|Narrator||A group of friends who are into extreme sports meet once a year to work on their bucket list. This year they decide to go mountain-climbing in the dead of winter. The weather is predicted to be clear for the next week. The four friends have spent a few weeks learning basic mountain-climbing skills. They charter a small plane to drop them off at the base of an unnamed mountain. They exit the plane and unload their gear. The plane leaves with instructions to pick them up two days from now at this location. It’s 5:00 pm. The outside temperature is about 40°F. The sun will be setting soon.|
|Jason||Wow! Are you guys ready for this?|
|Sue||Heck, yeah! We are so ready! Aren’t we, guys? (Rich and Jenny nod affirmatively.)|
|Rich||It’s getting late. Let’s set up camp for the night, and we can leave bright and early in the morning.|
|Jenny||Good idea. I’ll set up the tents. Rich, why don’t you get a camp fire going?|
|Narrator||They set up two tents, one for the guys and one for the girls. They get a nice, warm fire going, cook and eat dinner, and then brew a pot of coffee. Night has fallen, and they are sitting around the fire feeling quite comfortable.|
|Jason||Okay, let’s go over our game plan for tomorrow. This mountain is 5,000 feet high, and it looks like the snow line starts about two-thirds of the way up, so we’ll need to take ice pitons, ice screws, and ice axes with us in addition to the normal fair-weather stuff.|
|Jenny||Agreed. We’ve already inventoried our gear — knapsacks, ropes, climbing harnesses, carabiners, spikes, mountaineering boots, mittens, helmets, shovels, and axes. We’ve distributed all the weight among our four knapsacks. We should be ready to go at first light.|
|Sue||Who wants to be the leader?|
|Jason||It’s my turn to lead. Jenny led last year, Rich the year before, and, Sue, you led the year before that. Who wants to bring up the rear?|
|Rich||I’ll cover the rear. We’ll let the two girls have the middle positions in our queue.|
|Narrator||They put out the fire and turn in for the night. After a good night’s sleep, they wake up at dawn, start a fire, cook some breakfast, down some coffee, don their gear, and proceed to the base of the mountain. The climbers tie themselves together with a safety rope.|
|Jason||Here we go. Follow my lead.|
|Narrator||Jason begins climbing up the side of the mountain using handholds and footholds where he can find them. Occasionally, after a difficult area, he drives a piton into the rock, hooks a carabiner to it, and threads a climbing rope through the carabiner so the others can climb using the rope rather than hand- and footholds. The other climbers follow behind him.|
|Narrator||At about 2,000 feet, they reach an overhang where the mountain face juts outward, requiring them to climb outward with their backs facing downward. It’s a scary and challenging moment. Jason proceeds cautiously, hammering pitons into the rock every two feet as he goes. His heart is beating fast because he is in a precarious position.|
|Jason||Okay, I made it around the overhang! I’m up on top of it now, thank God. That was scary!|
|Jenny||We’re right behind you. I’m glad we have your pitons and supporting rope to help us. I don’t think I could have taken the lead on this one.|
|Narrator||Jenny gets around the overhang and heaves a sigh of relief. Unknown to the climbers, their combined weight on the rope has loosened the pitons holding the rope. Just as Sue is about to reach the outermost point of the overhang, two pitons pop out of the rock crevices, causing Sue to fall about five feet. When she hits the bottom of her fall, it jerks the rope, causing more pitons to come loose such that the rope can no longer support Rich’s weight, and he falls down and is left hanging below Sue, with only the safety rope now supporting Sue and Rich’s entire weight. Their hearts are beating fast as they look straight down 2000 feet and see that only one small, straining rope is keeping them from falling to their deaths. Jason feels the sudden hard tug on his end of the safety rope.|
|Jason||Jenny, why are you pulling so hard on the safety rope!|
|Narrator||He looks back at Jenny and sees her face twisted with effort as she struggles to avoid being pulled backward off the overhang.|
|Jenny||Oh, my God! Jason, the pitons came loose! Sue and Rich are hanging by the safety rope only! I’m losing my grip! I can’t hold up their weight much longer! Do something — quick!|
|Jason||Hang on! I’ll tie off a rescue rope and throw it down to them!|
|Narrator||Jason quickly takes a spare rope, ties it around a piece of rock that provides good support and tosses the loose end of the rope out past the overhang where it falls downward and is grabbed by Sue and Rich. Once they shift their weight from the safety rope to the rescue rope, Jenny visibly relaxes.|
|Jenny||My God, that was close! Whose idea was it to do mountain-climbing this year?|
|Narrator||After an arduous effort, Sue and Rich finally climb above the overhang using the rescue rope. They are able to rest a few minutes on the mostly horizontal top of the overhang while their heart rates and breathing slow down. They take a few seconds to thank whatever gods that be that they are all alive. They continue onward to a flat area at 3,500 feet and decide to set up camp for a while to regain their strength and calm their nerves.|
|Rich||Oh, my God, let’s not do that again!|
|Jason||Are you two all right? Did you sustain any injuries?|
|Sue||No, no injuries. I was just scared to death for a few minutes while my life flashed before my eyes.|
|Narrator||Fortunately, the rest of the climb goes smoothly. They make it to the top of the mountain, enjoy the view, take some pictures, camp overnight, and head back down the mountain the next day. Getting past the overhang is a little spooky, but they manage to negotiate it successfully and finally reach the bottom of the mountain again just as the airplane appears on the horizon coming to pick them up.|
|Jason||Well, that was the adventure of a lifetime!|
|Sue||You can say that again! I’ve never come so close to dying before. Let’s not mention this to our parents, okay? If my mom finds out what happened, she’ll ground me from all further adventures.|
|Rich||And I can’t say I would blame her either. We did come very close to disaster there. Death would have been an accident that we wouldn’t have recovered from, you know.|
|Jenny||Okay, it’s agreed. Mum’s the word. We won’t mention this unfortunate incident to anyone. We came, we saw, we conquered, we had fun. Deal? (All nodded their heads in agreement.)|
|Narrator||And that was the end of this year’s bucket list adventure trek into the mountains.|
- Why did these friends want to do extreme sports every year?
- How did they get to the mountain for their climbing adventure?
- What equipment did they need beyond simple fair-weather equipment and why?
- Who carried the heaviest load of equipment in their knapsack?
- How is a safety rope used and what is its purpose?
- What was the most exciting part of this adventure?
- Who was the leader and how was he selected?
- What is the purpose of a piton?
- What is the purpose of a carabiner?
- If you are in a precarious position, are you happy/bored/interested/scared?
- At one point, Sue says “Amen”. What did she mean when she said that?
- At one point, Rich says “Likewise”. What did he mean when he said that?
- What does it mean if Sue’s mom grounds her?
- What does “Mum’s the word” mean?
- Where does the expression “We came, we saw, we conquered” come from?
- What is a bucket list?
- What is a handhold?
- What time of year was it?
- What was the name of the mountain they climbed?
- How many tents did they set up and how was this number determined?