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genepires

"stop telling ourselves lies about the risk"

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I have never lost a friend in the backcountry or anywhere in the mountains. Chalk it up to consciousnesses partners and luck. I know it will happen, however. There sure are tons of objectives hazards out there that we can not control.

 

Chalk it up to a young age and being new in the sport. It's a dangerous pursuit and there's no way around that. Climb/ski long enough and you will have friends die in the hills.

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I know 10 people that have died in the mountains. 8 skiing, 2 climbing.

 

My list is all climbers. Were your lost skiing friends all in the backcountry? It wouldn't at all surprise me if the stats for that game were pretty similar to climbing.

 

Does a heart attack while giving a climbing slideshow in your living room count as a climbing related death?

 

Yep. Mostly avalanches. One died when he lost an edge while skiing Liberty Ridge though.

 

Now I should also disclose four friends lost to non mountain causes. One murdered by locals at age 24 while trekking the Annapurna Circuit. Two of cancer in their 50s. One in his 40s who flipped a boat and drowned in a lake while fishing.

 

Add in a statistical bias to climber and skier friends and I am no longer sure if it really tells me mountain sports are higher risk or not. If I have more than twice the number of friends who climb to those who don't the two rates are pretty close? Everyone dies of something. I don't know anybody who died in a car crash though.

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We all make decisions on how we want to live our lives. Some of us seek more palpable ways to experience it.

 

Will Gadd's personal risk reassessment due to his friend's paragliding accident is understandable, and a healthy thing for him to do. To be there to see and hear that would shake anyone up. I wish him well and will keep a good thought for him.

 

Climbing can provide a way to self awareness and personal growth that would be tough to attain otherwise. The close calls, epics, joyous moments, and yes, pain in all it's forms will be there. Without all of it, would it be as enriching? Of course not...

 

I hope I don't end up dead on a mountain but It's not hard to think of worse ways to leave this life. I don't think climbing is crazy, or stupid, as I have heard people characterize it over the years. Selfish? Yes. But if approached correctly, honestly, can be life affirming, and a very rewarding avocation.

 

My guess is that people who would lie to themselves about the risks of climbing wouldn't last very long seriously pursuing it.

 

d

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I think it was well written and thought provoking. I quit climbing for years when my son was little b/c I couldn't get into a mental place where I could risk my life climbing with a little one at home.

 

As it turns out, I do four other things regularly that are more likely to kill me. All of them are optional. I know more people who have died or been seriously injured riding horses than I do climbing or skiing. I had never thought about that until Tvash posted that dumb link.

 

I don't think there is a right or wrong to this. I don't think its necessary to justify to the rest of the world the choice to spend time in the mountains. yes they can kill you. I think you, and your family have to be able to accept the risk. The world is not a risk free place. Many cool things would not have been done or discovered if people weren't willing to take some risks.

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Is this like the dead people I have known chest beating thread now?

 

I don't think so Pete, I think everyone is pretty sad about their lost friends, and talking about numbers is a result of thinking back over each person.

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Chalk it up to a young age and being new in the sport. It's a dangerous pursuit and there's no way around that. Climb/ski long enough and you will have friends die in the hills.

 

True I know several dudes who died climbing and climbing is indeed a dangerous pursuit. However I know far more people who have been maimed or killed in auto crashes. I feel climbing makes one confront risk in a more upfront way then driving a nice air conditioned car. This upfront risk and the management of that risk is what makes climbing such a cool sport.

 

 

Edited by Laughingman

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...I hope I don't end up dead on a mountain but It's not hard to think of worse ways to leave this life...

Every time I've come close to dying while climbing I distinctly remember not want to even be there just then. In fact, the time I was closest to dying I actually had a slo-mo 'life-flashing-before-your-eyes' moment (in b&w no less) while placing the piece that saved my life and then a heartbeat later, at the instant of clipping / falling which happened simultaneously, the thought and image flashed by that I'd rather be on my toilet reading a magazine. Ever since I've never bought into the 'he died doing what he loved' line you hear so often and I can categorically state here for the record I definitely don't want to die climbing.

 

Again, both risk perception and actual risk are a strange, not well-studied aspect of human behavior. My old climbing partner did his masters on risk perception and proposed a number of entirely safe experiments, but his thesis committee [ironically] ruled them all out as 'too risky'.

