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nor dangerous to the summit of the Breven; this has an elevation of about 8500 English feet above the level or the sea, or 5000 abovc Chamouny, yet not more than lwo fifths of the height of Mont Blanc above the valley. This elevation, however, offers the finest view of the whole mass of Mont Blanc, of all the numerous sites whence it can be seen. The vale of Chamouny alone separates them, and this proxiinity is so great that every peak and glacier, and even crevices in the glaciers, can be distinguished; every pasturage and cbâlet, in that band on the mountain şide, which lies above the pine forests and below the eternal snows.
When adventurous travellers ascend Mont Blanc, numerous visitors crowd the Breven to watch their progress, for the course lies like a map, from the village to the summit, and, with a good glass, every step they take may be observed. From the Buet, 2000 feet higher, there is a more extended horizon, but ihe Breven conceals all the lower belts of Mont Blanc, and as the Buet is double the distance from the peak of the “Monarch,” he is not so distinct, nor offers a scene half so grand as the view of the entire range from the Col de Balme to the Col de Vosa, for the cross on one, and the pavilion on the other may be seen from the Breven.
The return to Chamouny may be varied by passing on the western side of the Breven, above the valley of Diozas, near to a little lake, then descending by the châlets of Calaveiran, towards the village of Coupeau, a path leads down to les Ouches, in the valley of Chamouny, and thence up the valley to the priory.
Source of the Arveron-This affluent of the Arve issues from below the vault of ice with which the Glacier du Bois, the Mer de Glace terminates. It is a delightful walk of an hour, along the plain of the valley crossing beautiful meadows, and a little forest. The road to the Col de Balme, and up the valley, is left at les Prés, where that to the source of the Arveron, turns off to the right, and passes the hamlet of Bois. The vault of ice varies greatly in different seasons, and the author, at different times, has remarked a change of from 30 to 100 feet of height in the arch. It may be entered, but this is dangerous, and some have suffered for their temerity. The guides generally prohibit entrance, but many walk thus far without their aid, and their folly has no restraint. The danger is, that blocks of ice may detach themselves from the vault. In 1797, three persons were crushed. One, a son of M. Maritz of Geneva, perished; his father and his cousin escaped with broken legs.
The scenery around the source is very grand, the deep blackness of the depth of vault, the bright and beautiful azure where the light is transmitted through the ice. The
enormous rocks brought down by the glacier from the mountains above, here tuinble over, and are deposited in the bed of the Arve. Here, too, the dark forest and the broken trunks of pines, add to the wild character of the scene.
The advance and recession of the glaciers seem to depend upon the seasons. If it be hot, the ground mells the subjacent ice, and the glacier advances, and a wet season by depositing a greater quantity of snow, increases its weighi and force. Sometimes the difference is many hundreds of feet. It is not more than thirty years since it reached the forest of pines, now passed through in approaching to it.
A path, steep and difficult, brings the visitor from the Montanvert, down through the forest to the source of the Arveron, of which many who are active and strong avail themselves, and thus return to Chamouny..
The Chapeau is easier of access than the Montanvert. It is one of the points of view on the Mer de Glace, the side furthest from Chamouny: from it the Aiguilles of Charmoz, and le Blatière are seen immediately under Mont Blanc, with the vale of Chamoiny, the Breven and other vast and interesting objects; but its chief interest lies in its proximity to the Mer de Glace, where the glacier begins to break into pyramids and obelisques of ice; and here avalanches are frequently seen, where these toppling masses fall over with frightful effect. Captain Sherwill thus describes the Chapeau : "I should advise travellers who have not scen the source of the Arveron to visit this and the Chapeau on the same day, which may be done either in going to or returning from the latter ; this plan is far more preferable, and much less fatiguing, than io descend to the source by the path of La Filia, usually recommended be guides on quitting the Montanvert, and which is very inconvenient to Jadies, the mountain being extremely rugged, and the descent so rapid that mules never go that way.
"A visit to the Chapeau may be accomplished either on foot or with the mules : if you go direct to it, you must continue along the valley as far as the village of Les Tines ; and, aster having passed this picturesque spot, ascend a narrow road on the right hand that leads to the scattered hamlet of Lavanchè, continue through this latter by a good mule path beside the glacier, until you arrive at the foot of the ascent to the Chapeau. Here it is necessary to leave your mules in care of a boy, while the guide conducts you to a cavern, above which is the grass mound properly called the Chapeau : strangers in general are satisfied with a visit to the cave, from whence the view is perfectly unique, and very astonishing.
"On your return from the Chapeau, you descend by the
same path as far as Les Tines, from whence there is a road on the left that leads to the hamlet of Les Bois, situated at the source of the Arveron. This excursion inay be accomplished in about five hours, and will prove one of the most agree able and least fatiguing of those that surround Chamouny.
"Pedestrians who feel themselves capable of undertaking difficult passes may, on quitting the Chapeau, continue to ascend by the side of the Mer de Glace, and arrive opposite to the hut on the Montanvert; but to accomplish this there is a very dangerous rock lo pass, known by the guides by the name of Le Mauvais Pas.' I took with me two guides, Joseph Coutet and the Giant, as he is called; and having arrived opposite the Montanvert, we traversed the Mer de Glace. This is dangerous; but the traveler will have a far better idea of the grandeur of this frozen ocean than by merely visiting a few of its waves from the usual point near
La Pierre des Anglais,' so termed at the Ascent of Dr. Pocoke and Mr. Wyndham in 1741.
