Mountains and kids don’t mix

June 8, 2015

Mountains command the respect of professional climbers for only one reason. As even seemingly benign mountains all secret within their belly, the terrible power to unleash hell within one blink of the eye.

After climbing for so many years. I have never ever come across such a thing as a ‘safe’ mountain. Never so much as even once. So this notion of a mountain being some how ‘safe’ will always stand as a sort of a oxymoron to me. It is an idea that I have never been comfortable with.

That is just the way I see it and will probably always see all mountains.

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‘Climbing a mountain doesn’t make you an exceptional leader anymore than living in a cave necessarily makes you a geologist.

If you want inconvertible proof then I can share with you the averagely miserable life profiles of many Sherpas who regularly lug up washing machines, fluffy toilet paper and high thread count towels up mountain rest houses so that fat Europeans can keep their sugary illusion intact and continue to take faith in the ridiculous idea by climbing a mountain, it will somehow impart some mythical power to transform their mundane lives, thereby making them a wholer, better and a much more confident person.

To me that’s just hype and spin…. commercial marketing manifesto talk that’s designed to sell stuff.

Truth is outdoor tourism along with the experiential training industry simply has found a new way of commoditizing the mountain climbing experience to even sell it as edutainment in the form of character building, leadership honing, confidence boosting etc.

Does it work? Is it really true? Well I shall leave that to you…the perceptive leader.

Like I said. I have a right to remain skeptical. Having said that I don’t for one moment disagree a mountain is a powerful metaphor. Then again anything can assume that transformational effect and allure providing you market it professionally. At the end of the day, if you believe it can change you from the inside out…then it probably will have the power to transform your life.

Having said that one has to be mindful of the profit motive in the experiential learning industry. As businesses are raking in millions by hard selling danger as seemingly safe – one dimension of that product mix is by marketing the idea, there’s actually such a thing as a ‘safe’ mountain.

I imagine the contradiction in the form of a ‘safe mountain’ will always command an illicit thrill. As what it actually offers is adventure and risk taking on the cheap. To paraphrase without ever having to deal with inconvenience of death and injury.

The way I see it, you don’t need to ever splurge out $1,000 on an adventure holiday to make you a leader. You could just as well achieve the same by carrying two sack of rice up the HDB when the lift is broken to help out some old folks who have been stranded. Or retile the roof of your church, temple or masjid and get the same measure of utility. With the right person leading, it will be both an exciting and magical experience.

Will any lessons be learnt from this tragedy?

I don’t know. To be quite frank. I don’t really care. I am just glad to be able to climb again without having to share it with people who in my opinion have absolutely no business being there in the first place.’

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