Frederick H. (Frederick Hastings) Chapin.

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the lens at the animals and exposed one plate,
although they were not so near to us as when we
first saw them. They now discovered us, and
after a glance in our direction trotted off over the
slope to the brow of the hill. It was remarkable
how easily they moved over rocks and bowlders
among which we could hardly find a way for our
horses and mule. Imagine our surprise when
they turned and walked a little way towards us
again. I asked my friends to return to the packs
for more plates, and while they were gone I
focussed more carefully on the still distant ani-
mals, as they stared at me, their curiosity over-
coming their fear. My companions now brought
up the relay of fresh plates, and retired behind
some ledges farther off. At this moment, as I
remained there alone by the camera, the ram stood
up on his hind legs and struck out with his fore-
feet as if inviting combat ; then the three stood
looking at me. We were in one of the wildest
spots on the mountains; a seemingly endless
field of ledge and bowlder all around, snow moun-
tains and rocky peaks only in the panorama ; all
signs of valley or glen, tree or river, far below.


I had a moment to reflect on what I was behold-
ing, and carefully adjusting the glass again on
these rare creatures, closely watched them.

Our leader crawled up towards me, and as the
quarry showed signs of alarm I attempted to take
another picture ; but I was now so excited that I
took a slide out of one plate-holder before putting
the cap on, and that ruined piece of glass now lies
among the rocks to amuse the conies and ptarmi-
gan, while the slide which I had placed on the
camera was whirled far away by the strong wind.
Even so experienced a hunter as my companion
lost his head as the big-horn were trotting away,
and exclaimed, " Take them quick, take them
quick ! " Then, as they stopped once more and
looked at us, he called himself bad names, saying,
" I might have known they would stop again, and
that there was no need of haste." But lo ! what
did these sheep do but turn around and walk de-
liberately toward us until they were within about
a hundred feet ! We were fairly trembling with
excitement, and I first took off the cap without
pulling the slide. When I made this blunder
they were all facing us, standing on granite ped-
estals a little elevated above the general level, and
in line with the broad snow-field on the cliffs
back of them, which showed them in relief with

The Quarry.


startling clearness. But the one seen in the back-
ground in the illustration then turned ; the others
stepped down from their bold positions, and the
best opportunity was lost. The next moment I
succeeded in capturing them as seen in the pic-
ture; and then the animals decided to trot off,
and we saw them no more.

Hunters talk of the excitement which a novice
experiences when he shoots at his first buck, but
I could have shot those three big-horn without
being one half so nervous as when trying to
photograph them.

Of the five plates which I used in trying to
capture the big-horn on glass, three proved worth-
less besides the light-struck one already referred
to, and it was indeed exceptional good fortune that
I was enabled to secure even one picture of these
very shy animals. When one reflects that hunters
are obliged to use every precaution in approach-
ing their haunts, and sometimes are obliged to lie
concealed for hours, or to crawl on the edge of
dizzy precipices in order to obtain a distant shot,
he will realize the value of what we saw and took
away with us. I certainly wish the noble ram
and his little company a long and happy life
among the wild crags of the great Front Eange ;
and may the rifleman's bullet never bring low the


beautiful pair of horns carried so grandly by the
leader of the quarry !

This shy, beautiful creature is fast disappearing
even from the wild mountain tops, and soon traces
of him may be as rare as of his former pursuer,
the Indian, of whom but one not very lasting
mark remains in the valley of the Big Thompson

The photograph of the big-horn naturally occupies
the place of honor among a great many pictures
which I took in the Rockies, most of which were
secured from very high elevations. The reader
will perhaps pardon a little boasting when he
realizes that such luck has probably never befallen
a mountaineering photographer before. European
climbers have been photographing for years in the
high Alps, and even in more remote regions, but
I doubt if a chamois has ever sat for his likeness,
for it is rarely that one is closely approached.
When I gaze at my picture of the big-horn and
recall their appearance on the wild apex of our
continent, I think of Tyndall's description of a
day on the Great Aletsch Glacier, in which lie
tells of watching the approach of a chamois, till
through his field glass he " could see the glistening
of its eyes," but " soon it made a final pause, as-
sured itself of its error [in approaching so near],


and flew with the speed of the wind to its refuge
in the mountains." Even by early travellers, the
mountain sheep is described as very shy and diffi-
cult of approach. Fremont's description of his
first sight of this animal is very interesting :

