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USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Billie Rothman, a beautiful, widowed MD, leaves all that she knows behind, attempting to follow her dreams to Stony Creek, Wyoming. She is yearning for the passionate life she wanted to live after a safe marriage to her best friend. Jackson Powell, a huge, handsome cowboy, literally saves her life soon after she arrives in town.

After being married to a selfish and superficial woman, he decides that women are simply for his pleasure and to ranch alongside him and his family, never expecting the bundle of sensual energy that punches him in the gut after meeting his new neighbor. While getting to know each other, both these wounded souls cannot ignore the instant attraction or the pulling of their hearts, but in the background lurk several individuals who yearn to teach them both lessons in pain and revenge.

Unfortunately Jackson's ex-wife and a jealous acquaintance from his past try to hurt both of them physically and psychologically. Product Details. Average Review. Write a Review. The imbalance created by my relentless drive for success. I stand and face my twisting path downward, toward home. I hope to climb Nanga Parbat someday, but hope — this burning, blinding desire — now seems to be the problem. So I let go. I walk away. I begin the journey back. Back in time, back in place, back in mind. Back to the beginning.

The 4,foot high north wall of Triglav. We scrambled to the left at the thin horizontal snowband below the summit pyramid to reach the popular. He looks up at me and blinks; the crystal mascara dissolves. The steep limestone wall is split with a weathered crack running vertically into the mist. I hope to see Ljubo, who leads this pitch through the swirling fog. Occasional snowflakes drift upwards on the wind currents; clouds hide the half-dozen peaks that ring the Logar Valley. I strain to see as the rope pays out slowly through the belay device on my harness and my ice encrusted, wool-clad hands.

Inch by jerky inch. There is a pause and I hear the dull echo of a hammer driving steel. Above me in the cloud a piton is driven and clipped. Another unannounced avalanche of spindrift — snow accumulated and then released from the steep summit slopes hundreds of feet above — envelops us. I hear the faint tapping of the tiny flakes peppering our nylon coats.

The rope lies still in my hands for a long time. Suddenly, a few feet pay out in a rush. Then the rope stops again. I hear the heavy thud of more soft iron pitons being driven into limestone cracks. Again silence. Then a distant sound: a muffled human voice, and a quick tug on the rope. Our little stance becomes a flurry of activity. I take Ljubo off belay by freeing the rope from the figure-eight belay device. I ignore his comment and hasten to knock out a few of the pegs myself, leaving the aged, rusty ones for the next visitor who will arrive sometime after the spring thaw.

I move off the ledge and moments later I am standing on the steel points of my crampons, the front tips balanced on rock edges. My right hand grasps the rubber-coated shaft of an ice hammer to clean pitons out of cracks. My left hand holds an ice axe. For a short time I feel weightless. I have felt this paradox of connection when climbing rock with bare hands. I feel the most connected the moment I minimize contact with the Earth.

This time my support is crampons and the naked steel of my ice tools. The cold makes everything more vivid, more perfect.

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The bright yellow and electric blue ice hammer in my hand, with its square-edged teeth purposefully cut into a cast steel pick, is a tool made for the modern alpinist. An alpinist, I already know, is a climber of mountains by difficult routes, by technical routes: real climbing to summits like this one. I reach above me and place the sharp steel tip of the axe in the limestone crack. I wiggle it in, teasing it deeper.

As I start to pull on the tool it shifts and my heart races. I test it again by jerking my body down on my outstretched arm, tugging to feel whether it is set. As I step up onto a small ledge, the euphoria quickly dissipates into the chilled air. My crampon slips. My arms catch and keep me from falling onto the rope.

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Regaining my balance, I stand, teetering on two small rock edges a dozen feet above the belay stance. The rush is forgotten. I have to concentrate. This pitch is graded as a V — a 5. I touch the rock with my gloved hand, the holds are small, but there is no crack here in which to place my ice tool. I drop my tools so they hang from their wrist-loops. My fingers wrap onto a rough-hewn edge in the limestone. I press the wool under my fingers, feeling the fabric compress into the edge as I start to climb.

I concentrate, remembering back to the tiny practice cliff near Maribor, toproping in the sun with Ljubo. I look down at the pink front points of my new crampons. I find the places where the snow has settled, almost invisible horizontal spaces in this near-vertical landscape. Carefully, I put the tips of my crampon points on two. I stabilize my boots, hold my breath, and push into my toes. Slow and tenuous; I grunt and stand erect. Gasping I regain my breath in ragged gulps of frozen air. I look up and spy a new crack.

