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glassgowkiss

Applauding risk acceptance beyond your own limits

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15 hours ago, TrogdortheBurninator said:

I'm not sure it's quite that black and white. Luck is a benefit for both the subjective risks and the objective risks. In the case of something like freerider, you still have risks like rock fall and  broken holds. The likelihood of those is perhaps less than encountered in alpine envions, but the consequence is pretty absolute. Also, dont forget that Honnold has practiced his craft in patagonia and other alpine environs. 

A quick look at the fate of a number of pure-rock soloists still reveals that it is a risky endeavor. Were Bachar or Hersey unlucky on the days they passed away? 

 

I think if you look at the total number of solo climbs where they came back safe (quit possibly thousands for those two) vs the number of hard alpine climbs before succumbing to the mountains, then soloing rock climbs looks "safer".  for them anyways.  I would die soloing a 5.9.

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4 hours ago, genepires said:

I think if you look at the total number of solo climbs where they came back safe (quit possibly thousands for those two) vs the number of hard alpine climbs before succumbing to the mountains, then soloing rock climbs looks "safer".  for them anyways.  I would die soloing a 5.9.

Gets back to that frequency argument though. A smaller risk at a higher frequency can give a shorter expectancy than a larger risk with lower frequency.

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22 hours ago, G-spotter said:

I wager everyone that's climbed has stories of close calls like that. Lucky isn't a learned behaviour. And it's nothing to moralize about.

This is my experience, and why I'm here and some of my partners are not.  They didn't screw up any more than any of us who alpine climb, and I didn't learn anything from their deaths that I didn't already know.

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On 3/17/2018 at 11:26 AM, oldster said:

Then the boys die on a standard descent where any regular joe climber could have been. Wrong place wrong time. S@!# happens.

Unfortunately not the case. 99% of accidents are a series of bad decisions, combined with some some bad luck. I only saw a handful of accidents we can classify as "wrong place at the wrong time". Marc had near miss on Stanley Glacier Headwall a couple of seasons back, where he had a huge class 3 ripper going over their heads. That should have been a wake up call for risk risk assessment. Avi forecast for that day was calling for considerable to high risk, and he still decided to climb in one of the worse avalanche terrain possible. 

Then he solos a bunch of crumbly rock routes and baits people to beat his day. Insane! 

Boils down to the fact, that there is a persistent glorification of risky behavior among climbers. 

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On 3/15/2018 at 1:23 PM, dberdinka said:

I don't have any direct exposure to paragliding culture but my impression is if you came down and said "I just thermaled to 30,000' in that thunder cloud!" you'd be taken to task. 

This nails it. Yes, pretty much the reaction would not be "good job buddy, you are a great pilot", but you "are an idiot and I do not want to be around when you kill yourself". 

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22 minutes ago, glassgowkiss said:

99% of accidents are a series of bad decisions, combined with some some bad luck.

Are you going to back that up with some data that supports that statistic?    Not that its super meaningful, since I guess you could say taking up a sport that has any risk at all was a "bad decision".    More like it was a "decision"....99% of accidents are the direct result of a  series of decisions.    Bad or good?  There is a huge continuum that you're not mentioning.  But I guess we're talking about accidents, so from the armchair they are all "bad".

And bad luck?  Duh.  What are we talking about again?

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48 minutes ago, olyclimber said:

Are you going to back that up with some data that supports that statistic?    Not that its super meaningful, since I guess you could say taking up a sport that has any risk at all was a "bad decision".    More like it was a "decision"....99% of accidents are the direct result of a  series of decisions.    Bad or good?  There is a huge continuum that you're not mentioning.  But I guess we're talking about accidents, so from the armchair they are all "bad".

And bad luck?  Duh.  What are we talking about again?

well of course it would be near impossible to make a even half decent number, I think that if one looks through any or all of the Accidents in North America Mountaineering, pretty much all of them detail the lack of judgement that lead to the accident.

