Alfred Edward Thomas Watson.

The Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes online

. (page 50 of 52)
Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 50 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the Italian summit (14.751 ft.). It is separated from the Swiss
summit by a ridge some 300 ft. long, which when we passed was
covered with snow forming a huge overhanging cornice that
threatened to give way with us at each step. I must confess to

NO. cxxxi. VOL. xxu.—June 1906 Y Y

Digitized by VjOOQIC


a certain feeling of nervousness just here, due no doubt to the
mental strain in making the ascent ; but we got safely across to
the real summit of the Matterhorn at half-past twelve, loj hours
after leaving the Hornli Cabane.

To find ourselves perched up there, right in the air, full of life,
was an experience which will remain engraved on my memory to
my dying: day, for never had I in the course of my mountaineerin«f
been so impressed, never had so much space been around me before.
It is inconceivable; it is awe-inspiring and marvellous. You are
forced to look at your feet to make sure you still touch the earth,
and that you are not merely floating about like some aerial body.
We forget all the dangers of the ascent, and the worst ones a>\'aiting[
us on the return ; we forget the cold and the wind which blows
lugubriously in our ears ; our thoughts are concentrated on the
grand panorama around us.

The Italian Alps, Monte Rosa, the Weisshorn, the Rothhorn,
the Combin, and Mont Blanc are glistening in the rays of the
midday sun, with the blue sky above, where not a cloud is to be
seen. Mountains and valleys everywhere ; and there, calm and
peaceful at the foot of us far below, lies Zermatt, looking like a
toy. We can discern, by the flashing of the sun on the lenses,
the telescopes by which the good folk down below have been
following our movements. Alas ! it was not given to us to enjoy
for long this feast to the eye, for within fifteen minutes of our
arrival (during which period I took the photo here shown) we are
forced to turn and face the terrible descent, the descent feared by
all mountaineers more than the ascent.

We return over the cornice of snow to the Swiss summit, and
there we start on the riskiest bit of work it has ever been my
lot to encounter. For more than half an hour we are on the steep
ice slope, without any foothold at all, except here and there a piece
of rock, and facing the precipice all the while. We have to move
slowly, one at a time, sometimes crawling along on hands and
knees while the others hold the rope tight. A great effort is
necessary to prevent our heads giving way to vertigo. The cold
makes us clumsy in our movements and stiffens our hands; but
we are working for our lives now, for the slightest error of one
of us would result fatally to all. Finally we reach the welcome
rock, which seems deliciously warm after the hard work on the ice.
We again come to the hanging rope, to the chain, and finally pass
the Shoulder, to find ourselves once more on the top of the rocky
wall facing Zermatt. There, sheltered from the wind, we allow
ourselves a few minutes in which to regain our breath ; but our
hands become frozen, and we have to rub them hard with snow

Digitized by




to restore circulation. This causes some pain, but our spirits soon re-
turn, for the most difficult part has passed, and we feel very contented.
We continue our downward course as rapidly as the cork
will permit, when suddenly, without warning, I am knocked over
by a large boulder which goes crashing by me, and I see it hit
and overturn my friend in front; we all three roll down towards
the precipice; we cannot stop ourselves; nearer and nearer the
edge comes; we grasp vainly at nothing, when I feel a shock
to the rope
around my
waist, and I
lose consci-
ousness for a
few moments.
I soon come
to, and see
my friend
Smith, the
last man on
the rope,
cramped up
tight, and
holding on
with grim de-
ter mination
to a rock.
His presence
of mind had
saved our
lives. The
front man.

Eraser (I was on the summit of the MATTERHORN

in the mid-
dle), could not be seen ; the rope was hanging over the precipice,
but by the strain on it we knew he was still there. But we feel no
movement at all. We gently haul up the rope and its burden to
behind the rock that has served us all so well ; we examine him, and
find, luckily, no bones broken ; bad contusions, however, are all over
his body, and he is bleeding profusely from a nasty jagged cut in his
head ; he has fainted, so we bring him to by applying snow to his
forehead, and then look to ourselves. Smith is scatheless, but I have
two fingers badly crushed and bleeding, while a third one is split
open. After all we escaped lightly, but we have lost our hats and
our piolet. We bandage ourselves in the best way possible with our

Y Y 2

Digitized by



handkerchiefs torn in strips, and pulling ourselves together resume
the descent ; and a memorable one it was, too. Eraser, who was
really badly shaken and bruised, continually fainted, and we had
perforce to lower him from one rock to another, more like a corpse
than a living person, each movement causing him intense pain.
The descent became desperately slow and disheartening. At seven
o'clock in the evening we arrive at the refuge, and after a hurried
consultation decide it to be out of the question to remain there for
the night; the position is becoming serious, for no one can guess
what a night passed here might lead to.

