“Summitting a mountain is an amazing feeling. Whether it be a real mountain or a mountain on your journey through life. When on high, feel proud and strong and then look down to help others who need to get where you are. Life is better when we support each other.”
I’d reached the summit gasping at the thin air. I stood atop the peak of the mighty mountain, admiring the lands below; shaped and carved over millions of years. My mind wandered. How many had stood here before me?
The rest of my team hadn’t beaten me. They lacked the pizzazz, the energy to reach the summit. I could see them all through the low-lying clouds some thousand feet below me. Exhaustion from the lack of oxygen and the gruelling climb had caused them to submit to the mountain. I hadn’t come all this way to fail and so I’d abandoned them and completed my ascent alone.
“Ludo, you look great up there. Congrats, on the victory!” called Tyrone the team leader over the radio.
I saluted, “Cheers! I don’t mind telling you the view’s amazing from up here. Shame there’s no pub though, I could murder a beer!”
“Haha! Well, get your arse down here and help carry the rest of us back to the village. We can have buckets of beer to celebrate and recover there,”
“Sounds like a good plan to —” I felt it first; a tremor running through the rock. Then I saw it like a great white dragon roaring down the mountainside. “Shit! Avalanche! Ty, get the team and get the hell out of there, now!”
“Avalanche? Where? I don’t —”
“Shut up and run!” Letting go of my walkie, I turned and hastened back down the ridge. The afternoon was wearing and ice was forming beneath my feet. The absence of grip at my soles tightened my chest with fear. One slip up here was certain death.
Below me, the avalanche barrelled down the grey and white rock faces. The red and orange coats worn by my friends zigzagged downhill all too slow.
I jumped the four feet from a ledge and continue down at the jog. By then the blood was pounding my ears as I watched the avalanche smashed into a stand of pine trees. In that instant, it overtook my friends in an explosion of green boughs.
“No! Oh, no!” My voice choked. My best friends must have been buried. “Ty, are you okay? Is everyone alright?” I yelled into my radio.
Throwing myself onto an ice-covered slope, I rolled and dug my ice-axe into the snow. The technique was called glissading, it felt more like downhill tobogganing without the toboggan. I hurtled through plumes of ice and snow. Getting down from the mountain by the express route.
I’d almost made it cleanly when my rucksack slammed to an unseen rock and pitched me into the air. My body cartwheeled and then the air was driven from my lungs as I slammed back into the snow.
Sucking up the pain, I dragged myself to my feet; leaving spots of blood, a stark red, against the white of the snow. I’d bitten my lip when I landed; nothing when my friends were potentially buried by the avalanche.
Heading east, I ran past the place where they set up camp to wait for me. There had been an old pine tree trunk on its side there. They’d all been sitting upon it moments earlier. Now it was gone, replaced by piles of shattered ice.
Never stopping, I ran on toward the last place I’d seen them. “Ty! Come in team, are you alright?”
What felt like hours, was only minutes before I plunged into the decimated trees. “Ty! Charlie! Aleesha! Marianne!” I screamed as I followed the avalanche debris downslope.
“Down here!” yelled a familiar voice.
Running that way, I saw the red coat of Tyrone still a long way below me on the hillside. I could see by the way he held himself, he injured his ribs.
“I’m coming!” Zigzagging a high-speed, I bounded over rocks as I leapt down the remaining distance to reach him. “You okay? Where are the others?”
“The girls are over there and just, I got them under the overhang up there just in time. The avalanche swept me and Charlie over the edge. Somehow, I came out on top although I definitely have a broken rib or three.” Tyrone grew grave. “We can’t find Charlie.”
I carefully threw my arms around him, and clapped his back, “I’m glad you and the girls made it, man!”
“Argh! Me too, I …”
“Later, let’s find Charlie,” setting myself a determination I walked to the edge of the ridge. From there, I could see the full path of the avalanche. Taking out my binoculars, I scanned it for any sign of my friend.
“Ludo, you made it!” said Aleesha throwing her arms around me.
“I was never in any danger being way above the avalanche,” I graced her cold reddened cheek with a kiss. “I’m glad to see you’re both okay,” I said as I kissed and cuddled Marianne as well.
“That was the most terrifying thing we’ve ever —”
My eyes had settled onto an unnatural brown line. “Got him!” I yelled as I leapt from the ridge and use my parkour ability to front flip into the snowfall. Never, slowing I bounded through the avalanche destruction until my hands grabbed on to the brown ski pole Charlie used. “Charlie! Where are you!”
“There!” Marianne screamed. She’d come down at a different angle. “I see his glove.”
“Well done!” I told her as the four of us began digging feverishly. We uncovered his arms, chest and head quickly. What we found filled us with instant dread. Charlie was blue, he was without a doubt dead.
“No, please don’t let him die!” Aleesha cried.
Ripping his jacket open, I began CPR. Pumping Charlie’s chest for all I was worth. My body was already aching, burning with exhaustion but if I could save his life. I would give him all I had.
Marianne dropped to her knees to help me. She got his airway open and began administering rescue breaths.
“Damn radios buggered!” Tyrone said.
“I noticed, when — I tried — to call— you about— three dozen times — as I came down from the summit. Use mine!” I replied through my efforts to resuscitate Charlie.
Tyrone grabbed my radio. “Base camp, this is summit team, do you read, over!”
“We read you, summit team, go ahead,” answered a voice we were all relieved to hear.
“We had an avalanche. Charlie’s unresponsive requesting medevac, over!”
“Received, Medevac en route, over.”
“Good work, man!” I said without stopping.
It was ten minutes before the red-and-white helicopter appeared in the blue sky. It spun overhead and landed close by.
I was still performing CPR on Charlie’s lifeless body. It was, just as the medevac team arrived beside us, that he miraculously coughed into life. They had him and Tyrone loaded into the chopper within minutes. It would take Charlie weeks to recover from his injuries. But he would and by the next summer, myself and the adventure team were back on the slopes of yet another mountain. This time we would conquer the summit together.
Don’t forget to join me for Mason Wants to know. This time a question about your favourite character.
Have a great day!