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Title: Italian Alps - Sketches in the Mountains of Ticino, Lombardy, the Trentino, and Venetia
Author: Freshfield, Douglas William
Language: English
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London: Printed by
Spottiswoode and Co., New-Street Square
and Parliament Street

  [Illustration: THE CIMA TOSA,
   From Val di Brenta.

   F. F. Tuckett delt.]


Sketches in the Mountains of Ticino, Lombardy, the Trentino,
and Venetia



Author of 'Travels in the Caucasus and Bashan' and
Editor of 'The Alpine Journal'

   Over the great windy waters, and over the clear-crested summits
   Unto the sun and the sky, and unto the perfecter earth    _Clough_


Longmans, Green, and Co.

All rights reserved

     TO THE



The First Chapter is reprinted with corrections and additions from
'Fraser's Magazine.' The Thirteenth and fragments of one or two others
have previously appeared in the 'Alpine Journal,' from which three of
the illustrations have also been borrowed. The remaining seven have
been engraved for this work under the care of Mr. G. Pearson.

       *       *       *       *       *

The heights throughout the book and in all the maps are given in
English feet.


I owe a double apology for the publication of this volume; in the first
place to the public, secondly to my friends.

'Mountaineering' has been by this time fully described by very
competent writers. No new book is likely to have any chance of
rivalling the popularity of the first series of 'Peaks, Passes, and
Glaciers,' or of the dramatic story of the Matterhorn, as told and
illustrated by Mr. E. Whymper. There is no longer the least novelty
in the small feats of gymnastics annually performed, or supposed to be
performed, by members of the Alpine Club. Few readers, I think, outside
that body of enthusiasts, are eager to hear anything more of guides
and glaciers, arêtes and séracs, cols, couloirs and crevasses. Such
subjects recur more often than I could wish in the following pages. But
in attempting to give any adequate picture of a mountain region it is
impossible to leave out the snow mountains. My object has been to keep
them as far as possible in their proper place in the landscape. I could
not, like some tourists, ignore everything above the snow-level, but I
have not, I trust, written as if the world began only at that point and
everything beneath it was also beneath notice.

The sketches here brought together are a patchwork from the journals
of seven summers. Their chief claim to interest lies in the fact
that they deal with portions of the Alpine chain, about which English
readers have hitherto found no information in their own language except
in guide-books. General experience proves that the British mind--the
remark does not, I believe, hold equally good of the German--will
not readily take in a new lesson through this medium. Few of our
fellow-countrymen turn their steps towards an unknown region unless
directed thither either by the report of friends or by some book less
technical and abstruse than a Dictionary of Peaks and Passes. Such a
book, I venture to hope, the present volume may be found.

The gap which it is intended to fill has long remained one of the
broadest in our English Alpine literature.

We have already two works of permanent value dealing with the southern
side of the Alps. But Val Formazza was the eastern limit of the late
Mr. King's 'Italian Valleys of the Pennine Alps.' The authors of 'The
Dolomites' did not go west of the Adige. The exquisite valleys round
the head of Lago Maggiore, so easily accessible from the lake or the
St. Gothard road, have been completely passed over. The mountains of
Val Masino and Val Livigno, distant respectively only a day's journey
west and east of the crowded Upper Engadine, are still left to their
bears and Bergamasque shepherds. The Punta Trubinesca, a noble peak,
which, seen from Monte Generoso, heads the army of the Rhætian Alps,
has been but once ascended, although it is accessible to anybody who
can cross the Diavolezza Pass or climb the Titlis. In the highlands of
Lombardy and the Trentino--speaking roughly, the country between Lago
di Como and Trent--Italy and Switzerland seem to join hands. There,
under an Italian sky and girt round by southern flowers and foliage,
the fantastic rock-ridges and mighty towers of the Brenta stand
opposite the broad snow-plains of the Adamello. Yet the beauties of
this region, one of the most fascinating in the Alps, have, but for a
stray mountaineer or a scanty notice in the 'Alpine Journal,' remained
unsought and unsung.

The few friends and companions who have hitherto shared with me its
enjoyment may here ask, 'And why could not you let them remain so?' I
will at any rate offer none but honest excuses. I can make no pretence
to having been overcome by any benevolent feeling towards the public
at large. Had there seemed the smallest reasonable hope of our haunts
remaining undisturbed I should have been disposed still to keep the
secret I have already guarded for some years. But unfortunately, at
least from our point of view, a spirit of enterprise has sprung up
amongst the people of the country, roads are being made, new inns
opened, old ones furbished up, and as a result English visitors are
becoming less and less rare. In the ordinary course of events it
was hardly possible for another year to pass by without some monthly
tourist, with a facility in bookmaking, penetrating the Lombard Alps.

If it was inevitable that these mountains should be brought before
the world, it seemed better that they should be introduced by one
who had with them a friendship of some years' standing rather than
by a new acquaintance. Moreover there was a very obvious advantage
in making the revelation myself. I have outgrown the rash enthusiasm
which leads discoverers to overrate all the merits and understate
half the disadvantages of their last new discovery. I have, so far as
I know my own mind, no desire to deceive anybody. I am prepared, as
new-comers seldom are, to attach at least their due importance to all
difficulties of climate or of transport, from want of accommodation or
from want of guides. In short, I mean to frame a friendly invitation
to those who know how to travel which yet shall not allure the crowd
who tour. As an eclectic wanderer I can afford to state, with perfect
frankness, my conviction that, if you can put up with the crowd,
there is no place where great snow-peaks are so well seen as in the
Bernese Oberland--that there is no climbing which equals that to be
had within twenty miles of Zermatt--that the ice scenery on Mont Blanc
is unsurpassable in Europe, and the climate of the Upper Engadine the
most bracing south of the Arctic circle. And I can heartily agree in
the conclusion that everyone who, wishing for nothing more, crosses
the frontier of Italy, commits an act of folly. I write only for those
who do wish for something more--who, like myself, feel at times in a
mood for less austere society. The Swiss peaks sit erect in a solemn
white-robed row of Monks and Virgins, most noble and inspiring to
contemplate. The Italian Alps I may venture to compare to a gay and
gracious company robed in blue, red, and purple pomp, and setting off
the costume by that most becoming artifice, well-powdered heads.

I have only to add a few words on matters of detail. The first eleven
chapters deal with ground new[1] to English readers. The twelfth
contains information not given elsewhere, and likely to be useful now
that a large inn is opened at San Martino di Castrozza, in the most
beautiful situation of any stopping-place in Italian Tyrol.[2] The
Pelmo, as in many respects a unique mountain, has a certain novelty.
The last chapter is an expostulation for which the present moment seems
particularly opportune.

In order to meet a difficulty which most authors must have felt, I
have ventured in one respect on an innovation on the ordinary form
of books of Swiss travel. The details as to inns, ascents or paths,
necessary on the spot, are tiresome when a book is read at home; on the
other hand, when travelling it is often difficult at a moment's notice
to extract from the body of the work the exact fact wanted. Such new
remarks therefore as I had to offer on these matters, I have embodied
in an appendix where, without being obtrusive, they will be readily

The list of illustrations and maps will explain itself, and show
that by Messrs. Longman's liberality the volume is in these respects
unusually well provided.

My best thanks are due to my friends Mr. J. Gilbert and Mr. F. F.
Tuckett for the use of the accurate sketches which have furnished most
of the illustrations.

Two of the district maps and part of the third are extracts from the
as yet unpublished south-eastern sheet of the Alpine Club map of the
Central Alps. The hill-engraving being still incomplete, the mountains
have been put in from a stone.

The Brenta group is now laid down for the first time with any approach
to accuracy, and some pains have been taken to render this addition
as far as possible worthy of the map of which it forms a natural
extension. For assistance in my endeavours to ascertain the correct
nomenclature I have to thank the Trentine Alpine Society, who appointed
a special committee to make enquiries on the spot,[3] and Mr. M.
Holzmann. I regret to be obliged to add that owing to the churlishness
of the Viennese authorities I have been unable to profit in any way by
the results of the great Survey of the Trentino and South Tyrol lately
executed by the Austrian engineers.


     [1] The Livigno district has been touched on in two works, _A
     Summer Tour in the Grisons_, by Mrs. H. Freshfield, and _Here
     and There in the Alps_, by the Hon. F. Plunket, but the route
     here described was not previously known. There is a pleasant
     description of Val di Sole, in _On Foot through Tyrol_, by
     Walter White. Chapman and Hall, 1856.

     [2] See Appendix F on 'Tyrol v. Tirol.'

     [3] See Appendix E for further details on this subject.




  Val Maggia--Bignasco--Val Lavizzara--The Basodine--Val              1
  Bavona--Piz Campo Tencca--Val di Prato



  Passo di Redorta--Val Verzasca--A Broken Road--Locarno--Val        28
  Canobbina--Val Vigezzo




  The Mountains of Val Masino--The Aversthal--Madriser Pass--Val     41
  Bregaglia--Zocca Pass--Promontogno--Val Bondasca--Passo di
  Ferro--Bagni del Masino--Passo di Monte Sissone--The Forno



  Chiareggio--Passo di Mello--Passo di Bondo--Cima del Largo--Val    68
  Masino--Punta Trubinesca--Monte della Disgrazia--The Approach to
  Sondrio--A Reply




  The Prätigau--Verstankla Thor--Tarasp--Piz Pisoc--Passo del        94
  Diavel--Livigno--Monte Zembrasca--Passo di Dosdè--Val Grosina



  Val d'Esino--The Grigna--Introbbio--Forcella di Cedrino--Val      121
  Torta--An Old Traveller--Val Brembana--Branzi--Passo di
  Gornigo--Gromo--Val Seriana--Bondione--Monte Gleno--Val Belviso



  The Aprica Pass--Edolo--Val Camonica--Cedegolo--Val               154
  Saviore--Lago d'Arno--Monte Castello--Val di Fum--Val
  Daone--Lago di Ledro--Riva--The Gorges of the Sarca--Val
  Rendena--Pinzolo--The Pra Fiori--Val d'Algone--Stenico--The High
  Road to Trent



  English and German Mountaineers--The Lombard Alps from Monte      182
  Rosa--Nomenclature--Gavia Pass--Ponte di Legno--Tonale
  Pass--Vermiglio--Val Presanella--The Presanella--Passo di
  Cercen--Val di Genova



  A Tyrolese Porter--The Bedole Alp--The Adamello--Val Miller--Val  208
  di Malga--Val di Borzago--The Carè Alto--A High-level
  Route--Passo di Mandron--Val d'Avio



  Pinzolo--The Churches of Val Rendena--History and Legends--Val    229
  Nambino--The Brenta Group--La Madonna di Campiglio--Hospice and



  Val di Brenta--Bocca dei Camozzi--Val d'Agola--Passo              248
  d'Ambies--Val di Sole--Ginevrie Pass--Cima di Brenta--Passo di
  Grostè--Val Teresenga--Molveno--Cima Tosa--Bocca di Brenta



  The Lower Passes--Paneveggio--San Martino di Castrozza--The       279
  Paths to Agordo--Val di San Lucano--Passo di Canale--Passo delle
  Cornelle--Passo di Travignolo--Cima di Vezzana



  The Venetian Tyrol--Val di Zoldo--Passo d'Alleghe--San            308
  Nicolò--Campo di Rutorto--On the Pelmo--A Lady's Ascent--The
  People of Val di Zoldo



  Men and Mountains--Mountain-haters--A Literary Example--Poets     327
  and Painters--The Place of Art--Alpine Scenery and Art--The
  Variety of the Alps--The Snow World--Mons. Loppé's


  Appendix A.
  Notes for Travellers                                              347

  Appendix B.
  Pictures and Antiquities of the Bergamasque Valleys               367

  Appendix C.
  Routes from Santa Catarina to Val di Sole                         369

  Appendix D.
  The Churches of Val Rendena                                       370

  Appendix E.
  The Nomenclature of the Brenta Group                              378

  Appendix F.
  Tyrol _v._ Tirol                                                  380

  INDEX                                                             381



  1.   The Cima Tosa from Val di Brenta                  _Frontispiece_

  2.   The Punta Trubinesca and Cima di Tschingel
         from above St. Moritz                               _Vignette_

  3.   The Monte della Disgrazia from the Bernina
         Group                                         _to face p._  69
  4.   The Head of Val di Genova                           "        205
  5.   From the Adamello--looking East                     "        213
  6.   San Stefano and the Cima di Nafdisio                "        232
  7.   Val di Brenta--from the road to Campiglio           "        236
  8.   Molveno                                             "        273
  9.   The Cimon della Pala and Cima di Vezzana            "        295
 10.   On the Pelmo                                        "        317


  1.   The Locarno District                                "          1
  2.   The Val Masino District                             "         41
  3.   The Adamello and Brenta Groups                      "        155
  4.   The Primiero Group                                  "        279
  5.   General Map                                             _at end_

  [Illustration: THE LOCARNO DISTRICT.

   Stanford's Geogl. Estabm., 56, Charing Cross, London
   London: Longmans & Co.]



     Huge mountains of immeasurable height
       Encompass'd all the level valley round
     With mighty slabs of rock that sloped upright,
       An insurmountable enormous bound;--
     That vale was so sequester'd and secluded,
     All search for ages past it had eluded.     HOOKHAM FRERE.


The typical Alpine Clubman has been somewhere described by Mr. Anthony
Trollope as cherishing in his bosom, through the ten months of each
year in which the business of life debars him from his favourite
pursuit, an ever-gnawing desire for the beloved mountains.

For myself, whenever, as I often do, I vent

           ---- an inward groan
     To sit upon an Alp as on a throne

it is accompanied, as in Keats' sonnet, by 'a languishment for skies
Italian.' The bright recollections which at once console and harass me
during the fogs and snows of our Cimmerian winters owe their existence
as much to Italian valleys as to snowy peaks. After a week of hard
mountaineering at Zermatt or in the Oberland, the keen colourless air
of the Riffel or Bell Alp begins to pall upon my senses; the pine-woods
and châlets to remind me, against my will, of a German box of toys.
I sigh for the opal-coloured waves of atmosphere which are beating up
against the southern slopes of the mountains, for the soft and varied
foliage, the frescoed walls and far-gleaming campaniles of Italy. In
such a mood, after a morning spent upon the snows of Monte Rosa or the
Adamello, I plunge with the keenest delight amongst the vines of Val
Sesia or Val Camonica.

For this morbid tendency, as it is considered by some vigorous friends,
I do not propose to offer either defence or apology. Still less do
I wish to become a public benefactor by leading on a mob to take
possession of my pleasure grounds. But there is ample room for a few
congenial spirits, and towards these I would not be selfish.

In truth the unequivocal warmth of the valleys of the southern Alps
in August, the English travelling season, will serve to check the
incursions of cockneydom; for the modern British tourist professes
himself incapable of enjoying life, much less exercise, under even a
moderate degree of heat. Everybody knows how the three warm days which
make up an English summer are received with more groans than gratitude,
and the thunderstorm which invariably ends them is saluted by a chorus
of thanksgiving adequate for a delivery from some Egyptian plague. The
sun so dreaded at home we naturally shun abroad. Italy and the Levant
are already deserted at the season when they become most enjoyable. An
Italian valley suggests to the too solid Englishman not the glorious
glow of summer and a profusion of 'purple grapes, green figs, and
mulberries,' but fever, cholera, and sundry kinds of dissolution.

Lago Maggiore is a name well known to thousands, but I doubt whether,
even in the Alpine Club, ten could be found ready to point out off-hand
the whereabouts of Val Maggia. Yet the valley offers a type of beauty
as rare and worth knowing as the lake into which its waters flow.[4]

Behind Locarno, at the head of Lago Maggiore, is the outlet of a
network of valleys, forming the veins of the mountain mass, Italian
by nature, though Swiss by circumstance, which divides the Gries and
the St. Gothard. The longest and deepest of these valleys is that of
the Maggia. Yet, despite its length, it leads to no pass over the main
Alpine chain. The gaps at its head open only on the high pasturages of
Val Bedretto. It has been thus cut off by nature from any share in the
traffic which has flowed for centuries on one or the other side of it.

I must now ask the reader to imagine himself seated beside me on the
box of the country omnibus which plies daily through this valley. Some
three miles from Locarno in the picturesque defile of Ponte Brolla our
eyes, accustomed to the murky grey of most glacier streams, are first
greeted by the marvellous waters of the Maggia, shining with intensity
of blue out of deep caves and hollows in the heart of the smooth white
granite. But for many miles to come the scenery of Val Maggia does not
rise above the ordinary boldness of a granite district, here graced by
a slender cascade, there marred by a stony waste.

About sixteen miles, or three hours, from Locarno the road crosses
for the first time to the right bank of the stream, and passes through
Cevio, the political centre of the neighbouring valleys, standing on
the confines of the three districts of Val Maggia, Val Lavizzara and
Val Rovana. We drive across an open space, like an English village
green, surrounded by houses more pretentious than are commonly seen in
the mountains.

It was on this spot that De Saussure, while taking an observation
to ascertain the height of the place above the sea, was greeted and
invited to enter by the baillie or chief magistrate of the valley.
I cannot resist quoting the amusing account of the interview which

'It being some time,' writes De Saussure, 'since I had had any news
from the civilized world, I accepted the invitation, hoping to learn
some. What was my surprise when the baillie told me that though it
was long since he had had any letter from the other side of the Alps,
he should be happy to give an answer to any inquiry I might wish to
make. At the same time he showed me an old black seal, and this was
the oracle which answered all his questions. He held in his hand a
string, to the end of which this seal was attached, and he dangled the
seal thus fastened in the centre of a drinking-glass. Little by little
the trembling of the hand communicated to the thread and seal a motion
which made the latter strike against the sides of the glass. The number
of these blows indicated the answer to the question which the person
who held the string had in his mind. He assured me with the seriousness
of profound conviction that he knew by this means not only everything
that was going on at home, but also the elections for the Council of
Bale and the number of votes each candidate had obtained. He questioned
me on the object of my travels, and after having learnt it, showed me
on his almanac the age which common chronology gives the world, and
asked me what I thought about it. I told him that my observations of
mountains had led me to look on the world as somewhat older. "Ah,"
he answered with an air of triumph, "my seal had already told me so,
because the other day I had the patience to count the blows while
reflecting on the world's age, and I found it was four years older than
it is set down in this almanac."'

Near Cevio the landscape takes a more romantic character. The
valley-walls close in and bend, and huge knobs of ruddy-grey rock
thrust themselves forward. The river, confined to a narrow bed,
alternately lies still in pools, whose depth of blue no comparison can
express, or rushes off over the white boulders in a clear sparkling
dance. Chestnut-trees hang from the crags overhead; higher on the hills
every ledge is a stripe of verdure fringed with the delicate shapes of
the birch and larch. In the far distance a snow-peak in the range above
Val Leventina gleams behind the folds of the nearer mountains.

But up to the last moment nothing foreshadows the wonderful surprise
in store. As we draw near the first scattered houses of Bignasco,
the mountains suddenly break open, and reveal a vision of the most
exquisite and harmonious beauty, one of those master-pieces of nature
which defy the efforts of the subtlest word-painters, and are perhaps
best left alone by a dull topographer. Yet I cannot refrain, useless
as the effort may be, from at least cataloguing some of the details
which come together in this noble landscape. The waters at our feet
are transparent depths of a colour, half sapphire and half emerald,
indescribable, and, the moment the eye is taken away, inconceivable, so
that every glance becomes a fresh surprise. In the foreground on either
bank of the stream are frescoed walls and mossy house-roofs; beyond is
a summerhouse supported by pillars, and a heavily laden peach-orchard
lit with a blaze of sunflowers. At the gate of Val Bavona a white
village glistens from amidst its vineyards. Sheer above it two bold
granite walls rise out of the verdure, and form the entrance to a long
avenue of great mountain shapes. Behind these foremost masses the hills
fall valleywards in noble and perfectly harmonious lines. Each upper
cliff flows down into a slope of chestnut-muffled boulders in a curve,
the classical beauty of which is repeated by the vine-tendrils at its
feet. In the distance the snows of the Basodine seen through the sunny
haze gleam, like a golden halo, on the far-off head of the mountain.

Is human interest wanted to give completeness and a motive to the
picture? As daylight faded I have watched the swinging torches and
low chaunt of those who carried the Host to some passing soul. In the
morning-glow I have seen a white-robed procession pour slowly with
banners and noise of bells from the yet dark village, then suddenly
issuing into the sunshine, surge, a living wave of brightness, over the
high-arched bridges.

Bignasco lives in my memory as one of the loveliest spots in the
Italian Alps. Planted at the meeting-place of three valleys, the view
up Val Bavona is only the fairest of the fair scenes which surround
it. In every direction paths strike off through the woods. Across the
river rises a bold bluff of rock; behind it the hillside curves in, and
forms an ample bay filled with chestnut forest; at intervals a sunny
spot has been cleared and planted as a vineyard, the unstubbed ground
is covered by a carpet of Alpine rhododendron, here tempted down to its
lowest limit in the chain.[5] Little tracks, wandering in alternate
'forthrights and meanders' from one haybarn to another, lead at last
to a white chapel placed on a conspicuous brow. By its side stands an
older and humbler edifice. The gates of both are bolted, but the bolt
is held fast only by a withered nosegay, and it is easy to make an
entrance into the smaller chapel and examine its frescoes. They have
been atrociously daubed over; but the pattern of the child's dress in
the central picture, and a certain strength in the figures and faces
on the side walls, still bear witness to a time when the great wave
of Italian art spread even into Val Maggia. A date in the first twenty
years of the sixteenth century may be read above the altar.

We are here on the verge of the chestnuts; a few hundred feet above
us the woods change into beech and ash groves; higher still birch and
larch feather the mountain spurs. The valleys meet at our feet. On the
left, sloping lawns fall away abruptly into a deep torrent-worn ravine;
far beneath are the white houses of Cevio. Val Bavona with its mountain
curves and crowning snows lies immediately opposite.

Why, we ask, as we sit on the chapel steps, does this combination of
rocks and trees touch our senses with so rare and subtle a pleasure?
On the lakes we have left landscapes more 'softly sublime, profusely
fair.' But those belonged to the class of hill-scenery; even the waving
crests were to their tops clothed in green and the whole landscape
pleased and contented us by its aspect of unbroken domestic repose and
richness. Here the bold dark outlines of the granite precipices hanging
over the luxuriant yet untamed loveliness of the valley appeal to our
emotions with the strong power of contrast. The majesty of the central
ranges wedded to the beauty of Italy excites in us that enthusiasm
beyond tranquil admiration which is our tribute to the highest
expression of the Romantic whether in Art or Nature. We can contemplate
calmly a rich lake-scene or an Umbrian Madonna; we feel disposed to cry
out with delight before a figure of Michael Angelo or this view in Val

For in this valley the strength of granite is clothed in the grace of
southern foliage, in a rich mantle of chestnuts and beeches, fringed
with maize and vines, and embroidered about the skirts with delicate
traceries of ferns and cyclamen. Nature seems here to have hit the
mark she so often misses--to speak boldly but truly--in her higher
efforts: she has avoided alike the trough-like uniformity which renders
hideous much of the upper Engadine and diminishes even the splendours
of Chamonix, the naked sternness of Mattmark or the Grimsel, the rough
scales of muddy moraine and torrent-spread ruin which deface Monte Rosa
herself, where she sinks towards Macugnaga and Italy.

It is easy to return more directly down the face of the rocks. In these
valleys the industry of centuries, by building up stone staircases
from shelf to shelf, has made paths in the least likely spots. Even
the narrowest ledge between two cliffs is turned to profit. Across
the bridge behind the inn rises an abrupt crag, up the face of which
a dwarf wall runs at a very high angle. This wall, at first sight
purposeless, proved to be in fact a stone ladder, the flakes of
gneiss which projected along its top serving as steps for the active
peasantry. The ascent to some of the alps lies up stone staircases,
three hours--to measure distance in the local manner--in length.
To these the wiry little cows of Canton Ticino speedily accustom
themselves. Indeed, so expert do they become in getting up stairs
that the broad flights of steps leading to the church doors have to be
barricaded by posts placed at narrow intervals to prevent the parting
herd from yielding to a sudden impulse to join in a body in morning
mass, or a stray cow from wandering in unawares to browse on the tinsel
vegetation of the high altar.

The greater part of the population of Bignasco cluster closely under
the hillside, where a long dull village street squeezed in between
two rows of stone walls opens out here and there into a tiny square or
'piazzetta,' with a stone bench and a stone fountain overshadowed by a
stone-propped vine. These houses resemble in nothing those of a Swiss
hamlet. The abandonment of the use of wood in favour of an equally
handy and more solid material, joined to something in the external
construction of the houses, carried my thoughts, on our last visit, far
away to the stone towns of central Syria. Here, as there, I noted that
the principal entrance to each tenement was by a gateway eight to ten
feet high, and proportionately broad. Remembering how in my youth I had
been taken to task by a worthy missionary for not recognising in such
doors the work of giants, I enquired eagerly for traditions of some
local Og, perhaps a link between the giant of the Mettenberg and the
present Swiss. But such was the ignorance of the country folk that I
could obtain no further answer than that the gateways were a convenient
size for a laden mule.

The well-to-do people of Val Maggia seem to be sensible of the charms
of the spot where the waters of Val Bavona and the main valley meet.

On the promontory between the two rivers, each crossed just above the
junction by a bold arch, stands a suburb of what would be described by
an auctioneer as 'detached villas,' houses gay with painted shutters
and arched loggias, where grapes cluster and oleanders flush. One
of these, commanding from its upper windows the perfect view up Val
Bavona, is the 'Posta,' the home of Signor Patocchi, who entertains
the rare strangers who visit the village. Our host is a man of high
standing and substance in his own country. For three generations the
office of President of the United Districts of Val Maggia has remained
in his family. He has represented Ticino on public occasions and is a
member of the Cantonal Council and of the Swiss Alpine Club. The energy
of the race is represented also by a vivacious active sister who dwells
with family pride on her brother's successes in life, and most of all
on a bridge for the new St. Gothard railway, for which he had accepted
the contract; a 'cosa stupenda,' a 'vera opera Romana.'

The example of their foregoers has assuredly not been lost on the
modern Italians. Not only in great works such as the Mont Cenis tunnel
or the coast railway from Nice to Spezzia, but also in the country
roads of remote valleys the traveller finds frequent evidences of
the survival of the Roman tradition and genius for road-making.
The industry and skill displayed in opening and improving means of
communication by the most obscure communes--frequently, it is true,
when they expend themselves in the laborious construction of pavés,
misdirected--contrast very favourably with the sloth in the same matter
of many northern 'Boards' apt to pride themselves on their energy.

Sometimes, however, this inherited zeal outruns discretion, witness the
following story taken from a local newspaper. Caspoggio is a hamlet
perched high on a green hillside in Val Malenco, at the back of the
Bernina. The lower communes had in 1874 just completed a new road
to which Caspoggio naturally desired to link itself. There were two
ways of effecting this, one estimated to cost 40,000 lire (£1,600),
the other 15,000 (£600); the cheapest road was, however, twenty-two
minutes the longer. The bold patriarchs of Caspoggio were all for
saving time as against money. Whereon the 'Corriere Valtellinese'
solemnly protested against the intended extravagance, and pointed
out its inconsistency with the facts that the annual income of the
commune was not more than £80 a year, and that it could only afford its
schoolmaster and mistress annual pittances of £6 apiece. 'My good sirs
of Caspoggio,' said this sensible adviser, 'is it worth while to create
a communal debt in order to bring your butter and cheese a few minutes
earlier to market?' How Caspoggio decided I have yet to learn.

To return to Val Maggia and its President. Signor Patocchi is a man of
position among his neighbours, and his house shows it. But he is also
a Southerner, and his floors show it. Having confessed this, however,
the worst is said, and for the rest English people accustomed to travel
will find little to complain of. The beds are clean, fish and fowl
the neighbourhood supplies, and a few hours' notice will collect ample
provisions for the carnivorous climber.

But it is time for us to leave Bignasco and follow the road up the main
valley henceforth known as Val Lavizzara.

For four or five miles we mount through a picturesque ravine, where
the mountains rise in rugged walls tier above tier overhead. Yet every
cranny is filled with glossy foliage, and the intervening ledges are
no monstrous deformities, only fit to be 'left to slope,' but each
a meadow closely mown, and dotted with stone haybarns. If some gash
is noticed in the cliffs it is only as a brighter streak of colour;
the ruin wrought below has long been buried out of sight, cottages
grow against the fallen rocks, and vines fling themselves over their
roughnesses. The river, no murky grey monster--like those fitly
transformed into dragons by the legends of the northern Alps--runs
through a narrow cleft, in the depths of which we catch alternate
glimpses of deep blue pools or creamlike falls.

A little farther the defile opens, the stream flows more peaceably, and
we shall see fishermen armed with huge jointless rods strolling along
its banks. Though still early morning, some are already returning,
amongst them a curé with a well-filled basket for his Friday dinner.

Several clusters of houses hang on the hillside, but the first village
is Broglio, shaded by groves of gigantic walnuts; a mile beyond the
valley bends, the shoulders of the hills sink sufficiently to allow
their rugged heads to come into view, and a glen opens on the right
backed by the jagged snow-streaked range of the Campo Tencca. The first
sunbeams which have reached us stream through the gap, and bathe the
forest in a golden flood of light. A great pulpit-shaped boulder rises
beside the road, and is seized on as a post by the telegraph wire. Soon
after we cross the stream and enter two adjoining villages. Beyond them
is a small cemetery, decorated with paintings in somewhat better taste
than those usually found in the mountains. There is further evidence
of culture in the couplet from Dante, which under one of the frescoes
takes the place of the usual Latin text.

Amidst a rocky waste, where the torrent from Val Peccia joins the
larger stream, stands the dirty hamlet of Peccia. The glen to which it
gives a name seems here the true head of the valley, but the entrance
to the longest branch is by a steep ascent up the right-hand hillside.
Above the first level, a grassy dell occupied by some saw-mills, the
river has cut its way through a rock-barrier. Here on my first visit
the air resounded with the hammering and sawing of a large company of
labourers, some clinging on the rocks and boring, others wheeling away
the rubbish, whilst another party were building up the piers of a lofty
bridge. The excellent and boldly engineered road then in construction
is now completed, and leads as far as Fusio.

We are now at the limit of the romantic Italian valley, and are
leaving behind us not only the vine and the chestnut, but also the
granite. The mountains as we approach them seem to sink before us. The
precipices of the lower valley give place to smooth lawns shadowed by
spreading beeches. The gentle hillsides which surround the headwaters
of the Maggia rise up into low rounded crests, and the scenery is only
redeemed from monotony by the rich variety of the foliage and verdure.

The highest village, Fusio, is a cluster of houses crowded round a
church, and clinging to a steep slope, at the foot of which flows the
blue torrent in a deep bridge-spanned cleft. The inn ten years ago
was of the most primitive kind. It was kept by a worthy couple whose
shrewd puckered faces recalled some portrait of an early German master.
But they were as lively as they were old, and no emergency, not even
the arrival of three hungry Englishmen, found them without resources.
On the occasion in question they boldly proceeded to sacrilege on our
behalf. The village knew that the curé was going to have a fowl for
dinner; the good dame hurried off to the parsonage, and like David
robbed the tables of the priest.

The old inn and its owners are no longer to be found. A new hotel has
lately been built, and is said to be frequented by Italians seeking
refuge from the summer heat of the Lombard plain.

Thus far we have simply followed the main valley. Of its numerous
tributary glens, Val Bavona and Val di Prato are the most likely to be
visited by mountaineers, for they lead to the two highest summits of
the neighbouring ranges, the Basodine and Piz Campo Tencca. But their
beauties ought to attract others besides those who may wish to use them
as means to a higher end--in a literal and Alpine Club sense.

The finest entrance to Val Maggia is through Val Bavona. The traveller
descending from the cold heights and bleak pasturages of the Gries
finds a warm welcome from the storm in the little inn opened some years
ago on the very edge of the cliff over which the Tosa rushes in the
most imposing cataract of the central Alps.[6] An afternoon is well
spent in resting on the rocks beside the tearing, foaming flood, and
watching the endless variety of the forms taken by the broken waves
in their wild downward rush. Waterfalls are too seldom studied at
leisure. Such a view is far more impressive than the hurried glance
ordinarily taken from some point whence the cascade is seen in face,
and all detail is sacrificed to a general effect, which often fails to
be either imposing or picturesque.

The host of the inn will with pleasure undertake to place you next
morning in from three to four hours on the top of the Basodine. The
ascent is simple, and not at all tedious; a steep path up a moist
flower-sprinkled cliff, rolling alps commanding views of the red
mountains of the Gries, then steep banks of frozen snow, and a short
exciting scramble up the highest rocks.

The mountain is a natural belvidere for the Bernese Oberland and
Monte Rosa, and rising a good head above its fellows, must give a
glorious view towards Italy. But to me the mountains of Val Maggia are
unfriendly. Here as on Piz Campo Tencca I saw only a stoneman and a
world of seething mists.

The night before our ascent had been black and wild. The wind had
roared against the waterfall, and the thunder had rocked the house
as though it had a mind to shake it bodily over the cliff. But the
grey sad sunrise was not without hope; the scarves of mist which
still clung about the mountains seemed remnants of an outworn grief;
the upper sky, pale and tremulous, rather spoke of a storm past than
threatened further ills to come. But the crisis had been more violent
than we dreamt at the time, and twenty-four hours of reparation were
needed before the face of heaven could again shine in its full summer

The loss of the view was not our only disappointment. It had been
determined to find a new and more direct way down to San Carlo through
Val Antabbia. But in a blind fog it is best to avoid precipices, and
we knew there were plenty in that direction, so we quietly returned
to the gap between our peak and the Kastelhorn, and put on the rope
preparatory to descending the Cavergno Glacier.

The slopes of snow, cut here and there by deep rifts, offered easy
passage until hardening into blue ice they curled over steeply. Some
rocks stuck out on our left, and at their base, at a depth of several
hundred feet, abysses innumerable gaped through the mists. This was an
unexpected difficulty, and we should have been perplexed what to do had
not the wind slightly shifted the cloud-curtain, and shown enough to
enable us to understand our exact position.

The glacier is divided into two terraces by a wall of rock, which
towards the base of the Kastelhorn is covered over by an icefall,
passable no doubt with ease near that peak. We had descended too
directly, and were to the right, or south, of the fall. We must either
remount and go round, or else get down the rocks. With a little trouble
we found a passage, and François, boldly taking advantage of a narrow
bridge between two ice-pits, led us safely on to the lower branch of
the glacier.

Its surface was broken only by contemptible crevices, and we ran down
without interruption to the huge terminal moraine. Sitting amongst its
blocks, we looked back at the great shining slope, on which the sun was
already shining. High up under the Basodine long shadows fell from an
isolated group of snow-towers or 'séracs,' amongst the most prodigious
I had seen in the Alps; a glacier Karnac of ponderous columns and huge
propylons. The smoothness of the surrounding ice, like the flatness of
the Egyptian plain, added to the effect of this mountain temple.

We wished we had missed our way a little more and passed through
its midst. Had we done so we might have followed out the upper or
southern branch of the glacier, and found our way into the glen below
the meeting of waterfalls afterwards mentioned. Close to the ice, in
a sheltered basin, spread with a carpet of verdure, and watered by a
smooth-flowing stream, we found the highest châlets. Great was our
surprise when our eager enquiries for milk were answered in broken
English. The herdsman had worked as a miner in Cornwall, and had now
returned in good circumstances to his native valley.

The narrowness of their granite walls drives the Val Maggians far
afield in search of subsistence.[7] A wayside chapel in Val Bavona has
been recently erected, as its inscription narrates, with Australian
gold, and the driver of the Locarno omnibus in 1873 had learnt English
in the Antipodes. Most of these wanderers come back, some rich, to
build large, white, cheerful houses--'palazzi' their friends call
them--amongst the familiar chestnut-groves; others, like our friend,
less successful, but still not wholly unrewarded, to revert contentedly
to the old solitary life on the hills with the cows and goats.
There can be no stronger proof of the real fascination of mountains
over minds which have grown amongst them than the fidelity of these
peasants, who hurry back from all the excitements of the Antipodes to
the monotony of the alp in summer and the hamlet in winter.[8]

Beyond the huts, path and stream make a sudden plunge into a deep
hollow, the meeting-place of the waters which, springing from the
tarns and snows that lie on the upper shelves, rush over the granite
precipices in a succession of noble falls. The shadeless glen is
closed at its lower end by a buttress projecting from the eastern
mountain. On climbing the spur we saw deep below us a trough-like
valley. Steep mountains encircled the basin, and its floor was strewn
with huge masses torn from their rugged sides. High overhead rose the
southern bulwarks of the Basodine, gigantic cliffs, on whose topmost
verge sparkled a glittering ice-cornice. At our feet San Carlo, the
highest village in Val Bavona, peeped out from amidst rich foliage.
Many women were scattered over the meadows, cutting and gathering in
their hay; and, as we rested, a boy came up from them, and told us
that to reach the valley we must return and cross the stream. A rough
path on the right bank led us through beautiful copses, where the
beech and birch mingled their branches with the pines, and tall ferns
and bright-berried bushes wove a luxuriant undergrowth. Chestnuts and
walnuts greeted us for the first time as we approached the high-arched
bridge leading to San Carlo.

The path, now a good cart-track carried on a causeway between purple
boulders and gnarled old chestnuts, passed by the way a brightly
coloured chapel and two villages. Near the second, a cluster of poor
huts hemmed in by enormous blocks of granite, a pretty jet of water
shoots out of the western cliff, the valley bends, and the sunlit
mountains behind Bignasco close the distance.

A short plain, ruined by a torrent which has recently carried away
half a hamlet, is now passed. To such disasters Val Bavona is always
exposed, and a law formerly forbad any one to live in it through the

Henceforth, keeping beside the clear blue waters, we descended with
them, through a tangle of white stream-smoothed boulders, and under the
shadow of the prodigious cliffs from which they have fallen. One of the
blocks bears this simple record: 'Qui fu bella Campagna,' and the date
1594. Yet despite the ruin and destruction of which the defile, within
an even historically modern epoch, has been the scene, its beauty is
in no way of a stern or savage nature. If the mountain shapes are as
majestical as those of Giotto's Duomo, their walls are also decorated
with the most lavish hand; and even where the granite is bare time
and weather have tinted it with the mellow hues of an old Florentine

No more typical passage from the Alps to Italy can possibly be found
than that we had chosen. A few hours ago we had been in the frigid zone
among the eternal snows, and above the level of all but the hardiest
plants. Now the green pastures and the pines were already past, the
chestnut had become our companion, and the first vine threw its long
branches over the rude woodwork of a sheltered hut. Soon three or four
were found in company under the sunny side of a heat-reflecting rock,
until as we drew near Cavergno the whole slope became a vineyard,
and the path an overarched alley between a double row of tall granite
pillars, from which the ripe clusters hung down into our faces in too
tempting luxuriance.

       *       *       *       *       *

A straight line drawn from Faido, on the St. Gothard road, to Bignasco
nearly passes through Piz Campo Tencca, the three-domed snow-crest
which dominates the eastern range, and, like its loftier rival, the
Basodine, peers down on that charming halting-place. The pass between
the two highest of these summits was, therefore, clearly the proper
path for two mountaineers coming from the east to Val Maggia.

To the driving public Faido is known for an excellent inn and a
waterfall, the latter the outflow of the glacier we proposed to cross.
A much-used track climbs in a long zigzag to the cultivated tableland
which lies above the steep slope overshadowing the village. Beyond
the large upland hamlet of Dalpe, our path pursued the stream into the
hills, mounting steeply by its side to an upper plain, whence several
tracks, some for goats and some for cows, led over broken ground to the
Crozlina Alp, a broad pasturage at the base of a wall of rocks, over
which the streams falling from the upper glaciers shiver themselves
into spray. A few yards south of a boldly projecting crag, and by the
side of one of the cascades, we found it easy to scramble up the broken
rock-faces until the level of the ice was reached; then it seemed best
to bear to the right, and follow a long ridge connecting the buttress
and the highest peak.

The morning had been uncertain, and now the clouds, which we had hoped
were only local and passing, fell upon us with a determination which
promised little chance of deliverance.

What is the duty of a traveller and his guides overtaken on the
mountains by bad weather is a question which the sad death on the Mer
de Glace brought not long ago prominently before the public, and which
will be argued as often as some fatal accident calls attention to the
subject. It is one which does not admit of any offhand answer. Climbers
are of various constitutions, there are mountains and mountains, and
divers kinds of bad weather. Still it may be useful to endeavour to
lay down such leading principles as will probably meet with general

Where the travellers are new to high mountains, and uncertain of
their own powers of endurance, the guide, in every case where going
on involves long exposure to storm, should suggest, and his employers
agree to, a retreat. The moral courage necessary for this is one of
the requisites of a guide's calling; and if by its exercise he may
sometimes expose himself to the hasty ridicule of an ignorant tourist,
he will not suffer in his profession or in the estimation of real

Again, an attempt on one of the more difficult peaks, such as the
Schreckhorn or the Weisshorn, ought not to be persevered with in
doubtful weather; that is, by perseverance in such a case the risk to
life becomes so serious that, whatever the travellers' own value of
themselves may be, they have no right to ask guides to share it. For
it should always be remembered that it is where difficulties prevent
rapid movement that the bitter cold grasps its victim. Except, perhaps,
in the very worst, and fortunately rare, _tourmentes_ circulation can
always be maintained by constant motion.

Thirdly, exposure to this worst kind of storm, which comes on with an
insupportable icy blast, should be as far as possible shunned even on
a mule-pass. The simple monuments which line the track of the Col de
Bonhomme and the Gavia Pass, near Santa Catarina, bear witness to the
dangers of such weather, even on a comparatively frequented route.

There remain, however, a large class of cases where more or less
seasoned climbers are overtaken by clouds, rain, or snow, in each of
which the decision must depend on the circumstances, and for which no
general rule can be laid down. A wet day in the valley is often far
from intolerable above the snow-level, where the gently falling flakes
sink slowly through an air of moderate temperature. In such weather
many high passes may be safely accomplished by men of sufficient
experience, who understand how to apply their local knowledge, or to
use a good map and compass.

Of course, it will be asked, _Cui bono?_--why wander amidst the mists
when you might be comfortable below them? The answer is, that when
the day changes the traveller is often far on his way. It is a case,
perhaps, of going back four hours or going on five; there is, besides
the natural disinclination to return and to have had one's walk for
nothing, the hope, often justified, that the change for the worse may
be only temporary. These are motives which must strongly influence
everyone in such a position.

Besides, the inside of a cloud is not quite so dismal a place as might
be thought, and the snow-region, even when the distant view is hidden,
offers attractions for those who have learnt to appreciate it. The
fretted ice-chasms, the toppling towers and fragile arches of the upper
glacier, the keen white pyramid seen suddenly through a wreath of mist,
or the snow-wave caught in the act of breaking over the highest crest,
have a loveliness of their own as delicate as, and from its strangeness
to inhabitants of a temperate zone sometimes even more fascinating
than, the charm of streams and forests. It is not, it is true, visible
to all eyes. A Reverend Principal lately instructed his audience that
'a more hideous spectacle than a yawning crevasse, with its cold,
blue, glassy sides, can scarcely be conceived.' But Mons. Loppé and the
Alpine Club know better than this. Most of us can probably remember, in
the Regent's Park Colosseum, a sham Switzerland: what that in a sorry
enough way attempted to be to the reality, the reality is to the Polar
regions--a specimen near home of Arctic scenery. Much of this beauty
can be seen even in a partial fog. But there is also the chance of
that most glorious of transfigurations of earth and sky, when towards
evening some breath of air sweeps away the local storm, and through the
melting cloud-wreaths we see the wide landscape glittering with fresh
rain, and the new snows shining opposite the setting sun--a scene the
full splendour of which can scarcely be recalled even in the memory of
those who have often witnessed it.

In the present instance two hours would, we knew, put us well on the
other side of the mountain, where our friends were waiting for us; and,
though neither my guide nor I knew anything of the ground, we could
trust to General Dufour's map. The Swiss traveller has here an enormous
advantage over his brother in Great Britain. If anyone is rash enough,
in Wales for instance, to put his faith in the English Ordnance Survey,
and to seek a passage where light shading seems to indicate an absence
of precipices, he will soon find himself brought to a standstill.
The present state of our national maps is far from creditable to our
Government and our engineers.

For the moment all we had to do was to stick to the ridge, which must
and did lead us straight to the stoneman, in such weather the only
indication of the summit. A short halt for the chance of a break in the
clouds and to settle clearly our route on the map, and we started on
the unknown descent. The first point was to strike the gap south of the
peak. A few minutes sufficed for this, then we had only to descend with
a constant bearing to the left. The ground was steep and rough, and
there were cliffs in every direction, but we managed to avoid them. In
half an hour we had reached the lower skirts of the cloud, and passed
out of gentle snow into pitiless rain.

Cattle tracks now led us past the highest huts to a cabin from the
chimney of which smoke issued. The solitary herdsman welcomed us with
a courtesy and coffee worthy of an Eastern sheikh. The pouring rain,
perhaps, flavoured the beverage, but François Devouassoud and I both
fancied that, west of Constantinople, we had never tasted so aromatic
a draught.

The head of the valley seemed to be a basin surrounded on all sides by
rugged cliffs; in the present weather it was nothing but a caldron of
mist. How should we escape from it? The hill-shoulders pressed us in
on all sides; yet the shepherd promised a _strada buona_. In a quarter
of an hour we were at the meeting-place of the mountain-torrents,
where from their union sprang a stream, the bluest of all the blue
waters of Val Maggia, full of a life now bright and dashing, now calm
and deep, such as might fitly be personified in a Naiad. This was
the fairy who would unbar the gates of our prison. We followed the
guidance of the waters into the jaws of the mountain, where they had
seized on some flaw or fissure to work for themselves a passage. But
the stream had thought only for itself. No room was provided for a
path, and the ingenuity of a road-making population had evidently been
taxed to the utmost to render the ravine passable for cows as well as
water. A causeway was built up on every natural shelf, and, where the
level could no longer be kept, the hanging terraces were connected
by regularly-built stone staircases. A rough balustrade formed a
protection on the outside, and prevented a hasty plunge into the gulf,
where the brilliant waters wrestled with the stiff crags which every
now and then thrust out a knee to stop their flow, and gave them a
tumble from which they collected themselves at leisure in a deep still
pool before dancing off again to fresh struggles and fresh victories.
From the shelves above the bright-berried mountain ash and delicate
birch stretched out their arms to the stream, which, as if impatient
for the vines, hurried past them and at last broke away with a bold
leap, flying down over the rock-faces to the lower valley in a shower
of foam and water-rockets.

Near the junction of a glen through which the track of the Passo di
Redorta climbs over to Val Verzasca, a steep descent beside the fall
leads to the hamlet of San Carlo. The path here crosses a bridge and
keeps henceforth along a broken, richly wooded hill-side until, having
swerved to the right, it joins at Prato the main valley.

And so down the moist high-road under the dripping walnuts of Broglio,
and again, after ten years, back to Bignasco, beautiful even under the
grey cloud-pall with its hill-shapes only suggested between the mists.
Most beautiful when with the sunset a northern breeze gathered up the
vapour-wreaths and a full moon shone down into Val Bavona marking
with clearest lights and shadows all its buttresses, and drawing a
responsive gleam from the pure snows at its head. A change too sudden
to last. For while sitting on the bridge we watched the moonbeams
strike over the southward hill, and fall full on the eddying water
at our feet and the flowery balconies on either hand, a white drapery
stretched slowly round the Cevio corner, and, as in the immortal Chorus
of Aristophanes, a gleaming company of clouds sailed up on their way
from the deep hollows of the lake to the wood-crowned heights of the
mountain. The leader advanced but slowly with misty folds clinging to
each crag; but it had scarcely passed when the whole body was upon us,
and the bright upper heaven was obscured by their fleecy forms.

After midnight we were awakened by the rush of mountain rain and the
crash of thunder, while in the white blaze we saw the Maggia blue no
longer, but turbid with the grey granite atoms which it was hurrying
down to swell the delta of Locarno. The storm spirits were in earnest,
and in the morning every cliff had its cascade, bridges had been swept
away, and great heaps of mud and stones, washed out of the overhanging
crags, blocked even the high-road which offers the only escape from the
mountain world.


     [4] I have not succeeded in discovering any connection
     between the word, Maggia and Maggiore.

     [5] Bignasco is only 1,400 feet above the sea.

     [6] The falls of Krimml in Tyrol are probably on the whole
     the Alpine cataract in which height of fall, force of water,
     and picturesque surroundings are most thoroughly united.
     There are many falls in the Adamello group which a painter
     would prefer to the cascade of the Tosa.

     [7] Between the years 1850-56, one-eighth of the whole
     population, and one-fourth of the male population, left their
     homes. Amongst the emigrants were 324 married men, only two
     of whom took their wives with them!

     [8] The herdsmen of these châlets have a way to the Val
     Formazza without crossing the Basodine. The 'Bocchetta di Val
     Maggia,' a gap in the rocky ridge at the north-eastern corner
     of the Cavergno glacier, brings them on to the pasturages
     near the San Giacomo Pass, whence either Airolo or the Tosa
     Falls can be gained without further ascent.



     On our other side is the straight-up rock,
       And a path is kept 'twixt the gorge and it
     By boulderstones, where lichens mock
       The marks on a moth, and small ferns fit
     Their teeth to the polished block.     R. BROWNING.


Val Maggia is not the only unknown valley which opens on the famous
lake. Close beside it, and hemmed in between its mountains and those
on the west of Val Leventina, lies a still narrower and more obscure
recess, Val Verzasca. In olden days the natives of this glen bore a bad
name. In 1490 a writer speaks of them as 'homines sylvestres sparsim
ferarum ritu degentes;'[9] and the reputation for wildness so early
acquired still sticks to them. Knives are said to be more frequently
drawn among them, and with worse consequences, than in any other
district of Ticino. But there is no record of a stranger ever having
suffered from this tendency to blood-letting, and the ill-repute of the
valley can hardly be held accountable for its neglect by travellers.

So great has been this neglect that the Federal map was to us the
chief and almost the only source of information. Thus studied, the
peculiarities of Val Verzasca are seen to be the shortness of the side
glens which branch off the main stem, and the uniformly great elevation
of the surrounding ridges. From Bignasco a tolerably direct path leads
over to Brione by Val d'Ossola, and from what we saw I recommend the
next visitor to try this way in preference to the longer circuit which
we were induced to take by a conscientious desire to see the head
of the main Val Verzasca and an unfounded fancy that a carriage road
implied vehicles of some sort.

From San Carlo in Val di Prato a track leaving the path to Piz Campo
Tencca circles round the westward-facing hillside, and, above a
waterfall, traverses beside the torrent a narrow glen. Beyond some
châlets we penetrated a sombre funnel, choked with avalanches. It
expanded at its upper end into a basin floored with snow and hemmed in
by cliffs picturesquely broken and green with underwood. The stream
which poured down them was received at the bottom under a snow-arch,
bold in its span as an old Italian bridge. A few yards east of the
water-channel a goat track, sometimes difficult to follow, climbs the
steep slope and the rocks above it, where the easiest course is only
marked by the goats' droppings. Hands as well as feet are useful, but
there is no difficulty for anyone accustomed to mountains.

Above the cliff we found a wide sloping meadow covered with cows. At
first sight their presence seemed only to be accounted for by magic or
a medium-like faculty in the herd for self-elevation. But I believe
due enquiry would have established the existence of a rationalistic
explanation in the shape of a roundabout staircase not beyond the
powers of an Italian heifer.

The lowest saddle in the high ridge before us was the Passo di Redorta.
Despite the beauty of the day there was little distant view and no peak
near enough at hand to tempt to further exertion. Val Maggia itself was
almost hidden by the vertical lines of a bold, many-headed buttress,
and the eye ranged over the wilderness of its mountain-ridges, a savage
expanse of ruined gneiss naked of snow and void of prominent peaks
or bristling ridges. The rock cannot, like the firmer granites of Val
Masino or the Adamello, offer any stubborn resistance to the action of
the atmosphere. Hence the mountain-tops are one mass of comparatively
level ruin. Those who have looked down from some Syrian hilltop on an
ancient city, of which the ponderous materials cumber the ground, while
not a column is left standing, may exactly picture to themselves the
scene of desolation now offered on a vastly larger scale to our eyes by
the ranges of Val Maggia. In contrast the head of Val Verzasca, lying
as it were at our feet, was green, bright, and inviting.

We were joined on the pass by a young Verzascan, returning from a visit
to relatives at Peccia, laden with a store of simple delicacies, such
as white bread, honey and cheese. The pains he was at to transport such
a burden suggested comparative poverty in the land we were entering. We
descended together, but there was no need of any guide, as the valley
lay always straight before us, and the ground, though excessively
steep, was not precipitous. Near the foot of the descent a pretty fall
tumbles off the right-hand hillside.

A mile further, at a waters-meet, stands Sonogno, a deserted
savage-looking cluster of dingy stone houses, which, but for the
whitewashed church, might be in Ossetia. There were no inhabitants in
the streets, and those indoors, with the first instinct of savages and
wild animals, hurriedly thrust their heads back again through their
little square windows when we asked questions. It was with difficulty
we succeeded in getting one word, a simple negative, in reply to our
demand for a carriage.

For to this extreme corner of the mountains civilisation advances
in the shape of a road which has been carried up from the lake at an
expense of over £15,000, shared between the cantonal government and
the communes. Its engineers would seem to have determined to make no
needless ascent, and at the cost of cuttings, embankments, and lofty
bridges, they have carried out their purpose in the most thorough
manner. The workmanship of this remote track would bear comparison
with most of the highways of Europe. But the proverb of the ass taken
to the water's brink seems to apply to Val Verzasca. No force seems
capable of inducing the upper villages to use the boon intended for
them. As in the East a few years ago the old camel-track over Lebanon
was still trodden bare, while the grass grew on the new road made by
French enterprise, so here no wheels seemed ever to have worn in the
fresh stones. The nine miles to Lavertezzo must be walked.

The upper branch of the valley, although hemmed in by bold mountains,
is somewhat monotonous, and the foreground is too often defaced by
a broad torrent-bed. At the village of Brione Val Verzasca displays
the first landscape which is likely to leave any lasting impression.
The range on the right suddenly breaks off in a perpendicular crag
of singular boldness; and as the road, raised on a lofty embankment,
crosses a tributary stream a long vista of receding lines of cliff
and chestnut trees is seen for some minutes. This is Val d'Ossola,
through which runs the shortest and probably the most beautiful path to

From this point to the lake for some fifteen miles the bed of the
Verzasca is simply a narrow cleft in the mountains, sinking deeper and
deeper, until at last it opens upon Lago Maggiore, at the village of
Gordola, opposite Magadino. Below Brione a great barrier, probably a
mountain-fall, is thrown right across the valley, which at the same
time drops considerably. The road makes a zigzag amidst the wildest
tangle of boulders and chestnut-trees, then leaps boldly on to the
opposite rocks, and creeps along a shelf blasted beside the blue
tumbling stream.

As far as Lavertezzo the trench is wide enough at the bottom to give
room for a few fields and houses. But this is not an agricultural
district. The natives we met, a strong, wild-looking race, were all
stone-quarriers, woodmen, or charcoal-burners. Many of them were
employed where a timber slide, built on an unusual scale, falls over
the cliffs from the mouth of a side-glen in the western range, through
which a hill-path leads over to Maggia.

For the next few miles the valley bends constantly, and Lavertezzo
seems to be always round the next corner. As at last we approach
the village the river, sliding out from amidst huge grey boulders,
two of them joined by a slender arch, is suddenly checked. The water
rests motionless in a chain of the most delicious pools--deep-green,
transparent bubbling crystals--contained in basins of the whitest
granite, smooth and polished as if made for a Roman bath. Henceforth it
glistens no more in the sunshine, but roars or rests deep in a hidden
cleft until it flows out to the fever-stricken plain of Gordola.

Lavertezzo itself consists of a campanile, a church, and a few white
houses, crowded into a green corner above the meeting of two streams.
Its name is adorned in maps with one of those curly horns which
indicate a post-station. Here at least we reckoned on finding something
on wheels. But a difficulty hitherto only dimly foreshadowed now met
us full in the face with stunning force. Our hopes were crushed by a
universal outcry of 'strada rotta.' But we still did not comprehend the
full force of the emphasis laid on the last word, and while accepting
the fact that our legs must carry us over the remaining eighteen
kilomètres to Locarno, looked for nothing more than the ordinary amount
of breakage caused by a mountain-storm--one bridge gone, or at most
two. What we had seen in the upper valley was not of a character to
prepare us for any very serious damage.

But the whole force of the great thunderstorm three nights before had
concentrated itself on the ridges round the head of Lago Maggiore. The
rain-torrents rushing with unrestrained fury from these lofty crests
(7,000 to 8,000 feet) down the barren hillsides, and gathering impetus
with every foot of fall, had filled and overflowed all the channels,
tearing as they went huge rocks out of either bank, mixing themselves
with the soil till they became as much earth as water, and sweeping
away every obstruction which lay across their path.

Everywhere the steep slopes, saturated by the terrible deluge, had
given way. The road might be said to be effaced rather than broken. For
mile after mile two-thirds of its breadth was buried in mud washed down
from the upper hillsides.

The post-house of Vogorno, a solitary farm by the roadside, was in a
lamentable plight. The stables had been carried away, and the whole
front of the house was blocked with mud. At every few yards we came on
immense barricades, the work of some puny trickle which now wandered
almost invisible amongst the ruin it had wrought. In the least exposed
spots stones as big as a hat-box were lying in the middle of the road.
The larger torrents, thought worthy of bridges, had carried away the
arches set over them, leaving deep gaps to be clambered round. Even
a magnificent bridge, standing at a height at least 200 feet over
a lateral ravine, had been undermined and swept bodily away. It was
necessary to descend into the torrent-bed and scramble up the opposite
bank. Another still loftier arch, one of the most striking works of
its kind in the Alps, had alone escaped the general destruction, owing
to its piers being built into the solid rock about 150 feet above the
ordinary water-level.

Yet, though the road was destroyed and the hillside scored in many
places by the terrible paths of the rocks and torrents, the general
aspect of the landscape was hardly affected. The left bank, round
the deep ravines of which the road, or what was left of it, circled
incessantly, was always steep and broken. But across the river the
chestnuts and rocks yielded, as the hills rose, to vineyards and fields
of maize. The valley was all ravine, but high on the mountains were
sunny bays and promontories, shining with villages bright and festal as
only Italian villages are. A horizontal streak drawn across the face of
a range of mural cliffs was the road linking these communes to Locarno.
In the variety and boldness of its scenery this portion of Val Verzasca
seemed to us equal to any of the southern defiles of the Alps.

At last the gorge expanded, and the broad surface of the most beautiful
of the Italian lakes spread across the centre of the landscape.
The most beautiful, for to me it seems that spaciousness of shining
surface--the quality which made Thrasimene so dear to Perugino--is
an essential in lake scenery. In narrow, many-winding lakes the
multitude of straight shore lines is apt to cut off harshly all the
mountain shapes, and to be an offence to the eye, which would be
better contented by the accidents of a green valley than with the
smooth water-floor. The landscapes of Como, fascinating in their rapid
changes--now picturesque and gay, now wild and severe--are too confined
and crowded for perfect beauty. Garda is noble in its sealike expanse,
but the shapes of its hills cannot compare with the stately Greek charm
of the mountains round Baveno.

Above Gordola a whole hillside had given way, and the great earthslip
had spread desolation amongst the lower vineyards. The brown ruin made
a sad foreground to the exquisite view over the pale evening lake and
the glowing hills. We took a short cut through the broken-down terraces
to the bridge over the Verzasca, where we joined the high-road from
Bellinzona to Locarno. Between us and the lake ran, in all the ugliness
of unfinished novelty, a railway embankment.

Still three miles to Locarno, and no carriage on the road or boat
on the water. In the morning we had walked over a seven hours' pass,
including an ascent of 6,000 feet; since midday we had covered some
eighteen miles of road. Yet, although all more or less way-weary, we
accepted the further march without much murmur. At a certain stage in
the day the muscles become dogged and go on with machine-like energy,
and to maintain the power of enjoyment it is only necessary to keep
the mind from worrying itself with idle speculations as to details
of time and distance. It is the old story. The sad or the impatient
heart collapses, while the contented one 'goes all the day;' and in an
Italian dusk on the shores of Maggiore it is easy to be contented.

Locarno itself had suffered severely from the storm. The channel of
the small stream which divides the town had been overfilled by a deluge
of horrible black mud, which, bursting out like a lava flood into the
streets, had flowed down them, breaking into the shops on the ground
floor, and finally spreading itself out in a pool several feet deep
over the wide open space in front of the Albergo della Corona.

Locarno is pretty well accustomed to violent catastrophes. A few
years ago the roof of the principal church gave way under a heavy
fall of snow, and, crashing in during mass, killed or wounded half
the congregation. Inundations are almost as frequent as earthquakes at
Torre del Greco, and here, as on the Bay of Naples, familiarity with
the outrages of nature seems to breed indifference, if not contempt.
The population of Locarno took the damage done as much as a matter of
course as the 'Times' reader in September a shocking railway accident.
The men in their broad felts and the women with their fans were, as
we entered, all abroad for the evening stroll, chatting and looking
on cheerfully at the labourers still at work removing the rubbish.
Shopkeepers had already reopened their stores, and were endeavouring to
remove from their wares the traces of the recent mud-bath.

No lives had been lost here, but across the water at Magadino the storm
had been more fatal. Several houses had been carried into the lake, and
so suddenly that in one case the inhabitants were drowned.

Next to Val Maggia, Val Centovalli is the largest of the valleys which
open on the fertile plain behind Locarno.[10] It is, in fact, not so
much a valley as a broad line of depression through the hill-region
separating the basin of Domo d'Ossola from the lake. The opening thus
offered by nature has, owing probably to political jealousy, never
been taken advantage of. The lower Val Centovalli is Italian, the
upper basin of the Melezza and the short eastern Val Vigezzo Swiss,
and no road passable for wheeled vehicles crosses the frontier. On the
whole, however, lovers of nature gain. But for political exigencies Val
Canobbina might never have been pierced.

This glen, as its name implies, opens behind Canobbio, a town reached
in two hours from Locarno, by a most beautiful road along the western
shore of the lake. On the hillside facing north, and a mile inland,
is a large bathing establishment or summer health-resort known as 'La
Salute,' and chiefly frequented by Italians. The situation is charming,
high enough to command over a green foreground the whole upper bay of
the lake closed by the bold mountains of Val Verzasca.

Val Canobbina is rather a tangle of glens than a valley. The road
climbs at once into a deep dell, refreshed by perpetual waters and
green with verdure only broken where the jagged rocks close in on the
stream to form a gorge, or 'orrido' in the local phrase. Oak thickets
and chestnut copses clothe the slopes; cyclamens, common as daisies at
home, bend their graceful heads on every sunny bank.

At one spot four valleys join, and it is impossible to guess which
will be chosen. The road plunges into the narrowest, and forces its
way near the torrent, until, suddenly turning in steep zigzags to
scale the hillside, it breaks off altogether.[11] The carriage halts,
the driver shouts, and tall, handsome girls drop down the stairs from
the neighbouring village of Orasso, and eagerly grasp the luggage.
The ascent is continued by a rough path, which circles terrace-like
for several miles between white hamlets and green hills. Nature shows
herself here very friendly, but also very southern, and full of a
delicate subdued beauty quite apart from the more homely charm of
northern scenery.

The glen again twists round on itself, and we almost fancy ourselves in
an issueless labyrinth, when the road suddenly reappears at our feet,
and boldly rushes into a tunnel which might not be much on a railroad,
but is a great work for a country byway.

On the further side the road, blasted out of the face of the rock,
makes its entrance into an upland basin, still part of Val Canobbina.
On a brow in its centre rises the village of Finero. The festival
of the patron saint of the church had collected thither all the
neighbourhood, and given occasion for a very tournament of bowls, a
game which in the lives of Northern Italians fills the place occupied
by croquet in those of some of our curates and officers.

Beyond Finero a broad low ridge sends down a stream northward into the
Italian head of Val Centovalli, and the road rapidly descends through
pine forests. We are no longer in a mountain-maze, the hills stand
back and leave in their midst a happy oasis crowded with cultivation
and life, and blest with the gifts alike of mountain and of plain,
the fresh Alpine breeze and water, and the sun and fertility of
Lombardy. In the midst of maize-fields lie spacious well-built towns;
on the slopes, shaded by their walnut and chestnut groves, a score of
brilliant whitewashed villages.

What a living brightness in southern lands is the white which in the
north, among our duller colours and opaque atmospheres, is only a dead
chill! Beyond the Alps it seems the appropriate colour for men's homes.
We in England can ill afford to dispense with the suggestion of warmth
and dryness given by red brick and tiles. But domestic architecture is
a subject too painful for the victims of ninety-nine years' leases and
speculative builders to think about. Few Londoners can bear to look
without a shudder on the outside of what they call 'home.' If the old
fashion of white paint was chilly, it was at least better than the new
stucco squares and streets, the exact colour of our native fogs and
roadways. Why should we live in a monotone of mud, as if we were some
species of snail whose only chance in the struggle for existence lies
in making itself and its shell undistinguishable from the surroundings?

The plain in which stand the prosperous towns of Malesco and Santa
Maria Maggiore, though called Val Vigezzo, sends down its torrent to
Locarno. Such an imperceptible bank of heather as divides the Drave
from the Pusterthal still severs us from the western Val Vigezzo. In
clear weather Monte Rosa must shine upon this upland basin; in the
pouring rain all I saw of the drive to Domo d'Ossola was a narrow
picturesque river-bed and a wide sodden plain, at the end of which a
ferry close to the town gates carried us and our carriage across the
swollen waters of the Tosa.


     [9] Domenico Macaneo, in his _Verbani lacus locorumque
     adjacentium chorographica descriptio_, quoted by Studer,
     _Physische Geographie der Schweiz_. These notices suggest
     that the Val Verzascans may be a relic of some primitive
     tribe, but I have no authority for imputing to them
     ethnological importance.

     [10] Between the two valleys mentioned above is Val Onsernone
     (see _Alpine Guide_, p. 315, and Appendix) penetrated for
     some distance by a carriage-road. In a lively article in
     the fifth Jahrbuch of the Swiss Alpine Club, Herr Hoffmann
     Burkhardt describes the scenery as most varied and charming,
     and the road 'as a magnificent example of a mountain-road,
     and a most striking evidence of the talent of the Tessiners
     in this department of human industry.'

     [11] The carriage-road was expected to be finished throughout
     in 1875.


   Stanford's Geogl Estabt, 55 Charing Cross, London
   London: Longmans & Co.]




     Il montera, descendra, traversera, remontera, redescendra,
     retraversera, etcetera.--_French Play._

     And when I most go here and there,
       I then do most go right.      SHAKESPEARE.


To the crowd, which having sat down in a draught on the roof of Europe
spends its time mostly in bemoaning the cold, to the water-drinkers of
St. Moritz or the pensioners of Pontresina, the mountains of Val Masino
are unknown. Yet had they eyes to see they might often be attracted
by the vision of two square towers rising far beyond the blue lakes
and the green ridge of the Maloya, and shining like an enchanted keep
through the warm haze of Italy.[13] They are indeed the ramparts of
Paradise, for on the further side they look down upon the gardens of
Lago di Como.

Even to climbers this western wing of the Bernina has remained little
known. So long ago as 1862 Messrs. Kennedy and Stephen carried at
the second assault its proudest peak, the Monte della Disgrazia. But
I could count on my fingers the names of all the Englishmen who have
since penetrated Val Masino. Foreign Alpine Clubs have for the most
part held aloof. The Swiss have found enough to do elsewhere, and
have not as yet chosen Val Bregaglia--politically a Swiss valley--as
the 'gebiet' of one of the summer 'excursions' in which they contrive
to combine so happily the features of a prolonged picnic and a
mountain-battue. That practical, and in some respects energetic, body,
the Italian Alpine Club, is only beginning to turn its attention to a
district containing one of the few wholly Italian peaks of over 12,000

Those who have been already somewhat disappointed in the Upper Engadine
and the heart of the Bernina will perhaps argue that there cannot be
much worth seeing in its extremities, where the peaks are lower and
the ice-fields as a whole less extensive. Such an assumption, however,
would be ill-founded. For scenic effects, every one will allow, the
measurement of a mountain must be taken, not from the sea level, but
from its actual base. Moreover the lower the base the richer and more
varied will be the contrast in vegetation. On applying this test we
find that the Punta Trubinesca[14] towers 8,500 feet above the chestnut
trees of Promontogno, while Piz Bernina itself rises 1,000 feet
less, and far more gradually, above Pontresina. The icy ridges of the
Disgrazia soar 11,000 feet above the vineyards of the Val Tellina, or
as much as Mont Blanc above Courmayeur.

The peaks, moreover, are of a durable granite. They have, therefore,
that combined boldness of outline and solidity which often belongs to
this hardy rock. Other mountains have the air of having been built up;
granite peaks seem rather to have been rough-hewn like a sculptor's
block out of a larger mass. In glaciers the group possesses almost
every known variety. The Bondasca and the eastern glaciers of the
Disgrazia worthily represent the frozen cataract type, tumbling in
broken billows from cope to base of the mountain; the Albigna is an
ice-lake fed by huge snow-basins; the Forno a stately stream surpassing
in length the Morteratsch.

Here, however, I gladly break off from the conventional tone of
recommendation in which discoverers are apt to assert their own merits.

For the people who either cannot or will not walk, the large class
which, taking advantage of the shade of contempt already attached
to the epithet by Vatican infallibility, I may venture to call the
'Subalpine Club,' Val Masino has few attractions. Inaccessible on three
sides except to pedestrians, this valley will probably remain for long
a sure refuge for the misanthropic climber driven away from the peaks
of the central Bernina by the demands of the guides or the clatter of
his fellow-countrymen.

In the summer of 1864 I set out from Splugen with two companions and
François Devouassoud for the Bernina. Our route led us through the
Avers Thal, a cross-road of travel still but little frequented, though
no better reason than fashion can be assigned for its neglect. For mile
after mile the Averser Rhein, a strong blue-grey torrent, leaps and
roars between masses of marble crag tinted with lichens, and clasped
about by huge pine-roots. Tributary streams rush down from the rugged
precipices towering on either side the gorge, and shoot with a creamy
rush into the deep cleft which holds the larger flood.

Above the long defile lies a broad grassy upland dotted with some of
the highest villages in Europe, and encompassed by green slopes which
divide the waters of three seas. The landscape is, it is true, tame to
the eye; but on a sunny August morning, when the vast hayfield is alive
with mowers and the air fragrant with the smell of ripe grasses, it
contains much to tickle other senses than sight.

We turned up a side branch of the valley, the Madriser Thal. Near
its head a white line seamed the slopes we had yet to surmount. On
nearer approach this resolved itself into a laboriously-built stone
staircase, showing that we were on what was once a frequented passage
for beasts of burden. Judging from the solidity and care with which it
had originally been put together the 'pavé' might have been Roman. I do
not venture to say it is. More probably in the middle ages this was an
alternative route for the Septimer. Perhaps the indefatigable explorer
and describer of his native Alps, Herr Theobald, or some other curious
enquirer, has told the date and story. If so I have failed to fall on
the passage.

It was from the ridge which divides the Rhine from the Maira that I
gained my first general view of the mountains of Val Masino. Opposite,
and separated from our stand-point, the Madriser Pass, only by the deep
but narrow trench of Val Bregaglia, a great mountain-mass glowed in the
afternoon sunshine. Its base was wrapped in chestnut woods, its middle
girt with a belt of pines, above spread a mantle of the eternal snow.
The sky-line was formed by a coronet of domes and massive pinnacles
carved out of grey rocks, whose jagged yet stubborn forms revealed the
presence of granite. Full in front the curving glacier of Val Bondasca
filled the space beneath the smooth cliff-faces, and at one spot a gap
between them irresistibly suggested a new pass for the morrow.

The descent on the southern side of the Madriser Pass, long, rough,
and extremely steep, leads to the village of Soglio, which rests on a
terrace high above the valley, and commands a noble view of the granite
peaks. Here stands a deserted villa belonging to the old Grisons family
of De Salis, surrounded by ruinous gardens and tall poplars, an Italian
intrusion on a landscape otherwise Alpine. Mossy banks shaded by old
Spanish chestnuts slope down to the high-road and the river. On the
opposite side, near the tunnel from which it takes its name, we found
the 'Albergo della Galleria,' which provides clean rooms and moderate
fare for those who are bent on penetrating the Val Bondasca, the most
beautiful of the side glens of Val Bregaglia.

