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Author Topic: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face  (Read 16594 times)
skykilo
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #25 on: 06/24/08, 08:52 AM »

Dipping....

The fact is, in the mountains, everyone risks it all.  To say anything else is denial, unless you have a level of mastery that surpasses anything I can comprehend.  The evidence is readily available.  The element of the unknown in such a large, complex system will always be there; it's an integral part of the experience and the adventure.  Yes, we all can and should work to reduce it, but it will not be vanquished.

Is it necessary to deny this to also let your loved ones know that if you died in the mountains, you blew it?  Let it be known: I have no desire to die in the mountains, nor anywhere else, but I also know that it is not my choice when or where I will go into that great unknown.  I always have been and always will be a fallible creature, subject to errors, and it is quite possible that some day one of these errors could cost me my life.

Here's a little story from a few years ago.  A buddy of mine from Texas did the right thing.  He didn't drive home drunk.  He slept in the back of his truck instead.  He slept in a funny position and died from a blood clot.  He was survived by his wife and daughter.

"Oh no, that's different."

I'm sure we could type until our fingers fall off our hands, until we get the exact meaning and implication just so, but I don't care about that.  I do enough technical writing for my taste.  Skiing is freedom, the mountains are freedom, and damn it all if I can't be a little loose with how I express my sentiments about these things.
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skykilo
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #26 on: 06/24/08, 08:55 AM »

I would also like to thank Lowell for posting my name next to the esteemed byline of Walter Bonatti; it's an honor.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 09:03 AM by skykilo » Logged
danhelmstadter
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #27 on: 06/24/08, 10:16 AM »

Jason, glad you are OK, sounds like a hell of a scary ride.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 10:31 AM by danhelmstadter » Logged
Jim Oker
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #28 on: 06/24/08, 12:14 PM »

Jason - glad you're OK, and thanks to you and the rest of the crew for sharing what you experienced, including your thoughts on your state of mind before the slide.

The "what's it worth?" discussion is sort of interesting perhaps on a semantic level - but I think I'm hearing everyone agreeing that none of us would actually say "I'll trade my life away in order to do that trip." But Sky is also right that we all have made a bargain wherein we accept at least some level of risk of death for our pursuits (for that matter, most of us make that trade every day in order to commute to work). Some are willing to or unconcsiously take greater risks than others, but none of us are going on the trip where we're told "you'll be shot sometime toward the end of this trip, but it will be awesome until then..."

Edited to add: when I first read it, I took Sky's quote as simply a prod to be sure you're seizing life.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 12:44 PM by Jim Oker » Logged
Charlie Hagedorn
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #29 on: 06/24/08, 01:15 PM »

... but none of us are going on the trip where we're told "you'll be shot sometime toward the end of this trip, but it will be awesome until then..."

Sounds a little like life, except we're already on the trip.
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powdherb
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #30 on: 06/24/08, 01:22 PM »

Good to hear you're okay, Jason. Excellent write up, by the way.
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Teleskichica
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #31 on: 06/24/08, 03:15 PM »

These may not be the right words, but in reading this, I am compelled to post my three cents. 
I get the feeling that there is more of an air of jubilation of having missed death (which I am certain Jason is feeling!) as opposed to a sobering assessment of what happened and a real warning.  In the end of the initial post, it is also said that we can "hide under our beds" or choose extreme unexplored vistas. (my gross paraphrase of the actual statement)  That is too black and white.  There are ways to soften the edges and still enjoy life to its fullest.

Regarding Sky's quote.  I think it can be interpreted in many, many ways depending on what you want to get out of it.  To me, it is another way to say, "If you die today, do you have any regrets?" 

These things aside, I think the more important posts have been overlooked:

Sky:  "And Jason, you already know that I have a lot of love for you and I'm glad you're all right.  Maybe next time try to be more like that scared pansy of a rando skier who was waiting below you: timidly cut the slope through the convexity and run for cover."

Jason:  "Trust me, I thought about that on the way down Sky. I wasn't very smart. Not at all. I just came busting down the slope like indiana jones. I can't believe I did it looking back. But a million rights doesn't make one wrong any less costly."


Jason fortunately did not pay a price.  But, I sure hope it has clearly registered to us all that there is a great price out there if we do not exercise the knowledge we have acquired and utilize it.

