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- Himalayan Journals V2. - 20/94 -


depending on the slope, and on the amount of annual accumulation behind. Their termination must therefore be far below that point at which all the snow that falls melts, which is the theoretical line of perpetual snow. Before returning I attempted to proceed northwards to the great glacier, hoping to descend by its lateral moraine, but a heavy snow-storm drove me down to Yeumtong.

Some hot-springs burst from the bank of the Lachen a mile or so below the village: they are used as baths, the patient remaining three days at a time in them, only retiring to eat in a little shed close by. The discharge amounts to a few gallons per minute; the temperature at the source is 112.6 degrees, and 106 degrees in the bath.* [This water boiled at 191.6 degrees, the same at which snow-water and that of the river did; giving an elevation of 11,730 feet. Observations on the mineral constituents of the water will be found in the Appendix.] The water has a slightly saline taste; it is colourless, but emits bubbles of sulphuretted hydrogen gas, blackening silver. A cold spring (temperature 42 degrees) emerged close by, and the Lachoong not ten yards off, was 47 degrees to 50 degrees. A conferva grows in the hot water, and the garnets are worn out of the gneiss rock exposed to its action.

The Singtam Soubah had been very sulky since leaving Choongtam, and I could scarcely get a drop of milk or a slice of curd here. I had to take him to task severely for sanctioning the flogging of one of my men; a huntsman, who had offered me his services at Choongtam, and who was a civil, industrious fellow, though he had procured me little besides a huge monkey, which had nearly bitten off the head of his best dog. I had made a point of consulting the Soubah before hiring him, for fear of accidents; but this did not screen him from the jealousy of the Choongtam Lama, who twice flogged him in the Goompa with rattans (with the Soubah's consent), alleging that he had quitted his service for mine. My people knew of this, but were afraid to tell me, which the poor fellow did himself.

The Lachoong Phipun visited me on the 7tb of September: he had officiously been in Tibet to hear what the Tibetan people would say to my going to Donkia, and finding them supremely indifferent, returned to be my guide. A month's provision for ten men having arrived from Dorjiling, I left Yeumtong the following day for Momay Samdong, the loftiest yak grazing station in Sikkim (Palung being too cold for yaks), and within a day's journey of the Donkia pass.

The valley remains almost level for several miles, the road continuing along the east bank of the Lachen. Shoots of stones descend from the ravines, all of a white fine-grained granite, stained red with a minute conferva, which has been taken by Himalayan travellers for red snow;* [Red snow was never found in the Antarctic regions during Sir James Ross's South Polar voyage; nor do I know any authentic record of its having been seen in the Himalaya.] a phenomenon I never saw in Sikkim.

At a fork of the valley several miles above Yeumtong, and below the great glacier of Chango Khang, the ancient moraines are prodigious, much exceeding any I have elsewhere seen, both in extent, in the size of the boulders, and in the height to which the latter are piled on one another. Many boulders I measured were twenty yards across, and some even forty; and the chaotic scene they presented baffles all description: they were scantily clothed with stunted silver firs.

Beyond this, the path crosses the river, and ascends rapidly over a mile of steeply sloping landslip, composed of angular fragments of granite, that are constantly falling from above, and are extremely dangerous. At 14,000 feet, trees and shrubs cease, willow and honeysuckle being the last; and thence onward the valley is bleak, open, and stony, with lofty rocky mountains on either side. The south wind brought a cold drizzling rain, which numbed us, and two of the lads who had last come up from Dorjiling were seized with a remittent fever, originally contracted in the hot valleys; luckily we found some cattle-sheds, in which I left them, with two men to attend on them.

Momay Samdong is situated in a broad part of the Lachoong valley, where three streams meet; it is on the west of Chango Khang, and is six miles south-east of Kinchinjhow, and seven south-west of Donkia: it is in the same latitude as Palung, but scarcely so lofty. The mean of fifty-six barometrical observations contemporaneous with Calcutta makes it 15,362 feet above the sea; nearly the elevation of Lacheepia (near the Tunkra pass), from which, however, its scenery and vegetation entirely differ.

I pitched my tent close to a little shed, at the gently sloping base of a mountain that divided the Lachoong river from a western tributary. It was a wild and most exposed spot: long stony mountains, grassy on the base near the river; distant snowy peaks, stupendous precipices, moraines, glaciers, transported boulders, and rocks rounded by glacial action, formed the dismal landscape which everywhere met the view. There was not a bush six inches high, and the only approach to woody plants were minute creeping willows and dwarf rhododendrons, with a very few prostrate junipers and _Ephedra._

