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Title: With ski & sledge over Arctic glaciers
Author: Conway, Sir William Martin
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber’s Note: Some spelling is inconsistent. Obvious typos have
been corrected.



WITH SKI & SLEDGE

_All rights reserved_

[Illustration: _Photo by E.J. Garwood._

_King’s Bay Glacier._]



                           WITH SKI & SLEDGE
                         OVER ARCTIC GLACIERS

                                  BY

                           SIR MARTIN CONWAY

                     ILLUSTRATED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
                        TAKEN BY E. J. GARWOOD

                            [Illustration]

                                LONDON
                           J. M. DENT & CO.
              29 & 30 BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN, W.C.
                                 1898

                  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                        At the Ballantyne Press



PREFACE


_The story of the exploration of the interior of Spitsbergen, begun
in 1896, as described in my former book entitled “The First Crossing
of Spitsbergen,” is continued in the present volume, which is to be
regarded as an appendix to that. In 1897 Mr. E. J. Garwood was once
more my companion. The illustrations to this book are from photographs
taken by him. I here desire to return him my thanks, not only for
them, but for many another kindness, for the unbroken good-fellowship
of his company, and the stimulus of his society in travel. One of our
two Norwegian companions, Nielsen by name, was most serviceable to us.
The other was a hindrance. I have called him Svensen in this book, but
that was not his name. To render the narrative more complete, I have
inserted translations of such published accounts of the expeditions
made by Baron Nordenskiöld, his son Gustav Nordenskiöld, and Baron
De Geer, as relate to what is vaguely called the “inland ice” of
Spitsbergen. I take this opportunity of once more calling attention to
the fact that the common spelling “Spitzbergen” is an ignorant blunder;
the correct spelling of the name is that employed throughout this book
and now adopted in the official publications of the Royal Geographical
Society._



CONTENTS


    CHAP.                                       PAGE

       I. KLAAS BILLEN BAY                         1

      II. UP THE NORDENSKIÖLD GLACIER             15

     III. BACK TO KLAAS BILLEN BAY                37

      IV. BY WATER TO KINGS BAY                   62

       V. THE KING’S HIGHWAY                      76

      VI. OSBORNE GLACIER AND PRETENDER PASS      95

     VII. THE SPITSBERGEN DOLOMITES              113

    VIII. RETURN TO KINGS BAY                    132

      IX. KINGS BAY TO HORN SOUND                154

       X. ASCENT OF MOUNT HEDGEHOG               170

      XI. ON THE USE OF THE SKI                  194

      XII. GEOGRAPHICAL RESULTS                  206

           APPENDIX                              225



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    _Kings Bay Glacier_                     _Frontispiece_

    _The “Expres” in Advent Bay_      _facing page_      2

    _Rough Ice_                             ”           16

    _The Colorado Plateau_                  ”           57

    _The Head of Kings Bay_                 ”           71

    _An Easy Place_                         ”           80

    _The Three Crowns from Kings Bay_       ”          116

    _Torrent in a Glacier Ice-foot_         ”          161

    _Horn Sunds Tinder_                     ”          172

    _A Ski-fastening_                       ”          198

    _A Lapp Shoe_                           ”          199

    _New Friesland from Hinlooper Strait_   ”          207

    _Bluffs of the Sassendal_               ”          213

    _Farewell_                              ”          224



CHAPTER I

KLAAS BILLEN BAY


In the morning of July 9, 1897, Mr. E. J. Garwood and I, along with
a small cargo of tourists, were delivered by the steamship _Lofoten_
on the shore of Advent Bay, Spitsbergen, just ten days after leaving
London. Our party was completed by two men of Vesteraalen, Edward
Nielsen and Svensen by name. We had arranged to be met at Advent Bay
by the small steamer _Kvik_, which was coming up to cruise about the
Spitsbergen coast during the summer. It was annoying to learn that,
though she left Tromsö a few days before us, she had not come in.
Probably she had been obliged to put back for shelter from the heavy
weather. We had no option, therefore, but to pitch our tents and wait.

Companions were not lacking. By our camp sprang up the tents of Herr
Ekstam, the Swedish botanist, and of a Norwegian sportsman; further on
was a large green tent flying a German flag. There were half-a-dozen
hunters’ sloops at anchor in the bay, whilst the tourist inn was alive
with hurrying men, amongst them Bensen and jovial Peter Hendriksen
of the _Fram’s_ crew. There was plenty for us to do with our baggage,
which had all to be unpacked and recombined, some to stay here till we
should return for it, the rest to go with us on our first expedition in
search of the inland ice. It was a lovely day for this open-air work--a
real piece of good-fortune, for nothing is so injurious to baggage as
to become well soaked in detail within and without at the very start
of a journey. White clouds patched the blue sky and scattered their
shadows over the brilliantly green water of Ice Fjord. The snowy ranges
beyond were distinct and detailed as though quite near at hand. The air
was mild and delightful, and the day was gone before it seemed well
begun. Towards evening a gale sprang up and made the tents boom and
strain; but we cared not at all, rejoicing rather in the evidence of
being once more free from the incumbent protection of walls and roofs.

[Illustration: THE “EXPRES” IN ADVENT BAY.]

A wretched morning followed, with drizzle and damp, too painfully
reminiscent of last year’s weather in the region of bogs. We had
nothing to do but to sit inactive and bored, waiting for our steamer
which did not come. But, though the _Kvik_ was missing, there appeared
through the mist our old friend the _Expres_, which last year carried
us over a thousand miles round Spitsbergen’s coasts and about its bays.
She was chartered for this season by a German party of sportsmen, Dr.
Lerner, Herr G. Meisenbach, and another. They came to see us, and,
on hearing of our wretched plight, most kindly offered to take us to
Klaas Billen Bay and tow our boat over. We jumped at the chance, and an
hour later were comfortably on board, with our men and baggage in our
whaleboat behind.

Little more than two hours’ steaming brought us to anchor in Skans Bay,
a small sheltered inlet cut out of the plateau-mass of Cape Thordsen.
We landed at once on the low west shore, where a spit of shingle
separates a small lagoon from the bay. Here we left the men to pitch
their tent, and set forth inland over the foot of the hill-slope.
Garwood presently began breaking stones, so I wandered on alone and
was soon out of sight. The surroundings would probably strike an
unsympathetic eye as dreary. To me they were delightful, though heavy
clouds did hang on the tops of the bluffs and all was grey or purple in
the solemnity of dim light and utter solitude. Presently came a bold
waterfall on the west, where a towering gateway opens upon a secret
corrie in the lap of the hills, a place well known to fulmar petrels,
who nest hereabouts in great numbers and were swooping to and fro in
their bold flight before the cliffs; known, too, to the foxes, to judge
by their many tracks. On I tramped over the level valley floor, picking
my way amongst boggy places, leaping or wading the channels as they
came. All the common arctic flowers were in full bloom, though sparsely
scattered about, for this is not one of Spitsbergen’s fertile places.

At the head of the bay is a large, flat area, where what once was water
is turned to a kind of land. From this flat a series of valleys open,
all scooped out from the plateau to which at their heads they rapidly
rise. A large valley to the north-east leads over, I suppose, to the
Mimesdal; further in is a shorter parallel one with snow at the head.
The main valley, however, curved round west of north, and it was this
that naturally drew me forward, for in a new country nothing pulls a
traveller on so powerfully as a corner round which he cannot see. There
lies the unknown with all its possibilities; it is like the fascinating
future towards which youth so joyously hastens. Thus I pushed on
and on. Round the corner there came into view a glacier filling the
valley’s head and descending from the high snowy region behind. There
was a peak standing further back and looking over at me. The flat
valley-floor was a labyrinth of river channels, across which, for the
view’s sake, I waded, thus reaching a mound of old moraine, on whose
top I sat down to survey the melancholy, lonely scene. Birds flying
about the cliffs south of the glacier were the only living creatures
in sight. There were no reindeer, and not even a footprint or a cast
antler. I smoked my pipe in peace and felt once again the charm of
utter solitude.

Returning to the bay, I met Garwood, and we went on board the _Expres_
together to enjoy the generous hospitality so warmly offered to us by
our kind German hosts. Reindeer was cooked, tins opened, corks drawn,
and a fine time we had of it for several hours, till at 2 A.M. we dived
into our sleeping-bags, Garwood and I lying in the selfsame places
where we so often wooed sleep the year before.

Next morning (July 11) the weather was splendid. About 10 o’clock we
packed ourselves and our belongings into our whaleboat, bade farewell
to our hosts, and rowed off down the calm bay toward Fleur-de-Lys
Point, a cape named by the French corvette in 1892. Its base is formed
of gypsum, into which the sea eats, so that great fallen masses of the
white rock fringe its foot like stranded ice-blocks. A heavy sea was
breaking amongst them and tossing towers of spray aloft. We toiled
greatly in this broken water and against the wind encountered at the
bay’s mouth; when the corner was rounded the wind was aft, and we
had only the big following seas to trouble us. They rose ominously
behind, each in its turn threatening to overwhelm our boat; but, as a
matter of fact, little water actually came on board. Thus the noble
cliffs of Skans Bay were left behind, and the deep Klaas Billen Fjord
opened ahead. The scenery of it is dull till near its head, the slopes
being most barren. We kept up the west side and close in shore, thus
gradually finding quieter water.

About two hours up, a little bay tempted us to land for lunch and a
hill-scramble; for what can one see from the water-level? It is only
when you look down on lake, bay, or ocean that the picturesque value of
water is perceived. I suppose I may have climbed five hundred feet or
so, Garwood lingering behind to smash rocks. When I turned round on the
top of a knoll the view took my breath away. The parallel curving lines
of great waves, so big compared with us and our boat, now seemed, with
their crests of foam, a mere delicate decoration on the wide surface
of the blue bay, upon which the cloud shadows were purple patches. In
the barren opposite coast opened a big valley that ran in to a snow
mountain in the east. Further round to the left came the splendid
Nordenskiöld Glacier, the goal of our present expedition--a splendid
river, almost cataract, of ice, sweeping down, in bulging crevassed
domes, between fine rock masses from the utterly unknown interior. Its
cliff front, rising from the blue water, was fringed with icebergs,
some of which, great castellated blocks, floated out by wind and tide,
had been passed at the mouth of Skans Bay.

After lunch we rowed on, still hugging the shore, for the seas were
big further out, past the mouths of one or two minor valleys leading
rapidly up to the snowfield above, and each therefore fitted with its
glacier-tongue. Thus the mouth of the wide Mimesdal was reached--a
valley interesting to geologists and often visited by previous
explorers, though none of them has drawn the vaguest sketch of its
plan. We would gladly have spent a day in it, but the water was so
shallow at its mouth that we could find no place where the boat could
be drawn up; so, as the wind had gone down, we decided to face the
loppy, criss-cross sea at once, and camp on the west side of the bay.
Our course took us near many icebergs, one a blue tower at least fifty
feet out of water. The sea splashed and boomed finely against them.

About a quarter of the way across we opened a full view of a great
glacier at the north-west head of Klaas Billen Bay, flowing down a
valley approximately parallel to the Mimesdal, between mountains of
remarkable form. The peak between it and the Mimesdal, then covered in
cloud, we afterwards found to be one of the most striking mountains
in this part of Spitsbergen. The Swedes have named it the Pyramid.
The glacier leads so far back, and is of so gentle a slope, that,
for a moment, we paused to debate whether we should not choose it,
rather than Nordenskiöld’s Glacier, as an avenue of approach to the
interior; for at that time we were still under the impression that all
the glaciers of this region were so many tongues coming down (as do the
glaciers of Greenland) from a great inland ice-sheet. Thus the only
problem we felt it necessary to consider was, which glacier was the
easiest to climb on to and draw our sledges up. Obviously the slope of
this glacier was better than that of the Nordenskiöld, whose crevassed
nature now became unpleasantly evident. On the other hand, it did not
come down to the sea, but poured itself out in the usual low-spreading
dome on a wide, alluvial, mud-flat. We had no desire to drag and
carry our things over more land than could be helped, so chose the
Nordenskiöld Glacier and pulled on.

In a short two hours’ rowing we were under the east bank of the bay,
where we soon found a quiet cove, and on the shore of it the remains of
one of Baron de Geer’s camping grounds of last year. There was a place
flattened for a tent, there were stones built together for a fire, and
there was driftwood collected and cut up for burning--what more could
be desired? The land hereabouts was a large plain stretching a mile
or so back to the foot of the hills, whose line of front is carried
on by the ice-cliff of the Nordenskiöld Glacier, which thus ends in a
little bay of its own. The plain is relatively fertile and should be
the home of many reindeer, but all have been ruthlessly shot out, so
that not a hoof-mark did we see, and the only cast antlers were deep
in the growing bog. Around this coast are many pools cut off from the
bay by ridges of gravel, pushed up by grounded ice when it is pressed
against the shore. Here many eider-ducks were feeding, and plenty of
skuas, terns, and other birds filled the air with their cries. I walked
towards the glacier to find the best way on to it, and was disgusted
to discover that between us and the portion of its front that ends on
land, and up which we must go, was a considerable stream, flowing in
many channels down a stony fan. It was possible at high tide, when a
certain submerged moraine was covered, to row round to near the mouth
of this stream, but not further, so that we should have to carry all
our stuff through the water and over the stones, a distance of perhaps
half a mile.

These things we observed because we came to observe them, otherwise
our whole attention would have been absorbed by the magnificence of
the ice-front of the glacier ending in the sea. We had beheld its full
breadth from far away, with the long curdled slopes of ice curving
round and coming down to it from the far-away skyline of snow. Now
we saw its splintered face in profile from near at hand. How shall I
convey the faintest conception of its splendour to a reader who has
seen nothing similar? It was not like what I may call the normal
arctic glacier, which spreads out at its foot into a very wide, low
dome ending all round in an even curve. This glacier is formed by the
union of many ice-streams, whose combined volume is wedged together
at last between rock walls, and thus broken up by compression. The
sea front, therefore, is not a mere cliff, but is the section of a
maze of crevasses, and even seracs. There were overhanging towers and
enormous caverns, jutting masses and deep holes, all toned in every
variety of white and blue and green, shadowed in purple by passing
clouds or shining in silver splendour beneath the direct rays of the
clear sunlight. The green water was oftenest calm, doubling the vision,
which, in some lights, seemed too delicate to be a material reality.
Changes of atmospheric clearness and illumination produced infinite
varieties of effect, so that the ice-front was never twice the same
in appearance. Sometimes it faded away into mist, sometimes it stood
out to its remotest end in astonishing clearness of detail. But, under
whatever conditions it might be beheld, it was always beautiful,
surprising, and rare.

The glacier ends in very shallow water, so that the ice is aground.
Very few glaciers in Spitsbergen end in deep water; the one example
that occurs to me is the well-known glacier in Cross Bay, which I
have only seen from a distance. For a glacier of given volume and
breadth ending in shallow water a definite limit is fixed by the
nature of things. A block of ice will float in a depth of water about
seven-eighths of its own depth. Thus, the end of a glacier eighty feet
thick would be floated away in seventy feet of water, were it not for
the cohesion of the mass of the glacier, and the fact that the ice is
not reached by the water except on one side, and so does not try to
float, but merely forms an embankment to the sea. When the end of the
glacier is crevassed the water is enabled to find its way in, to some
extent, and thus does something towards lifting partially detached
blocks. The snout of a glacier ending in deep water is operated on as a
whole by the body of water, and tends to be carried away in very large
masses owing to the forward movement of the ice and the leverage of
tides. But a glacier ending in shallow water is broken away chiefly by
being undermined, to some extent by the mechanical action of the waves,
but much more by melting in contact with water often several degrees
above the freezing point. When the snout of the glacier is crevassed
this undermining effect operates very rapidly. What the depth of water
actually is below the foot of the cliff we were unable to determine; I
do not think that it is more than ten feet at low tide, the height of
the cliff being from eighty to one hundred feet. It must be borne in
mind that the glacier brings down a considerable quantity of moraine,
most of which is dumped into the water just at the foot of the cliff.
Thus the depth is constantly being filled up, and if the process went
forward without any countervailing action the ice-cliff would be cut
off from the sea by a wall of moraine within a very short time. That it
is not so cut off is partly due to the denuding action of the waves,
but more to the fact that, when the depth is diminished to a certain
definite level, the glacier must advance over the newly-formed soil,
and so the process is continued. Thus, every glacier ending in a cliff
in shallow water must be advancing. As soon as it ceases to advance it
must deposit a moraine embankment round its base, cutting itself off
from the water. When this has happened the cliff ceases to exist; a
terminal slope takes its place. Streams of water flowing from it cut
down and distribute the moraine. The water then continues to be invaded
by a débris fan, formed of alluvial matter in the ordinary way. The
glacier previously mentioned, which is at the north-west corner of
Klaas Billen Bay, is an example of a glacier which, doubtless, once
ended in the fjord, but has been lifted up and cut off from the water
by moraine materials brought down by itself.

It was as delightful as it was interesting to sit and watch the noble
glacier-front, in all the wealth of its colouring and the wonder of
its form. At high and low tide the ice was stable, and hardly any falls
took place; but at other times falls were frequent, most frequent
towards half-tide. Then the ice-cliff fired great guns along all its
battlemented front in rapid succession. At moments of good luck one
chanced to be looking just where the fall took place. Sometimes a great
tower would slowly bend over; at other times its base would crush
together, and it would start sliding vertically. In either case, before
it had moved far it would be intersplit and riven into smaller masses,
which, falling together with a sound like thunder, would ding and
splash up the water into a tower of spray, a hundred feet high perhaps.
Then, if they fell in a deep place, the ice-blocks would heave and
roll about for a while, lifting the water upon their sides and shaking
it off in cataracts, till at last they came to rest, or went slowly
floating away amongst countless fellows gone before. Meanwhile the
circling waves started by the fall would be spreading around, washing
up against the multitude of floating blocks in the bay, disturbing
the equilibrium of some and toppling them over or splitting them up,
thus starting new rings of waves. At last the great waves would come
swishing along the shore, louder and louder as they approached, till
they broke close by the tent, and washed up to where our whaleboat was
lying, hauled just beyond their reach. Between whiles was heard only
the ceaseless murmur of the bay and the gentle soughing of the wind.

At high tide we rowed our boat round as near to the foot of the
glacier as we dared go, and pitched our final camp by the stream
already mentioned. It was nearly a mile from the foot of the easiest
line of approach up the moraine on to the surface of the glacier. We
hauled our heavy boat up high and dry with great toil, assembled in
our larger tent the baggage we were going to leave behind, arranged
the loads for our two sledges, and, in repeated journeys, laboriously
dragged and carried them over bog and stones to the foot of the steep
moraine, greatly disturbing the minds of a number of terns, who had
their nests on the stony ground near the channels of the river. They
swooped almost on to our heads, and hovered, screaming frightfully, not
more than a yard out of reach. No bird that flies has a more frail or
graceful appearance than a tern. When the sun shines on them as they
hover amongst the floating ice-blocks they seem the very incarnation
of whatsoever is purest, gentlest, and most fair. But there is in
every tern the pugnacity of a bargee and the fractiousness of seven
swearing fishwives. They are everlastingly at war with the skuas and
the kittiwakes, and they always seem to come off best in an encounter.
We, at any rate, were not sorry to quit their ground and leave them
glorying over our retreat.



CHAPTER II

UP THE NORDENSKIÖLD GLACIER


Our preparations being completed, we set forth up the Nordenskiöld
Glacier, toward the unknown interior, on the morning of July 13.
The first struggle up the steep, moraine-faced front of the glacier
involved all our forces. The stones, lying upon ice, were loose and
large. They slipped from under, or fell upon us. We took one sledge at
a time and lightened it of half its burden, but still it was hard to
drag. It wedged itself against rocks when pulled forward, but never
seemed to find a stone to stop its backsliding. Our aim was to reach
a tongue of hard snow in the upper part of a gully. Coming to it from
the side, the sledge swung across and almost upset us all. At last we
reached the top, returned for the second sledge, then (two or three
times) for the bundles, and so finally gained our end after hours of
toil. Once on more level ice, things went better, though not well. To
begin with, the sledges were badly loaded and had to be rearranged.
Then, though the surface of the ice sloped but gently, it was very
lumpy and the lumps turned the sledges this way and that. Garwood and
I pulled one, the two men the other. Perspiration ran off us. Our
estimate of the possible length of the day’s march diminished.

[Illustration: ROUGH ICE.]

Nordenskiöld Glacier, as has been said, descends in a great curve. It
comes down from the north and ends flowing west. It receives two large
tributaries from the east. If we had kept right round the immense sweep
of the glacier’s left bank, we should have avoided a peck of troubles,
but must have travelled miles out of the way, for our destination was
northward. As it was, we steered a middle course, and thereby came into
a most unsafe tangle of crevasses. The step-like descent of the ice
prevented seeing far ahead. We were constantly in hope that the next
plateau would be smooth, but each as it came was crevassed like its
predecessor, whilst the slopes between were almost impassable. Any one
who knows the Gorner Glacier, below the Riffelhorn, will be able to
picture this part of the Nordenskiöld Glacier. It was almost as badly
broken up as that. To drag sledges up such a place is no simple job.
Most of the crevasses were half full of rotten winter snow, but it was
only by bridges of this unreliable substance that they could be crossed
at all. Ultimately we found ourselves in a _cul-de-sac_, cut off ahead,
to right, and to left by huge impassable _schrunds_. There was nothing
for it but to go back a distance that had been won by more than an
hour’s toil. We left the sledges lying, and scattered to prospect. A
way was eventually discovered whereby, when every one was fairly worn
out, the worst part of the ascent was completed. After crossing the
last big crevasse, it was agreed that enough had been done. Camp was
pitched about 700 feet above the level of the bay.

Now only had we leisure to look about and drink in the fine quality
of the scenery; not that a man is blind to scenery when engaged in
toilsome physical exertion, but he is incapable of analysing it or
noticing its more delicate and evanescent qualities. For this reason
I maintain that the observers in explorations should be freed as
much as possible from the mere mechanical labour of making the way.
Every foot-pound of energy put into sledge-hauling, for instance,
precludes more important mental activities. This was not Garwood’s
opinion at the beginning of our journey, but he came round to my way
of thinking before the end. From the level of our camp we looked down
the whole riven slope of the glacier to the broad blue bay below,
dotted all over with floating ice and flashing eyes of light from the
hidden sun. Farther away came the bleak recesses of the Mimesdal, and
a range of snow mountains to the right. There was a level roof of
cloud at an altitude of about 1000 feet, casting on the hills that
richness of purple tone so characteristic of Spitsbergen’s dull days.
Most beautiful was the glacier-cascade, and especially the immediate
foreground of crevasses, on to, or rather into, which we looked down
and beheld the splendid colour of their walls. They are far bluer than
Alpine crevasses, almost purple indeed, in their depths. Here, of
course, on the broken ice were no streams, though below the crevasses
there had been so many that the air was filled with their tinkling,
whilst the deep bass of _moulins_ was continually heard. Ahead came
the clouds, into which the glacier disappeared, the last outlines
visible being low white domes of the usual arctic sort. It was pleasant
to sit in the still, cool air while ice-lumps were melting and other
preparations making for supper. “Look! look!” cried Nielsen, “there is
a bird as white as snow.” It was an ivory gull come to inspect us. The
only other visitors were fulmar petrels, whose nesting-place on the
cliffs of the Terrier we were to discover a few days later.

Our camp consisted of two small tents, one an old Mummery tent of
Willesden drill, the other six inches larger in all directions, and
made of a slightly stronger canvas. Both tents had floors of the same
material sewn in--an excellent arrangement, rendering them perfectly
safe in any gale that blew. They served us well throughout the
summer, and are still in almost as good condition as when they came
from Edgington’s hands. Long I sat in silence and alone, watching
the opalescent bay with its ever-varying colours and floating
icebergs, the purple hills striped and capped with snow, the wide,
deeply-penetrating, mysterious valleys, the great ice-field sloping
down in front, and the frame of cloud arching in the whole. The
crunching of snow and ice by human feet and the sound of voices showed
that the others were returning from their ramble, hungry and with good
news, as it proved, for the way was open ahead.

Next morning (14th) we pursued our onward journey, still struggling
through crevasses for about an hour, then finding a fairly even though
none too gentle slope, up which it was possible to advance steadily. So
far the hard ice of the glacier had formed the surface. It gradually
became less and less firm, and turned into a kind of icy honeycomb,
built of a granular fabric that crushed together ankle-deep under the
foot. The cells of this honeycomb ice were of all sizes, some as big
as a lead-pencil, others large enough to hold the foot, others again
to fall into bodily. Each cell was more or less filled with water,
whilst the top was often disguised by a lid of ice with a little snow
on it, so that the existence of the water-hole was not suspected till
one trod through into the freezing puddle. We came to understand what
to look out for, at this level of Spitsbergen glaciers, and to walk
warily; but at first we plunged and stumbled about in the most annoying
fashion, becoming very wet, cold, and out of temper. Further up, the
snow covering was more continuous, till, at a level of about 1000 feet
above the sea, we were no longer walking upon ice, but upon frozen
snow. In fact, here was true _névé_, the like of which our last year’s
experiences had led us to believe did not exist in Spitsbergen.

This is only one of many differences observed between the strangely
temperate region south of Ice Fjord, explored by us in 1896, and the
region north of Ice Fjord, and so close to it, explored in 1897. The
former is to be described as sub-arctic, the latter is truly arctic in
every sense. The Sassendal region is a land of bogs and disintegrating
hillsides, with cataracts and many waters. The Klaas Billen and King’s
Bay area is ice-covered at levels which are ice-free so few miles away.
The causes of this great contrast are obscure.

All too soon the cloud-roof descended upon us, or rather we ascended
into it. Rain began to fall. The snow being soft and the slope
continuing steep, our work waxed laborious again, and so continued.
We steered, by compass, a little east of north, the direction of the
east foot of the group of mountains against which the glacier, in
bending round, leans its right bank. The highest of these was known
to us as De Geer Peak, because it was ascended by De Geer in 1882. In
the thickening fog our men began to betray unwillingness to proceed.
They mistrusted us and our compass. At sea, they said, a man could
steer by compass, but this was not sea, and they had never heard of
going overland after a magnetic needle. Four hours’ marching preceded
a halt for lunch in the midst of the undulating white desert, which
stretched away on all sides into clouds. Not far off was a blue lake,
like a sapphire set in silver--a lovely object, and the only thing
clearly visible except a single crevasse and the ghosts of the bases of
the mountains. At times the clouds parted a little, and then we could
discover a sea-fog creeping up from below. In the gap between it and
the lower level of the clouds was a far-off glimpse of Ice Fjord, with
the hills of Advent Bay beyond.

When fog and clouds joined we set forward again, and worked on steadily
uphill. The snow grew softer and softer. We fastened one sledge behind
the other, and harnessed ourselves all four to the front one, but the
change profited little. Hour now succeeded hour, and nothing came in
sight. The only variation was in the degree of slope. Every few minutes
we stopped to observe the compass, and always found that we had bent
away to left or right of the proper track; sometimes we were even
going at right angles to it. When all were tired, we pitched camp on
a flat place, which we thought might prove to be the plateau at the
foot of De Geer Peak. The tents were set up with some difficulty, in
a fluster of wind, upon the soft snow, and moored ahead and astern to
the two sledges, the site being about 1500 feet above sea-level. The
temperature was a few degrees below freezing. The oil-stove burning
in the tent was a comforting companion, though we changed our opinion
about it when the steam from the pot condensed on the roof and fell in
rain all over our things.

All night long the wind howled, the clouds grew denser, and snow fell
with increasing heaviness. When we looked forth in the morning nothing
was visible, beyond our camp, in any direction. The tents and sledges
were almost snowed under. As we had no notion in what direction to
bend our steps, nor what any part of the interior might be like, it
was necessary to wait for a clearance; so we lay in our sleeping-bags,
cooked, played dominoes with numbered scraps of paper, and otherwise
killed time. The men, I fear, were pretty miserable, for the expedition
had no interest to them and they were full of all sorts of vain
terrors. They confessed that for fear of bears they had been unable to
sleep! They hourly expected to be buried under some avalanche of snow
or to fall into some hidden pit. Nielsen soon got over his terrors, but
they increased upon Svensen to our no small discomfort. As Nielsen
said: “Svensen has never been away from his old woman before. He is
accustomed to go fishing in the morning, and then to come home for
his dinner. He isn’t used to the kind of food that you give him, and
he isn’t used to this sort of place.” The more we knew of Nielsen the
better we liked him. He talked excellent English, with a smack of the
sea in every phrase. He was always on the alert to be helpful, and had
plenty of conversation and some good stories. Svensen knew no English,
except a few seamen’s phrases. He was a good enough fellow, but he
hated his novel surroundings, and was only counting the days till he
should reach his home again.

Not till 7 o’clock in the evening did the fog lift, and then it
disclosed no very distant view. Close at hand were the rocks at the
foot of De Geer Peak; we were encamped at the exact point we had meant
to reach--a small plateau or shelf of snow on the glacier’s extreme
right margin, just where the rock slope of the mountain begins. In all
other directions the white _névé_ went undulating away, trending in
the main uphill to north and east, downhill to the south. There was no
definite object in sight when we turned our backs to the tent and the
crags; elsewhere vaguely outlined clouds drifted about, brushing the
snow with apparent aimlessness. It was a view composed of different
tones of white. Ice-blink filled the air. It was impossible to
estimate distances with the smallest degree of accuracy. Looking out
of the tent-door, I saw what I thought was a bear moving along--most
improbable of beasts at such an altitude. I was in dread lest the
men should see it, and become yet more unwilling to face the lonely
interior. A moment later the light changed, and the bear was revealed
as a bit of waste paper fluttering along in the breeze. In a few
minutes the fog came down again, not very densely. Garwood and I were
for starting on at once, but the men considered that it was time for
supper, with bed to follow. On the whole we decided to let them have
their wish, and to use the hours for trying the _ski_.

Ski (pronounced _shee_) are the snowshoes of Norway and Sweden, which
Nansen’s books have been chiefly instrumental in making known to
Englishmen. They may be described as thin boards, six feet or more
long, and about five inches wide, curved up and brought to a point in
front (like the shoes of a fifteenth-century dude), and cut off square
behind. Nansen has told how the Scandinavians are accustomed to the use
of them from childhood up, what facility they attain, and the wonderful
feats they become able to perform with them. We were concerned to
discover how far an untaught Englishman could use them at all, and how
long was needed for learning to get about on them. We were entirely
ignorant about them, so that we started with every disadvantage. To
begin with, there are all sorts and kinds of ski--long and narrow,
short and broad, polished and unpolished, grooved below in different
ways, attachable to the foot by different systems, made of different
sorts and kinds of wood. Of all this we knew nothing. We went into the
first shop we saw in Bergen and bought the first pair of ski that were
offered to us, with a loop arrangement of cane covered with leather to
attach them to the feet. As it turned out our choice was pretty lucky.
I shall hereafter devote a chapter to ski, so more need not be said
about them in this place.

With great deliberation, and after many blunders, we inserted our feet
into the loops, one loop or wide strap going firmly over the toe, the
other passing round the heel, so that the foot can be easily bent and
that when it is turned to right or left the ski turns with it. Then we
gingerly straightened ourselves up and prepared to shuffle away, each
clutching an ice-axe for a third leg. It became immediately apparent
that our plateau was not quite flat, for we began to slide downhill.
Our legs separated from one another and over we fell. It is easier to
fall down than to get up again. Our feet were twisted out of the loops
and had to be brought back into place. Endeavouring to arrange matters,
I loosened one of my ski, and off it started on its own account
downhill. I saw it disappear into the fog, and sent Svensen after it.
He was gone half an hour or more, and came back shuffling on it. Then I
tried again, this time uphill.

The first thing to do was to turn round. Of course I trod with one
ski on the top of the other, and tumbled over again. When one paid
attention to the forward halves of the ski the hind halves got mixed,
and _vice versâ_. Uphill, however, we advanced well enough, as long as
there was a crust of snow to go upon, but where the ice was blown bare
by the wind we slid about helplessly, for the boards do not bite like
skates. Of course on such places ski are seldom needed, the crust of
ice being usually strong enough to support the foot. Having reached the
foot of the rocks we tried sliding down. After two or three attempts we
found our balance; the process is similar to a standing glissade, only
that the motion is quicker. Any good glissader can soon learn to slide
down a moderately steep slope on ski. When the snow is uneven, still
more when it is of varying textures (soft in one place, slippery in
another), new difficulties of balancing arise. After an hour’s practice
we found our feet well enough, and were assured of being able to cover
the ground at a reasonable rate.

Next we tried the Canadian snowshoes, and found them easy enough to
work, but very clumsy compared with the ski. We afterwards learnt that
our principal trouble with the latter was caused by the unsuitability
of our footgear. We had been told to wear large fur boots of the kind
called Finnsku, with hay packed in them. They may be well enough if you
know how to pack them, and if they are of the right dimensions. Ours
were wrong every way. It was only when we gave them up and took to our
ordinary Swiss climbing-boots that we became really comfortable as well
as firm on our feet. To this important question of footgear reference
will also be made hereafter.

If the weather had been fine, or the least chance of a view could have
been discerned, we should have delayed to repeat the ascent of De Geer
Peak. Luck, however, was against us. As De Geer’s account of his climb
is buried, for English readers, in a Swedish scientific publication,[1]
a translation of it is here inserted:

     “On the morning of August 2, 1882, I set forth from the
    coast, in company with Lund and the ship’s boy, on an
    expedition up the little valley bordering the north side of
    Nordenskiöld Glacier. The bottom of this valley, with its
    small hills and little lakes, resembled some unwooded tract of
    Sweden.… Arrived at the head of the valley, we put on the rope
    and struck across the first side glacier. We had now reached
    the inland ice and were about 600 metres above sea-level.
    As there was no time for a long expedition over the ice, we
    decided to climb the mountain near at hand. The only plants
    found on its slope were some mosses and lichens. Of birds we
    only saw one fulmar petrel, which came flying over the inland
    ice. The top of the mountain was covered with old hard-packed
    snow. Its altitude according to the barometer was over 1200
    metres above the sea. It is therefore, after Hornsunds Tind,
    the highest mountain hitherto measured in Spitsbergen, though
    there appear to be other mountains in its neighbourhood at
    least as high.