“In the month of July, when the weather permits, a large quantity of heisers are driven from Chamouny, each attended by its owner to the hut on Montanvert, for the purpose of being conducted across the Mer de Glace, to pass their summer of three months on the slopes of the mountains that are near the Aiguille Dru. Before they are launched upon the sea of ice, a number of peasants precede them with hatchets and other tools, in order to level sucb places as are ihus rendered less dangerous, although accidents generally ällend this transit. At certain intervals men are stationed to point out the line of march; the operation, which requires several hours, and is truly picturesque to witness, is worthy the attention of the stranger. if he should be at Chansouny at the lime: it is a kind of fête or holiday, for men, women, and children, altend the procession, passing the whole day on the mountain in the full enjoyment of this extraordinary and Berculean task. One man remains on the opposite side of the Mer de Glace, as guardian to the herd, that wander about in search of the rich but scanty pastures of those untenanted mountains. He carries with him suficient bread and cheese to last one month, which is renewed at the expiration of that period, carried to him by some one interested in his welldoing, and is the contribution of all those whose heifers are under his care. He is allowed. one cow, which furnishes him with milk: knitting is his chief employ, and thus he passes his time of expatriation in making stockings and contemplating the wonders of nature that surround him during three months of the year."
The Ascent of Mont Blanc is attempted by few; of these, the records are to be found at Chamouny. When Saussure
ascended to make experiments at that height, the motive was a worthy one; but those who are in pelled by curiosity alone, are not justified in risking the lives of the guides. The pay tempts these poor fellows to encounter the danger, but their safety, devoted as they are to their employers, is risked for a poor consideration. It is no excuse that the employer thinks his own life worthless: here he ought to think of the safety of others; yet scarcely a season passes without the attempt. One Englishman went to the summit, only to say that he had been there. For long before the arriyal the guides were certain that all view would be shut out by clouds; yet he went, and now boasts that he did it in half an hour less than it has been done by any other scrambler.
One of the latest who succeeded in attaining the summit was the Comte de Tilly, the first Frenchman who had been there; his pamphlet, giving an account of it, published at Geneva in 1835, is one of the most ridiculously national accounts ever read.
When Messrs. Fellows and Hawes went up in 1827 they took a course to the left of the Roches Rouges, and this has greatly lessened the danger of the ascent by avoiding the most dangerous part of it. All who have succeeded have advised no one to attempt it; they admit, however, when again in safety, that the fatigue and danger was infinitely exceeded by the gratification.
The excitement of sleeping out in the mountain is part of the interest of the adventure. This inay, however, be enjoyed by going to the Grands Mulets, an excursion in which ihere is little danger, and sleeping there; choosing a moonlight night and fine weather to enjoy the extensive view, the bright sky, and the thunders of falling avalanches. Or, another excursion may be made to enjoy a night out, by crossing into Piedmont, over the Col de Géant. This adventure requires three or four guides. It was performed in the year 1822 by two English ladies, Mrs. and Miss Campbell, who, with eight guides, started at mid-day, August 181h, slept out one night on the mountain, and descended the next day to Cormayeur. Saussure remained out many successive nights and days engaged in experiments on the Col de Géant : and during the prohibition of English goods by Bonaparte, this was a common path for smugglers who crossed it from Switzerland to Italy. laden with British muslins.
ROUTE 116. CHAMOUNY TO MARTIGNY, BY THE TÊTE NOIRE, TRIENI,
AND THE COL DE FORCLAZ. There are two roads which lead from Chamouny to Martigny; one by the Tête Noire, the other by the Col de Balme. Travellers are often perplexed which to choose of these two passes. The general scenery of the Tête Noire is superior; but the Col de Balme has one view which far surpasses any in the Tête Noire.
The route to the Val Orsine and Tête Noire lies up the vale of Chamouny, by Les Prés, where the path to the Arveron divides; thence the main route of the valley continues to the chapel and hamlet of Tines : here the valley narrows, and the road ascends steeply on the banks of the Arve, opposite to the bases of the Aiguilles Rouges, to some paslurages, and the hamlet of Les Isles, beyond, the Arve is crossed, and the village of Argentière is left on the right hand: this is the third and highest parish in the valley, and is two leagues from the priory; here the magnificent glacier of Argentière is seen streaming down froin between the Aiguilles d'Argentière and du Tour.
Soon after passing Argentière the road turns to the north, leaving the path to the hamlet of le Tour, and the Col de Balme on the right. The path rises rapidly to the miserable hamlet of Trelefan, passing what is called the Montets by a sterile gorge, and at a short league from Argentière the summit of this pass is attained; the streams on either side take different courses, that through Chamouny to the Arve, and that towards Martigny to the Rhone. .
A little beyond the crest, a savage and stérile valley opens to the left, through which the Eau Noire, the torrent of the Valorsine, descends; and on looking up this valley, the snows of the tosty Buet lying behind ihe Aiguilles Rouges, are seen. After passing ihe hamlet of Couteraie, the road descends rapidly to Valorsine, the chief village of the valley. Its church having been more than once swept away, a strong rampart of masonry and earth has been raised to defend it from similar catastrophes.
Below Valorsine, the valley narrows to a gorgé, 'abounding, in season, with wild fruits: through it, the torrent forces its way into the more open valley below, acquiring in its course fresh force, from the contributions of numerous waterfalls and streams which descend from the glaciers above.
In this gorge, a sort of barrier marks the frontier of Savoy
it is utterly useless as a defence: soon after the torrent is crossed, near to where a mill and some pleasant meadows