Adventure Fiction Sad

Rock and/or Roll

There goes another chunk. Dropping straight down into the ravine like the last Sherpa that I lost two days ago. Glancing was all the distraction that I could afford. Gotta keep going. Pre-wind chill temperature is dropping again like that chunk of this mountain. The upteenth wave of snow hit me face first now. Great. Just great. But it’s like Jack Grant says, keep pushing. Keep pushing. 

You fool, my dad and mom, brothers and more of my doubting family kept saying to me while I was putting the final touches on planning this expedition. Travel expenses, hiring Sherpas, mules, buying all of the equipment, training to get into shape. I’d been sick for months before this and saw Jack’s videos first on Insta, then The Tube and subscribed to his fundraiser. I’m unashamed to say it. He became my guru. One that I never met to bow at his feet, shake his hand until either of our wrists broke, but still somebody that showed me I could be better than some sick, out of shape legal aide. He never asked for any more money than the more or less $10 a month to access his videos. He never pushed me to sell what few valuable material stuff I had to buy everything needed, plane tickets and so on.

I did this.


My phone kept blowing up with texts, instant messages from the well-meaning doubters that were “looking out” for me. Ranging from “Are you completely insane?!?!” to “Fine. Die frozen and unable to be found somewhere in timbuktu. Don’t come crying to me.” or just sobbing, unable to form words to beg me not to do this. Jack said not to expect support from the doubters outside of yourself. Just support yourself. Be your true support person.

I had to do something. I knew that after my doctor released my medical leave, I would go back to my job that bored me to tears. I felt the passion in Jack’s voice. His background as a climber and adventurer inspired me. I reached out to other adventurers, men who had sought out the greatest, highest highs, the thrills that sickly wanna-bes like I was only read about or saw on Insta posts.

Now, , I’m not blind or stupid. I know that I’m taking a huge risk. After that bacterial infection that left me bedridden for weeks, nearly killing me, doing something like this would make things worse. So my mother, my father and the first doctor that I consulted said. I started out with walks around the neighborhood. In the summer….then even with snow and ice on the ground…venturing out in the cold. I had a resurgence of a cold virus, but it didn’t last long with my change in diet. No burgers, fries and shakes every night after work. More veggies, more protein, and joining a gym were top priority. 

Speaking of risk, the ledge that I started out walking on, then shuffling sideways on since it became narrower and narrower until it became the half the size of my boot became even slimmer. Now another chunk of it came down. Smaller this time. And almost took me with it. The snow continued to hammer me. There, teasing me like the peak of this mountain in my dreams….a larger crevice to creep along on…ahead of me. Guessing about 10 feet ahead. Hard to tell with the snow flakes getting bigger, heavier and the wind carrying them getting stronger. The pass will be buried soon. And so will I unless I do something quick. 

I backed up a few steps. Close to where I knew the l larger chunk fell off. Wrestling this oversized monkey on my back known as the Life-Saving Pack on a ledge half the size of my boots, I found the rope and grappling hook and started swinging it, doing my best not to think of the sheer drop that waited for me below. 1. 2. 3……swing! Got it! Barely attached to a crevice ahead of me! Let’s see if all that time climbing rope in high school and in the gym before I got here will pay off. Maybe I could get a job as a movie stuntman after the flag is planted and I come back down, hear mom and dad’s and my doctors’ apologies for doubting me.

I jumped….swinging…hearing the creak of the hook moving in the crevice. C’mon, c’mon, c’mon. Got it! The heel of my boot grabbed the crooked ledge and I pulled myself up by my thick gloved hands to a standing position on that more solid ledge. Looking back quickly to make sure I left nothing behind, even though if I did…too bad, all good. Everything I owned that I had left in this venture is in my pack. Unhooking the grappler and winding up the hook, I walked far enough to see how blessed I am to find a larger space with an overhang of rock with no snow and shielded from the wind. Camp time. Jack was right again. Overcome adversity and find hidden blessings, but you have to overcome the hardships first. I did, Jack. I certainly did. First the illness, then the plan, then the critical, judging people, my own doubts, my sweat and suffering to recover.

This mountain wasn’t Everest. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I tried, but due to politics changes and expense, I couldn’t afford an Everest outing. I chose a neighboring mountain though. Cho Oyu. Officially, the sixth highest mountain in the world. Works for me. I can at least get a good view of Everest from the summit.