It was not my first visit to this valley. Long before Mr. Ball had
written his handbook I had found in Professor Theobald's excellent
little volume on Canton Graubrunden[15] a most exciting description
of the waterfalls and ice-tables of the Albigna Glacier and the rocky
splendours of Val Bondasca. At the same time the appearance on maps
of the Forno Glacier as a long ice-stream equal to the Morteratsch
had excited in me keen curiosity. But my companions in 1862, although
induced to halt a day at Vico Soprano, and to venture as far as the
level of the Albigna Glacier, could not be persuaded that the Zocca was
'fit for ladies,' and my explorations were reduced to an ineffectual
race against time to reach a point overlooking the Forno.

The Upper Bregaglia, seen from a carriage, is a green Alpine valley
showing, except in such additions as man has made to the landscape,
little trace of the approach to Italy. Pines are still the prevailing
trees; near at hand the mountains are green; higher up naked grey
pinnacles saw the sky or cut through the vapour-wreaths.

A mile or two above Vico Soprano clouds of sunbeam-painted foam shoot
up round the base of a white column, and the tourist, driven by the
first cold days of September from the hill-barracks of the Engadine to
the lake-palaces, takes out his 'Guide' and his notebook and ticks off
as 'visited' another waterfall.

This is the fall of the Albigna, and close at hand the track to the
Zocca branches off through the woods. It is a forest-path known only to
smugglers and shepherds (and, I may add, chamois, for I once met two
here within a mile of the high-road). Every passer-by, who has a real
love of nature, and can endure for it a night in a clean country inn,
is strongly recommended to leave the road and climb at least as far as
the foot of the glacier.

The scenery is best seen as a descent. From the wild bare crags of
the inmost recesses of Val Masino and from the cold snows and savage
ice-peaks of the Albigna, the traveller suddenly plunges over the edge
of the uplands into a region of mountain-sides broken up by deep chasms
fringed with pines and broad-leaved trees, and resonant with the roar
of the great glacier torrent, which, scarcely released from its icy
cradle, 'leaps in glory' down a stupendous cliff.

The Zocca Pass itself I have never crossed, but the omission can be
supplied by the experience of friends. In ordinary years it is a simple
glacier pass. But that it is not to be attempted without a guide or a
rope the following history shows.

Two young converts to mountaineering set out from Val Masino for the
pass, guideless, ropeless, axeless. The top was easily reached, but
only a few yards below, on the northern side, a huge ice-moat, or
'bergschrund,' as a German guide would have called it, yawned suddenly
at their feet. My friends hesitated, but clouds were rapidly gathering
round the peaks, and a snowstorm impended. There was no time to be
lost. The upper lip of the chasm was too steep to stand on until, by
dabbling with the points of their alpenstocks, they had succeeded in
making some sort of a staircase down to the brink at the point where it
seemed best to take off for the jump. How they jumped or tumbled over
they have never been able clearly to explain, but each maintains he did
it in the best possible way, and both agree it was very uncomfortable.
In many seasons this moat is entirely closed, but it is evidently an
obstacle not to be altogether disregarded, and unseen might be more
dangerous than when gaping for its prey.

To return to Promontogno and 1864. Although the political frontier
lies beyond Castasegna, several miles further down, the rocky spur
which here closes the valley is the natural gate of Italy, the barrier
between the pines and the chestnuts. The afternoon hours lingered
pleasantly away as, stretched on the knoll behind the inn, we gazed up
at the impending cliffs of the granitic range or fed our eyes with the
rich woods of the lower valley and the purple hills beyond Chiavenna.

François meantime had gone off to the neighbouring village of Bondo
to look for a porter who would consent to accompany us over a pass
utterly unknown to the people of the country. For the 'Passo di Bondo'
of the map became more mythical at every step. To cross the Bondasca
Glacier to Val Masino was at least in the estimation of all Bregaglians
to make a new pass; and this was to us Alpine novices a matter of no
small contentment; for beginners ten years ago were not so audacious
as those of the present day, who are satisfied with nothing short
of the Weisshorn and Schreckhorn. Yet I cannot help thinking that by
venturing only into moderate difficulties, where one guide among three
could help us through, we learnt as much as by tying ourselves to two
or three first-rate men and daring everything through the strength of
our guides.

We knew pretty well what was before us, for from the Madriser Pass the
whole route had been displayed. François, remembering that an unknown
icefall had to be dealt with, was anxious to be off early, and our
own enthusiasm was sufficient to carry us through the ordeal of a
night breakfast with less than the usual moroseness. By two A.M. the
provisions were packed and we were on the march.

There was no moon, but the heaven was throbbing with large white stars,
and coronets sparkled on the heads of the dim giants of the southern
range. Leaving behind us the sleeping hamlet of Bondo, the path climbed
steeply through a fir-wood until it reached the short stretch of level
ground, which is called Val Bondasca. An expanse of grass and wood is
here spread out as a carpet at the very base of the granite cliffs.
Scarcely in the Alps are there finer precipices than those that lead up
the eye to the far-off brows of the Cima di Tschingel and Trubinesca.
In front the glen is closed by steep rocks, over which the glacier
pours in a long cascade.

As we strolled over the dewy lawns we had full leisure to watch the
first signs of the coming day. A faint gleam spread over the eastern
sky, and was reflected on the pinnacles above us, gradually drawing
forth their forms out of the shadow, until at last a rosy blush played
for a few moments on their crags; then the clear light of daybreak was
shed upon peak and valley, and ice and rock alike were bathed in the
universal sunshine.

Near another group of chalets we crossed the stream a second time. A
well-contrived path, winding up by steep zigzags amidst underwood and
creeping pines, lifted us from the glen to the upper alp, a sloping
shelf of pasturage on the east of the glacier. Bearing to the right we
made for the edge of a level portion of the ice, where it rests for
a space between the upper and lower falls. Our porter had halted at
the highest hut to get some milk from the solitary man who tended the
goats and pigs. The herdsman, who now saw us turn our backs upon the
only pass he knew, the gap leading over to the Albigna Glacier, hurried
after us, _jödelling_ at the top of his voice, and pointing violently
in the direction opposite to that we were taking.

He was too far below for words, and signs he would not comprehend, so,
after some fruitless endeavours to quiet his mind, we went on our way,
causing 'le bon garçon' (as François called him) to give vent to a last
expostulatory chaunt before he returned to his goats to meditate upon
our probable fate.

The usual rough borderland between earth and ice scrambled over, we
halted for breakfast on a smooth piece of ice conveniently furnished
with stone stools and tables. Over our heads towered a range of
pinnacles, one of which is known as Piz Cacciabella. In form and
grouping they closely resemble, on a smaller scale, the Chamonix
Aiguilles, as seen from the 'Plan.' Divided from them by a snowy
bay, the source of the glacier, rose the splendid peak of the Punta
Trubinesca. Only granite could show such a tremendous block, free from
flaw or joint, and hopeless to the most fly-like climber. Its broad
grey precipices looked as smooth as if they had been planed; and, Mr.
Ball having pronounced the summit inaccessible on the other side, it
seemed to us at the time a pretty problem for rising Alpine Clubmen.

Our ambition, however, had never soared to such a conquest, and we
were content to discuss a matter nearer at hand, the upper ice-fall
which separated us from the supposed pass. Opinions differed; François
prophesied difficulties and five hours' work to the top; a sanguine
spirit set it down as half an hour's walk. The rope was soon put on,
and we prepared to face the unknown.

I presume everyone who cares to take up these sketches has already felt
sufficient interest in the Alps to endeavour to realise, even if he
has not seen, the nature of an ice-fall. If he has not, he had better
go and look at Mons. Loppé's pictures. No word-painting can give an
idea of anything so unlike the usual phenomena of our temperate zone. A
cream-cheese at once squeezed and drawn out, so that the surface split
and isolated blocks stood up, might, if viewed through a magnifying
glass, slightly resemble in form, though not in colour, the contorted
ice. But the imagination would have to look on from the point of view
of the smallest mite.

The lower ice-falls differ considerably from the highest. In one case
the material is hard ice; in the other, closely compacted snow. In the
ice the rifts are longer, narrower and more frequent, and fewer towers
rise above the general level; the snow or névé opens in wider but
less continuous chasms, sinks in great holes like disused chalk-pits,
and throws up huge blocks and towers, which the sun slowly melts into
the most fantastic shapes. The higher fall is generally both the most
imposing and formidable to look at, and the easiest to get through.
The maze here is less intricate, and the very size of its features
makes it easier to choose a path. But it is unsafe to shout before you
are well out of the wood. At the very top, where the strain caused by
the steepening slope first cracks the glacier, one huge rent often
stretches across from edge to edge, and unless Providence throws a
light causeway or a slender arch across the gulf, there will be work
for the ice-axe before you stand on the upper edge. Some crack in the
pit's wall must be dug into steps, the huge disorderly blocks which
make a floor must be got through, and then escape must be found in the
same way that entrance was made, by a ladder of your own contriving.
Such a passage may often cost an hour's hard work.

The Bondasca Glacier above where we struck it was riven by a network
of small crevasses. Some could be jumped, and the larger clefts were
generally bridged, and thanks to a sharp night's frost the arches
were in good bearing order. With occasional step-cutting and frequent
zigzags we got clear of the thickest labyrinth and stood victorious on
the upper snow-fields. They rose before us in a succession of frozen
banks to a well-defined gap flanked by two snow hummocks. The western
was connected by a long curtain of rock with the Punta Trubinesca.
After skirting the highest snow-bowl, we crossed the deep moat which
marks the point where the true mountain-form rises out of the folds
of its snowy vestment, and in a moment more stood on the crest of a
curling wave, fringed with icicles for spray.

Where we had expected to see only the rock-surrounded basin of the Val
dei Bagni, we looked down on a deep, long valley, running southwards
towards the Val Tellina.

At the second glance our eyes were caught by an enormous object lying
in the centre of a grassy meadow. We were at once assured as to the
identity of the valley. The block could be nothing else than the
'natural curiosity' of Val Masino, the biggest boulder in the Alps.
Its dimensions are given by Mr. Ball as--'Length, 250 feet; breadth,
120 feet; height, 140 feet;' or as tall as an average church tower,
and large enough to fill up many a London square. Legend has nothing
to tell about this monstrous block, and we are left to determine as
we like, whether it fell from some neighbouring mountain going to ruin
in the course of nature, or was dropped by the devil, on one of those
errands of mischief which are always so fortunately interrupted by the
opportune appearance of the pious peasant.

We had only been two hours from our last resting-place, and the day was
still young, so that we could well afford a halt. As there are some
tourists whose chief object is to get to the end of their tours, so
there are climbers who throughout the day seem to long only to arrive
in as few hours as possible at the end of it. But peaks and passes and
not inns were our goal, and we had no desire to hurry on. We chose a
warm corner in the sun-facing rocks, whence by lifting our heads we
looked over intervening ridges to the Alps of Glarus, and raked the
Punta Trubinesca and its neighbours, now viewed end on, as weird a pile
of granite as I have seen in many a long day's wanderings.

From the snow-dome on our right a lofty and extraordinarily jagged
ridge stretched out at right angles to the main chain, the barrier,
probably, between the two branches of Val Masino.[16] I wanted to climb
the dome and reconnoitre, but clouds had partially covered the blue
sky, and were whisking, now one way now the other, as the gust took
them, as if playing a wild game of hide-and-seek amongst the granite
towers. A storm seemed probable, and François thought it foolish to
waste time.

We were clearly not on the legendary Passo di Bondo,[17] but on another
'Col' of our own contriving, leading somewhere into the Val di Mello,
the eastern branch of Val Masino. The descent looked practicable. Why
not attempt it and complete the pass? The distance to be retraced along
the valley to our sleeping quarters, the 'Bagni,' could scarcely be
worth considering. So after erecting a solid stoneman, and trusting him
with the usual card-filled bottle, we set out.

The last man had not set foot on the ice when François disappeared
to his shoulders beneath the surface. Looking through the hole he had
made we could appreciate the use of the rope. A dark green chasm, some
thirty feet wide, yawned beneath us, its depths scarcely visible in the
light thus suddenly let in upon them. The glacier we were descending
fell away steeply, and became so broken and troublesome that we tried
the rocks on the left. The change was for the worse, and we soon came
back and cut our way through the difficulties.

As soon as the rocks ceased to be precipitous we took to them again.
But they were not pleasant footing. We found ourselves committed to a
slope of boulders so shockingly loose that the slightest provocation
sent half-a-dozen rolling from under our feet, and piled at so high an
angle that when once started they bounded away at a pace which promised
to take them straight to the valley. In such places an impetuous
companion always insists on stopping to take off his gaiters and then
following at a run. You have scarcely missed him before his return is
announced by a whole volley of grape rattling about your ears, while a
playful shout warns you to make way for a 100-pounder boulder which is
ricochetting down on your heels with the force of a cannon-ball. Then
your friend comes up with a pleased air, as much as to say, 'Didn't
I come down that well?' and it is hard not to remonstrate with him in
language the use of which should be restricted to divines.

Halting beside some water which filtered out at the foot of the
boulders, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the Disgrazia and the wild
range behind us. On our right was a long comb, whose teeth had been
tortured by time and weather into all sorts of quaint shapes; one rock
bent over like a crooked finger, in another place a window was pierced
through the crest. At a hasty glance one might have compared the
fantastic shapes to those assumed so frequently by dolomitic limestone,
but closer observation showed the tendency to curving outlines and
to sharpness of edge peculiar to crystalline rock. In the dolomite
districts the separate crags, cut up as they may be by flaws at right
angles to the lie of the strata, have not, except from considerable
distances, the same flamelike outlines. In any near view the layers of
which they are built up become conspicuous, and often, as in the Brenta
chain, have all the appearance of courses of masonry.

Bearing to the left from the first huts on the Alpe di Ferro, we
crossed a stream just below a tempting pool, in which five minutes
later we were all plunging. At the next step in the descent our path
re-crossed the water, and zigzagged steeply down the hillside, which
was covered with broom and Scotch heather. Passing a succession of
pretty cascades, we entered the Val di Mello, near a group of châlets,
whence a stony mule-road led us in half an hour to San Martino, the
village situated at the fork of the valley. It is a cluster of untidy
stone houses, with nothing to delay the passer-by except a douanier's
bureau and a tobacco store.

We now met a car-road running up the Val dei Bagni--the western fork
of the valley. The floor of the glen soon rises suddenly--a granite
valley, like the national prosperity, always advances by leaps and
starts--and the road indulges in a couple of short zigzags. We are
again in the heart of the mountains, hemmed in by pine-clad slopes and
cliffs too steep to allow any view even of the summits behind them. In
this _cul-de-sac_ there are no signs of a village. It is a spot where
one would expect to find no one but a Bergamasque shepherd with his
longtailed sheep. But shepherds do not make roads, nor do they often
receive visitors such as the portly dame who advances towards us,
supported by a scarcely perceptible donkey, and herself overshadowed
by a vast crimson umbrella resembling the mushroom of a pantomime.
Shepherds, moreover, are not in the habit of constructing little paths
like those, too faltering and purposeless for any practical use, which
wander off here and there into the woods; nor do they employ their
leisure hours in planting stems of fir-trees in a futile manner along
the sides of the road, and covering their branches, as the foliage
withers away, with tricolour flags.

The meaning of these attempts to fasten a little paltry embroidery
on nature's robes is explained when as we turn a corner and enter the
bowl-shaped hollow which forms the head of the glen we discover under
the hillside a long, low building--the Bagni del Masino. The presence
of a sulphur spring has caused this remote spot to be chosen as one of
the summer retreats of Northern Italian society.

The bath-houses in the Lombard Alps do not in any way add to the
beauty of the landscape. The consistent regard for economy shown
in the simplicity of their architecture and the roughness of their
construction may possibly delight the heart of some shareholder, and
would perhaps have commended them to the favourable notice of a late
First Commissioner of Works. But to the common eye the result is
not attractive. Outside we see a long two-storied barrack built with
unshaped stones and abundance of mortar, the surface of which, never
having been finished in any way, has a dusky-brown hue and ruinous
aspect; unpainted woodwork; balconies unbalustraded, and to the last
degree perilous. Internally and on the ground floor a long range of
dingy fly-spotted rooms, devoted respectively to smoke, billiards,
literature, and eating, and decorated with portraits of the reigning
family of Italy and full-blown lithographic beauties. Above, equally
long passages, and nests of scantily furnished, but tolerable and, so
far as beds are concerned, clean cabins.

Our first enquiry, whether the house contained baths--at many
so-called bath-houses the waters are only taken internally--called up a
triumphant smile on the countenance of the waiter who had welcomed us.
As he ushered us along the passages a strong smell of sulphur raised a
suspicion that we might find ourselves in hot water. In another moment
this fear was converted into a certainty. The beaming waiter ushered
us into a little room, or rather large stove-heated oven, surrounded
by four wells, each some five feet deep, and full to the brim of
sulphureous waters. On the one hand we had gone too far to retreat
with credit, on the other we were incapable of any prolonged endurance
of the purgatorial temperature. So having made but a hasty plunge we
dashed on our clothes and fled back to our rooms, ignoring the stove on
which we ought to have sat and submitted to a process of slow baking.
This ordeal and a good dinner completed, we had leisure to study the
patients, for the most part Milanese, with a sprinkling of local Val
Tellina priests and farmers. The mineral waters of the place are,
no need to say, like all mineral waters, invincible enemies to every
disease to which humanity, male or female, is exposed. Such being the
case, it was a subject for reasonable regret that with few exceptions
the visitors appeared to suffer from no more serious complaint than
a difficulty in composing their minds to any mental exertion beyond a
game at bowls or a shot at a popinjay.

Let us sit down for a few moments on the bench before the door and
observe the pastimes going on around. Three leading spirits, the
doctor, a curé with his skirts tucked up to his knees, and a Milanese
visitor clad in a suit of the large yellow check so often affected by
Italians, are in the middle of a contest with bowls, the progress of
which is watched by a deeply interested circle of cigarette-smokers.
The Milanese is nowhere, but the struggle between the priest and doctor
becomes terribly exciting, and the 'bravas' attract even a group
of Bergamasque shepherds, honest fellows despite their bandit style
of dress, who have been lounging in the background. The rest of the
patients are burning powder at a mark set up in the wood a few paces
off, or hanging over a game of billiards, which seems to us a good deal
more like a sort of Lilliputian ninepins.

We have scarcely withdrawn to our rooms satiated with the sight of so
much innocent happiness when a loud ringing of the bell which welcomes
new arrivals assures us that Victor Emmanuel must be appearing in
person to pursue the chamois of the neighbourhood. Hurrying to the
window we see an excited crowd gazing and gesticulating at the sky in a
manner which suggests that they have been visited either by a heavenly
vision or temporary insanity. In fact a small fire-balloon has been
sent up. After a time another peal of the bell announces its descent,
the Bergamasque shepherd boys set off up the hillside to secure the
fragments, and night closes upon the scene.

To most of us there comes a time when the pleasures of infancy pall.
But these water-drinkers seem to have found the true fountain of youth
and oblivion, where

         ---- they lie reclined
     On the hills like Gods together, careless of mankind,
     For they lie beside their nectar ----

and, far removed from the politics and stock-exchanges of a lower
world, can treat even the leading articles which occasionally creep up
to them at the bottom of a fruit-cart

     Like a tale of little meaning tho' the words are strong.

Happy Milanese! for is not Val Masino better than Margate?

It is difficult, perhaps, to recommend the Baths as a stopping-place
for any length of time to the ordinary traveller. Though so high (3,750
feet) they are too much in a hole for beauty. But the situation, if
it would not satisfy an artist, is not in the least commonplace, and
has even a curious fascination of its own. On every side the eyes
are met at once by almost perpendicular rocks capped here and there
by sharp spires of granite. These cliffs are not bare and harsh like
those of Val di Mello, but green with forest and bright with falling
waters. They seem friendly protectors to the smooth oasis of grass and
pines. The suggestion of savage wildness close at hand added by the few
glimpses of the upper peaks heightens the sense of peace and seclusion
in which the charm of the spot is to be found.

The little plain is quite large enough to suffice for the very moderate
demands of the Italian visitors, but it will hardly satisfy the average
British craving for exercise. You must, however, either stop where
you are or climb a staircase; these upright hills will not easily lend
themselves, like the slopes of the Upper Engadine, to short breaths and
untrained limbs. To enjoy Val Masino you must be either sick or sound;
it is not a place for invalids or idlers.

To the mountaineer the bathing establishment is invaluable. It is
true that as a passing guest he pays a bill large when compared to the
charges made to the 'pensionnaires,' and that his guide will probably
have still greater reason to complain. But he obtains in exchange the
boon of a good bed and an excellent dinner in a situation admirably
chosen for glacier expeditions. Moreover, owing to the general custom
of the patients of keeping up impromptu dances till midnight, a waiter
can generally be persuaded to provide breakfast before he goes to bed;
and not only is the customary difficulty in an early start entirely
absent, but it is sometimes hard to avoid being sped too soon by a host
whose night begins only when yours ends.

At half-past twelve the voice of the inexorable François was heard at
the doors: 'Bonjour, messieurs, il fait encore beau temps.' One of us
who had gone to sleep in the middle of a thunderstorm gave a deep groan
of disappointment at the auspicious news. But in half-an-hour we were
all gathered round the table at a meal which we had ordered, and now
affected to treat in the light of a late supper. I need scarcely say
the pretence was a miserable failure. Though the stars shone brightly
in the narrow strip of sky visible between the steep mountain-crests,
the night was so black that some precaution was considered necessary
to prevent our falling off the edge of the road, and prematurely
ending our Alpine investigations. The obliging waiter dexterously
screwed up in paper a tallow candle after the model of a safety bedroom
candlestick. But soon, as was to be expected, the shield caught fire,
and our impromptu lantern disappeared in a blaze.

François then beguiled the dark hours by an account of the
cross-examination he had undergone the evening before. 'What was our
illness? Should we take the waters? Where had we come from? How long
should we stay? Where were we going?' Such were the enquiries of the
guests; and when they heard that we had come over one glacier and were
departing next day by another with the intention of sleeping at a place
two days' drive off by the only road they knew, they were fairly at
their wits' end.

The road which had seemed so long the day before was soon traversed,
and leaving our old track to scale the hillside, we continued in the
trough of Val di Mello, until just as dawn was breaking behind the
Disgrazia we reached the châlets of La Rasica. The incident which now
followed, interesting to me as the origin of a valued friendship, must
find a place here on account of the influence it had on all my further

People were heard stirring inside one of the barns, and lights seen
moving--a very unusual phenomenon at such an hour. For a moment we
imagined we had caught a party of smugglers starting for the Zocca.
But, conspicuous even in the darkness, a pair of white flannel
trousers, such as no smuggler ever wore, issued from the door.
Before we had time to speak they were followed by another and still
more startling apparition. All we could at first make out was a
large lantern, surrounded on all sides by long yellow spikes like
conventional sunbeams or the edges of a saint's glory. A moment later
the human being who carried the light became distinguishable, the
rays resolved themselves into the bright leather cases of scientific
instruments, and a voice announced that we were in the presence of Mr.
Tuckett and his guides.

Still young and inexperienced as a mountain-climber, and knowing only
by hearsay of the Alpine Club, I was at this time penetrated by a
profound respect for that body. Its rank and file I believed to be as
little hampered by the laws of gravity as the angels of the Talmud,
of whom three could balance themselves upon a single pinnacle of the
Temple. To its greater heroes I looked up as to the equals of those
spirits whom their leader reminded--

     That in our proper motion we ascend
     Up towards our native seat; descent and fall
     To us are adverse.

For me, therefore, it was an awful moment when I found myself thus
unexpectedly in the presence of the leader himself--the being whose
activity, ubiquity, and persistence in assault have made, at least
in the lips of wearied guides, 'der Tuckett' almost equivalent to
'der Teufel.' Conscious, moreover, of intentions on the new pass
of the country--the one possible link by which Val Masino could be
brought within a day's walk of the Upper Engadine--I felt an inward
presentiment that this great mountain-slayer must be there on a similar
errand, and a fear that he might punish our poaching in some very
serious manner.

Perhaps it was partly the guilty expression of our countenances which
caused our suspicions to be returned and our party also to be taken
for a band of smugglers whose acquaintance Mr. Tuckett had made on
the Albigna Glacier the previous day. The mutual misapprehension
having been speedily removed, our further fears were set at rest.
The Disgrazia was the immediate object of Mr. Tuckett's ambition; and
though he did intend to cross next day to the Engadine, his quiver was
already so full of new peaks and passes that he could well afford to
leave some small game for others.

It would have been pleasant to have united our parties, but we had
an appointment to keep at St. Moritz, and could not venture to risk a
detention by bad weather on the wrong side of the chain.

A steep ascent led to a miserable shelter where Mr. Tuckett and his
friend left us, and to which they subsequently returned to spend
an uncomfortable night. We were now on the upper pasturages, a wide
desolate tract merging into the rocky heaps which fringe several small
glaciers descending from the highest summits.

Three ice-streams flowed towards us--one from immediately under the
Pico della Speranza; the second from the angle in the chain under Monte
Sissone; the third lay far more to the left, and was barred at its head
by steep cliffs extending to the Monte Sissone, and broken only near
that peak by a narrow snow-trough. The head of the central ice-stream
was a broad saddle, and for this we determined to steer. I had a
presentiment that it would overlook Val Malenco. But that point gained,
it would be easy to reach the ridge of Monte Sissone, and probably
without losing much time by the circuit.

We ascended for a long way over the boulders on the south of the
central glacier. They offered villainous foothold, but the ice was so
slippery that we gave them the preference, and were rewarded for our
pains by finding some remarkably fine crystals. Leaving solid ground
only a few hundred yards below the crest, we soon found ourselves
on its summit. Beneath us, only at a much lower level, and cut off
by an apparently impracticable cliff, was the glacier-field which
encircles the head of Val Malenco. Beyond it rose the massive forms
of the Bernina group. We lost no time here in looking at the view, but
turned again upwards, following the ridge for some distance; then, at
François' instance, we crossed a treacherous snow-slope to the left,
and, after losing some of the height we had gained, reached the rocks.
We and the porter took a pretty straight course up the peak of the
Sissone, leaving François to make more to the left for the head of the
snow-trough. Towards the summit the rocks became steep, and afforded an
exciting scramble. As we worked up a gully the first man put his arm
round a large and apparently firmly-wedged stone, which tottered with
his weight. Had it fallen, we should have had a sensation something
like that of jumping out of the way of a cannon-ball. When our heads
rose above the level of the ridge, we were glad to see snow-slopes on
the other side, falling away steeply to a great glacier basin. Now we
felt our pass was secured. A pile of broken crags still rose above us;
a short race, and we were seated on the highest boulder, one of the
corner-stones of the Bernina chain.

The Monte Sissone, although insignificant in height compared with the
giants which encircle the Morteratsch, claims an important place in
the orography of the group. It stands at the angle of the range, where
the main ridge is met by the spur which connects the Disgrazia with the
rest of the chain. This mighty outlier was the one object which riveted
our eyes, quite eclipsing the more distant glories of the Bernina. The
noble mass (scarcely three miles from us as the crow flies) rose tier
above tier out of the great glacier which extended to our feet; its
rocky ribs protruded sternly out of their shimmering ice-mail, and the
cloud-banner which was now flung out from the crowning ridge augured
no good to its assailants. Deep below lay Chiareggio and the Muretto
path, so that the mountain was visible from top to bottom. For massive
grandeur united with grace of form, the Disgrazia has few rivals in the
Alps. Between us and the Muretto stood the fine snow-peak of the Cima
di Rosso, and then the eye swept along the red cliffs which lie at the
back of Piz Guz and the Fedoz Glacier to the giants of the Bernina,
crowded too closely round their queen for individual effect. In the
west were the Cima del Largo, and the more distant peaks surrounding
the Bondasca Glacier.

Immediately from our feet on the north broken snow-slopes fall steeply
on to a wide level basin, the head of the Forno Glacier. Yawning
chasms forbad a direct descent, and when we left the peak, the higher
by several feet for our visit, we followed for a little distance
its eastern ridge. There were a legion of enormous pitfalls, but no
continuous moat, so that after some circle-sailing we were able to
slide swiftly down to the snow-plain. A circular hollow formed the
reservoir into which cascades of névé tumbled from the enclosing
ridges. These, like the walls of an amphitheatre, stretched round from
the Cima di Rosso to the Cima del Largo; to the west of Monte Sissone
they became almost perpendicular, and it seems doubtful whether a more
direct pass can profitably be forced in this direction. A large block
of ice had detached itself from the upper séracs and now lay at their
base--a bright mass of cobalt amidst the pervading greys and whites.

I have nowhere seen a more perfect 'cirque,' and we could fancy that
our feet were the first which had ever penetrated it, for the Forno,
though the second glacier of the Bernina group, and within an easy walk
of the Maloya Inn, has never been the fashion with tourists, and no
record of its earlier exploration exists.

Looking downwards a green mound close to Maloya was visible. It can
scarcely be half-an-hour from the road, and must command the whole
length of the glacier. Our course lay straight before us; we had
nothing to do but to follow the great valley of ice. Two fine masses of
secondary glacier poured in from the eastern range, over which the Cima
di Rosso rose pre-eminent, a noble peak sheeted in snow and ice. Since
leaving the Pennines we had seen no such glacier scenery.

The crevasses were frequent, but generally small,--the right size for
jumping over. At one place, however, it was easier to leave the ice
and to pick our way through the hollow between the moraine and the
mountain-side. A few sheep, which must have been driven at least a
mile over the ice, were cropping the scanty herbage. The herdboy seemed
simply stupefied at seeing five people drop suddenly on him from heaven
knows where, and could scarcely answer our questions except with a
prolonged stare.

Clouds had now risen over the sky, and a fine sleet began to fall. The
mists, however, did not descend on the mountains, and looking back we
enjoyed the peculiar effect of the upper peaks seen through a watery
veil and lit by fitful gleams of sunshine. Having returned to the
ice we followed it to the end,--a fine ice-cave, whence the Ordlegna,
the stream of Val Bregaglia, rushes out in an impetuous torrent. In
a few minutes we passed the Piancaning châlets and made our junction
with the dull but well-established path of the Muretto Pass. An hour
more brought us to the Maloya Inn and the high road; and after a
pleasant stroll along the Silser-See our walk came to an end at the one
picturesque village in the Upper Engadine, Sils Maria.


     [12] This and the following chapter were originally written
     as a paper to be read before the Alpine Club.

     [13] See Vignette.

     [14] Herr Theobald states that the villagers of Bondo
     give the name of Trubinesca to the Cima di Tschingel of
     the Federal map. Herr Ziegler, the author of a new and
     very beautifully executed map of this portion of the Alps,
     confirms this statement, adding that 'Turbinesca' is the
     correct spelling, and he has accordingly changed the names
     of the two peaks. As a rule, local usage should, no doubt,
     be followed. But in the present instance, the mistake is
     of such long standing, that an endeavour to correct it
     would only lead to confusion, and I have adhered to the
     nomenclature of the Federal map. It is much to be regretted
     that Herr Ziegler's map is wholly inaccurate with regard to
     the glaciers of Val Masino, and the position of many of the
     ridges dividing its lateral glens.

     [15] _Naturbilder aus den Rhätischen Alpen_: Chur, 1861.

     [16] The junction of this spur, the Cima Sciascia, with the
     principal ridge, has been placed too far east in all maps
     previous to the Alpine Club Map of Switzerland.

     [17] I am disposed to doubt whether a direct pass from the
     Bondasca Glacier to the western branch of Val Masino was
     ever effected before 1865. It is true there is a tradition
     embodied in the Swiss Federal map of such a pass. It is
     possible, however, that smugglers may have gone up to the
     Passo di Ferro, and then scrambled westward over the rocks
     into the basin of the Porcellizza Alp.



     Hee's a foole who basely dallies
       Where each peasant mates with him;
     Shall I haunt the thronged vallies
       Whilst ther's noble hils to climbe?
                                 GEORGE WITHERS.


The following year found me in company with Mr. Tuckett, at the head
of the western branch of Val Malenco, the valley on the south of the
central mass of the Bernina. Our original companions in a campaign,
one of the most rapid and brilliant ever planned by our indefatigable
leader, had gradually left us to seek the inglorious repose of England
or Italy. Their place, however, had been partially filled by H. Buxton,
a recruit, but not a raw one; and for guides we were amply provided
with François, Peter Michel, and Walther of Pontresina.

The dingy house next the chapel serves as the inn of Chiareggio.
Its sole tenant in 1865 was a universal old man, who was a sort of
epitomised 'service;' cook, waiter, chambermaid, and host all in one.
The resources of his establishment were limited, the cutlery was of the
Bronze, and the bread of the Stone period; but the kitchen produced a
sort of 'soupe maigre' which sufficed, with the aid of our provisions,
to ward off starvation.

  [Illustration: THE DISGRAZIA,
   From the Bernina Group.

   Mte. della Cassandra      Pico della Speranza      Passo di Mello.]

Before us stretched a wide semicircle of rock and ice extending
from the Muretto Pass on the north to the Monte della Disgrazia on
the south. In the centre of the bay stood Monte Sissone. Above the
glaciers which poured down valleywards in two principal streams, rose
a continuous rock-rampart, impassable so far as we could judge to
the right of Monte Sissone, and formidable everywhere. The glacier
difficulties we were not afraid of; the question to be decided was
whether this final wall could be scaled.

At the point where the valley forks we left the Muretto path, and
turned towards the west. A bright ice-stream, having its source under
the highest crest of the Disgrazia, as splendid a mountain as any in
the Swiss Alps, poured down to our feet. On our right the glacier from
Monte Sissone stopped short at the top of a slope of loose rubbish.
We soon reached the foot of the long broken staircase. The chasms and
towers on either hand were on a noble scale, but, as is often the case,
it was possible to turn each in succession by a course of judicious
zigzags. After threading our way through the steepest labyrinth we
came to the upper region of half-formed ice, where deep continuous
trenches cease, and huge icicle-fringed pits--gaping monsters easily
avoided--take their place. Mounting steadily toward the Disgrazia
and along the base of the rock-wall, we drew near the point of attack
already selected. Here a steep snow-bed lay to a certain height against
the rocks. Immediately above they were perpendicular, but across their
face a ledge, slanting upwards, promised to give access to a part of
the cliff on our left where the crags were more broken and practicable.
Our pathway soon grew narrow. There was, however, only one troublesome
corner, but this happened to be exactly where the meltings of an upper
snow-bed poured over on us in an icy stream. The shower-bath did not
cool our impatience during the moments we had to wait for one another.
This corner turned, a short steep slope of snow and rock led to the
crest, a pile of enormous boulders, whence on the further side we
looked down on a gently sloping snow-field falling towards the Val di
Mello. Over our heads towered a monstrous wall of granite, suddenly
breaking off above the pass. Immense wedge-like blocks, supported
only at one end, jutted out into the air like the stones of some
ruined temple, ever it would seem on the point to fall, yet enduring
for centuries.[18] When we set out to descend the snow-field was soon
crossed, to a point where it fell away in a steep bank. We cut a few
steps, and then glissaded down to a moraine. While unbuckling belts a
sudden crash made us look back. A huge boulder was dancing down the
slope in our footsteps, pursued by a bevy of smaller followers. The
very few stones that were lying at the bottom proved this to be an
unusual channel for such missiles. We were just out of range, but a
delay of five minutes would have exposed us to a serious risk in a
place to all appearance absolutely safe.

Our path now lay across the stony tract which encircles the small
glaciers of Val di Mello until we gained the edge of the upper alp,
where the collected streams make a deep plunge into the glen below.
Here we all separated, Buxton and I descending at once with the water,
and Tuckett following the proper path away to the right; Buxton luckily
hit a track, and got down without difficulty, but I, less fortunate,
took a course on the left side of the waterfall. Swinging myself down
the steep hillside by the strong arms of the creeping pines, I was
little more than 200 feet above the floor of the glen, when I was
suddenly brought to a standstill by an abrupt crag. It was fortunately
possible to scramble down to the lowest ledge, and then drop down the
last few feet on to the elastic bed of dwarf pines below. The little
bag which contained all my wardrobe was an impediment to the close
union of my body and the rock which seemed expedient, and I flung it
down before me. When I had more slowly followed, the bag was nowhere
to be seen; half-an-hour's search was fruitless, and I began to fear
lest my companions should become alarmed at my delay. I was now within
250 feet of the valley, and, seeing my way for more than half the short
space, had no thought of a further difficulty. But after a few steps I
found myself on the brink of a cliff, not very lofty, but still high
enough to break one's neck over, and too smooth to allow any hope of
a direct descent. For a moment return, which meant a circuit of two
hours, seemed inevitable. But a careful study of the rocks on my left
showed a sort of slanting groove or gallery running across their face,
of which it might be possible to take advantage.

In order to reach this loophole of escape a crag of awkwardly smooth
surface had to be crossed, and it was clearly desirable to use every
natural means of adhesion. I dropped my ice-axe, and the force with
which it rebounded from its first contact with the ground, gave its
owner a serious warning to follow in some less abrupt manner. Foothold
soon failed, but not before I was within reach of the groove, or flaw
in the cliff-structure, just mentioned. How best to profit by its
advantages was now the question. Wedging myself into it as far as might
be, I pressed with my back and elbows against the lower rock, and with
my hands against the overhanging upper lip. My knees and heels formed
a second point of support, and by retaining one part of my body always
fixed I wormed myself along slowly, but with perfect security. At last
the smooth cliff was turned, and it was easy to descend into the glen.

A copious spring burst out of the rocks just where I first touched
level ground. I quenched at it the intense thirst produced by the
excitement of the solitary climb, picked up my axe, and then hastened
onwards, desirous as soon as possible to rejoin my companions, and
relieve whatever anxiety they might feel on my behalf. A needless
exertion, for on approaching the châlets of La Rasica I saw a cluster
of grey forms prostrate in various attitudes on the turf, while a pile
of emptied bowls beside them showed the nature of the beverage by which
the Circe of the châlet had wrapt them in forgetfulness.

Beyond La Rasica I was treading in my last year's footsteps. Val
di Mello, the name by which the eastern head of Val Masino is
distinguished, is one of the most savage mountain recesses in this part
of the Alps. The highest peaks of the district do not themselves rise
immediately out of it, but their granite buttresses are so bold that
grandeur is the last element the scenery could be accused of wanting.
It does, to me at least, want something, and on contrasting it with
two other valleys of similar formation the missing element is easily
recognisable. Utter wildness fails to satisfy, and savage crags lose
half their beauty when they no longer tower above grassy lawns and
out of rich woods of pine, or better still, of glossy chestnuts. Val
Bondasca, the Val di Genova under the Presanella, and Val Bavona may be
taken as good examples of granite scenery in its highest perfection.

We found but little change in the Bagni and their visitors. The doctor
and the priest were still playing bowls, the bell was still ringing,
and the same waiter was ready to do for us exactly the same things as
he had done ten months before. By his aid we succeeded in repeating a
good dinner, and, much more remarkable, an early start.

Our object this year was to effect if possible the traditional pass
from the Porcellizza Alp to Val Bondasca, which we had missed at the
first attempt.

The stream which flows before the door of the bath-house rushes down
the cliff a few yards higher up in a noble fall. A steep zigzag of
well-made pavé, better to mount than descend, climbs beside the water.
Two hours of steady uphill work lead to a grassy basin, in the centre
of which stand the châlets of the Porcellizza Alp. A ring of granite
peaks hems in the pasturage, and ice fills the gaps between them. The
summits themselves are precipitous, but the ground below them is less
broken, and the slopes are gentler and greener, than at the head of
the other glens in this group. Hence cows take the place of Bergamasque
sheep, and the châlet, known as the Alp Mazza, is one of the largest in
the neighbourhood.

We fancied our pass must lie at the eastern foot of the Punta
Trubinesca. The glacier was smooth and solid, and we had no difficulty
in reaching the gap at its head. But the descent on the other side was
far from eligible. We found ourselves at the top of an ice-slope at
least 1,000 feet high, very steep, and swept by constant discharges
of stones. We naturally resolved to look further along the ridge.
Turning our backs on the still unconquered and formidable cliffs of
the Trubinesca, we at once climbed the snow-slope on our right, and,
crossing a rocky spur, gained the head of the glacier adjacent to
the one by which we had ascended. Again we inspected the northern
slopes, but with like result. The Bondasca Glacier still lay far--very
far--below, at the base of a most repulsive gully, down which
stones rattled constantly at a pace likely soon to put a stop to
all trespassing on their private pathway. Unwilling to face such a
cannonade, we again right-faced. It was fortunately possible, and that
without much difficulty, to follow the crest of the chain by keeping
a little below it on its southern side. In time we reached the spur
dividing the second from yet another ice-stream, the largest and most
easterly of those that descend towards the Porcellizza Alp. We saw with
disgust that we had yet some distance to go, and that over very rough
ground, involving a considerable descent, and the passage of a steep
ridge, to reach the Passo di Ferro, the point where we had crossed the
previous year.

Suddenly Peter Michel, who had unlinked himself, and was exploring
above, shouted to us to follow, and in a few minutes we were all
standing in a natural doorway in the ridge, some twenty feet deep by
five in breadth. The ice of the Bondasca Glacier was here only 250 feet
below us, and the cliff looked broken enough to be practicable, so,
the guides being in favour of an immediate descent rather than a long
and uncertain circuit, we decided we had reached our pass, and behaved
accordingly--that is, made ourselves comfortable in niches and enjoyed
the view and iced Asti, a beverage which can only be appreciated at
over 10,000 feet. While we were reroping, Michel grew oracular, and to
a question on the easiness of our route, replied in a formula we had
learnt by experience to dread as much as Cleopatra the 'but yet' of the
messenger from Antony--'Es geht,--aber.'

The descent of a partially ice-coated cliff is one of the most
ticklish parts of a climber's work. But so long as there is any good
hold on rock, and the party can proceed directly downwards, there is
no danger if the rope is properly used. When it becomes necessary to
move diagonally across the face of the mountain the difficulty is much
increased, and the rope is not so easily kept taut. Yet there are few
places where with sufficient care a slip of any one man may not be
checked before it becomes a fall.

In the present instance it was some time before we met with anything to
justify Michel's reservation. But about half-way down the rib which had
helped us came to an end, and the rocks grew smooth and mixed with ice.
To have descended in a straight line would have brought us to the edge
of a gaping crevasse; we tended, therefore, continually to the right,
where the glacier rose higher against the cliff, and snow bridged the
obstructive chasm. Here a long step down, there a longer straddle round
was required, and our progress became of the slowest, as prudence often
required a majority of the party to be stationary.

After passing one very obnoxious corner, which each pulled himself
round, partly by an imperceptible grasp on an invisible handhold,
but principally trusting to the support of the rope, we got on easier
ground, and, by cutting a few steps, reached at last (in two hours from
the pass) the snow-bridged moat. Once on the ice, François was aided
by old experience, and steered us through the labyrinth of the Bondasca
Glacier without either delay or difficulty.

After leaving the ice we followed the steep path which leads down
amongst the creeping pines and underwood on the right side of the
valley, to the lower level of Val Bondasca.

Another plunge, this time through chestnuts, brought us to the
maize-fields and vine-trellised villages of Val Bregaglia. Neither at
Promontogno nor Castasegna was any carriage to be obtained. In order to
arrive at Chiavenna we were compelled, ice-axes in hand, to storm the
roof of a diligence, where, intrenched among the luggage, we formed a
garrison far too formidable for any guard or postillion to dislodge.

In the summer of 1866 I again found myself with my friend Tucker and
François Devouassoud, in eastern Switzerland. The passes of Val Masino
were accomplished, but its peaks still remained maiden and unassailed.
Having added Fluri to our party, we started one afternoon from
Pontresina for the old hospice on the top of the Maloya, then a humble
inn, now a familiar house of call for the fashionable society of St.

The Cima del Largo, the highest peak in the range between Val Bregaglia
and Val Masino, was our aim for the morrow. I spare the reader the
long and somewhat tedious march over familiar ground to the head of
the Forno Glacier. We had started under a cloudless sky, but before
we reached the foot of the Largo no 'Cima' was to be seen, only
snow-slopes stretching up into the mists. Fortunately we already knew
how to attack our peak. From the N. or E. the Cima del Largo presents
itself as a bold round tower rising sheerly above the wall on which
it stands. As far as its northern base there could, we believed, be
little difficulty. Our expectations were fulfilled: steep snow-banks
and easy rocks lifted us to the rim of the snowy basin of the Forno.
The ridge which divides it from the Albigna Glacier is a narrow comb of
granite; we moved along it in the chink between the rocks and snow. A
wall of ice suddenly loomed before us through the mist. We had reached
the foot of the tower, and the trial of strength was about to begin.
The ice was very hard and the slope very steep, and steps seemed to
take a long time. At last a patch of rock was gained. We now followed
a ridge, sometimes rock, sometimes ice; steps had still to be cut,
and we progressed but slowly. Suddenly our leader said, 'C'est assez,'
reversed his axe, and stepped out freely for a few paces. We were on
the snow-dome which forms the summit of the Cima del Largo.

View there was none; we could see we were on the top, and that was all.
But even in the worst of weather the newness of his plaything offers
some consolation to the childlike simplicity of the true climber.
Comforting ourselves, like Touchstone, with the reflection that the
Largo, if, under the circumstances, but 'a poor virgin, an ill-favoured
thing,' was at least 'our own,' we adjourned to a sheltered niche in
the rocks a few feet below the summit. The atmosphere was tolerably
warm and windless, and in our bivouac under the overhanging eaves of
the great rocks we were sheltered from the soft, thickly-falling veil
of snow which cut us off from the lower world.

If our surroundings might have seemed cheerless, our feelings were by
no means so. I never assisted at a more festive meal than that which
celebrated the birth of our stoneman.

Fluri was determined to do his best to compensate for the want of
view; he was in his highest spirits, pleased with the mountain, the
food, the wine-bag, the 'herrschaft,' and last, but not least, with
himself. Now Fluri, whether in good or bad spirits, used in any case
to be careful to let you know his mental condition. On this occasion
he exploded in a series of small but elaborate jokes. First he got
into a hole and played marmot. Then he scrambled after a solitary
ranunculus (which, strange to say, was blooming at this great height),
and pretended not to be able to get back again, wriggling his body
absurdly over the easiest rock in the neighbourhood. Nearly an hour
must have thus passed, and yet no break in the mist offered to reward
us for revisiting the summit. So about 1 P.M. we set out to return.
The descent of the ice-wall called for considerable care, as it was
necessary to be prepared for a slip, although such an accident might
not be very likely to happen. François, who was leading, had to clear
out the fresh-fallen snow from our old steps, which were quite effaced.
Here Fluri, who in his early period, before he had learnt snowcraft
from English mountaineers and foreign guides, showed a morbid dislike
to the commonest and most necessary precautions, raised himself greatly
in our esteem. Though screaming and howling every variety of jödel
the whole time, I never saw him once without the rope taut and his axe
firmly anchored in the ice. The rest of the descent was easy enough,
and it does not take long to get down snow-slopes. From the foot of
the peak we had a long and heavy walk back to the inn on the Maloya.
The snow on the glacier was soft and ridgy, and the path beyond sloppy
and slippery, and the light snow-flakes changed into heavy rain when we
got down again into the lower world. At Maloya we found the car ordered
from Silvaplana to meet us. Our day's journey was yet far from its end.
There was much still before us that would be wearisome to relate, and
was still more wearisome to endure.

How the postmaster at Silvaplana tried to impose on us, how we relaced
our sodden boots and tramped through the rain to St. Moritz, how there
Badrutt gave us a car which carried us moist and sleepy to Zutz, this
is not the place to tell. Enough that we arrived at Zutz in a state
of depression which even the scene of revelry by night offered by the
'Schweizerbund,' where we found Swiss warriors absorbed in the task of
conducting village maidens through the solemn revolutions of a national
variation of the waltz, failed to cheer. It was the last of our trials
that no inducement would persuade a Swiss maiden to make our beds.

In the same summer we visited for the third time the Bagni del Masino.
We were forced by weather to enter the valley by its proper gate
instead of by one of the irregular but more tempting modes of access
open to mountaineers.

For the first hour the car-road between the Val Tellina and the Baths
runs through a steep and narrow defile. It is not until the village
of Cattaeggio, picturesquely imbedded amongst rocks and foliage, and
the mouth of Val Sasso Bisolo have been passed, that the valley opens,
and the jagged range near the Passo di Ferro comes into sight. Before
reaching San Martino the stupendous boulder, known to the peasants
as the Sasso di Remeno, is encountered. On near approach it quite
maintains its reputation as the largest fallen block in the Alps.
Beside the monster lie several more boulders of extraordinary size. On
the top of one of them is a kitchen garden approached by a ladder. The
snows melt sooner on such an exposed plot, and the goats cannot get at
the vegetables.

The object of our return to so recently visited a region was to
complete in peaks the work we had already carried out in passes. The
problem which on the whole we looked to with most interest was now
immediately before us. Mr. Ball had pronounced the Punta Trubinesca,
the highest peak west of the Cima del Largo, and the prince of the
rocky summits overlooking Val Bondasca, absolutely inaccessible from
this side. But from what we had seen the previous year we were inclined
to believe that the prophet had for once spoken hastily. The rocks on
the southern face of the peak (both south and west faces overlook the
Porcellizza Alp) had then seemed to us difficult certainly, but not

We arrived in good time at the Baths, and soon went to bed, determined
to be prepared for the very early start which should give us a
fair chance of success in our venture. My disgust may be imagined,
therefore, when I awoke next morning to see the sun already shining
brightly in at my window, and my watch conspicuously pointing to 6
A.M. What had become of François? Had our guide for the first time in
his life fallen a victim to the potent wines of the Val Tellina, or,
more unlikely still, deliberately arranged to shirk the formidable

I hurried at once to seek the defaulter, who was found in a deep
slumber, which he justified by the statement that it had rained at
3 A.M. It is difficult to remedy a bad beginning, and our old friend
the nocturnal waiter was now of course in his first sleep. Breakfast
was not over until past seven, at which unseemly hour we set out with
comparatively slender hopes of success. For three hours we followed
our old tracks of the Passo di Bondo. As we mounted the green hillsides
above the Porcellizza Alp a new plan was suggested--to try the western
instead of the southern face of the Trubinesca. This we had never
examined, because it was the side seen and pronounced against by Mr.
Ball from the Pizzo Porcellizzo.

A smooth cliff some 200 feet high ran round the entire base of the
peak, and there was no breach visible. But there was still one spot
which we could not clearly see, the head of the glacier we were
about to tread. As we mounted the easy banks of ice the secret of the
mountain was suddenly revealed. A snow-gully of very moderate slope
led up to the ridge between our peak and the Cima di Tschingel. In
half-an-hour more the cliff was outflanked, and we were on the crest of
the chain looking down an awful precipice into Val Bondasca.

The final ridge alone remained. It rose beside us in a broad slab of
granite. But a convenient crack destroyed the difficulty suggested by
a first glance. We were now at the foot of the turret so clearly seen
from St. Moritz; we turned it by its southern side, and then with our
hands in our pockets walked quietly up a broad terrace of mingled rock
and snow. The neighbouring peaks had already sunk below us--a smooth
shining surface shone between them. One of us exclaimed 'Voilà Como.'
François replied, 'Voici le sommet.' It was just midday. Four hours and
a half had disposed of the terrible Trubinesca, and added one more to
the very lengthy list of Alpine impostors.

The distant panorama was marred by clouds; in its main features it
must be a repetition of the lovely western view gained from every high
summit of the Bernina group. It is the near prospect, however, which
distinguishes the Punta Trubinesca. It can show two sights not to be
seen, perhaps, from any other snowy peak, a large portion of Lago di
Como, that coyest of Alpine lakes, and what is still more remarkable,
the whole course, I may say literally every inch, of both sides of an
Alpine carriage-road--Italy and Switzerland in the same glance.

At our very feet lay the forests and villages of Val Bregaglia,
Italian chestnuts and white campaniles; amongst them we caught sight
of the thin streak of the high-road, which we followed as it climbed
corkscrew-fashion above the woods and waterfalls and up to the bleak
wind-swept down of the Maloya. Then our eyes accompanied it past the
pine-fringed lakes of Sils and Silvaplana, and up again to the bracing
heights of St. Moritz, every house in which was distinguishable through
the glasses. Lost sight of for a few miles beneath the dip to Samaden,
the road reappeared together with a companion thread, the river Inn,
and both finally vanished from our view somewhere between Zutz and

The Baths were regained without adventure. And thus this maiden peak,
although capable of deceiving the most experienced judges, yielded
without a struggle to the first assault. Its reputation has survived
its fall, and I saw it lately catalogued in some foreign publication as
'non ancora scalato.'

The very fact, however, which makes my story short and dull, the
surprising easiness of the peak, gives it the greater interest for
the ordinary traveller. If some of the native hunters will be at the
trouble of making themselves familiar with the route, there is no
reason whatever why the ascent should not become a frequent excursion
from the Baths. The walk is even within the powers of many ladies, and
they might ride to within at most three hours of the top. Any one who
can appreciate quality as well as quantity in a panorama will be well
repaid; those who do not should confine themselves to Piz Languard.

Our descent had been delayed by the state of my friend's knee, which
had been suffering from an old sprain, and now refused plainly to do
duty for some days to come. It was vexatious enough, for on the next
night we were to have slept out for the Disgrazia. But necessity knows
nothing of plans, and he resigned himself to return as he had come to
Sondrio, while I resolved to make a push for the same place over the
mountains, and if possible to climb the Disgrazia by the way.

Soon after midnight François and I set out under a cloudy sky, which
gave no sure token as to the day to follow. The now well-known path
up Val di Mello was quickly traversed. As we reached La Rasica thin
rain began to fall, and François, prophesying evil, suggested a return
to San Martino. But the first gleams of day showed the thinness of
the clouds, and our faces were again set against the steep hillside
which leads to the upper pasturages. Before these were reached the
blue face of heaven was everywhere breaking through the mist-veil, and
a fine day was assured. Our spirits, hitherto gloomy, rose rapidly.
The Passo di Mello was soon left below on the left, and we pressed
rapidly up the steep glacier which fills the corner under the Pico
della Speranza.[19] The last bank up to the spur dividing us from Val
Sasso Bisolo was steep enough to need step-cutting; but we succeeded
in avoiding altogether the difficulty described by Mr. Kennedy.[20] We
walked across an ordinary snow-slope on to the crest of the Disgrazia
at a point somewhat to the south of the lowest gap between the loftier
mountain and the Pico della Speranza. My hopes now ran high. The rocks
were singularly easy until we came to a broad ice-trough. Steps were
cut across this; then we climbed up a steeper rock-rib and over a
tooth. Beyond this we came to a second and wider sheet of hard black
ice falling away steeply towards the Sasso Bisolo Glacier. François
at once set to work cutting steps; when thirty-two had been cut,
and three-quarters of an hour had elapsed, we were less than halfway
across the ice. All this time a very strong wind was blowing over the
ridge; still the steps were good, and the position an ordinary one to
mountaineers. It did not even occur to me to feel doubt as to our final
success until François turned round for the first time and remarked
on the violence of the wind. A few steps further a second observation
showed me that my guide entertained doubts in his own mind as to the
prudence of persevering in our attempt.

I replied, however, that I was quite happy, and that the steps were
excellent. A few more were cut, and then came a third suggestion of
retreat. For once in my life I acted on principle, and I have regretted
it ever since. François' doubts were not to be wondered at when the
moral strain of his unusual position is considered, alone with a
'monsieur' on a cathedral roof of ice. My old friend has a great deal
too much imagination to be merely animally brave, and like all the best
guides feels acutely the responsibility of his situation. He knew that
if I made a false step he might not be able to hold me. This was a good
reason for our retreat. He could not feel, as I did, that I had not the
slightest disposition to slip; for indeed his work was so good that
no one accustomed to ice-steps could possibly have fallen out of the
foothold provided.

We decided, therefore, with a sharp pang to give up the peak, which was
about half-an-hour distant, and looked ten minutes.

Despite my defeat, I cannot pretend that the Disgrazia is in any way a
difficult mountain for any properly constituted party of mountaineers.
I have not as yet revenged myself on the peak, but François some years
afterwards took two of my friends to the top, and has given me his
report. The slope, which we found hard black ice, was then snow, and
was very soon disposed of. Twenty minutes more of rough scrambling
brought them to the lower tooth reached by Herr Syber-Gysi. The gap
between this and the highest peak cost another ten minutes of stiff,
but not in the least dangerous, rock climbing. They started from the
lower châlets in Val Sasso Bisolo and took six hours in the ascent. I
was eight hours (halts included) from the Baths to where I stopped.
It is clear, therefore, that active walkers are under no necessity
to sleep out for this mountain, but may do it in the day between two
comfortable beds. The reputation of difficulty which the Disgrazia has
certainly acquired is due partly to its splendid appearance from the
Bernina group, still more to the interested exertions of the Pontresina
guides, who have not been ashamed to charge the peak in their tariff
at 170 francs; 70, as they explain, for the four days' journey, 100
for the dangers of the climb. Now that Italians from Sondrio and
hunters of Val Malenco have found their way up together, it is scarcely
likely that any traveller in his senses will seek the services of the
gentlemen of the Engadine.

The superb view spread out before us might well have diverted our
minds even under a more serious disappointment. It was one of the
days, frequent in the Alps after unsettled weather, when the air has a
brilliancy and transparency so extraordinary that an Englishman rather
fancies himself in another planet than within a day or two's journey
of his own misty island. It is difficult to believe that you, who now
breathe under an enormous arch of sky rising from pillars four hundred
miles apart, are the same being whose vision was bounded but last week
by a smoke-canopy resting on the chimney-pots of the other side of the
square, and who, in home walks, was rather proud of distinguishing a
landmark twenty miles off.

Two vertical miles below lay the broad Val Tellina with its towns and
fields, nearer was the bare trench of Val Sasso Bisolo; between the two
a broad-backed ridge, covered with green pasturage, seemed to offer a
delightful path for anyone descending towards Morbegno.

The higher crest cut off only an insignificant portion of the
Bergamasque hills. Beyond the nearer ranges, beyond the tossing hill
waves of Como and the wide plain, the long level line of the Apennine
melted into the glowing sky. The Disgrazia shares the advantage of all
the outstanding Italian Alps, of being well within the great semicircle
formed by the chain, instead of like the summits of the Bernese
Oberland on its outer ring. From Dauphiné to the Bernina every peak
was in sight, the whole array of the central Alps raised their silver
spears through the inconceivably pure air.

From the foot of the ridge we turned to the left down the broad Sasso
Bisolo Glacier, descending caverned slopes the concealed treachery
of which was, in truth, far more dangerous than the open terrors of
the upper crest. Two climbers may safely attack many peaks, but it is
undoubtedly wrong for so small a party to venture on any snow-covered
glacier. By _wrong_ in matters of mountain-climbing I mean anything
which excludes the element of skill in that noble sport, and tends to
convert it into mere gambling with hidden forms of death such as the
ice-pit or the avalanche. Immediately under the face of the peak we
struck the base of the high rocky spur which runs out from it to the
south-west. A steep scramble (twenty minutes) brought us to a gap,
where we rested awhile to admire the exquisite view of the Zermatt
range.[21] On the further side we slid down a hard snow-bed which had
very nearly succeeded in developing itself into a glacier, and found
ourselves in a desolate hollow, the stream of which forces a way out
into Val Torreggio, one of the lower branches of Val Malenco.

The descent lies at first through a narrow funnel between
richly-coloured cliffs. The granite has now come to an end, and sharp
edges of slate and serpentine crop up against it. A green and level
upland valley soon opens before the eyes, watered by an abundance of
sparkling fountains which spring up beneath every stone. Here a path
gradually asserts itself and leads to a group of châlets. The descent
into the depths of Val Malenco is long, but pleasant. Although the high
peaks of the Bernina are concealed by lower spurs, the way abounds in
charming vignettes of wood and water and warm hillsides.

At Torre we had to wait some time for the carriage sent up to meet us
from Sondrio. As we sat by the wayside the village priest joined us.
When he learnt that we had come straight over the mountains from the
'Bagni' his astonishment knew no bounds, and he seemed to doubt whether
we were not something more or less than natural and wingless human

Our evening drive was swift and exciting. An impetuous horse whirled us
down a steep vine-clad hill, rounding the zigzags at a pace which made
perils by mountains sink into insignificance compared to the perils
by road. Near a beautiful waterfall tumbling from the opposite hills,
the Malero was leapt by a bold arch, and for some time we ran along a
terrace, high above the strong glacier torrent.

From the last brow overlooking the Val Tellina the eye rests on one
of those wonderful landscapes which tell the southward-bound traveller
that he has reached his goal and is at last in Italy.

The great barrier is crossed, and the North is all behind us. The face
of the earth, nay the very nature of the air, has changed, colours have
a new depth, shadows a new sharpness. From the deep-green carpet of the
smooth valley to the crowns of the sunset-flushed hills, all is wealth
and luxuriance. No more pines stand stiff in regimental ranks to resist
the assaults of winter and rough weather. No mountain rhododendrons
collect all their strength in a few tough short shoots, and push
themselves forward like hardy skirmishers of the vegetable world into
the very abode of snow. Here the 'green things of the earth' are all at
home and at peace, not as in some high Graubunden valley waging unequal
war in an enemy's country. The beeches cluster in friendly companies on
the hills. The chestnut-forest rejoicing in a green old age spreads out
into the kindly air broad, glossy branches, the vines toss their long
arms here and there in sheer exuberance of life. Even on the roadside
wall the lizards run in and out amongst beds of cyclamen and tenderest
ferns and mosses. The hills seem to stand back and leave room for the
sunshine; and the broad, shining town of Sondrio, girt by towers and
villas, wears, after the poor hamlets of the mountains, a stately air,
as if humanity too shared in the general well-being.

It is one of the peculiar privileges of the Alpine traveller to enjoy,
if he pleases, the choicest luxury of travel, a descent into Italy,
half-a-dozen times in the space of one short summer holiday.

We drove down through vineyards and past a large villa and church, and
through a narrow Via Garibaldi into a Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele. The
south side of the square was formed by the hotel, an imposing building
which contains within its walls the post and diligence offices. The
windows command a view up Val Malenco, terminated by the twin peaks of
the Schwestern, which appear from this side as two rocky teeth, hardly
to be recognised as the pure snow-cones which look in at every window
at Pontresina.

I have now, I hope, given an account of the mountains of Val Masino,
which, though far from complete, may suffice to aid mountaineers
who wish to visit them, and to direct attention to some of the most
enjoyable expeditions within their limits. But, as I put aside the
various pamphlets from which I have tried to add to my own information
on this group, I notice that a worthy Herr Professor has remarked
on the first ascent of the Disgrazia, that it was 'wholly devoid of
scientific interest and results.' I fancy my learned friend preparing
to lay down this holiday chronicle with a similar shrug of the
shoulders; and I feel indisposed to allow him his criticism until he
has first submitted it to be examined in detail, and listened to what
may be urged on the other side.

'The Alps,' that shrug seems to say, 'are not a playground for
idle boys, but a store-room full of puzzles; and it is only on the
understanding that you will set to work to dissect one of these that
you can be allowed to enter. You have free leave to look on them,
according to your taste, as an herbarium, or as a geological, or even
an entomological museum, but they must be treated, and treated only,
as a laboratory. The belief that the noblest use of mountains is to
serve as a refectory at once mental and physical for an overworked
generation, that--

     Men in these crags a medicine find
     To stem corruption of the mind,

is a poetical delusion unworthy of the philosopher who penned the
lines. You must not come here to climb for mere health, or to indulge a
sensual love of the beautiful, or, still worse, that brutelike physical
energy which may be more harmlessly exhausted in persecuting foxes or
trampling turnips. Μηδεὶς ἀγεωμέτρητος εἰσίτω. Come with a
measuring rod or not at all.'

So far our critic. In his anxiety to claim on behalf of science
exclusive dominion over the mountains, he forgets that all great
works of nature are not only monuments of past changes but also living
influences. The physical history of our globe is a study the importance
of which no one at the present day is likely to disallow. Because we
refuse to look on mountains simply as so much historical evidence,
we of the Alpine Club do not by any means, as has been frequently
suggested, range ourselves amongst the Philistines. We listen with the
greatest interest to the men of genius whose mission it is to interpret
the hieroglyphics of the temple in which we only worship. But we do not
all of us recognise it as our duty to try to imitate their researches.
Nor would the wiser of them wish for imitation from an incompetent herd
of dabblers, who, however much they might gratify individual vanity,
would advance the general sum of knowledge about as much as an ordinary
amateur sketchbook does art.

Is it always better for a man, when acres of red rhododendron are
in full bloom around him, and the insects are filling the air with a
delicious murmur, to be engrossed body and soul in poking about for
some rare plant or impaling an unfortunate beetle? When two hundred
miles of mountain and plain, lake and river, cornland and forest,
are spread out before the eyes, ought one to be remembering that
'justification' depends on ascertaining whether the back is resting on
granite or feldspathic gneiss?

The preposterous pretension that no one is 'justified' (it is the
favourite word) in drinking in mountain glory in its highest forms
unless he brings as a passport a profession of research, cannot be
too strongly denounced. To require from every Alpine climber some
show of a scientific object would be to preoccupy men's minds at the
moment when they should, and would otherwise, be most open to enlarging
influences; it would in many cases be to throw away moral advantages
and to encourage egotism, vanity, and humbug.

An obvious comparison may perhaps render more clear the relative
positions of the simple lover of the Alps and the scientific dabbler.
Rome is almost as universal a goal of modern travel as Switzerland.
There also is a great history to be studied, on many of the problems of
which investigation of the ground we tread may throw light.

The world listens with eager attention to anyone who has the requisite
training to study such problems with profit, who can tell us what rude
remains may be of the time of the Kings, can distinguish between the
work of the Republic and the Empire. And amongst the galleries we are
glad to meet those who can trace the progress of art and analyse a
great picture so as to show the elements drawn from earlier masters
which have been crowned and immortalised by the genius of Raphael or
Michael Angelo.

But who ever ventured to assert that Rome was the peculiar heritage of
the archæologist or the art critic? that the pathetic strength of its
world-centring ruins or the glorious beauty of its frescoed palaces was
reserved for the few who can explain, or make guesses at, how these
things grew, and forbidden to the many who can only appreciate their
present charm?

The Alps, we hold, like Rome, are for everyone who has a soul capable
of enjoying them. They have been given us by right of birth for the
recreation of our minds and bodies, and we refuse to hand over the key
of our playground or to accept the tickets of admission which are so
condescendingly offered. If anybody--even if a scientific body--calls
after us as we pass along the mountain-path, we shall return no other
answer than the very sufficient one made under similar circumstances by
the hero of Mr. Longfellow's popular ballad. And if, like that unhappy
young man, we are doomed to perish in our attempt, I do not fancy
our last moments will be seriously embittered by the absence of such
consolations as a barometer or a spirit-level might have afforded.


     [18] The pass was at first named the Disgrazia Joch; but
     Passo di Mello, suggested by Mr. Ball, seems the most
     appropriate title.

     [19] So named by Messrs. Stephen and Kennedy, who apparently
     considered the gloominess of the surrounding names required
     some relief. The Monte della Disgrazia is supported on the
     other side by the Monte della Cassandra.

     [20] Judging from the map appended to Mr. Kennedy's paper in
     the first vol. of the _Alpine Journal_, he crossed the spur
     at a much lower point than we did.

     [21] This gap is probably the Passo della Preda Rossa of an
     Italian party who in 1874 ascended the Disgrazia from the Alp
     Rali in Val Torreggio.




             ---- Comest thou
     To see strange forests and new snows
     And tread uplifted land?     EMERSON.


In the last two chapters I have sketched a route from the highway of
traffic and tourists--the Rhine valley--to the Italian Alps, passing
to the west of the crowded roads which lead to the Upper Engadine. My
design now is to point out a similar track lying to the east both of
the Julier and the Albula, which by means of variations may be made
equally available either for the foot or carriage traveller.

Our starting-point is the station of Landquart, some miles beyond
Ragatz and short of Chur, and opposite the opening of the long, deep

Above the gorge which secludes this side valley from the Rheinthal
a car-track mounts to Seewis, an upland village with 'Pensions,'
frequented in summer by Swiss guests, whence the ascent of the Scesa
Plana, an isolated block commanding a wide panorama, and enclosing in
its recesses a large mountain lake--the Luner See--is often made.

This frontier valley rivals as a specimen of Swiss pastoral scenery
the more famous spots in Canton Bern. Its villages, surrounded by fat,
wide-spreading meadows of the brightest green, and overshadowed by
noble walnuts, wear on the outside an air of long peace and prosperity.
The interiors do not contradict the first impression. In the wayside
inns one finds rich brown panelled walls decorated here and there with
armorial bearings, old mirrors and carved presses. Mountainous stoves
tower in peak form to the ceiling, and are cased in tiles, each of
which represents some Scripture scene in a style often remarkable both
for vigour and humour.

After twenty-four miles of tolerably continuous ascent the road
reaches the upper expanse of the Prätigau and the scattered hamlets
of Klosters. The scenery is of a character more common in Tyrol than
Switzerland. Although it does not awe by sublimity or enchant by
richness and variety, it is yet thoroughly Alpine.

Behind a foreground of level meadows and green but bold hillsides the
glaciers and snow-peaks shine modestly but invitingly in the distance.
They are not, as in the Bernese Oberland, magnificently rampant
intruders on the pasturages, but quiet, stream-nursing benefactors,
whose acquaintance is never forced on you, and must be sought out with
some trouble.

Consequently the charm of such valleys is a self-contained
peacefulness; and a troop of cows rather than a herd of chamois
represents the animal life in harmony with their sentiment.

At the bridge of Klosters, in 1866, my companion deserted me for
England. Francis and I wanted to turn south again to the Engadine, and
we determined to take a glance by the way at the retiring beauties of
the Silvretta Ferner. This considerable glacier group, scarcely known
to Englishmen, runs parallel to the Lower Engadine, separating that
valley from the Tyrolese Montafun and Paznaun Thal, and abutting at
its western end against the head of the Prätigau. The Swiss Alpine
Club made it one year the scene of their summer excursion, and have
conquered most of its peaks and passes. At their instigation a hut has
been built four and a half hours from Klosters, close to the glaciers,
and there we intended to pass the night.

A new inn and pension was just opened on the left bank of the stream,
and I did not long remain without society in the salon. First appeared
an invalid from the Baths of Serneus, who speedily broke down my German
by preferring to talk of war-politics rather than of mountains. Next
came a gentleman from Chur bound for Davos, who puzzled me still more
by launching into what he gave me to understand was English. Last of
all the local guide turned up, armed with testimonials from the Swiss
Alpine Club, and aghast at the notion of any traveller crossing the
glaciers without his aid. Finding the native willing to accompany us
on very moderate terms, and being one too few for a glacier pass, we
readily agreed to take him.

Above Klosters the path is level for some distance, and leads through
thick woods rich in ferns and flowers. After passing the mouth of the
Vereina Thal the forest grew thinner and we reached the châlets of
the Sardasca Alp, standing at the true head of the valley on a level
meadow where several streams poured down to form the Landquart. A steep
hillside was now climbed by sharp zigzags; then, a stream and track
leading to an easy pass into the Fermont Thal having been left, the
path wound along the hillside until it met the water flowing from the
great Silvretta Glacier.

A short distance higher a pole was conspicuously fixed on a
large boulder, and a few yards further back we found the hut in a
sheltered hollow scarcely 300 yards from the end of the glacier. It
was sufficiently large and proof against wind and rain, as we had
afterwards good reason to know; but the furniture was scanty and in bad
repair. Two benches and a hay-bed were all we found, and there was no

However, this did not matter much for the night. But before we went to
sleep the wind had begun to howl, and next morning when we opened the
door a great, white gust rushed in, and all without was a seething mist
alive with snow-flakes.

Unless we decided to return, there was nothing for it but to make our
provisions hold out by submitting to an orthodox 'Vendredi Maigre,'
and to amuse ourselves as best we could by toasting cheese and
carving wood. Fortunately an inkbottle was discovered which materially
alleviated our position. I have heard under similar circumstances of a
chess-board being constructed by means of a lead pencil, and the game
played with pieces of black bread and cheese appropriately carved; but
two are required for this diversion.

About midday we made a hopeless and rather feeble 'sortie,' which the
snow-storm speedily repulsed. Two peasants who had brought up wood for
the hut paid us a visit in the course of the day, and a stray cow-boy
dropped in later for an afternoon call.

