Survivor's Guilt Among Climbers.



  • A friend sent me this link to a long New Yorker article that works around that subject, especially among climbers The North Face sponsors or had sponsored.

    https://eur04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.newyorker.com%2Fmagazine%2F2020%2F03%2F02%2Fsurvivors-guilt-in-the-mountains&data=02|01||20fbcd617c5f4e9b03ae08d7ce6b3acc|84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa|1|0|637204832245789996&sdata=sGJa9aGD8IgJNuRhLxXiPzMDcYq7tdj17udgnj5wi2M%3D&reserved=0

    I do appreciate that "survivor's guilt" exists, even among climbers with far less extensive resumes than Conrad Anker. I've been darn lucky in not having close friends killed or seriously injured by the mountains. The most serious accident I've ever been associated with, was a shattered ankle on a companion at the Columbia Icefields around 1974.

    I gave two days of beginning rock-climbing instruction to a talented U of Idaho student back in 1978. By the end of the 2nd day, I couldn't lead anything hard enough to challenge him. The next year he went off with a group of Washington State U. Alpine Club members to climb Mt. Waddington in British Columbia. In a really bizarre few minutes, one of them, I knew slightly, discovered a slope he was glissading un-roped, was ice, instead of snow, & slid hundreds of feet into a crevasse. While most of the group was shocked into freezing in place, my former student fell through a cornice on the ridge they were on, & disappeared down the opposite side of the ridge. Neither one was ever found.



  • The two letters to the editor that appeared the following week are interesting. The first criticizing the the North Face and similar organizations for encouraging and supporting young climbers in dangerous escapades for the notoriety and sales they engender, while not providing medical insurance or other essential perks; and the second from a young climber who says he loves the sport so much he doesn't care if he risks everything to pursue it.



  • Hmmmm. We all choose our path. If my path leads to my death, the last thing I would want is for anyone else to feel guilty.

    Reminds me of the note found with Scott's body: "We took risks. We knew we took them. Things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint."

    Edit to add: That New Yorker article made me want to vomit. "Whoooo! Look at me! I hang out with way cooler people than you do!"



  • The "rest of my story" about my dead & lost, on Mt. Waddington, climbing student:

    During the mid-1970's I added a "tongue in check" guarantee to climbing hardware I sold out of my outdoor shop in Moscow Idaho.

    "If you are killed using this gear, you get a complete refund."

    The spring after my ex-student was killed, I was in the open office of my store, working on the books, when an employee greeted a customer near the front door. She replied in a pleasant voice, "Is Ray here, I need to talk with him."

    I walked out and introduced myself. The woman, in turn, introduced herself as a sister of my now deceased climbing student. She had been told about the guarantee & had a pair of new, unused SMC Crampons with straps, that he had left in camp, the day he fell through the cornice & died. I gave her a complete refund, and my heartfelt condolences.

    I believe I got drunk that night.



  • I bet you did..

    Somehow I have been fortunate enough to have never lost a friend climbing. Came pretty darn close the day Jud fell off the top of Odels Gully. got drunk that night...


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