" It was on the 12th of June, 1843, that we first
saw this remarkable animal. We were near the con-
fluence of the Yellowstone River with the Missouri,
when a group of them, numbering twenty-two in all,
came in sight. This flock was composed of rams and
ewes, with only one young one or lamb among them.
They scampered up and down the hills, much in the
manner of common sheep ; but notwithstanding all
our anxious efforts to get within gun-shot, we were
unable to do so, and were obliged to content ourselves
with the first sight of the Rocky Mountain ram." *

Persons who are unfamiliar with the game in
the Rockies, or who have no idea of the wild-
ness of the big-horn, I would refer to the pages
of that very interesting book by Baillie-Grohman,
" Camps in the Rockies," or to a paper by W. S.
Rainsford in " Scribner's Magazine " for Septem-
ber, 1887 ; and after reading either or both of
these accounts of the chase of the big-horn, I
think they will agree that it was a marvel that

* Quadrupeds of North America, J. J. Audubon, edition of
1854, vol. ii. p. 166.


such an animal could ever be photographed among
the wild crags of his native ranges.

Very soon after the adventure with the big-horn
we reached the top of Table Mountain. The out-
look was grand on all sides. We were out of the
bowlder field, and could almost gallop our horses

in any direction on the
pebbly surface. We

View from Table Mountain Southward.

rode to the west end of the mountain, which we
reached at one o'clock, and looked right down
upon the glacier-furrowed Middle Park, and upon
Grand Lake, the large sheet of water in it. This
side of the mountain was broken up into ledges,
not very abrupt however. The distant lines of
snowy ranges were very sharp and clear in the


west, and the mountains of the Front Eange
around us somehow seemed higher above us than
they did from the valley below. We rode back
towards the peak to some water, where there was
feed for the horses, and ate our lunch; but the
surgeon and I made quick work of that, and left
at quarter before two for our new peak, the real
goal of my eyes. We rode up the western slope,
which was a very gradual ascent, to the highest
patch of grass, and were surprised to find how far
up we had been able to ride. We then tethered
the animals, and at quarter past two attacked the
rocks. We could have found a more gradual but
longer ascent by bearing around to the right and
keeping more to the southern side ; but for the
interest of the ridge, and that we might have the
snow and deep gorge in view, we bore to the left,
up the edge, and after a short and rather easy
climb reached the summit. The peak looks quite
steep, but is deceptive. It is made up of a heap
of rocks, and no ledges or precipices are upon any
side but the north and northeast. We found a
cairn on the summit, which was probably piled up
years ago by some indefatigable member of the
Survey party. Among the many peaks climbed in
the West I found but three that I had any reason
to believe had not been ascended before.


We stayed on the summit for half an hour, aiid
studied the landscape. The view is not as ex-
tended as from Long's Peak, though nearly as fine.
The great mass of Mummy Mountain, higher than
our peak, hid North Park and much of the Medi-
cine Bow Eange in the northwest ; but the view
of Middle Park was much finer than from Long's
Peak, as we were right over it. Grand Lake lay
just below us. We could trace the course of the
river which it feeds, winding through the deep
valley on its way towards the great Colorado
River and the Pacific Ocean, while on the north-
east we could follow the mountain torrents that
run into the Platte, and find their way to the
Gulf of Mexico to be tossed about at last in the

The area of the summit was very limited, and
a good view in every direction was obtained from
any rock. Lightning had evidently lately struck
on the top of the peak, for freshly broken slabs
were strewn around.

We scanned the depths of the gorges below, and
all the rock-strewn waste of Table Mountain, hop-
ing to have one more glimpse of the big-horn, but
they had gone to the more distant range. A
wilder scene than we looked upon, they cannot
find, nor better hiding-places, nor a more awful


series of cliffs to wander among than the ravines
of Mount Hallett.

