Page:Canadian Alpine Journal I, 1.djvu/60

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39
Field for Alpine Club

teeming with animal life, quaint and uncommon as the surroundings.

The Selkirk range lies west of the Main range. It is practically a vast island of rock, ice and snow, insulated by giant loops of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers. The material composing it is of a much older and harder formation, consisting chiefly of archæan rocks: grey, pink, green and white quartzites, glittering mica-schists, argillites and rocks of gneissic character. The valleys are narrow, and the mountain masses rise swiftly up, their sides scored and seamed by giant scaurs. The fantastically carved limestone shapes of the Main range are lacking.

The two most striking features of the range are its impenetrably luxuriant forests, filling up the valleys, and the immense accumulations of snow and ice stored in its mountain recesses, high up among the clouds. The former contribute much to the seeker after the picturesque in Nature, and the latter are a source of joy to the true alpine enthusiast. Both effects are from the same cause, viz.: the large amount of precipitation deposited in the form of snow, accumulating from year's end to year's end until the entire cap of the range appears in perspective as an endless succession of snow-fields, with precipitous black faces of rock rising at intervals from their midst, where the sheer is too steep for snow to lie. Nor is this to be wondered at when it is considered that the average snowfall at the summit of the range is thirty-six feet, with an additional rainfall of thirteen inches; making in all an annual precipitation of fifty-seven inches of water. In comparison may be mentioned the annual average snowfall of about fifteen feet, and annual precipitation of about thirty inches, at the summit of the Main range.

The excessive precipitation in the Selkirks is due to the fact that it is the first high range of mountains to intercept the moisture-laden clouds borne eastward