I don't really want to speak for Bob, but I can remember a lot of bad decisions were good luck prevented me from a true accident.    And one time were bad decision and lack of good luck (bad luck?) were it went bad.  In that case though, good luck prevented me from death so I guess it is all good luck too?  my head hurts.

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yes i'm just saying there is a continuum by which we judge how bad a decision is, and usually we only call it bad if an accident happens...at least on the less risky side of that continuum.   sometimes getting out of bed in the morning seems like a bad idea.

by painting it as black and white, he's making it seem like 99% of the people who get into accidents made terrible decisions, when many "bad" decisions are only bad if they don't work out for you.  like climbing a mountain at all...its very rewarding experience if you're successful, good.  but if you attempt and get hurt, what "an idiot, what did you risk it all you adrenaline freak"!, bad.   This applies to the Tooth.  This applies to some crazy new alpine 5.14.  It depends who is in the armchair.  Remember the comments we got from the world at large when the Hood climbers went missing?  "Y" symbol???

of course there is the end of the continuum where its a just a terrible decision, even suicidal.  but its a continuum...its not black and white.  and where risks taken sit on that continuum often depend on a lot of information those judging from the armchair often do not have.  so i think Bob could be a little less "judgey" about things.  but i'm not going to ask him to be who he isn't, so there is that.  

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2 hours ago, genepires said:

well of course it would be near impossible to make a even half decent number...

There are numbers, there are statistics, and there are articles on climbing accidents. You can read ANAM and put together your own chart if you wish. Claiming there are no data or that risk can't be quantified is lazy at best and inviting trouble at worst.

To Bob's comment, my kids and I talk about how much luck and skill are involved in the games we play. Chess is all skill. Chutes and Ladders is all luck. For the ones in between, we try to assign a percentage. Settlers of Catan, for example, might be 70% skill and 30% luck. Cribbage might be 70% luck and 30% skill. Climbing accidents can be viewed this way as well.. Some are 100% human error (rapped off end of the rope), all luck (a stone falls down Everest and beans poor Ueli Steck), and many are something in between (getting struck by lightning in an alpine thunderstorm).

I advise, support, and invest in biotech and medtech companies. There are at least as many types of risk in these ventures as there are in alpine climbing. People's careers, reputations, and money are on the line, so we can't just throw up our hands and say, "I don't know" when it comes to evaluating risk. We try to break down the different types of risk, work to see what can be avoided or mitigated, and determine when there are unacceptable risks. It's never easy, and we still get it wrong, but we analyze as much as we can in hopes of making the most informed decision we can. 

In climbing, we don't get to learn from our mistakes very often as a single error can kill us, so it's important to learn what we can from the mistakes of others. Adding statistics and probability into these analyses allows us to learn from a larger data set than just a few examples.

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Super Heroes take risks.  Normal people do not.  That's what makes Super Heroes Super Heroes and not normal people.  "Superman" is not called "Normal Man"  for a reason: Normal Man is fucking boring.

Everyone is agog at Honnold, for whatever reason, from "He's amazing!" to "He's going to kill himself!".

Replace "Alex" with "Superman" and it all makes sense. 

"Superman! You shouldn't have taken such incredible risks to save Lois!" But he did, and he lived, and he's a hero.  Until he dies and then he's dead and everyone can go on and on about how he was taking too many risks and that she wasn't worth it.

He does love her, though...

Perhaps an innate human tendency to have intense feelings towards risk takers. Not selected for, in the evolutionary sense.

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1 hour ago, Rad said:

Claiming there are no data or that risk can't be quantified is lazy at best and inviting trouble at worst.

But quantifying risk is Y incidence per X events.  We have data on the accidents, but do we know the number of events that it took to produce those accidents?  That is what @olyclimber is getting at I think.

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1 hour ago, JasonG said:

But quantifying risk is Y incidence per X events.  We have data on the accidents, but do we know the number of events that it took to produce those accidents?  That is what @olyclimber is getting at I think.

