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I had hoped that we might have gone near two leagues on our mules, but it was with difficulty we could make ufe of them even for one. M. Bourrit the father even wifhed, to go the whole way a foot.

We immediately mounted an eafy flope by the fide of a profound ravine, in which. runs the torrent which iffues from the glacier of Bionaflay. Then a rapid afcent conducted us to a little plain below the glacier: we traverfed this plain in its whole length: we then coafted the glacier for fome moments, and we finished by leaving it and taking a ftrait north-east direction by a very rough but not too fatiguing flope, and without any danger.

All the upper part of this flope is called Fierre-ronde, without the origin of this name being known; for there is neither rock nor ftone there remarkable for its roundness. This flope is free from wood, bufhes; and almost all vegetation is covered only with fiagments, and prefents a moft favage afpect. At the left are feen bare rocks which conceal the valley of Chamouni, and to the right, the rocks and ices of the base of Mont Blanc; for as for its head and shoulders, they are concealed by its low and projecting bafes.

Although this afcent was long enough, I was always afraid to fee the end of it and come to the hut, because I wished to get as high as poffible the first day, and to make the most of the second, which would be the most interesting, but at the fame time the most painful : thus, always counting for nothing the prefent fatigue, we afcended, almost without perceiving it, the feven hundred and forty-one toifes which our hut lay above the village: we got to it about half an hour after one, although we had not fet out till eight, and divers little accidents had made us lofe more than half an hour of the time.

The fituation of this hut was the happieft that could have been chofen in fo wild a fituation. It was joined to a rock in the bottom of an angle, fheltered from the north. east and north-west at about fifteen or twenty paces, above a little glacier covered with fnow, from which iffued a clear and fresh ftream which answered every purpose wanting

to our caravan.

Oppofite the hut was the Aiguille du Gouté, by which we were to attack Mont Blanc. Two of our guides *, who had fcaled the Aiguille, fhewed us the ridge which we should climb. They even offered to take advantage of what remained of the day to reconnoitre the mountain, chuse the easiest route and mark steps in the hard fnow: we accepted the offer with thanks. To the right of these rocks we admired a fummit of fnow called la Rogne, which appeared to us of a prodigious height, we were however told we should fee it under our feet, from the Dôme of l'Aiguille. All the lower part of this high fummit was covered with extremely rugged glaciers, which emptied themfelves into that of Bionaffay. At every moment vaft malles of ice detached theinfelves from this glacier, which we could fee fall, and precipitate themselves with a horrid crash and diffolve in clouds of duft, that the air raised by the fall of ice rofe up 1 ke clouds to a surprising height.

Behind our hut was a fmall chain of rocks about forty-feet above it. I made hafte to get up it, my travelling companions quickly followed me, and there we enjoyed one of the finest views I ever met on the Alps.

These rocks, whofe height is one thousand two hundred and twenty-nine toifes above the lake, and one thoufand five hundred and twenty-two above the fea, are at the northweft fide quite precipitous. There is feen under the feet the fouthern extremity of the valley of Chamouni, above which we were about nine hundred toifcs. The reit of this charining valley is fhortened in the view, and the high mountains which border on it

* Gervais and Coutet.


appear to form a circus round it. The high points feen in profile fubdivide themselves in a forest of pyramids which clofes the bounds of this circus, and feem deftined to defend the entrance of this charming retreat, and preferve its peace and innocence. From that fide, the view extends to the Gemmi, which is known by its double fummit which has given it that name. But I fhall not undertake to give a detail of the immenfe heap of mountains which is discovered from this fummit, let it fuffice to fay that it presents the most ravishing profpect to those who delight in fuch beauties.

I chose this fummit for my obfervatory, I fufpended my hygrometer and my thermometer in the air to a stick which kept them in the fhade, whilft I ftanding on the most projecting point of the rock measured with my electrometer the degree of aerial electricity. It is true that the cold north wind which then blew did not permit me to remain long in that fituation, it was neceffary to find out a milder temperature under cover of the rocks which furrounded our hut; but as foon as I had warmed myself, I returned again to en joy the prospect and continue my obfervations. I will give an account of them in a chapter apart.

