- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
307

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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IRKUTSK TO VLADIVOSTOK
307
to enable us to look up the nearest mountains. They
are not high here, but fall abruptly to the lake, and
the line constantly runs through tunnels. As the day
goes on the weather clears more and more and we
see the mountains on the southern shore. They are
higher, with valleys between. There is fresh snow on the
mountains ; they are wooded right up to the top, with
only al ittle bare rock here and there, and there are no
real snow-slopes to be seen.
The mountains do not appear very high, nor do
they as a rule attain a greater height than 6000 feet
above the sea, or some 4500 feet above Lake Baikål.
Khamar-daban on the south-western shore, in the
direction of the Selengå, is 7400 feet above the sea,
or 5900 feet above the surface of the lake ; that is,
nearly 1000 feet more than the depth of the latter.
Otherwise the mountains seldom rise higher above
the lake than the bottom of the latter descends below
the water. The outlines of the mountains are broad
and even, not cut up as Alpine scenery usually is, and
it is rare to see a tendency to any form of peaks. Along
the south side of the lake we pass valley after valley
full of dark, solemn spruce forest, stretching up between
the mountains, just like secluded forest valleys at home
in Norway. It is fine country, but cold, they say,
except on the other side of the lake, where the sun has
great power. Here, on this side, part of the soil is
perpetually frozen, and the trees grow above the frozen
layers. The lake is usually frozen over with firm ice
in the middle of December or beginning of January,
and the ice then lasts as a rule for four or four and a
half months. They drive over the lake with sledges for
three months of the year.
Curiously enough, even here in this cold country
the forms of the mountains do not indicate that they

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