Not knowing but that the storm might last two days, as is frequently the case, I reluctantly gave the order to go down. In an hour we got below the storm. The valley into which we looked was full of brightest sunshine; the mountain above us looked like a cowled monk. In another hour the whole sky was perfectly clear. O that I had kept my faith in my aneroid! Had I held to the faith that started me in the morning—endured the storm, not wavered at suggestions of peril, defied apparent knowledge of local guides—and then been able to surmount the difficulty of the new-fallen snow, I should have been favored with such a view as is not enjoyed once in ten years; for men cannot go up all the way in storm, nor soon enough after to get all the benefit of the cleared air. Better things were prepared for me than I knew; indications of them offered to my faith; they were firmly grasped, and held almost long enough for realization, and then let go in an hour of darkness and storm.
I reached the Riffelhouse after eleven hours’ struggle with rocks and softened snow, and said to the guide, “To-morrow I start for the Matterhorn.” To do this we go down the three hundred stories to Zermatt.
Every mountain excursion I ever made has been in the highest degree profitable. Even this one, though robbed of its hoped-for culmination, has been one of the richest I have ever enjoyed.
The Matterhorn is peculiar. I do not know of another mountain like it on the earth. There are such splintered and precipitous spires on the moon. How it came to be such I treated of fully in Sights and Insights. It is approximately a three-sided mountain, fourteen thousand seven hundred and eighteen feet high, whose sides are so steep as to be unassailable. Approach can be made only along the angle at the junction of the planes.
[Illustration: The Matterhorn.]
It was long supposed to be inaccessible. Assault after assault was made on it by the best and most ambitious Alp climbers, but it kept its virgin height untrodden. However, in 1864, seven men, almost unexpectedly, achieved the victory; but in descending four of them were precipitated, down an almost perpendicular declivity, four thousand feet. They had achieved the summit after hundreds of others had failed. They had reveled in the upper glories, deposited proof of their visit, and started to return. According to law, they were roped together. According to custom, in a difficult place all remain still, holding the rope, except one who carefully moves on. Croz, the first guide, was reaching up to take the feet of Mr. Haddow and help him down to where he stood. Suddenly Haddow’s strength failed, or he slipped and struck Croz on the shoulders, knocking him off his narrow footing. They two immediately jerked off Rev. Mr. Hudson. The three falling jerked