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Tamanokubo hut, Mt Kiso-Koma, Japan

I pass the Tamanokubo hut, the snow up to its eaves and shattering the thought at the back of my mind that there might be some winter entrance left open. The wind is stronger now with a malevolent icy sting to it. I’ve been at this for twelve hours solid now, fueled by carbohydrate gel and snowmelt; I dig a shallow pit in the snow near the Sancho-Kiso hut, some 50 feet below the summit. The air is clear and the sky bright, but I take no chances with the tent, weighing it down with rocks and pulling it taught enough to bounce marbles off.

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Taken on February 7, 2009