I pull up my tool and find the crack is just within reach. The pick of my ice hammer fits perfectly. I smile to myself and climb upwards. Two hours later we reach the top of the wall. Now we go down. I gather my duffel and approach the wandering eye of a slouching, dark-skinned border guard. The guard shuffles the pages of my passport, stopping to examine the holograph embedded in the photo page.

Without a glance at the yearlong visa on page three, he stamps it, pushes it back to me and waves me through. Tito has been dead eight years and the first cracks in his country are showing themselves in the international news. When I enter the arrivals hall a thin man with a light complexion and a dark, coarse swath of hair crosses the chipped tile floor towards me. His dark pressed slacks and ironed light blue oxford shirt contrast with the heavy, ill-fitting wool suits worn by almost everyone else.

I stop, dropping my bag on the floor. A teenaged boy, wide glasses dominating his face and belted trousers pulled high, follows behind. This is my son. Three hours later the clattering Volkswagen diesel turns off the narrow highway and winds between potholes and the old town walls of Maribor, in the state of Slovenia. As we drive across the languid Drava River, I roll down my window to catch a fresh scent off the water.

Instead I am met by a soon-to-be-familiar ammonia odor, the heavy smell of industry. I am relieved as we pull up to one of the more spacious homes, driving through a wide gate and into the yard of a two-story stucco house. The front door opens as we get out. Stepping forward she puts out her hand limply, fingers angled towards the ground. She wears a large flowered apron over a dark gray pants suit. Wearing a dark jumper, she has the same radiant face and beautiful skin as her mother, her large dark eyes shine with intelligence. Franci changes into slippers.

I freeze and look around. All four of them are staring at me. Take this, is for you. My feet slip on the wooden stairs as I follow Franci to a large bedroom facing the busy street. Unsure of what to do, I unzip my bag and begin to stack my belongings across a shelf at the end of a narrow bed: three pairs of Levis, seven T-shirts, a few undergarments, and four jumbo jars of peanut butter.

He speaks better English than anyone in the family, having traveled to Australia twice where he earned more as a gray-market laborer than he makes as a chemical engineer in Slovenia. This is science and English track. I think you are good in science. He turns back to his plate of pocket-sized fried cabbage rolls. Nervously, I shadow Jure through crowded streets bursting with diesel fumes and honking mini cars that swerve and turn with complete disregard for lanes. I wear Levis and Nikes, and a gray Patagonia fleece jacket, patched at the elbows. I am surprised that he thinks I am a cowboy.

In the summer sometimes I worked on a ranch, and nobody really cared what jeans you had. So, do you have a gun? Six bullets inside it. No, no. They belong to a family. One old Parker shotgun we have was years old before I was born. Guns are passed on and cherished. But guns, I have been taught, are tools, not props. I had always thought these Hollywood stereotypes of Americans were over stated. In town. I have ridden a few times.

I have a motorcycle though. And we rode four-wheelers on the ranch. Class time is very serious and during the lessons the students are strictly attentive. Bored, I write a couple of letters and absentmindedly gaze out a large wall of dirty windows.

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Next to the school a construction pit yawns. Bulldozers push dirt, cranes lower bundles of steel to a clutch of waiting men. Trucks idle on the perimeter. Tearing a page from my notebook, I sketch the scene and pass it to Jure who sits next to me. Startled, he looks up, looks at my picture, and passes it back. Taking back the drawing I scribe a line to the lawn beside the construction pit. Then I draw lines to all the objects in my sketch and push the paper back across the desk. Soon I have a list of words: man, truck, hat, crane, fence, rock, wheel, wall, driver, and pencil.

Two verbs: to dig and to write. I make a list; 10 nouns and two conjugated verbs. On the bike ride home I practice reciting my new knowledge to Jure. My first Saturday I take off on the bike to explore. I pedal down the back alleyways that lead into a huge war cemetery and exit near a series of hulking square, gray apartment buildings. Children play outside on a steel swing-set in the center of a broad, dead lawn.

Across the busy bridge the new frontage street is lined with promising new buildings with empty plate-glass windows. I bike past a crowded bus depot and through a long. The trees show the fatigue of late summer as I climb the narrow road leading up, out of town, and into the countryside. The concrete road becomes more and more broken, and the houses more spaced apart and less well kept.