    “The view was remarkably comprehensive. In the south-west was
    a long stretch of Ice Fjord’s south coast. In clear weather
    it would probably have been possible to see both the mouth
    of the fjord and Mount Nordenskiöld, the high mountain west
    of Advent Bay which Nathorst afterwards climbed. We had an
    uninterrupted view over a great part of the broken hill-country
    west of Klaas Billen Bay, which appears to be devoid of big
    glaciers. Eastward the inland ice stretched away from the foot
    of the mountain, spreading out its gently undulating surface
    away to a remote mountain group, situated between N. 69½° E.
    and N. 101° E., probably identical with the range marked on
    the map ending westward in Mount Edlund, near Wybe Jans Water.
    Yet further away appeared a sunlit streak, and beyond that
    again a line of mountains, certainly very remote. These were
    quite clear and distinct for a long time till clouds covered
    them up. Perhaps they lie along the west coast of Barents
    Land.… In the north-east the interior of the ice was covered
    with clouds, so that Mount Chydenius could not be seen, which
    otherwise would probably have been visible. Most striking was
    the view to the north-west, in which direction we recognised,
    on first arriving at the top, a large piece of water, doubtless
    the West Fjord of Wijde Bay. Its innermost part lay in the
    direction between N. 39° W. and N. 27½° W., and was only hidden
    for a short distance by a mountain (the compass deviation is
    assumed to have been N. 14° W.).[2] Between us and Wijde Bay no
    mountains were seen, but only big, apparently level glaciers,
    filling the bottom of the great valley and seeming to form an
    ice-divide. It is worth mention that no ice was seen in the
    blue waters of Wijde Bay, although unbroken sea-ice is reported
    to have invested at least the western part of Spitsbergen’s
    north coast throughout the whole summer.

    “When we first arrived on the top I took some photographs and
    observed a number of angles, besides making some sketches,
    but little by little our peak became enveloped in clouds
    which swept over from the inland ice. We waited four hours on
    the top, hoping it would clear, but the weather only became
    thicker and a wind sprang up, so that we were compelled to
    begin the descent. We followed the south-west ridge, which is
    certainly the best route for the ascent, in case this point
    of view should be revisited as a station of the proposed
    meridian-arc measurement. The return to the tent was made by
    the afore-mentioned valley.”

From this description it appears that the part of the country we
intended to traverse was hidden from De Geer by clouds. We had no
information whatever, therefore, as to the lie of the land or the
direction in which we should steer. Next morning was somewhat clearer.
The Terrier range on the further side of the glacier was disclosed, as
well as some snowy domes inland, apparently very remote, but really
not far off. The glacier was perceived to trend back in a direction
somewhat east of north, and to widen out greatly. It seemed as though
this were a true sheet of inland ice of the Greenland sort. We set
forward hopefully in a clear interval, so laying our course as to keep
up the glacier’s right side.

During the first hour Garwood’s snowshoes gave him great trouble, for
he had chosen the Canadian pair. When he had changed them with Nielsen
for ski, of which unfortunately we had only three pairs with us, and
after a series of halts for readjustments, we got fairly under way.
It was a steady uphill pull for about three hours. The fog soon came
down, denser than ever, and lasted the rest of the day. Only by the
resistance of the sledges could the steepness of the slope be inferred.
There was absolutely nothing to be seen. It is hard for any one who has
not experienced it to conceive the absolute invisibility of everything
in the rather dazzling light that pervades a fog upon snow. The effect
is thus described by Mr. Peary, writing about Greenland:[3]

    “Not only was there no object to be seen, but in the entire
    sphere of vision there was no difference in intensity of light.
    My feet and snowshoes were sharp and clear as silhouettes, and
    I was sensible of contact with the snow at every step. Yet, as
    far as my eyes gave me evidence to the contrary, I was walking
    upon nothing. The space between my snowshoes was as light as
    the zenith. The opaque light which filled the sphere of vision
    might come from below as well as above. A curious mental as
    well as physical strain resulted from this blindness with
    wide-open eyes, and sometimes we were obliged to stop and await
    a change.”

Of course, in such a vague illumination there are no shadows. The light
comes equally from everywhere. To keep a straight course requires
continual attention. The compass must be referred to continually.

When the sledges felt heavier we knew that the slope steepened. About
three miles, as we guessed, from camp, they suddenly took a plunge
forward on their own account and were with difficulty restrained.
We had crossed a watershed, and the slope was downhill. One sledge
knocked Svensen off his feet and sent his ski flying. He captured the
right, but the left vanished hissing into the fog. He followed it, and
became utterly invisible a few yards away. While we awaited his return,
a ghostly sun appeared for a moment, but was swallowed up again.
Absolute silence reigned. The air was motionless. We could just see one
another, and that was all. At the foot of the hill came a level area,
then uphill again, steeper than before. Fortunately for us novices
on ski the snow was not in a slippery condition. On the contrary, it
tended to adhere to the ski, so that they held the ground well without
backsliding. It was deep, soft snow, into which we should have sunk at
least to the knee had we been merely walking in boots. As it was, we
did not sink into it at all, and could drag the sledges with our full
weight. Nielsen was the only miserable one of the party, for he had the
Canadian snowshoes. His feet kept slipping out of the straps when he
strained upon them in pulling. Moreover, he could not accustom himself
to keep his legs wide enough apart, and so was always tripping up or
treading with one shoe on the other. All day the cold was considerable,
the air full of frozen vapour which incrusted us over, so that heads,
hair, and clothes became a mass of icicles tinkling as we walked. After
making about seven miles, chiefly uphill, we camped at a height of some
2500 feet. It was pleasant to feel the shelter of the tents, pleasanter
still to get the stove going and gain a drink of water to slake the
parching thirst from which all were suffering.

Early next morning (17th) the clouds broke for a brief interval, as
they have a way of doing about 6 A.M., even in the worst weather.
Looking back we saw the watershed crossed the previous day, and learnt
that we had (unnecessarily) descended into the head of a big valley
trending west, that we had crossed this and reascended its northern
side to the place of encampment. Had we been able to see ahead, both
the descent and the reascent might have been avoided. De Geer Peak
was in sight to the south; westward, as we looked down the valley, a
single, or perhaps a double, row of hills intervened between us and
Dickson Bay. They were all white with permanent snow. Not a patch
of open country was visible there. One of these hills, apparently
the Lyktan, was capped with a limestone crown. In the silence and
stillness of the cold morning these mountains, for all their relative
littleness, looked singularly dignified. They were so grey and shaggy,
creatures of storm and everlasting winter, things utterly remote from
all association with man, even as the very mountains of the moon.
While we were watching them, clouds came up again in the lap of the
south-west wind. The milky fog settled down before we started on, and
nothing more was seen that day.

Svensen began to complain of feeling unwell, talked of pains in his
inside, of numbness in feet and legs, and so forth. For the matter
of that, no one felt particularly bright, the process of coming into
condition being always laborious. The only thing to be done was to
push on. It was uphill all the time, often up slopes so steep that
one sledge had to be left while all four concentrated their efforts
on raising the other. Now and then the slope bent away down to the
west, showing that we were keeping close along the watershed. The
course taken was a little east of north. The work was harder than
ever. Hour after hour passed, and yet the hoped-for high plateau was
not found. Snow fell heavily and the wind became violent. It had its
compensations, however, for we could steer by it. The fresh snow was
unsuited for ski. It froze on beneath them and balled, an impediment to
the shuffling action of the feet.

As the fresh snow accumulated, the surface of the old snow beneath
became so hard that ultimately ski could be discarded. A final long
tug up a very steep slope completed the morning’s march. At the
top Svensen threw himself down and said he could go no further. He
certainly looked ill. His face was ghastly grey, his cheeks sunken,
his eyes staring out of his head and bloodshot. The storm was raging
furiously, driving the fresh snow along, like a waist-deep stream of
opaque white fluid, with a loud hissing noise that mingled in the roar
of the wind. It was decided to pitch one of the tents and take shelter
in it, while a hot lunch was cooked; but to carry out the plan was
not easy in the teeth of the gale. When the tent was at last set up,
Svensen was pushed in and the rest of us crowded after. The sick man
began to tremble all over and moaned horribly. He pitied himself in
broken accents. There was nothing for it but to pitch the second tent,
unpack his fur sleeping-bag and stow him away to warm up. While this
was being done I rubbed him hard all over to restore circulation.

Before we had been halted half an hour tents and sledges were almost
buried beneath the drifting snow. The gale was getting worse every
minute, making the roofs boom and flap so that we feared they would rip
asunder. Meanwhile cooking went forward, and then all slept, awaiting
a change of weather. Late in the evening there was no improvement, and
Svensen said he was going to die. By morning the wind had dropped,
but the fog was yet denser. The sledges were not to be seen. The tents
were hidden from one another behind walls and heaps of drifted snow.
Nielsen shouted that Svensen was “all broken up,” and could not be
moved. I went to see him, and found a miserable-looking object. He
said he had swellings in his middle and talked about an old sprain and
the cold. His legs were senseless below the knees. Here was a pretty
mess, if his story were true! We had suspicions that fright was a large
factor in his trouble; but if it were not, and we made the man go on,
what a responsibility would lie upon us! He was emphatic that he could
not stir a yard that day, and that if we insisted on his moving we
must carry him, son of Anak that he was. There still remained food for
six days, so we could afford to wait twenty-four hours at any rate.
Practically we had no option.



CHAPTER III

BACK TO KLAAS BILLEN BAY


Garwood and I, for exercise, started out on ski, not daring to go
far in the dense fog, for, except by following up the track, it was
impossible to find the camp again once it had passed out of sight.
With the surface snow in such feathery condition, a track would be
obliterated in two minutes, even by a light wind. Caution, therefore,
was essential. The calm continuing, we indulged in longer excursions,
trudging always uphill, and sliding down again with increasing
confidence and ease. Assuredly, for the mere movement, ski-glissading
is first-rate fun. Taking a longer range uphill than before, we came
into a thinner patch of fog, with a quarter-mile reach of vision,
perhaps, and the white ghost of a sun aloft. Something suggested that
a domed hilltop was close ahead. We pushed on, and rose above the fog.
Clear was the atmosphere in all directions below a roof of cloud,
white and level, the far-extending floor of fog through which we had
just emerged, as through a trap-door on to the stage. In front (to
the east), and on our left (to the north), gentle snow-slopes rose to
skylines seemingly near at hand. We could not but push on. The snow was
in perfect condition for sliding, the air delightfully crisp. It was
grateful merely to have left the clammy fog behind. The convex curve
of the snowfield was cause of the constant retreat of the skyline from
our advance; but at last a distant summit peeped over, then another.
Evidently there was a watershed, and from it a view. It developed very
slowly, but at length it was all there--a downhill slope in front, and
then the distance filled with a prospect on which no human eye had ever
gazed. It was strictly an eastward view, for in the north the snowfield
rose higher, and to the south fog enveloped everything.

Whether it was the effect of contrast after the blindness of three
days, or whether the view was absolutely superb, is hard to say; it
certainly impressed us as a very grand sight. We were standing at
the head of a broad snow-white valley, to which a long slope drooped
from our feet, the level of the valley-floor being at least 1000 feet
below us, or more than 2000 feet above sea-level. On either side the
valley was enclosed by faces of rock, bluff-fronts cut out of what
was formerly a big plateau, level with our position. A splintered
nunatak pierced through the glacier below and formed an effective
centre-piece. The glacier itself swept away in its wide, dignified
fashion, first east, then gradually round in a great curve to the
south-east, on its slow crawl towards Wybe Jans Water. The row of
bluffs on the left (north) were seen, one beyond another, stretching
away fainter and fainter to the remote distance, where the last may
look down upon the east coast. The nearest and highest of these bluffs
appears to be the Mount Chydenius of Nordenskiöld. Further north and
masked by clouds were indications of a range of peaks of bolder form.

We returned to camp for our cameras and came back with Nielsen, then
Garwood set forward down the hill to investigate the Hecla Hook rocks
of the nunatak, whilst Nielsen and I went north up the snow-slope. We
had not more than a mile to go before reaching the top of the highest
snow-dome in the watershed area between the glacier systems draining
west to Dickson Bay, south-east to Wybe Jans Water, and south to Klaas
Billen Bay. Whether the glacier to the north bent ultimately west to
Dickson Bay or round to the head of East Fjord of Wijde Bay could not
be determined, for it was soon lost beneath a roof of cloud. The fulmar
petrels that came flying over could have told us. The range of hills
across the north was now clear. There were indications of a valley
between our plateau and them, and of a pass leading over to it from
a bay of the eastern valley. Unfortunately my photographs of this
important view, like all others taken by me on roller film this year,
failed. How I now regret not to have carried some good glass plates to
this point! Only blind notes remain. There was a peak of nearly 4000
feet, 30° west of north, and another due north about six miles away.
Connected with them were many more of smaller dimensions. West of the
peak first mentioned the land dropped below the cloud-level, which
was from 500 to a 1000 feet beneath our feet. All in the Dickson Bay
direction was hidden under piled masses of cloud.

It was a fascinating and tantalising view. One more day’s march would
have solved for certain, instead of merely by inference, the whole
question of the topography of this icy area. Any one of the peaks ahead
would have commanded views towards Wijde Bay, Hinloopen Strait, and
Wybe Jans Water. But with Svensen _hors de combat_ we were helpless.
To leave camp for a whole day was impossible, seeing that, in this
featureless white wilderness, if fog came on, we should never find it
again, whilst, without us, the men left behind could not steer their
way to the coast. I thought, however, that it might be possible to
return by a new route, descending first down the east valley and then
working round to the south; so we went back to the tents and asked
Svensen whether, if we dragged his sledge, he could follow on his
own feet homeward. He eagerly jumped at the suggestion; the stuff was
packed and off we started uphill to the point of our first view at
the head of the east valley. Svensen shuffled along on his ski well
enough, though with a sorry countenance. When he found us going uphill
he protested that that could not be the way back and that we were
going east instead of south. Arrived at the top and seeing the valley
he became mutinous, said if we went down there we should all leave
our bones in this horrible land, and generally protested with all his
might. Nielsen joined his protests, on the ground that, Svensen being
the sort of man he was and apparently ill as well as terrified, we
should probably soon find ourselves obliged to drag him along on a
sledge, and that, while he could manage to walk, it was best to get
him in the direction of the coast, so that, if ultimately he had to be
carried, it might be over as few miles as possible. In fact, we were
cornered; there was nothing for it but to turn coastward.

Before doing so we took one more long gaze over the great glacier and
away to the remote hills that look down on Wybe Jans Water. One of them
must be Mount Edlund, another the White Mountain near Heley’s Sound;
but it was impossible to identify them. These were the peaks climbed
by Nordenskiöld and his party in 1864. As they were the only people
who have ever gazed inland over this same sea of ice, I here insert an
abbreviated translation of their account.[4]

    “On August 21, 1864, the weather became so fine that we
    returned to land in order to climb Mount Edlund. We landed at
    the edge of the glacier, which ends without a cliff. Parallel
    with the shore, at a distance of about a thousand yards, there
    extends a broad bank of moraine, beyond which comes the glacier
    itself. Its lowest part consists of a mounded ice-field, here
    and there split by crevasses, for the most part filled with
    water. The ascent was easy, and we soon reached the lowest
    plateau of the mountain. A grass-slope followed, becoming
    steeper higher up and ending near the upper plateau in a
    hyperite cliff faced by four-edged columns. This cliff was at
    least fifty feet high, and vertical; but the rocks were firm,
    and could easily be climbed. Thus we reached the top.

    “The view fully came up to our expectations. North-westward,
    far as the eye could reach, spread endless hills and plains
    of snow, only broken here and there by occasional mountain
    peaks standing more or less free. Among these, several remote
    mountains, probably surrounding the southern shore of Wijde
    Bay, deserve mention. Further round in the north-east a row
    of peaks stood up against the horizon. Mount Chydenius was
    the most northerly and highest of these great mountains.[5] We
    overlooked the whole of Wybe Jans Water from Whale’s Point and
    Whale’s Head to its inmost recess near the White Mountain. Many
    mountains surrounded by ice reared themselves in the west. The
    view over Hinloopen Strait was hindered by thick mist, which
    appeared to lie only over this depression and its bordering
    hills, as so often happens.

    “In order to follow up the mountain ridge extending towards the
    north-west, and to learn whether an expedition over the snow
    fields involved difficulties, we went from the summit farther
    into the interior of the land, which lay almost at the same
    height as the peak. It was quite level and covered with hard,
    frozen snow, on which walking was as easy as on a floor. This
    plain of snow appeared to stretch away to Mount Chydenius, so
    that that peak would be easy to reach for the purposes of a
    triangulation. We went as far as a distant small hill of snow
    [apparently the Mount Svanberg of the map] without any new
    experiences, except that fresh peaks kept constantly appearing
    above the snow; we accordingly decided to return.

    “The shortest way back to the ship led down a rather steep
    ice-stream flowing between two hills from the place where we
    stood to the same broad, level glacier over which we had come
    in the ascent. The true source of the latter was, in fact,
    this ice-stream which flows down from the inland ice. We
    stood for a time at its edge, telescope in hand, discussing
    whether it would be possible to descend by this apparently
    easy way, or whether we must go round by the longer route,
    somewhat dangerous as it was by reason of the hyperite cliff.
    A young “Balsfjording,” who carried our instruments, and had
    certainly climbed many a mountain near his home, but probably
    never been on a glacier, looked at us with wondering eyes when
    we asked him his opinion. His expression seemed to say, “How
    can any one be in doubt about so obvious a matter?” Without
    a word, he sprang down the ice-slope, theodolite in hand, to
    our great terror, for we feared that, as usual, the glacier
    would be broken by crevasses, and difficult to cross. Our
    anxiety did not last long before we saw him come to a halt,
    and just in time, for, on coming nearer, we found that a great
    _schrund_ was immediately before him. We crept to its edge and
    looked down into the weird, bottomless depth, whose walls were
    azure-blue cliffs of ice, here and there covered with white
    icicles like stalactites. Lower down everything was lost in a
    dark-blue gloom. This crevasse stretched almost the whole way
    across the glacier, so that a long detour had to be made before
    it could be crossed. Later on we encountered a great number of
    such crevasses, some of which we turned, others jumped over,
    others again crossed by ice-bridges. Not till we reached the
    main stream of the glacier did the crevasses come to an end and
    the descent became quick and easy.”

On returning to the coast they took a boat and rowed to the mouth of
Heley’s Sound, some three miles north of which they landed in a little
bay and set up their tent. Next day, August 22, was again fine, so
they set forth to make the ascent of the neighbouring White Mountain.

    “We wandered first over the great moraine, which the glacier
    has cast down before itself, then climbed the gently sloping
    ice-field. This proved to be unexpectedly fatiguing and
    disagreeable work. The surface consisted of thawed and refrozen
    snow, covered with a crust of faggot-like formation, which
    frequently broke up under our tread, so that the foot sank into
    the soft snow beneath and was with difficulty withdrawn through
    the icecrust, whose sharp edges cut into the boots. The top of
    the mountain, hidden at first by the humps of the glacier, came
    into view after an hour’s ascent, but was still far away. We
    had several hours of work over snow of similar character before
    we reached the summit, a small plateau covered with powdery
    snow a foot deep upon hard ice.

    “The view from this point is perhaps the finest to be found
    on Spitsbergen. In the east, about sixty miles away, we saw a
    high mountain land with two peaks higher than the rest. [This
    was Wiches Land.] Between it and Spitsbergen lay a sea covered
    with great, continuous icefloes, obviously impenetrable by a
    ship.… In the north-east and north, far as the eye could reach,
    appeared the hills of North-East Land and Hinloopen Strait,
    with the strait itself and its islands apparently surrounded
    by water free of ice. Nordenskiöld recognised Mount Lovén,
    ascended by him in 1861.… The interior was likewise displayed
    before our eyes, a boundless immeasurable waste of snow, out
    of which here and there some mass of rock jutted forth, dark
    in contrast with the blinding white surroundings. Only further
    away, west and north-west, were there any connected ranges of
    mountains. The whole west and north coasts of Wybe Jans Water
    were in sight, and the northern part of Barents Land, whose
    extreme point consists of a much crevassed snow-mountain ending
    steeply in the sea.”

From this interesting digression we must return to our own doings.
Facing south-east we kept along the crest of the highest ground and
made quick progress, for a gentle slope drooped in our favour and the
surface of the snow was in perfect condition for both ski and sledges.
Garwood and I shall ever remember the delight of this midnight march.
High above the clear air that surrounded us was a dark-blue roof of
soft cloud, resting on skyey walls of marvellous colours, with streaks
of stratus across them, reflecting the golden sunlight. The sun itself
was hidden in the north, but beneath it hung a reticulated web, woven
of gold and Tyrian purple, through which shafts of tender light drooped
down like eyelashes upon the snow. All around, the _névé_ went sweeping
away in gentle curves and domes, greyish-white in some places with
purple shadows, bluish-grey in others, here and there strewn with
carpets of sunlight. The rocks, too, wherever they appeared, were rich
in colour, showing their own ruddy or orange tints enforced by the
lustrous atmosphere. There was none of the sharp contrast of black
and white that strikes a superficial observer in high mountain views.
This panorama was a glorious mass of colour, harmonious without rift
and rich without monotony. Just at midnight the cloud-roof opened in
the north and a flood of sunshine fell around and upon us--a veritable
transfiguration and thrilling glory which cannot be told. Entranced
with beauty, we marched on and on over the wide snowfield, with a sense
of boundless space, a feeling of freedom, a joy as in the ownership of
the whole universe--emotions that, in my experience, only arise in the
great clean places of the earth, where nothing lives and nothing grows,
the great deserts and the wide snowfields. Green country, after such
regions, is land soiled by mildew.

Coming, in about seven miles march, to the point where the slope down
to the Nordenskiöld Glacier began to steepen, we halted, not from
fatigue, but because we were loath to quit the far-seeing uplands
and wall ourselves in between a valley’s sides. So we pitched the
camp about 3 A.M., with the doors opening to the south. The eastward
views were better displayed than before. We could see Wybe Jans Water
with Barents Land beyond, then a series of long rock-faces supporting
high-domed, snowy plateaus, stretching round to the Terrier on the
left side of the Nordenskiöld Glacier, whilst De Geer Peak came last,
looking from this point like a pyramid with its top storey horizontally
stratified. The low sun shone golden on the snowfield, casting blue
shadows. All round, near the horizon, the sky was clear below the soft,
thin cloud-roof, through which the blueness of the vault of heaven was
plainly seen. The remote hills were indigo, patched with orange, gold,
and pink. White mists lay in hollows of the snow, motionless. Ivory
gulls flew about, projecting their silver plumage against the blue
shadows. The air was still. Not a sound broke the perfection of the
silence.

It was afternoon of the 19th when we set forward again over the good,
hard snow, the still air seeming warm, and the sun shining softly
behind a thin grey roof of cloud. All round was a light-blue frieze of
sky with cloud-flakes in lines below, and then the faint blue-and-white
hills. In the south the burnished surface of Klaas Billen Bay, shining
between purple shores, reflected the sunlight. The beauty of the scene
sapped our energies. We wanted to look at it, not to haul sledges. But
Svensen said he could do no work, so hauling was the order of our day.
Needless to say that many halts were made on every kind of excuse,
and every halt was celebrated by the smoke of pipes. Garwood took the
opportunity to instruct me in the true art of pipe-loading. “Jam the
tobacco in as tight as you can, and then loosen it with a corkscrew” is
his formula. I am witness to the labour it cost him in practice, and
the tenacity of his adherence to an adopted principle. One advantage
of travelling with sledges is that you always have comfortable seats
ready. It would have been a sin, at least a folly, not to avail
ourselves of them. We were neither sinners nor fools after this kind.
Yet on the whole good progress was made, for we walked fast and kept
going for many hours. The view scarcely changed. That we were coming
to lower levels was obvious, but the hills in front seemed no nearer
after three hours’ marching than at the start. Ahead were a few rocks
emerging from the glacier. We thought them close at hand, but they
kept their distance. Not for five hours were they left behind. The
actual motion, however, was pleasant; ski and sledges often ran of
themselves. Only Nielsen was miserable with his Canadian snowshoes, and
perforce lagged behind. “This,” he said, “is the worst thing ever a
man put on his feet--miserables!” His own Lapp shoes, too, gave him no
satisfaction. Melted snow found a way through them. “They should have
been soaked,” he said, “with two parts Stockholm tar and three parts
cod-liver oil, boiled together and put on hot. It should be rubbed
well in with a rag while it’s hot. That will make boots waterproof and
keep them soft for three months in spite of wettings. That is what our
Norwegian fishermen use.” Mr. Frederick Jackson, however, tells me that
he tried this composition and found it no better than patent dubbin.

A flat plain followed a long and steady descent. Here, at a level of
about 1300 feet, the snow began to be bad. A foot of new snow lay
upon the ice. It was in places waterlogged, for there were no open
crevasses, and now the sun had attained power to set things thawing
fast. The blue lakes we saw when coming up existed no more; drifted
snow and frost had abolished them altogether. We were well below our
camping place at the foot of Mount De Geer, but on the opposite side of
the glacier, approaching its left bank. A wide water-channel came, with
a rushing torrent in it, flowing over blue ice between banks of snow.
It was long before we found an overhanging place where a leap would
take a man from bank to bank. Thence a flat but watery area intervened
before our goal was reached at the extreme left of the glacier and
right below the highest point of the long Terrier ridge, to the summit
of which we intended to climb next day. Its cliffs were loud with the
sound of countless birds, whose full-throated cries, mingled together
and wafted afar as a raucous hum, were audible long before a bird came
in sight. From camp we could see them in their thousands, perched in
rows upon ledges or soaring about the cliff--fulmars, little auks, and
glaucus gulls. Their feathers were scattered all about, whilst numerous
tracks showed that this breeding-place was no secret to the foxes--the
only animals that rove over the icy interior of Spitsbergen.

Our projected climb was not to be made, for rain came on in the night.
We awoke (20th) to find clouds heavy upon us, and all but the Terrier’s
foundations obliterated. It was a disappointment, but there were
compensations, for the immediate neighbourhood proved unexpectedly
interesting. This discovered, we loaded the sledges and sent them down
with the men, under orders not to stop till they reached Klaas Billen
Bay. Svensen had no longer any excuse for malingering. Yesterday, with
every hour’s advance, his face became rounder, his back straighter,
his movements more active. The fear of destruction was in reality his
main disease, aggravated no doubt by cold and exposure to the storm.
He acknowledged as much later on. The suggestion that he should hasten
down to the bay, whether dragging a sledge or not, seemed nothing less
than a reprieve from sentence of death. He set off with alacrity.

Garwood had observed a curious piece of glacier a few hundred yards
away from camp. It was mounded in a peculiar manner, calling for
investigation. On approaching it, the mounds were perceived to be
arches of ice, barrel vaults perfectly regular in form. Their origin
was presently self-explained. A wide and deep stream of surface
drainage-water habitually flows near the foot of the Terrier. Reaching
a level place, the speed of flow is reduced so that the surface becomes
frozen over in cold weather. Snow falls upon the ice thus formed, and a
roof is made, the remains of which, even at this advanced period of the
summer, were two feet thick or more. The glacier in its onward movement
is compressed between the Terrier and the De Geer range opposite,
and every portion of it feels this compression, which, operating
on the frozen roof of the river, bends it up into an icy tunnel of
regular form. By degrees parts of the tunnel fall in, and thus the
detached arches are left. On the King’s Bay Glacier we afterwards saw
more arches of similar origin. It is to the strength of the arctic
winter’s frost, rather than to the amount of the annual snowfall,
that Spitsbergen glaciers owe their peculiar phenomena, to which the
glaciers of high mountain regions in the temperate and tropical parts
of the world present no parallels.

Another and still more remarkable outcome of the same forces presently
attracted our attention. We were descending the left side of the
glacier below the Terrier and approaching the point at the end of the
mountain where a great tributary glacier comes in from the east. The
two ice-streams, joining, compress one another laterally, and cause
a bulging or convexity of their surfaces, which only attain a common
uniformity of level at a distance of a mile or so. By this means a
triangular hollow is formed between the glaciers, and backed against
the foot of the intervening hill. A lake collects in this hollow, and
is drained by a stream, which, gradually cutting down its bed as the
year advances, lowers the level of the lake. When the winter comes,
fresh snow falls into and blocks this stream, damming back the waters
so that the level of the lake rises. Its surface, of course, freezes;
the ice-covering, with the thawed, refrozen collection of snow upon it,
attaining a thickness of four feet and more. On the return of spring,
when the snows begin to melt, fresh quantities of water find their way
into the lake and raise the heavy ice-sheet. The bed of last year’s
streams is of course filled up with hard-frozen snow, so that there is
no exit for the waters till the cup is full. The moment it begins to
overflow the cutting of the channel takes place. The pent-up waters are
let loose and evidently operate with extraordinary force, excavating a
deep cañon out of the glacier. The floating ice acquires a momentum,
whereby it not merely gets ripped and broken up, but forced forward on
to the dry glacier ahead, great tables of it being turned up on end
or piled on one another two or three deep. When most of the water is
drawn off and the level of the lake is greatly reduced, the convulsion
ceases and only the deep cañon and the wild ruin of the ice-blocks,
strewn abroad over half a mile square of the glacier, remain to show
what mighty forces have been let loose.

During the summer we came upon several such burst lakes at the
junctions of glaciers. The most striking of them was this one at
the extremity of the Terrier, for, owing to the configuration of
the ice, it is unusually large and, besides (like the Märjelen Sea
by the Aletsch Glacier), is the receptacle into which many icebergs
fall. These icebergs in the winter are frozen in, and tossed out in
a wild ruin when the lake bursts. The chaos of strewn ice-blocks is
visible from far off, but its origin is not then discernible. Masses
of ice were heaped against one another to a height of forty feet or
even more. The blue cañon was so deep and undercut that we could not
see to the bottom. It was more than sixty feet in depth. There was
something inexpressibly weird in the silence and repose of this icy
ruin surviving the wild turmoil of its birth. The catastrophe must
have been recent, for the icebergs retained the blue colouring and
transparency of their submerged parts. We spent a long time clambering
about the _débris_, then hastened forward on our ski and caught up with
the sledges.

A lunch halt was made at the top of a steeper slope, just where
crevasses began to be numerous. By keeping well round to the left
their intricacy was easily avoided. Where the descent was made they
were relatively small and for the most part wedged with winter snow,
strong enough to bear. Leaving the men to guide the sledges down, we
gaily shot the slope, crevasses and all, on our ski. Though the ice
was rough and much honeycombed, we covered a mile of descent in a few
minutes, “everything safely,” as our dragoman used to say on the Nile
in a gale of wind. At the foot, where the glacier became more level,
prosaic marching order had to be resumed. Klaas Billen Bay was nearing,
a leaden purple, almost black expanse, dotted over with countless
icebergs in the gloomy beclouded evening light. The final descent over
the steep moraine was even more difficult than the ascent, for the
useful snow-strip had melted away and the stones were more unstable
than before. The sledges were seriously knocked about in the process of
lowering; the metal covering of the runners was stripped off and the
runners themselves smashed in two places. They just held together so
that we could drag them over the _débris_ fan and the wide bog beyond
to where our camp was standing uninjured, with the whaleboat drawn up
beside it.

The general result of this inland excursion was highly satisfactory,
notwithstanding our misfortune with Svensen. It enabled us to record
in outline the general structure of the area included between Wijde
Bay, Dickson Bay, Ice Fjord, Wybe Jans Water, and Hinloopen Strait.
Before the recently undertaken exploration of the interior, Spitsbergen
was supposed to be covered, like Greenland, with a big icesheet.
There were known to be some mountains, but they were described as
nunataks--islands of rock poked up through the enveloping ice. The
nature of the Greenland icesheet is well known; it buries the whole
interior beneath its vast thickness, hiding hills and valleys together
within its mass, and flowing down over them on all sides to the sea,
toward or into which it sends tongues of ice through every gap. All the
glaciers in Greenland are but tongues of a single icesheet. Spitsbergen
was supposed to resemble Greenland in this respect. In 1896 we proved
this view to be erroneous as to the central portion of the island. The
belt of land bounded on the south by Bell Sound and on the north by
Ice Fjord, and stretching across from sea to sea, is absolutely devoid
of any icesheet. It is a complex of mountains and valleys, amongst
which are many glaciers indeed, as there are amidst the mountains of
Central Europe, but no continuous covering of ice. Each glacier is a
separate unit, having its own catchment area and drainage system. The
valleys are boggy and relatively fertile, the hillsides bare of snow in
summer up to more than 1000 feet above sea-level. There are lines of
depression between Ice Fjord and Bell Sound, and between Sassen Bay and
the east coast, which are absolutely snow-free throughout the arctic
summer.

[Illustration: THE COLORADO PLATEAU.]

We had a suspicion that the area between Foreland Sound and Ice Fjord
was not covered by an icesheet, but we still thought it probable that
one would be found in the region north-east of Ice Fjord. The result
of our present expedition was to prove this not to be the case. We
traversed a great deal of glacier and snowfield, but none belonging to
a true icesheet. The whole of this region, which I have named Garwood
Land, after my excellent companion, is a glaciated mountain and valley
system. Each glacier in it is a clearly-marked unit, with its evident
watersheds dividing it from its neighbours. North of the Chydenius
range, by which Garwood Land is bounded, there does come a true
icesheet covering the whole of New Friesland and flowing down to the
sea on all sides. North-East Land, too, is buried under an icesheet.
These are the only ones in the Spitsbergen archipelago.

The mountains of Garwood Land are remains of a denuded plateau,
resembling those of the Sassendal region. They have been carved out
by a denuding agent eating a series of valleys back into the plateau.
Readers of my former book, “The First Crossing of Spitsbergen,” will
remember how many examples of the rapid formation and extension of
valleys by the eating back of the head-waters are there recorded.
The Colorado Berg north of the Sassendal was the best example of the
process. That plateau, now bare of ice, is being rapidly cut up into
separate hills by the excavation of a series of deep, narrow cañons,
which will widen and creep further back year by year. Now, the hills
of Garwood Land are of a similar type. The wide, deep valley, into the
head of which we looked down from our farthest point, sends back into
the plateau (or remnant of a plateau) a number of tributary valleys,
all of the same deep, gently sloping, steep-headed type. From many
indications we concluded that a series of similar valley-heads and
cliffs lay to the eastward of our whole route from where we turned back
as far as the Terrier. This row of cliffs and bluffs probably flanks
the eastern watershed of the Nordenskiöld Glacier. The bad weather that
prevented our ascent of the Terrier prevented also the verification of
this hypothesis.

If we could assume that Garwood Land was at any time considerably less
glacier-covered than it now is, so that its valleys were bog-bottomed
like the Sassendal, and its uplands resembled the Colorado Berg, it
would be easy to account for the present configuration of the land
surface. We should say that it was formed by aqueous denudation, and
subsequently covered up by the increase of the ice. It is certain
that there has been a great increase in the ice-supply on the land
hereabouts during the last two centuries, for in that time the Negri
Glacier has advanced at least fifteen, probably twenty, miles into the
sea along a front fifteen miles in width. This fact, however, does
not suffice as foundation for so great an assumption. It is rather to
the steady elevation of the land that we must look for a solution.
Everywhere in Franz Josef Land and Spitsbergen the land is known to
be rising. The western belt of the island has been longer exposed to
denudation than the east belt. The latter, therefore, has perhaps been
later elevated. It came up from the sea as relatively flat ground. As
its elevation continued this flat ground was raised into a plateau.
At first it did not reach the level of perpetual snow, so that whilst
rising it was being cut down into valleys and cañons by the action of
water, pouring off from the plateau over its edge, and hurrying down
a frost-split rock-face. The bed of such a valley has of necessity a
very gentle slope. The head is steep, almost a cliff, the whole face of
which is being continually stripped off, so that the valley, once begun
by a waterfall over the edge of the horizontally stratified plateau,
penetrates steadily backward.

