This week travelling into the valley I followed the line of the horizon waiting for the sacred mount to appear round the corner and greet us. Finally, there it stood. How shocked I was to see that the peaks were no longer white by account of which they seemed lower. The entire ridge had turned grey, brown, orange, green and blue, all the colours of the taiga but not a spot of white ice was to be seen. Had the sun shone so brightly that the old man had been forced to remove his white hat in the heat? The act had transformed the landscape. It had become more ordinary and diminished in status. The mountain was now entirely of the earth, of the middle realm, whereas before its glistening white peaks had created majestic union with the skies above. What were we to do now that majesty had been melted from the landscape? What now would symbolize the eternal in our beautiful world reminding us of out place within it and lifting the eye and heart to ‘Tengeri‘?
(The Altai word for ‘eternal‘ is ‘monku‘ and ‘glacier‘ is ‘monkulu‘ meaning literally ‘of the eternal‘, ‘with eternal white snows‘).