I love to see your pictures and hear your stories Jason.  The bottom line is, we'd all certainly like to have you, Sky and all fellow TAY-ers around to continue sharing many more trips for many more years!!!
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Scotsman
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #32 on: 06/24/08, 03:38 PM »

Teleskichica, you have great wisdom! Very, very well written.
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Jim Oker
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #33 on: 06/24/08, 03:54 PM »

I get the feeling that there is more of an air of jubilation of having missed death (which I am certain Jason is feeling!) as opposed to a sobering assessment of what happened and a real warning.  ...

...These things aside, I think the more important posts have been overlooked:

Sky:  "And Jason, you already know that I have a lot of love for you and I'm glad you're all right.  Maybe next time try to be more like that scared pansy of a rando skier who was waiting below you: timidly cut the slope through the convexity and run for cover."

Jason:  "Trust me, I thought about that on the way down Sky. I wasn't very smart. Not at all. I just came busting down the slope like indiana jones. I can't believe I did it looking back. But a million rights doesn't make one wrong any less costly."


Interesting. I definitely see introspection across the thread, including some of our thanks to these folks for sharing this experience with the community, including thoughts behind the decisions that led up to the event that had one person sliding with two watching from safe spots that sounded like they were below the staring point (to underline the obvious, it sounds like Jason believes that he ignored key data that was in front of him and that two of his partners appeared to consider, and he shared state-of-mind that led to that which I bet many of us can relate to and thus now ponder). I'm not seeing jubilation as the dominant factor in posts like these:

I normally post big, glossy photos, but on this trip I won't for awhile, mainly cause I want people to read and possibly learn from one of the closest calls in my life. If bears mention that even when I think I know a lot about these mountains we live in, that I can find myself in predicaments that warrrent some soul-searching. With so many close calls this year for many climbers and skiers and the interesting snowpack (different than I've had in my time in the cascades in late spring), ones certain to think about their actions more. And riding an avalanche down an unknown aspect into the fog certainly warrents pondering.

All that said, it's impossible to not ask one's self some questions after trip like this, and I'm sort of in the process of doing that right now.

I think it is time for me to find ways to lower the risks that I take, and it's time for me to start having a family and sharing my love for skiing & mountains with children.  I believe this will ultimately bring the greatest satisfaction.  For the most part I do not believe that the risks I have taken were excessive and I must admit that the rewards have been phenomenal.  I just think I need to find ways to shave a little off the edges.
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Jason_H.
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #34 on: 06/24/08, 04:15 PM »

My story was just that. It was writen without constraint. Warning is inherent to the story and the fear it is coupled with, and yes, thrill, too. We each find our own meanings in the written word, that is why poetry exists, etc.

'The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a thousand meanings.'
George Santayana

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 04:54 PM by Jason_H. » Logged

Scotsman
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #35 on: 06/24/08, 07:48 PM »

I don't know you Jason or Sky and let me say I have the most tremendous respect for what you guys do and the trip reports you write. I have expressed concerns to some people in the past to people who know you like" I hope they don't push it too far" and their reply has always been that you guys are some of the best , safest mountaineers they have ever seen.

But, the problem I have with some of the quotes is  the attitude that  if it isn't extreme enough that you might die, then hide under your bed. I feel this somehow diminishes the experiences of others who are not at your level.

I'm clumsy at explaining things so I'll give you an example of what I mean.

About I think 6 years ago the world of super-alpinism had two dudes called Scott Backes and Mark Twight. Both where exceptionally gifted climbers who where at the cutting edge of alpinism and had an unabashed philosophy of elitism. Twight wrote gripping articles and stories about their exploits and his style of writing and turn of phrase even coined the term" Twightism" to describe an article displaying the elitist, gonzo , nihilistic style studded with pithy quotations from punk rock bands and esoteric philosophers.

Years ago I climbed Denali by the West Buttress route, the easy way up. It's called the West Butt and derided by alpinists as the cattle route which it is . I was at the extreme of my endurance, scared part of the time and very proud at making it to the top. One of my climbing partners collapsed at 19,000 ft and had to be revived but we all made it and it is one of the defining moments of my life.

When I returned , I read an article by Scott Backes about some desperate, life in the balance ascent they had made on the Moonlight Buttress of Mt Hunter which is near the Denali base camp. In the article, they espouse a philosophy  that their climb was so extreme and that they where at the edge of life and death and that the climbers trudging up the West Buttress where sheep and not worthy and that if you didn't take it to the edge and risk your life, why bother!. In the article, Backes goes on to say that they and Twight openly cat-called and made derisive comments at the climbers passing by on the West Butt.

