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About JayB

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  • Birthday 11/30/1999


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    Capitol Hill
  1. Agreed. Alpine climbing involves such a complex web of dynamic variables that trying to quantitate into some kind of an reliable predictor of risk is unlikely to be helpful, to put it mildly. IMO simple rules of thumb that promote safe safe habits are much more practical and useful. Everyone should read ANAM, and other compilations of close calls if they can find them. Back when life didn't make getting out for a bit of alpine climbing next to impossible I can remember encountering things like a loose ledge traverse between rappel stations and saying "Alright - looks like we're in the ANAM zone here..." before starting a discussion of what we could do to mitigate the risk. One of my personal rules of thumb was to stick to alpine routes at least two number grades below the top end of what I could lead at the crags, at least if I was going to be the one leading the harder pitches on the route. I still had close calls and epics, but I would have been in much worse shape if I didn't have that extra margin to play with when getting off route, encountering wet conditions, bad pro, etc.
  2. Another thing I've often wondered about is how people approach the question of what approach to take with their kids when it comes to high-risk outdoor activities. I'm definitely trying to expose them to the natural world as much as possible, and there's a certain amount of risk involved in that, but there are a handful of activities that I've engaged in that I'll continue to participate in at some level, but not only won't encourage, but will quietly hope they never develop an interest in. Alpine climbing and WW kayaking are at the top of the list. There are only so many "there but for the grace of God go I," moments you can experience before the universe's serene indifference to your existence, and the capacity for low-probability/high-mortality events to negate any level of skill, experience, or preparation make you question the wisdom of encouraging your kids to head down the same path that you've taken, no matter how much you've enjoyed it. Once they reach a certain age, if it becomes clear that they're hell bent on one or both no matter what I say I imagine I'll relent and do everything in my power to make sure they understand the risks they're taking and how to mitigate them, but I'll be quite content if it turns out they never develop an interest in either.
  3. Sometimes I've wondered if part of drives people to relentlessly ratchet up the risk, or persist in an extremely high level of risk-taking well into their mid-thirties and beyond might be a consequence of a void elsewhere in their lives. The single-minded pursuit of anything that requires a super-high level of dedication and commitment can preclude participating in quite a few other activities that give life meaning, purpose, and direction. I can imagine that if you aren't careful the domains of life outside of high-risk, high-commitment outdoor pursuits can atrophy to the point where an unhealthy amount of your identity, joy, and purpose come from activities that entail a significant amount of risk - and that's part of what keeps you on that path.
  4. Agreed. I think the general statistical pattern falls pretty neatly into a pattern where technical difficulty * objective hazards * repetition = increasing mortality, but there are enough noteworthy exceptions to the pattern to preclude any of us knowing how our particular coin-flips are going to turn out, much less that dialing our risk back to a particular level is going to guarantee that we die peacefully in our beds at an advanced age. Renotto Cassaratto (sp?) falling into a crevasse within view of basecamp after descending K2, Daryl Hatten falling out of a tree, Mugs Stump, Goran Kropp, are just the first few and I'm sure there are plenty more. My Dad wasn't a risk-taker, and action-sports had zero appeal to him. He did, however, have principles that he was determined to live by despite the fact that doing so entailed certain risks. He loved to jog, and it brought him a profound sense of peace and fulfillment. He also had atrial fibrilation and a pacemaker, and knew that physical activity above and beyond a particular threshold would elevate the risk of heart attack, etc. He also knew that an arrythmia or coagulopathy, or some combination of the two, could potentially strike him down while watching TV. So he kept jogging, and about 18 months ago he sustained some kind of a cardiac arrest while jogging on the Sound To Narrows, fell and broke his skull on the concrete and sustained a massive TBI. He spent the next several months hovering between a coma and a vegetative state where he could open his eyes and that was about it. Ultimately, his body was beginning to deteriorate so terribly that my Mother finally agreed that it was time to let him go. His accident happened three weeks before our youngest daughter and his final grandchild was born. Our oldest was four at the time and loved her Papa as much as anyone can love anything in the universe. He had an awful lot to live for, and it's possible that if he'd been able to accept a life where he'd never exert himself out of fear of overtaxing his heart that he could have lived many more years. But he couldn't. Our family suffered terribly as a result of his accident. Watching someone persist in limbo between death and consciousness for months is many orders of magnitude worse than someone simply dying. I was never sure if he understood the risks that I took, which despite being completely prosaic in the world of outdoor sports, always seemed completely bewildering to my parents. On some level, I think they both understood, and never held it against me. When he refused to stop being active - I understood, and I never held it against him. Even though I would never take the risks that folks pushing the boundaries take on, on some level - I understand their choices. You can do that, and mourn their passing even when you are at the epicenter of the grief their death causes.
  5. -I think that there's just something hard wired-in us to be impressed by, and applaud, accomplishments that transcend the limits of what most humans are capable of. That's particularly true when you have the first-hand knowledge necessary to appreciate the level of skill, talent, etc required for a particular achievement. That's true of many domains in particular, but alpine climbing at a high level requires so many capacities that people admire - skill, athleticism, determination, resourcefulness, mastery of fear, etc, etc, etc - that a certain amount of attention and praise is inevitable whenever someone starts putting up routes beyond a particular threshold. I also think climbing falls into a sort of grey zone where it isn't always easy to distinguish between and undertaking that's foolhardy and suicidal versus something where skill, experience, etc can largely mitigate the risk of death. At least that's why it seems to me that people tend to respond differently to the news that someone perished base-jumping or proximity-wingsuit-flying versus taking on an alpine route that's at the limits of what people are capable of. -When I read Bob's comments I can't help but wonder if part of what we're seeing is some Eastern Block psychology on display. I've often detected an air of resignation and fatalism from folks hailing from Eastern Europe with regards to death, risk, suffering, etc. More than one Russian I've chatted with has commented on what seems like a sort of naive, childlike optimism about risk amongst Americans in particular. "Life is hard, suffering is certain, and an early death is a predictable outcome of tempting fate. No sense in pretending otherwise." Not terribly surprising when you contemplate the history of that region over the past few centuries, but it certainly stands in stark contrast to the default settings that our culture imbues in most Americans. Might also be the reason why Eastern Block folks in general, and Poles in particular seem to have a virtual monopoly on Alpine routes that require immense amounts of risk and suffering. If the universe is geared to guarantee suffering and pain, why not gt your helping in the Himalaya? How many non EB folks were in on first winter ascents of 8,000 foot peaks? IIRC it was almost exclusively Poles, no?
  6. This place is like Monte Cristo