The data probably exist, but it might take some work to get them. For example, in MRNP and NCNP backcountry climbers are required to register, so this provides data on the number of outings. This can be compared with accident data. In avalanche papers I seem to recall data about accidents per user-day. There will be cases where the user-days are not available or harder to get, but that doesn't mean we should throw up our hands and say there's no data. 

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3 hours ago, Rad said:

There are numbers, there are statistics, and there are articles on climbing accidents. You can read ANAM and put together your own chart if you wish. Claiming there are no data or that risk can't be quantified is lazy at best and inviting trouble at worst..

I guess I am lazy and inviting trouble.

or maybe I just require a highly accurate data set to come  up with a number.  My training was in applied math and not statistics.  Not comfortablable with unknowns left dangling.  You may be required to make inferences with less than complete data and be ok with possible correct or close or completely wrong conclusions.  You do what you must with what you got.  But I don’t like to go there.  If I can’t prove it, I prolly won’t say it.

 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, olyclimber said:

Are you going to back that up with some data that supports that statistic?   

Are you kidding me? Have you read AAJ accident reports?

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 6.02.29 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-03-21 at 6.09.59 PM.png

Edited by glassgowkiss

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5 hours ago, olyclimber said:

yes i'm just saying there is a continuum by which we judge how bad a decision is, and usually we only call it bad if an accident happens...at least on the less risky side of that continuum.   sometimes getting out of bed in the morning seems like a bad idea.

by painting it as black and white, he's making it seem like 99% of the people who get into accidents made terrible decisions, when many "bad" decisions are only bad if they don't work out for you.  like climbing a mountain at all...its very rewarding experience if you're successful, good.  but if you attempt and get hurt, what "an idiot, what did you risk it all you adrenaline freak"!, bad.   This applies to the Tooth.  This applies to some crazy new alpine 5.14.  It depends who is in the armchair.  Remember the comments we got from the world at large when the Hood climbers went missing?  "Y" symbol???

of course there is the end of the continuum where its a just a terrible decision, even suicidal.  but its a continuum...its not black and white.  and where risks taken sit on that continuum often depend on a lot of information those judging from the armchair often do not have.  so i think Bob could be a little less "judgey" about things.  but i'm not going to ask him to be who he isn't, so there is that.  

Well I guess in hindsight it Ian always easy to see the bad judgement in accident situations.  But it seems like there are usually obvious in hindsight lapses in decision making tha lead to accidents.  Maybe not 99% but prolly real close.  Things like not wearing helmet, continueiing upwards into bad weather, not protecting a climb well enough, etc.

i feel like you may be putting more into what bob said than he was intending?

my take of what bob says is that

-some days you do everything right and you have good luck and give a bunch of high fives

-some days you do everything right and get dealt a bad luck and you go home with a good story

-some days you make a bad decision and get some good luck and maybe you learn a lesson, maybe not

-some days you make a bad decision and get some bad luck and you get a epic story to tell

-some days you make several bad choices and no amount of good luck will overcome it.  End of game!

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Well Bob, good for you for providing data...but I don't see it backing up your 99% number.    7% falling rock, ice, or object.  it doesn't classify it as "a bad decision"...just a bad outcome. it could be related to a bad decision, but could it not also be random.  4.3% illness.  Is getting ill a bad decision? Under certain circumstances, it could be, but not all.   11.3%  slip on snow or ice...it says nothing about a bad decision other than the outcome.  It could be because of simple bad luck...a good climber tripping is not a "bad decision".  People don't "decide to trip".    39.4% people "decided" to slip fall or slip on rock.  Of course in all of these there are factors...factors that could be the result of a bad decision.  Or they could just be a bit of bad luck.  Those charts don't tell you that, however.

