The fall

No idea what made me think of this, but just sharing…

When I was in New Zealand I visited Franz Joseph Glacier. I spent hours there, just sitting at the base of the glacier, watching the river burst forth from the ice, listening to the boulders of ice thud together as they passed me. I didn’t walk on the glacier, sitting at the base was enough. Watching the icy river was as mesmerising as watching waves crash on a beach or watching a campfire.

I saw two young men walking on the other side of the river with backpacks on. I remember thinking to myself, oh so briefly, “should they REALLY be over that (more unstable and dangerous) side of the river?” before immediately ignoring them. I saw them climbing up a cliff face but again, thought of them only fleetingly. About 20 minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of them fall down the cliff.

The cliff wasn’t terribly high – about ten metres or so. But enough to make a fall of that kind break things. He seemed to roll horizontally down. His mate quickly, but gingerly, followed (without falling). Now, the base of the cliff was hidden by a mound of boulders so I never saw either guy land. And remember, I was separated from them by a raging glacial river. They were too far away for me to call to them, and anyway, the sound of the river was too loud. There were people scattered here and there, but as far as I could tell, I was the only one who saw the fall.

What would you do? I started to wonder: was it indeed a person that fell? Or did person number two simply rolled his backpack down the cliff and then follow it? There was no running to the top of the boulders to attract anyone’s attention. Maybe person two could fix person one’s injuries. Should I go and get help? What if huge rescue teams came in and discovered that there was no reason for help and I wasted everyone’s time and money? But what if there was a dire need for help and I was just sitting there waiting for something to happen? Why didn’t they decide to have the accident on my side of the river where it would have been easier to help? Why didn’t anyone else notice so it could be their problem instead of mine? Really, what would you do??

I sat there for about ten minutes with these thoughts circulating around my head. Getting angrier at these two men for ruining my peaceful afternoon by the river.

Then I saw both of them walk back the way they had come. They had their backpacks on and were walking without any problem at all. I think it really was a backpack that fell, and not a person. They were fine.

I worried for nothing.

They made me worry for nothing.


Franz Joseph Glacier


10 thoughts on “The fall

  1. I agree with Peppermint, gasp and a real cliff-hanger well I suppose really a cliff faller. I too would have wondered and I’m not sure what I would have done either. I think if I had not seen any movement for 30 minutes I may have looked for or called a park ranger.

  2. Hmm, reminds me of the time I was sitting contently, sipping my morning tea while reading a cliffhanger blog post about witnessing a crazy maybe fatal/maybe not accident. I was thrown into indecision…How should I comment? Should I comment at all? What if I don’t comment? Should I recommend therapy? Should I get therapy myself? How do I compose that perfectly worded, life-changing 5-word comment? What if make the WRONG comment? Thankfully, everything ended happily and I was able to leave my usual, endearing yet sarcastic comment. Whew.

  3. Love the comment from Melissa!!
    Franz Joseph glacier – now that is a special place for me too!!! Stupid New Zealand guides leading a group of us through raging water (up to my neck!) …freezing!!! On the walk back it was lower…though the Swiss and Sweedish guys in our group didn’t want to get his trousers wet so they took them off and walked through icy water in their knickers… I married the Swiss guy!!

  4. Ooh now you really did get me thinking. What would I do??? I have no idea, and funnily enough it makes me really uncomfortable to think about it. Great story though!

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