Stark and violently black against the frame of blue sky and background snowfields, the summit lazes impervious above a face filigreed with couloirs. Twisting and plummeting, they connect or careen towards the valley with an abandon bent by gravitational theories, white alleys cutting through cliffs and blank stone. The map in my pack can’t name the peak, can’t make it a reference–who cares what someone named it, though. To the untrained, unread eye, the name of every mountain is possibility. Maybe, with the right weather, the right crew, that could go. Up early, hug the right flank. Drop in once the sun hits it and blast wide turns back to camp. Might work. Nothing known to dull down the flavor. No limits yet imposed. Away, it’s easy to dream, and dream hard.
At home, though, the labeled names take on their own reverence. Folds cross the map as contours in evidence of the the terra so well cognita. I’ve dreamed this before. I see it again. Maybe this year. We keep talking, but no way. Not enough snow. Not filled in. Wrong crew. Shed cycle setting up again. Stood on top a few times–could we take skis? How many raps? Turns out someone climbed it in ’73. Had to dig to find that on Supertopo. More knife blades. Familiar in how it falls apart. Typical in the long approach. Standing on top means standing in awe, just from a slightly different angle.