strength, and the vastness of the mountains
is subordinate to simpler, yet in a way more complicated, structures.
Scotch mountains have something finer to give than architectural form.
In their modelling may be seen the same beauties that in perfection
exist in Greek statuary. The curving lines of the human figure are more
subtle than those of any cathedral ever built. The Aiguilles round
Mont Blanc are architectural in the highest degree, but the mighty
summit rising up far above them into the blue sky, draped in wonderful
and sweeping lines of snow and ice, marvellously strong, yet full of
moderation, is far more mysterious, far more beautiful, than all the
serrated ridges and peaks that cluster round its base.

It is in the gentleness of ascent in many of the Highland hills, in
the restraint and repose of the slopes 'full of slumber,' that we can
trace all the finer and more delicate human lines; and it is due to the
strength of these lines that the bigger mountains seem to rise without
an effort from the moors and smaller hills that surround them. To
many people the Cairngorm range is composed of shapeless, flat-topped
mountains devoid almost of any character. They do not rise like the
Matterhorn in savage grandeur, yet the sculptured sides of Braeriach,
seen from Sgoran Dubh Mhor, are in reality far more full of rich and
intricate mountain sculpture, than the whole face of the Matterhorn as
seen from the Riffel Alp.

The individuality of the Coolin is not seen in their summits, which
are often almost ugly, but in the colour of the rocks, the atmospheric
effects, the relative largeness and harmony of the details compared
with the actual size of the mountains, and most of all in the mountain
mystery that wraps them round: not the mystery of clearness such as is
seen in the Alps and Himalaya, where range after range recedes into the
infinite distance, till the white snow peaks cannot be distinguished
from the clouds, but in the secret beauty born of the mists, the rain,
and the sunshine, in a quiet and untroubled land, no longer vexed
by the more rude and violent manifestations of the active powers of
Nature. Once there was a time when these peaks were the centre of a
great cataclysm; they are the shattered remains of a vast volcano that
ages since poured its lavas in mighty flood far and wide over the
land; since then the glaciers in prehistoric times have polished and
worn down the corries and the valley floors, leaving scars and wounds
everywhere as a testimony of this power; but the fire age and the ice
age are past; now the still, clear waters of Coruisk ripple in the
breeze, by the lochside lie the fallen masses of the hills, and the
shattered debris left by the glaciers of bygone days; these harbour the
dwarf hazel, the purple heather, and the wildflowers, whilst corrie,
glen, and mountain-side bask in the summer sunlight.

But when the wild Atlantic storms sweep across the mountains; when the
streams gather in volume, and the bare rock faces are streaked with
the foam of a thousand waterfalls; when the wind shrieks amongst the
rock pinnacles, and sky, loch, and hillside all are one dull grey, the
Coolin can be savage and dreary indeed. Perhaps, though, the clouds
towards evening may break; then the torn masses of vapour tearing in
mad hunt along the ridges will be lit up by the rays of the sun slowly
descending into the western sea, 'robing the gloom with a vesture of
divers colours, of which the threads are purple and scarlet, and the
embroideries flame'; and as the light flashes from the black rocks, and
the shadows deepen in the corries, the superb beauty, the melancholy,
the mystery of these mountains of the Isle of Mist will be revealed.
But the golden glory of the sunset will melt from off the mountains,
the light that silvered the great slabs will slowly fail; from out the
corries darkness heralding the black night will creep with stealthy
tread, hiding all in gloom; then, last of all, beyond the darkly
luminous, jagged, and fantastic outline of the Coolin the glittering
stars will flash from the clear sky, no wind will stir the great
quiet, and only the far-off sound, born of the rhythmic murmur of the
sea-waves beating on the rock-bound shore of lonely Scavaig, remains as
a memory of the storm.

          'In conclusion, let us sum up the lessons that the
         mountains of the British Isles can teach us. They
         can give healthy exercise, and cultivate in us the
         power of appreciating the beauties and grandeur
         of nature.... Amongst them we may learn the
         proper uses of our legs.... We may learn to climb
         difficult rocks, to avoid dislodging loose stones,
         and to guard against those dangers that are
         peculiar to grassy mountains.... We can cultivate
         perseverance, courage, the quiet, uncomplaining
         endurance of hardships, and last, but not least
         important, those habits of constant care and
         prudence without which mountaineering ceases to
         be one of the finest sports in the world, and may
         degenerate into a gambling transaction with the
         forces of nature, with human life for the stake.'

                                           CHARLES PILKINGTON.

Turning over the pages one day of the index of the _Alpine Club
Journal_, I looked for information on the mountains of Ireland.
Greece, Greenland, Patagonia, the Peepsa fly, and mountain midgets
were all mentioned, but Ireland and its many ranges of hills I sought
for in vain. This obviously was a most monstrous injustice, and it
almost seemed, at first sight, as if a tour of exploration into this
apparently unknown land might be undertaken for the purpose of climbing
the numerous and neglected heights. Years ago, however, I had visited
several parts of Ireland, the Mourne mountains, the north of Antrim,
and a great part of Donegal, and I knew that there were cairns at
least on the summits of most of the mountains; presumably, therefore,
they had been visited by man before my arrival.

Still it is strange that Ireland, with so many groups of hills, and
some of them so wonderfully beautiful, should not attract more notice
in the mountaineering world. Why should not an Irish club, like the
Climbers' Club, the Cairngorm Club, or the Scottish Mountaineering
Club, be formed? Mr. H. C. Hart, in his introduction to Ireland
in _Climbing in the British Isles_, has very ably given both the
possibilities and the limits of Irish climbing, and I cannot do better
than quote his words: 'But there are ample opportunities for acquiring
the art of mountain craft, the instinct which enables the pedestrian
to guide himself alone from crest to crest, from ridge to ridge, with
the least labour. He will learn how to plan out his course from the
base of cliff or gully, marking each foot and hand grip with calm
attention; and knowing when to cease to attempt impossibilities, he
will learn to trust in himself, and acquire that most necessary of
all climbers' acquirements, a philosophic, contemplative calm in the
presence of danger or difficult dilemmas. If the beginner is desirous
of rock practice, or the practised hand requires to test his condition
or improve his form, there is many a rocky coast where the muscles and
nerves and stamina can be trained to perfection. Kerry and Donegal are
competent to form a skilled mountaineer out of any capable aspirant.
Ice and snow craft is an accomplishment which must of course be learnt

[Illustration: _The Macgillicuddy's Reeks._]

All this being true, it seems incomprehensible that Ireland should not
be looked upon more favourably as a possible mountaineering country.
I am afraid nowadays, however, that unless a considerable amount of
rock gymnastics can be made part of a climb, the modern mountaineer is
not satisfied. Merely beautiful scenery is insufficient to lure him
to the mountains. Still, as Mr. Hart says, Kerry and Donegal are good
training-grounds for the novice. This I can vouch for; the cliffs of
Slieve League, 1972 feet, form one of the finest sea cliffs in the
British Isles, and much of the best scenery amongst the Macgillicuddy's
Reeks can only be obtained by those who are willing to do some rock

Now the modern mountaineer, owing to this specialisation in rock
climbing, is apt to lose much that the earlier mountain climbers
enjoyed; whilst, in days gone by, the wanderer amongst the mountains
also missed much by being unable to deal with difficult rocks. On
the other hand, the expert of to-day gains in both directions, but he
must beware of spending all his time in mere gymnastics or the pure
athletics of mountaineering. One of Ireland's most famous literary men,
the Rev. J. P. Mahaffy, more than a quarter of a century ago in _Social
Life in Greece_, points out the dangers of immoderate specialisation
in bodily exercise, and how alien it was to Greek education. 'The
theoretical educators,' he says, 'knew quite well what most of us do
not, that field sports are vastly superior to pure athletics in their
effects upon the mind.' Again: 'The Greeks knew what we ignore, that
such sports as require excessive bodily training and care are low and
debasing in comparison to those which demand only the ordinary strength
and quickness, daring and decision in danger, resource and ingenuity in
difficulties.' In these days the old Greek virtue of moderation is hard
to follow. But perhaps in the sport of mountaineering it is more easily
observed than in many others, for he who wanders amongst the hills is
not driven forward by strenuous competition, no crowd applauds the
success of some daring feat, and as a rule these immoderate efforts can
be avoided.

The extent of wild mountainous country in Ireland where the mountaineer
can enjoy his sport is much greater than is generally supposed; the
Kerry mountains occupy a larger area than the Snowdon group in North
Wales; then there are the Wicklow mountains, the Mourne mountains, the
Donegal Highlands, the Galtee More group, and the mountainous country
of Connemara and Mayo, which last is about forty miles long by thirty
miles wide.

Over all these scattered groups the mountaineer can wander at his will;
he will be stopped by no one. Moreover, this west coast of Ireland has
more to offer than mountains. Should the visitor not be extraordinarily
enthusiastic and wish to walk over the hills every day in the week,
from Kerry to Donegal there are always plenty of rivers and lakes
where salmon and trout can be caught; the scenery, too, is often of
the finest description, wonderfully wild sea lochs to explore, with a
magnificent rock-bound coast, on whose shores the restless Atlantic
breaks, also numberless lonely islands far out in the sea. To those
who care for beautiful soft atmospheric lights, for great stretches of
heather lands, of sky, or of clouds, for a clean sea with often miles
of yellow sands or splendid cliffs, all these can be found on Ireland's
Atlantic coast, and they surely are a sufficient enticement to bring
far more visitors to this beautiful country than are to be found there
at the present time.

It is now many years since I was stopping at Carrick in Donegal bay.
Not many miles west of Carrick is Slieve League. Although it is not
quite 2000 feet high, yet it needs a good climber to ascend this hill
from the seashore at its feet. I do not know what the average angle
may be, but on one summer afternoon it took me a very long time to
accomplish the ascent.

Of course there is a great deal of heather and grass set at the
steepest angle on which they will grow; but a climber ought to be able
to be as safe on such a mountain-side as he is on hard rock or on snow
or ice, and unless experience is obtained, he will remain a novice in
this particular kind of climbing.

There was more than one place on the way up Slieve League from the
seashore that needed considerable care, and I well remember those
'nasty ravines, iron-floored and steep-edged,' that Mr. Hart mentions
in his description of the place.

Another unique experience, not however a mountaineering one, that I had
whilst stopping at Carrick, was in the sea caves in the cliffs just
west of Slieve League. It is only in the finest weather that a boat
can venture near them, for even after several days of east wind off
the land the Atlantic swell is still big enough, unless great care is
taken, to break a rowing boat to pieces on the rocks.

The cliffs where the cave is situated come down sheer into the dark
water below; the entrance is a great doorway with a somewhat slanting
roof, into which the full force of the waves from the open ocean can
play; and as the boat rises and falls on the water, the danger of
hidden rocks underneath the surface adds a certain amount of anxiety
to the other feelings that possess one, as the daylight begins to fade
away in the mysterious recesses of the cavern.

For about three hundred yards this tunnel is straight; by looking back
the opening can be seen growing smaller and smaller and more distant.
At length a great dome-shaped chamber is reached, from which branch out
other caves in various directions. Here the dim light of candles, the
washing of the water on the rocks, the thunderous booming of the surge
in unknown passages far away in the bowels of the mountain, where,
every sound being greatly magnified and echoed backwards and forwards,
all these produce most weird and awe-inspiring sensations. The mystery
and the sense of remoteness from the world, the uncanny feeling that a
thousand feet of solid rock lies between one and the sunshine, also
add to the effect. But when besides these things, we had been listening
to dreadful tales from our boatmen, of mermaids, of sea pigs light
green in colour with pink spots and human heads, that at night would
come 'wondering' round the boat, and finally of a 'great big beast, a
serpent,' as large as the steeple of a church, which was supposed not
only to feed on human beings when opportunity offered, but what was
worse, was said to inhabit the inner recesses of the very cave in which
we were, it is unnecessary to say how easy it was to be frightened at

The only unblocked waterway where a boat could pass on out of this
domed hall was to the right, and up this we were preparing to go in
search of seal, when some exceptionally large waves, tortured in
some narrow passages, sent a terrific boom with multitudinous echoes
reverberating through the caverns; at the same time a most curious
phenomenon, half sound, half vibration of the air occurred. It seemed
as though the whole body of the air in the cave pulsated, producing
a swishing sound with periods of about one second, which gradually
became fainter and fainter till it died away. Probably the cave had
been converted into a gigantic organ pipe, and the note was one so
low down in the scale that the vibrations were about one per second.
Unfortunately I suggested that it was the 'great big beast, the
serpent,' and that finished the expedition. Our boatmen were at once
terrified, shouting to each other, pushing and half rowing the boat in
a frenzy of fear. Amidst the bellowing noises of the various caverns
leading out of the central hall, and the angry hisses of 'the beast,
the serpent,' we departed most hurriedly for the outer air.

Slieve League, however, if the Ordnance Survey maps are to be trusted,
is not the finest cliff in Ireland. On the western coast of Achill
Island are the cliffs of Croaghaun, 2192 feet high. But my friend,
Colin Phillip, who was there in the summer of 1901, made a somewhat
startling discovery. A piece of land to the west of Croaghaun, more
than _a square quarter of a mile_, has been left out altogether
from the map. Where this land should be a bay is marked; perhaps,
however, his own words will describe better how the discovery was
made. 'The seaward face of Croaghaun is usually spoken of as an
almost perpendicular cliff of over 2000 feet. This is not true. It
is a fine, rocky, more or less buttressed mountain face, dropping to
the sea at an angle of perhaps 50 degrees in places. But its general
inclination would not be so much. There appears to be a curious error
in the Ordnance Survey map with regard to the sea front of this hill.
Expecting to find a grand view of this giant amongst the cliffs of
Ireland, I made for a point marked on the map as a headland, projecting
well out to sea on the west side of Croaghaun, from which a complete
survey of the face should have been obtained. I was astonished to find,
instead of a broad bay, with the great cliff of the mountain descending
into it, a narrow inlet, like a 'geo' in Shetland, on the other side of
which, almost completely blocking the view, was the south-west buttress
of Croaghaun, and certainly not steeper than 40 degrees.' The whole
bay, therefore, as marked on the Ordnance map, is now occupied by the
lower part of the mountain; consequently, instead of a sheer cliff,
this western side of the mountain is no more than an easy slope which
may be traversed in many places.