"We ran down the peak faster than we went up,
keeping yet nearer to the precipice ; and when we
came to the head of the snow bank, we walked
out upon it, kicking in steps with our heels,
until it ran off so steep that it would have been
dangerous to have ventured farther without ice-
axe and ropes. There were no actual crevasses,
but the snow was ridged and serrated. The centre
of the field seemed to be solid ice, and there was
a miniature "bergschrund next the upper rocks bor-
dering on the ice.

Time pressed, for we had crowded much work
into one day ; so we hurried on, and mounting our
horses, gained our friends near the opposite side
of the snow. We had more trouble in finding a
way down through the bowlders than in going up,
but we finally sighted the trail at timber-line,
emerged from the woods into the flat country at
eight o'clock, and, with some " throwing in of
steel," reached Ferguson's at nine o'clock.



A YEAR'S absence from the glorious Rockies
only tended to strengthen my interest in
many scenes among them. Not the least important
of these was the great snow-field lying in the
gorge between Table Mountain and Mount Hal-
lett, and referred to in the chapter devoted to the
last-named mountain. On July 3, 1883, I was
able to visit it for the purpose of making measure-
ments to ascertain whether there might not be
some appreciable motion in a body of snow of
such magnitude. This and subsequent expe-
ditions involved much hard work, though of a
pleasurable nature. The results were far from
satisfactory; they will be presented here, however,
for what they are worth, for the benefit of any
future observers who may chance to read this

I had been preparing for the trip for several
days, and had sharpened a number of stakes to
drive into the ice, so that on visiting the spot


again in August it could readily be determined
whether given masses of ice had moved down the
slope. Unable to find any one at Ferguson's who
cared to undergo the fatigue of the ascent, I asked
Carlyle Lamb to join me. He kindly consented,
and not only proved exceedingly obliging and
helpful, but also a very agreeable companion. He
rode over to our ranch at six o'clock, and we
were off at seven. Lamb carried the bundle of
stakes and my sensitized plates on his horse,
leaving me only the tripod and small traps to
bother with. He had never been over the trail
before, and I only once ; but there was no trouble
in finding the narrow path through the forest,
which we reached in an hour.

Twelve o'clock found us on the top of Table
Mountain,* and tethering the horses we shoul-
dered our packs and descended the gorge to the
base of the ice, a thousand feet below. We did
considerable exploring before selecting our route,
and then found that we had taken the hardest one
conceivable, for we were immediately landed in a
maze of tremendous bowlders, and it took us an
hour to reach the lower edge of the snow. At one
point, when paying particular attention to my

* Barometric observations this day gave the height of the
nearly vertical cliffs of Mount Hallett as 1,100 feet.


footing, a strong gust of wind took off my hat,
carried it over a high ridge and dropped it down
in another canon ; so I was without headgear for
the rest of the day.

The snow-field fills an amphitheatre, over a
quarter of a mile in width at the lower rirn, with
walls a thousand feet high. The general slope is
northeast. The position in width is northwest to
southeast. A magnificent terminal moraine locks
in the ice, and the meltings from the snow escape
under the rocks of the moraine at least fifty feet
below the top. The subterranean waters roared
on all sides. Such a wilderness of bowlders I had
never been in before. All the rocks composing
the moraine have come from the cliffs above,
which now show but a narrow line above the ice,
except on the left, or Mount Hallett, side ; this
mountain still contributes bowlders and debris to
the ice below. On the right side a few hundred
feet of cliffs still remain, and enormous blocks had
recently fallen on the ice. The greater part of
the moraine was undoubtedly formed when the
body of the snow was much greater than it is
now, not in area, hut in depth ; yet I think the
work of carrying down stones is still going on.
At the base, on the right side, the field is divided,
and the ice extends farther down than it does in


the centre. From this division a great medial
moraine begins, which rivals the terminal in size,
and extends a long way down the gorge.

