Currently in Prokletije, Albania
I thought I have checked most of the environmental causes of sudden death, but the bright future stills holds surprises. Let me tell you about permafrost. In geology, permafrost (or cryotic soil) is soil at or below the freezing point of water 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years. Most permafrost is located in high latitudes (in and around the Arctic and Antarctic regions), but alpine permafrost may exist at high altitudes in much lower latitudes. Like Austria. Rains and warm temperatures cause melting which results on crumbling, sinking, sliding, falling otherwise grave landscape changes. We got a rockfall 20m from my nose. I tried running, take a piss and take a picture at the same time. It didn't work on any account. This is a situation when you learn to prioritize - first run, then take a piss, photo is optional. First we heart ominous continuous cracking. Then 2 meters wide rockfall fell from high above. This happened in the first hour of the 5 day hike. Anything after that seemed to us cheerful and life-affirming. We catch the worst weather for the season - five days of rain, fog and wind along the ridge. You know if you are going into a puddle or a lake only after you wake your second step further in. The forecast is for a sudden improvement of the weather the day after we leave the mountains. I have an idea how I can be useful, do some good for the society. Ask me whether I plan to be in some area at a certain period of time so you can avoid unpleasant weather conditions. You can recreate our experience for these 5 days in your private shower cabin. Make the walls foggy to reduce visibility, then switch to cold shower, put on all the gear - shoes, raincoat, backpack not lighter than 10 kg (22 lb) and start walking for 6-8h a day.
You can't reproduce the terrain but to come closer to the feeling spread on the floor soap bars to imitate slippery granite stones and ask someone from the household to open the door suddenly and throw stones at you. Juri had a personal touch to the whole experience - frying his nuts while skipping over an electrified fence for cows. I suggest not to try this at home.
The fog was opening for short periods of time. It reminded me of something that happened to me long time ago. Me and my friends opened a Sex Shop in the 90s. While it was my turn behind the counter a granny peeked inside the store, looked around and said, "My dear girl, I know my time is well passed. I just want to see what I have missed." So we got to see from time to time what we are "missing". The photos I made were on these rare occasions and if I could feel my fingers and had the patience to fetch the camera from under the raincoat and inside the backpack. On some occasions the numbness of my hands was welcome so I can't feel how the rusted ends of the via ferrata turned into barb wire sank into my palms. Features of the Austrian mountaineering - trails are marked with same colors - red and white. When two trails cross there are signs or arrows. In the fog most of the "signs" proved to be crosses in memoriam of dead hikers. Another one - blankets in huts are labeled FUSSENDE at one end, and if you don't know that this means FOOTEND you are a sucker who covers his face with the side for feet. It's high time to start learning the language I reckon.