Another piece of information of Phillip's which may be novel, is that
perhaps Sir Walter Scott was right when he called the hills in Skye the
Cuchullin hills. During a discussion on the Skye hills with Mr. Seaton
F. Milligan (past vice-president of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of
Ireland), whom Phillip met on the west coast of Ireland, Mr. Milligan
said that the hills had been named after the Irish hero Cuchulain; and
the reason he gave was the following:--

In those early days the sons of the kings of Ireland were often sent to
Skye to learn the art of war. At the end of their first year, a test
of their progress was whether they were able to walk across what was
called 'the bridge of the cliffs'; this bridge is supposed to have been
part of the ridge of the Coolin. The bridge is thus described in the

           'Wonderful was the sight the bridge afforded, when
         any one would leap upon it, for it narrowed until
         it became as narrow as the hair of one's head, the
         second time it shortened till it became short as
         an inch, and the third time it grew slippery until
         it was as slippery as an eel of the river, and the
         fourth time it rose up on high against you as the
         mast of a ship.'

That this description agrees with the ridges of Sgurr nan Gillean
(the peak of the young men) no one can deny, and the story goes on to
say how Cuchulain at once performs the feat at the first trial, so
astonishing the onlookers that the bridge was named after him.

In opposition, however, to this, we have the weighty statement of the
late Alexander Nicolson, who says,[N] 'They are known to the natives of
Skye and always have been as "A Chuilionn." There was an Ossianic hero
of the name Cuchulain, said to have been brought up at Dun-Sgàthaich,
an ancient fort near Ord in Skye, but the natives never called the
great mountain range by his name. In this view I am supported by our
greatest Celtic archæologist, Dr. Skene.'

But to return to Ireland: besides the cliffs on Achill, all along the
north coast of Mayo are excessively wild and grand precipices often of
hard quartzite rock, and this part of the west coast is perhaps the
finest and most picturesque in all Ireland.

East and south of Achill lie a series of detached mountains and ranges
of mountains, all of which are more or less interesting as they command
wide views of sea, valley, and moorland. South of the Killary lies
perhaps the most beautiful of all the mountainous districts in Ireland,
the district of Connemara. In fact, it is not exaggeration to say that
there are few finer groups of hills in Britain than the twelve Bens
of Connemara, and this is the more remarkable when one considers that
they are only 2395 feet high. To again quote Phillip: 'The views from
some of the summits are enchanting, in particular from the easily got
at summit W.S.W. of Leenane. From this point the Killary can be traced
from the ocean to its head. The valley of the Erriff river carries
the eye over the plains of Mayo northwards to the far away hills in
Sligo. To the eastward the Formnamore mountains, with glimpses through
their gaps of Loughs Maske and Corrib, beyond which the plains extend
through Mayo, Galway, to Clare. Then Maam Turk blocks the view, which
opens again, however, to the south, with wild moorland and the whole of
the twelve Bens. Through the gaps of these mountains the Atlantic is
seen in more than one direction, fringed by rocky headlands and white
sandy bays, carrying the eye back again to the westward and the solemn
Killary, beyond which, lying almost hidden amongst the hills, is the
beautiful valley of Delphi and glimpses of the Dhu Lough.'

I have left the Kerry hills till the last, because they are the
most important and the highest in Ireland. The Connemara hills are
perhaps, on the whole, more beautiful, but the hills of Kerry possess a
grandeur and such characteristic form, that one at once thinks of them
as mountains and not hills. This is not surprising, for they easily
surpass the English hills in height, Carran Tuohill, 3414 feet, Been
Keragh, 3314 feet, Caher, 3200 feet, and Brandon, 3127 feet, being the

Moreover their bases are in some cases (Brandon, for instance) on
the seashore. The chief points of this group, which in some respects
differentiate them from the other ranges of mountains in the British
Isles, are the numberless wild mountain tarns that lie hidden in their
corries, the masses of vegetation that clothe even the rock precipices,
and the curious capping of peat that is to be found on some of the

In some instances, after climbing up hundreds of feet of rock from the
corrie below, one finds that the last twenty feet of the mountain is up
a steep slope of peat, occasionally almost corniced by the overhanging
fringe of heather. Then, too, the luxuriant growth of the trees in some
of the valleys, especially those near Killarney and at the head of
Caragh lake, is wonderful, and it is almost needless to say that the
upper part of the Lake of Killarney itself, beneath the Macgillicuddy's
Reeks, is unrivalled in the British Isles for rich beauty. There
are larger lakes surrounded by far wilder scenery in Scotland, for
instance in Glen Affric, or lakes like Loch Katrine that lie between
wonderful forested shores and beneath shapely mountains, or Rydal Water
or parts of Derwentwater in the Lake District; but the upper lake at
Killarney, as an example of winding stretches of clear waters, with
rocky shores clothed in oaks, firs, hollies, and other trees, the
foliage stretching upwards to the heather-covered mountains behind,
this particular part of the Kerry mountain land certainly in its own
way stands alone; it has no competitor.

The warm moist Atlantic climate has had almost the effect of a hothouse
on the flora of these sheltered valleys, whilst above, on the summits
of the mountains the first snow and storms of the winter and early
spring produce a rugged wildness that is only to be found in the
British Islands on mountains over 3000 feet high.

Carran Tuohill, the highest of the Macgillicuddy's Reeks, also the
highest mountain in Ireland, lies some distance away from Killarney.
Its eastern and northern faces are especially grand. At its foot can be
found more than one mountain tarn; Lough Gouragh, at the head of the
Hag's Glen, being very fine, for the greatest mountain precipice in
Ireland rises from its shores almost to the summit of Carran Tuohill,
about 2300 feet above. On the other side of the mountain, another tarn,
Coomloughra, is of a more ordinary type, even although it is encircled
by the three highest peaks in Ireland. Notwithstanding that the face of
Caher, which overlooks Coomloughra, is precipitous for more than 1000
feet, yet there is no very good climbing to be obtained on it, for the
rocks are treacherous; also, they run diagonally up and across the face
of the mountain.

The views from all these mountains that surround Coomloughra are very
fine. That from Been Keragh perhaps is the best for the surrounding
peaks; for, looking across the Hag's Glen at the black precipices of
Carran Tuohill and at the savage ridge which connects it with Been
Keragh, one wonders that such wild and desolate scenery can exist so
near to the rich and luxuriant vegetation of the valleys only a few
miles away.

From Carran Tuohill it is towards the west and south-west that the
finest outlook is obtained. Across the valley in which Coomloughra lies
are the cliffs of Caher; Dursey Island is seen in the distance at the
mouth of the Kenmare river; the small but shapely Skellig rocks jut
out of the open sea far away in the west; and Brandon, one of the most
beautiful of mountains, stands alone and solitary on the shores of the
wild Atlantic beyond the blue waters and the yellow sands of Dingle
bay. Heather moorland, desolate loughs, and peat mosses extend for
miles, and the great dome of the sky, perhaps flecked with soft clouds,
bends down to the far off horizon of the outer ocean.

To the west of the Macgillicuddy's Reeks, in a part of the country
but little visited, is Lough Coomacullen, one of the most wonderfully
beautiful mountain tarns I have ever seen. Hidden away amongst the
hills, and difficult of access, it has attracted but little attention,
yet with its glacier-worn sides of bare rock that descend in many
places sheer into the black waters below, and the circle of cliffs
which surround the upper part of the lough, one might almost imagine
one was in Norway, except that the deep velvet brown of the heather,
the few well-grown hollies clinging to the broken rock walls, and the
rich colours of the mosses, lichens, and ferns that find nourishment on
the ledges and faces of the precipices, at once show that one is on the
Atlantic coast and in a softer and warmer clime.

Five hundred feet below this small tarn lies the larger lake,
Coomasaharn; it too has a shore line much wilder and more rugged
than the majority of British lakes. Great boulders and masses of
glacier-worn rocks surround it, whilst at its head the precipices
extend almost to the summit of Coomacarrea (2542 feet). In some
places these precipices give good rock scrambling, but it is rather
surprising, after a couple of hours' climbing on good hard rock, to
find that the top of the mountain is a flat peat moor which in some
places almost overhangs the wild corrie below.

This capping of peat on several of even the wilder mountains seems to
be characteristic of many of the summits on the west coast of Ireland.
The highest summits of the Reeks, however, are quite free from peat.

There are, of course, many other mountainous districts besides those
I have already mentioned. The Mourne mountains, where the mountaineer
may, if he chooses, collect topaz and beryls of a most exquisite
blue, the Wicklow, Tipperary, or Waterford groups, all possess wild
mountain scenery, and many rare plants can be found there. But after
all, undoubtedly it is the picturesque side of the mountain land that
makes to the wanderer in Ireland the most forcible appeal of all. It is
the atmospheric softness, and the rich vegetation, which, on the west
of Ireland, covers the valleys, glens, and the mountain-sides, it is
the colour of the deep and lovely tarns, of the expanses of heather,
and of the distances, and lastly, it is the rugged, rock-bound coast,
a coast of many bays, of desolate islands, of solitary sea stacks, of
cliffs, of sandy beaches, and wonderful sea caves, a coast that has
for ages withstood the attacks of the mighty waves of the storm-driven
Atlantic; these are the beauties of which this Irish mountain land can
boast, which after all are of more worth than the attractions of many
inaccessible pinnacles and many ranges of ugly but excessively steep
and high mountains.


[M] It used to be in the Loan Collection at the South Kensington Museum.

[N] _The Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal_, vol. ii. p. 99.


   'Though sluggards deem it but a foolish chase,
    And marvel men should quit their easy chair,
    The toilsome way, and long, long league to trace,
    Oh, there is sweetness in the mountain air
    And life, that bloated Ease can never hope to share.'
                                           _Childe Harold._

To the mountaineer who makes his way from Seascale or from Drigg to
Wastdale Head, the Cumberland hills with their long, rolling outlines,
their flanks concealed by superincumbent soil and vegetation, do not
seem to promise well as far as rock climbing is concerned. Only here
and there do the ridges break into rocky precipices; nowhere is seen
the rugged grandeur of the Highlands of Scotland; such valleys as
Glencoe with its rock-built walls, or the splintered summits of the
Coolin, or of An Teallach, do not exist. Yet the rock-climber who
stops at the inn at the head of Wastdale may spend weeks before he
has exhausted the district. He will be lucky indeed, and a first-rate
climber to boot, if he has done the best of the climbs without further
aid than that afforded by what the mountaineer calls the 'moral'
support of the rope. Once upon a time a celebrated climber of Alpine
repute came to Wastdale for the first, alas! also for the last time.
'Climbing in the Caucasus,' Mummery said, 'was easy and safe; in the
Alps too it was usually easy and safe, though sometimes difficult;
but climbing as practised at Wastdale Head was both difficult and

The great delight of the climber in the Cumberland hills is in gullies
or 'ghylls,' and no wonder, for there are endless gullies both great
and small, the climbs in which vary with the state of the weather,
and may be easy or difficult, wet or dry, or dirty, according to
circumstances. Then again, the climber must have a perfect contempt for
streams, and especially waterfalls, for the ascent of a perpendicular
'pitch' through a delightfully cold and invigorating shower bath
will be one of his earliest experiences. But there are plenty of
other climbs besides those in ghylls. Hidden away in the recesses of
the hills are sharp and jagged pinnacles of hard porphyritic rock,
precipices smooth, flawless, and sometimes overhanging, whose firm grey
bastions have withstood the storms of ages; whilst only at their feet,
where lie the remnants which have yielded, flake by flake, from the
massive buttresses above, does the ruin proclaim that the hand of time
carves the rocks on the mountain-side as well as the valleys below.

This was written several years ago, before all the rock problems, and
also before all their variations, had been worked out. When first I
visited Wastdale Head it was at Christmas time. I knew there was a
pinnacle of rock on Great Gable, also that another rock climb could
be obtained on the Pillar mountain--that was all. Mr. Jones had never
visited Wastdale, and his work was unwritten. The entries in the
climbers' book at the inn were only just begun.

W. P. Haskett Smith, J. W. Robinson, C. Slingsby, and G. Hastings
were the pioneers of those days; they first really drew the attention
of mountaineers to the fact that rock climbing of every degree of
difficulty could be indulged in amongst the hills that surrounded the
head of Wastdale.

It is true that for many years previously members of the Alpine Club
had been in the habit of spending some time every year in the district,
but they had gone there more for the ice and the snow and for the
enjoyment of the mountain scenery than for indulgence in extraordinary
performances in the ghylls and on the rock faces. May we not call
theirs the Golden Age? whilst that sterner time which followed, full
of fierce fighting, of victory and of defeat, was the Age of Iron.

It was my good fortune to be associated with those who were responsible
for this second period, and many a long day have I spent on the
mountains in their company. In those days at Easter time there was
usually a great gathering of the mountaineering clans in the inn at
Wastdale Head. They came from all points of the compass, and swooped
down on Wastdale, bringing with them every sort of mountain appliance.
Into the inn they would rush, soon to emerge again clothed in wonderful
suits of clothes, carrying cameras, ropes, ice-axes, and luncheons;
and they used to remind me of an instructive toy machine presented to
a friend of mine in the days of his early youth--'morality made easy'
he afterwards called it, when he had arrived at man's estate and was
able to grasp the true inwardness of the ingenious apparatus. Its
object was to inculcate at an early age the virtue of moderation, and
it represented a public house. You slowly turned a handle, making a
procession of respectably dressed citizens, with eager, smiling faces,
enter the front door, over which was written in large letters:--

   'They quietly enter the doorway within
    For an hour's indulgence in riot and sin.'

