“The Ghost of La Anciana”

Miles Clark |
18,702-foot El Pico de Orizaba in Mexico
18,702-foot El Pico de Orizaba in Mexico

(Editor’s note:  Moonshine Ink of Lake Tahoe was good enough to run my article in their July 12th, 2013 print issue.  They also have a digital copy that we’ve excerpted here.  To read the full article please visit:  Moonshine Ink)


It’s 2 a.m., it’s dark, the road’s rough. I turn around to see my client’s eyes are the size of dinner plates. He’s wheezing, coughing, and breathing shallow. He contracted high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) at 15,000 feet on El Pico de Orizaba, the tallest mountain in Mexico, and he doesn’t know if he’ll make it. I tell him he’s gonna be fine, that we’re heading down, that it’s gonna get better, but I’m as unsure as he is.

I uneasily look to my left to see our Mexican driver and fellow mountain guide, Oso, looking into the darkness. He then looks hard right with staring eyes. There’s nothing to see — just our headlights, blackness, and the occasional patch of dune grass. He looks hard left again. He’s searching for something.

I lean in close and whisper to him in Spanish so that my client won’t understand: “Oso, what are you looking for?” He takes a deep breath, looks down, and mutters, “La Anciana (the Old One).”

A chill shoots through me, pin pricks wave over my arms and neck, and I twitch. I look back at my client. He’s spitting up blood. “You’re okay, Greg, you’re okay,” I tell him. “Keep breathing as deep as you can. In and out, as deep as you can. Keep it going. You’re gonna be okay.”

Hooked?  Read the full article here:  The Ghost of La Anciana via Moonshine Ink

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