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Letter from Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

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Bell, Dame Florence Eveleen Eleanore
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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1 letter plus envelope, paper

46.6482045, 8.1497133

Rosenlaui Sunday. Dearest Mother. We have done the first of the Impossibles, the Wellhorn arête, and are much elated. We started at 5 yesterday and ran up the Vorder Wellhorn as fast as ever we could, making only a 5 minutes' halt while we roped. While we were undoing our rope a chamois came quietly strolling over a rock not 30 yards from us. It was extremely disgusted when it saw us and hurried down again as quick as it could. The arête looked awful from the top of the Vorder Wellhorn. There was a most discouraging bit of smooth rock in it and above that an overhang round which we could see no way. My heart sank - I thought we should never do it. However we set off and when we came nearer we found that these two places were not half as bad as they looked and after 4 hours of very fine arête climbing we lunched at the top of the overhang in the best of spirits. But the worst was to come - a long knife edge of rock so rotten that it fell away in masses as we went along, horrid precipices beneath us so that the greatest care was needed at every step. And it ended in a sharp gap on the further side of which 2 short but extremely exposed chimneys led up to the final slopes. We took nearly an hour over these, I standing most of the time, shivering with cold, at the bottom of the lowest while my two guides worked on the tiny ledge above me which was too narrow for us all 3. I couldn't see what they were doing even, but I felt pretty sure we should end by getting up for we none of us wanted to climb back for 6 hours along the arête by which we had come. Finally Ulrich called out "I have hold of it!" and Heinrich and I scrabbled up after him with the aid of an iron nail driven in in the worst place and of a double rope. We ended our day by crossing the Rosenlaui glacier under the seracs, a thing we had no business to do for they hung over us in the most threatening manner, but it saved us at least 2 hours and we got through without their falling on us.
When I came home I found Robert Collier who had just arrived. I fell into his arms with rapture - it shows the straits to which one is reduced when one is so overjoyed to see the good Robert! All the Grant Duffs arrive tomorrow, but I think, if the weather holds, I shall go over to Grimsel for the second Impossible is now on our minds and we want to set about it as soon as we can.

I do hope you will have fine weather for the Summer Meeting! Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

IIIF Manifest