Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Dave Weighs in on Risk Aversion

For an unforgivable amount of time, I've been meanint to flag an excellent post over at BigBrit regarding rock climbing and risk. Dave writes:

The second event which I got word of yesterday involves a good friend of mine, John. He was climbing out near Yosemite, and, while I won’t go into the details, ended up taking a bad fall, and breaking both his ankles.

As a climber, this rattled me. More so, since I have also broken my ankle climbing, albeit under a much different circumstance. Last weekend, before John took his fall, I was climbing down at the New River Gorge in WV, I lamented to my partner, ‘drew, That “I don’t really enjoy rock climbing any more”

Quite a statement from a guy who, aside from having a basement full of gear, has spent the better part of 3 years recreating in the outdoors, mostly climbing, and spending 2-3 nights a week in the local gym doing the same.

Maybe it was a pre-cursor to Johns fall, but, I don’t think it’s that I dislike climbing now and I didn’t before, but rather that my tolerance for risk has waned.

The first event, omitted here, is the London bombings. Dave knits together beautifully the two things, as beautifully as all of his friends hope John's two broken taluses knit together, and it resonates with me.

I too have been having trouble resuming climbing after effectively quitting last fall. I attribute it to a lot of things, most of which are more about time constraints than reservations about risk. Unlike Dave and John, my only notable injuries from climbing involve a whiplashed neck that's never been entirely right since a nasty fall a year and a half ago, and a dodgy ring finger that has made clear its displeasure at being called upon to hang the better part of my weight fromk its stringy pinch of sinews and tendon. But I do contemplate risk sometimes, more recently in connection with my sometimes dare devilish cycling (a sport dangerous enough to the cautious).

In any event, Dave's post is well worth a read.


Anonymous binky said...

Your post's appearance coincides with an arrival in my inbox about risk and climbing. A friend of mine was supposed to go witha group to climb out West (location changed to protect the idiots) and the party he didn't join ended up being rescued because of (IMO) sheer stupidity. Short on time, they decided to push ahead instead of turning back. Always a bad idea. I think there is not enough acceptance of turning back, and I think of a friend who did not get to complete his first attempt at Denali because he stopped to help down some other people who turned back. When asked if he was disappointed in not making it all the way, he shrugged. He was always and fully prepared to turn back if something more important happened.

Anyway, you comment about getting back into climbing struck me. You know, a year or so ago I climbed every day. Outside. Yes, I am so lucky as to live 10 minutes from Cooper's Rock. Then my favorite two climbing partners, the people I trusted the best and the most, moved away, one to Ireland, the other to Berkeley. Could I have bouldered? Sure. Climbed with other people? Yep. Did I need the break because of the persistent tendonitis in my arm that has never really recovered from the surgery 9 years ago? Absolutely. But somehow getting back on that horse has been harder than any other.

Here's hoping that we both can get back to it.

5:58 PM  

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