The tragedy of the Atlas Mountains
“A short, dry scream drowned out the waterfall. For a few tenths of a second I remain paralyzed, trying to hear any sound that will help me understand the shock that’s just run through my body. I want to be sure nothing has happened to my companions, that it was just a scare after a slip on the route, but that scream sounded as if someone had opened the mountain passes to death itself.”
In April 2015, the lives of three speleologists had Spain on edge for a week. They had had a major accident on their expedition in the Atlas range, and two of them were struggling to survive, trapped at the foot of a waterfall, while Spain negotiated with the Moroccan authorities to send a rescue team. A story that should have been resolved within a few hours, but that led to a diplomatic dustup with dire consequences.
In the voice of one of the people who was there, in the tradition of classics of mountain literature such as Into Thin Air, this book is the true and harrowing story of an astonishing struggle for survival told with the pulse of a thriller.
But no matter how much I psyche myself up, no matter how much I try to remember all the theory at the speed of light, no matter how clearly I know what I have to do... I feel unable to react. In front of me are the two motionless bodies of my companions, but my mind keeps saying that at any moment they’ll get up as if nothing had happened, and we’ll laugh about the spill they took, and we’ll get back to the trail with another story to tell the rest of the group when we meet again. ‘Some story, too! Fucking terrifying! My heart almost stopped!’ I know I’m getting confused again because reality keeps forcing me to try and grasp the tragedy and reality speaks loud and clear: fear paralyzes you, you’re shitting yourself... literally. In the midst of the abyss of a nature that is playing with us, crushing us like mere insects without a second thought, I’ve lost my dignity as a human being (and yet that’s not the worst of it). There’s no other choice: I have to start moving and help my companions.