This pissed me of and when I read later that Backes had opened a guiding service to teach people how to climb, the hypocrisy was to much for me and I contacted him up and told him that I could have been one of the climbers he had been shouting insults to and although no super-alpinist like him, what I was doing was extreme and at the edge relative to me. He tried to apologise but was still an asshole.

You guys are not a bit like that but for many of us a ski down Brain Damage on the King is the apogee of our skiing and feels extreme to us and not hiding under a bed.

I am not picking an argument just giving my view in what I think is an interesting discussion and probably agreeing more with Teleskichica's point of view.

Live long and prosper.



« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 08:28 PM by Scotsman » Logged

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Jason_H.
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #36 on: 06/24/08, 09:18 PM »

Scotsmen, my point of view seems to be missed. I've written a few times to clear it up, then erased.

I think what you wrote is great, and in no way am I saying that extreme is all there is. I am confused why many of you think I have said this??? But, no matter, the point is a good one to discuss. I have long battled the reasons why I ski the things I do. It is not because they are steep or difficult, rather it is because I like to climb and I like to ski. The two combined are what drive me. Sometimes these are on easier climbs, such as Fortress which was not an extreme peak BTW and something many here would ski if it were closer. But that's beside the point, I love the mountains, and most of the time I am out there to explore them in whatever shape or form they have, be they easy or hard. Skiing is only one thing I do, more of my time is spent biking and hiking. I certainly don't look down on anyone, rather I am happy they are out there. This is much the reason I put up a website, cause it inspires people to get out. I've written hundreds of e-mails to beginners and others alike in the utmost respect to get them into the mountains. I spend a terrible amount of time doing this.

Here is what I said,

Although, as Sky said once, “If it ain’t worth dying for, then you need to find something else to do.” The mountains are certainly worth it to me, as it is to those I know. Of course, we don't want to die in them, but in order to experience nature, certain risks are assumed and can't be nullified. If you can't accept them, then you can hide under your bed, but for me, I seek more weathered places, less treaded vistas, and higher ground than most.


I said mountains are worth the risk. To clarify that, to me all mountains easy or hard bear risk just by being in them, much like driving a car fast or slow, you can still get hit. By climbing under the bed, what is meant is more philosophical. Everyday I sit with people as a financial planner, and I learn much about them over the years. Those that I worry for most, are the ones who give up on life, lock themselves away and sit in front of the tube. For me, those are the ones who have climbed under their beds. I want to see people out there enjoying life and exploring new and exciting facets of it. Whether thats with golf or collecting cars, it doesn't matter. It does require walking out your door and facing your fears, which could be anything. Could be people, could be doing something on your own, could be the outdoors. Anything. For me, believe it or not, it is my fear of heights.

I hope this helps Scotsman, as I do like your post. I did put myself out there by posting this, and I knew that when I did it. In posting so many trip reports over the years, I wanted to show the bad side, not just the blue-bird days and perfect snow. I never want someone to die by trying to do what I've done without something to learn by as I and others have. We didn't have anyone to teach us anything. We had to fail. We had to make mistakes. I hope the next generation has this and other stories to learn by, which is such a better way to go. When I am written too, I teach also. When I meet people in the mountains, I teach by example. 
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 10:56 PM by Jason_H. » Logged

Scotsman
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #37 on: 06/24/08, 09:28 PM »

Jason I think you clarified your point beautifully and I wish I could express myself as well as you do. I agree with your clarification and you have my greatest respect. I thought there was some "Twightism" creeping into your philospohy but I was wrong and I apologize.
« Last Edit: 06/24/08, 10:05 PM by Scotsman » Logged

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Stugie
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #38 on: 06/24/08, 10:11 PM »

I did put myself out there by posting this, and I knew that when I did it. In posting so many trip reports over the years, I wanted to show the bad side, not just the blue-bird days and perfect snow.

Thank you for doing that.

And you've done a great job starting and maintaining an excellent dialogue.  Even in a debating dialogue such as in this thread, I am impressed by the deep philisophical explanations our community has to explain, in essence, why we do what we do.  Shows we are more than just mindless testosterone (or estrogen) amped individuals out in the bc! 

Also, Jason and Sky, statistics show people respect you guys...I'm not sure how many other TR's without pictures could get 38 responses and over 1000 hits.  Cheesy Wink

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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
kylemanger
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #39 on: 06/24/08, 10:41 PM »

I agree with Stugie..
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kylemanger
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #40 on: 06/24/08, 10:43 PM »

and Jason.. The mountains are not always friendly and the skies not always blue.. thats why i love them..
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Lowell_Skoog
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #41 on: 06/25/08, 12:02 AM »

Thanks for taking the dip, Sky.

