It’s no longer pitch black, just dark. The sky is brightening every minute and a great portion of the mountain lies above me. The sun is nearly up, nearly ready to roll up over the horizon and burn away the soft carpet of clouds under which the valley sleeps. I quicken my pace, feeling the steep hill resist my urge to climb. The snow is perfect, the temperature moderate. I continue to push myself, racing to reach an overlook before the sun rises. Heaving a few breaths, I stop and steady myself to take a picture. But the little camera I’ve brought isn’t up to sunrise pictures, so I move on. A gentle breeze swishes down the mountain, cooling my overheated radiator.
A building looms above me. I am alone on the south summit, underneath the old chair five. All is quiet. The chairs hang limply from the cables, ensconced in a shaggy fur of ice crystals. The sun has climbed over the mountains, the day is well on its way and will soon be in full swing. It takes but a moment to remove the mohair skins from my skis and lock the bindings into downhill mode. Buckling my boots, I push off and float down the hill. A few gentle turns on the fresh snow, a few moments of wind rushing past, and I am once again at the base of the mountain. The previous hour’s toil has been rewarded with a fleeting moment of flying down the mountain. Now it is time to return to the valley, under grey clouds. Soon the glorious bright morning, the brilliant white snow, the clean sharp air and beautiful silent solitude are but a memory.