Forcing a Path
This tale is derived from several of my
previous inklings that touched on Boromir, Faramir and the dream they
shared. It seemed fitting to rework this story, on the eve of Faramir
Day, and in light of the imminent release of the Extended Edition of
TTT featuring the brothers and the Quest that is given them.
light of my exercise today wrestling with wet, heavy snow and a
woefully inadequate shovel, here is a wee gap-filler I wrote as a
companion piece to one of my favorite parts of FotR -- the passage
through the snow on Caradhras. My inspiration comes from Boromir, of
course, in the following comment:
your Caradhras has forgotten that you have Men with you. And doughty
Men too, if I may say it; though lesser men with spades might have
served you better. Still, we have thrust a lane through the drift; and
for that all here may be grateful who cannot run as light as Elves."
Forcing a Path
As light grew in the sky, the snow continued to lessen until finally it
stopped. The Company looked out on a changed world; all was silent and
shrouded in white. The path they had taken from below was lost now,
buried in snow that in places was almost man height. The path ahead was
completely blocked by fallen debris and drifted snow; and the sky was
heavy with the threat of more severe weather. They had no choice but to
turn back, but the retreat would be difficult, if not impossible.
"Perhaps Gandalf should go before us with a bright flame, to melt a
path!" said Legolas light-heartedly.
The others smiled at the thought, but Gandalf was not impressed with
"If Elves could fly over mountains, they might fetch the Sun to
save us," he retorted. "But I must have something to work on, I cannot
"Well," responded Boromir, "when heads are at a loss, bodies must
serve, as we say in my country. The strongest of us must seek a way."
He considered the buried path for a moment, then pointed off into the
"See? Though all is now snow-clad, our path as we came up turned
sharply upwards there at that shoulder of rock further down. If I
remember rightly, some way below the turn we ought to come to a flat
space at the top of a long steep slope. If we could reach that point,
we might be able to get some idea of how the snow lies further down.
Perhaps it will prove easier beyond. It is worth a try, at least."
"Come then!" said Aragorn, rising. "Let us force a path together!"
Boromir led the way, and Aragorn followed. It was slow going, and
it was not long before they were both toiling heavily. The snow was
breast-high in places, and Boromir felt more like he was swimming than
walking. He thrust the snow aside as he went, and tramped it down
underfoot; Aragorn, following, did the same.
Boromir caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and looked up
to see Legolas run past on top of the snow. He waved at the two men as
"I go to find the Sun!" he called, and speeding into the distance, he
vanished around the rocky turn.
Boromir sighed and momentarily wished for the ability to run atop the
On they toiled, slowly forcing their way through drifts, ice and
snow to a broader way below the precarious path they had been traveling
when the blizzard had struck. The going was somewhat easier there, for
a time, as the expanse of snow had been partially swept clear by the
strong winds. But the way soon became difficult again, as they
approached the shoulder of rock that marked for them the bottom of the
When Boromir and Aragorn reached the spot, they stopped, dismayed.
The protruding shoulder of rock had caused the wind to drop its load of
snow in a great drift that blocked their path. The drift was flung like
a sheer wall across the path, its crest high and sharp as if shaped by
Boromir drew in a deep breath, then exhaled slowly.
"Well, there is no other way except forward," he said, turning to
Aragorn. "At least it is only snow here, with no debris or fallen rock
to be removed."
"Only snow!" exclaimed Aragorn. "Heavy snow, no doubt; heavy and wet!
We shall be buried!"
"Mayhap dry snow would be less burdensome for us to make a passage
through, but more difficult in the end for those who follow,
particularly the small ones," said Boromir, gazing upwards as he tried
to judge the height of the drift. It was more than twice his height,
and he was a tall man. "Wet snow will at least stay where we put it.
Though the difference is of little consequence now. This amount of snow
will prove heavy whether it be dry or wet!"
"We do not know how wide the snow wall is here," went on Aragorn.
"Do we attempt to tunnel through, or ought we try to beat a path over
Boromir considered the drift again.
"Over the top, I think," he said at last. "Though I fear the chance of
being buried is perhaps just as great."
"Lead on, then! I shall follow further back, to dig you out when the
mountain falls on you!"
Boromir pushed forward. Slowly, surely, they beat a passage forward
and up through the middle of the drift. Arms and legs became heavy, and
breath painful in the thin air as they labored to make a path. They
were no more than a third of the way up, when their fears were
realized. An avalanche of snow cascaded down from atop the high drift.
Aragorn shouted, but Boromir had no time to do more than draw in a
quick breath and duck his head before he was buried. His face was
pushed down and his mouth filled with snow, though he strove to keep it
tightly closed. He struggled and kicked to free himself, but the snow
weighed heavily upon him.
He was trapped.
In spite of the cold fear in his heart at being buried and the
rising panic that made him want to lash out desperately, Boromir forced
himself to lie still. He would only make matters worse by struggling.
He had to trust that Aragorn could come to his aid, that he had not
been buried as well.
He waited, and tried to remain calm.
Sounds were muffled by the heavy snow, but at last he could hear
Aragorn digging above him. Suddenly the weight of snow was removed, and
he felt Aragorn's grip upon his cloak. He gasped and choked as he was
pulled up and out into the air.
"A near thing!" said Aragorn, slapping Boromir on the back.
"Indeed!" agreed Boromir, brushing himself down. "It was well for
me that I was not alone, and that you were not buried with me!"
A small spray of snow from the top tumbled down and they both
looked up, afraid it was coming down again. Legolas was silouetted
against the sky. He leapt lightly down and stood before them.
"Do not despair!" he announced. "I have been on the other side. The
Sun is not to be found, but this I can tell you for your comfort: the
drift is little wider than a wall, and beyond, the snow is considerably
less. Deep enough, but no deeper than on our way up the mountain."
"Well then!" said Aragorn. "That is hopeful, though we still must make
a path there."
"We had best do so, then; and quickly, before I grow too weary," said
Boromir, climbing to his feet.
"This time, I shall lead," said Aragorn.
Author's note: Some statements
included are direct quotes or rephrased passages from The Fellowship of the Ring,
the chapter entitled "The Ring Goes