After getting the tent set up, the heater and generator going, I began writing in my trip log, getting it up to date. Since I’m a solitary climber now, I’ve had more work to do.

Let’s see, I can’t forget the close encounter with the snow leopards that circled camp one. I had to pat myself on the back for remembering to bring guns. My critics, known as my family and friends, asked me “What are you going to shoot? Abominable snowmen?” Maybe. You don’t know. You aren’t the ones telling your boss to shove it when asking for 6 weeks off work. You aren’t the ones willing and now able to get into good enough shape to take a huge risk like this. The leopards…..I didn’t see them approaching me until I saw what looked like a snow mound move less than 10 feet in front of me. The snow mound opened its eyes and jumped at me. Again….thanks to quick reflexes, I had the shotgun loaded, and swung it upward and….boom. One of the Sherpas offered to take it back to the settlement below us to have it skinned, treated and taken as a souvenir. That was before a second one leaped over me and attacked that same Sherpa. I felt the wind from that leap over my hooded head.

Overall, I have to say that I’m glad that I’m doing this. I haven’t been even remotely warm since I left the heated bus a week ago and I’m two thirds of the way up this big rock. I haven’t had any palatable food after the bowl of some kind of soup the natives ate here. Odd tasting meat, but filling. Still, I’m glad to do all of this. Feeling the air pressure around me, the rocks that could give way any second, lots of hiding places for more snow leopards, big mysterious creatures that were just rumors and nature show episodes, this has turned out to be a massive adventure. Far, far away from laying in bed all of those months ago, struggling to breathe. I’m still doing that now, but because of the thinning air and the intense effort to keep going. And going. And going.

Logged and noted. Breathing a sigh of relief, listening to the wind around this cave build up speed. I took a chance and zipped the opening down a little to see how much snow there was. Thankfully, there wasn’t much added. Just blowing around a lot. Glancing at the clouds remaining, the skies should be clear in the morning.

Once again, I nodded upwards in thanks. Like any adventurer, I know that there’s a greater power than me, but a huge portion of my luck is in my hands. 

There’s also the reason I’m now a solitary climber. The team partner that took off with a lot of my gear. If I didn’t catch him in the act and push that leopard killing gun in his face, showing him his options, I’d be with no food, water, rope, grappling hooks, extra clothes and so on. The Sherpas that remained after the cat attack left with him. 

I’m doing good by myself. Cracked a few ledges, may have lost a toe to frostbite…I don’t know yet…,discovered a magnificent cave of ice that probably hasn’t been seen by human eyes in centuries, saw some huge footprints belonging to….something, saw that something standing against the rising sun one morning and then running off. Found some dead predecessors. 

My food has lasted so far. I still have enough lamp oil to last me on the trip down. I’ll need to survive on dried rations for that trip as well.

I must be doing good as an adventurer. I’m planning my trip down from the summit. I reached down to one pocket of my double-lined coat and found the flag that I planned to stick in the rocky summit. “Climb all your mountains and come out laughing!” That Jack Grant saying embroidered on a red and gold background. Something to help that stand out more. I said that to myself as I worked out with my physical therapist, getting my legs back in shape. 

Next morning, after a hearty, nourishing breakfast of mostly damp dried eggs, bacon jerky and the mornings’ ration of water, I broke down camp, threw the weight on me and resumed my trek. The sun was out, but no warmth was felt. I checked the super-expensive watch that is supposed to keep me from dying for the temp. Why the hell does it keep going back to celsius? I paused my trudging for a few seconds to reset it for fahrenheit. Again. 

-12. Ah. Good. It’s warming up. I saw it got down to -45 overnight. My legs found their energy and I continued to leave tracks. More markers of my presence. I’ve heard of climbers that would listen to music while in open snowed-in areas like this. I prefer to hear my thoughts. Replaying the family’s and friend’s voices of criticism, threatening me with not coming to my funeral when they found my body. Fine by me, I thought as I turned toward the rising sun. I remembered to throw the dark goggles over my eyes before I’m snow blinded again. Once done, that sight is something to behold. 

