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.

There is a cave in the south-east of Hungary[171] which presents the same features as several of the glacieres I have visited.  It is called the Ice-hole of Scherisciora, and is described as lying in the Jura-kalk, at a distance of 2-1/2 hours north-east from the forest-house of Distidiul.  The approach is by ladders, down a pit 30 fathoms wide and 24 deep; and when the bottom of this pit is reached, an entrance is found to the cave in the north wall, in the neighbourhood of which is congealed snow which shortly becomes ice.  The floor of the first chamber is composed of glacier-ice, separated from the side walls by a cleft from 1 to 3 feet wide, where it shows a depth of from 4 to 6 feet; it is as smooth as glass, and about 6 fathoms from the entrance a cone of ice stands upon it, 8 or 9 feet high.  Both the floor and the cone are at once seen to be transformed remains of ancient masses of snow, and are of a dirty yellow colour.

At the back of this chamber, a narrow passage opens towards the interior of the mountain, and winds steeply down with a height of 4 feet, and a length of a few fathoms, till a magnificent dome is reached, on the beauties of which Herr Peters becomes eloquent.  The floor is so smooth that crimpons are necessary, and stalagmites and stalactites of ice are found in rich profusion, the latter being generally formed on small limestone stalactites, while the former have no such nucleus.

There is another opening near the original entrance to the cave, a sort of fissure covered with elegant forms of ice, leading to a steep shaft.  The imperial forester of Topfanalva was bold enough to let himself down the slope of ice which formed the edge of the shaft, on a rope ladder 60 feet long, notwithstanding the difficulty of grasping the iron steps which of course lay pressed on to the ice; but when he had descended about 30 feet, the shaft became perpendicular, and stones thrown in showed a very considerable depth.  There appeared to be no sound of water in the abyss below.

Both entrances, that to the shaft as well as that to the second chamber, were ornamented with delicate ice crystals, which occurred both on the limestone stalactites and on the walls, and presented almost the appearance of plants of cauliflower.  The ice-floor of the first chamber is described as consisting of a ‘coarse-grained’ material.

In the south-east of Servia, on the western slope of Mount Rtagn, is a pit 20 feet in diameter, and 40 or 50 feet deep, the bottom of which is reached by a succession of trunks of trees with the branches lopped off, a sort of ladder called stouba by the natives.[172] The peasants assert that the snow and ice disappear from this pit in September, and do not reappear before June.  The Swiss peasants have never yet got so far as to say that the snow in their pits disappears in winter and returns in summer.  Boue[173] found the temperature of the bottom of the pit to be 28 deg..4 F., while that of the air outside was 76 deg.  F. The same writer[174] mentions a source in a mill-stone quarry in Bosnia which is frozen till the end of June.

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