Updated: Feb 7, 2021
A true story by Gerdette Rooney
I suddenly realised I was possibly lost and there was no point deluding myself any longer. The landscape about me did not equate to what I thought it should be, and I was worried. A sign wasn’t going to pop up out of the blue - ‘This way, Annapurna base camp, your bed for the night.’
The sleet was getting heavier and the view of the peak I’d admired fifteen minutes before had disappeared. My footsteps on the track behind me were starting to fill in and the air getting colder. ‘OK’, I said to myself. ‘Stay calm and don’t panic. Just think clearly’. I was tired. I’d been walking for six hours non-stop and according to my calculations, the hut could only be an hour away.
Sighting a rock overhang just off the track, I walked over to shelter underneath and rest for a few minutes.
While munching an energy bar, I debated my options. The overhang was deep enough to curl up in, and I carried an emergency sheet and a heavy garbage bag that I could crawl into. But if the wind gets up ... I pondered. It will sweep the snow in. I had to think fast. There were only about two hours of daylight left.
Despite the poor visibility, I could see that the valley narrowed ahead and the black rocky sides protruded inwards, so there were probably other, perhaps better, spots to shelter ahead if necessary. OK, go for it, you might still be on the correct path, my head told me - even though my body was weary and wanted to lie down.
I prepared myself, pulling out my torch to keep handy, as well as more energy bars. I placed the emergency sheet and waterproof bag at the top of my rucksack for quick access, then took a compass reading off the map, using the imaginary peak ahead in the white-out.
Donning an extra scarf to cover my face from the blizzard, I headed out into the fast-diminishing light.
Copyright text and photo Gerdette Rooney.
SSOA writers' blogs are made possible through the support of City of Sydney grant assistance.