The avalanche had died down and Stan had been lying in the snow for nearly two hours when he caught sight of a figure, dressed in dark clothing, moving through the trees some distance away. He could feel his pulse racing in his ears as he lifted himself up into a sitting position.
“Hey!” he called. “Hey!”
Had the figure seen him? It seemed to falter, perhaps stopping to listen where the sound had come from. Stan took a deep breath, then yelled at the top of his lungs, “Heeeeeyy!” The sound flew from of his mouth, engulfed by the silence of the open expanse before him.
It worked. The figure definitely stopped moving, then emerged from the clutch of firs and started up in the hill. It took nearly ten minutes before the figure emerged into the form of a man, by the looks of his attire another amateur skier like Stan.
“Help!” said Stan as the figure approached. “I twisted my ankle in the fall, I can’t move.”
For a few moments, the figure merely stood glaring at Stan. “Can you speak English?” Stan tried.
“Quite,” said the man. “I will lift you up to support your weight on my shoulder. We must get you back to the town as quickly as possible.”
Through an awkward combination of movements, the two men managed to improvise a method of walking that would carry them down the mountain and back to the town. Leaving Stan’s broken skis behind, they started out.
Fifteen minutes into the journey, Stan looked at his rescuer, who had said almost nothing and seemed very pre-occupied.
“Thank you for finding me,” said Stan. “You’re exactly what this valley needs – a hero.”
The man shook his head. “I wish I was.” He turned and gestured towards the mountain behind. “My girlfriend is still out there, somewhere…”
To be continued