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“I began to fear we’d made a fatal mistake”: the dangers of a ‘white out’ on a mountain

Push beyond our limits, we slid into a world of illusions as our brains struggled to make sense of their surroundings

Illustration: Kate Hazell

Two years ago, I had an unnerving experience while winter mountaineering in the Cairngorms. Having woken at a bothy in Glen Feshie to a clear, frosted morning, we climbed above snowline in the watery sunlight to begin what should have been a simple loop—summiting the nearest Munro before following a track north beyond a steep-sided corrie and dropping down to where we’d left the car.

As we approached the peak a bank of snow clouds appeared…

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