9th September 1833

Sierra de la Ventana
In the morning the guide told me to ascend the ridge & that I could walk along its edge to the very summit. The climbing up such very rough rocks was fatiguing; the sides are so indented that what is gained in one five minutes is often lost in the next. At last when I reached the summit of the ridge, my disappointment was great to find a precipitous valley, as deep as the plain, separating me from the four peaks. This valley is very narrow & the sides steep; it forms a fine horse pass, as the bottom is flat with turf, & connects the plains on each side of the mountain. Whilst crossing it, I saw two horses grazing. I immediately hid myself in the long grass & began with my telescope to reconnoitre them, as I could see no sign of Indians, I proceeded cautiously on my second ascent. It was late in the day, & this part of the mountain, like the other was steep & very rugged. I was on the top of the second peak by two o’clock, but got there with extreme difficulty; every twenty yards I had the cramp in the upper parts of both thighs, so that I was afraid, I should not have been able to have descended; it was also necessary to find out a new road to the horses, as it was out of the question to return over the saddle-back. I was thus obliged to give up the two higher peaks; their altitude was but little greater & every purpose of geology was answered; it was not therefore worth the hazard of any further exertion. I presume the cause of the cramp was the great change in kind of muscular action from that of hard riding to still harder climbing — it is a lesson worth remembering, as in some cases it might cause much difficulty.
The ice which in many places coated the rocks was very refreshing & rendered superfluous the water, which I actually carried to the summit in the corner of a cape of the Indian-rubber cloth. Altogether I was much disappointed in this mountain; we had heard of caves, of forests, of beds of coal, of silver & gold &c &c, instead of all this, we have a desert mountain of pure quartz rock. I had hoped the view would at least have been imposing; it was nothing; the plain was like the ocean without its beautiful colour or defined horizon. The scene however was novel, & a little danger, like salt to meat, gave it a relish. That the danger was very little was clear, by my two companions making a good fire, a thing never done when it is suspected Indians are near. I returned by so easy a road, that if I had found it out in the morning I could have with ease reached the highest peak. I reached the horses at sun-set, & drinking much mattee & smoking several little cigaritos, made up my bed for the night. It blew furiously, but I never passed a more comfortable night.

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