What is your next adventure?” is a question that audience members frequently ask. I never know how to respond. After a lifetime as an mountaineer and trekker, my answer might seem odd to some. Do I yearn for the summit of another distant peak? Well, yes. And no. Consider the tragedy on Mont Blanc this summer, the deadliest mountaineering accident in France in more than a decade.
The avalanche killed three Britons, three Germans, two Spaniards and a Swiss. ” It is suspected that the snowfield had been perforated by the feet of so many climbers that it simply tore along the dotted line. “The devastating snow slide,” wrote the French reporter was “simply caused by too many people being on the mountain.” It is suspected that the snowfield had been perforated by the feet of so many climbers that it simply tore clear along the dotted line and carried the climbers to their death those below.
The once-exalted summit of Mont Blanc now belongs to the masses. 20,000 people ‘bag it’ every year. On Everest this season there was a day when more than 300 climbers – mostly amateurs – staggered their way toward the summit.
Much of what passes for adventure today appears to be recklessly narcissistic and dangerous at worst, outdated and uninspired and best. Is it still adventure when you pay $60,000 to wait at 20,000 feet in a death-zone traffic jam stuck two hundredth in line as you feel your toes begin to freeze, your body deteriorate as you contemplate an imminent death induced by… overcrowding?
The point? We stand on the cusp of an era unlike anything previous generations have known. By definition: adventurers look for new information with places, people and possibilities previously unconsidered, unvisited. While yesterday’s adventures have become today’s clichés, the skill and mindset of the adventurer is now more essential than ever. The time has come to expand the nature of our adventures to encompass the reality of our times. My upcoming adventures do include taking my sixteen year old daughter to the Himalayas to help the monks of a struggling Tibetan Buddhist monastery, but I am also dedicated to deepening my relationship with my lady, mentoring a heroic survivor of genocide from Sudan and becoming healthier than I have ever been in my life.
An adventure is not dependent on geography, elevation, duration or physical prowess. It is any outrageous commitment to a worthy cause. What’s your next adventure?