The Crest

The Crest

By: Nicholas C. Johnson

He had been saving. Scrimping. Putting every last dollar in the piggy-bank. Skipping meals. Working extra shifts, and a second job. He Sold plasma. He did anything conceivable to save a buck. His friends had long abandoned him, and he was dubbed the “Mooch,” by everyone he knew including his mother. Finally, after many years, He had saved enough.  He saved roughly sixty-thousand dollars. The sixty-thousand dollars he needed in order to live out his dream.

This man’s name was Jacob Peterson. Jacob was not an extraordinary man by any means. Jacob was approximately five foot, five inches tall (but he told people he was 5’7”.) Jacob had light brown hair, and his features were often described as plain (even by his mother.) Even though Jacob was a fairly plain individual he felt extraordinary. Jacob believed he was, particularly-special, and that his peers just did not understand why he was so special. Jacob was different, and special (in his own mind) due to his hobby. The hobby that he was just so proud about. Jacob’s hobby was mountain climbing.

Jacob did not only consider himself a mountain climber. Jacob considered himself a mountain enthusiast. Jacob climbed the tallest mountains in his region. As frequently as possible (he had been up Latadhin at least five times.) The fact that he had been able to conquer these giant mounds of dirt made him very proud of himself (even if no-one else cared). He especially loved the feeling he got when he got “likes” on his social media feed of the pictures he posted of himself at the top of a mountain. The thought of these “likes” made him shiver with anticipation for his next big climb.

Jacob had a really hard time understanding anyone who did not share his passion about mountain-climbing. “Those people,” he thought are just not motivated to do anything better in their life. If they were they would be willing to put themselves against the odds, and against the astounding power of mother nature. If these people were really climbers (in more way than one) then they would be willing to climb to prove they were unique. To prove, they could go against the odds and still come out on top (of a mountain).

In reality there was only one mountain that Jacob ever really wanted to climb. Mount Everett. His dream climbs. The highest summit in the world, by nearly one-thousand feat! The only thing that had been keeping him from that dream was the extreme expense that was associated with going up Everett. Jacob, had put a poster of Everett on his wall approximately five years earlier. Every day Jacob would look at the poster, and he tell himself “One day. I will be on top of that mountain, and it will be glorious.” This was the only thought that allowed Jacob to save up all of that money he needed. For all of those years. So, one day he could finance his expedition (Sherpas ain’t cheap). After five years Jacob had finally saved enough money to live out his dream.

Now all that was left between Jacob, and his life’s goal was a sixteen-hour plane ride, to a faraway remote nation on a distant continent. Plus, a one-month hike to the top of Everett. Then he would finally be able to get his selfie atop of Everett. Then all of the nay-sayers in his life would really be sorry that they ever doubted him. Jacob was so excited that those sixteen long hours on the plane were likely an eternity. Jacob had never experienced this kind of excitement in his twenty-something odd years on the planet Earth II.

Jacob attempted to engage the person he was sitting next to on the plane with some idle chit-chat about his plans of seeing the top of Everett. The person in the next plane seat over from Jacob, listened to Jacob’s mountain climbing exploits for an hour or so. Of course, Jacob had barely started to gush about how much the summit of Everett meant to him.. The man in the seat muttered something about a “pretentious prick” then put in some ear-buds and started listening to music quite loudly (Jacob honestly wondered why anyone would randomly throw that into a conversation with someone they barely knew, but Jacob could easily tell the man in the seat next to him was not a climber.) The disengagement from the fellow traveler left Jacob lost in his own thoughts for most of the plane trip. The more prevalent of those thoughts floating up in Jacob’s head included, but were not limited to:

  1. How many copies of pictures of me at the summit would I need to give as gifts?
  2. What would the appropriate hashtags for social-media pictures of me on top of Everett?
  3. How much longer was this flight?
  4. What would the title of the book they write about him? After he climbed to the top of Everett.
  5. How many likes will my various social media postings get?
  6. Would he meet the love of his life on the mountain?
  7. What was the last spot that he would be able to charge his extra phone batteries?
  8. Was their free WIFI on Everett?
  9. How experienced would his Sherpa be?

