What do you do when desire drives you to the very brink?
On Sale: March 2, 2010
Featuring: Gabriel Rossiter; Katherine James
Mass Market Paperback / e-Book
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What do you do when desire drives you to the very brink?
The day Navajo journalist Katherine James met Gabriel
Rossiter, the earth literally moved beneath her feet. Nearly
killed in a rockslide while hiking, she found her life in
the tall park ranger's hands. Although she can't forget him
she thinks she'll never see him again. She is crushed when
she recognizes her rescuer among the law enforcement
officers raiding a sweat lodge ceremony one night, throwing
her and her friends off Mesa Butte, land they consider sacred.
Gabe long ago swore he would never again lose himself to a
woman not even one with long dark hair and big eyes that
seem to see right through him. But from the moment he first
sees Kat, the attraction he feels is undeniable. Appalled by
what he has been ordered to do, he's determined to get to
the bottom of recent events at Mesa Butte and to keep Kat safe.
But asking questions can be dangerous almost as dangerous as
risking one's heart. And soon Kat and Gabe's passion for the
truth and each other makes them targets for those who would
do anything, even kill, to keep Native Americans off their
How I Fell off a Cliff and Lived to Write the Tale
The story behind NAKED EDGE
The experiences that ultimately poured into Kat and Gabeâ€™s story began on July 28, 1994, high on Mount Ida (12,844 feet/3,914.85 m) in Coloradoâ€™s Rocky Mountain National Park. Iâ€™d gone backpacking with my father, a long-time alpine and rock climber, hoping to spend four days away from the demands of newsroom and motherhood. My goal was Arrowhead Lake, a hanging lake that overlooks Forest Canyon. I never made it.
About eight hours into our trek, we encountered a 20-foot wall of ice framed on both sides by cliffs. Without ropes and technical gear, descending the cliffs was impossible. The ice was our only route down.
My father kicked footholds into the ice and in a few minutes reached the bottom. Although Iâ€™d spent my life hiking in Coloradoâ€™s mountains and had done some basic rock climbing â€” my childhood home was ten minutes from the trails of Boulder Mountain Parks, for which Iâ€™ve volunteered as a naturalist, leading educational hikes and such â€” I didnâ€™t have my fatherâ€™s experience climbing ice. I tried to do what he did, but I slipped from the top and fell 20 feet, bouncing another 20 feet down a steep slope of talus and boulders.
I remember hearing my father shout my name and thinking without any emotion, â€śI might die.â€ť I felt bone snap painlessly as I hit rock again and again. In a split second, Iâ€™d gone from being a person with control over my future to an object caught by gravity. Later, my father would tell me that I looked like a human rubber ball.
I blacked out for a few seconds. When I became aware again, I found myself sitting up with my right leg caught around a large rock. My father was there, shouting for me to look at him, to say something, but I couldnâ€™t. I couldnâ€™t talk. I couldnâ€™t move. I couldnâ€™t even raise my eyes to look at him.
Slowly, I began to regain my faculties. First I was able to moan, then I could speak a little. Thatâ€™s when the pain kicked in. The nearer a body part was to my brain, the sooner it checked in. I almost passed out and started going into shock, which was really inconvenient for a couple of reasons.
For one, we were just beneath the mountainâ€™s summit in the middle of a rockslide area. For another, a thunderstorm was moving in fast. If youâ€™ve ever been in a Rocky Mountain thunderstorm above 10,000 feet in elevation, you know what that means. We were in danger from both lightning and from falling rock. Add the cold temperatures, wind and rain, and hypothermia was also a real possibility.
My father is adept at survival in the mountains and taught alpine climbing when I was little. He knew I was in no shape to resume climbing â€” I was still barely coherent â€” but he also knew we were in danger. He shoved every piece of spare clothing we had on me, then covered both of us with a tarp from our tent. We rode out the thunderstorm beneath that blue tarp, thunder echoing around us.
By the time it had passed, I was able to think and talk again. I tried to stand, but the pain in my right leg was overwhelming. It was clear that I wasnâ€™t going to be able to finish our trip. My father was going to have to leave me and hike out for help. Because of the remoteness of our location, he guessed that Iâ€™d be alone for the better part of 48 hours â€” one day for him to get out, and one day for help to get back to me. His priority became finding a relatively safe place to pitch our tent so that I could have shelter while he went for help. And that meant I had to keep climbing. The slope was far too steep for him to help me.
For the next hour and a half, I struggled down the side of the slope while he hiked ahead of me carrying my backpack. I had to scoot down on my behind, using my arms and my relatively uninjured left leg to maneuver around boulders. It was slow going and very difficult. But the worst lay ahead.
