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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/540

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

were on aretes. When exhausted from climbing and shoveling the only thing to do was to lie down and often to sleep for a few minutes. While resting we needed only to start boulders rolling down the snow fields to behold a thrilling sight. The black masses would begin with small leaps, leaving behind indentations like an unwinding white ribbon in the dazzling snow. Increasing in speed, the boulders would finally dash with cannon-ball velocity and mighty springs out of view thousands of feet below. An obstacle at the beginning so slight as to be unnoticed would often change the path of the boulders started from the same spot so that their lower lines would be a mile apart—one making a path down a gully to the south perchance and another down an eastern gully. Form, color and motion combined to give an astonishing effect. Of the many mountain slopes that I have seen this is the most favorable for such a sight.

The weather had been propitious all morning. Though threatening, the clouds shifted constantly and disclosed one extensive view after another—any one of them a complete compensation for the effort of the ascent. Finally, after we had been climbing seven hours and were within probably three hundred feet of the rim of the crater, a vigorous snow storm swept around the mountain. We continued the ascent for an hour. The cold and wind increased. It was impossible to see fifty yards. There was nothing to do but begin the descent. We had not seen the crater nor had we had a view from the summit. But our rewards had been enjoyed all the way up and the wisdom of not postponing the return afterwards appeared since the snow storm continued the remainder of the day. So after waiting half an hour and finding the storm becoming worse, we tobogganed down the snow slope, and in fifteen minutes passed over the distance which had required three hours to climb.

We reached the cave camp in two hours, and I spent the night in bathing eyes to take out inflammation caused by the excessive light experienced on the snow.

The next morning we returned to Chalchicomula, and the tram which runs eight miles without animal, steam, or electrical traction simply with the force of gravity, carried me to San Andres, and in a few hours I was taking photographs of banana groves and coffee plantations in the city of Orizaba, having passed from frigid to tropical regions in one day.

Orizaba, 'the Star Mountain,' is the most favorable mountain in the world for an American who wishes to climb higher than eighteen thousand feet. Elbruz, the culminating point of Europe, is less accessible to Europeans than Orizaba to Americans.

The starting point for the ascent of Orizaba is high, the slopes ridable up to fourteen thousand feet, and easy the entire distance to the