Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
glassgowkiss

Applauding risk acceptance beyond your own limits

Recommended Posts

Kind of ironic in those situations when people are concerned about safe return, after applauding big alpine solos in marginal conditions. Reminds me of mass shooting and "thoughts and prayers". Watching a whole generation of Poles die in different accidents, the truth about old and bold still stands.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@glassgowkiss   I'm splitting your topic off from the other thread because I think for now we need to keep that one focused on helping people get through this time.

However, no one here is saying that this isn't at time for this discussion, so I don't think your comparison to congressmen/women in the pockets of the NRA ducking the gun discussion applies.  In this case, and others on the board, I think its healthy to have a separate thread for to share information among friends and family of the parties at hand and keep the discussion clear of assignment of blame or fault.    It can even help people cope with grief, which it hopefully won't be necessary in this case.

Again,  that isn't to say it can't occur here, or that it can't happen concurrently.    Obviously there is huge emotional power in an ongoing event, but I think its more about communicating that thought objectively if there is an overarching issue or concern that applies to more than the particular incident in hand.  The issue can be discussed in general terms, without becoming a blame game or a "told you so" session.   

When people take big risks, like soloing really hard/sketchy stuff,  and they succeed it is the climbing communities normal reaction to applaud them for that effort, even if it was way above their personal risk acceptance.  Lets face it, climbing grades, at least for traditional and alpine climbing could never rise without the acceptance of huge risk of the individuals pushing the boundaries of what is possible.    And when and if they get the chop,  I personally don't see a problem mourning for them.  They were my friends, why should I not?  There are a million ways you could choose to spend your life.   You can rot behind a desk your whole, was your life more fulfilling?   I personally find inspiration in folks who push the boundaries, even if I don't.   And the dangers aren't just because of the risk associated with climbing hard, who knows when that loose block on some dog route is going to choose to give in to gravity and take you with it?

Anyway,  I appreciate your point of view, and by all means anyone who wants to join into this discussion, join in here.   But lets leave the other thread clear of this type of talk out of respect for not only Marc and Ryan, but also all their friends and family.   Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's possible to cherry pick the "no old bold climbers" rule, but it does seem that objective hazards can only be somewhat ameliorated by skill and experience. Exposure to serious alpine risk over time can't help but increase your odds of untimely death. For every person like Jim Donini who's spent a lot of time out on the edge (and is still doing it, I think he's in Patagonia at the moment, and I don't mean Ventura CA) there are scores like my friend Guy Andrews, dead at 20 when things went sideways after the first alpine style ascent of the S Face of Aconcagua. I don't really think there's some disconnect between being impressed by someone's bold climbing and hoping for their safe return. I know several of our regional wunderkind like Colin Haley and Marc-Andre have written some very interesting pieces about risk and the desire to push things. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pushing one's limits is very personal as my limits these days are "bottom feeder low" compaired to most.  A top climber in form, their limits can be much above the average. In any case fame is fleeting , I personally strive for boring climbing stories and suffer the weight and expense of an inreach. Bad luck with weather or bad luck in general can do in even the most cautious climber or hiker.  Wish for the best... 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

reckon marc woulda been doing what he was doing regardless of public applause - in the big picture, celebrating daring climbers isn't nearly as impactful as celebrating, say, football players...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ivan said:

reckon marc woulda been doing what he was doing regardless of public applause - in the big picture, celebrating daring climbers isn't nearly as impactful as celebrating, say, football players...

Honold was soloing before he was famous, so yes- climbers will do whatever. But that is not my point at all. Just don't act all surprised and concerned, when accidents finally happen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't seen surprise -- but why not act concerned? Should we not be concerned? 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Really sounding like a grumpy old man here, dude. 

 

When someone loses a friend or loved one do you tell them to not feel sad? I don’t know how you feel all the time, and it’s none of my business. The feelings police don’t have any solid ground to stand on. Empathy. Only good that can come from this type of thing. 

 

If you feel sad, that’s fine, if you’re surprised, concerned, heartbroken, totally okay. If posting on the internet helps you, go right ahead. No one can judge the appropriate level of grief for another person. All that you have to give is compassion and love. 

 

I dont feel feel very good right now, and I feel like many others are feeling the same way. Take care everyone, and I love all of you that make up this community. 

Edited by keenwesh
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, glassgowkiss said:

. But that is not my point at all. Just don't act all surprised and concerned, when accidents finally happen. 

this is the key point that Robert is trying to make.  Maybe he could have made it in a different tone but that is his style.   But the message about being surprised is something worth considering.   Been in the game long enough to know that the rolling the dice long enough yields snake eyes once in a while.  My friends and I usually pick less audacous objectives and still have had several close calls.  I can't imagine the mathematics working against senior world class alpinists. I am more surprised by the ones that make it into old age.  Messner, Lowe and Bridwell are examples.

Not sure how we could change things and that maybe the job on reigning in excessive risk taking is best left to friends and family? 

As said earlier, it appears that people don't take risks for public approval.  I knew a couple of men who did climb for the approval of others but gave up when they realized how stupid that was. 

 I was personally worried that things were going kinda extreme or him when reading about his winter solos on slesse.    Only met Marc once and he is (staying positive) a very nice kid/man.