Machine-like we push on and on, but night falls all too quickly,
and, fearing another mishap, we dare not proceed further in the
darkness. We espy a large rock, and decide to remain here until
daybreak. Fixing the rope more firmly to our bodies, we pass it
round the rock and make it secure ; and thus tied up, and keeping
close together for warmth, we lie down on the stony couch. Fraser
is already asleep and groaning ; he is really badly bruised. Smith
does not hide the fact that our position is a precarious one. On
reflection, I feel convinced that the principal danger is the falling
stones. It is not too cold as yet, and the night is fine, the sky above
is dark blue, and the stars are shining, with a few shooting stars
leaving their trail of light behind them as they dash across the sky.
The air is calm, and there in the valley far below us the lights of
Zermatt gradually die out one by one. I look at the position from
a philosophic and collected point of view; it is not so terrible; but
I still hear those stones falling, I am so tired, objects around me
become dim and lose their shape, and I fall asleep.

At 4 a.m. tha sharp cold preceding the rising of the sun wakes
us up, and by diligent rubbing of our limbs we restore a certain
amount of feeling to them. Curiously enough we are all suffer-
ing from a violent thirst, which we cannot allay, owing to the
contents of our gourds being frozen into ice. Nevertheless, we
shake ourselves, and immediately resume the descent. The first
steps are very painful, stiff and sore as we are, but sleep has re-
freshed and strengthened us in no small degree. The sun comes
out, and the warmth of its rays is as a healing balm to our bodies
and spirits. We again go over the steps taken early the previous
morning, and are spectators of a big avalanche of boulders and
stones. We come upon a little trickle of water and quench our
thirst. Proceeding always, we reach the ledge of rock we had passed
over with difficulty in darkness on the way up ; it had lost many
of its terrors when seen by daylight.

Once more we exercise extreme carefulness over a difficult
piece, and find, ourselves at last on firm ground once again. We

Digitized by



reach the Hornii Cabane at 7 a.m., and we give vent to our
feelings by three loud and long hurrahs. Here we undo the rope
which had been fastened around our waists for thirty hours con-
tinuously; soon the fire begins to burn brightly in the stove, and
while our chocolate is boiling we examine our wounds and wash
them with antiseptic solution ; we dress them to the best of our
ability, and bind them up anew. The hot chocolate is soon ready,
and, I can give you my word, was a real treat to us all. Had a
visitor appeared on the
scene, a strange sight
would have met his
gaze : men swathed
in bandages, drinking
hot chocolate, while
an odour like that of
a hospital would have
greeted his nostrils.

We remain and
rest at the cabane until
4 p.m., when we leave.
Passing the little Lac
Noir Hotel, we receive
the welcome of a red-
faced visitor who in-
forms us he is pleased
and surprised to see us
alive (very kind of him,
I am sure !), and we
cross the pastures
above Zermatt, where
the cattle graze con-
tentedly, filling the air [
with their lowing and the foot of the matterhcrn
the clanging of the

bells around their necks. Here and there are dotted little brown
chalets. What a contrast to the desolation on the Matterhorn left
behind !

We arrive at Zermatt, and the guides, good fellows that they
are, although disapproving of our ascent without their help, offer
us their congratulations and shake us heartily by the hand. Then
the hundred and one questions from the idlers, a bath and a change
of clothes at the hotel, supper, and so to our well-earned bed.

Hit * * lit *

Two days later we were on the summit of Monte Rosa.