Another turn of the handle, which should now be done rapidly and
with shaking hand, and at once the scene changed. From out the back
door dishevelled and staggering figures emerged, with no resemblance
whatever to the former ones. Above was another couplet:--

   'Then rushing out wildly, their senses departed,
    On Ruin's dark pathway the victims are started!'

Alas! those delightful toys of one's youth, where have they all gone?
The toys of the present day are feeble, and lack that educational
value which those of thirty years ago never failed to possess. How can
we compare them? It is _The Bad Boys Book of Beasts_ to Dr. Watts's
_Poems_. The first of the two couplets mentioned above, in the case of
the mountaineer, however, needs emendation; perhaps 'quiet lunchin''
at the end of the second line would be more appropriate. But I have
wandered from my subject.

The inn at the head of Wastdale lies in the very centre of the hills,
and from it two or three hours at the most will take the climber to his

On the south are the gullies of the Screes; the great gully opposite
Wastdale Hall will occupy an ordinary party at least three hours.
The first three or four hundred feet are by no means easy, and are
thoroughly typical of ghyll climbing. On the south-east of Wastdale is
Scawfell, with its splendid precipices where there are three first-rate
ghyll climbs, Moss ghyll, Steep ghyll, and Deep ghyll. At the top of
the last is Scawfell pinnacle, a delightful short climb if taken from
the top of Scawfell; but if ascended from the foot of the precipice,
_via_ Steep ghyll, and then by the arête which lies between Steep
ghyll and Deep ghyll, it will give several hours of really good rock
work. Next to Scawfell are the Pikes and Great End. On both of these
interesting scrambles can be found. To the eastward, almost above the
inn, the slopes of Great Gable stretch up towards the Napes rocks,
where can be found the Napes Needle and several rock ridges. Further
away, on the north, lies the Pillar mountain, with its great buttress
of rock jutting out into Ennerdale. Up the Pillar Rock there are at
least half a dozen different routes, and none of them can be called
perfectly easy. But these are by no means all the climbs that can be
found near Wastdale Head. There are gullies on the Langdale Pikes and
on Pavey Arc, and another on Dow Crag near Coniston.

My first climb was on the Napes Needle. Since then I have been up
it many times, but it always remains as interesting as ever. I must
confess that the first time I tried it, it was too difficult for me,
and I was very glad of a helping hand from the first man up, for we
were climbing without a rope and had no nails in our boots, our proper
mountaineering equipment having been delayed at Drigg station; and as
we afterwards learned, we had shocked Dan Tyson of the inn by going to
the hills in what he considered were our Sunday clothes. But the Pillar
Rock is the most famous crag near Wastdale. It lies on the far side
of the Pillar mountain, and is not a great distance below the summit.
It consists of a mass of rock standing far out from the side of the
mountain, its precipices overhanging the head of Ennerdale. The end
nearest the Pillar mountain is cut off from the hill-side by a great
gash, whilst the other end plunges down almost perpendicularly for
about eight hundred feet.

The great Ennerdale climb is up this Ennerdale face. At the bottom
a broad grassy band, 'The Great Doupe,' runs across the foot of the
precipice. It is from here that the climb must be begun, but every
way up this face finally converges towards one spot, called the
'Split-Block.' Above is a vertical rock face, whilst below, four
hundred feet straight down, is the grassy band. For nine years all
attacks on the Ennerdale face of the Pillar Rock ended here. Only
in 1891 was it conquered. Two of the party were lowered down into a
savage-looking gully, from which they ascended to a spot some thirty
feet higher than the Split-Block, and by lowering a rope were able
to pull up the last man direct, who could not descend alone into the
gully. This sounds as if the last man had a comparatively easy climb.
But as the ascent is literally made through the air, unless an extra
rope is sent down to help him with a noose at the end which can be used
as a stirrup, he will arrive up above in a somewhat congested state.
Moreover, he must insist that the two ropes be worked by reasonable
people, otherwise he will be unfortunate enough to probably complete
his ascent in an inverted position, and be apt to lose faith in the use
of the Alpine rope.

It has already been pointed out that above the Split-Block is a
vertical precipice. Across this face about twenty-five feet above the
Split-Block there is another way up, which does away with the necessity
of descending into the Savage gully. It was first climbed by G. Solly.
But it is a most dangerous climb, for the leader must traverse across
this perpendicular face hanging on by his hands alone, and--here is
where the danger comes in--should he be unable to finish the climb, and
the worst piece which needs the expenditure of most energy is at the
very end, the leader is quite unable to return: there he hangs till he
can hold on no longer, then he drops! I myself have seen this happen.
The subsequent escape, not only of the leader but of the rest of the
party, was the most marvellous piece of luck I have ever seen on the
mountains, and even now makes me shudder when I think of it.

Collier has also varied this climb by getting up directly from the
end of the ledge beyond the Split-Block; but, after all, the original
manner employed by the first party in 1891 still remains the most
satisfactory method for overcoming the difficulty at this spot on the
Pillar climb. Above this, a gully leads to within two or three hundred
feet of the top, which can be reached by an interesting rock climb of
no great difficulty.

This ascent of the Pillar Rock is certainly a remarkably fine one.
It is full of variety, and nearly the whole of it is on bare rock;
moreover, owing to the great steepness during the greater part of the
climb, it produces an exhilarating feeling of being perched in mid-air
most of the time. I should think nowadays it cannot be difficult to
find, but when we first tried it, a few scratches here and there on the
rock were our only guides.

Of the ghyll climbs, the one on the Screes already mentioned is well
worth trying. It was first climbed by Hastings, Robinson, and myself;
and I could not have been in better company. Robinson is _the_ great
authority on the hills of the Lake district; there is not a rock
on a mountain-side that he does not know. In sunshine or mist, in
daylight or at midnight, he will guide one safely over passes or down
precipitous mountain-sides. Every tree and every stone is a landmark to
him. It was on a perfect winter's morning, many years ago now, that we
started for the great gully in the Screes. Not a breath of air stirred;
hoar frost covered the ground; the trees were a mass of silver,
glittering in the morning sun. If from the road by Wastdale Hall the
rock face opposite be examined, it does not seem to be much broken, but
as one approaches the gullies deepen, and in reality are great gashes
penetrating far into the hillside.

The bottom of the gully is reached by ascending a mass of loose stones
which stretch almost down to the lake-side. In the gully there is no
great difficulty at first, but after a short time it branches off into
two, and it is the left-hand branch which has to be followed. The
stream was frozen, forming a beautiful cascade of ice, and we were
forced on to the buttress that divides the two gullies. Hastings was
sent on to prospect, whilst I had to back him up as far as possible.
With considerable trouble he managed to traverse back to the left into
the main gully, using infinitesimal knobs of rock for foot and hand
hold. We then followed, to find ourselves in a narrow cleft cut far
into the side of the hill. Perpendicular walls rose on both sides for
several hundred feet; above us stretched cascade after cascade of solid
ice, always at a very steep angle and sometimes perpendicular. Up these
we cut our way with our axes, sometimes being helped by making the
steps close to the walls, and using any small inequalities on the rock
face to steady us in our steps. At last we came to the final pitch.
Far above us at the top, the stream coming over a hanging ledge on
the right had frozen into masses of insecure icicles, some twenty or
more feet long, and thus prevented us from getting up on that side.
However, at the left-hand corner, at the top of the pitch, a rock
was wedged, overhanging the gully, but leaving underneath a cave of
considerable size. We managed to get as far up as the cave; there we
placed Robinson, in a position of great importance and responsibility,
for he had to hitch himself to a jammed boulder at the back, and hold
both Hastings and me steady on the other end of the rope. I placed
myself in the most secure position I could: my right foot occupied a
capacious hole cut in the bottom of the icicles, whilst my left was
far away on the other side of the gully, on a small but obliging shelf
in the rock face. In this interesting attitude, like the Colossus of
Rhodes, I spanned the gulf, and was anchored to the boulder as well
as to Robinson. Next, Hastings, with considerable agility, climbed on
to my shoulders; from that exalted position he could reach the edge
of the overhanging stone, underneath which Robinson was shivering,
and, after great exertions, was able finally to pull himself up on to
the top. Then Robinson and I followed on the rope. No doubt when the
gully is dry, with neither ice nor water in it, the climb would be much
modified. Above this pitch the climbing is easy as the gully opens out,
and the route to the top may be varied according to taste; some ways
are difficult and some are easy.

There is one more climb, the recollection of which always gives me
pleasure; indeed it was one of the most delightful I ever had in this
splendid land of rock scrambles. On the great precipice of Scawfell,
Moss ghyll is the most easterly of the three gullies which look towards
the Pikes.

When we attacked it, this ghyll had not been climbed, although
several parties had been up a considerable distance. The highest
point attained was just underneath a huge overhanging block of rock,
weighing hundreds of tons, which formed the roof of a great cave.
Robinson, Hastings, and I were anxious to see whether it was not
possible in some way to circumvent this objectionable block. We had
already carefully prospected the upper part of the ghyll from above,
finding that there was no difficulty once this obstacle was passed.
We therefore next attacked the ghyll from the bottom, hoping that we
should be able to discover a way where others had failed.

Starting from below we chose the easiest route up the rock face on the
right hand of the ghyll. Here the climbing chiefly consisted in getting
from one ledge to another, up slabs of rock. We soon, however, got
into the gully itself, where we found a perpendicular wall, up which
we had to climb, before reaching a ledge, which the first party of
exploration had called the 'Tennis Court' on account of its large size
when compared with those lower down. If it were to grow vigorously,
perhaps in its manhood it might become just large enough to run about
on, but when we first made its acquaintance it must have been in its
early childhood. From here we traversed back into the ghyll and got
underneath the great overhanging block.

We found that below the great slab which formed the roof another
smaller one spanned the ghyll, forming the top of a great door to the
cave behind. Under this we passed, and clambered up on to the top of
it. Over our heads the great rock roof stretched some distance over the
ghyll. Our only chance was to traverse straight out to the right, over
the side of the ghyll, till one was no longer overshadowed by the roof
above, and then, if possible, climb up the face of rock, and traverse
back again above the obstacle into the ghyll once more.

This was easier to plan than to carry out; absolutely no handhold
could be found, but only one little projecting ledge jutting out
about a quarter of an inch and about a couple of inches long to stand
on; moreover, a lip of rock overhung this little ledge, making it
impossible to grip it satisfactorily with one's foot. Beyond this
there were six or eight feet of the nearly perpendicular rock wall to

I was asked to try it. So, being highly pleased at being intrusted
with such delicate operations, I with great deliberation stretched out
my foot and tried to grip the little edge with the side nails of my
boot. Just as I was going to put my whole weight on to this right foot,
the nails, unable to hold on such a minute surface, gave way, and if
Hastings had not instantly with a mighty pull jerked me back, I should
have been swinging on the rope in mid-air. But we were determined not
to be beaten. Hastings's ice-axe was next brought into requisition,
and what followed I have no doubt will be severely criticised by more
orthodox mountaineers than myself: as it was my suggestion I must take
the blame. _I hacked a step in the rock!_[O] It was very hard work, but
that upper lip to the step had to go, and Hastings's ice-axe, being an
extraordinary one, performed its work admirably, and without damage
to anything else than the rock. I then was able to get a much firmer
foothold, and getting across this 'bad step,' clambered up the rock
till I reached a spot where a capital hitch could be got over a jutting
pin of rock, and the rest of the party followed. We then climbed out of
the ghyll on the left up some slabs of rock.

A few days later, Moss ghyll was again climbed by a party led by
J. Collier. They did not follow our track to the left after the
overhanging rock had been passed, but climbed straight up, using a
crack which looks almost impossible from below, thus adding an extra
piece of splendid climbing to this expedition.

That Collier did not follow our route was, I believe, entirely due
to Robinson, who, being so excessively delighted with having at last
conquered Moss ghyll, wrote a long account of it in the climbing book
at the inn, and being in this particular instance far more capable
of successfully climbing Moss ghyll than describing how it was done,
produced a tale where the points of the compass got, so to speak,

But to return to our climb: just as it was getting dark we emerged on
to the top of Scawfell. The sun-god had plunged once more into the
baths of ocean, leaving behind him the golden splendour of a perfect
evening. In the far distance lay the sea, with banks of sullen mist
brooding over it; nearer, like a purple curtain, stretched the low
hills by the coast; whilst far away in the south, towering into the
sunset glow, out of a level surface of sea mists rose the peaks of
Snowdon and the two Carnedds in Wales.

Towards the east, range after range of mountain crests encompassed the
horizon as far as the eye could see, from the Yorkshire moors, with
their strong, massive outline crowned by Ingleboro and Whernside, to
Skiddaw and the Scotch hills beyond the sands of the Solway.

Delicate pearl-grey shadows creep in amongst the wealth of interlacing
mountain forms in the clear air, deepening towards the far east into
the darkness of approaching night. No sound breaks the stillness, all
around are piled the tumbled fragments of the hills, hoary with the
memories of forgotten years. The present fades away, and is lost in
the vast ocean of time; a lifetime seems a mere shadow in the presence
of these changeless hills. Slowly this inscrutable pageant passes,
but blacker grow the evening shadows; naught remains but the mists
of the coming night, and darkness soon will fall upon this lonely

   'A land of old, upheaven from the abyss
    By fire, to sink into the abyss again;
    Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt,
    And the long mountains ended in a coast
    Of ever-shifting sand, and far away
    The phantom circle of a moaning sea.'


[O] During climbing in ice and snow one is allowed, in fact, one is
expected, to cut steps. But it is held to be entirely contrary to the
laws which govern the great sport of mountaineering to make similar
holes in rock. This is remarkable, though nevertheless true.


   '... Restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm
    Of hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone,
    But rush upon me thronging, and present
    Times past.'

