A Useful Friend

Adam and I have been on this mountain for sixty-three days now. That’s a long time to be trapped in a cave at 10,000 feet above sea level. Avid mountain climbers that we were it had long been a dream for both of us to go climbing in the Swiss Alps. So it was that a few months ago things came together and we set out for the adventure of a lifetime.

We arrived at the little town of Grindelwald on October 1st and spent the night. The next day we bought train tickets to take us to the north face of the Eiger, the mountain we had chosen to climb first. If we had stayed with our plan I believe we’d be back home now with fond memories.

Adam changed his mind on a whim during the train ride. He wasn’t feeling a hundred percent and suggested we go climb the Jungfrau instead. I was against it. It was a slightly easier climb by all accounts, though somewhat higher. We had three weeks ahead of us and he persuaded me a slight change in our itinerary was inconsequential. How wrong that turned out to be.

At any rate we informed the conductor of our change of plans and paid the extra fare to go to Jungfrau instead of Eiger. We had checked the weather forecast for Eiger in the morning before we left but we had no idea of what the weather would be like on Jungfrau. It was this that caused me to have reservations about changing our plans but Adam can be very persuasive.

We looked around when we got there to see if there was any information to be had but there was no one about, it being the end of the season. I told Adam I was having second thoughts. No one would know where we were. But Adam could be arrogant and reckless sometimes. So we headed to the base of the mountain to begin our climb.

It was a two-day climb for veterans like us and we had all the right gear and supplies for our undertaking. The first day went well. We made it to the half way mark and found this cave, perfect for passing the night. We pitched the tent and settled in then went outside to watch the sunset. It was a glorious riot of pinks, oranges and purples. As night fell we prepared dinner and then sat around discussing the next days ascent.

We talked long into the night and then decided to get some sleep. I was restless and had been listening to Adam’s snoring for quite some time when I sensed something wasn’t right. The temperature seemed to have dropped and I decided to venture outside to take a peek.

What I saw sent shivers down my spine. A storm had moved in and it was beginning to snow. Unusual for October but not unheard of. I went back to my sleeping bag and tried to quell the dread that was taking hold of me. At last I managed to fall asleep. I remember hoping the storm would pass and the morning would be clear.

That, however, was not the case. We awoke to the sound of a fierce wind howling around the cave. Our tent was shaking as though caught in the jaws of some malevolent beast intent on tearing it apart.

Adam looked at me and I knew at once what he was thinking. It was his entire fault. I averted my gaze. I had nothing to say, choosing instead to stew in my anger. If only I had kept my own council, but no, Adam had to have his way. Several minutes of silence and when I looked at him again he was shaking and pale.

“Adam, what is it?”

“I’m burning up Sam. I have a fever. My stomach in doing summersaults. Maybe it was something I ate last night. Those sausages…I don’t know…”

Great. So now we were trapped in a storm and my best friend was ill. To make matters worse no one knew where we were. It would be days before anyone would think to look for us, we had told the hotel we’d be gone four or five days and they believed we had gone to the Eiger.

That was two months ago. The storm lasted for the better part of a week. By the time it was over I was too weak to climb down. God knows I tried, but I had to turn back twice. It simply wasn’t going to happen. We had only brought enough food for the climb so there was nothing to eat.

A man gets so very hungry trapped on a mountain. The snow I gathered made sure I had enough water to survive a long time. Not that I expect anyone will be looking for me here. It’s so damned cold and I’m so lonely. Hard decisions needed to be made.

What was I to do? I had no chance of survival without sustenance to regain my strength. Adam fell into delirium on the second day. He thrashed about. He was the cause of all this misery. The more I looked at him the more enraged I became. I had to make it out alive. It wasn’t my fault. What choice did I have? He wasn’t going to make it anyway. My only hope was to get strong again.

I have water enough to last, and since I’ve overcome my repulsion I also have food to keep me from starving. Soon I’ll be strong enough to climb down. Good old Adam.


4 responses to “A Useful Friend

  1. I really like the picture of the man on the summit reaching out to help another climber. I would love to use a single copy of this picture for a meeting I am holding. I work with a small sales team. I’m not interested in republishing or using elsewhere on line. It would be for a one time use. If you could let me know if that’s possible, I would appreciate it. Great Shot!

  2. Hi.

    It’s a stock photo image. Use it as much as you like. You can find it here:

    Be sure to copy the entire url and then just paste it into a search engine. Failing that you can just go to Google images and search for “mountain climbers”.

  3. May I use the photo of the 2 mountain climbers for a iphoto project I am creating for a friend?

  4. Ooops. Please disregard my message. I just saw your response to A. Ritter regarding the stock photo image. Thanks.

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