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Old 05-28-2014, 02:43 AM   #1
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The ultimate challenge of survival(Closed)

Looking out the window of the small bush plane that was taking the small expedition out into the vast final frontier of the Alaska wilderness the views they were able to take in were astounding. Cameron Abrams was one such soul who had been looking forward to this trip for about a year. His good friend, Jackson Williams had talked him into a few hiking courses when they were in highschool the bug for the unexploited wilderness and air unnecessarily filtered through air conditioning or blocked by thick panes of glass was just something both of the young men enjoyed. It was the discovery of the world around them, sometimes the ability to unhook from all the trappings of civilization and get to something a little more simple just sucked them both in. Well, more Jackson than Cameron, but the two had been best of friends for years. The idea of saving for a trip to Alaska and checking off one that bucket list was just something neither could ignore. So, after a year of planning here they were, thousands of miles from civilization, with a small group of 5 other explorers, they'd be on an adventure unlike any other.

The trip started rather uneventful each team of two flew in from their respective homes to Fairbanks Alaska, each arriving within days of each other, gathering what supplied they might need locally and then making their way to “Alaska Frontier Tours.” Each of the three teams of two brought a variety of experience to the expedition.

Cameron and Jackson, both from Colorado, veterans of outdoor trekking and across a number of states, and long tours in the lower 48. They were no Baer Gillis material but the two had seen a few adventures.

Dom, or Dominic Santini and Michael Landini both Italian adventure seekers. Adrenaline junkies who hadn't ventured to the U.S. but they'd made plans well beyond this 14 day trek to eventually spot out K2,

Alice Tanner, and Kacey Waverly both from California, experienced and actually they've toured Alaska before making a shorter excursion 2 years ago.

All six were greeted by Howard Lowell, or just “Howie” as he perfered to be called. The man was in his mid to late 40's and had the lithe almost too athletic appearance of someone who's spent a lot of time out in the Alaskan wilderness.

Howie started everyone off on equal footing, they were all required to bring specific equipment with them from their point of origin, and other items would be supplied by the tour company. All of them were required to be versed with the area by topographic map, GPS coordinates of way points and have the necessary survival gear for the days ahead. Regularly Howie would remind them all, the trip they were going on was NOT for beginners, and if at some point one or a few of us couldn't hack it, we'd have to make adjustments to the tour. Over all the expectation was that the full tour would take between 14-16 days. Depending on weather patterns, We'd be checking in by satellite phone at way points, and a rescue party would be sent out looking for us if we went missing beyond our due date. If we went missing for more than 3 days everyone would come looking for us as we were going on established areas that we'd be able to find shelter if the weather went bad.

The grand scoe of the tour would take them over some difficult terrain, steep inclines and challenges that would test their endurance. Plenty of areas where the less experienced expedition might take the wrong turn and end up dead. In moderate weather, the trip would be fantastic. In difficult weather, such as a snow front rolling in and a temperature drop, you'd be a human popsicle in a matter of hours. However the difficult terrain would have it's pay offs. Fantastic views of untouched wilderness that no human had touched in years. Including opportunities to see the Aurora Borealis at certain parts of the trip. All being said, they'd be required to trek between two peaks, do some snowshoeing, test their skills but over all with the pedigree that this group had, they'd make it home with nothing but a few bumps, bruises and a couple of scrapes. The orientation took the better part of a day, at the end, they were told to return the next morning packs and equipment ready to go.

Cameron and Jackson took the opportunity to go over the terrain, studied their topographic maps and turned in early. Starting in the morning it would be a long trek.

The team of 7 headed out early in the morning to the Fairbanks airport, gathering equipment and baggage, they loaded up in a small bush plane and headed off to the wilderness. The trip started just as Howie had suggested, great views, tough terrain and an untouched wilderness that was awe inspiring. Sunset on their first night allowed them to catch the distant northern lights, and the group's first opportunity to trade stories. It seemed the only girls in the group mostly stuck together, while the clothes Alice as wearing were practical, Cameron couldn't not notice that Alice was attractive and, one tough chick.

At 6.'1 195 lbs Cameron was no slouch. He was in shape, he prided himself on trying to eat right as every bit of food he ate was fuel for the trips he took. With his bright blue eyes and short cut brown hair matched his trimmed up facial hair that he just never quite got rid of he painted the picture of someone who cared enough about their appearance to keep his beard in check, but if he just got flat lazy his beard could rival the Wolfman in just a few weeks.

By day three the proverbial honeymoon was over and everyone was down to the business of the expedition. Luckily everyone was professional and kept in mind why they were truly there. Day four was going to take the group up peak one, and as they reached camp for the night about half way up the mountain, Howie gave them an assessment of the challenge that would be coming the following day.

“The trail will take us near straight up a vertical face, we'll follow a switch back to near the summit and then around the back side of the mountain. When we get there, due to the current weather patterns I'm expecting to see some of the worst weather we should see all trip. When we reach the backside, we'll be following a narrow trail about 300 yards long that cuts along the edge of a vertical cliff. So, watch your footing, the ledge is narrow, maybe two or three feet wide, so be careful. Just so you know we're not all nuts, there is a safety line you'll be attached to. So as you butts tighten up while you cross the stretch, don't be afraid to grab hold of that line.

I say this because a few years back two very good friends of mine took the same trek we are going up. They didn't hook into the safety line and both men plunged 12,000 plus feet straight down the side of the mountain. This shattered compass that I always carry is a constant reminder of how dangerous this mountain can be.”