I had the chagrin of not being able to make an experiment from which I had promifed myself much pleafure: that of the neceffary heat to boil water at different heights. The phyficians know the profound researches of M. De Luc on this fubject, their precifion and their exactitude leave no doubt of the refults; nevertheless M. le Chevalier Shuckburgh thinks he has found out another rule.

It was interefting to repeat thefe experiments, particularly at fuch heights as no naturalift had ever attempted. For eighteen months I had been afking of M. Paul, a thermometer armed with a micrometer and adapted to a portative kettle: but the want of proper tubes, and the multiplied occupations of this excellent artift, had fo retarded the execution of this inftrument that it was not ready till the day before our departure. However it appeared to be in very good order, I tried it the fame night and again with fuccefs at Bionaffay; and I hoped it will fucceed equally well every where elfe, but at the height of the hut the lamp deftined to make the water boil would not burn; it was a lamp conftructed on the principles of those that M. Argand had invented, but made in a hurry, and from a bad model: the tinder which ferved it as a wick burned at firft very well but prefently this tinder turned into coal and afterwards went out, an accident which did not happen in a thicker air. Unhappily our apparatus was difpofed in fuch a manner that it was impoffible to make our water boil on a wood fire, the only one here in our power. After then having uselessly tried this apparatus a thousand different ways, I was obliged to give up the experiment, or put it off till another opportunity.

But the beauty of the evening, and the magnificence of the fpectacle, which the fetting fun prefented from my obfervatory, confoled me for this disappointment. The evening vapour which, like a light gaz, tempered the fun's brightness, and half concealed the immenfe extent we had under our feet, formed the finest purple belt, which incircled all the western part of the horizon, whilst to the east the fnows at the base of Mont Blanc coloured by this light presented the finest and most magnificent fpectacle. In proportion as the vapour defcended and became more denfe, this belt became narrower, and of a deeper colour; and appeared at laft of a blood red, at the fame instant small clouds which rove above this chain, darted a light of fuch brightness, that they refembled flaming ftars or meteors. When the night was quite fet in I returned there; the fky was then perfectly clear, and without clouds, the vapours were only obfervable at the bottom of the valleys: the stars fhining but without any tinkling, spread over the tops of the mountains an extreme feeble and pale light, but fuflicient however to

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diftinguish the maffes and the diftances. The repofe and profound filence which reigned in this vaft extent, ftill heightened by the imagination, infpired me with a fort of terror; it appeared to me as if I had outlived the univerfe, and that I faw its corpfe ftretched at my feet. Sorrowful as ideas of this nature are, they have a fort of charm which can hardly be refifted. I turned my looks oftener towards this obfcure folitude than towards Mont Blanc, whofe fhining and phofphorical fnows ftill gave the idea of movement and life; but the keenness of the air on this isolated point presently forced me to retire to the hut.

The coldeft part of the evening was three quarters of an hour after fun-fet, the ther mometer could keep no higher than two and a half degrees above the freezing point. An hour after it got a degree higher, and another in the night, ftill the fire afforded us great fatisfaction; indeed we fcarcely fhould have been able to have done without it.

But this hut, this afylum of fuch confequence to us, deferves to be described. It was about seven feet by eight, and four in height: it was inclosed by three walls, and the rock which it was attached to ferved for a fourth; flat ftones placed without mortar formed thefe walls; and the fame fort of ftones, fupported by three or four branches of fir, compofed the roof: an opening of three feet fquare, left in the wall, ferved for an entrance. Two paillaffes placed on the ground ferved us for beds; and an open parafol placed against the entrance ferved us at the fame time instead of a door and curtains. M. Bourrit, and still more fo his fon, were incommoded by the purity of the air; they did not digeft their dinner, and could not eat any fupper. For my part, whom the pure air does not incommode, if I ufe no violent exercife, I paffed an excellent night in a light and quiet fleep.

When the parafol was not before the door, I could fee from my bed the fnows, the ices, and the rocks fituated below our hut; and the rifing of the moon gave to this view the moft fingular appearance. Our guides paffed the night, fome fquatted in the holes of rocks, others wrapped up in cloaks and blankets, and others fat up and watched by a little fire, which they kept up with a part of the wood we brought with us.

