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Up and Down Days, Part Four: Cold Mountain

May 10, 2021

A gripping and humourous piece about early adventures in ice climbing from David Russell for Caledonia Collective.

The Caledonia Collective

Cold Mountain’s full of strange sights

Men who go there end by being scared.

Water glints and gleams in the moon,

Grasses sigh and sing in the wind.

The bare plum blooms again with snow,

Naked branches have clouds for leaves.

When it rains, the mountain shines –

In bad weather you’ll not make this climb.

- Han Shan, Cold Mountain

Part Four: Cold Mountain

The mountains were covered in a wet snow that sagged into the hollows between boulders, and clogged our boots with huge soggy blocks of ice. We trudged. The path was buried under the deep, wet blanket, so we followed the pockmarked trail of footsteps that led up into the northern coires of Cairngorm. Trudged really is the only word for such movement. Slow, heavy, snow-clinging at-your-feet-just-get-on-with-it wearying steps. It was early morning and we did not feel much humour in us yet – feeling the…

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