Are You An Adventurer?
Are you an adventurer? What is the most frightening thing you have ever done?
I found I was asking myself these questions the other day after browsing through Morzine Source Summer magazine and reading Amie Postings’ great interview with Ben Fogle.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a lot of adventurers but never really considered I am one. Then I started thinking….
Probably the only time in my life I would call myself an adventurer was when Joe and I headed off for our first winter ski season down under in 1990. It was before the internet really took off and we set out for the other side of the world with our meagre savings, nowhere to live and no work promised, just a few random contacts that we had made during our ski seasons in Andorra. All by ourselves we found a nice rental in Wanaka and landed jobs on ski school at the best ski field in NZ (imo) – Treble Cone. During our time in New Zealand we really took on the role of adventurer – parapenting, bungee jumping, swimming with dolphins, hitch hiking and hiking some of their most spectacular trails.
And on the way home we stopped off for 6 magical weeks back packing around India. I had never been anywhere in Asia before and at that time India did not import anything not cars, clothes, food – nothing! So there was nothing familiar to latch onto. We stuck to what was then one of India’s poorest regions, Rahjastan and travelled by steam train (first class!). We camel trekked in the desert near Jaisalmer and slept under the stars. We stayed at a b&b owned by a deposed Indian prince and rode his Rahjastani horses which had pointed ears like Turkish slippers! He took us to Pushka fair where the tribes people meet to buy & sell camels and horses and were treated to marvellous displays of horsemanship, saw snakecharmers and Indian dancing. Joe had a shave with a traditional cut-throat razor and the barber refused to look at him whilst he was doing it! And of course we visited the wondrous Taj Mahal before heading home.
And the most frightening thing I have ever done? That has to be when I fell helter skelter down a couloir when ski touring. My ski buddies and I went for a randonee on our telemarks on our day off from ski school. I had just upgraded to plastic boots but I was still on ‘misery sticks’ the traditional long skinny skis with cable bindings. The skin up had been tame enough, so tame in fact we decided to find a more interesting way down. So being young, dumb and full of …. confidence we picked the steepest, gnarliest gully we could find! I was petrified but I wasn’t going to let my ski buddies know! It was all over in seconds, as I side stepped into the steep, narrow gully the snow became rock solid where it was permanently in the shade of the rocks. I couldn’t find an edge to grip and both feet went from under me. Next thing I knew I was hurtling pell mell towards a huge rock buttress near the bottom. I remember clawing at the snow in a frenzy, trying desperately to arrest my fall or even slow it down before I hit the rocks. Luckily I was wearing a big, unwieldy back pack (the one I took around India actually) made of a canvas type material which provided more friction than my ski clothing. As I flipped onto my back I felt my progress slow, just enough for me to flail out and grab – something – that arrested my fall. It was all over in seconds and I am sure the danger was exaggerated in my own mind. However when I spoke to my ski buddies after they assured me that as they watched helplessly, they were terrified for me too!
These days I am very much an armchair adventurer. I am currently reading White Spider – a fantastic mountaineering classic by a classic adventurer.
What about you? Are you an Adventurer? What is the most frightening thing youhave ever done? I’d love to know! And I’m going to ask Joe & Ed too, so watch this space!