Zombie Combat – Avalanche Zombies
After a day of skiing deep powder in your favorite alpine resort, you prop your feet up on the bench in front of a roaring logwood fire. A fierce snow storm the previous two days dumped over 60” of snow on the ground. The locals dubbed it, “snowmageddon”, but you just called it ,”fun”. A double manhattan in your right hand gathers beads of sweat on the glass, and the warmth of the alcohol soothes you both mentally and physically. Your eyelids begin to feel like a literal tone of sand is pressing down on them, and you finally succumb to warm cocoon of sleep next to the fire.
Suddenly, your chair begins to shake and it sounds like a freight train is barreling down right on top of you. In the pale light of dusk, you look uphill and witness a billowing cloud of white snow crashing down the steep slope in front of the lodge. Pushing trees that have stood for hundreds of years, boulders and everything else, a massive avalanche crashes into the lodge. Snow pummels the old log built lodge and stone hearth, but it can’t budge the structure from it’s foundation. Windows shatter, and you run to the safety of an interior room.
As quickly as the avalanche hit, it’s energy dissipates. Everything around you is deathly quiet. There is no movement and even the fire has stopped crackling. You and other survivors gather in main lodge to find the snow banks have piled up nearly three feet inside, but you are alive. A hasty headcount tallies that 10 people are wounded and at least 135 people are missing. Search and rescue teams are hastily organized with the local ski patrol and long avalanche probing poles are handed out. Well after midnight, it becomes too dark and risky to continue to the search, and the effort to rescue those buried under the snow is called off until morning.
The next morning, and the outlook for success is dim. The window to find and rescue those trapped beneath the snow, begins to close and the operation shifts from rescue to retrieval. Based on your expert mountaineering skills, you and a buddy have been chosen to scout a remote section of a high mountain bowl. It’s a grim assignment, as eyewitness reports have stated that their was a large party of skiers who were last seen there.
By dawn’s early light, you approach the patch of dead snow. The helicopter you drops you off and autorotates out of sight. Only you and your buddy are on the face of a sheer mountain wall and begin searching for the missing bodies. In a stark contrast to the gruesome task at hand, the weather is perfect. Through the polarized lenses, the sky looks impossibly clear and blue.
For a moment, you forget about the bodies entombed beneath you, when suddenly a human hand pops up out of the snow. The fingers are black and blue, clearly showing signs of frost bite, but the hand is moving. A survivor! Rushing over to the location where the person is digging themselves out of the snowy grave, you begin using your snow shovel to dig them out. Within moments, the person is moving out of the snow. They can’t speak, and only moan, but they are alive.
Your partner tries to assist the person who just “self-rescued,” but the man is not responding to him. He begins to asses the man’s medical condition, when the man leans over attacks your buddy. Fresh red blood spurts from his neck in a spraying arch nearly five feet. The snow turns to a milky rose color where the blood lands, and your friend screams out while tumbling downhill trying to get away from the maniac.
Another hand pops up a few meters away, and then another. More cadaver-ish looking humans claw their way out of their snowy graves. Each one has murderous intent in their eyes. These living dead aren’t the people who were buried, these are zombies. More and more zombies start appearing from the avalanche and they are surrounding you.
What do you do?
Evasive, Defensive, or Offensive?
Back country survival is hard enough without having to fight a horde of the living dead. Risking causing a secondary avalanche, you hightail it out of there. Luckily, gravity is on your side and you can make your way downhill much faster than the uncoordinated zombies. Jumping, sliding and occasionally tumbling head over heels you run for your life. With each breathe and step you increase the distance between yourself and the dead risen from their snowy tombs.
Once at the base of the ski lodge, other people think you are shell shocked when you tell them what happened to you. In the corner of the room a man is bound to wooden chair with his hands behind his back, and people are interrogating him. Allegedly, he used dynamite to trigger the avalanche. The catastrophic snow slide was no accident. Perhaps, he knew something that others didn’t.
The others in the lodge don’t believe your story, or the captured man, until the walking dead appear. Their snow apparel is shredded and broken limbs slow their gait to unnatural speed and stride. The avalanche zombies creep toward the lodge in a slow and steady pace. Bloodlust burns in their lifeless eyes.
One of the great zombie tropes that has gone by the wayside is the visuals of corpses ripping their way out of burial grounds. In modern zombie fiction, fans watch as humans transform into zombies or encounter them once they have become zombies. In era’s past, it was common to show the living dead as they materialize from crypt. In nearly all of these of these horror stories. the zombies are buried in the ground, but avalanches can also bury people.
According to www.Avalanche.org, and avalanche is, “An avalanche is a mass of snow in a swift motion traveling down a mountainside. Avalanches need a slope, a snowpack and a trigger to release.” Between 10/2017 – 8/2018 there were 22 accidental avalanches reported in the United States. These resulted in 25 fatalities. Most of the people killed were either skiers or snowmobilers. Those that were caught in the snow slide and buried were most likely to be killed. 75 percent of avalanches deaths are due to asphyxiation or suffocation, 25 percent of avalanche deaths are due to trauma. NSAA.org
Certainly, there are specialized infantry units that are trained fighting in mountainous and arctic conditions. The famous 10th Mountain Division is one such military unit. Designated for mountain warfare, these professional tough guys would be able give any zombie horde risen from an avalanche more than they bargained for. However, without the support, leadership and equipment of this type, a zombie first encounter in a snow field would be an “uphill battle” for sure.
Odds of Survival
B+. Although you may be caught by surprise if the dead rose from an avalanche, chances are you would be able to get away from them fairly easy. Most people who venture into the background or “out-of-bounds” are physically fit and properly equipped for at least short stays in exposed areas. The living dead coming back to life after being buried in snow is terrifying idea. Call them what you will; snow mummies, ice zombies, etc… no matter happens, you’ll be chilled to the bone.
Zombie Combat is a series that investigates hypothetical situations involving the undead in melee combat. Will you fight, run, or hide? Have a suggestion for Zombie Combat? Leave a comment below!