 

I lived in Hood River for six years and lived and hung out with all manner of windsurfers, mtn. bikers, and skiiers. From a serius injury perspective up there it was all mtn. biking with skiing a somewhat close second. Matter of fact, knee braces were as common as dogs up there in the 87-93 timeframe. Deaths seemed to be fewer in mtn. biking and much higher in skiing, however. Would be curious to know how many folks die at ski resorts every year in the US and I suspect it's not a small [or published] number.

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Would be curious to know how many folks die at ski resorts every year in the US and I suspect it's not a small [or published] number.

 

But that for the most part involves subjective danger, such as running into a tree or accidently skiing off a cliff out of bounds, or falling into a tree well. Objective danger, one encounters in the backcountry or mountains, such as serac collapse or avalanche is different.

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Uhh...since its now becoming part of the popular lexicon here, I just posted that meta study for fun. 1 seconds of Googlez...I have absolutely no idea where it came from. It could be, and probably is, complete unnernut chaffe.

 

It is true, however, that most of us in this discussion will die, rather slowly, painfully, and expensively, of either heart disease or cancer. Something to weigh for those mothers and fathers who choose to 'unselfishly' stay home and safely watch the tube with the kids instead of taking the little ones out where the real goodness is.

 

Just under half the folks I've known who were lost in the mountains died in avalanches, the rest in falls (some of those caused by rock/ice fall). Of my personal close calls, nearly every one involved rockfall of some sort. I would also recommend avoiding muskoxen whenever possible.

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

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ALl the data that you talk about is easily accessible. What I haven't taken the time to do is locate all the data on a common format. Here's the last reported ski resort data:

 

In the winter of 2009-2010, out of the nearly 60 million snowsports participants, 25 skiers and 13 snowboarders died, according to the National Ski Areas Association. Of the 38 people who died skiing or snowboarding at a resort last season, 30 were males. A majority of them were under the age of 40.

 

If you can turn that into deaths per skier days and find the same statistic for other sports, you could compare the risk. THen you could look at how to mitigate the risk.

 

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Would be curious to know how many folks die at ski resorts every year in the US and I suspect it's not a small [or published] number.

 

But that for the most part involves subjective danger, such as running into a tree or accidently skiing off a cliff out of bounds, or falling into a tree well. Objective danger, one encounters in the backcountry or mountains, such as serac collapse or avalanche is different.

 

Seems to me a cliff is an objective hazard. Just like a crevasse is.

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In comparison to resort Alpine skiing, my two cents:

 

I do have to add that one nice thing about climbing is that while there are objective hazards, accidents caused by climber ignorance, fatigue, confusion or mistake and also environmental risks (HACE, hypothermia, etc.), climbing has fewer risks than skiing when one looks at the kind of joint damage--knees in particular--typical in long time skiers.

 

I don't know ANYONE who has blown out a knee climbing. I know quite a few people that have blown knees or are having a ton of trouble just getting around in their 50's from skiing.

 

I would also add that climbing as a sport has far less risk than sports like football, hockey and rugby in terms of the risk of head injury (not to mention all sorts of bruises, tears, breaks, strains, pulls and sprains).

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Would be curious to know how many folks die at ski resorts every year in the US and I suspect it's not a small [or published] number.

 

But that for the most part involves subjective danger, such as running into a tree or accidently skiing off a cliff out of bounds, or falling into a tree well. Objective danger, one encounters in the backcountry or mountains, such as serac collapse or avalanche is different.

 

Seems to me a cliff is an objective hazard. Just like a crevasse is.

 

Yes and no. Most accidents involving both are due to human error. That could mean not tying yourself in or moving to safe ground when pulling a rap rope, for example. Or not properly testing your holds. Or placing a cam instead of a nut at Smith Rock and blowing a block down on your partner (it 'looked' really solid). Or not being familiar with covered crevasses in various snow conditions. Or not probing when you should. Or...

 

 

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climbing has fewer risks than skiing when one looks at the kind of joint damage--knees in particular--typical in long time skiers.

 

my shoulder, which is going to have to be repaired soon, begs to differ

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... at the instant of clipping / falling which happened simultaneously, the thought and image flashed by that I'd rather be on my toilet reading a magazine. Ever since I've never bought into the 'he died doing what he loved' line you hear so often and I can categorically state here for the record I definitely don't want to die climbing.

 

Most of us don't want to die period. But we all will. I think the point about "at least he died climbing" is as compared to some other comparable worse demise - say rotting away from cancer in a hospital bed, getting shot by a mugger, or getting t-boned by on the way back from the grocery store. Every one of us will go, and none of us really know when that will be. climbing is risky, but the rewards are enough for me to keep me doing it.

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