These valleys once formed, with their steep heads and sides, would
maintain themselves even after the remains of the plateau were covered
with an icesheet and the valleys filled with glaciers. There is no
need to predicate for the glaciers any power of erosion; that is not
the way arctic icesheets act, for the upper layers of ice flow over
the lower at a far greater speed than is the case in glaciers under
lower latitudes. Given an existing cliff, however, with a glacier
below it, and the denuding agencies of frost and water at work upon
it, that cliff tends to maintain itself and to eat its way back into
the mountain mass behind, for its _débris_ fall upon the glacier below
and are carried away; they do not pile themselves up into a protecting
slope at the base of the cliff. This eating-back process will go
forward with unequal speed according to the varying qualities of the
rocks. Bays will thus be formed and will eat back into the plateau,
just as the gullies eat back in the Sassendal region, only the bays
will tend to grow wider in proportion to their depth in a glaciated
country than in a region mainly bare of snow and ice.

For this process to begin it is necessary that somewhere a rock-face
should be exposed to the air. The exposure may be produced by a fault,
or by a denuding process begun before the land was much glaciated. We
are in no position yet to assert how the process commenced in Garwood
Land, but that the bays, valleys, and cliffs now existing are being
maintained in the manner above described is certain. If the ice were
again to cover up the Colorado Berg and the hills opposite, and were
to flow into and down the Sassendal to Sassen Bay, the aspect of that
region would resemble that of Garwood Land to-day. It is only in the
case of a country like Greenland, entirely buried under an icecap
thousands of feet thick, through which, save along the coast, no
rock appears and no cliff is exposed--it is only in such a country
that the conservative action of ice is complete and the modelling of
an elevated land-mass into hills is practically arrested. Hence the
scientific importance of distinguishing between a proper icesheet
(in the Greenland sense) and a mere assemblage of separate glaciers,
however large in volume and intimate in their connexion with one
another. An icesheet, or inland-ice, operates in a totally different
manner from a series of glaciers. Save in North-East Land and in the
part of Spitsbergen called New Friesland, there is no proper icesheet
in Spitsbergen, and the phrase “inland-ice” should be expunged from
maps and descriptions of regions to which it is not applicable. A
chief and no unimportant result of our explorations in the interior of
Spitsbergen is this discovery that the parts supposed to be enveloped
in an icesheet are in fact merely glacier regions.



CHAPTER IV

BY WATER TO KINGS BAY


On awaking in relative luxury, by the shore of Klaas Billen Bay, late
in the afternoon of July 21, we were far from pushing eagerly forward
to the labours of the day. It seemed so good to be in a well-stored
camp, with no need to husband fuel or count teaspoonfuls of cocoa and
sugar or fills of tobacco. Moreover, our wet clothes were drying over a
lamp in the men’s tent, drying all too thoroughly indeed, for Svensen
permitted the soles to be burnt off the stockings. A final visit was
made to the glacier-foot to photograph the wonderful cliff. Every
prominent feature noticed a week before had fallen away, including
a huge cavern that penetrated far into the solid mass of the ice.
Returning to camp, Garwood found trilobites in a section of rock by
the shore, and they were good excuse for further lingering. Ultimately
the boat was hauled into the water, camp struck, and baggage loaded.
The men rowed round the spit while we walked across to De Geer’s
camping-ground. At 10.30 P.M. they took us on board and we made sail
for Advent Bay.

It was a feeble attempt at sailing, for no sooner did we really quit
the shore than the last puff of wind died away. A beautiful mist hung
low near the calm water, which presently became utterly smooth like
a mirror of polished steel. There was just a purple line of shore
on either hand dividing the roof of cloud from its reflection. De
Geer’s signals, built on his trigonometrical points along the level
coast, alone broke its uniformity. Far, far away the peaks of the
Dead Man appeared in blue and sunshine on the horizon. Without rowing
no progress was to be made. At 3 A.M. we were opposite the mouth
of Skans Bay. Countless birds were resting all around on the still
water--puffins in pairs, like lovers always near to one another;
little auks, the babies of the feathery tribe; fulmar petrels, the
strong youths; terns, the fair maidens; skuas, the inquisitive old
maids; guillemots, the populace; glaucous gulls, the police. A flock
of fulmars kept us company, flying about and across, then settling on
the water ahead to await our slow advance. When we caught up with them,
flap and run, off they went again. This game pleased their minds and
wings for an hour or more.

Spitsbergen weather makes for itself an undeservedly bad reputation.
For example, the low roof of cloud that hung above us all this night,
however beautiful the colouring cast by it on the landscape, and it
was gorgeous beyond words, certainly produced an effect of gloom. It
was long before we discovered how thin was the layer of mist, thin as
well as low lying, and that above it all the hills were shining in
brilliant sunlight. Through occasional small holes a peak or crest
would appear, so incredibly bright as to seem actually aglow with
internal fire. Behind us the fog lay upon the water, but ahead the
hills across Ice Fjord were clear, and sunshine lured us on. Camp was
to be pitched on one of the Goose Islands--that we had long decided;
the only trouble was that the islands would not approach. We rowed
and rowed, but they were coy. One might have sworn that they were
drifting away. All of a sudden they changed their minds and neared us
so rapidly that, when next we turned round, they were close at hand.
They consist of diabase, with surface cut low and polished by ice into
gentle undulations. Bog has collected in the hollows and there are a
few pools. The sea front all round is a low cliff of dark, shattered
rocks. Entering a narrow sound between the two larger islands, we
came into an admirable land-locked harbour with an old camping-place
close by. Garwood went after eider-ducks for dinner, whilst I saw to
the domestic arrangements. The soft ground proved to be a quagmire,
so we had to camp in the wet, choosing a spot close by a well-built
fireplace, over which big whalebones had been crossed to carry the pot.
The last visitors, a year ago, had kindly left for us a good pile of
cut-up firewood ready at hand. No sooner was the fire burning well than
a smart breeze sprang up, now that it could not serve for sailing, and
blew straight into the fireplace, carrying the smoke directly over to
the tents. The same breeze cleared away the clouds and brought sunshine
indeed, but was the father of many out-compensating discomforts.

After a long sleep, breakfast was eaten at 6 P.M. (July 22) in a
grey-toned, blustery evening. An hour was devoted to wandering over
the islands. They are the home of many birds, especially eiders, which
breed there in multitudes, making their nests upon the ground. We
filled a large bag with down. Many of the nests were just abandoned
and there were lots of young birds about--terns, geese, and skuas come
on a visit, as well as the common enemy and scavenger, the glaucous,
whom the ducks saluted with angry quacking. On shelves of a little
diabase cliff I found a bevy of snow-buntings, most charming of arctic
dicky-birds. Brilliant yellow lichens made the rocks gaudy with
flaming colour. The bogs were the greenest I ever saw, whilst in drier
places the flower carpet was as bright as Alice’s in Wonderland. On a
clear, calm day this would be a lovely spot for dawdling, the islands
being grandly placed for views straight up Klaas Billen and Sassen
bays and down Ice Fjord. But the chilly evening was not favourable
for contemplation. I only remember noticing with pleasure the fine,
gable-fronted crest of some precipitous limestone peaks which look down
on Klaas Billen Bay and prolong into it the characteristic structure of
Temple Mountain and its neighbours.

We sailed away about 7.30 P.M., with a moderate breeze coming out of
Sassen Bay. How so little wind could put such a topple on to the sea
I could not understand, but so it always is in the inner parts of Ice
Fjord. Sitting still in the boat, we were soon miserably chilled down.
Conversation flagged. Svensen expressed the general gloom by singing
a slow and solemn Norwegian hymn in a deep bass voice. It seemed to
cheer him, for he followed it up with a more mundane melody, sung in
an uncertain falsetto. Thereupon the Cambridge contingent gave tongue
with “The River Cam,” which drifted into a topical song, endlessly
prolonged, whereof the chorus lingers in my memory yet:

    Sailing away over Sassen Bay,
      Where the waters are always rough,
    If pleasure you take as you shiver and shake,
      You’ll jolly soon have enough.

In three hours Ice Fjord was crossed and the beginning of the line of
cliffs approached, west of Hyperite Hat. Here the wind failed, just
where it always used to fail last year. A long row transferred the
heavy boat to the low point outside the mouth of Advent Bay, down which
a stiff breeze was hurrying. We sailed across to the farther shore,
where I landed to walk to the tourist-hut, leaving Garwood, who is an
enthusiastic sailor--which I am not--to beat round Advent Point to the
landing-place.

The inn contained a merry party, just returned in the _Kvik_ from a
visit to Lomme Bay, Wahlenburg’s Bay, and Wijde Bay. They were full of
pleasant talk and recent reminiscences of walrus, seal, and reindeer
hunting. With their help our camp was soon pitched and our goods
landed. More than three hours could not be spared to slumber, for,
at 7.30 A.M. on the 23rd, the tourist steamer _Lofoten_ came in from
Norway, bringing mails. With her came perfect sunshine and delightful
warmth. Not, indeed, that there was any time for mere pleasure. I had
a solar observation to take, the baggage to overhaul, and a mail to
despatch, whilst all was to be prepared for sailing next day in the
_Kvik_ for Kings Bay. There was no hitch.

In due course Advent Bay was again left behind, and we were on our way
down Ice Fjord, once more with a few companions. Among them were the
Swedish botanist, Herr Ekstam, and Mr. Baldwin, who was in Greenland
with Lieut. Peary. Ekstam was to be left at Coles Bay, which I was
thus enabled to visit. It is a dreary place, with a great extent of
bogflat at its head, stretching far inland up a wide, desolate valley.
At the end appears to be a pass to Low Sound. There are several similar
valleys extending westward, one more uninviting than another. I suppose
the bog near the bay is “Coles Park, a good place for venison, well
known to Thomas Ayers,” as Pelham says, writing in 1631. Coal having
in recent years been found in the bay, the name has been confused from
Coles to Coal.

In the smallest hours of the morning of the 25th the _Kvik_ entered
Foreland Sound. I have traversed this waterway from end to end on four
separate occasions without experiencing clear weather. This time there
was the usual cloud-roof, but it was high, so that we became in some
degree acquainted with the remarkably fine scenery of the passage. The
mountain tops were covered, but the glaciers were disclosed, and it is
the glaciers that give to the sound its distinctive character. At first
they are only on the east coast, a series draining the mountains north
of the Dead Man. When these come to an end there follows a dull front
of bare slopes as far as the opening of St. John’s Bay, the Osborne’s
Inlet of the early charts. The southern quarter of the Foreland, if the
Saddle Mountain at its south cape be excepted, consists of a plain,
almost absolutely flat, and raised but a few feet above sea-level. It
may be called Flatland. I have been told that Russian trappers used
to frequent it; but there does not appear to be any published account
whatever of a landing on it. No more featureless or uniform expanse can
be conceived. It covers an area of fifty square miles, according to
the chart, which, however, is most inaccurate hereabouts. This plain
is indicated by nature as _the_ place for laying out a base whenever
Spitsbergen shall be used for the measurement of a meridian arc. North
of Flatland comes a well-defined mountain group containing fine peaks.
It is bounded by a deep depression running from Peter Winter’s Bay in
a south-west direction, right across the Foreland to the ocean. Peter
Winter’s Bay is well to the north of St. John’s Bay, though marked
south of it on the chart. It is indicated correctly enough by Giles and
Reps on the remarkable Dutch chart published after 1707 by Gerard van
Keulen. There it is named Zeehonde Bay, whilst a secluded anchorage
in its north coast, just within the entrance, bears the designation
Pieter Winter’s Baaytje. North of Peter Winter’s and St. John’s bays
the glaciers follow one another in quick succession on both shores.
On the east there are eight of them between St. John’s and English
bays, whereof the two biggest, at the north and south ends, reach
the sea. The opposite coast of the Foreland is an almost continuous
glacier-front backed by a wall of snowy peaks.[6] The shallow place
which stopped Barents and renders the channel impassable, except by
small vessels, is off this glacier-front. The _Expres_ used to run
over it and bump if she felt inclined. The _Kvik_ was navigated more
gingerly, so that the passage over the Bar occupied a couple of hours,
soundings being diligently taken all the time.

At the head of English Bay is a great glacier, flowing from the
south-east and receiving many tributaries, noted later on. North of it
come prominent hills with a wide lowland stretched before them, ending
in a flat point named Quade Hook--that is, “the Evil Cape.” Rounding
this cape, we slipped into Kings Bay and steered for its head, across
the whole breadth of which was the great front of the Kings Glacier
awaiting its first explorers. Clouds hung low down, and there was no
distant view inland, not so much indeed as we had seen the previous
year. We afterward came to know it well, so for clearness’ sake I may
take the liberty of brushing the clouds away and describing the general
arrangement of the hills and glaciers, with which the reader is invited
to make closer acquaintance in the following pages.

[Illustration: KINGS BAY GLACIER.]

Let him, then, return with me to the mouth of the bay, and, standing
there, face to the east, with Quade Hook on his right hand. He will be
looking straight up the bay. On his left hand will be Mitra Hook, so
named from the pointed mitre peak which Scoresby climbed. This exit to
the sea between Mitra and Quade hooks is common to both Kings and Cross
bays, which are divided from one another by a rectangular mountain
mass. Cross Bay is unknown to me. It is said to be one of the finest
bays in Spitsbergen. The mountains on either side of it are steep, and
magnificent glaciers fall into its head, one of them ending in the
finest ice-cliff in this part of the world. Cross Bay runs in to the
north, Kings Bay to the east. Kings Bay is broad at first, with low,
flat coasts, beyond which mountains rise to a moderate height. Farther
in, the sides approach somewhat, where there is a low cape to the south
with Coal Haven and some islands just round the corner, whilst on the
north is the protruding hilly mass of Blomstrand’s Mound, five or six
hundred feet high, with a cove at each end of it (Blomstrand’s Harbour
to the west, Deer Bay to the east), and in each cove a glacier ending
in the sea. It is not till this narrower place has been traversed
that the splendour of Kings Bay is fully beheld. Within, the bay is
a circle about six miles in diameter, ringed around with an almost
continuous series of glaciers, whereof only those on the south are cut
off from the sea by a belt of low-lying ground. Scattered about the
inner bay are Lovén’s Islands, some of which we shall presently visit.
On the south the mountains are of bold and pointed form. They are the
watershed between Kings and English bays. On the north, however, is a
far more noble group, culminating in two peaks that resemble the Dom
and Täschhorn of Zermatt. These peaks are small, of course, but they
look no whit less fine than their Alpine fellows, and no one acquainted
with the Alps would guess them to be smaller than peaks of the great
range. From and about these mountains flow magnificent glaciers, whose
upper ramifications were too complicated to be sketched on the map
from so distant an inspection. The remainder of the view, the whole
eastward end of the bay, is occupied by the face of a single mighty
glacier, splendid beyond exaggeration. It is no smooth expanse of ice,
but a splintered and broken torrent, which submerges islands of rock
and flows over or about them with tortuous and tormented sweep. A few
miles in, this glacier divides, just as Cross and Kings bays divide,
the wider constituent being the Crowns Glacier, coming from the north,
the other the King’s Highway, up which you go to the south-east.
Between them is the mountain mass, whereof the famous Three Crowns are
the most remarkable, though not the highest peaks. Of course there
are plenty of minor tributary glaciers, as the reader will learn soon
enough; one only need be mentioned. It runs into the midst of the
Crowns group and divides it in half, separating the Three Crowns on
the north from the Pretender and the Two Queens on the south. Up this
glacier lies the shortest route across the land from Kings to Ekman
bay. If the reader has comprehended so dull a geographical description,
he can understand our general line of route in exploring this most
beautiful and interesting region, which seems to be intended by Nature
for the arctic “Playground of Europe.”

Advancing up the bay in the _Kvik_, we could see little of the
wonderful panorama. Clouds hid the Crowns and all but the bases of the
nearer hills. As our intention was to make our way inland, we required
to be put ashore at the best point for climbing on to the glacier. We
headed, therefore, for the middle of the face, where an island of rock
rises partly out of the sea, partly through the ice. It soon became
apparent that this would not do, for the glacier all round it was
broken into such a chaos of seracs as to be absolutely untraversable
in any direction. One could only land at the north or south angle of
the bay. The north angle might have suited, but the slopes behind it
seemed steep to drag sledges up; we therefore chose the south. I am not
sure that we chose right. The inner part of the bay was dotted over
with floating masses of ice fallen from the glacier. They became more
numerous the farther we advanced. At last the skipper said he could not
venture on, so our boat was lowered and the baggage stowed into it.
After bidding adieu to our friends and arranging with the captain to
call for us at midnight, August 11-12, we rowed away.

It was high tide, so there were no falls taking place from the long
glacier-front, which was fortunate, seeing that we had to pass pretty
close under it. The cliff was even finer than that of the Nordenskiöld
Glacier, because it was more splintered. At 5 P.M. we came ashore on
the end of a fan of stone and mud _débris_, laid down by a stream
just in front of the left foot of Kings Glacier. The glacier ends on
this fan with a curving moraine-covered slope, by which access could
be attained to a relatively smooth surface leading inwards in the
direction we desired to take. The boat was hauled up, the baggage
dragged and carried about a hundred yards inland to the nearest
suitable camping-ground. Necessary arrangements occupied the remainder
of the day. The sun bursting through the cloud-roof illuminated the
glacier-front with fine splashes of light, manifesting its blue caverns
and silver spires. Thundering falls of ice presently set in and
followed one another in rapid succession, now near at hand, now far
away. A big iceberg was stranded on the shore just off our point, and
a number of fulmars settled down upon it and went to sleep. Amidst such
surroundings there was always plenty of entertainment, besides that
delightful expectation of the unknown and unforeseen which is said to
have bedevilled Ulysses.



CHAPTER V

THE KING’S HIGHWAY


The next morning (July 26), being beautifully fine, was devoted to
an astronomical determination of our position and other preparations
for carrying on a survey. A preliminary expedition up the glacier
occupied the afternoon. An easy way was found on to the ice, but there
luck turned, for, as a matter of fact, we were not really on the
Kings Glacier itself, but on the foot of a small tributary flowing
round from an enclosed basin on the south and divided from the main
glacier by an immense moraine. This moraine would have to be crossed;
we knew enough of dragging sledges over moraines to foresee something
of the troubles thus provided. We wandered over the small glacier to
the foot of a peak standing in the angle between it and the Highway.
Then Garwood and Nielsen set off to climb the peak (Mount Nielsen
3120 ft.) by its rotten _arête_, whilst I with Svensen went on to
investigate the moraine and find the best way over it. Returning the
first to camp, I sat in the door, watching the wonder of the glacier’s
terminal cliff, its bold towers, tottering pinnacles, and sections
of crevasses with fallen blocks wedged into their jaws. Lumps of ice
were continually falling. Fortunate enough to be gazing in the right
direction, I saw a monster pinnacle come down. First a few fragments
were crushed out from right and left near its base; then the whole
tower seemed to sink vertically, smashing up within as it gave way,
and finally toppling over and shooting forward into the water, which
it dashed aloft. The resulting wave spread and broke around, hurling
the floating blocks against one another, and upsetting the balance of
many. Its widening undulation could be traced far away by the stately
courtesy of the rocking icebergs. The front of the cliff was barred
across with sunlight and shadow, throwing into relief this and the
other icy pinnacle, above some blue wall or gloomy cavern. Behind the
wall the glacier was not smooth, but broken into a tumult of seracs,
like the most ruinous icefall in the Alps, as far as the eye could
reach. Varying illumination on this splintered area evoked all manner
of resemblances for the play of a vagrant imagination. Sometimes the
glacier looked like an innumerable multitude of white-robed penitents,
sometimes like the tented field of a great army, sometimes like a
frozen cataract. Its suggestiveness was boundless, its beauty always
perfect; moreover, it was worthily framed. The mountains that enclose
it are fine in form, with splintered ridges, steep _couloirs_, and
countless high-placed glaciers, caught on ledges or sweeping down to
join the great ice-river.

Garwood returned full of a satisfaction which Nielsen heartily shared.
The scramble had been exhilarating, the view superb. There was no
ice-sheet visible, only mountains everywhere, with glaciers between.
The moraine once passed, our way was open ahead up ice apparently
smooth. After supper I set out alone in the opposite direction along
the shore, for the purpose of starting the plane-table survey from a
well-marked eminence near the foot of the second side-glacier, whose
black, terminal slope curves round and up with singular regularity
of form. The walk was beautiful, the ice-dappled sea being always
close at hand with noble hills beyond. There were plenty of torrents
to wade, besides one which had to be jumped. It flows down a gully
cut sharply into the dolomite rock. Below the glacier are ice-worn
rocks, both rounded and grooved; but the direction of the grooves
is at right-angles to that of the axis of the glacier, so that they
appear to have been scratched when the main Kings Glacier extended
thus much farther and higher. Returning, I kept close along the margin
of the bay. Innumerable fragments of crystal-clear ice, each filled
with sunshine, danced in the breaking ripples. The water splashed
amongst them, singing a cheerful song which was altogether new to me.
The cliff-front of the glacier ahead was darkened with shadow, and
represented a battlemented wall with deep portals leading through to a
white marble city within.

On the following day, sun brightly shining and breezes blowing fresh,
we loaded up two sledges with food for ten days, and set forth up
the King’s Highway. A laborious struggle took the sledges past the
terminal moraine, but the ice beyond was dotted with frequent stones,
so that the runners were generally foul of one or more. The slope was
very steep. Reaching a more level place, we encountered ice so humpy
that the sledges were always on their noses or their tails. Then came
a cañon, 50 feet or so deep, and about 20 feet wide. We had to track
alongside of it in an undesired direction till a doubtful-looking
bridge was found, over which a passage could be risked. More lumpy ice
followed till we were level with the foot of Mount Nielsen, where a
smoother area was entered on. Here I left the caravan and climbed to
the top of a hump on the _arête_ of the peak to continue the survey.
My solitary industry was enlivened by the neighbourhood of countless
nesting birds, snow buntings, little auks, and guillemots, whose home
is in the cliffs. Thus far the big moraine was close by on our left
hand, mountains on our right; the level stretch of ice led between
the two to the meeting of moraine and mountain at the entrance of
the next side valley beyond Mount Nielsen. Here the stone-strip had
to be crossed. I came up with the others just as the crossing began.
We thought the moraine belt at this point would be but a few yards
in width. It was more than half a mile. We only found that out after
unloading the sledges and taking every man his burden. They were
carried over, a return made for more, the process repeated, and so on
for two whole hours--a heartbreaking experience. It was a hilly moraine
or set of moraines, with two main ascents and descents besides several
minor undulations. Footing was, of course, on loose stones only. In
such places laden men slip about, bark their shins, twist their ankles,
and lose their tempers. Beyond the stones came humpy ice again, ridged
into short, steep undulations. A sledge required vigorous hoisting
over each of them, the distance from trough to trough being about five
yards, and the ridges transverse to our line of route. “On every hump,”
said Nielsen, “a sledge capsizes.” Certainly one sledge or the other
was generally rolling over on its back. After six hours of hard work
we agreed to camp (460 feet)--“the hardest day’s work I’ve done in a
long time,” was Nielsen’s comment, and we believed him, for he put his
back into it with hearty goodwill. Only when the tents were pitched had
we leisure to enjoy the warm sunshine and the exhilarating, absolutely
calm air. Out on the ice we could sit in our shirt-sleeves without
being chilled. All around spread the great glacier in its beauty; the
sky overhead was blue; the bay reflected the sunshine; fleeces of mist
adorned the hilltops. In that perfect hour we craved for nothing save
the company of absent friends.

[Illustration: AN EASY PLACE.]

The next day (July 28) we made good progress, ascending 720 feet and
covering a long distance. None of it was easy-going; in fact, when you
have sledges to drag there is no easy going except on the flat. Every
stage of a glacier has its own troubles. First comes the steep snout
and its moraine, then humpy ice and open crevasses, next honeycomb ice
and water-holes, which gradually pass (in fine melting weather) into
glacier covered by waterlogged snow. We began the day with honeycomb
ice and water-holes. The honeycomb ice on the Nordenskiöld Glacier
made rather good travelling; it was otherwise on the King’s Highway.
Several fine days had flooded the surface with water, so that, where
crevasses ceased and the water had no downward outlet, it was obliged
to trickle about, forming pools, rills, and rivers, all in different
ways perplexing to the traveller. The cells of the honeycomb ice were
thus full of water, and, as they gave way under the pressure of a
tread, the foot crunched through into water at every step. By slow
degrees the honeycomb was replaced by sodden snow, which grew steadily
deeper as we advanced to higher levels. Here the whole surface shone in
the sunlight, for the water oozed about in pools and sluggish streams,
forming square miles of slush. There were brief intervals of dryness
where the surface rose in some perceptible slope, but they were short,
the almost flat waterlogged areas covered the larger part of the region
to be traversed. If the march was uncomfortable and toilsome, each
could laugh at the antics of the others. We steered a devious route,
seeking to follow the white patches and to avoid the glassy blue areas
where water actually came to the surface. But all that looked white
was not solid. You would see the leader shuffling gingerly forward on
his ski, trying to pretend that he was a mere bubble of lightness.
Suddenly, through he would go up to the knee, the points of his ski
would catch in the depths and a mighty floundering ensue. The sledges
got into similar fixes, and often added to the confusion by rolling
over most inopportunely. The leading sledge usually served to indicate
a way to be avoided, so, before very long, the two parties wandered
asunder and enjoyed one another’s struggles and perplexities from a
distance.

It is obvious that Nature must provide some sort of a drainage
system for such a quantity of water. The bogs and pools leak into
one another and by degrees cut channels with ill-defined banks of
snow, along which the current slowly crawls. By union of such streams
strong-flowing torrents are formed; these make deep cuttings into the
glacier and unite into a trunk river, deep, swift, and many yards wide.
Every uncrevassed side glacier above the snowline pours out a similar
river on to the surface of the main glacier, and these rivers in their
turns presently join the trunk stream. Thus, whatever route you take,
whether you keep near the trunk stream or far from it, the side streams
have to be crossed. The crossing of them is often a tough business.
Their icebanks are about twelve feet high and usually vertical; their
volume of water is too considerable to be waded, seeing that their
beds are of smooth, slippery, blue ice, on which footing cannot be
maintained for a moment. They are seldom less than four yards wide.
The blue strip with the clear water between the white walls is always
a lovely sight, but to a traveller quite as tantalising. A crossing
can only be accomplished where the water has chanced to undercut one
of the banks and at the same time to leave a level place beside it at
the foot of the other bank. You can then jump over with some hope of
gaining a footing where you land. The sledges have to follow with a
perilous bump. Rarely you may find a snow-bridge. In search of possible
crossings we had to travel alongside of these streams, time and again,
far out of our line of route, whilst, to make matters worse, it
happened that we were on the wrong side of the trunk river; thus that
also had to be crossed, a problem apparently insoluble, till a great
and well-blessed bridge was found just at the end of the day’s march.

Nielsen worked like a horse all day long, his full weight thrown
forward and his body inclined at a surprising angle. Svensen, by the
gestures of his arms and the sorry expression of his countenance,
looked as if he were labouring exceedingly, but of his towering
frame the vertical was the customary attitude, and if the one of us
who was sharing his sledge left off pulling for a moment the sledge
mysteriously stuck fast. There were, indeed, signs of a return of
Svensen’s malady; but it was explained to him that, regard being had to
the comfortable warmth of the weather and absence of wind, his health
was not to be deranged, and that, if it should happen that he could not
go on with us, doing his full share of work, he would have to find his
way back to the coast alone. Thenceforward he throve exceedingly, and
only penalised us by “sugaring” when not closely watched.

The character of the scenery changed considerably during the progress
of the march. Our first camp looked up both the Crowns and Highway
glaciers and was opposite the big nunatak which divides them. It is a
true nunatak, or hilltop rising from the bed of the glacier, not an
entire mountain surrounded by different glaciers. At one time it must
have been buried under ice, for all its top seems to be moutonnised.
The Crowns and Queens groups were both well seen from the same camp,
or would have been but for a few clouds. As we advanced, the Crowns
disappeared behind the Pretender and Queens, and we came under the
rounded and bare south slopes of these--a dull prospect. But new
objects of interest were appearing in the other direction, where the
Highway Glacier widened out and branched off into white bays and
tributaries, separated from one another by peaks of striking and
precipitous form, finely grouped. When the Three Crowns were finally
hidden, there opened out on the left side of the Highway a broad
valley, south-westward, that bent round to the west and soon reached a
wide snow pass, beyond which, still curving round, it led down to the
glacier emptying into the head of English Bay.

All day long we were rounding away from the purple fjord and visibly
leaving it behind, though the distance to the watershed in front did
not perceptibly diminish. The weather continued fine, though not clear;
the sun peeped through the mottled sky from time to time, but fogs
rolled about like big snowballs on the higher _névés_. Camp was pitched
(1180 feet) in the midst of the widest part of the glacier about a mile
below the point where it bifurcates, each branch leading up to a wide
snow pass of its own. The north branch continues the direction of the
lower part of the glacier, so we decided to go to it. A widening wedge
of peaks divides the cols, and coming down to a sharp _arête_ buries
itself beneath the ice at Junction Point (named because it must be
referred to again in the course of this narrative).

The 29th was a glorious day. Resolutions were made that we would march
on to the watershed, whatever its distance. It is as easy to change
these resolves in the afternoon as to make them in the morning. The
pools of water were now left behind, but the snow on the surface of the
ice was still sodden and slushy. In the first three-quarters of an hour
we rose 120 feet, and reached the end of the ridge at Junction Point.
Rocks were here disclosed, so Garwood went off geologising. The rest of
us plunged into an island of fog, and hauled on up a steep slope, where
the snow became good, and thenceforward remained in perfect condition
for ski at that and all higher levels. Without ski it would have been
impossible to do much, for we should have sunk up to, or above, the
knee in snow, over which, with them, we slid in luxury. Above this
slope the fog ended, and a wide, very gently sloping plain of snow
followed, stretching afar on all sides. This is the highest basin and
gathering ground of the glacier. It is almost level with the passes
that divide the mountains on the north. If we had but known that the
same is true of the _névé_ on the other side of those passes, we might
have saved ourselves the long round of a few days later. Now that
there was no water to trouble us, we suffered acutely from thirst, for
the day was quite hot and the sun burned fiercely. We peeled off our
garments one by one and rejoiced in an unwonted freedom.

The mountains bordering the King’s Highway average somewhat over 3000
feet in height. As the level of the glacier rises, the lower slopes
are more deeply covered and the visible remainder of the peaks comes
to be not much above 1000 feet. They appear, moreover, to stand wider
apart from one another, and the glacier, filling the valley more
deeply, becomes itself considerably wider. Nevertheless, such is the
fine form of the mountains that they still appear large, especially
to an eye trained in greater ranges. Being themselves magnified,
they proportionally magnify the aspect of the glacial expanse, which
pretends to be of quite enormous extent--a spotless desert of purest
white. The views on all sides were of entrancing beauty, especially
the view back down the blue vista of Kings Bay. The broad white col
ahead seemed for hours little elevated above us. There were far,
coy, tantalising peaks over and beyond. From the col itself rose a
small mound, perhaps 500 feet high, by the foot of which it was our
intention to camp, but hour passed after hour, and it never seemed
nearer.

Busied with the survey, perforce I lagged behind and was alone in the
midst of a world of whiteness. A lengthening shadow was my sole moving
companion, save when some stray fulmar petrel came whizzing by, _en
route_ from Kings Bay to Ice Fjord. The tracks of foxes were crossed
not infrequently, but no fox did I actually see. At 9 P.M. the col
was apparently as far off as ever, and Nielsen had done as much work
as a man could be expected to do in a day. Svensen didn’t count, as
he always put on the aspect of a moribund person. He expressed a full
agreement with Nielsen’s ejaculation, “We’ll have to have plenty of
soup for this.” Ultimately we gave up till the morrow the resolved
pursuit of the pass and camped at a height of 2170 feet, having risen
about 1000 feet during the day. The first thing done was to melt snow
for a debauch. Deep were our potions; the insipid draught tasted for
once like divine nectar. The sun continued his bright shining and the
tents were warm within. We lay on our bags, enjoying the simple beauty
of the view seen through the open door. Each deep-trodden footprint in
front was a cup filled with a shadow of purest blue, pale like the sky.
A white expanse followed, slightly mottled with blue in the foreground
and sparkling as with diamonds; it stretched away for about five miles
to the great blue shadow, which the wall of rocks and ridge of snow in
the north cast wide from the low-hanging sun. There was not a sound,
not a breath of moving air; no bird came by; not an insect hummed. It
was an hour of absolute stillness and perfect repose.

We tried to sleep, but in the bright sunshine no ghost of slumber would
consent to visit the camp, till clouds at last came up which barred
snow and sky across in grey and silver, robbing the shadows of their
blue, and lowering the temperature to a comfortable degree. Then sleep
descended, and coming late lingered with us all too long, so that it
was noon of the 30th before we were again on the way. The snow was now
soft and the apparent level proved, by the evidence of the sledges, to
be a steady uphill slope. For an hour the pass kept its distance; then,
on a sudden, it was near. Excitement rose. What should we see? What
was beyond? We knew that the slope on the other side must be toward
Ice Fjord, but that was all. The east coast of what I have named King
James Land[7] is well seen from Advent Bay and other parts of Ice
Fjord. It consists of the fronts of a series of big glaciers and of
the ends of the mountain ranges dividing them. The glaciers and ranges
are approximately parallel to one another, running from north-west
to south-east. We therefore thought it probable that we should look
down some glacier from the col, but doubted which. Arrived on the pass
(2500 feet), there, in fact, was a glacier directly continuing the
King’s Highway down to the eastern waters, for it apparently ended in
the fjord. Far off, and still in the same line, was the purple recess
of Advent Bay. A beautiful row of peaks, pleasantly varied in form
(for there were needles and snowy domes and pyramids among them),
lined the glacier on either side, the last on both hands being bolder
and more massive towers of rock than the rest. We afterward easily
identified these peaks from Advent Bay, whence also on a clear morning
I confirmed our observations by looking straight up this same glacier
and recognising Highway Pass.

