Just last week, Art was at LAX saying sadly goodbye to his loving family and getting on a plane to Switzerland. He had planned on taking a few trains to Zürich, with no trouble, but was greeted with more than what was wanted.
When he had entered Switzerland, he had taken the first train as planed, but when it came to the transfer, he missed his second train and was stuck in a completely different and foreign world. This was where his difficult challenge had begun.
Art managed to get to Zürich by patience and questions. He was helped by foreigners and vacationers alike, making the complicated journey to his first destination easier than if he had no assistance
When he finally arrived to the hotel with exhaustion and sore feet, Art met up with the team of climbers that would be joining him on his long trek up the snowy Swiss Alps. They started right away and began to acclimate, as well as try to make it to the first peak. Everyone had summited unharmed except for an unexperienced mountain climber who had painfully twisted his ankle on the way up.
The next day, the team, excluding the injured man, mountain climbed yet again. It was here where one of Art's fellow climbers received a call from his worried wife.
“The weather report says that there's supposed to be a storm coming in where you are in a few days,” she informed with a tad bit of concern laced in her voice. Her husband frowned, matching her concern, but thanked his wife for the information and hung up. He relayed this info to Art and the others, causing a hush to fall over the team.
“I have an idea,” Art stated, causing the team to look at him. “How about instead of going to Montoya Hut, we climb five peaks tomorrow and head to the Margarita Hut on Signaulkuppe. We can beat the storm and climb Dufounspitze the next day and head back down to Monte Rosa Hut,” he suggested while taking deep breaths every now and then. The high altitude squeezed his lungs and made it even more difficult to breath.
The others seemed to like the brilliant idea so they continued on their way, this time following Art's plan.
A flake of snow had fallen onto Art's nose, and many followed soon after. “It looks like the storm finally hit,” he observed quietly as he continued to scale the mountain diligently with his climbing team. Soon, it grew even more difficult to climb in the blinding sheet of snow. The group was persistent though, and decided to see if the storm would clear up while they continued to climb. I'm on a mission, Art tiredly chanted as he swung his pick ax once again.
Come four-thirty in the morning, the storm hadn't calmed down. The wind grew stronger and the snow pelted exposed skin. It seemed as if the gods were pouring loads of powder from the heavens, so the team decided to head down to the mountain to Zermatt before the snow trapped them in the hut that they had approached a while ago.
Art followed his team out the door, carrying his heavy backpack and donning crampons strapped to his boots. He observed what he could see of the darkened winter wonderland before him. Everything was pure white. The snowy alps and the puffs of white raining down at a slant created this image for him. After his observation, they continued their trek to the swiss town, with three new climbers tagging along. They walked with difficulty and persistence through the seventy mile-per-hour wind and snow.
I'm on a mission, he chanted as he followed his team's guide. His face stung and his heart rate increased as they crossed over weak and hidden crevasses. He continued to walk blindly after his team, always aware of the dangerous crevasses that he passed over. Crevasses were like a trap door to death, often collapsing under any climber's weight. They encountered and broke dozens of these frail ice bridges, but all of them were fortunate enough to be tied together, and thus stopping fatal falls.
Art contained his fear though as he bravely crossed over glaciers and crevasses. He just continued to chant and think to himself, I'll just go a little further and take a break. That break never came, but eventually they had come upon a snow covered hut.
He observed the hut where the hut was placed and couldn't help but think of how beautiful the peaks of the alps would look like from here if the sky were clear of threatening storm clouds. They had only stopped for food though, not wanting to risk being snow bound in the hut.
They once again continued to trek through the storm, but now instead of powder falling from the sky, it was rain that fell down on them. The expedition team crossed over the glaciers and the Moraine fields before finally reaching a train to take them back to Zermatt.
Once Art had finally found the comfort of his hotel room, exhausted and soaking wet, he called his wife.
“Hello?” she answered, causing Art's face to brighten. He told her that he finished climbing and was safe. They exchanged “I love yous,” and “I miss yous,” before hanging up.
“Oh how great is was to hear her voice,” he thought with joy as he got prepared for bed.
As he lied there in bed, in the last moments before sleep, he questioned himself, “Why am I here doing this? Why am I not back at home with my wife and daughter?” A little voice replied to him before he fell victim to the sandman.
“Because, you're on a mission.”