As you can see Jacob had a lot to think about.

Just as Jacob had about given up hope that he would ever land in the small nation that was home to the great mountain. The “Fasten-Seat belts,” light flashed on the planes overhead panel. Jacob knew this meant the plane was about to land. He would no longer be stuck in the small dimly lighted metal coffin. Jacob knew that once he exited the plane he would be one step closer to his final goal. The Crest.

Jacob touched down in the small country of Napalm. Jacob then waited thirty minutes to get off his plane. Then he waited another hour for his luggage. Another fifteen-minute walk to the entrance of the air-terminal. A twenty-minute wait outside for a cab to pick him up (there seemed to be a lot of people at the airport, and Jacob did not realize that Napalm was such a busy country.) After finally hailing a cab Jacob endured an hour-long ride to the base of the mountain. After the long trip Jacob had finally made his way to the bottom of the tallest mountain in the world. Mount Everett.  

After nearly twenty-four hours of traveling, Jacob had finally managed to arrive at the lodge where he had a room reserved. Jacob approached the desk of the lodge and informed the desk manager that he had arrived. “I am Jacob Peterson of Small Town, Merika. I believe that. I have a reservation booked here for this evening.” The man behind the desk looked back across at Jacob. His eyes grew wide. Then after a moment he responded.

“Oh yes sir…. I hate to be the one to inform you of this. Apparently, you did not get our e-mail. Due to the record number of visitors our region has been getting this year…. we accidently double-booked the hotel.” Replied the honest looking clerk.

“WHAAAAT!?” Jacob screamed at the clerk. All of his meticulous planning down the drain. How could they be so foolish, as to double book? He thought.  After the awfully long day of traveling he had just experienced the thought of not having the comfort of the room he had booked was extremely upsetting. Jacob began to fear that he would have to sleep outside on the ground. This was not the type of night of rest he wanted to get before he started the climb of his life.

“Nannot to worry sir.” The clerk looked down at his feet, while he stuttered out a sentence. “The hotel has put up a curtain in some of our rooms. If you do not mind sharing a room for the same price Mr. Peterson. We can house you tonight before you begin your big climb.” After finishing his statement, the clerk looked at Jacob with a sheepish grin.

“Do I mind! DO I MIND! I guess I don’t mind. In what room am I in? I guess. I will also need to know which side of the curtain I will be sleeping on” of course, Jacob really did mind sharing a room. Jacob was unwilling to potentially jeopardize his entire trip by not accepting that half a room. Even if the half-a-room was the same price as the full room he had originally booked. Hopefully the person Jacob was sharing a room with would have the same enthusiasm for mountain climbing that he had. Maybe this person would be the love of his life. Jacob was open to new adventures that was half the reason he began climbing in the first place. All of a sudden, the bad news was becoming a little bit better.

Eventually the exhausted Jacob made it to his room. He carried his own bags as the man at the desk said he had sprained his ankle earlier in the day while trying to carry another guest extreme amount of luggage. The room smelled horribly. Jacob guessed the other occupant of the room had traveled for as long as he had. As this was the first sanitary bathroom the other traveler had come across in nearly twenty hours. Not only did the room smell horribly, but there was a strange sound coming from a section of the room. At first Jacob believed that the sound must have been a faulty heater, or a piece of machinery. After listening more carefully Jacob realized that the sound he was hearing was in fact the sound of snoring coming from the other occupant of the room. The other occupant seemed to be a quite heavy older man. Jacob barely noticed the man’s snoring.  Exhausted after nearly twenty hours of travel. Jacob’s head hit the pillow, and in only a moment he was fast asleep. 

