by Zoe Hart
Late Summer 2009
A rivulet of baby vomit streamed down my hand and disappeared
into my cast. “Rookie!” I scolded myself. “How did I end up here?”
I dabbed at the mouth of the baby I was tending for a friend as my mind wandered back to that defining moment when the ice fractured around me, and the plate I was climbing on detached.
Gravity won that round. I hit the slope 30 feet below. I clawed and scraped with my hands and feet, willing my crampons not to catch and break my ankles. Rocketing over the edge of the second step – another 35 feet – I saw nothing but felt a force I had never felt before: my body compressing against the ground.
Crouched on my hands and knees, I gasped, unable to breathe. I inhaled a gulp of air and sat, eyes wide. Voices echoed in the distance. I don’t think I responded. I was too busy taking note of what hurt – wiggling toes and fingers, moving arms and legs. No blood, no bones sticking out. I sat still, staring across the wintry horizon of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, imagining how far from Silverton or Ouray we were. Fear welled up from the pit of my stomach.