Mallory and Irvine. They lost their lives on the Great Mountain, exactly 88 years ago.
A song for George and Sandy. (©FlorevaF-2012)
No more waiting, let’s go! And before we die, let’s drink! For we shall celebrate, if we must sink, the entirety of our rustling days-madness! On the threshold of the black horizon -the night. The awaited departure is announced, and there, everything’s bending towards the urgent desire to climb, without our really choosing it.
To climb always, to climb again, towards the Gods who decide our life, towards the Heavens awaiting our death. Diving naked into agony, suffering deeply from the unknown, pierced by the atrocious but demanding spire of reaching -at last- this high and yet difficult silver fang which steals, while weakening them, the breath, the reason and the strengths worn on the soul like a coat of arms.
Another effort, tearing the entrails, the summit is just there! After this cruel battle at last, soon, it will touch our fingers. The skin of rock sparkles again under the scorching caress of the star. The sunbeams flash and shine behind the clouds embedding themselves into the proud and hard womb of the mountain. For his country, ready to break open all the bottles of champagne, and requiring from him sometimes to forget his purity, the climber accepts this new intention : to print on the snow and in the sky, for his homeland the glory, and for himself his destiny.
Courage again! As it is there, let’s climb! The alpinist slideslipped and fell short, his hobnail boots, meager crampons, humble and altogether solid allies, ensure his safety.
Exhausted and breathless, short-winded, deprived of good oxygen to restore his diminished stamina, close to asphyxiation, weak and in pain, anxious nonetheless to keep in himself and for his companion an intact joy, an altar onto which sacrificing his wounds and his euphoria, he leads and mercilessly draws from his bruised muscles the inspiration and a sacred fire. The surpassing of himself for the mission soon to be achieved still instills tenacity in the pain needed to be muzzled -and to avoid being destroyed- the tiredness, the exhaustion, the sudden repulsion, hideous temptation of withdrawing, and to crush the doubt that creeps into himself.
The brotherhood of the rope supports his determination, the day stoops to greet this trying ascent. His silent companion fights the crucifying suffering of the frost on his throat, his cheeks, his hands, without failing. Against the hourglass of Time, the days are short and run faster if one hasn’t discreetly, for oneself, found a reason to explain all this. The question remains, embracing us, powerful and vain in turn : why climbing, why leaving, why? It digs an endless furrow, a shadow terrible for its shapelessness, in the memory of the men who never can give an answer.
“Listen to me, humble travelling passer-by, accidental hero, deeply moving man. With me will you stay forever to engrave your name on my rock and prove your love? Is your soul honest as this snow piled into millenaries under the moraine and in my sides and that you tear carelessly? How will your courage be? Are you brave, are you sincere? Pure as the ephemeral snowflakes covering those crimes done by others, that long after you will be like stigmas on all my faces? I let the lunar disc bless those I chose. Your rope companion too, later, will give his life to me. It is you tonight that I shall take to be mine in the infinity and in the clear kiss given to me in the middle of the night, before exalting my immortal glow to the stars of the galaxy, the white star listens, relishing when of you I speak. By your actions and your choices, the icy wind flurries and takes your answer as a glittering frost up to me. Now it’s time : sing a last song and give yourself away.”
Inserted into the intimate dialogue of his secret soul, the climber of the impossible recovers the purity of his sight, cleared of the vacuity of the world and of the scoria saddling the soul. He approaches eternity, he knows he’s entangled in a fresh start.
“Mother-Goddess of the World I am yours eternally. I had a life, but I didn’t know that from the minute I set eyes on you, an immense and devouring fire would torment my soul and consume my blood. Without a break I have fought to escape your call, frivolously I have broken the news flow, as I am torn. Patiently and without a sound you have eaten my heart. This fact throws me into raptures as much as it terrifies me. I am not myself anymore and my life does not belong to me any longer. For in every aspect my existence has transfigured into yours. You occupy my spirit and you govern my body which trains to espouse you while climbing all your buttresses. In spite of my will I am not strong enough to no longer desire you, even though I abhor you. I love you like and old wound not hurting anymore, because from you will come the relief for my distraught soul. Unique and mysterious your hymn has reached me, following me like a shadow. Look, I have come back.
I know what you want, you’re waiting for my life, and I , finally, find the path. Everything ends here. You disclose yourself, I become your beloved child again. With this cold crystal-clear clarity submerging me, I approach ataraxy. In the absolute light of your frightening beauty, this water at last quenches my thirst, a gentle peace embraces me, my creased young years finding now their place, in the shape of a stained-glass snowflake, and fall asleep over my limbs while everything fades away…”
George Leigh Mallory and Andrew “Sandy” Irvine lost their lives on Mount Everest June 8th, 1924. Exactely 88 years ago. In Memoriam Mallory and Irvine.
(A song for George and Sandy. ©Floreva V.SturmFox 2011-2012)
(Special thanks to Mrs Scottish Smith for the proof-reading)Photo (taken with my cellphone) of the Book on the Expedition that discovered Mallory’s body in 1999, J. Hemmleb, L.A. Johnson, E.R. Simonson. The Mountaineers Books.