Mali Dol, The place were shelter was found. Photo Cyril Mayaud (DZRJL)

Pubblicato su Progressione 66

A scream, a whistle, then nothing. I just saw Darja slip towards a cave, and fall in it. It’s 4 pm, the bivouac is far away, the Sun is low. I run toward the cave entrance without taking my eyes off from it. My first thought is about a story that my father once told me, when he found the body of an unlucky skier that felt in a cave in Croatia some 30 years ago. Only few meters left. I look in: Darja is there, three meters deep. I look at her, she looks at me: JOY! She is not at the bottom of an abyss! I hold my hand towards her, I help her to get out. She is bleeding from the knee. I ask her if she knows where we are, who we are, what day is it and where we are going. She talks back to me, she is vigilant and consciousness. Very good! Whit us is Andrej, we discussed about what to do. It’s cold, it’s windy, Darja has an injured knee and he can’t walk. I wrap her in my down jacket, we empty the backpacks from not essential stuff, mainly alcohol and food that we were bringing to celebrate New Year’s Eye. The sparkling wine looks so ironic. The crest of the mountains around us are golden, I can’t help myself not to think that they are beautiful. It’s windy, so we move towards a more covered zone. We are on the edge of a big dolina, Mali Dol. In my mind only two thoughts: don’t make mistakes and find a shelter as soon as possible. I start digging a snow cave, Andrej go out searching for signal to call for help. Darja is near me, she is wrapped by my sleeping mat, since it’s the only shelter for the wind that I am able to provide her. I am digging with my ice axe, the snow is hard and icy, and is goddamn scarce.

photo Matej Blatnik (DZRJL), help has come

After one our and a half I break one part of the roof of the small shelter. I will need to start again from scratch. Darja is in the snow cave, inside the sleeping bag. She fight as a lion, she tells me that she is fine, I tell her that she will need to stay there some time, alone, while I will go searching for a place with more snow to dig a bigger shelter. Andrej came back, he was not able to contact anybody. We are alone. ALONE. Nobody knows where we are, or that we were coming, nobody will come searching for us. I start digging again, I feel no pain, no fatigue. I have no thoughts except one: dig as fast as possible and don’t crash the roof, if you crash the roof we are death, all of us. After four hours our new shelter is ready, it’s time to bring Darja there. I find her buried alive from the snow carried by the wind, so I need to gently dig her out. We enter our shelter and the long night begins. Minutes lasts as hours, we can’t move, our noses some millimeters away from the icy roof. I spend all the night hoping that her wounds are not to severe and that she will not pass away right next to me. It’s sunrise, we exit from our grave-shelter. I decide to reach the others at the bivouac, to break our isolation. Once there I start screaming: Hej, hej, help! Everybody are sleeping, no response. I open the door: “Good morning guys, Darja has a broken knee and we slept in a snow cave, go save her”. In a couple of minutes a group of people starts to walk towards them and the emergency services are called, after some time we see the helicopter and only when I see it going away with Darja on board I know that our story has a happy ending.

Domagoj Korais ( storia del 30/12/2018)

View of the cave where Darja fell, photo made in summer 2019.