A story of great courage and stupidity.
What you are about to read can be easily mistaken for a low-budget Hollywood-ish movie plot. But, unfortunately, it is not.
The thunder was so loud, that for a moment the only thing I could hear was my heart, beating as fast as a hummingbird beats its wings. The rain was so heavy I couldn’t see three steps in front of me. The mountain narrow path was so slippery I only had to take one step to slide another 3-4 meters in a flow of rocks, grass, and mud. The “nice bonus” was the lightning. Its brightness was unbelievable. Each flash blinded me for a solid minute, yet, I was still running down the cliff with the speed of a cheetah. A huge storm was right above us. It was run or die.
When you live in the country where 95% of territory are mountains, it’s nearly impossible not to hike. Magnificent snowy peaks encircle Kyrgyzstan, separating it from neighboring states.
While sliding down the cliff fighting for life, the only thing I had in my head was “What the hell am I doing here?”
It was an early morning of June 17th, 2016, when me and my classmates Marie, Alisia, Arthur and Daniel (not their real names because who except for kyrgyz people can read kyrgyz names) were exiting the bus in the Ala Archa Canyon. Our final destination was the Racek Camp, which is located between peaks Uchitel and Corona, at an altitude of 11000 ft.
The beginning of the trip was great. Sun was dazzling and the air was so dry and hot it was hard to breath. It was a wonderful morning. And I was happy I was wearing shorts and didn’t bring my raincoat, as advised Alisia.
Since the main route passes through forests, meadows, waterfalls and glaciers, the ascension was the most beautiful and funniest part (shout out to Daniel and Arthur, who saw a raccoon and thought it was a squirrel).
At that moment, a rock the size of my head, flies over my head and almost hits Marie. That’s when I was certain me and my friends will die here, literally in the middle of nowhere.
“Well,” I thought to my myself, “at least we saw the famous Racek Camp.”
And it was true, the camp was magnificent. The ascension took around six hours, and when our team- sweaty and tired, finally reached our destination- we were speechless.
To massive snowy peaks, taller than any buildings I’ve ever seen in my life, were on two sides of the camp.
The fauna of that place was drastically different from what I used to see in the city. For a moment I felt like I am in the “Avatar” movie, with all the vivid flowers, weird trees and picturesque views. This place was straight out of a sci-fi film.
As we were running down to civilization, back from the Racek Camp, the only thing I kept thinking about was “how am I gonna explain my death to my mom?” Nothing else bothered me at that moment. Not even the fact that we are on the top of a mountain, or that the lightning can stroke one of use or that the snake that I saw earlier may be following us right now.
Nothing bothered me more, than realization of my mom beating me up and calling my dad.
That is when we faced another “nice” bonus- a thick fog. It made our narrow slippery path even more slippery and narrow. Me and Marie, as the least athletic and the most fearful ones were taking our time, trying not to fall off the cliff. Whilst the rest of our team were sprinting down like they had nine lives.
For a moment I thought that, maybe going on a hike without checking the weather first was not a good idea. But at that moment, there was nothing I could do but run, run for my life.
With each wave of lightning and thunder I would speed up, and, eventually I was the first one to jump into the bus. To be honest, I didn’t even check on my friends since I felt like I was about to faint. Or throw up.
Luckily, we all made it back to civilization, surprisingly, without any physical injuries. Only with emotional ones.
Now, after almost two years passed, I can say that it was a great experience. Our team can make a reality show: “How to survive a storm and not to die one week before the prom.”
And I know now that my biggest mistake was wearing shorts and not taking the raincoat.