The Matterhorn Ice Runner


A soft incline, padded in fluffy snow, had hundreds of brown logs rising up in parallel. The bottom half of the trees were bare, creating a wide open space underneath the canopy of green pine branches laden with inches thick snow. In that space, there was a quiet of anything alive having left south or in deep hibernation. It felt like a giant huge breath was being taken in by the forest that took minutes. A tiny frozen patch fell off a tree. The crystals breaking sharply was brilliantly audible far and wide.

With long strides and puffing lungs, Cleo ran through the lone forest. Her ice running shoes had razor sharp blades at the bottom. The sound of the razors cutting the hardpack sounded like the sound of someone tearing a piece of paper. The left leg was a little dominant: KSH-ksh, KSH-ksh, KSH, ksh.

She was wearing tight black running tights that made her ass perfectly, bubbly round. She was a Miami Beach black girl. She was short, and everything about her was round. Her boobs were full cantaloupes that someone had stuffed into an underwire bra. Her kinky hair was combed into tight corn rows and lurked underneath her green hat. Her face was dark brown. It was the kind of dark where it seems completely devoid light and color – black. And then under the right light, a vibrant brown would shine like the sun piercing through the rain clouds after the rain. Her eyes were covered by oversized mirror fashion sunglasses that gave her an air of cool.

Her body heat and moisture was steaming through the capillaries of the skintight runner’s clothes. Even in the depth of Siberia a human body in motion can generate enough heat to stay warm. The trick is to avoid sweating, because water has a high heat transfer factor, and to never stop. She had been training for this many times. She was confident that she would get to her destination without stopping. Everyone was betting her. She had convinced the authorities to go on her crazy stunt.

The incline steepened and forced the winter trail to meander into every tighter switchbacks. Her powerful athlete heart switched from cruising to power, big heart contractions pumped the low Alpine oxygen into her powerhouse thighs. She unzipped the front of her top to bare black skin to the cutting cold air. It felt refreshing. It took the pressure off the rest of her body that was about to break out into a sweat. It would be two hours.

She thought about the housewives back home in Miami. There were the chubby wives, essentially fat stuffed into skin bags. There were the high class Latinas with skinny bodies, perfect tans, hard bodies from spinning, and no other life aspiration. There were the shy, gray mice that worked accounting jobs and dressed in GAP, dreaming about a boyfriend. All of them had given her a twenty her and a fifty there. The total sum was $13,839. They had sponsored her run to raise money for breast cancer awareness. It all gave the run a deeper meaning, a profound sense of mission. Cleo had trained for this. Everyone would want to hear a story from her and hear how their particular support had gotten Cleo up the hill.

With 28 years, she had always been a runner. She had always aimed to leave a mark. There was that feeling of sitting around friend for cupcakes, when they all talked about mundane lives, she asked herself silently: “What would be the most awesome and most fulfilling thing to do?” And as her friend was talking about going to the movies to watch a B-list movie, her mind had been racing about the idea of conquering Europe’s most dangerous mountain: The Matterhorn.

She had seen Sylvester Stallone’s movie Cliffhanger, not set in the Alps yet an equally alien ice world far above civilization. All that power of his big muscles moving through sheers walls had fascinated her. She wasn’t a climber. She was a runner with many marathons under her belt. So, she had decided to run to the highest hut, Solvay Hut. It’s the highest hut on the Matterhorn. It’s not even a staging area for climbers. It’s simply this emergency shelter for when things go wrong. A skeleton search and rescue team would wait for her there to make sure that she made it safely. While they hiked up with heavy gear, emergency utilities, and warm clothing, she had traded everything for lightness. That lightness should get her to Solvay Hut before she’d need water, warmth, or shelter.

An hours into the run, the trees started giving way to meadows and rock cropping. The altitude was too much for the trees to hang on. The view of the Swiss and Italian winter land appeared. Zermatt was far below. There are higher mountains than the Matterhorn in the Alps. Those mountains are attached to other mountains. The Matterhorn stands on its own. So, it looks even more majestic. That lone position exposes it to more and quicker changing weather. Heavy clouds were streaming over the mountains in the distance. The weather report had given her a four hour safety window. The weather here was still sunny and calm.