On winter evenings, when out of doors the fogs and dirt of London reign
supreme, it is the wisest course to sit at home in one's arm-chair,
warmed by the blaze of a comfortable fire, and with some favourite
book for a companion, to watch the smoke curl upwards from one's pipe.
But after a time the book falls on to one's knees, and all sorts and
conditions of pictures float lazily through the tobacco mists. I have
been told that effects are due to causes. Perhaps these undisciplined
wanderings of my brain may be only the inevitable result of a good
dinner; perhaps the quiet content that I feel may be caused only by
a spirit of contradiction--a knowledge that the arm-chair and the
desultory visions of my brain should be ruthlessly put aside, to give
place to exact, well-regulated thoughts concentrated on necessary
labour. Be it what it may, I will not work to-night. A nebulous peace
of mind has claimed and absorbed me which it would be impious to
dispel. I shall let my memory lift the curtain behind which lies the

The thousand and one small duties of the present, mostly absurd
trivialities, the insignificance of which is only equalled by their
persistence, can be neglected for once, and shall be as dust in the
balance, without weight to disturb the equipoise of my mind. Letters
from people I do not know, requesting information on subjects that
do not concern me--letters which, as far as I can see, merely stamp
the writers as belonging to that class of human animal incapable of
thinking for itself--these shall remain unanswered. Why should such
shallow creatures be allowed to worry the more robust portion of the
universe by their energetic yet irritating display of letter-writing?
why have I to spend much ink and thought in answering them? Truly this
is a weary world! Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.
Worries and bothers are for ever at one's elbow.

But here I am thus early inveighing against the petty annoyances of
the present instead of enjoying those reminiscences of former years
that, viewed through the mists of time, have their pleasures enhanced
and their pains discounted; when I can allow my memory a free field
from which it may pick the fairest flowers that have blossomed in those
bygone years.

Ah! a quotation comes wandering by: when it is at home it may be found
in an 'Ode to the Terrestrial Globe,' by an unhappy wretch:--

   'It's true my prospects all look blue--
    But don't let that unsettle you!
          Never you mind.
               Roll on!' (_It rolls on._)

And as it rolls on down the distances of my mind, it leaves me, being
in a very contrary frame of mind, somewhat comforted. Moreover, it
opens up new channels for thought, and those exquisite lines on
golf that occur somewhere in _Paradise Lost_ are of course at once
suggested, but I am too lazy to find the context:--

   'So eagerly with horrid voice the Fiend
    Cries "Fore!" as he o'er the far bunker drives
    The errant ball; it with the setting sun
    Dropp'd from the zenith like a falling star,
    Alas! untruly urged, it lies in Hell.'

Then I muse over all the golf-courses that I have played on or seen,
from St. Andrews to an improvised one above Astor amongst the stately
pines on the Himalayan mountains, when the snow peaks and the glaciers,
glistening in the marvellous sunshine, play hide-and-seek with the
white fleecy clouds that drift over their summits.

Those wonderful mountains! what magnificent outlines, what grandeur,
what mystery, what!... Stop! can I be growing sentimental? It must
have been the dinner that has produced this particular physiological

However, the sensation is passing, and my thoughts have flown back
naturally to the subject of dinners. Yes, many dinners--what a
subject!--glorious, unapproachable, exhaustless dinners! I could write
pages, volumes, in praise of dinners; but not for the vulgar, not for
the uninitiated--that surely were sacrilege. Dinners that with subtle
and insinuating address came and went, leaving behind them fascinating
and precious memories, even though 'good digestion did not wait on
appetite.' Dinners, too, eaten under the stars. Yes, now I think of it,
that _was_ a dinner! when four of us ate a whole sheep, after two weary
days and nights spent starving on the icy slopes of Nanga Parbat.

Mountaineering, truly thou art a marvellous and goodly provoker
of hunger! Those mortals who may be in search of sensations--big,
boisterous, blustering sensations not to be denied--should sacrifice
often on thy altars, O Goddess of the Hills!

In the mountains, however, these sensations, these inspired ecstasies
of mind and body, may be pushed sometimes rather far; then the recoil
comes, and with it contrast, which however is often agreeable. But
these memories of unpleasant Alpine half-hours grow faint as one sits
in a satisfying arm-chair--they are easily discounted in a process
of mental dissipation, by which one cheats oneself; and finally, it
is easy to believe that there is no sport like mountaineering. Of
course this conclusion is fallacious--conclusions sometimes are. Again
my thoughts are interrupted. Outside in the cold, the rain, and the
darkness some poor wretch is making night hideous by attempting to

    'There is a 'appy land, for for awye.'

Most true! most philosophical! The Islands of the Blest usually are
some distance away. We have been told by the poet that neither are they
to be attained by omnibuses, nor to be approached by

    'A ram-you-damn-you liner with a brace of bucking screws.'

Therefore why disturb the darkness, O most miserable one, by dismal
reiteration of a well-known fact? But still the song moans out its
Cockney dialect, false notes, and falser sentiment; and the singer,
drenched to the skin, possibly starving, with probably only one desire,
and that for drink, goes his way. I hear the melancholy music die into
the distance. Of a truth his sensations cannot be pleasant; but with
these few coppers changed into the equivalent of alcohol perhaps he
also may

    'Life's leaden metal into gold transmute,'

and cheat himself into the belief that life is worth living. That last
sentence, now I come to read it over again, seems perhaps a trifle
cynical; _seems_, certainly, but are we not told that things often 'are
not what they seem'? I have heard the late poet laureate accused (and
by a Scotchwoman, too!) of writing slang.

    'Did I look on great Orion sloping slowly towards the west.'

My thoughts, too, are 'sloping' in a westerly direction. I am on
a personally-conducted tour--my brain is in command, and I am the

If only I can forget that those letters have to be answered, and if
no other miserable wretch comes to sing touching refrains outside in
the rain, my brain and I shall thoroughly enjoy each other's company;
whilst the firelight sheds its dim radiance over glimpses of the
metamorphised past and the indeterminable future, till all is so
blended together that I cannot tell whether these things have been or
are to be.

I see long stretches of Rannoch moor as Stevenson saw it, 'where the
mists rise and die away, and showed us that country lying as waste as
the sea; only the moorfowl and the peewees crying upon it, and far over
to the east a herd of deer moving like dots. Much of it is red with
heather; much of the rest broken up with bogs and hags and peaty pools;
some had been burnt black in a heath fire; and in another place there
are quite a forest of dead firs, standing like skeletons.'

Northward over the moor ponderous Ben Alder lifts his bleak and barren
top in massive strength above lonely Loch Ericht, whilst beyond the
loch, Schehallion's slender summit, deep blue in the evening sky, tells
of that fierce day when the body of the dead Graham lay on the hillside
and the sun went down on a lost cause.

Southward are the peaks of the Black Mount and the peaceful hills
that feed the upper waters of Glen Lyon; then Buchaille Etive and all
those wild, rocky mountains further west, dominating wild Glencoe,
stir the memory with the story of how Campbell of Glen Lyon betrayed
and murdered the whole of the M'Ians with treachery as black as the
cliffs of the Aonach Dubh and as cruel as the winter winds that sweep
mercilessly across the corries and pinnacles of Bidean nam Bian, the
peak of the storms. Or in imagination I follow Alan Breck with Davie
Balfour as they flee by the sea-loch that separates Appin from Mamore
up and across to the great moor, toiling and resting, but ever onward,
till amongst the labyrinth of glens in the heart of the forest of
Ben Alder they found Cluny Macpherson. Yes, Rannoch moor is wild and
desolate; and could the grey blocks of stone or the bare slabs of
granite that lie amongst the brown heather speak, surely there would be
many more tales of bygone adventures to listen to and wonder over.

From Rannoch my mind wanders across the stretches of blue water, past
stormy Ardnamurchan to the island of Mull. I am on the summit of Ben
More; below lies a ridge smothered in snow and ice. I am trying all
I can with words of sweet persuasion to entice my companion, Colin
Phillip, down what is obviously the shortest route to the next peak, A
Chioch. But he says it is impossible, he will not trust himself on that
slope of snow and ice. Now my thoughts fly to the shores of Loch Earn.
I am listening to one, a geologist, who expounds to me the marvels of
the prehistoric glacier; he also, with words of sweet persuasion, is
trying to make me believe that Loch Morar was excavated by a glacier.
Those wonderful geological truths, how simple, how all-sufficient they
are to explain to the uninitiated the why and wherefore of the ancient
mountains; but put not your trust in them; they suffer by the process
of evolution, and are changed. Without doubt, in those days Phillip
believed that I was totally ignorant of mountaineering; whilst now,
perhaps, that geologist thinks that I am equally ignorant of the truth.
Whether it is the truth about Loch Morar that I mean, or about that
geologist's statement, or about my own, I really don't know.

In imagination I am hurried on; I see myself, footsore and weary,
wandering through Ardgour and Moidart, or across from Invercannich
through Affric's wild glens down to Shiel House, by the western sea;
now I am glissading down Beinn Alligin, or hacking my way through a
cornice, apparently hundreds of feet high, on Aonach Mor, my companion
Travers meanwhile slowly freezing on the brink of an _absolutely_
perpendicular ice slope, the daylight waning, and our retreat cut
off. Then comes a glimpse of the platform at Kingshouse station.
I am addressing winged words to Colin Phillip, and he is engaged
in a contentious refutation of my argument. The subject is not at
all interesting--only the comparative usefulness of painting and
photography as a means for reproducing mountain form; but the result
is most disgraceful, for presently we are seen sitting at different
ends of the platform waiting for the train, and thinking--well, it
doesn't matter what we thought. Was it yesterday, or when, that all
these things happened? Still it cannot be so very long ago that Phillip
climbed Sgurr Alasdair, the finest peak of the Coolin in Skye. Would
that on that occasion, just below the summit, I had possessed a camera,
for then could I have shown Phillip that photography at least was
capable of very faithfully reproducing his manly and superior form,
as he was seen approaching the cairn, even though it might be useless
in giving us the true proportions of inferior mountains. Neither do
I think that I should be overstepping the bounds of prudence should
I assert that Colin Phillip has a marked dislike for stone walls. I
have hopes, however, that some day a happy combination of the despised
camera--the stone wall and Phillip--may yield interesting results.
Little did Phillip think, that evening at Kingshouse, that a time would
come when the maligned camera would turn--turn its eye on Phillip and
on that stone wall--and wink with malicious pleasure.

But in spite of winged words, weary feet, and endless eggs and bacon,
these were fine times--from Sutherland to the Galloway Highlands, from
Mull to the mountains on Deeside, Colin Phillip and I have wandered in
fair weather and in foul.

We have waxed enthusiastic over the Cairngorm mountains. We have
watched the last light of day fade far away over the Atlantic behind
the islands of the west; and although we may have disagreed in many
things, yet we have always acknowledged that for wild beauty, for
colour, for atmospheric effects and lonely grandeur, we know of no
country that is equal to the Highlands of Scotland.

But a younger century has arrived, and

    'The old order changeth, yielding place to new.'

Somewhere have I seen some remarks about the Coolin, where no mention
is made of the mountains as being capable of stirring the imagination
or gratifying the mind; no, the subject was 'the ridiculously easy
nature of the climbing in Skye,' 'the gabbro of the Coolin being too
good,' and so on, the New Mountaineer merely looking upon these peaks
and ribs of splintered rock as a useful spot where gymnastic feats
might be performed, and even compares the Coolin unfavourably with the
decomposing granite slabs at the head of Glen Sannox. Truly the glory
of the mountains is departing. The progressive, democratical[P] finger
of the 'New Mountaineer' is laid with equal irreverence and mockery
on Sgurr nan Gillean and Cir Mhor, and this spirit of irresponsible
criticism 'fulfils itself in many ways.' It is not the first time that
the Coolin have been 'slandered.' Have they not been called 'inferior
mountains'? (_Modern Painters_). Now the climbers 'run' over the
Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean, and no doubt the next generation
(if they have wise fathers) will be induced to take their maternal
grandmothers up the inaccessible summit of Sgurr Dearg. One by one the
recollections of all our most cherished climbs will be punctured, flat
and unprofitable as a collapsed bicycle tire; they will rotate over the
rough roads of bygone memories, whilst that progressive democratical
finger will guide the new nickel-plated, pneumatic-cushioned,
electrically-driven modern mountaineer on his fascinating career.
But to return. I am still sitting in my comfortable arm-chair, and
looking at my own fingers to see whether they possess a progressive
democratical appearance.

Before me passes the vision of a mountain, a beautiful, many-headed
mountain, hidden away from democratical enemies of mountaineering,
and without the line of vulgarity. Carefully enclosed on its western
face lies a corrie named Coire Mhic Fhearchair. I see a party wandering
up its glacier-worn entrance. At its head the mist lies low down, but
not low enough to hide the precipices that encircle the lochan in its
centre. On the right, snow-filled gullies sweep with graceful curves
from a dome-shaped peak.

But it is the rock escarpment at the back of the corrie that fascinates
their gaze. As the mists begin to clear one by one, they suggest climbs
on its face, for there are 1250 feet of bare rock in front of them,
broken up into three distinct buttresses with two splendid gullies
dividing them. At last they choose the right-hand gully, and, having
roped themselves, proceed to cut steps up the steep snow that has
drifted into it and obliterated any perpendicular pitches there may
be. I am sorry that there are no perpendicular pitches--it is most
unfortunate; for I should like to see that party performing all these
daring feats so well known to, and beloved by, the professional rock
climber, 'How things began to look rather blue.' 'How for a minute or
two one of the party remained spread-eagled on the face of a cliff
almost despairing of getting up, the desired crack being a good two
feet out of reach, till, with a supreme effort, he was propelled from
below by a sudden and powerful jerk, his outstretched fingers seize the
desired crack.' Nor can I describe how 'the heavy man of the party, his
finger tips playing upon the face of the cliff with the delicacy of
touch of a professional pianist, his every movement suggestive of the
bounding lightness of the airy thistle-down,' followed. No, I am sorry
I have no such wildly exciting adventures to relate, nor such poetical
fancies wherewith to eke out a plain story. I see that party merely
climbing up that gully, in a most uninteresting yet simple manner, by
cutting steps. They come to where it ends against a perpendicular and
overhanging cliff at least a couple of hundred feet high. Only 200
feet, but higher they cannot go, for none of the party are sufficiently
muscular to propel the leader with a jerk upwards that paltry 200 feet.
Therefore they climb out to their left, along a narrow and somewhat
broken ledge, on to the middle buttress, where a place is found large
enough for them all to sit down. They gaze upwards at the last 300
feet that separate them from the summit, but it is steep, very steep,
'A.P.'[Q] Also, it is late in the afternoon; so they comfort themselves
by building a cairn, and eating all these delicious things that are
so good on a mountain-side--meat sandwiches which have remained from
lunch, and taste so full of mustard and so delightfully dry; old, old
prunes encrusted with all kinds of additional nutriment from the bottom
of some one's pocket; a much-worn stick of chocolate, or perhaps an
acidulated drop--on such fare does the hardy mountaineer feed. I see
them once more in the gully, but they descend more rapidly than they
climbed up it, for the more daring of the party glissade down the lower
part, and so home.

