There has been another needless and senseless loss of life in the mountains. A young man (30), was scrambling in poor weather and marginal conditions, when he triggered an avalanche that swept him to his death. There is, unfortunately, nothing new or unique about this tragedy. In fact over the past several years it has become commonplace to hear of or read stories about some ATV’er, snowmobiler, skier, hiker, climber being severlly injured or killed while enjoying his or her favorite outdoor activity.
There is also nothing new about the eulogies for these men, women and children. They were kind, thoughtful and intelligent.
And there is nothing new about the survivors trying to make sense of something that seems so needless and senseless. Among the questions asked, somewhat rhetorically, is, “What was he or she, or they thinking?” The assumption underlying this is that had they been “thinking” they wouldn’t have made the stupid, senseless decisions that led to them being injured or dying.
I’m not so sure about that. I think that the victims of these tragedy’s WERE thinking. My guess is that for the most part they were aware of the risks and for whatever reason decided they were manageable. What I am sure about is that the decision making process in an outdoor recreation environment is complex with a number of factors from tangible exterior information to social norms and unconscious psychological phenomenon playing a role. And I am also sure that no one, regardless of gender, age, culture, experience or training is immune from making stupid decisions.
Professionals in outdoor activities frequently receive training in Group Management, Crisis Management, Leadership Development, Decision Making, Risk Management, etc (These are often lumped together and labelled Human Factors although they are in fact a subset of Human Factors). However, for the amateur recreationist, weekend warrior or volunteer trip leader there is little to nothing available.
My hope with this site is to correct that by:
1.Providing a space for users to discuss their experiences and thought processes
2. Providing a place for users to share information and research about the above topics as well as techniques, or insights on how to mitigate their effects.
3. Provide formal training for recreational outdoor enthusiasts and for volunteer trip/activity leaders on Group Management, Crisis Management and other leadership skills.
4. Increase awareness of the above through outreach to outdoor groups, individuals and community organizations.