Cleo illegal bahis licked her lusciously thick lips with pink lip stick. Her body was a lean hard body. Her stomach muscles were taut and showed every detail of definition. Her eyes had a steely gaze from always looking at the next goal. The music on her iPod was driving her on.

The last recent footsteps of winter tourists had faded into undefined circles that had been filed down by the wind over days. The hard packed snow had given way to frozen snow. Her ice running shoes were cutting into the snow. Regular rubber soles would be slipping all over. “Trust your gear,” she repeated to herself like a mantra. With that, she made another full stride step that fully trusted her weight onto her outstretched leg with the knee shape clearly shining through the runner tights. Mentally, she was alert now. This was the dangerous high country that everyone was worried about her.

The sun was dangerously bright this high up. The air was too thin to filter out the UV radiation. Without glasses, she would have been blinded within hours. Without 40 SPF sunscreen, her skin would have been burned in less than a couple hours. Some of the ice on sunny spots dangerously glistened hinting at its most superficial layer melting in the blazing sun and getting every slippery.

The trail had turned into skinny path a foot wide with an eerie drop off on the side. Even the meadows had vanned. Only ice and bare rocks were left up here. The rocks were scrambled, cut, and burst. The harsh temperature changes and elements were hard on anything up here.

Cleo’s heart started pounding. Above 10,000 feet, the air was thin. And with the steep drop off, her mind had fear setting in. She knew. Slow down and the ice cold air will get to me. Make one wrong step, one twisted ankle, and a fall hundreds of yards down would await her only to be smashed against a rock from where she would bounce for second fall of a hundred yards. “Trust your gear,” she repeated to herself again, as she placed her foot with eerie precision onto an even spot on the ground between a jagged rock and the edge of the trail.

The trail stopped at a ladder, a few skinny metal ropes nailed into the wall. There was a rope for her to hold onto while she climbed up a big, bald boulder. She wasn’t as fast at climbing as she was with running. While she carefully moved her feet and then her hand up, she could feel the cold air seeping through her thin running gear. She could feel her core temperature being touched. Her lips and nose were frosty cold from being exposed extremities. All she could think about was to get back on the trail and to pick up the pace to warm up.

When she reached the end of the ladder, she scrambled onto her knees onto safety. She had a mental check-in. Her mind had been numb. The running and cold had made her feel numb. Little thoughts were running through her head. Her mind was rigidly focused on the goal. It took discipline to hold the fear in check and to be focused to the utmost on making every step of the ten thousand steps be inch perfectly aimed at this narrow rocky ledge. A team of path builders must have had the utmost determination to carve the path into this sheer mountain face, using every little ledge to get a path barely wide enough for a skinny human to walk on. With long strides, she ran on. She could feel the altitude made her top out. She could feel her leg muscles simply having a weak punch, like driving a car that was switched from high octane gasoline to low octane gasoline.

Then, it happened. There was a little downward stretch. She had gotten a little too much momentum. Her right foot overshot the foot sized ice patch and landed on an exposed rock. The razor blades couldn’t dig into the rock. So, her foot screeched forward with the sound of white chalk on a blackboard. Her foot shot forward wanting to go into a split. She quickly jerked her body to prevent that. As a counter balance, her body was thrown towards the direction abyss. Her heart stopped. Her mind felt the lightness of anticipating of being suspended in freefall for an extremely peaceful second before ending in an extremely violently bloody and bone crushing moment. Her arms flung to the side to hold onto anything.

Her thinly gloved fingers felt a good grip on a sturdy rock. “Hallelujah,” shot through her head the moment before her body hit the ground. The same moment her body hit the ground, she felt a sharp hit against her right shin. There was a disturbing popping sound coming from her leg. Then, she felt the full body slam of her body against rocks. A round pebble hit her between the sixth and seventh rib. Her head bumped into the rock making her feel numb. In all the shock, the hold of her fingers on that clear hold was comforting like a father caressing a daughter.