On the morrow, however, I see three of the party again setting forth
for that precipice. This time, instead of approaching it from the
north-west by the Allt Toll a'Ghiubhais, they hire a machine, and drive
as far as the foot of Sgurr Bàn on the southern side; then mounting to
the peak just to the west of Sgurr Bàn by a well-made deer path, they
soon arrive at the summit of the middle buttress, overlooking Coire
Mhic Fhearchair. They climb out to the very end of the nose and look
down, straight below, and only 300 feet away is the little cairn built
on the preceding afternoon, but, as I have remarked before, that 300
feet is very steep. A photograph taken from the most southerly of the
three buttresses, so as to get the middle buttress in profile, shows
the angle of the last 200 feet to be about 85 degrees, not quite but
very nearly 'A.P.' However, they think that they may as well see how
far they can descend. The rocks on the left-hand (southern) side of
the buttress are obligingly broken up, so that by a series of small
climbs the party are enabled to get from one small platform to the
next, always edging towards the outside of the buttress. At last they
all congregate together. A perpendicular slab, which has partly come
away from the front of the crags, bars their way to the right, and,
below, a quite perpendicular drop of about 200 feet on to the ledge
quietly but firmly impresses on them the fact that that way is not
for them. But always in mountaineering, just as things become quite
hopeless and 'blue,' then it is the duty of the person who describes
the adventure to appeal to the feelings of the public (who, presumably,
are unacquainted with that particular climb). It is his duty to picture
these unfortunate individuals, fearful that their retreat is cut off,
yet unable to proceed; how, having dangled on the ends of ropes,
swinging backwards and forwards in the breeze, they return to the ledge
baffled; or having climbed on each other's shoulders, they find 'the
desired crack two good feet out of reach,' and there is not always one
in the party powerful enough to 'propel' the leader 'from below by a
sudden and powerful jerk, so that he can with outstretched fingers
clutch that desired crack.' But still, with a little imagination, we
can see these things. A good imagination is necessary, I may say very
necessary, to the enthusiastic climber; much pleasure is otherwise lost.

The party I see, evidently has none of this precious imagination. They
are obviously wasting their opportunities most shamefully on that rock
face. I see one of them climb out on to the face just under the great
loose slab, and disappear round the corner; then the rest follow, and
find themselves on the topmost of a series of ledges, and about 200
feet above the small cairn below. I will not describe that traverse,
but will merely mention that the party seem quite pleased with it. Then
they begin the descent. First they get down a narrow slit between a
slab and the buttress, and with a drop of about 10 feet get into the
next ledge. Next they have to climb down another slab, bulging over
into space, or a perpendicular gully gives them an interesting piece
of climbing. About 120 feet from the bottom they build a small cairn,
and then, without much further difficulty, they finally find themselves
where they had ended their climb on the afternoon of the day before.
They do not, however, descend to the bottom of the gully, but about
half-way down, traversing out to the left, they make for the ridge
connecting Sail Mhòr with the rest of the mountain. It is now evening,
and I ought, if orthodox, here 'to burst out in sentences which swell
to paragraphs, and in paragraphs which spread over pages; to plunge
into ecstasies about infinite abysses and overpowering splendours, to
compare mountains to archangels, lying down in eternal winding-sheets
of snow, and to convert them into allegories about man's highest
destinies and aspirations. This is good when it is well done. Yet most
humble writers will feel that if they try to imitate Mr. Ruskin's
eloquence, they will pay the penalty of becoming ridiculous. It is
not every one who can with impunity compare Alps to archangels.'[R]
Yet there is always something about sunsets which is horribly
fascinating--from a literary point of view; it is so easy to become
suddenly enthusiastic and describe how 'The sun-god once more plunges
into the baths of ocean.' The sea too is always useful at such moments.
'Banks of sullen mist, brooding like a purple curtain,' etc., sounds
well; and one must not forget 'the shadows of approaching night,'--they
form a fitting background for the gloomy and introspective spirit
which ought to seize upon one at this particular psychological moment.
'The tumbled fragments of the hills, hoary with memories of forgotten
years,' come next, with a vague suggestion of solitude, which should be
further emphasised by allusions to 'the present fading away, and being
lost in the vast ocean of time, a lifetime being merely a shadow in the
presence of these changeless hills.' Then, to end up, mass the whole
together, and call it an 'inscrutable pageant'; pile on the shadows,
which must grow blacker and blacker, till 'naught remains but the mists
of the coming night and darkness'; and if you have an appropriate
quotation, put it in!


[P] 'They are still within the line of vulgarity, and are
_democratical_ enemies of truth,'--Browne's _Vulg. Errours_.

[Q] _Absolutely_ perpendicular.

[R] _The Playground of Europe._--Leslie Stephen.


           _To all ingeniously elaborate students in the most
         divine mysteries of the oromaniacal quest: an
         account in which is set forth the eminent secrets
         of the adepts; whereunto is added a perfect and
         full discoverie of the way to attaine to the
         Philosopher's heavenly chaos._

   'Whose noble practise doth them teach
    To vaile their secrets wyth mystie speach.'
                     _The Hunting of the Greene Lyon._

After that the three most respectable Travellers and Searchers after
vast protuberances of the earth, in the land of the Caledones, had with
haste, joyousness, and precision arrived at those parts, where with
observation, snow-covered mountains together with rocks and ice in
abundance, and also many other things may be perceived which commend
themselves to true worshippers of that most mystagorical and delectable
pursuit--the oromaniacal Quest into the secret and hidden Mysteries
of sublime Mountains--they at once determined to so haste, walk, run,
climb, and otherwise betake themselves to the uppermost parts of the
hills, that by continual patience a new entrance towards the topmost
pinnacle should be discovered, which should in all respects yield that
quintessential pleasure they believed could be extracted from such
pursuit of the enigmatical Process.

There be, however, many who deny that the Quintessence of the true
enjoyment can so be attained. These indeed do maintain that it resides
in that subtill art, the striking of a ball violently with a stick, but
this also is a mystery; therefore I will not launch my little skiff
further into the wide ocean of the dispute, neither will I argue with
such fellows, for do they not offend philosophically, and therefore
should be admonished to the end that they meddle not with the Quest of
the true Brethren?

Thou askest, Why? I say thou hast not tasted of these things! Hast thou
not tarried with those that are below, or, ascending, hast thou not
proceeded upwards by help of mules, jackasses, and other auxiliaries,
or even in these swift, luxurious and delectable vehicles drawn by
the demon of water ten times heated in the furnace? I bid thee search
that treasure-house of clouds, fountains, fogs, and steep places on
thine own ten toes, and peradventure thou shalt find that which is
above resembleth not that which is beneath, neither are the high places
of the earth like unto the groves and hedgerows, or the places where
people do most congregate, in towns, villages, courts, gardens, to
the end that they may hold discourse, spagyrising, philosophising,
lanternising, whereby is the engendering of fools a most mystical
matter furthered--also the concocting of many poculations; truly
these fellows are vulgar tosspots, they attaine not the first Matter,
nor the whole operation of the Work; neither do they approach to the
enchanted Treasure-House sought for by that worthy Quintessencer and
most respectable Traveller, Master Beroalde of fragrant and delectable
memory.[S] Also are these fellows most injurious to well-deserving
Philosophers, for they comprehend not the writings, and through
'misunderstanding of the possibilities of Nature do commit foul
mistakes in their operations, and therefore reap a ridiculous harvest.'
Our Record is writ neither for simple, vulgar, and pitiful sophisters,
nor for such owls, bats, and night-birds, who, blinded by the full
light of the Quest lye hidden in gloomy nooks, crannies, and holes

But return we to our purpose. When our three travellers had arrived
at that place in the northland, hight Castrum Guillelmi, they tarried
there awhile seeking diligently if perchance even in that place the
great Mysterie, the quintessential Pleasure of devout Philosophers,
could by searching be attained. 'Good,' said they; 'Now are we near
the Fulfilment, the Entrance into Secret Places, the Consummation,
the Marriage of the Impossible with the Real, the Knowledge of this
Mastery.' So it came to pass that on the day following, early and with
great joyousness, did they start forth by the straight road.

Nor did they issue forth unprepared, for they bore with them the
proper, peculiar, fit, exact, and lawful insignia of the brotherhood,
a mystic thread, coiled even as the sable serpent, likewise staves
curiously shapen did they take in their hands, for 'peradventure,' said
they, 'the way may be steep and full of toil, the dangers many; behold
go we not forth in a savage land, where liveth the white dragon and eke
basilisks, spoken of by the ingenious J. J. Scheuchzerus, doctor of
medicine, what time he did wander in the far country of the Helvetii?
Good, now come we to it! for saith not Aristotle in his _Physicks_,
"_Ab actionibus procedit speculatio_," "Now are all things propitious,
let us seek the Delphinian oracle"; Phoebus like unto the fiery Dragon
shines bravely, conquering the hydropical vapours and transforming
them into subtill aerial sublimations; soon shall we come to the high
places where abideth the great water the Lochan Meal an't Suidhe. It
shall we leave on the dexter hand, for the path lieth not there but
onwards, straight without twist or turn along the valley at the feet of
the red Mountains, whose hue is multiplied, transmuted, and purified
even unto seven times seven, a wonder to the sight, and tincted by the
ruddy colour of Sol the golden, what time he goeth down at eventide,
slavering the deep waters of the western sea so that they be all of a
gore bloud.'

But let not these things turn us from the true Quest, the hidden
Mysteries, which in the opinion of the vulgar rude are by many deemed
nought but delusions. For over against and opposite across the
valley, abideth the Immensity of greatness, the majestic Silence, the
prodigious Dampness, the Depth, in shape like a great Dome, whereof the
base is in the Flouds and the Waters, whence issueth forth delectable
springs welling up for ever, continually ascending yet ever flowing
downwards; here perchance shall we find the Mysterie of the heavenly
Chaos, and the great Abyss, the way to attaine to Happiness, even the
quintessential mystagorical Delight and oromaniacal Quest, so highly
extolled yet so deeply concealed by the true Philosophers.

Thus did they fare onward toward the midst of the valley placed
between the red Hill and the great Mountain. Then behold before
them rose hugeous rocks and bulky stones standing on end facing to
the north where the ice and snow tarry from one winter even unto the
following; for in those places the sun shines not, neither are found
the comfortable, soft, juicy, and foeculent breezes of the South;
there the brood of the black Crow and the white smoak or vapour, and
comprehensive congelations of the Mistus Scotorum are produced. So
were the Brethren sore amazed, but as yet could not see even the first
matter of the Work.

'See,' said one, 'the way leadeth upward where the Spirit arising
like unto a volatisation, a separation or sublimation or wind, has
much bewhited the mighty petrolific ridge full of points towers and
pinnacles. There the pursuit may be pursued, there the volatisation
which is an ascension may be compleatly demonstrated, and the operation
of the great Work may be begun. First must we fashion in the snow and
ice great stairs of steps, by aid of which, through prolongation,
extension, reduplication, and multiplication shall we be brought on to
the Ridge even at the beginning.' So did they enter upon the Work in
this lowest period of obscurity, multiplying the steps in a certain
mystic manner which had been revealed to them; and it came to pass
that they attained at last on to the Ridge, whereon might be perceived
far above, towers, pinnacles, points, and other pleasant places,
suitable and useful for the furtherance of the Quest.

First did they traverse a narrow edge of snow fashioned by the wind.
Then said one, 'Follow me, but look not either to the right or to
the left, for there lyeth the Abyss.' So they followed him, with the
mystic thread fastened to their girdles. They saw how that, far above,
the heavens were separated from the white snow, which was curled and
twisted, also falling, overhanging, and extended, so that they could
perceive no way whereby they might pass through.

But above and beyond lay the summit of the great Mountain, where clouds
are concocted in the natural furnace; there also may be seen in the
proper season, 'The whole operation of the Sons of Wisdom, the great
Procession and the Generation of Storms, the Marriage of the Stars and
the Seven Circulations of the Elements.' So did they fare onwards; and
by inspection were they aware how others had travelled on the same way,
for on the stones and rocks were certain petrographical scratchings
and curious markings deeply graven and very evident. But presently
came they to a great Rock, a majestic Tower. Here were they perforce
compelled to depart to the right hand, placing themselves in steep and
perilous positions on slopes of ice, which downwards seemed to end in
empty air, even in the great void.

Then were the Three exceeding joyful, for is it not written in the
secret books of the Brethren, Many operations must they perform amidst
the great mountains and the snowy ice, especially and creditably, ere
they be so transmuted, mystagorified and metagrabolised, that they
may be numbered with the True, the Pious, the Elect, even amongst
those who are considered worthy of the most mystical and allegorical
symbol, A.C., by many variously interpreted. For some hold that it
signifies, 'Adepti Cragorum,' whilst others 'Angelorum Confederatio,'
for these latter maintain that the Quest can only be rightly pursued,
or satisfactorily continued, by the aid of wings; but in this matter
they are deceived, and argue foolishly after the wisdom of the flesh.
Still all things have an end at last--good Wine, Pinnacles, Spires,
cabalistic Emblems, and oromaniacal Wanderings, even the green sauce
of the Philosophers and the pythagoric Mustard of the Great Master
himself, spoken of by Alcofribas Nasier in his merrie work. So did the
Three find the perilous passage across the headlong steep of that
ruinous place finish.