So what you're saying is 99% of the time people make a mistake of deciding to get out of bed.  yeah...you don't really have  point in my book about 99% being bad decisions unless you're talking about leaving your home as a decision.  And there are definitely some listed on that chart that fall under "bad decision".  I just don't see that number being 99%.  Inadequate equipment, not placing pro,  placing pro in the wrong spot, exceeding abilities....now those are "bad decisions".

I guess if by decision you mean "mistake"...like you consider tripping to be a decision...then I guess that works! 

 

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I teach a composition course to high school freshmen, and, as an assignment, they write an argumentative essay addressing the following prompt: Is is possible for climbers/mountaineers to make climbing a safer activity. Almost none of them have any direct experience with climbing. Most know almost nothing about it all. I provide them with data from Accidents in North American Mountaineering, a selection from Lynn Hill's autobiography, an article about the OES tragedy on Hood, and a video where two of my climbing buddies discuss their own direct experiences. 

Almost every student comes to the following conclusion: the environment that climbing occurs in is inherently dangerous and that the qualities of the choices that climbers make directly influence the rate of accidents. It is reinforced to me trimester after trimester that the math is not that hard on this one. Even an outsider, thinking carefully about the data,  can come to this assessment. 

One of the interesting points of data that they often marvel at is that exceeding abilities and climbing unroped are contributing causes at nearly identical rates. They also note that half of accidents are caused by falling.

When they ask me about what I do, my response is fairly simple. Accept that I engage in a dangerous sport and yet always make careful, thoughtful choices about my practices and habits.  

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2 hours ago, genepires said:

Well I guess in hindsight it Ian always easy to see the bad judgement in accident situations.  But it seems like there are usually obvious in hindsight lapses in decision making tha lead to accidents.  Maybe not 99% but prolly real close.  Things like not wearing helmet, continueiing upwards into bad weather, not protecting a climb well enough, etc.

i feel like you may be putting more into what bob said than he was intending?

my take of what bob says is that

-some days you do everything right and you have good luck and give a bunch of high fives

-some days you do everything right and get dealt a bad luck and you go home with a good story

-some days you make a bad decision and get some good luck and maybe you learn a lesson, maybe not

-some days you make a bad decision and get some bad luck and you get a epic story to tell

-some days you make several bad choices and no amount of good luck will overcome it.  End of game!

It is very possible I'm reading too much into what Bob is saying.   It just doesn't sit well with me when I think of the people I know that have passed while climbing, and to have someone pass judgement on them like that.   and all the situations you list make total sense to me.  But I also think there are other situations other than what you list.

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I would find those charts more useful in two identical sets by environment - one set for rock, one set for alpine. Muddle together they are somewhat less useful, but I still look at them.

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1 hour ago, bonathanjarrett said:

half of accidents are caused by falling.

Talk about a poor decision!

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7 hours ago, olyclimber said:

It is very possible I'm reading too much into what Bob is saying.   It just doesn't sit well with me when I think of the people I know that have passed while climbing, and to have someone pass judgement on them like that.   and all the situations you list make total sense to me.  But I also think there are other situations other than what you list.

You are absolutely right.  There must be an infinite amount of possibilities / situations that I left out like

-some days you do everything right and get dealt a supreme bad luck day.

i have a friend of a friend whose partner died right in front of him while approaching a alpine rock climb.  Both was wearing a helmet but a single random falling rock killed his partner.still.

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yeah.   somewhere in patagonia actually.  But I had a friend who got nailed by a microwave sized rock at lower town wall index.  Had to get 3 feet of his intestines taken out because  of the rupture and bleeding.  luckily he had a grown man small pot belly to absorb some of the forces.  A skinny little sport climber would have been cut in half.  If it hit his head, a helmet would have done nothing but make a better casket viewing.

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Yeah, falling rock is still an objective hazard rock climbing even if a rare one. Generally, you have a feel for the 'loose-factor' of a crag (hell, in the Sandias it's in the guidebook route-by-route) but not always. It is something you have to factor in even in rock climbing.

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