Into the Silence
The sculler enters the wonderful world of silence on stepping into the shell. It is complete with the creak and groans of the rig, the lapping of the water on the sides of the shell and the movement of the smooth running of the shell during each stroke. It is a world unto itself.
It is a world that for George Mallory and Sandy Irvine found its parallel on the final plateau before the summit of Mt Everest. It was a wilder and much more dangerous silence from the silence of entering the shells at Oxford. Both had been members of the winning crews of the Oxford/Cambridge race.
But it is worth noting that they had both experience the silent world of the shell, an education in itself, later to experience the education of the mountain. Of course, there is no comparison of the danger involved with the two activities, but in each case you are faced with the silence involved with the activities.
I think that with the sculling, the silence is overlooked. It is an aspect that must be confronted by every sculler. You have to go into yourself. You are climbing a huge mountain of the internal mind. It can be formidable.
For Mallory and Irvine it was a forerunner of what they would experience on Everest on a much larger scale. They would die together in 1924 on Everest, a few thousand feet from the summit. Their spirit of silence would remain forever on the top of the mountain.
But, no less their encounter with the silence of the rowing world would remain with them as well. They were fortunate to have experienced both silences.