There was a “whumpf” sound under our skis. I looked up at the F-A-B, my boyfriend. “Did you hear that?” he asked. “Yes” I said, starting to panic. I thought, “Let’s get past this slope in a hurry”. We went a bit further, and there was a second “whumpf”. He said he was going to cross further down the slope and took off. I wanted to go back. I was left there, terrified. I went back. He didn’t come.
The problem was this “whumpf” is a sound that indicated avalanche danger. There was no official danger that day in the mountains, out of the sun. However, that doesn’t mean that the occasional north facing slope full of windswept snow wasn’t going to come down on our heads.
I spent the afternoon at the pass, wondering if he was going to come back the way he went up or do the loop. If he came back the way he went up, he was going to have to cross that slope a second time. I sat in a sunny spot waiting to see. He had seven hundred meters more to go, and some distance, so it wasn’t going to be a quick run to the summit but at least a couple of hours of waiting for me.
I saw a group of three people come down after about an hour, then two more on another slope further away. I felt like vomiting. I could sit down but it made me too nervous. If we’d arranged something, I would have been able to enjoy my afternoon, had lunch, napped. But I was in a panic the whole time. I sent him audio messages but he had a new phone with him and wouldn’t get them. I set a returning time for 4pm. I would wait until then, which was more than enough for him to get to the summit and come down. After that, I would head down and….I wasn’t sure what. Call the mountain rescue folks? Not even sure that he needed to be rescued, just that I didn’t know where he was. I would only see him briefly if he did the loop and I didn’t want to miss him. So I stared and waited. I hated the watch that wouldn’t let time advance. I cursed the snow. At least it was warm where I was, and there was no wind. I got prepared to go down quickly if he came. I cried sometimes. The rest of the time, I just stared.
I finally saw him (but apparently, he didn’t see me). I put on my skis and joined him, overjoyed, crying. We were happy to find each other. We went out for a nice dinner. We tried to ski again the next day but the wind was too strong. F-A-B got pushed off his feet and we went back.
It wasn’t until the day after that we started to discuss what had happened. He was sure there was no danger. I was sure that he couldn’t really know that. I was supposed to follow him blindly and he was upset that I didn’t trust him.
The best analogy I can come up with is if you are out surfing and you see a shark fin. Some people would head in, others not. A shark fin doesn’t mean a shark attack, but it might. The “whumpf” doesn’t mean the slope is going to come down on you, but it might.
I’m not sure if I should have trusted him and gone on. I’m not sure if I can follow him blindly.