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A Wall of White Chp18 - Jennifer Woodlief

A Wall of White Chp18 - Jennifer Woodlief



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Published by JenniferWoodlief
The true story of heroism and survival in the face of a deadly avalanche
The true story of heroism and survival in the face of a deadly avalanche

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Published by: JenniferWoodlief on Feb 02, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A Wall of White by Jennifer Woodlief©2008 Simon & SchusterExcerpt from
 A Wall of White
by Jennifer Woodlief 
A Wall of White by Jennifer Woodlief©2008 Simon & Schuster
The selection below showcases the deep bond between a parent and child – here,a father and his 11-year-old daughter – and the split-second willingness to face theultimate sacrifice for that love.
Excerpt from Chapter 18
….Meanwhile, Ray Overholt, a longtime groomer, had already left the service yard. Hewas in the cab of a snowblower in the parking lot below, anticipating his role in the snowremoval process. He had been expected at work at noon to relieve Mike, but conditionsbeing what they were, he hadn’t arrived until three o’clock. Ray idled the Norland’s twomotors, one for the engine and one for the blower, and looked out at the expanse of thewhiteout as he waited for Mike and Cliff to resolve the issue with the grader.The service yard where Mike and Cliff were talking over the repair was locatedabove parking lot level, between the maintenance shed and the main lodge. Mike, overnear the service entrance, noted two people trudging in his direction from the parking lot,one a little distance behind the other, sort of dark shadowy figures in the wind-thickenedroil of the storm.Immediately afterward, his attention was pulled by the sound of a small crackingnoise in the midst of the howling wind. From Mike’s location, the avalanche’s moredramatic announcement, a sharp blast or boom, was likely lost to the ratcheting storm.The sound Mike head wasn’t a rumble or a roar. It was a noise like twigs or woodenmatchsticks breaking, but it was not actually twigs at all, but hundred-year-old trees withtrunks a yard thick being snapped by a massive curtain of snow surging down themountain.The mountain had unzipped itself all the way around, the boundary sharplydefined by a thin crack that arced across the slope. The tear, more than a half a milewide, yawned wider as a plate of snow fifteen feet thick lost its grip on the mountainside.For just the briefest of freeze-framed moments, the snow on the mountain paused andheld, and then it fell as one complete windowpane.Mike, looking up to the face of the Buttress and Pond Slope to identify the sourceof the sound, saw a sight that few people have lived to describe. In a motion too fast forhis eyes to track, the snow was turning loose all at once, melding the mountain and thesky into an undifferentiated smear. The slope shattered into a buckling snarl of smallershards until the entire sky was obliterated by a wall of white, a churning, boiling swellthat grew larger and larger until it became the only view.The avalanche pounced on the mountain like it was crushing a can, not justknocking trees down but shredding them. Part frigid river of lava, part icy bubblingcauldron, the avalanche slid down the mountain in a mad whirl, destroying or entombingeverything in its way. In front was a spectacular 40-foot-high powder cloud with its
Excerpt from
 A Wall of White
by Jennifer Woodlief 
A Wall of White by Jennifer Woodlief©2008 Simon & Schuster
billowing leading edge blasting against displaced air and suspended snow particles.Within the seemingly cottony cloud, boulders of snow spun and collided anddisintegrated. As the avalanche raced down the slope, it vacuumed up immensequantities of new, loose snow in its path, growing more massive and powerful as it wentand moving with shocking, unprecedented velocity.The source of the speed, and the distance, and all the death to follow, was – if  judge solely on destructive capability – the flawless design of the avalanche. Once theslab ruptured off the mountain, like a chunk of plaster cleaning popping out of a wall, itleapt over the downslope staunchwall fracture and roared down the rest of the mountain.Usually, at that point an avalanche is slowed up somewhat by confrontation with thesurface it is running on – rocks, vegetation, the remaining layers of snow.That slab, however, was riding on top of an overinflated cushion of air in the formof several inches of puffy, light stellar snowflakes. As it plunged downhill, the avalanchebuilt momentum on the new layer of fluff, actually lifting right up off the slope. Andonce it jumped its track into the air, the avalanche was soaring resistance-free. There wasno friction to arrest its descent, no friction at all.As a result, the slide was capable of traveling not only faster but also farther –astonishing, unimaginable speed combined with the potential for unparalleled distance inthe runout zone. The phenomenon gave Mike Alves a front-row seat to one of the mostawe-inspiring sights in nature – an airborne avalanche literally flying down a mountain.In what seemed to him like some kind of horror-show slow motion, Mike forcedhis focus back to the figures in the parking lot, who by this point had progressed to within40 feet or so of the lodge. Relatively sheltered by the wind in that area of the parking lot,and with the lodge right up ahead and only a foot or so of snow on the ground to wadethrough, they had picked up their pace somewhat. They were close, just so close –maybe thirty seconds, maybe fifteen – to the edge of safety.Involuntarily, Mike took time to process the thought that these people were notfamiliar with the mountains, that they hadn’t heard the approach, they weren’t lookingthe right way, they weren’t aware of, weren’t reacting to, the monster bearing down onthem. And then, in just the briefest of moments before his own delayed survival instinctskicked in, he saw the two figures run.There were, of course, actually three people in the parking lot – Laura, her dad,and Dave Hahn. Two of the figures were likely so tight together that they seemed to beonly one, with Laura just ahead of or behind her father.From his perspective in the snowblower at the edge of the parking lot, despite theintensity of the blizzard, Ray Overholt was near enough to be able to make out all threefigures. As he watched through the swirl, he saw Laura, in her oversize boots, slip and
Excerpt from
 A Wall of White
by Jennifer Woodlief 

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mike carvell added this note
great excellent story make great read movie thanks
Hyla Molander added this note
Phenomenal writing and an amazing book. Great to have you on Scribd, Jennifer!
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