The group called it an early night, considering that they had a rough day ahead of them before they got to the other side of the mountain, they would need as much rest as possible.

The morning trek up the vertical face was just as Howie had described it, trecherous, risky but an adrenaline rush. It took them the better part of the day to reach the top of it and to start around the back of the mountain. The team was staggered going across the narrow ledge, Howie suggested that they break their normal pairs as a challenge like this would do good to test us all and our team work. So, he mixed pairs. Cameron and Alice, Dom and Jackson, followed by Kacey and Michael. Howie would be last, making sure that each team made it without issue. Each team would head across and make it to a relative wide flat area at the end of the narrow ledge. It would act as a gathering point where they'd rest before heading down the rest of the mountain.

The description that Howie gave them was nothing compared to what it was like traversing the narrow ledge. At this elevation the wind whipped them around a bit, and the llarge snow pack about 50 feet above them. It looked precarious, almost as if nature was telling them of the urgency that there was to get across. Cameron and Alice strapped in by safety harness and were given ample time to make the trek at least half way across before the next team started. Cameron could look straight down and see the clear sky below, the Alaskan wilderness stretched for miles. That's where they'd be going in the days ahead, a winding river stretched across the landscape like some ominous snake tormenting him. It was stunning, terrifying and awe inspiring all at once. Cameron took his time getting across, and with Alice close behind him they made it to the end.

Unstrapped from the safety line, Cameron sets down his pack and assisted Alice getting unhooked and helping her get her own pack off as well. Taking a breath, and smiling to his team mate, Cameron made a wry smile and commented, as he looked out at the expanse before them. “Beautiful view...” He could have been talking about Alice, or the view below, however his train of thought was cut off by an unworldly noise. It sounded as if a part of the world was going to break open, but at this height it might be the ground underneath his feet sliding off the mountain side. Looking up, and feeling the rumble of the mountain shake, He watched as the snow pack above them first cracked..and began to slide. The remainder of the team, Jackson, Dom, Kacey, Michael and Howie were all directly in it's path. Cameron did the only thing he could do. He screamed.

“AVALANCHE!!”

Dom and Jackson were about three fourths of the way across, and Cameron could see the whites of Dom's eyes, as the snow pack fell in a wave. The avalanche consumed the team, and as his worry for their safety took over he watched the strain on the safety line begin, one, two, then three safety petons snapped away from the mountain side under so much weight of the snow as the line was stretched finally beyond capacity. Reaching for it, Cameron screamed, but he was too late, the line snapped.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:46 PM   #2
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Alice awoke in a sea of power. Her monstrous neon pink bag had probably helped break her fall and likely helped save her life, but it seemed to be gone now, buried underneath another snow pile most likely. Alice wiped away the snow flakes that obscured her vision. She practically had to tunnel her way out of the thick powder and even when she did there was not much to see besides white. "Kaycee!" she called out instinctively for her best friend of fifteen years. "Kaycee!!" she called again, louder this time. Still there was no reply. She began to yell the rest of her teammates names, starting with Cameron and going down the list. "Fuck," she muttered after several long minutes with no responses.

Alice took a deep breath of the cold air and closed her eyes tight. She couldn't believe what had just happened. As the last bit of snow settled around her feet from the avalanche, Alice wondered if this was one of her adventure nightmares she'd often have before a trip, and maybe her and Kaycee were still napping in the airport waiting for their flight. She punched herself in the arm, but when she opened her eyes, she was still surrounded by white. "Fuck!" she cursed again, rubbing her hands together and then brushing some of her short blonde hair that had fallen from her hair tie out of her face.

"Okay. Don't panic. You've been trained for this. It's gonna be okay," she preached to herself, trying to coax herself into at least a mockery of calm. She forced her aching body to trudge forward through the snow, towards the direction where the snow had fallen, knowing that was her best bet of finding her pack and her companions. She waded around for a bit, before she finally spotted a bright neon pink strap sticking out of a snow pile. "Yes!" she cried. "Thank God I went for a bright color," she muttered to herself as she yanked her backpack out of the snow. Next, she unzipped it and rustled inside for a moment before yanking out a black standard issue walkie talker they'd all been given. She frantically activated it and spoke, "This is Alice Tanner. Are any of you guys okay? Where are you? Somebody please answer."
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:04 AM   #3
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The world was dark, cold and he could feel blood begin to rush to his head. He remembered seeing the safety line snap, watch Dom's eyes go wide as what he thought was a scream, or a number of them were caught in the crash of snow that took the rest of the party down the mountain side. Cameron turned his head to the right, squeezed his eyes and looked again being greeted by the wide expanse of the view below him. "What the fuck?" he said out loud to himself as he regained his orientation.

He was laying on his side, nearly pushed off the end of the cliff wedged against a small rock that he'd normally pay no attention to, but now was thankful it was there. So while being pressed against it by the snow that had fallen, and half covered/half sticking out of the snow he could hear someone yelling behind him. A female voice he was sure must be Alice. Thank god she was ok.. Cameron wasn't religious, but at the moment it almost felt appropriate to say something.

Groaning, he stretched his right arm up as far as he could straight up in the air, yelling back at Alice, hoping she'd hear him.

"ALICE!, HELP!!" "I'm over here!!!"

His movements were pushing him precariously close to falling off the cliff, he hoped she'd hear him..
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