Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 349 pages of information about Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland.

[Footnote 78:  Less than 1/2 deg.  C., he says.]

[Footnote 79:  Bibl.  Univ. de Geneve, Premiere Serie, t. xxv. pp. 224, &c.]

[Footnote:  80:  Bibl.  Univ. l.c.]

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The Chanoine Carrel, of Aosta, whose name is so well and so favourably known to Alpine men, sent a brief account of an ice-cave in his neighbourhood to the Bibliotheque Universelle of Geneva[81] in the year 1841, and, as far as I know, there is no other account of it.  My plan had been to pass from Chamouni by the Col du Geant to Courmayeur, and thence to Aosta for a visit to the canon and his glaciere; but, unfortunately, the symptoms which had put an end to the expedition to the Brezon and the Valley of Reposoir came on with renewed vigour, as a consequence of Mont Blanc, and the projected fortnight with Peter Pernn collapsed into a hasty flight to Geneva.  It was fortunate that medical assistance was not necessary in Chamouni itself; for one of the members of our large party there was mulcted in the sum of L16, with a hint that something beyond that would be acceptable, for an extremely moderate amount of attendance by the local French doctor.

The glaciere was thus of necessity given up.  It is known among the people as La Borna de la Glace, and lies about 5,300 feet above the sea, on the northern slope of the hills which command the hamlet of Chabaudey, commune of La Salle, in the duchy of Aosta, to the north-east of Larsey-de-la, in a place covered with firs and larches, and called Plan-agex.  The entrance has an east exposure, and is very small, being a triangle with a base of 2 feet and an altitude of 2-1/2 feet.  After descending a yard or two, this becomes larger, and divides into two main branches, with three other fissures penetrating into the heart of the mountain, too narrow to admit of a passage.  The roof is very irregular, and the stones on the floor are interspersed with ice, which appears also in the form of icicles upon the walls; and, in the eastern branch of the cave, there is a cylindrical pillar more than 3 feet long, with a diameter of rather more than a foot.  The temperature at 4 P.M. on July 15, 1841, was as follows:—­The external air, 59 deg.; the cave, at the entrance, 37.2┬║; near the large cylinder, 35 deg..7; and in different parts of the western branch, from 33 deg..6 to 32 deg..9.

M. Carrel was evidently not aware of the existence of similar caves elsewhere.  He recommends, in his communication to the Bibliotheque Universelle, that some scientific man should investigate the phenomena, and explain the great cold, and the fact of the formation of ice, which common report ascribed to the time of the Dog-days.  He doubts whether rapid evaporation can be the only cause, and suggests that possibly there may be something in the interior of the mountain to account for this departure from the laws generally recognised in geology.

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Ice-Caves of France and Switzerland from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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