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Shore Leave

Posted on Sat Jan 21st, 2023 @ 8:53pm by Lieutenant JG Hank Solomon & Senior Chief Petty Officer Alessia Oxford

Mission: The Fluidic Web
Location: Earth - Alps

The chilly morning air filled Hank’s lungs and made him shiver for a fraction of a second. The sun just made its appearance on the valley and it would soon start heating the day even if winter temperatures would probably win this clash and remain sub 0C for most of the day ahead.

A quick visual scan of the area with the white mountains all around made him smile. “Are you ready?” He asked turning.
Alessia nodded all buckled up and covering her smile in her black buff. “I am, it’s an easy hike, isn’t it?” she asked.
Hank nodded “don’t worry, nothing special, but mountains, especially during winter, shall not be overlooked or underestimated.” He double checked his gear and the backpack “do you need help with those?” asked to the woman while pointing to a pair of ice crampons.
“I should be able to help myself” she countered “It’s just that my hands are frozen and can’t really work with gloves…takes more time” she finished while blowing some hot air into her hands to warm them up.
“Wait, let me help you” the man said kneeling in front of her and rewiring the laces connections of the crampons to the boots.
“Oh if you were about to propose I would have dressed more nicely” Alessia said while holding a laugh.
Hank smiled “Here it goes”, he said “watch out. It’s easy to hurt your own with crampons on. You need to walk with your feet slightly apart”, Said so, he wore his heavy backpack and started hiking along the trail.

At first the trail showed soft and hgh snow. Each and every step got the two alpinists knee deep into the white. Took them more than an hour of “swimming” into soft deep snow to reach the starting point of the via ferrata that would allow them to quickly gain altitude.

“Do we have to climb up there?” the black haired woman asked while checking the rock wall in front of her with very sparse metallic ropes and grabbing points.
A grin showed up in Hank’s face “scared?” he teased.
“No I’m not” Alessia immediately countered, inflating her chest to show how tough she was. “I was just making sure we were on the right track,” she added. Hank laughed while executing an eight figure knot on her harness “Look, since it’s your first via ferrata, there’s snow and we're not in a holodeck I prefer to have you roped up”. He double checked the knot, pulling a couple of times and checking its form. He then left a few meters of rope to safely distance from her, and knotted his harness as well. From the backpack he pulled a few quickdraws that he quickly clipped to the side of his harness together with a couple of ice screws and a belay device.
“Clip this on the side of your harness” he told Alessia holding her a carabiner with a made up sling. “If, for any reason, we need to stop somewhere exposed, find a suitable and safe spot and clip in.” he instructed.

Once both of them were ready, Hank started to climb the wall holding on to the metallic rope that was half covered by snow and ice. Crampons were eating on the ice pack, climbing equipment clinging as the two moved up and on the side. From time to time Hank peaked down towards Alessia. He kept checking her climbing helmet moving and closing in without complaining. “All ok?” he asked from time to time.
“I’m actually having fun,” Alessia answered. Felt like the truth. Her voice and words had some excitement in the tone. He couldn’t help but smile while executing the ascent.
Almost one hour and a half on the wall, a few quickdraws used just to have an extra protection and a good 200m vertical ascent later, the two emerged out of the via ferrata on an exposed ridge.

This view is amazing, Hank thought while recovering the rope and helping Alessia out of the climb.

“Great job” he exclaimed as soon as her helmet showed up and her boots touched the iced terrain of the ridge. Her eyes widened as she admired the valley below them all lightened up by the sun. A few clouds below them covered some of the nearby cities and towns while a sweet peak of Lecco lake showed up. Everything felt so small from up there.

“C’mon, we’re not done yet” he told her pointing at the summit not far away where a metallic winter hut was standing against the blue sky. “Roughly another half an hour through this ridge and towards that cabin and we are on the summit” he explained.
Alessia nodded, still marveling at the beauty of nature at that altitude. “Let’s go then” she said and led the final summit push.
The two alpinists finally touched the summit of Mt. Grignetta.
Alessia was amazed by the beauty of that place. Left to right the view is simply breathtaking, also thanks to the sun shining in a now cloudless sky.

From East to West the nearby mountains of Grigna, Mt. Legnone and Mt. Due Mani. A small view of Lario lake and finally Mt. Barro. That was the view from a 2177m mountain top.

Hank, on her side, let his eyes scan that view and finally ended up staring to Alessia in her moment of happiness.
All of a sudden she turned towards him and hugged him tight. “Oh, Hank, thankyou” she started “I now understand why you love alpinism so much. And thanks for letting me be part of this” she concluded.
The man hugged back in a long and tight hug. “Yeah, we really needed a break after our last mission, that’s how I recharge my batteries before departing again”.


Lt. JG Hank Solomon
Chief Science Officer - USS Eminence

SCPO Alessia Oxford
Science Technician - USS Eminence


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