Letters: 2

John:

Now I am crossing the seracs. The worst of the icefall is behind me. I cannot tell you what this place is like and how terrifying it is. The grinding ice moving in the matchless dark – bergs that have come down the broad valleys between the mountains – that have stayed too long and too late on land – all wrongfooted and impatient all foundering towards the sea – all this cruel seething rock in the cold.  This place is bigger than Lyskamm or Kanchenjunga. You cannot imagine the sounds that come at night – sometimes a great crack will ring out and I will startle, thinking it is a weapon. But it is only the ice. From where I am – I am on a thin ledge of ice, and I am following it around the glacier to reach the station – you can see the scale of this scene. Each moving block of ice is the size of a skyscraper leaning brokenly. When the glacier heaves these blocks turn and topple – it looks slow but that is only because of the distance. Some of them, even though they are a  very pure chalky blue, reveal undersides dirty grey and brown with the rock they have crushed beneath them. Such majesty – that is the word – but this also brings with it a certain sadness – not the sadness of a tragedy, but a different kind of sadness that continues all the way down – sadness that occupies the same space as breathing – if you asked me now I would tell you it is the fact of witnessing this kind of destruction, but on all honesty I cannot truly tell. Two days ago – before I started the crossing – I saw from a ridge a section of the sheet the size of a city, miles and miles of grinding and broken ice, collapse in on itself, into the water. The sound of it – it was shuddering – it was of the great order of noises – like the Cannons at Toven. It was like birth. I couldn’t tell when the calving began at first, but the movement caught my eye and I stood for a long time to watch – I wish very much that you were here to see this. The whole place reminds me of you.

Remember me,

Ary

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