Meeting a comrade at the last post station but one before Moscow, Denisov had drunk three bottles of wine with him and, despite the jolting ruts across the snow-covered road, did not once wake up on the way to Moscow, but lay at the bottom of the sleigh beside Rostov, who grew more and more impatient the nearer they got to Moscow.
On the night of the 5th of February the transit began, the cavalry leading the way through the snow-covered ice, which quickly thawed beneath the horses' hoofs so that the infantry which followed after had to wade through half an ell of sludge, fearing every moment lest the rotting ice should break beneath their feet.
This region is rainless, barren and inhospitable, absolutely destitute of vegetation except in some small river valleys where irrigation is possible, and on the slopes of some of the snow-covered peaks where the water from the melting snows nourishes a scanty and coarse vege tation before it disappears in the thirsty sands.
It is traversed from west to east by the main chain of the Alps, which rises in various snow-covered summits, the more important being the Ortler (12,802 ft., the loftiest peak in Tirol and in the Eastern Alps generally), the Wildspitze (12,382 ft., Oetzthal group), the Zuckerhiitl (11,520 ft., Stubai group), the Hochfeiler (11, 559 ft., Zillerthal group), the Gross Venediger (12,008 ft.) and the Gross Glockner (12,461 ft., both in the Tauern range), while more to the south are the Dolomites, which culminate in the Marmolata (10,972 ft.).
A relay of horses had been sent up the highroad to meet the German doctor from Moscow who was expected every moment, and men on horseback with lanterns were sent to the crossroads to guide him over the country road with its hollows and snow-covered pools of water.
Halfway lay some snow-covered piles of firewood and across and along them a network of shadows from the bare old lime trees fell on the snow and on the path.
Crossing the deserts of Koko Nor, they passed the great lake of that name, with its island of contemplative lamas, and, following a difficult and tortuous track across snow-covered mountains, they at last entered Lhasa on the 29th of January 1846.
The air funneling up from the snow-covered hollows was frigid and the little doeling was dying of hypothermia.
With this exception these regions are the most arid on the face of the globe, highly heated by a tropical sun during the day and chilled at night by the proximity of snow-covered heights and a cold ocean current.
Of Lake Tsana and culminate in the snow-covered peak of Daschan (Dajan), which has an altitude of 15,160 ft.