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.
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.