My Cart

The Indignity of it All

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.

About the Author
Zoe Hart is an American UIAGM Mountain Guide living in Chamonix, France. When not guiding, she travels around the world, exploring new mountain ranges, learning how to renovate her new home, or trying to write about her experiences. Since her accident she has become very partial to climbing with ropes.