Her head was out of it. The cold had numbed her. The hit to the head made her feel discombobulated. She pulled herself flat on the trail. There was only one illegal bahis siteleri thought in her head, “I have to go on. Stopping means dying.” She pulled herself up. She put her right foot flat to the ground to stand up. And a scream burst out of her lungs, a scream so sharp of pain and suffering that she had never ever heard anyone else let alone herself scream. The scream ran out into the wide and open mountain world. The next mountains were miles away. There was all this empty air and sky in between mountains. Her scream cut through it all.

She fell hard on her knee. Her knee would have caused her to yelp in pain. Though, the pain in her right lower leg was so sharp that her whole body seized up.

She could feel her own breathing poignantly, as she was forced to take a break and assess. She could barely touch the area on her shin, the sensitivity was so strong. The ice on her butt was constantly chilling her to the bone. She tried pulling herself forward with her arms. To only get one pull ahead had her teeth chattering from the pain of dragging her broken leg.

Desperation was in her eyes. There was a numbness in her head. “Die, die, die…”

She took another drag of her body despite the pain. Her whole body was shivering from the cold. She had a little body. The shivering stimulated the pain.

She wouldn’t reach the hut like this. Her fingernails were already turning blue. Sitting on the frozen ground drew so much heat away from her.

There was a sense of peace. High up on the mountain, everything was so quiet. Everything down there was so tiny, like miniatures. It felt so set in place and orderly. Death would come in the next twenty minutes. And that was it. There was no second doctor opinion or last hope on experimental chemo. There was simply twenty more minutes left to live. And then it would be over. Her mind would be going out from here on. It would become irrational and then turn into stupor.

She thought a last thought about her sister. On Skype before the run, her sister and talked about the sex she had with her new guy. “A fuck is a fuck,” her sister had told her. “Get off your high horse and live a little.”

She thought of her trainer, the balding guy who always ran around in trainers. He had been so optimistic about her.

And there were all the Miami housewives. They’d be morally to embarrassed to ask for their money back.

This was it. She had been struggling to keep as much of her body of the ground. Through, the shivering that had turned into convulsions had tired her out to relax onto the ice. Her gaze ran down to the valleys while the cold drove tears into her eyes. Her body started turning numb. That was the relief coming. She had read in big coffee table books about the harrowing experiences of climb teams running into trouble on Mount Everest and K2. There was nothing but to surrender into her death.

The storm clouds in the distance drew closer. She could actually watch them move. She would be long dead before they’d arrive. The ice storm would bury her frozen body in snow and ice.

Cleo closed her eyes. She felt tired. In the darkness, she could still feel the cold rock. The rock started feeling warmer as her body temperature had dropped.

“Can you hear me? Miss!”

A voice was shouting at her. She opened her eyes. A tall man with curly hair and an Italian accent yanked on her shoulders. He had the orange jump suit of search and rescue. Cleo wondered why they had reached her in time. She tried to open her mouth. Her mouth was frozen. The muscles didn’t move. Her chin felt like a lifeless flap. She stared at him with barely open eyes, her eyelashes were frozen with tear fluid.

“She’s conscious!” yelled the man to a short, chubby fella who was pulling a metal sled.

Fingers reached for Cleo’s neck. The fingers rested against the side of her throat. “I live. I will live,” rang through her mind. “All I need to do is let things take their course.”

“You are in the last stage of hypothermia,” yelled the tall man. “We need to bring your core body temperature back up. Cleo tried to nod. Her body didn’t move.

The short, cubby guy was opening up the back on the metal sled. The tall guy got a pair of safety scissors. Cleo saw the safety scissors disappearing towards her feet. The scissors came back up her leg towards her hips. Her running tights were peeling open in a way that they had never peeled open. The scissors disappeared again below and came up. The other leg opened to reveal her bare skin. The tall guy yanked on the cut open pants. Cleo was naked below. The cut up tights were thrown over the side of the mountain. They disappeared into the abyss.

The every hungry scissors came up the center of her belly in between her boobs to her throat. Her top opened up wide. The scissors kept running. Cleo could only think about her boobs falling open. The scissors cut straight through her front bra strap that connected the two cups together. canlı bahis siteleri The tall guy tossed the remaining clothes over the side into the abyss.

