You can listen to this past Sunday’s letter recording via the player embedded in this letter, or you can open the recording in your preferred podcast app.
This is the fourth episode of Mind Marginalia, containing the recording of the letter “the rest of it,” and a little bit more on ice-climbing with my beloved, which includes another photograph from that cold day. I have also shared the etymology of the word ‘lord,’ which is unrelated to anything except that when I read it this week, it caused me to laugh, because I am a word weirdo—further evidenced by the fact that after I read the etymology, I wished that I’d had the presence of mind to declare, “I loaf this!”
From the letter…
In the orientation for ice climbing, our guide told us that he had come to Canada by way of a sponsor. His father and two brothers had both died guiding on the slopes of Everest, which he had personally climbed seven times. He was hopeful that his wife and child would be able to be sponsored soon, too. He told us this while showing us the spiked climbing shoes we would need to kick into the ice for a foothold. There was also the heavy ice pick that would need to be swung into the ice for a hand-hold, and the helmet for falling.
Falling, it turned out, was not going to be helped that much by a helmet. The guide took us on a hike up into the woods, which ended in a scramble up a snowy ridge that opened onto a ledge at the base of a mountain sheathed in pale blue ice. Our guide warned us to ‘watch our step,’ particularly when we were belaying the climber on the ice, because if you stepped back too far, you would end up falling off the cliff, onto mounds of snow that, our guide assured us, were covering rocks. This was around the time that I really realized how dangerous ice-climbing was. But, I was in it then, and so, when it was my turn to climb, I kicked my spikes into the mountain, swung my axe, and pulled myself up the shining blue.
When I looked down, even from the height I reached, I could still see my husband, belaying me from below, holding me steady, cheering me on, keeping me from falling.