    The most exciting climbing related event I've experienced in the past few months was the discovery of a massive glacial erratic in "Martha Lake Airport Park" that you could actually use for a bit of light bouldering. Almost as improbable as the discovery of "Sweet Granite in Renton" many years ago. Someone fire it up and post a TR! https://www.summitpost.org/airport-boulder/823130
  7. This place is like Monte Cristo

    I think it's safe to say that these days you'd almost have to beg someone to come on and troll you and/or argue with you. Maybe if you announced a GoFundMe campaign to retrobolt Outer Space or something you'd get a taker or two but even that would probably only induce some offline eye-rolling. This site has been around that some of the original protagonists are at a stage in life where they reserve that sort of emotional energy for their grandchildren, or mitigating the effects of benign prostate enlargement, and some of the controversies about things like the ethics of replacing drilled angles with bolts would probably only elicit confusion from anyone under thirty. Hell - even "crazypolishbob" is a paragon of moderation these days. I think that the argument/trolling factor was obviously a put-off for a significant number of people, but I have to say that it doesn't appear to me that FB is totally free from that either. Kind of an occupational hazard of putting an even modestly controversial opinion out there on the internet. Ironically enough - it seems like a venue where people interact with made-up names can actually be kind of a pyschological buffer that enables to leave it on the internet. Interacting with real identities as on FB does restrain peoples behavior, but people seem to put "LolTron4000!!!" mercilessly mocking behind them them more easily than their third cousin's snide comment about the hat they wore to the women's march. That's a long way of saying that I think things are very different now, and I hope that more folks like yourself will dip their toes back in the water and start contributing TRs, etc again.
  8. This place is like Monte Cristo

