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Taking Risks in a Safe Environment

Dare I say “risk mitigation”.  I guess I dare!  Managing risks is a big part of climbing and of life.

Well, we're here to tell you it IS a big deal.

School is a prime example of an important place to take risks. Without pretending that climbing philosophy will save the education system here in the USA, I have been a grad student and have taught at the college level in the product design field. One super critical attitude to aim for in school: take risks now!  Fail early and often! Try something crazy while you are in school and the consequences are slim to none!

In this case we aren’t generalizing to every one should be a risk taker! But rather, the importance of how you go about taking risks, and risk/reward payoffs.

If you are engineering minded, you may be familiar with the concept: It is a useful thing to keep in mind.  

Risk = probability x consequences.

Note that the payoff is NOT in the equation! First you calculate risk, and then you can do a comparison to the reward.

Learning to do a delicate upside down heel hook in the gym is safer than doing it on that multi-pitch back country route. (Just remember, plastic holds are not the same as real rock).  

Example:

Walking across that slippery log above the cold pool of water instead of going around. Is it a cold pool on a warm day? Or is it a raging creek that might sweep you away and you already pretty chilly?

For me, the main take away is to pay more attention to the consequences, and the equation helps remind me to do it. I quote it at people on backpacking trips. (I'm still fun though)

NOTE: Depending on your style of climbing, climbing can be a ridiculously risky activity (high probability and high consequences). For the people who do this, I think it is important to make sure they realize it and are making an informed decision.  

Want to see what happens when you get stuck in a rainstorm on a multipitch climb? I would suggest you do this on a roadside climb, when there’s no lightning, and you have a crew of people at the bottom waiting and watching, ready to help. Don’t let your first epic be on a remote alpine climb.

I'm going to write a book about this. If you are interested in staying up to date on it, join the email list. Kickstarter or straight publishing hopefully coming to you in 2020!

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