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Ability To Hate Mountains Over Time

« February 2007 »

Memo to mountain climbers: BECAUSE YOU ARE DUMB.

I normally wouldn't have anything against mountain climbing per se. Sure, it involves some of the things I hate most in life - physical hardship, inclement weather, this "outdoors" I've heard so much about. But I can understand that other people enjoy it, and can even, to an extent, appreciate the mindset of those who feel the need to go out and, as they say, get their crampon.

But the cardinal rule of ANY hobby is that you get to do it, unmaligned by yours truly, for as long as you can do it without being a complete wankoid. Which is where people like Dave Sauerbrey, Rocky Henderson, and Jim Whittaker enter into it. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"It's a very dangerous undertaking, but that's part of the beauty of it." - Sauerbrey.

"If you try to legislate so much safety, you lose the adventure. - Henderson

"If you take all of the risk out of life, you lose a lot. You're removing a personal liberty from somebody who wants to go and explore without having a safety net." - Whittaker

What they're all talking about is a proposed law in Oregon that would require mountain climbers to carry electronic locators. That way, if they go missing for a few days on Mount Hood, as happens relatively often, there's a better chance someone will get to them before they become a corpsicle.

Now, there are perhaps some reasonable arguments against the devices. one rescue worker is afraid they'll lull people into a false sense of security. I get that. And there are perhaps some reasonable arguments against the law - perhaps it addresses a spectacular but highly infrequent problem, or is difficult to actually carry out or enforce. That's fine. That's all fodder for local Oregon government.

But what I take issue with is this wanktastic attitude by the climbers that it somehow deadens the experience. They sound like a bunch of fucking frat boys complaining about how jimmy-hats take away all the sensation. "Oh, baby, you know it doesn't feel as good when the search teams know where I am!" Shut the fuck up.

When it comes right down to it, the locators aren't for the climbers' benefit. They're for the RESCUERS'. It's so they don't have to spend three days trudging around, poking random snowdrifts with sticks in the hopes they'll strike asshole and can go the fuck home. You've already got a safety net, which your beautiful danger and your sense of adventure seem to endure quite nicely. You just want to inconvenience that safety net because the GPS device in your backpack reminds you that they exist.

If you want to talk about optional vs. mandatory, I'm willing to meet you halfway. At conditional. You want to feel the mountain around your bare dick? You want to preserve your sense of risk and adventure when you're mounting Hood? That's fine. You can climb without a net. You can leave the locator behind. Also the helicopters, the spotlights, and the guys with the snowdrift-pokers. You keep your liberty, you take your chances, and you don't have to worry about any pesky rescue teams ruining the pure joy of lying at the bottom of a crevasse with both your legs shattered.

Imagine how exhilarating THAT would feel?

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