‘Green Boots’ Cave’ by Jim Hinks

I read this story, thanks to some dark serendipity, not long after reading a good few pieces about climbing Everest, and more specifically the gruesome fact that there are a lot of dead people out there, that are staying there, up where shit becomes tough and if you’re up there dying is not a remote possibility for you either. I was (morbidly, maybe) fascinated by the fact that people who chose to climb Everest in effect accepted not only that they might die, but that people they loved might die, and that they might have to leave them behind up there in the 29,000-foot blizzard to die. By the fact, and this isn’t potential but certain, that they will have to find their way by the de facto signposts of abandoned bodies, recognisable and talked about by the colours of their coats, their boots.

As a writer I was starting to try to work out how could one possibly approach such a subject, such horror, when I came across Hinks’ story. And I had this most welcome sensation: that of finding someone else has written about what you wanted to write, and so well that you don’t have to try yourself; shouldn’t, really. Hinks up to his Cortázar tricks. Go read it now, it’s pretty short.

First published in Short Fiction in Theory and Practice, Volume 4 Issue 1. Included in Best British Short Stories 2015, Salt, 2015. Read online here – you’ll have to download the story