The stillness was almost eerie. I’d never been on a mountain summit when there was anything less than a stiff wind blowing. Since I didn’t have to try and find any sort of wind break, there was extra time to sit and take it all in. A pure luxury. There was plenty of time, no approaching storm, all kinds of sunlight and we all had full water bottles and snacks to spare.
The world around was frozen and white. I guess everything up above 20,000 feet is mostly like that. The further I looked out, the more the whiteness faded into browns and and a kind of olive green. Because it was so warm, I took my parka off and then leaned back against my pack and just let the sun soak in. I could see no movement way down below, but had to think that somewhere, down there, was looking up right then and speculating about how brutal it must have been up on top. I closed my eyes for a moment and breathed a sigh of relief that this time at least, it just wasn’t like that.