In previous years, I’ve spent a few winter months in the Alps, but this was the first time I witnessed the complete cycle of the seasons. I saw the snow line creep down the mountainside and settle in the valley, then watched it recede gently back towards the Chamonix Aiguilles. I stamped my feet in thick boots as the days shortened and temperatures dropped, my van coughing black smoke as it struggled to start…then I basked in the sunlight, feeling its warmth grow. I’ve been here from autumn to winter to spring. Now I watch new sprigs of grass poke their green heads into muddy, pale gardens.
I learned a great deal whilst climbing in the mountains this winter. In fact, I seem to learn every time I go towards these jagged peaks. Is the greatest weapon (and weakness) of an alpinist their short-term memory ? I seem to forget the shiver-bivies and terrifying run-outs, instead remembering the slow, after-burn
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