To our great delight Saturday, though still cloudy, promised better
weather, and we left our prison at 5 A.M. and soon reached the broad
ridge of rocks separating the Silvretta and Verstankla Glaciers.
It was not our intention to cross the Silvretta Pass, but to find
a shorter way to the Engadine through the gap at the head of the
Verstankla Glacier, and to descend by the Tiatscha ice-fall[22] into
Val Lavinuoz--a course which we did not believe to have been previously

Substitute the Cimes Blanches for the Silvretta Pass, the short cut
from Zermatt to Breuil near the Matterhorn for the pass we aimed at,
and the Val d' Aosta for the Lower Engadine, and anyone who knows the
Zermatt district will understand the relation of the two routes. Only
of course the lateral glens of the Lower Engadine are much shorter than
the side valleys of Val d' Aosta.

The Verstankla Glacier lies lower than the Silvretta, and to avoid
a descent we kept on the spur between them to the point where it was
buried by an ice-cascade overflowing from the larger to the smaller
flood. We crossed the fall diagonally, and found ourselves in an upper
basin of snow, and close to a narrow gap between the splendid crags
of the Schwarzhorn and the far lower Gletscherkammhorn. This was our
Pass, the Verstankla Thor, already christened but not crossed by Swiss
climbers. The view was limited, but wonderfully snowy; on every side
stretched broad, white glaciers and dark snow-powdered rocks, and on
the south Piz Linard stood up, a bold, isolated pyramid against the
blue sky.

We soon reached the spot where the glacier first plunges towards Val
Lavinuoz in an ice-fall which in 1865 had turned back Herr Weilenmann,
one of the best climbers in the Swiss Club. It made an attempt,
at least, to frighten us. We had not reached the open crevasses
when François, who was leading, suddenly disappeared like a sprite
in a pantomime. There was no great shock given to the rope, but a
considerable one to the feelings of the Klosters guide. François had
lighted on a ledge, and after popping up his head for a moment to
reassure us, withdrew it again down the trapdoor to look for the pipe
which had been knocked out of his mouth by the fall. The treasure
recovered, our leader was helped out of his hole and we went on. An
incident like this, trivial as it is in fact and in telling, is so only
because the rope is used, and properly used; had we been unattached, or
walking too near one another, the consequences might easily have been
very different. If any Alpine novice wishes to learn how to have and
to describe moments of 'intensivsten Schrecken' he may turn to Herr
Weilenmann's 'Aus der Firnenwelt,' and read how, on almost the same
spot, the Swiss climber, walking with the rope in his hand instead of
round his waist, nearly lost his life.

We found a fairly easy way through some fine snow-castles and
ice-labyrinths to the rocks on the eastern side of the fall. The
cliffs close to the glacier are precipitous, but a commodious ledge
leads round to some beds of avalanche snow, down which it is easy to
glissade. The lower glacier is smooth, and below its end we had a very
pleasant walk down Val Lavinuoz, with views of the noble mass of Piz
Linard immediately overhead. The glen soon opened, at Lavin, on the
high-road of the Lower Engadine, which we reached in 4½ hours' walking
from the hut--so that our short cut is not liable to the charge,
usually brought against Alpine short cuts, of being considerably longer
than the ordinary road.

Lavin, in 1869, suffered the usual fate of Engadine villages, by being
burnt to the ground. It is consequently a new hamlet, with substantial,
stone-built cottages and broad expanses of whitewash. In their passion
for whiteness and cleanness, fresh paint and bright flowers, and, I
may add, in a certain slow persistency of character, the eastern Swiss
seem to me the Dutch of the mountains. The neighbourhood of Piz Linard
makes Lavin a desirable resting-place for climbers. Horses can be taken
for three hours in the ascent, and a path has, I believe, been made up
to the last rocks.[23] This taller rival of Piz Languard deserves more
attention from strangers than it has yet received.

But the ordinary tourist will hasten on until he reaches the great
bathing-place of the Lower Engadine, which, if it has not yet equalled
St. Moritz in popularity, is only behindhand because in the present
generation there are more Hamlets than Falstaffs, more nervous and
excitable than fat natures, and consequently a greater call for iron
than for saline waters.

The Baths of Tarasp are so named from the commune in which they are
situated. Between Tarasp and Schuls, on the verge of Switzerland and
within a few miles of the Austrian frontier at Martinsbruck, a number
of mineral springs issue from the ground on both sides of the Inn.
Their properties are various, but the most in repute with patients are
of a strongly saline character. Of late years a large bath-house--the
largest in Switzerland, as advertisements continually inform us--has
been built near to the principal sources.

The first disease on the long list prepared by the local doctor of
those likely to be benefited by a course of the waters is 'general
fattiness.' Hither, accordingly, from the furthest parts of Germany,
and even from Spain and Denmark, repair a crowd of patients to seek
relief from the bonds of the corpulency to which nature or their own
appetites have condemned them.

In short, if St. Moritz is, as Mr. Stephen thinks, the limbo of
Switzerland set apart for the world--that is, for kings, millionaires
and people who travel with couriers--Tarasp is its purgatory,
providentially created for the class whom the flesh has rendered unfit
for such Alpine paradises as Grindelwald, or even Pontresina.

The bath-house, planted as it is beside the river at the bottom of a
steep-sided trench, in a position very like a deep railway cutting, is
never, I think, likely to become a favourite resort of mountaineers.
It is difficult even to feel mountain enthusiasm in an establishment
tenanted chiefly by invalids or Italians whose walks are limited to
the extent of their own bowl's throw. The social atmosphere of the
place is, as might be expected, utterly unalpine. The use of guides is
unknown, as excursions are habitually undertaken in carriages and have
villages for their object; riding-horses for ladies are a rare luxury,
and their owners attempt to bargain that they shall never be taken off
the car-roads of the valley.

It is only fair, however, to say that travellers need not stay at
the Baths. They have the choice of two neighbouring villages, at
both of which inns have sprung up of late years. Neither of these
situations, however, struck me as attractive. Schuls, on the left bank
of the Inn, lies on a bare hillside at a considerable distance from
the commencement of all the pleasantest walks; while the pensions at
Vulpera, although better placed for excursions, look straight on to
the dreary slopes behind Schuls, a prospect to which eyes accustomed to
other Alpine scenery will scarcely reconcile themselves.

The neighbourhood of Tarasp is not, however, so wholly ugly as
appears probable to the traveller who arrives at the bath-house by
the high-road. The slopes on the northern side of the valley remain,
it is true, from whatever point they are seen, amongst the most naked
and featureless in the Alps, and the knobs which crown the lower spurs
of the Silvretta Ferner can only by an extreme stretch of courtesy be
called peaks. But the natural features of the country on the opposite
bank of the Inn are far bolder and more varied. There the ground rises
above the river in a succession of wooded banks and grassy terraces,
cut by the deep ravines of torrents issuing from wild lateral glens.
Copses of birch and fragrant pine-woods afford shelter to a host of
rare ferns and wild flowers, while the sides of the path are garlanded
with dog-roses blooming with a profusion and brilliancy peculiar to the

On the lowest and broadest of the meadow-shelves or terraces stands the
hamlet and castle of Tarasp; the latter a whitewashed building perched
on a rocky knoll, and mirrored in a shallow tarn. Seen from a certain
distance, it forms a picturesque element in the foreground. From this
point, where an hotel ought to be built, a charming forest-path follows
the right bank of the Inn to Steinhaus, and numerous sledge-tracks,
commanding fine views of the stern limestone peaks which encircle the
entrance to the Scarl Thal, lead to upper shelves of the mountain.

The Piz Pisoc, Piz St. Jon, and Piz Lischanna, are in their own way
really fine objects, challenging, of course, no comparison with the
snow-clad giants of the Upper Engadine, but rather recalling to mind
some of the wilder and least beautiful portions of the Venetian Alps.

Piz Lischanna is easy of ascent, and nourishes a glacier oddly
described in 'Bradshaw' as 'the finest of the higher glaciers of
Switzerland.' It is in fact a broad ice-lake which rests sluggishly on
its uplifted limestone platform, and, finding sufficient difficulty to
maintain existence where it is, has not energy enough to make a push
for the valley. A slight increase of temperature--say to the climate of
Primiero--would melt its masses and lay bare the rocky bed.

Piz Pisoc, the highest of the group, enjoyed for long a local
reputation for inaccessibility, until, in 1865, Fluri took the trouble
to come down from Pontresina, and, untroubled with any impediment
in the way of 'herrschaft,' but with for companion a young native of
Schuls, who has since left the country, planted a flag on the summit.
This is not the only first ascent that has been made by Pontresina
men on their own account: two of them repeated the unusual proceeding
afterwards on Piz d' Aela near Bergun. One ought to be glad, I suppose,
to see such evidence of a genuine love of sport in a class sometimes
represented as the unwilling victims of foreign gold. But to the
Alpine clubman such conduct looks a little like the gamekeeper turning
poacher, and selecting moreover the moment when his employer's game is
nearly exhausted to go out by himself and shoot off the few remaining
pheasants. And the mountaineer recollects further as an aggravation
of the offence that maiden peaks cannot like pheasants be bred in the
farmyard or sent down by the morning express from town. Fortunately
for the Engadiners they are not subject to the jurisdiction of a bench
of climbing county magistrates. From their own countrymen they have
nothing to fear. Swiss 'Klubists' do not seem to find the point or
interest of a 'first' ascent seriously diminished by the fact that
their guides have made it beforehand; and as the guides of Pontresina
have never got on particularly well with our countrymen they are
quite right, perhaps, even from a professional point of view, in their

Fluri furnished some details of his ascent for Herr Tschudi's
'Schweizerführer;' and, I presume, it was on the same authority
that in the new Grisons guide-tariff the mountain is described as
'schwierig,' and taxed at 30 francs a guide. No one had followed the
two Engadiners until, in 1870, I climbed the peak in company with
François Devouassoud. Our experiences, both as to the length and
difficulty of the expedition, differed considerably from those of our
predecessors, who probably did not hit off the best way. The following
directions will, I think, be found useful by future climbers:--Turn
off the road leading from Vulpera to Schloss Tarasp by a cart-track,
mounting steeply at first, and then traversing meadows to the entrance
of Val Zuort. At the corner take the higher of two paths, following
a watercourse until it reaches the stream. Cross and ascend by an
ill-marked track, which soon fails, and leaves you to find your own
way through rhododendron bushes and over stony slopes beside the rocky
barrier closing the glen. Climb the bank of snow above the barrier to
the level of the Zuort Glacier. A large snow-filled cleft now opens
among the rocks on the left, offering an unexpectedly easy means of
surmounting the lower cliffs of Piz Pisoc. Ascend this gully for some
distance, until, above a slight bend in its direction a recess is seen
on the left, with a small bed of snow in it divided from the great
snow-slope by a bank of shale.

This spot is the gate of the mountain. A short sharp scramble places
one on the rocks above the small snow-bed, and there is no further
difficulty in climbing straight up them towards the gap at the northern
base of the final peak. A few yards only before reaching it, turn
sharply to the right, and, by keeping below the ridge and choosing
with some care the easiest spots at which to pass a succession of low
cliffs, the summit will soon be gained. The blindness and intricacy of
the route form the only difficulty. If the right course is hit off,
there is no hard climbing on the mountain, but the general steepness
and abominably loose nature of its stony slopes render mountaineering
experience or a good guide essential.

Of the panorama as a whole I saw, and therefore can say, nothing. The
near view has a strong character of its own. The cornfields and white
villages of the Engadine enhance by contrast the savage effect of
the wild limestone crags and gloomy glens which surround the peak on
every side but the north. The drop from our feet on to the path which
threads the defile of the Scarl Thal was absolutely terrific, and the
precipices did not appear less tremendous when I looked up at them
afterwards from their base.

The return to Tarasp may probably be varied without difficulty by
turning to the left at the foot of the great gully, and crossing by
the gap at the head of Val Zuort into a branch of the Scarl Thal.
That valley well repays a visit. There will be found scenery the very
reverse of the pastoral landscapes of the Prätigau. If the former
is a country for cows, this is the very home for bears, and some of
the 'ill-favoured rough things' do in fact still find shelter among
the dense thickets of creeping pine which cover every patch of level
ground. Not that there are many such patches. The first part of the
Scarl Thal is a gorge of the most savage wildness; and if the lower
walls are not so unbrokenly perpendicular as in some other Alpine
defiles, there are probably few valleys where the peaks on either side
stand at so short a distance apart. The face of Piz Pisoc in particular
is built up as a whole at an angle of appalling steepness.[24] The path
through the gorge is called by courtesy a car-road, but it is barely
possible, and not very safe, to drive along it.

       *       *       *       *       *

From Tarasp to Zernetz is but a short morning's drive through the
pleasantest portion of the Swiss Inn valley. The latter village,
situated at the junction of the Ofen road with that leading to the
Upper Engadine, is the best starting-point for the next stage in our

The country immediately east of the Bernina is an unknown land. Its
mountains are worse mapped and less accurately measured than those of
many much more remote Alpine districts. To a certain extent it deserves
the ordinary fate of mediocrities placed by the side of greatness.
Val Livigno and the surrounding glens cannot rival the Bernina or
the Orteler. Yet the foot-traveller taking this country on his way
southwards discovers much to reward him. He meets with green bowls of
pasture cut off from the outer world by miles of pathless defile, wild
rock recesses crowded with chamois and famous for bears, dolomitic
crags and snowy peaks streaming with glaciers, which, planted in the
Pyrenees, would have had long ago an European reputation, further east
in Tyrol at least a monograph apiece.

Yet I must repeat that in comparison with most of the ranges here
spoken of these mountains are mediocre. Val Masino is pre-eminent
for rugged grandeur. Val Maggia blends perfectly strength and grace.
Pinzolo contrasts them. The Brenta group, with its horns and pinnacles
shooting up above secluded dells, reminds us of fantastic romance, of
goblin castles, and woodland fays.

Livigno has at most a quiet charm; the wilder recesses of its mountains
are singular and savage rather than noble and majestic. The country
suffers scenically from the defect of all the source-valleys of the
Inn; its mountains have never been dug out to their foundations, their
lower limbs, like those of some half-wrought statue, are still buried
out of view.

The ranges between the Bernina and Buffalora roads on the east and
west, the Engadine and Val Tellina on the north and south, are, roughly
speaking, disposed in three parallel chains, separated by the troughs
of Val Viola and Val Livigno. The northernmost of the three ridges is
steep-sided and rugged, and the gorge broken through it by the Spöl
inaccessible except by circuitous and uneven paths, which render it
equal in length and fatigue to the neighbouring passes. The central
chain, although the Alpine watershed, sending down on one side waters
which ultimately join those of Elbruz in the Black Sea, on the other
streams which feed the Adda and the Adriatic, is easy of passage.
Hence Livigno has from early times been united to Bormio instead of
to the Engadine, and since the surrender of Savoy to France remains
the only piece of ground north of the Alps owned by Italy, with one
insignificant though interesting exception.[25] The southernmost of
the three ridges, that which divides Val Viola from the lower lateral
valleys of the Val Tellina, is the loftiest.

It bears on its northern slopes a considerable quantity of snow and
ice, and in the Cima di Piazza (11,713 feet) rises into a snow-dome,
which but for the immediate neighbourhood of the Orteler group would
have before this attracted the attention of English climbers.

Such local traffic as there is through this secluded region follows
well-marked lines. It passes along the Livigno valley and over the
easy gaps at its head to the Bernina Haüser, or La Rosa; by the trench
of the two Val Violas from La Rosa to Bormio; or from Zutz to Bormio,
crossing the northern and central ridges by the Casana and the Passo di
Foscagno. Those routes have been described in guide-books or by earlier
writers.[26] But, as is often the case amongst second-rate peaks and
in districts where the main valleys are more or less commonplace, the
byways open to a climber are far more interesting than the ordinary
traveller is led to expect.

In 1866 I struck out a new way from Zernetz to the Val Tellina, which
in three days' very easy walking showed us a great variety of scenery.
In the absence outside the Swiss frontier of any trustworthy map, we
were very much in the dark as to the best course. Our route therefore
is capable of improvement, and I do not fear that anyone in want of a
day or two's training will complain of having been persuaded to take
this country on his way to the Lombard Alps.

A considerable mass of dolomite crops out in the range which separates
the parallel troughs of the Upper Engadine and Val Livigno. The head
of Val Cluoza, which opens close to Zernetz, is entirely surrounded
by dolomite ridges. This valley, besides being recommended in
German guide-books to 'passionate mountain-tourists and friends of
characteristically wild Alp scenery,' has the attraction of being one
of the few recesses of the Alps where bears are 'at home,' even if
they will not always show themselves to visitors, and where chamois
can still be seen in herds. When therefore in the summer of 1866 I
carried out, in company with my friend Mr. Douglas Walker, an old plan
of striking straight across the Livigno district, we naturally decided
to pass through Val Cluoza, and make a way across the mountains at its
head in the course of our first day's march. At Zernetz we put up, by
Jenni's advice, at an inn kept by a certain Filli, well known in the
Lower Engadine as a great bear-hunter. The rooms were decorated with
highly-coloured sporting pictures, presented to our host by various
German and Austrian archdukes whom he had initiated into the mystery of
his craft. But the most striking ornament of the house was a specimen
of the natives of the wild country we were bent on exploring, in the
shape of a huge stuffed bear, six feet high, who, standing up on his
hind legs in one corner of the salle-à-manger, threatened us with an
hitherto undreamt-of Alpine danger on the morrow.

Our host the bear-slayer was of course consulted on our plans,
into which he entered warmly, entertaining no doubt of their being
practicable, although he assured us that no Zernetz hunter had ever
taken the route we had planned. Being himself unwell, he procured us a
strong youth, who knew the footpath up the lower part of Val Cluoza, to
act as porter.

The next morning broke grey and showery, and we delayed our start until
nearly 7 A.M., when we filed off across the meadows behind the village.
The Ofen road is left, and the Spöl crossed by a covered bridge, about
half a mile from Zernetz. From this point a cart-track leads up, first
amongst underwood, then through a pine-forest, to a brow overlooking
the narrow wooded gorge by which the stream of Val Cluoza finds a
way into the Spöl. The path through this ravine is a mere hunter's
track, overgrown by creeping pines, and almost destroyed in places by
torrents and earthslips. As it winds round the frequent gullies, at a
great height above the foaming torrent, the views are very striking,
whether the eye dips down into the ravine or rests on the opposite
mountain side--a mass of broken crag and wood. Close to the stump of an
old fir-tree, scored with numerous initials and dates, carved by the
hunters of the neighbourhood, the first view of the inner valley is
obtained. We saw before us a green glen covered by primeval forests,
and destitute of any signs of human habitation. The rugged crags and
scanty glacier of Piz Quatervals, the highest crest of this range, rose
at its head.

A screen of fir-logs was here raised across the track; this, we were
informed by our porter, was a hunter's lair, the situation of which
was determined by some herb, esteemed a special delicacy by Bruin,
growing close by, and often attracting him to the neighbourhood.
About two hours' walking from Zernetz, the path returns to the level
of the torrent, and recrosses to its left bank. After roaming on for
half an hour through fir-woods, where the trees seemed to decay and
fall unheeded, and the moss and lichens hung in long streamers from
the boughs, we crossed a small stream flowing from the glacier of Piz
Quatervals. Just beyond it we found a hunter's hut, a snug little den
built of pine-logs, with the interstices stuffed with moss, and fitted
inside with shelves and a bed. The clean solitary cabin, so unlike the
usual populous and filthy châlet, the dense pine-woods, the bold bare
peaks around, and, above all, the romantic flavour imparted to the
whole by the possibility of bears, gave an unusual zest to our midday
meal. From this point a mountaineer, not wishing to cross to Livigno,
can ascend Piz Quatervals, and descend through Val Trupchum, one of the
lateral valleys of the Engadine, to Scanfs or Zutz.[27]

Beyond the hut all definite path ceases. The character of the scenery
remains the same as far as the bifurcation, where Val Cluoza splits
into two utterly desolate glens, forcibly and appropriately named
the Valley of Rocks and the Valley of the Devil. The latter probably
offers the shortest way to Livigno; it seems also the wildest and most
striking of the two valleys. After the mouth of the Val del Sasso
has been passed, the Val del Diavel assumes a savage sublimity in
accordance with its name. Huge dolomitic cliffs--not so fantastically
broken as this rock often is, but stained with the strangest
colours--close in on all sides. In the bottom of the glen vegetation
entirely ceases, and the stream itself disappears, buried even in
September under the snow avalanches, which, falling in spring from
the impending crags, lie unmelted through the summer in these sunless
depths. Their hard consolidated surface affords an agreeable path, and
enables the explorer to avoid the rough boulders and advance rapidly
towards the barrier of mingled rock and snow which closes the view.
We had here an encounter with seventeen chamois, who were feeding
above us, until, disturbed by our shouts, they scampered off among the
wild crags which separated us from Val del Sasso. Only once, in the
Graians, had I seen a larger herd; but a meeting with small families
of three or four is to the climber a matter of daily occurrence. How
far chamois are from being 'nearly extinct,' as newspaper-writers and
tourists are apt to believe, may be judged from the following fact.
An old man of the name of J. Kung, who died last year at Scanfs, was
reported amongst his neighbours to have shot, besides eleven bears
and nine great eagles, 1,500 chamois. The larger figure may not be
strictly accurate, but its local acceptance bears sufficient witness to
the abundance of game which could alone render it credible. The eleven
bears I see no reason whatever to doubt. There is no lack of evidence
of the presence of these animals, and many stories are current about
their depredations. In the year of our visit the following anecdote
went the round of the Swiss press:--

A boy living at an alp close to the Passo di Verva came upon a bear
in the act of devouring one of his sheep. The young shepherd fell at
once upon the animal with his staff, but the bear was quite ready for
a round, and our David soon began to get the worst of it. When he ran
away the bear came after him. Pressed hard the boy leaped one of the
narrow clefts which the streams of this district often burrow through.
The pursuer blundered into the chasm and was found dead at the bottom.

Jenni, in getting out his telescope to inspect the herd, had laid down
his umbrella, an implement of enormous size and splendid colouring.
The Gamp was somehow forgotten, and, unless it has been discovered
by some fortunate hunter, probably remains to this day as a monument
of our passage. Down the rocky barrier already referred to the stream
from a glacier on the nameless summit marked 3,127 mètres on Dufour's
map pours in a waterfall. Mounting beside it we found ourselves on
the level of an elevated table-land, surrounded by rugged peaks, and
resembling, but on a much smaller scale, the interior of the horseshoe
of Primiero. At its further extremity was the low ridge in which
our pass lay. Advancing over beds of shale and snow, we soon came to
the foot of a small glacier, which we crossed, making for the lowest
portion of the ridge on the north-west of a tooth of rock which jutted
out conspicuously from its centre. A steep bank of snow had to be
climbed; this surmounted, our work was done, and we were looking away
to the west over the wild ranges which enclose Val Livigno. Deep below
us lay the head of Val Viera, ending in an amphitheatre of rock. The
descent into it was evidently steep. We found a way at first down
shale gullies; then came cliffs, much broken and presenting no serious
difficulty, although anyone who missed the right spot to take them
might easily get into trouble. Once beside the stream, we followed it
closely through the remains of avalanches. Val Viera soon bent abruptly
amidst the wildest rock scenery we had lately seen. Quaint red and grey
pinnacles of every variety of form rose above; pale, lemon-coloured
cliffs, stained by weather and spotted by the dark mouths of caves,
shut in the view, while, looking backward, the ridges from which we had
descended towered precipitously overhead. We were constantly arrested
by the fantastic and perpetually shifting character of the landscape.

At a second bend in the valley, where it turns back sharply to the
east, the path makes some ascent; but we encountered no difficulty, and
found some amusement in following the stream through a miniature gorge,
jumping from bank to bank as occasion required. When the crags retired
a little, the path rejoined us, and we met first some cows, then an
old woman gathering sticks, who was either dumb or rendered speechless
by fright at our sudden appearance. Travellers at Livigno at all are
few and far between; and as no human being had probably ever entered
the valley by our route, the old crone might well see in us a party of
gnomes descending from their rock castles on some errand of mischief.

When the picturesque ravine came suddenly to an end, we emerged without
any descent on to the broad meadows of Val Livigno, and, turning a
corner, saw the whole of its upper and inhabited portion before us.

The landscape had a distinctive and unusual character. The wide expanse
of the valley, its pervading greenness, the scanty fringe of forest,
clothing only the lowest hillsides, the glimpses of snow close at hand
suggested Norway rather than Italy. Yet nature, if no lavish, seems
a kindly friend to the peasantry of Livigno. No rude torrent tears up
their elastic turf, no avalanche-track scars the smooth hillsides, no
overshadowing mountain raises its bulk between the Diogeneses of the
valley and their sunshine. Behind the walls of dolomite which shut
them out from the nineteenth century, they spend in their remote tub
a quiet and patriarchal existence, of which the news that a mad dog
has been seen in a neighbouring valley is the greatest excitement. The
total population of the valley is said only to amount to 600 souls. The
figure seems small considering the number of houses which dot the broad
meadows. But the difficulty is explained when we find that each Livigno
farmer shifts his residence two or three times a year according as the
crops call for his attention. Half-an-hour's stroll over the softest
and smoothest of turf, on which all the croquet clubs in England might
find room to practise, brought us to the 'osteria' near the central
of the three churches, and just beyond the stream issuing from Val

Even in its inn Livigno is conservative; that is, averse through
habit to all improvements not forced on it from without. The external
pressure appears here to be small; at any rate, the cottage which
receives strangers is the same now as it was twelve years ago. No
daring innovator, fired by the success of the next valley, has tapped
a mineral spring or borrowed money to build a guest-house. Nor have
the inhabitants as yet succeeded in grasping even the existence of
the mountaineering spirit, much less the profits to be gained from it.
When we announced our intention of crossing to Val Viola by the head
of Val Tressenda, the boy who had engaged to carry our provisions at
once demurred to having any part in so perilous an undertaking. He was
heartily supported by the patriarchs of the valley, who had gathered
to watch our preparations, and now quavered forth a chorus of which
'vedretta' and 'impossibile' formed the refrain. At its conclusion the
youth's father stepped forward, and in a solo recitative, illustrated
by appropriate gestures, forbad his son to peril his precious life, no
matter what the 'signori' might offer for his services. The difficulty
was only arranged by our giving a solemn pledge that the boy should
not be in any way tempted to enter on the horrible 'vedretta.' On this
understanding the parent consented to dismiss him with his blessing
and a huge baker's basket in which to stow away our small stock of

As it turned out, we were not tempted to break our promise, for grass
and stone slopes lasted up to the gap we meant to cross. Four hours
after leaving the village we had planted our ice-axes in the snow-crest
of Monte Zembrasca, one of the highest summits of the range dividing
Val Livigno from Val Viola. From this mountain, despite its moderate
height--it is several hundred feet lower than Piz Languard--we enjoyed
a view more picturesque if less panoramic than the prospect from that
now famous belvedere. The peaks on the opposite side of Val Viola
surprised us by their fine forms and glaciers. The Cima di Piazza stood
up boldly as their leader, a noble mountain which almost persuaded
us to change our plans and rush off at once to its assault. West of
the green gap of the Passo di Verva rose a cluster of peaks about the
head of the Dosdè Glacier, and further distant we recognised the sharp
heads of the Teo and Sena, the former crowned by a stoneman of my own
building. The whole mass of the Orteler group, from the long zigzags of
the Stelvio road to the Gavia, was in sight. In the centre the black,
stumpy point of Monte Confinale was conspicuously thrown out against
the white snows of the Forno Glacier. Below us lay the two Val Violas
separated by broad, rolling pasturages.

The Swiss valley, or Val Viola Poschiavina, had just been the scene of
the one active exploit by virtue of which the Swiss forces could claim
to have taken part in the campaign of 1866. I tell the story as it was
told me.

Irregular troops were fighting on the Stelvio, and there seemed
a prospect of the Italians, if worsted, flying for refuge towards
Poschiavo. To prevent any violation of Swiss neutrality a considerable
force was stationed in the Engadine. Its head-quarters were at Samaden.
The large dining-room of the Engadiner Hof was just completed, and
it occurred to the inhabitants to celebrate the event by a banquet to
their brave officers. But scarcely had everyone sat down when a scout
entered with the, at the moment, particularly unpleasant news that a
Garibaldian force was advancing from Bormio. There was no help for the
officers: they had to saddle and away, taking with them their men, at
the greatest speed country carts could carry them.

La Rosa was fortunately reached before the invaders, but the force
had scarcely been carefully disposed so as to command the path, when
the enemy was caught sight of in the distance. Soon the glitter of
steel and the glow of red shirts could be distinguished through the
field-glasses: then for a few minutes the advancing band was hidden
behind a knoll. When it emerged again there was wrath among the
officers and mirth among the men. The supposed bayonets were short
scythes, the Garibaldians a party of Italian hay-cutters coming over on
their annual visit to the Engadine.

We spent the night near the head of the Val Viola Bormina, in the
principal châlet of the Dosdè Alp, a building of unusual size, and
boasting a staircase with an upper storey. The 'padrone' of the
establishment, a well-to-do native of Bormio, who lived for pleasure
on his alp during the summer months, volunteered to accompany us in
our attempt to find a direct passage over the Dosdè Glacier into Val
Grosina, a neglected but, in size at least, important side-glen of the
Val Tellina.

Favoured by a cold morning and hard snow, we reached in little more
than two hours the crest close to a little rock-turret conspicuous from
our night-quarters. At our feet lay Val Vermolera, one of the heads
of Val Grosina, a cheerful expanse of bright green woods and pastures
dotted with countless châlets.

Here we left the 'padrone,' greatly satisfied at having acquired a
knowledge of what lay behind the horizon of his daily life. Ambition
pushed us up to the nearest snow-top on our right, where we were
disappointed to find ourselves overlooked by a loftier summit to the
west, probably the Corno di Lago Spalmo of the Lombard map. It was
separated from us by a deep gap, offering a fine pass to the head of
Val Vermolera, which, on the south side, would lead over a glacier
unmarked in any map. The summit we had climbed is nameless, and I
shall not venture to anticipate the carefully-weighed decision of the
painstaking German, who will some day set himself to map and name the
peaks, passes, and glaciers of this remote corner.[28]

We soon slid down again to the gap at the eastern base of the turret. A
steep rock-wall cut us off from a snow-filled hollow. The difficulty,
such as it was, was soon over, and the rest of the descent was only
a trial for weak knees. A long hillside like that of the Monte Moro
was below us; the whole drop from the pass to the valley must be over
4,000 feet, and the distance is very small. For some time we followed
a stream, sometimes sliding down a snow-bed, sometimes stumbling over
rocky slopes. On the pasturages we found a track leading eastwards and
downwards. As we drew near the level of the valley the scenery became
very picturesque. On our right the river of Val Vermolera fell over
a rocky shelf in a fine fall. A few yards beyond a stone bridge over
a charmingly-wooded ravine we found a shady nook, tempting to a long
hour's siesta. It was very warm when we again set forward, but the
path was excellent and the valley delightful. After a time, however,
the woods came to an end, and we found ourselves amidst shadeless
hay-meadows. The way now grew stonier and hotter, and the scenery
somewhat monotonous. We were glad to reach a brow, whence we looked
down on the Val Tellina. A steep paved zigzag led us through chestnut
woods, past a dirty village, then through more chestnuts, fields
of Indian corn and vines, all overshadowed by the stern ruins of a
mediæval fortress. At last it fell into the straight, white Stelvio
road, midway between two campaniles which closed either vista. A few
minutes later we entered the shade of Grossotto, a little town gay with
new paint and Italian red, white and green, and blessed, at least in
our recollections, as the possessor of ripe fruit and Asti at a franc
a bottle.


     [22] According to Herr Ziegler's map of the Lower Engadine,
     the principal glacier of Val Lavinuoz is the Vadret Chama,
     and the Vadret Tiatscha is a tributary ice-stream flowing
     into it from the west. On the Federal map the Verstankla
     Glacier is marked Winterthäli.

     [23] The information is somewhat contradictory. Tschudi
     speaks of a 'new path;' a writer in the last year's
     publication of the German Alpine Club talks of the climb as
     decidedly difficult.

     [24] The summits of Piz Pisoc and Piz St. Jon are, as the
     crow flies, 3,250 mètres apart; the bottom of the Scarl Thal
     is 1,600 mètres, or about 5,400 ft. below them. The average
     of the slopes on both sides the valley would be 45°.

     [25] One of the sources of the Rhine is in Italy. The
     pasturages of Val di Lei, a lateral glen of the Aversthal,
     are pastured by Italian shepherds, and included within the
     Italian frontier.

     [26] See _The Grisons_, by Mrs. H. Freshfield. Longmans & Co.

     [27] I ascended Piz Quatervals some years later from Val
     Tantermuoza, a glen opening above Zernetz, and returned
     to the Engadine by the way indicated above. The head of
     Val Trupchum is very wild, but the walk as a whole is

     [28] Herr Ziegler's map of S.E. Switzerland includes this
     country. The scale is large, and the execution beautiful, but
     the corrections introduced on the very inaccurate Lombard map
     are but slight.



     Up, where the lofty citadel
       O'erlooks the surging landscape's swell;
     Let not unto the stones the day
       Her land and sea, her lily and rose display.     EMERSON.


The sharpest form of pain has in all ages been imagined under the
figure of a man with the object of his most eager desire ever dangling
before his eyes but out of reach. If--may the omen be void!--any of
the Alpine Club should in another world ever realise the punishment of
Tantalus or Dives, they will probably be placed opposite a peak cut off
from them by some impassable gulf.

Such threatened to be our fate as, with the natural gloominess of
three o'clock in the morning, we strapped up our humble bags in the
marble halls of the Hotel Vittoria at Menaggio under the indignant and
contemptuous survey of an awakened porter.

When we issued into the night the luminous Italian stars flamed out
of a perfect vault, blotted only at the edges by the dim shapes of
the mountains. The keen northern breeze which intruded on the languid
scent-laden air of the lake was the best promise of a day of unclouded
sunshine. Yet this breeze was the cause of all our fears; under its
influence the lake was stirred into waves which broke noisily against
the terraced shore. Our goal was the Grigna, and between us and Varenna
lay three miles of dancing water. There was no steamer for hours; and
it is no rare thing for the passage to be impossible for small boats.
Doubtful and depressed, we hurried round to the little port.

It was a happy moment when a cry answered our shouts, and the boat,
ordered overnight, shot up with its four rowers through the darkness.
We were soon on board and out of sight of François, left to search for
a missing portmanteau in the custom-house of Como.[29]

The shelter of the land was soon left, and our broad-bottomed boat,
keeping her head to the wind, as if making for Colico, began to do
battle with the waves, which knocked her from side to side like an
unwieldy cork. We were anxious as to the behaviour of our rowers.
The boatmen of the lake are not all to be trusted. The year before
I had seen a Colico crew give way to the most abject terror at the
mere approach of a storm-cloud which turned out to be quite empty of
wind. For ten minutes before the rain burst on us they did nothing
but alternately catch crabs, and curse and kick the crab-catcher.
The Menaggio men showed themselves, however, of very different metal.
They rowed hard and talked little, and the stern-oar, standing up to
his work like the rest, gondolier-fashion, steered with so much skill
in avoiding the wave-crests that, knocked about as we were, we only
shipped one sea during the passage.

The mountain-forms were growing less ghostly, and the first pale gleams
across the sky were reflected still more faintly on the surface of
the lake as we ran ashore on the beach at Varenna. The little town
was still asleep under its cypresses, but a light gleamed from the
windows of a waterside inn, which soon furnished us with coffee and an

A few hundred yards north of Varenna the glen of Esino, through which
lies the way to the Grigna, opens on the lake, The 'Alpine Guide'
describes a path leading past the castle and along the (true) left
bank of the stream. But the more frequented track, a steep pavé between
vineyards and villages, starts from the bridge of the Stelvio road and
mounts the further hillside.

In the old visitors' book at the Montanvert Inn was to be read a
characteristic entry, 'found the path up, like that to heaven, steep
and stony.' Mr. Spurgeon would find Esino much more difficult to get to
than heaven. The path is laid with large smooth rounded stones, placed
at such a high angle as to render back-sliding inevitable. Fortunately
there was abundant consolation in the exquisite glimpses which met us
at every corner, and boots and tempers held out pretty well, until both
were rewarded by a smooth terrace-path circling round the hollows of
the upper hills.

Where the deep ravine rose towards us, and two steeply-falling brooks
united to form its torrent, the church of Esino stood forth, the
ornament of a bold green spur projecting from a broad platform covered
with fields and trees.

Half the village lies a few hundred yards higher on the hillside, and
the only inn--a mere peasant's house of call--is the first house in
the upper hamlet. The blacksmith appeared to be the official guide to
the Grigna, but in his absence a substitute was provided in the master
of the inn. His first act was to pack an enormous basket of bread and
wine, of which he said we might consume as much as we liked and pay him
accordingly, a primitive but not, as we afterwards found, particularly
economical arrangement. His next proceeding was to offer a few coppers
to a girl to carry the basket to the last shepherd's hut. In the
Bergamasque country we soon became accustomed to our porters acting as
contractors and subletting a portion of their contract to any chance
passenger or herdsman they met on the way.

A charming path leads up from Esino to the Cainallo Pass, the direct
way into Val Sassina. Large beeches grow in clusters amongst tufts
of underwood, or overshadow shallow ponds, the frequent haunts of the
herd. Below lies the long ribbon of the lake, its waves reduced to a
ripple, which the sloping sunlight hardly makes visible. Away beyond
the green gulf leading to Porlezza and the hills of Maggiore glows
the supreme glory of the Alps, the snow-front of Monte Rosa. Right and
left the faint and far forms of the Grand Paradis and Grivola and the
Oberland peaks attend in the train of their queen.

Instead of crossing the pass the route to the Grigna turns southward
along the ridge until some 500 feet higher it reaches the edge of a
great horseshoe-shaped recess in the north-east flank of the mountain.
The limestone here breaks below into many fantastic spires, the
precipices opposite are abrupt, and the whole landscape has a severe
and bold character unexpected in this region.

The circuit to the opposite side of the recess where the real climb
begins is somewhat tedious. Beyond a cattle-alp, which affords milk,
the mountain becomes a bare mass of limestone, the hollows in which are
filled, first by grass, then by snow. The top lies still far back, and
the ridge on the right which cuts off most of the view looks tempting.
It is not comfortable ground, however, except for a tolerable cragsman.
Keep below to the last, and when you clamber on to the highest crest
your patience will be rewarded.

A moment before a rock was before your eyes, now there is nothing
but the straight-drawn line of the Tuscan Apennine. The vast plain
of Lombardy has, for the first time all day, burst into sight. Surely
there are few sights which appeal at once to the senses and imagination
with so much power. Possibly the Indian plains from some Himalayan spur
may have richer colours, certainly the northern steppe from Elbruz
has greater boundlessness. But they are not so much mixed up with
associations. This is Italy; there are Milan, Monza, Bergamo, a hundred
battle-fields from the Trebia to Magenta.

It is natural to compare the Grigna panorama with those from Monte
Generoso and Monte San Primo. As a perfect view of the Lake of Como the
Monte San Primo is unrivalled. The delicious dip from Monte Generoso
on to Lugano perhaps surpasses in beauty the wilder plunge of the
Grigna upon the Lago di Lecco. But for the plain and the great range I
unhesitatingly give the palm to the higher mountain.

The last spurs of the Alps are here singularly picturesque. The bold
forms of the Corno di Canzo and Monte Baro break down to display the
shining pools of the Laghi di Pusiano and d' Annone, and the hills and
towns of the Brianza, a fair garden country full of well-to-do towns
and bright villas, the country seats of the Milanese. Hither Leonardo
may have come, and looking across the narrow lake or from beside some
smaller pool or stream at the stiff, upright rocks of the Grigna and
the Resegone, have conceived the strange backgrounds with which we are
all familiar.

From mountains of middle height the general aspect of the range is
ordinarily one of wild disorder. It is but rarely any distant group is
completely seen; only, wherever the nearer ridges subside, one or two
peaks come into view disconnectedly and as it were by chance. From more
commanding summits the contrary effect is produced; intervening and
minor masses sink into their proper place; they no longer produce the
impression of a hopeless labyrinth, but combine with the great peaks to
form well-defined groups.

In most Alpine districts the Grigna (7,909 feet) would rank among
minor heights; on the shores of Lago di Como and at the edge of the
Lombard plain it is a giant. Its extra 2,000 feet enable it to look
not only over neighbouring hills but into the hollows which separate
them--hollows filled with an air like a melted jewel in its mingled
depth and transparency of colour. The snowy Alps, raised now, not
merely head, but head and shoulders above the crowd, range themselves
before the eyes in well-ordered companies.

In one direction only--where the intricate Bergamasque mountains
scarcely leave space for some disconnected glimpses of the Orteler
snows or the bold front of the Carè Alto--is the panorama interfered
with in the ordinary manner.

Perfect peace and radiance filled the heaven. The morning breeze had
died away, no cloud had lifted itself from the valleys; all was calm
and sunny, from the lake at our feet to the pale shadowy cone scarcely
defined on the glowing horizon, which was Monte Viso. For hours we lay
wrapt in the divine air, now watching Monte Rosa as it changed from
a golden light to a shadow, now gazing over the plain as the slant
sunbeams falling on white walls and towers gave detail and reality to
the dreamlike vision of noon.

The two peaks of the Great and Little Grigna or Campione are cut off
from the surrounding ranges by a deep semicircular trough extending
from Lecco to Bellano. Near the centre of the bow stands Introbbio on
the Bellano side of a low watershed. The easiest way down the back of
the Grigna seems to be to follow its north-east ridge, and then descend
a steep grassy hillside to some homesteads grouped about a pond.

The lower slopes are a charming surprise to eyes accustomed to the
severer scenery of a Swiss alp. They share the beauties of the
pasturages of Bern and add to them something of a softer grace.
Although, owing to the porous nature of the limestone, water is scarce
enough to make it worth while to collect it in circular ponds like
those of our own South Downs, the ground, even in September, is covered
with a close carpet of the greenest turf, broken, not by rocks, but
copses of laburnum. In May it must be a garden of the exquisite wild
flowers which climb, a fairy procession, in endless variety of form
and colour and perfume, every southern hillside.[30] In the place of
brown châlets we have whitewashed cottages roofed with red tiles, which
harmonise well with the general cheerful brightness of the landscape.
A steep track through a thick chestnut wood leads down to Pasturo, a
large village whence there is a good road to Introbbio.

Pasturo lies in a broad and smiling basin, the head of Val Sassina. But
half a mile further on, the opposite ranges are almost joined by two
huge masses of porphyry, between which the stream finds a way through
a narrow and once fortified natural gate. Beyond the barrier lies
Introbbio half hidden amongst its chestnuts, and looking across to the
bold crags of the precipitous face of the Grigna.

There are few things less favourable to Stoicism than disappointed
hopes in an inn. Where nothing is expected much can be borne. But of
the 'Albergo delle Miniere' the guide-books encouraged the most rosy
anticipations, and the appearance of the house bore out at first sight
its good name. It stood, as all inns should, outside the town and
the first house as we approached it; on the wall was written in bold
letters 'Grand Hotel of the Mines.' The front door stood hospitably
open, and closed shutters are too usual in sunny Italy to excite
misgiving. But it was in vain we searched the empty passages, tried the
locked doors, or sniffed for any possible odour of kitchen. In vain one
of my friends, phrase-book in hand, shouted out every call for waiter
in use between Turin and Palermo. There was not even a cat left in the
house; the owner had become bankrupt, and no one had had the courage
to take his place. So we retired disconsolate to an 'Osteria Antica' in
the heart of the town, where we found François already arrived.

If we were discomfited, our host was little less so. The fall of its
rival had brought no second youth to the 'Osteria Antica.' It was kept
by a haughty and, except as regards payment, indifferent landlord,
whose household consisted of a vague and dilatory wife, a loutish and
generally-in-the-way son, and a good-natured wench whose carrying
qualities were for the most part thrown away, owing to there never
being anything ready for her to carry. For hours François sat by the
kitchen fire, with a resignation only smokers can attain, answering all
enquiries in the monotonous refrain, 'On prépare, messieurs--on prépare

It was 9 P.M. before the serving-girl entered with a bowl of liquid
sufficient, in quantity at least, to have fed a regiment, and the
torpid son broke for a moment into a smile as he placed on the table
a huge carafe of 'Vino Vecchio.' Its age may have been owing to its
repellent effect on previous topers, and so far as we were concerned
it was at liberty to grow older still. Half-an-hour later, with
unsatisfied appetites and injured digestions, we retired to two dingy
and dubious bedrooms. Next morning the bill which awaited us was
a triumph of caligraphy, extending to at least a column and a half
of items. In the country inns of this part of Italy it is the usual
custom to charge each loaf and dish separately. But here the general
taxes of great hotels formed a supplement to special charges for the
very services in respect of which such taxes are generally supposed
to be levied. Thus, after paying a sum for 'zucchero' and 'candele'
which showed the high value set by the Introbbians on 'sweetness and
light,' we were expected not only to make a further disbursement in
consideration of boot-blacking and warm water, but also to remember the
'servizio' and 'portiere.' We were almost ashamed to disturb the result
of so much labour and ingenuity by such a rough-and-ready proceeding as
the tender of the lump sum which seemed to us more than adequate to the

Beyond Introbbio we plunged into the Bergamasque ranges, perhaps to
Englishmen the least known fragment of the central Alps. Owing to
the absence at their head of any peaks high or inaccessible enough to
attract ardent climbers, the two great trenches which open on to the
plain near Bergamo have not, like the valleys of Monte Rosa, come in
the way of the Alpine Club. And it is to its members that we owe almost
entirely our introduction to out-of-the-way corners. Yet an Italian
valley, among mountains rising at its head to nearly 10,000 feet, is at
least worth looking at. Val Brembana and Val Seriana might prove rivals
to Val Mastalone and Val Sesia. At last, in 1874, I determined to carry
out, at any rate in part, a long-formed intention, and see something of
what lay within and behind the jagged line of peaks so long familiar to
me from the high summits of the Engadine.

The Forcella di Cedrino, which forms the entrance from Introbbio to the
upper branches of Val Brembana, is on the whole decidedly dull--a long
steep ascent, a broad undulating top, only remarkable for its laburnum
thickets, and a commonplace glen on the other side. Near the first
hamlet, Val Torta, the scenery improves. The old frescoed church and
white houses hang on the steep side of a green basin among woods and
shapely hills.

Thenceforth the path is charming. Descending at once to the clear
slender stream it threads a tortuous defile, where at every corner the
landscape changes. On the right rise the spurs of the many-crested
Monte Aralalta, clad almost to their tops in wood. Above the broken
glens the limestone plays a hundred freaks, here cutting the sky with
twisted spires and perforated towers, there throwing down a knife-edge
buttress between the greenery. Opposite a broad opening on the left the
stream is reinforced by three great fountains gushing directly out of
the living rock.

A mile or two further, at Cassiglio, the glen opens and a carriage-road
begins. Several of the old houses here are frescoed, one with a
whimsical selection of old-world figures, another with a Dance of
Death. In this 'Earthly Paradise,' as it appears to the northern
wanderer, the mystery of death seems, as in Mr. Morris's poem, to be
constantly present. The great reaper with his sickle is painted on the
walls of dwelling-houses as well as churches. 'Morituro satis' writes
the wealthy farmer over his threshold, the bones of his ancestors--nay,
sometimes even their ghastly withered mummies--stare out at him through
the iron grating of the deadhouse as he goes out to his work in the
fields. And for the true son of the Church there is no such peace
in prospect as for his foregoers, no 'Nox perpetua una dormienda,'
or shadowy Hades. His future is put before him in the most positive
manner, by the care of priests and painters, on every wayside chapel.
Whatever his life, he must when he dies take his place amongst that
wretched throng of sufferers packed as closely as cattle in a truck,
and plunged to a point perhaps determined by prudery in tongues of
flame. His deliverance from this hideous place will, he is told, depend
in great part on the importunity with which his surviving relatives
address the saints on his behalf, and the sums they can afford to
pay for masses to the priest. Roman Christianity for the peasantry
represents the rule of the universe as a malevolent despotism tempered
by influence and bribery. Fortunately, whatever they may profess, men
seldom at heart accept a creed which makes the universe subject to
Beings or a Being of worse passions than themselves.

Cassiglio stands above a watersmeet where a new face of the beautiful
Monte Aralalta shuts in a wooded glen, through which a tempting path
leads to the hamlets of Taleggio. All the hill-country between Val
Brembana and the Bergamo-Lecco railway gives promise of the richest and
most romantic scenery, and I can imagine nothing more delightful than
to wander through its recesses in the long May days. My fancy seems,
however, to be singular, for, so far as I know, not one out of the
number of our countrymen who haunt Lago di Como in spring has taken
advantage of his opportunity.

Below Cassiglio, Val Torta for the first time expands into a wide basin
full of maize and walnuts. Presently it contracts again into a narrow
funnel, which on a dull day, when the higher crests are in cloud,
might be fancied a Devonshire combe. At the junction of a considerable
side-valley clusters of houses brighten the hillsides, and, where two
roads meet, a clean country inn, with a terraced bowling-ground above
the stream, invites to a halt.

The second road leads towards the Passo di San Marco, the lowest and
easiest track from Bergamo to the Val Tellina.

Here, perhaps for the only time in these valleys, we come upon a track
already described by an English traveller. The title of his volume at
least is sufficiently attractive. I quote it in full:--

'Coryats Crudities Hastily gobbled up in five moneths travells in
France Savoy Italy Rhetia commonly called the Grisions country Helvetia
alias Switzerland some parts of High Germany and the Netherlands:
Newly digested in the hungry aire of Odcombe in ye county of Somerset
and now dispersed to the nourishment of the travelling members of this
kingdom.' London, 1611.

Readers, sated for the moment with the solid information to be gathered
from our modern books of travel, may spend a refreshing half-hour
in the company of this old traveller, who assumed in his public the
same taste he had so strongly in himself, and was content to display
undisguised a boyish delight in novelties, wonders, and adventure.
He has, moreover, a special title to the respect of the modern Alpine
traveller, for 'footmanship' was his great boast, and he delighted to
be celebrated by his familiars as the 'Odcombian Legge-stretcher.' I
shall not apologise therefore for pausing for a moment--

       ---- To catechise
     My picked man of countries

of the days of King James I., and to learn what he may have to say--

       ---- Of the Alps and Apennines,
     The Pyrenean and the River Po.

In listening to Tom Coryat's gossip we realise as far as is now
possible such an evening's entertainment as may have suggested these
lines to Shakspeare. We can almost fancy ourselves seated in the
Mermaid Tavern, while our traveller, swollen with his own importance,
told his tales, and the wits laughed over some of the earliest 'Alpine
shop.' The address of one of Coryat's letters 'to the Right Worshipfull
Society of Sirenaical Gentlemen that meet the first Fridaie of every
moneth at the signe of the Mermaide in Bread Street' shows him a
frequent guest at the famous inn. His friends have drawn his character
with force and perfect freedom. He was one of those wits who are
more often laughed at than with. 'He is,' writes Ben Jonson, 'always
Tongue-Major of the Company, and if ever perpetual motion be to be
hoped it is from thence. He is frequent at all sorts of Free-Tables,
where though he might sit as a guest he would rather be served in as
a dish, and is loth to have anything of himself kept cold against the
next day.' In conversation as well as writing he was an euphuist, 'a
great carpenter of words.' Travel was so far his engrossing passion
that he would give up any company to talk with even a carrier. 'The
mere superscription of a letter from Zurich set him up like a top;
Basel or Heidelberg made him spin.'

The prominent mention in the title of his book of Alpine regions
naturally suggests that we may have here lit on an early appreciator
of the Alps; and in the first few pages this hope receives some
confirmation. Mr. Stephen has told us that the Gothic cathedral and
the granite cliffs have many properties in common, and that 'one might
venture to predict from a man's taste in human buildings whether he
preferred the delicate grace of lowland scenery or the more startling
effects only to be seen in the heart of the mountains.' Coryat's avowal
therefore that Amiens Cathedral is 'the Queen of all the churches in
France and the fairest that ever I saw till then,' seems to promise
well for his taste in mountains.

We get the first Alpine adventure just before reaching Chambery.
Coryat was apparently a nervous horseman, and would not with his
companions ride over the 'Montagne Aiguebelette.' Consequently he was
led 'to compound for a cardakew, which is eighteen pence English,'
with 'certain poore fellowes which get their living especially by
carrying men in chairs to the toppe of the mountain.' 'This,' he says,
'was the manner of their carrying of me. They did put two slender
poles through certaine woodden rings which were at the foure corners
of the chaire, and so carried me on their shoulders, sitting in the
chaire, one before and another behinde; but such was the miserable
paines that the poore slaves willingly undertooke for the gaine of
that cardakew, that I would not have done the like for five hundred.'
'The worst wayes that ever I travelled in all my life in the summer
were those betwixt Chamberie and Aiguebelle, which were as bad as the
worst I ever rode in England in the midst of winter;' but still Coryat
says, 'I commended Savoy a pretty while for the best place that ever
I saw in my life for abundance of pleasant springs descending from the
mountaines, till at the last I considered the cause of those springs,
for they are not fresh springs, as I conjectured at the first, but
only little torrents of snow-water.' Why snow-water should be held
of no value is explained afterwards. It is the cause of the bunches,
'almost as great as an ordinary football with us in England,' on the
necks of the Savoyards. The swiftness of the Isère, the great blocks
fallen from the mountain-side, of course strike Coryat, but he has
also his eyes open for the snow-mountains; he mentions one 'wondrous
high mountain at the top whereof there is an exceeding high rock,' and
another 'covered with snow, and of a most excessive and stupendious
height.' From Lanslebourg he sets out for the Cenis. 'The waies were
exceeding uneasie, wonderfull hard, all stony, and full of windings and
intricate turnings.' Coryat therefore had to walk down the mountain,
passing on the way 'many people ascending, mules laden with carriage,
and a great company of dunne kine driven up the hill with collars about
their necks.'

The 'Roch Melow' (Roche Melon) was said to be 'the highest mountain
of all the Alpes, saving one of those that part Italy and Germany.'
We learn afterwards that this was the 'Mountaine Goddard, commonly
esteemed the highest of all the Alpine mountains.'[31] Monte Viso
Coryat knew only by name. Otherwise he has no information as to peaks,
and he believes that the Alps 'consiste of two ranges sunderd by the
space of many miles,' and dividing respectively Italy from France and
Germany. As to passes, he mentions besides the Cenis, the Brenner, the
St. Gothard and the Splugen; he knows that the Rhone springs from 'the
Rheticall Alpes out of a certain high mountaine called Furca;' that the
Rhine has two sources from 'the mountain Adula,' between which and the
springs of the Rhone 'there is interjected no longer space than of 3
houres journey.' So much for his Alpine geography.

I wish I had space to follow Coryat into Italy, where he discovers
forks and umbrellas, and describes them with the minuteness appropriate
to such important novelties. Venice was the goal of his journey, and
there he 'swam in a gondola' for six weeks--'the sweetest time (I must
needs confesse) that ever I spent in my life.' He saw and describes
all the sights we know so well, filled with the crowd which for us
lives only in pictures, visited the Arsenal in its glory, was shown the
Titians and Tintorettos in their fresh beauty, and bursts out into an
enthusiasm which might satisfy Mr. Ruskin for that 'peerlesse place'
the Piazza di San Marco.

Coryat's homeward journey through the Alps began at Bergamo. On
reaching that town his route was altered by the news given him by a
friendly Dominican monk, who warned him that a castle near the head
of the Lago di Como was held by Spaniards,[32] who would have little
scruple in submitting a heretic to the tortures of the Inquisition.
He consequently gave up the lake for Val Brembana and the Passo di San

In Val Brembana he saw exposed the bodies of some bandits, members of
a party of thirty who had been recently captured while lying in wait
for passengers to the great fair of Bergamo. The Passo di San Marco was
then the limit of Venetian rule, and the frontier was marked by an inn
bearing on its front the golden-winged lion. The house still exists.

In descending towards the Val Tellina Coryat saw the Bergamasque flocks
being driven home from their summer pasturages. Near Chiavenna the
'very sharp and rough stones' were 'very offensive to foot travellers;'
on the other hand, the security of the country was such that a priest
told him no robbery had ever been heard of. The passage of the Splugen
is passed over very slightly. The cataracts of the Rofna defile
attracted Coryat's notice, but the old path of course did not penetrate
the crack of the Via Mala.

The inveterate Swiss habit of reckoning distance by hours rather than
miles is justly criticised as yielding 'a very uncertain satisfaction
to a traveller, because the speed of all is not alike in travelling;
for some can travel further in one hour than others in three.'

At Ragatz he leaves 'Rhetia' for 'Helvetia,' and at Walenstadt Val
Tellina wine, of which he has a good opinion, for Rhenish. Swiss diet
he finds 'passing good in most places,' and 'the charge something
reasonable,' varying from a Spanish shilling to 15_d._ of English
money. Duvets are novelties observed for the first time in Swiss inns,
and much appreciated.

In Zurich Coryat was taken to see the sword of William Tell and told
his history, on which he very pertinently suggested that 'it would have
been much better to have preserved the arrow.' At the Swiss Baden he
was shown and properly shocked at the sociable manner of bathing, which
seems not to have differed much, except in the quantity of clothing
worn, from that now in use at Leukerbad. At Basel Switzerland is left,
with the unexpected remark that the bridge, the established favourite
of modern sketchbooks, is 'a base and mean thing.' But our traveller
has already led us too far from the high-road of Val Brembana--and here
we must leave him to find his way home.

After all, what impression did the mountains make on Coryat? I think we
must answer, about the same as on a commonplace tourist of our own day
who has sufficient sturdiness of mind to be independent of fashion in
his likes and dislikes. Horror of them he has none, and their dangers
he is little disposed to exaggerate.[33]

He is struck by a bold peak; he notes a waterfall; he is amused to find
himself above the clouds; he likes to be able to see a good many things
at once, as from St. Mark's tower, whence he admires 'The Alpes, the
Apennines, the pleasant Euganean hills, with a little world of other
most delectable objects.' But he has not an imaginative mind, and a
few days is a short time in which to develop an intelligent taste for
mountain scenery. He is at a loss in the Alps from want of familiarity.
His feeling towards them may be fairly illustrated by his attitude in
matters of art. He is equally embarrassed by the glorious Tintorettos
of the ducal palace. These he can only note down, he cannot appreciate.
What he really could understand and admire comes out naïvely elsewhere.
He saw in a 'painter's shop,' near San Marco, two things which 'I did
not a little admire, a picture of a hinder quarter of veal--the rarest
invention that ever I saw before,' and 'the picture of a Gentlewoman
whose eyes were contrived that they moved up and down of themselves,
not after a seeming manner but truly and indeed.'

       *       *       *       *       *

The neighbouring village of Olmo produced a carriage. A short drive
through an open valley brought us to Piazza, the market-town and centre
of the upper valley, placed on a low flat-topped brow, the last spur of
the range dividing the stream of Val Torta from the Brembo. Throughout
these valleys the villages, although in number of inhabitants only
villages, take the air of towns. Italians, as contrasted with Swiss,
are essentially a town-loving race; north of the Alps it is mere matter
of chance whether the brown cottages are scattered widely over the
hillsides or clustered together; the southerner is more sociable and
more ambitious, having ever before his eyes the nearest large town as
a model. Even in the mountains he likes his native place to boast a
'piazza,' and perhaps even a 'Corso,' a name which can be easily stuck
on to the first quarter of a mile of road. He builds lofty white houses
and ranges them along the sides of a narrow street, which, with its
barred windows, gloomy little shops, and bright fruitstalls, might be
in a back quarter of Bergamo or even Milan.

The ambition of Piazza is leading it to erect a vast church with
columns and porticoes, incongruous enough in a mountain landscape.
Beneath the uncompleted edifice a car-road turns off to the upper Val
Brembana and Branzi. The high-road goes away to the south through a
narrow rift in the hills in company with the united streams. I longed
to follow it and see something more of the Bergamasque valleys than
their heads. Amongst these bold hills rising so near the plain there
must be a crowd of landscapes of romantic beauty, and from every
brow the most exquisite views. Moreover if Herr Iwan von Tschudi's
'Schweizerführer' is as trustworthy in matters of art as with respect
to mountains this region is rich indeed. In every village church there
are said to be good pictures.[34] The great names of Tintoretto and
Paul Veronese are coupled in the list with a host of local painters,
such as Cavagna and G. B. Morone, many of them natives of the upland
villages in which their works are found. But it must be remembered
that hidden gems are rare, and that in remote hamlets great names
are readily bestowed and seldom disputed. The real worth of these
art-remains is a matter to be determined by further research. Objects
of architectural interest are less open to doubt.[35] At Almenno San
Salvatore is a small Rotunda of the fifth century dedicated to St.
Thomas: at Almè an old and very remarkable chapel attributed by popular
legend to the Gothic queen Theodolinda. In the church of Leprenno,
itself of the twelfth century, is to be seen 'a costly altar brought
out of England at the time of the schism under Henry VIII.'

Convenient resting-places are not wanting. At Zogno, in Val Brembana,
there is said to be a 'delightful' inn; at San Pellegrino, higher in
the valley, and at San Omobuono, in Val Imagna, bathing establishments
described as 'comfortable and much frequented.' For the present,
however, I had to turn my back on these varied attractions. Athletic
companions, a Chamonix guide, and four ice-axes, all pointed towards
the rocks and snows, and were only prevented from rushing straight to
the Bernina or the Adamello by my assertion, somewhat recklessly made,
that there were glaciers in the next valley.

Our course lay up the eastern stream by a country road rougher than
that we had left, but still passable for spring-carriages. In the
morning the variety of Val Torta had come up to our hopes, the scenery
of the main valley for the next two hours surpassed them. The rocky
defile leading to Branzi fairly rivals any of the similar scenes
amongst the branches of Val Sesia. If less noble and majestic than Val
Bavona or Val di Genova, it could scarcely be more fascinating. The
track climbs steeply amidst ruddy boulders and cliff faces stained a
deep purple. Against these the chestnuts stretch their green branches
or spread out at their feet in banks where the deep green of the leaves
is shot with the lighter hue of the unripe fruitpod. Side-glens break
through the opposing walls and give variety to the gorge, peaks bold in
form and rich in colour fill the gaps, the water is blue and sparkling,
the foliage fresh and varied. Churches and villages, with the usual
accompaniments of frescoed campaniles and high-pitched bridges, are
always ready in the right place to give variety to each sunny picture.

Nature presents herself in Val Brembana in a bright fantastic mood,
full of life and vigour, yet not so earnest and severe as to strain
our comprehension or our sympathy, or so large as to be beyond--more
than, in its many-sidedness, all nature is beyond--the grasp of even an
unambitious art. To employ a much-abused yet useful phrase, the scenery
is essentially picturesque.

The valley when it opens again is more Alpine, although we are still
only at the moderate height of 2,200 feet. A village, Trabuchetto,
stands on the edge of the first meadows of a long steep-sided basin
fringed with pines. For the next mile or two the road runs at a level
over fields of the greenest turf broken by mossy boulders. A very
slight ascent leads up to the first houses of Branzi, the chief place
of the upper valley, locally famous for a great cheese-fair held in
September, before the departure of the herds for the plain.

Steep hills hem in on all sides the verdant meadows amongst which the
village stands. Two streams and paths, issuing out of deep-cut clefts,
descend from the chain dividing us from the Val Tellina. A third
torrent pours down from the top of the eastern hillside, some 3,000
feet above, in a scarcely broken fall which only wants volume, and must
be superb after any heavy rains.

Driving under a dark archway we entered the little piazza, and,
following a priest's directions, passed one not ill-looking 'osteria,'
and sought another standing back from the high-road at the top of the
village. Here again we were fated to be disappointed in our inn. Our
arrival was doubly ill-timed. In the first place the house was under
repair, and the upstairs rooms--if in their present condition they
could be called rooms--showed ribs as bare as a ship in the first stage
of construction. Secondly the culinary and conversational resources
of the establishment were alike engrossed on behalf of two Italian
'Alpinisti' who had preceded us.

The 'Alpinista' is a novelty in Italy, and seems to bid fair to become
a fashionable one. His creation is due to the assiduous zeal of the
promoters of the Italian Alpine Club. That institution has ends far
broader and deeper than those proposed by the founders of our own
merely social club. Among its many objects are the strengthening of
good-fellowship between the different provinces of United Italy, the
advancement of science by the multiplication of observatories and other
means, and the promotion of the welfare of the mountain districts
by turning attention to the preservation of their forests and the
embankment of their streams, and also by attracting to them some of
the foreign gold which flows so freely into the pockets of their Swiss
neighbours. Such a body demands of course no climbing qualification.
Yet there are in Italy some proved and first-rate mountaineers, and,
if the outward appearance of the novices is sometimes amusing to an
Englishman, it is only owing to the apparent incongruity between a
southern face and figure and an equipment so completely British, from
the knapsack down to the boots, that one is tempted to believe the
Italian Club must have given a wholesale order in Oxford Street for a
regulation dress. But these young mountaineers are, as a rule, very
pleasant fellows, and though exceedingly vague on mountain matters
in general walk well. On the present occasion I fear we wished our
fellow-guests elsewhere, for their claim to precedence turned our
dinner into one of those hopes deferred which make the heart--or
something very near it--sick.

There are on the map two obvious passes from Branzi to Val Seriana,
one following the main valley to its principal head, the other
climbing beside the waterfall and then traversing a wide stretch
of lofty lakelet-dotted table-land. We chose the latter. The first
ascent seemed endless; the houses of Branzi were always but a stone's
throw in lateral distance, while the bells of its church tower rang
out successive quarters of an hour enough to have put us ten miles
off in any reasonable country. At last a green hillock was turned
and the upper region discovered; a long green valley with shelving
sides surrounded by bold scattered peaks. A terrace-path led along the
hillside past an opening within which lies a large lake, the object of
the day's walk of the 'Alpinisti.' We passed presently another tarn of
clear blue water, the Lago di Gornigo, hidden away among the hills. The
scenery was pleasing though not of a high order, but near the lake an
exquisite touch of beauty was given to it by the apparition of Monte
Rosa, a frail opal vision floating on the tops of the nearer ranges.

Grassy banks lead to the apparent pass. On reaching it, however, it
is, in clear weather, easy to see that the glen on the further side is
another feeder of Val Brembana. A short level traverse to the right,
or the ascent of the rocky knoll in the same direction, leads to a
point overlooking the true valley of descent. But the Y-shaped ridges
may well perplex a stranger, and the pass, though absolutely free
from difficulty, is one where most people will find a native indicator
useful. From the knoll where the two ridges join Monte Rosa is still
seen, together with several of the Bernina peaks and a wide view to the

The entire descent was for a pass of this nature exceedingly fine and
varied. First we plunged under purple cliffs and past a châlet into a
wilderness of stone blocks, a rough setting for a cluster of gem-like
pools; some blue, some the colour of the Bluebeard when, to quote the
latest version of an old story, 'it writhed in an indigo blackness.'
Then a steep rocky stair or 'scala' amongst waterfalls, and a stride
over juniper bushes brought us to a path, level, green, shaded by tall
pines, with bright glimpses of distant hills and once of the golden
floor of Lago d' Iseo between the moss-grown columns. We came out on
to a mountain of hayfields, whence the Presolana, an isolated limestone
mass between us and the Val di Scalve, tried with some success to look
like the Pelmo.

When we turned downwards the path was a stony impossibility, and
trespassing on the new-mown turf a delicious and harmless necessity.
Beyond a picturesque, warm-looking village we were caught between
maize-fields by a most penitential pavé, which led to a corner where
a handsome young priest advanced book in hand before a fountain and a
vista, as complete a picture as any composed for Burlington House.

Gromo and the 'Strada Provinciale' were now below us, and in five
minutes more we passed under the church tower and the one unfallen
feudal keep which still overshadows the village, and found ourselves
at the doorway of the inn. This time there was no disappointment. We
entered a large, handsome house, with a kitchen and a store-room, such
as the painters of Bassano so often chose for subjects, dark and cool,
yet lit with the reflected gleams of copper and the bright hues of
southern fruit and vegetables.

Food here was as ready and good as it had been lately hard to
obtain and indifferent; and but for the distance from the head of
the valley and our next mountain we should have gladly stayed the
night. Forewarned, but we felt also forearmed, against the kitchen of
Bondione, we mounted the carriage which had been without difficulty
procured for us.

Val Seriana, at any rate in its upper portion, is wider and straighter
than Val Brembana, and the mountains, although lofty, do not make up in
sublimity for what they lose in variety. As far as Fiumenero the drive
is in fact a trifle monotonous. At this point the river turns round
a sharp corner, and its last reach, backed by the horseshoe cliffs
closing the valley, comes into view.

The Monte Redorta (9,975 feet), the highest summit between Lago di Como
and the Aprica Pass, rises in rough tiers of precipice on the left.
Near Bondione large iron mines are worked, and the leading industry
gives the place the air of hopeless grime peculiar to underground
pursuits. Dirt nowhere looks so dirty as on the pure mountains, and the
village is the last place one would care to make a stay in. Moreover
nothing can be less tempting than the inn, although a neighbouring
house provides the unexpected luxury of two decent bedrooms and clean

The houses are built among the huge ruins of a fallen buttress of the
Redorta; and the natural cavities under the boulders, which are rather
bigger than the houses, serve the inhabitants for store-rooms, cellars,
and other purposes. The population of Bondione seem to hold firmly to
the theory expounded to Peter Simple that a second cannon-ball never
comes through the hole made by the first, and to look on these, to
strangers somewhat unpleasantly suggestive neighbours, as among the
'amenities' of their situation.

Next morning we crossed the river by a bridge, beyond which was an
'osteria' with a rhyming sign, suggesting to the wayfarer bound for
the Barbellino the need of refreshing himself first with the 'buon
vino' of the host. Leaving on the right a glen through which an easy
track crosses to the remote villages of Val di Scalve, a steady ascent
through beech copses led us to a narrow platform at the foot of a great
rock wall, like that which bars the Schachenthal in Canton Uri. It is
difficult to see where the path will find passage; at the left-hand
corner the Serio flings itself off the brow, crashing on the rocks, and
throwing itself out again with fresh energy into space. As we mounted
the steep zigzags of the path the first arrows of sunlight, shooting
over the hills and striking obliquely across the rock-face, caught the
most outward-flung part of the fall, leaving the crags behind still in
shadow. Seldom had we witnessed so fantastic and fairylike a play of
the elements as that now exhibited before our eyes. The water-rockets,
thrown out in regular succession from the first rude contact of stream
and rock, leapt forth masses of pure cold white. In a moment, as they
entered the illumined space, they were transfigured in a glory of
reflected light. The comparison to a bursting firework is inevitable
but unworthy. At first they shone with the colours of the rainbow, then
with a hundred other indescribably delicate and unexpected shades, from
a brilliant green-blue to a rich purple. A minute or two later and the
cloud of foam below caught the illumination, and the whole cascade was
one mass of radiant colour thrown out against a dark background.

When the coat of many colours was stripped from it the fall, though
a fine one, did not seem full enough to rank in the very first class
of Alpine cascades. But its comparative merits can hardly be decided
without a nearer approach than we made.

A slight gap in the rocky crest lets the path through to the Barbellino
Alp, a flat meadow, hemmed in by rugged slopes. Near the huts we
halted for breakfast and to decide on our future course. We were bound
to Val Camonica, and time not allowing us to explore Val di Scalve,
had determined to cross the ridge separating the head of Val Seriana
from Val Belviso, a side-glen of the Val Tellina, by which the Aprica
posthouse could be gained without a preliminary plunge into the great
valley. The straightest and easiest course was doubtless to strike the
ridge due east of Lago Barbellino, where, although no track is shown
on the map, it is certainly easy to pass. But the day was fine enough
for a peak, and Monte Gleno lying at the angle of the chain where it
turns northward round the sources of the Serio, seemed capable of being
combined with a pass into Val Belviso.

Seen from the Barbellino Alp, the Pizzo di Cocca and its neighbours are
a bold group of rock-peaks, but they do not show any ice. My friends
did not fail to point out this unfortunate deficiency, and to remind me
that I had only a few hours left within which to produce the promised
glacier which was to justify the intrusion of rope and ice-axes into
Bergamasque valleys.

My own confidence in my assertions, never very strong, was now at
its lowest ebb, and I could only repeat them with renewed vigour.
Fortunately, unexpected assistance was afforded me by the stream which
joins the Serio at the upper end of the level pasturage. Its waters
were milky white, a strong indication that it was iceborn.

We followed the sides of this torrent, climbing by steep sheep-paths,
until we were almost on a level with the base of the surrounding peaks.
A rocky bluff cut off the view of what lay beyond. The head of the
glen was evidently a broad basin, but how was it filled? Suddenly we
saw before us a sheet of ice at least two miles long by one broad--the
glacier of Val Seriana.