Camp was pitched on the pass and preparations made for a day’s
exploring in the neighbourhood. It was warm, the temperature in the
tents being 59° Fahr., whilst the direct rays of sunshine really
scorched. The condition of the snow may be imagined. Without ski,
progress in any direction would have involved intolerable discomfort
and labour. Close at hand on the north was a hill about 500 feet high,
to which we gave the name Highway Dome. It was the obvious point to be
ascended for a panoramic view. There was a _bergschrund_ at the foot of
it, and then a long snow slope up which we had to zigzag. Unfortunately
by the time the summit had been gained the sun was obscured by clouds,
which were boiling in the north as though for a thunderstorm. The hills
of known position near Advent Bay were likewise obscured by cloud, so
that my three-legged theodolite had made this ascent to little purpose,
but the panorama was clear in the main and the colouring all the richer
for the cloud-roof.

We were standing at an altitude of about 3000 feet,[8] surrounded by
peaks of similar, or rather greater, elevation. Let no one fancy that
because these heights are insignificant there was any corresponding
insignificance in the view. The effect produced by mountains depends
not upon their altitude, but upon their form, colour, and grouping.
There are no features in a mountain, standing wholly above the
snowline, whereby its absolute magnitude can be estimated by mere
inspection. You may judge of its relative magnitude compared with its
neighbours, but of its absolute magnitude you can only judge when you
have acquired experience of the district. A native of the Himalayas
coming to the Alps would see them double their true size. A Swiss would
halve the Himalayas. A slope of stone _débris_ is the best guide to eye
measurement, because stones break up into small fragments everywhere;
but in these high arctic regions, far within the glaciers, there are no
such slopes. It is only the multitude of mountains seen in any extended
panorama of Spitsbergen that suggests the smallness of the individual
peaks; but this very multitude is itself impressive. To the south, for
instance, we looked across at least five parallel ridges; and there
were indications of others beyond, a very tumult and throng of hills,
none of which could we identify. The opposite direction interested us
more at the moment, for our idea was that we might find there a route
round to the Three Crowns. There was, in fact, a large _névé_ basin,
but so intricately crevassed as to be practically impassable in fog.
One way was discoverable through the labyrinth, and apparently one
only. The weather looked so threatening that we incontinently decided
against making the attempt. This _névé_ was one of several that fed
the next big glacier to the north, which empties into the sea at Ekman
Bay. Beyond it came a chaos of peaks; we learned to know them by sight
well enough a few days later. The waters of Ekman Bay were in view,
and the depression containing Dickson Bay could be traced, then the
wall-fronted mass of the Thordsen Peninsula, and, far off, the high
snow plateau, where we had wandered in the fog a few days before.
Looking back the way we had come, we saw Kings Bay apparently very far
off, much farther than Ice Fjord, which seemed, comparatively speaking,
to lie at our feet. Differences of atmospheric transparency had some
share in producing this effect.

A cold wind diminished our pleasure on the summit and shortened our
stay. The descent presented problems to inexperienced skisters. The
snow-slope dropped vertically from the summit crest for a yard or so,
and was then very steep. Svensen, an expert on ski, tried to shoot
down, but came a cropper before reaching the gentler incline. We,
of course, fell headlong in hopeless fashion, and all attempts at
glissading failed. Where the slope began to ease off a little a start
was finally made, and a long curving shoot of about a mile carried
us with exhilarating swiftness down to camp. Later on in the day the
ascent was repeated, but with no useful result, for clouds still masked
the important points of reference in the panorama. Excursions were
also made in other directions, and a plan decided on for the morrow.
Clouds kept forming, but only to fade again; by evening the weather was
satisfactorily re-established. The play of shadow on the wide glacial
expanse was inexpressibly lovely. Under full sunshine any very large
_névé_ appears a mere uniform sheet of white, admirable for brilliancy
but lacking in detail. When shadows come, the undulation of the surface
is disclosed by long curves--infinitely delicate and fine in form.
Of course, however bright the sun, there must really be a difference
in the intensity of the light reflected at different points owing
to variations of slope, but this difference is slight, and the eye,
astonished by the brilliancy of sunshine upon snow, is not conscious
of it. But when a cloud comes over the sun and casts a broad shadow
on the _névé_, the varying illumination of the bending field becomes
readily perceptible, though still faint and of marvellous delicacy, and
a new order of beauty is revealed. He would be but a starved lover of
mountain beauty whose eyes should desire to behold the regions of snow
always beneath a cloudless heaven.



CHAPTER VI

OSBORNE GLACIER AND PRETENDER PASS


Explorers in most parts of the world are able to sketch general maps
of large areas, which they may have traversed only along a single
line of route. Undulating country intersected by prominent waterways
and rising at considerable intervals to prominent altitudes can be
mapped in a sketchy fashion by the rapidest traveller, if skilled. A
few compass bearings fix the position of prominent points; positions,
astronomically determined from time to time as opportunity arises,
clamp the whole together and enable it to be adjusted on the proper
part of the globe; whilst, as for details, who cares about them in a
new country? The mountain explorer, however, that person most unpopular
with geographers, is faced by topographical problems of a far more
complicated character. His routes always lie along valleys, whose sides
cut off the distant view and whose bends often prevent him from looking
either ahead or back. When he climbs a peak, assuming him to have a
clear view, which is rare, he beholds a wide panorama, it is true, but,
save in the foreground, it consists of a throng of peaks, whose summits
alone are visible over intervening ridges. If, following tradition, he
laboriously fixes the position of some of them, it is lost labour, for
the mere dotting upon a map of the points of a lot of peaks tells a
geographer nothing. What he wants to know is the number and direction
of ranges, the position of watersheds, the relation of rivers to the
original earth-crinkles which determined their direction and in turn
are so remarkably modified by them. To make merely a sketch-map of a
considerable mountain area thus involves an amount of travel within it
beyond all comparison greater than that entailed by the exploration
of open country. The smaller the scale of the mountains, and the
closer they are packed together, the more frequently must the area be
traversed in different directions before a sketch-map of it can be made.

King James Land is an example of a region excessively difficult to
map. It is covered by a wonderful multitude of mountains, which may be
described in a general way as planted in ranges running from north-west
to south-east. Of these there are about six principal ones between the
King’s Highway and the Dead Man, and quantities more to the north.
The old-fashioned geographer would have been content to draw parallel
caterpillars on his map and so fill it up. But, as a matter of fact,
there are throngs of subsidiary ranges and crossing hollows, so that
the glacier, flowing down one valley, robs from its neighbour the
snow accumulated in its upper reservoir; and it is exactly in these
phenomena that the geographical interest of the region consists, for
they show how ice-denudation works, and the kind of modelling effect
which ice can produce on a land surface, an effect totally different in
kind from that fabled by home-staying geologists, with their imagined
excavating ice-streams.

Thus far we had only made acquaintance with one glacier-valley cutting
across the island from Kings Bay to Ice Fjord. We determined to look
into another, to the south, before turning northward to the Crowns
group. On July 31 we accordingly broke up camp, loaded the sledges,
and bade the men set off, down the way we had come, as far as Junction
Point, where they were to await our arrival. Garwood and I, in the
meantime, were to cross the range of hills at the south of our camp,
descend into the next valley, and return over the pass at its head,
which must of course give access to the snowfield of the southern
branch of Highway Glacier. Descending that we should come to Junction
Point.

It was another brilliant day, and so warm that the snow was softened
to an unusual depth. During or immediately after frost the surface
of _névé_ sparkles in sunlight as though sprinkled with countless
diamonds; but on warm days there are no diamonds, but only drops of
water, the surface crystals being melted. The forms and surfaces of
snow are thereby softened, and this softening effect is recognisable
even from great distances. At starting, the view over Ice Fjord
was clearer than ever, and we could distinguish Bunting Bluff, Fox
Peak, and other scenes of last year’s toils and delights. The work
immediately in hand was to ascend a long snow-slope, rising from
Highway Pass to a col about 200 feet higher in the range to the
south--a broad snow-saddle at the foot of a very fine peak, the ascent
of which from this side would be dangerous, for its whole face is
swept by ice-avalanches. Somewhere in the rocks of this peak are the
nesting-places of many birds, the chorus of whose voices was heard as a
faint hum. The new pass looked down upon the head of a large glacier,
and across it to an innumerable multitude of peaks, all shining in the
blaze of midday. At our feet was a secluded bay of this glacier. A
splendid ski-glissade landed us on its snowy floor, and we were soon
out on the main glacier, which swept down from the pass we were to
cross next. Halting at a convenient spot, we took stock of the view. It
was beautiful, of course--every view is beautiful in King James Land;
but its interest made me forget its beauty for a time. We expected to
find in this trough a glacier parallel to the Highway, and we did
find one, and a large one too, larger than the Highway, because fed by
several tributaries from the south; but to our surprise this glacier
did not flow in the expected direction, but due south for many miles,
and instead of ending in Ice Fjord, or on its shore, ran up against a
big mass of mountains and, bending round to the right or south-west,
disappeared from view. At the angle it received a wide tributary from
the north-east. This great glacier, in fact, empties itself into the
head of St. John’s Bay. As that bay was originally named Osborne’s
Inlet, after an early whaling skipper, we gave his name to this
glacier. Garwood, I believe, explains the twist of the mountains which
cause this deflection of the glacier as the result of a fault dying
out; but, lest I should unwillingly misrepresent his conclusions, I
leave him to describe them himself. The mountains near at hand to the
south were of beautiful forms, reminding us of well-known Swiss peaks,
Weisshorns, Gabelhorns, and so forth. There was much aqueous vapour
in the air, reducing its transparency and adding to the effects of
distance. The mottled sky cast a decorative patchwork of shadows on the
snow. Skeins of cloud were forming, and in the north the weather was
again threatening dark and evil things.

On us, however, toiling up the long, long slopes to the pass, coy as
are all the wide white passes in this land, the sun shone with painful
fierceness. It burned as it sometimes does on the high Alps, so that we
soon began to suffer from sun-headaches and parching thirst. Nowhere
was there a drop of water to be squeezed from the apparently sodden
snow. Having survey instruments and cameras to carry, we were sparely
provided with food. Hunger came to weaken us and double the apparent
length of the way. At last we were on the col, but the downward slope
was very gentle and the snow now became sticky, so that the ski would
not slide. We bore away to the right in search of a steeper incline
and struck blue ice covered with mere slush that even the ski sank
into. There were dry patches of it, too slippery to stand on; it was
a mere alternation of evils. Sometimes we stuck fast and sometimes
fell heavily. What was looked forward to as an easy and delightful
excursion became a most laborious day’s work. “This is your picnic,”
cried Garwood to me as he fell more than usually hard, “I hope you like
it.” But all things come to an end, and so did this march. Junction
Point appeared in sight, with a lake-basin between the branch glaciers
where they join, a basin similar to that at the foot of the Terrier,
and, like it, recently drained. The heavy ice, formed on its surface in
the winter, had been carried all over the neighbourhood by the momentum
of the escaping water, and now lay spread about, high and dry. With a
struggle and a scramble we passed round the head of the lake and came
in view of the men resting on the sledges. The unbelieving Svensen had
climbed a neighbouring eminence to look out. Nielsen informed us that
Svensen had been full of forebodings all day. They would never see us
again, he said. We were gone into the wilderness and would be engulfed;
as for them, when the provisions were finished they in their turn would
die of starvation. Fool that he was not to take his old woman’s advice
and stay at home where he was well off, instead of coming to this
snow-buried circle of the infernal regions! Camp was pitched on the
very tracks of our upward journey. Then the sky clouded over and the
wind rose. After one last look towards Kings Bay, reflecting the golden
west and framed by purple hills, we closed the tent-doors and rejoiced
to be “at home.”

The lovely weather re-established itself in the daylit night, so that,
when we awoke, sunshine lay abroad upon the glacier. Looking downward
we had on our right hand the dull slope of the Queens group, where a
smooth side glacier comes slanting down the midst of it from a col
whose existence had not been revealed till now. It was decided to
climb to this col for the purpose of making a closer investigation of
the structure of the group. The march accordingly began with a long
traversing descent of the main glacier to a point on its right bank
at the foot of the side glacier. It mischanced that the area to be
traversed was exactly the wettest belt of the whole basin. We skirted
it on the ascent; now we had to go right across it, and that too after
a series of fine melting days. The watery surface shone like a lake,
and did in fact consist of a succession of pools, communicating with
one another by slushy belts through which streams sluggishly meandered.
The reader must not conceive of the pools, streams, and snow as
corresponding to water and land, for the snow, even where it emerged,
was permeated with water like a saturated sponge. When the autumnal
frost masters a snow-bog and binds its errant molecules into a mass,
there is formed a solid, built up of ice-prisms, each about one inch
in diameter and as long as the bog was deep. Prismatic ice of this
kind, the product of the preceding winter, is frequently met with on
Spitsbergen glaciers. Its cause puzzled us greatly when first we came
upon it. With the motion of the glacier, the formation of crevasses,
and so forth, it often happens that the side pressure which held the
prisms together is removed. Their tendency is to thaw and separate
along their planes of junction. By this means are produced opening
sheaves of long ice-crystals, most beautiful to look upon. I have
found them in quantities a foot or more long, opening out “like quills
upon a fretful porcupine.” Where there is no relaxation of lateral
pressure, the crystals are held together; but they form a fabric of
weak cohesion, and when you tread upon it your foot crunches in, almost
as far as into snow.

Across this uncomfortable region we travelled for hours. Sometimes
there were deep channels to cross; rarely a dry, hard patch intervened;
most of the time there was slush of different consistencies which
we had to push through. The sledges seemed to grow heavier and more
resistant every hour. One of them, of which the runners were not
shod with metal, came to grief at a stream-gully, where it pitched
on its nose and smashed a runner. At last the water was left behind
and dry ice gained. At the foot of a long, downward slope we found a
big, frozen lake that had not yet burst the bonds imposed on it by
the previous winter; crossing its rough surface, we climbed on to the
moraine beyond, at the foot of the side glacier now to be ascended. The
stone _débris_ of dolomite rock, covering the lower part of the slope,
were dotted about with various common plants, _Dryas octapetala_,
_Saxifraga oppositifolia_, arctic poppy, and so forth, the same that
grow in the interior wherever there is any soil to accommodate them. Of
the ascent little need be said. We shall not soon forget it. The slope
was the steepest encountered by the sledges. Our forces just sufficed
to raise them, but there was nothing to spare. We arrived at the level
top exhausted. Camp was pitched on the col, a wide snow-saddle between
the Queen (4060 ft.) and an unimportant but commanding buttress peak.
To the latter I hurried, desirous of making observations while the
view was clear, for sea-mists had been observed crawling up both from
Kings and English bays, and uniting on the pass near Mount Nielsen.
There is nothing more beautiful than a sea-fog beheld from above when
the sun shines upon it. By contrast its brilliant metallic whiteness
makes purest snow grey. Then it moves so beautifully, gliding inland
and putting out arms before it or casting off islands that wander
away at their own sweet will. Enchanting to look upon are these
sea-fairies, save to the victim to their embraces. Once inveigled, all
their beauty vanishes, for within they are cold, cheerless, and grey,
like the depths whence they spring. But to-day they were not destined
to advance far. They came up boldly a while, then faltered and turned
back, remaining thenceforward among the seracs and crevasses, except
a few rambling outliers that floated away over the glacier or hovered
as bright islands in hollows of the surface. Faint beds of variously
transparent vapour, horizontally stratified, barred across the fine
range of craggy mountains and their glacier cascades that filled the
space between Cross Bay and the Crowns Glacier, a mountain group with
an exceptionally fine skyline. We were encamped at that level of
the glacier which may be described as the singing level, where water
trickles all about, tinkling in tiny ice-cracks, rippling in rivulets,
roaring in _moulins_, and humming in the faint base of the remoter
torrents. It is only on slopes of a reasonable inclination that these
sounds arise. The flat snowbogs of our morning traverse were soundless.

Late in the evening, the weather being perfectly re-established, I
returned alone to camp. It was an enchanted hour. On one hand, as I sat
in the tent-door, facing the sunshine and the view, was the fine peak
we named Pretender, rising above the battlement-ridge of the western
Queen. On the other hand was a lower hill, shutting off the distance
and turning toward me a splendid precipice of rock. Between them was
the opening through which the glacier, falling away from my standpoint,
joined the apparently boundless expanse of the Crowns Glacier. Beyond
were beautiful hills with the silver mist kissing their feet, and,
above them in the clear sky, a few wisps of cloud. No breath of air
moved, but falling waters sang from near and far, and a fulmar’s whirr
occasionally broke the stillness. At such times Nature gathers a man
into herself, transforming his self-consciousness into a consciousness
of her. All the forms and colours of the landscape sink into his
heart like the expression of a great personality, whereof he himself
is a portion. Ceasing to think, while Nature addresses him through
every sense, he receives direct impressions from her. In this kind of
_nirvana_ the passage of time is forgotten, and as near an approach to
bliss is experienced as this world is capable of supplying.

The passing hours, whereof some were devoted to sleep, witnessed the
establishment of the weather’s perfection. Heights and depths were
cloudlessly clear, save low down over the bay, where the bright mist
stretched like a carpet far out to sea. Buckling on my snowshoes, I
slid forth down the slope, which curved over so steeply at the top that
its foot was hidden by the bulge. The exhilaration of that rush through
the crisp air is yet quick in remembrance. The cliffs on either hand,
glorious battlemented walls of dolomite, seemed to be growing as we
descended the side-glacier, whose exit, when we came to it, proved to
be closed across by a rampart of moraine. Over this moraine, at a later
hour, the sledges had to be carried to the ice of the extreme left
margin of the Crowns Glacier, up which we were now to advance. There
was no threat of serious impediment for a mile or so, but unexpected
obstacles always lie in wait--the seasoning salt of the delight of
exploration. A hundred yards on we were brought up sharply by a deep,
impassable ice-gully or water-channel, stretching away into the glacier
on the left and coming out of the moraine. We turned along its bank
and came into the angle where an equally impassable tributary channel
branched into it. There was nothing to be done but follow this backward
to an overhanging place, cross it there, and then carry the sledges
in turn, about a quarter of a mile over moraine, to a point where the
other channel fortunately proved traversable. Hummocky ice succeeded
for the rest of the march, beneath the grand cliffs of the Pretender
(3480 ft.). Two great corries cut into these cliffs, the second of them
starting exactly beneath the summit of the peak. We camped at a safe
distance below its narrow mouth, beyond the range of frequent volleys
of falling stones.

From this point to the base camp would be one long day’s march for
men with sledges. We had three and a half days’ provisions left. We
could therefore only spare two and a half days for exploration of
the neighbourhood. That was not enough, so we sent the two men away
with empty sacks to fetch more stores. There was plenty of work to be
done in the neighbourhood, for the Pretender’s cliff disclosed all
the mysteries of the great fault, which, cutting right across the
country, approximately along the line of the King’s Highway, divides
the uncontorted, almost horizontally stratified plateau-region of the
north from the series of ranges of splintered peaks extending southward
to the Dead Man. Accurate observation and careful mapping were,
therefore, essential.

After lunch, when the men were gone away, we sat on a sledge in the
sunshine, with our coats off, rejoicing in life. The glacier was
working and cracking about us unceasingly; stones kept toppling from
the moraine close by. High aloft rose the Pretender’s cliff, 2000 feet,
almost sheer. It is the most beautifully coloured cliff I ever saw. For
foundations it has a contorted mass of ruddy archæan rocks, brilliantly
adorned with splashes of golden lichen, picked out with grass-grown
ledges. Here, as all along the mountain’s face, are the nesting-places
of countless birds. The fulmar petrels choose the lower edges; some,
as we found, only just beyond reach of a man’s hand. The wall below
them is generally overhanging, for the birds know exactly the limits
of a fox’s climbing powers, and they avoid places accessible to him.
Higher up are the homes of the little auks, who sit close together
in rows, sunning their white bosoms. On the top of every jutting
pinnacle of rock a glaucous gull keeps watch, with his own nest near
at hand, ready to dive into any unprotected nest, or to pounce on any
unfortunate bird that falls a victim to disease. The little auks always
fly together in companies, I suppose for mutual protection. There
is continual warfare between them and the gulls, but it seems to be
carried on in accordance with some accepted law, for though any stray
auklet or fallen fledgling is fair game for a gull, he does not seem
to attack individual auks sitting near their nests. Indeed, we often
saw auks and glaucous gulls sitting close together on the same ledge,
when it would have been easy for the gull to have snapped up one of his
small neighbours. This, however, must be illegal. We never saw such a
crime committed, and the auks evidently felt confident of the gull’s
correct behaviour. The nests are not placed in the gullies where stones
habitually fall. No matter how big stone-avalanches may come down the
usual ruts, the birds watch them unconcerned. But when a stray stone
fell down the cliff in an exceptional direction, the birds flew out
in their hundreds and thousands, filling the air with protests, the
fulmars swooping around, the little auks darting forth horizontally at
a higher level straight out and back again, whilst the glaucous gulls
more leisurely floated away on confident wing, their white plumage
seeming scarcely more solid than the glowing air which sustained their
poise.

Above the ancient foundation rocks of the mountain comes a bed of
green sandstone, above this a dark red bed, the same which forms the
substance of all the Crowns group, except their caps. On the top of
the sandstone, whose face has a sloping profile, is planted the summit
cap of pink dolomite, cut off on this side in a plumb-vertical cliff
horizontally stratified. High aloft in the wonderful air this rose-pink
cliff, with its level lines of orange and other tones, like courses of
masonry, was an object of rarest beauty, as all who know the Dolomites
of Tirol can realise; but the sharp clear atmosphere of the Alps must
yield the palm to the soft mellow arctic air, in which Spitsbergen’s
mountains almost seem to float. Rose-pink aloft, then purple-red, then
green, and finally red again splashed with orange and green: such was
the chord of colour presented by this lovely mountain-face between the
blue sky and the white glacier foreground.

A funnel-shaped gully, with its upper edge at the foot of the dolomite
cliff and the foot of its couloir ending on the glacier, was exactly
behind our camp. Snow-slopes at its head were melting fast in the sun,
so that a cascade laughed aloud all down the height of it. Stones were
continually loosened by the melting; each started others in its fall,
so that the rattle of tumbling rocks, now and again swollen by the roar
of some big stone avalanche, kept the air in ceaseless vibration.

I made two expeditions out upon the glacier in different directions for
the purpose of investigating its character at its most energetic part,
just below the summer snowline. It was a maze of crevasses throughout
its entire breadth and all the way down from the edge of the _névé_
to the sea. A few traversable lines of route could be found, either
parallel to and between the crevasses, or across them, where, owing to
a change of slope in the bed, the lips of the crevasses were brought
together within striding range. At best the surface was very bumpy,
and I foresaw a bad time coming for the sledges. The ice phenomena
would have struck any Alpine climber as curious. Every year there are
added, even to the central and crevassed portion of an arctic glacier,
accumulations of ice formed by the thawing and re-freezing of the
winter snow, and these patchwork additions take the most unexpected
forms. For instance, a crevasse that happens to be full of water will
be roofed over with ice a few feet thick. If the rest of the water is
then drained off a tunnel is formed, across which again crevasses may
open. We found two or three such tunnels, whose roofs had been squeezed
up into barrel-vaults. One of them was still full of water, but the
roof had been raised high above it by pressure, and a doorway had been
formed by the fall of a portion of the arch. I climbed into this grotto
and stood on a ledge. Sunlight glimmered through the crystal roof;
the walls were white; for floor there were the indigo-blue depths of
the water. This was but one of the strange and beautiful objects that
the glacier offered to the wanderer’s admiration. Near the foot of
the Pretender a blood-red river, dyed with the dust of the falling
sandstones, flowed in a deep white channel cut into the glacier. It
soon came to the crevasse that was its fate and plunged down the fatal
_moulin_. That was close to camp. Of course, we called it the Moulin
Rouge!

After wandering far I returned home for the night, meeting Garwood on
the way. Our backs were to the boundless snowfields; before us the
Pretender’s mighty cliff shone warm under the mellow midnight sun, pink
high aloft, crimson and green at lower levels, and striped blood-red
where the water was pouring down. The white-mounded glacier was mottled
over with blue shadows. Perfect weather, perfect scenery, perfect
health--what more could we desire?



CHAPTER VII

THE SPITSBERGEN DOLOMITES


When the sun passed round behind the Pretender, casting his shadow out
upon the glacier far beyond camp, a hard frost set in, sealing up the
runlets of water and binding the loosened rocks on the face of the
cliff, so that stonefalls became rare; but no sooner did the fiery
monarch come out from his retreat behind the mountains in the east than
all the batteries of the hills opened to salute him. The afternoon
of August 3, being our morning, Garwood and I shouldered packs for a
scramble on the Pretender, minded to pass northward round his foot and
then make way up the ridge that forms, higher up, the lip of the funnel
of the falling stones. The weather was glorious, but the white sea-fog
had crept up to the tents, so that we set forth from the very edge of
the mist. After going some little way up the main glacier we bore to
the right on to the hillside, and went diagonally up a slope of snow.
Below on the left was a _bergschrund_, and above on the right were the
steep rocks. Presently the slope increased and became of hard ice,
into which Garwood cut steps. The position was not altogether a safe
one, for we had not bothered to bring a rope, and now discovered that
quantities of stones were in the habit of falling down the slope into
the _bergschrund_, which was ready to engulf either of us impartially
in the event of a slip. However, we did not slip, and the sun had not
yet reached the stones, which were still in the bondage of frost. The
rocks above the slope were safely reached and a brief scramble carried
us over the edge of the ridge on to the screes of the north-east face.
Beyond them was a wide snow-slope reaching up to the steep dolomite cap
that forms the top 500 feet of the peak. The snow was hard frozen, so
the ascent had to be made up the screes. They were particularly loose,
and that is all to say about them. Scree-slopes are never anything but
nasty to climb. The top of them was the edge of the nearly level ridge,
whence we looked down into the funnel on the other side and across to
the beautiful dolomite cliff visible from camp. At the foot of the
_couloir_ of the funnel we could just discover our tiny tents.

The point thus gained was all that could be desired for surveying and
geologising. Now was displayed in all its wide extent the _névé_ region
of the Crowns Glacier, utterly different in character from that of the
King’s Highway. Here was no ice-filled trough between two serrated
walls, but a huge expanse, so gently sloping as to appear flat--a
marble pavement, of three hundred square miles, beneath the blue dome
of heaven. Far away it swelled into low white domes, on whose sides a
few rocks appeared, whilst in the north-east was its undulating upper
edge, beyond which were remoter snow-covered plateaus with mountain
summits peering over from yet farther off. The white _névé_ was lined
by the many-branching water-channels of its drainage system, like the
veins in a leaf, indicating the structure and trend of the ice. Where
areas were crevassed, blue shadows toned the white. Everywhere the
delicate modelling of the surface, by slightly varying the amount of
light reflected to the eye, produced a tender play of tones, within the
narrowest conceivable limits from brightest to darkest. The whole was
visibly a flowing stream, not a stagnant accumulation, for the curves
of flow were everywhere discernible. Thus a sense of weight and volume
was added to the effect of boundless expanse which first overwhelmed
the observers. The noble flood of ice, narrowing considerably between
the hill on which we stood, and the beautifully composed group of
sharp-crested rock-peaks opposite, disappeared beneath the floor of
sea-mist whereon the sunshine lay dazzling.

Turning round toward the east from this enthralling prospect, the
eye rested on the group of the famous Crowns. They are called the
Three Crowns on all the maps, but there are many more than three.
The prominent trio are pyramidal hills of purple sandstone, shaped
with almost artful regularity, each surmounted by a cap of the same
dolomite limestone as that which crowns the Pretender. They resemble
golden crowns above purple robes. The caps are the fragmentary remains
of an ancient plateau, denuded away in the lapse of time. Just behind
the Three Crowns we saw a low broad pass, giving access to the head
of a glacier flowing eastward. There was sea-fog lying on it also, so
we knew that Ekman Bay could not be very far off in that direction.
This is the lowest and shortest pass between Kings Bay and Ice Fjord.
Lightly laden men could cross this way in a long day’s march from
sea to sea, climbing one of the Crowns _en route_. The expedition
would take them through what is, to my thinking, the finest scenery
in Spitsbergen. The whole panorama was clear to the remotest edge of
the horizon, flooded with undimmed sunshine, and overarched by a sky
faintly blue below, deeply azure in the fathomless zenith.

[Illustration: THE THREE CROWNS FROM KINGS BAY.]

We spent some hours at this point, lunching, admiring, and taking
observations. The view was, to me, so novel in character, so beautiful,
so full of revelations that, for a long time, I was too excited to
work. The other side, though less unusual, was hardly less wonderful.
There the eye plunged down into the depth of the funnel, and beheld
the stone-avalanches beginning their fall. Far below were the flocks
of birds flying about the rocks. Their cries came faintly up to us.
Finally, close at hand there was the great dolomite cliff, an absolute
wall, more than ever resembling some artificial structure, the work
of giants, falling to decay. The varied colouring of its beds and the
vertical streaks caused by trickling water were as beautiful close at
hand as when seen from the depths of the gulf of air below. We walked
along the narrow ridge to the actual foot of this cliff, where the
_arête_ rises vertically, so that the further ascent must be made by
the north-east face. There was a height of about 500 feet to be climbed
by way of snow slopes, here and there narrowing into gullies between
protruding beds of rock--so, at least, we thought, but the attempt
showed that the slopes were of hard ice. The step-cutting involved had
no attractions, for there was nothing to be gained by ascending to the
peak. It would only show, on the other side, country already known
to us, whilst we were to have many better opportunities of looking
northward from points both higher and better situated. What settled the
matter finally was the sight of our men just arriving at camp heavily
laden with good things. We accordingly turned round and took the easy
way downhill, glissading a good part of it on treacherous snow-covered
ice.

After supper another expedition was made down the glacier all along
under the Pretender’s face, in further investigation of the fault. It
is only thus, by constant moving about beneath a great cliff, that
one is finally enabled to realise its magnitude. One true measure of
scale that a healthy man possesses is fatigue. When you have learned by
actual experience that it takes several days’ marching to pass the base
of a big Himalayan mountain, you begin to feel the size of the thing.
A precipice of 200 feet differs only in size from one of 2000 feet.
To appreciate the majesty of the larger, you must become physically
conscious of its scale. Such knowledge has to be laboriously acquired.
No one, I imagine, who has not climbed the Matterhorn, can have any
real conception of the magnitude of the pyramid beheld in the view
from the Riffel; yet a consciousness of the magnitude is an essential
element in the impressiveness of the view. I believe that only mountain
climbers are in a position to thrill with perfect resonance to the
glory of a mountain prospect. The passion for mountain-climbing derives
much of its power over men from thus fostering and developing in them
the capacity for admiration, wonder, and worship in the presence of
Nature’s magnificence.

Next day (August 4) camp was again struck for an onward march, some
supplies being left behind for use on the way down. The crevassed
nature of the glacier involved the choice of a very devious route far
out upon the ice, then back toward the Crowns. When the foot of the
middle Crown was reached, I called for my camera, but it could not be
found. It had dropped off Nielsen’s sledge, and he must go back to
retrieve it. Garwood and I accordingly set off to climb the Crown,
leaving Svensen below, plunged again in miseries and forebodings, now
that the sea was becoming remote and snowfields were spreading their
hateful expanse around him. The pyramids of the south and middle
Crowns are planted together on a snowy plinth. Up the slope of this we
ascended on ski, taking a devious course to avoid the steepest incline,
at the same time steering clear of a few groups of open crevasses. In
three-quarters of an hour we were standing at the foot of the rocks,
where the ski were left behind. A long and steep slope of _débris_
had next to be surmounted. The material lies in an unstable condition
and slips away beneath the foot at every step. Keeping as close as
possible to the left _arête_, we gained height steadily. The _débris_
accumulation becomes thinner as the summit is approached. Halfway up,
little walls of rock emerge, and afford some agreeable scrambling.
By the last of these the _arête_ itself is gained and the ascent
completed along it, except where an overhanging snow cornice forces
the climber down on the south face. A little chimney gives access to
the crowning rock (4000 ft.). The ascent from the top of the snow-slope
took three-quarters of an hour. It is easy enough. The southern
Crown (3840 ft.) can be similarly climbed by its south face, but the
northern Crown (4020 ft.) would be more difficult, for it is cut off,
apparently all the way round, by a short precipice, perhaps a hundred
feet high. There are some gullies grooved into this wall, but they too
are vertical. One or other of them would certainly prove climbable if
any one cared to give the time needed for the attempt. All three Crowns
were reputed inaccessible by the general opinion of persons who had
only seen them from Kings Bay.

Our ascent was made for the purpose of obtaining a view, and generously
were we rewarded. The northern Crown is higher than the middle one,
and that in turn than the southern; but the differences are a few feet
only, whilst in point of situation the middle Crown is best placed
for a panorama. Garwood and I agreed that it was the most beautiful
we had seen in Spitsbergen, though it was afterwards equalled by the
view from the Diadem, and surpassed, in some respects, by that from
Mount Hedgehog. What struck us most was the colour. The desert of snow
was bluish or purplish-grey; only the sea-mist, hiding Kings Bay and
the foot of the glacier, was pure white. In the foreground were the
golden Crowns above purple slopes casting rich blue shadows. On the
snowfields lay many sapphire-blue lakes. All the rock in sight was of
some rich colour--yellow, orange, purple, red. Large glaciers radiated
away in several directions: one down to Ekman Bay, whose head we could
see, another to Ice Fjord, beyond whose distant waters we recognised
Advent Bay and the hills behind it, with clouds lying still upon them.
Last year, whenever we saw King James Land in the distance the sun was
always shining on it. This year the Advent Vale region was hardly ever
seen clear of clouds. It is the bad weather, as King James Land is the
fine weather region of Spitsbergen.

To the south were a maze and multitude of peaks. We thought that we
identified Hornsunds Tind in a solitary white tower very far away.
I afterward took a true bearing of it with the theodolite, and, on
reducing the observation at home, find that the peak observed stands
exactly in the line of Hornsunds Tind; so that if the two are not
identical the coincidence is extraordinary. The distance of the
mountain from the Three Crowns is just a hundred miles. I find it
difficult to believe that such a distance can often be pierced by the
sight in the relatively dense atmosphere of Spitsbergen. Foreland
Sound was, as usual, full of fog, but the peaks of the Foreland
itself rose out of its shining embrace. The highest group is south of
the middle of the island; its members are beautifully white and of
graceful form. Farther north the peaks are smaller and only their tips
appeared. The Cross Bay Mountains with their serrated edge looked finer
than ever; then came the great snowfield, beheld in all its extent,
stretching up to a high undulating crest and back to remote bays and
hollows--fascinating to look upon, but who shall say how wearisome
to wander over? Far away to the north-east was a row of mountains of
varied forms, some white and dome-like, others sharply pointed, others
again chisel-edged. We saw them now for the first time, and believed
them to be the range that borders Wijde Bay on the west; but they have
since proved to be the mountains at the head of that bay, between it
and Dicksons, a range of unsuspected importance in the structure of
the country. The sky overhead was blue and clear, fading downward into
white, as in an old Flemish picture. There was no movement in the cool
air. Garwood left me alone on the top and went down to crack rocks.
Long did I sit in perfection of enjoyment, letting my eye roam round
and round the amazing panorama. There was a peculiar sensation of being
in the midst of a strange world, whose parts seemed to radiate from
this point. Never did I feel more keenly the wonder of the domain of
ice. Utter silence reigned, till there came a writhing in the air,
heard but not felt. It passed, returned, and passed again, as though
flocks of invisible beings were hurrying by on powerful wings.

