National Geographic : 1929 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE GRAY SNOW COVERS THE SUMMIT OF TUNGURAHUA A large snow field, which has been nearly smothered under cinders and ashes, extends around the top of this volcanic peak. At the time of the author's ascent there were several acres of hummocks such as these (see text, page 68). In our case the saving factor was our proximity to the seat of action. We were occupying the front row of the stalls, so to speak, and all the trouble passed over our heads into the valley below. Large bowl ders, too weighty to be hurled clear of the crater, fell back into the seething vortex, where they were crunched to atoms and flung up into the air again, so much dust to the wind. There was no flow of lava or ejection of molten material. As the wind veered round, we moved with it to the northeast side to avoid being suffocated by the acrid fumes. Once again we put up the camera in position. But one could never do justice on film to such a sight as this. It was altogether too vast, too stupendous. One moment all would be hidden in smoke, then a powerful gust of wind, and for a second the crater would be swept clean. We could see the happen ings going on within. Then a crash like thunder and the bottom of the pit would rise in the air and all would be darkness again. The vibrating din from the crater, the incessant rush of escaping steam, the shrill whistle of the wind, do not lend them selves to pictorial reproduction. When now I view the film in the silence of a theater, it looks uncanny, a mere dream; half the reality has gone out of it. To make an audience understand our sensations when taking the pictures, it would be necessary to seat them on blocks of ice, pour sand down their necks, and then blow up the building. RETREATING IN THE FACE OF MUD AND SNOW After half an hour conditions grew rap idly worse. We were treated to a deluge of fine mud, and then snow began to fall. I gave the signal to make all haste for camp. The men were glad to be off. They had been eating ashes and sulphur long enough and were suffering from the cold. In spite of discomfort, they were all ex traordinarily cheerful and joined with us in the feelings of awe and wonder which such an experience engendered. Loads were adjusted in record time, and away we went toward base camp. Snowstorms at 16,000 feet are no joke.