Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Sign in to follow this  
KeithP

Climbing K2 - Values that involve Risk

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

My wife is interested in becoming the only living woman to climb the mountain K2. In the history of the mountain only 6 women have reached the peak. 4 of them died on the way down and the other 2 died climbing other mountains afterwards.

As you can see this a very risky and in my opinion foolish thing to attempt. What should I say to her to help talk her out of it?

Is this goal a rational goal? Isnt the risk and the peril she puts our family in a rational basis to abandon this goal?

She loves Ayn Rand so I was hoping you all could give me an Objectivist viewpoint.

Thanks

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is this goal a rational goal? Isnt the risk and the peril she puts our family in a rational basis to abandon this goal?
I assume she's a highly competent climber and has climbed Everest and various other big hills. How many men have climbed K2 and lived to tell the tale? How likely is it, really, that she would die? How long has she been pining to do this -- i.e. how important is it to her? You have to judge the rationality of it based on her nature, not your interests. If her interest really is to be the only living female to have climbed K2, that's not a particularly rational goal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My wife is interested in becoming the only living woman to climb the mountain K2. In the history of the mountain only 6 women have reached the peak. 4 of them died on the way down and the other 2 died climbing other mountains afterwards.

As you can see this a very risky and in my opinion foolish thing to attempt. What should I say to her to help talk her out of it?

Is this goal a rational goal? Isnt the risk and the peril she puts our family in a rational basis to abandon this goal?

She loves Ayn Rand so I was hoping you all could give me an Objectivist viewpoint.

Thanks

Keith

What a woman! :) My question to her would be what would she get out of this selfishly and if it's worth possibly dying on that mountain for? Then I would ask her if the answer to the last question was higher in hierical(? you know what I'm trying to spell) value than her family?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I can contribute something to this conversation…

I consider myself to be a mediocre mountaineer. It’s just a hobby, but I’ve managed to do some climbing in Antarctica, Kilimanjaro and some other miscellaneous mountains in the US. I’ve taken smaller risks in order to do this climbing… nothing on par with K2.

There is nothing I can compare to the joy of looking down on the world after suffering for days to achieve that one splendid moment. Sometimes though, when I’m walking along a steep drop or standing on ice that could fall apart under my weight, the thought has occurred to me that I’m really not risking my life for anything important… in fact, I’m just risking it for a certain emotional high. If this were true… I’m fairly certain that this hobby wouldn’t be compatible with Objectivism.

After much though, I decided that I was taking these risks for a rational reason. I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment in doing something that 95% percent of the population could not. I enjoyed the level of physical fitness I have to achieve to succeed. I also enjoy those moments when hard work, careful planning, and a lifetime of acquired skills all add up to a successful climb. To me true mountaineers are the last of the great explorers, they are the same people that mapped the globe and conquered the physical unknown. Unfortunately there isn’t much left to explore these days… but we still get to push the limits of what the human body is capable of.

I think the most important issue is if she is approaching this goal with a rational plan that can succeed. Can she put together an effective team that will make the climb plausible? Can she acquire the funding to do this kind of a climb safely with the appropriate safety and evacuation measures in place? Is she willing to extensively prove herself on easier mountains? Is she aware of the current situation in Nepal with the King dissolving the democratic government three months ago? The pro-Chinese communist guerrillas are killing Nepalese police by the thousands out there; they may begin to target civilians or begin to use terrorist kidnapping tactics for funding.

My point of view on this is that as long as you use your mind to manage the risks and do everything possible to prevent a disaster, then you are not a mindless “thrill-seeker” you are more like a modern explorer, and there is nothing I can see here that would contradict Objectivism.

I would welcome comments though from some of the more experienced members here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A similar question is often asked of career atheletes. "What do you REALLY get out of driving yourself to beat the record? What do you REALLY get from the injuries and surgery and recovery times?"