Chilled to the bone, at length I began the descent, picking up Garwood
and some of his fossil spoils on the way. A magnificent ski-slide
carried us in a great curving zigzag, first to the foot of the southern
Crown, then round the snowy base to the tents. We dropped a thousand
feet in a few minutes. So keen was the joy of this rush through the
air, that we talked of scrambling up again to repeat it, but the
attractions of supper proved more powerful than those of glissading.

Our view from the middle Crown showed that nothing was to be gained by
pushing camp farther north, unless we went very much farther than the
means at our disposal permitted. The whole region for many miles round
could be mapped from the summits of hills within reach of our present
camp. We judged it better, therefore, to climb from that base, rather
than to spend time dragging sledges about over almost featureless
snowfields. So, next morning (August 5), away we went on ski--Garwood,
Nielsen, and I--carrying instruments and food on our backs, and
delighted to have no hindering load a-drag behind. The weather
continued faultless. Our plan was to follow the left margin of the
glacier to the bay beyond the northern Crown, to turn up that to its
head, and to climb the Diadem Peak, whose situation seemed specially
favourable for a view. The snow was very soft and became softer
every hour, but we shuffled comfortably over it and pitied our poor
colleagues in the Alps, wading knee-deep in _névé_. The surface was
not really in good condition for skiing; it was too soft and adhesive
to be slippery. However, we made good progress, and in less than two
hours the northern Crown was passed and the side glacier opened. It
flows down from a ring of dolomite-capped peaks and comes out into
the main glacier between the northern Crown and the peak beyond it,
named by us the Exile because its crown has been wholly denuded away.
It is a regular pyramid of red sandstone with top and corners rounded
off. There is not a fragment of rock visible _in situ_, the whole
solid substance of the mountain being buried beneath accumulations of
_débris_.

Turning, then, with the northern Crown on our right hand, the Exile
on our left, and the great snowfield at our backs, we made diagonally
up the side glacier toward a snow-saddle between the Exile and the
Diadem. All the snow was saturated with water, which gravitated to
the middle of the valley and formed a great Slough of Despond there.
Advancing very gingerly to find a way across, I suddenly sank up to my
waist in the freezing mixture. The ski turned round under my feet and
fastened them down, so that I was helplessly anchored, and it was all
that Nielsen and Garwood could do to withdraw me from the uncomfortable
position. We ultimately passed round the head of the Slough and swiftly
made for the rocks of the Exile, where I undressed and wrung out my
dripping things. Whether it was more comfortable to sit half-clothed
while the things dried, or to put them on in a sodden condition, was
a question I am now enabled to decide by experience. Fortunately the
sunshine had a little warmth in it, but the preliminary bath certainly
did not add to the enjoyment of lunch.

Just below the rocks was an open _bergschrund_ into which Nielsen
tumbled, ski and all, but he caught the upper edge and extricated
himself with a mighty kick and pull. The hidden crevasses over which
we slid were countless, but the ski deprived them of all power to
injure or annoy. A slide from the rocks to the broad snow-saddle,
then the ascent of the Diadem began. We knew that it would present no
difficulties below the summit rocks. They were vertical on our side,
but there were indications that the snow-slope reached far up them on
the other. For some distance we could climb straight ahead; then the
slope steepened and we had to zigzag, each man choosing his own route.
About six hundred feet below the top, ski could no further go, for the
surface was hard frozen, so that they obtained no grip upon it. They
were accordingly left behind, planted erect, for if they are left lying
down they will assuredly find means to break loose and go careering
away to some remote level place. As soon as it became a question of
kicking steps in the increasingly hard and steep slope, the scattered
elements of the party concentrated and so came to the foot of the final
peak together. A snow-slope, as we had foreseen, reached almost to the
top, but it was cut across by two large _bergschrunds_, well enough
bridged. The rope was now put on and the final approaches made in
orthodox fashion. Scrambling up a few steep rocks, we came out on the
curious little flat summit plain (4154 ft.), from whose edges the drop
is vertical all round, except where the slope we ascended abuts.

The view resembled that from the middle Crown, but was more extensive
to the north and east. The whole island was displayed. We overlooked
the region of almost horizontally-bedded, chocolate-coloured sandstone,
capped with dolomite near at hand, but dipping away from the old
rocks underlying it, which appeared in the north-east as mountain
ranges. Advent Bay was again clearly visible across Ice Fjord, so that
the Diadem and the Crowns can be seen from the hotel there, a fact
previously unsuspected. I set up the instruments and worked for more
than an hour, growing colder and colder in the raw air. Garwood and
Nielsen warmed themselves by building a big cairn as a monument of our
climb.

The first stage of the descent required some care, for the slope was
steep and of ice, whilst the bridges over the _bergschrunds_ did not
appear particularly strong. Once on the main snow-slope the rope could
be laid aside and each could make for his ski by the shortest route.
Nielsen went on ahead and disappeared over the bulging declivity at a
great rate, but when I tried to follow his example I found it difficult
to maintain a footing on the hard, icy slope. The boards under my
feet shot away so quickly that without a powerful break I could not
maintain my balance. No application of the spike of the ice-axe to
the slope produced friction enough to prevent the bewilderment of a
lightning-like descent, which always ended in a shattering overthrow.
How Nielsen had managed remained a mystery to me, till I came up with
him and learnt that he had put his ice-axe between his legs and sat
upon it, thus turning himself into a tripod on runners. Riding, like a
witch on a broomstick, he gained the gentler slope below without delay
or misfortune. Garwood was less lucky, for one of his ski gave him the
slip and raced away on its own account. We heard him howling aloft, but
knew not what about till his truant shoe had dashed past, heading for
a number of open crevasses. It leapt these in fine style, but bending
away to the right, made for the hollow, north of the Exile, to which we
had to descend to fetch it. Rather than reascend and return over the
mile of snow-slope down which the ski had shot, we changed the route
of our return. To see Garwood walking about unroped among the maze
of crevasses and crossing _bergschrunds_ by rotten snow-bridges was
decidedly unpleasant. If he had fallen through anywhere we could have
done nothing for him, and he would never have been seen again; but the
fates were propitious. Instead of sliding down as we did, he had to
wade through knee-deep snow, but that was the limit of his misfortune.

The great snowfield was joined at the north foot of the Exile, and
straight running made for camp. It was a long and thirsty shuffle
back, for, since my immersion, we had come across no drop of drinkable
water, all that flows from the Exile and the northern Crown being
chocolate-coloured and thick with sand. Areas of snow formation, new
to us in appearance, were passed below the Exile; the most remarkable
was where the surface of the _névé_ was covered with a kind of scaly
armour-plating, consisting of discs or flakes of ice, hard-frozen
together, piled up and projecting over one another. Wind was the
determining agent, I fancy, in producing this phenomenon. Steadily
plodding on over the now uneven and adhesive snow, at last we reached
camp, about midnight, well satisfied with the expedition. We had
travelled eighteen and a half miles over the softest _névé_ snow
imaginable, besides climbing our peak and devoting some hours, _en
route_ and on the top, to the work of surveying. Without ski this
would have been hard work for three days. During our absence Svensen
had cleaned out the tents, dried and aired our things, and otherwise
made himself useful. He had never expected us to appear again, so that
his work was perhaps the more meritorious. Late at night we heard him
lying in his tent and “prophesying” (as we used to call it) in deep and
solemn tones to Nielsen. The further we went from the coast the more
frequent and solemn were these deliverances, not a word of which could
we understand. I asked Nielsen what they were about. “Oh,” he said, “he
talks about his farm and his old woman, and what she gives him to eat;
and then he says if he ever gets back home he will not go away any more
as long as he lives.”

A few hours later Svensen set forth on his ski to fetch an instrument
I required from the baggage below the Pretender. He was instructed on
no account to quit the tracks made by the sledges on the way up, and
to take care not to fall into any of the crevasses. Once fairly alone
on the glacier, he proceeded to set these directions at naught. The
tracks were devious; he would make a short cut and save himself time
and distance. What mattered the maze of concealed crevasses? He frankly
walked _along_ them, whether on their arched roofs or the ice beside
them being a mere matter of chance. We saw his tracks next day and
wondered at his many escapes. As it was, he fell into two crevasses and
only extricated himself with much difficulty. The Svensen that returned
to camp was a yet sadder and more pessimistic individual than the one
that set forth. He had looked Death in the face, and seemed to feel
swindled in that he had escaped destruction.

This day the sky was actually covered with an unmistakable heat
haze. Thunderstorms, I believe, never occur in Spitsbergen; if we
had not known this, we should have thought one was brewing. It was
actually hot and stuffy within the tent, but outside the temperature
was perfect. Our intention was to climb the middle Crown again, when
Svensen returned, and to spend some hours on the mountain, Garwood
photographing and hunting for fossils in the limestone, I observing
angles. At last we could set forth with theodolite and whole-plate
camera for the top of the Crown. There was no novelty in the ascent,
except that the sky was steadily clouding over, so that we had to race
the weather. Unfortunately the clouds won. The sun was blotted out
when we reached the top, many hills were obscured by clouds, and the
panorama was rendered relatively uninteresting. There was nothing for
Garwood to photograph, and far fewer points for me to observe than I
could have wished. The cold became bitter. Fiddling with the little
screws of the theodolite was horribly painful. I endured it for more
than an hour before complete numbness rendered further work of that
kind impossible. Nielsen kept warmth in his veins by prizing crags
away; they thundered and crashed over the precipice on the north,
finding a swift descent down one of the many vertical chimneys, and
then rushing out on the snow-slope beneath. The results of his labours
were widely spread abroad below. Before packing up to descend we all
joined in building a big cairn, which, I think, will last for many
years. A hurried descent down rocks and screes and a fine ski-slide
to camp set the blood circulating merrily in our veins. The tents
were just within the margin of a fog, which hung like a veil over the
western landscape, where a mottled roof of cloud above the jagged crest
of the Cross Bay hills shone golden bright, fading away below into the
misty grey foreground of vaguely-outlined, broken ice.



CHAPTER VIII

RETURN TO KINGS BAY


All appearances were convincing that the weather had finally broken
up, but a charm seemed to lie upon King James Land this year, for next
morning (August 7) was fine as ever, with skies brilliantly clear. The
white fog still covered the bay and the glacier’s foot, but retreated
before us as we advanced on the downward journey, for which the time
had now come. Instead of going far out on to the glacier, as in our
ascent, we kept a more direct course, for crevasses that are too
wide to drag sledges over when going uphill are passable on the way
down. The sledges had to make many a downward jump, and were greatly
strained, but we reckoned they would hold out to the coast, and so let
them take their luck. It was none of the best. A certain broad crevasse
opposed to our advance its yawning chasm, whose higher side was much
above the lower. The first sledge took the jump safely, but the second
landed heavily on its nose, and one runner snapped in half. We tied it
up with string, but the jagged edge greatly increased the friction
during the remainder of the journey. Near the Pretender we re-entered
the circuit of the nesting birds, and found their feathers at every
step of the way. A solitary fulmar sitting on the ice only stirred
when we approached him within two yards. Then he flapped his wings and
ran, gradually rising into the air and helping himself up by beating
the ground with his feet, the action used by fulmars when they rise
from water. He did not fly far, for he was obviously ill. Doubtless a
glaucous gull presently put an end to his existence.

Having kept along the left side of the glacier, we came, at the foot of
the Pretender, as we knew we must, to a steep ice staircase, a slope of
about 200 feet, broken by a series of large crevasses. A longitudinal
fold in the ice, caused by the narrowing of the glacier at this point,
added a more complex irregularity to the step-like descent. This was
the worst place we had to convey sledges over on the glaciers of
Spitsbergen; nor shall I attempt to describe our labours. The sledges
were slung across some crevasses, let down over others, gingerly
conducted along ridges of ice narrower than themselves, with profound
chasms on each side, hauled round the flanks of seracs, and otherwise
forced forward as circumstances decreed. Once only did a misfortune
occur, and then the fault was mine. The slope was very steep, and
there was a crevasse in the way. Nielsen got on to its lower lip and
began lifting the bow of the sledge forward by means of the drag-rope.
I was hanging on behind with the pick-end of the ice-axe hitched into
the stern. Just at the critical moment something gave way. The ice-axe
slipped out; I fell backwards; the sledge lumbered down. That it
would go right into the crevasse and be utterly lost seemed certain.
But no! it merely turned a somersault and wedged itself in between
two projecting noses of ice, which held it firmly, till, with the
assistance of the others, we brought it safe to land. Shortly afterward
the site of Pretender Camp was reached, and our little heap of stores
found undisturbed by foxes or birds.

We knew that the most tiresome part of the day’s journey was yet
to come; the lunch-halt was consequently prolonged. To the foot
of Pretender Pass the way was easy enough, but beyond that point
difficulties were bound to accumulate, for the glacier became so
crevassed as to be impassable even for men without sledges, whilst,
instead of snow-slopes along the left bank, there was a widening
lateral moraine. Fortunately we found an irregular belt of snow between
the ridge of this moraine and the _débris_-slope behind it; along that
belt we were able to make intermittent advance, though the snow was
freely strewn with blocks of stone, over and around which, up and
down and in and out, the sledges had to be lifted and dragged. We were
thankful even for this small mercy, seeing that, if the snow had not
been there, we must have raised the sledges bodily and carried them
more than a mile over the nastiest kind of moraine. As it was, we had
to carry them for several short spells. How easy it looks on paper!
Four men, one at each corner of the sledge; they lift her, and along
she goes. But in practice, when the ground to be traversed consists of
loose rocks, each about the size of a man’s head, with ice below them,
sloping this way and that, uphill two yards, downhill three yards, now
tilted to the right, now to the left, some one is always stumbling.
They jog one another from side to side. The weight gets bandied about
and heaved in all directions, so that each wastes most of his work in
counter-balancing the unintentional irregularities of his fellows’
efforts. A halt had to be made halfway along, but we vowed to finish
this horrible part of the route before camping. The stove was lit
and cocoa brewed to put heart into the men; then on again, plunging,
tripping, twisting ankles, barking shins, till at last there came a
practicable though lumpy stretch of ice alongside the moraine, and we
could launch the sledges on it and haul them forward with less toil.
We were close to the angle where Kings and Highway glaciers join,
and the lateral moraines of both, uniting at the promontory of the
dividing mountain, flow out as a medial moraine, and are carried on by
the glacier and ultimately dumped over the ice-cliff into Kings Bay.
We crossed this medial moraine at the earliest convenient place, then
followed along beside it till near midnight, when somebody, turning
round to survey the view, found it beautiful, and proposed that camp
should be pitched straightway.

The air was crisp and cold. The sun shone golden in the north, just
tinged with the first promise of its winter setting. The mellow light
flooded with unusual glory of colour the many-tinted rocks of the
Crowns and Pretender, grouped together in fine assemblage between the
two great glaciers, now both at once beheld back to their highest
snowfields. Such purples as the autumnal midnight sun pours out on the
so-called Liefde-Bay sandstones of Spitzbergen had no rival even in
the richest product of Tyrian skill. All night long the glacier worked
and cracked beneath us in its onward flow, squeezing its slow way down
through the narrowing channel. Loud reports disturbed our slumbers, and
at an early hour brought us back to consciousness of the beauty of the
world and the continuing loveliness of the weather.

The sky remained clear, and the white fog brooded over the waters of
the bay, when the men started down with the sledges, leaving us to sit
awhile on convenient rocks, smoking and enjoying the splendid scenery.
Presently we also set forth, not down, but across Highway Glacier to
examine the rocks of its left bank. A very large lake-basin had to be
crossed at the margin of the ice. It proved to have been drained by the
biggest ice-tunnel I ever saw, a cavern at least fifty feet in diameter
and more than a hundred yards long. I bolted into it, under the stones
perched loosely on its brow, and took some photographs of the weird
grotto, whilst Garwood climbed the riskily loose cliff behind and
hunted for fossils. Keeping across the mouth of a minor side glacier,
we came to the moraine crossed by us with so much trouble on the upward
way. The great hollow beyond it was now perceived to be another and
yet larger lake-basin, drained in its turn by the ice-cañon which had
formed one of our first considerable impediments. This lake-basin is
more than half a mile in length, and some hundreds of yards wide. It
lies at the foot of Mount Nielsen. Here, losing sight of Garwood, I
turned to seek the sledges. Not finding them, and being too cold to
loiter about, I walked briskly on down the foot of the glacier, and
did not halt till the base camp was reached. It remained just as we
left it, thank goodness! But it must have had a narrow escape, for, at
some time during our absence, a flood of water came down the fan on
which it stood, cutting a new channel, whose still wet margin ran less
than a hand’s breadth from the angle of the tent. Had the channel been
deflected a couple of yards, all our goods would have gone to sea!

The roof of fog was overhead, yet the view was most beautiful, for
the sun shone through holes in it upon the glacier’s terminal cliff,
barring it with vertical bands of light and colour. There were stripes
of purple, violet, green, blue, and white, made by the staining of the
ice with stone _débris_, or by new fractures manifesting the varying
transparency of the mass, or by the play of light and shadow upon it.
The jagged hills looked down through holes or behind veils of mist. The
water was absolutely calm, but more thickly covered with broken ice
than when we last beheld it; in fact, over great areas, the floating
blocks seemed to form a continuous ice-covering. In calm weather this
mattered little, but if a northerly wind set in, all the ice would be
driven and packed down upon us, and we should be imprisoned, who could
say for how long? Obviously, therefore, it would be our business to
shift camp as soon as possible to some more favourable situation.

Long I sat in the tent-door gazing at the view and dreaming. What
changes had taken place here since Professor Sven Lovén’s visit
in 1837, the first visit of any man of science to this part of
Spitsbergen! The island of which he wrote so fully, with its
“diminutive Alps” and moraines, was separated from the glacier at that
time by a channel of open water 1000 feet wide; now the glacier almost
surrounds it and has buried out of sight the ground on which he stood.
It had already done so before Nordenskiöld’s visit in 1861, since when
no considerable changes have taken place. This is only one of many
instances of glacial advance during the present century. A comparison
between the seventeenth and eighteenth century Dutch charts and the
maps of the present day proves the general truth of this observation.
The development seems to be still in progress. Witness the great
glacier-front which has descended into Agardh Bay since 1871, and over
which we went in crossing the Ivory Gate last year. Glaciers which end
in shallow waters must, indeed, be advancing slowly as they fill up the
bay heads, but this does not suffice to explain so great an advance as
that of the Kings Glacier between 1837 and 1861.

The arriving sledges, dragged by men soaking with perspiration, stopped
these meditations. Both sledges were on the point of breaking up,
such had been the strain upon them during the last fortnight. They
were extra strongly built, and the runners were protected with metal
sheaths, yet there was not a sound joint left in them. The metal had
all been scraped and torn away, the runners smashed up. If ordinary
arctic travel were as rough as this work over crevassed inland
glaciers, such a sledging expedition as Nansen made from the _Fram_
would be impossible, for no sledge could hold out a tenth part of his
course. Our sledges, moreover, were lightly laden with about a third of
the normal arctic load. Had they been heavier, they could not have been
dragged along at all, or if forced forward they would have broken up
the first day.

It is only on returning to the coast that one obtains a correct
realisation of the silence of the higher regions. The glacier-front
kept “calving”; the floating ice kept cracking up and turning over;
there was a noisy torrent flooding down close to camp. Stones fell;
waves broke on the shore. Such noises for a long time drove sleep
away. When I did slumber it was to dream of glacier-lakes bursting, of
avalanches falling, and other catastrophes.

Next day we had the boat to drag down to the sea--two hours’ work--all
our baggage to overhaul, pack, and portage, so that it was late in the
afternoon before we were ready to sail. The long hours of work were
enlivened by the charm of the scenery beneath the grey roof of sea-fog,
which still remained just where it had hung for so many days. The
variety of effects was extraordinary, for there was no wind to move the
fog, nor sunshine coming through it. The floating ice sometimes stood
out white against the purple background and dark sky, sometimes dark
against a white curtain of mist, and sometimes it glittered behind
a vaporous veil. The water was now dark, like lead, now bright as
burnished steel. There was continual change, yet no visible cause for
change. Out into this fairy region of calm water and pure ice at last
we rowed in search of new scenes, new beauty, and new delights.

Our first goal was one of Lovén’s Islands, away out in the midst of
the bay, right over against the ice-cliff of the Kings Glacier. To
reach this we had to row through a bed of water so closely covered with
broken ice that a way was made for the boat by pushing the fragments
asunder. They were of all sizes and colours. Surfaces that had been
exposed to the air for some time were white, as all ice becomes
under such conditions. Others newly cloven, or that had formed till
recently the submerged face of floating blocks, were blue or green.
There were pink pieces, dusted over with sandstone _débris_; but the
majority of the small blocks, and most were small, were crystal clear,
like lumps of purest glass. The water was absolutely still. Sunshine
lay upon it, and the great glacier-cliff, along which we rowed, was
reflected from the watery mirror. Every few minutes the glacier
“calved,” and the resulting waves rattled the ice about us, whilst the
booming thunder came echoing back from remote hollows of the hills.
Nielsen was reminded of days spent by him as a sailor in fogs on the
Newfoundland banks, when, as he said, they used to smell the icebergs
long before they loomed into view. Kings Bay, of course, presents no
bergs comparable in size to those that drift southward down the coast
of Greenland, though the floating masses we were soon to approach were
much larger than those ordinarily met with in Spitsbergen waters. As
our distance from the south shore of the bay increased, the mountains
behind it were better seen, and proved to be a fine ridge with many
peaks, the watershed between Kings and English bays. A series of
glaciers descend in their hollows, but none reach the sea, for there
is a broad belt of flat land all along the southern shore. The view
up Kings Glacier now became of entrancing beauty as the fog cleared
away, and all our peaks from Mount Nielsen round to the Diadem were
disclosed. How different was this view to our eyes, which recognised
every feature and knew what was behind every impediment, from our
first outlook there last year, in a brief interval between two storms!
The culmination of the charm came when the small, partly ice-covered
island rose into our foreground, and the surging waves of splintered
glacier thrown up behind it contrasted with the smooth wide-spreading
snowfields far beyond. The ice-cliff north of the island was more
shattered than any we had yet beheld. Here the greatest floating bergs
enter the sea. They do not fall into it, but simply float away, being
already quite detached from one another by the deep clefts of the ice.

From an examination of a great many sea-fronting glacier-sections we
learnt that crevasses, however long and wide, seldom penetrate very
far down into the mass of ice. I do not remember ever to have seen
any crevasse (except at this point) which cut a glacier-cliff down
to sea-level. Higher up in the _névé_ region crevasses may be more
profound, but towards a glacier’s snout I am sure that their depth is
often greatly overestimated. The ice in the foundation of a glacier
exists under great pressure and behaves very differently from the
surface ice, which is free to break up under lateral strain. A careful
study of arctic ice-cliffs would, I think, give rise to several
unexpected revelations. The opening up of Spitsbergen to ordinary
summer travellers would enable such simple but illuminating researches
to be undertaken by holiday-making men of science.

The archipelago, which I have named Lovén’s Islands, after the explorer
who first recorded a visit to them, was now close at hand. We made
for a convenient cove and landed. Countless screaming terns saluted
us with a chorus of unmistakable imprecations. No bird that ever I
saw can swear like a tern. Till it opens its mouth you would think it
the very incarnation of gentleness and grace, such the purity of its
white plumage, the slenderness of its form, and the elegance of all
its motions. But it is my matured conviction that in every tern there
resides the spirit of a departed bargee. On these islands Lovén found
countless nesting birds of many sorts, besides the spoor of reindeer
and foxes. We found only eider-ducks, terns, and a very few geese; of
reindeer not a trace. There are no reindeer left on the west coast of
Spitsbergen. We never saw a footprint on the shores of Klaas Billen
Bay, Kings Bay, or Horn Sound this year, though in all three bays are
square miles of country admirably suited to feed and maintain them
and once supporting large herds. The ruthless Norwegian hunter has
exterminated them utterly.

I need not expatiate on the gorgeousness of the view from these
islands. It was especially fine to the north where white icebergs
of all fantastic forms floated in the dark purple reflections of
the hills. The only sound heard, besides the screaming of the terns
and the boom of the glacier-cliff, was the innumerable ploppings of
water against the myriad floating blocks of ice. We landed on another
island to cook a meal and survey. The little plants were putting on
their autumnal colourings, most of the birds-nests were abandoned, the
young broods--alas! sadly few in numbers--disporting themselves in the
neighbouring waters. All the islands are smoothed by ice, for the
Kings Glacier was once at least 500 feet thicker and very much longer
than now. Probably, there are other mounds of rock, continuing under
the glacier the line of these islands, and rumpling up the ice into a
crevassed condition otherwise difficult to account for.

Turning away from the islands, we rowed toward the east end of the
rounded hill standing out into the fjord, to which we gave the
name Blomstrand’s Mound. From the published account of the Swedish
Expedition of 1861, we were led to expect that Scoresby’s Grotto
would be found in this direction. It was only afterwards, when we
procured a copy in the original Swedish, to which are appended maps,
not reproduced in the German translation, that we discovered the
whereabouts of this grotto in Blomstrand’s Harbour.[9] We now had
to wind about amongst large floating towers and castles of ice,
entrancingly beautiful. The number of the great floating bergs seemed
countless. We passed by devious ways along channels, between them,
often being so entirely surrounded as to seem on a lake built all about
with ice-castles. Some were hollowed out into caverns with walls thin
enough to let the light of the low hanging midnight sun shine through.
We manœuvred to get one of these directly between us and the sun, so as
to enjoy the resplendence of its opalescent shimmer, contrasted with
the blueness of the shadowed side of the ice. Deep in the substance
of the crystalline wall shone out a host of sparkling points like
many-faceted diamonds enclosed in cloudy crystal. The evening was
perfect: calm, bright, mellow, clear to the remotest distance, save
just at one point where a sea-mist came pouring over a pass from
English Bay, with a rainbow mantling on its shoulder.

The drowsily creaking oars at length brought us to the mainland,
where camp was quickly pitched on soft ground near a brook. There was
no grotto anywhere in the neighbourhood. The slope of Blomstrand’s
Mound rose temptingly behind. With plane-table and camera we hastened
forth to gain a more commanding panorama. About 500 feet up was a
convenient knoll, whence the upper part of the mound was displayed as
an undulating plateau bending away to the culminating dome of the hill
over a couple of miles of bog land and broken rocks, extraordinarily
disagreeable to walk upon. The whole mound is encircled on three sides
by the bay, whilst on the fourth a large glacier descending from the
north abuts against it, and sends an arm down into the sea on either
side. The view was, of course, most extensive and beheld under rarely
favourable conditions, for the low-striking, golden sunlight mellowed
all the glaciers and the hills. The bay spread abroad below, as in a
map, and the icebergs on its surface were tiny dots of white, whilst
the areas closely covered with smaller, broken ice resembled surfaces
crisped by some gentle breeze.

At 4 A.M. (August 10) we turned in. A few hours later the weather was
still fine, but at noon the Crowns began to put on caps of cloud. Mists
gathered in all directions, wind rose, and soon all was overcast and
rain was falling on the tent. The spell of fine weather was, in fact,
at an end. By 3 o’clock we were rowing away in water no longer calm.
Yet it was charming to watch the graceful rocking of the smaller pieces
of floating ice, and to see them turn over as their equilibrium was
disturbed. The old white surface went under, the new blue side came up.
There was now but one day left before the _Kvik_ ought to call for us.
The weather was too thick for surveying, so we settled to make at once
for Coal Haven, where tertiary fossil plants had been found, though not
the characteristic _Taxodium_.[10] Accordingly we rowed straight across
the bay, though no sign could be seen of any inlet such as the chart
marks. There is, in fact, no inlet at all, but only a low headland that
protects the anchorage from westerly winds. It is completely open to
north and east. On reaching the south coast and finding no trace of
the expected inlet, we rowed along the shore toward Quade Hook for a
couple of miles. It was an open, pebbly beach, on which we might have
hauled up the boat, but whence it could not have been launched in face
of any sea, like that now threatening to rise. Leaving the men to keep
the boat off shore, Garwood and I landed to prospect. Just behind the
narrow beach was a low cliff, the front of a wide area of boggy and
stony ground from which the hills rise, half a mile or so inland.
Westward was no bay whatever, so we concluded that Coal Haven lay to
the east, where, in fact, we presently discovered it, behind a low spit
of shingle a few yards wide, enclosing a lagoon.

While the men pitched camp, Garwood and I walked inland to look for the
coal-bed. Its position is carefully described by Lamont, but we had
only the book on the Swedish expedition of 1861 with us, and, though
the members of that party visited and, I believe, discovered the coal,
they give no accurate account of its position. We dimly remembered that
it was found where a glacier-stream cuts a section into the ground.
There were two glaciers ending about a mile inland from the bay, so
we walked towards them and tracked up every stream flowing from them,
but found no coal. I then went to the west, Garwood to the east, till
every inch of land within Coal Haven had been traversed. It was no
good. A big stone man planted on a mound, and with a slanting stick
built into it, seemed likely to be a guide to the hidden treasure; but
there was no coal in the mound, nor anywhere in the direction to which
the stick pointed. We have since learnt that the cairn marks one of the
points whose position was astronomically fixed by the Swedes,[11] and
that it has nothing to do with the coal, which in fact is not found
within Coal Haven at all, but within the next bay to the east, where of
course we did not look for it.

A low cloud-roof, intermittently dropping rain, hung continuously over
Coal Haven during our visit. Only the bases of hills and the grey
snouts of glaciers emerged beneath it. Sometimes a dense mist came up;
rarely the drizzle held off for half an hour. In this cheerless case
black melancholy invaded Svensen. At a moment of gloomy forgetfulness
he filled the pot with sea-water for brewing soup. The mistake was
fortunately discovered in time, for there was no food to spare. When
Garwood returned with half a dozen guillemots, the last shot-cartridge
had been fired off. Svensen skinned the birds for the pot with the
sadness of a man condemned to death. “We will only eat half of them
to-night,” he said. “Why?” I asked. “Because this is the last proper
food we shall have, and we may as well make it hold out as long as
possible. When did you say the _Kvik_ is coming for us?” “At midnight
to-night,” I answered. “Not a bit of it. _Ikke!_ I heard the sailors on
the boat say the captain would not come for us at all. We shall starve
here.” “Skittles! They’ll come for us to-day or to-morrow.” “_Ikke!_
they’ll not come at all, I believe.” “I tell you they will; the captain
undertook to come.” “_Ikke, ikke!_” We finished all the birds, but the
food almost stuck in Svensen’s throat.

When supper was done (it was the morning of the 11th) a surprising
vigour seized our gloomy companion. He jumped into the boat, pitched
its mast, sail, and some spars on shore, and carried them away to the
point. We watched him build a big stone-heap and plant the mast in it
with the sail suspended as a flag. Then he turned in and was heard
loudly and solemnly prophesying to himself in his fine declamatory
style. We breakfasted late in the afternoon on one of our last soups
and some mouldy biscuits fried in the scrapings of the butter-pot;
then we began to look out for the _Kvik_. The mouth of Kings Bay was
not visible from camp, so we went for walks to various higher points,
besides spending some hours over another hunt for coal; but neither
coal nor _Kvik_ appeared. The drizzling night dragged its slow hours
along. A meagre supper in the morning of the 12th was the occasion of
more loud lamentations from our Norwegian Jeremiah. The others then
turned in, whilst I went off to the ruins of an old Russian hut on the
neighbouring cape to watch for the expected steamer.

Less than a century ago there was a big winter settlement of Russian
trappers in and about Kings Bay. As in the case of other Russian
settlements, there were a central house and a number of outlying huts
widely scattered from one another. The central house of this group
was in Cross Bay, in Ebeltoft’s Haven, I believe. The Coal Haven
hut was only an outlyer, inhabited by a solitary individual, who at
stated intervals visited the central depôt to leave his catch of furs
and renew his meagre stock of provisions. Numbers of these trappers
annually died of scurvy. The rock on which I sat had assuredly been
witness to such unrecorded tragedies. There now remains nothing but
the ground plan of the hut, with a few bits of mouldering wood and
broken brick lying about. There were fragments of both Dutch and
Russian bricks, as is not uncommon on these sites, for the Russians
used the remains of older Dutch whaling “cookeries” in building their
stoves. Against a big rock was a piece of stone wall and a rotting
beam, apparently part of an old store-cupboard. Moss had crept up
over it, and little arctic flowers were growing upon it with unwonted
luxuriance. The bones of foxes and bears were in the ground, which was
pervaded with corrupting wood-fibre and carpeted with a peculiarly
rank moss that only grows thus luxuriantly on the abandoned sites of
human habitation. What a desolate place for a winter dwelling, planted
between a bog and the icy bay! Who lived here? I asked myself. What
did he think about? Were the hills anything to him--the Three Crowns
and those other peaks rising all around? Did the beauty of the long
sunset heralding the arctic night find recognition in his eyes? Or
was life too hard for the growth in him of any sense of beauty? Was
he some poor creature forced as a last resource to come here for the
bare means of subsistence, or some criminal forcibly expatriated to
these inhospitable shores? Such indeed was the custom in Northern
Russia before Siberia came into fashion as a place of exile. Long I
sat, musing on these things in the grey night, and listening to the
far-off rumble of the calving glacier. Every few minutes I scanned
the sea horizon off Mitra Hook, and always thought I could trace the
faint appearance of a remote steamer’s smoke. Imagination is a dreadful
trickster, but time always shows up its character. No steamer came in
sight, though the appointed hour had passed. My watch completed, I
returned to camp and sent up Nielsen to look out. “They haven’t come,”
said Svensen, “and they won’t come. _Ikke, ikke!_ We shall never get
away from here.” This croaking raven of a man began to grate upon our
nerves.

In the afternoon all turned out again. No signs of the _Kvik_. We
assured one another that it was of no consequence. A fire was lit, the
pot set on to boil and all our remaining provisions turned into it.
If this was to be our last meal it should be as big a one as we could
provide. Slowly the water came to the boil, all of us anxiously and
greedily watching. Nielsen wandered forlornly off to the point. “The
_Kvik_, the _Kvik_!” he shouted. “_Ikke, ikke!_” said Svensen, but no
one heeded him; this time there was no mistake. Before our last food
was swallowed she had rounded into the bay and cast anchor close by us.



