Katarina Kukuruzović is a GP of Medicine, but her life is anything but general. A website content administrator and content writer, a ghost writer, a journalist, a mountain and rock climber, a biker, and a dancer are all some of her professions and passions. She has several short stories and poems published, along with articles in PC Press magazine. She writes in both English and her native Serbian.
Ascending and descending, climbers and BASE jumpers alike meet on Monte Brento, in Arco, Italy. Just two meters square of flat white rock stick out at Via Vertigine’s (VI+, A2, 1000 m) exit, from which jumpers start off. There I was looking over the precipice, waiting for two friends climbing up the 30 dizzying pitches, one after another. Behind me was a small crowd of imitation birds, hobbling in their wingsuits. A mishmash of words could be heard among them, in languages spanning Europe, here a kilometer high above the road leading to Riva del Garda.
“Mucho BASE!” each said before disappearing into the wide drop below, their wings spreading out and setting themselves free.
Before diving into the void, a BASE jumper came over to tell me that his friend had just radioed him from the valley. He saw my two climbing compadres making a go of it, as he was flying down.
“In a half an hour or so,” he said, “they will be here”.
“Thanks,” I replied before he jumped.
One by one, these free birds set off into the abyss. “Mucho BASE” exiting their lips. Soon it was only me sitting on the cliff’s edge, secure in the shade of a small tree to which a rope was tightened.
I took a sip from my water bottle. The warm breeze wafted against my face. My eyes met with the greenery of the valley between Monte Brento and Monte Bondone. In the distance, Lago di Garda was a blue canvas on which white dots of sailboats drew invisible lines against the surface of the lake.
A swishing sound like a rope free falling from the wall made my hair stand on end, but realizing it was the sound of swallows flying by at the same height I took a sigh of relief. My two friends were hanging on the massive overhangs below, taking in the view and struggling to the top. I felt nothing but awareness of the air I breathed, the Sun that kept me warm, the Earth that nurtures us all, and the energy in all things, giving them life and making me feel alive.
Anchored to nature by both rope and spirit, it was a contentment of providence streaming through me as if my body had not end or beginning. The oneness hollowed me out to fill me with a celebration of existence - an equilibrium of flesh, mind, soul and the universe.
My body was awakened on the precipice but then awoken again as I saw an orange helmet and a hand coming up from the edge of the rock.
“Hey there,” I said, hearing my voice serene. “Welcome to the horizontal world!”