Thursday, July 7, 2016
Stranded on a Glacier; Continued
In wide-eyed shock, they watched the other end of the rope slither out of sight.
"Don't move, Kalli." Erik shouted as Kalli tried to get up. Grabbing his ice-axe, Erik hammered a piton into the ice, then secured the severed rope with a figure eight knot. Slowly, Kalli pulled himself upright with the rope and stumbled away from the edge of the rift.
"Did you hear a shout, Kalli?" Erik leaned forward - then he disappeared with a blood-curdling scream!
Kalli was stunned. Then he again was yanked off his feet, but the piton held the rope tight. Heart hammering, frantically yelling for his friend he carefully crawled, following the rope. Easing closer to the edge he could see Erik, his feet dangling in the air over a dark, bottomless pit.
"Are you okay?" Kalli asked, with a trembling voice.
"Yeah, I'm alright." Planting his feet against the wall of ice Erik pulled himself up by the rope, hand over- hand, until he reached the top and to his ashen-faced friend.
"What a Troll-hole! That was my scariest moment ever. But Kalli, I think I saw how we can get across. And I'm sure I heard Max or Nonni cry for help. We've got to get to them in case there's another tremor."
Cautiously, Erik crept along the edge of the chasm, with Kalli following closely.
"That's what I saw." Kalli pointed at massive slabs of ice that had heaped up and formed a bridge of sort across the deep crevasse.
"That's crazy! I'm not going down there, Erik.No way, man." Kalli shuddered.
"We don't have a choice, Kalli. No one will look for us until Monday, and our phones don't work up here, besides they may be hurt, we have to do something." Erik looked at his white-faced friend. "I know what; let's hammer a piton into the ice here and retie the rope, that will get me enough to get down.You brace one foot on the piton and hold the rope tight, then play it out as I climb down." Erik crawled to the edge and eased himself over. "I'll yell when I reach the slab..."
"Okay, I'm down. Come on, I'm holding the rope taut. It's easier than it looks from above." Erik shouted, trying to ease his friends' obvious dread.
Although going across the icy 'bridge' was nerve-wracking it wasn't as difficult as they had feared. They were able to squeeze between large boulders until they reached the ice wall on the other side.
"Listen." Erik grabbed Kalli's arm.
"Help, help." Max and Nonni were both shouting in cracked, quavering voice that echoed eerily from the split.
"Hold on, we're coming." Erik and Kalli yelled as they quickly scrambled to the top. Hurrying to much they both started slipping, Erik hammered his last piton into the ice and uncoiled the rope from his shoulder. After securing the rope they crept carefully to the rim of the fissure and peered into the crack. Max and Nonni were hunched forward, rocking back and forth. Mr. Peterson was laying still, his right leg turned weirdly.
"Hello".Erik said softly.
Staring up, Max and Nonni stammered, "You...you're alive." Then yelled; "You're alive, hey Mr. Peterson, Erik and Kalli are alive." Their leader just groaned.
"I hope you have your rope, Erik, our gear disappeared. We're alright but Peterson is hurt." Nonni's voice trembled.
"Yeah, I have it. I'm going to throw it down to you, tie it under his arms, then as we pull you two lift."
After their semi-conscious leader was pulled up, the other two were pulled up to safety.
"We've got to figure out how to get him quickly off this glacier," Erik muttered.
"But how? Hey, we'd better move, that chunk of ice is inching our way." Max pointed.
"That's it! " Erik took his ice-axe and walked over to the slab. "Kalli, you have two pitons left, drive one in on each side of this ice-block, then fasten the rope to the rings, which will give us a loop for you Nonni, and Max, to hold and stop the slide." The boys watched in amazement as Erik feverously chopped away at the ice and a sled took shape.
"Wow, I didn't know you knew how to do that." Max exclaimed.
" I was taught in survival training in Boy Scouts. It's no beauty, but it'll do." Erik motioned for the boys to lift Mr. Peterson on top of the ice-sled. As Max and Nonni held the rope, Erik and Kalli pushed. Slowly the sled started gliding down the glacier.
Erik and Kalli turned at the sound and saw their ice-island tumble down like an avalanche and disappear. With grinding and screeching the fissure crashed shut.
VATNAJÖKULL...Glaciers of Waters...The largest glacier in Iceland, and Europe.
DUKW...Popularly pronounced ''Duck'' is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck used during World War II to transport goods and troops over land and water.
PITON...(Pronounced Pee´ton) is a steel spike driven into ice, or rock to aid in climbing. Pitons are equipped with an eyehole or a ring, to which rope can be attached.