Then did they pass onward to the Labyrinth, the rocky chaos, and
greatly did they marvel at the exceeding steepness thereof; so that
only by great perseverance, turning now to the left and now to the
right, were they able to break themselves free from the bonds and
entanglements, and climb sagaciously upwards to the summit of the
great Tower. Whereon did they find a heaped up accumulation of stones
curiously erected, a cabalistic Pyramid, set there doubtless by a
former seeker in the Work, to the end that true searchers might not
despair, but continue the matter of the Work with fresh hope and
industry. But when they had gazed for a short space, they perceived how
that the Consummation, the great Fulfilment, was nigh at hand. Behind
and far below, imprinted in the snow, were the steps by which they had
mounted upwards, winding now this way, now that, looking like scarce
seen veins in whitest marble. But before them lay the narrow Way, the
Ridge, the Cleft, and the White Slope, leading even unto the utmost
Height, the sovereign Summit of the mightie Mountain. Thither therefore
did their footsteps trend.

First did they pass along the narrow Way, treading with exceeding care
and exactness, for there was but foothold for one alone; the path
being no broader than a man's hand. Next did they descend into the
Cleft, which thing is also emblematical and symbolical of the precious
secret of all Philosophies, for without this key can no one unlock the
Hermetic Garden, the Arcanum of the Alchemists, spoken of by Paracelsus
in his _Archidoxis_.

Now before them stretched the white Slope, which lay beneath the
topmost summit, and steeper became the path, going upwards with a
great steepness; now whilst the three Travellers did toil and seek,
endeavouring to meet the perils of the way, yet almost despairing, lo!
from out the clouds a thread descended and a voice was heard afar off:
'Fear not, now have ye attained to the Consummation, enter into the
mystagorical, quintessential, and delectable Pleasure-House of devout

Thus therefore do the true Philosophers distinguish that which is
superior from that which is inferior, for it is a thing deeply
concealed by the envious, let therefore the same be thy subject to work
upon, thy first Basis, for the white must first come out of the red,
and black following with multiplicative virtue rise above according to
the nature of all things. Hear then the meaning of the four Degrees.
Thy first Degree maketh to sweat but gently. In the second much travail
followeth, whereby thy sweat increaseth, whilst _tertius excedit et
cum tolerantia laedit_, for our way ascendeth speedilie where the
black rocks fall and rise continually. Congelation and Circulation
cometh next, when in the fourth Degree the blackness wears away,
which, believe me, is a gallant sight. 'Then shalt thou see thy Matter
appear, shining, sparkling, and white even like to a most glorious
heaven-born Mercury the subject of wonders. Then if thou art fortunate
shall the fumes cease and our congelation will glitter incomparably
and wonderfully, and thickening more and more it will sprout like the
tender frost in a most amiable lustre. Now thou needest no further
instruction, only this let me tell you, understand this well, and you
will not be amazed any longer with the distinction of our Operations.
For all is but a successive action and passion of him who seeks for
the Work. Which carrying him up and down like a wheel, returns thither
whence it proceeded, and then beginneth again and turns so long till it
finds its rest. So he thus attains a _plusquam_ perfection through the
marvellous co-operation of Art and Nature.'[T]

    'Who knoweth not this in knowledge is blind,
    He may forth wander as mist in the wind,
    Wotting never with profit where to light,
    Because he understands not our words aright.'

Therefore, with what joy, think you, did the Three progress onward
after the long and troublous ascent? After _scrambling_,

        _slipping,      gathering,_
        _pulling,       talking,_
        _pushing,       stepping,_
        _lifting,       grumbling,_
        _gasping,       anathematising,_
        _looking,       scraping,_
        _hoping,        hacking,_
        _despairing,    bumping,_
        _climbing,      jogging,_
        _holding on,    overturning,_
        _falling off,   hunting,_
        _trying,        straddling,_
        _puffing,       and at last_
        _loosing,       attaining,_

for know ye that by these methods alone are the most divine Mysteries
of the Quest reached.

So at last they came even unto the very topmost Point, and were
aware how that Priests from the heavenly Temple, which is placed on
the top of that Mountain, had come forth to guide them, without
further difficulty, across a level plain of white snow to the gates
of the Temple itself. But the perils of the way were not ended. At
the threshold were there many steps leading down and underground to
the Temple's innermost recesses, through a domed vault or doorway
built of the plastered snow. Now were these steps both slippery and
very treacherous, having been fashioned in a truly sopho-spagyric
manner, likewise did they seem reduplicated and multiplied even by the
Pythagorical Tetrad. Moreover, above the portal were there magical
characters engraven, even after the same fashion as those seen by the
wise Pantagruel what time he sought the Oracle of the Bottle in the
land of Lanterns.

But beyond the portal a very thick mistie and cimmerian darkness, an
eclipsation, apprehended them, and the Three did stumble now this way
and now that, so did they greatly fear even at this very end of their
Quest, that beasts and creeping things of monstrous shape awaited them,
dangers far worse than those on the steep places of the Mountain.

'Art thou here?' said one. 'Prithee guide my steps!' quoth another.
'Alas, we are undone!' cried a third. 'Zoons, why are ye afraid?'
answered a voice; 'when ye have passed the three-square Corner and the
Darkness ye are safe in the Sanctum Sanctorum even of the Elect, in the
Philosopher's heavenly Chaos, where may ye understand all Mysteries.
But first answer ye me, whence come ye?' 'From without and below.' 'And
how?' 'By the seven-fold stairs nigh unto the great Abyss where liveth
the brood of the black Crow, and the engendering of the Mistus Scotorum
proceedeth perpetually.' 'Good, but how did ye proceed?' 'Thence came
we by the rocky Labyrinth, and by the perilous Passage to the great
Tower, and the mystic Pyramid, which is set on the further side of
the narrow Way and the Cleft, emblematic of hidden things; thence by
the white Slope to the topmost Summit. So have we sought the divine
mysteries of this great Quest with much toil, so may we attaine to the
Philosopher's heavenly Chaos.'

Then said the voice, 'Enter into the abode of Knowledge, through
the open Entrance to the shut Palace of the King,[U] into the outer
chamber of the most sophistical Retreat of the Sons of Wisdom, where
are perpetually and endlessly produced many reasonable meteorological
prognostications; also divinations, concentrations, observations, and
conglomerations are recorded in divers registers, all of them most
deducible, for are they not stored with great care in sundry leathern
bags for the delectation of wise men? Thou hast been led as it were by
the hand through many a desert and waste spot, now lift up your eyes
and behold where you are; welcome into the garden of the Philosophers,
which is walled about with a very high wall.' So were they shown by
the dwellers in the Temple many and marvellous wonders. In the centre
stood a furnace for all transmutations and agitations by heat; whilst
on shelves did they see great store of divers bottles, pans, boxes,
and bags, wherein could be found succulent sauces and philosophical
essences, to the end that the delectable concoctions of the pious might
be completed.

Likewise great numbers of books. In some could be found treatises
of the true science, also devices, hieroglyphic interpretations
and perspicuous renderings of great wisdom, in others histories of
joyous diversions. Also were there 'curious and ingenious engines
for all sorts of motions, where were represented and imitated all
articulate sounds and letters, and conveyed in trunks and strange
lines and distances. Also helps for the sight representing things afar
off in the heavens and remote places, as near, and making feigned
distances.'[V] Likewise mathematical instruments, exquisitely made, for
the discovering of small and minute bodies in the air. 'Also divices
for natural divination of tempests, great inundations, temperatures of
the yeare and diverse other things.'[W] Also were they shown many and
marvellous things pertaining to the harmony of the heavenly spheres.
Then did they drink the mixed draught, the comfortable potation,
joyously, philosophically, and with discernment, for at last had they
attained to the divine Secrets of the Philosophers, even unto the
mystagorical Delight, the great Fulfilment of the Spagyrick Quest of
devout Oromaniacs.


[S] The Spagyric Quest of Beroaldus Cosmopolita.

[T] _The First Gate._ By the Chanon of Bridlington.

[U] Introitus apertus ad occlusum Regis palatium.

[V] _The New Atlantis._ F. Bacon.

[W] _Ibid._


  PROBABLY BY ARISTOTLE, ENTITLED, [Greek: peri athlêtikês, k.t.l.];

We come now to investigate the position of the mountaineer, or climber
of hills. Now, we may rightly call him the true mountaineer or climber
of hills, who possesses the true love of mountain climbing, which,
being a mean between two extremes, may be fitly termed a virtue. First,
indeed, it is right to call the love of mountain climbing an active
virtue, and not one of contemplation, for to no one is the ascent of a
hill possible by contemplation alone; still, the virtue of a mountain
climber is for a truth not wholly active, but is partly contemplative,
as we shall show further on.

Moreover, the love of hill climbing, like fortitude or other virtues,
has its defects, its mean, and its excess. Now, as we have said, virtue
being a mean of which the extremes are the excess or the deficiency, he
who is defective in this matter is one who either has not this love of
climbing, or is indifferent in the matter; this man, indeed, is pitied
by the hill climber, and indeed may be called the 'irrational man.' Now
by the 'irrational man' we do not mean him who is unreasonable without
qualification, but rather the man who is possessed of unreason from the
point of view of the mountaineer, and truly amongst 'irrational men'
are to be found the fathers of families, many learned men and others.
Moreover, the 'irrational man' prefers rather to ascend hills by means
of the telescope, or in a railway train, and if interrogated on the
subject, expresses great scorn for those who rise at midnight, or in
the early hours of the morning, for the purpose of imperilling their
lives on the end of a rope. Again, he goes not to places where there
are no hostels, alleging that he likes to be comfortable and enjoy
himself. The scarcity of inns, however, in mountainous countries is a
matter which, in these times, has in some few instances been remedied,
for we are credibly informed that on the topmost summit of the lofty
Mount Snowdon, in the Principality of Wales, an hostel exists, where
the 'irrational man' may find gratification for his baser appetites,
and perhaps may also at the same time experience, in a limited manner,
that happiness which in its full degree is experienced by the true
lover of hill climbing, whom we may call the 'mountaineer.'[X]
Further, the 'irrational man' is inclined often to treat the adventures
of the 'mountaineer' as travellers' tales, but in this respect he
is unable rightly to distinguish between the true climber of hills
and the 'pseudo-mountaineer' who haunts the smoking-rooms of certain
hostels. This man climbs, but in imagination only. He will relate how
he has ascended certain high and difficult, nay, even inaccessible
peaks, and will brand the names of many hills on staves, that when he
returns to his native land he may win much reverence. But although
the 'pseudo-mountaineer' pretends to greater things than he has
accomplished, and is, therefore, a depraved person, on the whole,
perhaps, he appears more a vain than a bad man, for it is not for the
sake of money that he would have the unwary traveller and the people of
his nation believe his stories, but for the sake of honour and glory,
which in itself is praiseworthy.

Now both the 'pseudo-mountaineer' and the 'irrational man' err by way
of defect, being indifferent to the true joys of mountaineering. But
the 'mountaineer' is he who has this virtue in the right measure. He
delights not in climbing this hill or that, but in climbing itself.
He loves to wander in mountainous lands; ascents of great mountains,
clad in frozen snow, to him are not unprofitable. Mountain-huts
ill-ventilated, nights spent under rocks, amidst snow, wind, mist, or
rain, these things will he endure. Moreover, to help him, will he even
pay much money to the more hardy inhabitants of the hills, who are able
to guide him with skill and safety through the inhospitable fastnesses,
which he loves to explore. Thus much knowledge will he gain, making
observations on the heights of hills, the efficacy of meat lozenges,
the movement of glaciers by day, and the _pulex irritans_ by night. He
is a searcher after sensations. But when, owing to misfortune, he finds
that his desire for climbing is in inverse ratio to his opportunity for
so doing, then will he spend his leisure hours in adorning his maps
with red lines, or he will write papers, yea, even books, describing
his former exploits, so that perchance other 'mountaineers' may receive
benefit therefrom.

But, as we have already said, the love of mountain climbing, like
fortitude and other virtues, has its mean and its defect; as to the
mean, we have seen that it is the virtue of the 'mountaineer,' whilst
the defect constitutes the habit of the 'pseudo mountaineer' and the
'irrational man.' But the extreme is found in the man who has the
desire to climb hills out of all reason, therefore we call him the
'oromaniac,' or he who is incontinent in the matter. He it is who
ascends hills on the wrong side, and cares not to travel in the line
of least resistance; also should he hear that a pinnacle of rock is
inaccessible, he is at once seized with a great desire to climb that
pinnacle. For he climbs not mountains for the exercise, or the love
of climbing itself, but for the mere base desire to beat all records
or to outdo an enemy, or that he may see his name blazoned in the
local papers. And not unfrequently do accidents befall such an one,
and he hurts himself grievously; hence come those accidents which we
may call indefinite, for of this kind of accident there is often no
definite cause, for the cause of it is casual, and that is indefinite.
Thus such an one may have fallen. Now if it was not his intention so
to do, and he either slipped or was otherwise moved in a direction
suddenly downwards, it happened accidentally. The accident, therefore
was generated, and is, but not so far as itself is, but as something
else is. Moreover, in this kind of accident, as we have already stated,
it often happens that the 'oromaniac' suffers many woes; breaking
sometimes a limb, or, if still more unfortunate, his neck, or he
suffers mutilation[Y] in respect to his garments. Again, accidents may
be called that which is inherent to something, and of which something
may be truly asserted; as for instance, if any one going up one
mountain in a mist should, after much fatigue, find himself at the
summit of another, the ascent would be an accident to him who climbs
the mountain. Nor, if any one climbs one mountain, does he for the
most part climb another. Accident is after another manner denominated,
that which essentially belongs--'The inseparable,' for instance, the
mountains themselves. Hence, indeed, it happens that accidents of
this kind are perpetual, which is not the case with any others. Now
concerning the love of mountain climbing, and the excess and deficiency
thereof, as well as the mean which is also a virtue, and concerning
also accidents both separable and inseparable of mountain climbing, let
this suffice.