The broken pinnacles of the Corno dei Tre Confini shot up opposite us
on the right, and between two broad snowy depressions rose the comb of
Monte Gleno. To reach it we must ascend the glacier. The ice, though in
places steep, was not rent by any wide fissures, and an hour's quick
walking brought us to the gap at the north-east base of the mountain.
Below us, as we had hoped, lay Val Belviso.

Fifteen minutes of rapid scrambling finished the peak, the highest
between the Barbellino and Aprica Passes.[36] There was no sign on the
summit of any earlier visitor.

The distance was for the most part in cloud, but the Adamello group
was excellently seen, and the rock-wall above Val Miller, by which
I had once descended, appeared as impossible as any easy climb well
could. Val di Scalve was at our feet, and looked inviting, as did the
carriage-road winding away from it towards Clusone over the spurs of
the fortress-like Presolana.

Two clefts or chimneys offered themselves for the descent. We were I
think right in choosing the northernmost or furthest from the peak.
The other, as seen afterwards from below, seemed steep for a greater
distance. The first few hundred feet required considerable care. The
centre of the cleft was swept bare and smooth by spring avalanches, and
cut in many places by low cliffs. We made therefore frequent use of the
more broken crags on our right, where there was plenty of hold both for
legs and arms. We did not meet with any serious difficulties, although
we suffered now and then from a momentary embarrassment consequent
on having put the wrong foot foremost, a mistake which the practised
climber is always ready to retract.

Had it not been for the course of action pursued by one of my
companions we might perhaps have got down in shorter time. Having some
old grudge, as what Alpine Clubman has not, against a loose stone, he
had this year constituted himself the foe of the race, and the chief
adjutant of Time in his attack on the mountains. Did an unlucky rock
show the smallest tendency to looseness, down it went. Resistance was
useless, for my friend's perseverance and patience are proverbial; the
rock might retain roots which would have held it for a century, but
an ice-axe will serve also as a crowbar, and sooner or later,--down it

The process was necessarily sometimes tedious, and those behind
watching it from a constrained perch, even if not susceptible enough
to see in the downward roar and shiver of the released rock what might
happen to themselves if they did not hold on, were liable to become
impatient and to protest against the violence of the attack on a peak
which had really done nothing to provoke such treatment, and might
possibly take to reprisals. A volley from the upper ledges would have
been anything but pleasant.

After creeping round the edges of some snow-beds, too short and steep
to glissade, the angle of the slope diminished and banks of loose
stones fell away to a brow overlooking the highest pasturage. This
consists of two shelves, divided by a low cliff and cut off by a much
deeper one from the valley. At the châlets on the lower shelf the
herdsmen recommended us a long circuit round the head of the glen.
With some hesitation we decided to trust the map, and took to the left,
keeping at a level for twenty minutes as far as another group of huts.
Thence we descended rapidly a trackless hillside, until on drawing near
the forest we found a shady path to take us to the bottom.

The upper half of Val Belviso is smooth, green, and pleasant, with
fine backward views of Monte Gleno and its gullies, and near at hand a
clear, copious stream always dashing in and out of still, deep-coloured
pools. Lower down the path becomes steep, stony, and tiresome, and
everyone was glad when the last bridge--a bold arch near some ruined
mills--seemed to put us within a definite distance of the end. I have
seldom known a warmer or more beautiful half hour's walk than the
climb of a thousand feet round a projecting hillside to the village of

But the high-road to the Adamello marks the close of the Bergamasque


     [29] Travellers often forget that all locked luggage coming
     from Switzerland is stopped at the Italian custom-house.
     In the present instance the portmanteau had been directed
     Porlezza, in ignorance that, by an absurd postal law, which
     it is worth while to call notice to, everything is sent from
     Lugano to Porlezza viâ Como!

     [30] See Mr. J. A. Symonds' charming description of the
     Italian foothills in spring, in _Sketches from Italy and

     [31] In this statement Coryat is supported by the best Swiss
     authorities of the time. The belief in the pre-eminence of
     this part of the chain was probably grounded on the plausible
     argument that, as the two greatest rivers of the Alps rise
     in this group, and all rivers flow down hill, the region
     containing their sources must be the most elevated.

     [32] On the rocky knoll in the centre of the delta of the
     Adda, I find printed on the Lombard map the Spanish word
     'Fuentes.' This was doubtless the site of the castle.

     [33] Unless indeed we take him to task for a passage found,
     of all odd places, in an answer to a Chancery Bill filed
     by a certain 'vilipendious linendraper,' to restrain him
     from common law proceedings for the recovery of a debt. His
     'versute adversarie,' amongst other impertinent matters,
     seems to have inserted allegations as to the 'smallnesse
     and commonnesse' of Coryat's voyage. The enraged traveller
     retorts, with an eloquence seldom reached by modern pleaders,
     'has he not walked above the clouds over hils that are at
     least 7 miles high? For indeed so high is the mountaine
     Cenys, the danger of which is such, that if in some places
     the traveller should but trip aside in certaine narrow wayes
     that are scarcely a yard broade, he is precipitated into a
     very Stygian barathrum, or Tartarean lake, six times deeper
     than Paul's tower is high.' Has he not 'continually stood in
     feare of the Alpine cut-throats called the Bandits?'

     [34] Since writing the above, I have been favoured by Signor
     Curo, President of the Bergamasque Section of the Italian
     Alpine Club, with a list of some of the most remarkable works
     of art in this region. It is printed as Appendix B.

     [36] The height may be roughly estimated at 9,300 feet.



     Vineyards and maize, that's pleasant for sore eyes.--CLOUGH.


Our acquaintances might, I sometimes fancy, be roughly divided into
two classes. There are some who find sympathy in inanimate nature by
itself; there are many to whom the universe speaks only through the
person of their fellow creatures.

With the latter, human interests and emotions are always in the front,
and the most glorious landscape or the most thrilling sunset makes
only a background to the particular mites in whom they are for the
moment interested. Nature is just thought worthy to play a humble
accompaniment to the piece--to act the part of the two or three
fiddlers who are left in the orchestra to give forth soft music when
the heroine dreams, or a triumphant squeak at the approach of the
hero. Such dispositions, and they are often those of most strength or
genius, colour nature out of their own consciousness rather than accept
impressions from without.


   Stanford's Geogl Estabt, 55 Charing Cross
   London: Longmans & Co.]

There is much to be said at the present day for this mood. The long
line of evolution so slightly alluded to in the Book of Genesis between
the mud and the man has been nearly made out. Why should we waste
more time over the lower developments of matter than is necessary to
ascertain our own family history? The human intelligence, philosophers
tell us, is the crowning flower of the universe. Let us then no longer
worship stocks and stones, or invisible and inconceivable abstractions,
but reserve all our attention for the highest thing we know, and
concentrate ourselves on our fellow creatures. Thus perhaps we shall
best urge on that true golden age, when mankind, grown less material,
will burn with a purer jet of intellect, when Mr. Wallace will talk
with spirits who can talk sense and Mr. Galton and artificial selection
will have replaced Cupid with his random darts.

Yet we can never wholly separate ourselves from the system of which we
form a part. 'Homo sum nihil humani' requires such extension as will
include the universe. Positivist congregations are, I believe, in the
habit of expressing their grateful acknowledgments to interplanetary
space. Even advanced thinkers therefore may pardon a sentiment for such
much nearer relations as the crystalline rocks.

Those, however, who deliberately prefer at all times the study of human
emotion to the inarticulate voice of nature must not--unless indeed
they are prepared to live, as few travellers can, amongst the people
of the country--come to the Lombard Alps. Their field of observation
is on the terrace at St. Moritz or on the summit of Piz Languard; and
they will do well to picnic in company amongst Swiss pines rather than
to wander alone under Italian beeches.

The road which links the Adamello country to the Stelvio highway,
and through it to the Bernina Pass and Upper Engadine, leaves the Val
Tellina midway between Tirano and Sondrio, and only a few hours' drive
from Le Prese. For many miles it climbs in one enormous zigzag through
the chestnut forests, until from the last brow overlooking the Val
Tellina it gains a view which, of its kind, has few rivals. I have seen
it twice under very different circumstances.

First in early morning, half-an-hour after a June sunrise, the
air ringing with the song of birds and bells, the high crest of
the Disgrazia golden in light, the long shadows of the Bergamasque
mountains falling across their lower slopes, the white villages caught
here and there by sunbeams, the broad valley throwing off a light cover
of soft mist. Beneath us Italy, around the Alps; and when these two
meet lovingly, what can nature do more?

Again on a late autumn afternoon, in dumb sultry heat, the sunlight
veiled for the most part in yellow mists, but breaking forth from
time to time with vivid force, and answered by lightning from the
thick impenetrable pall lying over the Disgrazia, and the masses
of storm-cloud gathering on the lower ranges. The valley silent and
mournful, all peace and harmony gone, the mountains glaring savagely
from their obscurity, as if their wild nature had broken loose from the
shrinking loveliness at its feet, and was preparing for it outrage and

From the inn known as 'The Belvedere' it is still half-an-hour's ascent
to the smooth meadows which form the watershed between the Val Camonica
and the Val Tellina, the well-named Aprica Pass.

The descent towards Edolo lies through the green and fertile Val
Corteno. As the capital of the upper Val Camonica is approached lofty
snow-capped crags tower opposite. These are not part of the main mass
of the Adamello, but belong to the outlying group of Monte Aviolo.

Edolo lies on either side of a strong green torrent, fed by the
eternal snows, which seems a river compared to the slender streams of
the Bergamasque valleys. Across the bridge on a high platform stand
a large white church and campanile, backed by rich foliage and a
hillside, steep yet fertile, which rises straight into the clouds. The
little mountain-town is mediæval and Italian in character. The streets
are narrow and shady; old coats-of-arms are carved on the walls,
queer-headed monsters glower between the windows, arched loggias run
round the interior courtyards. The place tells you it has a history,
and one wonders for a moment what that history was. We know that German
emperors came this way through the mountains, that Barbarossa confirmed
the liberties of Val Camonica, and that Maximilian once halted within
these walls. Further details must be sought in the works of local
historians and in the libraries of Bergamo or Brescia.

Edolo has long been notorious for bad inns. Lately, however, the 'Leone
d'Oro,' the house in the centre of the town, has come into the hands of
a most well-meaning proprietor, who provides very fair food and lodging
at reasonable prices. Unfortunately nothing seems to get rid of the
extraordinarily pungent flavour of stables which has for years pervaded
the premises. I can only compare it to that of an underground stall in
Armenia, in which it was once my ill-fortune to spend the night. Such
a smell convinces one that at least there can be no difficulty as to
means of conveyance. Strangers are doubly annoyed when they discover
that they are in one of the few towns in the Alps where it is often
impossible at short notice to get horses or a carriage. If animals
even cannot endure the atmosphere, it is surely high time to advertise
'Wanted a Hercules.'

On my last visit the demand for a carriage and pair was triumphantly
met by the production of a diligence that had retired on account of old
age and failing powers from public service, but was still ready to do
a job for friends. Although built to contain some fifteen persons, it
was so ingeniously arranged that, except from the box-seats, nothing
could possibly be seen except the horses' tails and a few yards of
highroad. We were compelled to cluster round the driver like a bunch
of schoolboys, leaving the body of our machine to lumber along empty in
the rear.

To drive down Val Camonica on a fresh summer's morning before the
sunlight has lost its first grace and glitter, when, without a breath
of wind, every particle in earth and air, and even our own dull frames,
seem to vibrate with the joy of existence, is to have one of the most
delicious sensations imaginable. The scenery rivals and equals that
of the Val d'Aosta near Villeneuve. The valley curves gracefully, the
hillsides are cut by ravines or open out into great bays rich with
woods. Every bush stands clearly defined in the translucent air, every
leaf reflects back from a lustrous surface, unclogged by damp and
smuts, the welcome sunbeams with which the whole atmosphere is in a
dance. Lower down the slopes sweep out in folds of chestnut forest.
High overhead a company of granitic peaks stand up stiff and straight
in their icy armour against an Italian sky.

Below the opening of Val di Malga there is a long straight reach of
road; then Val Paisco, with a path leading to Val di Scalve, is passed
on the right and a bridge crossed. Amidst broken ground and closing
hillsides we approached Cedegolo, a considerable village, built
between two torrents and under sheltering rocks, in a sunny romantic
situation. As we drove up the street a quack doctor, taking advantage
of the assembly drawn down to Sunday high mass, was haranguing a
crowd of bright-kerchiefed girls and bronzed peasants from the hill
villages. Women from the lower valley were offering for sale grapes,
figs and peaches of the second crop, the latter red as roses and hard
as bullets.

The inn here has been visited and commended by several travellers
as clean and comfortable. Such praise it fully merits, but on other
grounds we had much reason to complain of the Cedegolans.

The habit of asking a very great deal more than you expect to get,
common in foreign, and particularly in Italian shops, is perhaps
as often an amusement as a vexation. The practice is most likely a
survival from the old system of barter, which must have necessarily
been incompatible with fixed prices. It will always be routed when time
becomes of more value to the purchaser than a possible diminution in
price. Heavy denunciations of its immorality sound to me rather odd
when they come from the mouths of those who themselves adopt in large
affairs the very same practice they condemn in small. Why it should
be dishonest to ask more than you will take for a ring or a piece of
lace, but perfectly right and fair to do the same for a house or estate
is a difficult question. The answer must be sought from our worthy
countryman who discourses on the rascality of the Jew with whom he
haggled six months for a cameo, and if he wants to get rid of a farm is
ready to fight for the hundreds sterling as hardly as ever shopkeeper
for the francs.

But the inconvenience of a system of bargain becomes, it must
be allowed, intolerable, when it is adopted by innkeepers. Their
charges differ from others in not being usually a subject of previous
arrangement. From the beginning the relation is a friendly one; there
is, or ought to be, a tacit understanding between host and guest that
no undue advantage will be taken. An extortionate bill is felt by the
traveller as a breach of good faith, and he resents it accordingly.
Of course it is always open to him to settle the price of everything
before he takes it. But fortunately this precaution is seldom
necessary, and it is much too tiresome to be adopted generally on the

However, I must, I fear, recommend this last resource to those who
visit Cedegolo, or the more western Bergamasque valleys. If they do not
adopt it they will often have to choose between paying five francs for
a bed or having their parting delayed and embittered by a discussion,
which, whatever its result weak concession or successful protest,
leaves behind it nothing but unpleasant recollections.

In this respect the unfrequented German Alps are happier resorts for
the wanderer. One could wish that these Italians had a little less
vigour of imagination, and did not see in every foreigner a mine of
unlimited wealth. If the story of the golden-egg-laying goose exists in
their language, the nearest branch of the National Alpine Club would do
well to distribute it as a tract throughout Cedegolo, and in one or two
other villages which I should be happy to indicate.

Val Saviore, the valley which joins Val Camonica at Cedegolo, is a
deep, short trough running west and east. The hillsides on the left
bank of its stream are steep and uninhabited. High upon them a white
spot is conspicuous against the green. It is an ice-cave, where
the snow never melts from year's end to year's end. The opposite
sunward-facing slopes are more gentle, and the principal villages lie
high up on the mountain side. Behind them two torrents issue out of
deep recesses, the Val di Salarno and Val d'Adame, the heads of which
are closed by branches of the great Adamello ice-field.[37]

A short zigzag amongst the boles and roots of an old chestnut forest
brought us to the level of the straight trench-like valley, from
which no view is gained of the neighbouring snows. But the scenery had
scarcely time to grow monotonous before we reached Fresine, a smutty
charcoal-burners' hamlet on the banks of the Salarno torrent, and at
the foot of the northern hillside.

A little further are the few houses of Isola, so called from their
peninsular position between the torrent issuing from Val d'Adame
and the smaller stream from Lago d'Arno. The hillside to be climbed
before we could see this lake, shown on maps as one of the largest of
high Alpine tarns, looked very long, steep and warm, and it proved
considerably longer, steeper and warmer than it looked. It is one
of the greatest climbs of its kind in the Alps. The Adamello valleys
abound in steep steps or 'scalas,' but this surpasses all the others,
near or far. From Isola to the water's edge the barometer showed a
difference of level of over 4,000 feet. For two-thirds of the ascent
the gradient and character of the path are the same as those of a
turret staircase, and the only level places are old charcoal-burners'
platforms. For the rest of the way the track, after having climbed
the cliff-faces which enclose the lower falls, penetrates the mountain
side by a cleft, through which the stream descends in a succession of
cascades and rapids. Except for its ambition to do too many feet in the
hour, the path could not be pleasanter. It winds through a shifting
and picturesque foreground of wood, crag and water, behind which
the far-off peaks of the Zupo, Bella Vista and Palu shine like snowy
pavilions spread out against the evening sun.

It might be worth a geologist's or physical geographer's while to
follow this track. On the vexed question of the share of work done by
glaciers in excavating valleys and lake-basins I do not presume to
offer an opinion. But I think a careful examination of the Adamello
group could scarcely fail to repay the trouble and add some new
materials for the discussion. In the numerous lakes scattered amongst
the upper branches of Val Camonica the followers of Professor Ramsay
may find support for their views. The believers in the potent action
of glaciers in the excavation of valleys will see in the Val di Fum
one of the few valleys in the Alps which answer to the picture fancy
draws of what a nice-dug valley should be like. On the other hand they
would be called on to explain how the majority of glaciers came to act
in a manner so unlike planes, and left the Val di Genova, and nearly
every other valley of the group, a mere flight of stairs. If the bed
of the Lago d'Arno was once occupied by ice it must have presented an
appearance not unlike the lowest plain of the Mandron Glacier, with a
tongue curling over towards Val Saviore.

A warm glow still rested on the granite ridges and glaciers, but in the
hollow all was already blue and grey, when the level of Lago d'Arno at
last opened before our eyes. A long, still sheet of dark water wound
away out of sight between bare hillsides, broken only here and there
by a solitary pine. There was no sound but the gentle lapping of the
waves or the continual murmur of a distant waterfall. The air seemed
fraught with a solemn peacefulness, the strange mere to be a living
thing asleep among the dead mountains. It was a scene to recall all
old legends of enchanted pools, and a spectre bark or an arm 'robed in
white samite' would in the falling gloom have seemed perfectly natural
and in keeping.

The character of the landscape was in no respect Italian. It was
scarcely Swiss, but rather, if I may judge of the unseen from painters,
Norwegian. High Alpine tarns are for the most part circular or
straight-sided; seldom, like Lago d'Arno, long, serpentine sheets of
water. Moreover its great height above the sea, by giving sternness
to the shores and bringing the snows down close upon them, naturally
suggests a more northern latitude.

We hurried along the rough hillside in search of the fisherman's hut
which was to be our night quarters. We found it among the boulders on
the very brink of the water.

Previous experience of Adamello huts had inspired me with the deepest
distrust of our prospects. But this time our shelter, if lowly in
outward appearance, proved comfortable enough inside. At one end of the
little cabin blazed a cheery fire, the smoke of which, for a wonder,
found its way out without first making the round of the interior. At
the other end was a hay-bed, arranged like a berth in two shelves,
one above the other. The centre was occupied by a bench; and there
were spoons and mugs stuck into odd holes and corners. Two worthy but
fussy fowls cackled away under the roof, apparently embarrassed by
the hospitable reflection that with their best endeavours they could
hardly provide eggs for the whole party. The only other tenant in
possession was a bright-eyed boy. A great many English boys would have
seen in his tenement their ideal of a Robinson Crusoe home. Even to
us disillusioned wanderers it looked fascinating, and had we been any
of us fishermen we might have been induced to spend a day or two in
paddling about in the triangular tub which was moored close by.

Daylight had barely lighted us to our goal, and now night added its
mystery to this wild spot. Faint rays from a still unseen moon lit up
the opposite peaks and snows, the great stars shone and were reflected
in the dark depths of sky and lake which faced each other.

In the earliest dawn the fisherboy launched his craft, and soon
returned with a fine pink-fleshed trout which we carried off with us.
He then led us up the steep rocks behind his hut to regain the track we
had left the night before.

The path from Isola is not the only route to the Passo di Monte Campo.
We shortly joined a broader track, which makes a long circuit from
the lower valley, and is said to be passable for horses, which the
staircase we had climbed could scarcely be called, though cows were
evidently in the habit of using it. When we left our boy it was quite a
pleasure, after the impositions of the last few days, to see his simple
delight over a piece of silver. The metal is rare in Italy in these
days of paper currency.

The lake, seen from the high terraces which we were now traversing,
appeared to be about three miles in length. It does not entirely
fill the basin, at the upper end of which is an alp and a small pool.
Higher up on the right lie the ice-fields and blunt summits of Monte
Castello. The ridge to be crossed now comes into view--a long saw,
the teeth of which, tolerably uniform in height, stretch from a rocky
eminence (Monte Campo) on the north to the glaciers on the south. The
path, running as a terrace along a steep hillside, gains, with little
climbing, a broad grassy gap near the foot of Monte Campo. The ruined
cabin on the crest may either be a douanier's outpost or a relic of the
Garibaldian corps, which in 1866 bivouacked here with bold intentions
but small result. This country has not been fortunate for the Italian
Irregulars. A body who established themselves near Ponte di Legno, and
talked largely about invading Val di Sole, were surprised one morning
by the Austrians anticipating their visit. The unlucky volunteers were
all at breakfast, scattered about the village, and before they could
offer any effective resistance were crushed with great slaughter.

Beyond the level meadows of Val di Fum rose the massive peak of the
Carè Alto, on this side an impossible precipice. But otherwise the
view was limited, and we readily decided to add the Monte del Castello
to our day's work. A most convenient goat-path, skirting the roots
of the rock-teeth, brought us to the edge of the ice. The glacier
was steep and slippery, and only just manageable without steps. The
top proved a double-crested ridge of loose granite boulders. On the
further and slightly lower point was a wooden cross, planted probably
by some shepherd from the Val del Leno, the glen on the southern flank
of the mountain. It would be easy to climb Monte del Castello from
the level of Lago d'Arno and to descend by this valley to Boazze;
and the route is recommended to mountaineers who already know Val
di Fum. In itself, Monte Castello is, it must be confessed, a very
inferior peak. It does not reach 10,000 feet, and it is out-topped
by a southern outlier, probably Monte Frerone. But as a view-point it
has merits. The long line of glaciers and peaks between the Adamello
and the Carè Alto presents an imposing appearance. From the opposite
horizons the Schreckhorn and Cimon della Pala, a worthy pair, exchange
greetings. The Grand Paradis is also in sight; but too many famous and
familiar forms are conspicuous by their absence, and one finds oneself
longing for the extra 1,000 feet of height which would sink half the
subordinate ridges and give true greatness its proper place.

We returned to the pass, whence a short zigzag leads down to the
pasturage and brilliantly blue lakelet known as the Alpe and Lago di
Caf. A broken hillside, on which scattered pines make foregrounds for
a picturesque view of the Carè Alto, the prominent peak of all this
country, slopes down upon the valley at the point where the torrent of
Val di Fum first leaves the level and plunges into a narrow gorge.

Val di Fum is said to be a corruption of Val dei Fini, a name due
to the ridge on its west being the limit between the territories
of Trent and Brescia. It is a broad, level meadow some eight miles
long, valuable as pasturage, and as such a subject of contention in
former times. The highest alp is known as the Coel dei Vighi, from
its former possessors, the commune of Vigo in Val Rendena, who drove
their cows thither by a paved track leading over a pass from Val San
Valentino. Over the door of the principal châlet of a lower alp is the

     1656 A. d. 18 L . . . . o,

which is read '1656 addì 18 Luglio,' and records what a local writer
with reason calls a 'fatto luttuosissimo.'

Then, as now, the commune of Daone were in possession of the pasturage.
The Cedegolans, however, imagined themselves to have a better claim to
it. With some brutality they proceeded to enforce their supposed rights
by bursting in a body on the châlets, suffocating the seven shepherds
in the large caldron, and cutting the legs of all the herd. After this
story we no longer wondered at the greed and depravity of the modern
villagers, the descendants of these ruffians. The claim so iniquitously
enforced does not seem to have been practically known in recent times,
but a strong tradition of it must have lingered to induce the Austrian
Engineers to give the Val di Fum to Lombardy on their large map.

As usual in this part of the Alps we scarcely reach the valley before
meeting a fine waterfall. At first the gorge descends in steps,
separated by swampy platforms; lower down, its fall becomes more
regular, gradually steepening as it approaches Boazze. The ground is
broken and rugged, and the path until recent improvements must have
been very bad. The Chiese is a noble torrent, green and clear despite
its glacier birth, and a perpetual delight to the eyes, whether it
leaps in white foam over some ash-hung crag or swirls in pure eddies in
a bubbling caldron.

Boazze, a sawmill and a châlet, stands in a sharp angle under wooded
cliffs. The houses are built, like villages in the Northern Caucasus,
of huge, red, unsmoothed pine-trunks. The woodcutters have amused their
leisure by painting imaginative titles over the various doors. Here we
read 'Cafè e Billiardo,' there 'Sala di Recreazione,' or 'Buvetta.'
But the thirsty traveller must not be deluded thereby into expecting
anything but a glass of the very roughest of country wine.

It is a long but very beautiful three hours' walk down Val Daone to
the high-road at Pieve di Buono. The mountains are not so high as
those which surround Val di Genova, but they are rich in colour and
picturesque in form. There are steep steps, down which the river
thunders in sheets of foam, level meadow expanses, tall cliffs fringed
with graceful foliage. Side-glens break through the walls on either
hand, and give glimpses into an upper land of lawns and pines, from
which we are being rapidly carried away towards hillsides clothed
with walnuts and chestnuts and all green Italian things. Some two
hours from Boazze the Chiese is left to fight its own way out through
a deep ravine, and the road takes an upward inclination. On a warm
afternoon one is disposed to feel strongly the egotism of the Daonians
in requiring everybody to pass through their high-perched village.
Although they may own the whole valley, a short cut through the
vineyards would have been, one fancies, a harmless concession to public

The village overlooks a wide basin, clothed in vineyards and studded
with castles and churches. A long road circling from hamlet to hamlet
plunges at last upon Pieve di Buono, a double row of houses lying in
the bottom along either side of the high-road. A country inn offers
rest and refreshment to those who are unwilling or unable to get a
carriage and push on for Tione or Condino.

Here we enter fairly on the valleys of the Giudicaria, so called in
witness of certain rights early granted to the inhabitants by the
Bishops of Trent. This mountain region has little in common with the
Swiss Alps. The low elevation of the valleys, their sunny exposure,
and the gentle slope of their hillsides, give the scenery an air of
richness rarely found at the very base of great snow-mountains. The
frequent and gay-looking villages, the woods of chestnuts, the knots of
walnut-trees, the great fields of yellow-podded maize, the luxuriant
vines and orchards, have the charm which the spontaneous bounty and
colour of southern nature always exercise on the native of the more
reserved and sober North. No contrast could be at once more sudden and
more welcome than that offered by these softer landscapes to the eye
fresh from the rugged granite of the Adamello chain.

Life here, it is evident, is not the hard struggle with a stubborn and
grudging nature of the peasant of Uri or the Upper Engadine. Corn and
wine grow at every man's door, and the mountains offer abundant timber
and pasturage.

There remains, it is true, sufficient call for energy: torrents to be
embanked, hillsides to be terraced, gorges to be pierced by high-roads.
But all this lies well within the powers of a population which unites
in some degree German industry with Italian grace. Massive dykes
stem the stream and protect the water-meadows of Pinzolo; one of the
finest roads in Europe, built entirely at the cost of the neighbouring
'communes,' traverses the two great gorges of the Sarca. Here we see no
squalor, none of that sufferance of decay and ruin in whatever is old
which amongst southern Europeans as well as Orientals is often found
united with lavish expenditure on what is new.

The exceptional wellbeing and intelligence of the people is no doubt
to some extent referable to the physical features of their country.
The Northern Alps seem to have been more or less laid out according to
rule; valley is severed from valley by lofty and abrupt ridges; thus
isolation and seclusion are enforced on the mountain communities. Here
one can imagine that nature first planned a rolling hill-country and
put in the mountains as an afterthought, planting them here and there
at haphazard in isolated masses. Intercourse is thus rendered easy, for
the heads of the valleys are often rolling pasturages. It is in fact
rather the lower gorges than the crests of the hills which sever the
different districts. Val Rendena can always go to Val di Sole or Val
Buona; the defile of the Sarca has been but lately pierced.

Moreover, whatever may be the value of Mr. Ruskin's remarks on the
moral influence of granite, there can be no doubt of its material
advantages, and some of the orderly appearance of Val Rendena is
certainly due to its geology. The clean grey stone of the Adamello
is ever at hand in the form of erratic boulders, and is found useful
for every purpose, from a bell-tower or a dyke to a curbstone or a

The road which runs through Pieve di Buono leads northwards over a
low pass, protected by several forts, to Tione, southwards past the
shores of Lago d'Idro to Salo or Brescia. But a more tempting branch
turns suddenly east and mounts through the fine gorge of Val Ampola,
the scene of Garibaldi's solitary success in 1866, to marshy uplands,
whence it descends on the still basin of Lago di Ledro, a Cumberland
tarn as far as hill-shapes go, but girt round with all the warmth and
colour of Italy. The landscape is imbued with cheerful sweetness, but
without any pretence to mountain sublimity. The little 'pension' lately
opened at Pieve di Ledro may, however, well detain for a few days
those who can dispense for a time with snow and wild crags and find
satisfaction in more homely beauties.

It is a country for strolls, not for expeditions, for idle rambles over
the forested hillsides among the tall alders and untamed hedgerows
which fringe the lake, or along the banks of the delicious stream
which flows from it, dancing down between the boles of chestnuts and
vine-trellises until under a spreading fig-tree it makes a last, bold,
green leap into the broad waters of the Lago di Garda.

The air at Ledro is already, after the mountains, soft and warm, and
the 2,000 feet of descent to Riva are a surprise. The road runs near
the torrent through a narrow glen, between vineyards, mulberries,
fig-orchards, and villages, in September a very Alcinous' garden of

Suddenly the verdure ceases on the brink of the great mural precipice
which overhangs the upper end of Lago di Garda. After several zigzags
the road boldly turns on to the face of the rock. The descent to Riva
is henceforth a mere groove blasted out of a smooth perpendicular
cliff. Deep below lie the dark waters, flecked by white birdlike
sails flying southwards before the morning breeze; opposite is the
broad crest of Monte Baldo rising above an olive-fringed shore. The
horses trot swiftly in and out of the tunnels and round the slow
bullock-waggons creaking heavily up to the hills. Riva bursts suddenly
into view, a line of bright-coloured houses and mediæval towers
crowded in between the lake, red cactus-spotted cliffs, and a wealth of
olive-gardens, orchards and cane-brakes--the most southern scene north
of Naples.

But before the latter half of September Riva is too hot to linger in.
Delicious as is an evening spent in the inn garden, where supper is
served under a trellis overlooking the moonlit lake, it scarcely makes
up the second time for a night spent in vain resistance to the assaults
of mosquitoes. It is best to return to the mountains which are still so
near at hand.

The river, which here enters the lake, will be our guide back to the
snows. No stream in Europe can boast a more varied or splendid youth
than the unknown Sarca, famous in its smooth-flowing old age, when it
issues again from Lago di Garda, under the new name of Mincio. It is
only necessary to look for a moment at the map to see what vicissitudes
the Sarca encounters, and what struggles it has to go through. One
is tempted to imagine that after Nature had once settled the Alpine
streams of this region in their proper and comfortable beds she gave
the whole country a rough squeeze, heaving up a hill here, making a
huge split there, and turning everything topsy-turvy. The Adige has, I
fancy, been cheated somehow out of the Lago di Garda. The Sarca clearly
ought to have joined the Chiese, and flowed down into Lago d'Idro.
There is something very unnatural about the eastward reach from Tione,
even before one knows how prodigious a feat in hill-splitting it really

Thanks, however, to its singular course, the scenery along the banks
of the Sarca is extraordinarily varied. Roughly speaking, the river's
progress may be divided into four great stages. The first, beginning
from the lake, is the Val del Lago, the deep trench which forms the
continuation of the Garda basin. Two or three miles through high-walled
gardens and vineyards which recall the environs of an eastern city
bring us to Arco, lying under a huge castled crag. After leaving
behind the broad streets and cypress avenues of the hot-looking
town, the drive grows monotonous. The road stretches on through the
half-desolate, half-luxuriant valley, from time to time the wheels
rattle over pavement, and we pass through the long, gloomy street of
some roadside village. The trough is now a wilderness of fallen blocks,
the road crosses a bridge, and winds along under great cliffs, which
threaten further destruction. Alle Sarche, a wayside inn where the road
from the Giudicaria joins that from Riva to Trent, is the end of the
first stage in our journey.

The valley continues in a straight line, but our river suddenly bursts
out of a deep narrow cleft in the wall of rock which has so long
overhung us.

The road first climbs the cliff-face by two long zigzags, then a
terrace cut in a bare bold wall of yellow rock pierces the jaws of the
defile. High up on the opposite cliff runs the thin track from Molveno
to Castel Toblino. The Sarca, victorious over all obstructions, glides
along its narrow bed swiftly, yet smoothly, that Mr. Macgregor, or some
one accustomed to those fearful feats in a 'cañon' pictorially recorded
in books of North American travel, might find it possible to shoot the
defile. When the walls break back a rich valley opens round us. The
red crags of the Brenta chain glow for a moment in the north, then the
Baths of Comano, a health-resort of local celebrity, is passed, and
Stenico and its castle are seen on the right, high-perched on a green
brow, holding the keys of the upper valley. The road and the river
force their way side by side through an extraordinary cleft, split
or cut through the heart of a chain rising on either side 6,000 feet
above the gulf. The gorge is greener and less savage than the last, yet
on a still more magnificent scale. Slender streams fall in glittering
showers from the shelves above, and are carried under or over the road
by ingeniously-contrived shafts or galleries.

The rocks at length withdraw, the hills open, and while we ascend
gently amongst orchards and rich fields of Indian corn, the Carè Alto
suddenly raises his icy horn over the green lower range. We are close
to Tione, and at another of the great turning-points in the Sarca

Tione itself is a thoroughly Italian country town, with dark narrow
streets crossed by archways, large houses built round courtyards,
low-roofed cafés, and miscellaneous shops. A happy sign of the times
may be seen in the conversion of the large barrack outside the town
into an elementary school.

Here we are but a short distance from Pieve di Buono, and a two hours'
drive would complete the circle. The valleys of the Sarca and Chiese
are at this point separated only by a low grassy ridge over which runs
a fine high-road, defended, like every road in this country, by a chain
of forts, the scene of some of the desultory skirmishes of 1866.

Above Tione the broad open basin which divides the granite and the
dolomite is known as Val Rendena. Owing to its peculiar situation
between two mountain-chains unconnected at their head, but little is
seen of the higher summits, and the landscape is rich and smiling. The
road, winding at first high on a wooded hillside, commands a charming
view of the upper valley as far as Pinzolo.

Orchards and cornfields separate the rapidly succeeding hamlets,
each of which resembles its neighbour. The method of construction
in this country is peculiar. The lower stories only, containing the
living-rooms, are built of stone; from the top of their walls rise
large upright beams supporting an immensely broad roof. The spaces
between the beams are not filled up, and the whole edifice has the air
of having been begun on too large a scale, and temporarily completed
and roofed in. The great upstairs barn is used for the storage of wood,
hay, corn, and all sorts of inflammable dry goods. The roof being also
of wood, the lightning finds it easy enough to set the whole mass in
a blaze, and fires arising from this cause are of common occurrence.
Caresolo, the next village above Pinzolo, was almost completely
destroyed in a night-storm during the autumn of 1873.

The openings of two lateral glens, Val di San Valentino and Val di
Borzago, are passed in quick succession. Near the latter stands the
oldest church in the valley, a square box covered with ruined frescoes,
and said to mark the spot of the martyrdom of St. Vigilius, a great
local evangeliser and patron saint. Heathenism lingered in this remote
region until the eighth century, and two hundred years earlier the
first unfortunate missionary was done to death by the inhabitants of
Mortaso, who, according to the tradition, finding no stones handy,
used their loaves as missiles. For this unlucky piece of barbarity the
perpetual hardness of their bread, even at the present day, is said to
be a punishment. It is difficult, however, to believe that loaves which
could kill a saint can have been very soft to begin with.

To judge from their habits and from the size and number of their
churches, the people are still as remarkable for devotion to their
religion as they were in pagan days. The wayfarer passing along
the valley in the early morning sees a crowd both of men and women
streaming out from early mass. In most cases the church seems to have
been rebuilt and enlarged in modern times, and a curious effect is
often produced by the juxtaposition of the huge whitewashed building
and the campanile of the older structure, a little stone tower with
circular-headed apertures, which scarcely reaches to the upper windows
of its overgrown companion.

The river is presently crossed, and as we approach the end of our long
drive and of the third stage in the Sarca's progress the mouth of Val
di Genova comes into sight on the left, and the snows of the Presanella
shine for a moment above the lower ridges. We are now within half a
mile of Pinzolo, the Grindelwald, or Cortina of this country. But in
this chapter I propose to confine myself to the southern approaches
to the two groups of the Adamello and the Brenta. The excursions round
Pinzolo must be reserved for future pages.

For the moment I shall ask the reader to stop short at the neighbouring
village of Giustino, and return with me thence to Trent by a byway
which enables us to avoid retracing our steps through Tione.

The walk from Val Rendena to Stenico, through Val d'Algone, is
dismissed in the guide-books with a few words of faint praise which
raise no expectation of its varied beauty. We left Pinzolo one
perfectly cloudless morning, to descend to the shores of Lago di Garda,
having for our companion a peasant familiar as the man who, seven years
before, had led me up to the Bocca dei Camozzi under pretence of its
being the pass to Molveno. To-day he was only engaged as an attendant
on the donkey which carried our traps; and it was chiefly to the
quadruped's sagacity that we trusted not to be misled.

We soon quitted the high-road down the valley, and climbed a steep
pavé past the stations leading to a whitewashed church perched on a
knoll amongst the mossy chestnut-groves. A large village, with a trim
granite-edged fountain and a tall campanile, was soon left below.
The ascent then became hot and tiresome for a time, where the path
perversely left the woods and chose for its zigzags a loose, dusty,
shadeless slope. The summit of the Presanella was now in view. The
ungainly hump here representing the mountain is the greatest possible
contrast to the noble mass which, with its long escarped sides and icy
pinnacles, towers above the Tonale road. The Grivola is the only other
peak I know of which undergoes so complete a transformation. Above the
bare ascent lies a sloping shelf of meadow, dotted with hay-châlets.
The path then enters the forest, the thick stems of which shut out all
distant view. Suddenly they open and leave room for a smooth level
glade: shut round by a green wall of pines, it is a place where an
altar to Pan may have risen out of the mossy sward, and shepherds have
held their sylvan revelries. This 'leafy pleasantness' is the top of
the ridge known by the poetical name of the Pra Fiori. Behind us the
icy comb of the Carè Alto gleamed through the branches; in front the
massive form of a dolomite peak towered over the tree-tops. Bearing to
the left, and descending very slightly from the pass, we came in a few
minutes to a grassy brow adorned with beech-trees. A more beautiful
site is hardly to be found; and here, with one consent, we built our
ideal Alpine châlet.

Below us lay the smooth level of the Val d'Algone; on one side rose the
bare, torn, and fretted face of a great dolomite, surrounded by lower
ridges scarcely less precipitous, but clothed in green wherever trees
or herbage could take root. Towards the south the distant hills beyond
the Sarca waved in gradations of purple and blue through the shimmer of
the Italian sunshine.

A short zigzag through thick copses took us down to the meadows. The
large solitary building in their midst is a glass manufactory. At this
point a good car-road begins, which, branching lower down, leads either
to Tione or Stenico.

The loftier dolomites were soon lost to view behind a bend in the
valley, and the road plunged down a deep and narrow glen between banks
of nodding cyclamens, bold crags, and the greenest of green hillsides.
About two hours' walk from the glass manufactory the gorge of the
Sarca opened in front, and the road to Stenico, leaving the stream to
fall into it, wound at a level round the face of perpendicular cliffs.
Tione and its village-dotted valley were seen for a few moments before
our backs were turned to them, and we fairly entered the gorge of the
Sarca. The high-road and river thread side by side the intricacies of
the great cleft; our way lay along a shelf blasted out of the cliffs
a thousand feet above them. The rays of a midday sun streamed full
upon us from an unclouded heaven, and every rock reflected back the
glow of light and heat. Notwithstanding, we walked briskly on, for
the castle of Stenico was full in view and scarcely a mile distant.
Before reaching it we had to make the circuit of a gorge. From the hot
golden rocks overhead a great fountain burst forth and poured down in
a cool cascade, the waters of which were soon captured in channels
and spread amongst terraced orchards and fig gardens, green--not as
we know greenness--but with the vivid colour of Broussa or Damascus.
Under the shade of the picturesque old covered bridge which crosses
the stream, we halted for a few minutes to admire a view almost unique
in my Alpine experience. Close beside us stood the castle of Stenico,
perched high on a crag, commanding on one side the entrance to the
gorge, overlooking on the other a wide sunny basin, girt by verdant
ridges compared to which the shores of Como are bare and brown. The
hollows and lower slopes sparkle with villages, and teem with Indian
corn and trailing vines. The hills do not, as in the Northern Alps,
rise in continuous ridges, but are broken up into masses of the most
romantically beautiful forms. Such may have been the scenery of the
fairest portions of Asia Minor before the Mahometan conquest brought
desolation upon the land.

A steep car-road connects Stenico with the high-road to Trent and Riva.
At Alle Sarche we left the Sarca and our old tracks, and turned sharply
to the north. The little pool of Lago Toblino is rendered picturesque
by its castle, an old fortified dwelling standing on a peninsula,
and defended landwards by crenellated battlements. Beyond the lake
a long ascent leads first through luxuriant orchards to Padernione,
then through tame scenery to Vezzano, a large country town lying in
an upland plain. Another climb brought us to a higher basin, still
rich in vines and fig-trees. At its further end we plunged into a
ravine. An Austrian fort crowned the hill above us, another was built
in the bottom, right across road and stream, a scowling black and
yellow-striped dragon of the defile. Rattling over its drawbridges,
we followed the water for some distance through a narrow cleft, until
suddenly the wide valley of the Adige broke on our eyes, backed by rich
mountain-slopes. In the centre of the landscape rose the many towers of
Trent, a dark ancient city surrounded by a ring of bright modern villas
scattered on the neighbouring hills.


     [37] See Appendix A. for mention of the passes they offer.

     [38] The suggestions made here at haphazard are, I see,
     seriously supported by Dr. Julius Morstadt in a long article
     _Ueber die Terraingestaltung in Südwestlichen Tirol_ in the
     last publication of the German Alpine Club, _Zeitschrift des
     Deutschen Alpenvereins_, Band V. Heft 1, 1874.



     All the peaks soar, but one the rest excels;
       Clouds overcome it.--R. BROWNING.


The races of English and German mountaineers, after making due
allowance for the exceptions which there are to every rule, will be
found respectively to embody many of the characteristics of the two
nations. Our Alpine Clubman affords while in the Alps an example of
almost perpetual motion. His motto is taken from Clough--

     Each day has got its sight to see,
     Each day must put to profit be.

Provided with a congenial friend, and secure in the company of at least
one first-rate guide possessed of the skill and knowledge necessary
to encounter every obstacle of the snowy Alps, the English mountaineer
runs a tilt at half the mountain-tops which lie in his erratic course,
meeting on the whole with wonderfully few falls or failures on the
way. He dashes from peak to peak, from group to group, even from one
end of the Alps to the other, in the course of a short summer holiday.
Exercise in the best of air, a dash of adventure, and a love of nature,
not felt the less because it is not always on his tongue, are his
chief motives. A little botany, geology, or chartography, may come
into his plans, but only by the way and in a secondary place. He is
out on a holiday and in a holiday humour. You must not be surprised,
therefore, if the instruments with which one of the party has burdened
himself give rise to more bad jokes than valuable observations. For the
climbers are in capital training, and can afford to laugh uphill--a
power which is freely used, even at moments when the peasant who
carries the provision sack is appealing audibly to his saints.

On their return home it is with some secret pleasure, though much
grumbling, that the leader of the party hurries off in the intervals
of other business a ten-page paper for the 'Alpine Journal'--an account
probably of the most adventurous of a dozen 'grandes courses,' full of
misspellings of local names, and of the patois he talks to his guides,
and, as his Teutonic rival would add, 'utterly devoid of serious aim or

Far different is the scheme and mode of operation of the German
mountaineer. To him his summer journey is no holiday, but part
of the business of life. He either deliberately selects his
'Excursions-gebiet' in the early spring with a view to do some good
work in geology or mapping, or more probably has it selected for him
by a committee of his club. About August you will find him seriously
at work. While on the march he shows in many little ways his sense of
the importance of his task. His coat is decorated with a ribbon bearing
on it the badge or decoration of his club. He carries in his pockets
a notebook, ruled in columns, for observations of every conceivable
kind, and a supply of printed cards ready to deposit on the heights
he aims at. His orbit, however, is a limited one, and he continues to
revolve like a satellite, throwing considerable light on the mass to
which he is attached, round the Orteler or Marmolata; while his English
rival dashes comet-wise, doing little that is immediately useful, from
Grindelwald, the sun and centre of the Alpine system, to the Uranian
distances of the Terglou. His velocity also is relatively small; 'a
German,' as Hawthorne somewhere says, 'requires to refresh nature ten
times to any other person's once,' and to accommodate this sluggishness
he requires to pass the night on the highest and most uncomfortable
spot possible. Yet having slept or frozen--as you may prefer to call
it--scarcely 3,000 feet below his peak, he manages somehow to get
benighted before reaching the village on its further side. It must in
fairness be admitted that this slow rate of motion is often, partially
at least, owing to his dependence on the local chamois-hunter. On rocks
this worthy may be, and sometimes is, all that fancy paints him; but
on snow or ice the terror inherited from unroped generations possesses
him. At the first ice-rift an inch wide, or at a gentle snow-slope of
forty-five, he shies obstinately. The foreign mountaineer deserves
well of after-comers for the pains with which at his own expense he
trains this raw material, and thus founds in every valley a school of
native guides. But those who carry about one Almer as an apostle, and
associate with him the best local talent, do probably greater good at
a less sacrifice to themselves. The party who bring with them a whole
train from Zermatt or Grindelwald are of course wholly selfish, and can
lay no claim to have assisted in the progress of Alpine education.

But it is not until our 'klubist' comes home after having spent a
third summer in one valley that we realise the full seriousness of
his pursuit. No ridiculous mouse of a flippant article is born of his
mountains. We have first a solid monograph, properly divided into
heads, 'orographical, geological, botanical, and touristical,' and
published in the leading geographical magazine of Germany. This is
soon followed by a thick volume, printed in luxurious type, and adorned
with highly coloured illustrations and a prodigious map, most valuable
doubtless, but, alas! to weak English appetites somewhat indigestible.

The foregoing reflections will appear fully justified after any
researches into the literature of the Tyrolese Alps in general. But
with regard to the Lombard Alps in particular they may seem unfounded.
The papers of Lieutenant Payer, their principal German-writing
explorer, are as terse as they are full of matter, and several pleasant
articles have appeared in the 'Jahrbücher' of the foreign Alpine Clubs
on a region which has been strangely neglected by our own countrymen.

The exertions of our German fellow-climbers can, however, scarcely
justify the annexation of the district calmly carried out by one of
their writers. 'In all our German Alps,' says a learned doctor, 'there
is hardly a more forsaken or unknown corner than the Adamello.' 'In
unseren Deutschen Alpen!' There is not in the whole Alps a region
which is more thoroughly Italian than the mountain-mass of which the
Presanella is the highest, the Adamello the most famous, summit. But it
is only fair to the doctor to state his excuse, for the better half of
the group lies in Austria, and in 1864 Austria had not yet been pushed
out of Germany. The mountains of the Trentino may be still, politically
speaking, Austro-Italian Alps; in every other respect they belong
entirely to the southern peninsula.

What was written of their deserted condition in 1864 remains true,
however, ten years later, at least as far as the mass of English and
German travellers is concerned. The splendid gorges which give access
from Lago di Garda and Trent to Val Rendena, the roads of the Tonale
and the Aprica, are undisturbed by the 'voiturier;' the snow-fields of
the Adamello are trampled but once a season by the mountaineer.[39]

To most English frequenters of the Swiss Alps the Lombard snow-peaks
are known but as spots on the horizon of the extended view of some
mountain-top. It was thus that I first made acquaintance with them.

The full midday glow of a July sun was falling from the dark vapourless
vault overhead on to the topmost crags of Monte Rosa. A delicate
breeze, or rather air-ripple, lapping softly round the mountain-crest,
scarcely tempered the scorching force with which the rays fell through
the thin atmosphere. Round us on three sides the thousand-crested
Alps swept in a vast semicircle of snow and ice, clustering in bright
companies or ranging their snowy heads in sun-tipped lines against the
horizon. But we turned our faces mostly to the south, where, beyond
the foreshortened foot-hills, and as it seemed at little more than a
stone's-throw distance, lay the broad plains of Piedmont and Lombardy.
Through a Coan drapery of thin golden haze the great rivers could be
seen coursing like veins over the bosom of fair Italy, open to where it
was clasped round by the girdle of the far-off Apennine.

As from our tower we watched the lower world, a small cumulus cloud
here and there grew into being, some 7,000 feet beneath us, and cast
a blue shadow on the distant plain. These cloud-ships would from time
to time join company, and, under the favouring influence of some local
breeze, set sail for the distant Alps. A few stranded on the lower
slopes of Val Sesia, others floated as in a landlocked bay above the
deep basin of Macugnaga. A whole fleet sailed away, across the lakes,
beyond the village-sprinkled slopes of Val Vigezzo and the crest of
Monte Generoso, to find a port in the recesses of a distant range, the
first in the east where 'Alp met heaven in snow.'

Where and what, we asked, are these 'silver spearheads?' The
answer given has both before and since satisfied and deluded many
enquirers--the Orteler Spitze. But to have named these peaks might, in
1864, have puzzled a better geographer than a Zermatt guide.

Mountains are not born with names; most of them live for ages without
them. It is at last often a mere matter of chance and the caprice of an
engineer, to what syllables, soft or hideous, they are finally linked.
The herdsmen who feed their flocks on the highest pasturages are the
authorities to whom the officer in charge of the Ordnance survey most
frequently appeals. These worthy peasants seldom speak anything but a
patois scarcely intelligible to their educated fellow-countrymen. Very
often, as in the Italian provinces of Austria, they are of a totally
different race and speech to their questioners, and confusion of
tongues and national antipathy are joined to the fixed notion of every
peasant, that all enquiries are connected with taxes, as obstacles to
any clear understanding between the parties.

Moreover, the herdsmen have often never thought before of what
lies beyond their utmost goat-track. Sometimes driven to despair by
cross-questions, they invent, on the spur of the moment, a name drawn
from the most obvious characteristic of the peak; hence the crowd
and confusion of Corno Rossos and Corno Neros, of Weisshörner and
Schwarzhörner. Or they say nothing at all, and leave the map-maker to
exercise his own ingenuity.

Again, every mountain has at least two sides, and it is open to the
arbitrary discretion of the engineers to prefer the name given on one
or the other, which is seldom, if ever, found to be the same.

Until quite recently the two highest peaks of the Lombard Alps were
unnamed, and their names are still unknown to many of the people who
live beneath them. Two parish priests of Val Camonica, from which the
crest of the Adamello is seen for miles closing the distance, had in
1865 never heard of such a mountain. All that they knew was that there
was a 'vedretta' somewhere above the summer alps. To them it was quite
as remote and inaccessible as any other white cloud, and they had never
thought of naming, far less of approaching, it. The word 'Adamello' is
doubtless a creation of the Ordnance survey, derived from Val d'Adame,
one of the glens which penetrate nearest to the base of the mountain.
The people of Val di Sole called the whole mass of snow and ice--the
unattainable ground--on their south, 'Vedretta Presanella.' Strangers
are now teaching them to confine the title to the highest peak, and
foreign custom is leading to the gradual disuse of the name Cima
di Nardis, by which the peak was alone known a few years ago in Val
Rendena. The kingship of the Lombard Alps was in 1864 still unconferred
between these two rival claimants, the Adamello and Presanella.

On August 23, four weeks after our day on Monte Rosa, we left the
Baths of Santa Catarina for the Gavia Pass. The unsettled weather
coupled with the reaction after an ascent of the Königsspitze, stolen
in a gleam of sunshine on the previous day, would probably in any
case have made us ready to take this easy road in place of trying
our fortunes over one of the snowy gaps behind the Tresero. But we
had a better reason for our want of venturesomeness. It was necessary
for us to ascertain the exact position and means of approach to our
mountain. For this purpose our maps helped us little, if at all. We
had in fact nothing to trust to but the little sheet in the 'Alpine
Guide,' compiled on inaccurate authorities, and hiding ignorance under
a specious, but to travellers very inconvenient, vagueness.

We knew, it is true, that the Presanella lay on the ridge south of the
Tonale Pass, the carriage-road crossing the deep gap which severs the
Orteler and Adamello Alps. But whether the path to it opened from the
top of that pass or from some point in the upper Val di Sole we had
no means to decide. To cross the Tonale with our eyes open seemed,
therefore, the only prudent course.

The Gavia is but a gloomy portal to the beauties of Santa Catarina. The
summit is a wild desolate plain, not cheerful even in fine weather,
and deadly enough in winter snowstorms. Three rude crosses under a
rock mark the spot where as many peasants overtaken by storm sought
shelter in vain, and where their bodies were found and buried. Further
on the path becomes a street of tombs--a 'Via Appia' of the mountains.
Cross succeeds cross, each carved with rude initials and date, varied
here and there by a stone pyramid, in the recesses of which, in the
place of the usual picture of a virgin or saint, you find a skull and a
collection of bones, open to the air and bleached by long exposure. For
riders this is the only escape south-eastwards from Santa Catarina; but
moderate walkers--ladies even, who do not mind snow--may find a better
and brighter path by turning away to the left over the broad shoulders
of the Pizzo della Mare, and descending through Val del Monte, and past
the dirty bath-houses of Pejo to the upper Val di Sole.[40]

Ponte di Legno is a shabby village, and in 1864 its inn was in
character. Since then, however, there has been an improvement, and
a very fair country inn now offers a convenient starting-point for
travellers who wish to cross the Pisgana Pass, the easiest of those
leading to the head of Val di Genova and Pinzolo. During our meal--a
banquet of hot water flavoured by pepper, followed by sodden veal,--we
were disturbed by the entrance of a venerable personage who seemed
anxious to render us assistance. As he spoke a patois Italian, and was
as deaf as he was talkative, his attentions soon became embarrassing.
Having listened to a long harangue on the excellence of the road and
the inns between us and Trent, we ventured mildly to hint a dislike
for roads and to enquire with solicitude about the Presanella. But
our protest and enquiries were put aside with equal indifference.
Even on the only topic of immediate interest to us, what sort of a
place was the inn near the top of the Tonale, we could get no certain
information. If age despised the innovating spirit of youth, youth, I
am afraid, grew impatient of the resolve 'stare super antiquas vias' of
age. When we found that we might as well enquire about the mountains of
the moon as the Presanella, we also became deaf, and turned to our veal
with such affectation of enthusiasm as that immature viand can command.

Soon after leaving Ponte di Legno, the road, a rough cart-track, climbs
a wooded hillside by the steepest possible zigzags. The air was hot and
steamy, and dark clouds were creeping up Val Camonica. The mists soon
enveloped us, all further view was lost, and the rain began to pour
as it only can pour among the mountains. Thunder boomed away behind us
like heavy artillery, each report followed by a sharp fire of musketry,
as the echoes ran along the crags.

The top of the pass is a wide tract of pasture, in the absence of
distant view more Scotch than Alpine. At last the road, which, to avoid
a swamp, rises higher than the actual gap, began to descend, and tall
black and yellow posts, crowned by two-headed eagles, announced the
Austrian frontier. The country road of the Italian side suddenly came
to an end, and a military highway, marked by a long line of granite
curbstones, wound down before us. A deep hollow, the head of Val
Vermiglio, presently opened at our feet, and the road, swerving to the
left, approached the Tonale Hospice, a massive, modern, whitewashed
house. Unfortunately for our comfort it was crowded with labourers,
employed on the new fort which the Austrians were then erecting to
protect themselves against their neighbours.

The kitchen fire lighted up a picturesque scene. Over the flames hung a
huge caldron of polenta, into which two dark-haired girls dashed from
time to time some new ingredient, while a hungry crowd of men, young
and old, sat round, watching eagerly the progress of their supper.
Room was made for us in the chimney-seats, where we steamed in our damp
clothes until the crowd had been fed, and some one could find time to
give us our meal of potatoes and butter. By the time this was over it
was already late, and we were ready to distribute ourselves between
the two spare beds which the house afforded, while François went off to
join the workmen in the barn. The inmates retired into an inner room,
and all was still by nine o'clock, save for the ceaseless patter of
the rain. Before five next morning the women came out of their chamber,
and from that time there was a constant flow of company backwards and
forwards through our room. Seizing on propitious intervals, we dressed
in spasms, and, seeing the weather still hopeless, made up our minds
to set out at once for the nearest village in Val di Sole, where we
might hope to obtain better fare and possibly some further information;
for at the Hospice our endeavours to learn anything of the Presanella
had again been fruitless. No one had ever heard of such a mountain.
One fact alone was ascertained before leaving. The stream which waters
Val di Sole has its highest source in a wild glen at the back of Monte
Piscanno, named in the Lombard map Val Presena. This I had believed
would lead us up to the Presanella, but through the glimpses of the
storm no conspicuous snow-peak appeared in that direction, and it was
plain we must look further for our mysterious mountain.

On a projecting knoll, about half way to Vermiglio,[41] stands an
Austrian blockhouse, mounting seven guns. It is commanded by many
neighbouring heights, but would be of use against a Garibaldian inroad.
As we passed it a momentary break revealed a lofty snow-peak at the
head of a glen opening immediately opposite.

There at last was the Presanella. A fir-forest clothed the lower
slopes; higher up a large glacier spread out its icy skirts. The
vision, though sufficient for our purpose, lasted only a few moments.
In clear weather the view from this spot must be one of the most
picturesque glimpses of a great snow-peak anywhere to be seen from a
carriage-pass. Clinging still to the northern slopes of the valley,
the road presently entered Pizzano. The first house was the Austrian
douane; the second, the inn. We of course gave up our passports,
but François, being unprovided, handed the officers his 'livre des
voyageurs,' containing his certificate as guide.[42] The Austrian, with
much show of sternness, pushed it away contemptuously, and delivered
himself in this wise:--'You have no passport. You must go back to your
country. At any rate you can enter no further into the Imperial and
Royal dominions.' Here was a serious crisis. We felt our only chance
was to temporise. 'Very well,' we replied, 'if you must refuse our
servant permission to enter Austria, at least there can be no objection
to his getting something to eat next door before he returns.' This
concession the officers did not deny; and entering the inn we ordered
breakfast, and prepared to wait for better weather. A scout was posted
outside by the douaniers to prevent François from giving them the slip.
In the meantime we of course again enquired after the Presanella, and,
almost to our surprise, everyone in Pizzano was acquainted with the
name. 'Oh, yes!' said our host, 'a German Herr Professor from Vienna
tried the mountain a year or two ago, and found it quite impracticable.
The final peak is like the stove in this room, and all ice.' 'Well,'
said I, 'but the stove is easy,' and climbed to the top. Staggered
by this argument, he offered to bring the man who had accompanied
the Viennese Professor in his attempt. In due time a native made his
appearance, who satisfied us that he really knew where the mountain
was, and could lead us to its foot; which was all we wanted.

The name of our predecessor was at the time unknown to us, but I learnt
afterwards[43] that he was Dr. von Ruthner, then the Vice-President
of the Austrian Alpine Club. From the account given of his attempt it
is clear that he followed the same route as ourselves; our Italian in
fact led us in his footsteps, up to the saddle at the north-west base
of the mountain. His failure to get further was entirely owing to his
guides, who, unused to such expeditions, and appalled by the sight of a
broken and somewhat steep snow-slope, refused to proceed. The Italian,
as our experience proved, was a poor creature, his second guide, Kuenz,
though, as we are told, renowned as a keen chamois and bear-hunter,
declared to Dr. von Ruthner 'that he had once in his youth descended
amongst the wild chasms of the glacier which pours steeply over into
Val Cercen, and that he would never do it again,' This descent we
subsequently found an admirable spot for a glissade!

Watching from our window the rain, which after a deceitful lull
now fell again in torrents, we saw the scout, who was still on
duty, in deep converse with a friend. In a few minutes the friend
sauntered casually into our room, and enquired our plans with an air
of indifference. I assured him that our intention was to climb the
Presanella, without thinking it necessary to add--and find a way down
the other side of it. His object thus satisfactorily attained, the man
soon left us, and no doubt imparted the valuable information to his
brother officials, for their demeanour suddenly changed, and one of
them told us that they should not object to our guide's accompanying
us to the Presanella. We of course expressed ourselves duly thankful
for their small mercies, and in fact felt much relieved at this happy
issue of a dilemma which might easily have become serious. Soon after
three o'clock the clouds grew gradually lighter, the sun struggled
through, and patches of blue broke the leaden monotony of the sky. No
more watery storms swept down from the Tonale, but a steady northern
breeze carried away the vapours, except one or two unfortunates which
had sunk so deep into the valley that they could not find the way out
again. We hurried our dinner, got together our provisions, and sent
the porter to look for a rope--a necessary which we were too young in
Alpine travel to have brought with us from England, according to the
custom of experienced mountaineers. Vermiglio did not possess a cord
more than thirty feet long; but after a good deal of delay some leather
thongs were procured, and about 5 P.M. we finally got off, leaving the
douaniers to look out at their leisure for our expected return.

Instead of remounting the Tonale road we kept by the side of the river
for half-an-hour, until it was joined by the torrent from the lateral
glen which we had passed in the morning. A well-made path led up a
steep hillside covered with bilberries and Alpine strawberries, and
turned some precipitous rocks by picturesque wooden galleries.

After passing a group of charcoal-burners' huts the ascent ceased,
and winding round a wooded brow we entered a secluded basin shut in
by steep ridges, where the stream rested for a while in its troubled
course before plunging into the valley. Far above gleamed the object
of our expedition--the long-talked-of, and at last almost-despaired-of
Presanella, no longer shrouded in mist, but sharp cut against the
darkening sky. It presented an apparently level wall, turreted at
either end; the western tower was of rugged rock, the eastern more
massive and snow-clad, rising in the centre to a sharp shining point,
evidently the true 'cima' of the mountain.

A flock of Bergamasque sheep were huddled together in our way;
disregarding the protests of the shaggy sheep-dog we forced a passage
through them, and reached the hut--a rough shelter, half open on one
side to the sky.

Pushing back the rude door, we entered a small cabin, looking at first
sight like a butcher's shop, for several carcases of departed sheep
were hung up to smoke over the smouldering fire. Its occupants were
three shepherds, who received us most hospitably, packed away the
drying meat, and made room by the fireside. Presently one of them went
out with the dog. On enquiring where the man was going so late, we were
told that they were obliged to patrol by turns at night to keep off the
bears; several were known to be prowling about the mountains, and one
had been seen only the previous day. Our hosts took needless pains to
assure us that the animals would not enter the châlet, and that there
was no occasion for alarm at their vicinity.

As fresh logs were piled on, and the blaze rose higher, a horned
monster with a pair of gleaming eyes was seen gazing at us from the
upper gloom. It was only a patriarchal goat, stabled in a loft opening
on one side into the châlet. Two of us spent the night in a bed of hay,
built up on pine-logs; the third lay down with the shepherds among the
skins and logs by the fireside. François scrambled into the loft, where
he was welcomed by the old goat, which settled itself beside him. Later
in the night the rest of the flock became boisterous, quarrelled with
the biped intruder, and expelled him from their abode.

At 3 A.M. the waning moon was still bright enough to guide our steps
along the zigzags of a well-marked track leading to the rocky waste,
furrowed and polished by glacier action, which lies above the head of
the glen. Our porter was very anxious to take us round by the spur on
our right dividing Val Presanella and Val Presena, but we preferred a
much more direct course over the ice. Although the valley at our feet
was already bathed in golden light, the early rays still left cold the
snows we were about to enter. The rain of the previous day had frozen
over the glacier in a slippery crust, and made every slope into a sort
of 'Montagne Russe.' We crept catwise as best we could along cracks,
cutting steps when these failed us, until the more level and upper
snows were safely if not quickly gained.

We were now at the very foot of the Presanella, and could judge of the
nature of the work immediately before us. From the western extremity
of the wall which we had seen from below, a ridge receded from us
ending towards Val di Genova in a snow-dome. This secondary peak (Monte
Gabbiol) with the rock turret at the angle (the Piccola Presanella)
and the sharp eastern crest, probably make up the three summits to
which the mass owes a local name, 'Il Triplice.' The only route open
to us seemed to be to cross the lowest point in the ridge between the
Monte Gabbiol and the Piccola Presanella, and then gain the eastern or
highest peak by the back of the snow-wall. Dr. von Ruthner's Italian
scouted the idea. 'Then,' said François, 'we must cut steps up the
face of the wall.' This proposal struck our native with horror, and
he protested against it as 'Molto molto impossibile!' His idea of the
impossible was evidently somewhat vague, and not founded on experience.
We stuck therefore to our first plan, and, walking briskly up the
glacier, reached in half-an-hour a gap at its head overlooking the
ice-fields which enclose Val di Genova. At this point the real attack
on the mountain began. Hitherto we had only been making for a pass.

The ascent now led us over steep slopes of snow, broken by great rifts
and icicle-fringed vaults, none of which, however, were continuous
enough to cause any difficulty. Often a few steps had to be cut, but
the delay was pleasantly spent in studying the glorious view already
spread out behind us. In the foreground lay the unknown glacier-fields
of the Adamello; the Orteler and Bernina ranges rose in the middle
distance; on the horizon glowed Monte Rosa and the Saasgrat. Even these
were not the furthest objects in view, for I distinctly recognised the
Graian peaks melting into the saffron sky.

The deep moat crossed, a dozen steps had to be cut up an ice-bank;
then, after climbing over an awkward boulder, we reached the ridge.
Great was the anxiety as to what would be seen on the other side, for
on the steepness of the back of the wall between us and the final peak
our success hung. Great in proportion was the satisfaction of those
below, when, as his head rose above the rocks, François shouted, 'Bien;
tout est facile!'

The semicircle enclosed between the three summits of the Presanella was
filled by the snow-fields of an extensive glacier which flowed away to
the south-east. The snow rose nearly to the level of the lowest point
of the crest connecting the Piccola Presanella and the highest peak.
We quickly passed under the former, and found ourselves standing on the
summit of the wall we had gazed up at the previous evening.

We now looked down upon the shepherds' hut and the Tonale road, where
the Austrian blockhouse and its constructors seen through the glasses
appeared like a diminutive beehive. A coping of fresh snow overhung the
edge of the wall; this we dislodged with our alpenstocks, sending it
whirling down 1,000 feet upon the glacier beneath.

Our hopes of immediate success now met with one of those checks, so
frequent in the Alps, which test most severely the moral endurance
needed, much more than physical strength, in a good mountaineer. The
crest suddenly turned into hard ice; each step had to be won patiently
by the axe. Careless or inefficient work might have led to an awkward
tumble; an attempt such as a tyro would probably have made to make use
of the snow coping would have inevitably resulted in sudden disaster.
In such positions amateurs without guides most often fail. It is
rare to find a party of whom some member will not utter an impatient
exclamation, or suggest some tempting, but unwise, expedient to gain
time; it is rarer still to find a leader who will act as a good guide
invariably does--refuse to pay the slightest heed to such murmurs in
his rear. Yet if he listens to them he will learn sooner or later the
truth of a line which ought to be emblazoned as a text over every A.
C.'s mantelpiece, 'Hasty climbers oft do fall.'

We advanced but slowly along our laboured way. Once the porter was sent
to the front, but after cutting some half-dozen steps he retired again
of his own accord to the rear, informing us, in passing, that 'he could
do no more.' He accordingly reserved all his strength for frequent
ejaculations respecting the impossibility of attaining the top under
at least eight hours! François had all the work to do, and for the
next two hours and a half he did it manfully. Hack! hack! went the axe,
till a step was hewn out; then with a final flourish the loose ice was
cleared off, and the process began again. At last the wearisome task
was done, and we all stepped gladly on to a little snow-platform, about
half of which was occupied by a huge cup-shaped crevasse. The final
peak alone now remained to be conquered. 'Encore dix pas seulement,'
said François, and he hacked away as if it was his first step. We cut
across a steep ice-slope, and in five minutes stood upon some broken
rocks which ran up the southern face of the mountain. Here we had to
wriggle across an awkward boulder; and our porter, who had insisted on
throwing off the rope, was fain to be reattached. By a vigorous haul we
cut short his hesitation and drew him halfway over, but there he stuck
clinging on to the rock with all his limbs spread out in different
directions, like a distressed starfish. At last some one went back
and stretched out a helping hand; then, aggravated by the delay, we
made a rush at the last rocks, and in a few moments were treading down
the virgin snows at which we had so long and wistfully looked up. The
actual top was a snow-crest lying as a cap on the brow of the cliff
which faces Val di Sole. The ascent from the hut had taken us eight
hours--a long time for a mountain of only 11,688 feet.

As soon as the first excitement of victory was over we began to look
with interest at the new mountain region spread at our feet. The
central mass of the Adamello was for the first time before me in such
nearness and completeness as to allow of a ready insight into, and
understanding of, its character. It is a huge block, large enough to
supply materials for half-a-dozen fine mountains. But it is in fact
only one. For a length and breadth of many miles the ground never falls
below 9,500 feet. The vast central snow-field feeds glaciers pouring
to every point of the compass. The highest peaks, such as the Carè Alto
and Adamello, are merely slight elevations of the rim of this uplifted
plain. Seen from within they are mere hummocks; from without they
are very noble mountains falling in great precipices towards the wild
glacier-closed glens which run up to their feet.

Imagine an enormous white cloth unevenly laid upon a table, and its
shining skirts hanging over here and there between the dark massive
supports. The reader, if he will excuse so humble a comparison, may
thereby form a better idea of the general aspect of the snow-plains,
the rocky buttresses, and overhanging glaciers of the Adamello as they
now met our view.

It was clear that the descent of the Nardis Glacier, leading in a
direct line to Pinzolo, was perfectly easy, and we half regretted
having left our goods on the pass.

Returning a few paces to the highest rocks we spent an hour of pleasant
idleness, only broken by the duty of building a cairn in which to
ensconce a gigantic water-bottle charged with our cards. About three
weeks later our representative received a visitor. Lieut. Julius
Payer,[44] an Austrian officer whose name has since become familiar
to the English public as the leader of a North Pole expedition, had,
unknown to us, been spending the summer in exploring the peaks round
Val di Genova. The Presanella, owing partly to the difficulties he
found with his native guides, was left to the last, and consequently,
when its summit was at length reached, the astonished mountaineers were
greeted, not by a maiden peak, but by a fine stoneman.

The staircase which had taken three hours and a half to hew was readily
run down in forty-five minutes. On the pass, hereafter to be known as
the Passo di Cercen, we dismissed our hunter, with materials for many
a long story, and our kindest regards to the douaniers.

A steep, short glacier fell away from our feet into Val di Genova. The
ice was at first much fissured, but by bearing towards the rocks on the
right we found a slope clear from crevasses and favourable to a long
glissade. Soon afterwards we left the glacier, and descended through
a gully and over some rough ground till, reaching a lower range of
cliffs, we bore well to the left, and discovered a faint track which
led us down through underwood to the side of the stream and the first
hut. From this point there is a noble view of the Adamello, with the
Mandron and Lobbia glaciers[45] shooting out their icy tongues over the
rocks at the head of the valley. Hence we dropped down by a good path
into the bottom of Val di Genova, which was reached in two hours from
the pass.

Although the description of Mr. Ball relieves me from the
responsibility of standing sponsor for this wonderful valley, I
cannot pass over without a tribute the long, yet though now four times
trodden, never wearisome twelve miles which separate the sources of
the Sarca above the Bedole Alp from Pinzolo, the first village on its

The Val di Genova leaves behind it an impression as vivid and lasting
as any of the more famous scenes of the Alps or the Pyrenees. It is in
one aspect a trench cut 8,000 feet deep between the opposite masses
of the Adamello and Presanella. From another and perhaps truer point
of view it is a winding staircase leading by a succession of abrupt
flights and level landings from the low-lying Val Rendena to the
crowning heights of the Adamello itself. In the valley there are four
such flights or steps, locally called 'scale,' each the cause of a
noble waterfall; the fifth step closes the valley proper, and the fall
that pours over it is of ice, the flashing tongue of the great Mandron
Glacier. The last step divides the glacier from the snow region, and is
partially smoothed out by the vast frozen masses which slide over it,
as a rapid is concealed by a swollen flood. Besides the falls of the
Sarca in the bottom of the valley, the meltings of two great ice-fields
have to find a way down its precipitous sides.