I start to sweat and as the oppression I feel builds, I pedal harder.

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Past the last house the road narrows to one lane and passes fields of drying cornstalks and bare patches that just last week held cabbage. On the hills I strain to pedal the squeaking bicycle. I do not find the untouched wilderness I grew up with so near to my Oregon home. The deer, elk, beaver, bobcat, foxes, hares, trout, and fall-run salmon are not to be seen. No pine-scented breeze lifting the limbs of the forest. I see nothing like the cattle ranches I worked during my summers. Even here the acrid city odor hangs over me and the leaves sag under a strange coating of grime.

I feel sad. I had been admitted to a good college, had respectable savings, and a fast Yamaha motorbike. I exchanged that for a vague fantasy of adventure. Writing in my journal I examine my new situation. The sharp edge of political rhetoric reverberates across the language barrier. In such an environment there can be no funnel for ambition. Only waiting for better times. A month later I roll out of bed and drop my feet to the floor. I pull on some dirty jeans and let out a great sigh. Barefoot, I enter the kitchen late; Jure and Natasha are finishing their fried egg breakfast.

Five minutes later Ani delivers a liter pot of strong chamomile tea. I had noticed the chamomile flowers ringing the garden. In the evening I am invited back into the kitchen. When everyone else has cleared out after dinner, Ani looks up from her cleaning, sets the oversize wooden spoon down and gently turns to me. I am unsure if I should be grateful for her sudden attention. The students only have time to study. There are no athletics. The next day I follow Franci and Ani into the basement and down a dark, low-ceilinged hallway toward the furthest corner of the Maribor Mechanical School.

We turn a corner, step over a stone threshold, and duck into a brightly lit room. Inside I see quarried stone walls and an uneven terracotta floor. Twenty people, mostly young men, twist on the benches, halting their meeting to see who has barged in. A blonde man with hair feathered back hunches at the desk with large hands crossed in front of him. After a short conversation in fast Slovene his blue eyes — so uncommon here — look straight at me.

He puts out his hand, and addresses me in English. Welcome to Mountaineering Club Kozjak. You climbing before? Afterwards we go on one beer and we make plan for climbing. You have bus pass to go home? I had toproped many rock climbs and led easy multipitch climbs at Smith Rock in Oregon.

More directed. Definitely more purposeful than the school-of-hard-knocks lessons a teenager with a climbing rope and a rack of hexes learns on his own. After allowing me to scamper up, eager to show off my skill, he lowers me back down. Now slowly and be sure. The school of Slovenian alpinism. I squeeze my eyes shut. Thinking about tomorrow makes my head spin in the confines of the small bivy hut.

I mentally go through my gear, food, and water. I have little: a sandwich, a green apple, a liter of sweetened tea, and a sweater. Everything else I will wear for our predawn start, now a scant three hours away. A moment later, a boot steps down onto my bunk and dismounts onto the worn wooden floor. I sit up sharply, suddenly aware that I had been in a. A spark ignites under a kettle. Groggily I sit up and stuff my feet into plastic boots and fold the hut blankets. A few gulps of warm and sweet tea and the four of us — Branko, Zdenko, Mira, and I — step into the darkness.

For a brief moment before Mira illuminates the icy trail with her headlamp, I see that half the hemisphere before us is black: the dark, looming mass of an alpine north face. Looking above it and behind us, a canopy of stars pierce the cold sky. After a short walk we stop and the broad, mustachioed Branko flakes out the climbing rope that he has carried coiled over his shoulder.

I join him on a broad ledge coated with frozen gravel. As he starts climbing his crampons scrape and then spark. Already the lanky and quiet Zdenko and the short, round-faced Mira, a piston of energy and determination, have moved well past us. I am slowed only by the occasional blank slab or broken crust of ice.

At the top of a steep crack I find Mira smiling as she belays. Branko chatters something about the route and pulls off his sweater. Above us I hear the thud of a heavy soft iron piton finding its way home. Zdenko suddenly shouts; I look up to see an ice axe flying towards me, bouncing off the wall and sailing past out into the abyss thousands of feet below. He unleashes the now-familiar curses as he turns back to the wall and starts off again.