When you say that everyone risks it all in the mountains, I think you must be referring to objective dangers.  Since the subjective risks that different people undertake vary hugely, objective dangers are the only common denominator.  Objective dangers are important and I don't think I considered them as much as I should have in my previous posts.

Still, I think objective dangers are a much smaller contributor to mountaineering accidents than subjective dangers.  To check this, I flipped through the 2007 issue of Accidents in North American Mountaineering.  I found 40 accidents that seemed to be due to subjective factors and 10 that seemed to be due to objective factors.  (Of the latter, several were just hard to classify, so I threw them in the objective pile.) So based on this crude survey, we might conclude that objective hazards account for 20% of the accidents in mountaineering.  They're a small piece of the pie, but a significant factor.

Still, I'm having a hard time making the logical jump that you seem to want me to make.  Let's see if I can explain my difficulty with an analogy:



Passing On Curves

Like most people, I like to drive my car.  But unlike most people, I like to pass on curves.  For me, passing on curves is the spice of life.  In fact, just to be provocative, I'll say that passing on curves is worth dying for.

Some people don't understand why I'm so fond of passing on curves.  They think it's a needless risk.  They say you can drive your car just fine, with much less risk, without passing on curves.  It can even be enjoyable.

To this I say you're not facing reality.  Just because you don't pass on curves doesn't mean that driving is safe.  A drunk driver could wander into your lane, you could fall asleep at the wheel, or a semi-truck could sideswipe you.  Driving is just plain dangerous.  In fact, I know a guy whose wheels fell right off his car and he died.

So there's really no point in wondering why people like to pass on curves.  It's no different, really, from what everybody who drives a car is doing.

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alpentalcorey
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #42 on: 06/25/08, 06:02 AM »

To me, the analogy doesn't really address what I saw as the best and most important part of Sky's post.

  Skiing is freedom, the mountains are freedom, and damn it all if I can't be a little loose with how I express my sentiments about these things.

To further explain let me use an analogy.  This is from my own life.  About 10 years ago there happened to be a small group of deaf people at my work (am I supposed to say hearing impaired?  The deaf people called themselves deaf.)  One of them was a snowboarder who would come up and stay & ride with me my first year full time at Alpental (winter of '98-'99 oh yeah!).  Among the group, there were different levels of hearing loss and consequent speaking ability, but this guy basically could not speak at all except for some sounds that he could form close enough to words that they could be understood.  So I ended up learning quite a bit of sign language, and I had a chance to get a small peek into their world.  I was also actively studying Spanish at the time and have an interest in language and linguistics (I better, as I live with a tri-lingual language teacher).  It turns out that most of the deaf kids in the Seattle metro area know eachother since for the most part they all go to the same school.  As such many of them grew up together and spoke the same "dialect" - starting even as children and continuing throughout life they would invent their own signs, essentially forming their own version of the language that existed only within their metapopulation.

And of course we do it too.  We invent words as children between siblings and friends.  We use different language depending on the group we are in or who we are talking to.  We tailor the things we say to our audience.  Should Sky not be allowed to be, as he says, "a little loose" when he is talking to Jason or anyone else while on a trip, especially if he thought they would understand it as he meant it?  And this is especially true with anything of an inflamatory or controvertial nature.  He might not say the same thing while giving a slide show at REI, or he might find a different way to express himself to that particular audience.  Maybe he wouldn't, that would be up to him.  Sensationalism and hyperbole are tools of rhetoric just like metaphors, but they are certainly more audience-sensitive.

For that reason I believe it ends up a bit like "the telephone game" that we played as children. 

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kmcb
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #43 on: 06/25/08, 10:55 AM »

There is a huge difference between acknowledging that when you go into the mountains you could die and saying that when you go into the mountains you’re embracing the idea of death.  It’s always seemed to me that if you go into the mountains, no matter how “easy” the ones you pick are, you’d better think they’re worth dying for, because the fact is you might. 

By far the vast majority of missions I go on as a member of search and rescue are for folks on non-technical terrain.  I’ve been on a body recovery on Granite Mountain when a guy slipped and could not self arrest on the hard snow.  He had done plenty of much more technical climbing, but a moment’s inattention on easy terrain during an after-work conditioning hike and it was over for him. 