  [Illustration: THE HEAD OF VAL DI GENOVA.

   Lobbia Alta.      Lobbia Bassa.     Mte. Mandron.
            Lobbia G1.      Mandron G1.]

Hence Nature has here a great opportunity for adisplay of waterfalls,
a branch of landscape gardening in which as a rule she seems strangely
chary of exerting her powers. The skill with which a large body of
water manages to descend a mountain side at an extremely high angle
without dashing itself anywhere to pieces is, I fancy, often extremely
provoking to the tourist in search of a sensation.

In the Adamello country, however, the greediest sightseer will be
satisfied. For 'grandes eaux' Val di Genova is the Versailles of North
Italy. Besides three first-rate falls of the Sarca itself, there are
two more of the torrents draining the glaciers of Nardis and Lares. But
I am in danger of falling into a numerical, or auctioneer's catalogue,
style of description, by which no justice can be done to the manifold
charms of rock, wood, and water, which await the wanderer in this
forgotten valley. We must return to the Bedole Alp and endeavour to
sketch some two or three of the splendid surprises of the path to

We entered the valley above its highest step on the level where
the Sarca first gathers up its new-born strength. A smooth
meadow-foreground, alive with cattle, spread between low pine-clad
knolls from under the shelter of which issued a thin column of
smoke, showing the whereabouts of the châlets. Close at hand two
great glaciers poured their icy ruin into the pastoral scene, which
was encompassed on all sides by bare or wooded cliffs, most savage
in the direction of the river's course, where the vast outworks of
the Presanella, keen granite ridges, saw the sky with their solid

After a few hundred yards of level we came to the brink of what we
could hardly tell. The grey water which had been flowing at our side
dropped suddenly out of sight amidst a mighty roar. A slender and
hazardous bridge of a single log crossed the stream on the brink of the

From it, if your head is steady enough, you may watch the waters
as they leap in solid sheets into the air and disappear amidst the
foam-cloud, until a growing impulse to join in their mad motion warns
you to regain the bank. It is as well to remain content with this
impression. But those who wish to see more may easily push their way
through a tangle of pine and thick undergrowth by tracks best known
to the cattle who come here to bathe themselves in the cool spray.
From below the fall is still noble, but it is no longer a mystery. The
plunge into the infinite has become only the first step in life.

A second plain is covered with lawn-like turf or bilberry-carpeted
woodland; here and there stand shepherds' huts, locally known as
'malghe,' built of ruddy unsmoothed fir-logs. Overhead tower the sheer
buttresses of the Presanella, so lofty that it seemed incredible how
a few hours ago we had been higher than the highest of these soaring
cliffs. At the next 'scala' the foot traveller should cross by a bridge
to the right bank in order to pass in front of the second Sarca fall,
where the river, caught midway by a bluff of rock, is shivered into a
wide-spreading veil, in which the bright water-drops chase one another
in recurrent waves over the bosses of the crag.

The succeeding plain is shorter and more broken. At its lower end
are some saw-mills and a group of huts, the summer residence of a
worthy called Fantoma, once employed as a guide by Lieut. Payer, a
great talker, and, by his own account, still greater Nimrod, having
slain to his own gun seventeen bears and over three hundred chamois.
Here we came on another fall of the Sarca, or rather a succession of
leaps imbedded in a deep cleft crossed by bold bridges, and lit up
by the scarlet berries of the mountain ash. High upon the right an
unchanging cloud hangs on the mountain side where the Lares torrent
hurries down to the valley. A cart-road made for the saw-mills now
traverses a flat stony tract where the river for the first time breaks
loose and devastates the meadows, and huge blocks, fallen from scars
in the cliff-faces above, lie beside the track. Sheltered from the
spray-shower between two of these we paused to admire the last great
cascade, that of the Nardis, which comes shooting and shivering out
of the sky down almost upon our heads in a double column. Seen once in
June, when the snows were melting, it seemed to me the most beautiful
of Alpine water-showers.

Some distance further, on the verge of the last descent into Val
Rendena, we reached, as evening fell, the old church of Charlemagne,
and looked down for the first time over the softer landscape and sylvan
slopes of the lower valley. The fading light below brought out on the
hillsides the delicate shades of green lost in the full blaze of the
noonday sun, while high up in air the red cliffs of the Brenta, glowing
with the last rays of sunset, seemed unearthly enough to form part of
the poet's palace of Hyperion which,

     Bastion'd with pyramids of glowing gold
     And touch'd with shade of bronzèd obélisques,
     Glared a blood red through all its thousand courts,
     Arches and domes and fiery galleries.


     [39] A change seems, however, imminent. In 1873 some of the
     leading inhabitants of Trent and Arco formed themselves into
     an Alpine Society. Its object is at once to excite in the
     youth of the Trentino the taste for healthful exercise, and
     to increase the material prosperity of the mountain valleys
     by drawing to them some of the abundance of foreign gold
     which flows so freely into Eastern Switzerland. One of the
     first consequences of this step has been the establishment of
     Alpine Inns at Campiglio and San Martino di Castrozza.

     [40] See Appendix C for two routes from Santa Catarina to Val
     di Sole.

     [41] Vermiglio, like Primiero, is the name of a group of
     villages, of which the highest is Pizzano.

     [42] From an article, _Die grosseren Expeditionen in den
     Oesterreichischen Alpen aus dem Jahre 1864_, von Dr. Anton
     von Ruthner, published in Petermann's _Mittheilungen_ for

     [43] This refers to eleven years ago. Proofs of nationality
     are no longer asked for anywhere in the Alps unless, perhaps,
     in France, where even a Republican Government finds itself
     forced to gratify the peculiar passion of the nation for
     restrictions on liberty of travel by retaining passports for
     Frenchmen only. So long as this distinction is maintained,
     members of other nations are liable to be occasionally
     required to prove their disqualification for the privilege
     of carrying about one of the minute descriptions of their own
     persons, which seem to give our neighbours so much pleasure.

     [44] Lieut. Payer's pamphlet _Die Adamello-Presanella Alpen_,
     Petermann's _Mittheilungen, Erganzungsheft_, No. 17, Gotha,
     J. Perthes, 1865, is a very valuable contribution to the
     orography of the group he describes.

     [45] I follow Lieutenant Payer's nomenclature, as it has been
     adopted in the Alpine Club map. Mr. Ball prefers the name
     of Bedole Glacier for the Mandron Glacier, and of Matarotto
     Glacier for the Lobbia Glacier.



     Close to the sun in lonely lands
     Ring'd with the azure world he stands.--TENNYSON.


A year after the ascent of the Presanella I again found myself at the
head of Val di Genova, one of a formidable party of seven, including
two Swiss guides and a Tyrolese porter. Gutmann was something of a
character. A native of Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Tyrol, he had
been picked up there a year before by Mr. Tuckett, and carried on
through the northern valleys of the Venetian Alps. He had then proved
an amusing and good-tempered companion, and was in consequence engaged
a second time to take the place of the chance peasant whom one picks up
to carry a knapsack--an individual whose obstinate prejudice against
ropes, and glaciers, and snow-work generally, is, or used to be, a
source of difficulty in out-of-the-way parts of the Alps.

Gutmann was a well-grown, fine-looking young man of twenty-five, and
became well his national costume, which he always wore. In his short
coat and knee-breeches, with his half-bare legs and tall green hat and
feather, he might have stepped at once on to any operatic stage. From
his watch-chain hung a bundle of silver-mounted charms; true hunter's
trophies--teeth of chamois and marmot, and claws of the 'lammergeier.'
He was a great dandy, and amongst the other unexpected articles which
tumbled out of the large blue bag slung across his back was a brush
for his whiskers and a shaving-glass. Naturally the effect on his
complexion of the first snow-day quite horrified our Adonis. On the
next occasion he came down in the morning with his face completely
plastered over with a mixture of soot and tallow, when his appearance,
if no longer 'a thing of beauty,' became a 'joy for ever' to the
guides, whose talent for small jokes found abundant scope for exercise
at the porter's expense.

But in the evening and after a good wash in a wayside fountain, Gutmann
had his revenge. Then he was to be seen in the Gaststube, the centre of
an admiring crowd, fresh and blooming enough to win the heart of the
coyest Phillis--a kind of conquest on which I fear he set far greater
store than on the victories over snowy maidens won during the day. The
tales of his prowess which at such moments he was heard to recount gave
us frequent amusement. For though below the snow-line an active walker,
above it Gutmann became a changed man. Once on ice, the quips and
cranks with which he usually overflowed gave place to the most dismal
of groans. He walked daintily, like a cat afraid of wetting its feet,
at slippery corners detained us twice as long as anybody else, and when
the top was gained habitually lay down at once and fell asleep.

At home our companion was by profession a poacher--a precarious means
of livelihood in a district where the mountains are strictly preserved
for Bavarian royalty, and the keepers fire on any man seen carrying a
gun. A month before he joined us his brother had had a piece of one of
his calves shot away, and he had himself been slightly wounded on more
than one occasion. During the past winter he had found for a few months
a less hazardous employment in cutting wood near one of the Bavarian
lakes, but had gone back in spring to the old and irresistible pursuit,
from which he was only called away by our summons. He did not, however,
return to it--at any rate for long; before the next summer he had
emigrated to America, probably with the money gained in our service, a
larger sum than he had ever before had at his disposal.

The position of the Bedole Alp as it is seen in descending from the
Presanella has been described in the last chapter. Beyond the final
bend in Val di Genova lies a level plain enclosed by sheer granite
cliffs. I know few spots so completely secluded from the outer world.
Dreaming away the afternoon hours on a pine-clad knoll among the
outskirts of the Venezia forest, which stretches[46] for a mile to the
foot of the great glaciers, a wanderer easily fancies himself in one of
the lost valleys of legend where the people live in a bygone age, where
pastoral life is a reality, and the nineteenth century a yet undreamt

The herdsmen were hospitably inclined, but the accommodation they
had to offer was of the roughest. By means of a ladder we scaled our
bedroom, a platform of hay so narrow that the slightest roll would
have ended in a tumble on to the heap of pails twelve feet below. The
time has scarcely yet come for a small mountain-inn on this spot to be
rendered profitable, but it would be a step in the right direction and
a great boon to travellers if the Trentine Alpine Club would incite or
assist the herdsmen to build a 'spare' châlet and furnish it with beds
and cooking materials. Romantic in its situation, the Bedole Alp is
also the true centre of the district. From it active travellers might
ascend in the day the Adamello, Presanella, or Carè Alto, or cross by
glacier passes into Val di Fum or Val Saviore, to Edolo by the Val di
Malga, to Ponte di Legno, or to the Val di Sole.

A perfect morning relieved our spirits from the otherwise depressing
influence of climbing a rough track in the dark.

The head of Val di Genova is almost too perfect a 'cul de sac' for
the mountaineer who wants to get higher. Some way up or by the side of
the icefall of the Lobbia Glacier is yet to be found, but is probably
possible. The upper regions of the Mandron Glacier, the Adamello, and
all the passes to Val Camonica are, except in one place, completely cut
off by the continuous cliffs which hem in the valley.

To reach the upper pasturages and the hut of Mandron, sometimes very
needlessly used as night-quarters by foreign climbers, it is necessary
to turn northwards and hit on a rough track which finds a way up the
crags near a slender waterfall. A herdsman with a lantern guided us
up the steepest part of the ascent, and was then sent back, leaving us
and our Swiss guides to find our own way, a task to which we were all
pretty well accustomed.

We now turned again sharply southwards, making for the side of the
Mandron Glacier. A considerable extent of ground had to be traversed,
rough and boulder-strewn, yet bright with flowers. Amongst them was
a profusion of 'Edelweiss,' a plant which may doubtless be found in
dangerous positions, but is quite as often plucked where cows might
crop it. But ground safe for cows is not always safe for amateur
botanists in high-heeled and nailless boots.

We climbed steadily the slopes of snow on the (true) left bank of
the ice. From the top of the last we looked over a smooth expanse of
gloriously bright snow-field, bounded on the west by a range of peaks,
and on the east by a long white crest, terminating in the rock peak
of La Lobbia, first ascended by Von Sonklar. The Presanella, on this
side massive and less graceful than from the north, closed the backward
view. The still frost-bound surface was crisp and crackling under our
feet, and we made quick progress, passing the gap on our right through
which eight years afterwards I crossed into Val d'Avio. A shapely
snow-peak at the head of the glacier was at first sight assumed to
be our mountain, but a reference to the map saved us from repeating
Payer's mistake, and convinced us that this was the Corno Bianco, and
that the Adamello must be further round to the right. Accordingly after
reaching the slightly higher plain whence the ice falls also into the
upper branches of Val Saviore, we rounded the snow-peak, and ascended
slopes in its rear which brought us up to the highest reservoir of
all, a snow-basin sloping downwards from the foot of a conical peak,
a steeper but scarcely loftier Cima di Jazi, the Adamello itself. On
gaining the ridge at its eastern base we looked down precipices on to
the head of Val d'Avio and its lake. The side of the peak above us was
steep, but thanks to some rocks and the splendid condition of the snow
it took but twenty minutes to gain the summit, a snow-crest some fifty
yards long rising at either extremity, the north-eastern point being
the highest.

  [Illustration: FROM THE ADAMELLO.
   Looking East over the Corno Bianco.


   F. F. Tuckett delt.]

From its position as an outlier of the great chain, we had expected
much from the Adamello, and now we were not disappointed. The morning
had held good to its promise and brought forth one of those golden
midsummer days which, as some think, are best spent on the tops of

Far away in the east we could trace the line of our wanderings from
their very commencement. There were the dolomite peaks of Primiero,
a little further the Marmolata, Pelmo, and the pyramidal Antelao;
then the eye had only to leap the broad gap of the Pusterthal to run
over the Tauern from the Ankogel (above Gastein) to the Brenner. The
Glockner was as well defined as from Heiligen Blut, only that its snows
were tinted an exquisite rose colour, as if they had made prisoner of a
sunset. The Orteler and Bernina, from which we were nearly equidistant,
made a fine show of snow and ice; still closer at hand we surveyed the
great snow-fields of our own group, overlooked by our two rivals, the
Presanella and Carè Alto. To the south lay a labyrinth of granite peaks
and ridges, separating the many glens which ran up from Val Camonica.
This great valley was visible for miles, and the eye rested with
pleasure on its fields of Indian corn and chestnut woods, until led on
by the white thread of road to the blue waters of Lago d'Iseo basking
amidst bright green hills. When tired of this prospect we could take a
bird's-eye view of the Val Tellina, a long deep trench of cultivation,
heat, and fertility, closed at its lower end by the mountains round the
head of Lago di Como. These were crowned by a coronet of snowy peaks,
which, so clear was the air, almost seemed part of them, but were in
reality the Pennine giants encircling Zermatt. Most notable of all was
the splendid pyramid of the Matterhorn, seen in its sharpest aspect,
towering immediately over the Weissthor. In another direction far away
across the shoulders of lower hills the wide waters of Lago di Garda
glowed like burnished metal beneath the cloudless sunshine, while
further still the mounds of Solferino were faintly seen through a haze
of heat.

The view was perhaps the most beautiful, though not the most
extensive,[47] I have seen from a snowy Alp, and the pleasure of it
even in memory must be my excuse for having to some extent recalled its

But it is impossible to infuse into a catalogue of names any trace of
the colouring of the original. I can only hope to induce some reader
sceptical of the beauties of the snow-world to climb one of these
Italian Alps for himself. But he must remember that it is not, as some
critics of the Alpine Club seem to think, enough to have scaled a peak
once or twice under unfavourable conditions in order to be capable
and entitled to express an authoritative opinion on the scenery of the
upper Alps. Time as well as place is required. One of those days, not
rare in a southern summer, must be chosen, when the mountains are at
rest from their task of moisture condensers, and stand basking in the
sunshine and well-earned idleness.

At such moments the climber's toil is richly paid. Over his head
stretches the pure vault of the sky, below lies a vast expanse of
earth; the mountain-top seems poised between the two, a point in the
centre of a hollow globe. From the refulgent snows of the neighbouring
peak, glittering with such excess of light as to be scarcely endurable,
the eye turns for relief to gaze up into the intense colour of the
zenith, or wanders over miles of green and countless changes of blue
distances to the saffron of the extreme chain which forms the link
between earth and heaven.

Surely no one who has enjoyed such a view would deny the beauty of
the forms and colours gathered round him. To represent to others the
glory of the mountain-tops requires, it is true, either a poet or one
of the greatest and rarest landscape painters. But even if these fail,
if the scenery of the highest Alps proves altogether unpaintable and
indescribable, it may yet be in the highest sense beautiful. The skill
of the interpreter cannot be accepted as the measure of that which is
to be interpreted, nor can the noble and delightful in nature be made
subject to the limitations of art.

But the vision of those hours[48] on a great peak stretches beyond
what is actually before the eyes. At such moments even the dullest soul
shares with inarticulate emotion the feelings which poets have put into
words for all ages. Our pulses beat in tune with the great pulse of
Life which is breathing round us. We lose ourselves and become part of
the vast order into the visible presence of which we seem for a brief
space to have been translated. On a lesser height, whence some town is
seen like a great ant-heap with the black insects hurrying backwards
and forwards across its lanes, the insignificance of the human race is
often painfully prominent. But here, removed by leagues of snow and
ice and a mile or two of sheer height from the rest of our race, no
such thought oppresses us. Man is merged in nature, cities have become
specks, provinces are spread out like fields, the eye ranges across a
kingdom. Through the stillness which fills the upper air the ear seems
to catch from time to time some faint echo of

       ---- The deep music of the rolling world
     Kindling within the strings of the waved air
     Æolian modulations.

On its lofty standpoint the mind feels in harmony with the soul of the
universe, and almost fancies itself to gain a glimpse of its workings.

Seen from the valley the sublimity of the mountain precipice may be
due to a sentiment at root akin to terror. Grandeur is there shown in
its most overpowering--a Frenchman might say brutal--form by some giant
peak towering defiantly skywards, 'remote, serene, and inaccessible,' a
chill colossus alien to human life. But on the peak we are conquerors;
its terrors are left below and behind us. In our new scale of vision
the Titans gathered in silent session round us are brothers. The masses
which appeared from below 'confusedly hurled' have become ordered. The
valleys unfold their labyrinths. The rivers, cleansed from all stain of
early turbulence in the calm of heaven-reflecting lakes, are seen to
set forth, at first gently directed and compelled by the lower hills,
for the great plain where each has its own mission of life and bounty
to fulfil. We are no longer, like the old-world theologian, frightened
into thinking our mountain a monument of man's wickedness and God's
anger, or like the modern philosopher, oppressed by the bulk of the
giant; we know him in his true character as a

     Factory of river and of rain,
     Link in the Alps' globe-circling chain.

The sense of the sublime excited in us is due not to mere 'extension
of space,' but to admiration of the excellence revealed by our larger
range of vision. The barren ice-field is seen to water a thousand
meadows, the destructive torrent to fertilise a whole province. The
evil of the world seems for once contained within the good.

Had Mr. Mill lived a generation later, and wandered upon Tyrolean snows
as well as amongst the meadows at their feet,[49] he would probably
have hesitated to state so broadly that 'what makes the greater
natural phenomena so impressive is simply their vastness,' and that no
'admiration for excellence' enters into the feeling they inspire.

So far (except that we had not crossed over the top of the Corno
Bianco) we had followed in the footsteps of Lieut. Payer, who had first
conquered the Adamello in the previous year. Henceforth our course lay
over unknown ground. The descent from the Adamello snow-fields into
Val Camonica had never been attempted, and, from the configuration of
the range, was likely to be a matter of difficulty. We had, however,
a large space to search over and a choice of several glens to descend
into, any one of which would bring us, with more or less circuit, to
the great valley. We naturally determined to try first the nearest gap,
looking down into the Val Miller and leading directly to Edolo; if that
failed we were prepared to go further and force a passage down one of
the glaciers falling towards Val Saviore.

Having returned in our old footsteps to the base of the peak,
we traversed the snow out of which it rises to its further or
south-western foot. On the rock-face overhead I noticed several small
ranunculuses in flower at an elevation of 11,500 feet above the sea.
A projecting crag on the right of the gap which we had selected as
our first point of attack enabled us to reconnoitre what lay below
us. We were in a position very much resembling that of the traveller
from Zermatt, when he has reached the summit of the Weissthor and
gazes down at Macugnaga, except that in our case the valley was not
more than 3,500 feet below us. On the other hand, we were on unknown
ground and had to trust entirely to our own judgment. That of the
guides was prompt and favourable. A nasty tongue of glacier curled
over the ridge, but soon broke short from the steepness of the cliff;
so long as we gave a wide berth to the stones discharged by this
ill-conditioned neighbour they foresaw no impossibilities or dangers
ahead. The rocks proved worthy of our estimate. Although steep--quite
as steep as those leading up to the Schreckhorn Sattel--they were
thoroughly safe, and gave firm foothold on broad shelves and rough
ridges. We went on without check, until within a hundred feet of their
base we found ourselves apparently cut off from the snow-field below
by a smooth cliff. We underwent a few minutes' grim suspense while
Michel and François searched right and left for some ledge or crack.
But soon the welcome shout of 'es geht' rose to our ears, and we found
our escape. Swift glissades followed, and we shot quickly down the
slopes of the little glacier which nestles beneath the crags. Nothing
now remained but to scramble over the huge boulders to the stream below
us and follow its waters until we struck a path. The Val Miller is a
wild upland glen, hemmed in by cliffs, above which are seen the twin
snow-crests of the Adamello. In an hour from the glacier we reached the
only châlets in the upper valley, known as the Casetta di Miller.[50]
The rock on which the hut was founded was highly 'moutonnée,' or
polished by glacier action, as our scientific companion did not fail
to point out. A few moments later he impressed the fact still more
forcibly on our memories. A large bowl brimming with delicious milk
had been brought out for our refreshment. Either in the excitement of
draining it the drinker overbalanced himself, or a perverse barometer
chose that moment to swing between his legs. Anyhow,

     Δούπησεν δὲ πεσών, ἀράβησε δὲ τεύχε' ἐπ' αὐτῷ.
     Down he fell with a thump, and the aneroids rattled about

The consequences of the fall were serious: a thick coating of cream,
quicksilver and châlet dirt, a bruised knee and--worst of all in the
sufferer's mind--several broken instruments.

Opposite the huts we crossed to the left bank of the stream, and
followed a cow-path which soon brought us to the verge of the long,
abrupt descent separating Val Miller from its continuation the Val di
Malga. The path corkscrewed through a gully in quaint little zigzags,
built up toilsomely with stones, steep as an attic staircase and odious
enough to wind down under a hot afternoon sun. The cows whom we had
seen above can scarcely look upon the day of their move for the summer
months with the same pleasure which their sisters throughout the Alps
are said to exhibit. An English farmer would as soon think of driving
his herd to the top of the Monument as up such a place.

We were now again amongst trees, which clothed either bank and added to
the beauty of the scenery. The descent was continuous, until a cluster
of houses was reached, prettily placed among meadows, in which all the
inhabitants were at work, profiting by the fine weather to gather in
their hay-harvest. The only creatures left at home were families of
white rabbits, which seem to live here on the footing of domestic pets.
The elders sat lazily sunning themselves, while the young ones played
high jinks without showing the least fear at our presence. The track
now became passable for carts, and fearfully stony. From this point
to the high-road we met a specimen of every kind of pavement invented
for human torture in Italian valleys. First there was the 'pavé au
naturel,' formed of native rock and those wandering stones which seem
to grow out of the ground everywhere; next came a steep pitch of the
'pavé aux Alpes,' in which the stones are fixed side by side in wild
disorder; then, worse than all, a long spell of round pebbles, such as
are found at a third-rate watering-place which cannot afford even one
flag down the middle of the footpath. Even the natives seemed to revolt
against this precious medley, and frequent short-cuts and side-tracks
showed how they avoided the work of their own hands. Presently the road
swerved round the hillside to the right, and a lovely reach of Val
Camonica opened before our eyes. Immediately in front, surrounded by
a wood of chestnuts, was Sonico, and in the distance, built up a slope
above the junction of Val Corteno with Val Camonica, rose the towers of
Edolo, about one hour's walk distant.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great shining tableland, lifted above all the lofty Lombard ridges,
had fascinated my imagination. When another opportunity offered, I
laid my plans so as to combine an ascent of its second summit, the
Carè Alto, with a passage across its greatest breadth. At first sight
on the map this might seem a bold, even an impossible, attempt, for
it involved the crossing of no less than five lofty ridges, varying
between 9,800 and 10,000 feet in height. But a study of the levels
showed that owing to the uniform upheaval of the mass there would be no
descent of more than 200 or 300 feet in the ten miles between the first
and last. Still we thought it well to sleep in the highest châlet on
this side the snows.

On a glorious August afternoon we drove down the high-road from Pinzolo
to Borzago, whence a mountain-path leads into the glen to which the
village has given its name.

At the top of the first ascent a very happily-balanced view opens.
The valley slopes are feathered with light foliage. High above them
shine the white folds of glacier, while the Carè Alto, half rock half
a glittering ice-comb, is the centre of the landscape. Deeper in the
glen, beyond the pine trees and the hay barns, great birches hang
over the path which splits into branches in the forest. Here we lost
ourselves, and plunged for several minutes amidst broken rocks and
dense underwood, tearing our hands and clothes, but filling our mouths
with delicious raspberries. On a slope below the cliffs which close
the valley stand two summer cottages where we had hoped to sleep. An
old woman and her son were cooking their polenta, but no herds were in
sight. The old woman seemed only anxious to be rid of the unexpected
invaders--she had no milk, no hay to sleep on, absolutely 'niente.'
The herd was higher on the mountain, but it was too late for us to
reach them--we had better go back. An hour's daylight remained, and we
bribed, not without difficulty, the boy to leave his porridge and lead
us at once to the herds. We followed him at a swinging cowboy pace up
steep hillsides, over rocks, and between waterfalls. But darkness fell
and still no friendly tinkle reached our ears. Hurrying on over broken
but more level ground, we saw at last something whiter than Adamello
granite at our feet. We were among a flock of Bergamasque sheep. A
minute later we plunged into unseen filth, and were brought up short
before an enormous boulder. The boy's cheerful statement of 'Ecco la
malga' was at first simply incredible. A rock, experience affirmed,
could not be a 'malga.' But the boy was right. His shrill shout was
sleepily answered from the bowels of the earth, and from a hole under
the boulder human forms were dimly seen to issue. For the next few
minutes a shower of patois filled the air, amidst which we penetrated a
low door and found ourselves in a cave constructed by building a wall
of stones against the lower side of the boulder where it overhung. A
dying fire threw a feeble light over a crowd of pails and cheeses which
filled every foot of available space. One of us sat down on a cheese,
another found a cover which converted a milk-pail into a seat. The low
slanting roof rendered the least movement difficult and perilous. In
the furthest corner where the rock left no space except for a prostrate
figure was a bed of hay and skins, fully filled by three shepherds and
a girl.

The smallness of the accommodation was made more conspicuous by
the disproportion between it and the voices which issued from the
shepherds as they moved about to help us in our arrangements. Within
a few inches of our ears they bellowed every remark in a Homeric roar,
which might without exaggeration have been heard half a mile off. Long
habit in shouting to their flocks on a distant hillside, or carrying
on conversations across a valley, had so taken hold of them that they
seemed quite incapable of reducing their voices to the ordinary pitch
of regions where population is less thinly scattered.

Our night did not promise to be luxurious. After a frugal supper on
bread and chocolate, we made our bed as well as we could. The shelter
being far above the forest, logs were not easily procurable, and
the shepherds had consequently collected as fuel a heap of slender
brushwood. Having piled away some of the pails and cheeses we spread
the green branches out on the floor as a mattress. A macintosh served
for a sheet, and our entertainers supplied a rug for our feet. The
couch was at least not painfully uncomfortable; and though each of us
felt sure in the morning that he had not slept, no one had found the
night interminable except poor François, who insisted on sitting and
smoking over the fire, and was consequently only half awake all the
next day.

At daybreak we issued into the open air. We found ourselves in the
wild hollow at the eastern base of the Carè Alto, separated from the
great Borzago Glacier by a rocky spur. Mounting first towards and then
along this ridge, we quickly approached the mountain. Had we remained
on the rocks, and then boldly struck up the eastern face, we should,
I believe, quickly have settled with our peak. But François did not
favour this plan; moreover, our further intentions gave a motive for
carrying our baggage to the side of the peak to which it would be most
convenient to descend.

We consequently slid down several hundred feet on to the great glacier,
and made a flank march towards the much higher northern base of the
Carè Alto. This operation caused some delay. The snow, where it curled
over from the highest plain, broke into huge chasms. There was, it
was true, always an easy way round each of them; but the ways round
seldom coincided, and for some time our ascent was conducted in a very
crab-like fashion.

Above these obstacles an easy slope led to the mountain, on this
side a cocked-hat of ice sharply cut off from the snow-fields by a
continuous moat, bridged only at one spot near the southern corner of
the peak. Tracks across the snow-arch showed that feet guided by true
mountaineering instinct had lately crossed. On approach they turned out
to be a broad chamois-trail. The herd which had made them we saw later
in the day.

A little step-cutting enabled us to follow our four-footed guides and
reach the rocky ridge. As we gained it, our eyes, accustomed for the
last hour or two to the white glare of sun-facing snows, suddenly fell
on a wide basin of pure green, seemingly at our feet. We were looking
on the pasturages of Val di Fum. Some such glimpse, aided by a few
clouds to confuse topography, may well have given rise to the legend of
the Lost Valley of Monte Rosa, or the Rose Garden of King Laurin.

The last scramble was easy except in one place, where the rocks failed
to give foothold for a few yards, and steps had to be cut between them
and the ice. An accident might easily happen here with careless guides;
but, as one steady man can ensure the safety of a party, the spot can
hardly be called dangerous.

The mountain culminates in a double peak; the furthest point is a
broken tooth of bare granite. The gap between this and the snow-crest
is narrow and not deep, and a convenient crack supplies a way to the
highest crag. On it we found traces of a stoneman built probably by
Messrs. S. Taylor and Montgomery who made the first ascent in 1865.

This peak, if less favourably placed than the Adamello, commands a
noble view. In the east deep forested glens, fertile valleys and green
ridges crowned by ruddy crags contrast with the eternal snow-fields
which stretch away for miles towards the west. From the Carè Alto, as
from an outpost, the genius of winter may look down on the country he
has lost since the great ice-epoch, on the trenches through which his
rivers flowed, on the hills they rounded, and see even, far off in the
haze, the mounds which he erected as monuments of his widest power, the
huge terminal moraines of Somma and Solferino. Behind him lies his last
refuge, the great granite castle from whose summit his forces cannot be
dislodged even by the summer sun of Lombardy.

Across this fastness we intended to make our way. For the next six
hours we steadily pursued a westward course over the snow-fields. Now
we wandered at the foot of Monte Folletto[51] amongst snow-caves huge
enough to puzzle for a moment even the herd of chamois whose gambols
we had interrupted. Then we passed through a narrow gap, the Passo
di Cavento, on each side of which the grey and red pinnacles shot up
in a fantastic fence, while at their base a great ditch waited the
unwary mountaineer. Beyond it we found another snow-reservoir, almost
as flat as a cricket-field, feeding the ice-streams of Val di Fum and
the Lobbia Glacier. A broad gap, the Passo della Lobbia Alta, let us
through to another basin, that of the Mandron Glacier, where we crossed
the track to the Adamello. At its further extremity--it is about three
miles broad--we saw before us the fifth ridge, the last which divided
us from Val d'Avio.[52]

As we approached the pass a family group of three chamois were seen
moving before us on the snow. Presently a gun was fired from among the
rocks of the Corni del Confine, and a solitary hunter sprang forward.
The shot had missed, and the chamois, whom we had been unconsciously
driving, raced past us. One of them was quite young, and it was
touching to see how the two parents not only would move no faster than
the pace of their child, but placed themselves on either side of it,
as if purposely sheltering it from danger. My condolences with the
sportsman were not very heartfelt.

A steep gully, an easy glacier, a pathless hillside, helped us quickly
down to the first châlet in Val d'Avio. A few yards beyond it the
valley is broken by a lofty cliff. At the foot of a steep zigzag
beside the thundering waters we entered one of the level platforms
common in this group. Its smooth expanse of meadow was alive with cows
and goats, now collected for the night round the herdsmen's huts.
Two torrents--one the grey child of the glaciers, the other clear
and spring-born--rushed down upon us in splendid cascades. In the
background the Adamello raised its icy horn.

Immediately below the alp lies a large lake. The scene somewhat
resembles the Lac de Gaube, but the features of the landscape are more
savage, bolder, and on a larger scale. The lake itself, however, is
unfortunately of the ordinary murky-grey colour of Swiss glacier water.

Beyond the platform of the lake the glen falls with extraordinary
rapidity, and a very stony path, mainly on the left bank, leads down
past a succession of waterfalls, any one of which in another country
might become famous.

The lower level of the valley is devastated by the torrent. For Ponte
di Legno it is best to cross its stony bed and follow a cart-track
joining the Tonale road a little below Pontagna. When we entered the
high-road night overtook us, and we walked the three uphill kilomètres
to Ponte di Legno at our fastest pace, killing distance and fatigue
with the present pleasure of rapid motion.


     [46] I ought, perhaps, to say 'stretched.' The axe has laid
     low much of it during the past ten years.

     [47] The widest range of vision I have ever gained was from
     the Pizzo della Mare in the Orteler group, from which the
     Ankogel above Wildbad Gastein, and Monte Viso, distant from
     each other over 400 miles, the Apennines above Bologna, and
     the hills of the Vorarlberg were visible at the same time.

     [48] There is an opinion current, based only on the habitual
     hurry of some mountaineers and the slowness of others, that
     it is impossible to spend hours on a great peak. On a calm,
     fine day no pleasanter resting-place can be found, and the
     time you can pass on the top depends only on the time of day
     you reach it. I have spent three hours on the Aletschhorn
     and Monte Rosa with the greatest enjoyment, less than an hour
     rarely, in decent weather on any peak of over 10,000 feet.

     [49] 'J. S. Mill und Tochter,' is a frequent entry in the
     strangers' books of Tyrolean inns.

     [50] Messrs. Taylor and Montgomery passed two nights in
     these huts later in the same year, and, weather forbidding
     an ascent of the Adamello, crossed into Val Saviore by a wild
     but easy Pass.

     [51] Payer's account of the answers given to his enquiries
     about this summit, furnishes a good illustration of
     the difficulty of naming a peak:--'Botteri declared the
     mountain was nameless; from others I got the names Monte
     Mulat, Monte Folletto, Monte Marmotta (from Marmot), Monte
     Calotta (from cap). I chose finally the name Folletto (from
     mountain-spirit, Kobold).'

     [52] A good view of the Bedole Glacier from this point, the
     Passo del Mandron, appeared in the publications for 1874
     of the German Alpine Club. There are some serious mistakes,
     however, in the identification of various points. The Lobbia
     Bassa should be the Lobbia Alta, the Lobbia Alta the Dosson
     di Genova, and the Passo della Lobbia Alta the Passo d'Adame.



     For August be your dwelling thirty towers
       Within an Alpine valley mountainous,
       Where never the sea wind may vex your house,
     But clear life, separate, like a star, be yours.
     So alway drawing homeward ye shall tread,
       Your valley parted by a rivulet,
       Which day and night shall flow sedate and smooth,
     There all through noon ye may possess the shade.
                   FOLGORE DA SAN GEMIGNANO, A.D. 1260;
                              _Rossetti's Translation_.


Pinzolo is conspicuous amongst the villages which cluster round the
head of Val Rendena by its tall campanile of Adamello granite, a pretty
feature of the landscape, but, as I shall afterwards show, an evil sign
of the times. Its houses, gathered along two stone-paved streets and
round a little open space--the piazza--stand close against the eastern
hillside at the point where the mountain-ranges, bending towards one
another and almost joining, enclose in their semicircular folds the
lower valley. Great torrents rush out of two clefts in the hills, the
openings of Val Nambino and Val di Genova, and but for human industry
would devastate the low ground on their banks. But they are held fast
in fetters of their own contriving. The huge granite boulders, which
in former floods they have borne down from the heart of the Presanella
or the Adamello, have been turned to account for the building of
massive dykes through which so much water only is allowed to pass as
will suffice to irrigate the plain and turn its alluvial soil into the
richest of water-meadows.

The beauty of the situation does not, like that of Grindelwald or
Chamonix, depend on mountain sublimity. On one side some shreds of
snow and granite belonging to the Presanella come into view. On the
other the southern crest of the Brenta group lies couched like a huge
gold-red Egyptian sphinx on the green back of a lower hill. But these
are mere glimpses of the upper world, valuable and suggestive glimpses
it is true, but not sufficient to decide the character of the whole
landscape. The hills which encircle the head of Val Rendena rise
in steep but nowhere perpendicular banks, swathed in chestnut woods
about their base, lying open higher up in sloping meadows fringed with
mountain ash, birch and pine. The valley floor, a smooth, brilliantly
green carpet, gives an impression of wealth and softness rendered more
welcome by the knowledge of the rugged grandeur so close at hand.

It would be hard to find a more delightful spot in which to idle
away a sunny day than the hillside immediately behind Pinzolo. It is
only needful to climb a few hundred yards among the chestnut-boles to
find platforms covered with a soft carpet of moss, ferns and delicate
southern flowers. Here under the shade of dancing leaves, fanned by
soft breezes and lulled by the cool tinkle of falling water and the
murmur of innumerable living things which fills an Italian noon, the
restless traveller may for once enjoy unmixed with other thoughts
the sympathetic delight of coexistence with a world seemingly for the
moment wholly given up to enjoyment.

In another mood he may climb higher and higher through the forest,
gaining at each step new glimpses of the bright fields and villages of
Val Rendena, and watching the icy horns of the Adamello group as they
shoot out one by one against the sky. Then entering a hidden upland
glen he will reach a gap where, in the opposite direction, the dolomite
towers soar stark and red over the green slopes. Hence he may descend
into Val Agola, and so to Campiglio, or, turning to the right, wander
along shady forest paths to the ridge of the Pra Fiori. But left of
the depression, and cut off by it from the other hills, rises a grassy
down which must give one of the most perfect views of the surrounding
ranges, raking as it does Val di Genova, Val Rendena, and Val Nambino.
There is a châlet within five minutes of the meadow-top, but any lady
who likes the walk may, so far as I know, boast herself afterwards of
having made 'the first ascent by travellers' of the Dos di Sabione.

If the rain-clouds hang low on the hills and the woods are too wet
for loitering in, the old churches of the valley may give employment.
The mother-chapel near the mouth of Val di Borzago has been already
referred to. The large modern church in the village, with its campanile
built at the cost of the noble forests of Val di Genova, has no
particular interest.[53] But five hundred yards north of Pinzolo stands
San Vigilio, a plain building consisting of a nave and small chancel,
with a belfry, probably of older date, at the western end. The southern
face is decorated with a frescoed Dance of Death, dated 1539, a work
of some spirit, and retaining traces of rich colouring. We may stroll
further across the valley to the romantically situated chapel of San
Stefano perched high among the woods on a granite bluff above the mouth
of Val di Genova. The outside is covered with representations of the
life of the saint, and another Triumph of Death, dated 1519; within is
a very curious fresco of Charlemagne--I beg Mr. Freeman's pardon, the
great Karl--engaged, in company with a Pope, in baptising the heathen.
Close by, a long and most interesting inscription tells the history of
the campaign, in the course of which the great emperor penetrated this
remote region. The following is a very curtailed summary of the events
there recorded.[54]

Lupus, Lord of Bergamo, was a pagan, and Charles strove with him to
convert him. But Lupus took a certain Sandro and many others and cut
off their heads; whereupon there appeared six burning torches, no one
holding them; and by God's grace the bells rang without earthly aid.
Seeing this miracle, Lupus with all his people was converted to the
Catholic faith, and joined Charles. The host, numbering 4,000 spears,
marched up Val Camonica, slaying heretics, such as Lord Hercules and
King Comerus, destroying castles, and building churches. Then they
crossed a mountain where there was a great fight between the Christians
and pagans, at a place since known as 'Mortarolus.'


   J. Gilbert delt.]

From the 'Mons Toni' (the Tonale) the army descended to Plezau
(Pelizzano), where it made a great slaughter of the heathen, and so
reached Val Rendena by the route of the Ginevrie Pass. 'And they came
to the church of San Stefano and baptised a very great people. And the
said Charles made an end of converting all the Jews and pagans at the
church of San Stefano, and there he left a book in which were contained
all the things he had done throughout the world.'

The chroniclers tell us little of all these matters.[55] The Alpine
Passes of the Middle Ages is a chapter of history which, so far as I
know, has not yet been satisfactorily written. Much material for it
doubtless exists, although not in a form very easy of collection. It
would be a work full of interest to trace how in succeeding centuries
first one then another route rose into importance; and the present
moment, when the Alps are for all practical and commercial purposes
on the brink of annihilation, when mountain roads are about to yield
to burrows, seems peculiarly well suited for a review of the whole

Higher in the hills between Val di Genova and Val di Borzago, beside
a little lake, lies the chapel of San Giuliano, a tempting object for
an excursion, including a visit to the latter valley, and perhaps an
ascent of the Corno Alto, one of the high points seen from Val Nambino
against the Lares snows. The saint, according to local legend, seems to
have been a somewhat testy old hermit. Having been refused milk by some
shepherds, he at once turned them and their flocks into boulders, which
may still be seen. I suspect San Giuliano was no saint at all, but some
mountain spirit known to earlier times, who reappeared under this new
disguise with the malicious intention of discrediting the new religion.

I can only indicate briefly the varied attractions of Pinzolo and
its immediate neighbourhood, leaving to each visitor the pleasure
of fresh discovery. But on looking back I find that I have left out
what ought to have been the most prominent object in my picture. Most
English travellers are disposed to agree with Dr. Johnson that the most
beautiful landscape in the world would be improved by a good inn in the
foreground. It is too late to put Signor Bonapace's in this position,
but I will do my best to repair the slight by describing it at once,
and with some minuteness.

The house remains up to the present time a good specimen of the country
inn of Southern Tyrol. It is kept by well-to-do people, who drive an
excellent trade with their own country-folk, and until the last year
or two looked with some astonishment on the few pleasure-travellers
whom each summer brought them. An arched doorway opens out of the
paved street into a sort of barn, whence a steep stone staircase leads
up into a dark, low-roofed hall or lobby, crowded with benches and
tables. Out of it open two still gloomier inner chambers. In one a
faint glimmer of bright copper, a sound of hissing, and a bustling of
Marthas, reveal the kitchen; in the other, at the foot of an enormous
family bed, leaning over a table, sits the master of the house, one eye
intent on accounts, the other keeping a quiet watch over what goes on
around. At his order a handmaiden will leave her labours in the kitchen
and conduct you up another steep flight of stairs, and into a large
dormitory containing five beds, three tables, and two washing-basins,
which used to be considered to fulfil every possible requirement for
night accommodation. Now, however, several smaller apartments have been
furnished for guests, and a cheerful room in the next house, over the
grocer's shop, is also put at the service of English prejudice. Meals
cooked in the fashion of the country, but very plentiful, are served in
a little room with a bed in the corner, which opens out of the lobby.

Both are generally filled of an evening with a crowd of customers of
the peasant-farmer class, perfectly well conducted, but too talkative
and fond of smoking to be altogether agreeable companions. Yet dark
and dingy and crowded though it is, there is romance about this typical
Italian mountain inn. Its discomforts are soon forgotten, and it lives
in our memories by many cheerful sights and sounds: the splash of the
fountain at the corner under the walnut-tree, where the women in their
bright-coloured handkerchiefs wash their linen, and call out cheerily
to the barefooted little Pietros and Marias playing in the sunshine;
the sudden bustle and tinkle of the goats returning from the mountain
as they troop off in little companies to their separate homes; the
noise of the bowls and the laughter of the players, kept up till there
is no longer light to pursue the game: last of all, as if in solemn
contrast to the exuberant life of the day, the melancholy voice of the
watchman ringing out through the silent night.

The larger of the two streams which meet at Pinzolo issues from Val
di Genova; the second flows out of a gap in the hills continuing the
line of depression of Val Rendena. Scarcely two miles higher, beyond
the neighbouring village of Caresolo, this torrent again divides. On
the left Val Nambrone leads up towards the flanks of the Presanella. A
steep ascent is necessary to gain the highest stretch of Val Nambino, a
wide, sunny vale, studded with cottages and surrounded by green slopes
and forests.

The old cart-track, lately converted into a good carriage-road, skirts
continuously the western hillside, leaving the stream far below in a
narrow bed. Behind us the snows of the Carè Alto and its neighbours
gradually rise into sight above a lower ridge graced with singularly
symmetrical summits.

But our attention is soon riveted on the new mountain range which rises
beyond the valley. High amongst the clouds soar its red towers and
pinnacles; the bold ridges which support them sweep down upon us in
majestic curves. Three glens, green with beech copses, push up boldly
into the heart of the mountain. The one opposite is Val di Brenta,
rising towards its Bocca, the gap on the north of the most stupendous
castle; the furthest, the Vallesinella, leads by another strange
gateway to Molveno, the nearest is Val Agola, also with passes for
mountaineers or paths for ramblers.

  [Illustration: VAL DI BRENTA.
   From the Road to Campiglio.

   Fulmini di Brenta.      Bocca di Brenta.      Cima Tosa.

   J. Gilbert delt.]

We have already seen from a distance, or skirted the sides of, the
Brenta group. From the crests of the Adamello chain or from the depths
of Val di Genova a mysterious range utterly unlike anything in the
central Alps[56] has been frequently before our eyes. At Pinzolo, or on
the Pra Fiori, we have had glimpses of strange red peaks. But we seem
now to have come for the first time into their immediate presence.

The spectator standing on the western slopes of Val Nambino sees
high above everything else against the eastern sky two huge square
fortresses built up of horizontal courses of masonry. The ground-colour
of their walls is a yellowish grey, streaked with red and black,
and broken here and there by lines of shining white, where a steep
glacier-stair scales the precipice. The massiveness of these blocks
adds by contrast to the effect of the surrounding pinnacles. Before the
traveller's eyes rise towers, horns, cupolas, columns, spires, crowded
together in endless variety. Here he fancies must be the workshop of
Nature, and these are her store of models. Or he is reminded of some
architectural drawing, a collection of the great buildings of the
world, or the spires of Sir Christopher Wren.

These peaks are the advance-guard of the Tyrolese dolomites, boldly
thrown across the valley of the Adige, as if to challenge on their own
ground the snowy ranks of the Orteler and Adamello. They are separated
from the granite by no wide depression such as divides the Venetian
Alps and the Tauern, but only by a single valley. The boulder which
rolls from the flanks of the Presanella will scarcely halt before it
rests on dolomitic soil.

The Eastern Alps could scarcely have put forward a nobler champion
than the range before us. Primiero and Auronzo may perhaps equal the
marvellous skyline; but they offer nothing to rival the symmetry of
the whole mass of the Brenta as it rises above Val Nambino. Consider
the lower stories of the huge edifice. The slope is not monotonous in
uniformity, yet the platforms which break it are too narrow to diminish
by foreshortening the apparent height of the summits. From our feet
rise powerful spurs, below dark with pines, above bare and white; their
form is simple and severe, but every shifting light brings out fresh
details in the fretwork which time has carved deeply into their sides.
Like the flying buttresses of some vast cathedral they lead the eye up
to the straight perpendicular lines of the crowning towers.

When we come to study the range more generally, what incomparable
variety of beauty! On the west lies a green, open Alpine valley. The
Lago di Molveno reflects in its blue mirror the eastern crags. The
southern slopes are a rich tangle of vines and chestnuts; the beeches
push up and dispute with the pines the inner glens; the cyclamens and
gentians gird with successive belts of brightness the mountain form.

The traveller, when he penetrates this fantastic chain, finds himself
at first in narrow glens watered by clear streams, now smooth-flowing
over lawns of the softest turf, now dancing through beechwoods,
now plunging deep into some miniature ravine hung with mosses and
bright-berried ashes. He forgets, in the charm of what is near at hand,
what he came to see. Then suddenly through the tree-tops an incredible
yellow flame, set for ever between the green and blue, recalls the
presence of the dolomites, and urges him to further exertion. He climbs
a steep barrier, and the pinnacles range themselves as portions of
a vast amphitheatre of rock. He advances a few hundred yards further
along the level and the scene is changed. One solitary tower overclimbs
the clouds and mixes with the sky. A second ascent brings another
shift. Rocks, grey, gold, red, brown and black, cluster round his
bewildered eyes, and he begins to doubt whether the scene is a solid
reality or some Alastor-inspired Vision of Solitude.

Then, after wandering all the morning between red rocks and over two or
three hours of ice, he may find himself in the evening amongst figs,
olives and lemon-groves. For the Brenta group is planted not in the
midst of a mountain maze, but on the edge of the deepest cleft in the
Alps. From the white crown of the highest peak to Alle Sarche is a
descent of 10,500 feet.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is a disappointment to find that, for the moment, we must turn our
backs on all this beauty, and that our resting-place lies out of sight
of it, a mile further on.

The builders of the hospice of 'La Madonna di Campiglio' were more
anxious for safety in winter than for a fair prospect in summer. They
naturally preferred a meadow secure from avalanches, yet sufficiently
protected from the north by low banks, to the steeper and more broken
hillsides of the lower Val Nambino. After turning a corner beyond which
the wooded spurs of Monte Spinale cut off the view of the Brenta chain,
the road crosses the stream and enters a broad, smooth hay-field,
surrounded by slopes the summits of which lie too far back to give
dignity to the landscape. In the centre of this plain, far away from
any village, stands the hospice and pilgrimage church of Campiglio.

The existence of so large a building on a route now so little
frequented must strike everyone as curious and unexpected. But in fact
these remote valleys were once the highways of traffic. Not only, as
has been shown in an earlier chapter, did emperors lead their hosts
through the recesses of the Lombard Alps, but the merchandise of Venice
also sought these roundabout paths.

In olden times the gorge of the Adige was narrow and perilous for
an invader, crowded with feudal castles, each claiming its toll
from commerce. Princes and merchants seem to have frequently turned
westwards from Botzen across the Tonale, or southwards through Pinzolo
and Val Buona to Brescia. Then Campiglio was built, it is said by the
Templars, to lodge the frequent passers-by and break the long stage
between the inhabited valleys.

Similar hospices are found elsewhere in the Eastern Alps: at San
Martino, Paneveggio, and Auf der Plecken. But Campiglio is the largest
establishment of its kind. The buildings are ranged in the form of a
quadrangle, of which the hospice occupies three sides. Long galleries
lead from wing to wing and give access to the rooms, which all face
outwards and are cheerful and well lighted. The church, at the building
of which, according to local legend, angels assisted, occupies part of
the fourth side of the quadrangle. It contains a fresco, not without
merit, of the early part of the sixteenth century.

After some centuries traffic turned into other channels, and the monks
who had hitherto fulfilled the duties of hospitality departed, leaving
their place scantily filled by a peasant farmer, who kept one or two
rooms ready for strangers. On my first visit the old hospice was in
this phase of its existence. The fare was rough but good, and the milk,
cream, and butter delicious. The cows indeed seemed the mistresses of
the place, and all the other living creatures their attendants. For
their accommodation a new and spacious stable had been lately raised.
The front was decorated with carving; the interior formed a sort of
hall of columns, each column an unsmoothed fir-trunk. Down the centre
ran a spacious passage, on either side of which thirty-five cows were
ranged before their mangers.

Lately, however, the herd has been disturbed in its sole possession,
and Campiglio has started on a new path to fame. The farmer who owns
all the surrounding alps and woods, and whose wealth is locally looked
on as boundless, conceived an idea. Why should not the big house
be made use of? Rabbi, across the Val di Sole, was crowded with the
fashion of the Trentino. Campiglio also should become a 'Stabilimento
Alpino,' a 'Kurort' for Brescia and Botzen. He secured a coadjutor in
the owner of a large inn at Arco, a young man with international views
and desirous for more than a local success. In a Florence newspaper,
addressed to tourists of all nations, appeared, in the spring of 1874,
a large announcement of the opening of a 'magnifico stabilimento,' with
polyglot attendance, a resident physician, and the usual advantages.

Last year I explored this new magnificence. Externally it displayed
itself in some additions and wooden galleries over the courtyard.
Indoors many of the rooms had been prepared for occupation and a
large bare salle-à-manger added. There was also a comfortable general

The splendour was still growing, for, as new guests arrived, a
carpenter employed downstairs ran up fresh furniture for their use,
some of the hundred bedrooms of the advertisement being still in a
state of more than conventual simplicity. The 'service bon et exact'
was represented by three Italian youths, pale, untidy and swift-footed,
who fled with the greatest alacrity from any guest whose face gave
tokens of an approaching want. Their goodwill, however, was on the
whole so much in excess of their capacities that it was impossible
to treat them seriously.[57] For instance, the head waiter, having
been charged by an Englishman to wake him and get ready an early
breakfast, was found in the morning fast asleep in a chair in which
he had sat up all night with a fond intention of carrying out his
instructions. It must in fairness be added that, if an early start was
not better understood and provided for, it was chiefly the fault of
the guests. With a few notable exceptions they were the least active
and enterprising company I ever set eyes on. With exquisite scenes
on every side of them within a short half-hour's distance, they were
content to spend their days in the sleepy hollow, or, if they took a
walk at all, strolled along the new road for three hundred yards, that
is, nearly halfway to the corner of revelation where the great view
bursts so splendidly into sight. Guide-books not having yet catalogued
'excursions from Campiglio,' it never seemed to enter their minds that
there could be any; and they were content to loiter away their time
among the glories of nature, having eyes and seeing nothing. If you
asked your neighbour at the dinner-table which of the glens of the
dolomites he had rambled into? he did not know there were any; if he
had seen the Lares snow-fields flush at sunrise or swim in sunset haze?
if he had stood on any crest or 'tower of observance' high enough to
overlook the Trentino to where the peaks of Primiero and Cadore raise
their ramparts against a golden sky?--he could only reply with a stare
of dull incredulity.

But, once hardened to the contemplation of such misery in one's
fellow-creatures, the state of the pension was not without its
advantages. The gregarious British tourist was happily conspicuous by
his absence; Germans were rare, and the few who passed did not care
to linger where they were not allowed to smoke with their guides in a
public room during other people's meals.

Consequently there were none of those absurd but most disagreeable
differences over windows which arise whenever the haters of fresh air
gather in any number. For even with the greatest respect for a nation
and the strongest desire to fraternise with its members, it is hardly
possible to get on well with people whose favourite atmosphere is to
you as insupportable as Mars might be to the inhabitants of this earth.
Extended travel must surely in time enable the North German mind to
realise the existence, at least in others, of a horror of stuffiness.
I am sure that when this fact is once grasped many worthy men will be
saved from behaviour which if it did not arise from want of imagination
would be intolerable bearishness.

But if we speak freely of the shortcomings of others we must not forget
our own excesses. The appropriation, no matter for what purpose, of
the public room of an inn by a section of the guests is a thoroughly
selfish and unwarrantable proceeding. What should we think in Scotland
if an American congregation were to take possession of the inn
coffee-room every Sunday, and use it constantly on weekday evenings for
practising hymns? Yet this is what on the Continent tourists of other
nations have to submit to in all spots which have been discovered by
either of our missionary societies. No one can reasonably object to
English churches being built wherever the sick are sent, or even, as a
luxury and by those who can afford it, at such places as Chamonix and
Zermatt. But it is difficult to believe that our countrymen are so much
creatures of habit that they cannot sometimes gratify their religious
emotion in the Greek clearness of the mountain-top or under the Gothic
shade of the neighbouring grove without intruding their devotions on
their fellow-travellers of other creeds or countries.

At Campiglio, for the present at least, the Italian coming down
on Sunday morning runs no risk of finding himself in the midst of
a transformation scene; the tables chased, the chairs ranged in
regimental ranks, his acquaintance in the grey suit of last night,
black-coated and roped round his neck with a white tie, pinning up
notices of hymns on the backs of 'menus,' and a much-embarrassed host
endeavouring to explain to the non-British guests the cause of the
general turmoil.

I must not dismiss the Stabilimento without a short mention of its
two most important inmates at the time of my visit. The first was
a young member of the local 'Societa Alpina,' whose adventures and
heroism had made him a public character. Accompanied by the gardener
and carpenter of the establishment, he had ventured to attack one of
the limestone peaks east of Val Selva. The way proved longer and more
arduous than had been expected, and night was falling as the party
descended a narrow crest of the mountain. Suddenly they were made to
pause by a terrific roar, and a few moments afterwards beheld, several
hundred feet below, and on a spot they must pass, what they believed
to be a large bear. The animal instead of walking off, as bears in
every-day life are accustomed to do, behaved exactly like a bear in
a story, or one of the animals which are the terror and delight of
the modern nursery. Erect on his hind legs, he flashed fury from his
eyes, opening his red mouth and snapping his jaws at intervals with
ferocious significance. 'Si può immaginare nostra paura,' said the
poor mountaineer. He and his companions prudently decided not to risk
a nearer encounter with a monster who knew his part so perfectly. They
stopped exactly where they were, and spent the night, haunted by deep
breathings and strange sounds, which they attributed generally to wild
animals, and more particularly to the bear, camozzi and contrabandisti.

The gardener who was a sharer in this adventure was, it appeared,
permanently attached to the establishment. This gentleman spent many
hours daily under the shelter of a vast felt wideawake, superintending
the laying out of the surrounding grounds, which consisted of a flat
square plot of meadow, perhaps thirty yards by twenty. But genius shows
itself in small things as well as great. The variety of shape of which
flower-beds are capable is endless; and with an underling provided
with long strips of turf to mark the edges, our artist studied at
leisure the most pleasing forms and combinations. The ground idea, one
showing no slight originality, was taken from a plate of veal cutlets
such as sometimes appeared at the midday meal. One cutlet a day was
as much, however, as the creative mind could accomplish without risk
of repetition; and this finished, the broad hat and its owner would
after a few minutes of thankful contemplation retreat for rest to a
neighbouring bench.

To sum up. Those who look for the charm of Campiglio in any view from
the windows will be cruelly disappointed. Its attraction lies in the
wonderful freshness and purity of the air, which rivals that of the
Engadine, and in the variety and beauty of the excursions within reach.

For ladies, botanists, and quiet strollers there is an unusual
abundance of easy walks, through shady glades full of rare and
beautiful flowers and ferns, by the side of clear dove-coloured brooks
glancing down over the limestone shelves, or up to secluded tarns and
grassy ridges whence the great horns and teeth glow orange against the
sky, or the Adamello snows glitter in the sunlight. Moreover, active
climbers have within easy reach a variety of glacier-work which all but
two or three of the greatest Swiss centres might envy, and rock scenery
such as Switzerland can nowhere rival.


     [53] In Southern Tyrol campaniles are generally built by the
     communes which have realised their wealth by cutting down
     their forests, and the great sawmills at the mouth of Val di
     Genova have undoubtedly had a large share in the execution of
     this pious work. It is most distressing to see from year to
     year how greed of immediate gain is leading the peasantry to
     treat their mountains like convicts. Ample as the locks were,
     they have been terribly thinned even in the last few years.
     Val di Genova, within my recollection, has lost much of
     its ancient and primeval wealth of verdure. The comparative
     barrenness of its lower portion was painful on my last visit.
     Good forest-laws may retrieve in the future the waste of the
     last few years, but no traveller in this century will ever
     see the valley clothed in the same full-folded mantle which,
     eleven years ago, made our long walk from the Presanella to
     Val Rendena one continuous delight.

     [54] See Appendix D, where this inscription is given in full,
     together with a description of the frescoes of San Vigilio.

     [55] In the _Vita Caroli_ of Eginhardt is the following
     tantalising passage: 'Italiam intranti quam difficilis Alpium
     transitus fuerit quantoque Francorum labore invia montium
     juga et _eminentes in cælum scopuli_ atque _asperæ cautes_
     superatæ sint hoc loco describerem, nisi,' &c. The words
     italicised apply singularly well to dolomitic landscapes,
     but it was probably the St. Bernard and Mt. Cenis that the
     chronicler had in mind.

     [56] There are several dolomitic groups in Swiss territory.
     One of the most considerable has already been described
     (Ch. V.). Another is the cluster of bold peaks standing
     between the Julier and Albula roads, of which the highest
     summits are the Piz d'Aela, Tinzenhorn, and Piz St. Michel.
     There is also dolomite between the Via Mala and the Savien
     Thal, and in other parts of Switzerland. But none of these
     masses--probably owing to some slight difference in the
     composition of their crags--show the peculiar characteristics
     of the rock in a sufficiently marked manner to attract
     attention except on close approach.

     [57] It would be unfair to dwell on the shortcomings of an
     inn but just opened in a remote and, until the completion of
     the new road, somewhat inaccessible situation, without adding
     that great improvements were promised for this year (1875).
     As these pages are passing through the press, I learn from
     a new advertisement in _Le Touriste_, that the owner of the
     house and land has taken the management of the hotel into his
     own hands. I shall let him speak for himself.

     'CAMPIGLIO. Tyrol. Le grandiose Établissement Alpin de
     Campiglio, dans une position enchanteresse, à plus de 1600
     mètres de hauteur, est honoré par le concours de nombreux
     visiteurs, qui trouvent la santé et le repos dans son
     air des plus salubres, ses laitages exquis, ses bains et
     boissons ferrugineuses, ses douches, ses cures de lait et
     petit lait, son service médical, ses eaux ferrugineuses,
     apportées journellement de Pejo et Rabbi aux prix de 6
     soldi autrichiens la bouteille de 2 livres, dans sa cuisine
     choisie, dans son service bien organisé, dans les nombreux
     amusements qu'offre l'endroit, dans les belles excursions aux
     environs, dans les conforts intérieurs de l'établissement,
     ses vastes salons avec pianos, les cavalcades, etc. etc.

     'Le Propriétaire soussigné en ayant pris lui-même la
     direction, pour éviter tout inconvénient, offre des pensions
     à 5 frs. pour ceux qui y feront un séjour d'au moins 10
     jours, comprenant le logement, déjeuner, dîner et souper, vin
     à part, et sans aucune obligation pour le service.

     'Il n'a pas regardé à la dépense pour mettre l'établissement
     en communication avec la route postale, et une nouvelle route
     carrossable le réunit à Pinzolo. Il tient aussi des voitures
     de Campiglio à Pinzolo à des prix très modérés, et, en
     recevant l'avis à temps, aussi de Campiglio à Trento et Riva,
     et vice-versa, au prix de 50 frs. pour 5 personnes, pour ceux
     qui prennent la pension.

     'L'établissement s'ouvre le 1 Juin prochain.

     '_Le Propriétaire_, G. BATTISTA RIGHI.
     'Campiglio, 1 Mars 1875.'



     The mighty pyramids of stone
       Which wedgelike cleave the desert airs,
     When nearer seen and better known
       Are but gigantic flights of stairs.--LONGFELLOW.


It was from Pinzolo that we first started for the Bocca di Brenta. On
the evening of our ascent of the Presanella we sent François to enquire
about the pass, our only knowledge of which was drawn from the notice
in the first edition of the 'Alpine Guide,' where it was spoken of
'as likely hereafter to be familiar to mountaineers as one of the most
romantic walks in the Alps.' A peasant who declared himself to be well
acquainted with the way was easily found, and at a reasonably early
hour next morning we had slept off the fatigues of the day before and
were again on the march. Leaving the cart-road to Campiglio we followed
a footpath passing among scattered hamlets and through fertile meadows,
until near some saw-mills it crossed to the left bank of the stream.

We here quitted the main valley and entered the mouth of Val di Brenta,
a deep short glen clothed in beech and pine-woods. Our track led us
through forest glades and over grassy banks covered in profusion
with the wild fruits of the Alps. Bilberries carpeted the ground,
strawberries fit for Titania's own table dangled temptingly on the
banks. While we lingered a morning mist swept off and a bevy of wild
pinnacles peered down on us, one gigantic tower looming above them all.

The scenery we were entering was at once strange and exciting. The
common features of Alpine landscapes were changed; as if by some sudden
enchantment we found ourselves amongst richer forests, purer streams,
more fantastic crags.

The rocks which pierced the sky seemed solid, yet how could limestone
take the form and subtle colours of flame? We could see ice overhead,
yet how could the stream which sparkled at our side between mossy
banks be a glacier child, or any relation to the noisy and muddy Swiss
torrent? Later in the day we learnt the secret of its purity; the
water as it creeps from the ice is filtered underground until it is fit
company for the delicate trees and flowers which it soon joins.

Where a barrier of rock completely closed the glen we began to climb
the southern hillside, zigzagging steeply amidst wet mossy crags and
the tangled branches of a wood of creeping pines. The path suddenly
reached the rim of an upper platform lying in the centre of the great
peaks. Hitherto we had been wandering amidst woods and over broken
ground, whence no general view could be gained. But the lawn on which
we now lay was in the very heart of things. Full opposite to us rose
a colossal rock, one of the most prodigious monuments of Nature's
forces. Its lower portion rose in diminishing stories like the Tower
of Babel of old Bible pictures. Above it was a perfect precipice,
an upright block, the top of which was 4,000 to 4,500 feet above our
heads. Behind this gigantic keep a vast mountain fortress stretched
out its long lines of turrets and bastions. But as we approached its
base the great tower rose alone and unsupported, and the boldness of
its outline became almost incredible. It fairly challenges comparison
with the Matterhorn from the Hörnli, or the Cimon della Pala from above
Paneveggio; and it combines to a great extent the noble solidity of the
Swiss peak with the peculiar upright structure which gives dolomite its
strange resemblance to human architecture.

But if the central object of the picture was enough to keep our
attention fixed in growing astonishment, there was much else which
called for notice. On our left was a second massive rock castle, the
Cima di Brenta, connected with the Cima Tosa by the Fulmini di Brenta,
a long line of flame-like pinnacles of the strangest shapes, some of
them seeming to bulge near the top like a Russian steeple. Before us,
between one of the loftiest of these spires and the Cima Tosa, lay a
deep snowy gap which I pointed out as the Bocca di Brenta. Our peasant
guide at once corrected me; he declared that the only passage to
Molveno was to be found at the head of a long glacier ribbon crumpled
up amongst the cliffs of the Tosa. As he professed to have stood on the
summit and looked down the other side, we were unwillingly forced to
believe him.

A very steep goat-track led us through rhododendron bushes to the
level of the glacier, from which no visible stream came forth. After
traversing a huge and unusually crumbling moraine, we entered upon the
ice which, though steep, was little crevassed. The rock scenery was
now most extraordinary. On either hand a line of ramparts rose sheer
out of the glacier in precipices of mingled murky red and ashy-tinted
grey; behind us lay the massive block of the Cima di Brenta, its
precipices relieved by slender snow-streaks. In the distance was the
Orteler group, with ominous clouds hanging about its summits. As we
penetrated further the valley of ice rose in long steep steps before
us. Overcoming these by the occasional use of the axe we reached a
recess, the reservoir of the winter snows, at the back of the great
tower of the Cima Tosa. On the right was a well-marked gap, which the
guide pointed out as the Bocca. We were soon standing on it; at the
same moment a pair of horns appeared on the opposite side, and we found
ourselves face to face with a chamois. For some seconds we stared at
the animal, and it at us, in mutual surprise. The moment some one spoke
the chamois started off over the snow-field, and when we shouted after
it took to the almost perpendicular rocks of the Cima Pra dei Camozzi,
halting occasionally for a moment at François' whistle.

A considerable ice-field now lay before us, apparently slanting away
to the west, in the direction of Pinzolo. The porter nevertheless
insisted that we were on the true pass; but I soon saw that instead of
having crossed the real backbone of the range we were only on one of
its ribs, a secondary ridge which joins the Cima Tosa with the peak
marked in the Austrian Ordnance Survey as the Cima Pra dei Camozzi.
What was to be done? We were in the centre of a wilderness, clouds
were rapidly sweeping up from behind, and we had fairly lost our way.
The glacier before us must come down from the main ridge. Would this
afford a passage? We determined to try, the porter following in sullen
silence. After climbing a hard-frozen bank we reached the crest and
looked down on a sea of mist. As we stood there the clouds enveloped us
and snow began to fall heavily. Sheltering in a niche among the rocks
on the eastern side of the ridge we turned to that universal resource
under difficulties, the provision-sack, while François explored the
cliffs below. Our guide soon returned with a face portending failure.
After descending about 100 feet, he had reached an absolute precipice,
so lofty that no noise announced the fall of the stones he rolled
over its edge. The shouts of herdsmen rose tantalisingly out of the
depths below, coming, no doubt, from the highest alp in Val d'Ambies,
a lateral glen which falls into the Sarca valley near the Baths of

What was to be done? We were, like Bunyan's pilgrims in the Enchanted
Ground, amidst the ruins of Castle Doubting, with no clue to guide
us out of the wilderness. My companions appreciated the position and
played their parts accordingly,--one, as Giant Despair, sallying on us
with frightful prognostications of a night in the snow, while another,
as Hopeful, maintained that we should still sleep at Molveno. Finally
we determined to follow wherever the glacier led us.

The porter, the source of all our misfortunes, had been discovered to
be profiting by our discussion to pocket a large share of our already
small stock of provisions. He had been engaged only as far as the
Bocca, and as he still insisted that we were on it we took him at his
word and dismissed him on the spot.

Slithering somehow down the ice-slope we tramped on through mists
until in half-an-hour we reached a moraine which we followed for
some distance. Then we took shelter for some time in a cuplike hollow
amongst the rocks, in hopes that a partial lifting of the snow-veil
might show us something more of the face of the country around. But,
far from amending, the storm only grew thicker.

We had barely advanced a hundred yards from the hospitable cranny when
François, who was leading, came to a sudden halt. We were standing, so
far as we could see, on the brow of a precipice. Nothing was visible
below but one mass of mist, dense with snow-flakes; around us whirled
the seething clouds, which had already draped the crags in wintry
mantles. A more dismal scene I never wish to look upon; we realised
the terrors of the Alps in a spring 'tourmente,' when an icy wind is
added to the snow and mists. A momentary break revealed a shelf some
fifty feet below us. By making a slight circuit a practicable course
was found, and we let ourselves from ledge to ledge of a face of rocks,
made slippery by the melting snow. Thus we worked slowly downwards,
now stumbling over broken boulders, now clambering down ledges by the
help of hands and feet. Occasionally we were brought to a standstill;
but François' 'Allez seulement' was soon heard, the signal for further
progress. A friendly cleft came to our aid, and when forced to leave
it we were again in the region of creeping pines. Using their gnarled
branches to swing ourselves down by, we finally reached a faint track,
which bore to the right across a rough slope of scree, and then
descended into a marshy basin. This must have been the head of Val
d'Agola, recommended as an excursion from Pinzolo by Mr. Ball.

The track mounted slightly towards the left, until it joined a broad
terrace-path winding at a level along the hillside.

Here with the suddenness of enchantment the scene changed. The gloom
was broken by a dart of sunshine, blue shone overhead, and in a moment
the mists lifted on all sides, disclosing a view of the most dazzling
beauty. We were on a green hillside opposite the mouth of Val di
Genova, which was flanked on one side by the Presanella, the victim of
yesterday's onslaught, on the other by the Carè Alto. These were the
outposts of a vast amphitheatre of ice and snow, in the bend of which
stood the Adamello.[59] Below us was a group of châlets at the head
of a little glen, whose stream trickled down into the Sarca; beyond
lay the whole Val Rendena, almost to Tione, a rich mass of verdure,
dotted by frequent villages, and set off by the soft moulded mask of
new-fallen snow which hid the hills down to the highest pine-forests.

Instead of following the stream we turned to the right and descended by
a sledge-track to Baldino, a village twenty minutes below Pinzolo.

In after years I satisfied myself that the cliff we had turned back
from was visible from the high-road at the upper end of the gorge of
Le Sarche. The rocks seen from a distance did not look so formidable
as they had from above. The pass, if it could be made, would be a very
convenient one, leading directly from Campiglio to the Baths of Comano,
and enabling a mountaineer to pass through the pinnacles of the Brenta
Alta, and by means of a carriage reach Riva the same evening; and there
still remained sufficient doubt about the ascent on the south-east side
to render the problem interesting.

Ten years later I mustered some friends and François at the Baths of
Comano. We enquired of the master of the house for a porter acquainted
with the paths in Val d'Ambies. Such a valley, however, was unknown,
at least by that name, to all the inmates of the establishment. This,
considering the vague state of the mountain nomenclature in this
district, was not wonderful. We were more surprised when the existence
of any valley between Val d'Algone and the Molveno cart-track was
denied with persistent positiveness. At last a guest completely crushed
our importunate enquiries by producing a map on which the valley we
spoke of was not to be found. The map, it should be mentioned, was one
of the Island of Sardinia!