Clear thick white blankets with a brighter sun reflecting off of its surface. The first time I got snow-blinded, I had to stop and sit until my vision showed shapes again. I felt of the thick snow and threw snowballs at imaginary targets, like when I was a kid, imagining them to be space torpedoes shot at enemies, being the hero.

Here, I feel more heroic than I’ve ever thought I would. I’m at the point now, I see the summit. Two weeks into this and here I am. I patted the pocket with the flag in it, and the camera charged as well. I knew not to leave it to warm, it needed to adapt to the cold so there would be no fog on the lens. 

After a few hours of burning thighs and feet, I hefted myself up to the summit. Panting, sweating in my thermal underwear and socks, I had to be careful so I didn’t get those frozen. But this was too amazing to pass up. Dad. Mom. Jason, my little brother. Ellen, who I could have sworn would have stayed at my side no matter what…I wish you all were here to join me, sitting here alongside me as I felt the noonday sun over me. Even with the bruises, scars on me and in me, I have never been happier in my entire life. I pulled out the mini bottle of champagne and popped the cork. The social media mountain climbers were right. The bottle didn’t explode on opening at this altitude. Blessings on blessings. I laughed as I poured a cup and toasted the sun over me.

It’s then that I realized that everybody that I blamed for not supporting me have been a great way for me to learn to be self-reliant. Another lesson from Jack Grant learned. I laughed at that too. I’m exhausted, sore in many places and hungry. But, I am a damned hero to myself. I have survived! When I go down the mountain….I will survive again!

Then the alarm went off.

“Mmmppphh… uuugughh…” Morning noises again. Gotta get up. Those transaction logs aren’t going to collate themselves and file themselves away before the firm partners complain they weren’t done fast enough.

I can’t lose this job. I can’t. Gotta run. Stupid dream keeping me asleep up the alarm instead of waking up earlier to get to work early and get more done to keep this job. I ran through everything, even brushing my teeth, breakfast, throwing coffee that didn’t finish brewing yet into a mug and running out the door, praying that I didn’t get chewed out again for not walking in the door before the firm partners did.

In my head, I recalled that stupid dream of climbing a mountain. Stupid. Too much money, time and besides, how would I explain that to dad and my bosses? That kind of nonsense doesn’t get the paychecks in the bank, does it? Dad is right. Dreaming is something to get over and done after you wake up. Those were just movies your head plays while you’re resting to get back to work the next day. Besides, if you lived right, you wouldn’t need as much rest, so you could get more done. That’s from a poster of motivational quotes that’s on my office wall. Good idea. Keep my eyes on the prize. Not on some nonsensical adventure. 

Walking down the slope to my car felt like a downhill adventure.

Stop that. Gotta focus. 

I slapped myself on the cheek. Get after it. Get that raise. Someday, I’ll get one. Someday, if I just keep proving myself. Maybe I’ll go after some silly nonsensical dream after I’m old and retired. If I don’t get fired from this job first.

The worn-out briefcase landed on the tattered copies of “Outdoors” and “Climb!” before Nate hopped in, still shaking from feeling like he slept in. One of the covers blurted out "The Journals of Jack Grant continues in this issue."

January 17, 2023 03:09

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Pamela Blair
19:07 Jan 26, 2023

A modern-day Walter Mitty, only dreams, not daydreams. As it progressed, I kept thinking, this can't be true, surviving so many nearly-impossible feats, and then the alarm went off. I loved the rugged, somewhat bitter, hyper-independent voice of the guy. I wanted him to quit his job and follow Jack Grant. (As a psychologist, I'd love to interpret the dream with him.) Nice job.


David Drake
20:43 Jan 26, 2023

Thank you for that! That's what I was going for with this story. Dreams unrealized and unacknowledged are a theme in my own life until recently. While I have no desire to mountain climb, I do respect and admire those that do.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Wendy Kaminski
05:13 Jan 18, 2023

Nice! I was kinda hoping the whole "Jack Grant" was a real thing, but I Google-failed. :( “Climb all your mountains and come out laughing!” was really well-incorporated into the final action of the story, great line! This was just a great read, and so inspiring, that I was sure it was creative non-fiction. Well-done!


David Drake
15:59 Jan 18, 2023

Thank you for that! Jack Grant is modeled after other self-help gurus, but I named him that to keep away from copyright issues. It's probably not likely to be a problem here, but....just in case. Lol.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.