Heavy woolen clothing is preferable to furs. Sleeping bags were not used during our expedition, but are highly recommended by others. For protection at night, a thick woolen blanket with a light canvas cover, and a sheet of light rubber cloth to protect it are all that is necessary. Our tents were Of cotton drilling, seven feet square and about six feet high, and provided with ridge-ropes. Alpenstocks were used for tent poles. ” Sou’westers ” and strong water-proof coats are indispensable in a climate like that of Alaska, and at night may be used as a substratum on which to sleep.. While traveling over the snow-line we used colored glasses to protect the eyes, and also found that a strip of dark mosquito netting tied across the face below the eyes afforded great protection. Some of the party found relief from the glare of the snow by blacking their faces with grease and burnt cork, but one experiment with that method is usually enough. While camping below timber-line during the months of June to September fine mosquito netting is indispensable. In carrying packs, hemp ” cod-line” of the largest size was found to answer every requirement, and is preferred by expertpackers to pack-straps. It has been suggested that experienced Swiss guides are necessary to ensure success in climbing Mount St. Elias. Having never followed a guide in the mountains, I am not able to judge of their efficiency, but it must be remembered that no one can guidein a region that has never been traversed. The ” guide ” as understood in Europe is unknown in America. In the exploration of this country by engineers, geologists, etc.,-the camp hands have followed their leaders and have not shown them the way. In every frontier town there are hunters, trappers, miners, prospectors, cow-boys, voyageurs, etc.men who have passed their lives on the plains or among the hills ” and are enured to hardship and danger. This is the best material in the world from which to recruit an exploring party. A foreigner engaging the services of such men must take into account the independent spi fit that animates them and is the secret of their usefulness. They are not servants, but retainers ; that too in regions far beyond the reach of civil law. They will follow their leader anywhere, support him in all dangers, and do their work faithfully so long as their rights as men are respected. By taking proper precautions while traveling across crevassed snow and ice, and guarding against avalanches and snow-blindness, an excursion can be made above the snow-line with as little danger as in better known and more frequented regions.
December 13, 2012
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