“Great God, it was an awful place! To have one’s dreams shattered; life’s works undone by the very work of another. As I stood there, transfixed, despondency washed over me, its backwash taking with it every fibre of my ambition, every granule of hope. The tide of despair engulfed my body, eventually retreating; my aspirations were drained out of me.
“The fluttering of that garishly coloured flag in that otherwise pure landscape heralded not so much one man’s victory, more my failure. Brash, squatting on top of that ceremonial tent, it became to me a symbol of... of futility, and hopelessness. The Norwegian – an unfair advantage I’m sure you know, what with the climate being not too dissimilar up in Scandinavia – had stolen the morsel of success right out of my hand and buried it deep in the ice, unattainable by man... or indeed by fell, icy creatures lurking beneath the frozen ground. Trudging back from that point was the most depressing experience... can you imagine, here in the warm, being plagued by chill flames of lingering, abject dejection?
“Three weeks. I had missed Amundsen by three weeks! What a strange and elusive concept time is. Three weeks seemed to have gone by in a split second – I was so sure that we’d glimpse him before we’d reach Beardmore Glacier – and yet during the sullen march back minutes were drawn out into longevity, infinite thoughts waxing and waning, an array of emotions entwining and unknotting in rapid, clumsy movements. Oh, how that march endured! The muffled thuds of our footfalls on the snow, the outline of a hunched fellow traipsing, the swirling eddies of bitter frost dancing lightly on our exposed foreheads.
“To distract myself from the unrelenting pounding of my thoughts – the implacable, self-deprecating thoughts – I took to admiring the vast expanse of nothingness. From my limited plane of perception, the snow appeared as a delicate crystal lattice-work of knives, criss-crossing, slanted and buffeting in the gales. Cliffs of rock and snow rose out the ground, crumbling pinnacles of Nature’s attempts at civilisation. Icy spires dotted the landscape – spears, thrusting into the sky. Whole armies of them, glinting malevolently. How cruel and cold... the landscape was majestic and self-assured, yet tumultuous, unruly, in a constant state of flux, as it were. One gained the impression that undisturbed these frozen wastes would placidly remain this way for eternity, content to ravage itself with its own wars.
“Damn that Nord! Damn that blasted Nord... but, where to should he be damned? From this icy tundra of hell, to a fiery tundra of hell? Why, that’s no net revenge at all! You may ask why I wanted revenge. I did for a while, but then... I suppose our minute rambles really aren’t significant. Nothing one does ever is. At least the design and colour of that small flag on top of that exposed, isolated tent mattered. Did any of it really matter? It’s petty to care who ‘got their first’, or who stuck their standard there. Who were the sovereigns kidding? It’s not as if any nation would be able to stabilise that wild life force... it is a nation unto itself, one indignantly beget by the marginalising of nature by man elsewhere. I resolved that my return home would be final.
“At this point in the march back to base camp, the silence was interrupted – Evans was indeed not faring well, and that glacier physically tore my attention from all other matters.”
Edited by Puppeteer, 24 January 2010 - 08:55 PM.