CHAPTER IX

KINGS BAY TO HORN SOUND


On boarding the _Kvik_ we were again in contact with the outside world.
There was much to hear and something to tell, so that time passed
quickly. Baron Bornemisza, returning from a week’s cruise in Wijde Bay
and along the north coast, was full of information about the condition
of the ice in that direction. It was not so open as at the same time
in the preceding year. Hinloopen Strait was blocked about halfway
down; the _Kvik_ had been unable to reach the Seven Islands. At Advent
Bay we found the more boldly navigated _Expres_, with our friend Herr
Meissenbach on board, in a happy and triumphant state of mind. He had
had the best kind of time, and enjoyed himself vastly, spending three
weeks in the neighbourhood of the Seven Islands, and pushing as far
east as Cape Platen. Two bears had fallen to the rifles of the party,
and I know not how many seals; now he was on his way home.

That was a busy day at Advent Point, and a blustery withal, for the
autumnal bad weather was setting in. All our baggage had to be packed
for transfer to the _Lofoten_, in which we were to sail for Horn Sound
that evening. At the inn were two Swiss artists and Professor Wiesner
of Vienna, come to take observations on the intensity of the light.
Presently a tourist steamer arrived and carried the artists away.
People were coming and going all the time; it was the culmination of
the tourist season.

I have read in the London press that Spitsbergen, nowadays, is
“overrun” with tourists. This is far from being the case. A
considerable number come up with the _Lofoten_ and other tourist ships,
and pay a brief visit to the west coast, but few of them ever land
except for an hour or two at Advent Point. Apart from Herr Andrée’s
party, the only visitors who spent any time in Spitsbergen this year
were Baron Bornamisza and a few people who made trips on the _Kvik_,
the German party who hired the _Expres_, and ourselves. Besides Garwood
and me, only Baron Bornamisza and the artists made any attempt to go
into the interior. The Baron spent two or three days with one of our
tents in the Sassendal, shooting reindeer; whilst the artists dragged
a little sledge a day’s journey into the hills west of Advent Bay, and
camped there for a couple of nights. So much for the overrunning of
Spitsbergen. The simple fact is that to spend any time in the interior
of the island is no easier now than it was fifty years ago, nor is
there much probability that it will become easier in the immediate
future. All of Spitsbergen that the ordinary tourist needs to see is
visible from the deck of a ship, whence it can be beheld without either
labour or discomfort. To penetrate the heart of Spitsbergen glaciers
now involves just the same kind of work that the crossing of North-East
Land demanded of Nordenskiöld in 1873.

When the hour came for the _Lofoten_ to sail, such was the
boisterousness of the embarkation that some intending passengers
preferred to stay behind for a week rather than be soused. The
disturbing wind was only a local draught, such as often blows down the
boggy valleys of Spitsbergen, and especially down the Advent Vale.
When we were out in the midst of Ice Fjord the gale diminished to an
ordinary breeze, by which we were well rolled all night long off the
west coast. It was past noon (August 14) when the _Lofoten_ turned
into Horn Sound; she steamed straight up the bay and finally came to
off the mouth of a small bay in the south coast, the Goose Haven of
the old whalers. Our whaleboat was hoisted overboard, and such goods
as we needed for a week lowered into it. Svensen, who was to be left
on board, eagerly helping, and joyous to see the last of the hated
sledges. He said good-bye to us with monstrous enthusiasm, mixed in
apologies for not having enjoyed our company more keenly. If we would
come to his home and go a-fishing with him he assured us that we
should find no more active or willing companion.

The exchange from the warmth and solidity of the steamer to the
rawness of the foggy day and the unrest of the tumbling sea was, to
say the least, undesirable. Our friends on board watched our departure
without envy, and it must be confessed that we rowed away with little
eagerness. Clouds hung low and heavy upon the hills, and no scene could
have been more desolate. In half an hour we landed on the stony beach
of the east shore of Goose Haven; the _Lofoten_ was then small in
the distance and just rounding out of sight. There was no novelty of
the unknown now ahead of us. We had come to make the ascent of Mount
Hedgehog or Horn Sunds Tind, which Garwood had almost succeeded in
accomplishing just twelve months before in company with Trevor-Battye
and a seaman. The object of this repetition was to see the view from
the top, a hope little likely to be fulfilled in such weather as was
prevailing. Garwood also desired to investigate certain rocks, which he
thought might prove interestingly fossiliferous. Save for these rocks
I do not think we should have come to Horn Sound again. They proved
to be a fraud, but that was not Garwood’s fault. My own wish had been
to spend our last week in Ekman and Dickson bays for the purpose of
completing and joining my two maps; but I could hardly expect Garwood
to be eager for such an arrangement, seeing that the area contained
no geological novelties for him. My alternative proposition was that
we should hire the _Kvik_ and make a run for Wiches Land--the islands
approached by us the preceding year, but never as yet landed on by
any geologist. Unfortunately, we could learn nothing of the condition
of the ice east of Spitsbergen, so hesitated to incur a considerable
expense for a very problematical advantage. If only we had known! It
was the one year of all recorded years in which the sea to the eastward
was most free of ice, and, during these very days, Mr. Arnold Pike was
steaming round and round and landing on the islands in question, where
he shot fifty-seven bears.

For better or worse, we had decided on Horn Sound, and here we were by
the resounding shore of Goose Haven. There was no good landing-place
or protected creek for the boat. We had to land on the open beach.
The baggage was pitched ashore and the boat completely emptied.
Nevertheless, our reduced strength did not avail to haul it out of the
water. We began to regret the loss of Svensen sooner than we expected.
Camp having been pitched just above high-water line, there was nothing
for us to do on the dreary shore, so we rowed across to the far point
of the bay--Hofer Point--a convenient position for my survey. Garwood,
knowing the way about, steered the boat into a tiny cove, whither we
thought of transferring camp. The change was not made, fortunately, as
will hereafter appear. At the head of the cove are ruins of a Russian
settlement, on an exposed mound as usual, whilst on neighbouring knolls
are two groups of graves. There remains also a bench in a protected
corner. When the miserable life lived in these remote and solitary
huts by most of the exiles is considered, these poor benches, of which
I have now seen several examples, are peculiarly pathetic. Many a sad
hour must successive, lonely, fur-clad watchmen have passed while
seated upon them, marking the slow passage of miserable days. The
sentiment of the melancholy landscape is strangely enhanced by a human
interest of this kind, however remote. The savage regions of the earth
are always impressive to a spectator’s imagination, but they become
infinitely more impressive when they can be regarded as a theatre of
human suffering or endurance.

The others returned to camp by boat, whilst I pursued my task and
wandered home round the bay’s head, at first over sea-eaten rocks,
afterwards, when the hills receded, over boggy land between the
shelving beach and the iceflat at the foot of the great moraine of the
glacier filling the bay’s valley--the Goose Glacier, as we afterwards
called it. On a mound of the bog are ruins of a considerable whalers’
settlement, with quantities of great bones lying about, and the
inevitable group of graves not far away. In the seventeenth century the
Horn Sound whalers were English; in fact, this was one of the largest
English settlements. The beach seems to have risen considerably since
that time, for the whales used to be flensed between high and low water
marks, whereas the bones now lie far beyond reach of the highest tides.
It rained heavily as I walked on round the shore and waded the streams
that flow out from the glacier. The clouds descended lower than ever,
and the gloom, if possible, increased, so that the dreariness, by its
very intensity becoming almost novel, became also indued with the
pleasantness of novelty.

[Illustration: TORRENT IN A GLACIER ICE-FOOT.]

During our explorations of the previous year in the belt of boggy
interior between Advent Bay and the east coast, every glacier we came
across had an iceflat below its snout, formed by the freezing of the
winter snow when impregnated by water drained out of the glacier. This
year we had met with no examples of such iceflats before this one in
Goose Haven. It was of great extent and evidently destined to survive
the rapidly departing summer, for it still averaged about six feet in
thickness. The glacier streams had cut deep channels through it, which
the first heavy snowfall would easily block, again compelling the water
to soak into the new bed of snow and prepare it in its turn to be
frozen solid later on. The intermittent thaws of spring may be more
effective in forming the snow-bog, which is the needful preliminary
condition of an ice-foot, than is the autumn drainage held back by
the autumnal snowfall. As to this we possess no information. Between
the two the phenomenon is produced. As a rule the summer thaw must
suffice to melt the ice-foot away, for, if it did not, there would
be a continual increase in the thickness of the ice, and a kind of
glacier would be formed. Of such glaciers, however, we have seen no
examples. Though we found several cases of ice-foot apparently destined
to survive the summer, they probably owed their survival either to the
fact that they were produced by exceptionally heavy local falls of
snow, or to the summer’s thaw being below the average in total amount.
One year with another, the balance of formation and thaw appears to
be equalised. At all events, we have no evidence yet of any glacial
ice-foot that steadily increases. If, however, such an increasing
ice-foot were to arise, it would tend to bury the terminal moraine and
unite itself to the snout of the glacier, but before the process had
advanced very far the surface of the ice-foot would begin to acquire a
slope, on which a snow-bog could hardly be formed. The glacial water
would be drained quickly away and the conditions for further increase
of the ice-foot would no longer exist.

Considering such questions, I dawdled about on the beach and the ice,
to the great disgust of some glaucous gulls, who kept swooping down
close to my head with horrid cries. Rain falling heavily did not add
perceptibly to the discomforts of the cold and blustery day. Near
camp was another ruined whalers’ settlement or cookery, surrounded
by quantities of bleached and rotting bones, and with the inevitable
grave-mound close by. The ruins in this case were better preserved, so
that their character was recognisable. A whalers’ cookery consisted
essentially of two parts, a “tent” and a cauldron. The tent was a
building of four low stone walls roofed with sailcloth passed over
a ridge-pole and held down by rocks round the edges. The walls of
the tent are still standing on a mound. Close by are the wrecks of
the brickwork belonging to two cauldrons for boiling down blubber.
Quantities of coal-slag showed the nature of the fuel employed. All
about the ruins and amongst the bones, moss was growing with the
peculiar rankness already mentioned as characteristic of the sites of
human habitation in Spitsbergen.

Rain fell steadily all night long. The tide rising higher than before,
banged our boat about, for all we could do was to drag it as high
as the waves would carry it at high tide, and stand by to prevent
accidents till the waters had retreated again. Obviously, we must seek
some better haven. Accordingly Garwood and I set forth along the shore
northward to the point, and then eastward. Expecting no worse trouble
than rivers to cross, I wore only rubber waders, and hands in pockets
instead of carrying an ice-axe. This was all right so long as the beach
lasted, but where cliffs took the place of beach, difficulties arose.
The slope above the cliffs proved to be furrowed by couloirs filled
with ice. Garwood being somewhere aloft, stone-breaking, I had to cross
the gullies without assistance. This was accomplished by a new system.
Having selected a couple of sharp-pointed stones, like palæolithic
celts, I lay down and scrambled across, digging the stones in and using
them as handhold. Fortunately the slope was not steep. In case of a
slip I should have shot down the couloir fast enough, and been tossed
out at the foot of it over the cliff into the sea. The point of the bay
was reached beyond the fourth of these couloirs. The view over the head
of Horn Sound was tolerably good, though the strong cold wind made its
investigation anything but pleasant. The mountain-tops were hidden.
It is their remarkably bold forms that make fair-weather views of the
sound so beautiful. All the glaciers, however, were clear of fog. The
end of the sound is filled by a very big one; two others, descending
from Horn Sunds Tind, jutted out the cliffs of their splintered
sea-fronts between the end glacier and our point, whilst a whole series
of minor glaciers descend to, or almost to, the sea, along the north
shore, the principal one debouching into a fine bay almost opposite to
us.

After taking observations at the point, I went eastward along the
south shore, where, above a low rock wall, is a belt of fairly level
ground intervening between the sound and a grand precipice that reached
up into leaden clouds. A group of graves was passed, near the little
rock-bound cove to which we afterwards moved camp. Half a mile on
came a remarkable assemblage of great fallen rocks, looking from the
distance like some ancient megalithic monument. The individual rocks
were as big as houses; ages ago they all fell together in a mighty
avalanche from the top of the neighbouring precipice. Almost all of
them have been cloven in half by atmospheric denudation and frost, and
the clefts afford delightful scrambles. In the midst of the ruin are
mossy lawns, springs of clear water, a few pools, and accumulations
of winter snow lingering in shady places. Here I came up with Garwood
enjoying shelter from the wind in a quiet nook. The views from the tops
of these rocks, and from various places among them, were most striking,
especially when some glacier-front could be caught within a framing
foreground of the splintered crags. We paid several visits to these
Stonehenge rocks, as we named them. Garwood, I believe, climbed them
all. Half a dozen contented me. Their quaintness grew upon us. We were
always finding new resemblances in their queer forms. Some had almost
dissolved away, leaving mere pillars to represent what had been mighty
cubes. One such pillar looked to me like an ancient Arabian bethel, but
Garwood called it “a ripping tombstone”!

Some distance farther on came the first side glacier (Kittiwake
Glacier), emerging, past the end of the precipice, out of a gap in
the hills. Just at the angle is the resting-place of innumerable
kittiwakes, whose cries mingled with the noise of the wind. The glacier
was gained above its crevassed end, after a toilsome scramble up
moraine. It proved to be snow-covered and full of hidden crevasses.
Never, I suppose, was a glacier party less well provided than were we
two men to face such conditions. My boots had slippery rubber soles;
in each of Garwood’s were just two nails. We had neither rope nor
stick, our single implement being a small geological hammer. It may
be imagined, therefore, that our further progress was made slowly and
with much precaution. Ultimately we gained the middle of the glacier,
and saw up it to the rocks of what afterwards proved to be Horn Sunds
Tind disappearing into cloud. A few days later (19th) we returned
better equipped, but in weather no wise improved. That time we crossed
Kittiwake Glacier to its right bank, where are the red rocks which
Garwood once hoped would prove to be Devonian. They were an utter
disappointment, and he turned from them in disgust. Beyond came a slope
of screes, and then the next and smaller glacier, which likewise has a
splintered sea-front, almost joining that of the great Horn Glacier at
the head of the sound. We climbed on to a commanding hummock and gazed
inland. Horn Glacier is wide and of gentle slope, with hills of small
elevation immediately north of it as far as we could see. From the
south it receives two or three considerable tributaries, divided from
one another by mountain ranges of decided form, whose bases alone were
disclosed. The island is here only about sixteen miles wide. My idea
was to make a dash across and locate the position and direction of the
watershed, which is probably near the east coast, but in such weather
nothing could have been seen. A few miles inland fog rested on the snow.

The inner part of the sound and the north bay were dotted over with
quantities of floating ice-blocks, fallen from various glacier-fronts,
and steadily drifting out to sea with the tide. It was near midnight,
and the sky was tinted with sunset tones just visible through thin
places in the roof of cloud, as we returned to camp. Only hunger
reconciled us to the sight of the tents, for the sea was rising with
the tide, and at high water we must get afloat and move away to one
of the more sheltered places round to the east beyond the point.
Everything was duly packed, the boat loaded, and all was ready, but we
could not get her afloat. Work as we might she would turn broadside to
the waves, and nothing would keep her straight. Two oars were broken
in the attempt. Then we unloaded her again and tried to get her off
empty, but that was no easier. The weather was continually worsening,
and our struggles became desperate; it was all wasted labour. A bigger
wave than usual at last broke into and filled the boat, rendering her
utterly unmanageable. There was nothing for it but to unpack everything
and pitch camp again. The tide presently going down, the boat was once
more left high and dry, so that at six in the morning we were able to
turn in.

During the night Garwood was inspired with a new plan for hauling up
the boat. To me it did not seem promising, but, as a matter of fact, it
worked. Acting under his instructions, the three of us set our backs
under the bows and shoved them transversely a few inches uphill, then
under the stern and did the same. The double process moved her about
one inch. It was repeated again and again. After two hours’ work we
had the satisfaction of seeing the boat well above high-water mark.
But long before the time for high tide the waves, now grown large and
thunderous, were almost up to her, and we had to go at her again as
before and gain another few yards.

The weather was miserable. Clouds lay almost upon the water. When the
tide turned we went for a walk inland to the foot of Goose Glacier and
up its right bank, following the route by which in the previous year
Garwood had approached the foot of Mount Hedgehog in exactly similar
weather. We kept on up the glacier for some way, and the clouds became
a little more broken as the distance from the sea increased. There
even came a momentary hole in them, at the end of which a point of
rock appeared with a stone man upon it. “There is the rock on which we
camped last year,” cried Garwood, “and there’s the cairn we built.” I
only had time to identify it before the fog embraced and hid it once
more. After that there was nothing to be seen. Rain fell, wind blew,
and we turned homeward.

When the bay came in sight we perceived that conditions were not
improved. There was no wind in Goose Haven itself, but a heavy swell
was coming in from the open sea, breaking right over the rocks that
make the little cove where we landed on Hofer Point, and tossing
towers of spray into the air. I measured one of them by comparison
with the cliff beside it, and found it to be fifty feet in height. A
little anxious about our camp and boat, we hurried down and found them
threatened by the inroading waves, already at half-tide reaching above
the previous high-tide mark. The tents were quickly moved twenty yards
farther inland. All the baggage was carried after them, and then came
another turn at the boat, which was finally brought to a position of
safety. Long before that was accomplished the place where the tents had
been pitched was deeply covered by the boiling surf. Drenched with rain
and generally disgusted, we turned in about the middle of the morning
of the 17th.



CHAPTER X

ASCENT OF MOUNT HEDGEHOG


After breakfast in the afternoon of August 17, as things looked a
little better, we loaded ourselves with provisions, instruments, &c.,
and decided to make an expedition at all events to the base of Mount
Hedgehog, and thence perhaps back to Horn Sound by way of Kittiwake
Glacier. It was 8.30 P.M. when we set forth, all three in far from
hopeful humour. We retraced the steps of the previous day, passing
the ruined cookery, and going over undulating ground and up the
right bank of Goose Glacier, then crossing the foot of a small side
glacier, which brings down a moraine of grey marble streaked with
pink, and so reaching the open ice where Garwood’s cairn came into
view. Last year hidden crevasses were troublesome hereabouts, but
there was no such danger now. Crevasses were either open or covered
with firm roofs of frozen snow. We roped, of course, but the rope was
not required--fortunately not, for Nielsen disliked and distrusted
it, and would not keep it tight, ultimately refusing to wear it any
longer and preferring to go detached. Give him rocks or the sea, he
said; as for ice and snow he knew nothing about them, and did not feel
safe on them, roped or unroped. Overhead was the usual roof of cloud.
Gradually, as we advanced and left the coast behind, we perceived the
roof was becoming thinner. Small holes began to appear, with faint
suggestions of rock behind them. Our excitement increased, for Garwood
knew that they were the rocks of Mount Hedgehog’s great precipice.
Thinner and thinner became the veil of mist as we walked expectant over
the hard-frozen _névé_, the mountain behind becoming every moment more
clearly disclosed, till at last it was fully revealed to us, a glorious
wall of silver-dusted rock with the crimson fires of heaven falling
like a mantle upon it. It was about midnight, two days before the sun’s
first setting. The radiant orb was upon the north horizon, half-buried
in the fog above which we were rising. A flood of crimson light flowed
from it over all mountains that rose above the clouds, so that every
rock was like a glowing coal, whilst the snow-domes resembled silken
cushions.

Now at length I realized the position and nature of that Horn Sunds
Tind of which I had heard and read so much. It is not a peak, nor a
mountain, but a range of peaks running, not parallel to Horn Sound,
as marked on the chart, but at right-angles to it and almost north
and south. At the north end of the range is the highest point, a
needle of rock very similar to the Aiguille du Dru in form. This is
separated by a deep depression from the larger, but, as we afterwards
learnt, lower, mountain-mass to which we have attached the old name,
Mount Hedgehog, originally given to the whole range by its English
discoverers. Of this mass the culminating point is at its south end.
From it there descends to the west a steep rock rib, ending below in
a shattered little peak, beyond which comes a snow-saddle. The west
ridge rises slightly again to a rock mound (Bastion Point), falls to
another and wider snow-saddle, and is thence continued as a splintered
rocky range, forming the left bank of the branch of Goose Glacier up
which we had come. It was upon an outlier of Bastion Point that Garwood
and his party encamped last year. We found their tent-platform as
fresh as if it had only just been abandoned. Garwood affectionately
identified the various empty tins lying about and was lucky enough to
find his own pocket-compass uninjured where it had been forgotten. In
the neighbouring cairn were the records of their climb, a separate one
written by each member of the party.

[Illustration: HORN SUNDS TINDER.]

There was no doubt in our minds what next thing demanded doing. We
must climb the peak above, while the chance offered, for the sky
overhead was brilliantly clear; there was no wind and no apparent
change of weather impending. Sea, shore, lowlands, and glaciers were
unfortunately buried beneath the floor of clouds, but all hills over
1000 feet high were likely to be disclosed, so that the view would be
of great geographical interest. Nielsen preferred not to accompany our
ascent, so we gave him the plane-table and whatever else could not
be carried further. At 12.30 A.M. (August 18) we parted in opposite
directions, Nielsen going back to camp, we two upward to the broad snow
col between Bastion Point and the foot of the great west ridge.

Before describing the ascent it is advisable to show the rather special
importance attaching to it. In the year 1823 Sir Edward (then Captain)
Sabine was sent to Spitsbergen and East Greenland to make pendulum
observations for determining the figure of the earth. From what he
observed on that brief visit he was led to conclude that Spitsbergen
is a land-area excellently adapted to the purpose of measuring an arc
of the meridian in a high latitude, a measurement which would be of
the utmost value for well-known scientific reasons not in this place
needing discussion. It is enough here to say that Sabine set forth
his ideas in a letter (February 8, 1826) addressed to Davies Gilbert,
M.P., Vice-President of the Royal Society. From that day to this the
proposal has not been lost sight of, but before an elaborately accurate
measurement of a line some 240 miles in length could be undertaken
it was necessary to decide upon the various points to be used for
the angles of the trigonometrical net. This could only be done after
Spitsbergen itself had been roughly surveyed. The first definite
step toward carrying out Sabine’s project was made by Professor Otto
Torell,[12] who included in the plans of the Swedish Spitsbergen
expedition of 1861 a reconnaissance of the meridian-arc. The work was
to be divided between two ships, the _Æolus_ and the _Magdalena_.
Chydenius on the _Æolus_ was to lay out the northern part of the line
and select the points of observation from the Seven Islands down to
the south end of Hinloopen Strait, whilst Dunér on the _Magdalena_ was
to complete the preparations down Wybe Jans Water to the South Cape.
Owing to unfavourable ice conditions the work could not be wholly
accomplished in that year. Another Swedish expedition was accordingly
sent out in 1864, under Nordenskiöld’s leadership, with Dunér to pay
special attention to the geognostic observations. The result of these
efforts was the suggestion of three different meridian-arcs: (1) along
the west coast from South Cape to Vogelsang Island; (2) down the
middle of the island by way of Wijde Bay, Ice Fjord, Bell Sound, and
Horn Sound; (3) from Ross Island (north of the Seven Islands) to the
South Cape by way of the east coast, Hinloopen Strait, and North-East
Land. The third of these was the line recommended. It has, however,
never been run, because the sea east of Spitsbergen is seldom easily
navigable and the number of fine days are few. Moreover, in order to
link together the triangles set out in Wybe Jans Water with those of
Hinloopen Strait, observations must be made from a high hill in the
midst of Garwood Land close to the furthest point reached by us this
year from Klaas Billen Bay. Professor Nordenskiöld himself informed me
that the existence of a hill commanding the necessary distant views had
been to him doubtful, though he believed that they had identified as
one and the same the apparently highest point of a range of mountains
seen from three different points near the east coast (Svanberg, the
White Mountain, and Mount Lovén). That such a mountain does in fact
exist (and even more than one) was discovered and proved by us this
year. The surpassing eminence of Horn Sunds Tind, dominating as it does
the whole southern region of Spitsbergen, visible from the west coasts
of Edges Land and Barents Land, and easily recognisable when and whence
soever seen, indicated its summit as the best point for observations
but the mountain was believed to be inaccessible. It was also believed
that other useful mountain peaks might exist in the interior of the
south part of the island between Horn Sound and Ice Fjord, by use of
which as trigonometrical stations the necessity of visiting ice-blocked
Wybe Jans Water might be avoided. One of the minor purposes of Herr
Gustaf Nordenskiöld’s expedition of 1890 was to pay attention to
these matters. He accordingly landed in Horn Sound and made a rapid
journey across the glaciers and mountains between that point and the
so-called Recherche Bay in Bell Sound.[13] He concluded that Horn
Sunds Tind and the mountains of similar structure north of Horn Sound
were inaccessible, and therefore could not be used as trigonometrical
stations. Our discovery that Horn Sunds Tind is probably visible
from the Three Crowns added greatly to its importance as a possible
trigonometrical station. Thus it was now become a matter of unusual
interest to discover a way to its summit.

An easy ascent up a snow incline brought us to the rocks of the
little peak in which the west _arête_ of Mount Hedgehog has its lower
termination. They are broken rocks, lying at a steep angle. Deep,
new, hard-frozen snow filled up their interstices and made the ascent
very laborious, though quite easy. From the top of the little peak we
looked abroad over the sea of cloud, beneath which we knew the ocean
must lie, though no trace of it was visible to the remotest horizon.
The surface of cloud was generally level but undulating, the crests of
its motionless waves dyed pink by the midnight sun, the troughs filled
with blue shadows. Straight ahead rose the steep splintered rock-ridge
to the desired summit. On our right of it stretched up a broad
ice-couloir, narrowing above to a snow-saddle close below the peak, and
broadening below to Hedgehog Glacier, which flows almost due south to
the sea, and along whose left bank lie the row of lesser peaks forming
the continuation of Horn Sunds Tind. Last year Garwood led his party up
this couloir, keeping close to the rocks of the _arête_ by its right
(north) side. There was no better way, so we went down to the col east
of our little peak, and attacked the snow-slope beyond, Garwood leading
now and throughout the ascent.

I was astonished, on approaching the couloir, to hear the mountain, as
it were, singing over all its precipitous face. The cause of the sound
was not apparent; it resembled the noise of waterfalls. The bonds of
frost were, however, strong upon the mountain and must have held it
for many days in a thawless grip, so that I could not believe there
was any water to fall. Once in the couloir the mystery was explained.
The sound arose from a cascade of fragments of ice, varying in size
from a nut to a hen’s egg. We soon found out their cause and whence
they came. Fine snow crystals formed in upper regions of the air, so
different from the large flakes of lower levels, had been flung by
the gale upon the crags. Hour after hour and doubtless day after day
the bombardment continued. The flying icy dust clung to the rocks,
and, being constantly added to, built itself up into feathery icicles
pointing towards the wind. Where there had been a constant eddy it was
shown by the changed direction of the icicles. They were only an inch
or two long low down, but the higher we climbed the larger we found
them to be, till near the top they became splendid plumes eighteen
inches long or more and of the loveliest forms, like ostrich-feathers
glittering with diamond dust. It was these icicles, detached from above
by the leverage of their overgrown length, and smashed into smaller
fragments as they fell, that filled the air with the sibilant, rushing
sound which seemed like the noise of many waters. Throughout the ascent
we had to run the gauntlet of these missiles, and were often hit, and
hit hard, but never so severely that it mattered. They were not big
enough to knock us out of our steps, whilst, once they had taken their
first bound from the rocks, they kept close to the slope, so that they
seldom flew by at a level higher than our waists.

Last year Garwood had escaped this particular annoyance, but instead
had found the couloir in a rotten condition with soft snow lying upon
ice, so that he had to cut steps through the snow into the ice from the
very start. This year, the snow being hard-frozen, step-cutting did not
commence till some way further up. Garwood started with hopes that much
of it might be avoided by scrambling up the rocks of the _arête_, but
the ice-covering on them rendered that impracticable, or, at the least,
highly dangerous. Across the foot of the couloir stretched two of the
inevitable deep crevasses or _bergschrunds_ which every couloir boasts.
Under the conditions they were, of course, well bridged, and presented
no difficulty. Bonds of frost likewise held the rocks together, so that
not a stone fell across the route of our ascent. In warm weather, and
especially after midday, falling stones must be very common here, nor
do I see how they can be avoided, for they rake every possible line of
ascent.

Once really in the couloir, step-cutting became necessary, at first
mere slicing of the frozen snow, but all too soon laborious hacking
into hard blue ice. We kept close to the rocks and could sometimes
advance a step or two by jamming the foot into the crack between rocks
and ice. Such relief was rare. I calculated that Garwood cut altogether
five hundred ice-steps in the couloir. This does not include snow-steps
below it or on the final ridge. Garwood made them small and far apart,
whilst I enlarged them into regular shelves to last against our return.
The view, when we turned round to look at it in breathing intervals,
was restricted, for the walls of the couloir shut out everything except
the prospect over the cloud-covered ocean, which remained from hour
to hour bathed in the pink light of sunset or sunrise. The sun flung
the blue shadow of our peak far out upon the cloud-floor. When we
were fairly high up, the shadow of the summit became tipped with red,
which, as we mounted higher, developed into a series of four concentric
rainbows, apparently lying on the clouds in the remote distance and
haloing the shadow of the peak. This effect, as may well be believed,
was remarkable enough; but even more unusual, to my eyes, was the
appearance of what I can only describe as two radiantly white roads
of brightness, stretching directly away from us straight out to the
horizon, one on either side of the mountain’s shadow, and each making
an angle of about 37°, with a line from the eye to the centre of the
rainbows, or 143° round from the sun. All the rest of the cloud-floor
was still mottled in blue and pink, though the pink was now growing
faint, and the general tone was becoming blue-grey; the two “roads”
alone were snow-white by contrast.

The higher we rose the steeper was the couloir, the harder the ice,
and the greater the cold. The distance from the glacier below steadily
increased; to look down upon it was like looking down a wall. The
distance to the skyline above did not seem to diminish correspondingly.
We came to the point where Garwood had led his companions on to the
rocks last year. We, however, kept on up the ice. Then we were level
with last year’s highest. It had been estimated at about eighty feet
below the summit, as far as the fog enabled a guess to be made; now
in perfectly clear air we saw that very much more than eighty feet
remained to be climbed. A strip of rocks, above on our right, descended
into the couloir from the final snow _arête_ at its top. We cut a long
staircase diagonally across to them up a yet steeper ice-slope than
any before. They proved to be nothing worse than rather steep screes
encumbered with ice. We scrambled up them to the final ridge, a real
knife-edge of snow of the giddiest description, for on the other side
the mountain wall plunged vertically, as it seemed, 3000 feet down into
the floor of cloud below. Here we entered the sunshine, and the view
toward Edges Land burst upon us, but we scarcely looked at it. There
was not a cloud in the sky; we should see it better from the top, and
to that our attention was anxiously turned. It was still 100 feet above
our heads. A thread-like snow-ridge of astonishing delicacy led steeply
up to the final tooth of rock. Carefully we advanced, planting our feet
on the very crest of the ridge, which had to be trodden down before it
was broad enough to stand upon. Here and there overhanging cornices
had to be avoided; but only care was required, there was no real
difficulty. In a few minutes we touched the foot of the summit rock.
It was a plumb vertical wall, perhaps fifteen feet high. I suppose
we might have climbed straight up it, but an easier way was found.
The rock was cloven in half from top to bottom by a crack just wide
enough to squeeze through sideways if we expelled our breath and made
ourselves thin. On the other side of it was a ledge giving easy access
to the highest point, on which we laid our hands with a great feeling
of joy. The ascent had taken five hours from the foot of the couloir.

To express the beauty of the view that now surrounded us surpasses
my powers. A bare statement of its character and extent is all that
I shall attempt to set down. The lowlands, bays, and wide glaciers
were alike buried beneath the floor of cloud, so that much of the
geographical information which else might have been obtained was
withheld. Only in the south-east was there any sea or coast-line
visible, an appearance of low-lying flat land, which may indeed have
been merely a shadow upon water. The whole of Edges Land was in cloud,
but Barents Land was sharp and clear, with all its peaks quite distinct
and easy of identification, had one but known what to identify. Here,
too, the waters of Wybe Jans Water were disclosed with the sunshine
lying brightly upon them, and the long east coast of Spitsbergen
leading in that direction. Everywhere else were only peaks rising
like golden islands out of a silver sea. A row of such, the tops of a
range of hills, ran close by us down the middle of the land towards
the South Cape. In the north was a chaos of peaks, those near at hand
lying in north and south rows, but the remoter ones dotted about on
no discoverable plan. We identified the peaks about Bell Sound, and
Mount Starashchin at the mouth of Ice Fjord, but of hills more remote
we could be sure of none. So much for the distance and background of
the view; its great glory, however, was in the craggy ridge of Horn
Sunds Tind itself, along which we looked both to north and south.
Southward it sank rapidly, but in the opposite direction it reared
itself into successive jagged peaks rising out of a narrow zigzag ridge
of precipitous rock. Alas! we were not on the highest point; that was
now seen to be the splendid needle further north, divided from Mount
Hedgehog by a deep gap, and perhaps surpassing it in height by as much
as forty feet. All the rocks of this glorious ridge were covered with
ice-feathers, whereon the sun shone with great brilliancy, whilst a
bold shadow clothed the whole west face of the mountain. The zigzagging
of the ridge brought the bright and shadowed sides into alternate
prominence, and led the eye agreeably along to the sudden jut of the
culminating needle. How beautifully this wonderful group of bold,
snow-decked crags was enframed by the bright effulgence of the cloudy
sea and its emergent islands any one can imagine better than I can say.
The effect on the spectator was heightened by the sense of standing
high and alone, for, save along the knife-edged ridge, the mountain
fell from our feet with such utter abruptness as to seem everywhere
vertical, so that we had the sensation of looking from a balloon rather
than of standing upon the solid earth.

We now observed that a very fine range of peaks, striking inland
northward from the west side of Horn Sound’s north bay, is the
orographical continuation of Horn Sunds Tind, the sound itself having
been cut right through this ridge. No visitor to Horn Sound can fail to
notice the remarkable end peak of this ridge, which rises from the sea,
a rock-blade of the narrowest description, one side very steep, the
other plumb-vertical. Numberless birds nest in the lower part of its
cliffs, inaccessible alike to men and foxes.

Tearing ourselves away from the summit and its entrancing view, when
at last we were almost frozen stiff, we retreated a few yards down
the east face into a little hollow, sheltered from the wind and open
to the tepid sun. There a frugal luncheon was eaten and pipes duly
smoked, and there we left our cards in a crack, for there were no loose
stones out of the snow wherewith to build a cairn, nor, if there had
been any, was there room enough on the summit for a cairn to stand. In
such raw atmosphere, however, motion is needful for enjoyment, so that
neither of us was unwilling to commence the descent. Garwood’s notion
of traversing the whole length of Mount Hedgehog’s summit-ridge to its
north end and descending by another west _arête_ from that point was
silently abandoned. With the mountain in good condition it might be
accomplished and enjoyed, but the iced rocks made the attempt not worth
consideration. By the way that we came up by the same must we return.