I selected the upper edge of this medial mo-
raine for my first stake, and crowding it into the
dirt, braced it up with small stones. Lamb then
went out on the ice and set the stakes at intervals,
in line with a rock on the Mount Hallett side of
the gorge, I giving him directions as to positions
with a wave of the hand. Thus he placed eight
sticks in the ice. The opposite side was very
steep, and he experienced much trouble in ascend-
ing it ; if the snow had not been rough, he could
not have accomplished the work. In the centre,
where stakes Nos. 3, 4, and 5 were set, it was
slippery, and the snow had been compressed into
solid ice. After the line was completed I photo-
graphed the range, the end of the moraine with
stake No. 1 for the foreground, and the opposite
rock in the centre of the distant view.

I then went along the line as far as No. 5, and
with a hatchet hammered the posts in firmly.
We measured the distance from No. 4 to the
terminal moraine, where we made a cairn and
found it 162 feet. Having some stakes left, we
placed one seventy feet higher up the slope than
No. 4, and two more above, at distances apart of


thirty-five feet ; so that the highest one was in the
centre of the ice-field, and 302 feet above the mo-
raine. In order to place these stakes we were
obliged to chop holes in the ice, fill in around the
stakes and stamp around them, as if setting fence-
posts in earth. It took us two hours to accomplish
this task, and it was three o'clock before we were
ready to climb up the ledges. Several routes
being open to our inspection, a much easier one
was found than we had used in the descent.

Again on Monday, July 16, I went up a little
above timber-line on Table Mountain. From a
ledge that I reached I observed that the extent of
the glare ice in the centre of the snow-field had
increased. The weather had been very warm, and
had evidently consolidated much of the snow.

On July 25, with Mr. Oilman I started for a
third visit to Table Mountain, to look after the
set stakes. We carried with us two ropes, re-
spectively twenty-three and thirty-two feet long,-
for the purpose of measurement. Leaving Fergu-
son's at six o'clock A. M., we made rapid progress,'
till when near the summit. Here, owing to my
bad guiding, we took a course too low down on
the north slopes of the mountain. Among some
rough bowlders one of the horses fell and delayed
us for half an hour. The animal's legs were


caught in such a manner that he seemed only
able to flounder. We endeavored to get him out
with the aid of the ropes, but all help seemed to
make matters worse, and we gave it up. We
were a pair of sad and helpless mortals. We
were already talking of killing him to prevent a
lingering death, when the beast managed to ex-
tricate himself, and, though badly cut, as soon as
we led him to a grassy spot he began to browse in
company with his mate.

An hour after this adventure we were on the
snow. All of the stakes were found down, and
all my labor had been expended for naught, at
least so far as reliable evidence goes. One fact,
however, is perhaps worth recording. Stake No.
4 was twenty-four feet below the line. One of
the stakes originally put above it had moved
thirty-two feet, another twenty-eight feet, which
would give an average of twenty-eight feet motion
in twenty-two days, or 1^- feet per day.* These
three stakes were lying in little depressions, such

* Such great motion in so small an ice-field (amounting to
its total length in three years) seems improbable. However,
this series of stakes was placed in the centre of the expanse,
and at a point where the flow of ice from the south, the west,
and the east seemed to join, the figures may be approximately
correct. As the weather had been very warm the condition of
the snow may have been such as would be requisite for the
maximum of motion.


as might have resulted from our chopping on the
surface of the snow. The fourth stake in the
series had moved fifty-two feet, but was lying on
a flat surface ; so this one is left out of the cal-
culation. How much of this motion was due to
sliding of the sticks or to a real flowing of ice
must remain for future observation to determine.
The stakes set on the steeper portions of the ice
were found on the moraine.

The surface extent of the snow-field was about
the same as when we first visited it, but it had
sunk about six feet, very little, I think, by sur-
face wasting. There was a continual rush of water
under the moraine, but very little water running
in rills on the ice.

On regaining the horses I took off my flannel
shirt, cut off the sleeves, and bound them around
" Frank's " wounded legs. We had a dismal jour-
ney home, being obliged to lead our lame horse all
the way. But the accident proved a great bless-
ing to the animal. Exempted from all work for
the balance of the season, he passed the happiest
summer of his existence since he was a colt. To
his evident delight he could safely nibble around
close to the ranch without fear of being driven
into the corral to be saddled for the use of the un-
feeling tourist. In short, he became a guest of the


place, and boarded at the expense of my friend
and myself.

