The above quote stuck out to me today as I read this story over at theHardwear Sessions Blog. The article is written by Will Meinen and tells the story of how he, and his friend Brandon Pullan, met legendary Canadian climber Urs Kallen and were invited to his place for a few beers. The three men were talking about climbing, and Urs lamented the fact that climbing has become too safe for a lot of people. His full quote is:
“When I started climbing it was full of adventure and excitement. It was all unknown, and the risk was real. Now a days it seems that most of the adventure has been removed, and the sport of climbing has become very sterilized,” Urs told us. “A kid in the skateboard park, dropping into the half-pipe is taking a greater risk than most self-professed climbers do.” When I asked how he defined climbing he said, “If it’s not more than 5 pitches it’s not even climbing, and if death isn’t a good possibility it’s probably not much of an adventure.”
An interesting quote indeed, and one that is sure to ruffle a few feathers. I’m sure there will be some people who take exception to how Urs defines “climbing” but I’ll leave that out of the equation altogether. The phrase that stuck out even more to me was that if death isn’t a possibility that it wasn’t much of an adventure.
To a certain degree, I really agree with him. That isn’t to say that you can’t have a great adventure without putting your life on the line, but if you look at the people who are really pushing the boundaries of adventure, they’re also putting their lives on the line.
Take for example Matvey Shparo and Boris Smolin, the two Russian Polar Explorers who recently completed their quest to reach the North Pole completely in winter. Every step of their journey was fraught with peril and they knew from the beginning that if something went wrong, there was the strong possibility that no one would come to get them.
Or how about Simone Moro’s recent attempt on Broad Peak, also in Winter. Simone and his team struggled for weeks on the mountain, in extreme cold, high winds, and freak storms. In the end, they didn’t quite reach the summit, but there was also a sense of danger throughout the entire expedition.
Everyone defines adventure a bit differently. For some, it’s a trip to their local park for an afternoon hike, for others it’s scaling a mountain on a new route. Adventures should push you out of your comfort zone, encourage you to explore new things, and yes, maybe even cause you to face the real possibility of death.
But with great risks comes great rewards, and when you find that adventure that calls to you, and you step outside of your comfort zone, those rewards will make it all worth while. After all, isn’t that why we seek the adventures we do?