    Even though this has been going on for years - seems like '09/10 is when I noticed traffic really falling off - the software upgrade has prompted a discussion about this amongst a few of the moderators that have stuck around. Part of it is that traffic to messageboards has been cratering since ~2010 thanks to the advent of social media and the fact that people are increasingly accessing the internet with their phones. Great for scrolling through photos, not particularly good for participating in any medium that requires much in the way of reading or typing. FWIW I think blogs have suffered declines that are just as dramatic, if not more so. I think that back in the day there was also a novelty-factor that's just flat out gone. It's almost hard to remember what it was like before the internet, but to me it almost felt like you had to rely on fate or good fortune to run into people who were into the outdoor hobbies that you were into. There was something undeniably exciting about tapping into a massive network of people and intel a thousand times broader than anything that would have been imaginable before. Trip reports, FA's, Pub-clubs, Ropeups, etc. I think that quite a bit of that high-grade psychological ore had been mined by the time the mobile/social wave came along, and the incremental loss of vitality those changes brought about certainly didn't help inspire people to keep participating once there was a sense that there wasn't much to add to what had come before. The funny thing about all of this is that, as I said in the moderator's forum - social media channels are a horrible substitute for message boards. I've never been involved in a social media group for any hobby that had anything more than a smattering of when/where/who type posts every now and then. They just don't lend themselves to serving as a medium for conversations/contributions that are the least-bit substantive or in-depth, and they are horrible as archives. I have no idea what happens to posts in a Facebook group, but it seems like it may as well be gone forever in just a few days. That leads me to what I see as the primary value of the site, which is an incredible archive of TR's, route intel, and experiences that'll never be reproduced anywhere else. I think that there are ways to leverage and build on that and grow the site and restore some vitality in the current internet landscape, but I think that it's unlikely the the vibe that the old-timers on this site remember from the first few years will return anytime soon. As an aside I wonder if the hotel proprietors in Lillooet are also wondering what the hell happened. On the few trips that I took up there it seemed like there were a couple of dozens climbers in town every weekend, and everyone with a set of tools seemed to know all about it. I'm way out of that scene now since I hardly have the time to climb at all anymore, let alone take off for a full weekend - but the handful of folks I know who are still active have never heard of it and don't seem terribly interested in making the trip. Maybe it's still going off up there, but if not it's an illustration of how things you'd think would be timeless (still the same amount of ice up there, no?) can wax and wane.
  9. Gotcha. The main reason I asked is that you seem to have the exotic-travel game pretty well wired and may have some more recent intel to share. Sounds like your bases are pretty well covered, but I'll share what I can recall on the off chance that it's of any help to anyone that happens to read this thread down the line. The last time I looked into getting covered for "extreme" activities overseas was about ten years ago when we were carrying individual, catastrophic insurance. After reading through the policies and talking to the insurance company I determined that the coverage wasn't adequate, and I opted to get a $50,000 medical policy through "International Medical Group" with coverage that included injuries sustained during "extreme" activities and medical-evacuation coverage through Medjet. Thankfully I never had to put either policy to use, but I was hoping that if I got seriously messed up in a car-wreck or the vastly-less-likely recreational injury it'd be enough coverage to get me stabilized and flown back home on a gurney, where my regular coverage would kick in. The rates were surprisingly reasonable. I think that the total premium for the medical coverage was something like $350-400 for seven months overseas. Can't remember what the tab was for the Medjet but it wasn't a significant expense relative to the rest of the travel expenses either. I'm probably a bit more paranoid since my wife has worked in ER's for a long time and every now and then sees the unlucky folks who get seriously jacked up and are in no condition to fly commercial for days/weeks even after they're stabilized.
  10. Also, as sort of a logistical aside - do you guys buy insurance for medical emergencies and/or medical evacuation back to the us for your trips? If so, who do you go with?
  11. Reading your TR's has always been like taking a mini-vacation. Super impressive and very inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to put together the TR's and share them here.
  12. Cheers

    I'll second that. He was a cool guy. Very much enjoyed meeting him at the Smith-Rock ropeup back in ~'03. Anyone been to his brewery recently?
  13. Oregon

    I hated having to worry about whether or not I'd be able to find a gas station that was open while driving around rural Oregon, but if it ever goes away I'll miss being able to use it as a quick and easy way to estimate the IQ of the person that I was talking to when I was in the state and the subject came up.