Frozen to Death!

by Rachel Gertz

Snow At Nakamun

Have you watched Frozen? Oh my god, I nearly pissed my pants, it was so terrifying. Just minding my own business, taking in the festivities with the in-laws at dear old Nakamun Lake, when we decided to watch a film about three suckers stuck in a chair lift. How bad could it be? 

Well, consider this: the casting, screening, and effects are convincing to the point where you wonder if maybe the screams of terror you hear mean your own fingers are blistering with cold as you hover in chair 75 beside them. Check out the trailer; pretty —pretty good. 

Of course, this got me thinking. How plausible is it that people could get stuck on a mountain in the winter? I had to do my research, and as you know, I am meticulous about fact checking (hah). You may have already heard of Alive, the book based upon the survival of the 45 Uruguayan rugby teammates who crash landed in the Andes back in the ’70s. Only sixteen of them survived (mostly as a result of cannibalism) and it took 72 days to reach safety. You might have also heard of Christopher McCandless. At age 24 he cut ties with his family to travel North America; he ended up dying of starvation one Alaska spring in 1992. His story was made into a major picture, Into the Wild.  Survivorman’s cashing in the survival business. He’s got a book filled with more harrowing survival stories. He annoys the shite out me, but that doesn’t mean he can’t write. Or it might. If you don’t like his writing, there’s a ton of other stories out there.

Anyway, the themes in these stories seem to draw on an important concept: the concept of the unexpected. The nubile rugby players never expected to plow straight into a mountain top only to be forced to chew on their dead buddy’s buttock to sustain themselves. Christopher McCandles never expected his desire to live independently off the grid to result in him starving at the pathetic weight of 113 pounds. 

Even though Frozen isn’t a true story (check out the film features to explore the true story of chair 94), the three unsuspecting college students never expected to face an onslaught of blizzards, hypothermia, wolves, and impending death after leisurely tackling a New England ski resort. 

The bottom line is: nobody ever sees it coming. So, do you think that questioning the worst case scenario makes any difference? That if you did, things would still happen exactly the way they would have? I didn’t think so earlier today. Then again, we were planning on tearing up three feet of Alberta snow out here, one snow mobile and no cell phone to boot. Our parents insisted we charge our cell phones and take two snowmobiles so we didn’t get stranded… I pouted because I just wanted to go go go.

But then I thought: what if the ice on the lake broke and one of us had fallen through? What if that ugly coyote snuck up on us and had its way? The truth is, you could be sitting down to watch some Sunday night TV and end up grimacing at a badly acted docudrama starring yours truly and Travis. Truly. I pity the poor sucker that has to sit through 76 minutes of something as flatline remarkable as a made for television movie of us falling through the ice or being eaten alive by rabid squirrels. 

What have you done recently that ripped the eyes off ya —you know, made you see the big picture or made you ask a question as powerful as, “What would happen if I ended up on a ski lift twenty-five feet off ground? In the dark. For five days.”

If nothing else, it makes you think. Doesn’t it.

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