Just the worst time of the year for a journey - and the worst of years as well. Everyone was talking., that late December, about how there had never been a winter like it. Snow had been falling for weeks,and in the mountains, across the Alps, the drifts lay especially thick. No surprise, then, that as a small party of some fifty travellers toiled and switchbacked their way up the steep slopes of Mount Cenis, they should have been urged by locals to turn around, to delay their mission, to await the coming of spring."For so covered with snow and ice were the gradients ahead," they were warned, "that neither hoof nor foot could safely take step on them."
- From Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom by Tom Holland