When I say Rock Climbing – what comes to mind? Risk? Exciting? Not me? Or, when can we go? I find that for the most part people are split on the topic. There are those who see it as very dangerous and there are a few who want to find out what it is like to scale a rock (either indoors or outside). So my premise is that you are either a rock climber or you are not. It is not meant to be pejorative, rather just a view into how people think about risk, fun, fear and the unknown. And so maybe if I provide a few “factoids” you will be able to better assess if you should give be suitably worried or ready to go out then next time someone asks you to go.
A recent study looked across a long list of risk factors and found that people who said they spent two or more leisure hours a day sitting in front of a screen were at double the risk of a heart attack or other cardiac event compared with those who watched less. Those who spent four or more hours of recreational time in front of a screen were 50 percent more likely to die of any cause.
We drive in a car that is a very sophisticated machine. One that hurtles you through the air at upwards of 60-70 mph. This machine is capable of causing serious injury when use improperly. And we have very little, if any at all, working knowledge of the car and its systems that keep us alive like the braking system, air bags (are you sure they are there) and the overall body structure of the car. More than 30,000 people in the US will die of a car related accident this year alone.
And so why is it that we are willing to take on the risks of sitting on the couch or getting in the car and not go climbing. I have three thoughts about this:
1. Someone else has validated the safety of the car and we see that it works for others and so we use it without any question as to its safety systems
2. The risk of sitting on the couch is not real – there is no active feedback that tells you that you are at risk – so there is no reason to do anything about it, right?
3. Climbing seems scary – the reality of the risk is palpable – it is in your face and all around you.
And so I leave it at this – the reasons to climb or not to climb need not be based on “risk” – we can make the climbing system less risky than driving a car or sitting on the couch. It just requires constant and purposeful communication (on Belay? Belay is on? Climbing? Climb on), it needs excellent and tested equipment (like the brakes on your car) and it needs a community of people who share information on how to make the sport safe (proper equipment, best practices etc.
There are many ways to get over a fear or to try something new – we know THPL requires it – and yet we are often stymied. For today, it is worth reflecting on why we trust what we do and why we do not trust. If you are sincere about this question then you will learn more and take on more than you might ever have expected.
Loving life on the rocks