Similarly, most of the avalanche awareness books I’ve read and courses I’ve taken have emphasized that the majority of accidents take place not when you’re doing some hardcore badass thing, but on nice sunny days when you’re on easy or familiar terrain and you’re with your friends and you let your guard down.  Doing less challenging things is absolutely not a guarantee of safety.

I think we all hear things through our own filters too.  I’ve heard a friend-who-shall-remain-unnamed say “Any trip I survive is a good one.”  It seems like some posting here would hear that as “It’s not a good trip unless my survival is in doubt.”  I heard it as “Staying safe is more important than succeeding on my route.”

Btw Jason, glad you’re still with us.
« Last Edit: 06/25/08, 11:04 AM by kmcb » Logged
Big Steve
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #44 on: 06/25/08, 12:45 PM »

+1 to Scotsman's and Lowell's respective posts re Twightism and Passing on Curves.

I share Scotsman’s contempt for Twight’s writing and shameless snobbery.  Years ago, I read A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, a delightfully understated narrative by Eric Newby, a fellow who had dropped out of the British fashion industry to explore the high country of Afghanistan.  Twight’s exhibitionist macho missives and Newby’s humble account represent two ends of the spectrum of alpinist writing (although one might identify a third axis of the sub-genre, the “how I learned about myself and faced my fears in the mountains” self-help palaver, which I choose to ignore).  I deem phrases such as "if it's not worth dying for, then .  .  . " or similar prose of "mission[aries] of .  .  .  conquest” as falling near the Twight end of the spectrum – not my cup of tea.  If I were to wager on the matter, I’d bet – and hope – that Sky and Jason spend time in the mountains largely for the same reasons I do, that is, because they covet serene wilderness, the athletic challenge of steep ground, and sharing adventure with good friends.
« Last Edit: 06/25/08, 01:08 PM by Big Steve » Logged
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #45 on: 06/25/08, 01:54 PM »

In reading this ongoing dialogue, there is a lot of discussion about Sky's quote: "If it ain't worth dying for then you better find something else to do".  I think some excellent points have been made, but something has been weighing more on my mind as this thread continues.  I want to premise by saying I'm not pointing fingers, I'm just trying to highlight what in my opinion is an error we can learn from.

I don't think we were reckless in our descent. Sky and I both skied to the spot that slide and had a brief conversation.  I asked his opinion on stability because the snow felt alarmingly familiar to what I got caught in last weekend.

I feel that this is reckless.  This is why:

I was in front and slowed as I neared the roll that starts the pitch. Monika thought we should ski to the right. I thought about it, but decided to drop in anyway.

As soon as I cleared the roll everything around me cut loose and the slope changed instantly from creamy corn to slurpee chunks the size of my torso and as high as my thigh. My first thought was to traverse out, skier's left.  But as I pointed my skis I got a glimpse of what I'd started. The fracture had progated at least 50 meters to my left (and I later estimated about 200 meters to my right). The weight of the slide started to drag my skis under and point me down towards the funnel that was being created but the rock outcropping beneath me. Traversing out was impossible. I remember seeing a climber (who I'd only first seen once I'd committed to skiing) get taken and disappear beneath me...The climber/split boarder, amazingly, had only a few scratches. He, and I, are very, very lucky.

With a member of your party experiencing almost exact conditions to what happened the past weekend on Rainier, an very synonymous situation propogated almost identically and took another for quite a trip.  Now, in light of Sky's quote, and this situation, I feel that I'd like to share an allegory as well:

During the Korean War, a US soldier was comtemplating the risk of possible death he had taken by joining the military.  After being under fire a number of times, and some time spent in combat, he grew more and more comfortable with his situation.  The sound of a bullet whizzing past his head no longer made him duck, or even flinch.  During one particular day, the soldier's station was recieving a heavier than normal amount of attention from enemy bullets.  When it was his time for duty, he threw on his gear and instead of sitting behind the safety of the sandbagged walls, he sat on top of them and began to smoke a cigarette.  Soon the chaplin came by and noticed the young man up on the wall, bullets occasionally whizzing past.  The chaplin asked the man to step down to talk.  "What are you doing?" asked the chaplin.  The man replied, "My duty".  "Aren't you worried that you're going to be shot, and maybe killed by sitting up there?" asked the chaplin.  "When I joined the military I knew there would be some risk involved; that I could die.  When my time comes, there's not much I can do about that.  Would you agree chaplin?"  After a pause the chaplin said, "You're right, if it's your time to go, you cannot change that.  But why try to rush it by sitting up on the wall with bullets whizzing past your head?  That seems a bit reckless."  The soldier replied, "Like I said, if a bullet goes through my helmet and has my name written on it, there's not much I can do about that."  The chaplin replied, "Yes, but it's the bullet that says 'To whomever this may concern' that keeps me from sitting up there."
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"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals; the houses where I practice my religion." - Anatoli Boukreev
Big Steve
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #46 on: 06/25/08, 03:24 PM »