[X] The great Lexicographer defines the word as 'an inhabitant of the
mountains, a savage, a freebooter, a rustick.' Can the word be here
used in this sense?

[Y] Of the mutilated we have spoken elsewhere. 'A man is mutilated
when some part is taken away, and this not any part indifferently, but
which, when wholly taken away, cannot again be generated. Hence, men
that are bald are not mutilated.'--_Metaphysics_, Book v. chap. xxvii.


The great flood of the Indus in 1841 seems to have been one of the most
tremendous cataclysms recorded as having occurred on the continent
of India. The exact reason of it was for many years unknown. Major
Cunningham suggested that it was due to the bursting of an ice-dammed
lake on the Shayok river. Major Becher seems, however, to have been
the first who expressed a belief that it was caused by a landslip
blocking the Indus near Gor. In a letter (_Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal_,
vol. xxviii. p. 219) he writes that a mountain called Ultoo Kunn, near
Gor, owing to an earthquake, subsided into the valley of the main
Indus. Drew, in his book on Kashmir (p. 415), gives the following
description: 'The flood of 1841 was in this wise. It occurred, as near
as I can make out, in the beginning of June of that year. At Atak, a
place twelve or fifteen miles below where the latitude-parallel of 34°
crosses the Indus, the river had been observed during several months,
indeed from December of the previous year onwards, to be unusually
low; in the spring it had risen a little from the snow melting, but
only a little, so that at the end of May (when in ordinary years the
volume has greatly increased) it was still extraordinarily low. This
in itself should have been enough to warn the people who dwelt by its
banks, but so little was it thought of that a portion of the Sikh army
was encamped on the low plain of Chach which bordered the river. One
day in the beginning of June, at two in the afternoon, the waters were
seen by those who were there encamped to be coming upon them, down
the various channels, and to be swelling out of these to overspread
the plain in a dark, muddy mass, which swept everything before it.
The camp was completely overwhelmed; five hundred soldiers at once
perished; only those who were within near reach of the hill-sides
could hope for safety. Neither trees nor houses could avail to keep
those surprised in the plain out of the power of the flood, for trees
and houses themselves were swept away; every trace of cultivation
was effaced; and the tents, the baggage, and the artillery, all were
involved in the ruin. The result was graphically described by a native
eye-witness, whose words were, "As a woman with a wet towel sweeps away
a legion of ants, so the river blotted out the army of the Raja."'
Drew was probably the first to actually visit the place where the
block occurred. And a villager from Gor pointed out to him the exact
spot where the debris of the landslip blocked the river. These floods
seem to be of somewhat frequent occurrence. In 1844 one came from the
Tshkoman valley above Gilgit. In 1858 another did great damage at
Naushahra. The Indus at Attock (Atak) on 10th August was very low.
In the early morning it rose ten feet in two hours, and five hours
later it had risen no less that fifty feet, and continued rising till
it stood no less than ninety feet higher than in the morning. It is
probable that this flood came from the Hunza valley.

Smaller floods in the narrow Himalayan valleys are of frequent
occurrence. For instance at Tashing, in 1850, a large lake was formed
in the Rupal nullah by the snout of the Tashing glacier crossing the
valley till it was jammed against the rock wall on the opposite side,
thus blocking the Rupal torrent. Probably this will again happen, for
when we were there in 1895 the Tashing glacier had once more blocked
the valley to the depth of at least 200 feet, the Rupal stream finding
its way underneath the ice; should this passage become in any way
stopped, a huge lake must at once form behind the glacier.

The extreme narrowness, and often the great depth, of many of these
Himalayan valleys will always be favourable to the production of
these floods. Should a landslip occur, or should a glacier, such as
the Tashing glacier, block the valley, a flood must be the inevitable
result. On the Indus there are many places where a dam might easily be
formed. In the bend underneath Haramosh, at Lechre under Nanga Parbat,
or further down below Chilas in that unknown country where the Indus
begins to flow in a southerly direction. For there on the map the Indus
is made to flow between two peaks, _not three miles apart_: one is
marked 16,942 feet, and the other 15,250 feet, thus making the depth of
this ravine over 12,000 feet.


The following list of mountains that are more than 24,000 feet has been
taken from various maps. It gives most of the peaks that have been
trigonometrically measured, but probably there are at least as many
more in those great mountain ranges, the Hindu Kush, the Mustagh, the
Kuen Lun, and the Himalaya, that are over 24,000 feet high.

The next highest peak in the world outside Asia is Aconcagua, 23,393
feet high.

     Devadhunga, Gaurisanka, or Mt. Everest, in Nepaul,   29,002
     K^{2} in the Mustagh range,                          28,278
     Kanchenjunga (1), north peak in Sikkim,              28,156
     Kanchenjunga (2), south peak,                        27,815
   5 Makalu, S.E. of Devadhunga,                          27,799
     Dhaolagiri (1), in Nepaul,                           26,826
     Unnamed peak N.W. of Katmandu,                       26,680
     Nanga Parbat, or Diama, in Kashmir,                  26,629
     Unnamed peak N. of Pokra Nepaul                      26,522
  10 K^{1} in the Mustagh range,                          26,483
     Hidden peak in the Mustagh range,                    26,470
     Gusherbrum (1), in the Mustagh range,                26,360
     Gosai Than, N.E. of Katmandu,                        26,305
     Gusherbrum (2),                                      26,103
  15 Unnamed, N. of Pokra Nepaul,                         26,069
     Gusherbrum (3),                                      26,016
     Unnamed peak, N.W. Katmandu,                         25,818
     Unnamed peak, N.W. Katmandu,                         25,729
     Masherbrum (1), in the Mustagh range,                25,676
  20 Nanda Devi (1), in Kumaon,                           25,661
     Masherbrum (2),                                      25,660
     Nanga Parbat or Diama (2),                           25,586
     Rakipushi, in Kashmir,                               25,550
     Unnamed, N. of Hispar glacier, Mustagh range,        25,503
  25 Unnamed, N. of Hispar glacier,                       25,493
     Dhaolagiri (2),                                      25,456
     Ibi Gamin, or Kamet, in Kumaon,                      25,443
     K^{10}, in the Mustagh range,                        25,415
     Boiohagurdaonas (1), N.W. of Hunza,                  25,370
  30 Jannu, in Sikkim,                                    25,304
     K^{11} in the Mustagh range,                         25,210
     Nubra peak (1), N. of Leh, Mustagh range,            25,183
     K^{6} in the Mustagh range, Chogolisa peak,          25,119
     Bride peak, Baltoro glacier, Mustagh range,          25,110
  35 Dhaolagiri (3),                                      25,095
     Boiohagurdaonas (2),                                 25,050
     Unnamed, N. of Pokra Nepaul,                         24,780
     Nubra Peak (2),                                      24,698
     Tirach Mir (1), N. of Chitral Hindu Kush,            24,611
  40 Unnamed, near Rakipushi, Kashmir,                    24,470
     Muz Tagh Ata, Pamirs,                                24,400
     Nanda Devi (2) (Nanda Kot),                          24,379
     K^{12} in the Mustagh range,                         24,352
     Tirich Mir (2),                                      24,343
  45 Unnamed, N. of Katmandu Nepaul,                      24,313
     Haramosh, near Gilgit Kashmir,                       24,270
     Boiohagurdaonas (3),                                 24,044
     Unnamed, S. of Devadhunga, Nepaul,                   24,020
     Kabru, in Sikkim,                                    24,015
  50 Chumaliri, in Bhutan,                                24,000
     Aling Gangri, in Tibet,                              24,000
     K^{9} in the Mustagh range,                          24,000


    Bogle, G., Account of Tibet. Philosophical Transactions, No. 67,
      part 2, and Annual Register, 1778.

    Turner, Capt. S., Account of an Embassy to the Court of the
      Teshoo Lama, in Tibet, 1 vol., 1806.

    Webb and Raper, Journey to explore the sources of the Ganges.
      Asiatic Researches, vol. x.

    Colebrooke, H., On the height of the Himala Mountains. Asiatic
      Researches, vol. xi.

    Moorcroft, W., Journey to the Lake Mánasarówara. Asiatic
      Researches, vol. xii.

    Kirkpatrick, Col. W., An Account of the Kingdom of Nepaul,
      1 vol., 1811.

    Hamilton, Francis, M.D., An Account of the Kingdom of
      Nepal, 1 vol., 1819.

    Fraser, J. B., Tour through part of the Snowy Range of the
      Himalya Mountains, 1 vol., 1820.

    Hodgson, B. H., Essays on Nepál and Tibet, etc., 2 vols., 1874;
      also no less than 170 papers to various periodicals, chiefly
      the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Cp. Report
      on the Mineralogical Survey of the Himala Mountains.
      J. A. S. B. xi., part 1, p. x.

    Vigne, G. T., Travels in Cashmir, Ladak, etc., 2 vols., 1835.

    Thomson, T., M.D., Western Himalaya and Tibet, 1 vol., 1852.

    Moorcroft, W. and G. Trebeck, Travels in the Himalayan
      Provinces, etc., 2 vols., 1841.

    Gerard, Capt. A., Account of Koonawur, in the Himalaya, 1 vol.,

    Gerard and Lloyd, Tours in the Himalaya, 2 vols., 1840.

    Cunningham, Sir A., Ladák, Physical, Statistical, and Historical,
      1 vol., 1854.

    Strachey, R., Physical Geography of Kumaon and Gurhwal and
      the adjoining parts of Tibet. R. G. S. Journal, xxi., p. 57.

    Strachey, Capt. H., Physical Geography of Western Tibet.
      R. G. S. Journal, xxiii., p. 2, published separately, 1 vol.,
      1854; also Journey to Lake Mánasarówar, 1 vol., 1848.

    'Mountaineer' (Wilson), A Summer Ramble in the Himalayas
      and Cashmere, 1 vol., 1860.

    Hooker, Sir J. D., Himalayan Journals, 2 vols., 1854.

    Saunders, Trelawny W., Sketch of the Mountains and River
      Basins of India, in two maps, with explanatory memoirs.
      Geographical Department, India Office, 1870.

    Gordon, Lieut.-Col. T. E., The Roof of the World, 1 vol., 1876.

    Wilson, Andrew, The Abode of Snow, 1 vol., 1875.

    Indian Alps and How we Crossed Them. By a Lady Pioneer,
      1 vol., 1876.

    Markham, Clements R., A Memoir on the Indian Surveys, 1
      vol., 1871; 2nd ed., 1878.

    Montgomerie, Major T. G., Reports on the Trans-Himalayan
      Explorations, 1865-1867, 1869, and 1871 (Indian Survey).

    Shaw, R., Visits to High Tartary, Yârkand, and Kâshgar,
      1 vol., 1871.

    Torrens, Lieut.-Col. H. D., Travels in Ladak, Tartary, and
      Kashmir, 1 vol., 1862.

    Bellew, Dr. H. W., Kashmir and Kashgar, 1 vol., 1875.

    Drew, F., Jummoo and Kashmir Territories, 1 vol., 1875.

    Bogle, G., and T. Manning, Narratives of their Journeys to
      Tibet and Lhasa, edited by Clements R. Markham, 1 vol.,

    Godwin-Austen, Col. H. H., Royal Geographical Society Journal,
      vol. xxxiv., p. 19.

    Knight, Capt., Diary of a Pedestrian in Cashmere and Tibet,
      1 vol., 1863.

    Schlagintweit, H. and B., The Last Journeys and Death of
      Adolph Schlagintweit, 1854.

    Conway, Sir W. M., Climbing in the Karakoram Himalayas,
      1 vol., 1894.

    Knight, E. F., Where Three Empires Meet, 1 vol., 1893.

    MacCormick, A. D., An Artist in the Himalayas, 1 vol., 1895.

    Waddell, L. A., Among the Himalayas, 1 vol., 1899.

    Younghusband, F. E., The Heart of a Continent, 1 vol., 1896.

    Boeck, K., Indische Gletcherfahrten, 1900.

    Deasy, H. H. P., In Tibet and Chinese Turkestan, 1 vol., 1901.

    Durand, A., Making of a Frontier, 1 vol., 1900.

    Holdich, Col. Sir T. H., Indian Borderland, 1 vol., 1901.

    Bose, P. N., Glaciers of Kabru, 1 vol., 1901.

    Workman, Mrs. F. B. and Dr. W. H., In the Ice-World of
      Himalaya, 1 vol., 1900.


   A^{21}. See Mount Monal.
   A^{22}, 17, 18.
   Achill Island, cliffs of, 233.
   A Chuilionn, 211. See Coolin Hills.
   Alberta, Mount, 149.
   Alps, The, mountaineering in, 165 _et seq._
   Assiniboine group of mountains, 143, 145.
   Astor, 43, 123, 126.
   Astor valley, road down, 126.
   Athabasca pass, 144.
   Avalanche of stones, 72.

   Bagrot nullah explored, 20.
   Baker, Mount, 140.
   Balfour group of mountains, 144, 146.
   Ball group of mountains, 143, 145.
   Baltoro glacier ascended, 15, 21, 22.
     ----   ----   survey of the, 15.
   Bandipur, 32.
   Baramula, 28.
   Bear, red, 45, 62.
   Been Keragh, 237, 240.
   Ben Eighe, climb on, 274 _et seq._
   Ben Nevis, ascent of Tower Ridge of, 288 _et seq._;
       observatory on summit of, 296.
   Biafo glacier, 21, 24.
   Blanc, Mont, ascent of, by Brenva route, 175.
   Bogle, G., Mission to Tibet, 8.
   Boss, Emil, 17.
   Bow range, 143.
   Brandon, 237, 240.
   Brown, Mount, 149.
   Bruce, Major C. G., 20, 21, 23;
       ascents near Chitral, 23;
         do.   near Hunza, 23;
         do.   near Nagyr, 23;
         do.   of Ragee-Bogee peaks, 23;
       meets us at Tashing, 68;
       returns to Abbottabad, 81;
       climbing in the Alps by, 178.
   Buldar nullah, 123.
   Bullock-Workman, Mount, ascent of, 24.
         ----       Dr. and Mrs., climbing in Ladak and Suru by, 24.
   Butesharon glacier, 80;
       pass, 81.
   Bunar Post, 132.
   Burzil or Dorikoon pass, 34.
   Bush peak, 147.