The base of the spur was cut into broad flat terraces, composed of unstratified sand, pebbles, and boulders; the remains, doubtless, of an enormously thick glacial deposit. The terracing is as difficult to be accounted for in this valley as in that of Yangma (East Nepal); both valleys being far too broad, and descending too rapidly to admit of the hypothesis of their having been blocked up in the lower part, and the upper filled with large lakes.* [The formation of small lakes, however, between moraines and the sides of the valleys they occupy, or between two successively formed moraines (as I have elsewhere mentioned), will account for very extensive terraced areas of this kind; and it must be borne in mind that when the Momay valley was filled with ice, the breadth of its glacier at this point must have been twelve miles, and it must have extended east and west from Chango Khang across the main valley, to beyond Donkia. Still the great moraines are wanting at this particular point, and though atmospheric action and the rivers have removed perhaps 200 feet of glacial shingle, they can hardly have destroyed a moraine of rocks, large enough to block up the valley.] Another tributary falls into the Lachoong at Momay, which leads eastwards up to an enormous glacier that descends from Donkia. Snowy mountains rise nearly all round it: those on its south and east divide Sikkim from the Phari province in Tibet; those on the north terminate in a forked or cleft peak, which is a remarkable and conspicuous feature from Momay. This, which I have called forked Donkia,* [Its elevation by my observations is about 21,870 feet.] is the termination of a magnificent amphitheatre of stupendous snow-clad precipices, continuously upwards of 20,000 feet high, that forms the east flank of the upper Lachoong. From Donkia top again, the mountains sweep round to the westward, rising into fingered peaks of extraordinary magnificence; and thence --still running west--dip to 18,500 feet, forming the Donkia pass, and rise again as the great mural mass of Kinchinjhow. This girdle of mountains encloses the head waters of the Lachoong, which rises in countless streams from its perpetual snows, glaciers, and small lakes: its north drainage is to the Cholamoo lakes in Tibet; in which is the source of the Lachen, which flows round the north base of Kinchinjhow to Kongra Lama.

The bottom of the Lachoong valley at Momay is broad, tolerably level, grassy, and covered with isolated mounds and ridges that point down the valley, and are the remains of glacial deposits. It dips suddenly below this, and some gneiss rocks that rise in its centre are remarkably _moutonneed_ or rounded, and have boulders perched on their summits. Though manifestly rounded and grooved by ancient glaciers, I failed to find scratches on these weather-worn rocks.* [I have repeatedly, and equally in vain, sought for scratchings on many of the most conspicuously moutonneed gneiss rocks of Switzerland. The retention of such markings depends on other circumstances than the mere hardness of the rock, or amount of aqueous action. What can be more astonishing than to see these most delicate scratches retained in all their sharpness on rocks clothed with seaweed and shells, and exposed at every tide, in the bays of western Scotland!]

The Lachoong is here twelve or fifteen yards wide, and runs over a pebbly bed, cutting a shallow channel through the deposits, down to the subjacent rock, which is in some cases scooped out six or eight feet deep by its waters. I do not doubt that the flatness of the floor of the Momay valley is caused by the combined action of the streams that drained the three glaciers which met here; for the tendency of retiring glaciers is to level the floors of valleys, by giving an ever-shifting direction to the rivers which drain them, and which spread detritus in their course. Supposing these glaciers to have had no terminal moraines, they might still have forced immense beds of gravel into positions that would dam up lakes between the ice and the flanks of the valleys, and thus produce much terracing on the latter.* [We are still very ignorant of many details of ice action, and especially of the origin of many enormous deposits which are not true moraines. These, so conspicuous in the lofty Himalayan valleys, are not less so in those of the Swiss Alps: witness that broad valley in which Grindelwald village is situated, and which is covered to an immense depth with angular detritus, moulded into hills and valleys; also the whole broad open Upper Rhone valley, above the village of Munster, and below that of Obergestelen. The action of broad glaciers on gentle slopes is to raise their own beds by the accumulation of gravel which their lower surface carries and pushes forward. I have seen small glaciers thus raised 300 feet; leaving little doubt in my mind that the upper Himalayan valleys were thus choked with deposit 1000 feet thick, of which indeed the proofs remain along the flanks of the Yangma valley. The denuding and accumulating effects of ice thus give a contour to mountain valleys, and sculpture their flanks and floors far more rapidly than sea action, or the elements. After a very extensive experience of ice in the Antarctic ocean, and in mountainous countries, I cannot but conclude that very few of our geologists appreciate the power of ice as a mechanical agent, which can hardly be over-estimated, whether as glacier, iceberg, or pack ice, heaping shingle along coasts.We are still very ignorant of many details of ice action, and especially of the origin of many enormous deposits which are not true moraines. These, so conspicuous in the lofty Himalayan valleys, are not less so in those of the Swiss Alps: witness that broad valley in which Grindelwald village is situated, and which is covered to an immense depth with angular detritus, moulded into hills and valleys; also the whole broad open Upper Rhone valley, above the village of Munster, and below that of Obergestelen. The action of broad glaciers on gentle slopes is to raise their own beds by the accumulation of gravel which their lower surface carries and pushes forward. I have seen small glaciers thus raised 300 feet; leaving little doubt in my mind that the upper Himalayan valleys were thus choked with deposit 1000 feet thick, of which indeed the proofs remain along the flanks of the Yangma valley. The denuding and accumulating effects of ice thus give a contour to mountain valleys, and sculpture their flanks and floors far more rapidly than sea action, or the elements. After a very extensive experience of ice in the Antarctic ocean, and in mountainous countries, I cannot but conclude that very few of our geologists appreciate the power of ice as a mechanical agent, which can hardly be over-estimated, whether as glacier, iceberg, or pack ice, heaping shingle along coasts.]

On our arrival, we found that a party of buxom, good-natured looking girls who were tending yaks, were occupying the hut, which, however,


Himalayan Journals V2. - 20/94

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