Edited by genepires

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

for a while I have been trying to figure out the mathematics with a probability of risk.  Seems simple enough to figure but there is a issue I have yet to figure out.  My question is what is the probability of an event (death) when there is a 1% chance of occuring every day over X number of days.  The sticking point is that experiment ends when the event occurs.  But as X gets large, your probability gets to be scary large.  I need to consult a working mathematician.

 

this is kinda getting to what Bob is talking about.  realize that risk over time will get us killed. 

 

Edited by genepires

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose there should never be any surprise, since none of us are getting out of here alive, but being concerned is one of the ways we offset the constant pall of mortality. Bob, if you disappeared while out flying I might not be surprised, but I'd sure be concerned. I'd miss you, you gruff old Pole.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Didn't seem that long ago Marc Leclerc was a snot nosed kid posting on CC.com getting harassed by some of you old nose pickers. He turned into a bad ass pretty quick, certainly enough to know and accept the risks he took. There is still a decent chance they walk out of this one too, and I know we all wish them the best.

 

I'm not sure "applauding" the risks is the way I'd say it, more like impressed by the risks and beating the odds. Off White has it well said about Donini above, (" it does seem that objective hazards can only be somewhat ameliorated by skill and experience. "), but then you have guys like Uli Steck who had otherworldly skill and strength and it still didn't work out. We all know if you choose to live the high risk game you play by different stakes. Big mountains, big stakes. I think you can be a badass and mitigate the risks somewhat. Look at Mikey, Blake Herrington, Jens, T. Caldwell... lots of folks....

 

...maybe we're all on the same page but need a campfire, some drinks and part of an evening to get the whole thing out on the table.

Edited by billcoe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think mostly this argument boils down to thinking you know what is going on inside someone else's head.  Either a climber or some person typing a message on the internet. 

That, and none of us like being reminded that this life isn't going to last forever.  Maybe because, for many, it raises deeper questions that we typically try to ignore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think part of the reason accidents are disturbing to climbers is that we are forced to acknowledge what we try not to accept: it could happen to us. We explain to ourselves and to each other "that would never happen to me" and "I would never make that mistake". But if you read ANAM you know we can all make mistakes and eventually luck catches up with you.

Mountains are inherently dangerous, but the danger is an essential part of the game for most of us, even if we all have a different tolerance for risk. Part of climbing is about conquering fear, and seeing Honnold or Leclerc is impressive for the mind control they've achieved. We can admire that, even if we would never take those risks ourselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, genepires said:

for a while I have been trying to figure out the mathematics with a probability of risk. 

Gene, it's easier if you flip it around. The chance of nothing happening in your model is 99%, or 0.99. The chance of nothing happening two days in a row is 0.99 x 0.99 = 0.98. The chance of nothing happening a hundred days is 0.99 to the 100th power. If you calculate this you get 36.6%. Which means there is a 63.3% chance something bad will happen if you climb 100 days with each day having a 1% chance of that bad thing happening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having lost many friends in the mountains only one really surprised me. That was Alex Lowe, not because he died in the mountains but because it was an exploratory walkabout with a big ass avalanche. Not what I would have expected. Others been been more of wrong place wrong time - rock or ice fall. While others have been because of a lapse in judgment. Those are the hardest. 

Everyone pushes their own envelope and regardless of the size of the envelope shit can and will happen.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Plenty of bad ass climbers have died in car accidents.

I am still holding out hope for these two, but as the days pass...

Easy to judge the climbers.  Decisions have consequences.  

I feel really bad for their friends and families. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, genepires said:

My question is what is the probability of an event (death) when there is a 1% chance of occuring every day over X number of days. 

I'm glad that nobody knows the real risk of heading to the hills, riding you bike to work, etc..  Because, for lifers, quitting isn't much of an option either. 

The older I get the more I appreciate the days where nothing goes wrong and as Marc said "the magic is real".    There is a lot can can and will go wrong in this world, so all of the day to day blessings (health, family, friends, adventures, etc.) I find my self more and more thankful for.....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Choada_Boy said:

Plenty of bad ass climbers have died in car accidents.

Not true. There are hard statistics contradicting this statement. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I think most of us solo 3rd to 4th class rock at times, or get on steep snow etc .Often enough on poor quality rock or soft snow etc . At some level there is no “them” and “us” it is only us.  Even just hikers get on sketchy ground. Best wishes and a prayer. 

Edited by DanO
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wolfgang Gullich died in a car accident but that is purely anecdotal.  My point is that people die all of the time doing all kinds of things, not to compare how safe different activities are.  "Drive to the helicopter and fly to the alpine climb" has a few layers of danger. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

-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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Found this:

Mountaineering Accidents by Location

Turns out: people die "mountaineering" where there are mountains (I would have expected more in New England).  I guess what I'm trying to say is that "Alpine Climbers Go Missing While Alpine Climbing" is not too much of a surprise headline, as shitty as it is for everyone. "Cutting-Edge Alpinist Dies in Avalanche While Reconnoitering Alpine Climb" is just shitty irony, as much as "World-Class Rock Climber Dies in Car Crash" or "Aid Climber Dies Rescuing Cat From Tree" or whatever.

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Choada_Boy said:

Wolfgang Gullich died in a car accident but that is purely anecdotal.  My point is that people die all of the time doing all kinds of things, not to compare how safe different activities are.  "Drive to the helicopter and fly to the alpine climb" has a few layers of danger. 

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.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Powerful stuff, Jay. 

It's generally not the deceased who suffer longest, but the ones they leave behind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×