Upon this we gave up the struggle, and contented ourselves with hiring
a peasant to carry provisions to one of the villages on the rolling
upland above the Baths, where we should at least be able to point out
the mouth of the glen we meant to explore.

In three-quarters of an hour we had reached Tavodo, built on a brow
immediately over the torrent of Val d'Ambies. Behind us lay the
beautiful basin of Stenico, threatened by an advancing storm, through
the skirts of which the low sun flung Titianesque lances upon the
glittering orchards. In front the towers of the Cima Tosa were framed
between two bold buttresses, the ends of the bounding ridges of our

We had to cross a torrent and reascend to the neighbouring hamlet of
San Lorenzo in order to obtain quarters for the night. There was no
regular inn in the place, but we found clean beds and cooking materials
in the house over the village shop.

Our start next morning was unexpectedly delayed. We had agreed
overnight with an elderly and loquacious inhabitant for the carriage of
our provisions and a bag to the top of the pass for four gulden. Our
porter's first act on appearing at six A.M. was to call for spirits;
his second, to declare he must have five gulden to go not to the pass
but to the highest 'malga.' His pretensions were increasing with his
'little glasses,' and in inverse ratio to his competency, when we cut
the matter short by engaging another man.

We had got fairly off when the old Bacchanalian shuffled up in the rear
and enlivened the first half-hour by an energetic declamation, in which
the chief points seemed to be that he alone in the countryside knew
every crag and cranny where we were going, that he was 'President of
the Village' and a 'galantuomo,' and that, 'corpo di Bacco,' the least
we could do was to pay his tavern score.

Above some saw-mills a good cattle-path mounted steadily along the left
bank of a very slender stream. At the first bend in the narrow valley
we had a good view of the barrier to be crossed. The gap we must aim at
was clearly the second on the south-west of the mass of the Cima Tosa.
We could recognise the very spot where François had halted that day ten
years on the brink of the precipice. A hundred yards further south a
fan-shaped snow-bed lay against the base of the abrupt crags. This snow
must have fallen through some breach; and closer inspection showed a
shadow on the face of the cliff--good proof that it was not so smooth
as it looked, and that a hidden gully might be found at our need.

A long and steep ascent, like that of Val di Brenta, closes the lower

Halfway up the barrier the path splits, and the traveller must either
continue to climb steeply and afterwards traverse at a level the higher
slopes, or recross the stream and remain in the valley. The upper
basin is hemmed in by wooded cliffs, on the top of which lies a ring of
pasturages, the base of the dolomite peaks which extend in a complete
semicircle round the head of the glen. The sky-line of the range does
not equal in boldness or eccentricity of form that of Val di Brenta;
but, except where a high but obvious pass leads over towards Molveno,
it presents to the eye a most formidable barrier.

As we approached the rock-wall clouds swept rapidly over it. François
suggested dolefully that history was apt to repeat itself. But we
knew enough already to be tolerably independent of weather. There were
two bays in the cliffs before us, one to our right filled by a small
glacier with which we had nothing to do, the other containing the
fan-shaped snow-slope seen from below. A rough ascent over the last
grass, snow and boulders led to the latter.

The steep snow-slope was hard-frozen and slippery, and altogether too
much for our porter's powers. Like the schoolboy he went two steps
back for each forward, and, as even turning his back to the slope
proved ineffectual, we were constrained to shoulder his burden and
let him go. Had it not been for his ludicrous incapacity to follow we
should have had a long financial discussion; as it was, his murmurs
at pay for which a Swiss porter would have been thankful, soon grew
faint with distance. At the head of the snow-bed we were met by an
almost vertical rock; but a sharp scramble of fifty feet gave us the
key of the pass. On our right, slanting parallel to the cliff like a
staircase to a castle-wall, and completely masked up to the present
moment by a buttress, was a steep narrow snow-filled gully. While
François was converting the hard snow into a convenient ladder, we
watched with wonder and admiration the great red towers which broke
out of the neighbouring mists. 'Pour moi je préfére votre maison de
Parlement,' said our guide when we called his attention to the mountain

We gained the watershed a few yards to the south of the spot we had
reached from the other side. The pass has two crests, one of rock, one
of snow, with a bowl between them. The distant view was veiled; but the
Presanella, rising through clouds opposite, proved that the chain was
really crossed. Either side of the Bocca dei Camozzi was now open to
us. We preferred to pass through the gap and follow the glacier of Val
di Brenta, by which, descending at our leisure, we reached in good time
the 'Stabilimento Alpino' of Campiglio.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our first glimpse, in the summer of 1872, of the peaks of the Trentino
was from the gap at the western foot of the Pizzo della Mare. As our
heads rose above the ridge of pure snow which had hitherto formed
our horizon, and we walked up against the hard blue sky, a well-known
pinnacle shot up before us, and out of the great sea of cotton-wool
cloud spread over the Italian hills and valleys rose the shining cliffs
of the Presanella. Further from us the serrated outline of the dolomite
range cut sharply against the clear upper heaven. Familiarity never
renders commonplace this marvellous chain. Seen from the Orteler group
it is a gigantic wall crowned by square towers and riven in places to
its base by mighty clefts. The breaches, despite their depth, are cut
so narrow and so clean that fancy suggests that the elements must have
borrowed some magic power with which to work such fantastic ruin.

It was partly the intention of scaling the Cima di Brenta, one of the
loftiest towers of the dolomites, which was taking us for the third
time to Pinzolo. So the mountaineers among us pulled out field-glasses
and began at once to dissect the peak; to decide that this 'couloir'
was snow and available, that 'arête' broken and useless; in short, to
converse in that Alpine jargon which marks the race which Mr. Ruskin
once thought capable of treating the Alps only as greased poles.

On the same afternoon we descended into the head of the great valley,
which was the home of the 'Nauni feroces' of Horace's times, the
highway to Italy of Charlemagne and Barbarossa. It now bears two names.
The upper portion, where it is comparatively narrow, is called the Val
di Sole, probably from its direction admitting both the sun's morning
and evening rays; the lower, where the hills drop into broad-backed
downs, preserves the memory of the ancient tribe in the titles Val di
Non or Nonsberg. It is as a whole a wide sunny valley, rich in fields
of maize and vines, and crowded with prosperous villages overlooked
by the ruins of mediæval fortresses. Two of its side-glens, Val di
Pejo and Val di Rabbi, penetrate deeply into the Orteler range, and
the bath-houses they contain have a local fashion amongst the people
of the hotter parts of the Trentino; but the accommodation is not
such as will tempt foreign visitors. To catalogue the bath-houses of
the Orteler as Thackeray has inns, if Santa Catarina is the 'cochon
d'or,' Rabbi is the silver, and Pejo the black animal, and I scarcely
know where to find a blacker. Besides, the scenery accessible to any
but very good walkers is not of a high order; the heads of the glens
are wild and savage rather than beautiful, and their lower portions,
though delightful to drive down for a mountaineer coming from the
glaciers, would scarcely repay a separate visit. From Santa Catarina,
Rabbi can only be reached by a long but most glorious march over the
Monte Cevedale and Pizzo della Venezia;[60] Pejo, over the Pizzo della
Mare, is a comparatively short journey, and the traveller will do well
to escape from its slovenliness and discomfort by driving on to the
junction of Val dei Monti and the main valley and the clean country inn
at Fosine.

The walls of its chief room were some years ago adorned with a
remarkable series of Bible pictures. One plate illustrated an unusual
subject, the early life of Mary Magdalene, who was represented
receiving the attentions of a moustache-twirling young officer in full
Austrian uniform. It seemed doubtful whether a reflection was intended
on military men in general, or whether the Milanese artist had taken
this indirect means to insinuate the peculiar profligacy of his then

On the morning of the day succeeding our ascent of the Pizzo della
Mare, we found ourselves at a tolerably early hour at the little
village of Dimaro, a cluster of prosperous-looking farmhouses standing
some distance off the high road, amongst quiet meadows, fields of
tall maize and walnut-trees. Here the mule-path over the Ginevrie
Pass leaves Val di Sole, and we had to abandon our car and look for
a quadruped of some sort to help us over the hill. The only available
mule had just come in from a hard morning's work, drawing down granite
boulders to embank the bed of the torrent, and required some rest; its
master also demurred on his own account to starting in the heat of the
day. These hindrances, joined to the probable length of the journey,
and the unanimous voices raised in favour of the hospice of Campiglio,
made us reconsider our previous plan of pushing on to Pinzolo, and
agree to trust to the hospitality of the 'ricco signor,' who had always
meat in his house, and whose best room was as beautiful as any at Cles,
or even Trento.

The inn at Dimaro is a very clean-looking little house evidently owned
by tidy people. Some of us spent the midday hours in a siesta in a
cool bedroom, with a row of bright flower-pots across the window,
through which there came in to us glimpses of an atmosphere quivering
with light, mingled with fresh sounds of rustling branches and running
waters. The sunshine of the mountains is always full of life and
freshness; it is only down in the stagnant plains that the midday heat
burns like a dull furnace, drying up the energies alike of plants and

Meanwhile the agriculturist of the party found interest in watching
the threshing in the barn below, where a dozen peasants--men, women,
and girls--disposed in a circle, were wielding their short flails with
incessant industry. At length the mule was rested. Its master did not
at first seem likely to prove a pleasant addition to our number, for he
declined to help the guides by carrying a knapsack, resented strongly
the suggestion that he should go to his animal's head, and discoursed
gloomily on the difficulties and fatigues of the road. This strange
conduct on the part of a Tyrolese peasant was accounted for by our
companion's informing us that he had spent a year in Paris.

A mile of dusty cart-road leads to a bridge at the foot of the wooded
rock which juts out from the dolomite range and blocks up the lower
part of Val Selva. Steep zigzags carried us up through a picturesque
tangle of trees and crags to where the road turns the northern corner
of the huge promontory. A fair landscape of the romantic school now
opened suddenly before our eyes. In front, and slightly beneath us,
lay a wide green basin, through which the stream wandered peacefully
towards our feet. Above its further end rose a sheer cliff, limestone
or dolomite, fringed with dark pines. Beyond this valley-gate the eye
wandered into the quivering Italian sky, imagining, if it did not see,
further distances and a limitless extent of waving hills and wooded
plains. On our right the ground rose in wave above wave of forest, in
the recesses of which, the right track once lost, one might wander for
hours without seeing any snowy landmark by which to steer a course.

The path traversed the stream, and then mounted gently along the
western side of the valley, through glades where wild strawberries
and bilberries flourished in rare profusion. After the foot of the
cliff had been passed, higher mountains towered on the south, and
glimpses of the strange red pinnacles and white waterless gullies of
the Sasso Rosso were caught from time to time through the floating
vapours that wreathed them. A boundary stone marked the limit of the
districts of Cles and Tione. As yet there was no sign of a watershed.
In fact there appeared no reason why we need come to one at all. The
ground rose sufficiently to hinder our seeing for any distance in
advance, but still so gently that it might have gone on rising almost
for ever. Deep boggy holes, which we crossed on causeways of decaying
logs, while the ingenious mule picked his own way through the mud,
interrupted the path. These were the difficulties of which our Parisian
had warned us. Meantime the eastern range retreated further from us,
and a stream flowed out from a broad valley at its base. At last the
hillside sensibly steepened, and the forest grew less thickly. We
overtopped the brow of the ascent and found ourselves on the edge of
a vast undulating pasture. Barns and stables, too large to be called
châlets, were sprinkled here and there. Frequent fences and gates
suggested an English homestead. Sleek cows reposed contentedly on the
grass, careless young heifers quarrelled and made it up again, while
a couple of fussy donkeys raised a bray of welcome and galloped up to
greet their half-brother in our train.

The highest point of the tableland of the Ginevrie Alp was our pass;
from it the path dipped suddenly into a waterless dell. A few paces
further brought us to the verge of the short steep descent whence we
looked down on the meadows of Val Nambino and the tower of La Madonna
di Campiglio. The path made a circuit to reach it, but we preferred a
short cut, despite the warning of a priest who shouted after us that it
was 'piu pericoloso.'

Before we went to bed it was decided that the mountaineers should
set off next morning with Henri Devouassoud, a brother of the more
celebrated François, in search of a route up the still maiden Cima di
Brenta. Owing to various delays it was past five when we started. Our
ideas as to the direction to be at first taken were rather crude, and
had been rendered more so by the assurances of a German traveller we
met overnight that there was no valley between the Val di Brenta and
Monte Spinale.

Close to a second inn, a peasants' drinking-house, we left the road to
Pinzolo for a terrace-path skirting the lower slopes of Monte Spinale.
As we gradually turned the most projecting spur of the mountain, the
lower portion of Val Nambino opened beneath us. The morning clouds were
rapidly dispersing under the warm influence of the sun. High up in air,
severed from the solid earth by a grey belt of yet undissolved mist,
the great snow-plains of the Carè Alto shone in a golden glory such as
that in which Mont Blanc veils himself when seen from a hundred miles'
distance.[61] Thin vapours still clung round the dolomites of the Bocca
di Brenta, making their strange forms appear still more fantastic. Thus
far our path had been gradually descending. Now a valley opened exactly
where we looked for it at the south-eastern base of Monte Spinale.
A timber-slide, which, if in good repair, forms the most luxurious
of mountain-paths, avoiding all inequalities of ground, bridging
chasms and mounting by an almost uniform gradient, led us up the glen
which is known as the Vallesinella. Through breaks in the forest the
glacier-crowned crags of the Cima di Brenta were now seen for the
first time, followed on the north by an array of slender obelisks,
beaks, and crooked horns, the strangeness of which would, but for a
long experience in dolomite vagaries, have made us doubt our eyes. In
the foreground a romantic waterfall, framed amongst woods of birch,
beech, ash, and pine, dashed over the rocks. We could not but feel the
contrast between such mountain scenery, where Nature seems to revel in
the indulgence of her most poetical mood, and the dull formality of
much we had lately been living amongst in eastern Switzerland. To me
the Upper Engadine, with its long perspective of brown barren mountains
leading to an ignoble termination, suggests irresistibly the last
Haussman boulevard. Yet while the choicest spots of the Italian Tyrol
remain deserted, fashion crowds the bleak shores of St. Moritz, and
finds a charm even in the swamps of Samaden.

On a knoll above the waterfall stands a group of châlets. We were
attacked in passing them by a gigantic dog, armed with a collar
bristling with iron spikes. But for our ice-axes our expedition might
have been brought to an untimely end. As it was, we stole a flank march
on the foe, while Henri occupied his attention with a blow on the nose
which indisposed him to follow up our retreat. The timber-slide we
had lately followed comes down from the furthest corner of the recess
at the back of Monte Spinale, whence an easy pass leads into the Val
Teresenga, a lateral glen of Val di Sole, parallel to Val Selva.

Under the châlets a bridge crosses the stream, and a path mounts
steeply the opposite hillside. We, by keeping too long beside the
water, missed the track. While forcing our way back to it over the
slowly decaying trunks, and amongst the rich ferns and weeds, we were
tempted for a moment to fancy ourselves in a wilder land. Alas! the
woodcutter's axe is already busy on these slopes, and they will not
long retain their robes of primeval forest.

The path regained, a well-marked zigzag led us to the broad crest of
the ridge dividing Val Brenta from the Vallesinella. There is probably
no spot in the neighbourhood--not even excepting Monte Spinale--which
commands so general, and at the same time so picturesque, a view.
On three sides the ground falls rapidly towards Val Nambino and its
tributary glens. Full in front of us stood the defiant tower of the
Cima Tosa, with the two Boccas on either side of it. We could trace
every step of our ascent to the Bocca dei Camozzi, an expedition in
some respects even more singular than the Bocca di Brenta, and one
which will in time become well known to travellers. Beyond the valley
rose the comparatively tame forms of the granite range. Nearest to
us was my old conquest, the Presanella, the highest summit of the
whole country; further south, the upper snows of the Lares and Lobbia
glaciers spread in a great white curtain between the Carè Alto and
Adamello. Behind Monte Spinale the circle of mountains was completed by
the dolomites of Val Selva.

Our path forked on the crest, one branch descending to a châlet perched
on a shelf immediately overlooking the green plain at the head of
Val Brenta. From this alp a footpath of some kind leads down to the
track of the Bocca--a fact to be borne in mind by future travellers
who wish to see in a day as much as possible of the scenery of the
dolomites without crossing the pass to Molveno. We followed an upper
track, skirting the southern base of a group of rocky pinnacles, on
the highest of which stands a withered pine-stem, perhaps planted
there by some agile shepherd. Before long the path came to an end in
a rocky hollow immediately at the base of the precipices of the Cima
di Brenta. Their appearance, had we not learnt from afar something of
their secrets, would have been sufficiently forbidding. Over the gap
by which we were about to recross into the head of Vallesinella shot
up an astonishing dolomite, a facsimile of a Rhine castle, with a tall
slender turret, perhaps 300 feet high, at one corner. Once across the
ridge, the climber turns his back on all green things, and enters on
a stony desert. He is within range of the mountain batteries, and in a
fair position to judge of the havoc caused when frost and heat are the
gunners. Overhead tower sheer bastions of red rock; the ground at their
base is strewn with fragments varying in size from a suburban villa to
a lady's travelling-box. A dripping crag, with a scanty patch of turf
beside it, offered all that was wanted for a halting-place. We were
now overlooking the lower portion of the deep trench, filled higher up
by glacier, which divides the Cima di Brenta from the rock-peaks to
its north. Through it a pass, a worthy rival of the Bocca di Brenta,
and leading like it to the Val delle Seghe, has been discovered by Mr.

A short distance above us was the glacier-covered breach by which we
felt confident the fortress might be won. To reach the level of the
ice we climbed under the base of an almost overhanging cliff, and
then across a boulder-strewn shelf. Mounting the sides of the glacier
by a ladder of steps kicked in the snow which still covered them, we
quickly reached and left below precipices and pinnacles which a short
time before had looked hopelessly near the sky. At the top of the
steep ascent lay a miniature snow-plain, surrounded by steep broken
crags. From its further end a sort of funnel fell through the cliffs
overhanging the Bocca di Brenta.

The summits of the Cima di Brenta were at some distance to the left,
and it seemed possible there might yet be difficulties in store for
us. The steep faces of rock fronting the south offered good hold
for feet and hands, and discarding the rope we took each of us his
own path. In a quarter of an hour we came to a broader part of the
mountain, and surmounted in succession two snowy cupolas. The second
looked like the summit, but on reaching it we saw a still higher crest
beyond. Between us and it was a gap, on the north side of which lies
a glacier which soon curls steeply over and falls upon the larger
ice-stream at the base of the mountain. A short scramble, down and up
again, brought us to the real top--a ridge of shattered crag nearly
level for some distance. From here our eyes should have feasted on
a view of rare beauty over the rich valleys of the Trentino to the
rival peaks of Cadore and Primiero, down upon the deep-lying waters of
Lago di Garda, and northwards over the snowy ranges of Tyrol. But our
ill-luck in distant views that season followed us to the last. Dark
clouds, the forerunners of a thunder-storm, had already wrapped the
distant mountain tops, and fleecy vapours choked up the valleys at our
feet. Nothing was clear but our own peak and the Cima Tosa, the huge
mass of which now scarcely overtopped us by the height of its final
snow-cap. We waited long and patiently for some friendly breeze to lift
even a corner of the white carpet which concealed from us all that lay
at the base of the precipices on the Molveno side. We prayed in vain;
the weather changed only for the worse, and we did not care to risk a
meeting with the thunder-cloud.

The storm which broke on us during the descent prevented any attempt to
vary the morning's route until we reached Val Nambino, when we turned
off to the left, and hurried down to rejoin our companions at Pinzolo.

       *       *       *       *       *

Val Selva, though the shortest, is not the only tolerably easy means
of access from Campiglio to Val di Sole. To the left from the Ginevrie
Pass a path branches off to the Passo delle Malghette, and leads in six
hours to Pelizzano; to the right another track leads over at the back
of Monte Spinale to the Flavona alp--a high pasturage at the head of
Val Teresenga, one of the few valleys in the Alps six hours in length
which have escaped the all-seeing eyes of the author of the 'Alpine

The Passo di Grostè is sometimes ascended by visitors to Campiglio
as the nearest spot whence it is possible to look eastward over the
Trentino. The rocks fall away from the top towards the Flavona Alp
in a series of advancing courses of massive masonry, like the sides
of a Greek theatre. Without local guidance, it is easy for a solitary
traveller to get into difficulty amidst the maze of low cliffs.

The upper châlet of the Flavona Alp stands in the middle of a broad
sloping pasturage overlooked by the bold cliffs of Monte Fublan and
connected on the further side by an easy shepherds' pass with Val
Sporeggio. Another 'Bocca' lately brought to light leads under the
cliffs of the Cima di Brenta to the Val delle Seghe and Molveno. We
must now, however, follow the water, which carries us down into one
of the strangest recesses of the Alps. Our guide will soon desert us.
For the greater part of its length Val Teresenga has no stream and no
channel for one to run in. Where by every precedent there should be
a level trough, we find nothing but a confusion of high-piled mounds.
Mountains have fallen and blocked up this glen with their ruins, and
one's impulse, unscientific it may be, suggests an earthquake as the
only adequate cause for so extraordinary a cataclysm.

The open alps lie high up on the sunny shoulders of the Sasso Rosso
and Sasso Alto; the depths are clothed in dense forests rich with
a rank undergrowth of ferns and flowers, and, still more welcome to
dry-throated travellers, of wild fruit. One Saturday afternoon, when
the woodcutters and their families who visit the glen in summer were
on their way down to spend a holiday at their villages in Val di Non,
we met at least 200 people, scarcely one of whom was without a basket
filled with bilberries, strawberries and raspberries.

Suddenly a new colour shines through the branches, and we reach the
shore of a large circular sheet of water hemmed in on every side by
cliffs and woods. By such a solitary pool might old Saturn have sat,

     Forest on forest hung about his head,
     Like cloud on cloud.

In the centre the water is dark blue as an Egyptian night; round the
rim fallen pine-trunks are strewn in disorder along the bottom and dye
the border of the lake the deepest red.

Below the lake smooth, wall-like cliffs threaten the valley, and huge
rock-slips again bury the stream, giving by their rough unclothed
surface an air of desolation to the landscape. When the water suddenly
gushes out, a noble fountain, half its waters are at once seized and
imprisoned afresh in stone channels, which are soon seen high up on
opposite sides of the glen running boldly along the face of vertical
cliffs to carry refreshment to the upper slopes of Val di Non.

The cart-road descends rapidly through a deep and narrow gorge which,
after making a sharp angle, opens into the noble expanse of the great
valley a mile below Tuenno, and three or four below Cles. The high-road
would soon carry us down to the Adige and the railway-station of San
Michele. But we have yet to see the Lago di Molveno and the back of the

At the eastern base of the dolomitic chain, more than 7,000 feet
below its crowning crags, lies a deep trough, bounded on the further
side by the crest of Monte Gazza, which, descending in steep cliffs
into the valley of the Adige, slopes more gently towards the west. A
considerable portion of this depression, the waters of which are turned
in opposite directions by a low bank traversing its centre, is filled
by the Lago di Molveno, one of the largest of high Alpine lakes. A
strong stream flowing from the Val delle Seghe is its principal feeder,
and, strange to say, it has no visible outlet. The village of Molveno,
situated at the head of the lake, is the natural head-quarters for the
exploration of the neighbouring mountains. Its situation, at a height
of 3,000 feet above the sea, and close to peaks of nearly 11,000 feet,
is so attractive, that if reasonable accommodation were provided it
would become a favourite halting-place for travellers. At present it is
almost completely unknown.[62]

The tracks to Molveno most frequented by the country people are those
from the gorge of the Rocchetta in Val di Non and from the valley of
the Sarca, near the Baths of Comano. We shall choose the northern.

We had spent a day of continuous downpour in driving down the Val
di Non, and it was already late afternoon when our dripping omnibus
deposited us in front of the wayside inn which marked the turning-point
of the path to Val di Spor and Molveno.

As we wound up the steep hill the last clouds blew over, and wide
views opened on all sides over the rich gentle slopes of the Nonsberg,
covered with white villages, whose wet walls and roofs glittered
in the slanting sunshine. Before long Spor itself came into sight,
lifted high on a healthy hillside and capped by a picturesque castle.
The sound of its sonorous church bells followed us far on our way.
Hereabouts we left the cart-road and followed a shorter track under
the castle-crag and along the eastern hillside to the village of
Cenedago. Hence a short ascent over meadows, gorgeous in June with
tiger-lilies, leads to the watershed, and the path, passing a pine-girt
pool, begins almost imperceptibly to descend before Andolo is reached
and the road rejoined. Our way now followed the right bank of the Bior
brook, through woods above whose tree-tops tall dolomite pinnacles
shot up against the sky. The forest soon thickened, and, although the
ground no longer rose in front, shut out all view in the direction of
Molveno, until on a sudden a corner was turned, and at the end of a
long dark-green vista,

     Lo! the shining levels of the lake,

confined on one side by a steep brow, on the other by the bold
buttresses of the Brenta group. Far away to the south, seen through a
space of air still aglow and quivering with the late sunbeams, rose the
rounded crests of the hills above Riva. Close at hand, to be reached
by some well-made zigzags, lay Molveno village on the shore of its lake
and beside a little bay of singular beauty, shut in between steep banks
and spanned at its mouth by a wooden bridge. The whole picture recalled
some imaginative landscape of a great painter rather than any other
Alpine scene.

  [Illustration: MOLVENO.
   Looking up Val delle Seghe.

   J. Gilbert delt.]

We would willingly have lingered before it. But the sun had already
set, and it was necessary to seek food and shelter without delay.

We were led to an irregular open space, which, despite its fountain,
did not venture to call itself a piazza, and into a low, broad, dark
entry, where among a litter of carts and logs we sat down while the
guides sought the people of the inn. They were already half asleep,
and came down with bewildered looks to tell us that there was no food
in the house, but fish--yes--in the lake. Had not our own supplies
fortunately furnished supper we should have fared but poorly. Nor
did the accommodation promise well. Orcus itself can scarcely have a
blacker portal than that which yawned for us on our way to the upper
floor. The walls were coated with layer upon layer of soot and smoke,
each so thick that the only reasonable theory seemed to be that in
some alteration of the premises the original chimney of the house had
been turned into the staircase without any preliminary cleansing. The
bedrooms upstairs proved better than such an approach had led us to
expect. It was an illustration of the primitive and trustful manners
of the place that my bed and the next were separated by a baby's
cot, the tenant of which, thus abandoned to our tender mercies by its
parents, wisely refrained from expressing any emotion, and was not even
discovered until morning.

The access from Molveno into the heart of the Brenta chain is by the
Val delle Seghe--the valley of the saw-mills, the torrent of which
discharges itself through a considerable delta into the lake a quarter
of a mile south of the village. This glen is narrow and shut in by
magnificent smooth, red cliffs of great height shooting out of dense
beech forests. After penetrating three or four miles due west, rising
steeply all the time, it abruptly terminates in a basin enclosed by
the wildest crags. The two streams which here meet fall from recesses
lying north and south, and giving access respectively to the Bocca
di Vallazza, a pass leading to the high pasturages at the head of Val
Teresenga, and to the more famous Bocca di Brenta. Between the two a
third pass, discovered by Mr. Tuckett, leads directly to Campiglio by
the Vallesinella.

We left Molveno by starlight, and dawn had but just bared the sky
when we turned up the rough hillside leading to the Bocca di Brenta.
The track at first climbed so steeply through the dewy forest that we
were often glad to catch at a branch or root to ease the strain. The
pasturage above is the Malga dei Vitelli, and the calves and the boys
who tend them can afford to dispense with zigzags. The mothers of the
herd are in more luxurious quarters, chewing the sweet herbage of the
Flavona Alp or wandering over the broad ridges of Monte Gazza.

On a sudden the tip of the rock opposite us glowed as if with ruddy
flame; for a few seconds every pinnacle was of the same colour, then
the whole sun reached them, and over the solemn greens and greys of the
lower earth the mountain rampart flashed out gorgeous with light and
colour. The red gold assumed at sunrise by rocks of this formation may
be better realised by a glance at Turner's 'Agrippina landing with the
Ashes of Germanicus' (No. 523 in the National Gallery), than by reading
pages of description.

Nowhere does a climber's attempt appear more ambitious and hopeless
than in a dolomite country. The broken crags serve as scales by
which to measure distance and emphasise height. There is none of the
encouraging but deceitful monotony of snow-slopes. Yet as, ourselves
still untouched by the sun's rays, we steadily mounted our treadmill
path, huge towers which half-an-hour before had seemed sky-piercing,
sank beneath us and gave place to another tier rising far overhead.
At last the battlements were reached and the snowy breach of the Bocca
opened on the right. But the pass did not satisfy our ambition, and we
told Nicolosi to lead us against the keep itself. Passing round a rocky
corner, we found ourselves for the first time facing the huge mass of
the Cima Tosa. Two fields of ice lying at different levels clothed its
shoulders, over which rose a bold head of rock. Below and behind us
lay a strange tableland pierced by a deep punchbowl, empty as if it
had been recently drained in a witches' Sabbat. But its singularity
did not long detain our eyes, for in the east, far as the eye could
reach, shone range behind range of deep-toned mountains, and the memory
wandered to past summers as we counted over again the noble roll of the
Venetian Alps.

The Cima Tosa is everywhere cliff-girt, and it is difficult to decide
where to attack it. The spot where we approached it did not look more
tempting than others. But Nicolosi had the advantage of experience,
whereby we gained confidence and lost excitement.

To avoid a burning sun, we lunched in the cave between the ice and
rock. After a few yards' scrambling the foot of an absolute wall was
reached. Its height may be estimated by the fact that our rope, sixty
feet long, just sufficed to pull a man up the whole of it. It was
therefore some ten feet less than the rope. But although practically
perpendicular throughout, and at the top even considerably overhanging,
so much so that in descending I tried in vain, sitting on the edge,
to watch the progress of my predecessor, it was not dangerous or even
difficult. Leave on any wall bricks projecting throughout and send a
man to the top of it with a rope, it is no hard matter for any one of
moderate activity and nerve to follow. No strain may be put on the rope
round your waist, yet it is a sort of moral banister which places one
completely at one's ease.

This crag scaled, the rest of the way, though steep, proved easy. The
rope was left, and we scrambled as we liked up alternate rocks and
snow-beds until the final snow-dome of the mountain was gained.

The view resembled in general character those from the Adamello
summits, except that the neighbouring snow-fields hid the Swiss Alps,
and in revenge the upper end of Lago di Garda lay, a blue polished
sheet, beneath the broad back of Monte Baldo.

The neighbouring tower or buttress, so noble from the Val di Brenta,
was now a stone's throw below us. Its top may some day be reached, but
there is a gap to be crossed, and the Matterhorn has not more awful
precipices. A long trough, filled with the snows which break off year
by year from the mountain crest, falls 3,000 feet, at an almost uniform
angle, on to the Val di Brenta side of the Bocca. A party of steady,
patient men with ice-axes might mount or even descend it in safety, but
it is a place where haste or carelessness would mean broken necks.

It is easy to return by the ordinary route to the corner whence
the peak was first seen, and then traverse ledges to the top of the
Bocca. The way from the pass to the plain beneath the great tower lies
along the bottom of a trough, snow-filled and steep above, then more
level and grassy. The last descent is made by a stony zigzag on the
right-hand side of the cleft. Run down it as swiftly as you may, and
then fling yourself on your back among the creeping pines and look up
straight into the sky, where more than 4,000 feet overhead the vapours
meet and part round the astounding rock-tower which shoots up solitary
and unsupported until its top is lost in the sky. Nowhere in the Alps
will you gain so strong an impression of sheer height.

Then careless of 'times,' and leisurely, as if your sinews had not been
strung up by a severe climb, loiter through the strawberry-beds and
linger at the 'malghe' until the sun shines only on the great Lares
snowfields, and the lower world is cool in shade and rich in colour.

When as you stroll down to Pinzolo or up to Campiglio you think over
the impressions of the day, we shall surely agree that the Brenta group
are as 'Delectable Mountains' as any Alpine pilgrim need sigh for.


     [58] See Appendix E on the nomenclature of this group.

     [59] We may possibly have mistaken the Dosson di Genova or
     Corno Bianco for this peak.

     [60] See Appendix C.

     [61] This view is engraved as the frontispiece to the
     Jahrbuch for '69-70 of the Swiss Club; but the artist,
     fancying himself to have before him the snow-fields of
     the Lobbia Glacier, has gone hopelessly wrong in his
     identification of the peaks. His Crozzon di Lares is the Carè
     Alto, his Crozzon di Fargorida the Corno Alto, his Lobbia
     Alta the Corno di Cavento, and his Lobbia Bassa the Crozzon
     di Lares.

     [62] Six Englishmen visited it in 1873; of these my own
     party supplied three, a fourth was a friend whom I directed


   Until more accurate measurements have been made and
   published it is useless to assign exact heights to the
   Primiero peaks.

   The Cimon della Pala and Cima di Vezzana are certainly
   within 100 ft. of 11,000 ft. The Palle di San Martino and
   Sass Maor from 300 to 400 ft. lower.

   The Cima di Fradusta and Cima di Ball are probably
   the next in height and the lesser peaks average about 10,000

   Stanford's Geogl. Estabt., 55 Charing Cross, London.
   London: Longmans & Co.]



     Past those jagged spires, where yet
     Foot of man was never set;
     Past a castle yawning wide,
     With a great breach in its side,
     To a nest-like valley.--J. INGELOW.

     The rede is ryfe that oftentime
       Great clymbers fall unsoft.--SPENSER.


Some time since a nineteenth-century Arthur, an enemy of shams moral
or mountainous and a President of the Alpine Club, wandering beyond
his usual bounds, found himself suddenly in the presence of a bevy of
formidable giants. Accustomed though he was to such encounters, the
prodigious stature of these monsters, their impenetrable armour, and
perhaps more than all the weird cruelty of their appearance, as with
flame-tipped crests they stood up in a mighty line against the sunset,
made such an impression on his mind that on his return, instead of
calling on his Round Table--the Alpine Club--to overthrow the untamed
brood, he solemnly warned them as they valued their lives to let it

The warning was of course ineffectual. One of the youngest knights
rushed to the spot, went straight at the very tallest and most
repulsive of the giant family, and returned victorious after an
encounter, brief it is true, but of the most deadly character. Their
prestige thus rudely shaken, others of the giants fell tamely enough,
and but two or three still remain, owing perhaps their prolonged escape
as much to their remoteness as to their individual terrors.

So far as I am concerned I have no such thrilling tale to tell as that
recorded by Mr. Whitwell in the 'Alpine Journal'[63] of the ascent of
the Cimon della Pala. On the only two occasions when I have come near
the giants of Primiero circumstances have hindered me from doing much
more than seek to detect the weak points in their harness; to abandon
a somewhat strained metaphor, to make passes. For although I have been
successful in reaching the second in height of these summits, this was,
as it proved, little of a mountaineering feat compared to the passage
of the gap beside it.

Passes have, however, for the general tourist more practical if less
poetical interest than peaks. I shall not scruple therefore to devote
some pages to the tracks which lead either round or across this
singular group.

The mountain-knot which raises its wellnigh perpendicular masses behind
Primiero may be compared to a horseshoe from which protrude spikes
of irregular length. The easiest paths, the only ones practicable for
beasts of burden, wind round the base of the protuberances; the higher
passes, fit for shepherds or foot-travellers, penetrate the recesses
between the lofty spurs and cross the horseshoe itself. The former are
not the least fascinating.

For this country owes its wonderful beauty in great part to the
constantly recurring contrast between the tall bare cliffs of the great
rock islands and the soft forms of the green hills which like a sea
roll their verdurous waves between them. Round the peaks of Primiero
lies a region of wide-spreading downs, scarcely divided from each other
by low grassy ridges; of forest-clad vales where the rich soil nurtures
a dense undergrowth of ferns and moisture-loving plants. The huge
crests of the Sass Maor or the Cimon della Pala never look so wonderful
as when, seen from among the rhododendrons and between the dark spires
of pine, their 'rosy heights come out above the lawns.'

It may perhaps be thought that I might well have passed over as
described by former travellers the two main lines of traffic by which
the people of the country communicate with their neighbours of Val
Fassa and Agordo. But the account given of these passes by Messrs.
Gilbert and Churchill seems to me to have been damped by the bad
weather which those energetic explorers met with in this neighbourhood;
and the pages of subsequent travellers have added but little to their
report. Moreover, the times marching on, even at Primiero, have made
many changes and smoothed away many obstacles, and thus rendered more
or less obsolete the tales of even a few years ago.

The greatest of these changes is the new carriage-road which has lately
been constructed from Primiero to Predazzo, in Val Fassa. From Primiero
to the top of the pass it is finished in 'the well-known style' of an
Austrian military highway; the descent through the forest to Paneveggio
is not as yet equally solidly constructed,[64] but the whole road is
perfectly safe and easy for spring-carriages.

The inns along the way (there are now three in the space of an eight
hours' drive) have shared the fortunes of the road. At San Martino di
Castrozza an hotel to contain twenty bedrooms has just been built, and
will be opened next summer. The situation, 5,000 feet above the sea,
amidst luxuriant meadows but at the very base of the greatest peaks of
the country, is, so far as I know, unequalled amongst the dolomites.
A new inn of more modest capacity has been erected on the very crest
of the Pass. Paneveggio, once the rudest of peasants' houses of call,
now furnishes ample if homely fare, and boasts at least one comfortable

       *       *       *       *       *

Val Fassa ends, and the country under the spell of the Primiero peaks
begins, where the new road, having toiled up a green hillside to the
little chapel and hamlet of La Madonna della Neve, bends at a level
round the base of a flat-topped block of rock and pines which lies
across the valley and cuts off the 'Forest of Paneveggio' from the
outer world.

Those who have seen mountain forests in their virgin splendour amongst
ranges moistened by more abundant rains and heated by stronger suns
must ever after feel that, beautiful, nay incomparable, as the Alps
are in many respects, in this one they distinctly fail. Even setting
aside the ravages of man, Alpine forests can hardly have equalled in
richness and variety those of the more southern ranges, such as the
Himalayas, and Caucasus, which seem the paradise of the vegetation
of the temperate zone. But the axe, in the hands of Swiss and Italian
peasants, has been used with equal stupidity and effect. The barrier
interposed by nature between the valley and the impending avalanches
has been destroyed, the foliage which caught and distributed the
rain-storms has been hacked away. For the sake of an immediate gain,
the ignorant villagers have left their homes open to the rushing snows
of spring; their saturated hillsides and meadows to be torn up by the
autumn rains.

The 'Forest of Paneveggio' is interesting as an almost solitary
specimen of a district where sensible forest laws have been for some
time in force, and where in consequence the pine-woods are, for general
luxuriance and for the size attained by single trees, amongst the
finest in the Alps. The trees are periodically thinned, and wherever a
patch has been cleared young pines are at once planted, and the space
enclosed so as to protect the tender tops against cattle. Let us hope
that the exertions of many intelligent men both in Switzerland and
Italy may induce the peasantry in other districts to follow the wise
example set by these southern Tyrolese.

The hospice of Paneveggio stands on a sloping meadow on the right
bank of the Travignolo. It is a plain massive building, one of those
raised in bygone years as resting-places and refuges for the people
of the country on the long roads through the wildernesses separating
their scattered hamlets. Across the stream rise the steep, green sides
of Monte Castellazzo. Guiribello, a model 'casera' or mountain-farm,
the property of an Austrian archduke, lies high on one of its upper
shelves. On either side of this promontory flow the sources of the
Travignolo, one gathering itself in a wide basin under the passes to
San Martino and the Laghi di Colbricon, the other flowing out of a
deep dell at the immediate base of the Pala and Vezzana, both peaks
of 11,000 feet, and, next to the Marmolata, the highest summits of the
dolomite country.

The high-road, soon crossing the latter stream, winds in long, shady
zigzags through the forest, and then reaches broad, sweet-scented
pastures lying on the shoulder of Monte Castellazzo, and overhung by
the thin wedge of the Cimon della Pala.

The Costonzella Pass is a mere grassy bank, from which a gradual
descent over open alps leads to San Martino. The great peaks are almost
too near for picturesque effect, unless when clouds partially veil
them, filling the place of foreground. Then the spectacle of the top of
the Cimon breaking through a mist might be enough to frighten a nervous
traveller, who may naturally expect it the next moment to topple over
on his head.

Pedestrians who are not afraid of distance, especially those going
towards Primiero, will do well to abandon the high-road. From the
hospice of Paneveggio a track mounts along the main branch of the
Travignolo, and passing in succession before the precipices of the
Fuocobono, the Vezzana, and the Pala, and leaving on the left the
glacier which descends between the two latter peaks, crosses the
back of Monte Castellazzo near the foot of the Pala, and rejoins the
high-road. Lovers of Alpine tarns should cross it at right angles and
take a track which, starting from the highest chalet on the northern
side of the carriage-pass, leads over the broken slopes of Monte
Cavallazzo to the Laghi di Colbricon, two blue lakes framed by green
fir-clad mounds, over which peer the crests not only of the great
Pala but of the more distant Rosengarten and Marmolata. The upper lake
lies on the lowest pass between the headwaters of the Cismone and the
Travignolo. The descent towards San Martino is at first steep; the
mule-track lies some distance to the right, but a footpath a few yards
to the left of the lake leads down at once into a picturesque glen. At
the foot of the second descent is a 'casera' standing on a green lawn.
Seen from this point the great turret-crowned wall is like a vivid but
impossible dream of mountain splendour. The sweeping outlines of dark
forest form a foreground out of which its rigid flame-coloured ramparts
rise like some phantom castle against the Italian blue.

A short walk over hay meadows leads to San Martino di Castrozza, a
chapel standing near a substantial building formerly used as a hospice
and frontier station, but lately converted into an Alpine 'pension.'
It stands on a level meadow near the point where the stream, hitherto
tranquil, makes a sudden plunge southwards. Immediately behind the
house rises the giant row of Primiero peaks. From the Pala to the Cima
Cimedo the whole line is in sight from top to bottom, and the only
fault of the view, if it can be called one, is that we are too near
the mountains. At Campiglio we long to approach the peaks; here we draw
back on to the opposite hillsides, where we may break their outline and
see but one or two at a time between the nearer brows.

But a more delightful halting-place I cannot imagine, whether for
climbers or idlers. At hand are many easy and shady strolls, and two or
three hours places you on the top of the great wall free to climb its
crests and explore all the mysteries of the weird tableland which lies
behind it. To the south the Sass Maor and Palle di San Martino raise
their unconquered, but probably conquerable, peaks. The former at any
rate may best be attacked from this side. The road to Primiero sinks
in a long descent, terraced along the right-hand hills, and commanding
superb and constantly shifting views of the opposite chain.

The path from Agordo, still the most frequented, though no longer since
the construction of the carriage-road to Predazzo the easiest, approach
to Primiero, has often had injustice done to it in many ways. It has
been described on the one hand as shorter than it really is, on the
other as a difficult and rugged track; and little justice has been done
in any quarter to its great and varied beauty.

Average walkers must allow for the pass seven hours of very 'actual
walking,' excluding all those 'petites haltes' which Toppfer justly
counted amongst the happiest moments of life, the five or ten minutes'
rest in the shade to admire a view or drink a cup of cold water. But
for the whole way there is a good mule-path, although, as on almost
all mule-paths, there are pieces which no one with the free use of
his limbs would by preference ride down. One of the most tiresome of
these rough places is the steep hill under the castle of La Pietra.
But this the foot-traveller may easily avoid, and at the same time
gain some superb views. On leaving La Fiera he will have to cross the
river, and pass through the village of Transacqua, one of the cluster
which form Primiero, then to climb a very steep little track up the
hill immediately behind until he reaches a terrace-path running nearly
at a level along the mountain-side. From the first corner one looks
back for the last time on the lake-like valley, with its islands of
villages and waves of Indian corn. The path then bends along a shelf of
meadows, with the whole chain of the dolomites in full view opposite.
Further the shelf broadens to a crescent-like plain dotted with châlets
lying immediately above the castle of La Pietra, and looking over Count
Welsberg's park and away into the heart of Val Pravitale and Val di
Canale. Hence a short descent leads back into the regular road above
the stoniest part of the ascent, and about halfway between the castle
and the pass.

A little inn, supplying drinkable wine, stands on the further side of
the ridge. For the next two hours the path leads through scenery of a
large and noble aspect. Deep below lies a valley, narrowing to a savage
gorge before it releases its stream to flow out into the sunny meadows
of Val di Mel. Above its head a broad-shouldered isolated mountain,
known by the simple name of Il Piz, towers high into the air.

The first village in Venetia, conspicuous by a large new church, offers
itself for a midday halt. A grassy slope leads thence to the crests
of the wooded ridges which divide the glens sloping towards Agordo.
Numerous paths wander about their tops, and unless the first left-hand
track is taken it is easy to miss the way amongst them. This leads
down into Val Sarzana, a long but pleasant glen, supporting several
villages, and opening nearly opposite the little town of Agordo.

So much for those of the main tracks, of which I can speak from
experience. The road down the valley to Feltre is still incomplete;
other paths can be learnt of from the 'Alpine Guide.' I must turn
to the higher passages across the great horseshoe, which, if not
absolutely unknown, were in any case known only to a few goatherds and
hunters before the expeditions here described.

On the morning of May 30, 1864, a strange arrival disturbed the quiet
of the little mountain town of Agordo, and collected what might pass
for a crowd on the piazza, which in England we should call a green.
Soon after nine A.M. the strangers who were the cause of this unusual
stir issued from the inn door in an armed procession--four Englishmen
headed by a Swiss and a Savoyard, the two latter girt with rope. Each
individual brandished a formidable axe. The native mind was by no
means satisfied with the explanations offered by the strangers, and
(as our guides afterwards told us) rushed to the conclusion that we
were a party of diggers wandering over the mountains to seek spots
favourable for mines, and that our strange-looking implements must be
for breaking rocks in search of gold. At the village of Taibon, some
half-an-hour above Agordo, a path crosses the river and turns into a
side-glen--the Valle di San Lucano. After-experience has confirmed our
first impressions of this valley. It is one of the most imposing spots
in this romantic region. The level bottom is dotted with pines and
watered by one of those sparkling streams too rare in the Western Alps,
which, content with their own station in life, do not seek notoriety
by doing harm to their neighbours. On one hand the Palle di San Lucano
rises in stupendous cliffs, in many places smooth and perpendicular as
a newly-built wall, and capped by three massive towers. On the other is
Monte Agnaro, a more broken and slightly less precipitous dolomite, its
rugged face furrowed by numerous clefts filled at this early season by
beds of snow, the remains of spring avalanches. At the châlets of Col,
an hour's walk from the high-road, the glen split into two branches,
the one short and steep running up to the Forcella Gesurette, a grassy
gap leading to Gares, the other a deep trench (sometimes called the Val
d'Angoraz) penetrating deeply into the corner of the Primiero horseshoe
and ending in a wild precipice-closed amphitheatre. A herdsman assured
us that by following a path on the western slopes of Val d'Angoraz
we might find a passage across the mountains, occasionally used by
shepherds, but, as he added, over snow and superlatively 'cattivo.' The
savage and uninviting character of the cliffs at the extreme head of
the valley made us quite ready to follow his advice.

Our first start that morning had been from Belluno, and it was now
approaching noon. Just torn from the languid luxury of Venetian
gondolas and under the scorching influence of a midday sun we crept
upwards but slowly, and the only eagerness displayed amongst us was in
finding from time to time some plausible excuse for a halt.

Underwood slowly gave place to pines, and these in turn yielded to
Alpine rhododendrons, amongst which our path came to an end. Several
hours, however, had passed before we gained the limit of vegetation,
and sat down on the rocks to consider our line of march over the
snow-slopes which still separated us from the wished-for ridge. The
wild cliffs of the Sasso di Campo, here and there nursing infant
glaciers in their rough recesses, rose opposite. On the north stretched
a wide elevated pasture, lying on the back of the Palle di San Lucano
and the slopes of the Cima di Pape.

Once on the snow all our fatigue vanished before the delicious air,
and our spirits shared the exhilaration. It was fortunate they did so,
for the scouts of the party, who had pressed on to the apparent pass,
found on the further side wide-spreading snow-fields, barred at a great
distance by a rocky ridge. After studying the military map of Venetia
(in which, as we afterwards found, all this region is laid down in
the vaguest and most misleading manner), we determined to retrace our
steps and make for a higher gap in the ridge on our right. This was a
mistake, for had we gone straight on we should have found ourselves,
with hardly any further ascent, on the edge of Val di Canale,[65] near
the spot we afterwards reached by a most circuitous route.

On gaining this second depression we saw more slopes between us and the
ridge which now seemed to be the watershed. The third pass in its turn
proved only a gap in one of the numerous low spurs running across the
great tableland which lies at the back of the rim of peaks seen from
the valley of the Cismone.

We were now in the very heart of this huge stony wilderness. In every
direction stretched an undulating expanse of whitish-grey rock, brittle
in substance and pockmarked by weather. Strange snow-filled pits here
and there broke the monotony of the weird waste, which, but for these
and its greater unevenness, resembled a rocky shore between low and
high water-mark. But the impression of barrenness and desolation far
exceeded what such a comparison will suggest; snow instead of water
filled the crannies, and the life of sea-weeds and sea-creatures was
altogether wanting in this middle realm of utter nakedness. There was
too much sunshine for the glacier, too much frost for the flowers which
began to find root scarcely 500 feet lower wherever the sun shone on a
patch of disintegrated rock. Here there was nothing even for a chamois
to nibble.

On the south the tableland was bounded by a line of snowy eminences,
on the west by a fantastic cockscomb of lofty crags, perhaps part of
the spur of the Palle di San Martino. But the wide horizon to the north
and east bore witness to the height on which we stood. Nothing impeded
our view over the central dolomite region, and beyond it we recognised
against the horizon the pale snowy line of the distant Tauern.

But the beautiful evening shadows already creeping over the view gave
us cause for as much uneasiness as delight. We had started late from
Agordo; time had flown by and it was within an hour of sunset, while
we were yet far on the wrong side of the Pass. Not a moment was to
be lost if we wished to sleep in the valley of Primiero. We wandered
incessantly on over shoulders, down gullies, across wide basins of soft
snow, until about sunset we stood at last on the edge of steep rocks
falling away into a southern valley, the far-sought Val di Canale.
A succession of snow-filled gullies rendered the descent easy, and
enabled us to slide swiftly downwards for some 2,000 feet. When we
reached the bottom of the glen daylight had already left us, and the
young moon, which threw romantic lights upon the huge pinnacles of
the Sasso di Campo and Sasso Ortiga, disdained the humbler office of
serving as a lantern to our path.

It was now so dark that we had to keep close together to avoid losing
ourselves. After reaching a brow we too hastily began to swing
ourselves down steep slopes by the tough branches of the creeping
pines. There was a cliff at the bottom, and it was necessary to
remount. Anyone who knows the difference between working upwards and
downwards through such a thicket, even when fresh and by daylight, will
sympathise with our despair. Yet despite slips, tumbles into holes,
slaps in the face from swinging branches, we scrambled somehow up
again. At the next attempt we got down with less difficulty.

In time we came to the bed of a torrent, here dry, as the water
preferred a subterranean course; for half-an-hour more we stumbled
along amongst the white boulders, every minute adding to our bruises.
Then we fancied we had found a path, and got into thick woods on the
left side of the glen. Soon the track, if it was one, was lost sight
of, and we wandered off into deeper darkness than ever. At last we were
brought to a dead halt. A steep step broke the valley, and cliffs, from
the base of which the river sent up far distant murmurs, barred our
progress. Whilst we were all engaged in beating about for any traces
of a path, a shout was raised. We eagerly enquired the cause. 'I have
got a native here, but I can't make him understand,' was the reply.
We rushed to our friend's assistance, and found his native to be our
German guide, whom in the darkness he had taken for a shepherd, and was
now cross-examining in his best Italian.

After this disappointment we resigned ourselves to the prospect of a
night in the forest. A fire was soon lighted in the nearest sheltered
hollow, and sufficient fir-branches cut down to form a bed. We should
have been happy had any water been at hand, but two oranges divided
between four were but poor relief to parched throats. As it was, we
were disposed to reflect that the same moonlight which lit our sky was
falling softly on the Piazza di San Marco, and to look back with fond
regret on the ices and lemonade of Florian's. After a long absence
François reappeared with the indiarubber bag, which usually held our
wine, full of water. Then our cravings were satisfied, and we soon gave
up watching the stars sparkling between the pine-branches and fell fast

Daylight, as usual, revealed an easy escape from the perplexities of
the night, and we speedily found ourselves in the exquisite meadows
surrounding Count Welsberg's shooting-box, and an hour later filed down
the high street of La Fiera.

In 1864 'Alpinisti Inglesi' were unheard-of novelties at Primiero,
and our procession filled every doorway with large wondering eyes, and
roused conjectures wilder even than those of the Agordans. Some words
of French spoken to François were caught by eager listeners, and it was
currently reported in the little town that we were a party of French
officers engaged in a surreptitious survey of the mountains. For the
simple mountaineers could not believe that Napoleon's word would not
yet be kept, and at least an effort made to complete the work of 1859
and free Italy from the Alps to the Adriatic.

No one, however, interfered with our siesta, or prevented us from
leaving early in the afternoon for San Martino. Here, however, we found
some officious person had given warning to the douaniers, and had not
Tuckett's German been fluent and our passports in order, we should have
no doubt had difficulty. As it was, we spent a very pleasant evening
with the officials, who were glad enough of a little company, and
invited us to join them in the circular chimney-corner which is the
best, if not the only, invention which has come out of Tyrol.

The old hospice was as rough quarters as could well be found, and our
beds did not interfere with early rising. Our object was to discover
a pass leading directly to Gares and so to Cencenighe and Caprile. We
had found it impossible to obtain any information overnight, but, as we
were starting, a peasant on his way to Val Fassa offered to set us in
the right path. We soon found, however, that he was leading us too far
north, towards a far-away mule-track on the other side of Paneveggio.
Much to our friend's surprise, therefore, we turned our backs on him
and our faces towards the great wall of cliffs which rises immediately
to the east of San Martino. A long climb through a fir-wood brought
us to the bare crags. The only difficulty, if it can be called one,
lies in hitting off the easiest point at which to pass a low cliff.
Above this the way lies over steep slopes covered with loose rubbish.
Three hours after leaving San Martino we stood on the crest close
to the base of the Cima della Rosetta. The view to the west was very
wide and beautiful. We looked over a foreground composed of mountains
pasture-clothed to their summits, beyond which the snows of the Orteler
and Œtzthaler groups, the towers of the Brenta, and the sharp peak
of the Presanella shone in the distance. We were now on the further
edge of the great waste we had wandered over two days previously, and
in the centre of the rocky peaks which dominate it. Several of them
appeared accessible. One, the Rosetta, is in fact only half-an-hour's
easy scramble, and well rewards the trouble of an ascent by a delicious
glimpse of the fertile fields of Primiero as well as a more extensive


   J. Gilbert delt.]

At our feet was a deep hollow lying under the back of the Cimon della
Pala. We descended into it, and found it the first of a series of
basins connected by steep troughs, at this early season snow-filled,
but later in the year, when the rocks are bare, steep enough to require
some scrambling.

We were threading a defile among the mountain-tops. Sheer walls
of cliff impended on one hand; on the other the rocks of the Cima
di Vezzana towered aloft in forms of the utmost daring, yet too
massive and sublime to suggest the epithet 'grotesque.' Here was
rock scenery seen in its purest simplicity, with no variety or relief
from its sternness except what it could itself afford in the shapes
and colouring of the crags. It was a Val Travernanzes destitute of
its only elements of life--verdure and water. In one of the lower
troughs a slender stream took the place of snow as a covering for the
rock-surfaces, and we were forced to get down as best we could by the
side of and sometimes through the cascade. At the end of the last basin
the stream entered a narrow gorge. There was still no trace of path,
and sometimes only just sufficient footing beside the water. We began
to fear lest we might be trapped, when notched logs of wood placed
as rough ladders against the rocks showed that some passage existed.
Presently the opening of the gorge came in sight, and the opposing
rock-walls gave space for an exquisite picture--the green slopes
and rugged summit of the Cima di Pape bathed in a flood of sunshine.
After plundering a bed of lilies of the valley (a rare flower in the
Alps), we came to the brink of the cliff above the Gares valley. A
log had been thrown across the water on the very edge of a waterfall.
This rustic bridge was not substantial to look at, and too narrow for
anything but Blondin or a monkey to walk over. We crossed it singly
astride, and found on the other side a path which led us by a wide
sweep round the rock-wall. This track recrosses the stream, still a
mass of foam, beneath a fall which is perhaps the prettiest in the
dolomite country. It then zigzags down rhododendron-covered slopes to
the floor of the valley.

The village of Gares is perched on a knoll in the centre of a fertile
basin and in full view of the green slopes of the Gesurette. Rugged
cliffs form a complete barrier on the west, and the tiny gap from which
we had emerged looked now the most unlikely entrance possible to a

A haymaker of whom we enquired for an 'osteria' took possession of
us and led the way to his cottage, where, having first hunted out
benches and stools from all sorts of corners, he entertained us on
milk, cheese, and butter. He knew of the existence of the pass we
had crossed, but spoke of it as only used by chamois-hunters, and
was unable to give it a name. Our host was most unwilling to receive
even a trifle for his hospitality. Beyond Gares the valley is open
and less wild and savage than most of the neighbouring glens. It runs
at first in a north-easterly direction along the base of the Cima di
Pape, until at an hour's distance from Gares the Val di Valles, through
which runs the mule-track of the Valles Pass to Paneveggio, opens on
the left and the united streams bend due east to join Val d'Agordo.
At the corner stands Forno dei Canali, the bakehouse of the valleys, a
long straggling village which uses the only path for a drain, and sadly
needs sanitary reform. We had to creep under the walls and jump from
stone to stone to avoid the sea of filth. Just beyond the last houses
Monte Civetta, more tower-like in form than usual, closes the view.
A picturesque defile--where the river, which flows beside the road,
was almost choked by logs on their voyage from the upper forest to the
saw-mills--led down to Cencenighe, a short two hours below the lake of
Alleghe and somewhat less from Agordo.

We have now twice crossed the great horseshoe. There remains a third
passage, the only one unknown to the people of the country, across the
deep narrow gap between the Cimon della Pala and the Cima di Vezzana.
This pass--which, in virtue of the privilege of discoverers, I venture
to call the Passo di Travignolo--leads from Paneveggio to Gares.

On a clear starlight evening in September 1872 our carriage, hired at
an exorbitant rate from the inn-master at Vigo, drew up before the
shining windows of the hospice of Paneveggio. My friend and I were
unprovided with guides, not purposely or because no peasants fit to
undertake such service were to be found in the Venetian Alps, but from
a combination of personal accidents. In the Alps only for a fortnight
I had not thought it worth while to summon François Devouassoud from
his far-off home. My friend, who had counted on the services of Santo
Siorpaes of Cortina, had found him already engaged to a lady who had
taken the first cragsman in Tyrol to lead her mule.

But the assurances we had received before leaving England that the
untrodden crest of the Cima di Vezzana was likely to be attainable
without serious difficulty encouraged us to persevere in our intentions
against that mountain; and at the first opportunity we applied to
the people of the inn to procure for us the best chamois-hunter of
the neighbourhood to carry our provisions and to serve as a third
on the rope. A peasant of stalwart size and manly bearing was soon
produced who, by his professions of readiness to go anywhere, created
a favourable first impression, weakened it is true, in my mind, by
some slight suspicion that his 'anywhere' might be different to ours,
and possibly mean anywhere he had been before. But for this doubt I
had no foundation except the stubborn disbelief shown by our proposed
companion in Mr. Whitwell's ascent of the Cimon della Pala. In such
a discussion it is difficult to know how to act. To tamely leave a
fellow-countryman's credit to take care of itself, with the precarious
assistance of any stonemen he may have left behind him, is opposed to
one's impulse. Yet the statement that an Englishman's word is above
question loses its impressiveness when delivered with a consciousness
that your assertions are at that very moment accepted as the strongest
evidence to the contrary.

Shortly after five A.M. we were on the path which follows the eastern
branch of the Travignolo. After some time the hills opened, the stream
bent suddenly to the south, and wide grassy spaces extended along its
banks. High against the sky the pale heads of the dolomites rose in a
bare gigantic row. Above the end of the glen towered the gaunt form
of the Cimon della Pala girt about his loins by a glacier, the only
ice-stream in this group which makes a determined effort to descend
into the valley. A grass-slope and a stone-slope led us to the ice,
which rose in a steep and slippery bank. Higher up its more level
surface was split by a few incipient crevasses, the largest of a size
to engulf the heel of a boot or a torpid butterfly. Unluckily they did
not escape the keen eyes of our hunter, and he proceeded to probe one
of them with his staff. When he had done so his face assumed an air
of singular resolution, and to our utter astonishment he informed us
that the ice was hollow and that it would be madness to proceed. We
of course pointed to the rope he carried on his shoulders. In vain;
our philosopher briefly remarked that 'life was more than gulden,' and
prepared to descend.

From our standpoint the whole upper glacier was in sight, a
semicircular hollow open to the north-west, hemmed in elsewhere by
the cliffs of the Vezzana and the steep broken face of the Pala.
Between them lay a natural pass, approached on this side by a long
bank of snow, between which and us the crevasses were evidently easy
of circumvention. The day was cloudless. The path to a maiden peak was
open. Should we follow the craven-hearted hunter? The suggestion, if
made, was not for a moment entertained. We roped ourselves together and
turned our faces to the mountain.

I feel it well here to guard myself from the risk of being reckoned
amongst those who would set up an example of 'mountaineering without
guides.' We were in fact neither of us disposed to disregard the
verdict of the Alpine Club. That verdict may be thus summarised--'Do
not dispense with a guide except when and where you are capable of
taking his place.'

An heretical but excellent climber, driven into revolt, perhaps,
by some of the excesses of Grindelwald or Chamonix orthodoxy, once
endeavoured to incite Englishmen to begin climbing by themselves. I
quite agree with Mr. Girdlestone in disliking the passive position
of the man who, having linked himself between two first-rate guides,
leans on them entirely for support, moral and physical, under every

This situation may be appropriate and even acceptable to the 'homo
unius montis' who wishes once for all to do, or rather have done, his
Wetterhorn or Mont Blanc. But for my own part I can never feel in it
any of the pride of a mountaineer, or resist from comparing myself to
the bale of calico which abandons itself to the force of a pulley in
order to reach the top storey of the warehouse.

But in order to avoid this position it is surely not necessary, as
Mr. Girdlestone would have us, to rush into the opposite extreme
and do without guides altogether. Employing guides need not involve
self-effacement. A guide may be looked to as a teacher instead of
as a mere steam-tug; he may be followed intelligently instead of

Although we may feel very far from, and may despair of attaining, the
ideal of a mountain athlete embodied in an Almer, there is no reason
why we should not endeavour to make some humble approach to it.

Let the traveller accustom himself to choosing his own line of
march, practise his skill by steering through an easy bit of an
ice-fall, cutting steps down a snow-bank, or taking the lead along a
rock-ridge such as that of Monte Rosa. In this way he will, without
much additional risk, test and improve his own skill, and may become
in time capable of undertaking, without other company than that of
similarly qualified friends, any expedition of moderate difficulty. Let
it never be forgotten, however, that in sports as well as in trades an
apprenticeship must be served. Forgetfulness of this fact has led to
the worst of Alpine disasters, and it is by its tendency to ignore it
that the doctrine of 'mountaineering without guides' is most dangerous.

In the present case we considered ourselves qualified to undertake the
work before us; that is to say, we saw nothing to lead us to suppose
that we were about to enter on ground where we could not tread safely,
or on which a chance slip, should one occur, would not be remediable by
such skill as we might have previously acquired.

The ice-chasms, some of them of formidable breadth, of the upper
glacier were easily turned, and in a time which seemed short we came
to the last of them, the great moat which ran round the base of the
mountain. It was furnished with two bridges, one immediately under the
centre of the snow-wall, over which any bodies falling from above would
probably pass; the second, over which we crossed, somewhat nearer the
Pala. This steep bank, for most snow-walls are little more, may have
been at a rough guess 800 feet high.

The snow, though in a very trustworthy condition, was a little too
hard for speed, and my friend, who is an excellent step-cutter, found
plenty of occupation for his axe. Some hour and a half had slipped by
and we were still 150 to 200 feet below the crest, when a low bank of
rock, parallel to the slope and lying along the base of the cliffs on
our left, offered us an alternative path. We swerved towards them,
not however without exchanging a reminder of the need of caution in
crossing from snow to rock. An unusually capacious last step had been
cut, and my friend had already attached to the crag all his limbs with
the exception of one leg, when his whole body suddenly became subject
to a struggle between the laws of gravity and the will of the climber.
He had grasped a portion of the living rock which came away in his
hand, for the first time, as if it had been the least stable of loose
boulders. I had hardly time to close my axe in a tighter grip before my
companion flew past me at a velocity of I cannot say how many feet to
the second.

My foothold was too slight to resist any severe shock; the power of
resistance lay in arms and axe. In a moment the rope tightened, rather,
however, with a strong increasing pull than with a sharp jerk. I
felt myself moving downwards, but in my old position, erect, my face
to the slope and my axe-head buried as deeply as ever in the snow,
and dragging heavily like an anchor through its hard surface. Two or
three seconds more and I felt the impulse less, my power of tension
increasing. In another moment I had stopped altogether. My companion's
fall, checked at the first by my resistance, and still more afterwards
by his own exertions with his axe, of which he had with the impulse of
an old climber retained his hold, had come to an end, and the moment
the downward strain was taken off I stopped also.

I have no mental sensations to record during the time of the slide.
The mind has, or seems to have, at times an extraordinary power while
the body is flying down a snow-slope of, as it were, anticipating
its separation from its old companion, and standing apart to watch
its fate, in what a writer in 'Fraser' has happily called 'colourless
expectation.' The phrase may suggest of itself an explanation of this
curious indifference. In such situations the brain is called upon to
register so many sensations at the same moment that as in a well-spun
top the various hues are mingled into one, and the pale complexion of
terror has not time to predominate. But in order to experience this
frame of mind the slip must be irremediable by any present exertion;
our moments of descent had their practical impulses, and these were
quite sufficient to occupy them.

We now found ourselves respectively some sixty and twenty-five feet
lower than we had been before, and with our positions reversed, but
otherwise none the worse for our accident. So at least I thought
for the first moment; but a red patch on the snow immediately drew
my attention, and I found that my knuckles, skinned by the friction
against the frozen surface, were bleeding freely. My friend, who had
fallen further, had suffered more, and the backs of his hands were
indeed in a pitiable condition.

Such a temporary inconvenience was not likely, however, to render
us melancholy. Confident that no worse thing could happen to us, and
that despite foul play we had proved our ability to cope with the Cima
di Vezzana, we looked for the best means of gaining the crest and a
convenient halting-place. An upright corniched wall, representing the
thickness of the snow-field lying across the top of the pass, barred
the head of the gully. With the rocks on our left we naturally declined
to have any further dealings; those on the right did not look much more
inviting. But, though loose and very steep, they proved with care to
be quite manageable; and ten minutes' careful climbing brought us in
safety to a spur of rock some fifty feet above the lowest gap.

The way to our maiden peak was still blind. It presented to us a
massive shoulder of crag and snow-beds, masking the real summit which
lay somewhere out of sight. We bore well to the right along the Gares
side of the mountain, and over the shoulder, until we found a gully
which took us back towards the crest. A short scramble placed us on
it, and by a few steps more along a shattered ridge the summit was

Our perch was a narrow one, and when our future champion, the
indispensable stoneman, had taken his place between us, there would
have been little room for a fourth. Still we soon made ourselves
comfortable enough to enjoy to the utmost the glory spread out around
us. The Cimon della Pala, a great unstable wedge of a mountain, shot
up opposite us, its highest rocks overtopping ours by little more than
the height of Mr. Whitwell's cairn. The white houses of Primiero showed
over the huge shoulder of the Pala. The lake of Alleghe lay peacefully
in its hollow. Beyond it rose the central dolomites, the Pelmo,
the Civetta, and the Tofana, looming largely through the glistening
air, like Preadamite monsters couched on the green hills and sunning
themselves in the noontide blaze. On one side we looked down on the
white stony desolation of the great wilderness which fills the hoof of
the shoe, on one of the nails of which we stood, on the other on the
forest of Paneveggio and a green stretch of lakelet studded pastures.
Far away to the west spread the rolling hill-waves of the Trentino, a
vast expanse of broken country stretching out towards the Brenta and
the Orteler.

In this region the common rule is reversed. While the troughs of the
streams are narrow and rugged, the summits are wooded downs covered
with villages. Seen from any moderate eminence, such as the Caressa
Pass, the hill-tops compose instead of confining the landscape, they
spread out their broad backs to the sunshine in place of cutting it
off. Instead of striking against one opposite range the eye sweeps
across twenty surging ridges, and wanders in and out of a hundred
hollows, distinct or veiled, according as the sunlight falls on them,
until it meets on the horizon the snows of the distant range extending
from the Adamello to the Weisskugel.

So far as I know, no great painter has chosen a subject from the basin
of the Adige. Yet here, even more than in Titian's country and the Val
di Mel, all the breadth and romance of Italian landscape is united to
Alpine grandeur and nobleness of form.

The full blaze of an unclouded heaven was just tempered into the most
delicious warmth by a gentle breath of air. We could have lingered for
many happy hours, and the moment for parting came but too soon.

The return to the gap was only a matter of minutes. There we left our
old tracks, and, turning in the opposite direction, slid quickly down
snow-slopes filling a recess between the wildest cliffs. The brow
on which we halted to tie up the rope was green with grass and gay
with the brightest flowers, a tiny garden in the desert, where the
seeds wind-borne from far-off pastures are caught by the earth and
nursed into being by the kindly rays of the sun streaming full on the
southward-facing slope.

We were now immediately above the ravine descending from the Cornelle
Pass. Once in this glen we were on old ground, and might easily
have descended to Gares.[66] Anxious, however, to regain Paneveggio
before dark, we turned our faces to a steep ascent. The way across
the level ground on the crest of the ridge had been newly marked out
by stonemen. We rested for a few minutes to gaze again over the broad
field of the blue and green Trentino, and then plunged beneath the
breeze and into an atmosphere of sunbeams. The rays came down on our
heads, reflected themselves from the white cliffs, and fastened on us
with a steady persecution, from which there was no great rock to flee
unto. I need not enter into any details as to our exact route, which
was so contrived as to cut into the carriage-road between Paneveggio
and San Martino as nearly as possible at its summit-level. If anybody
ever chances to aim at the same end he cannot do better than bear to
the châlets which he will see below him on the right, and there hire
a cow-boy to guide him through the ups and downs of the forests and
across the great stony scars which mar the mountain side. Anyhow he
must make up his mind to reascend the final zigzags to the Costonzella

After the pathless thirsty hillside and the burning heat, our walk in
the luminous deep-hued evening shadows down a smooth road, varied by a
milk-giving châlet or a mossy short cut, was most enjoyable.

As the air grew chill and the golden radiance of the sunbeams died out
of it the mountain forms exchanged their flaming splendours for a cool
grey-blue tint. In some strange way this bloom in the air seemed to
thicken until it became no longer transparent. A thin shadowy film grew
into being, and the huge spectral dolomites faded away into it like
genii of the 'Arabian Nights.'

Their battle was over; they had done their worst; and the Pala and
Vezzana, knowing themselves vanquished, might well be imagined, like
respectable Afreets, to have retired into the bottles with which their
conquerors had, after the custom of climbers, provided them. But the
Alpine Club has no seal of Solomon with which to bind its captives. The
Primiero giants have doubtless by this time come forth again, and are
ready for fresh encounters with human foes.


     [63] _Alpine Journal_, vol. v. p. 111.

     [64] This part of the road was being remade in September

     [65] Canale is a frequent synonym for 'Valle' in the Venetian
     Alps, and travellers have been led to suppose that a fanciful
     analogy between the glens of the mountain provinces and the
     water-streets of the capital led to the use of the word. But
     'canale' was used in the sense of valley before the period of
     Venetian rule, and it is found at the present day in mountain
     districts of the Apennines near Spezzia, far removed from
     any Venetian influences. See Du Cange's 'Glossarium' for some
     curious details and quotations as to this word.

     [66] An inn will probably be established before long at
     Gares. The ascent of the Cima di Vezzana from that side is a
     fine expedition, free from the slightest difficulty.



