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  • It was 7 in the morning and we had finished our assault on Mount Hood. More accurately, it had finished with us, scaring us off a few hours earlier with creaks of snowmelt, and the whoosh of falling ice-balls. Two days before, an experienced guide had fallen to his death. We were virgin climbers, and the ice made us all nervous.

    Our guide picked up a lump of ice that had skidded to a stop near our feet.

    "We call this a frisbee," he said. "Next size up is a toaster. After that is a microwave. We don't want to see any of those."

    So, a few hundred feet from the top, we turned round in the darkness.

    The descent was a pleasure. The guide's death, the night-time ascent, the unfamiliarity of crampons had given me a low level fear, and heightened sensitivity for the climb. I didn't want to put a foot wrong. Coming down, it was easier, the sun was starting to poke through and you could see where we were heading.

    We got to the spot where we'd buried our snowboards and skis. We could see Timberline Lodge in the distance; an early breakfast was minutes away.

    I switched my crampons and climbing boots for snowboard boots and immediately felt more secure. Climbing was new for me, but snowboarding, I do that every weekend I can in the winter. I can do that sideways, backwards, up in the air.

    I didn't even get my board on. I walked over to the edge of the glacier, you know, check out the conditions, and in my fresh confidence, the sense that the climb was over, slipped up and shot downhill. At first I imagined I just needed to dig in my feet, and I'd stop. But I kept going, on my stomach, facing up the mountain so I couldn't see where I was heading. Just knew I kept accelerating.

    The day before we'd learned how to self-arrest with an ice axe. I tried it with my snowboard. Jammed it in the ice above me, but it just spun out of my hands and slithered off, much faster than me. It also flipped me onto my back, so at least I could see where I was going. Still couldn't slow down, but I managed to steer myself off the sheer ice to some crunchy snow and come to a stop.

    For a minute, I sat there in post-accident haze, much like previous times. The simultaneous calm and buzz of a lucky escape. Then I noticed my arm felt weird, and realized my shoulder had popped out when I tried to use my snowboard as a brake.

    A braver man than me would have slung it back in himself, but I took the coward's route, which involved a clumsy descent then a drive to a hospital, then the doctor trying to coax it back in with me unsedated. By then my muscles had seized up and, in the end, they had to knock me out.

    "This is propofol," Rick the nurse said.

    "It's the stuff that killed Michael Jackson." Grinning as he injected me with a cloudy liquid.

    Death Proof I is here.
    Death Proof II is here.
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