Sunday, 1 March 2009

UKC Winter Writing Competition.

This is a piece I wrote for the UKClimbing "Grand day out in winter" writing competition. I thought I would post it on here so those who don't look at UKC could see it. Feedback and criticism of the positive or negative variety would be most welcome. The title of this piece on UKC was their idea, not mine!

Knees ache from the exertion. A million lunges force upward motion, sometimes gliding over the top, skis floating on a crust beaten hard by the wind, sometimes crashing though into a heathery powder pond. 

The air is crisp; like taking a deep breath in a freezer, hurting the back of your throat just a little bit. Air conditioning on overdrive. Globules of snow hang heavy on the trees, some bend over completely to meet their roots in a rarely made handshake. Forced friendship brought on by snow. Between us and the deep block blue of the sky, someone has hung a very thin white veil, preserving her modesty for the summer time. We look up at the barely concealed blue and to each other with wide eyes and smiles wider still. Words aren’t needed today, no one needs to verbalise the experience. Pictures speak a thousand words and we are surrounded by a magnum opus.

Sheep scuffle through the snow, their usual snow-white appearance exposed as fake by the large scale arrival of whiter than white frozen manna from heaven. Embarrassed, they run to hide as we lunge past, floating over fences as if they didn’t exist. 

Past the sheep we go, past the trees and the fences. Past the farm and the dogs and the road and the people. Past we go and up we go, skis pointing at the top of the hill - the beginning of the way home, the start of the fun. 

Up we go, lunging and laughing and smiling. Smiling with the beautiful joy of it all. The hares feel it too, their white coats justified at last. Around in circles they run, leaping through the snow, jumping from cornices and pulling front flips of joy. The Ptarmigan, the other seasonal chameleon of the highlands, is not so forthcoming, but the prints he left from earlier have a visible spring to them. It’s a good day. It’s a good day to be skiing up a hill, but everyone else is away behind us, busy skiing downwards, giving in to the lure of gravity and its addictive squeeze on the adrenal gland. We make lonely tracks up the hill, absorbed into the experience, almost at one with the mountain, floating just slightly over it. 

The top almost comes too soon, a bitter sweet arrival marking the imminent close of the adventure. The skins come off. Their sticky backside is reluctant to go, wanting to be needed more. Waxed bottoms, free from their sticky covering, are eager to slide. They slip downwards almost before I’m ready. The speed builds and I whip down hill, punctuating the slide with rusty turns, cutting fresh tracks in the pristine mountainside. Adrenaline flows, powder flies up behind us and gravity does its job. 

We end up at the bottom of the slope - panting, whooping, giggling at the pure pleasure of it all. Joy flows thick in the veins and buoy the tired limbs as we shuffle and slide along the morning’s tracks to the van. Days like this are so good nothing needs to be said, but we do anyway: gabbling excitedly and bouncing off the roof of the van on the way home. Recounting again the falls, the sights, the views which only occurred hours before. Tell it again, tell it again. What a day.