From below, surrounded by hundreds of sledgers & skiers creating a cacophony of noisy laughs & screams, the summits were in swirling low cloud, never showing themselves.
As I trudged higher the snow became thicker and the chaos of the crowds diminished. I followed deep snowy footprints & drops of bright red blood from an injured dog, marking the route of previous ascensionists. The snow dumbs sounds; no birds sang, or sheep bleated. I could hear my own heart as the silence & snow deepened more.
I was surprised nevertheless by the numbers of small parties descending the hill, and I was troubled (as always) that I was being trailed by others, a super fit elderly couple with a tiny day sack, and a backpacking single guy. I stopped for a drink to let them pass and I watched them disappear into the thick fog. Finally, I was alone, and I laboured step by step in deep snow until I arrived at the summit. I could hear occasional walkers chatting in the whiteout, but none appeared alongside me. It was dark up there, and the strengthening wind chilled my fingers through my gloves. I sensed something was happening with the clouds though so persevered in my wait. For about ten minutes the sun made regular bursts through the low cloud, illuminating snow-crusted rock sculptures all around me. It transformed the scene completely & I felt less lonely somehow.
The horizon darkened and I could see snow clouds approaching. It was getting colder and colder, so I called it a day and retraced my footsteps back down to cloud base. Sleet and then heavy rain pelted me about five minutes from the van. Dozens and dozens of soaked sledging families made a sad retreat off the slopes. I was delighted with the ten or so images that I made on the summit. I think will make some beautiful prints for the gallery wall.