We all huddled together next to the fire. We were okay for now, but once the flames went out, I wasn’t sure how much longer we could handle the cold. It had been five days…
Since we arrived at the cabin. A small group of us decided to come up to the mountains to go climbing; the gear was packed in the old rusty van and we trundled along the winding roads up the coast. As we got nearer the cabin the roadside fell away into steep drops, rocky peaks dusted with white and vast lakes that looked like pools of black.
Our arrival had been warmly met by our guide, the cabin was spacious and cosy with old sofas, tall armchairs, a wood burner fireplace, an old arga oven and pine furniture. Everything smelt of pine and beeswax. It was bliss to my senses. We settled into our bunks and unpacked, what we didn’t expect on our first night was a roaring avalanche, blocking out the windows and doors, almost covering the cabin’s roof, only the chimney stack gave any sign that a building was here. It had now been five days.
Food supplies were running low and wood for the fire seemed a luxury after the third day; we were now conserving everything. The snow was showing now signs of melting, there had been now signs of rescue either. We were trapped.
Cabin fever was starting to seep through the cracks for everyone. Being on top of each other 24 hours a day was beginning to grind. Arguments over the most trivial of things, but arguing took valuable energy and now were merely scowled at each other and the silence filled the empty space like a screaming siren.
On the eighth day a circle of light appeared to shine through the snow at the window near the roadside. Each one of us grabbed a metal pan and utensil and banged as loud as we could. Signs of life. A crunching sound was faint, like a shovel slicing through the snow at the window. After an hour of intermittent pot banging and waiting, a strand of grey steal broke through the snow, piercing the window and knocking the side of the frame. At last an end was in sight, a rescuer present, a conclusion to our arguments. The minutes felt like hours as we waited with baited breath until we were freed through a small snow tunnel from the window to the roadside.
Outside the sun was shining brightly, the lakes were crystal blue and dense and the peaks had their dusting of snow on their tops. It was beautifully warm against our bare faces. It almost felt like a version of paradise – freedom and liberty amongst nature.
Each one of us hugged each other, happy to reclaim some normality, all arguments forgiven and a sacred bond forever forged from the experience. We stabilised the tunnel with planks for belongings to be retrieved without fear of a collapse. A trip to the local diner was the next logical stop, to fill our bellies until they were swollen from nourishment. In the afternoon we began the climb up the mountain with our tents; four beautiful days camping, hiking and climbing lay ahead.