At the base of the slope was a snowfield about the size of a football field. The only dry spot around stood on the other side of it, and thatâ€™s where my father had pitched our tent. But I couldnâ€™t scoot across it on my backside because the snow was soft enough and deep enough that I simply sank. So I got on my hands and left knee and crawled, dragging my right leg behind me.
The pain was excruciating. I inched my way forward, my right foot catching in the snow, making me scream. I canâ€™t say for sure how long it took to cross that snowfield â€” ten minutes, an hour â€” but if ever I had a heroic moment, that was it.
By the time I reached the tent, I was soaking wet from the snow and exhausted. I carefully took off my right boot to find my ankle and lower shin swollen and purple. Then I took off my wet pants â€” along with bits of my right leg. My right quadriceps had ruptured, and some of the skin and muscle had been gouged out by rocks. Far worse, a third of the muscle was gone, liquefied on impact, most of the blood catching beneath my skin, forming a hematoma that had swelled to the size of a cantaloupe.
I reached for our first-aid kit and found a single Band-Aid and an Advil. I took the Advil, tossed the Band-Aid and put on dry pants.
When I was reasonably dry, I rolled onto my stomach and looked out of the tent up and up and up to where Iâ€™d fallen. I was able to see grooves carved into the ice by my fingers where Iâ€™d tried desperately to hold on. And thatâ€™s when it hit me.
I had almost died. And now I was going to have to spend perhaps as many as two days alone in this tent injured and waiting for help. I started shaking and crying, then, terrified, said a prayer out loud.
â€śI think youâ€™ve got a direct line to God,â€ť my father said.
I opened my eyes and saw a man climbing down that same ice wall. What happened next may be the strangest conversation ever to take place in the Colorado mountains:
â€śYou wouldnâ€™t happen to be a ranger would you?â€ť my father called to the man as he neared our tent.
â€śYes,â€ť the man called back.
â€śYour name wouldnâ€™t be Rick, would it?â€ť my father asked.
(Was now really the time for a â€śRanger Rickâ€ť joke? Give me a break, Dad.)
â€śUm, yes, it would,â€ť Ranger Rick said.
â€śYou wouldnâ€™t happen to have a radio, would you?â€ť my dad asked him.
â€śYes, I would.â€ť
It turns out that Ranger Rick was also a paramedic. He assessed my injuries and called for a helicopter rescue.
It took the helicopter a couple of hours to become available and even longer to find a place to land. The rescue was almost postponed until the next day, as the pilot didnâ€™t want to chance landing in the mountainous terrain in the dark. But at last he found a spot, then had to wait while Rick and my father helped me get to the landing site. At the very end of my strength and in significant pain, I could move only a few feet at a time.
As they helped me into the helicopter, the chopper pilot, seeing the grooves my fingers had dug into the ice some 200 feet up the slope, said, â€śWhoa! You fell from there? Why are you still alive?â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know,â€ť I told him. â€śBut if this chopper crashes, Iâ€™m going to be angry.â€ť
An hour later, I was safely at the trauma center, while my father camped on Mount Ida with Rick and finished our backpacking trip without me. (Rescue helicopters only bring down injured parties. Anyone capable of continuing the climb is required to do so.) With a broken tibia, ruptured quadriceps, broken ribs, torn Achilles tendon, and a bad concussion, Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™d have lasted two days up there alone. Statistically speaking, half of people who fall 20 feet are killed. I had survived a fall of twice that distance.
The injuries I sustained that day caused long-term damage that I deal with every day, particularly the concussion, which left me prone to migraines. But I am alive.
I remember thinking at the time, â€śI should use this in a novel some day. Then, at least, it will have happened for a reason.â€ť
So now I have.
I went back in 1997 and climbed Mount Ida again. Standing on the summit, I was able to look down at the place where I nearly died and feel victorious.
But I never made it to Arrowhead Lake.
20 comments posted.
Re: Naked Edge
I was terribly shy but I married the most-popular, exrtroverted boy from our high school and it has worked out beautifully. He has got me out of some of my shyness and I am happy for that.
(Gladys Paradowski 4:17am March 1, 2010)
My husband and I have almost
nothing in common. We've been
married for 15 years. I don't
know if opposites attract but it
does make life more interesting.
(Tanja Haack 6:55am March 1, 2010)
I think you need some sameness, but it's true, opposites do attract. My Great-Grandparents always joked that when they went to vote, they cancelled each other out! ;)
(Kelli Jo Calvert 1:28pm March 1, 2010)
While opposites do attract I think the similarities need to outweigh this for a relationship to work well.
