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Hundred Days



The Mountain Pulse Jackson Hole Skiing Snowboarding

Sorry Mom

 “Listen …” my mother began, as she had so many times before when something was amiss. “Dad and I read your post the other day, and we need to talk…” I quickly shuffled through my mental inventory for anything lewd or inflammatory I’d written in recent days that could have spurred this call, but nothing came to mind. “You know, the one where you’re climbing that peak with the wind and the rocks and the possibility of ‘catastrophic injury or death…’” O, that post. “Well Ma, you know I took some liberty in writing that,” I fibbed, hoping to ease her concern. “Robbie you can’t be taken those risks.” If there was any doubt of her seriousness, using my childhood moniker eliminated it. “There is no reason to be taking those risks to ski.”

In so many ways she is right. Very basically, skiing is recreation. The same level of enjoyment can be found anywhere on the mountain. But the conversation called me to contemplate this idea of risk in relation to my own motivations. Sure being up there on Cody is inherently risky: it’s in the backcountry, it’s steep, and it’s avalanche prone. Yet it’s not the risk that beckons me up there. I am not a daredevil, and I have nothing to prove. In fact, the risk is the ultimate deterrent. What drives me up there, what drives many of us up there, is a deeply human impulse to explore, as George Mallory famously said when asked why he wanted to climb Everest, “Because it is there.”

This is not to refute my mother’s warning; it’s to help her understand. Yes, we take risks but they are calculated, weighed meticulously in an equation of to go or not to go. Of course there are unforeseen dangers, and that’s the ultimate variable we test. But in no way do we underestimate that possibility. Safety is always paramount.


One Response to “02/16/11”

  1. My mother swears uphill and down that she’s always right. These mothers may have a perspective that is invisible to us, the sons.

    • David Winner
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