Geographical Notes

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    ON August 1 the International Conference of the Alpine Clubs was opened at Geneva, in the building of the Conservatorium. The Alpinists were very numerous, and the meeting was really an international one, as all nations have sent their representatives. M. Albert Freundler occupied the chair, and Mr. C. E. Matthews, president of the English Alpine Club, Prof. Talbert, vice-president of the Central Directory of the French Alpine Clubs, M. Budden, from Florence, Prof. Ed. Richter, delegate of the German and Austrian Alpenverein, and Prof. Charles R. Cross, from Boston, were elected vice-presidents. The subjects submitted for discussion were: 1. The improvements to be made in Alpine inns; 2. The regulations concerning shelters; 3. The instruction and examination of guides; 4. The possibility of a common action of the Alpine Clubs for obtaining from the railway companies a reduction of fares for Alpinists who travel in groups; and 5. Sanction by all clubs of the resolutions passed by some of them as to inns and guides. The discussion was alternated with communications of a more general interest. M. Henri de Saussure read a communication on the state of the Boston (U.S.) Appalachian Club, whose activity is remarkable as shown by numerous publications of a high scientific and artistic value. In the discussion on shelters M. Binet-Hentsch proposed to make the roofs of the Alpine shelters of bituminated paper; the experiment which was made by the government of the canton of Graubunden, proves these roofs to be excellent. M. Durier gave a brilliant account of his exploration of Etna, which he made eight months before the eruption of this year. The Rev. M. Denza, director of the Observatory of Moncalieri, read a paper on mountain meteorology. The memoir, which aimed to interest Alpine climbers in meteorology and to point out the services they could render to science during their travels, gave an account of what is done by Italian Alpine Clubs for meteorology, no less than one hundred meteorological stations having been erected by these clubs, fourteen of them at very high altitudes. The memoir gave rise to a very interesting discussion, during which Prof. Alphonse Favre spoke of the necessity of measurements of the motion of glaciers; and the Italian and Austrian representatives explained what is done in that direction in their countries. M. Henri de Saussure read three unpublished letters, written to his illustrious ancestor, Horace Bénédict de Saussure, as to his ascent of Mont-Blanc. The papers of that time having spoken of his project, his friends wrote to him numerous letters to dissuade him from the perilous undertaking. The Abbé Landriani entreats him in the name of science to take care of himself, and not to risk his precious life, and the Prince de Ligne, a very gallant officer, advises him to undertake a regular siege of the giant mountain; several relays of workmen, with pickaxes and shovels, should “level the asperities of the road, and so,” he writes, “going up some ten fathoms per day, you could, reach the summit after a six weeks' work.” As to the instruction and the examination of the guides, M. Talbert recommends such institutions as that of Interlaken, in Switzerland; besides, he proposes to found libraries for the guides and to publish a manual like that just issued by the president of the Italian Alpine Club. As to the reduction on tickets, the French railways have made a reduction of fifty per cent, for all Alpinists travelling either in groups or separately, so that no less than 130 members went to the Conference of Geneva. No special resolution was taken on the fifth question, but it was resolved to maintain an active correspondence between the directors of all Alpine Clubs.

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    Geographical Notes . Nature 20, 364–365 (1879) doi:10.1038/020364a0

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