The Edge of Forever

I stopped, thrusting my ski poles into the crisp snow as I did so and pulled down my scarf, lifting my goggles to take a good look around me, I unclipped the karabiner from my supply sledge and turned in a slow circle, taking in everything around me, my sharp breaths turning to vapour that froze in my beard as I did so.

All around me was whiteness, as far as the eye could see. Above me the sky was a brilliant blue, the single slab of azure a stark contrast to the white at the horizon. The sun beat down on the shimmering landscape, creating millions upon millions of glistering ice diamonds, I could just feel its heat, almost imperceptible against the cold and offering no respite from the biting coldness in the crisp air.

In the distance I could see a dark blue line slicing through the icy whiteness that lay ahead of me.  Re-coupling my sledge, I pulled up my scarf, adjusted my goggles, and gripping my ski poles set off, trudging purposefully forward. As I drew closer to the line  it grew darker and wider, snaking into a massive crack from left to right, from horizon to horizon, taking up the whole of the periphery of my vision. I carried on towards the growing and darkening crack that lay ahead of me and it wasn’t too long until I reached it, a wide gaping crevasse across my path.

I left my sledge and walked along the edge in each direction, looking for somewhere to cross. There was no natural snow bridge, and the best I could find was a spot that seemed no more than ten to twelve feet across. Having retrieved my sledge, I tied the fastening of the karabiner to my ice axe and hurled the trusty tool across to the other side, followed by my back pack and walking poles. Then, tentatively, I crept to the edge and peered over, it felt as if I was standing at the edge of forever, I’m not very good at heights, and this was particularly high, at a guess, and having researched the ice sheet I was traversing thoroughly,  it must have been over 2500 feet deep, dropping into blackness and descending into the very bowels of the earth.

I took several meaningful strides back, as if pacing out my run to bowl at a demon batsman, and before I could give myself time to think about what I was about to do, I ran at the gap as fast as I could and launched myself into the air, landing heavily but with no injury on the other side. I retrieved my axe from the ground and began the long and slow job of hauling my sledge across from the other side, using all my effort to prevent it falling into the void and taking me with it.

Exhausted, but with all my belongings and myself now safely on the other side, I sat on my sledge to rest, waiting for the thumping in my chest to abate before resuming my journey across the beautiful white wilderness.

Prompted by this page

 

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