Digitized by




ERE are manygolf-
es, but there is
-course like that
be Golf Club. To
fishing village of
re than one of our
ids facetiously call
of nearly 300,000
:h a larger import
tr in Japan, be-
rresting the cur-
ream which with
sistible force has
r spread to the
jrmost ends of the
Two hours away
ricksha and
hanks's pony," on
mge of hills behind
town known as
kkosan, some 2,500
j,ooo feet above sea
»1, there is a very
rting i8-hole links
he Mecca of the
be golfer — which
y not inaptly be de-
bed as " Farthest
5t." Time was—
and it is not so lone

'HULLET HEAD." WINNER OF THE CADDIES' a vx i. o wi. ow ^

CHAMPIONSHIP, 1905 ago — that the hills

Digitized by



behind Kobe were in the absolutely undisturbed possession of the
fox, the badger, and the hare, and a few solitary wood-cutters
who were not afraid of tengu — the long, red-nosed hobgoblins sup-
posed by the superstitious to live in holes in the rocks on the
mountain tops; and save for an occasional energetic foreigner
whose week-end form of relaxation took the shape of a tramp
across the range to Arima.

It would be no stretch of imagination to say that Rokkosan
may in a few years be more popular as a hill station for the foreign
resident than Miyanoshita, Nikko, or Karuizawa. Already there are
a good many bungalows scattered on the hilltops near the golf links,

This photograph gives an excellent idea of what the course is like

and more are being built every year. For the laying out of the
course Mr. A. H. Groom, the present popular and energetic Hon.
Sec. of the Kobe Golf Club, is responsible. Mr. Groom is an old
resident, having been some thirty odd years in Japan. All the
more credit is due to him, seeing that he had never played the
game in his life before the Rokkosan course was opened. In the
laying out of the links it is true he had the advice of Messrs. Adam-
son and McMurtrie, both of whom learnt the game in their boyhood
when living in Scotland. It is now just about three years since play
first took place on the original nine-hole course. This was consider-
ably lengthened and improved and another nine added, the full

Digitized by



course being opened in October 1904, and the cost of this extension
was written off at the end of the same year, which proves that the
club is in a most flourishing condition. There are over two hundred
names on the list of active members. So, as far as Kobe is concerned,
**golf has all other games slapped to a sit down." Most of the
members are of British nationality, but several Germans, with a
sprinkling of Japanese, have joined the club. These last seldom
play. But if golf ever " catches on " in Japan as it has done in
England, they may produce a player who will beat the world. With
wonderful strength and endurance, an entire absence of " nerves/*
with a remarkable endowment for keeping cool under the greatest
provocation, combined with that rare gift of hand and eye working
together in perfect unison, coupled with the proverbial patience of
Job, the faculty of never giving in, and never knowing when they
are beaten, the Japanese as a nation possess all the attributes that
go towards the making of the ideal golfer — except one. And that
one is money. Golf is not a cheap game in these days of rubber-
cored balls, which are sold here at three shillings apiece.

The chances are that if a golfing stranger standing on the
verandah of the card-room of the Kobe Club was told that one of
the finest golf-courses in Asia was perched on the top of the Rok-
kosan range in front of him, he would promptly put his informant
down as a thoroughly fitting candidate for admission into what is
tersely termed in America a crazy-house. Should he decide to per-
form the Hajy and see for himself, his convictions in this respect
would be strongly confirmed during the half-hour's ricksha run
through the terraced rice-fields to Gomo, a typical Japanese village,
with its temple and a large stone torii in front of it, with old-world
brown-thatched houses nestlingat ihefootof the hills at the entrance
to the Cascade Valley. And more esp)ecially during the steep climb
through this valley to the Gap, which will take a very good walker at
least fifty to sixty minutes. Riding is possible, but dangerous. The
native pony is a very sure-footed beast, but kneecaps and a nose
protector would be very much in order. Those who do not care
about exertion can be carried up by coolies in a kago, a sort of basket-
work arrangement slung on a pole, but this kind of progression is
slow and extremely uncomfortable till one gets used to it.

