Thursday, March 1, 2012

Movements in Mountains

While I was hanging on the mountain wall, I heard a movement far above. Was it Epikryton who has always been so fast in scaling? It seemed like cracking of stones or rather losing grip in a field of pebbles. Some slopes running down towards the valley. Any feeling of gravity is unearthed as we’re climbing towards the peak. I remember one trip to South Tyrol still in schooldays, when we climbed up on the so-called home mountain of a village where the whole class stayed at. There was no awe as I started joking around with mates but I still recall the breathtaking panoramic views on the landscape. All in all, I was more concerned about what girls I’m going to kiss at the top of the peak as part of the old tradition. We ended up exchanging cheek hugs with the whole class.

The next big step towards the mountain world was when I received an invitation to Georgia in the Caucasus region. Yet it took three stays there to finally reach the Higher Caucasian Range. I paid a visit to the mountain where Prometheus was allegedly shackled to. And it is called the Snow-Crowned. I could hear shrilling Immortal guitars as escort to the top. When there is much decay and demise in black metal, there is Erhabenheit too. Can those warriors factually excel in mountaineering? Have they undergone special learning? Can they handle the techniques? Those questions rushed through my head while I was reaching for the next step. It is known that warriors of black metal enjoy day-long trips into forests and mountainsides. Reminding somehow of a Walden ideal to get lost from the spoils of urban culture. Consequently, bands who live close to mountains are among strongest exponents of mountain music. Have we ever heard stones sing?
In ulterior states of fear oh yes or in excesses of joy, we have heard stones sing.

When this expedition started, all seemed in routine. Here, it was different to the Alps where it is often easy to get by car almost until the top of a mountain yet here we had to rely upon mules. The mountain was said to offer some breathtaking chasms and I was experienced enough to go for views rather than techniques. Never been the sort of climb nerd. In fact, it had cost me quite some courage to eventually starting mountaineering. That was mostly due to curiosity. Plus I wanted to feel the experience myself – the experience of bergbesteigung. Scale the mountains, conquer masses of stone and become emperor of Montana.
I already told how I was hearing some noises from above, some sixty meters something in a diagonal stretch from the position I held on the grip. It sounded crispy, like forks scratching over tinplates. And it was cold hier oben. Fucking cold, as if Norway’s blizzard sons blowing brass. No North in my position – hanging on stone walls at the fringes of Europe. Was on tour with a group of friends who wanted to discover new territory. Caucasian territory where we ensembled high nigh to the sky.
“Hey“ I yelled over to Jens ”have you heard this sound from above? What could it be?“
”What? Here?“
”Yes. Why not? Maybe they have some duel over who’s got to be the boss at the roof.“
Goats? Could that be possible? What I knew was that Georgia‘s mountains surely bore bears and wolves. Goats played a seminal role in myths in those regions. The screeching came from another source, definitely. This obscure noise couldn’t be traced to any living animal, I was deadly sure about. We started ---

The grandeur of tall monuments, the will to persevere, evolving to a Zarathustra of Nietzschean coinage, to become elite, to stand above human beings – mountains deliver a ready-picture for that impulse. So the bands get their grip on the box of mountain images to evoke altitude.
The height of sound, the high-pitched guitars shrieking in such stark contrast to the bowel-shaking bass guitars of death metal, that black metal seems to be predestined to represent images of mountains. It loses touch to the ground and reaches for the dissolution of corporeal matter. Higher and higher to the sky. However – and that is a big but – always glue your boots to the earth, that means don’t fly around like butterflies. Conquer mountains, reach the sky yet keep your feet to the ground. Climb and scale leave the valley but always feel the solid surface of stone beneath. In the end, the warriors reach the peak and the guitars throw shrill ropes to protrusions. In between you hang freely in air (of course always connected to the carabiners). Then, when all is fixed and double-checked for safety, you can leave your position and advance to the next on your way to the top.

Nobody could understand or reconstruct when the free fall of our record keeper Nick had started. He fell down rocks on ice. We hoped for him to fall rather softly on some new snow yet ... we could spot some red on the white. Red for Fire, Black for Death. Is he dead? Does he respond to our calls? We decided to lower our bodies to his location and we had some medicinally trained guy with us. He might check if. Slowly he approached Nick on the pure white snow, little red spots dripping from the climber‘s forehead into snow. His helmet absorbed the shock. Thus it got a little bent. Nevertheless – the doc guy gave us a sign: still alive. Thank heavens! Only red for fire. The fire that was still burning inside Nick. We had some ideas about installing a flag on the roof plateau. Nick nearly dying made us think differently, feeling awkwardly thrown behind all energy. So he was not able to carry his way alone. Someone had to stay with him and check his condition. We decided the doc should stay. He built up the tent which Nick was lain into. Some luftmatratz helped to store Nick’s hit body. He received some smaller contractions and needed most of all rest.

It’s plain old mountain music. Same stuff they’ve been singing for more than a hundred years. Really? It all sounds so utterly depressing to lay ears. Hard to distinguish the different traits in the overall impact. True, like a cannonball smashing into your beloved housing. How could you dare? How could you start to muse over this matter? Futile fugitive flattery. Only those who are inside, might gain some knowledge from analysis. Experience ladies'n’gents, experience I’d like to remember you it’s the entrance to soul. Songs of innocence and experience hide behind clouds and only if those clouds are trying to steal by the mountain peaks, they can be caused to open up for heavy rain showers. Castles in air feel disturbed by opening clouds. They pour down to reality, to stone ice and snow. Mountains might be reasons for drifting clouds to stop by sudden disturbance. Unimpressed the peaks scrape the sky and tear it open.
Image courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response Project at NASA/GSFC

Mountains bring clouds to grounded theory. Grounded by practice. Easily to fly with your thoughts to any places imaginary or real, no matter. Climbing step by step and never losing sight of your safety, you can reach the vantage point. That’s why bergmetal exists. Impress by express movements. To stand above the daily worries, leave for the mountains. Bergmetal feels, the material they’re walking on, builds their own walls of sound.

We left Nick with the doc. Hauling winds accompanying our decision to continue the expedition. (Reminding the readers here of immortal guitar shrieks skywards!) This mountain range belonged to the last few challenges left for men to accept and triumph over. Its position is hard to communicate. It lies beyond the civilized regions, somewhere in the steppes yet beyond towns and known roads. Our travel took long enough even though we used airplanes to get there quickly. We heard ... well myths and legends. That some rare explorers encountered a strange folk in the height of the mountain world. Fully bearded light hair (some guessed it was due to heavy sunlight) and tall bodies. I thought that had to be a fairy story. Anyway, we had a team of geologists with us who were interested in rare earth metals. They were highly paid and just by random chance I happen to have known their leader: Ph.D. Stig Olsdal. He wrote his thesis on the rare earth metals‘ abundance in the Earth’s crust, by focusing on Scandinavia. (Some chemists from among others Sweden had discovered several of these elements in the 19th century.)
He planned some excursion and needed men competent at mountaineering. So he sort of “rent“ me and my team to get to the Inner A*. While probing the surroundings we ventured upon bergmetal which hence has been unknown to Olsdal and his colleagues. In the run of our mounting we couldn’t expect the dramatic turn to our ---

At this place, the report elapses and this blog waits for further notes on later occasions. The lines reached from this far-off corner. They seem to mix up two accounts of mountain conquest.
The blog’s editor excuses the delay in exploring into the movement’s origin.

Dominik Irtenkauf

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