"The Grindelwald Tour Guide" by German Power, April 2012
Disclaimer: All characters presented here are product of fiction. Any resemblances to real characters are of a pure coincidence. No intention was made to insult anyone for any reason.
AN: This story is an act of fiction. No one should attempt to act in the same manner as described.
Summary: The largest natural avalanches occur in the Himalayas but no one has accurately measured them. Avalanches are landslide of ice and snow. Compared to mythical German monsters that flies without wings, sees without eyes and strikes without hands, they can reach speeds of 200mph.
The Grindelwald Tour Guide
After camerman signalled to Alan Arnette that the camera was already filming, he began with his interview of David Cupp.
"You were attempting all 7 summits during your … rather exhaustive history of climbing, correct?"
"That's right." David grinned at the camera in secret.
"You started climbing rather late in life at 38. How difficult was it for you to get fit and how do you stay climbing-ready today?"
"I had always tried to stay in decent shape but with a job that had me on the road three days a week and crossing continents it was tough, and I mean …", his wife Liz grinned from the back at him, "… very tough. I was your basic weekend warrior, climbing whenever I could." Alan stirred in his seat, letting David continue. "The funny thing is that I excelled at cross-country and track in high school but stopped cold once I started working and never really exercised diligently until I started climbing around age 38."
"How about your life motto and other duties? Do they keep you out or, perhaps focused on your hobby?"
"Well … once I started climbing, running and climbing became my focus. While on the road I would work out in hotel gyms on the weights then run the hotel stairs late at night …", Liz smiled at him, "… I was always afraid I would get arrested!" Alan tilted his back laughing and David accepted it carefully, Waiting for Alan to cease with his theatrical ceremony. "Today my basic routine is climbing …", he grinned at Liz's "What else?" facial expression, "… and lot's of time on the elliptical machine since my knees will not let me do the long runs anymore."
"Now about your Edelweiss ghastly experience …"
"Huh. You got me!" He smiled and crevices due to the combined efforts of sun and heat and cold and wind showed up on his weathered face. "It was a deemed a symbol of bravery as it was often very treacherous to climb up the mountain to retrieve one and many lost their lives in doing so."
Alan turned towards the camera now.
"Just to explain to our viewers. David had an accident in the mountains. His arms and legs hammered the snow on the 40-to-50-degree slopes at the beginning of the Heinzmeir Route, the classic, ambling line set in 1938 during the first ascent of the north face, by a German-Austrian team. Mr. Cupp had never felt so dialed as he did on that February day in 2008. His five-foot-eight frame was wiry with muscle. He'd practiced climbing steep cliffs using only the thinnest of holds, with no rope or partner to catch a mistake. His gear was minimal and precise …", someone dropped a metal object to the floor somewhere behind cameras, "… an ice screw, four carabiners, a quickdraw, and a hundred feet of cord, which he could use to rappel down if things really got grim."
"Well … it's partially correct but …" Alan just smiled at David, continuing as if wishing to twist the truth behind it.
"Mr. Cupp had waited for a storm to fill in the footsteps and coat the face with new ice, and this time he would free-solo the whole route with only axes and crampons to keep himself pinned to the wall." Alan cleared his throat and excused to the viewers. "He had hired a coach and physical therapist from Switzerland's top Olympic facility to create a fitness program designed to get him up big Alpine faces as quickly as possible. The training went far beyond what most mountaineers are willing to endure … some …", he stared at David, "… 1,200 hours of murderous workouts a year." David made an affirmative nod. "How could he not be faster this time?" Alan smiled briefly at David, making a stance.
"Now I will go into the details." Alan checked on David and then smiled at the camera again. "Mr. Cupp spent 20 minutes at the summit, but shortly after he began his descent he was struck by a severe form of high altitude sickness, cerebral edema …", David smiled and even frowned a bit, remembering the ordeal so well, "… a swelling of the brain that induces crippling lethargy, hallucinations and other symptoms." Alan paused, letting David made couple of affirmative nods. It looked as if someone had a gun pointed at David for a moment. "Maddened, by his account though …", David grinned at Alan, nodding faster now, "… he turned and tried to re-climb the summit, but the sherpas who had accompanied him tied him and began wrestling him down the mountain." David shook his head in disbelief, grinning at the whole picture. "After two hours, Mr. Cupp was showing no signs of life, and the exhausted sherpas, in touch by radio with the expedition leader, were told to save themselves." Alan paused, looking at David. "So … what exactly kept you alive … not letting you simply lie down and, well … sleep?"
"It was a picture of my beloved wife, Liz." Liz could not hold her tears any longer and rushed to embrace David in front of the cameras that were still rolling. An applause followed as they were kissing and hugging each other almost as if David just returned from the Himalayas.