By this time, we were all suffering from exposure, dehydration, and exhaustion. I was scooping handfuls of snow into my mouth because the water in my canteen had frozen solid. All we could think of was being somewhere else, anywhere but atop a mountain surrounded by nothing but linding white, tens of kilometres from the nearest civilization. I stared back defiantly at the menacing peaks, realizing that winter combat in the mountains is much worse than desert, jungle, or urban warfare. Up here the deadliest enemy was not the human foe but the relentless cold and the terrain. Nowhere else is a fighting man so dependent on specialized matériel. Losing a ski or nowshoe can mean death. Without them the distance normally covered in an hour would take an entire day. Losing a couteau à neige, a ski pole, or even a glove can be just as life-threatening. Blood flowing from minor wounds, especially to the hand or foot, freezes often leading to frostbite. A broken leg on a mountain such as we were on would generally be fatal.