Sunday, November 29, 2020

"Mode of Travelling in the High Alps" (3)

"Serve him right" (original title)
From Mountaineering in the Badminton Library Series

Alpine advice from a founder of modern mountaineering

It is sometimes thought that for complete security, in case of the yielding of a snow bridge, the party tied together should be not less than three in number; in order that two may be available to draw out of a crevasse the one who may have fallen. 
But if the simple precaution of keeping eight or ten paces apart be observed by two travellers who are tied together, there is not the slightest risk incurred. The whole mass of snow covering a crevasse does not give way together, and a moderate amount of assistance from the rope will always enable the traveller to extricate himself. 
A good cragsman may go alone up and down the steepest pinnacles of rock; but, however strong may be the inducements to solitary wandering amidst the grand scenery of the high Alps, the man who travels without a companion in the snow region can scarcely be thought more reasonable than the supposed cab-driver alluded to in the last paragraph. 
Against the risk of slipping upon steep slopes, the rope is usually a protection as effectual as it is in the first case. There may be positions in which the footing of each traveller is so precarious, that if tied together a slip on the part of any one of them would probably cause the destruction of all. 
Such positions are, however, very rare, If indeed they anywhere occur. There are few descents steeper than that of the ice-wall of the Strahleck yet Desor recounts a case in which three travellers all slipping at the same time, were upheld, and saved from falling into the bergschrund by a rope sustained on the arm of a single guide who came last in the descent.



From J Ball, “Suggestions for Alpine travellers”, Chapter XVIII, Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers: A series of excursions by members of the Alpine Club, London, 1859.


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