The path, strewn with great granite boulders, twists and winds
up between the rocky hillsides, crossing and recrossing many times
a brawling mountain stream, which in rainy weather rapidly becomes
a raging torrent. The precipitous cliffs on either side are covered
with short stiff bamboo grass and creeping pines, and in June when
the azaleas are in full bloom there are few prettier walks near Kobe
than the Cascade Valley. Beyond the Gap the track dips for a few

Digitized by



hundred yards, and then there is another stiff climb to a long stretch
of flat known as the Russian Drive. On both sides the jungle is so
thick and the hillsides are so steep that the visitor to Rokko must
wonder what kind of a golf-course he is bound for. About two miles
further on, after passing several mountain chalets and the Golf
Club's Dormie House on the left, he will find himself on the first tee
by the side of the Club Pavilion, the fashionable week-end rendez-
vous of the energetic portion of Kobe's foreign community. Ad astra
per aspera. The shape of the course is that of a trefoil with the
Club House in the centre. It is therefore possible to start a round
from either the first, seventh, or eleventh tees — decidedly a good
arrangement on a crowded green. This mountain course is fully
guaranteed to give a man all the sport he wants in a day's play of


two rounds. A three-handicap man from the Happy Valley at
Hong Kong once described it as ** quite a new game." There are
a few holes at Dinard which remind one of Rokkosan, but there is
no turf in the whole length and breadth of Japan to come within
cooee of that on the C6tes-du-Nord. Here the "putting-greens,"
cut out of the hillsides with no turf on them, are just gravel and sand
rolled flat, and very good putting it is when there are no zephyrs
flying about. Off the teethe shot must be hit, otherwise the ball
will be found in deep valleys, where it is more than a 10 to i chance
that the second will have to be played from a hanging lie. The line
to nearly every hole crosses some deep undulation on the course,
and the idea seems to be to play from one hilltop to another with-

Digitized by



out letting the sphere descend to the lower regions. But facilis
descensus Averni. The Kobe course is undoubtedly what the Amateur
Champion of 1904 calls a very fine educator. As the crow flies this
course only measures 3,576 yards from tee to hole, but it must be
remembered that to walk round it a distance of over double this
figure must be covered on the principle that two sides of a triangle
are greater than the third side.

There are no other golf-courses in the empire, except six holes
on the sand flats of Yokoya, a small village half an hour's journey
by electric tramway from Kobe on the road to Osaka. Golf is talked
of in Yokohama, and a links of nine holes is being laid out inside
the racecourse at Negishi.

The golfer in Japan must be fairly sound in wind and limb, as


there is nothing more calculated to put him off" his game than to get
up to the ball for another stroke panting like a broken-winded horse
and absolutely out of breath. The chief hazards on the links are
the Styx at No. 4, the Ice Ponds at No. 7, the Devil's Punch Bowl
at No. 8, and Port Arthur, a large bunker guarding No. 16, not for-
getting the fearful abyss at the i8th, known as " Hell." Besides
these there are big grey boulders, azalea roots, drains, and some
dwarf pines to be reckoned with on the line, whilst off it the bamboo
grass is long enough to hide all the golf balls that ever were made.
In the summer in Japan it is often very wet, and it is no uncommon

Digitized by



sight on Rokkosan to find a competition started in a mist so thick
that it is impossible to see the green you are playing for. Moreover
the atmosphere at times is so saturated with moisture that it is
enough to take the sting out of the best tee shot that ever happened.
There are no fewer than ten blind holes on the course, at each of
which the green cannot be seen from the teeing ground. Blind
going with a vengeance ! Any way you look at it the Rokkosan
course has a good deal in its favour. The game must be straight,
as straight as a die the whole way round, for then virtue meeteth
with its just reward. On fine days there are views from these hill-
tops that cannot be surpassed anywhere in Japan. The far-famed
Inland Sea lies spread-eagled out below the range for a clear hundred
miles, the air is like champagne, and the tiffin in the pavilion is so
good as to make it small wonder that it is a case of play and come

Golf is essentially an elusive game. Nowhere more so than on
Rokko. Tis the game that beats the player. As the player does
not like being beaten he naturally goes on playing. And this is
where indeed is found the charm that never fades.

