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traveller finds himself on a plain, where there is barler grown, and an abundance of rich meadow land. Immediately before him is the snowy range which divides the Val Forno from the Val d'Orca, and across which a col leads to Gros Cavallo, in that valley, in a few hours.
A little way within the plain, the valley turns to the right, and leads up under a mountain, where the Comte d'Aglie bas some silver mines. The ore is smelted in the valley, and near the works there is a spring of water slightly ferruginous, but so highly carbonated, that the gas escapes from it in a sparkling state. The peasants have fitted a wooden tube into the hole, through which it ascends; a little canal of reed fixed to the top of the tube enables them to fill bottles, which are instantly corked and tied, and abundance of this water is thus taken to Turin. It is almost tasteless, when drunk al the spring it is delicious.
The mountains of Levanna, on the left as the traveller ascends the valley, are very grand ; pinnacledd, glaciered, and utterly inaccessible. Three of the peaks, near together, bear the name of the trois becs. The valley widens near Ceresol, the highest of its church villages, about eight miles above the Scalare. Here he may rest in what a mountaineer would call an assez bon gîte - none but a mountaineer, however, would think it so. .
To shorten the next day's journey, it will be better, however, to ascend the valley yet higher by three hours, to the Châlets of Chapis, and, if mules are required, to engage them at Ceresol to come up the following morning to Chapis early enough to insure arrival, in good time, at Villeneuve, in the Val d'Aosta, in the evening of the same day. Faligue only, however, is spared-no time is gained by riding.
From Ceresol, the extraordinary pass of the Galese at the head of the Val d'Orca, is first seen, above a perpendicular streak of snow, called the Grand Coluret, which must be climbed to cross the ridge of glaciers which surmounts it, and by which a passage may be made into the valley of the Isere in the Tarentaise.
From Chapis there is a walk of two hours and a half to the highest châlets in the valley-those of Serue-which are pas. sed by the traveller who would go to the Galese. Beyond Serue the scene perhaps surpasses in sterility and savageness any other in the Alps. A narrow path leads along the steep slope of the Mont Iseran, until it stop abruptly at an inaccessible gulley in the mountain called the Little Coluret. To ascend above this it is necessary to climb along the face of a fearful precipice overhanging, at a great height, a lake at the head of the valley. Having climbed round it, the plain of Belolla is attained. This plain is the bed of an ancient
lake, now filled with an enormous glacier, which streams down from the left. The bottom of this glacier must be crossed by a very steep ascent up a vast mass of ice, and above it, up the gulley of the Grand Coluret, at least 1500 feet from the glacier. Precipices, fringed with icicles, overhang the traveller, and having climbed up close to the rocks, on the right side, it is at last necessary to cross the snow itself that lies in the hollow; this is not dangerous to a steady head, but a slip would precipitate the unlucky traveller at least 2000 feet. On the other side the footing is firm, but climbing among overhanging masses of rock requires a steady head and firm foot. Having passed these, he will reach the steep back or upper edge of a glacier, forming a precipice of ice about 40 feet high. When this is passed, the traveller reaches the top, about 10,000 feet above the level of the sea, where one of the most glorious views in the Alps rewards him : he looks out over the head of the Val Isère, upon La Val, and Tignes. To this valley the descent on the side of the Tarentaise is not difficult. In returning, there is little danger in the descent, less than in the ascent, though it seem more dangerous, for the feet sink deep and firmly in the loose soil of both the Colurets. The Little Coluret can be safely descended, though, from the looseness of the soil, the ascent is impracticable.
Al the Chalets of Serue refreshment of milk, cheese, and butter may be had : bread must be taken there; of this necessary and wine, the traveller must stock himself when he visits these wild valleys; and he is especially cautioned against wandering there without a careful and well-recommended guide. At Novasca, or Ceresol, Giuseppe Brusca, better known by the name of Muot, from the loss of one hand, may be heard of; he is a good guide, an active mountaineer,' a capital chasseur, and a good-tempered, intelligent fellow.
The traveller to the Val d'Aosta is recommended, if he reach the Châlets of Chapis, to give a day to the Col de GaJese, and return to sleep at Chapis, before he cross to the Val Savaranche.
To go to the Val Savaranche, it is not necessary to go to the pasturages of Serue. Before the abrupt ascent to the Alp of Serue commences, a torrent is seen descending from the right. Up the left bank of this torrent a difficult zigzag path ascends, and at the end of two hours leads to some châlets even higher than those of Serue. The scenes presented during the ascent, of the vast ranges of the Levauna and the Iscran, are of the most sublime character. Above these châlets, the path is a series of flights of stcps rudely cut in the rock. Beyond this a scene of frightful sterility is presented : numerous alpine lakes or tarns are seen, but ne prospect of escape, no path from this cul de sac seems to olie 1 itsell; yet in the most improbable of all directions there is one, which actually lies up and over the rugged and pindacled crest of the boundary to the left, offering a path a thousand times more difficultiban that of the Gemini, without the protection of its parapets. The summit attained, the scene around, viewed from this crest, known by the name of the Col de Croix de Nivolet, is one without parallel in the Alps for the wild peculiarities observed on looking back into the savage valley just left. In it many lakes appear, and the brow above the last chalets, cuts abruptly against the der haze of the Val d Orca, which is surmounted with the enormous range of the Levanna.
On looking on the other side of the col into the Plan de Nivolet, which is the bead of the valley of Sayaranche, many lakes are also seen at the foot of the glaciers of the Nivolel, the same mountain which, towards the Tarentaise, is known by the name of the Iseran, and directly across the head of the Plan de Nivolet, is seen a still higher col than that upon which the observer stands; it is called the Col de Rhemes, and leads through the Val de Rhemes to Villepeuve, by a shorter course than the Savaranche.