The pitches of climbing end with hasty monosyllabic shouts from Branko. Each pitch leads to another. The day is short, and in the darkening evening I switch on my headlamp. I lead off — finally I am allowed to lead! I tail Mira as closely as I can, clipping my rope into the many fixed pitons that mark the route. I brace myself behind a boulder and belay Branko up.

How can we climb all night? I finish with the rope and start off after them, trying to tie the finishing knot on the coil as I run and stumble across the scree-covered shoulder of the mountain. I catch up with Branko just as another light appears and we start downhill to a large, well-lit hut. Outside the door we take off our crampons and I follow the three of them through the front door. Here in a small entry room, Branko searches through a huge bin of mismatched and threadbare slippers and hands me a pair. I slip my tired feet into them, placing my boots on a shelf among dozens of other boots, and step into a crowded room that has the look and feel of a tavern back in the valley.

The place is heavy with split-log benches, sturdy, worn tables. A few people look up at us from plates of. As we sit I begin to understand. This was probably explained to me, but I did not understand. Branko, Mira, and Zdenko approach the counter where bills are exchanged for bowls of soup, plates of mashed potatoes dashed with meat and gravy. They each return to the table balancing a tray and a glass of beer. The hut master unbuttons the front of his blue smock and leans against the counter.

He seems quite amused at having an American doing his dirty dishes. I stand at the sink and pick up a large pot. The hut master laughs again, folding his large hands in on himself and twisting with his own hysterical joke. He steps away and I start to fill the pot with water, searching for detergent. The hut keeper walks over to me, holding a full mug of beer.

I wipe my wet hands on my pants, thanking him for the beer, and take a long drink. I set the glass on a high shelf and survey the pile of plates before me. One holds a half-finished meal of sausage and sauerkraut. This time, I laugh myself as I pick up the plate and start to eat the abandoned food to the cheers of the hut master. Once behind them, I lose the benefit of group momentum and my footfalls drag ever slower.

I see the endless loose brown dirt and. I draw deeply of the thinning air and often pause under the labor of doing so. I am tired; not tired like I have no strength remaining, but tired like I have no will left. My mind drifts to all those pounding circuits on my bike out Steamboat Island Road, leaving campus just as the rain had started to pour down. I plod on, resigned to my weakness. The afternoon sun drops behind the mountain, and my doubts start to boil over when suddenly I see the others.

I slurp down a few cold ramen noodles and drink the salty broth, but refuse the tinned mystery-meat Robi passes me. Robi and Tomi stand to help him. Marija starts unrolling the tent. I lean forward, press my palms against my knees to get up. Slowly, I assemble the tent poles. At I crawl in and fall asleep. I wake panicked. I have to get outside to vomit.

Summoning all my will, I sit up. As I do, my head screams like a locomotive blasting its whistle. I flop back down, panting. I push my toes into my boot shells and stand up. Outside I teeter on the end of the small platform before taking a step down into the loose gravelly slope. Two steps down, I slip but catch myself, and then I throw up in the pallid pool of light cast by my headlamp.

With relief, my willpower waxes stronger; I crawl back through the blackness and back into the safety of my sleeping bag. Lying down I feel heavy and very tired. My head hurts terribly. I am very nauseous. I start to drift away as the night melts into a field of tall green grass coming up knee-high all around me. Then Anne, my girlfriend, is walking towards me.

She has a picnic basket. She kneels down next to me and opens it. Talking to me, she begins to unwrap a large sandwich. I bolt upright and pull down the tent door with a single sweep of my arm. The liquid splashes off of the rocks and onto my hand. I collapse onto my elbow and am wracked by more powerful convulsions. I mutter an apology to Robi and Tomi who now have their lights on me and are sitting up. They talk hurriedly as I lie motionless in the doorway.

Robi says something to me about tablets. I drag my body out of the tent, wearing only long underwear. A few feet away I lie with my head uphill in the rocks in a loose fetal position. The painful contractions return again and again. I shiver alone on the rocks, sticky with my own fluids. Robi coaxes a foam pad under me, and blankets me with my sleeping bag. He offers me water; I sit up on my elbow and take a shallow sip. The convulsions immediately rumble low in my bowel before they mercilessly ram into my body, rolling over me again and again.

I lie in the rocks, drifting in and out of consciousness, in and out of hallucinations. Anne is a part of many of them, as is base camp, and fields of green grass. Robi returns to squat next to me, wearing unlaced boots and a down coat. I sit up; Robi puts his hand under my arm and gently pulls me back to the tent. After a very, very long time, the sun strikes the tent. Good, I think, as I squint into the rays streaming around the mountain.

