I found this old photo just randomly lying in the bottom of a box of all junk. I don’t know why I kept it. I’m thankful now as it reminds me of a long forgotten memory. I can’t remember which mountain it was. Not sure even which country it is in. Anyway it’s from over 20 years ago. I had been solo climbing . Not a difficult climb but it took a few hours of hard work. Definitely needed ropes and was very definitely vertical. Best described as a 200ft cliff. At the top of the climb it immediately opened up onto the summit top. A large and very gentle dome. As I scrambled over the edge I saw a figure stood in the distance. No idea why but I took a photo. He turned and watched me slowly walk towards him. I must have been a sight. Full winter climbing gear, ropes, ice axes. Completely sodden with all the wet snow. Steam rising off me. I had some blood dripping onto the snow from an encounter with a particularly sharp rock. I felt bad about staining the snow.

Next followed one of those conversations that just stay with you.


“Hello, it looks like you have had fun”

It was hard work but fun. It’s very, very steep.

“Your bleeding”

It’s ok, looks worse than it is.

“I’m lost, I’m trying to work out which way it is back down”

Where are you trying to get to.

“I want to get back to my car. Is the way down your way?”

No, no, no, no, no. Most definitely not that way.

“Oh I wonder which way it is then.”

At a guess with the position of the sun, the time and the atmospheric conditions. It’s that way behind you.

“Wow you good, how can you tell from that”.

I really can’t but I can clearly see your footprints in the snow. I’m guessing you just need to follow them all the way down.


And a few seconds later he was off retracing his footprints. Now I could go on about the risks of winter hillwalking when your clearly not properly prepared. But actually how often do we all find ourselves in that position. Rapidly out of our depths, lost, confused, unprepared and probably very tired. Not forgetting how close we are to potentially walking off the cliff edge. I certainly feel that way quite often.

Yes I’m glad I kept that photo.

61 thoughts on “Lost in the snow

  1. I really canโ€™t but I can clearly see your footprints in the snow. Iโ€™m guessing you just need to follow them all the way down.

    It’s insane how a simple line like that. A too obvious solution. A one for all fix can sometimes completely elude us and drive us into unsolveable territory…
    Where we don’t see the solution that’s right in front of us anymore….amazing anecdote!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What wonderful observations came to you while looking at that picture. Awesome stuff! I think we can all identify and commiserate with being lost, or at the edge of a cliff….great post, Gary, as per usual. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This was very thought provoking, Superdad. I love that photo and the story. Itโ€™s no surprise to me that you would be so kind and caring to give some assistance. Really nice post. I hope you get some snow this year! ๐Ÿ˜Š Stay out of the rain, but now the snow. Make some tracks in the snow. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, I think it would be nice if you got some snow! ๐Ÿ˜€ The chances of snow here are usually pretty good. It doesn’t always stick around too long though.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Getting lost in the wilderness is scary. I managed it once when I had my 88 year-old dad parked in a car in a park. I just went up a hill for a short walk to look at something. Could I find my way back? It was hotter than hell and I had no water, no nothing. I thought if I took my knickers down and had a pee, someone would be sure to come, but that didn’t work! Ended up spotting a car in the distance and running like a mad woman toward it and more or less demanded they drive me back to dad. Oh it was his birthday. When I got back he looked at the new car with disdain, then saw me fall out the back and he said “oh hello!” I felt such a twat.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There’s a lovely metaphor here about being lost in life and learning to find our way again, particularly the part about how you just need to follow your footprints all the way down, even if other people can’t see them clearly. Hope you are doing well in our current pandemic ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Love the story! Isn’t it amazing how something can trigger a memory, clear as a bell, from decades ago, when we cannot remember why we walked into the kitchen? Heck, for me finding my car in a mall parking lot is akin to finding my way off a mountain top! Hugs!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You let your light shine right out in the open with this one! Awesome story/parable! You are definitely more than a falling over muppet!
    I still think snow is something to visit, not to live in๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m a spoiled SoCal girl๐Ÿคท๐Ÿผโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’Œ๐Ÿ’Œ

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Now this is a coincidence. I saw that photo and something struck a cord ( lately it’s even difficult for me to get on to post, much less read through other blogs- i try!) But as soon as i started reading i noted that 1. i didn’t know you were a climber. I used to be, albeit just rock climbing, not ice. I actually competed and was intending to branch out into ice, but never did. and 2. i just recently had exactly the same thing happen. i have been going through old bins in my basement. i came a cross a photo at the bottom of one, totally out of place as it was full of old mortgage papers, of myself jumping off a Catamaran into the ocean . i was in mid air and my ( at the time) husband snapped the photo. I hadn’t seen that pic in almost 20 years. I started to recall that day, the location and the oddity. Your phrase “finding ourselves out of our depth” was just crazy irony because i real we had to jump off the boat to swim to a private island since the craft could not go any further in the shallower waters. It was still really deep. I had such fears..would i make it to the shore? ( which seemed a mile away! and i am no great swimmer..) Would i get eaten by a shark? Nipped at by a sea turtle? they hadn’t even told us we would have to do this at the onset of the tour..But -I remember jumping more out of avoiding embarrassment than anything else. And– SNAP!- i learned something – more than fear of literally dying, the deeper fear was dying of embarrassment. Looking at that photo has made me revisit some of my current perceptions as of late…Thanks-good read and intriguing photo!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Do you miss climbing. I do. I suspect would feel the cold now too much. Got out of the habit of being outside. Ice climbing was a little rare here. Had to travel a long way for that. It sounds like you were good at it. I would be stuffed on that island. Canโ€™t swim.


  9. Wow you were a really serious climber back in the day! We can prepare to the best of our ability but life does not play ball as we know and having the skills and courage to navigate the unknown with less prep than we would like is also a good thing. X

    Liked by 2 people

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