Down shouldered we hunched up against a smooth fractured pinnacle of Millstone Grit.
Thumbing a guidebook with winter gauntlets, steam train breath on the air.
A clean edge of arete and wall stretching away seemed to intensify the cold, blackening the shadow.
"What do you fancy?"
The idea of a warm up climb felt laughable, we all knew that as soon as we started dressing down for the climb we would freeze, still in our tracks.
Down in the abyss carried on the warming valley air the sounds of Saturday football drifted up, dreamlike.
"That bloc looks good"
A quick hand out of the glove, the rough caress to test friction is all it needs, The eyes dart, assess a line, holds identified, body dance ready.
And there it is, the moment when the climb takes over, I do not feel cold until later....
Left foot on the incut,
high right foot,
reach the flake,
left foot out ,
right hand over the top
Stood looking down at the small mat, our bags and the stretch of valley away to Lancashire
I flex my fingers
I am clean again