A week or two after this adventure Mr. Ed-
mands, Professor Fay, Mr. Oilman, and I walked
from Ferguson's to the summit of Table Mountain
and back in a day. Though the wind on the top
was something furious, the two first-named gentle-

men made the ascent of Mount Hallett in addi-
tion. Under a sheltering ledge my companion
and I passed the intervening time watching cloud
effects on Long's Peak in the distance, or in look-
ing down to the scene of our labor on the snow
below. The appearance of the ice was about the
same as when last visited. A few more crevasses
had opened high up on the northwest side. It


was interesting to compare this snow-field with
others we had explored. It ranks third in size of
those in the locality.

From what facts I have been able to glean from
old residents in the valleys, the seasons of 1886,
1887, and 1888 seem to mark the period of mini-
mum snow-fall I am able to prove from photo-
graphs that there was less snow on the mountains
in 1888 than in 1887. It would appear that
much of the ice forming such large bodies as the
mass in Table Mountain gorge must be quite
old, as from reports there has not been snow-fall
enough of late to make such an accumulation. I
was at a loss to account for the great extent of
this particular snow-field, till Mr. Hallett gave
me a clew gained from his winter's residence in
the mountains. It seems that Table Mountain,
being flat-topped and having an immense area, is
swept by the wind-storms of winter, and when
other peaks are covered with snow, it is almost
entirely bare. The snow is blown into the gorge,
and there accumulates. While not nearly so pic-
turesque as the winding glacier-like snows of
Long's Peak, it is more interesting, as there
must be three times as much ice in the gorge.
The explanation of its size cannot be extended
to account for that of the Hallett glacier, as there


is no such flat-top mountain near by to feed it
with snow ; and to explain the size of this ice-
field we must take into consideration its greater
altitude, and perhaps allow a larger amount of
precipitation of snow. It is undoubtedly true
'that there is more rain-fall on the Mummy Eange
and in Willow Canon than there is on Table

In descending Table Mountain this day, we
followed the edge of the gorge nearly down to
timber-line. The ledges overhanging the gorge
on the Table Mountain side, not far from the
summit, are truly grand, and recall the words of
Burroughs : " There is a fascination about ledges.
Time, old as the hills and older, looks out of their
scarred and weather-worn faces. The woods are
of to-day, but the ledges, in comparison, are of

'Lower down the rocks are firmer, and resemble
the cliffs on the Mount Halle tt side. Yet instead
of presenting a smooth front, short canons run
into the sides of the mountain. Very steep are
the beds of these gorges, and little sheets of water
lie far below. Everything here is on a grand
scale, and it was with reluctance that we turned
our backs, on Table Mountain, perhaps for the
last time.



THE Mummy is an immense mountain in
northern Colorado, lying directly north of
Long's Peak and in line with the centre of Estes
Park. It is a spur range running out to the east-
ward from a point where the Front Range, Rabbit
Ear, and Medicine Bow Mountains nearly meet.
It has its name from its fancied resemblance to an
Egyptian mummy reclining at full length, and the
range has been so called for some years. The
highest point, Hague's Peak (13,832 feet, King),
forms the head, and a height about two miles
farther to the west marks the knees of the
seeming prostrate figure.

On the north side of this west peak of Mummy
Mountain is a large snow-field, of unusual interest
on account of recent developments regarding its
true character. It was discovered only a few
years ago by a hunter named Israel Rowe, and
in the following manner : It was in the time of
the great grasshopper raid, when these insects


flew over the range from Utah to Colorado ; myr-
iads of them fell on the snow-fields in their pas-
sage, and many bears went up from the rocks to
feed upon them. Hunters learning of this went
up also to shoot the bears ; and in such an expedi-
tion Eowe discovered what he called " the largest
snow-field in the Eockies." Later he took two
other hunters to see it. He afterward died while
on a long hunt, but before his death mentioned
this interesting discovery to the leader of our
numerous expeditions in and about Estes Park.
Four years ago Mr. Hallett visited it entirely
alone, and nearly lost his life under circumstances

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Online LibraryFrederick H. (Frederick Hastings) ChapinMountaineering in Colorado : the peaks about Estes Park → online text (page 4 of 8)