Trotting down the _arête_ to the top of the ice-covered screes was
easy enough, but from that point the greatest care was required. Both
of us afterwards confessed that we looked forward with trepidation to
the descent of these screes, for they were very steep, very loose,
and slippery with powdered uncompacting ice. Descents, however,
are generally worse in prospect than in actuality, and this was no
exception. We hardly realised where the bad place was till it had been
passed; but at the foot of the rocks there lurked a quite unforeseen
perplexity. Our beautiful ice-staircase had so completely disappeared
that for some time we could not discover its position. The steep
snow-covered ice-slope was absolutely smooth. No visible inequality
broke the evenness of its white surface. With some difficulty I found
our old footsteps on the rocks. Standing in them and leaning downward,
whilst Garwood held the rope, I probed in all directions for the
topmost ice-step. It seemed as though an entirely new staircase would
have to be cut. But at last luck revealed the missing hole, which, like
all the rest below, was filled up and smoothed over by snow-dust and
ice-fragments that had fallen into it. I cleared it out and began the
descent. The next step was similarly masked and had to be sought and
cleared, though, of course, its position was more easily found. The
steps, having been cut as far apart as we could stride, were difficult
to reach down to, nor did we venture to tread down a pace till the
exact position of the foothold had been discovered. Sometimes new steps
had to be cut because the old ones were beyond reach of the axe. It was
interesting work which prevented the return from being monotonous, but
rendered progress rather slow. When the _bergschrund_ was approached
difficulties were at an end. We looked back and found the summit again
enveloped in cloud, whilst the sea-fog below was steadily rising.
Before we had quitted the rocks of the peaklet at the foot of the ridge
we were well into the dense mist, where, in a few yards, we promptly
lost our way and had to appeal to the compass for direction. Garwood’s
cairn was reached a few minutes later, and our remaining provisions
were consumed under its shelter. The descent to camp was without
incident. Tired and hungry, we reached it after an absence of fourteen
hours, and were delighted to find that the violence of the waves had
abated.

It may be of interest to Alpine climbers to compare this ascent with
that of some known peak in the Alps. The height of the mountain from
the foot of the glacier is about 4500 feet. From the _bergschrund_ at
the foot of the couloir to the top is about 3000 feet. The ascent,
therefore, from the point where the climb commences is somewhat longer
than, and happens to be very similar in character to, the corresponding
part of the ascent of the Aiguille Verte[14] in the Mont Blanc range,
made by way of the south-east couloir. Horn Sunds Tind, indeed, may
be compared in other respects with the Verte group. Mount Hedgehog
represents the Verte itself, the west _arête_ corresponds to the Moine
ridge, whilst the highest northern needle resembles the Dru, both in
position and in form. Some day, no doubt, it will be climbed, though
I scarcely think Garwood and I shall return to climb it. Horn Sound
appears to be a bad weather region, and we have had enough of its
inhospitable shores.

About 7.30 P.M., after a good sleep, we awoke to find the most glorious
drama of colour playing for us upon the sound. Already, through ten
hours of every night, when thin clouds covered the sky, marvellous
long-drawn-out sunset effects brooded over the southern extremity of
Spitsbergen. Day by day they were creeping further north, heralds of
the long winter night. What we saw that evening was no ordinary sunset
of the temperate regions merely extended in duration, but such a sombre
splendour as might fitly usher in the fiery consummation of the world.
The hidden sun, level with a low, thin roof of cloud, shone both upon
its upper and lower surfaces, painting the underside a ruddy brown.
Peculiar and unexpected reflections made lights in strange places.
The mountains were dark chocolate or rich purple in colour. Lighter
chocolate were the glaciers. The fjord was dark-green, shot with pink
reflections from above. Away beyond the sea was a belt of clear sky
beneath the cloud-roof. Overhead, pink clouds, rent and twisted by some
high gale, writhed in an island of blue in the upper regions of the
air. New snow whitened the lower hill-slopes. Chilly blasts came and
passed, telling of the winter that was at hand.

Late in the evening we breakfasted and packed up camp. Soon after
midnight the boat was easily launched in the calm bay. It was our
intention to row to the far side of the head of the sound, where there
were rocks that Garwood thought might prove worth examination. No
sooner, however, was the point of Goose Bay rounded than a strong wind
from the north-east met us, against which we could not make headway.
Close at hand was a little cove, well protected by rocks, and there we
were compelled to land, just forty-eight hours before the steamer was
to call and fetch us away.

The doings of these two days are not worth record. They were a time
of low clouds and frequent heavy rains. No exploration could be done,
because nothing could be seen. We made useless expeditions to Kittiwake
Glacier; we scrambled among the Stonehenge Rocks, and otherwise killed
time. Thick clouds and the dipping sun made the nights so dark that
candles had to be burnt in the tent during several hours. The sea
became quite calm; birds seemed to increase in numbers upon the water,
as though they were gathering in Horn Sound for their southern flight,
just as the whaling fleet in old days used to gather either here or in
Bell Sound.

Early on the morning of the 21st, Nielsen called us with news that
the _Lofoten_ was in sight. To pack our baggage and launch the boat
was the work of a few minutes. We rowed out to the steamer, which
took us and our goods on board and promptly headed away for the open
sea and the south. As Horn Sound was quitted, the weather temporarily
improved. For a moment the clouds broke or lifted, and showed us, for
the first time, all the height and width of Horn Sunds Tind--a sight
to us most interesting, but not specially impressive in the dull
illumination that prevailed. We passed the South Cape at sunset and
enjoyed one memorable last look along the west coast, whose peaks and
promontories were visible as far away as the Dead Man at the mouth of
Ice Fjord. The northern horizon behind them was striped with ruddy
and golden radiance. The under side of the everlasting cloud-roof was
strangely illuminated with delicate pink light, reflected up to it
from the white surface of the interior of Spitsbergen, upon which the
low sun contrived to cast its rays just below the northern edge of the
cloud-cap--an effect I have never before observed. I have several times
seen the underside of Spitsbergen’s cloud-roof shining pink, and always
supposed that it reflected direct sunshine; but probably in such cases
a preliminary upward reflection of the light from a snowfield may be
assumed.

Our voyage was delightfully calm. We saw many whales and hundreds of
seals in schools, especially near Bear Island, north-west of whose
south point we cast anchor for a few hours in the afternoon of the
22nd. The top of Mount Misery was buried in a soft grey cloud, but the
splendid cliffs below were close at hand, with pillared rocks jutting
out of the sea at their feet. A heavy swell broke upon the barren
island, casting towers of spray aloft. Off shore blew a stiff local
breeze that made landing a wet and laborious process, for it was only
just possible to row against it. Every one who landed returned to the
ship drenched to the skin.

A few miles away from Bear Island the wind dropped and the sea was
calm. From hour to hour the temperature rose, so that those of us who
had spent any length of time in Spitsbergen felt that we were coming
into luxurious and almost tropical latitudes. About sixty miles north
of the North Cape two ships under full sail came in sight far away
over the calm sea. They were bound from Arkangel, laden with timber
for English ports. When they had been left behind, the hills of Norway
appeared along the southern horizon. Their low line gradually rose
from the bosom of the waters as we approached. The sun foundered into
the sea about nine o’clock, just when our ship passed under the North
Cape’s beetling cliff and rounded into the sheltered eastern bay,
where is a little landing-stage at the foot of a zigzag path leading
up a gully to the plateau above. Bay and gully were shrouded in the
gloom of evening, but the air was warm and rich with the smell of
the land. We rowed ashore, a motley international company. Something
like a race was started for the summit of the Cape, which is about
1000 feet above sea-level and a long distance from the landing-place.
I see that Bädeker gives seventy minutes for a rational ascent; we
most irrationally did it in twenty-eight. It was a merry party that
gathered on the top--Belgians, Poles, Hungarians, Swedes, English,
Norwegians, men of science, seamen, travellers. Nansen’s _Fram_ crew
were represented by three of its members, including the laughter-loving
giant, Peter Hendriksen, every one’s butt and playfellow. Bottles were
uncorked, and their contents shared round. Rocks were prized down the
cliffs. It was a gay hour. Though heated by the uphill race, we could
sit without chill on the exposed promontory; for the air to us was full
of southern warmth, and felt like the air of hot Italian valleys to a
man descending into them from the Alps.

The party soon dispersed, and I found a secluded corner, under the very
point, with the northern ocean below. “In such moments Solitude is
invaluable; for who would speak, or be looked on, when behind him lies
all Europe and Africa, fast asleep, except the watchmen; and before
him the silent Immensity, and Palace of the Eternal”--thus thought
Teufelsdrökh, as he stood on this particular spot one June midnight,
clothed in his “light-blue Spanish cloak” and looking “like a little
blue Belfry.” “Silent Immensity and Palace of the Eternal!”--the words
are not too strong for the wonder of that view. There was no midnight
sun to look upon; a spot of brightness in the midst of the orange and
crimson north showed where, far beneath the horizon, it was looking
abroad over the cloud-covered arctic world. The delicate crescent
of the new moon beamed not far away, with a single planet near it.
Straight from my feet plunged the splendid cliff to the measureless
stretch of the Arctic Sea. In the east, air, ocean, and clouds merged
together in a harmony of tender violet, so soft, so rare of tint, that
the eye, once turned thither, was loath to wander again. A faint low
promontory of land, dividing sky from sea, lured the fancy onward to
the regions of romance--Novaja-Zemlja, the Kara Sea, and the way of the
North-East Passage. Not thitherward was our way, but home. By noon we
were again in Hammerfest.



CHAPTER XI

ON THE USE OF SKI


Since Nansen published his book, “The First Crossing of Greenland,”
the English public has known of _ski_ and their use. Ski (pronounced
_shee_) are Norwegian snowshoes, now admitted to be the best form of
snowshoe in the world. They are long, narrow planks for fastening one
under each foot, so as to distribute over an area of soft snow, many
times larger than the area of the foot, the weight of a man walking.
They not only prevent him from sinking into the snow, but, if it is
in suitable condition, they enable him to slide along on its surface.
The common idea in England is that the art of using ski is very
difficult of acquisition. This, as I shall show, is a mistake. No doubt
the almost miraculous expertness attained by the best Norwegian and
Swedish skisters (to coin a needed word) is beyond reach of ordinary
Englishmen, who take to the sport when they are full grown and have
rare opportunities for practising it. But for purposes of mere travel
far less skill is required.

In fact, it is with skiing as it is with skating. Any person, with
normal habits of exercise and control over his limbs, can learn to
skate in a few days well enough to go straight ahead over good ice at
a tolerable pace. Within a fortnight of his putting on skates for the
first time, he might go a-touring along frozen Dutch canals without
being much, if anything, of a hindrance to a companion, the most expert
of figure-skaters. To pass the St. Moritz test as a figure-skater takes
months or even years of practice, but that is to learn the art, not
the mere craft of skating. So it is with skiing. The artist skister
can race down steep slopes at an appalling velocity, leaping drops
or crefts of almost incredible dimensions. A traveller who needs ski
for the purpose of exploring the great snowy areas of the world has
no occasion to acquire skill of that pre-eminent character. He is not
called upon to advance faster than a sledge can be dragged by men or
dogs, as the case may be, and that he can learn to accomplish in a
very short time. Sliding downhill is a little more difficult; but any
climber, who can make standing glissades with facility, soon learns to
glissade on ski down any ordinary slope of snow.

When Garwood and I landed in Norway last year, we had never seen a pair
of ski, and did not know where to buy or how to choose them. During the
summer we travelled over 150 miles on ski, dragging our sledges behind
us. Later on we went to Stockholm and saw all manner of ski in the
Exhibition there, and availed ourselves of every opportunity that came
in our way to obtain information about ski and everything connected
with them. We soon learnt that there are ski of all sorts and kinds.
They differ in the material of which they are made, and they differ
in form. I am told that ash is the best material to make them of. The
points to be seen to are the straightness of the grain and the absence
of knots. Lightness is less important for a traveller than strength.

The questions of form and size are determined by the purpose for which
the ski are to be used. Speaking generally, narrow ski are faster than
broad of the same area. In soft snow, however, the advantage vanishes,
for narrow ski sink in more deeply than broad; indeed, for very soft
snow, ski require to be both broad and long. The edges and the hinder
ends may be either rounded or cut off square. For hill climbing it
is certain that the squarer the angle of section of edges and hinder
ends the better, seeing they take a better hold of the snow, and
prevent sliding sideways or backwards; sharp edges also make steering
easier on hard snow. Relatively short, broad ski, are best for hill
climbing, and, in general, for the work of a traveller. They are easier
to advance on, easier to steer, and easier to turn round with. Their
length may be anything from two to one and a half metres, two metres
for choice; they should measure eight centimetres at the narrowest
part under the foot, increasing forward to from nine to ten centimetres
at the broadest part, just where the toe of the ski begins to turn
up. The front ends should be well turned up, the points being raised
from twelve to fifteen centimetres above the level of a horizontal
plane on which the ski stand. Such ski are of the Telemark type, and
can be bought under the name “Telemark ski,” from the Scandinavian
manufacturers. A good pair, made of selected ash, costs about fifteen
shillings.

[Illustration]

The most important matter for a novice is to learn how best to attach
his ski to his feet. There are various ways in which this can be done.
In all alike the attachment is such that the foot can be freely bent
and the heel raised, while the fore part of the foot is kept firmly
in contact with the ski. The roughest attachment is a mere loop or
strap of leather, fastened to the two sides of the ski, and gripping
the front part of the foot. This, however, permits the foot to wobble,
a most disagreeable condition for a beginner. Such fastenings were
all that Nielsen and Svensen used, and they seemed quite comfortable
with them. The common binding, and the best for a traveller, is more
complicated. The broad strap, going over the fore part of the foot,
is divided longitudinally on each side about the level of the sole.
Through the two loops thus formed there passes a stout piece of cane
covered with leather, the middle of which goes round the back of the
foot near the heel, whilst the two ends are brought forward and drawn
together in front of the toe, where they are fastened down firmly to
the wood of the ski. This fastening has to be adjustable, so that the
cane loop may be drawn close against the heel. There are several sorts
of adjustment; one is shown in the illustration. Another, perhaps
better, is a kind of vice that opens and shuts by a screw; it grips the
two ends well and enables either of them to be pushed forward ahead of
the other. A small strap, sewn on to the back of the boot, low down,
holds the cane in place. The same result may be less well attained by
using an additional strap that passes both under and above the instep,
and is sewn on both sides to the leather covering of the cane. This
form of attachment is usually employed by winter skisters in the Alps.
For advancing over level ground, all the fastenings may be loose; but
for hill climbing they need to be tight, so that the feet are firmly
attached to the ski and can direct them with certainty. Beginners will
certainly find tightly-attached ski much easier than loose to walk or
glissade on.

[Illustration]

The next question is that of footgear. For moderate cold, such as you
meet with in summer in the arctic regions, ordinary climbing boots
do well enough; but leather Lapp shoes are better. These seem to be
known by different names. I find them called “pjäxa-schuhe” in a
Swedish-German catalogue, which mentions two qualities, Norrbotten
(price 8s. 6d.), and Norwegian (price 14s. 6d.). A particular kind of
band is made, called a pjäxband, a kind of putti, for winding round the
top of the boot to keep out snow.

Within these leather boots thick goathair stockings should be worn. So
far as I know, they can only be purchased in Norway and Sweden, the
price varying according to the length. For very great cold, such as
that of arctic winter, shoes of reindeer fur, stuffed out with hay, are
required. The adjustment of ski to these is a less simple matter, for
if the hay is badly packed the cane is likely to rub against the heel
and produce a painful raw.

One more part of the equipment for skiing has yet to be mentioned. It
is the staff. Racing skisters use two sticks, one in each hand, but
for glissading the two have to be held together like a single staff.
To facilitate this, there are specially constructed staves made to fit
together. The ordinary ski-staff is provided with a kind of plate near
the spike, to prevent the point penetrating too far into soft snow, and
to give resistance for a push off. Travellers using ski in mountain
regions will probably find it best to carry an ordinary ice-axe and
make shift with it. An axe is far less convenient than a longer bamboo
staff, for mere purposes of skiing, but its other uses, when ski are
laid aside on steepening slopes where real climbing is required,
overbalance its obvious defects. It would be easy to devise some form
of small, circular plate to slip over the point of the axe a little
way up the stick, and wedge there, quickly removable when the axe is
required for step-cutting.

The skister’s equipment is really simple enough, but its various parts
are not easily purchasable in England. The following manufacturers
of ski showed exhibits at the Stockholm Exhibition of 1897: Helmer
Langborg, 6 Birger-Jarlsgatan, Stockholm (who also sells the various
kinds of boots, goathair stockings, gloves, pjäxbands, &c.); L. H.
Hagen & Co., of Christiania; L. Torgensen & Co., of Christiania (who
also make arctic sledges); Langesund Skifabrik, Langesund, Norway (a
very good exhibit); Fritz Huitfeldt, of Christiania (gold medal at the
principal Norwegian show for ski). I give this list of names quite
ignorantly, just as I copied them down. I have no knowledge about the
estimation in which they are held, their relative expensiveness, or
anything else concerning them. One or two of these firms issue priced
catalogues, which, I suppose, may be obtained on application. Ski are
also made and sold in Austria; they will be found advertised in the
publications of the German and Austrian Alpine Club. Ski of this make
are sold in winter at the chief Alpine centres, but they are very
inferior to ski of Scandinavian manufacture.

Little need be said about how to learn the use of ski, but one or two
hints, even from so poor a performer as the present writer, may be
suggestive to an absolute novice. The first desideratum is to fasten
the ski properly to the feet, so that the boards run truly with the
feet, not with an independent motion of their own. The trouble at first
is to keep the two ski constantly parallel with one another, and in the
direct line of advance. People whose habit is to turn out their toes in
walking, however slightly, will find themselves constantly impeded by
that trick. To keep the ski parallel, the feet must be parallel. The
motion is not one of walking but of shuffling. The ski are not raised
from the ground, but merely pushed forward, the knees being kept bent,
and the action resembling a sort of easy run. If the snow is in good
condition, the ski will slide forward a little at the end of each step.
The use of a staff or a pair of staves is to prolong the distance of
this sliding. If a staff is used it is grasped in both hands and thrust
into the snow on one side every time the foot on that side is advanced.
If two staves are used, one in each hand, each is thrust back (like a
walking-stick) against the snow, turn about, the left when the left
foot is advanced, and _vice versâ_. Another way is to take three quick
steps and to thrust with both staves at the moment of the fourth step.
Yet another trick is to thrust with both staves at every third step;
this changes the foot each time, but is more difficult. About four
miles an hour is an average kind of pace on the flat with fairly good
snow. Fifty kilometres in 4h. 20m. 17.5sec. was, I believe, the record
for flat racing two or three years ago.

The ascent of hills on ski involves new problems. If the snow be soft
enough for the ski to sink into it about half-an-inch, and if the slope
be gentle, there is no difficulty in walking straight up. If the slope
gradually and steadily steepens, there will come a point at which the
ski no longer hold, but slide backward when the weight of the body is
thrown upon them. The beginner must then zigzag, pressing the edge of
the ski into the slope but, otherwise advancing as on the flat. This
is easy enough; the trouble comes at the angles of turning, where his
legs are almost sure to slide asunder, or he will tread with one ski
on the other. In turning round, even on the flat, it is at first no
easy matter to avoid fastening one ski down by treading on it with the
other. You should begin turning by moving the foot which is on the side
towards which you are going to turn; keep the legs well apart and make
the rear ends of the ski the approximate centre of rotation. In turning
round on a hillside it is easier to turn with the face, rather than the
back, towards the hill. Another way of walking uphill in suitably soft
snow is to turn the toes well out and lift each ski over the other;
this is more difficult than zigzagging. In very steep places neither
method can be applied; you have to advance sideways with the ski kept
horizontal, an easy but slow method of progression.

Downhill the real fun begins, and the difficulty of maintaining the
balance becomes serious. The weight must be thrown forward, the knees
kept bent, and the staff, or pair of staves held as one, used as in
glissading. The ski must be kept strictly parallel and close together,
with one foot a little in advance of the other. The problem is to
adjust the balance to every varying degree of slope and alteration in
the slipperiness of the snow. Such alterations have to be foreseen and
prepared for. The beginner must expect to fall often on hands and knees
and to sit down with undesirable frequency when he least expects. He
will find it much easier to fall than to rise again. He should practice
glissading on a gentle slope, then on a steeper. Slopes that he finds
too steep for direct descent can be negotiated by zigzags, but much
time will be lost at the turns.

Whether ski could be advantageously used in summer in the Alps is
doubtful. The ascent, still more the descent, of Mont Blanc between
the Grands Mulets and the Vallot Hut would certainly be facilitated by
them, but they are unsuited even for a broad snow-_arête_. Agreeable,
however, as ski would be on any snowfield, and valuable as a protection
against concealed crevasses, they are far too heavy to be carried by a
mountaineering party for incidental use. Still they might be employed
with advantage in certain places. For example, if a party of climbers
were to make the Concordia Hut the centre for a week’s climbing, they
could not do better than provide themselves with ski. Thus equipped,
all the surrounding mountains, anywhere between the Lötschenlücke and
the Oberaarjoch, would be brought within their easy reach. The new
Monte Rosa Hut would likewise be an excellent ski centre, and so
would the Becher Hut by the Übelthal Glacier in the Stubai Mountains
of Tirol. For winter climbing in the Alps ski have already established
their utility. I understand that several of the easy Oberland passes,
such as the Strahleck, have been crossed on them, whilst at lower
levels their value is even more obvious. Whether ski-running will ever
attain in western and central Europe the rank as a sport which it holds
in Norway and Sweden is a question that only the future can decide.



CHAPTER XII

GEOGRAPHICAL RESULTS


Before taking leave of the reader it seems advisable to indicate
briefly the general geographical results of our two seasons of
exploration in the interior of Spitsbergen, and to state what is
now known about the structure of the surface of one of the most
interesting areas of arctic land. On Nordenskiöld’s chart, the best
map of Spitsbergen existing at the time when we began our labours,
both Garwood Land and King James Land are described as covered with
“inland ice.” Now, if the phrase “inland ice” merely means glaciers,
so that it may be correctly applied to the glaciers of any district of
snow-mountains, such as the Alps or Caucasus, it is a useless phrase,
and ought to be abolished. Most persons of whom I have inquired receive
from it a different impression, and judge it to be descriptive of a
complete and continuous icy mantle enveloping a whole country, as
Greenland, for instance, is enveloped. In fact, Nansen, in his book on
Greenland, always uses the term “inland ice” to describe the great
interior ice-covering. “Ice-sheet” is apparently a better descriptive
term for such a mantle, and I shall accordingly so employ it. The term
“inland-ice,” being essentially vague, should, I think, be erased from
geographical literature, or only used as an indefinite term for the
land-ice of an unexplored region, the exact nature of which is unknown.
As long as a flowing body of land-ice is contained within definite
watersheds and mountain ranges, it is a glacier and not an ice-sheet.
The juxtaposition of no matter how many glaciers does not form an
ice-sheet, but merely a glacial area. It is necessary to be thus
particular in definition because, as has been stated above, neither
Garwood Land nor King James Land, nor any large part of Spitsbergen,
except New Friesland and North-East Land, is covered by an ice-sheet.
They are all merely glacial and mountain areas. The discovery of this
fact is the principal geographical result of our second expedition.
That it is a not unimportant result I now proceed to demonstrate.

[Illustration: NEW FRIESLAND FROM HINLOOPEN STRAIT.]

The old theory that glaciers not only polish but systematically
excavate their beds is practically abandoned. Its supporters naturally
considered that the larger the mass of ice the more vigorous would be
its excavating action. A great arctic ice-sheet was regarded as an
extraordinarily powerful excavator. We now know that moving land-ice
does not so operate upon its bed, but, beyond polishing the surface
of the rock it covers, has mainly a conservative effect upon it. In
the case of a country like the interior of Greenland, wholly buried
under ice, the buried land-surface undergoes modelling to a very
slight degree, except round the coast. On the other hand, in the case
of a glacial region, where mountains rise above the mean level, and
where rock-faces are exposed to the rapid denudation that takes place
at all snowy elevations, great developments of surface-formation are
going forward. In the case of an ice-sheet, the forces acting on the
land-surface are conservative; in the case of a glacial region, the
acting forces are formative. Hence the immense importance of clearly
distinguishing between these two types of ice-bearing country.

Without pausing to describe the particular places or views in
Spitsbergen that suggested particular conclusions to my mind, let
me rather, for briefness, indicate how it seems to me that one or
two well-known mountain groups in Europe have been acted on by
glaciers--for instance the Mont Blanc and Bernese Oberland ranges.
Both, in their present developed condition, have been carved out
of more solid masses which may be described as originally wrinkled
plateaus, the original wrinkles having been approximately parallel
to their length. Of course the denuding forces, whatever they were,
operated simultaneously with the elevating forces; but the two may be
considered separately for convenience’ sake, and we may speak of the
plateau as first elevated and afterwards denuded. It must, however, be
understood that during the earlier stages of the elevating process,
water, not snow and frost, was the denuding agent. The culminating
point of each plateau was approximately in the position of the highest
point of the present ranges. The original main drainage must have run
along the lines of the wrinkles; now, in both cases, it runs at right
angles to that direction.

In order to indicate my meaning, it is not necessary to reconstruct
entirely the original form of the plateau and its lines of drainage;
one or two instances will suffice. In the case of the Mont Blanc
range,[15] I suggest that originally there was a glacier with its head
near the present summit of Mont Blanc, having for its left bank a ridge
(or plateau-edge), now represented by the Aiguille du Midi and other
_aiguilles_, the Aiguille Verte, the Aiguille du Chardonnet, and the
Aiguilles Dorées; whilst its right bank was approximately coincident
with the modern watershed as far as Mont Dolent, except between Mont
Blanc de Courmayeur and the Tour Ronde, where it has been denuded
away. This ancient drainage system has been broken down, and now the
snows of the upper reservoirs are all discharged by such glaciers as
the Mer de Glace or the Glacier d’Argentière, which cut across one or
other of these old containing ridges or plateau-edges. Similarly with
the Bernese Oberland, I suggest that the original crinkled plateau
was drained along depressions approximately parallel to its length,
whereof one was a high glacier basin with its head near the top of the
present Finsteraarhorn and flowing W.S.W. over the Grünhornlücke and
the Lötschenlücke and down the Lötschenthal. The old watersheds to
right and left of this glacier have been driven back by the general
disintegration of the plateau-edge, and broken utterly down in various
places, so that its snows are now drained away at right angles to its
direction by the Great Aletsch and Walliser Viescher glaciers.

In fact, in these cases it is with the glacial drainage as in the
Himalayas it is with the rivers. When the great Asiatic plateau was
elevated, whereof Tibet alone retains anything approximating to the
original surface condition of the whole, the drainage ran off along the
hollows in the line of the crinkling of the surface coinciding with the
strike of the strata. Now, however, by the operation of rivers eating
their way back into the plateau at right angles to the strike of the
strata, all the great rivers flow at right angles to their original
direction. The Indus was originally a stream no bigger than the Swat
River, flowing down the edge of the elevated region. It ate its way
through the Nanga Parbat range into the depression which goes on to
Gilgit, and thus it stole all the waters of the upper Indus of to-day,
which in the remote past, I believe, discharged themselves (over a high
region since excavated into mountain ranges) into the Kunar River, and
before that into the Oxus. Similarly the Gilgit River has eaten back
through the Rakipushi range and stolen the waters of the Hispar-Hunza
valley and the Hunza stream has eaten back through the Boiohaghurdoanas
range, and so reached the Kilik Pass. It is noticeable that, in each
case, the river has broken its way through a range in the immediate
proximity of its highest peak, that is to say, just where the fall and
gathering of snow has been greatest and the denudation most energetic.

In the case of rivers the eating back process is well recognised
and understood. It is not really the work of the river, but it is
accomplished by the various forces of atmospheric denudation, by
frost and thaw, by avalanches and so forth, all taking place about
the head-waters of the stream. I suggest that, under the action of
similar forces, glaciers likewise creep back, and that the modelling
of snow-mountains out of high plateaus is largely due to this process.
According to this theory, though glaciers do not excavate their beds
to any great extent, they widen them by carrying away the results of
atmospheric and other denudation, and similarly they eat back at their
heads. The most striking examples of this process I have seen are in
Garwood Land. There, far in the interior, are a series of cliffs,
several hundred feet in height. What the origin of these cliffs may
have been is immaterial to the question under consideration. They form
the front of the remains of the old plateau, which is being and has
been eaten away. At the foot of the cliffs are the snowfields of the
great glaciers which flow thence in a south-east direction to the head
of Wybe Jans Water. By the melting of the snows above the cliffs and
on their ledges, and by the action of frost and thaw, the rocks are
rapidly broken up. The _débris_ fall upon the glaciers below, and are
carried away. If there were no glaciers in this position, the _débris_
would pile up, a slope would be formed, and would presently reach up
to the top of the cliff, and protect it from further denudation. The
presence of the glaciers below prevents the _débris_ from collecting.
The cliff thus continues its existence, and merely moves backward
by a steady progress, just as the cliff retreats over which Niagara
falls. Where weaker rocks are encountered, or denudation is locally
more energetic, the cliff eats backward more rapidly. An embayment is
formed, which tends both to widen and to creep backwards, becoming in
time a tributary valley. Of such valley heads which have crept back
into the plateau we saw several examples; one in particular I remember
in the midst of King James Land, which had annihilated a portion of a
mountain range dividing two great glaciers, and had thereby caused what
had originally been the chief _névé_ basin of one of these glaciers
to drain into the other instead of down its own tongue. When two
neighbouring embayments, reaching back from the lower level into a
plateau, send arms to join one another, or meet obliquely, a nunatak
is formed. The nunatak near our farthest point in Garwood Land was
produced in this manner.

[Illustration: BLUFFS OF THE SASSENDAL.]

Keenly possessed by the memory of these phenomena, I went recently
to Grindelwald, and was immediately struck by the resemblance in
character between the great bluffs of the Bernese Oberland--the Eiger,
Mettenberg, and Wetterhorn--and the bluffs of Spitsbergen’s Sassendal.
The latter, as we know, were formed, and are still in process of
development, by means of the torrents draining the snowfields above,
which eat away the plateau and cut back into it, thus carving out
a row of flat-topped steep-fronted hills that jut forward into the
ever-widening main valley. It seemed evident that the ancient Oberland
plateau had been similarly cut down, the excavation not having been
accomplished by the grinding action of glaciers pushing forward and
filing down their beds, but by the action, first, of torrents, before
the plateau was elevated above the snowline, afterwards of glaciers;
both torrents and glaciers creeping backwards at their heads, where
faces of rock are exposed to rapid atmospheric denudation, and the
_débris_ that fall are transported to low levels by the movement of the
flowing ice.

It was thus, I suggest, that the Upper and Lower Grindelwald glaciers
and the Rosenlaui Glacier invaded the plateau and crept back into the
heart of the mountain mass, isolating as high individual peaks the
Wetterhorn and Schreckhorn. Originally they were “corrie glaciers,”
plastered on to the north face of the plateau--just such glaciers,
in fact, as is the Guggi Glacier, which lies in the hollow between
the Jungfrau and the Mönch. They have crept farther back than it,
because they had the better start, but the Guggi Glacier now emulates
their former vigorous initiative. The cliffs at its head are being
continually broken and worn away by the action of frost. The rocks
that fall from them either tumble on to the _névé_ and are carried
down or roll into the _bergschrund_, and so get under the ice, where
no doubt they are ground to dust, and may do some excavating in the
process. That, however, can only be in the upper regions; lower down,
the waters below the glacier are the excavating agent, rather than
the glacier itself, except, perhaps, at the edge of some sub-glacial
cliff beneath an icefall. In this way the rocks of the north face of
the ridge between the Jungfrau and Mönch are being eaten away, and the
ridge itself is not merely being lowered, but its crest is being pushed
backward towards the south. Every yard of its movement is made at the
expense of the Jungfrau Glacier. Let the process go forward for a
sufficiently long time, and the area now occupied by the upper basin of
the Jungfrau Glacier will be occupied by a snow-basin lying at a lower
level, and draining northward down the Guggi Glacier.

Similar, I suggest, was the development of what is now the Great
Aletsch Glacier. Originally, according to this theory, the Lötschen
Glacier stretched back to the Finsteraarhorn, and had for its left bank
a ridge parallel to, but south of, the range of which the Aletschhorn
is now the culminating point. The Aletsch Glacier’s original head was
on the south face of this range, but the glacier ate its way backwards,
its head advanced to the north, finally broke its way right through the
range and drew off a portion of the ice of the Lötschen Glacier.[16]
The snout of the Lötschen Glacier was thus disconnected from its former
_névé_, and a pass (the Lötschenlücke) was formed between them. The
_névé_, at what is now called the Place de la Concorde, flowed as a
great icefall over the remnant of the old left bank of the original
glacier. It no doubt deepened and widened the breach, and, as it did
so, lowered the level of the snow in the upper reservoir, whose various
branches were thus likewise enabled, each in its place, to creep
backwards at the expense of the plateau. In this manner were formed the
Ewig Schnee Feld, the Jungfrau Firn, and the other _névé_ tributaries
of the present great glacier. The great icefall gradually diminished
in turbulence as the cliff beneath it was broken and rounded away,
till now it is merely represented by the crevassed area just below the
Concordia Hut.

If there is any truth in the theory thus briefly propounded, in a
form which must be considered altogether incomplete and preliminary,
it follows that the distinction I have endeavoured to make between an
icesheet and a congeries of glaciers is a distinction of the first
importance; for under an icesheet none of the processes are going
forward which are vigorously proceeding in a glacial region. The
old idea of Spitsbergen was that its interior consisted of a great
icesheet, fringed at the edge by a number of boggy valleys and green
hillsides. Our explorations have shown the utter falsity of this
conception. Let me now briefly indicate the outlines of the true
geography of the main island.

Whether at one time the whole island was enveloped in an icesheet which
was gradually withdrawn from the west towards the east, or whether
the west part of the island has merely been longer raised above the
sea than the east part, I do not attempt to determine. At any rate,
it seems to be a fact that the forces of denudation have been longer
at work, or, at least, more vigorously at work, all down the west
part of the island, and that the resulting mountain formation is most
developed in the west, and becomes continually less developed as you
proceed toward the east. All down the western region you find highly
specialised mountain-forms--peaks and ranges of considerable abruptness
and marked individuality. As you advance eastward the mountains become
generally more rounded, till the original plateau-form, and even parts
of the undenuded plateau itself, are encountered.

Bearing in mind this general structure of the land-surface, it will
now be easy to describe the character of different parts of the main
island. The whole of the north coast, as might be expected, bears
evidence of a more rigorous climate than districts further south. This
was specially noticed by us when proceeding down Wijde Bay, at whose
mouth the snow lay down to sea-level in the month of August, whilst,
twenty miles in, the snowline was almost 1000 feet above sea-level. The
northern rim, therefore, may be regarded as a separate geographical
division. At the north-west angle of the island is a region of very
bold mountains and large glaciers. It is well represented by the
beautiful and often described Magdalena Bay. Nothing is known about
the interior south-east of it, but some old Dutch charts mark a
valley leading from the extremity of Mauritius or Dutch Bay up to
a sequestered lake in the hills. Whether the draughtsman intended
his winding valley and river to represent a glacier and the lake
a snowfield, or whether a true lake and river existed here in the
eighteenth century, can only be settled by some one going to look.

