Monday, March 24, 2003

Aconcagua diary, conclusion:

Part 7 of 7

March 24th: We leave the first camp. The silence is oppressive, for even the mountain has not spoken for a while. Our feet break the silence, crunching and squeaking in the snow. We look back several times towards the vertical face, which looks so distant in the bright sunshine, a picture from a postcard to others, but so much of Alberto and Robert for us. We will always remember the snow in the crannies of the cairn that we erected for the unfound bodies. We leave, saluting their lives, and what they lived for: climbing in the mountains. We also must salute the majesty of the mountain that remains completely unmoved by such a small occurrence, the death of two men. We attach so much to a mountain, but there is really only man against his own errors, his errors being interpreted as Nature's intent.

Aconcagua is left as it was. A few pitons more, and the bodies of two men. But what those men were, their lives and characters, is blown away like the snow plume. Aconcagua will be the same tomorrow. Immutable, flaunting that white plume from the very peak, where we felt such joy, but which now meant such sorrow.

-- written in Toronto, December 3, 1979