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Dome pass, and pitched our tent on the high ridge beside the one occupied by Kerr and Doney. In the morning, although the storm still continued, our party divided, Kerr, Doney, and Partridge starting early for Blossom island, while Stamy, White, and myself, after following their tracks for a few miles, turned to the left and worked our way northeastward among the crevasses of the Seward glacier. Toward evening we reached the northwestern spur of Mount Owen, but found the cliffs rising abruptly from the glacier and too favorable for avalanches to admit of our camping near them. Again we were forced to go into camp on the open glacier, and were less comfortable than previously on similar occasions, owing to the fact that we had been exposed to the rains for three successive days and our blankets and clothes were wet. Rain continued all night and all the next day, and on the following night changed to snow.
On the morning of September 4 we awoke to find the skies clear, but the mountains all about us were white with snow. Before the sun rose, White and I started for the top of the high ridge above us, determined to have at least a distant view of the amphitheatre which we wished to explore. The snow about our camp was only six or eight inches deep, but as we ascended the mountain it grew more and more troublesome, and at a height of a thousand feet above camp was thirty inches deep. On gaining the summit of the ridge a magnificent view was obtained of the upper portion of the Seward glacier and of Mount Irving and Mount Logan, and many bold, tapering mountains farther northeastward. The whole landscape was snow-covered, and as the sun rose clear in the east became of the most dazzling brilliancy. An icy wind swept down from the northeast and rendered it exceedingly difficult to take photographs or to make measurements. On endeavoring to use my prismatic compass, I found that, having been soaked with moisture during the previous days of storm, it froze solid and refused to move, on being exposed to the air. Making what observations I could, we started back to camp with the intention of abandoning all further attempts to work in the high mountains.
On the steep slope now exposed to the full sunshine several avalanches had gone down, and there was great danger of others. Selecting a point where an avalanche had already swept away the new snow, we worked our way downward in a zigzag course and reached the bottom safely, although an avalanche starting
Return to Blossom Island.
near at hand swept by within a few yards. When nearly at the bottom my attention was attracted by a noise above, and on looking up I saw two rocks bounding down the slope and coming straight for me. To dodge them on the steep slippery slope was difficult and dangerous. Allowing one to pass over my right shoulder, I instantly moved in that direction and allowed the other to pass over my left shoulder. They shot by me like fragments of shells, but did no injury. Reaching camp, we found
that Stamy had dried our blankets and clothes.
Resuming our packs, we slowly threaded our way downward to Camp 14, at the western end of the Pinnacle pass cliffs. We there found cans of rations left several days before and, pitching our tent, passed the night. We knew by the signs found there that Kerr and his companions, after taking lunch, had renewed their journey toward Blossom island. Our camp was just at the lower limit of the new snow. To the northward all was of the purest white, but southward, down the glacier, the snow-fields were yellow and much discolored. Many changes had taken place in the Seward glacier since we first saw it; the pinnacles, snow-tables, and crevasses in the rapids were less striking than formerly, and had evidently suffered greatly from the summer's heat. About the bases of the cliffs there were dark, irregular patches of débris, where a month previously all was white. As nearly as could be judged, the surface of the glacier had been lowered by melting and settling during our absence about fifty feet.
The following morning, September 5, we started for Blossom island, the weather still continuing thick and stormy. On crossing Pinnacle pass we found over a foot of new snow which had fallen since our companions passed that way. Toward nightfall the lower limit of snow on the Marvine glacier was reached, and at night we camped on the first moraines which appeared below the névé. The day following, September 6, we reached Blossom island about noon, and found that Kerr and his party had arrived there safely, and that Partridge had recovered from his snow-blindness.
Our stay above the snow-line had lasted thirty-five days, and we were extremely glad to see the light of a camp-fire and have the trees and flowers about us once more. The vegetation indicated that the season was already far advanced. Most of the flowers had faded, and autumn tints gave brilliancy to the
lower mountain slopes; salmon berries and huckleberries were in profusion, and furnished an exceedingly agreeable change in our diet. After a bath in one of the small lakelets on the island and a good night's rest on a luxuriant bed of spruce boughs, we felt fully restored and ready for another campaign.