I can go down now. Tomi and Robi rise and exit the tent. I lie there, berating myself to get up, get my pack, and stuff my sleeping bag. The heat in the tent becomes unbearable. Marija, fully dressed for climbing, brings a pot with water. I am so thirsty. I sit up, take a sip, and seconds later throw up again. Wasted, I collapse back into the tent, even more exhausted. Tomi approaches with my rucksack, hands it to me, and starts to dismantle the tent with me still in it. I lay out my sleeping bag where the tent had been and doze in the sun. A few short hours later they return.

I push my unstuffed sleeping bag into my empty pack and start down, my mind avoiding the discomfort as I slowly make my way back to base camp, where I sleep for two days. The self-pity helps me sleep. The summit looks so far, far away. The whole day we walked to base camp I tried not to think about it. In the long silences between avalanches I wonder whether my unknown interior contains bravery or cowardice, strength or weakness.

With a rock for a pillow I stretch out and gaze at Nanga Parbat: the ice suspended thousands of feet above base camp blushes gray as the. The clouds are lifting on the first thermals of the day, unveiling buttresses of dark stone. Skyscraper seracs show iridescent blue ice where they have calved off, cleansing the wall at random moments. When they go big they deposit iron-hard boulders of turquoise ice on the flat goat-shorn meadow. Our expedition was organized from the Mountaineering Club Kozjak in Maribor by the fresh-faced engineering professor, Tone Golnar.

During the spring of he traveled across Slovenia canvassing the alpine clubs for willing expedition members. When I saw them I knew I must go. This moment would begin a year obsession with the Rupal Face. This was the opportunity I craved: my chance to step into the pages of history, to climb in the big mountains. I saw those photographs one week before I returned home to Oregon from my year abroad. I wrote Tone a letter expressing my interest in the expedition; to increase my chances of being accepted I lied, claiming to be 20 instead of 18 years of age. Since then, a new influence has emerged.

Marija Frantar vibrates with the confidence of a driven woman. As a vegetarian among omnivores she lives on fried potatoes and dandelion salad. She is quick to smile, and often blushes at a joke.

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She is one of the most experienced among us,. She has convinced Tone to abandon his pie-in-the-sky scheme of climbing the Rupal Face in favor of the less technical Schell route, the easiest route to the summit of Nanga Parbat from this side of the mountain. To do this we will divide into teams of five or six.

Who wants to be on the first team? Tomi, Robi and Silvo. I am the youngest, the least experienced. A few people protest, but this time it is lanky Marija who speaks up, her square-shorn hair accentuates her gaunt, hollow-cheeked, uber-fit look. It is early in the season. We all will have an opportunity to work. The top third of the mountain is shrouded in a singular cloudbank and a thin pane of cirrus cloud fans out across the southwestern sky.

I slip my assigned tent into my backpack and head across the green pasture that cradles base camp. After three hours we arrive at what the last expedition, a group of Koreans, had used as their advanced base camp. A bit of water dribbles through the nearby boulders. The small flat area against the wall is stacked full of rubbish: plastic and foil wrappers, empty fuel canisters, most of it with an Asian script. As we ascend higher and higher I feel weaker and slower.

We set up Camp 1 on a barren rock field, and a few hours later I have my first experience with altitude sickness. It was a very harsh 48 hours. Watching them on the fourth morning after my bout with altitude sickness, I feel the desire to climb creeping back. I talk to Tone and we decide to work me back into the rotation. The next morning I am awakened by the sound of rain on the tent.

I am relieved. Seconds later I reproach myself for this feeling. I am anxious about what will happen my next trip up, frightened that I will get altitude illness again. Heavy clouds sag across the mountains like a wet dishrag. Somehow the fresh and cool morning brings honesty and rawness. I gladly fall in behind him, matching his pace, step for step, foot for foot. The familiar brown scree rolls by. My rucksack feels light. Hundreds of tiny wild-flowers pierce the brown dirt. The warmth of the sun on the tent relaxes me.

The tent door frames clouds drifting gently past my view. It has warmed enough that the dripping sound of melting snow has changed to the hollow gurgle of water percolating down through the boulders where a few days ago I knelt, sick and weakened. At midnight we wake. Standing, he shuts off the stove and hands me a thermos of tea.

