"How much further?" yelled the tall man who walked in the middle of the group.
"There is a little cave up ahead," came the reply from the small dark man who led the party, "We can take shelter there until this storm has passed."
But it was at least another twenty minutes before the cave swam into focus through the whirling snowflakes, and by that time the three travellers were near exhaustion.
The small dark man pointed excitedly, and led them inside, out of range of the clawing wind. The others followed.
Forcing the last few ounces of strength through tired muscles, Philip Frogmore pumped his long legs and followed their guide into the cave. He sighed with relief. It was so wonderful to be out of the freezing wind that at first he hardly noticed how he had to cramp and bend his tall body to fit within the diminutive proportions of the cave.
As he was undoing the straps that tied the heavy bag to his back and shaking the worst of the snow from his hair, the third man made his way inside. He was as tall as Philip, though somewhat broader across the shoulders and his belly was rather round.
Philip Frogmore opened his thermos flask and drank the last of the tepid tea he had made before they had left base camp, several hours and a million years ago. The climb had been taxing, more taxing than he had anticipated. Perhaps too taxing.
No, he told himself sternly, I have come too far to be defeated by this blasted mountain. Not now. Not when I'm this close...