As M. Bourrit the year before, at the same season, and in the fame place, fuffered feverely from infupportable cold at fun-rife, it was fettled that we fhould not fet out till after fix o'clock. But as foon as day began to appear, I mounted to my obfervatory and there waited the fun's rifing. I found the view ftill very fine, lefs fingular however than at the fun's fetting; the vapours, lefs condensed, did not form in the horizon a cordon fo diftinct and highly coloured, but in return I obferved a fingular phenomenon. It was formed of rays of a fine purple, which parted from the horizon to the weft, precifely oppofite the fun; they were not clouds, but a fort of thin vapour homogenous fubftance: thefe rays, to the number of fix, had their centre a little below the horizon, and extended to ten or twelve degrees from this centre.

We had the precaution to take a warm mefs of foup as a preventative against the cold; we then made an equal divifion amongst our guides of provifions, precautionary cloathing, and of my inftruments, and in this manner fet out at a quarter paft fix with the greatest hope of fuccefs.

Elevated as we were to one thoufand four hundred and twenty-two toiles above the fea, we had ftill one thousand toifes to get up before we could attain the fummit of Mont Blanc; in effect, the most exact meafures allow this fummit to be two thousand four hundred and twenty-fix toifes above the Mediterranean. Of these one thousand toifes, we had to go about fix hundred on the rocks of the Aiguille du Gouté, and the remainder on the fnow.


This Aiguille, or high mountain, feen from the environs of Geneva, prefents itself under a round form, ftraight before, and under the higheft fummit of Mont Blanc. The ridge of rocks which defcend from it appear like blackish furrows. From our hut we could diftinguifh this Aiguille under the fame afpect as from Geneva; but as we were very near it, it concealed from us the height of Mont Blanc; we only faw the sky above these rocks.

The rapidity of the couloirs, or hollows, is fo great, that it is impoffible either to get up or down, and even if one fhould happen to fall, it would be found very difficult to retain one's felf; one muft either roll or flide to the bottom of the mountain.

This flone, by which we were to get up, as feen from Geneva, and alfo from our hut, appeared harp and inacceffible; yet our guides affured us that on a near approach all thefe feeming difficulties would vanish: they even went fo far as to fay that the afcent from Bionaflay to the hut was more difficult and more dangerous than what remained for us to attain the fummit of Mont Blanc. It may then be easily conceived with what courage and hopes we fet out.

We began by traverfing not a very floping glacier, which feparated us from the bafe of the Aiguille, and in twenty minutes came to the firft rocks of the ridge by which we were to get on this bafe. This ridge is rapid enough, and the broken or difunited rocks of which it is compofed do not offer a very commodious patch. However, we mounted them very gaily in an hour and fome minutes: the temperature was fuch as we could defire: the air, between three and four degrees above the freezing point, was no colder than neceffary not to heat us in afcending; we enjoyed the lively and encou raging pleasure to perceive our progrefs by the gradual decline of fummits which not long before had appeared above us. I felt a moft lively joy, and which perhaps may appear puerile, when after having afcended twenty-five minutes I came to difcover the Jake of Geneva; it was the firft time I had found myfelf high enough on the bafes of Mont Blanc to be able to perceive it. I had alfo the pleafure to find here two handfome plants, aretia Alpina, and arieta Helvetica. This lat is extremely rare in the Alps of Savoy. When we had attained the highest part of the ridge, it was neceflary to climb a fteep flope of fnow to get on the glacier which forms the plateau of the base of the Aiguille, and there, for the first time, we were affifted by the hands of our guides, who were always anxious to offer us their help. It was near three quarters after seven o'clock when we got on this plateau: we had flattered ourfelves with the hopes of getting there fooner; and as we knew that this was but a fmall part of the whole of our undertaking, I thought I ought not to ftop to obferve the barometer.

