The inn on the Riffelberg is nearly eight thousand feet high, almost two thousand feet above the hut on Mount Washington; yet it is not so cold and desolate as the latter. Grass grows and flowers bloom on its smooth upland, and behind it and in front of it are the snow-peaks. That evening we essayed the Gorner-Grat, a rocky ledge nearly ten thousand feet above the level of the sea; but after a climb of an hour and a half, and a good view of Monte Rosa and the glaciers and peaks of that range, we were prevented from reaching the summit, and driven back by a sharp storm of hail and rain. The next morning I started for the GornerGrat again, at four o’clock. The Matterhorn lifted its huge bulk sharply against the sky, except where fleecy clouds lightly draped it and fantastically blew about it. As I ascended, and turned to look at it, its beautifully cut peak had caught the first ray of the sun, and burned with a rosy glow. Some great clouds drifted high in the air: the summits of the Breithorn, the Lyscamm, and their companions, lay cold and white; but the snow down their sides had a tinge of pink. When I stood upon the summit of the Gorner-Grat, the two prominent silver peaks of Monte Rosa were just touched with the sun, and its great snow-fields were visible to the glacier at its base. The Gorner-Grat is a rounded ridge of rock, entirely encirled by glaciers and snow-peaks. The panorama from it is unexcelled in Switzerland.
Returning down the rocky steep, I descried, solitary in that great waste of rock and snow, the form of a lady whom I supposed I had left sleeping at the inn, overcome with the fatigue of yesterday’s tramp. Lured on by the apparently short distance to the backbone of the ridge, she had climbed the rocks a mile or more above the hotel, and come to meet me. She also had seen the great peaks lift themselves out of the gray dawn, and Monte Rosa catch the first rays. We stood awhile together to see how jocund day ran hither and thither along the mountain-tops, until the light was all abroad, and then silently turned downward, as one goes from a mount of devotion.