Author: Malena Salazar Maciá
Translated by: Toshiya Kamei

My breath came in choppy gasps as I climbed. I thrust my pick against the rock with all my strength and finished hauling myself over the edge. As I sucked in a deep breath, the icy air stabbed my lungs. I was the fourth climber to have conquered the Magic Line on K2 twice and survived to tell the tale, losing my two small toes in the process. This was my third attempt.

I raised the banner and stuck it in the snow with a trembling hand. Most likely, a storm would blow it away, but I was following the code. I checked my equipment and resolved to descend via the Abruzzi Spur. However, my first step to the opposite edge was caught in a curious crevice, a soft and suddenly moving fold that was never there, making me lose my balance. I used my ice ax in time to avoid tumbling down. As the tremor increased in magnitude, I crawled with my eyes wide open, as if that would help me understand exactly why K2 was furious with me. Pieces of skull, crumbled knucklebones, and something that had a terrible resemblance to a human femur shook free with the avalanche.

The dirt-covered eyelid was completely open, and the onyx pupil was now staring at me, reflecting my frozen face.