In life there’s a certain amount of inherent risk that comes with the phenomena of existing on this planet. Human’s are one of the odd species that routinely bolsters this risk for reasons we may not fully comprehend. People ride motorcycles way too fast, jump off cliffs dressed like a squirrel, and climb mountains to altitudes where humans don’t belong; all in the name of living?
We humans have this predicament where the trials of daily life are no longer enough to stimulate the senses, and fully engage our brains. We have to challenge our existence in order to feel that primal urge for survival. What happens all to often, is a shortcoming, with fatal consequences. These struggles may be primal, but the brains of our loved ones are wired to the modern world, and people don’t understand why we end up in these situations.
Last week 5 experienced backcountry skiers/snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Colorado. Conditions had the making to be perilous. Part of the allure of the backcountry is the virgin snow, uncrowded spaces, and challenge to make decisions that mitigate danger. The backcountry industry is growing exponentially, new gear and equipment makes potentially dangerous places more accessible, and can provide users with a false sense of security.
When a slope fractures on you and the mountain takes control, you realize right quick that the consequences of one wrong step can be greater than you could have ever imagined. Your brain takes over releasing catecholamines, thrusting your body into overdrive. You soon realize its no use, things get eerily calm, and your focus drifts to what you’re potentially about to lose. Never kissing your significant other again, never being a parent, making your parents outlive their child. Perhaps your brain latches on to family for some sense of familiarity and love to block out the fear and terror. But ultimately you realize, no matter how prepared you were, that you fucked up.
Accepting death in pursuit of life is a strange paradox, and it’s one many of us claim to hold true. I beg you to reconsider. Most people will never have to face the consequences, and will keep living under the facade that this is acceptable. Each time somebody meets their untimely end I grieve for them knowing that in those final moments there was probably no peace. Just fear, regret, and hoping to some deity for one instance of help that won’t come. Perhaps a few will feel peace in meeting their maker in a way of their choosing. But I will grieve none the less, knowing I was able to walk away, realizing I was totally unprepared for the consequences. I was able to tell my family I love them and continue living, while others with more experience did not.