The descent towards the Plan de Nivolet is much easier than towards the Val d'Orca; and having attained the banks of the lakes, a pearly level path leads through the fine pasturages at the head of the Plan de Nivolet; yet not a tree or shrub grows here, and the plain is exposed to fearsul storms in winter.
In about an hour from the lakes the châlets of this plain are reached. The want of other fuel than dried cow-dung gives a filthy aspect to these châlets. Below them the ground of the plain becomes boggy, and broken up into thousands of knolls. At the end of another hour, ihese are left, 10 descend by a path lying over bare and smooth granite, like that on the route of the Grimsel, above Handek. After a considerable descent, the traveller suddenly finds himself on the brink of a vast precipice, and overlooking the village of Pont, in the deep valley, thousands of feet below him. Here, on the edge of the precipice, a cross is placed, which is seen from below; the spot is called the Croix d'Aroletta. From it, one of those sublime scenes which occasionally bursis upon the traveller, in the Alps opens upon him. The three vast peaks of the Grand Paradis, breaking Through their enormous vestment of glaciers, lies before him; and on the right, a black mountain, that overhangs the path by which he must descend to Pont. Down these precipices he must wind for more than an hour to reach this village, the higbest
in the Val Savaranche, passing on his descent a nagnificent calaract.
But here the striking and peculiar scenery of this pass ends ; the valley below Pont is narrow, and with very little cultivation at the bottom. On the left a path leads over the mountain of Causelles to the Val de Rhemes; and another on the right crosses to the Val de Cogne. (Route 111.) Gioux, or Val Savaranche, is the principal village in the valley, and here refreshment may be obtained.
There are many little communes in this valley. Near to one of these, Pesai, an avalanche fell in 1832; it destroyed some cows, and three men perished. Crosses mark the spot where their bodies were found.
Before reaching Gioux there is a picturesque spot in the valley, where two villages are perched opposite each other, Tigoietti and Crettom; and here the mountains are seen which bound the valley of Aosta on the side opposite to the Val Savaranche.
In the lower part of the valley, the path continues at a vast height above the course of the river-bank, on its right; as it approaches the Val d'Aosta, a magnificent view of Mont Blanc, towering over all the intermediate mountains, opens to the traveller. Here the Val de Rhemes joins the Val Savaranche, and both enter the valley of Aosta. The end of the Val de Rhemes appears like a table land on the mountain side, studded with villages, rich in meadows and vines, walnut and chestnut trees.
From this elevation, the descent to Villeneuve is rapid, fatiguing, and difficult; and the journey from Chapis to the Val d'Aosta (Roule 107.) will be found to be quiie enough for one day.
- ROUTE 113. IVROGNE TO BOURG ST. MAURICE, IN THE TARENTAISE, BY
THE VAL DE GRISANCHE AND THE COL DU MONT.
(16 hours.) The entrance to the Val Grisanche by the torrent which flows into the Val d'Aosta, is utterly impracticable. It is necessary to cross the torrent by the new bridge, and immediately behind the little dirty town of Ivrogne to pass a mill, and ascend through orchards and meadows that appear to lead away from ihe Grisanche. At the head of these the path arrives abruptly below some precipices; thence turning and ascending along their bases, the traveller shortly finds himself in the path which is carried high above the left bank of the Grisanche, and which leads up the valley.
For about four hours the scenes have a striking character. The river roars so deep in the gorge as scarcely to be heard; and the rocks which bound its course are so nearly perpendicular, that the tops or losty and enormous pines, rooted in the rists below, can almost be touched by the hand of the traveller in passing above them. Overhanging the path, the mountains so close in, that the light of day does not half illuminate this deep and savage defile. On a sort of terrace, on the opposite banks, the ruins of a feudal castle are seen frowning over the black ravine, and fitted for tales of romance. From it, the view into the valley of Aosta must be beautiful, but what access there is to these ruins cannot be traced, or even imagined, from the opposite bank, though this is so high above the torrent, that the path seldom approaches it nearer than 200 feet.
This narrow defile continues during an ascent of more than two hours. Sometimes the path is formed of terraces, rudely and perilously formed of loose stones placed across rists in the precipices; in others, the buttresses of rock are cut away to make the road high and wide enough to pass a point of danger; this in some places has been done with a mass of rock, which, having fallen from above, and restel on the line of communication, has required boldness and skill to form a path, by it; thousands of these masses have fallen into the gulf below, and only rendered the torrent more furious by the interruption. Numerous cataracts stream into this valley; and it is necessary in passing beneath one of these, which descends from a great heigbt, far up the gorge, to go hastily across over the rude bridge formed of trunks of trees laid rudely across, and scarcely guarded by a rail, that offers very slighi security. On looking up, as nearly as the spray can be approached, another such bridge is seep to span ihe top of the fall, and which connects some forest or pasturages above.
At length, at ihe upper extremity of the defile, the valley opens at the village of Seris, a place which furnishes only the most miserable accommodation. The passage up the Grisanche to Seris is all in the valley really worth a visit from the Val d'Aosta, and it well deserves from the tourist in that valley, an examination, as far as Seris. To those, however, who would cross into the Tarentaise, a further description of the route is necessary.
The sterility of the Val de Grisanche above Seris is striking; it is rugged and strewn with enormous blocks which have been detached from the mountains, often from precipices so steep that no vegetation rests upon their surfaces, where still impending masses threaten the passing traveller, and numerous crosses record the frequency of fatal accidents.