This word strikes a chord amongst those that live within the outdoor community. It’s often referred to when adventures in an outdoor setting go awry and turn into larger scale, often more dangerous scenarios than had originally been planned. It’s a word that is generally associated with high praise and regard. A merit of sorts.
These tales get passed around camp fires, barbecues, climbing gyms and amongst communities of people who engage in outdoor activity at high levels. Often tailed by “ohhh’s”, “ahhhh’s” and laughter towards the situation. What is it about being drawn into additional, frequently unnecessary danger that pulls us all in it? Is it the images we see of high peaks traversing the range of our Instagram feed? Is it the perceived necessity to have stories to come home with? It’s undoubtedly more fun to discuss these stories with friends than it is to explain how well prepared we were and that everything went as close to planned as possible.
Spending significant time in the mountains provides a high base level of risk for even the most prepared. Are we increasing our exposure to additional danger in order to fill our Instagram feed? For a few minutes of stories for the campfire? Why are we praising these situations rather than asking questions about how we can mitigate them? There will always be unplanned events, particularly in outdoor settings, that present themselves and there are certainly times when an emergency bivy or moonlit rappel are the only means of getting home safely.
The question I’m presenting is: Was it necessary? Could it have been avoided with better decision making? Better planning?
I now find myself admiring those with a long list of backup plans and whose ultimate goal isn’t a story for the campfire but a way for the party to get back and enjoy the beers and peanut butter jelly sandwiches waiting in the car. To avoid as much unnecessary risk as possible. To get back out and be able to do it all again. Not every adventure has to be a life or death tale. This one certainly wasn’t.
Lilah and I packed up our car on Wednesday night with plans to head to Red Mountain Pass for a few days of split boarding amongst the monstrous San Juans. She ended up getting out of work later than planned on Thursday and we started our journey to Southwestern Colorado around 8PM. After some late night taco fuel, we raced into the night, crossing pass after pass until we decided to pull over and sleep for a few hours.
We awoke in the morning to birds chirping and Spring making its’ presence known. Our trip continued, eventually putting us on the pass to look over some options of lines to ride for the following days.
The next few days consisted of early mornings of uphill on sun doused skin track followed by beautiful, surfy, spring corn descents. Hot springs, beers and lots of breakfast burritos were peppered in the mix for good measure as well.
We didn’t come home with any fear-inducing near-miss stories for the campfire. We didn’t epic.