Frozen snow and earth. This is hellish. Only half way up and he’s below shouting abuse at us.
I met Big Eck in Greece. Big Eck? Big mistake! Ever since I’ve been dragged from country to country. And everywhere trouble. Once we crossed the Hellespont. One fight after another. We really crucified them at Tyre. Then, what do you know? He thinks he might be divine so we’ve got to cross the desert to consult the oracle at Siwah. Hot as hell, but what does he care. Thinks he’s the son of Ammon.
He cuts a curiously effeminate figure, probably down to the silk robe and golden belt he normally wears. And he’s got a friend – Hephaestion, but we call him Nancy for short – don’t quote me on that. But he’s tough and brave. Body covered in scars but none on his back.
Jesus, someone’s come off. That’s the trouble, so we put in pegs and fixed ropes, but it’s the feet that are the problem. Nothing to grip with, so it’s all down to the hands. Brute strength and stupidity. Just finished a hellish traverse. A smooth holdless film of ice. No way back.
It’s either up or off.
Lined us up before we started this bloody awful route, just at the steepest area of the rock I might add. ‘Right lads’ he said. ‘It takes craft and cunning to get up vegetatious shite, but you can do it. Take iron tent pegs, force them into frozen snow and earth and fix strong cord to them.’ Takes off his Raybans, why he’s wearing them I don’t know, it’s bloody midnight. And then, you’ll like this, he says ‘ the enemy’s up there go and get ‘em. Be ferocious in battle, but magnanimous in victory.’
Magnanimous in victory my arse. What he means is butcher the men, enslave the women, and save the goats for me.
Anyway he offers money to the first men up the rock and says he’s behind us all the way. That’s enough to get me off the ground pronto I can tell you.
So here I am stuck on this ledge contemplating my destiny. Well, no more time to chat, better make the next move. Do I like it? I don’t like it at all. Aw fu……..
The document ends here.
Based loosely, very loosely on Alexander the Great’s attack on the Sogdian rock in 327BC. Thirty men out of three hundred lost their lives on the ascent. Climbers used pegs and fixed ropes in what must surely be the first record of a Scottish mixed winter route. The more learned reader will spot the anachronisms and obvious literary references. For the original description turn to pp 233/234 The Campaigns of Alexander. Arrian. Penguin classics. Latest Edition.