We then paffed right to the foot of the Aiguille, and were upon the point of getting to it, when we faw with much furprife a man, who did not belong to our caravan, afcending before us at the glacier of Bionaffay. But this furprife changed into a cry of joy of all the cavalcade, when we difcovered him to be Guidet, the brave fellow who the year before had accompanied M. Bourrit, and had gone with Marie Coutet almoft to the fummit of Mont Blanc: he was not at home when we fent for him; he had not begun his journey till late in the preceding evening, had got up the mountain in the night, and came by the fhorteft cut into the track that he knew we fhould take. The guides the moft loaded haftened to let him have his fhare of the baggage, and he gaily took his place in our rank.

The glacier that we were traverfing touches on one of the ridges of the Aiguille of Gouté, which is by its rapidity impracticable. This ridge is feparated from that which we were to follow by one of thofe rapid couloirs of which I have already spoken: it was neceffary to traverfe this couloir: the fnow which covered it was ftill frozen, and excef

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fively hard; happily Goutet and Gervais, who had paffed there the day before in the afternoon, had found this fnow foftened by the fun, and had marked places in which we could put our feet. Thefe traverfings are what I most fear: if your feet fail, you have little hope of being able to keep up; but when you directly afcend or defcend, if fall it is easier to Itop yourfelf. Guidet wanted to pafs below us, in cafe our footing fhould fail, to which we would not confent, as the flope by which he had to pafs in fo doing was ftill more rapid and dangerous than where we were; and we followed the method I had ufed in defcending the glacier of the Aiguille du Midi. Each of us placed himself between two guides, who firmly held the two extremities of one of their long flicks; this flick formed at the fide of the precipice a fort of barrier on which we fup. ported ourselves; this barrier moved with us, made our walking fecure, and preferved us from all danger.

After having traverfed this couloir, we attained the ridge of the rock we had to climb, and here it was that our task become difficult. We found this ridge incomparably more fteep than that which had conducted us on the bafe of the Aiguille, the rocks of which it is formed being more incoherent, quite difunited by the injuries of the air; fometimes they rolled from under our feet; fometimes pieces came away in our hands when we laid hold of them; often not knowing where to lay hold, I was obliged to catch at the leg of the guide next before me. The afcent in fome places was fo fteep, that fometimes this leg was level with my head: in addition to our troubles, the fnow which had fallen two days before filled up the intervals of the rocks, and concealed the hard fnow or ice which we found here and there under our feet. Often the middle of the ridge became abfolutely impaffable, in which case we were obliged to go by the fides of dangerous cou loirs by which it was bounded; at other times we met interruptions in the rocks, and it was neceffary to cross fnow which covered flopes extremely rapid. All these obftacles augmented gradually in our approach to the fummit of the Aiguille. At length, after five hours afcent, three of which paffed on this fatiguing ridge, Pierre Balmat, who preceded me, feeing that not only the flope continually became more fteep, but that we ftill found, as we advanced, a greater quantity of fresh fnow, propofed that I fhould reft my. felf while he went before a little to examine what we fhould do. I confented with fo much the more willingness, as I had not fat down fince our departure in the morning: I had fometimes stopped to take breath, but always ftanding, fupporting myfelf on the flick. As he advanced he kept calling to us to wait for him, and not to proceed farther till his return. After an hour's abfence he returned, and informed us that the quantity of fresh fnow higher up was fo great, that we could not attain the fummit of thefe rocks without extreme danger and fatigue, and that there we should be obliged to stop, because the top of the mountain, beyond the rocks, was covered with foft fnow to the depth of a foot and a half, through which it was impoffible to advance. His guêtres, covered as high as his knees, attefted the truth of this report, and the quantity of snow all round us was also a fufficient proof of it. In confequence we agreed, though with regret, to proceed no farther.

The barometer, which I had tried during this halt, only fupported itself at eighteen inches, one ligne, fourteen fixteenths, and the thermometer in the fhade at two and a half. At this time the barometer, obferved at Geneva by M. Pictet at one hundred and fourteen feet above the lake, fupported itfelf at twenty-fix inches, eleven lignes, thirtyone thirty-feconds; and the thermometer in the open air at fourteen degrees de Reaumur. This obfervation, calculated by the logarithms without regard to the temperature of the air, would give one thoufand nine hundred and thirty-five toifes above the sea. If we regard this temperature, in following the formula of M. De Luc, we should take

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