1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Col
COL (Fr. for “neck,” Lat. collum), in physical geography, generally any marked depression upon a high and rugged water-parting over which passage is easy from one valley to another. Such is the Col de Balme between the Trient and Chamounix valleys, where the great inaccessible wall crowned with aiguilles running to the massif of Mt. Blanc is broken by a gentle downward curve with smooth upland slopes, over which a footpath gives easy passage. The col is usually formed by the head-waters of a stream eating backward and lowering the water-parting at the head of its valley. In early military operations, the march of an army was always over a col, which has at all times considerable commercial importance in relation to roads in high mountain regions.