Rock of ages
On 7 March 2000, I embarked on the W trek to see the Torres Del Paine in Argentina. On 8 March, I reached the Torres. It was a grey day, but the sight was astonishing. I took this picture, which does little to convey the scale of the peaks.
In early November 2011, my friend Jimmy embarked on the same trek. Day 2 blessed him with better weather than I experienced. And here is the photo he took.
All very lovely. What amazes me is something that probably shouldn’t be overly amazing. Take a look immediately to my left in the photo. There is a big rock, with a chamfered top, with a smooth plane on the top right, a dark area to its left, possibly because of shadow, possibly because of different colouring of the rock.
Now look at Jimmy’s picture. You can see that very same rock close to the left edge of his photo. Every aspect of that rock is identical.
Let’s take a closer look. Here’s me with the rock, followed by Jimmy’s rock.
First of all, it’s important that you get past my devastatingly handsome, windswept look. While my crude copy of Jimmy’s picture is grainy, the detail behind the comparison astounds me. Every aspect of the rock is identical, down to the vein traversing the front, right plane.
I expect that the rock weighs a tonne and more. That the rock has stood there for eleven years, untouched and hardly weathered shouldn’t be a surprise. (The same is true of the stones and marble that make up the facade of the Bank of England, for example.) Yet surprise me it does. Since my photo was taken, I’ve lived over a quarter of my life. Our daughter has lived her entire life to date.
I guess its seeming lack of order, seemingly randomly strewn in a bed of similar rocks on a gradient, suggests that it is subject to movement. Yet move it hasn’t. It remains firmly in place, defiant against gravity and the harsh weather. (There’s a similarly distinctive rock with a right-angled shadow towards the fore of the photo, with four spots of colour, all of which also remain in place.)
I wonder how long it’s been there. And I wonder how long it will be before it topples. Maybe I’ll take my daughter to visit it when she’s older, another eleven years from now. Just to see how it’s getting on.