As Kerr was anxious to get back to Port Mulgrave, it was arranged that Lindsley and Partridge should go with him, and that the rest of the men should remain. Kerr took his departure on the morning of September 7, and on the following day Christie, Doney, and myself crossed the Marvine glacier to the southern end of the Hitchcock range, and the following day made an excursion out upon the Malaspina glacier. The day of our excursion was bright and beautiful, and the mountains to the northward revealed their full magnificence. The level plateau of ice formed a horizontal plain, from which the mountain rose precipitously and appeared grander and more majestic than from any other point of view. St. Elias rose clear and sharp, without a cloud to obscure its dizzy height, and appeared to be one sheer precipice. It is doubtful if a more impressive mountain face exists anywhere else in the world. After learning all we could concerning the Malaspina glacier we returned to our camp at the end of the Hitchcock range, and the following day tramped across the extremely rough moraine-covered surface back to Blossom island.
The following morning, September 12, we started on our return trip to Yakutat bay. Two small tents and many articles for which we had no further use were abandoned, so as to make our packs light as possible. We crossed the Hayden glacier, and at night camped at the foot of Floral pass. After making two intermediate camps, traveling each day in the rain, we reached the shore of Yakutat bay on September 15.
Doney and I halted at Dalton's cabin for the purpose of seeing what we could of the openings there made for coal, while the rest of the party pressed on to our old camping place on the shore. There they found Kerr and his party still encamped, but ready to leave for Port Mulgrave early the next morning.
September 18 was occupied by us in catching salmon and trout. We were abundantly successful, as every man returned to camp with all that he could carry. These were spread out on a rack over our camp-fire and smoked for further use, as we did not know how long our stay would be extended. On the next day Stamy and Lindsley returned from Port Mulgrave, where they
had left Kerr, quite recovered from his exposure on the mountain. Stormy weather continued, and a gale from the northeast piled the ice high on the beach and threatened to sweep away our tents, as has already been briefly described in earlier pages.
On September 20, our tents having been beaten in by a violent storm and our camping place overflowed by the waters from a lake above us, we removed our goods to a place of safety and went to Dalton's cabin, where we awaited better weather. The morning of September 23 dawned clear and bright, and after drying our clothes around a blazing camp-fire, we started back to our camping place on the shore. Before reaching there, however, we were rejoiced to see the Corwin coming up the bay. It took us but a short time to get on board, where Captain C. L. Hooper, her commander, did everything in his power to make us welcome and comfortable. To him we are indebted for a delightful voyage back to civilization.
After steaming up Disenchantment bay nearly to the ice-cliffs of the Hubbard glacier, and obtaining a fine view of the glaciers about Disenchantment bay, the Corwin returned to Port Mulgrave and, on September 25, put to sea. After a splendid ocean passage, we arrived at Port Townsend on October 2.
During our stay in Alaska not a man was seriously sick and not an accident happened. The work planned at the start was carried out almost to the letter, with the exception that snowstorms and the lateness of the season did not permit us to reach the summit of Mount St. Elias.
Should another attempt be inade to climb Mount St. Elias, the shortest and most practicable route from the coast would be to land at Icy bay and ascend the Agassiz glacier. The course taken by us in 1890 could be intersected just north of where the tributary glacier from Dome pass joins the main ice-stream; and from there the route followed last summer would be the most practicable. A camp should be established on the divide between Mount St. Elias and Mount Newton, from which excursions to either of these peaks could be made in a single day.
In the preceding narrative many details have been omitted. One of these is that tents, together with blankets, rations, etc., were left at two convenient points between Blossom island and
the Agassiz glacier, and were used by the men in bringing up supplies. In attempting to ascend Mount St. Elias from Icy bay by the route suggested, at least three such relay stations should be established between the Chaix hills, where wood for camp-fires can be obtained (as is known from the reports of the New York Times and Topham expeditions), and the high camp. on the divide. The relay camps suggested should be one day's march apart, and would serve not only for stopping places while carrying rations during the advance, but would furnish a line of retreat. A party making this journey should be provided with snow-shoes, which unfortunately we did not take with us.
All rations intended for use above the snow-line should be packed in tin cans, each of sufficient size to hold between fifty and sixty pounds, and each should be securely soldered. All articles packed in this way should be thoroughly dry and should be packed in a dry, warm room. When secured in this manner they are about as easy to carry as if packed in bags, and can be "cached" anywhere out of the reach of floods and avalanches, with the certainty of being serviceable when wanted. The more perishable articles to be used where camp-fires are possible should also be secured in tin cans. Sacks of flour, corn-meal, etc., should be protected by an outer covering of strong canvas. The experience of last summer showed that the cans of rations intended for use above the snow-line should each contain about the following ration, which may be varied to suit individual taste: Bacon, smoked
Corned beef, in can
Flour and corn-meal, with necessary quantity of baking powder
Extract of beef
Condensed milk (small cans)
Our experience with oil-stoves showed that they are serviceWhile on the march they can be carried as hand packs in