Thursday, March 24, 2011

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world. Arthur Schopenhauer

Today, Doug and I skied up White Queen via the north ridge. I've skied up this route, literally dozens of times over the years, but I've never seen the ridge so windblown as it was today, nor seen the reverse cornices that had grown (in the last few days) on the final northeast ridge that leads to the summit. Those reverse cornices got me thinking about how when I go out in the mountains, I can always imagine dozens (again I'm being literal) of things going wrong.

There is virtually no limit to the things I can imagine going wrong in the mountains. Broken bones, broken heads, broken gear, people getting lost, people falling, gear pulling, carabiner gates opening, cams jamming, belays failing, avalanches, rock fall, ice fall, serac fall, cornice fall ..... the list is virtually endless. As would any prudent person who spends a lot of time in the mountains, I do my best to minimize the risks afforded by this plethora of misfortunes, but a lot of the time, I get the sense that many of my companions wonder what on earth I'm fussing about.

The astute reader will have picked up by now on the significance of the quote that begins this blog entry. The trouble with recreating with me is, that I have seen it all and have lost any naive assumption that “it won't happen to me.”

For your edification, or amusement, below is a list of all the things I can remember happening to me with the caveat that this list is likely incomplete as many more things have likely gone wrong than I can remember.
  • Lost people.
  • Lost dogs.
  • Lost skis.
  • Lost waterbottles, food, fuel and other essential supplies.
  • Food-drops that have disappeared into lakes.
  • Pneumothoraxes
  • People falling on snow, rock, and ice.
  • Rock fall
  • Serac fall
  • Cornice fall
  • Avalanches (too many to count)
  • Broken skis
  • Broken boots
  • Broken poles
  • Broken packs
  • Broken tents
  • Broken bones - usually legs
  • Dislocated shoulders
  • Blisters and bleeding feet
  • Broken helmets
  • Broken compasses
  • Broken glasses
  • Broken stoves
  • Broken waterfilters
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Septiceamia
  • Hand holds breaking while climbing
  • Footholds breaking while climbing
  • People falling into streams
  • People falling into lakes
  • People falling while climbing unroped
  • People falling while lead climbing
  • People falling into crevasses
  • People falling into moats
  • Dogs falling down cliffs
  • People falling down cliffs
  • Entire parties going the wrong way
  • Parties getting split and losing their companions
  • Parties losing one of their members
  • People deceased from falling off cliffs
  • Lost kayaks
  • Lost paddles
  • Lost spraydecks
  • Lost boots - and people walking through the mountains with no boots
  • Broken crampons
  • People rappeling off twigs
  • People rappeling off loose boulders
  • People off-route and panic stricken, see people falling while lead climbing
  • People with smashed up legs from lead falls
  • People unable to move up rock climbs due to the macrame they have made of their ropes
  • People stranded on rock climbs
  • Gear pulling
  • Gear falling out
  • Carabiner gates opening
  • People stuck in tree wells
  • Lost tents
 What could possibly go wrong here

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