Two years ago I went out to try and ride a line I had been looking at for a few seasons.  In the end, I ‘failed’ at getting my objective, but instead ended up riding what I then called “The Edge of Eternity”.  At the time the name seemed fitting given the precarious free-hanging snow face that topped the line.  It was a tongue in cheek piece of black humour, knowing full well the consequence of any mistake on the upper portion of the line would be fatal.  Since that success, I have gone back six more times to ride the line I originally sought out, each time having to turn back for some reason.  Today was no different.  Yet there was no sense of failure or remorse, I have come to enjoy my pilgrimages to the back of the valley.  The line has, in the past two years become something of a touchstone for me, a place to return to and simply be.  It is a good place to fail after all, standing dwarfed by the face above.  Perched with the valley below me.  I likely could have made it go today, the snow was isotherm, but relatively stable.  I could have punched my way to the top and then made some rather inglorious turns down, snowballs pinwheeling away from my attempts to make slush riding a fifty plus degree face elegant.
The choice to not ride was a challenge.  It is perhaps obvious, that the line itself has become too important to waste in an inglorious descent.  I have no interest in simply riding it and getting it over with.  I want to revel in the glory of that landscape, in conditions where it can push me the same way it did the first way I managed to climb it.  Yet, while it would be easy to say that the line will always be there next year, I am not so sure.  The fan connects to the upper face across a rock step that in the past two years has grown rapidly.  Today I peered into a snow cave at that intersection of old glacier ice and the upper face, the snow that links the lower fan and the upper face precariously balanced above.  The cave was large, revealing that our extremely warm temperatures will leave a rock step closer to ten meters as opposed to three by the end of the summer.  I have hopes that the rock step will fill in next year, but there is a very good chance that it will not.  The line is slowly pulling back from the rest of the valley, stepping away from all but the most dedicated.  Something about that makes me happy.  To think that the line will have a barrier of rock keeping any other from treading there makes it all the more ethereal.  It is an odd thing… but the thought that a view and a line will be removed from all but memory has a strange wonderfulness to it.