The Art of Looming


Maybe it’s because they’re so vast, or as Terry Pratchett would say – they’ve perfected the art of looming – but mountains make me feel so calm. Tiny, safe, insignificicant…but in a good way. Bear with me. The universe is so huge, and you are a tiny fleeting part of it. Really, you might as well just relax, enjoy, and breathe. That’s brought home to me when I stand in the snow, mountains rising up all around, and think about attempting to make my way down their unforgiving slopes.

I was stood at the top of a freezing mountain top this week. It was -13°C and bright clouds of glitter were dusting across the landscape. Honestly, I’m not being fancy, the fine snow crystals in the light of the sun were literally sparkling like glitter. I couldn’t have wiped the grin off my face if I’d tried.

It was so cold that droplets of water on my scarf were freezing to my face like tiny anchors as the wind rushed past my goggles and my skis carved into the snow beneath me. That bit wasn’t so fun.

It was so cold I discovered the delights of toe and hand warmers. If only to stop being the one whinging about how painful my feet and hands were!

One of my favourite things about skiing is the chairlift. Not because I’m lazy (honestly) but because I find it really tranquil and quiet. Even when it’s not a freezing test of endurance, there is a peace in the silence.  The intermittent hum of machinery, the muffled rustle of salopettes and jackets, and the distant energy of the slope below.

Oh, but when it’s coooold. You can’t move to keep warm, so everyone retreats into contemplative silence, a somewhat trance like state, ruminating on which extremity might drop off first. Willing the lift station to come in to view. Then you reach the top and glide away from the lift (with varying degrees of grace depending on numbness and experience) and everyone reanimates again, talking about routes and runs and how long until the next waffle stop. Spoiler: with the little crew I ski with, that’s never far away.

Aside from the adrenaline, the friendships, the après ski, the cheese (oh my days, the cheese. That’s a whole other story) I feel like everyone needs a little mountain time in their lives. You might come home physically exhausted, but your soul will be contenedly grinning from ear to ear.


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