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 19:  My sisters made a two-days’ excursion from Arzier to this glaciere in the autumn of 1862, and found no snow in the bottom of the pit.  They took the route by Gimel to Biere, intending to defer the visit to the glaciere to the morning of the second day; but being warned by the appearance known locally as le sappeur qui fume, a vaporous cloud at the mouth of a cavern near the Dent d’Oche, on the other side of the Lake of Geneva, they caught the communal forester at once, and put themselves under his guidance.  The distance from Biere is two hours’ good walking, and an hour and a half for the return.  There was no ladder for the final descent, and the neighbouring chalet could provide nothing longer than 15 feet, the drop being 30 feet.  Two Frenchmen had attempted to make their way to the cave a week before; but the old 30-foot ladder of the previous year broke under the foremost of them, and he fell into the pit, whence he was drawn up by means of a cord composed of rack-ropes from the chalet, tied together.  However useful a string of cow-ties may be for rescuing a man from such a situation, A. and M. did not care to make use of that apparatus for a voluntary descent, so they were perforce contented with a distant view of the ice from the lower edge of the pit.]

[Footnote 20:  See the section of this cave and pit on page 41.]

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We now put ourselves under the guidance of the accomplice, Louis, who began to express doubts of his ability to find the upper glaciere, administering consolation by reminding us that if he could not find it no one else could.

As we walked on through the mist and rain, it became necessary to circumvent a fierce-looking bull, and Mignot and the accomplice told rival tales of the dangers to which pedestrians are exposed from the violence of the cattle on some montagnes, where the bulls are allowed to grow to full size and fierceness.  Mignot was quite motherly in his advice and his cautions, recommending as the surest safeguard a pocket-pistol, loaded with powder only, to be flashed in the bull’s face as he makes his charge.  When informed that in England an umbrella or a parasol is found to answer this purpose, he shook his head negatively, evidently having no confidence in his own umbrella, and doubting its obeying his wishes at the critical moment; indeed, it would require a considerable time, and much care and labour, to unfurl a lumbering instrument of that description.  He had the best of the tale-contest with Renaud in the end, for he had himself been grazed by a bull which came up with him at the moment when he sprang into a tree.

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