Cleo imagined her bra opening up its wings like a bird, sailing around in circles, hitting a snow covered outcropping, making the snow explode like powder before tumbling deeper and ever wider out of reach until they would land far below in the land of meadows where in spring a grazing cow would stumble upon them, like them to examine if they were edible.

Shocked, Cleo witness the tall man taking off his clothes and storing them in the side of the sled. With terror, she realized that the Italian man was commando. Then, he pulled her by her arms into the sled. He wrapped her arms around her. The short, chubby guy folded a sleeping back over them and zipped them tight. The bag was so tight that they couldn’t have bent their arms and rescued themselves.

Skin to skin, they were lying in the cocoon of a sleeping back. She knew that their skin was touching. She couldn’t feel anything. She tried to feel the skin of the man. Everything felt cold. Even the sleeping bag was cold and waiting for the little whimper of heat that was inside of her to warm up the sleeping back before she could feel warmer.

“We have to bring up your temperature slowly, or your body goes into shock,” talked the tall man into her ear. He was spooning her from behind. She imperceptibly nodded.

The chubby man grabbed tow handlebars that extended from the front of the sled. He carefully pulled the two forward. They got one melon sized boulder forward. The chubby man had to carefully grab the sled frame to adjust it for the next pull on the narrow ledge. The chubby man was laboring hard for each foot forward. Cleo braced herself for the next bump of the forward move. It might be moving up a rock or falling down a rock. There might be a dragging sound as a big protuberance travelled underneath the sled.

The chubby man occasionally stopped to talk to a radio with a long antenna: “Mountain rescue. We require air evacuation.” Then, there’d be thirty seconds of static. The chubby man would stow the radio and carry on the laborious pulling for the sled.

The first time Cleo realized that she was feeling better was when she caught herself silently humming in her head along with the movements of the sled. She had a little feeling and sensation regained. And she could start to feel the skin of the naked man behind her. He was tall. He had hard muscles from training. He was holding her firmly. His cheeks were a little moist as they were pressing against hers.

The short, chubby man stopped laboring. He stood upright, “This is it.”

“No” escaped Cleo’s lips. It was the first word that she had spoken. It was spoken softly. Her lips were hurting as the sensation came back. She had pins and needles running all over her skin as the circulation was coming back. “They were supposed to rescue me, not give up,” shot through her head. Though, she had to admit that the short, chubby guy had been laboring very hard for what seemed like merely an eyeshot of distance. The clouds had moved in. The sky had begun darkening as torn cotton wads of cloud pieces shot past them. The wind had started blowing firmly. She was really glad for the sleeping bag, because her eyes had to brave the wind tearing heat out of her face.

“Don’t worry,” said the tall man from behind her. “300 feet beneath us is an emergency shelter. It’s an old space that has been carved into the rock two hundred years ago. It’s tiny. Yet, it’ll fit us. The ice lightning storm is too close.”

Cleo swallowed. She had saliva in her mouth again. The chubby man had busied himself rigging a rope to a bolt in the wall. He pulled the bright orange rescue rope to the sled. He clipped a safety strap across the sled. Then, he sat down, wedging himself against the rock. He pushed the sled over the edge with his boots. The sled took on its own momentum and spun around. The next moment, Cleo and the tall man were suspended from rope on a steep rock face. Cleo slipped to the bottom of the sleeping bag.

“Breath with me,” the tall man spoke into her ear. His hands slid around to her bare belly. He pushed the air out of her gently. And he lifted his hands for her to inhale. The adrenaline was pounding her. This was the first time she felt alert after breaking her leg. She saw the valley beneath her, the running hills, the snow covered meadows, the church, the barns, and the highway. And as the sled spun slightly to the left her field of vision changed with it. It was strange feeling in her stomach to feel suspended. Death had been so cozy before. Now, it was so threateningly close, even though she should trust the chubby man at the top with the rope. “Trust the gear,” she whispered to herself.

As the rope stretched longer, each bump against the wall sent the two swinging in a slower and longer movement. “Hoka-hey,” shot Cleo through the head, the Sioux leader Cray Horse had uttered that, “Today is a good day to die.” It was the first random thought that popped through Cleo’s head on her recovery.

Feeling her thoughts returning, she opened her mouth: “I broke my leg. I couldn’t move anymore.”

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