A Climber’s Log Entry
This logbook was only recently discovered under the ice of a snow-cap after what must have been a harrowing fight for survival. The climber was never found.
--"Day 3 I think. My team left this morning to find life at the next outpost just over the hill. They were to send word of my weakened condition, with the hope that I would be rescued while the sun was at it's highest point in the sky. That period has long since passed, and I find myself alone with the prospect of scaling the imposing pile of ice before me.
The biting wind has increased from earlier today, and I think myself mad for even challenging the elements this late in the day. Shadows are long, leaping across dark caverns carved by the wind in the snow and ice. Short on supplies, shelter, and patience, I drive the last of my titanium nail spikes into the base of the cliff. I lost the tent days ago, and have tied these to what line I have left, and carefully stab one ahead of me before pulling up the other. It's a slow climb, which keeps me from blowing off the face, but the cold is my enemy now.
I'm wearing less that I should be. It's the mistake of an unprepared climber--and one I swore to never make. Yet now I find the gusts of wind run through my coat and liberate me of my body heat with little effort. If I don't make it to safety before sunset the elements are sure to be my end. The cold is only slightly worse than the sound of the wind. It's slow moan rises to a shrill alarm, slapping my frozen face like a loose shutter on an old house. My skin is raw, and cracked, and possibly bleeding, but it's hard to tell, since any moisture immediately freezes and drops into the dark snow below me.
My slow progress has put me almost at the top of the hill. I am expecting to see the faces of my party just over the next crest, waiting for me with a hot fire and warm friendship. But it is only my imagination. I find no comfort, only more hills. And scattered footprints hiding in drifting snow. Where are the ones who came before me, I wonder? Surely they were able to get back to the shelter, where I also plan to ride out this storm.
Seeing no relief, I have to make the fateful decision that all climbers dread. Do I leave my bag where I stand, and release my grip on the glassy slope? The combination of the fall and the cold are sure to kill me. But I've come too far to just give up. I hurl the bag over the top of the hill clutching it in one hand, and try to stand at the height of the lookout.
Just then my wife calls out from the doorway of the house, "Hey, while you're taking the garbage out, would you mind grabbing the mail at the end of the driveway?" Woman-- are you mad? I barely made it to the garbage cans. Next time I'm putting on shoes. I have been outside now for about 30 seconds.