Digitized by





''Vlepete ihesin ! Etimi! '' Bang! The curt commands of the Greek
starter ; the crack of a pistol ; the crunch of spiked feet on cinders ;
a flash of flying white-clad figures; the roar of threescore thousand
voices ; a vague vision of a sea of faces with gleaming marble for a
background, and the great Olympian Games of 1906 had fairly begun.
This meeting, held in the splendid Stadium at Athens, and
lasting from April 22 to May 2, was undoubtedly the greatest inter-
national athletic contest that has ever taken place. Representative
teams were sent out from Great Britain, the United States, Canada,
Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Austria- Hungary, Sweden,
Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Russia and
Spain, the Balkan States, the Levant, and even from Egypt and
Asia Minor. For months past the various athletic and gymnastic
societies in Greece itself had been busied in selecting the national
champions which so ably upheld against all comers the honour of
the Hellenic race upon their own soil. In each department of the
games were two Greek representatives from Hellas proper, and two
from Greek countries under foreign rule, while every nation sending
competitors contributed a member of the jury for each department

Digitized by



of sport in which it was represented. The total entry list bore close
on five hundred names.

The impressive ceremony of inauguration took place on the
afternoon of Sunday, April 22, in the Panathenaic Stadium,
a colossal structure which has just been restored to all its
classic beauty of Pentelic marble by the munificence of a Greek
merchant, M. Averoflf, whose statue stands before its gates. It is a
very different arena from that which was used at the first revival of
these historic games in 1896, for it is now complete in every detail,
in shape a giant magnet, holding close on 75,000 spectators, with
more than 40,000 reserved, numbered, and cushioned places. Its
every surrounding is pregnant with memories of Greece's Golden


Age. Around it are the hills that are hallowed by the greatest
memories of antiquity, Parnes and Pentelicus ; beside it is the
Acropolis, the immortal shrine of Attic art and architecture; while
to the northward rises the convent-crowned peak of the Lykabettos,
and beyond stretches the Attic plain.

Built entirely of Pentelic marble, it is the largest amphitheatre
of its kind in the world, and formed a fitting background for a scene
that vividly recalled the athletic triumphs of the Greek world at
Olympia more than seven centuries before Christ. The Stadium
was originally laid out by the statesman and orator, Lykourgos,
about 300 B.C., having been formed, as is still clearly apparent, by
the ingenious adaptation of a natural hollow. At a later period,
probably about a.d. 140, the seats and partitions were renewed in

Digitized by



white marble by Herodes Atticus, who almost exhausted the quarries
of Pentelikon in carrying out this magnificent improvement. The
Stadium was one of the two great monuments of the liberality of
this public-spirited citizen, and on his death his body was solemnly
interred within its precincts. The enormous size of the Stadium
and the height of its rows of seats produce a most imposing effect,
and this is enhanced by the rich marble decorations, which have
been restored in strict conformity with the extant ancient remains
through the generosity of the before-mentioned M. Averoff. The


entire length of the course, from the entrance to the semi-circular
space at the south-eastern end, is 670 ft., and it is 109 ft. in breadth.
The original games, it must be understood, were held not
in the Stadium at Athens, but at Olympia in the Peloponnesus,
which is a long day's journey from the present capital of Greece
Olympia was never, properly speaking, a town, but merely a sacred
precinct, with temples, public buildings and the like, and owed its
high importance throughout the entire Hellenic world to its famous
games in honour of Zeus, which during a period of more than a
thousand years were periodically celebrated by the Greeks of all
states and of all tribes. The origin of the games is shrouded in
the haze of mythology. Suffice to recount, therefore, the current

Digitized by



legend that CEnomaos, King of Pisa — the ancient capital of the
district — compelled the suitors of his daughter Hippodameia to
compete with him in chariot-racing, and ignominiously put to death
all whom he vanquished, until at length a certain youth of great
prowess, Pelops by name, succeeded in defeating his prospective
father-in-law, and so won the hand of his beloved with the long
name. Pelops thus became the heroic prototype of the victors at
Olympia, and as such was held in high honour there.

The actual founding of the games proper is ascribed to Iphitos
of EHs, who, along with Lykourgos of Sparta, reorganised the


games at the bidding of the oracle of Delphi, and introduced a
truce known as the Ekecheiria or ** Peace of God," among all the
states of Greece during the celebration of the games. By this

Online LibraryAlfred Edward Thomas WatsonThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes → online text (page 50 of 52)