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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

46.6482045, 8.1497133

Thurs 31. [31 July 1902] Off at 1.35 and got to the Seracs just at dawn -
about 4. Some difficulty in getting onto the arete, we had to cross a
snow couloir down which the rocks fell and were a little pitted at first on
the arete. Breakfasted at 6 in safety. Then up. Enormously long and
very difficult. Treacherous rock - I pulled out a big piece on myself
which knocked me down hill a little, but I caught myself up before I
came on the rope. Subsequently discovered that it was cut half
through about a yard from my waist. Tower after tower and gendarme
after gendarme, extraordinarily steep. We cut ourselves across
several iced couloirs. Got up a bit of ice and rock onto a col between
2 gendarmes where we had some lunch in the snow, about 10. Next
followed a very difficult chimney with a traverse at the opening of it.
Still we kept to the arete and had a most awkward crossing in front of
a tower followed by a long snowy couloir. The rock thus: [sketch] At
last we began to see the top of the arete and the top of the
Finsteraahorn. Also I saw black clouds coming up from the west. At 3
we got onto a col and saw the last 2 gendarmes - and the first was
impossible. It began to snow and we sat down and eat a little. Then
we crept along the knife edge col and let Ulrich down on the right of
the tower onto a rotten sloping out ledge. No go. Then we all let
ourselves down on the left to the bottom of an iced couloir, but the
snow was already tearing down it in a small avalanche and we
decided to turn back. The rocks already covered with snow. The
traverse of the tower (above) was very hard, we had to drop off into
the snow. We longed to get down to the midday chimney, but at 8 the
thunder began. As I was standing by a big stone on the top of a tower,
suddenly it gave a crack[?] and a blue flame danced on it. As I
looked it gave another and without stopping to consider further we
dashed down a chimney and buried the ice axes in the shale. I had
felt mine give a jump and the steel felt hot through my woollen glove.
It was now dark. We found a crack more or less sheltered but pretty
uncomfortable and passed the night there shivering. At first the storm
was splendid, all the rocks crackled and fizzed, then it cleared and all
the stars came out. We roped ourselves in lest as Ulrich said we shd
be struck by lightning.

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