It’s 11 am. We are sitting on a boulder we just cleared of two feet of snow, within a boulder field we’ve called home for 25 days. Our wall still looms above, a five-minute walk from camp and now covered in snow and continuing to release little avalanches. We’re cold. Emily reads a book. I start making songs about Warren, the helicopter pilot, flying through the fog and rescuing us. Lorna rummages the bags for breakfast.
My toes are cold; I’m whining often. The simple contentment from freeing a line we worked so hard on is being eclipsed by my desire to now leave camp.
We call on the sat phone. Warren is on his way, the weather making a hard go of it. Then we hear the chopper. It emerges in all its sleek glory. The snow blows hard, and it’s no use speaking anymore. A skid touches down precisely on the edge of the boulder. We load bags in the backside door, and Lorna climbs in the front. She’s off with Warren. Emily and I sit there laughing our way through the change from quiet to jarring noise and back again. Now it seems quieter.
The helicopter is back in 10 minutes. A bag-loading frenzy and now it’s my turn to climb on board with Warren. Five minutes later I’m taking off my shoes and puff pants at Glacier Lake. Emily is alone below Proboscis, and I wonder how she’s faring.
Fast-forward four hours: The three of us are sitting in a hot tub outside Inconnu Lodge. Four more hours: We’re giving a slideshow and showing videos to curious lodge guests and the supportive staff who maintain this wonderful place beside the lake.
Where am I? A disjointed combination of experiences encouraged me to stumble over myself walking along the flat grass last night: This is not a boulder-field.