     Lacs de moire, coteaux bleus,
     Ciel où le nuage passe,
         Large espace,
     Monts aux rochers anguleux.--THÉOPHILE GAUTIER.


Even in the Venetian Tyrol the tendency of tourists to choose the
colder pine-clad north in place of the more tender and varied grace
of the south has become observable. Cortina, Caprile, and the Val
Fassa are even now on the, in everything but prices, downward path of
corruption. But away to the south and outside the 'regular round' there
are still many quiet nooks known as yet only to those who

           ---- Love to enter pleasure by a postern,
     Not the broad populous gate which gulps the mob.

It is across the Italian frontier, and not amongst the stern peaks
and solemn pines of Cortina, or in the savage gorge of Landro, that
we find the nature which Titian so often sketched and painted. In the
foregrounds of the northern dolomite country there is a commonplace
stiffness and want of variety, which even the weird crags of the Drei
Zinnen or Coll' Agnello cannot render romantic; it lacks the noble
spaciousness, the soft and changeful beauties, of the southern region.
Its character is German in the place of Italian, it reminds us rather
of Dürer than of Titian. It excites and interests the appetite for the
wonderful rather than soothes and satisfies our longing for complete
and harmonious beauty.

Landscapes composed of blue surging waves of mountains, broken by sharp
fins and tusks of rock, of deep skies peopled with luminous masses of
white cloud, are familiar to the eyes of thousands who have never seen
Italy nor heard of a dolomite. Side by side with the wide sunny spaces,
the soft hills and unclouded heaven of the early schools of Perugia
and Tuscany, they remain to us as types of what Italian art found most
beautiful and sympathetic in nature. The hill-villages of Val di Zoldo
claim our interest as the frequent haunts of Titian. While wandering
between them, we are amongst the influences which impressed his boyhood
and were afterwards the sources of his inspiration. The Pelmo may on
good ground assert itself as Titian's own mountain. Mr. Gilbert, in his
'Cadore,' has shown it to us as it stands over against the painter's
native town; and it is impossible to turn over the facsimiles of the
master's drawings contained in that charming volume without being
persuaded that he drew the mountain from life more than once, and his
recollection of it very frequently.

Val di Zoldo resembles many of the Venetian valleys in being shaped
like a long-necked bottle. In its lower portion a narrow gorge hemmed
in by beetling crags, it expands at its head into what, seen from
any vantage-ground, shows as a broad sunny basin, divided by green
ridges into a labyrinth of fertile glens. The outlines of these
ridges are symmetrical in themselves, and they are grouped together
in a constantly shifting but harmonious complexity. Away to the south
the horizon is fringed by splintered edges of dolomite, black as the
receding night when cut clear against the first orange of dawn, or
pale gold in the palpable haze of an Italian noon, or crimson with
the reflected rays of sunset. As the paths cross the crests from glen
to glen, the snowy boss of the Antelao or the painted cliffs of the
Sorapis tower loftily over the low intervening ridge which divides
Zoppé from the Val d'Ampezzo. But (to accept the hypothesis of Von
Richthofen) the great glory of Val di Zoldo lies in the chance which
led the coral insects to select the broad downs lying behind the
hamlets of Pecol and Brusadaz for pedestals on which to plant their
two noblest efforts, the huge wall of the Civetta and the tower of the
Pelmo. Elsewhere in the dolomite country edifices may be seen covering
a wider space of ground, or decorated with more fantastic pinnacles,
the Westminster Palaces and Milan Cathedrals of their order. But these
two works belong to the best style or period of insect art; their
builders have shown that simplicity of intention and subordination of
detail to a central controlling purpose which mark the highest of the
comparatively puny efforts of their human competitors.

To travellers the Civetta is best known by its north-western face,
to which the little lake of Alleghe lends a picturesque charm sure
to catch the fancy of every passer-by. The structure of the mountain
as seen from Val di Zoldo appears less intricate; and if the cliffs
are not so perpendicular, the prevailing angle from base to cope is
steeper. Its crags, glittering with rain or sprinkled with recent snow,
shine out at an incredible height athwart the slant rays of a setting
sun; in the cloudless morning hours they become ordinary rocks up which
the experienced cragsman detects a path, safe enough when the spring is
over and the upper ledges have 'voided their rheum.'

To the mind of the climber who wanders beneath its cliffs I know not
what incongruous fancies the Pelmo may not suggest. From Val Fiorentina
and Santa Lucia its broad shoulders and massive head resemble an
Egyptian sphynx; as we move southwards one of the shoulders becomes
detached, and the mountain is transformed into a colossal antediluvian
cub crouching beside its parent. When clouds part to show the vast
glittering crest which overlooks Val di Zoldo we seem to realise 'the
great and high wall' of the city coming down from heaven of Apocalyptic
vision. If we ever have a 'Practical Tyrol,' the likeness of the solid
mass seen from the Ampezzo road to the Round Tower of Windsor will
probably be remarked on,--and there will be a certain amount of vulgar
truth in the observation.

One of the easiest paths to Val di Zoldo starts from Alleghe, and has
been described by Messrs. Gilbert and Churchill. From Caprile, the
more usual point of departure, there is a direct track which first
attacks the mountain with the headstrong energy of a novice, and then
takes a long breathing-space along the level. After passing several
bunches of farm-houses, clinging to the steep sides of Monte Fernazza
like flies to a window-pane, it again climbs up through woods to the
hamlet of Coi.[67] The needful height is then won, and a green terrace,
overhanging Alleghe and looking into the heart of the Civetta, leads to
the great rolling down which spreads out towards the Pelmo.

Heavy clouds, charged with electricity and rain, had swept about
from peak to peak during our walk from Caprile, and the greyness of
evening was deepened by heavy showers as we splashed down the wet
path from Pecol. Near the river, and nestling under a steep bank
crowned by a far-seen church and spire, we came upon the inn of San
Nicolò. It stands a little back from the path behind a courtyard, a
tall three-storied house, hanging out no vulgar sign of entertainment
for man and beast. At the top of the three stories are two bedrooms,
clean and spotless, hung with engravings, and furnished with the air
of conscious wealth of a farmhouse best-parlour. Their windows give
an exquisite glimpse down the deep glen which falls towards Forno di
Zoldo, and across to a high ridge capped by a most fantastic fence
of dolomite splinters. But if the upstairs rooms are bright and
comfortable, they have not the homely charm of the great ground-floor
kitchen. It is a wide room, ranged round with rows of lustrous brass
pans, alternating with generous, full-bodied, wide-mouthed jugs, which
could never give a drop less than the measure painted across them. At
one end is the fireplace, of the sort common in southern Tyrol, a deep
semicircular bow forming a projection in the outer wall of the house;
the floor is slightly raised, and a bench runs round it, leaving the
centre to be used for the hearth,--an arrangement which seems to solve
the problem of the greatest happiness of the greatest number better
even than our old English chimney-corners.

The structure which supports--not the fire, for that lies on the
hearthstone, but the pots and pans which may be cooking upon it--is
a piece of smith's work, enriched with wrought-out conventional
foliage, chains and two noble brass griffins. All the character of
the workman has been stamped into the metal, and comes out even in the
irregularities of detail which Birmingham might call defects,--a modern
and native product, however, as our host with pardonable pride assured
us, and the best that the neighbouring forges of Forno di Zoldo can
send out.

The master of the house proved to be a man of wealth and position
in his native valley. He knew Venice well, and something of the more
distant world. 'What can one do?' he said, in answer to our compliments
on his house; 'in the mountains there are no cafés, no theatres; one
must build a fine house, and get what novelty one can from strangers;
but,' he added with a sigh, 'there are not so many.'

In the gloom of a wet evening the conquest of the Pelmo on the morrow
seemed little more than a slender hope. Still, in the Alps successes
are chiefly won by being always prepared for the best, and we were
resolved not to lose a chance. In the matter of guides, however, we
found a difficulty. We were ourselves, owing to the causes mentioned
in the last chapter, but poorly provided. The Vezzana had not proved
beyond our unaided powers. But we had no ambition to dispense with
native assistance any further, or to go up the Pelmo by any but the
easiest route. The native of Caprile who had carried our wraps over the
Passo d'Alleghe was a pleasant fellow, but he had never been on the
Pelmo, where, if anywhere, local knowledge is indispensable. It was
with some dismay, therefore, that we first learnt that no hunter who
knew the mountain could be found nearer than Brusadaz, a hamlet an hour
off. However, Brusadaz turned out to be on the way to the Pelmo, and in
the early morning we could reckon on finding the inhabitants at home.

As at five A.M. we took the path which wound round the hill rising
above the church of San Nicolò, the saw-blade of Monte Piacedel cut a
clear sky to the southwards. Brusadaz was soon discovered lying in the
centre of a natural theatre, which opens into the main valley very near
its fork at Forno di Zoldo, and is directly overlooked on the north by
the Pelmo, a square block of smooth, solid and apparently inaccessible
precipice. The hunter Agosto di Marco, to whom we bore an introduction,
was quickly forthcoming, and, with unusual but welcome readiness,
in five minutes prepared to lead us to the mountain. Our luck seemed
altogether good, for the stonemen on the Pelmo were clear of mist, and
we promised ourselves a day of more than usual enjoyment.

A steep grassy bank severs the quiet hollow of Brusadaz from the Zoppé
branch of the valley. We reached the crest at some distance from the
base of the Pelmo, and had to follow an up-and-down track in order to
gain the lower end of the Campo di Rutorto, a broad level pasturage,
lying at the eastern foot of the mountain. The cliffs, up which a way
was to be made, were now before us; but we found, to our surprise, that
their appearance--partially veiled, it is true, by floating mists--was
almost as discouraging as that of the southern face.

There is scarcely any summit in the Alps which from every point of view
presents so formidable an appearance as the Pelmo. Time and the various
forces of nature, almost invariably create a breach in the defences of
great mountains. Here, however, their work has been left unfinished.
The upper cliffs are, it is true, broken on the east by a long slope,
where, after a fresh fall, snow lies in such quantities as to show
that it is easy of ascent. But this snow, when, as in spring, it has
accumulated to a sufficient mass, falls from the bottom of the slope
over a perpendicular cliff of at least 1,000 feet in height. It is only
at what may be called the northern cape of the bay formed by the whole
S.E. or Zoppé face of the mountain, that the ridge dividing the Campo
di Rutorto from Val Ruton runs up, buttress-like, against the cliffs to
a point not perhaps more than 400 or 500 feet lower than the bottom of
the upper breach, but fully half a mile distant from it; and the cliffs
along this half-mile are quite hopeless in appearance.

It was consequently with some surprise that we found ourselves climbing
the buttress in question, and, as far as we could see, about to run our
heads against the wall-like rocks on which it rested. Before setting
foot on the crags the rope was uncoiled and brought into use. We at
once found sufficient employment for our muscles in making long steps,
or rather lifts of the body, from ledge to ledge of a rock-face, the
angle of which (disregarding our footholds) appeared to approximate
very closely on 90. The transverse shelves, however, afforded excellent
support, and made our progress a matter of perfect security.

Above the first 150 feet a narrow gully disclosed itself, which led us
to higher and more broken rocks. Then, again, the wall looked perfectly
smooth, upright, and unassailable. On the last place where it could
have found room to rest was a low pile of stones. Standing beside it,
we began for the first time to comprehend the key to our dilemma; we
were now to turn altogether to the left, and to attempt the formidable
task of traversing the face of the Pelmo. Our pathway was before us,
a horizontal ledge or groove, at present a few feet broad, shortly
narrowing so as to afford only sufficient standing-ground, threatening
before long not to do even this. The cliffs around us bent into deep
recesses, and each time a projecting angle was reached, the side of the
bay seen opposite appeared wholly smooth and impassable.

This portion of the ascent of the Pelmo is, in my limited experience,
one of the most impressive, and at the same time enjoyable, positions
in which a climber can find himself. Even a sluggish imagination has
here enough to stimulate it. The mysterious pathway, unseen from a
short distance, seems to open for the mountaineer's passage, and to
close up again behind him as he advances. The stones he dislodges,
after two or three long bounds, disappear with a whirr into a sheer
depth of seething mist, of which the final far-off crash reveals
the immensity. The overhanging rocks above, the absence of any
resting-place even for the eye below, do not allow him for a moment
to forget that the crags to which he clings form part of one of the
wildest precipices in Europe.

  [Illustration: ON THE PELMO.

   D. W. F. delt.]

To walk for a mile or so along a ledge no broader than the sill which
runs underneath the top story windows of a London square, with, for
twice the height of St. Paul's cross above the pavement, no shelf below
wide enough to arrest your fall, must sound an alarming feat to anyone,
except perhaps a professional burglar. And yet to a head naturally
free from giddiness, and to nerves moderately hardened by mountain
experiences, the full sense of the majesty of the situation need not be
disturbed by physical fear. The animal 'homo scandens' is not in the
slightest danger. His pedestal may be scanty, but it is sufficient.
He can follow his chamois-hunter amongst the abysses with as much
confidence as Dante followed the elder poet amidst the boiling gulfs of

As we went on, the height of the groove, and consequently the
head-room, became, for a time, inadequate to our requirements--a fact
which a moment's inattention seldom failed to impress forcibly on the
brain. Let the reader picture himself walking along the mantelpiece and
the cornice coming down on him so as to force him to stoop or lie flat.
'Va bene!' cheerily remarked the Brusadaz hunter, in reply to some
grumbles on this score, 'it is all as easy as this, except one place,
and that is of no consequence.' This place, the 'eccentric obstacle'
of the guidebook, arrived in due course, a projecting corner where the
ledge was not broken away but partially closed in by a roof of rock.
There was just room enough to allow a thin person to lie down and
worm himself round with due care and deliberation; a brilliant climber
could find some support for portions of his body on slight knobs below;
those who were neither thin nor brilliant had to trust to the rope and
their companions. For us, who followed an adroit and confident leader,
there was little difficulty in the feat; but the happy boldness of our
predecessor, who, when his companion's courage failed him, himself led
the way, did not the less impress us. Mr. Ball, we agreed, had here
proved himself in the body as well as in the spirit the true 'Alpine

Having all wound or scrambled past the corner as instinct led us,
we followed round yet another bay the faithful ledge. At last the
precipice above us broke back, and our guide announced that all
difficulty was at an end. And so it proved, at least as far as nerves
and gymnastics were concerned. But to keep up the pace he now set
us was no slight task. We raced upwards through the mists at true
chamois-hunter speed, over steep slopes, now of large broken crags,
now of smaller and less cohesive fragments, up low cliffs, then over
more slopes, until we began to think the mountain interminable. At
last, where a stream, the hidden roar of which was often heard, flashed
for a moment into light, I was glad to call a halt. Two buttresses of
rock, the ends of the topmost ridge of the Pelmo, loomed largely, and,
despite our exertions, still loftily overhead; a glimmer of ice shone
between them.

We soon came to the glacier, a sheet of uncrevassed ice, sloping
slightly from south to north, and filling the large but from below
unseen and unsuspected hollow which lies between the horseshoe-shaped
battlements of the mountain. 'If the water of the ocean,' writes
Professor Huxley, 'could be suddenly drained away we should see
the atolls rising from the sea-bed like vast truncated cones, and
resembling so many volcanic craters, except that their sides would be
steeper than those of an ordinary volcano.' The description exactly
fits our peak; and if, reversing the picture, we imagine the level
of the Adriatic raised a trifle of 10,000 feet, the glacier would
yield its place to a lagoon, and these ridges would exactly represent
an atoll of the southern ocean. Our leader at first swerved to the
left towards the lower crags which immediately overlooked his native
village; turned by our remonstrances, he led us to the highest rocks, a
broken crest perfectly easy of access.[68] The verge of the huge outer
cliffs, in some places level up to the extreme edge, and unencumbered
with loose stones so as to allow of the closest approach, was gained
within a few yards of the cairn which marks the summit.

Through a framework of mists we could see down from time to time
into Val Fiorentina and along the gorge of Sottoguda, but the upper
mass of the Marmolata and all the neighbouring peaks were wrapped
in dense folds of leaden-coloured cloud. Feeling that a distant view
was hopeless, we hastened to retrace our steps before any wandering
storm should burst on the mountain. During the descent the fog became
at times thick enough to suggest unpleasant fears of missing the
direction. No such calamity, however, occurred; and, gaining a slide
on every slope composed of fragments minute enough to allow it, we
found ourselves far sooner than we had expected on the brink of the
lower precipice. The spot was marked by a patch of dwarf Edelweiss,
which, in company with other bright but tiny flowering plants, grew
here and there upon the mountain. We made our way rapidly back along
the ledge; the confidence of experience more than compensating for the
inconvenience of the cliff, to which we had often to hold, being now on
the left instead of the right hand. Where the direct descent on to the
green buttress had to be made we, by keeping a few yards too much to
the left, nearly got into a scrape, which was only avoided by a timely
acknowledgment of the error. Strait and narrow as is the right path on
the Pelmo, all other ways lead to destruction far too palpably not to
induce one immediately to return to it.

On the top of the buttress we rejoined our provision-sack, and enjoyed
a long halt in full view of the Antelao, now towering above the clouds,
a gigantic vapour-wreathed pyramid. From this point it is, as we found
the next day, but a two hours' walk or ride amongst bilberry-bushes and
forests to San Vito on the Ampezzo road. To return to San Nicolò was,
however, our present object, and our hunter promised a new and easy
path. We rushed rapidly down a very steep funnel to the great patch of
avalanche-snow which lies against the base of the cliffs in the centre
of the Campo di Rutorto. In the sort of cave left between the crag
and snow a jet of water, spouting like a fountain of Moses from the
arid rocks, served to fill our cups. A little footpath mounts gently
the rhododendron-covered slope beyond, and winds as near as it can
creep to the huge mountain. The cliffs above are broken, and in this
part there was formerly a possibility of scrambling through them. Our
guide declared that owing to a fall of rock the passage had now become
extremely difficult; and his statement gains some confirmation from
the fact that two of my friends who attempted (with a San Vito man) an
escalade from this direction, were forced to retreat, one of them with
a broken head. While climbing in advance he dislodged with one hand
a boulder from a shelf above him, which made its first bound on his
skull, fortunately without loosening the firm grasp of his other arm or
inflicting any permanent injury. Unstable boulders are the great source
of danger in this part of the Alps, and even old climbers require to be
constantly reminded that on dolomite rocks they must test before they
trust every handhold.

At the south-eastern angle of the Pelmo the cliff rises sheer for some
distance and then a wedge of stone suddenly juts out, overhanging its
base to an extent which I fear to estimate in figures, and can only
describe as incredible. The under part has fallen and lies on the path,
but a huge block still hangs threateningly overhead, an appropriate
gargoyle for so Titanic an edifice.

The brow beneath it commanded a wide and splendid prospect. To the
north rose the red crags of the Sorapis and the more symmetrical
outlines of the Antelao. Turning eastwards, green pasturages and
gable-formed ridges filled the foreground. The blunt-headed crags
of the Sasso di Bosco Nero occupied the middle distance. Beyond the
gorge of the Piave we looked across to the least-known portion of the
dolomites, the blue mountains, crested with dark teeth and horns, which
encompass remote Cimolais.

A sturdy little goatherd, the first human being we had seen since
leaving Brusadaz, here came up to greet us. The boy did not depend on
his voice alone to summon his flock. Round his shoulders was slung a
trumpet, one blast from which sent flying a peal of wild echoes not to
be disregarded even by the deafest and most obstinate of goats.

The terrace path continued to skirt the base of the Pelmo, until it
reached a platform of pasturage, the Campo sô Pelmo, lying due south
of the mountain. From this pasturage a second way may be found to
the upper slopes of the Pelmo. It is curious that this line of attack
should have been adopted by the Cortina guides in preference to that by
the angle of the mountain facing San Vito, so far the nearest and most
natural route from Val d'Ampezzo.

The difference in difficulty is probably in favour of the southern
ascent, but it can scarcely be sufficient to account for good
rock-climbers making a circuit of several miles. Yet Santo Siorpaes in
1872 led Mr. Tuckett round the mountain.

The only English ascent by the southern route was made by Mr. and Mrs.
Packe in 1870. They camped out for the night at the southern foot of
the mountain. I am glad to be able to quote Mr. Packe's description of
the climb, both because his impressions confirm my own, and for the
sake of any ladies who may be thereby encouraged to venture on the

'From our camp a gentle ascent of twenty minutes over undulating
ground brought us to a grassy mamélon, forming an outlying buttress
of the mountain. Here we left the heavier portion of our provisions,
and at once commenced to climb north-east up a very steep rocky gully
which separates the detached shoulder described by Mr. Freshfield as
"the antediluvian cub crouching beside its parent." In this part of
the ascent, partly over snow, partly over rocks, though the rope was
sometimes brought into use, there was nothing very formidable. When at
the foot of the ridge which unites the cub to its parent, we turned
to the right, traversing transversely a steep talus of schist, with
a precipice below, but at some mètres' distance. After passing this
we reached a corner, where the rock came down vertically from above,
falling in the same way below; and here the difficulty commenced. For
about an hour we were passing along a ledge, which wound round the
recesses of the mountain, in one place entirely riven away by a rent in
the face of the rock, across which we had to step, while the stones we
dislodged fell with a sheer descent to a depth which the eye dared not
fathom, but which might have been some six hundred mètres beneath our

'It is this system of ledges on the face of a perpendicular cliff,
which, moreover, is crumbling in its nature, that forms the difficulty
of the Pelmo; and these cannot be escaped, though they may be varied,
approach it from whatever side you will; but, that ours was not the
same ledge as that by which Mr. Freshfield mounted is, I think, at once
evident from the reasons I have alleged, that our left hand was always
to the mountain in ascending, and that there was no place where we were
compelled to crawl.

'On emerging from this ledge the precipice on our left hand broke back,
and I take it here we had reached the same spot as that attained by
Mr. Freshfield from the opposite side. At any rate, from this spot,
his description would exactly apply to our route till we reached the
summit, which was still about a thousand mètres above us. All serious
difficulty was at an end. Our course lay over steep rocks, laced with
streams descending from the glacier,[69] and the only vegetation which
attracted my notice was here and there the bright yellow flowers of
the Alpine poppy. Above these rocks comes the glacier basin, which we
crossed, like Mr. Freshfield avoiding the lower ridges on the left, and
keeping to the right close to the highest crags of the Pelmo, which we
at last reached after a rough and laborious escalade.

'We remained on the summit from 11.30 to 1 P.M., and then returned by
exactly the same route, traversing the same ledge, but this time, of
course, with our right shoulders to the rock. After a halt at our camp
of the preceding night, we made the best of our way down to San Vito,
which we reached at 7, and drove thence in our carriage to Cortina the
same evening. The mountain of course may be done quicker, but I give
the times, if any other lady should like to try the ascent.'

After crossing a gentle elevation, we found ourselves on the verge of
the hollow of Brusadaz, and turned along a sledge-track leading down
the crest between it and the western branch of Val di Zoldo, beyond
which the crest of the Civetta stood forth high above the belts of
vapour. The hamlet of Coi, seated as it were astride the narrow ridge,
looks down at once on Brusadaz and San Nicolò; a steep corkscrew path
led us in twenty minutes to the latter village, where we found our
return not even begun to be expected.[70]

The Pelmo and Civetta naturally engross the attention of the traveller
on his first visit to Val di Zoldo; but the splendid walls of dolomite
which fence in the valley on the south-east and south-west invite
a second visit and further exploration. Passes may be found through
the western range to Agordo; through the eastern, presided over by
the strange block of the Sasso di Bosco Nero, the 'unknown mountains'
of Miss Edwards, to the valley of the Piave. They have been already
traversed by Mr. M. Holzmann, one of the most indefatigable explorers
of this region.[71]

I cannot bring myself to conclude this imperfect notice without paying
a tribute to the Italians of the southern dolomites, rendered, as it
seems to me, the more due and necessary by the frequent praise which
the Bœotian simplicity of their German-speaking neighbours has
received from English writers. A mountaineer may well have a good
word for the population of Val di Zoldo. Where else in the Alps will
he find a valley the natives of which, alone and unincited by foreign
gold, have found their way to the tops of the highest peaks? And let
it not be thought that this success was an easy one. The Civetta, from
whatever side it is seen, is of formidable steepness, and, as I have
said before, the Pelmo is to the eye of a mountaineer one of the most
perplexing peaks in the Alps. Yet the men of Val di Zoldo, by following
their game day after day, and learning that the ledge which offered the
chamois a means of escape was also for the hunter a means of pursuit,
found out at last the secret of the circuitous access to the upper
rocks, which had been for centuries a true 'Gemsen-Freiheit.'

I do not doubt that Mr. Ball was the first man to stand on the highest
crest of the Pelmo. Its attainment was probably not an object of
sufficient value to the hunters to induce them to cross the upper
glacier and brave the peril of being swallowed up alive by some hidden
chasm, a risk which weighs heavily on the mind of the peasant who has
yet to learn the saving grace of a rope. But the real difficulty lies
below, and amateur climbers with foreign guides might have sought
long and vainly for the passage which the spirit of the neighbouring
villagers had found ready for them.

But it is not alone on the narrow ground of venturesomeness that the
people of Val di Zoldo recommend themselves to an English traveller.
They possess in a high degree the intelligence and quick courtesy we
are accustomed to meet with in Northern Italy. No peasant will pass
the stranger as he sits to rest or sketch beside the path without a
few bright words of greeting and enquiry, showing often a feeling for
natural beauty and a quickness of apprehension rare amongst a secluded
population. The slowness alike of mind and of action, the refusal to
grasp anything outside their own daily experiences, so common among
the peasantry of the Pusterthal, is here unknown. To quote a shrewd
observer, 'the men are such gentlemen and the women such ladies, that
every chance meeting becomes an interchange of courtesies;' and the
traveller, turning northwards, will often have occasion to join in
Dickens's regret for what he has left behind, 'the beautiful Italian
manners, the sweet language, the quick recognition of a pleasant look
or cheerful word, the captivating expression of a desire to oblige in


     [67] Not the hamlet of the same name subsequently mentioned.

     [68] The assurance given by the San Vito landlord to Messrs.
     Gilbert and Churchill, that 'only the final ice-portion was
     difficult' (_The Dolomite Mountains_, p. 399), was, I need
     scarcely say, wholly misleading and contrary to fact.

     [69] Mr. Bryce tells me that among the upper rocks of the
     Pelmo, above the ice and somewhat E. of the highest point he
     found a strong iron spring.

     [70] We had been absent 10½ hours. The ascent occupied five
     hours of quick walking; the return, made on the whole much
     more leisurely, about four; halts accounted for the remaining
     hour and a half.

     [71] See Appendix A.



     What, I pray you, is more pleasant, more delectable and more
     acceptable unto a man than to behold the height of hills as
     if they were the very Atlantes themselves of heaven?

     Art thou in nature, and yet hast not known nature?
                                    HERMANN KIRCHNER, circa A.D. 1600.


Switzerland, from a distance practically beyond that of the Caucasus
at the present day, has in the last thirty years been brought within a
few hours of our homes. Increased facilities of travel and of residence
in Alpine regions, acting in unison with many less obvious but equally
real influences, have extended human sympathy to Nature in her wildest
forms and created a new sentiment, the Love of the Alps.

The indifference of men to mountains in past ages has perhaps been
exaggerated. The prevalence throughout the world of mountain-worship
in different forms seems to show that the great peaks and the eternal
snows have before now had power to stir men's minds and to mix with
their lives. But the image which has been adored as a god is for a
time cast aside, and it is only to distant generations that it becomes
valuable for its intrinsic beauty of design and workmanship. In the
case of the great ranges the period of neglect had been a long one. In
the Europe of the Middle Ages all hilly regions became surrounded by
associations of fear and danger. The plan of the universe was indeed
held to have been originally divine; but the devil had somehow become
clerk of the works, and managed to put in a good deal not in the
original specification. Earthquakes, tempests, venomous reptiles and
mountains were all accepted as productions of the evil principle.

From this disfavour the mountains have been during the last century
slowly emerging. Better acquaintance has led to the discovery of all
the beauties and benefits the Alps offer to those who seek them in
a proper mood. We have learnt thoroughly to appreciate the variety
imparted to all nature by the accidents of hill scenery, to know and
love the thousand forms of peaks, the changing charm of lakes and
forests, the rush of the grey Swiss torrent under the upright pines,
and the blue repose of the Italian stream under the beech shadows.
Moreover, Alpine climbing has revealed the wonders of the kingdom of
frost and snow. The imprisoned colours of glacier ice, the ruin of its
fantastic towers and tottering minarets, the splendour of its fretted
and icicle-hung caves are no longer familiar only to Arctic travellers.
The overpowering height of some peak soaring majestically heavenwards
can never have been felt as it is by those who understand through
experience the dimensions and meaning of each rock and patch of snow on
its ridges.

The flow of human sympathy towards the mountains has, however, been too
recent not to have left many traces of the deep ebb of antipathy which
had preceded it. 'Survivals' of the old and narrower tone of thought of
a hundred years ago are constantly to be met with in English society.
They even penetrate occasionally to the tables-d'hôte of Swiss inns,
where they may be recognised by the air of calm superiority generally
assumed by the unappreciative, whether in the presence of music, a
picture, or a peak.

These representatives of mediæval sentiment are often mediævalists
also in their practice. Where their opinions are based on anything
besides hereditary prejudice it is very often found if you examine them
tenderly that their experience has been coloured, or more correctly
speaking obscured, by bodily torture. They have climbed with unboiled
peas in their shoes, and without the excuse of their forefathers. For
they have deadened their natural senses by bodily discomfort without
any hope of prospective gain for their souls. They have literally
repeated the old penance by setting out to walk with new boots and
cotton socks and a ponderous knapsack. They have rushed over passes and
up peaks in bad weather; or overtaxed their powers in a first tour: or
they have perhaps never persevered long enough to be able to tread with
ease a mountain-path, where the novice dares not lift his eyes from the
ground, while his companion, some days or weeks more experienced, can
enjoy at once the scenery and motion. No wonder that what is a delight
to the wise is to them foolishness, and that they speedily renounce the

Such mountain-haters still find champions both in English and foreign
modern literature. I shall not be tempted to take the late Canon
Kingsley as an example, for his amusing attack on mountains[72] is in
truth only a plea for flats, and in that light I heartily sympathise
with it. Moreover Mr. Kingsley loved all nature so well that his
cursing is of the most superficial and Balaamitic character, and the
argument he puts in the mouth of his 'peevish friend' would invite
mercy by its very feebleness.

A distinguished French critic will furnish us with a far more genuine
example of the old school. M. Taine, travelling in the Pyrenees to
write a book, experiences a difficulty the reverse of Mr. Kingsley's.
Feeling that he ought, as a man of his time, to bless, he yet cannot
refrain from cursing altogether. The antique modes of expression flow
naturally from his pen; he is constantly reminding us of the once
favourite theological view that the mountains are a disease of nature.
His language at times resembles that of a medical student fresh from
the hospitals and the dissecting-room. He sums up his impressions of
the Pyrenees in the reflection that they are 'monstrous protuberances.'
Here is a picture from Luchon! 'The slopes hang one over the other
notched, dislocated, bleeding; the sharp ridges and fractures are
yellow with miserable mosses, vegetable ulcers which defile the
nakedness of the rocks with their leprous spots.'[73] This loathsome
simile for mountain mosses pleases M. Taine so much that he never
mentions them without repeating it. Take now a more general sketch.

'How grotesque are these jagged heads, these bodies bruised and
heaped together, these distorted shoulders! What unknown monsters,
what a deformed and gloomy race, outside humanity! Par quel horrible
accouchement la terre les a-t-elle soulevés hors de ses entrailles?' It
would be easy to fill a page or two with such 'elegant extracts.'

Mountaineers may sometimes feel disposed to resent such unworthy
treatment of mountain beauty. But the true lover of the Alps is not
necessarily disposed to be arrogant in his faith or to wish all the
world of the same mind. While he knows that to him the mountains are
sympathetic, he admits that they have also an unsympathetic side which
is the first to present itself to many. He recognises in the hill
country a type of nature, free, vigorous and healthy, and is glad that
others should share the enjoyment of it. But as the affection of a
sailor for the sea does not blunt him to the pleasures of dry land,
so his feeling for the Alps does not make him less susceptible to
milder scenes. He does not assert that mountains are the most beautiful
objects in creation, but only that they are beautiful. He does not
claim for them undivided worship, but a share of admiration.

Little disposed however as we may generally be to proselytise, we must
feel that there is one class of our fellow-countrymen amongst whom we
like to make converts. We too often find blind to mountain beauty those
who, as we think, ought to be its priests and interpreters. For the
painter, like the poet, can feel 'harmonies of the mountains and the
skies' invisible to the general eye; it is his gift by a higher or more
developed sense to recognise and reveal to others the beauties of the
visible world. By his happy power of fixing on canvas the vision of a
moment, he extends the appreciation of nature of all who intelligently
look at his work. Paul Potter and Hobbema have taught us the charm
which lurks in the flat and at first sight monotonous landscapes of
Holland. Looking through their eyes we see the beauty of the moist
sun-suffused atmosphere, of the sudden alternations of shadow and gleam
which chequer and gild the abundant verdure and peaceful homesteads.
Corot and Daubigny lead us better to appreciate the unfamiliar spirit
of French river-sides in the dewy morning hours or the red gloaming, a
beauty indistinct in form yet vivid in impression as that of a dream.
When we exclaim as we rush past in the steamer or the express, 'What a
Cuyp!' or 'How like Corot!' we pay a just tribute to the artist through
whose works the essential features of the scene before us have been
made so readily recognisable.

In the same way those who have already studied the beautiful Titian
(No. 635) in our National Gallery, or the landscape lately exhibited
at Burlington House, will find a deeper and subtler pleasure in their
first view of the great Belluno valley. But this unfortunately is
a rare example. As a rule the Alpine traveller must depend entirely
on his own powers of observation and selection, or must sharpen his
appreciative faculty by the aid of poets.

For at least the word-painters of our generation have not been false to
their mission of expressing and carrying on the best feelings of their
age. The works of our living poets abound with sketches of mountain
scenery the precision of which may satisfy even a literal-minded
enthusiast. In the exquisite Alpine idyll in the 'Princess' we have
brought before us one after another the scenes of the Bernese Oberland;
Grindelwald with its firths of ice, Lauterbrunnen with its monstrous
ledges and 'thousand wreaths of dangling water-smoke,' or the gentler
beauties of the vale of Frutigen and the Lake of Brienz. Beside this
finished picture might be placed a gallery of sketches familiar to
every reader of contemporary poetry. Mr. Browning draws with sharp,
firm strokes the paths over the foothills of Lombardy, where the high
arched bridge leaps the blue brook, and at each sudden turn the faded
frescoes of a chapel gleam from between the chestnut-trees over whose
tops 'the silver spearheads charge.' Mr. Matthew Arnold prefers the
more solemn mood of the inner Alps, where above the hillside, 'thin
sprinkled with snow,' 'the pines slope, the cloudstrips hung soft in
their heads.'

Across the Atlantic, among the other great English-speaking people,
the poets have not any more than our own treated mountains as 'outside
humanity.' Emerson has dwelt more fully than any of his forerunners
on the appeal they make to our intellectual faculty; Joaquin Miller
reflects the fascination exerted over the senses by the great
Californian ranges.

Art, like poetry, ought surely to be the expression of the strongest
and clearest feelings of its day, and thus the interpreter and
instructor of weaker or more confused minds. The types of beauty are
eternal, but painters are human beings, and a man can successfully
paint or describe only what he has seen and felt for himself. The most
vivid impressions of each age and individual are necessarily derived
from the forms of life around them, and these are therefore the best
suited to inspire their art-faculty. The sculptors of the Parthenon
did not carve Egyptian dances but Attic festivals; the great Italian
masters painted, whether as Virgin, God, or Saint, their own countrymen
or women in the scenery of their own homes. In the dulness of our outer
lives, the deadness of our souls to natural enjoyments, lies assuredly
one of the chief causes of the artistic barrenness of our century. Can
we then afford to throw away lightly, as material for art, any form of
nature which seems really capable of stirring our minds into some sort
of enthusiasm?

Neglect of to us familiar scenes and contemporary subjects is,
however, often excused on the ground that these things were unknown
to the painters of the Renaissance. In point of fact this amounts to
a protestation of our incapacity or unwillingness to discover beauty
where it has not been already pointed out, to a confession that amongst
us art is dead. For to be able to choose out, harmonise, and idealise
the elements of beauty in the world as it goes on around us is the
essential quality of living art. It is one, it is true, which is too
often missed on the walls of Burlington House.

Many of the most cultivated living artists show their veneration for
the old masters by endeavouring to reproduce the results they arrived
at, rather than by studying nature at first-hand and in their spirit.
Consequently in one half of modern painting we see, in the place of
free and spontaneous accomplishment, an abundance of tentative and
over-conscious reproduction. And unfortunately this half finds its
best justification in the character of the other. To put it simply, our
school may--of course with some illustrious exceptions--be divided into
those who think too much and feel too little, and those who neither
think nor feel at all.

Some of our friends are sitting all the day long watching seriously in
dim galleries if perchance they may yet catch the mantle fallen from
the prophets of old. There are others who, going straight to daily life
and nature, are often too idle or dull-eyed to penetrate beneath the
surface. In place of selecting and combining for us elements of beauty,
they attempt to tickle our senses with vulgar tricks of imitation. For
one 'Chill October' we have had twenty river scenes crowded with smart
people in boats; for one sketch of Leighton, Walker, or Mason half a
hundred showy trivialities.

From both schools, the Retrospective and the Commonplace, any
invitation to the Alps will receive the same answer. The mountains,
begins one voice, are harsh, violent, and unmanageable in outline,
crude and monotonous in colour, and devoid of atmosphere. The great
masters of the Renaissance never painted the Alps, continues the other,
with, remembering Titian, doubtful accuracy. In short, we are given to
understand, as politely as may be, that the hill-country may be good
for those dull souls which, incapable naturally of appreciating more
delicate or subtle charms, require to be strongly stirred; but that to
the artist's eye the Alps are the chromolithography of nature--that, in
fact, a taste for mountain scenery is bad taste.

Yet the majesty and poetry of the great ranges are not incapable of
representation. One mountain sketch of Turner is enough to prove this.
But if such an example is thought too exceptional let us take another.
I have before me pictures in brown, twelve inches by ten, showing above
the mossy roofs of a Tyrolese homestead and the broad sunny downs
of Botzen the tusked and horned ramparts which guard King Laurin's
rose-garden; the Orteler, its vast precipices of crowning ice-pyramid
half seen through belts of cloud; the soaring curve of the Wetterhorn
as it sweeps up like an aspiring thought from the calm level life
of the pasturages at its feet; the Matterhorn, an Alpine Prometheus
chained down on its icy pedestal, yet challenging the skies with
dauntless front. Is mind powerless where mere reflection can succeed
not once but repeatedly? Can it be impossible to put on canvas subjects
which readily adapt themselves to modest-sized photographs? So long as
form as well as colour is a source of pleasure, the Alps will offer a
store of the most valuable material for art.

Nevertheless, a certain amount of truth underlies all the current
criticisms on Alpine scenery. In 'the blue unclouded weather' which
sometimes, to the joy of mountaineers and sightseers who reckon what
they see by quantity rather than quality, extends through a Swiss
August, the air is deficient in tone and gradation. In the central
Cantons the prevailing colours are two tints of green. The vivid hue
of pasturages and broad-leaved trees is belted by the heavier shade of
pine-woods, and both are capped by a dazzling snow-crown, producing
an effect to a painter's eye crude and unmanageable. The Alps have,
in common with most great natures, rough and rugged places, such as
are not found in more everyday lives or landscapes. Their outlines are
often wanting in grace, and of a character which does not readily fall
into a harmonious composition.

But to allow all this is only to show that here as elsewhere there is
need for selection before imitation. Those who, ignoring the essential
qualities of the mountains, insist only on their blemishes remind me of
the foreigner who sees in English landscapes nothing but a monotony of
heavy green earth overshadowed by a sunless sky. Their disparagement
is like most erroneous criticism, the honest expression of the little
knowledge described in the proverb.

Familiarity with what he represents is essential to the painter's
success. Men paint best as a rule the scenery of their own homes.
Perugino gives us Umbrian hills and the lake of Thrasimene; Cima and
Titian Venetian landscapes and colours; Turner loves most English
seas and mists. It is useless, except for a rare genius, to go once
to Switzerland and paint one or two pictures, for in the mountains
knowledge is especially needed. The first view of the Alps is in most
cases a disappointment. Our expectations have been unconsciously based
on the great mounds of cumulus cloud which roll up against lowland
skies. We expect something comparable to them, and we find only a thin
white line which the smallest cloud-belt altogether effaces. First
impressions require to be corrected by patient study of detail before
any adequate comprehension can be formed of the true scale. The stories
of our countryman who proposed to spend a quiet day in strolling along
the crest of the chain from the St. Theodule to Monte Rosa, of the New
Yorker who thought he saw one of the mules of a party descending the
Matterhorn, have become proverbs. I suppose no season passes without
the Grands Mulets being mistaken for a company of mountaineers by
some new arrivals at Chamonix. And too often Alpine pictures betray
a similar confusion of mind in their painters. I have seen the
Schreckhorn through utter ignorance of rock-drawing converted into a
slender pyramid which might have stood comfortably beside the Mammoth
Tree under the roof of the Crystal Palace. Not long ago there was a
picture in the Academy of the Lake of Lucerne, where the mountain-tops
looked scarcely so high above the water as the frame was above the
ground. The hangers had done their best, but nothing could give those
mountains height.

Moreover it is well to know something of the substance as well as
the size of your subject. Some painters, it is true, have had a
conventional mode of expressing all foliage; but their example is not
one to be imitated. The different forms and texture of granite and
limestone must be carefully attended to. Again, before it is possible
properly to paint the golden lights and pearl-grey shadows on the face
of the Jungfrau some knowledge must be gained of the meaning of the
lines and furrows which seam the upper snows.

A sense for colour is doubtless a born gift. Nevertheless it will take
many days of watching before even the keenest apprehension seizes upon
all the subtleties of distance and light and shade in the mountains. A
dark green pine, a brown châlet, and a white peak may do very well in a
German chromolithograph. But the artist and the mountain-lover ask for
something better than the clever landscapes of Bierstadt and the Munich
school, faithful it may be, but faithful in a dry and narrow manner,
and giving us every detail without the spirit of the scene. The forms
are there exactly enough, but local colour and sentiment are wanting.
We have a catalogue instead of a poem. One of Turner's noble pictures
of the gorge of Göschenen is worth a gallery of such compositions.

Those who are seeking to understand mountains will do well not to
confine themselves to the round of the tourist. Convenience and health,
not love of beauty, have been the chief influences in determining the
orbits of our fellow-countrymen. Nothing compels the painter to linger
on the bleak uplands round the sources of the Inn, where a shallow
uniform trench does duty for the valley which has never yet been dug
out, and where the minor and most conspicuous peaks have a mean and
ruinous aspect.[74]

If he wishes to paint the central snowy range as portions of the
landscape rather than to study them for themselves, he should begin
with the further side of the Alps. There, even in the clear summer
weather, when the Swiss crags seem most hard and near, and the
pine-trees crude and stiff, all the hollows of the hills are filled
with waves of iridescent air, as if a rainbow had been diffused through
the sky. The distances, purple and blue, float before the eye with a
soft outline like that of the young horns of a stag. Even the snows
are never a cold white; after the red flush of dawn has left them they
pass through gradations of golden brightness until, when the sun is
gone, they sink into a soft spectral grey. And in the foreground woods
of chestnuts and beeches spread their broad branches over wayside
chapels bright with colour, and mossy banks the home of delicate ferns
and purple-hearted cyclamens. To those who know them the names of Val
Rendena, Val Sesia, Val Anzasca, and Val Maggia call up visions of the
sweetest beauty. But the whole Italian slope is free at all times from
the alleged defects of Swiss scenery. Further east lies the Trentino,
where the mountains stand apart and the valleys spread out to an ampler
width, where nature is rich and open-handed, and the landscapes unite
Alpine nobility of form to the sunny spaciousness and deep colour of
Italy. And close at hand, beyond the Adige, is the country of Titian,
where the new school may find a precedent and an example in the great
painter of Cadore.

But at length when the crowd has departed let the painter in late
September or October pass back to the Swiss Alps. However much he
may dislike positive colours, he will find subjects to his taste,
harmonies in blue and grey, or studies in grey alone, when the thin
autumn vapours swim up the valley and entangle themselves amongst the
pine-tops, or when the whole heaven is veiled, and

     White against the cold white sky
     Shine out the crowning snows.

Or, if he delights in the subtle play and contrast of colour, he may
study the lights and shadows and reflections of the lakes, as the wind
and clouds sweep over them, the hue of the hillsides when the purple
darkness of the pines becomes a grateful contrast to the rich warm
tints of the lower woods, and the rhododendron leaves on the high alps
flush with a red brighter than their May blossoms. From some lonely
height he may watch the shiftings and gatherings of the mist as it
spreads in a 'fleecelike floor' beneath his feet, or the storm-wreaths
as they surge in tall columns to the heaven, and break open to reveal
a mountain shrine glowing in the rich lights of evening or the pale
splendour of a summer moon. He must be a dull man if he does not
acknowledge that the mountains have a language worth interpreting, and
that to those who can listen, they speak, as Lord Lytton tells us in
his pretty fable,

       ---- With signs all day.
     Down drawing o'er their shoulders fair,
     This way and that soft veils of air,
     And colours never twice the same
     Woven of wind, and dew, and flame.

We do not ask or expect many artists to devote themselves to the new
country which has been discovered by the Alpine Club above the belt of
black and white barrenness which was once thought the typical scenery
of the Upper Alps. That there is much that is beautiful, however,
in this Wonderland will be readily admitted even by those who doubt
whether its beauties are reproducible by art.

The painter who ventures into the snow-world will find, I think, that
the subjects it offers divide themselves roughly into three classes:
portraits of high peaks; studies of mountain views, that is, of earth
and sky-colours blended in the vast distances visible from a lofty
stand-point; and studies of snow and ice--of the forms and colours
of the snow-field and the glacier. In the first two no conspicuous
success has yet been obtained. The great mountains still await their
'vates sacer.'[75] It is in the last-mentioned, at first sight the
least inviting and most perplexing of the branches of Alpine art, that
the greatest efforts have been made and with the most result. Until M.
Loppé painted, it was only the mountaineer who knew the beauty of the
glacier. Its broken cataracts and wave-filled seas were to the stranger
formless, colourless masses. The Genevese painter, by dint of patient
study and laborious, if pleasurable, exertion, has revealed its secrets
to the world, and more than justified the enthusiasm of the Alpine

M. Loppé's pictures might easily be arranged so as to form a kind of
'glacier's progress.' We first find the snows reposing tranquilly in
their high rock-cradle and reflecting on their pure surface the tones
of the sky from which they have fallen. Then we have the struggle and
confusion which attend the encounter of the young glacier with the
first obstacles. An irresistible impulse urges the still half-formed
ice over the edge, and it is transformed in a moment into a maze of
towers and blue abysses, of walls of marble-like snow seamed with the
soft veins which mark each year's fall, of crystal-roofed and fretted
vaults hung with pendant icicles. M. Loppé paints with wonderful skill
not only the forms of the 'séracs,' but the shades and hues given by
the imprisoned light and reflections to the frozen mass, combining the
whole into a harmony of soft pale colour.

Again we meet the glacier, as it is best known to the world, settled
down into middle life, but still seamed by the scars of a stormy youth,
earthier, more stained and travel-worn than in its first combat. Here
the mottled crust, the green light of the smaller crevices, and the
wavelike undulations of the surface are represented with admirable
fidelity; but we feel the air is less poetic, and a stray tourist
does not offend us as out of place. And now we are present at the last
struggle where, under a pall of cloud through which the parent peaks
shine down a far-off farewell, the glacier makes its fatal plunge into
the valley, for it a valley of death, and we see its end amid the earth
and rock-heaps of the terminal moraine. But from under the muddy ruin
springs out of a 'dusky door' a new and fuller life, and the mountain
stream dashes off on its happy course through the new world of the
fields and orchards.

So faithful are these pictures that Professor Tyndall would find in
them fit illustrations for a popular discourse. So perfect is sometimes
the illusion that we should almost fear a modern version of Zeuxis and
the birds, and expect to hear the lecturer calling on his assistant to
drive stakes into the canvas.

When M. Loppé turns to summit views we feel that his success is less
complete. He has led the way to the

     High mountain platforms
       Where morn first appears;
     Where the white mists for ever
       Are spread and upfurl'd,

and has dared to be the first to depict the mysterious light of the
far-off sunrise playing on the highest snows of Mont Blanc, the snowy
cantonments of the Alps separated by grey cloud-streams, the gradations
from the purple of the zenith to the crocus of the horizon in the vault
of heaven seen from 15,000 feet above the sea-level; or the red glow
of sunset, when the lowlands are already dark in shadow, and the upper
world has a moment of hot splendour before it, too, is overwhelmed by
the night.

The deep hues of the upper air, the torn edges of the clouds as
they are caught by the morning breeze, bear witness to study on the
spot. But we demand more delicacy of aerial effect, greater depth of
distance, more precision in the handling of the nearer rock-peaks.
The painter clearly spends all his love on snow, and does not care so
much for the forms of crags. We miss, too, that combined breadth and
subtlety of interpretation which belong only to the very highest genius
and which no study or perseverance can impart.

But fault-finding is ungrateful where so much has been dared and
accomplished. M. Loppé's pictures are doubtless open to criticism in
many respects, and they could hardly be otherwise. But the amount of
success he has achieved in a region where no one else had ever dared to
venture is surely sufficient to make his example worth more than many
precepts. At any rate the moment at which a painter has shown London
for the first time the capabilities for artistic treatment of the most
unpromising of mountain-subjects seems a fitting one for urging the
general claims of the Alps.

Let it not be said that Englishmen are dead to the finer influences
of the eternal hills to which they so much resort. Let our painters
avoid hasty conclusions founded on imperfect knowledge, and attempt
the mountains with the same energy and perseverance which have made
them subject to our athletic youth. Let them be ready to climb enough
to understand the scale and nature of the objects they have to paint,
and content, like young mountaineers, to spend season after season
in slow training and only partial success. Thus, and thus only, can
they hope to conquer the beauties of the mountain-world. But the
conquest will repay its cost. The existence of a school of intelligent
Alpine landscape-painters would contribute in no small degree to the
maintenance of Art in her true position, not as 'the empty singer of
a bygone day,' but the visible sign and interpreter of the feeling for
beauty of the world of our own days. It also could not fail to result
in the increased and more intelligent appreciation of some of the
highest forms of scenery, and the consequent repression of the tendency

     Glance and nod and bustle by,

which wastes so many of the hours when our souls should be most


     [72] Prose Idylls.

     [73] Contrast this comparison with Mr. Browning's, quoted p.

     [74] A distinction must be made between the scenery of
     the Engadine itself, and of the Bernina. In the side-glens
     behind Pontresina, the lover of peak-form and the student
     of snow and ice will find abundant and singularly accessible

     [75] I do not forget the somewhat spasmodic efforts in Alpine
     painting which have been made in late years by one or two of
     our landscape-painters. But so far as I know, despite one
     or two fairly successful beginnings, none of them (except
     an amateur, Sir Robert Collier) have persevered in the
     endeavour to represent mountains. Of all men, Mr. Edward
     Whymper has effected most in this field. His wood engravings
     show how much may be done even on a very small scale and
     without colour. A volume of portraits of the great peaks by
     his hand, an English edition of Herr Studer's, _The Highest
     Summits of Switzerland, and the Story of their Ascent_,
     would be welcomed both by lovers of the arts and of the
     Alps. Mr. Elijah Walton, with much feeling for colour, and
     occasionally for mountain form, seems to lack the force and
     perseverance necessary for the production of complete work.
     He seldom reaches the standard of rock-drawing held up in
     his own book, _Peaks in Pen and Pencil_. His sketches are too
     often scamped, and it is impossible to repress impatience of
     their mannerism, and of the perpetual blot of mist which he
     is ever ready to throw in. Nor can I recognise as worthy of
     such frequent reproduction the surely somewhat ignoble, and
     in nature rare, form of hillside found where, through the
     friable character of the rock, isolated, pine-tufted blocks
     are left standing amidst deep trenches. But he can, when he
     pleases, paint truly and beautifully a dolomite pinnacle,
     a wall of ice, or a bank of pines. I still hope he may be
     able to forget some of his favourite effects, and to give
     us a series of simple transcripts of fresh impressions from
     nature, embodied in drawings studied throughout with equal

     Other water-colour painters have, during the last few
     seasons, tried their hands on the snowy Alps. We owe
     gratitude to everyone who aids to raise mountain-drawing from
     the bathos of such works as those of Collingwood Smith. But
     I could wish this young school showed less facility and more
     signs of a progress which is only to be won by thoughtful
     observation, patience, and refinement. At present their
     works are seen more often in the rooms of climbers than of




The following notes have been framed for use with the 'Alpine
Guide,' and make no pretence to be complete in themselves. Besides
the necessary references to Mr. Ball's book, they consist of such
corrections and additions as I should have supplied had a new edition
been in immediate prospect. The edition referred to is that in 10 small
sections (2_s._ 6_d._ each), Longmans & Co., 1873. The sections which
include the country here dealt with are three--'The St. Gothard and
Italian Lakes,' 'East Switzerland,' and 'South Tyrol and the Venetian

The best maps for use in the country here described are, for ordinary
travellers, Mayr's 'Karte der Alpen' (Ostalpen, Sheets 1 and 3)
corrected by Berghaus (Perthes. Gotha. 1871), and the Alpine Club Map
of the Central Alps, Sheet IV.

Mountaineers will also require the Swiss (Sheet XX.) and
Lombardo-Venetian (Sheets B. 3, 4; C. 3, 4; D. 3, 4) Government Maps.
The new survey of Tyrol by the Austrian engineers has been completed,
and its result will shortly be given to the public. The existing maps
of S. Tyrol and the Trentino are most inaccurate.




From central Switzerland by the St. Gothard road or Gries (mule-pass);
from the west by the Simplon road and Val Formazza; from the south by
Lago Maggiore.

There is an omnibus twice daily up Val Maggia between Locarno and
Bignasco, and once daily between Bignasco and Fusio, to which the
carriage-road now extends. The carriage-road in Val Verzasca extends to
Sonogno, but there is no public conveyance beyond Lavertezzo.

The carriage-road up Val Onsernone is open as far as Comologno.

The road from Locarno to Domo d'Ossola is not, as stated in the 'Alpine
Guide,' practicable throughout for cars. There is a break of some
length near the frontier.

The road from Canobbio through Val Canobbina to Val Vigezzo was still
incomplete in 1874.


_Val Maggia._

_Cevio._ An Inn well spoken of by German travellers.

_Bignasco._ The house kept by Da Ponte, mentioned in the 'Alpine Guide'
still 'very fair' (1874). The 'Posta' supplies clean beds and good
country cooking, and is in a charming situation (1874).

_Fusio._ Inn and pension frequented by Italians, and said by F.
Devouassoud to promise well externally (1874).

_Val Verzasca._

_Lavertezzo._ A poor-looking Inn. There is a roadside tavern, where
bread and wine may be obtained, below the bridge over the stream of Val
d'Osola. At Sonogno there is no inn (1874).

_Val Vigezzo._

_Santa Maria Maggiore._ A fair country Inn (1874).


The ascent of the lesser peaks of the Ticinese valleys scarcely repays
the labour. The Basodine and Piz Campo Tencca are mentioned among the
passes. No riding animals are to be found in Val Maggia: they must be
brought from Faido or Premia. The master of the Tosa Falls inn is a
good guide to the Basodine, and peasants are doubtless to be found in
Val Bavona who would undertake to lead a traveller to the top.

_Val Formazza_ to _Val Maggia_.

Premia or Andermatten to Cevio by Val Rovana, horsepath. See 'Alpine
Guide,' vol. ii. p. 311.[76]

Andermatten to Bignasco by the Forcolaccia and Val Bavona, 6½ hrs.;

Andermatten to San Carlo in Val Bavona by Passo d'Antabbia; foot;
probably fine.

Tosa Falls to San Carlo and Bignasco; by Passo del Basodine; foot; rope
necessary. See p. 15-16:

or Bocchetta di Val Maggia; foot; either pass about 10 hrs.

The Basodine, 10,748 feet, can be climbed in ½ hr. from the former
pass. See p. 15.

For the passes from Val Bavona to Airolo, and to Val Peccia. See
'Alpine Guide,' pp. 311, 313.

_Val Maggia_ to _Val Leventina_.

Airolo to Fusio by Val Lavizzara, see 'Alpine Guide,' p. 311. There is
a more direct foot-pass between the two there mentioned, the descent
from which on the E. side is by a goat-track down a steep face of

Faido to Fusio. See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 311.

Faido to Broglio and Bignasco by Passo di Campo Tencca. Through the gap
between the N. (highest 10,099 ft.) and central peak of Piz C. Tencca;
see p. 20-25; foot, 10 hrs. It is not necessary to go round by Prato to
enter Val Lavizzara, but the short cut to Broglio is rather difficult
to hit off in descending. See p. 20.

_Val Maggia_ to _Val Verzasca_.

Broglio to Sonogno; Passo di Redorta, through Val di Prato and Val
Partusio, foot, 6 hours. See p. 29.

Bignasco to Brione; Passo d'Osola,[77] through Val Coccho (foot),
probably the most interesting path between the two valleys.

I can add no information to that contained in the 'Alpine Guide' as to
the other passes from Val Maggia to Val Verzasca, or as to the passes
from Val Verzasca to Val Leventina.


Carriage travellers can only drive from Domo d'Ossola to Canobbio (with
the break mentioned above), and up and down Val Maggia, Val Verzasca,
and Val Onsernone.

_For riders and moderate walkers_ perhaps the best route is

From Faido to Fusio by Campolungo Pass, thence to Bignasco; spend
a day in Val Bavona, and cross by Val Rovana to Val Formazza or Val

_For mountaineers--_

Ascend the Basodine from the Tosa Falls, descending through Val Bavona
to Bignasco; thence cross Piz Campo Tencca to Faido; drive down
to Locarno and up Val Maggia (or by Val Onsernone and Val Rovana)
to Bignasco; cross the Passo d'Osola, returning to Locarno by Val

There are many ways through the hills between Locarno and Domo
d'Ossola, but none probably to be preferred to the route through Val




The villages of Val Bregaglia are half-a-day's drive from Pontresina
or St. Moritz, or, coming the opposite way, two or three hours from
Chiavenna. The baths of Masino are a short day's drive from Colico, or
about five hours from Sondrio. The road to the Baths is the only one
inside the district practicable for carriages.


_Bregaglia._ See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 386.

_Maloya._ Much improved; good accommodation, but a bear for a landlord

_Val Masino._

_I Bagni._ Clean beds, untidy rooms, excellent food, and much civility,
with rather high prices to passing travellers (1873).

_Val Malenco._

_Chiesa._ Two fair country Inns, improving (1873).

_Chiareggio._ Very rough quarters, and little food to be depended on

_Val Codera._

_Codera._ Two very primitive Inns kept by tidy and civil people
(Tschudi's 'Schweizerführer').


No good glacier guides are to be found in Val Masino or Val Bregaglia.
At Chiesa in Val Malenco there are several men who have made glacier
excursions, and two or three (Flematti of Spriana, Joli of Torre) who
have recently been up the Disgrazia.

_I Bagni_ to _Val Codera_.

There are three passes, all only practicable on foot: I. Over Alp
Ligoncio to a pass at the foot of Monte Lis d'Arnasca and through Val
del Pussato--the easiest. II. Through Val Porcellizza to Alp d'Averta.
III. A rough way, wrongly marked on maps, between the two last. All
lead through gaps in an almost perpendicular granite wall. The scenery
of the upper portion of Val Codera is wildly beautiful (Tschudi's

_Fuorcla di Rocchette._

I Bagni to Castasegna. Two steep and rough foot-passes; crossing
between them one of the heads of Val Codera.

_Passo di Bondo._

I Bagni to Promontogno. A difficult glacier pass, involving the descent
of an ice-wall, only to be attempted by practised climbers. The pass
we crossed lies at the head of the most easterly of the glaciers seen
from Alp Mazza in Porcellizza. In descending the Bondasca glacier it is
generally best to keep to the right. The spot at which to leave the ice
for the pasturages is easily recognised. See p. 73.

_Passo di Ferro._

Val di Mello to Promontogno. A fine glacier pass, difficulty varying
according to the state of the crevasses. In ascending from Val di Mello
keep the E. side of the Ferro Glacier. See p. 49.

_Passo di Zocca._ (Forcella di S. Martino of Swiss map.)

Val di Mello to Vico Soprano, a glacier pass well known to people of
the country. No difficulty with a rope. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 407.

_Passo di Monte Sissone._

Val di Mello to Maloya. See p. 61. A fine and long, but not at all
difficult, glacier pass. Monte Sissone is easily recognisable on the
S. side. In descending to the Forno Glacier bear along the N.E. ridge
until it seems easy to get down. The right-hand side of the glacier is
the best.

There are two passes known to the shepherds, connecting respectively
the lower portion of the Forno Glacier with the châlets at the foot
of the Albigna Glacier, and these with the highest pasturage in Val
Bondasca. An active walker starting from the Maloya Inn would have
little difficulty in crossing both in the same day. Owing to the much
lower level of the starting-point, the excursion, taken the other way,
would be too fatiguing to be recommended.

_Passo di Mello._

Val di Mello to Chiareggio. Glacier pass, liable to be difficult on the
E. side if the rocks are icy or the glacier much crevassed. The gap is
that nearest the Pico della Speranza. See p. 68.

_Passo della Speranza_ and _Passo della Preda Rossa_.

Val di Mello to Sasso Bisolo Glacier;

Sasso Bisolo Glacier to Val di Torre;

Form together a high-level route from the Baths to Sondrio, passing
under the Disgrazia.

From Val di Mello make for the pass at the W. foot of the Pico della
Speranza; the 2nd pass is conspicuous to anyone on the Sasso Bisolo
Glacier. See p. 87.

These are not the passes alluded to by Mr. Ball ('Alpine Guide,' p.
408). There is a lower pass from Val Torreggio to the Sasso Bisolo
châlets. The range S.W. of the Disgrazia is very badly laid down in all
maps except the A. C. map of Switzerland.


_Monte della Disgrazia_, 12,057 ft. See p. 84, and 'Alpine Guide,' p.

In ordinary circumstances, about 5 hrs. from the highest Sasso Bisolo
châlets, or 9 hrs. from the Baths. Has also been ascended by Italians
by the Passo della Preda Rossa starting from the Alpe Rali on the Val
Malenco side.

_Monte Sissone_, 10,800 ft. (?) See Sissone Pass.

_Cima di Rosso_, 11,024 ft.

From the Maloya, an easy snow-peak, ascent 5 hrs., descent 2¼ hrs.

_Cima del Largo_, 11,162 ft.

From the Maloya; a steep ice-wall near the top. Requires a good guide.
Ascent 6 hrs.; descent 4½ hrs. This peak can undoubtedly be reached
from the head of the Albigna Glacier. See p. 77.

_Punta Trubinesca_, 11,106 ft.

From I Bagni; easy for good walkers. Rope and ice-axe necessary. Ascend
glacier W. of the peak and gully at its head to the gap between the P.
T. and the Cima di Tschingel. Thence by the ridge. See p. 81.

_Cima di Tschingel_, 10,853 ft.

From I Bagni, lower and more difficult than the last. Ascent 6 hrs.;
descent 4 hrs.

_Monte Lis d'Arnasca_, 10,500 ft. (?)} No information; quite unknown to
_Monte Spluga_, 9,933 ft.            } English mountaineers.


Carriages can only go to the Baths and back. Riders may visit Val
Bondasca from Promontogno, the Albigna Glacier from Vico Soprano,
the foot of the Forno Glacier from the Maloya Inn, and Alp Mazza in
Porcellizza from the Baths. For climbers, the following route embraces
the most inviting peaks:--Ascend Cima del Largo from Maloya Inn;
descend on to Zocca Pass (new, but perfectly practicable); sleep at La
Rasica. Ascend Disgrazia, return by Val Sasso Bisolo. Order a car from
Baths to meet you at Cattaeggio. Ascend Punta Trubinesca. Cross by Val
Codera to Splügen road. The two last _may_, no doubt, be combined in
the same day.




From the Rheinthal by the Prätigau and Fluela roads. From the Tyrolese
Innthal by the new road from the Finstermünz through the Lower
Engadine. From the Etschthal (Vintschgau), by the Münsterthal and Ofen
road (now practicable for carriages, and crossed by a diligence), or
by the Stelvio road to the Baths of Bormio. The high-roads of the Val
Tellina and Bernina Pass skirt the district on the S. and W.



Hotel and Pension Silvretta--frequented by Swiss--good (1866).

_Lower Engadine._

_Lavin_, two new good Inns, Piz Linard, or Post, and Steinbock (1871).

_Zernetz._ Bär, best (1871).

_Livigno._ A very rude country Inn (1866).

_Val Viola._ No inns between La Rosa and Bormio (1873).


Fluela Pass, carriage-road. Vereina Pass, Klosters--Süs; rough walk.
Verstankla Thor, Klosters--Lavin Glacier Pass, see p. 98. Silvretta
Pass, Klosters--Guarda Glacier Pass, see 'Alpine Guide,' p. 358.
Grialetsch Pass, Davos--Süs, taking on the way Piz Vadret, a difficult

For the passes from the Tyrolese valleys of Montafon and Paznaun see
Tschudi's 'Ostschweiz,' Herr Weilenmann's 'Aus der Firnenwelt,' vol.
ii., and Weltenberger's 'Rhätikon-Kette, Lechthaler, und Vorarlberger
Alpen,' Perthes, 1875 (valuable map), and 'Alpine Guide,' p. 362.


See Tschudi's 'Schweizerführer: Ostschweiz.' Recommended for climbers,
Piz Linard, 11,207 ft. Piz Pisoc, 10,427 ft., or Piz Lischanna, 10,181
ft., returning by the Scarlthal.


Guides competent for any mountaineering in this district can be found
at Zernetz, and probably also at the Baths of Bormio.

_From the Engadine_ to _Val Livigno_.

From the Ofenhaus by path through the gorge of the Spöl. See 'Alpine
Guide,' p. 418.

Through Val Cluoza and Val del Diavel, and over Passo del Diavel, 7½
hrs. See pp. 112-14.

From Scanfs; Casana Pass, horse-road. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 418.

From Ponte; Lavirum Pass. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 418.

Bernina Häuser by Val del Fain and the Passo della Stretta. 'Alpine
Guide,' p. 406.

_Passes from Val Livigno to Val Viola._

To Semogo and Bormio by the Passo di Foscagno. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 417.

To Dosdè Alp by Zembrasca Pass, foot, 5½ hrs. easy, and does not lie
over ice as marked on most maps.

To Val Viola Poschiavina, by Passo di Mera (P. di Campo of A. C. map),
foot. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 415.

To La Rosa by the Forcola and Val Agone, horse-road. 'Alpine Guide,' p.

For the Passo di Val Viola see 'Alpine Guide,' p. 415. Most walkers
will require an hour more than the time allowed by Mr. Ball.

_Passes between Val Viola_ and _the Val Tellina_.

From Campo to Val Grosina; Passo di Verva, mule-road (?) 'Alpine
Guide,' p. 404.

From Dosdè Alp to Val Grosina; Passo di Dosdè, Glacier Pass, 6 hrs. to
Grosio. See pp. 119-20.

Between this and the next there is another glacier pass to be

From Val Viola Poschiavina, to Val Grosina; Passo di Sacco, 'Alpine
Guide,' p. 404.


_Between Engadine_ and _Val Livigno_.

_Piz Quatervals_, 10,358 ft., the highest in this range, easiest from
Val Cluoza, but can be reached from any side.

_Piz d'Esen_, 10,269 ft. from Scanfs.

_Between Val Livigno_ and _Val Viola_.

_Monte Foscagno_, 10,130 ft. (?) } No information.
_Monte delle Mine_, 10,800 ft.   }

_Monte Zembrasca_, 10,700 ft. (?), 10,827 Studer.

The ground at the head of Val Tressenda is very inaccurately laid down
on all maps. I assume the snow-peak conspicuous at the head of Val
Tressenda to be Monte Zembrasca, and the slightly higher rock summit
lying further E. to be the Monte delle Mine.

_Punta del Campo_, 10,843 ft. (Monte Vazzugna of A. C. map) ascended in

_Between Val Viola_ and _Val Tellina_.

_Cima di Piazza_, 11,713 ft. (?), first ascended in 1867 by Herr
Weilenmann, 6½ to 7½ hrs. from Baths of Bormio; 2½ to châlets of
Madonna d'Oga, then leaving the Cima San Colombano on the left, in 4½
hrs. to the top--rope required.

_Pizzo di Dosdè_; unascended from Dosdè Alp. [Correct 'Alpine Guide,'
p. 416, column 1, line 9 from bottom, by omitting words from ascended
to Walker.]

_Corno di Lago Spalmo_, 10,950 ft., highest peak unascended; the 2nd
reached in 1866.

_Corno di Dosdè_, 10,597 ft. See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 416.

_Cima di Saoseo_, unascended, 10,729 ft.

_Punta di Teo_, 10,007 ft., from Poschiavo or La Rosa, a sharp scramble
at the end.

_Pizzo di Sena_, 10,099 ft.


Carriage travellers can drive over the Fluela and Ofen Passes, and
thence by the Stelvio to the Lombard Alps.

Moderate walkers and riders should ascend the Schwarzhorn from the
Fluela, go from Tarasp by the Scarlthal to the Ofenhaus and Livigno,
and thence by the Passo di Foscagno and Passo di Verva to the Val

For walkers a good route is by Silvretta Glacier to Lower Engadine,
ascend Piz Linard or Piz Pisoc, returning by Scarlthal to Zernetz.
Livigno by Passo del Diavel; to châlets of Monte Elia in Val Viola
by Passo di Foscagno; ascend Cima di Piazza, and descend through Val
Grosina or to the Baths of Bormio.




The Milan-Lecco and Milan-Bergamo railroads, the Val Tellina; the
high-roads from Bergamo, Brescia, and the Val Camonica to Clusone;
Varenna and Bellano on the Lago di Como, are also good starting-points.

There are carriage-roads up all the main valleys, but none between
them, except in the case of Val Seriana and Val di Scalve.


_Esino._ Food for the Grigna can be procured at the first house in the
upper village (1874).

_Introbbio._ The Albergo delle Miniere is closed, and there is only a
very indifferent country Inn, 'Osteria Antica,' in the middle of the
town (1874).

_Val Brembana._

_Val Torta._ Bread, eggs, and wine may be had here.

There is a good country Inn at the cross-roads below Olmo (1874).

_Branzi._ The accommodation has been improved. Very civil but slow
people (1874).

_San Pellegrino._ Bath-house, with warm iron springs.

_Zogno._ Inn strongly recommended by Herr Tschudi as a comfortable
centre for excursions.

_S. Omobuono_ in Val Imagna. Bath-house; iron springs.

_Val Seriana._

_Bondione._ Very rough, but clean beds (1874).

_Gromo._ Capital country Inn, with quick hostess (1874).

For other Inns, see 'Alpine Guide.'


In this region every gap between two peaks is passable, and most of
them are used more or less by the people of the country. For a detailed
account of many of these side glens and byways the reader is referred
to Tschudi's 'Schweizerführer,' vol. iii. 'Ostschweiz,' a very handy

It is only possible here to indicate a few routes and excursions.
Carriage travellers must in each valley return the way they came;
except that, from Clusone, they may turn eastwards to the Lago d'Iseo.

     1. (Described in the text as far as Monte Gleno). Monte
     Grigna, Introbbio, Val Torta, Branzi, Passo di Gornigo,
     Bondione, Monte Gleno, descend to Schilpario in Val di
     Scalve, cross one of the passes to Val Camonica, or drive
     back to Clusone (5 days).

     2. From Lecco through Val Imagna to Almenno and Val Brembana,
     from Zogno by Oltre il Colle to Ponte di Nossa and Clusone,
     ascend Presolana, and descend through the lower Val di Scalve
     to Val Camonica (3 days).

     3. From Sondrio ascend Corno Stella (8,595 ft.) by a path
     recently made by the Italian Alpine Club; descend to Branzi;
     cross Passo di Gornigo, or by the sources of the Brembo to
     Fiumenero; ascend Monte Redorta (9,975 ft.) and return to
     Sondrio (3 days).

Other excursions to be recommended are the ascents of Monte Aralalta,
or rather the exploration of the glens round its base, and the ascent
of the Pizzo dei Tre Signori. See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 452.




