Monday, June 13, 2011

Error Correction: Sometimes It's Just Too Late

Mountain guides have a concept called "error correction", the timely recognition and correction of errors in judgment when engaged in activities in mountain terrain. A simple yet elusive concept for recreationalists who frequently seem adept at not only failing to recognize their own errors in judgment but seem to actively obfuscate them.

I've read and heard so many trip reports where obvious glaring errors of judgment have been made - frequently at the very beginning of the trip - yet the participants of these trips will go on to relate all the wonderful judgment calls and decisions they made hence forth, seeming oblivious to the fact that the blinding error at the beginning of the trip has doomed the entire enterprise from the beginning.

Need an example? Remember the group who set off to ski a big south slope in mid-April at 11 am? This group related a series of decisions made throughout the remainder of the trip that were clearly meant to indicate to the listener/reader that the group was making good, safe, considered decisions. But, in this case, the first mistake was so big and so bad, and, well, frankly so dumb, that no amount of "good" decisions later on could possibly correct for it. Sometimes, it's just too late and you blew it just too badly. That's why mountain guides talk about TIMELY error correction. 

 This guy realized his error when the slope released below him, now he's madly side stepping back out of harm's way

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