Just below the summit we are scrambling
over outcrops, iron soled boots holding
good on frigid crusts of rock and icing -
cake white tipped ledges; faces grimacing
against the screech, the howl, north bitch, biting
gusts of galing wind. Such unforgiving
grey. The mass of cloud scuds breathless, sucking
air from crevasses, gullies, clefts, gasping
a sudden mist. We must not lose our footing.
not at this height, white blinded, fingering
every niche for safety. Our legs trembling
we inch forward. Higher now, blood is thudding
a tribal tattoo, a bone is drumming
a rhythm of wings beating.