The next few days were like a dream. Jacob marched to the base-camp of Mt. Everett.  Everyone was so nice on the mountain. These people were all climbers. Jacobs people.  Jacob did feel that there were a lot more people climbing than he thought there would be. “Oh well,” “the more the merrier” he said to himself. During the initial hike to base-camp all the climbers were outfitted with mountain climbing gear, and assigned to different climbing groups. Each group was led by a Sherpa. After two days of orientation, which included time getting used to extreme altitude of the mountain the group of climbers began their ascent of the largest mountain on the planet.

During the first week. The group of climbers went through a large shifting wall of ice. Jacob thought the giant walls were extremely cool, and he knew he would get quite a few “likes” if he managed to get a great picture with the giant wall. When Jacob stopped for a moment to take the selfie The Sherpas leading his group harshly yelled at Jacob. The yelling startled Jacob so, the picture he got was a little blurry (why did I pay all this money if I couldn’t take pictures of my expedition anyway?) He wondered to himself.  Jacob then hastily put his phone in his pocket, and continued to move out of the range of the ice-wall. Jacob was well aware that there was little if any cell-reception on the mountain, and certainly no WIFI. So, he would have to wait to post his pictures on social media until he returned home. Even so missing this opportunity for an awesome selfie was particularly upsetting for Jacob.

Towards the end of the second week of climbing Jacob was getting really tired of not getting any great pictures with his camera phone. Not only was he not getting the great pictures, to make matters worse the colder the mountain got, the less his phones battery lasted (Jacob brought many spares on the trip just in case.) Jacob had hoped, that at some point during his climb there would be some great source of electricity he would be able to use in order to recharge many of these batteries. Alas, this was not the case. Still these were mostly minor complaints. Jacob was after all living his dream. Climbing the highest mountain in the world. Jacob had saved one particularly expensive camera battery for the summit (just to be safe.)

Jacob had assumed that the higher up the mountain he climbed the less and less people would be climbing with him. How is a man supposed to appreciate defying the odds and doing something elusive to most men, if there was barely any room to climb?  Jacob was unsure of how many people were climbing the mountain with him, but he knew the number was vast. In fact, there were just as many people now if not more than there had been at the start of his climb up the big rock. This was frustrating for Jacob, he was also pleased to see that so many people on the planet shared his passion for climbing.

Jacob was near nirvana knowing that the big day was coming. The day he had been waiting for, for nearly five years. The day when he Jacob Peterson stood atop the highest peak in the world. At the summit he would be able to look out all over the glorious scenery that only thousands of people had ever surveyed before, in the entire history of the planet. Jacob had used several of his reserve batteries by this point. Luckily, he still had several reserve batteries he was saving just for the moment that he reached the top of the mountain.

After another day of travel. The group of ragged mountaineers arrived at camp four. Camp four was the last stopping point before the final day of traveling, and the elusive summit of the world. At the camp Jacob did a full check of all of his batteries, and he gauged how well his phone would last in the extreme cold weather. Jacob reasoned that he had enough battery to last most of his last day ascending the mountain. Jacob reasoned he would not really need any pictures going down the mountain. The return trip would also take roughly a month.

Jacob was so excited that final night. Five years of scrimping, mooching, and planning. Jacob would finally be able to get his selfie atop of the largest mountain in the world. From now on he would be “that guy,” at parties who managed to climb atop the tallest mountain. Fortunately, Jacob’s running mind was exhausted after the long month of hiking up Everett. So, he crawled in his heavily insulated sleeping bag, in his somewhat overcrowded tent, and slept like a rock.

The big morning had finally come. Jacob woke up with as much energy as his weary body would muster. Jacob quickly picked up his portion of the camp. Then headed toward the Sherpas who were leading the expedition to the top. Much to Jacob’s surprise many of the other climbers who had not been as diligent over the course of the past months journey had all also got an extremely early start to the day. This was certainly the most climbers Jacob had ever seen this early. The head Sherpa stood at the front of the massive crowed and began to speak.

“Look I know everyone is extremely excited to be this close to the top of the mountain.” The Sherpa bellowed at the roughly fifty people who were now gathered around. “Still everyone needs to remember we are in an extremely hazardous area.” He continued with the same harsh tone that the mother of an extremely rowdy child would use in order to convey the seriousness of the situation. “Now, if we do this right everyone should get a chance at the top.” The Sherpa stopped speaking again due to the large amount of murmuring that came after his last statement.

