T. Swierzy (Memorial Stone)
Craig Robertson

T. Swierzy (Memorial Stone)

North Face camp, Everest
Roll Of Honour
Roll of honour entry
Tony

That April day we snailed our way up Tower Ridge,

brushing powder from holds and belay placements,

scratching cramponed boots on grey-iced slabs

to traverse above Echo Wall and reach Great Tower in twilight.



To breach Tower Gap in darkness was too much for me,

but whatever your ambitions, you assented to my bivi plans.

As you pulled the extension on your Haston Alpinist up to your chest

I saw pity on your face when you realised my rucksack would not reach my knees.



Oh, how you hugged Jack Horner when he pulled out

a double bivi-bag, two Mars Bars and fifteen toffees – luxury!

That was our first climb, training for Trisul in Garhwal.

We summited next morning, and reached Achintee before the rescue party started out.



Six years later you telephoned me to share your fears of Everest.

You’d had a feeling you wouldn’t come back.

If you didn’t make it, would I write a poem about you,

as I had done for our friend John Arthy two years earlier?



A month later the avalanche buried your Advance Base

crushing you, but sparing Andy Baxter at your side.

Did you wish you’d soared on feathered intuition

as the frozen couloir exploded onto your camp?



North Sea trawler man, Special Forces soldier, mountaineer:

How do we calibrate our fears?

How do we respond to the wind’s wisdom

When ambition, duty and exhaustion deafen us?


This poem was read out at a service by your memorial stone on the North side of Mount Everest in 2016.
 

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