WHYMPER IN SOUTH AMERICA.
[TO THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR:']
Sra,—The enclosed, received to-day from my friend, Edward Whymper—the hero of the Matterhorn—will, I think, interest many of your readers. The letter gives an account of his further exploits, and includes a record of three new and great ascents. However, the letter (dated from Quito, May 8th) will speak for itself.
It may be worth adding that Mr. Whymper is accompanied by the two Carrels, the well-known Swiss guides. Jean Antoine Carrel is the man who made the first ascent of the Matterhorn on the south or Brenil side ; and his feat on that occasion is one of the most daring climbs recorded in the annals of mountaineer- ing.—I am, Sir, &c.,
185 Regent Street, W., Tune 15th. H. SCHUTZ WILSON.
"After an absence of forty-one days, I have just returned to Quito. During this time I had six nights in bed, passed seven nights without any shelter whatever, and the remainder in tents at altitudes varying from 10,000 to 14,500 feet. We were drenched every day, and everything became so hopelessly sodden with water that it was impossible to get ourselves dry. On Saraurcu it rained on one occasion for seventy hours without ceasing for a minute, and for more than six and a half days out of seven consecutive ones. The constant exposure, and considerable variations in the tempera- ture, threw me on my back, and I had constant diarrhoea, which it was impossible to check, as all our medicines were exhausted. I returned to Quito five inches less round the waist than when I started, and so weak that I could scarcely ride or walk. Strength is returning now, but I am not up to the mark for high ascents, and shall have to wait here until better. Our objects on this last northern journey were the exploration and ascents of Cayambe, Saranrcu, and Cotocachi, and the collection of Inca antiquities. We succeeded completely, but as you see, at a somewhat severe cost. Cayambe is 19,200 ft., Saraurcu is 15,600, and Cotocachi 16,200 ft. high. The ascent of the highest mountain gave us least trouble, and the lowest one gave us most. I waited for fourteen days be- fore I could see it, as it is almost perpetually enveloped in mist. To arrive at it we had to force our way through virgin forest, for it lies well away to the east of the other Andes, and is beyond the region of paths or tracks. All its waters descend to the Amazon. A variety of cane which is found here, growing nine to ten feet high, forms an almost impenetrable jungle, and you have to cut or force your way through it as best you can. The leaves cut like razors, and their points pierce like needles. The mountains hereabouts are everywhere like saturated sponges, through the incessant rains, and for days we waded rather than walked over them. The puma, tapir, and bears are common around Saraurcu, and their tracks are very numerous. I saw one magnificent bear crashing through the cane as though it quite en- joyed it, and others of *party saw tapirs. One morning we found puma- tracks round our tent, but we did not see the brute. Wild and savage cattle are also numerous around Saranren, and are sometimes of great size and power. They are escaped cattle (or the descendants of escaped cattle) from the farms around Cayambe, and are sometimes
very ferocious. There were two immense balls that we saw several times, which trotted about at an amazing pace, and took leaps like chamois. J. A. Carrel was out one day trying to do a little bit of exploration, and was attacked from the rear by these beasts. He was looking over a precipice, peering into the fog, when hearing some noise behind he turned round and saw them approaching from oppo- site directions with lowered heads, ready to give him a lift over. He bolted up a little peak, with both in close pursuit, and they kept him a prisoner for, I think, a couple of hours. Whenever he tried to escape they rushed at him, but at last be succeeded by a feint in enticing- them both to the same side, and scrambled down the other and out- witted them."