From the Engadine by the Bernina and Aprica Passes, 2 days' drive from
Pontresina to Edolo. From Lago di Como by the Val Tellina and Aprica
Pass, a day and a half's drive from Colico to Edolo. From Bergamo
or Brescia by Lago d'Iseo and Val Camonica, a day and a half's drive
to Edolo. From Brescia by Lago d'Idro and Tione to Pinzolo, 2 days'
drive. From Riva by Lago di Ledro and Tione, a day and a half's drive,
or by Alle Sarche, a day's drive, to Campiglio. From Trent by Vezzano
and Alle Sarche to Campiglio, a day. From San Michele by Val di Non
to Malè, one day from Botzen. From Sta. Catarina by the Gavia Pass to
Ponte di Legno (mule-road).

The only carriage-passes in this district are the Aprica and Tonale.
A new carriage-road from Pinzolo to Campiglio is just opened. It is
proposed to carry it on over the Ginevrie Pass to Val di Sole.


_Val Camonica._

_Edolo._ Due Mori, fair and reasonable (1874).

_Ponte di Legno._ Inn clean, good food, civil people (1873).

_Cedegolo._ Fair accommodation; exorbitant charges (1874).

_Val di Sole._

_Malè._ Exorbitant charges (J. G. 1874).

_Fosine, Dimaro._ Fair country Inns; clean beds (1871).

_Pejo._ Slow and slovenly people, bad food (1871).

_Rabbi._ Rough, but clean beds, and enough to eat (1873).

_Campiglio._ Inn and Pension. Accommodation good, food indifferent,
charges somewhat high. Reductions and great improvements promised for
this year (1875), when it reopens under a new management.


_Pieve di Buono._ Fair country Inn (1874).

_Pieve di Ledro._ Inn and Pension. Fairly comfortable (1874).

_Baths of Comano._ Good food and accommodation (1874).

_Tione._ Cavallo Bianco, a good country Inn (1874).

_Pinzolo._ Bonapace's. Food and lodging much improved; great civility

   "     Posta. Also well spoken of by English visitors (1874).

_Stenico._ A fair country Inn (1874).



_Passo delle Malghette._

Campiglio to Pelizzano--5½ hours, easy.

_Passo di Cercen._

Bedole Alp to Vermiglio 7-8 hrs., rope required. See p. 203.

_Passo di Presena._

Mandron hut to Vermiglio.

_Bocchetta di Marocaro_, &c. See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 476.

_Passo del Mandron._

Bedole Alp to Val d'Avio and Ponte di Legno, easy glacier pass, 9-10
hrs. See p. 227.

_Passo d'Avio._

Gap at N. base of Adamello; difficult descent into Val d'Avio.

_Passo d'Adamello._

Bedole Alp to Edolo. Gap near S. foot of Adamello; tolerably easy
descent into Val Miller, 6 hrs. up, 6 down. See p. 218.

_Passo d'Adame._

Bedole Alp to Cedegolo. A long but easy glacier pass.

_Passo di Fum._

Val di Fum to Val di Genova, by Passo dei Topeti. A direct descent of
the Lobbia Glacier has yet to be effected.

_Passo di San Valentino._ See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 480.

_Passo di Breguzzo._

Val di Fum to Breguzzo; easy.

_High-level route from Val di Borzago_ to _Val d'Avio_.

From Val Rendena to highest hut in Val di Borzago, 4½ hrs.; Carè Alto,
4 hrs.; Passo di Cavento. Lares--Fum Glaciers 2½; Passo della Lobbia
Alta; Lobbia--Mandron Glaciers, 1; Passo di Mandron, 1½ hr.; down to
Ponte di Legno, 4 hrs.; four hours shorter without the Carè Alto. See
p. 224.


_Presanella_, 11,688 ft.--3 routes.

     1. From Passo di Cercen--up, 3½ hrs., down, ¾ hr. See p. 199.

     2. From Val di Genova by Val Gabbiol.

     3. From Val Nambrone or Pinzolo by the Nardis Glacier--the
     easiest--a day and a half from Campiglio or Pinzolo.

_Adamello_, 11,637 ft.--5 routes.

     1. From Bedole Alp, ascent 6¼ hrs., easy. See p. 211.

     2. From Alp in Val d'Avio by P. di Mandron, easy, and not longer
     than from Bedole.

     3. From Alp in Val d'Avio by Passo d'Avio, more direct, but

     4. From Val Miller, not difficult with a good guide, when the rocks
     are free from ice, but unknown to the people of the country.

     5. From Val di Salarno or Val d'Adame, easy.

A good day's walk for an active mountaineer, from the Bedole Alp, over
the Adamello, to Ponte di Legno, Edolo, or Cedegolo.

_Carè Alto_, 11,357 ft. (more probably 11,500). See p. 224.

From highest comfortable châlet in Val di Borzago, 6 hrs. by the W.
ridge. The E. ridge may prove possible and shorter. It is possible to
descend over the Lares Glacier into Val di Genova, to pass through the
Passo di Cavento into Val di Fum, or to take the course to Val Camonica
above referred to. A direct ascent of the peak from Val di Fum looks
very difficult.

The minor summits of this group have not all been attained; there are
none which appear to offer serious difficulties.



_Passo del Grostè._

Campiglio--Flavona Alp, 4 hrs., easy.

_Bocca di Vallazza._

Flavona Alp--Val delle Seghe--Molveno. Rough walking, difficult to
find in fog, and not known in the country. In descending, keep near
the stream down to the bottom of the first step, afterwards on the left
bank, recrossing at the plain where the two branches of Val delle Seghe

_Passo di Flavona._

Flavona Alp--Spor. Easy mule-road.

From the Flavona Alp a rough cart-track leads through Val Teresena to
Tuenno in Val di Non in 4½ hrs. See p. 270.

_Bocca della Vallesinella._

Campiglio by the Vallesinella to N. branch of Val delle Seghe. A fine
pass, crosses a glacier, 7-8 hrs.

_Bocca di Brenta._ See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 487.

At least 9 hrs. from Pinzolo to Molveno.

_Passo d'Ambies._ See p. 257.

Pinzolo or Campiglio to Baths of Comano, 10-11 hrs.; requires a good
guide or practised climber and a rope. From Bocca dei Camozzi (see
post) turn left to gap in snowy ridge at head of Val Agola Glacier.
Descend trough at S. corner of gap into head of Val d'Ambies. It is
much the same distance whether the traveller goes at once into the
glen, or skirts to the right before descending. Tracks are soon found
in either case.

Pass from Val d'Ambies to Val Cedeh and Molveno, not difficult.

Pass from Val d'Ambies to Val d'Algone; no information, but certainly

Pra Fiori Pass, Pinzolo--Val d'Algone, a good mule-path, 3 to 3½ hrs.
to glassworks; thence carriage-road to Stenico.


B. Nicolosi of Molveno is an excellent guide for the Brenta group. He
is strong, skilful, and always in a good temper.

No information as to the minor peaks N. of the Cima di Brenta, the
Sasso Alto, Sasso Rosso, Mondifra and Cima di Grostè. It is believed
they have been ascended from Campiglio.

_Cima di Brenta_, 10,615 ft.

Up 5 hrs., down 3 hrs. Follow path through wood, round S. base of Monte
Spinale; ascend the Vallesinella to the châlet, cross stream, and climb
zigzag path to brow overlooking Val Brenta. Skirt Val Brenta side of
some rocks, then recross into head of the Vallesinella; ascend glacier
seen among the cliffs right. From platform at its head climb rocks
left, and pass over the first to the highest peak. See p. 264.

2nd route, from _Bocca della Vallesinella_.

_Cut up steep snow-slope S. of Bocca, and keep close to the E. side of
a small glacier--up 1½ hr., down 20 m._

_Cima Tosa_, 10,780 feet. See p. 275 and 'Alpine Guide,' p. 489.

_Cima di Nafdisio_, or _Cinglo di Movlina_, 10,000 ft. (?) The peak
visible from Pinzolo. Unascended.


Guides recommended by the Trentine Alpine Society--G. Botteri, employed
by Payer; G. Catturani, has ascended the Adamello; Antonio dalla
Giacoma, detto Lusion da Caderzone; all know the Presanella. Good
donkeys, but no mules or side-saddles, are to be had at Pinzolo. B.
Nicolosi, of Molveno, has been up the Carè Alto. N. Clemente of Roncone
(near Tione) knows Val di Fum. Francesco P. Peotta and Sebastiano D.
Roer, both of Stenico, for Val d'Algone and the Cima Tosa (?)

_For moderate walkers._

Pra Fiori. Along ridge to Dos di Sabione, descend through Val Agola, 6
to 8 hrs.

For other excursions in the Brenta group, see Campiglio.

In the Adamello range,--

La Porta dell' Amola. See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 471.

Lago di San Giuliano and Corno Alto. Must command fine views.

Bedole and Venezia châlets. 8 hrs. there and back; car-road for some
miles, then horse-path 'Alpine Guide,' p. 475.

Val di Borzago. 1 hrs. drive, to Borzago 2 hrs. walk, up valley.
Should, if possible, be combined with Corno Alto.

_For climbers._ See Peaks and Passes, ante.


Guides. See Pinzolo. A forester can generally be found, and, except
on snow or ice, these men are as a rule quite capable. Donkeys may be
hired, and side-saddles are promised for 1875. Visitors will find it
easy to add largely to the list given below.

_For moderate walkers._

Monte Spinale, 3 hrs. easy walking.

Monte Ritorto, a little longer.

Vallesinella and tour of Monte Spinale--a beautiful walk.

Vallesinella. Follow path to Cima Tosa (see ante), but instead of
recrossing into Vallesinella, follow track right, leading to upper
level of Val di Brenta--the finest easy excursion.

To head of Val di Brenta, 5 to 6 hrs. there and back.

Val Agola, Dos di Sabione, Pinzolo; or Val Agola, Glassworks in Val
d'Algone, Pinzolo. See ante.

_For climbers._

Bocca dei Camozzi, Campiglio--Pinzolo. Mount glacier S.W. of Cima Tosa
to head, descend glacier falling towards Val Agola, leaving it on its
left bank, 11 hrs.; rope necessary; a magnificent walk.

See Peaks and Passes, ante. The Cima Tosa and Cima di Brenta can be
ascended without sleeping out.


_For riders and carriage travellers._

Cross the Aprica, and Tonale Passes, Val di Sole, Ginevrie Pass,
Campiglio, Pinzolo, Tione, Riva, by Lago di Ledro, Baths of Comano,
Stenico, Molveno, San Michele.

_For walkers._

Coming from the Orteler. For High Passes from Santa Catarina to Val di
Sole, see Appendix C. Over the Presanella to Pinzolo and Campiglio;
over Cima di Brenta to Molveno; return by Cima Tosa to Pinzolo, Val
di Genova, Adamello, Ponte di Legno; [or Adamello, Val Saviore, Val
di Fum, Carè Alto by Passo di Cavento, descending to Tione by Val di




_From the West._

By the high-road from the railroad at Neumarkt, passing through
Predazzo. Carriage-road from Trent, through Val Sugana to Strigno and
Tesino; thence mule-path.

_From the South._

By the high-road from Vicenza, through Bassano to Fonzaso, and thence
up the valley of the Cismone to Primiero (carriage-road, with a break
of 10 miles between Fonzaso and Pontetto).

_From the East._

From Cortina (mule-road), or Belluno (carriage-road), to Val d'Agordo
and thence by mule-path, or to Fonzaso _viâ_ Feltre and thence as

_From the North._

From railroad at Bruck, Atzwang, or Botzen, over Seisser Alp or Caressa
Pass, to Campidello or Vigo (mule-paths); thence road to Predazzo,
Paneveggio, and over Costonzella Pass.



The old Hospice is well kept. There is one good bedroom, and 3 others
tolerable, and the fare is reasonably good (1872).

_San Martino di Castrozza._

A large new Inn and Pension is to be opened here this year (1875).


The Inn here has been hardly treated by some recent travellers. It
fully deserves the praise given in the 'Alpine Guide' (1872).



                    {Agordo-Primiero, good and much frequented
_Passo di Gosaldo._ {mule-path--7 to 8 hrs. See p. 286 and 'Alpine Guide,'
_Passo di Cereda._  {p. 468. Food can be got at the villages on the way,
                    {and wine at a little inn beautifully situated
                    {near the second pass.

_Passo di Costonzella._

Primiero, S. Martino, Paneveggio, Predazzo. Good carriage-road. See p.
284 and 'Alpine Guide,' p. 458 (vol. iii.).

_Passo di Valles._

Paneveggio to Cencenighe, Agordo or Caprile; mule-road; 'Alpine Guide,'
p. 488.


_Passo di Travignolo._

Paneveggio to Gares, through the gap between the Cimon della Pala
and Vezzana, would be more difficult the other way; rope and ice-axes
required. (6½ hrs.) See p. 297.

_Passo delle Cornelle._

San Martino to Gares; no difficulty, but rough walking. See p. 294 and
'Alpine Guide,' p. 469.

_Passo   ?_

San Martino to Valle di San Lucano. From the Passo delle Cornelle
strike across the table-land to the route of the Passo di Canale,
near the Coston di Miel. The distance between the tracks of these two
passes would probably be little more than an hour. Not yet made (?) but
certainly easy.

_Passo di Val Pravitale._

Gares, or San Martino to Val di Pravitale, and Primiero. A rough but
easy walk.

_Passo di Canale._

Primiero--Valle di San Lucano--Agordo. See p. 288; 'Alpine Guide,' p.

The various passes over the table-land behind the Primiero peaks can be
combined at discretion. It would be quite possible, for instance, to go
from Paneveggio to Primiero, by the Passo di Travignolo and the Passo
di Val Pravitale, ascending either the Vezzana or the Fradusta.

The passes between the Primiero valley and Val di Mel await
exploration. The route over Monte Pavione is described in the 'Alpine
Guide,' p. 456.



_Cima Fuocobono._ Unascended.

_Cima di Vezzana._ Easy from Gares by the route of the Passo di
Travignolo, more difficult from Paneveggio.

_Cimon della Pala._ Very difficult; only to be attempted with
first-rate guides, and from the side of Paneveggio.

_Cima della Rosetta._ Easy ½ hr. from Passo delle Cornelle.

_Palle di San Martino._ Unascended.

_Cima di Ball._ Tolerably easy from the Val Pravitale.

_Sass Maor._ Unascended.

_Cima Cimedo._ Unascended; probably easy.

_Cima della Fradusta._ Easy from Val Pravitale.

_Cima di Canale._} Easy from Passo di Canale.
_Coston di Miel._}

_Sasso di Campo._} Unascended.
_Sasso Ortiga._  }

The principal outlying peaks towards Val d'Agordo are Monte Agnaro,
Monte San Lucano, Cima di Pape. The last is a fine view point, easily
accessible from Cencenighe.


_Il Piz._ Unascended (the height is often under-estimated; it must be
about 9,500 ft.).


See Ball's 'Alpine Guide,' p. 456.

Mountaineers can ascend to the table-land by any one of the glens,
and return by another. See Peaks and Passes, ante. There are no good
guides as yet at Primiero. There are fair men at Cortina and Caprile,
a day's journey east. To moderate walkers the following excursions are
recommended by Mr. Gilbert.

I. Down the Valley to Mezzano, and up the very fine gorge of the Noana.
The ravine may be followed till a small malga upon an alp is reached;
then turning N., the deep valley of the Asinozza is crossed, and
bearing to the left, the Capella di S. Giovanni, upon a charming little
alp, may be visited. Thence resume the Northern course, and descend
direct upon Primiero. This is a pleasant round for ladies.

II. Cross the bridge to Ormanico, and ascend the hill behind the
village; an easy path works up a small valley, turning eventually upon
the side of the hill that impends over the Castello della Pietra. Here
is a terrace path, at a considerable height, which, with the open alp
beyond, commands a striking view of Val di Canale, and of the array of
peaks at its head.

III. The finest walk from Primiero is certainly past the Castello della
Pietra up Val di Canale. Arriving at the entrance of Val Pravitale the
path up the Val di Canale may be pursued a short distance, and then
turning to the left a path may be taken along the ridge overlooking
Val Pravitale, and commanding fine views of it, and of the Sas Maor

IV. The new road to San Martino di Castrozza affords the best general
view of the Primiero Dolomites, and an agreeable variation is obtained
by ascending the hills on the left towards Mte. Scanaiol, and visiting
the Lago Calaita, at foot of Mte. Arzon, which ought to offer a good
panoramic view of the district. I have not heard of anyone ascending
it. From the Lago Calaita, a bare scene, the Val di Lozen might be
descended till it joins the Canale di S. Bovo, not far from the wild
Lago Nuovo. But the traveller returning to Primiero ought to turn S.
before the village of Prade, cross a low ridge, and either descend by
the regular mule-track through the Cismone valley, or follow a charming
path which runs along the N. slope of the valley high above Imer and

V. Ascent of Mte. Pavione. Very interesting view to South. Ladies can
ride to foot of final peak. Two routes, one through the Noana gorge for
some distance. Four hours to summit from Primiero. Belluno, Venice, and
Aquileia visible in clear weather. Dolomites not well shown.


_For riders._

Agordo, Excursion to Valle di San Lucano, Primiero by mule-road. Drive
to Paneveggio, return by Passo di Valles to Agordo or Caprile.

_For walkers._

From Agordo by Passo di Canale to Primiero. To San Martino by Val
Pravitale and Cima della Rosetta. To Paneveggio by Laghi di Colbricon;
thence to Gares by Passo di Travignolo, ascending Cima di Vezzana on
the way.




See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 524.

A good new Inn, Hotel Antelao, has lately been opened at San Vito, on
the Ampezzo road.


Val di Zoldo is enclosed on three sides between the carriage-road of
the Val d'Agordo and the Ampezzo, 'strada regia,' and on the fourth
by the mule-pass from S. Vito to Caprile. It is only accessible by
horse-paths, and the best starting-points are Longarone, Tai di Cadore,
San Vito, Caprile, and Agordo.


_Pelmo_, 10,377 ft. See p. 314 and 'Alpine Guide,' p. 525; 1st column,
13 lines from bottom, read, 'from the S. and E. sides of the mountain.'
The route from Zoppé is the same as that from Borca followed by Mr.
Ball. Agosto di Marco of Brusadaz is a good guide.

_Civetta_, 10,440 ft. See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 526.

_Monte Moscosin._}
_Monte Vescova._ } E. of Agordo.
_Monte Pelf._    }

_Sasso di Bosco Nero._ }     Unascended. E. of Forno di Zoldo.
_Monte Sfornioi._      }


_Forcella del Sasso di Bosco Nero._

Forno di Zoldo to Ospitale. Descend the valley to a point 10 min.
beyond the octagon oratory of San Giovanni, pass below Fagare, and
cross (40 min.) to the left bank of Val Bosco Nero; ascend valley to
pass (1 hr. 50 min.); descend into Val di Campestrin and the Casera di
Val Bona, and thence by a path on the left side of the torrent into the
valley of the Piave (2 hrs.). M. Holzmann.

_Forcella Cibiana._

Forno di Zoldo to Venas, horse-path. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 524.

Zoppé to Vodo, horse-path. See 'Alpine Guide,' p. 523.

_Passo di Rutorto._

Zoppé or San Nicolo to San Vito, horse-path skirting the base of the
Pelmo (about 5 hrs.).

_Forcella Stanlanza._

Pecol to Val Fiorentina, and by Forcella Forada to San Vito. This with
the Passo di Rutorto completes the circuit of the Pelmo. It is easy
to cross from the Campo di Pelmo to the Forcella Stanlanza without
descending into Val di Zoldo, so that this circuit can well be made in
a day by an active walker.

_Passo d'Alleghe._

Pecol to Alleghe or Caprile, mule-path. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 526.

_Passo di Duram._

Agordo to San Tiziano. 'Alpine Guide,' p. 524.

_Passo Moscosin._ Agordo to Forno di Zoldo.

This pass is the depression between Monte Piacedel and Monte Moscosin.
It connects the heads of Val Crasa and Val Pramper di Zoldo. The
Passo Pramper, between Monte Pramper and Monte Vescova, mentioned in
the 'Alpine Guide' as leading from Forno di Zoldo to Agordo, would
necessitate crossing three ridges, and passing through Val Pramper di
Zoldo, Val Pramper di Grisol, Val di Rossi, Val Crasa, and the valley
of the Bordina, and it would be shorter to pass from the upper part of
the latter into the valley of the Misiaga. M. Holzmann.

_Passo di Lavarede._ Agordo to Longarone, by Val di Vescova.

This is a low pass S. of Monte Vescova, crossing the ridge near the
châlets of Lavarede.


     [76] The references in this Appendix from the first to the
     eleventh chapter are to vol. ii. of the 3-volume edition
     of the _Alpine Guide_, which has not been repaged for the
     10-section edition.

     [77] This is the spelling of Dufour's map. A second 's' was
     wrongly inserted in the text after it had left my hands.



_Alzano Maggiore_ (5 kilomètres N. of Bergamo). In the parish church,
fine picture of Lorenzo Lotto representing St. Peter Martyr (see Crowe
and Cavalcaselle, 'History of Painting in North Italy,' vol. ii. p
545), and another worth notice by Appiani. The pulpit in marble, with
Caryatids and bass-reliefs by Andrea Fantoni. In the sacristy, a set of
most beautiful carvings and inlaid works by Fantoni and Caniana, of the
seventeenth century.

_Olera_ (5 kilomètres N. of Alzano). Altarpiece with carvings and
statues in wood, and paintings on panel, attributed to Cima di
Conegliano (to Francesco Santa Croce, C. and C., vol. ii. p. 542), a
work of great beauty.

_Albino_ (Valle Seriana). In the parish church pictures of G. B. Moroni
and Talpino.

_Fiorano_ (Valle Seriana). Very beautiful altarpiece by G. B. Moroni.

_Oneta_ (in Val di Gorno). At the church of the Madonna del Frassino
on the eastern slopes of Monte Alben. Fine picture in compartments of
Girolamo Santa Croce.

_Parre_ (Valle Seriana). Much extolled picture of G. B. Moroni.

_Clusone_ (Valle Seriana). On the outer walls of the Chapel of the
Confraternità, fresco representing the triumph of Death, recalling the
celebrated Dance by Holbein; the style is Tuscan (C. and C., vol. ii.
p. 535).

In the neighbouring _Rovetta_, birthplace of the carver and sculptor
Fantoni, rich collection of work and models of the family Fantoni, who
were for more than three centuries distinguished as wood-carvers and
sculptors in marble, and whose works are found throughout the valley.

_Fino._ In a small church, fine picture of G. B. Moroni.

_Gromo_ (Val Seriana). Picture attributed to Talpino, and remarkable
church furniture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

_Trescorre_ (14 kilomètres E. of Bergamo; sulphurous baths) Capella
de' Suardi, entirely covered with frescoes by Lorenzo Lotto, a most
important work in his best manner, damaged in parts (C. and C., vol.
ii. pp. 515-517).

_Zandobbio_ (near _Trescorre_). Beautiful confessional and wood
carvings by Fantoni.

_Gorlago_ (in the parish church), three pictures by Moroni, the best is
'The Adoration of the Magi;' also his last work representing 'The Last
Judgment' (much damaged).

West of Bergamo, near Almenno, on the right bank of the Brembo, is
a circular church of the sixth or seventh century, one of the most
remarkable architectural remains of its epoch in North Italy.

_Serina_ in Val d'Ambria (side valley of Val Brembana). In the parish
church several pictures (damaged) by Palma il Vecchio, who was born
here. In the Chiesa dei Frati, a Crucifixion by Palma il Giovane,
decaying (C. and C., vol. i. p. 281, vol. ii. pp. 467-8 and 543).

In another small church a very fine picture of the Venetian School in
the manner of Titian.

_Cornello_ (Val Brembana above S. Pellegrino). Remains of the old house
of the ancestors of Tasso.

_Fondra_ (Val Brembana). Paintings by Benvenuto da Garofalo.

_Averara_ (Val Brembana above Olmo). In the parish church a fine
picture of Guerinoni (Bergamasque School, about A.D. 1576).

_Mezzoldo_ (Val Brembana). Valuable Ancona in the choir by Lattanzio da
Rimini, A.D. 1505.

_Dossena_ (Val Brembana). Important picture by Palma il Vecchio, a good
deal injured. Most beautiful Paul Veronese, another also noteworthy
picture of the Venetian School, perhaps by Bonifazio Bembo.

Tschudi's 'Schweizerführer' speaks also of Tintorettos at Casnigo and
Vertova in Val Seriana, and mentions several other village churches
as containing pictures of the Brescian School. Tassi's 'Lives of the
Bergamasque Painters,' Bergamo, 1707, may also be studied by those who
wish for further information. There is a copy in the British Museum.



The following notes of two routes from Santa Catarina to Val di Sole
may be useful to good walkers who wish to avoid the long circuit by the
Gavia and Tonale or the dull Passo dei Tre Signori.

I. _Santa Catarina to Pejo, by the Pizzo della Mare_ (Punta di San
Matteo of Payer). The ascent of this peak from the Gavia Glacier is
an easy but interesting walk, and the view on a clear day unsurpassed
in extent in the Alps, reaching from Monte Viso to the Ankogel above
Gastein. The summit is at times a great wave of snow overhanging the
Forno Glacier; care should be taken therefore in approaching the edge.
From the peak a perfectly easy route, first found by Lieutenant Payer,
leads down into Val della Mare by the Gh. degli Orsi. This glacier
lies considerably to the E. of the peak, and on the southern side of
the pass (Passo degli Orsi) at the extreme head of the Forno Glacier.
Its icefall is turned by the rocky slopes on the left; below this it
is best to descend at once into the valley rather than to follow a
tempting path leading along the hillside to the left, which comes to a
sudden end in a wood. This route occupies nine hours, or only one more
than the Passo dei Tre Signori.

II. _Santa Catarina to Rabbi by Monte Cevedale and the Pizzo della
Venezia._ From Santa Catarina, Monte Cevedale may be ascended through
Val Cedeh, in about six hours. To reach Rabbi, the following directions
must be followed: Having returned to the gap between the two summits
(Mr. Tuckett's Fürkele Joch), traverse the crevassed southern face
of the eastern peak to the ridge descending to the Hohenferner Joch.
Follow this ridge, cross the gap, and keep along the rocky crest
dividing the Val della Mare from the Martell Thal. After an easy
ascent, a small glacier will be crossed, and the crest again struck
to the east of the stonemen, marking the second pass mentioned by Mr.
Ball ('Alpine Guide,' vol. ii. p. 438).[78] Then climb the shoulder
of the Pizzo della Venezia to a point scarcely 150 feet below that
rather insignificant summit. Few passes in the Alps command views
equal to those of the central mass of the Orteler obtained between the
Hohenferner Joch and this point, including on the one hand the bold
peaks of the Königsspitze, Zebru, and Orteler itself; on the other,
the vast snowy masses which surround the Forno Glacier, sending down
on this side also large glaciers into Val della Mare. The Œtzthaler
Ferner are well seen, and, in the opposite direction, the whole height
of the Presanella, a splendid object rising behind the meadows of Val
di Pejo. A descent of five minutes leads to the level snow-fields of
the Vedretta della Venezia, which are crossed to a broad gap, forming
the highest pass between the Val della Mare and the Rabbi valley.
Its height (about 10,300 feet) is sufficient to overlook the opposite
eastern ranges, and to command a wide prospect over the fertile hills
of the Nonsberg and the rich Trentino, fenced in like a garden by the
distant spikes of the Botzen and Primiero Dolomites.

In descending, keep at first on the left side of the small glacier;
from the platform below its foot, bear to the right, to the highest
pasturage, then to the left over a grass-slope, leading to a stream
which must be crossed. The precipices which now stop the way have to
be turned by keeping well to the left, and scrambling down a steep but
easy gully which leads to a track near the foot of one of the great
steps in the valley. The path follows the right bank down three steep
and stony descents separated by small plains. Below the last, and near
some cottages, it crosses the stream, and after a time begins to mount
along the hillside towards the village of Piazzola. For the Baths it is
best to follow a water course, and then run down into the level meadows
which extend for a mile above the mineral source.

This route is very direct, free from difficulty, and, though long,
not too laborious, involving only one re-ascent of about 1,000 ft.
The latter part of it is of course equally available for mountaineers
crossing from the Suldenthal to Rabbi, as Monte Cevedale can be
ascended from St. Gertrud in about the same time as from Santa
Catarina. Our times were: ascent of Monte Cevedale, 6 hrs.; to shoulder
of Pizzo Venezia, 3 hrs.; to pass overlooking Val di Rabbi, 50 min.;
descent to Baths, 3 hrs. Total, 12 hrs. 50 min., without halts.


     [78] In the '_Karte der Centralen Ortlergruppe_,' published
     under the authority of the German Alpine Club and to be seen
     at Santa Catarina, the route can be followed with sufficient
     accuracy. Ball's Hohenferner Joch is there Fürkel Scharte,
     and his second more easterly pass, the Hohenferner Joch. The
     Vedretta della Venezia becomes the Vedretta Careser. The
     small glacier falling towards Val di Rabbi is well shown,
     but the ground below it is left vague. In this map the whole
     southwest limb of the Orteler group is most inaccurately
     represented, and might better have been left a blank.



By the kindness of Signori Marchetti and Meneguzzi, the President and
Secretary of the Trentine Alpine Society, I am able to furnish the
following copy of the inscription in San Stefano. They warn me that
the transcription is probably not altogether accurate. Having received
it only at the last moment before publication, I have been unable to
consider it as carefully as I should have wished:--

'_Hæc est copia privilegi Sancti Stephani de Randena._ Carulus Magnus
de Francia[79] constituit conscilium suum consulem causa veniendi in
montes Blaye[80] et ducebat secum 4000 lanceas et veniebat ad civitatem
Bergami de qua erat dominus unus qui nominabatur dux Lupus qui erat
paganus. Et prædictus Carulus certabat secum causa convertendi ipsum.

'Qui dux cepit Sandrum et multos alios, qui fecit eos decapitare
et quum decapitaverunt Sandrum VI cerei ardentes nullo eos tenente
apparuerunt ey duci et gentibus circumstantibus et campane per Dey
gratiam et sine aliquo auxilio mundano pulsaverat. Et hoc fuit per
signum sanctitatis prædicti Sandri et viso isto miraculo prædictus dux
Lupus cum tota sua gente conversus est ad

'catolicam fidem. Qui prædictus dux Lupus post modum venit cum
prædicto Carulo Magno ad unum castelum quod vocatur Sanctus Johannes
de Calla[81] in quo castelo morabatur unus qui nominabatur Alorus. Qui
Alorus cum vidit tantam gentem circumstantem suo castelo conversus est
(ad) Christi fidem. Qui prædictus Alorus misit unam sacerdotem ad unum
castelum quod dicitur castelum Amoni cujus

'casteli erat dominus unus qui nominabatur Lamideus judeus. Et prædicta
sacerdos tractavit prodictionem valis Oriole[82] quæ fidelis erat.
Et prædictus Carulus venit in valem Oriolam et ivit ad unum castelum
quod vocabatur Jesen[83] cujus casteli erat dominus unus judeus qui
nominabatur Hercules quem Carulus interfecit quia noluit converti se.
Et ibi fecit hedificare unam ecclesiam ad honorem sancte Trinitatis cui
ecclesie VII

'episcopi concederunt XL dies indulgentiæ pro singulo singula die et
dominus Pontifex concessit 1500 annos indulgentiæ. Et predictus Carulus
recessit et ivit ad portam Blasie[84] et ibi erat unus castelanus qui
nominabatur Judeus qui nolebat credere catolice fidey. Et Carulus
certavit et destruxit eum et ibi fecit edificare unam ecclesiam ad
honorem Sancti Stefani et prædicti VII episcopi concederunt XL dies

'indulgentie pro singulo singula die. Et predictus Pontifex Urbanus
concedit singulo die dominico LXX dies indulgentie. Et adhuc Carulus
ivit super unum monticulum et episcopus Tripinus ferebat visilum[85]
(?) super illum monticulum. Et ibi Carulus fecit edificare unam
ecclesiam ad honorem sancti Petri Cuchi. Et post modum venit ad
unum castelum quod vocabatur Braitinus[86] in quo morabatur unus qui

'rex Cornerus et erat judeus qui nolebat se converti ad fidem
catolicam. Et Carulus certavit secum et eum destruxit. Et ibi fecit
edificare unam ecclesiam ad honorem sancti Joannis. Et predicti VII
episcopi concederunt XL dies indulgentie pro singulo. Et predictus
Pontifex Urbanus concedit quingentos annos omni festo principali. Et
post modum venit ad unum alium monticulum et ibi fecit edificare unam

'ad honorem sancti Clementis. Et VII episcopi concederunt XL dies
indulgentie pro singulo singula die. Et predictus Pontifex Urbanus
concedit 600 annos indulgentie omni die dominico. Qui prædictus
Carulus ivit super unum montem et ibi cristiani cum judeis et cum
paganis fecerunt magnum bellum. Et quia perierunt multi fideles et
plures infideles Carulus posuit sibi unum nomen (?) quod dicitur
Mortarolus.[87] Et adhuc ivit ad

'unam contratam quæ dicitur Amon.[88] Et ibi fecit edificare unam
ecclesiam ad honorem sancti Bricii et prædicti VII episcopi concederunt
XL dies indulgentie pro singulo singula die. Et prædictus Pontifex
Urbanus concedit 900 annos indulgentie omni die veneris et omni festo
sancte Marie et in festo sancti Bricii. Qui dictus Carulus ivit ad unam
terram quæ vocatur Adavena.[89] Et

'ibi fecit edificare unam ecclesiam ad honorem sancti Michaellis et
sancti Georgii. Et post modum fecit edificare unam ecclesiam ad honorem
sancti Sandri. Et prædicti VII episcopi concederunt XL dies indulgentie
pro singulo singula die. Et predictus Pontifex Urbanus concedit 400
annos indulgentie in die sancti Sandri. Et adhuc in capite illius

'fecit edificare unam ecclesiam ad honorem sancte Trinitatis. Per
sanctum Iohannem de Calla[90] et per castelum Amoni[91] vallis Oriola
perdidit suum nomen. Et adhuc prædictus Carulus pertransivit montem
Toni[92] et venit ad unam terram quæ vocatur Plezau.[93] Et ibi
interfecit magnam quantitatem paganorum et judeorum. Et ibi prædictus
episcopus Tripinus posuit visilum et quum episcopi venerunt

'extra ecclesiam invenerunt astam visili quæ floruerat. Et prædicti
VII episcopi concederunt XL dies indulgentie pro singulo et dominus
Pontifex extraxit suam cirotecam et fecit impleri arena et concedit
omni die sancte Marie tot annos indulgentie quot grana arene
insteterunt cirotece. Qui prædictus Carulus pertransivit quamdam vallem
quæ vocatur Valiana.[94] Et venit

'ad unum montem qui vocatur Moschera[95] et venit in valem Randene[96]
et misit dicere majori judeo quod aut debet in christianam fidem
credere aut redere castelum. Et cum sensit novum recessit et ivit
ultra mare. Et facto mane Carulus dejecit castelum. Et ivit ad unum
castelum quod vocatur Pelucus.[97] Cujus casteli erat dominus unus
qui nominabatur Catanius judeus qui conversus fuit ad Christi fidem.
Et Carulus dejecit castelum. Et fecit edificare unam ecclesiam ad
honorem sancti Zenonis. Et prædicti VII episcopi concederunt XL dies
indulgentie pro singulo singula die. _Et venerunt ad ecclesiam Sancti
Stefani et baptizaverunt maximum gentem. Et predicti VII episcopi
concederunt XL dies indulgentie pro singulo singula die._

'Antonius de Solerio habuit gratiam de 1500 annis indulgentie pro
ecclesia sancti Stefani de Randena omni die dominico primo mensis
et omni festo principali quia stetit septem annis (1) secum pro suo
damicello. Prædictus Carulus explevit convertire omnes paganos et
judeos ad ecclesiam sancti Stefani. Et ibi dimisit unum librum in quo
continebat omnia que

'fecerat per universum. Et post modum recessit cum sua gente et
ivit in Blaviam.[98] _Carulus Imperator et Pontifex Urbanus et
prænominati septem Episcopi concederunt suprascriptam indulgentiam
prænominatis ecclesis sub annis domini nostri Jesu Christi currentibus
quatuorcentesimo vigesimo nono._'

An inscription almost similar, but wanting the passages printed in
italics, and with a few verbal alterations, exists also at Pelizzano.

Several difficulties in this curious inscription will at once strike
the reader. For a moment he may be disposed to fancy that it records
a joint expedition of Pope and Emperor, and, boldly reading Adrianus
for Urbanus, to believe that the events recorded all took place during
Charles' Lombard campaign, circa A.D. 780. But, so far as I know, there
is no record of Adrian having ever been with Charles in North Italy;
and the gift of indulgences had not become common at this period.

It is most probable that events separated by several centuries, the
foundation of the churches and the privileges subsequently granted
them, are here lumped together. The Urban of the inscription may
very likely be Urban II., who, wanting money for the first crusade,
was very ready to grant indulgences. The date of the inscription
is unintelligible as it stands, but it is almost certain that the
'thousand' has dropped out, and that we should read 1429.

Mr. Ball speaks of the inscription recording a privilege granted by
Charles and 'the reigning Pope Eugenius.' He does not remember whence
he got the Pope's name. It may be from the fresco (see text) near the
inscription. Eugenius IV. was on the Papal throne in A.D. 1431.

The picturesque force and detail with which the story of Charles'
campaign is told, as well as the language, leads me to imagine that
some earlier record must have been in part copied. The existence of
'pagans' in these valleys up to a late period is a well authenticated
fact. I am glad to be able to quote an interesting passage bearing on
this subject from an article on Bagolino, by Cave. G. Rosa, in the
Bollettino of the Brescian Branch of the Italian Alpine Club.

'Questi monti sono appendici delle alpi Rezie, e furono rifugio al
fiore delle colonie umbre ed etrusche in seguito alle invasioni, prima
gallica indi cenomana. Nelle alpi si posero a lato le genti silvestri
primitive e vi esercitarono le arti metallurgiche ed edificative. Ai
romani opposero tale resistenza che 45 anni a. C., Bruto, scrivendone
a Cicerone, li disse i più bellicosi degli uomini (_bellicosissimi
hominum_), nondimeno furono definitivamente sottomessi 15 anni a. C. e
resi tributari a Brescia. Nei trofei romani sono nominati i _Camuni_,
indi i _Triumplini_, poi i _Vennoni_, fra i soggiogati, e ramo di
questi Vennoni dovette essere nell' attuale valle di Sabbio ove sta
Bagolino. Giacchè ivi suonano ancora i nomi di Avenù, Lavenù, Savenù.
Vie traverse legavano allora assai più che adesso i popoli di queste
valli confederate contro i dominatori del piano. I romani, dopo il
conquisto, tennero in capo alle valli stazioni militari con torri
di rifugio, come ora i russi nel Caucaso, per vegliare gli schiavi
alle miniere, e sicurare le vie, ma lasciarono liberi i reggimenti
comunali. Quando poi Costantino preferì l'alleanza dei cristiani e
rese obbligatorio il cristianesimo, le valli più elevate resistettero
a questa nuova forma di romanismo, e sino al predominio de' Franchi,
in qualche luogo serbarono i riti antichi di _Saturno_, di _Tunal_,
di _Tor_, di _Bergimo_, riti che l'ignoranza poscia confuse colle
diavolerie stregoniche. I luoghi elevati e romiti dove rifuggirono le
reliquie di que' riti vetusti, si ricordano ancora col nome di _Pagà_.
Alle fonti più meridiane della Grigna trovansi l'orto dei _Pagani_
ed il dosso dei _Pagani_, dove sono ossa ed embrici romani, e tronchi
fracidi di larici in un laghetto. A Bagolino è la _via pagana, rocca
pagana_; a Storo rimpetto ergesi acuta la corna _pagana_.

'I gruppi federativi dei popoli alpini ebbero sempre costituzioni
libere. Le loro abitazioni di legno e coperte di paglia o di
_scandole_, ed i frequenti fuochi per la siderurgia vi produssero fieri
incendi, i quali e le inondazioni distrussero la massima parte dei loro
documenti antichi. Nondimeno rimase tanto da argomentare sicuramente
della loro vita libera perpetua a forma repubblicana. Il documento
di Valle Seriana che dice del palazzo fabbricato a Clusone nel 1008
pel Consiglio federale o delle Vicinie, quello del 1086 che accenna
il luogo del Consiglio ed i Consoli di Lodrone, le quattro carte
nell' archivio di Bovegno del 1196 che nominano Sindaci e Consoli di
Vicinie, bastano ad assicurare che anche Bagolino, più grosso che quei
centri, avrà avuto sino d' allora rappresentanze elettive. E la via del
_palazzo_ vi accenna ad antica magione pubblica.'

In Miss Busk's 'Valleys of Tirol,' p. 365, will be found mention of
executions for witchcraft, near the Tonale Pass, in the 17th and 18th
centuries, in which some of the last of the pagans may be supposed to
have perished. Miss Busk derived her information from another pamphlet
of Cave Rosa, which I have not seen.

The same gentlemen have also sent me a description of the 'Dance of
Death' of San Vigilio. Beginning on the left, the subjects arrange
themselves in the following order:--

1. Three skeletons: one seated on a rude throne formed of two lofty
steps and blowing the utricorn; the other two with musical instruments
at their mouths. Beneath is written--

     Io sont[99] la morte che porto corona
     Sonte signora de ognia persona
     Et cossì son fiera e dura
     Che trapasso le porte et ultra le mura
     Et son quela che fa tremar el mondo
     Revolzendo mia falze atondo atondo.
     Ov'io tocco col mio strale
     Sapienza beleza forteza niente vale.
     Non è signor madona nè vassallo
     Bisogna che lor entri in questo ballo.
     Mia figura o peccator contemplarai
     Simile a mi tu diverrai.
     Non offendere a Dio per tal sorte
     Che al transire[100] non temi la morte;
     Che più oltre non me impazo in be' nè in male
     Che l'anima lasso al giudice eternale.
     E come tu avrai lavorato
     Coesi hanc[101] sarai pagato.

2. Jesus crucified.

     O peccator più non peccar non più
     Che 'l tempo fuge et tu non te n'avedi.
     De la tua morte che certeza ai tu?
     Tu sei forsi alo stremo et non lo credi.
     Deh ricorri col core al bon Jesù
     Et del tuo fallo perdonanza chiedi
     Vedi che in croce la sua testa inchina
     Per abrazar l'anima tua meschina.
     O peccatore pensa de costei
     La me à morto mi che son signor di ley.

3. Death and the Pope.

     O sumo pontifice de la cristiana fede
     Christo è morto come se vede.
     A ben che tu abia de San Piero el manto
     Acceptar bisogna de la morte il guanto.

4. Death and a Cardinal.

     In questo ballo ti cone[102] intrare
     Li antecessor seguire et li successor lassare,
     Poi che 'l nostro prim parente Adam è morto
     Si che a te cardinale no te fazo torto.

5. Death and a Bishop.

     Morte così fu ordinata
     In ogni persona far la entrata.
     Sì che episcopo mio jocondo
     È giunto il tempo de arbandonar el mondo.

6. Death and a Priest.

     O sacerdote mio riverendo
     Danzar teco io me intendo
     A ben che di Christo sei vicario
     Mai la morte fa disvario.

7. Death and a Monk.

     Buon partito pilgiasti o patre spirituale
     A fuzer del mondo el pericoloso strale.
     Per l'anima tua può esser alla sicura
     Ma contra di me non avrai scriptura.

8. Death, carrying a tablet with the motto 'Pensa la fine,' seizes the

     O cesario imperator vedi che li altri jace
     Che a creatura umana la morte non à pace.

9. Death, with a banner 'Mors est ultima finis,' seizes a King.

     Tu sei signor de gente e de paesi o corona regale
     Ne altro teco porti che il bene e il male.

10. Death, with a banner 'Memorare novissima tua et in æternum non
peccabis,' leads off as to a dance a Queen.

     In pace portarai gentil regina
     Che ho per comandamento di non cambiar farina.

11. Death leads off a Duke.

     O duca signor gentile
     Gionta a te son col bref[103] sottile.

12. Death and a Doctor.

     Non ti vale scientia ne dotrina
     Contra de la morte non val medicina.

13. Death and a Soldier.

     O tu homo gagliardo e forte
     Niente vale l'arme tue contra la morte.

14. Death and the Miser.

     O tu ricco nel numero deli avari
     Che in tuo cambio la morte non vuol danari.

15. Death and a young Gallant.

     De le vostre zoventù fidar no te vole
     Però la morte chi lei vole tole.

16. Death, carrying a flag with the quotation--

     _Tutti torniamo alla nostra madre antica
     Che appena il nostro nome si ritrova--_

slightly altered from Petrarch, leads off a Beggar.

     Non dimandar misericordia o poveretto zoppo
     A la morte, che pietà non li da intopo.

17. Death and an Abbess.

     Per fuzer li piazer mondani monica facta sei,
     Ma da la sicura morte scapar no poi[104] da lei.

18. Death and a Lady. Verses illegible.

19. Death, with the motto 'Omnia fert ætas, perficit omnia tempus,'
drags along a struggling old woman. Verses illegible.

20. A little Death dancing with a child. In the centre a staff with two
scrolls: on one, 'Dum tempus habemus, operemur bonum;' on the other, 'A
far bene non dimora, Mentre hai tempo e l'hora.'

21. A winged Death, galloping on a white horse, with bow stretched
in act to shoot at the groups previously described. Inscriptions

22. A square red shield with the lines--

     Arcangelo Michel de l'anime difensore,
     Intercede pro nobis al Creatore.

The archangel St. Michael with a bloody sword, and above him an angel
who holds in his hands on a cloth a beaming and beautiful soul. Beneath
is written--

     Morte struzer non pol chi sempre vive.

23. A winged demon; above him the inscription 'Io seguito la morte
e questo mio guardeano, d'onde e scripto, li mali oprator chi meno
al inferno.' He carries on his back a large open volume, in which
are written the seven deadly sins. Beneath the 'Dance of Death' are
allegorical representations of the seven deadly sins and the date 1539.


     [79] This word would, perhaps, point to a late date for the
     inscription, but an error of one letter would make it read
     'de Francis.'

     [80] and [84] Brixiæ (?), if so Brescia.

     [81] Calepio (?).

     [82] This name of the valley survives in the Oglio (Ollius)
     its river. The modern name Val Camonica is generally derived
     from the Camuni, the tribe who formerly inhabited it.

     [83] Esine.

     [85] visulus = a vine.

     [86] Braone.

     [87] The name is preserved in the Val Mortirolo above Edolo.
     Close by is the Motto Pagano.

     [88] Monno.

     [89] Davena.

     [90] See _ante_.

     [91] See last page.

     [92] The Tonale.

     [93] Pelizzano.

     [94] Val di Sole.

     [95] Moschera is said to be the name given in some old
     chronicles to Campiglio, which gained its present name from
     Charles' encampment on the broad meadows of the Ginevrie Alp.
     The 'Trento' of Mariani is quoted as an authority for these
     statements. It is worth noting that we find elsewhere the
     names 'Campo' and 'Spinale' in close conjunction in Charles'
     history. _Einhardi Annales edidit Pertz_, p. 52: 'in Vosego
     silvâ ad patrem venit in loco qui dicitur Camp.' To which the
     editor adds, 'Champ in Lotharingiâ villa parva prope Bruyere
     ad rivum Velogne a septentrione Romarici montis et ab oriente
     _Spinalii_ (Epinal).'

     [96] Val Rendena.

     [97] Pelugo.

     [98] Brixiam (?).

     [99] Sono.

     [100] Morire.

     [101] Anche.

     [102] Bisogna.

     [103] Lettera.

     [104] Non puoi.



There has been much confusion of late years as to the names to be given
to the two highest summits of this range, which stand respectively N.
and S.W. of the Bocca di Brenta.

The old and very incorrect Government Map of Tyrol gives the name of
Cima Tosa to the N. peak, and none to the S. and highest. Mr. Ball,
the first mountaineer who explored this country, adhered, on his first
visit, to the name given by the Survey to the N. peak, and to the
S. gave the name of Cima di Brenta or Brenta Alta. Lieutenant Payer
followed Mr. Ball's example in his article on the Bocca di Brenta in
the fifth volume of the Austrian Alpine Club's Publication.

When, however, in 1865, Mr. Ball made from Molveno the first ascent of
the S. peak, he found that his guide, a native of that village, knew it
as 'La Tosa.' Mr. Ball therefore seemed in his last edition disposed
to give the collective name of Brenta to the chain, and to call the
S. peak the Cima Tosa; but he ignored the difficulty that the almost
equally important N. summit, hitherto known to chartographers and
English climbers as the Cima Tosa, was left nameless.

In this state of things the attention of the newly formed Trentine
Alpine Society was called to the subject, and they promptly appointed a
committee to inquire into and consider the local usage. The results of
this inquiry are now shortly stated.

The Val di Brenta gives its name to the group. The point S. of the
Bocca di Brenta is known as La Tosa throughout the country. The peak
N. of the Bocca (the Cima Tosa of the map) is called in Val Brenta the
Cima di Brenta. The following names are wrongly given in the Austrian
map:--Val Asinella for Vallesinella, Val Agnola for Val Agola, Val
Dalcon for Val d'Algone. The names Bocca di Vallazza, Bocca della
Vallesinella, Bocca dei Camozzi, and Passo d'Ambies, suggested for
the passes discovered of late years by English climbers, are, as I
understand, accepted. The Bocca della Vallesinella is the pass first
called Bocca di Tosa by Mr. Tuckett.

Some curious etymological details are added to the report. Tosa,
supposed by Mr. Ball to be equivalent to 'virgin,' is stated to be a
contraction of tosata = shaven, a title derived from the bald, rounded
aspect of the peak when seen from the east. 'Brenta' is a local word
in the Sarca valley for a shallow vessel used for soup in cottages:
thence it is applied to the stagnant pools or tarns common in the
dolomite glens. In this way the word gets attached to the glen itself,
and finally to the peak above it. Cima di Brenta is, it would seem,
therefore, the Italian equivalent for Kesselkogel.

There was one other quarter to which it was natural to look for
information--the officers at the head of the Viennese Ordnance
Survey Department, who have recently re-surveyed the Trentino. But
every application for information--although made to the Head of the
Department through influential Austrian friends, and in the name of
the English Alpine Club--was met by a refusal, or a promise broken as
soon as made. I finally sent an extract from the old Government Map,
with a request that the names adopted in the new survey for the two
chief peaks of the Brenta group might be written across it. Even this
the office declined to do. Such a refusal was the more unexpected as
the French and Swiss Engineers have always been ready to give every
information, even where there was real prospect of rivalry between the
private work in hand and the Government survey.

From photographs I have seen of some portions of the new map, I feel
sure that although much too large for general use it will be valuable
to explorers, and I recommend every mountaineer intending to visit the
Trentino or the Italian Tyrol to inquire through Messrs. Stanford if it
is yet out, and if possible to purchase the sheets he will require.

Time has not verified the official statement made in March last that
the sheets containing the Brenta group 'would be published in a few
days,' but they may probably be looked for within the next year or two.
If, when they appear, the nomenclature adopted proves different in any
way from that here given, General Dobner, the head of the Department,
will be alone to blame for any confusion to which the discrepancy
may give rise. I should have been glad to follow the authority of his
map; but the nomenclature I have used, coming as it does from the very
best local authorities, can scarcely, if the engineers have gone for
information to the same source, differ widely from theirs.

I have taken the heights in my map from the reductions from the
Kataster of Mr. Ball and from a table contained in the 'Annuario' for
1874 of the Trentine Alpine Society. The peaks are mostly derived from
the latter, the villages from the former authority.

I may mention here that I have been unable to adopt the heights given
for the Primiero peaks in the same 'Annuario.' The Cimon della Pala
is there set down as 3,550 metres = 11,647 feet, and the Palle di San
Martino as 2,953 metres = 9,688 feet. The first of these figures is as
much over as the other is under the mark. In the same list the height
of the Sass Maor is probably pretty correctly given as 10,656 feet, and
that of the C. della Rosetta as 10,266 feet.



I ought perhaps briefly to notice this lately raised question of
orthography, and to explain the grounds on which I decline to follow
the example set by two authoresses, who seem anxious to introduce
into our literature the confusion which already prevails in Germany as
to the correct spelling of the name of this province. If it could be
proved that 'Tirol' was the invariable local and German spelling, as
Miss Busk seems to fancy it is, there would at least be a good argument
for changing our present practice. But I am informed by a gentleman
living near Innsbruck that in the old histories he has consulted the
form used is 'Tyrol.' I have myself noted, during the last few weeks,
the spelling adopted in the German books I have had occasion to refer
to; and, so far from 'Tirol' being universal or 'Tyrol' obsolete, I
find the latter form preferred by Herr von Sonklar, Herr Liebeskind,
Herr Studer, Herr Siber Gysi, the late Professor Theobald, and the
'Alpenpost;' in a set of views published at Leipzig is one of 'Schloss
Tyrol,' and in another set published at Partenkirchen (Bavaria) the
'y' is also throughout adopted. In maps the balance of authority is
for 'Tyrol.' I may cite Anich and Huber's, 1774; Pfaundlers, 1783;
Schwatz's, 1795; Unterberger's Innsbruck, 1826; Artaria's, 1839; and
the 24-sheet Government map of the whole country. They can all be found
in one box (No. 21) in the Geographical Society's Map-room.

I do not of course question the fact that the spelling 'Tirol' is
now very frequently preferred abroad both in maps and books; but the
assertion that it is the more ancient form, and the one exclusively
sanctioned by local use, seems to be wholly unsupported by evidence.

  [Illustration: GENERAL MAP to illustrate 'ITALIAN ALPS'

   Edwd. Weller, F.R.G.S.
   London, Longman & Co.]


(Appendix A is not indexed here.)

  Adamello, 189, 212-218

  Adamello Pass, 218

  Adige, 173

  Agordo, 288

  Alle Sarche, 180

  Albigna Glacier, 47

  Albino, 367

  Alpe di Caf, 166

  ---- di Ferro, 55

  Alpine beauty, variety of, 339

  ---- Club, Italian, 144

  ---- geography, 136-137

  ---- views, 214-217

  Alps, in poetry, 332

  Alps, the, 91-93

  Alzano Maggiore, 367

  Aprica Pass, 156

  Arco, 173

  Art and the Alps, 336-338

  Art, modern, 334-335

  Averara, 368

  Avers Thal, the, 44

  Bad weather on the mountains, 21

  Bagni del Masino, 57-60

  Bagolino, 374

  Baldino, 254

  Barbellino Alp, 149

  Basodine, the, 15-17

  Bears, 113, 197

  Bedole Alp, 210

  Belvedere, the, 156

  Bergamasque ranges, 130

  Bergamasque valleys, pictures in, 141, 367

  Bignasco, 6-10, 26; Inn at, 10

  Boazze, 168

  Bocca dei Camozzi, 252

  ---- di Brenta, 274

  Bocca di Vallazza, 274

  Bocchetta di Val Maggia, 18

  Bondasca Glacier, 52, 76

  Bondione, 148

  Borzago Glacier, 224

  Brenta Group, 236-239, 248; nomenclature of, 378

  Brianza, 126

  Brione, 31

  Broglio, 12

  Brusadaz, 314

  Busk, Miss's, Valleys of Tirol, 375, 380

  Cainallo Pass, 124

  Campiglio, 239-247

  Canobbio, 37

  Carè Alto, 166, 174, 224-226, 264

  Caresolo, 176

  Casana, 109

  Caspoggio, 11

  Cassiglio, 131

  Cavergno, 20

  ---- Glacier, the, 16

  Cedegolo, 159-161

  Cencenighe, 297

  Cenedago, 272

  Cevio, 4-5

  Chamois, 112, 227, 251

  Charlemagne, 232, 371

  Chiareggio, 68

  Chiese, 168

  Cima del Largo, 77-79

  ---- della Rosetta, 295

  ---- di Brenta, 267-269

  ---- di Pape, 296

  ---- di Piazza, 108, 117

  ---- di Rosso, 67

  ---- di Tschingel, 81

  Cima di Vezzana, 304

  ---- Pra dei Camozzi, 251

  ---- Tosa, 250, 275

  Cimon della Pala, 304

  Civetta, 310

  Clusone, 367

  Coi, 324

  Comano, Baths of, 255

  Cornelle Pass, 306

  Cornello, 368

  Corni del Confine, 227

  Corno Alto, 234

  ---- dei Tre Confini, 150

  ---- di Lago Spalmo, 119

  Coryat's Crudities, 133-140

  Costonzella Pass, 284

  Crozlina Alp, 21

  Dalpe, 20

  Dimaro, 261

  Disgrazia, 43, 69

  Dobner, General, 379

  Dolomites, Swiss, 237

  Dosdè Alp, 118

  Dos di Sabione, 231

  Dossena, 368

  Eastern Alps, Hospices in, 240

  Edolo, 157-158

  Esino, 124

  Faido, 20

  Finero, 39

  Fino, 368

  Fiorano, 367

  Flavona Alp, 269

  Fluri, 78, 104

  Fondra, 368

  Forcella di Cedrino, 130

  Forcella Gesurette, 289

  Forest Laws, want of, 231, 282

  Forno dei Canali, 297

  Forno Glacier, 66

  Fosine, 260

  Fresine, 161

  Fulmini di Brenta, 250

  Fusio, 14

  Gares, 296

  Gavia Pass, the, 189-190

  German smokers, 244

  Ginevrie Pass, 263

  Giudicaria, 169-170

  Giustino, 177

  Gorlago, 368

  Grigna Panorama, 125-127

  Grigna, the, 125, 128

  Gromo, 147, 368

  Grossotto, 120

  Gutmann, 208-210

  Il Piz, 287

  Introbbio, 128-130

  Isola, 161

  Jenni, 113

  Kastelhorn, 16

  Kingsley's Prose Idylls, 329

  Klosters, 95

  Krimml, Falls of, 15

  Kung, J., 113

  Laghi di Colbricon, 284

  Lago d'Arno, 163-164

  ---- d'Avio, 228

  ---- di Caf, 166

  ---- di Ledro, 171

  ---- di Tovello, 270

  ---- Maggiore, 35

  ---- Toblino, 180

  La Lobbia, 212

  Landquart, 94

  La Rasica, 62, 72

  Lavertezzo, 33

  Lavin, 100

  Lavinuoz, 100

  Livigno District, the, 108

  Lobbia Glacier, 226

  Locarno, 36

  Lombard Alps, 186-187

  Lombardy, Plain of, 125

  Loppé, M., 342-345

  Madriser Pass, the, 45

  ---- Thal, 44

  Maggia, the, 3

  Malero, 89

  Maloya Inn, 66

  Mandron Glacier, 212, 227

  Map, the Swiss, 24. Ziegler's, 119. Of Orteler, 369. Of Tyrol,

  Menaggio, 121

  Mezzoldo, 368

  Missionary Societies, 245

  Molveno, Inn at, 273

  Montagne Aiguebelette, 135

  Monte Agnaro, 288

  ---- Aralalta, 131

  ---- Aviolo, 157

  ---- Castellazzo, 283

  ---- Castello, 166

  ---- Cevedale, 369

  ---- della Disgrazia, 84-88

  ---- Folletto, 226

  ---- Frerone, 166

  ---- Gleno, 150-152

  ---- Redorta, 147

  ---- Rosa, view from, 186

  ---- Spinale, 264

  ---- Sissone, 64-65

  ---- Zembrasca, 117

  Moroni, Pictures of, 367

  Morstadt, Dr. Julius, 173

  Mortaso, 176

  Mountain beauty, 327-345

  Mountaineering without guides, 300

  Mountaineers, English and German, 183

  Mountain haters, 329

  Muretto Pass, 67

  Nardis Glacier, 202

  Nomenclature, Alpine, 188

  Olera, 367

  Olmo, 140

  Oneta, 367

  Orasso, 38

  Packe, Mr., 322

  Padernione, 180

  Palle di San Lucano, 288

  Paneveggio, Forest, 282. Hospice of, 283

  Parre, 367

  Passo d'Alleghe, 312

  ---- d'Ambies, 258

  ---- degli Orsi, 369

  ---- del Diavel, 113

  ---- della Preda Rossa, 88

  ---- delle Cornelle, 294

  ---- delle Malghette, 269

  ---- del Mandron, 227

  ---- di Bondo, 54, 73-75

  ---- di Cavento, 226

  ---- di Cercen, 203

  ---- di Dosdè, 119

  ---- di Ferro, 49-55

  ---- di Foscagno, 109

  ---- di Gornigo, 145-146

  ---- di Grostè, 269

  ---- di Mello, 68-72

  ---- di Monte Campo, 165

  ---- di Monte Sissone, 63-67

  ---- di Redorta, 29-30

  ---- di San Marco, 138

  ---- di Travignolo, 297-305

  ---- di Verva, 117

  Pasturo, 128

  Patocchi, Signor, 10

  Payer, Lieutenant, 183, 203

  Peccia, 13

  Pejo, 260

  Pelmo, 311. Ascent of, 314-321. A lady's ascent of, 322-324

  Photographs, Mountain, 335

  Piancaning, 67

  Piazza, 140

  Pico della Speranza, 64, 84

  Pictures in Bergamasque Valleys, 367

  Pieve di Buono, 169

  ---- di Ledro, 171

  Pinzolo, 177, 229-235. Inn at, 234

  Pisgana Pass, 190

  Piz Cacciabella, 50

  ---- Campo Tencca, 21-27

  ---- Linard, 100

  ---- Lischanna, 103

  ---- Pisoc, 103

  ---- Quatervals, 112

  Pizzano, 193

  Pizzo della Mare, 214, 258, 369

  ---- della Venezia, 369

  ---- di Cocca, 150

  ---- Porcellizzo, 81

  Plecken, Auf der, Hospice at, 246

  Pontagna, 228

  Ponte di Legno, 190

  Pontresina guides, 86

  Porcellizza Alp, 73

  Pra Fiori, 178

  Prätigau, the, 95-97

  Presanella, 178, 189, 200-203

  Presolana, 151

  Primiero, 293

  ---- District, 280

  ---- Group, 290

  ---- Peaks, heights of, 379

  Primiero, Roads to, 286

  Promontogno, 48

  Punta Trubinesca, 42, 50, 81-83. View from, 82

  Rabbi, 260

  Riva, 172

  Roche Melon, 136

  Rovetta, 368

  San Carlo, 18, 26

  ---- Giuliano, 234

  ---- Lorenzo, 255

  ---- Martino, 56

  ---- Martino di Castrozza, 282, 285

  ---- Michele, 271

  ---- Nicolò, 312

  ---- Omobuono, 142

  ---- Pellegrino, 142

  ---- Stefano, 232, 370

  ---- Vigilio, 232, 375

  Sarca, 172-173. Gorges of the, 174

  Sardasca Alp, 96

  Sass Maor, 286

  Sasso Bisolo Glacier, 87

  ---- di Bosco Nero, 325

  ---- di Campo, 289

  ---- di Remeno, 80

  ---- Rosso, 262

  Scarl Thal, 106

  Schuls, 102

  Schweizerführer, Herr Tschudi's, 104, 141

  Serina in Val d'Ambria, 368

  Serio, Falls of the, 148

  Serneus, 96

  Sils Maria, 67

  Silvaplana, 79

  Silvretta Ferner, 96

  ---- Pass, 98

  Snow region, the, 23, 34

  Societa Alpina of Trent, 186

  Soglio, 45

  Sondrio, 90

  Sonogno, 31

  Spaniards on Lago di Como, 137

  Spor, 272

  Stenico, 174, 180

  Taleggio, 132

  Taine, M., on the Pyrenees, 330

  Tarasp, 100-102. Castle of, 102

  Tavodo, 255

  Theobald, Herr, 45

  Tione, 175

  Titian, 3

  Tonale Hospice, 192

  Tonale Pass, the, 191-193

  Torre, 88

  Tosa Falls, 15

  Trabuchetto, 143

  Trent, 181

  Trentino, 305

  Trescorre, 368

  Tuckett, Mr., 62-63

  Tyrol v. Tirol, 380

  Val Ampola, 171

  ---- Bavona, 19-20

  ---- Belviso, 152

  ---- Bondasca, 49

  ---- Bregaglia, 46

  ---- Brembana, 141-143

  ---- Camonica, 156, 159

  ---- Canobbina, 38-39

  ---- Centovalli, 37

  ---- Cluoza, 109

  ---- Corteno, 157

  ---- d'Adame, 161

  ---- d'Agola, 253

  ---- d'Algone, 179

  ---- d'Ambies, 256-257

  ---- d'Angoraz, 289

  ---- Daone, 168

  ---- d'Avio, 228

  ---- dei Bagni, 56

  ---- del Diavel, 112

  ---- del Lago, 173

  ---- del Leno, 166

  ---- delle Seghe, 274

  ---- del Sasso, 112

  ---- d'Esino, 123-124

  Val di Borzago, 176, 222

  ---- di Brenta, 236, 249-250

  ---- di Canale, 292

  ---- di Fum, 167-168, 226

  ---- di Genova, 204-207

  ---- di Malga, 159, 220

  ---- di Mello, 72, 84

  ---- di Non, 259

  ---- di Prato, 25-26

  ---- di Salarno, 161

  ---- di San Valentino, 176

  ---- di Scalve. 148, 151

  ---- di Sole, 259

  ---- di Spor, 272

  ---- di Zoldo, 300; people of, 325

  ---- d'Osola, 32

  ---- Grosina, 120

  ---- Imagna, 142

  ---- Lavizzara, 12-14

  Valle di San Lucano, 288

  Vallesinella, 236, 265

  Valles Pass, 297

  Val Livigno, 115-116

  ---- Maggia, 1-27; mountains of, 30

  ---- Maggians, 17

  ---- Malenco, 68, 88-89

  ---- Masino, 80; boulder in, 52; mountains of, 40-43

  ---- Miller, 219

  ---- Nambino, 236, 264

  ---- Nambrone, 236

  ---- Onsernone, 37

  ---- Paisco, 159

  ---- Presanella, 196-198

  ---- Presena, 193

  ---- Rendena, 175-177; churches of, 370-377

  Val Saviore, 161-162

  ---- Selva, 262

  ---- Seriana, 147-148; glacier of, 150

  ---- Tellina, 89

  ---- Teresenga, 270

  ---- Torreggio, 88

  ---- Torta, 131-132

  Val Torta, 131

  Val Trupchum, 112

  ---- Livigno, 107

  ---- Vermolera, 120

  ---- Verzasca, 28-35; road in, 31

  ---- Viera, 114

  ---- Vigezzo, 40

  ---- Viola Poschiavina, 117

  ---- Zuort, 105

  Varenna, 123

  Venetian Tyrol, 308

  Vereina Thal, 96

  Vermiglio, 193

  Verstankla Glacier, 98

  Vezzano, 180

  Vogorno, 34

  Von Ruthner, Dr., 195

  Vulpera, 102

  Weilenmann, Herr, 99

  Zandobbio, 368

  Zernetz, 106

  Zocca Pass, the, 47

  Zogno, 142

  Zuort Glacier, 105

  Zutz, 79


_By the same Author (1869)._

Uniform with 'Italian Alps,' with Three Maps, Two Panoramas of
Summits, Four full-page Engravings on Wood, and Sixteen Woodcuts
in the Text, in One Volume, price 18_s._

TRAVELS in CENTRAL CAUCASUS and BASHAN: including Visits to Ararat and
Tabreez, and Ascents of Kazbek and Elbruz.

Although the ethnology and history of the Caucasus have been
treated of by various authors, information concerning its natural
features had been up to the appearance of this volume scanty and
difficult of access; and until the Summer of 1868 no Englishman had
visited the most interesting of the chain, and its two most famous
summits, Kazbek and Elbruz, were still unascended. The chief aim
of the journey described in the present volume was to explore the
interior of the chain and to effect the ascents of Kazbek and Elbruz.
The Writer and his friends hoped by penetrating on foot the recesses of
the mountains to learn the form of the peaks, the extent of the snow-fields
and glaciers, and the character of the forest and flora, so as to be
able to draw a general comparison between the Caucasus and the Alps.

Before, however, carrying out this part of their design the travellers
made a rapid journey through Syria, in the course of which they visited
the Hauran and Lejah districts, recently brought into notice by the
supposed identification of the ruined towns still existing in them with
the cities of the gigantic Rephaim laid waste by the Israelites. The
Author records his conviction that this theory is unfounded, and that
the ruins of the so-called 'Giant Cities' are in fact composed of Roman
edifices mixed with many buildings of more recent date.

On landing in the Caucasus (which they reached by Russian steamer
from Constantinople) the travellers proceeded to Tiflis, whence they
made an expedition along the Persian high-road to Tabreez. On their
return they partially ascended Ararat, paid a visit to the Armenian
Patriarch at Etchmiadzin, and traversed a little-known portion of the
Georgian and Arminian highlands.

Starting from Tiflis at the end of June, the travellers spent the next
two months in mountain exploration. During this time they made the
first successful ascents of Kazbek and Elbruz, traversed eleven passes,
varying from 8,000 to 12,000 feet in height, and examined the sources
of eight rivers and both flanks of the main chain for a distance of 120
miles. The greater portion of the volume is occupied by the narrative
of their adventures in the mountains, and the difficulties arising both
from the roughness of the country and of its inhabitants. The Author
describes the Ossetes, a tribe known as 'the gentlemen of the Caucasus,'
and contrasts the slothful and churlish Mingrelian races on the south
side of the chain with the industrious and hospitable Tartars on the north.

Having crossed the main range by the Mamison Pass to the Rion
sources, the party made an expedition to the Uruch Valley and back
across the previously untrodden snow-fields of the central chain. The
travellers' route then led them through the pathless swamps and
forests of the Zenes-Squali into Suanetia, a mountain basin renowned
for the barbarism of its inhabitants, the extraordinary richness of its
vegetation, and the startling grandeur of the great peaks that overlook
it. After more than one narrow escape from robbery, if not from actual
violence, the Author and his companions passed along the valley to
Pari, a Russian post; whence they again crossed the chain to the foot
of Elbruz. Having ascended this mountain (18,520 feet), they proceeded
to Pätigorsk, the centre of the Russian watering-places in Ciscaucasia
and remarkable for the volume and variety of its mineral

Before returning to Tiflis by Vladikafkaz and the Dariel Pass, the
party explored the upper valleys of the Tcherek and Uruch, the
entrances of which are guarded by stupendous defiles far exceeding in
grandeur any Alpine gorges. The Tcherek has its source in the vast
glaciers flowing from the flanks of Koschtantau and Dychtau, two of
the most magnificent mountains of the range, which have hitherto
remained in undeserved obscurity.

The concluding pages are devoted to a comparison between the
Alps and the Caucasus, to a short account of a visit to the Crimea, and
the Author's homeward journey across Russia. It is hoped that this
record of travel and adventure amongst the mountain fastnesses of the
Caucasus may prove of sufficient interest to draw the attention of
Englishmen to a range surpassing the Alps by two thousand feet in the
average height of its peaks, abounding in noble scenery and picturesque
inhabitants, and even now within the reach of many 'long-vacation

The MAPS comprise a Route Map of the Hauran, the Caucasian
Provinces, and the Central Caucasus. The Map of the Central Caucasus
is reduced from the Five-Verst Map, executed by the Russian
Topographical Department at Tiflis, with many corrections suggested
by the experience of the writer and his fellow-travellers.

The full-page ILLUSTRATIONS are four views of Elbruz from the
North, Ararat, and Kazbek from the South, and as seen from the Post

The PANORAMAS show the Caucasus from Pätigorsk, and the
Koschtantau Group.

_List of the Woodcuts in the Text_:--

A Georgian Church
The Georgian Castle, Tiflis
Mountaineers in Armour
An Ossete Village
An Ossete
Peaks of Adai Khokh
Source of the Eastern Zenes-Squali
Our Camp-fire in the Forest
A Native of Jibiani
Tau Tötönal from above Latal
Woman of Uruspieh
Peak in the Tcherek Valley
The Fortress of Dariel
The Grand Ducal Villa, Borjom
A Mingrelian Winejar

'We are delighted with Mr. FRESHFIELD'S book. The lovers of
mountain scenery will read his descriptions of peaks and passes with
unflagging interest, and their hearts will beat quickly as they read
of the adventures conducted with so much energy, perseverance, and


'The book is written in a simple and manly style, and gives an
agreeable impression of the spirit in which the travellers carried out
their design.... We may congratulate Mr. Freshfield on having achieved
a much rarer feat than the ascent of mountains, that of recording his
performances in a thoroughly satisfactory manner.'


London, LONGMANS & CO.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected. Inconsistent
  spelling and hyphenation in the original document have been

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