(Mary Preston 3:42pm March 1, 2010)
My husband and I have been together for 19 years but known each other since grade school thought I would never end up with a boy like that, but I did
(Missy Crace 4:47pm March 1, 2010)
Of course, I have already admitted that I am shy, but I would be a coward at signing up for an online dating service. It seems to me it would be so easy for anyone to give false answers to questions. But since you admitted doing so, did you meet anyone interesting?
(Gladys Paradowski 5:36pm March 1, 2010)
Funnily, my husband and I are terribly different. All of his family and friends were expecting him to marry a very different kind of woman. And yet for all of our differences, we simply prefer to be together.
(G. Bisbjerg 6:30pm March 1, 2010)
Yeah, me and my hubby are
fairly opposites. He's a
sports jock, which I couldn't
care less about. I carry a
book everywhere I go and he
hasn't cracked one in 35
(Lisa Richards 6:41pm March 1, 2010)
My husband and I have quite a few things in common but also have quite a few differences:he doesn't like reading books at all and I can't stop reading for example; but somehow we've made it together 31 years and still going strong.
(Diane Sadler 7:20pm March 1, 2010)
My DH and I are both similiar and opposites, -- both kinda shy and quiet, I am the one that likes football and most sports, him not so much, we both do read----me just at a much faster pace, he like horror in stories and movies which is sooooo NOT me, unless you are talking about vampires-- those I do like the scary kind of as well as the romanticized kind
(Kelly Holt 7:25pm March 1, 2010)
My husband and I started out as opposites but after 40+ years of marriage we are now clones of each other. Strange but true.
(Rosemary Krejsa 8:21pm March 1, 2010)
My husband and I have been through a lot of challenges in our marriage together, but they have only made us stronger. We are really compliment each other and get along really well. He was laid off one time for two years, we didn't fight, we were able to get through the time together stronger instead of letting it tear us apart!
(Brenda Rupp 9:24pm March 1, 2010)
Gladys, I'm so glad you found the right man for you. How fun that you turned out to be opposites in so many ways.
Reading through all of these posts I was amazed at the number of you who pointed out significant differences. :-)
(Pamela Clare 12:28pm March 2, 2010)
As you say, Tanja â€” it does make life more interesting. :-)
Kelli Jo, that's so funny! We have a fair amount of that vote canceling going on in my family. Pretty much my entire family, counting brothers, sister and my kids, cancels each other out. LOL!
(Pamela Clare 12:29pm March 2, 2010)
Mary, I agree that most couples need to agree on some of the most basic stuff -- how to raise kids, where to live, that kind of thing.
Hi, Missy Grace â€” Amazing that you've known your husband for that long! And funny that you thought you would never end up with a man like him. We never know where life will take us, do we?
Gladys, I didn't meet anyone even remotely interesting. It was a complete waste of time, in fact.
(Pamela Clare 12:32pm March 2, 2010)
G. Bisbjerg â€” What's most important is that you and your husband understand why you're together. Everyone else can go ahead and be confused. :-)
Lisa, that's so funny! I got a birthday card from a reader that had a cartoon of a husband and wife on the front. The wife asks the husband why he doesn't turn off the TV and read a book. And he answers, "Because I don't have to go to the bathroom now." LOL!!!
Diane, congratulations on those 31 years! That's a long time. Good for you! It sounds like you two balance each other out.
(Pamela Clare 12:35pm March 2, 2010)
Hi, Kelly â€”Â How fun that you're the one who likes football and sports. LOL! That's not something you hear about every day.
Rosemary, congratulations on 40+ years! That's extraordinary! I would imagine that being together over that length of time would change you both. Good for you!
Brenda, it sounds like you and your husband have a very strong marriage. So often we tear apart those closest to us when we're under stress rather than being there for each other. I'm glad you've been able to weather the tough times together. :-)
Thanks for your comments, everyone! Good luck in the contest. I can't wait to share NAKED EDGE with all of you!
(Pamela Clare 12:39pm March 2, 2010)
I think that couples have to share some core values. Other than that the minor likes and dislikes don't really matter. But then, I'm not married; I can only tell by the rest of my family. grin
(Sigrun Schulz 11:10pm March 6, 2010)
WOW. To have survivied the fall and come out OK took some work. Thanks for using the first person POV and applying your slip to the novel.
(Alyson Widen 5:13pm March 13, 2010)
It sounds very very good. I would love to read it
(Marie Manolio 3:24pm March 16, 2010)
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