POEM: The Zen of the High Mountain Pass

Each step through the scree field must be judged on: angle, stability, slipperiness — but the flat, dry, and robust rock is the one that will roll on you — heaving you headlong, rolling over brick and boulder.

Crossing the glacier, each step is taken both like it won’t fail and like it inevitably will.

The former because one can’t fear one’s hips will slip out from under one, but the latter because one needs to be ready to stab an axe into the snowpack without the other end puncturing one’s ribs. 

When you reach the altitude at which stepping is a series of singular activities — not a seamless sequence — you will love breathing like you haven’t since that time you were dangling upside-down outside the womb being smacked on the bottom by a masked man.

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