   Caher, 237, 240.
   Camping, 154, 182.
   Canada, size of, 136.
   Carran Tuohill, 237, 239.
   Chiche peak, 42;
       glacier, ascent of, 49.
   Chilas, 26;
            road to, 127.
     ----   tribesmen, raids by, 40.
   Chongra peaks, 43, 119, 123.
   Choonjerma pass, 11.
   Chorit, 36.
   Collier, J., 253, 259.
   Columbia group of mountains, 144, 148.
     ----   Mount, 148.
     ----   river, 141.
   Connemara, the twelve Bens of, 236.
   Conway, Sir W. Martin, mountain exploration by, 20, 21, 23.
   Coolin Hills, appearance and description of, 217 _et seq._, 234.
   Coomacarrea, 241.
   Coomacullen, Lough, 241.
   Croaghann, 233.
   Crystal peak ascended, 21.

   Daranshi Saddle climbed, 21.
   Dashkin, 123.
   Dasskaram needle ascended, 21.
   Devadhunga, 9, 11, 12, 20, 24.
   Dhaltar peaks, ascent of, 23.
   Diama glacier, 116;
       pass, 116, 120.
   Diamirai glacier explored, 62, 82.
     ----   nullah, 59;
            camp in, 61;
            return to, 81;
            storm in, 111;
            upper camp in, 83, 109, 113;
            leave, 116;
            last visit to, 133.

     ----   pass crossed, 64.

     ----   peak, 88;
            view from slopes of, 91;
            summit of, 97;
            south-west arête of, 100.
   Dichil peak, 72, 123.
   Divide, Great, 140, 142.
   Doian, 126.
   Dome peak, 148.
   Donegal, 227.
   Donkia pass, 12, 16.
   Drew, 14.
   Dunagiri, 16;
       attempted ascent of, 17.

   Elias, Mount St., 136.
   Everest. See Devadhunga.

   Forbes Group of Mountains, 144, 147.
   Forsyth, 213.
   Fortress Lake pass, 144.
   Fraser river, 140;
       canyon, 141.
   Freshfield, D., Tour of Kanchenjunga, 24.
      ----     Mount, 147.

   Ganalo nullah crossed, 118;
          glacier, 119;
          camp in, 119.
     ---- peak, 82, 116, 124.
   Garhwal, 9.
   Garwood, E., 24.
   Gerard, Captain, ascents by, 11.
   Gjeitgaljar, 192;
       ascent of, 204.
   Glaciers, effect of, 190.
   Godwin, Austen H. H., survey of mountains by, 15.
   Golden Throne, 22.
   Goman Singh, 69;
               takes servants, etc., over Mazeno La, 73, 117, 124.
    ---- ----  pass, 89, 118.
   Gonar peak, 118.
   Goodsir group of mountains, 143, 145.
   Gor, inhabitants of, 122.
   Graham, W. W., ascents by, 16.
   Guicho La, 17, 19.
   Gurais, 34.
   Gurdon, Capt. B. E. M., ascent near Nagyr, 23.
   Gusherbrum, 15.

   Haramosh, 127.
   Haramukh, 29.
   Harkabir Thapa, 23, 178.
   Harman, Capt., visits Donkia pass, 16.
   Hart, H. C., 226, 230.
   Haskett-Smith, W. P., 247.
   Hastings, G., 27;
           arrives at Chiche glacier camp, 56;
           returns to Rupal nullah and Astor, 87;
           crosses Mazeno La, 90;
           returns to Diamirai nullah to search for Mummery,
                               122, 125, 175, 191, 247, 256.
     ----  Warren, frontier policy, 8.
   Hatu Pir, view from, 127, 129.
   Higraf Tind, 192;
       ascent of, 197.
   Himalaya, peaks over 24,000 feet, 6, 307.
     ----    exclusion from, 7.
     ----    Mountaineering Club, 14.
   Hindu Kush range, 26.
   Hispar pass crossed, 21, 24.
   Hooker, Sir Joseph, Sikkim Journeys, 11.
    ----   group of mountains, 144.
    ----   Mount, 149.
   Howse pass, 144.

   Ibi-Gamin. See Kamet.
   Imboden, Joseph, 16.
   Indus valley, 127;
       heat in, 130.

   Johnson, Dr., 50, 211;
            description of Skye by, 212.
     ----   W. H., ascents by, 13.
   Jonsong La crossed, 24.
   Jubonu, 18; ascent of, 19.


   K^{2}, 15, 21, 22;
       seen from slopes of Nanga Parbat, 71.
   Kabru, 16, 18;
       ascent of, 19;
       objections to claimed ascent of, 19.
   Kamet, attempted ascents of, 13, 16.
   Kamri pass crossed, 34.
   Kanchenjunga, 12, 16, 17, 18, 24.
   Kang La, ascent of peak near, 19.
   Karakoram range. See Mustagh range.
      ----   pass, 13.
   Kashmir, journey from Rawul Pindi to, 28;
       valley of, 29.
   Kauffmann, Ulrich, 17.
   Kerry Hills, 237 _et seq._
   Khaghan, 23.
   Kicking Horse pass, 143.
   Kishnganga valley, description of, 33.
   Kongra-Lama pass, 12.
   Koser Gunge, ascent of, 24.
   Kulu, 9.
   Kumaon, 9.

   Langstrandtinder, ascent of, 195.
   Laurence, W. R., description of valley of Kashmir, 30.
   Lechre, landslip blocks Indus at 26, 129.
   Leo Porgyul, 11.
   Liskom pass, 123.
   Lofoten Islands, 185;
       fish trade of, 203;
       rain in the, 201;
       visits to the, 207;
       climate of, 187;
       scenery of, 189.
   Logan, Mount, 136.
   Lor Khan, 83, 89;
       accident to, 96; 109.
   Louise lake, 145.
   Lubar nullah, camp in, 79.
    ---- glacier, 59.
    ---- torrent, 107.
   Lyell, Mount, 147.

   Macgillicuddy's Reeks. See Kerry Hills, 237.
   Maelström, description of, 185.
   Manning, T., Mission to Tibet, 8.
   Markhor, 60.
   Masherbrum, 15.
   Mazeno La, 42;
          cross the, 57;
          cross second time, 66;
          cross third time, 77;
          Bruce crosses the, 81;
          Hastings crosses, 90.
    ----  peaks, 42.
   M'Kinley, Mount, 136.
   Monal, Mount, 16;
       ascent of, 17, 18.
   Montgomerie, Capt. T. G., survey of mountains by, 15.
   Mösadlen, 192.
   Moss ghyll, climb up, 256.
   Mountains, description of
              Himalayan, 50;
              Canadian Rocky, 143.
              Lofoten 191;
              Scotch, 220;
              Irish, 226.
   Mummery, A. F., 27;
       explores western face of Nanga Parbat, 82;
       ascends Diamirai peak, 97;
       starts for Bunar, 105;
       takes provisions up rocks of Nanga Parbat, 83, 109;
       spends night on rocks of Nanga Parbat, 110, 114;
       starts for ascent of Nanga Parbat, 113;
       starts for Diama pass, 116;
       probable fate of, 124;
       climbing in Alps, 174;
       climbing near Wastdale Head, 246.
   Murree, 28.
   Mustagh range, view of, 91, 128.
     ----  pass, 22.
     ----  tower, description of, 21.

   Nanda Devi, 12, 16, 17, 18.
   Nanga Parbat, 26;
       view of from Kamri pass, 34;
       glacier, 45;
       south face, view of, 47;
       western face, view of, 61;
       Mummery explores western face, 82;
       provisions left on, 83;
       climbing on, 83;
       avalanches on, 83, 111, 114, 124, 133;
       attempted ascent of, 114;
       northern face of, 120.
   Nepaul, enormous peaks north of, 12, 16.
   Nicholson, A., derivation of the name of the Coolin, 235.
   Night out at 19,000 ft., 75.
   Nun Kun peaks, 24, 29.
   Nushik La crossed, 21.

   Ottertail Range, 143.

   Pennant, 213.
   Phillip, Colin B., 233, 270, 273.
   Pillar rock, climbing on, 251.
   Pioneer peak, 20, 23.
   Prairie, description of, 138.
   Priestman, H., 191.
   Pundim, 17, 19.
   Punmah glacier, 15.

   Ragee-Bogee Peaks ascended, 23.
   Ragobir Thapa, 69, 82, 89, 113, 117, 124.
   Rakiot nullah, 116;
          arrive in, 120;
          explore, 121.
   Rakiot glacier, 120.
    ----  peak, 42.
   Rakipushi, 127.
   Ramghat, 127.
   Rattu, 35.
   Red pass, 118.
   Robinson, J. W., 247, 255, 260.
   Robson, description of Grampians by, 214.
   Rocky Mountains, Canadian, 135;
       future of, 137;
       approach to, 138, 140;
       travelling in, 150;
       dense forests on west side of, 156.
   Rosamir, head coolie, 116.
   Rulten, 192;
       attempted ascent of, 201.
   Rupal nullah, arrival in, 38;
         description of, 41;
         journey up, 44.
    ---- peak, 42;
         glacier, 42.

   Samayar Glacier, 21.
   Schlagintweit, Adolf and Robert, exploration of Himalaya, 12.
   Screes, climb up the great gully of the, 254.
   Selkirk mountains, 142.
   Sella, Signor V., 24.
   Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh, climb on, 219.
   Shallihuru glacier, 21.
   Shandur pass, 35.
   Sheep, price of, 59.
   Shikara pass, 23.
   Shikari, robbed by, 106.
   Sickness, mountain, 11, 58, 98.
   Siegfried Horn, ascent of, 24.
   Simpson pass, 143.
   Slieve League, climbing on, 230;
       sea caves near, 231.
   Slingsby, C., 247.
   Solly, G., 252.
   Spiti, 9.
   Stewart, Capt., 125.
     ----   Lieut. C. G., Chitral Relief Expedition, 35.
   Swat country, peaks in, 60, 81.

   Tashing, 36, 40.
     ----   river crossed, 36.
     ----   glacier ascended, 70;
            descended, 72.
   Temple group mountains, 143, 145.
   Thompson pass, 144.
   Thosho pass, 39;
       peak, 42.
   Tirich Mir, 26;
       seen from slopes of Nanga Parbat, 81.
   Tragbal or Raj Diangan pass, 33.
   Travers, M. W., 271.
   Trisuli peaks, 17.
   Trold Fjord, 199, 205.
   Troldfjordvatn, 199, 205.
   Tunkra pass, 12.

   Vaage Kallen, 192.
   Vermilion pass, 143.

   Wapta Range, 144, 146.
   Wastdale Head, climbing near, 245 _et seq._
   Wicklow Mountains, 229, 242.
   Woolar lake, description of, 31;
       storm on, 32.
   Woolley, H., 191.

   Younghusband, Captain F., climb with Major Bruce, 23.

   Zaipur, 36.
   Zurbriggen, M., 20, 24.

  Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE

  Now Ready.

  _In One Volume, Royal 8vo, with Illustrations, price 36s. net._

       *       *       *       *       *

                  THE ALPS IN 1864
                  A PRIVATE JOURNAL

                    BY A. W. MOORE



Moore's privately printed Journal of 1864 has long been one of the
rarest and most coveted books of Alpine adventure. The Author was a
climber of marvellous energy, and climbed, for the pure pleasure of
climbing, in days when the Alps were not 'hung in chains,' and when
virgin peaks and passes still remained in comparative plenty. Few of
his contemporaries had so wide a knowledge of the mountains as he had,
and few were able to make so many first ascents; while few, it may be
said without offence, spoke and wrote of their doings in so simple,
genial, and unaffected a fashion.

           'The writer succeeds in bringing the actual
         conditions of the climb home to the reader in a
         manner calculated at times almost to take his
         breath away. He makes one believe that it would
         be possible to go and repeat the exact route
         merely from his description. As we follow him
         over the ice-wall and along the _arêtes_ of
         the Ecrins, through the hurricanes on the Dom,
         across the awful barrier of the Moming Pass, and
         up the hanging glaciers of the Brenva, we feel
         as if we were ourselves standing amid the snows
         and rocks of the Alpine giants as we sit in our
         arm-chair waiting till the return of a summer
         holiday sends us once again to the happy hunting

           'The work will prove not only a monument to the
         memory of a man of rare culture, of great
         public capacity, and of unusual mountaineering
         experience, but also a notable addition to
         permanent Alpine literature.'--_Birmingham Post._

           'The keynote of the whole book is its frank, hearty,
         straightforward naturalness. It breathes the
         very air of the mountains, and is instinct
         in every page with the spirit of the true
         mountaineer.'--_Birmingham Gazette._

           'Contains a better collection of Alpine plates than
         we have ever before seen brought together in a
         book. The volume would be worth buying for the
         plates alone.'--_Times._

           'One of the most vivid and fascinating books
         of Alpine travel which has ever been
         written.'--_Alpine Journal._

           'Moore's book will be classed with the very best
         in its department of literature with the works
         of Mummery and Mr. Whymper and Mr. Leslie
         Stephen.'--_Glasgow Herald._

           'Mr. Moore was an ardent and successful mountain
         climber,' with a remarkable topographical faculty
         and a retentive and accurate memory. He wrote in
         an easy style with much descriptive power and
         quiet humour.'--_Standard._

       *       *       *       *       *

  _In Preparation, One Volume, with Illustrations_

              A Book on Climbing in Norway

 _with chapters on the physical features, etc., of the country_.

                  BY WM. CECIL SLINGSBY.

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Obvious misspellings and omissions were corrected.

Errors in punctuation and inconsistent hyphenation were not corrected
unless otherwise noted.

The illustrations have been moved so that they do not break up
paragraphs and so that they are next to the text they illustrate.

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