Pulling on my boots, I step into the lacquered darkness of a moonless night. I fall in behind, steadying my breathing as we work upwards, each slow step feels awkward until finally, we slip into a pattern. One crampon at a time bites the frozen snow. Step up, swing the other leg around and up, drop it just a bit higher.

It is good to feel the crunch of the snow under the machine-like efficiency of my crampons. I lift the axe in my uphill hand, then plunge it back down, the tip striking the snow with a hollow twang. On reaching the crest above camp we follow a faintly scuffed path toward the base of a rock tower, inked even blacker in silhouette against the sky.

There, at the base, a piton is fixed with a carabiner which in turn holds a knotted white rope; the fixed line that will safeguard our passage across the most difficult sections of the climb. Taking advantage of the wisdom that we should never climb on the same section of rope at the same time, I remove my pack and sip some hot tea from my thermos. The couloir passes under my crampons without event, and the route crosses onto another rib of icy rock.

The monotony of climbing starts to weigh on me as section after section passes. I move along the rope, every step secured by the fixed line. I soon. We unload our supplies into the empty tents. As I finish unpacking my load I catch a short, hoarse yodel on the wind. I hoot in reply and put on my parka to wait for my friends.

I had not expected conditions to be so warm. This was my first time using fixed lines; the experience was not a positive one. It will be too dangerous to cross the couloir in a few hours. We will finish here and follow behind you. Go before it gets too warm. I understand.

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I strip off my own parka. I clip in with my locking carabiner and start down after him. I work harder to keep up, transitioning from one rappel to the next as fast as I can. When I almost catch up, he is across the final couloir and working down the slope above Camp 1. At the start of the traverse I pause and look up the couloir to see if any stones are falling towards me. I hold my breath to listen. A rush of wind lifts a cloud over the ridge crest revealing a sudden view of the peaks on the horizon.

No other sound but the wind. I look down at my feet and start across. Once on the other side, I pause to catch my breath. It has taken us three hours to descend from Camp 2. From Camp 1 it is a simple hike down 5, feet of loose scree to base camp: a bitch to go up, but quick to descend.

I turn and spy two dots of color a few hundred feet above. Five minutes later I step down and drop my pack near the biggest tent at Camp 1. He already has his few things out of the tent and is packing to go to base camp. I spin around in time to see a barrage of loose stones fall past Robi. The sound is deafening as the rock fall passes 40 feet to the right of camp. Above us Tone is yelling. Robi is not moving. I shoulder my pack and trip over the guy-lines to the tent in my haste.

Raggedly I breathe and scramble upwards toward Robi and Tone. Faster and faster, until I have to stop, gasping for breath, lungs burning. I look up. Both Tone and Robi are in the middle of the snow couloir now. And both are moving off to the side toward us. Robi is okay, I think. Leaning heavily against Tone, Robi walks towards me. Tone catches Robi before he topples over. I turn around to retrace the hundred feet back to Camp 1.

Two days later a pair of small black dots noisily beat the sky as they make their cautious descent across the rock-strewn glacier and circle above our barren little meadow. A few moments later the first Pakistani Army helicopter dips towards our camp and lands a few hundred feet away. The second one lands a few hundred feet further down valley. The pilot waves us forward. Robi grasps his injured arm in its sling, and in a slouch, he jogs towards the waiting chopper. With a deafening rattle he is gone.

No good-bye. No chance for. Robi is lifted into the bosom of civilization and is on his way to a hospital in Islamabad where his arm will be X-rayed, the cracked bones set and cast. Robi was one of our strongest climbers, and the mood of the expedition shifts down from one of youthful exuberance to measured stoicism. On the third trip we try to carry two sleeping bags to Camp 3 but are turned back by our slow progress in the recent heavy snows. Speak up. The weather seems fine, so Marija and I will start for the summit tomorrow.

How can that happen so fast, I think. You have everything? I think. How did my rope get up there? But I know, it was the best one, the only new one, and part of the expedition gear. I just wish I was up there, using it. Lucky trails. Tomorrow we will call. The next day the expedition is quiet. No one goes up on the mountain.

In camp we all rest: reading in the tents, playing nervous games of cards, scanning the skies for approaching storms. They are supposed to call. I am worried. It is again after the time they should call. This is not good. He has access to army communications and there is an army camp just down valley. In our imaginings this is certainly possible. I am shaken from my sleep by visions of the bivouacked pair, thousands of feet above me, cold and freezing, while I lie here comfortably warm.

