The Odyssey Of Challenge 

Djurica Radmila

© Copyright 2001 by Djurica Radmila

Sometimes we are much better than we really believe, and if we are destined to succeed, we can be convicted to the rest of our lives on the endless ambitious with taking no pleasure with little things.

The addiction lies more in the setting off the challenge, than on the arrivals on different travelling destinations.

It lies in deciding to go, and it's hidden in the mournful horn of the ship, the roar of aircraft jets, the steam-blasted whistle of the train racing across empty lands of unknown destinations.

The high was melting down with invisible horizons. One step behind or forward and hard snow was steeping ice below. She felt the rope pull at her waist, while it was getting harder and harder, along with a strangely sounds. There was a sheer ice slope between her and the spot...They finally got to camp well.

The nature up bellow gave them beautiful blueness with dozens of stars and so thick darkness. There is no tourists here, no buildings, nothing but snow.

The National PARK holds the morning somehow, caved up somehow. The peace of the desert is in front of them. This is their third camping day; the whole expedition lasts 8 days. In the circle with bunch of equipment, there were 10 women and one man. They are all stick to each other, so they can share every peace of their body heat. Only one shy woman got up really early, everybody else was sleeping. It was her turn to make a fire for morning hot chocolate. The last night she was spending on the hard ground, sleeping tightly wrapped in her camping equipment.

The night was extremely long. She was climber for the first time in her life. Situation where she got herself stuck with right now was.... 100% frightened. 30 feet below there were rocks, with one extremely sharp that is high up looking like a lonely tooth in the gap-toothed mouth. She was frozen to death already, hanging on the edge up there, frighten to do not loose the winning position. She never been climbing before, even never ever been camping before, cutting herself already on the sharp rock edge somewhere down there... With avareable map, it was meant to climb up to an unbelievable high and hostile rock in front. Still, the rest of the climbing crew was asleep. The aim of this expedition is to train human mind and body, and to discover abilities and develop the feeling for responsibility in person. Every year these expeditions are more visited by women than men, and more than half are women over 35.

That day they spend quite all right in climbing, and the night was coming filling out the space. Already her face was in shadow. The temperature was slowly coming down, and with wind-chill factor, it will be down more and more. They have to go fast before the cold addled their minds. The night in front of them was too cold for the rest and they were running out of the time. On the places like this the cruel nature directs the resting hours and they had no choice what so ever.

As she stepped down, she saw a human body hunch over in the dark shadow. The holding bar of the ice crampon to the toe of her boot became loose. She felt with a sudden blur and the curve of the rope instantly gone less straightened, as she hurried herself backward, powering her ax into the ice harder as she could. But impact whipped up the rope and ripped her into the air. With a curious sense of disappointment, she watched herself, as she was landed on her neck and left shoulder before accelerating. There she was.... head first on her back down to the ice field....

Before she could attempt an ice brake, she had to hit the ramp and plunged off the edge of the steep drop over which she had fallen.

Suddenly, she felt a profound sense of resignation, tranquillity.

"Is this a fall, is it going to be my last?", she was thinking, as she frantically swung around, feeling down on her stomach, falling at her feet first, with crampons held up free of the ice.

She was hurtling down; flying over small ice cliffs that humped out from the mountain crest, falling diagonally. It was possible to feel ice hammering under her bent elbows. One hard ice brake has to be made almost instantaneously to have any chance to move any forward. At that speed, she was moving all right, and, ax would simply be roped out of her hands. On their descent she felt and shattered her right knee and uncle. But the rope, binding her to other climbers, together was pulling her inexorably off the mountain. She was falling down, 150 feet into a crevasse.

Next morning S. could find no trace of her, because climbing out of crevasse had taken her to a dangerous.

She spun down into the shadows with a flare of anger,

Looking down into darkness, the man behind her tried to see her. As the minutes passed, the certainty grew and she knew that she was in danger. Ten minutes sleep would do the trick, sleeping and hanging, is nice, but gravity is a bitch, when those ten minutes passed, she was awaken with her face fastened to the mountain side in frozen slick of blood. The wind tugged instantly at her body almost impatiently.

Any further movements twisted her body, and pain flared up from her leg...

She flicked in her headlamp, still attached to her helmet. Thick globs of blood were on the sleeve of her jacket. Her left eye was closed.

She couldn't breathe through her nose, and as she looked up at the rope cutting across the ice above her and shouted into the wind. There was no answer, not even the hopeful flash of a headlamp. She hacked her ice hammer into the ice and tried to get to her feet. Bones grated in her left ankle and she screamed. With both tools firmly picked in above her, she pulled and hops. She leaned her left knee on the ice and made another hop, gritting her teeth against a sickening wave of pain as her foot spun in full circles on the end of her leg. The climb seemed to last forever. A surge of hope flushed through her.

S. Thumped heavily into stillness at the base of an ice cliff. He saw rope passing, and grabbed it. The impact pushed him away in darkness, back into the down of the mountain. S. Actually past her, and plunged over another 15-foot cliff. There was only a glimpse of stars in a black sky holding the rope in the screaming wind. Watching more alertly now, perhaps looking for souls among the shadows, he thought he saw more solid shadows gather below the surface. It was hard to be sure, when the surface were choppy suddenly - but they were choppy only in a small area above that cluster of black shadow, as though a wisp of wind stirred them only there. Or as if something were rising, disturbing them from below... And moving too, moving swiftly now, sending little bubbles up to stir the surface as it, they headed cleanly for the steps.

Up in the darkness she saw the yellow flash of S.'s flashlight. She rested her head on the ice and felt the soothing cold. As she turned around, she saw the dark bloodstains left behind. It must be bad. The cold was taking her, sending her mind off into the dark place, she couldn't resist, not knowing why she kept on going, after all.

And there she was, at 20 000 feet, smashed up, cold, confused and bleeding, knowing it wouldn't work for her again. In spite of the things becoming better and better, she found herself crawling up to the slopes. The wind howled...A nervous cough from the shadows shattered the silence. There was no mistaking the gesture. There was a sudden intake of breath, and a few strained giggles erupted from the shadows.

Yet, she regrets none of it. Mountaineering is life, vital and spiritual, like a psychological odyssey as well as a physical and mental challenge.

In the dark, she could almost imagine roses blooming, or perhaps she forced herself to imagine them, but in that moment it was alive, real again-like the fragrant scent of silt on fingertips, lingering in my memory, both beautiful and grotesque. And that's how she remembers him now. The feeling does not change though sometimes she imagines body as a million grains of sand, scattered to the refuse of a city dump, or a large lump of clay on a red stained sheet. Sometimes, she see a plot of fertile soil where nothing beautiful will ever grow. Even today, she have never lost the addictive shadowy memory of the mountains, the feeling that she had once as she has been somewhere where she has experienced, ethereally beautiful sights. And, seen an intangible world that she wanted to experience again.

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