South Howser Tower, Bugaboo Spires, British Columbia
21 hours camp to camp
After the climb, we spent an hour standing on the glacier soaking it all in. Talking about it later, I initially said that being out there made me feel how small I am, but we talked more and that wasn’t right. Before the climb when I was nervous about it, I felt small. On that glacier, on that mountain, I simply felt vastness, not separate from it or even apart of it, I simply felt it, felt what vastness in time, in space, in complexity really is. Those mountains are profound, and I felt extremely lucky and grateful to be there, to be able to experience that.
The interesting thing is, vast and infinite are not the same. As much as you can feel how old and powerful the mountains and the glaciers are, you can also feel their fragility. The glaciers are so old, but also constantly cracking, grinding apart, melting. The mountains are massive, unfathomably heavy, and yet the tiniest plants and little rivulets of water are constantly tearing them apart. You climb cracks and flakes hundreds of feet long, feel granite crystals undulled by thousands of years, and then reach the summit and it’s a pile of rubble. It’s a jumble of stones, and any single person could spend a busy afternoon tearing the top off a mountain. It’s wild, that dichotomy.
The mountain is not one thing, no single concept, no metaphor, it is a multifaceted phenomena. That is the mountain to take inside oneself, to become. Not The Mountain Immutable, but the many mountains that are every mountain. The fragile-strong mountain, the beautiful decay, the forever disappearing forever, the harsh, coarse, storm-hooded rock that shelters delicate Euphrasia flowers. Old climbers become rock-like over time, they take on the stone in countenance and manner. I want to age into an old climber.