Wait a minute. Jacob started thinking to himself. Everyone should get a chance at the top? “Should?” Jacob started to get nervous, he did not come this far to not get his moment at the top of Everett. After hearing this statement Jacob did his best to jockey toward the front of the crowd. The Sherpa began to speak again, “Ok we are going to proceed to the summit now. Everyone needs to remain calm, and remember there are a lot of people on this mountain currently.” After making his last statement the Sherpa turned, and started to lead the way up the mountain.

Jacob was starting to get nervous. I don’t have enough battery power left to last for the whole day he thought to himself. I’m really going to have to hustle past these people so I can get closer to the front of the line. For the first half of the day Jacob climbed as hard and fast as his body would carry him. Jacob was not as able to push himself as hard as he wanted too. He was exhausted from the past thirty days of climbing Everett. No matter how hard he tried he could not make any headway in advancing toward the front of the line.

None of the other climbers seemed nearly as weary as Jacob felt. Even though many of the climbers had been climbing with him since day one. While Jacob was having a hard time catching his breath many climbers he was in front of during the majority of the trip were passing him left and right.  The climbers seemed to have saved all of their energy for the final days of the hike. Slowly, but steadily Jacob continued to jockey for his position in the line for the summit of Everett.

When Jacob reached the top of the mountain he could see an extremely large line of people. The line snaked down the mountain path. Jacob was dismayed, his camera phones battery would not last all day. Jacob remained hopeful. He couldn’t have come this far to fail in getting his selfie atop of Mount Everett. The universe did not work that way. Especially for climbers. This line of reasoning left Jacob with only one option. To wait. Patiently. Or at least as patiently as he could.

The bitter cold did not help Jacob’s patience. The sixteen-hour plane trip had seemed like an eternity. Now standing atop the tallest mountain in the world, and waiting for his turn to reach the mountains zenith was even more unbearable. To make matters worse Jacob did not dare check his phone to see how much battery life it had left. Doing so would have only depleted the remaining energy the small electronic device had in reserve. The line moved. Slowly but surely. After approximately two hours of waiting Jacob’s turn was fast approaching. Jacob had never been more excited for anything in his life. The picture he was about to take would prove to his family that all the time, and money he spent attempting to reach the top of the mountain would pay off.

Five more people in line. Then four more people. The third person stumbled a bit while he was walking down the mountain. This stumbling man slowed the progress of the line by approximately five minutes. Five minutes is a lifetime for someone approaching their life’s goal. The fourth climber proudly took his place, and then quickly retreated back down. Now only one more person stood in the way of Jacob and his dream. This was the moment that Jacob had been waiting for over five years. The man in front of Jacob in line went to the top of the mountain took a quick selfie of himself at the top, then scurried back down the mountain.

Now Jacobs turn. He could feel his heart beating as he started to approach the Zenith of Mt. Everett. This was it. The moment he had been waiting his whole life for. Jacob reached the top of the mountain. The scenes were breathtaking. Great blue, and purple twilight filled the sky. Jacob almost felt that he was in space he was at such a high altitude. After admiring the view for a moment. Jacob reached into his pocket and grabbed his camera-phone from the depths of the heavy jacket pocket. Jacob activated the phone, then looked at the battery percentage. The battery image in the top right corner of his screen indicated that only one percent of his total battery power remained. Jacob panicked. After a brief moment of panicking, Jacob worked his fingers nimbly on the screen of his near-dead electronic device. Home screen. Camera. Flip-perspective. The image was there on the screen of the phone. Jacob reached to the capture button. Then all of a sudden, another message appeared on the phone. “Insufficient Charge. Phone now entering rest mode.”

Jacob screamed “NOOOOOOOOO!” Then the climber blacked out.

Maybe Jacob should have been a beach guy.

End.

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