Page:Whymper - Scrambles amongst the Alps.djvu/174

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134
chap. vi.
SCRAMBLES AMONGST THE ALPS.

feet high, and 14,600 feet had been accomplished." He greatly deceived himself; by the barometric measurements of Signor Giordano the notch is no less than 800 feet below the summit. The guide Walter (Dr. Tyndall says) said it was impossible to proceed, and the Carrels, appealed to for their opinion (this is their own account), gave as an answer, "We are porters, ask your guides." Bennen, thus left to himself, "was finally forced to accept defeat." Tyndall had nevertheless accomplished an advance of about 400 feet over one of the most difficult parts of the mountain.

There are material discrepancies between the published narratives of Professor Tyndall[1] and the verbal accounts of the Carrels. The former says the men had to be "urged on," that "they pronounced flatly against the final precipice," "they yielded so utterly," and that Bennen said, in answer to a final appeal made to him, "'What could I do, sir? not one of them would accompany me.' It was the accurate truth." Jean-Antoine Carrel says that when Professor Tyndall gave the order to turn he would have advanced to examine the route, as he did not think that further progress was impossible, but he was stopped by the Professor, and was naturally obliged to follow the others.[2] These disagreements may well be left to be

  1. Saturday Review, 1863, and Macmillan's Magazine, 1869.
  2. I have entered into this matter because much surprise has been expressed that Carrel was able to pass this place, without any great difficulty, in 1865, which turned back so strong a party in 1862. The cause of Professor Tyndall's defeat was simply that his second guide (Walter) did not give aid to Bennen when it was required, and that the Carrels would not act as guides after having been hired as porters. J. A. Carrel not only knew of the existence of this place before they came to it; but always believed in the possibility of passing it, and of ascending the mountain; and had he been leader to the party I do not doubt that he might have taken Tyndall to the top. But when appealed to to assist Bennen (a Swiss, and the recognised leader of the party), was it likely that he (an Italian, a porter), who intended to be the first man up the mountain by a route which he regarded peculiarly his own, would render any aid?

    It is not so easy to understand how Dr. Tyndall and Bennen overlooked the existence of this cleft, for it is seen over several points of the compass, and particularly well from the southern side of the Theodule pass. Still more difficult is it to explain how the Professor came to consider that he was only a stone's-throw from the summit;