As many of you know I have been contributing a regular column to the Australian outdoor adventure magazine Outer Edge, and the latest issue went to print recently with a host of great stories. The issue is focused on survival and features everyone’s favorite wild man, Bear Grylls, on the cover.
For my piece I expanded a bit on something I’ve written about here before and that is the impact of technology on modern expeditions and how it has changed the game in so many ways. Sure, it has made things a lot safer for the adventurers heading out into the field, and it is difficult to argue that that is a bad thing. But those built in safety nets have also taken away some of the inherent danger that comes along with adventures in the wild and remote places on the planet, and explorers heading out to those places now know that they can call for help with a push of a button, and a rescue operation will be underway within hours. That certainly wasn’t the case for guys like Amundsen, Scott, or Shackleton.
But it isn’t just that consideration. Modern communications has also changed the impact of a solo expedition as well. Gone are the days of a lone explorer spending weeks or months in the field alone, with no way to chat with friends and family back home. Instead, at the end of a long day, they fire up the sat phone and modem, so they can chat with their mom while they check the performance of their portfolio on their laptop. Those kinds of journeys are hardly the lonely, isolated affairs that they once were.
Of course, I also realize that the modern explorer had to balance keeping the sponsors happy while also getting their expedition funded. Modern gear helps to make that possible with daily dispatches, Tweets on progress, and YouTube videos capturing the events as the happen. It is the nature of the modern adventure game, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lament an earlier time.
For any Aussie readers out there I’d love for you to pick up the magazine and tell me what you think. Feedback and thoughts on the topic are always appreciated.