- Project Runeberg -  Through the Caucasus to the Volga /
78

(1931) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Gerald C. Wheeler - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH THE CAUCASUS TO THE VOLGA
78
Wc followed the right bank of the river. At Kobi
there rose defiantly a lofty, dark wall of basalt with
its six-sided columns. The valley now widened, but
its sides were steep and bare. On ledges up them
were perched small, generally Ossete, villages with
their square defence towers telling of the constant
fighting of these people, even in this barren land
scape; here, too, are tribal feuds, the never-ending
blood revenge between families, and robbery.
On a dominating hill in the valley was the old
fortress of Sion. In this valley there is a birch-grove
which has been watched over from olden times by
the Ossete peasantry, being held sacred by them.
It Hes about 1,800 metres above the sea.
At length wc reached the well-known station of
Kasbek, which has a big hotel. The road had now
come down to 1,715 metres above the sea, or about
600 metres below the watershed. On the west side
of the valley stood a high rock with buildings, most
probably a church, on top ; but behind it everything
was hidden in the swirling mists, and one could but
dimly feel the presence of a wonder-world.
But as wc gazed up there, suddenly there was a
rift high up in the curtain, and amid the whirling
masses of cloud there hung a mighty white glacier
over us from the sky. One caught one’s breath ; it
seemed to be beyond belief; but the highest peak
stood dizzily clear for a moment, and then once
more the dreamlike sight was hidden again in the
clouds.
It was Kasbek (Mkin-vari), 5,043 metres high,
over 3,300 metres above where wc stood. It was up

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