Out On A Peak!

It was late afternoon in the Himalayas. I was standing on top of a remote mountain peak in northern Nepal. As I watched from my sixteen-thousand-foot vantage point, the sun momentarily ducked behind a gray-and-white cloud mass that hovered directly over the crest of some jagged mountains to the west.

As if triggered by the sun’s sudden disappearance, a freezing, icy mountain breeze from the north assaulted the front of my body. Hurriedly, I zipped up my Gore-Tex down ski parka, rapidly pulled its hood up and over the top of my head, tugged on its straps, and secured it, firm and snug, around my freezing face.

The cold, stinging wind continued to rise as the sun moved swiftly on its ever-westward course. As I watched in awe, the color of the sky began to change from a light Nepalese blue into a soft, pastel rose and lavender tinged with deep purple and white streaks.

Standing alone, on an unnamed snow- and ice-covered peak, watching the everlasting montage of colors that filled the skies above me, I wished silently that I could remain in the breathtaking beauty of that time and place forever. But the rapidly rising icy wind, combined with the plummeting temperature, gave me no choice but to snowboard immediately down the mountainside or freeze to death, alone, in the oncoming Himalayan night.

My jet-black snowboard lay on the ground several yards ahead of me. I was about to mount my board and begin to snowsurf down the mountain—when suddenly I had a strong feeling that someone was standing directly behind me.

I quickly gave a nervous glance over my shoulder, but to my surprise no one was there! I was completely alone, out on a peak, in the late-afternoon snow.

Laughing out loud at the absurdity of the idea that someone else might be out on that same remote Himalayan peak, I turned back and looked at my snowboard…and yet, the strange feeling that I was being watched persisted.

Just as I was about to mount my snowboard, I heard a strong male voice call out my name from behind me. My stomach knotted. Reflexively, I swiveled around on the heels of my snowboarding boots to see who was there.

Much to my dismay, there was no one behind me at all! I was still completely alone at sixteen thousand feet.

I immediately assumed that I must be seriously losing it. “Probably the altitude,” I muttered to myself. I quickly mounted my snowboard, hoping to get off the peak before my altitude-generated hallucinations worsened.

As I snapped my snowboarding boots into their bindings, I heard the voice for a second time. “The dimensions! The dimensions! What has happened to the dimensions? They are all disappearing!” I heard the voice say, in what I can only describe as an emotionally charged lament.

Without bothering to look behind me for a third time, I quickly pushed off on my snowboard and began my run down the snow- and ice-covered mountainside.

I felt better when I started to carve in and out of the deep Himalayan powder. I kept my turns tight and completely focused my mind on snowboarding, consciously pushing the sound of that plaintive voice out of my memory until I finished the end of my run on the granular snow at the bottom of the mountain.