Passages - Chapter 7 | Monte Pissis, Argentina: The Hand of God

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Pissis is more than a mountain to me. It's an emotion; one that pervades my entire being. It reminds me of Moby Dick, and I pray that it doesn't drag me under as the whale did Ahab. The first visit here seared its memory upon my soul like the holy chrism of a sacrament, imprinted there for all eternity. And when a mountain becomes like that, it's more than a high peak; it's an element of your very being, an integral part of your soul that never drifts out of sight or out of mind.

Perhaps this is not the place for me, a place where I shall have to pay for the things I've done as well as for the things I haven't done, a crazy kind of place turned upside down where they kill you as a criminal or they kill you as a saint.

It's a whiteout! The word itself is enough to strike sheer, unadulterated terror into the heart and soul of any high altitude climber. Of all the words in all the dictionaries in all the libraries in all the world, this is the most dreaded, the most feared, the most frightening for me, and I suppress a momentary urge to pass water.

Another premonition seizes my soul in its distressing grip. It may be my time soon; it may be my time now. Will my odyssey end on this frozen Elysian Field? Please, Lord, I pray, take me at Your mercy, just not yet.

It remains for me to marvel that I still breathe. And I reflect that we either live and die by accident or we live and die by plan. Some say that we shall never know and that we are like small bugs that children kill on a summer afternoon. But some say, to the contrary, that even the sparrow does not fly without a gentle push from the Hand of God.