Within seconds Tone is outside the tent and is quickly surrounded by the rest of the expedition, standing tiptoe on the dewy ground, half-dressed, and clamoring to hear the radio. How are you? Tell us everything! All is okay. On 31 July at five in afternoon we reached the summit. We are both tired. Both okay. Marija has little frostbite on her fingers, but it is fine.

We are at Camp Three now. We come down to base camp today if possible. Tone looks like he might cry. Everyone is talking in fast breathless sentences. I run over to the trekkers, reclaim my letter, and quickly scrawl the good news on the outside of the envelope. A few members have. I watch the small, tight pack of climbers move down the valley toward base camp. At dinner we all excitedly fire questions at them: How were the conditions? Where did you bivouac? What took so much time? Why could they not call for five days?

What did the summit look like? At breakfast the next morning the conversation has shifted. Who is going up next? Only to clean the camps. Finally, Tone stands up to assert his voice, jabbing the air to make his points. It is too difficult. Too dangerous. This expedition is finished. Of the 20, we were the only ones willing to come and clean out the camp and bring the tents down. I glance up, our fixed lines stretch off, we do not have the time or the willing manpower to clean those ropes off the mountain.

I turn and plunge down the loose dirt and scree below me. Leaving the ropes fixed is inexcusable littering. My disappointment in my teammates propels me all the way to base camp. Three weeks later I perch on a large white granite boulder peering up the Batura Glacier valley. When the expedition dissolved I wanted to see more of this country, while the others elected to return to Islamabad for an early flight home. I pick up my journal, shifting uncomfortably on the rock. As far I as I can see there are unclimbed mountains of striking danger and uncommon beauty.

I have been shown how much I did not know. Becoming an alpinist, an alpinist who can reach these summits, including Nanga Parbat. That is what I want to become. I put the pen back to the paper. I suppose I need to get more experience. I know that I need to improve my own climbing. And organize my own climbs. I need to get good enough not to need fixed ropes. What a disaster fixed ropes and camps are! I have to find a way to surround myself with good climbers. Good partners will make me a better climber.

If I could climb the Rupal Face some day, that would be the ultimate. Near the summit they called base camp to say they were lost. Their bodies were found at 24, feet. Disoriented and exhausted, they had fallen to their deaths. Spoken, they sound painfully true. I sit down and reread the letter, then refold it and replace it in its envelope. Holding the envelope gently, I stare at the floor. In my mind I see Kanchenjunga, the mountain.

I stand and tuck the envelope into the top of my backpack. I can see her doing that.

  • Site Index.
  • Stony Creek Cowboy [Stony Creek] (Siren Publishing Classic);
  • Mountain of Courage [Mountain 3] (Siren Publishing Classic);
  • Our Little German Cousin.
  • Yacht Charter Worldwide - Part One - Introduction to the world of yacht charter.

That would be fun to hear about. The door to the red van is drawn open, throwing sunlight across thin vinyl seats bolted school-bus style to a bruised metal floor. I sit quietly in the back, an exhausted youth struggling between testosterone-surges of arrogance and powerful doses of mountaininduced humility. Matt has drawn a tense breath. Tears well up in her eyes. Mugs is gone. His Cassin Ridge solo eventually would inspire my own Alaskan climbs. He fell into a crevasse while guiding Denali.

He walked up to the crevasse edge to make a routine route-finding decision. His clients were unable to extract him. Matt goes to her, both needing and providing comfort. Uncomfortable, I slip out unnoticed. Not like that. We just found out. I had just seen Julie earlier this week. I only know that they fell down the Aemmer Couloir on Mount Temple. The climbing stories I read as a youth had been full of avalanches, rock fall, crevasses, storms, exhaustion, and extreme altitude. Men — for they were mostly men — succeeding, but also failing and dying.

Lean in! Dan is turned towards me and I. Behind Dan, Caroll faces straight in, his nose to the ice, his hands gripping the ice screws at our belay stance. I smash my body into the ice, and I lift my head in time to see the rock spinning assuredly, fatefully towards Caroll. Caroll senses it, I think, because just then he looks up. I see the rock, but there is no time to feel anything. It is roughly the size and shape of a small microwave oven.