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Deep rifis in the sides of the precipices are channels to cataracts that pour their white foam from the dark recesses; in some places, the black precipiious slopes of the moune tain are always wet and herbless, and reeking as if from some recent avalanche.
For more than two hours up the valley from Seris the same character of scenery prevails; some miserable hovels and a few fields of stunted barley are found in the bottom of the valley; on its sides there is only the dark precipice or black forest of pines. The head of the valley is bounded by the immense glaciers or Clou. Over these, however, the bold mountaineer finds a pass to St. Foi, in the Tarentaise.
At Fornel, ihe highest village in the valley, the roule 10 the Col du Mont leaves the Val de Grisanche, ascends a steep path on the right by a torrent, and reaches some châlets on a small but fine pasturage. Above these the path skirts the brink of precipices over a deep gorge, and enters a basin in the mountains-a scene of the most frightful disorder; it is filled with rocks and stones constantly brought down from the surrounding mountains, the summits of wbich are crested with glaciers, some so precipitous that the ridge of the mountain is surmounted by one of translucent ice, which presents, when the sun shipes through it, a most brilliant appearance. The ascent is very steep for three hours up a trackless, loose pain, and up slopes of snow, sleep, and many hundreds of feet across It is fatiguing and difficult. From the Col the scene is very fine, not only of the deep valley of stones towards Piedmont, but also towards Savoy, where nature presents a gentle aspect in the mountains which bound the Val Isère; for ihe Col is so narrow both can be seen froin the summit.
The Col du Mont was the scene of some desperate conflicts during the wars of the revolution, between the French and the Piedmontese. General Moulins, who cominanded the former, after many efforts, succeeded in gaining the position by advancing during a snow storm, when such assailants were not expected, and retained it in spite of not less than ten efforts to repossess it. The height of the Col, from the absence of all vegetation, must exceed 8500 feet.
Aster passing down a steep path, leaving on the left, black precipices-lhe haunts of the chamois--the pasturages belonging to the commune of St. Foi appear in a deep basin, bounded below by a forest. It is almost impossible to imagine a contrast more striking than the wretched and desoJate hollow, filled with rocks and stones, on the side of Aosta; and this, one of the most beautiful pasturages in the Alps on the side of the Tarentaise. In little more than two. hours the chalets in this basin are reached, and in another
hour it is traversed. Beyond it the road winds steeply dows through a forest, and at length emerges to cross a torrent and enter the village of Muraille, where another bridge over a deep ravine leads to the hamlet of Massure, thence traversing a brow on the mountain side, the road descends to the village of St. Foi, in the Val Isère. The approach to St. Foi is strikingly fine, for one of the most beautiful mountains in the Alps, the Chalfe-Quarré, bounds the opposite side of the Val Isère. From its base in the torrent, far be low the terrace where St. Foi stands, to its summit, which is peaked with a triangular pyramid of snow, the entire height of this stupendous mountain is seen. St. Foi is only two hours from St. Maurice, and offers little accommodation to the traveller, at least when compared with the comforts of the inn at St. Maurice, chez Mayet.
From St. Foi the descent by a paved road is very steep to the banks of the Isère. Before reaching the river a torrent is crossed, which forms, a little way up the valley, a fine cataract. It is difficult to get a view of it. This is the stream which from above descends between the villages of Massure and Muraille.
From the bridge the path lies across meadows for some way, and on the banks of the Isère. Soon after, rising, it leads to the village of Scez, at the foot of the Little St. Bernard, and thence, across cultivated ground, to a new bridge thrown over the torrent of the Reclus. Here there is abundant evidence of the destructive character of the torrent after storms, in the sand, rocks, and stones, which mark its course at such timnes. Soon after the road passes by some cuarse woollen cloth-works, and some usines for making small iron ware. Then across the winter bed of the furious Versoi, which descends from Bonnaval, and below an old round tower belonging to the village of Châtelard. From this place the road to St. Maurice is wide and excellent, and ere long, it is to be hoped, a road of the same width and excellence will lead from this valley to the Val d'Aosta by the pass of the Little St. Bernard.
CORMAYEUR TO BOURG SAINT MAURICE, BY THE PASS OF
TIE LITTLE ST. BERNARD (DÉTOURS TO THE CRAMMONT AND THE BELVIDERE)..
To go to the little St. Bernard from Cormayeur, it is neCessary to return by the great road to Aosta (Route 107.), about a league, to where the branch from it leads to St. Didier; or a shorter course may be found by scrambling down
the slopes which lead to the Doire, and crossing it higher up the river, than by the bridge which forms part of the high road.
St. Didier is a tolerably large village, having the importance of a poste aux lettres. It has two inps : l'Ours is decently appointed. Like that at Cormayeur (though very inferior to it) its chief support is from the pensionnaires, who stay to take the waters of its mineral springs : these at St. Didier are hot, having a temperature of 920 of Fahrenheit.
· Between the village and the springs, there are some beautiful meadows, the source of its common name, Pré St. Didier; these are sheltered by the base of the Crammont, and by the enormous precipices of bare rock which overhang the source of the mineral waters, and form one side of a deep inaccessible gulf, through which the torrent from the glaciers of the Ruitor and the Little St. Bernard forces its way.
The hot spring lies up this gulf almost as far as it is accessible; from this spot it is led through tubes to a building niched in beneath the precipices. Within ten years, however, this has been deserted for baths, to which the water is now conducted, in the meadow, where a rather elegant structure has been raised-Pavillon, as it is here called. - It has been built at the expense of the Province of Aosta, as a decoy to tbe royal family to make it a place of their frequent resort. To this a wing has been lately added, which contains new baths for the public, which are more convenient than the old ; and there are several houses in the village where, for very moderate charges, bed and board may be obtained.