Passing southward down the west coast, we come to the seven parallel
glaciers ending in the sea, known to the whalers as the Seven
Icebergs. These all appear to flow down from a high common snowfield
which stretches east toward Wood Bay and south almost to the head of
Cross Bay. South-eastward this high plateau is broken by a series
of _névé_-valleys, the chief of which discharge themselves towards
Ekman and Dickson bays. Their general direction is south-south-east.
South of this plateau region comes the mountainous area of King James
Land, whose character has been described in this volume. The main
watershed runs north and south. A series of parallel glaciers drain
south-south-east from it to Ice Fjord. The valley system on the west is
less regular, but the glaciers are equally numerous and fine.

The deep north-and-south depression filled by Wijde Bay and Dickson
Bay is bordered on the west by a range of mountains, a group of which
intrude between and divide the bays. Some of these are of striking
form, but no one has ever been amongst them or accurately determined
their position. East of the two bays comes the plateau region. Its
edge is cut up by a few deep valleys, down which the icesheet of New
Friesland sends glacial tongues to Wijde Bay, but east of Dickson Bay
the marginal valleys are longer, and no glaciers come out of their
mouths. The portion of the plateau between Dickson and Klaas Billen
bays is a good deal cut up by deep valleys, such as the Rendal, the
Skans valley, and the Mimesdal (all well known to geologists), but
there are no large glaciers found upon it. Further east comes a great
glaciated area approximating to an icesheet in appearance, but with
many exposed faces and peaks of rock. From it several large glaciers
flow into the sea, namely, the glacier that ends in the head of East
Fjord of Wijde Bay, the glacier that fills a wide valley debouching
into Hinloopen Strait opposite the South Waiigat Islands, some more
glaciers that empty into Bismarck Strait and that neighbourhood, the
series of great glaciers at the head of Wybe Jans Water, and the
Nordenskiöld Glacier (specially explored by us) near the head of Klaas
Billen Bay. All these glaciers are divided from one another by more or
less well-marked watersheds.

The neck of Spitsbergen, which may be defined as bounded on the north
by a line from the mouth of Nordenskiöld Glacier to Wiche Bay, and on
the south by the Sassendal and the depression across to Agardh Bay, is
a district that would well repay exploration, and is easily accessible
from the Post Glacier at the head of Temple Bay. Nowhere are better
illustrated than here the phenomena of mountain formation by plateau
degradation under the action of rivers and glaciers. In the east are
the remains of an ice-sheet; in the west are deep and wide glacier and
river valleys. Between the two are many mountain ranges, and some peaks
of considerable height and abruptness.

A line drawn from the head of Van Keulen Bay to Whales Bay forms the
southern limit of the next region to the south--the region that I call
Adventure Land, using the old name which in the case of Advent Bay
has been clipped of its last syllable in the present century. It is a
country of boggy valleys, rounded hills, and relatively small glaciers.
Originally it was one large plateau formed of soft, almost horizontally
bedded rock, except along its west margin. It has therefore been
penetrated by wide valleys radiating in all directions and cut down
almost to sea-level. A range of rather fine peaks lies along the west
coast; behind them are some large glaciers descending north into Green
Harbour and south to the mouth of Low Sound. Then the undulating
country begins. Several valleys lead inland from Coles Bay, whilst
from Advent Bay starts the Advent Vale with its many branches. From
Low Sound a series of boggy valleys strike in to north and south. At
the north angle of its head opens the deep valley of the Shallow River
(after the Sassendal the largest valley in Spitsbergen), whose upper
part has never been explored. The eastward prolongation of Low Sound,
which was known to the Dutch as Michiel Rinders Bay is very poorly
charted, but we know that at its north angle there is a secluded inner
harbour, with a big ramifying valley leading back from it, while at its
extreme east corner three large glaciers debouch together. One of these
probably connects by a high snowfield with the head of Strong Glacier
descending to Whales Bay.

Last comes the south division of the island, over which we had a
panoramic view in 1897 from the summit of Mount Hedgehog. Unfortunately
a roof of cloud covered the glaciers, and we could only see tops
of mountains rising clear above it. The north-west angle of this
region was explored in 1897 by Mr. Victor Gatty,[17] who found it to
consist of a ring of snowy mountains surrounding the _névé_ of the
Fox Glacier, which discharges into the so-called Recherche Bay. A gap
or col, south-east of Dunder Bay, separates this group from a range
of hills running for some distance south along the coast, and called
Roebuck Land. The extremity of these hills abuts against the right
foot of Torell Glacier, one upper bay of which rests against the hills
immediately south of Recherche Bay, whilst another stretches inland
to the east as far as the main watershed of the island. There are
one or two other approximately north and south ranges of hills lying
west of this watershed. East of it the plateau-character resumes its
predominance. The southernmost part of the island, south of Horn Sound,
is dignified by the boldest mountain range in the country, that of the
Hornsunds Tinder, which lie west of the watershed, and run almost due
north and south. East of them are at least two lower parallel ranges,
beyond which the ice-covered country seems to dip to the sea.

Of the other islands in the Spitsbergen group, North-East Land is the
largest. It is known, from Baron Nordenskiöld’s exploration, to be
covered with a true icesheet, the edge of which descends to the sea all
along the south-east coast. The north coast and the small islands off
it altogether resemble the northern belt of the west island. The west
belt is a low undulating region, from which the icesheet has retreated
in relatively recent times.

In the sea east of Spitsbergen are two islands whose existence has
long been known. They were named Wiche Land, after an old navigator.
Walrus hunters have landed on them, but they were first really explored
in 1897 by Mr. Arnold Pike.[18] The west island, now called Swedish
Foreland, has a high flat-topped backbone. The east island, King Karl’s
Land, consists of two hills, about 1,000 feet high, united by a low
flat isthmus. There is no ice-sheet on either island and only small
unimportant glaciers.

I have never landed on Barents or Edge Islands, though I have seen
them from east and from west. Neither possesses an icesheet. Both are
practically devoid of glaciers down their west coast, and have large
glaciers in the east. The whole of the south-east of Edge Island
is occupied by a great glacier ending in the sea. Barents Land has
several sharply pointed peaks, but the Edge Island hills are mainly
flat-topped, like those along the east coast of the main island.

Prince Charles Foreland now alone remains to be considered. It is very
badly represented on the existing chart. At its southern extremity is
an isolated hill. Then comes a very flat plain of about fifty square
miles, raised but a few feet above sea-level. North of it is a mountain
range consisting of fine, sharp snow-peaks. It is cut off on the north
by a deep depression, running in a south-west direction from Peter
Winter’s Bay, which, though marked south of St. John’s Bay on the
chart, lies some miles north of it. North of Peter Winter’s Bay and
Valley the mountain range is continued; but the peaks, though fine
in form, are not so high as those of the south group, but they send
down eastward an almost uninterrupted series of glaciers into Foreland
Sound. Further north are yet lower snowy hills, which end in the bold
headland called Bird’s Cape or Fair Foreland.

[Illustration: FAREWELL.]



APPENDIX

ACCOUNT OF HERR G. NORDENSKIÖLD’S TRAVERSE OVER THE GLACIERS FROM HORN
SOUND TO BELL SOUND IN 1890.[19]


    _June 15th, 1890._--At six o’clock in the evening we landed
    by boat at the foot of Rotges Mount at a spot where a small
    valley gave access to the mountain above. We imagined that
    on the other side of this mountain we should meet with the
    smooth inland ice and that it would extend all the way along to
    Bell Sound. After taking a hurried farewell of our comrades,
    we buckled on our ski, put our knapsacks on our backs, and
    commenced our course up the little valley. When we reached its
    highest point, however, we found that it was connected with
    another valley which led down to Horn Sound. We were therefore
    obliged to climb the face of the mountain on the north side of
    the valley, which was extremely laborious, because the snow
    was frozen so hard that we could not use our ski on the steep
    slope. One of us went in front and stamped holes for the feet
    in the hard crust--tough work in which we constantly relieved
    each other. The rest followed in his steps. At midnight we had
    mounted a ridge, uniting two summits, and here we rested for
    an hour. The temperature of the air was 28° Fahrenheit and the
    altitude 994 feet above sea-level.

    We continued on the 16th in a northerly direction, but were
    obliged to stop again after a few hundred steps, because a
    thick mist shrouded the whole landscape. When, after a little
    while, this cleared off, we hurried up and descended the
    other side of the ridge towards a huge glacier. Down this we
    made good speed and in a short time were close to the smooth
    snow-slopes. The mountains in this district are built up of the
    so-called Hekla-Hook strata--hard slates, quartz, and dolomite.
    The mountains which belong to this system always possess much
    more precipitous and wilder outlines than those which are built
    up of the softer rocks belonging to newer formations. Many of
    the former are probably extremely hard or perhaps impossible to
    climb; for example, Hornsunds Tind. This is probably the case
    with many of the steep-pointed peaks around the wide expanse of
    snow over which we travelled. They gave the landscape a wild
    and desolate beauty.

    In the north, on the other side of the glacier, lay another
    mountain range with several lofty summits. In the west a
    heavy bank of fog obscured the view the whole time. Probably
    the sea would be visible in this direction in fine weather.
    Sometimes the fog-bank was driven up the glacier by the wind,
    and enwrapped us so completely that we were obliged to retreat
    for a time. In the east numerous summits were visible, and the
    glaciers in this direction did not appear to be connected with
    the inland ice. The snow-mantle which covered the glacier-ice
    was perfectly smooth; there was not even a spot to break the
    dazzling whiteness, not the smallest unevenness on which
    the eye could find a resting-place. This accounted for one
    under-rating the distances in this district more than usual,
    as happened to us in the case of the mountain on the southern
    (? northern) side, because we thought we only had before us a
    snow-covered sloping valley, not worth thinking about, which
    from its depth could not possibly take more than half an hour
    to traverse. In reality it was only after several hours’
    walking that we gained the summit of the opposite ridge.

    It was long after midday on the 16th when we reached that
    summit. The height above the sea at the spot where we crossed
    was only 2215 feet, but on the east and west were several
    considerable heights. We attempted to scale one of these which
    lay nearest to us on the east, so as to obtain an uninterrupted
    view over the country; but, after we had with great difficulty
    dug a few hundred steps in the hard surface and crept up so
    far, it was found impossible to go any farther. We were then
    2457 feet above sea level and could easily recognise again from
    this point the highest point of Hornsunds Tind. The mountains
    to the west of us seemed to be of considerable height and also
    easy to ascend. In the north the snow-covered ridge on which we
    were fell almost precipitously down to a considerable glacier.
    We were therefore obliged to make a little to the west before
    we could begin our descent.

    Even here the slope was steep and covered with a crust,
    hard and shining like ice, so that our advance became pretty
    dangerous to our necks, and ended in our losing our balance
    and rolling down the slope at top speed without being able to
    stop. After we had happily reached level ground, collected
    ourselves, and gathered together our widely scattered baggage,
    we set forward over the glacier. It sloped gently downwards
    and promised a connection with the wide field of inland ice in
    the north-west. A little further down the glacier the outlook
    became more extended. We had now only a few kilometres left to
    the inland ice proper,[20] which spread out before us like a
    level white sheet bounded in the distance by blue peaks. Late
    in the evening we put up the tent and rested a few hours at the
    edge of the glacier. After a long search we were lucky enough
    to discover water on a slope. It was the first water we had
    seen since leaving the coast. As it was so early in the year we
    found neither pools nor runlets on the surface of the glacier.
    Our supply of spirits was rather scanty and only sufficed for
    warming up our food, not for melting the snow; hence, while
    travelling over glaciers and the inland ice we suffered much
    from thirst, and were often compelled to eat snow, which is
    said to lower the strength considerably.

    On _June 16th_ we rose at 11 P.M., and began our journey over
    the inland ice proper. The temperature of the air was 31° F.
    The weather was lovely, not a cloud was visible in the sky, and
    the atmosphere was wonderfully clear. We first passed a number
    of mighty moraines, which were heaped up where the smaller
    glacier joined the inland ice. At the very brink of the latter
    flowed a small brook. The surface of the inland ice itself
    was perfectly even, covered with fairly hard frozen old snow.
    No crevasses could be distinguished along the whole of our
    route, and only in a few places did slight hollows betray the
    existence of such.

    We first went toward some high mountains which rose out of the
    ice some kilometres distant. They formed the spurs of a range
    of mountains, running north and south, which continued up to
    the end of the mountains at Cape Ahlstrand, east of Recherche
    Bay. In the west, along a width of more than ten kilometres,
    the inland ice opened into the sea (it bears the name of
    Torell Glacier). In the east the horizon was bounded by the
    inland ice. To the north-west it extended, shut in between two
    mountain chains, unbroken to Recherche Bay, to whose large
    glacier it joins on. That was the way we took.

    After some hours’ journey, in the early morning of the 17th we
    reached the foot of the mountain mentioned above, which forms
    the southern point of the eastern range of mountains. At the
    foot of the mountain we found several small watercourses, and
    therefore chose this place for a halt. A large number of fallen
    blocks at the mountain’s foot afforded a strange sight. The
    part of the inland ice from the east here joined that from the
    north. A bank of gravel, which stretched like a black streak
    towards the west, probably formed the middle of the moraine.
    The height above the sea at this point was 358 feet.[21]

    After some hours’ rest we continued north-west over the
    inland ice, which was smooth in all directions and free from
    crevasses. We had already been a long time out on the endless
    white plain when, at nine o’clock in the morning, we pitched
    the tent to get a little sleep. The height of our resting-place
    above the sea was 1011 feet. We had walked by night because,
    notwithstanding that the temperature does not rise above 39°
    F. in the shade, the heat when the sun was high was quite
    unbearable. After midday signs of a change of weather appeared,
    and heavy clouds began to rise behind the mountain summits. We
    hastily got up again, but after a few hours’ walking we were
    enveloped in a dense mist. We continued, however, for some
    hours, steering our course by a pocket compass which we had
    brought with us. On the night of the 18th we stopped because
    we feared to make our way among the northern coast mountains,
    which could not be very far distant from us now. All the
    spirits were finished, and our store of provisions was by no
    means abundant.

    Next day (19th) we tried to advance toward the coast in spite
    of the fog, which had lifted at intervals and given place to
    a heavy snowstorm, a terrible hindrance to our progress. The
    snow was very wet and fastened in large lumps on Björling’s
    ski, which were not covered with sealskin. Our ski, too, which
    had been stripped of part of their skin-covering by the hard
    snow-crust, slid very heavily. Björling preferred to go on foot
    and carry his ski on his back, but he found this pretty hard
    work. We soon noticed that we were already quite amongst the
    mountains and, after searching about for a long time in the fog
    for a way forward, we finally came to a halt, recognising the
    necessity of waiting until it lifted somewhat.

    We set up our tent near a steep snow-slope, evidently leading
    down into a broad valley. As it drew on towards evening the
    fog lifted a little. Right down in front of us spread a
    broad valley, apparently the continuation of a bay. In the
    south-south-west there appeared to be sea, and in the north we
    thought we could also see the water. I thought that the bay in
    the north-west was Dunder Bay, and that we must have strayed
    somewhat too far to the west. Our provisions were scarce; there
    would only be sufficient to last the four of us one day; it was
    therefore necessary to find the ship without delay. Björling,
    partly on account of the unfitness of his ski, was thoroughly
    exhausted and was unable to travel any farther. I therefore
    determined to leave him in the tent with the sleeping-bags and
    the remaining stores, and with Erikson and Joakim, unencumbered
    by impedimenta, to endeavour to reach the ship and thence send
    to rescue Björling. The way to the ship however was longer
    than we supposed, for the _Lofoten_ did not lie in the harbour
    in the inner part of Recherche Bay as I had expected. The bay
    being ice-packed, the ship lay off Cape Lyell, a circumstance
    which added a good ten kilometres to our distance.

    It was only after nine hours’ unbroken march, tired and hungry
    indeed, that we reached the _Lofoten_, and our way would
    certainly have been longer still had we not, after walking a
    few hours almost due east, thought we could see water on the
    horizon, and so were induced to take a more northerly course.
    After we had followed this direction for a time, Erikson
    declared he could see a ship in the distance. Our joy was
    great when I ascertained with the field glass that three
    masts were visible a long way off to the north. The ice over
    which we had passed was continuously smooth. Only the last
    few kilometres nearest the sea were very full of crevasses,
    generally covered by snow-bridges, which we could cross on our
    ski without difficulty. Luckily for us the ice on the inner
    harbour of Recherche Bay was strong enough to bear, so we
    avoided a long detour.

    We continued on the other side of the bay to Cape Lyell over
    a large glacier, terminated in the north by a precipitous
    ice-wall, below which begins a wide expanse filled up with
    moraines and cut up by numerous crevasses. We did not see this
    precipice at first from above, and were nearly falling over it
    on our ski, but just managed to pull up at the last moment.
    After following the edge of the glacier for a good distance
    to the west, we at last succeeded in finding a place where a
    snowdrift had built a bridge upon which we could get down. At
    last we stood on the beach, and only a couple of gunshots off
    lay the _Lofoten_. Firing our revolvers and shouting loudly, we
    aroused the captain’s attention and were soon safe on board. It
    was six o’clock in the morning of the 19th.

    My first care was to send some men back to rescue Björling.
    Unfortunately it was several hours before any one could start.
    Klinckowström had gone away in one of the boats with part of
    the crew to the east side of Recherche Bay, hoping to meet
    us there. A message was sent off to him immediately, and his
    boat’s crew were soon on board. Klinckowström offered to go
    himself with two men to rescue Björling. The three skisters
    were soon ready for their journey. As they rowed in a light
    boat to the bottom end of Recherche Bay they shortened the way
    considerably. Following the west side of the bottom of the
    glacier between the mountain and the ice, they found ski tracks
    which they endeavoured to follow right up to the tent. After an
    absence of about six hours they returned. They had been able to
    follow the tracks for about a couple of hours or so, but the
    snow, which had fallen heavily high up among the mountains,
    had stopped them completely. Under such circumstances
    nothing remained for them but to turn back with their errand
    unaccomplished. There was however no very great reason for
    anxiety, for the sleeping-bags and provisions enough for one
    man for several days had been left in the tent.

    It cleared up again a little on the 20th, so I sent off Joakim,
    who had been my companion and consequently knew the position of
    the tent; two men accompanied him. On the morning of the 21st
    one of them came back with the news that they had certainly
    found the tent but that Björling had left it. They had found
    a card with this communication--that “after waiting in vain
    for one and a half days he had started with all possible speed
    to the west beach of Recherche Bay.” He had however clearly
    mistaken Dunder Bay for this, and started in quite the wrong
    direction, as his tracks plainly showed. Joakim followed up
    this track while the other two returned on board. I now sent
    a boat round Cape Lyell to Dunder Bay to meet Björling there.
    Joakim, after following his track for a distance, had overtaken
    Björling who was on his way south; he came back then with the
    boat, and on the afternoon of the 21st we were all together on
    board again.

    The ski expedition thus described shows that the inland ice of
    West Spitsbergen differs considerably from that of North-East
    Land as well as of Greenland. It consists in this (at least at
    the time of year when we undertook our expedition), namely,
    a perfectly level tract covered with snow without any of
    the crevasses and mounds which generally make expeditions
    over glaciers and inland ice so dangerous and difficult.
    Glacier-rivers, fountains, and glacier-lakes, which are so
    often met with in Greenland, are here altogether absent.
    Similar formations are also wanting in North-East Land’s inland
    ice, but its surface is more uneven; crevasses and channels
    are very common. This circumstance--viz., the fact that the
    inland ice of West Spitsbergen seems to be very much easier
    to traverse than glacier ice in general--gives a certain
    importance to the plan of measuring an arc of meridian in this
    district, a proposal which has been suggested several times.
    A number of triangulation points ought to be established on
    the mountains, which are surrounded on all sides by the inland
    ice. This might have been thought to be very difficult, but,
    far from proving an obstacle, the inland ice forms a capital
    medium for connecting the points of triangulation. To convey
    instruments and equipment on proper sledges for some tens of
    kilometres over this smooth surface would surely be no very
    severe task.

A few remarks are called for by this pleasant account of a very
interesting little expedition. The inland-ice referred to was not
any part of an ice-sheet and in no wise resembled the icesheets of
Greenland and North-East Land. It was merely the snowfield of Torell
Glacier, which consists of two great arms, one coming from the north
and reaching to the watershed behind Recherche Bay, the other from the
east, where it is limited by the main mountain-backbone of the island,
the orographical continuation of the Hornsunds Tinder. The time of the
expedition being the month of June, the glaciers and snowfields were
still deeply covered with winter snow, which buried the crevasses out
of sight. Later on, no doubt, there would be no difference in character
between Torell Glacier and the Nordenskiöld and other glaciers explored
by us. The same waterlogged snow, the same large lakes, the same
deep and broad torrents, must be formed in all the glacial regions
of Spitsbergen. Hence it follows that the month of June is specially
favourable for expeditions over glaciers in this part of the world,
for then the chief impediments to progress have not been formed, the
weather is likely to be fair and the surface of the snow to be hard
and smooth. Unfortunately it is not till the end of June that, under
present steamship arrangements, the island is cheaply accessible. An
exploring party desiring to land upon Spitsbergen at the end of May
could only do so by coming up in a vessel specially hired to bring
them.



FOOTNOTES


[1] K. Vetenskaps Akad. Hand. Bihang, ix., No. 2, p. 46.

[2] This is doubtless the direction of West Fjord of Wijde Bay, but it
seems doubtful whether any considerable proportion of it can be visible
from the summit of De Geer’s Peak. All along the south-east side of
West Fjord lies a continuous range of hills, a photograph of which is
now before me. The lowest point of this range between Cape Petermann
and Mount Sir Thomas at the head of the fjord can scarcely be as low as
500 feet, whilst almost the whole of the range is 1000 feet high. The
average width of the fjord is about two miles, but just at one point it
is five miles wide. The height of De Geer’s Peak is given as over 1200
metres, say 4000 feet. Its distance from West Fjord is about thirty
geographical miles. If the intervening hill range happens to sink below
the level of about 600 feet, exactly in the line of sight to the place
where the fjord is five miles wide, the extreme edge of the water would
just be visible; yet, even then, no considerable body of water could be
seen. But De Geer states that there were no hills between the fjord and
his peak. Is it not possible that what he saw was the East Fjord, at
whose head are no mountains? Some undetected iron in the rock on which
he stood might be responsible for the compass deviation. The rocks of
Spitsbergen are full of such surprises.

[3] “My Arctic Journal,” London, 1894, p. 232.

[4] “Die Schwedischen Expeditionen nach Spitzbergen und Bären-Eiland
ausgeführt in den Jahren 1861, 1864, and 1868 unter Leitung von O.
Torell und A. E. Nordenskiöld. Aus dem Schwedischen übersetzt von L.
Passarge.” Jena, 1869. 8vo, pp. 470 _et seq._

[5] Mount Chydenius is, however, north-_west_ of Mount Edlund.

[6] These are continued northward by some lower snowy hills ending in
the bold Fair Foreland or Birds’ Cape.

[7] The first English explorers of Spitsbergen, Hudson and other
servants of the Moscovy Company, formally took possession of the
country on behalf of the King of England. They named it “King James,
his New Land.” This name has long been disused. Now that the interior
of the island begins to be explored, names are needed for the different
natural divisions of the country. I have therefore given the name of
King James Land to the mountainous area included between Ice Fjord and
Foreland Sound.

[8] I cannot give the exact altitude, because Nielsen, who was carrying
the instruments, dropped the aneroid here and smashed it before I had
registered the reading.

[9] It is greatly to be regretted that no scale is attached to these
six maps of harbours, which cannot therefore be applied with certainty
to any general map of Spitsbergen.

[10] Garwood was fortunate enough to discover a fine specimen of this.

[11] The position as determined by the Swedes does not agree with the
position determined by the Austrians.--_Vide_ R. von Barry, _Zwei
Fahrten_, &c. Vienna, 1894. 8vo.

[12] As to the whole project, see: N. Dunér and A. E. Nordenskiöld,
Förberedande Undersökningar rörande utförbarheten af en Gradmätning
på Spetsbergen. K. Svenska Vet. Akad. Handl. Bd. vi. No. 8. In 1891
a Swedish committee was appointed to reconsider the question, and a
further scheme was drawn up by Professor Rosen and published as a
pamphlet in 1893. It has now been decided by the Swedish Academy of
Sciences that the scheme shall be carried out, perhaps in conjunction
with Russia, and expeditions to that end are to be sent to Spitsbergen
in 1898 and following years.

[13] A translation of his interesting account of this expedition is
inserted as an appendix to the present volume, by kind permission of
Baron Nordenskiöld.

[14] The summit of the Aiguille Verte is 3700 feet above the Jardin.

[15] Herr Imfeld’s new map is the best on which to examine this theory.

[16] The Walliser Viescher Glacier was similarly employed.

[17] _Alpine Journal_, vol. xviii., p. 501.

[18] Vide _Geographical Journal_, 1898.

[19] Translated by the Rev. E. Shepherd from Herr G. Nordenskiöld’s
paper, _Redogörelse för den Svenska Expeditionen till Spetsbergen
1890_, published in _Bihang till K. Svenska Vet. Akad. Handl._ Bd. 17,
Afd. 2, No. 3, pp 10-17.

[20] The _névé_ of Torell Glacier.

[21] 109 metres. From the context it seems certain that this should be
309 metres, = 1014 feet.



INDEX


    Advent Bay, 1, 67, 90, 121, 126, 154, 221

    Adventure Land, 36, 121, 220

    Agardh Bay, 220

    Ahlstrand, Cape, 229

    Andrée and his balloon, 155

    Atmospherical phenomenon, curious, 180


    Baldwin, Mr., 67

    Bar, The, 70

    Barents Land, 28, 46, 47, 183, 223

    Barrel-vaults of ice, 51

    Bear Island, landing on, 191

    Bernese Oberland, glacier action in the, 210, 213

    Birds Cape, 224
      Nesting-places of, 3, 50, 65, 79, 98, 108, 133, 143, 165, 184

    Blomstrand Harbour, 71, 145
      Mound, 71, 145

    Boat, troubles with our, 167

    Bornemisza, Baron, 154, 155


    Calving of a glacier, 13, 74, 77, 140, 141

    Chydenius, Mount, 28, 43

    Clouds, low-lying, 63, 104, 113, 131, 138, 140

    Coal Bay, _vide_ Coles Bay
      Haven, 71, 147

    Coles Bay, 68, 221

    Cookeries, whaling, 151, 160, 162

    Crevassed glacier, 16, 77, 110, 133

    Crevasses, Depth of, 143
      Difficulties with sledges amongst, 16, 132, 133

    Cross Bay, 10, 71, 151, 218
      Mountains, 104, 122, 131

    Crowns, The Three, 72, 85, 109, 116, 119, 120
      Ascent of one of, 119
      Glacier, 72, 105, 114, 122


    De Geer Peak, 21, 22, 23, 48, 50
      Ascent of, 27

    Deceptive appearances on snowfields, 24

    Deer Bay, 71

    Diadem Peak, Ascent of, 124

    Dickson Bay, 33, 39, 218, 219

    Dubbin, Norwegian and other, 49

    Dunder Bay, 221, 231, 233

    Dutch Bay, 218


    Eating-back rivers and glaciers, 210, _et seq._

    Ebeltoft’s Haven, 151

    Edge Land, 223

    Edlund, Mount, 28, 41
      Ascent of, 42

    Eiderdown, 65

    Ekman Bay, 73, 92, 116, 121, 218

    Ekstam, Herr, 1, 67

    Elevation of the land, 59

    English Bay, 69, 70, 85

    Equipment, 18

    Exile Peak, 124

    _Expres_, The, 2, 154


    Fair Foreland, 224

    Falling ice, 177

    Fleur-de-Lys Point, 5

    Fog on snowfield, Puzzling effect of, 31
      Travelling through, 21, 31, 32, 33, 34

    Foreland, Prince Charles’, 68, 122, 223
      Sound, 68, 122, 224

    Fox Glacier, 221

    Foxes, 88

    _Fram_, Crew of the, 2, 192


    Garwood, E. J., 1, and _passim_
      Land, Description of, 56, 57, 58, 212, 219
      Land, Wide view over interior of, 38, 46

    Gatty, Ascent by Mr. Victor, 221

    Glacier, Ice-tunnel in a, 137
      Phenomena, notable, 51, 111, 128
      Torrents, 79, 83, 103, 106, 111
      Cliffs, 9, 77, 141

    Glaciers, Action of on their beds, 207
      Advance of, 138
      Calving, 13, 74, 77, 140, 141
      Ending in deep water, 10
      Ending in shallow water must advance, 11
      That eat back at their heads, 60

    Goose Glacier, 159, 168, 170, _et sqq._
      Haven (Horn Sound), 157, _et sqq._
      Islands (Ice Fjord), 64

    Green Harbour, 220

    Greenland and Spitsbergen, Contrast between, 36, 61


    Heat on the snowfields, 87, 100, 108, 130

    Hedgehog, Ascent of Mount, 170

    Heley Sound, 44

    Highway Dome, 91
      Pass, 90

    Himalayas, How rivers have “eaten back” in the, 210

    Hofer Point, 158

    Horn Glacier, 166
      Sound, Visit to, 157, _et sqq._, 225
      To Bell Sound over Torell Glacier, 225, _et sqq._

    Hornsunds Tinder, 121, 165, 170, _et sqq._, 222, 226, 227

    Hyperite Hat, 67


    Icebergs, 141, 142, 145, 147

    Ice-encrusted rocks, 178
      Flat below a glacier’s foot, 160
      Honeycomb, 19, 55, 81
      Sheets, 36, 37, 206, 207, 216

    Inland ice, 206, 234


    King James Land, 89, 96, 218
      King Karl Island, 223

    Kings Bay, 70, 138, _et sqq._
      Landing in, 74

    King’s Highway, 72, 76, _et sqq._, 115
      Expedition up, 76, _et sqq._

    Kittiwake Glacier, 165

    Klaas Billen Bay, 5, _et sqq._, 48, 55, 62, _et sqq._, 219


    Lakes, Burst Glacier, 53, 100, 137

    Lerner, Dr., 3

    Lovén Islands, 72, 141, 143
      Mount, 45

    Low Sound, 221

    Lyell Cape, 231

    Lyktan, 33


    Magdalena Bay, 218

    Mauritius Bay, 218

    Meridian arc in Spitsbergen, Proposal for measurement of a, 173, 234

    Michel Rinders Bay, 221

    Mimesdal, 7, 17, 219

    Mitra Hook, 71, 152

    Moraines, Struggle with sledges up and over, 15, 80, 134

    Mount Blanc Range, Previous form of, 209

    Mountain exploration, Difficulties of, 95

    Mountains, Scale of, 91, 118


    New Friesland, 207, 219

    Nielsen, Edward, 22, 32, 84, 125, 127, 131, 141, 170
      Mount, 76, 78

    Nordenskiöld, Baron, A. E., 41, 156, 174, 222
      Herr Gustaf, 176, 225
      Glacier, 6, 8, _et sqq._

    Nordenskiöld Gl., Expedition up, 15, _et sqq._

    North Cape of Norway, 191

    North-East Land, 207, 222, 234

    Nunataks, 38, 84


    Osborne Glacier, 98, _et sqq._


    Palæolithic climbing, 163

    Peter Winter’s Bay, 69, 223

    Pike, Mr. Arnold, 158, 223

    Plateaus carved into mountain ranges by rivers and glaciers, 57, 208

    Post Glacier, 220

    Pretender Pass, 104
      Peak, 73, 85, 105, 107, _et sqq._
      Scramble on, 113

    Prince Charles Foreland, 68, 122, 223

    Prismatic Ice, 102

    Pyramid, The, 7


    Quade Hook, 70

    Queens, The, 73, 85, 101, 104, 105


    Recherche Bay, _vide_ Schoonhoven

    Reindeer, Destruction of, 9, 144

    Roebuck Land, 222

    Rotges Mount, 225

    Russian trappers, 69, 151, 159


    Sabine, Sir Edward, 173

    St. John’s Bay, 68, 99, 223

    Sassendal, 213, 220, 221

    Schoonhoven (Recherche Bay), 221, 222, 229, 231

    Scoresby, Dr., 71

    Scoresby’s Grotto, 145

    Screes, 114, 119

    Seven Icebergs, The, 218
      Islands, 154

    Shallow River Valley, 221

    Shoes, Lapp, 49

    Silence of the snowfields, 89, 123

    Skans Bay, 3, 219

    Ski, 24, 30, 34, 37, 55, 93, 100, 106, 123, 125, 127, 129, 194,
        _et sqq._, 230
      Fastenings of, 197
      First attempts on, 25, 201
      Footgear for, 199
      Glissading with, 203
      In the Alps, 204
      Kinds of, 196
      Makers of, 200
      Records with, 202
      Staff for, 200

    Sledges, Misfortunes with, 55, 79, 80, 103, 132, 139

    Snow blown by a gale, 35

    Snowfield, Different aspects of surface of, 94, 98
      Travelling over, 21-50
      Waterlogged, 82, 102, 124

    Snowshoes, Canadian, 26, 30, 32, 49
      Norwegian, _vide_ Ski

    Spitsbergen, Geography of, 217

    Stonehenge Rocks, 164

    Stones, Falling, 110

    Storm on a snowfield, 34, 35

    Strong Glacier, 221

    Svanberg, Mount, 43

    Svensen’s troubles, 23, 32, 34, 35, 36, 40, 48, 50, 66, 84, 101, 119,
        129, 149, 153, 156


    Temple Bay, 220
      Mount, 66

    Terrier Peak, 18, 30, 47, 50, 52

    Teufelsdrökh on North Cape, 193

    Thordsen Plateau, 3, 28, 93, 219

    Tibet, Partially undenuded plateau of, 210

    Torell Glacier, 222, 228, _et sqq._, 235

    Tourists in Spitsbergen, 1, 67, 155

    Trevor-Battye, Mr. A., 157


    Views, Notable, 6, 17, 19, 23, 28, 33, 38, 46, 48, 71, 87, 92, 105,
        112, 114, 120, 126, 136, 140, 144, 177, 180, 182, 192


    Weather, Bad, 22, 34

    Whales Bay, 221

    White Mountain, 41
      Ascent of, 45

    Wiche Bay, 220
      Land, 45, 158, 223

    Wijde Bay, 29, 39, 122, 217, 219

    Winter, Approach of, 136, 166, 171, 180, 188, 189, 190

    Wood Bay, 218

    Wybe Jans Water, 28, 39, 41, 43, 46, 47, 183


    Zeehonde Bay, 69

                  Printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON & CO.
                          London & Edinburgh





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