There is a silence that settles in the mountains like something tangible. It’s hard to really explain unless you’ve experienced it yourself. It’s the combination of the muffling effect that thousands of acres of snow has on sound propagation, the white background noise of steady mid-altitude winds rumbling past peaks, and the utter paucity of any human-made sounds such as highways, airplanes and air-conditioning units.
It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
I took this photo on day 3 of a ski-touring trip with my dear friend Mackie, which you can read about in this string of posts here, here and here. We rose early on this morning, a crisp winter’s day in the Alberta Rockies. The sun was shining but periodically subdued by passing mountain cloud. We had put the worst of the ascent behind us climbing up onto the Wapta Icefields, and were now on the icecap itself, gliding along the smooth surface on our quest to find epic powder. While we were moving, the sounds we heard were of the snow-crystals whispering beneath our skins, the hissing of our ski-pants rubbing together as we trekked, and our own heavy breathing. And when we stopped, that beautiful silence.
On the icefields the isolation was magnificent. It was Mackie, me, and what felt like a million miles of nothing. No other humans. No other tracks. Just smooth snow as far as we could see, ringed by inviting mountain peaks that formed something of a bowl and only served to enhance that sense of being cut off from the rest of the world. The peace out there is intoxicating, simply exhilerating, and I can truthfully say that few moments on earth can compete with the pure joy of being up in the mountains, trapped by the glory of creation, simply surviving in that wild landscape.