Good one, Stugie.  I first heard a variation of that allegory (told to me in the form of a joke) when discussing the issue of advertent exposure to alpine risks about a decade ago.  In my view, it and Lowell's Passing on Curves allegory, although different -- Lowell's addresses advertent exposure to risk, while Stugie's is more about fatalism -- are directly germane to the discussion that has emerged on this thread. 

Lowell is right on the mark when he responds to Sky's "everyone risks it all" comment by distinguishing objective and subjective hazards.  Is this a generational distinction?  Why do Euros appear more likely to take on advertent risks (though write about it with less bravado) than Americans?

Most of we old goats have often heard (and, when we were young, likely uttered) younger comrades' sentiments that the alpine experience is valuable only if one is teetering on the edge of death.  I now know that such notions are folly, that one may experience the grandeur, challenge and collegiality of the mountains while limiting (albeit not wholly eliminating) exposure to risks.  Alpine travelers will always encounter objective hazards, but I flatly eschew the notion that we must advertently expose ourselves to imminent death lest we cannot fully enjoy the alpine experience. 

Of course, a TR of the N face of Maude will invite more ooohs and aaahs than one of a stroll up Sahale Arm.  I hope we can all agree that the desire to say "hey, look at me" is a manfiestly bad reason to chose a route. 
« Last Edit: 06/25/08, 03:28 PM by Big Steve » Logged
hedonaut
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #47 on: 06/25/08, 05:00 PM »

oh what the hell.  while we're offering opinions (and drivel), here's mine: in the original post, actions were reported, and then some (not fully contextual) sentiments were expressed that were parsed and churned through the specula-tron.  i appreciate the discussion, but some of these analogies are wandering FAR afield.  passing on curves is not in the same category as managing risks in ski mountaineering.  nor is war--maybe i just need to think harder.

re: immediately above, as jason already stated, he was reckless. 
by my reading (uh, i wasn't there, so am speculating w/ the best of you), sky and ryan were methodically ski-cutting (now who here hasn't done that?) and skiing point to point.  the mountains present challenges that you manage, and these guys were doing that.  the one person that did not manage learned a tough lesson.  death was a potential consequence and that was later pointed out in a life-affirming way (pardon the crystals).

bottom line, we all trade off whatever skills we have against our goals, loves, and attendant risks.  the risks make alpinism exciting, the mountains provide a place for us to practice/exercise this primeval side of ourselves.  by exercising judgement, we find reward from managing obj. and subj. risks (and added risk ambition presents); and sometimes we even learn to suppress/surpass the ego, turning back at the appropriate time.  if every objective-oriented trip has a 100% chance of success it wouldn't be as much fun--where's the challenge? (of course, casual outings aside)

perhaps the most important lesson here isn't about who's willing to die for what, how much appetite different individuals have for diff. risks, etc., but this:

when things are (or get) sketchy, communication between partners needs to be rock solid.  the big flush might've been prevented if S and R's conservative strategy was discussed (it might have been?) from the top, and if J had consulted with R and S prior to his cowboy moment (or checked in with his rational self, as he takes pains to point out).  "fellas, how's the snow down there?"
that said, sometimes stuff just happens...and I'm glad you lived to learn, Jason.


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hedonaut
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #48 on: 06/25/08, 05:19 PM »

looking up at alpentalcorey's reply #42, I see he already expressed some of my thoughts much better--that of the expressed sentiments taking on meaning specific to the audience...

should've read the abundant posts more closely--lots of thought-provoking stuff above, including the analogies, pardon my reaction.
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Jim Oker
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Re: June 22, 2008 Fortress Mountain, SW Face
« Reply #49 on: 06/25/08, 06:15 PM »

I feel that this is reckless.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I don't think anyone but those who were there can know for sure either way whether Sky and Ryan were reckless or not, e.g. whether one ski cut at the top and avoiding a hard turn on the convexity was all that was indicated, or what. At least not w/o a lot more information than we have in this thread. Jason, however, was quite clear that he should not have turned off his brain to avy assessment before the fateful run.

It's also clear to me that Sky's quote has done a good job of pushing some buttons for some folks, in a way that appears to go well beyond his intended meaning.
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