A Journey to the Interior of the Earth
I looked down upon the plain. An immense column of pulverized pumice, sand and dust
was rising with a whirling circular motion like a waterspout; the wind was lashing it on to
that side of Snaefell where we were holding on; this dense veil, hung across the sun,
threw a deep shadow over the mountain. If that huge revolving pillar sloped down, it
would involve us in its whirling eddies. This phenomenon, which is not unfrequent when
the wind blows from the glaciers, is called in Icelandic 'mistour.'
"HASTIGT! HASTIGT!" cried our guide.
Without knowing Danish I understood at once that we must follow Hans at the top of our
speed. He began to circle round the cone of the crater, but in a diagonal direction so as to
facilitate our progress. Presently the dust storm fell upon the mountain, which quivered
under the shock; the loose stones, caught with the irresistible blasts of wind, flew about in
a perfect hail as in an eruption. Happily we were on the opposite side, and sheltered from
all harm. But for the precaution of our guide, our mangled bodies, torn and pounded into
fragments, would have been carried afar like the ruins hurled along by some unknown
Yet Hans did not think it prudent to spend the night upon the sides of the cone. We
continued our zigzag climb. The fifteen hundred remaining feet took us five hours to
clear; the circuitous route, the diagonal and the counter marches, must have measured at
least three leagues. I could stand it no longer. I was yielding to the effects of hunger and
cold. The rarefied air scarcely gave play to the action of my lungs.
At last, at eleven in the sunlight night, the summit of Snaefell was reached, and before
going in for shelter into the crater I had time to observe the midnight sun, at his lowest
point, gilding with his pale rays the island that slept at my feet.