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Glistening, cold, slippery, stark and pitiless, ice is an integral part of winter. Ice on the Plateau is never very far away; in late august, it transforms the dew into glittering particles that weigh down on the flowers until the sun shines in and releases them. By mid October, it is there to stay, and though the sun melts it away wherever it can reach, it remains entrenched on the northern faces on the hills, where it can’t.

Then the streams and lakes freeze over, trapping the last remnants of grass. The yak’s sure footing takes them onto the shimmering surface in search of moisture and children fill the air with shrieks of joy sliding over it on their makeshift sleds.