Breathless winter. Hollow clatter of metal on rock. Occasional shreds of conversation float across the empty space from neighbouring summits. Up here, suddenly, life is boundless.
It’s a profound change from ten minutes earlier when arriving atop Great End, it’s upper reaches snuggled under a duvet of cloud. The surreal perceptual isolation of an abundance of snow, an absence of view and neither the rasping feel nor the hollering sound of the wind. Only the sound of your own breath to reinforce the notion of existence.
That cloud is now below me, and apart from distant Lowryesque figures striding through soft powder, the only company is my haloed Brocken spectre hovering over the sudden void beyond a corniced edge to the north.
I range repeatedly between different aspects of the summit. There’s a little direct light playing over Esk Pike, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, but the superior view over Wasdale Head, Great Gable and surrounding peaks pulls me back that way.
Then, the light show begins. Rakes of orange illuminate snowless valleys, lifting them from the shadows. The remaining cloud cover allows for the spotlighting of random summits, before finessing to elegant strokes of pink in the final fading moments of the day.
Days like these are special and won’t be forgotten in a hurry.