The view of Mont Blanc from the meadows is a glorious scene; and, from beneath the precipices near the source, magnificent foregrounds may be obtained..
The road which leads by tbe valley above the gorge at the springs of St. Didier, and to the Little St. Bernard, is a steep zigzags, presenting at each turn new and striking scenes of the valley below, and of Mont Blanc. On reaching ihe level ground above, that overhangs the deep rift in the mountain, through wbich the branch of the Doire from La Tuille bursts Through into the plain of St. Didier, the sceneis fine. It borders a pine forest, of which some vast old trunks hang over the precipices, and help to conceal the deep torrent which roars in its course beneath.
Up through this forest a steep path leads to the Crammont, an excursion which no visiter to St. Didier or Cormayeur should fail to make, is the weather be favourable, for no spot in the Alps will afford him so fine a.view of Mont Blanc, or 'a more glorious panorama.
The ascent up the forest to reach the Crammont lies for
an hour amidst the pines, then, emerging into fine pasturages, the path leads up through several clusters of chålets; ai the last of these it is usual to leave the mules, if any hare been employed, to await the return of the traveller. I he opening scenes of the valley below, as he rises, excite and encourage his efforts to attain the summit, which is usually accomplished in four hours from St. Didier; the chief disticulties lie in the extreme smoothness of the sward, and the steepness of the slope which make the footing insecure, and much time is lost by slipping back, particularly over some of the rounded knolls, where the effect of looking back is enough to make the unpractised traveller shudder, for the ground is seen to cut abruptly against some cbjects in the valley thousands of feet below, with as impressive an effect as if it were the ledge of a precipice of that depth, over which a slip would precipitate the shrinking observer. Nearer the top, howeve r, the footing is more secure; thousands of marmots have burrowed and loosened the soil, and traces of these animals are found even to the surpmit.
The highest point of the Crammont is the outward edge of a large flat mass of rock, dipping towards the Crammontabolit 20°; the upper end of this mass actually overhangs the rocks below, so that a stone dropped from it would fall perpendicularly hundreds of feet, and then striking the precipitous sides of the mountain would bound into the abyss below, broken into thousands of fragments. This experiment is generally practised by visiters, who witness the motion given to the stones in the channels below, and hear with astonishment the roar which ascends from the commotion and disturbance. In this savage hoilow, chamois are generally seen.
Here the whole of the enormous mass of Mont Blanc is open to the observer, midway of its height, (for the height of the Cranimont is about 9200, and that of Mont Blanc 6500 English feet above the peak of the Crammont,) from the peaks which bound the Col de la Seigne to those of the Grand Jorasse, every aiguille and glacier through this vast line of nearly 40 miles, is scen, within an angle of 150 degrees, lying like a picture before the observer from the Crammont. The depihs of the Allée Blanche are concealed by some low intervening mountains, which may be considered the western bases of the Crammont.
Towards the N. E. and E. the Val d'Aosta presents a beautiful portion of the panorama. The mountains wbich bound it sweep down to the Doire, and leave between them, the channels which are the course of its affluents. In the valley, the Doire appears like a thread of silver. Looking S. E., directly down the line of ascent to the Grammont, the Camp of Prince Thomas, and the table land above the pre
cipices of the valley of La Tuile, appear to be immediately beneath. Above and beyond it jies the enormous glacier of Ruitor, one of the finest objects within the view : This is connected with the glaciers, at ihe head of the valleys of Cogne, the Savaranche, and the Grisanche.
Towards the south is the pass and plain of the Little St. Bernard, guarded by the Belvidere, the Valaisan, and the other mountains which bound that pass.
Towards the Great St. Bernard, the course may be traced of the path which leads by the pass of the Serena from the head of the valley of Aosta io St. Remy. The hospice cannot be seen, but the Mont Velan and the Combin are seen beyond it.
All visiters to the Crammont, who have seen it in favourable weather, speak of it with rapture; and Saussure thus records bis second visit there :-"Nous passâmes trois heures sur ce sommet; j'y en avais aussi passé trois dans mon premjer voyage, et ces six heures sont certainement celles de ma vie dans lesquelles j'ai goûté les plus grands plaisirs que puissent donner la contemplation et l'étude de la nature.”
The descent requires more care than the ascent, at least to guard against slipping: the guides usually sit down, and slide with great speed over the dry grass.
The traveller who proposes to make a visit to the Crammont a part of his day's journey to St. Maurice, should start very early, and direct that the mules, if he take any, should, from where he left them, be sent across the pasturages, to châlets which lie in his way to the village of la Balme. He will thus gain time in ascending the valley, though the descent to the hamlet of Evolina, down a steep and rugged path over louse stones, is very fatiguing.
La Balme is in the valley, about an hour's walk above where the path up through the forest leads to the Cramiinont; and there is no object of interest missed between the two places.
A little above La Balmç the torrent is crossed, and a path winds steeply up on the mountain side; it being impracticable in the depth of the valley, which is here a ravine, to form a road. This is carried on the right bank to a great height above the bed of the torrent. There are occasional peeps offered of the river, and there is one of particular interesl-it is where the avalanches which descend from the Crammont fall into the ravipe, sometimes in such quantity that the snow remains, under the shadow of the mountain, uipmelted for the year. Tbis is the spot, in the opinion of those who have most carefully examined into the subject, where Hannibal and his army, inibeir descent from the Alps, found the road, by which they could have descended into the yalley, destroyed. The road formerly lay on the left bank of.