Climbing a mountain can be an enormous productive achievement, as Hangnail indicates, if you approach it rationally. If you fear for your wife's safety, discuss it with her. Just recognize that it's her decision to make.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Be as selfish as you possibly can. Put all the values being gained/kept that are related into the proper sequence. One thing must be more important than the next. Then share this ordered list with her, and see if she agrees with the order. The following is an example of such a list (but in no particular order):

- climbing K2 and being the only living woman to do so

- being a wife (related, because it vanishes if she dies in the attempt)

- being a mother

- having her career

- having grandchildren

etc etc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keith,

Sorry to dissapoint your wife, but K2 was summited by the American-- Heidi Howkins-- in the year 2000, without oxygen.

Like that matters; as with any mountain, the best thing about climbing is that when it comes down to it, it's just you and mountain.

Mountineering, just like anything "extreme", is a means of celebrating life and being alive. Another way of experiencing the more pleasurable sensations available to man.

The happiness from mountineering is of course partially from achievment. The climb itself, the spectacular views, and the danger itself relate to these experiences, and thus, are pleasurable in themselves.

Here's a quote I like from Heidi speaking of her climb on K2. "....I thus climbed serenely, secure in the fact that whatever I achieved on this enchanted mountain, just setting foot on her slopes would be enough to make her part of my life forever."

The bottom line is that your happiness is going to come from your achievments and these experiences. Eventually you might get exhausted on your path to achievment So at these times, take a break. These experiences will serve an escape. Not an escape from reality, but rather an escape to life. It works as a replenisher to invigorate you for another round.

As hangnail eventually concluded, partially, when it comes to these experiences (and achievment for that matter), the sky is the limit. Just don't do anything stupid enough to get yourself killed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is very second hand-ish for a person to strive for a goal BECAUSE others have or have not accomplished them. If somebody wants to climb K2, it should not because they "want to become the only living woman to climb K2".

A person motivated for glory of this kind is already putting reality and reason second to other people. I think what is needed is not so much discouragement, but discussion about why this person has this as a goal and help them see their goals in a more rational perspective.

After such a discussion it may turn out that the person does have a rational basis for wanting to climb K2.

This is a great example where being a 2nd hander is deadly. "Keeping up with the joneses" in a suburban setting doesn't kill you. All that it does is make you buy a faster BMW or bigger HUMMER than your neighbor. But mountain climbing demands 100% concetration and does not tolerate mistakes without deadly consequences. Many people have died climbing Mt. Everest because they just had to go on, even though the weather conditions should have told them to abort. Their rational judgement was clouded by a miguided quest for bragging rights.

To be fair, most mountain climbers are not record seekers, but are interested in pushing their own self to extreme limits for the rush and excitement that results from being on the edge of survival. Is this rational? I honestly don't know. But as a scuba diver who has had a few scary situations, I understand the excitment that comes from overcoming a challenge. But I think a lot of technical divers (and cave divers) go out of their way to put themselves into dangerous situations just for the rush. Again, is this a rational motivation? Or do adrelenine junkies have the same status as drug abusers?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right on the money Ken.

I would say that it is 100% justified. What's the point of living if you're not going to enjoy it (and the rush). Granted, it might be taken out of hand at times. But that goes back to taking a caculated challenge and not a mindless risk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Keith,

Sorry to dissapoint your wife, but K2 was summited by the American-- Heidi Howkins-- in the year 2000, without oxygen.

Like that matters; as with any mountain, the best thing about climbing is that when it comes down to it, it's just you and mountain.

Mountineering, just like anything "extreme", is a means of celebrating life and being alive. Another way of experiencing the more pleasurable sensations available to man.

The happiness from mountineering is of course partially from achievment. The climb itself, the spectacular views, and the danger itself relate to these experiences, and thus, are pleasurable in themselves.

Here's a quote I like from Heidi speaking of her climb on K2. "....I thus climbed serenely, secure in the fact that whatever I achieved on this enchanted mountain, just setting foot on her slopes would be enough to make her part of my life forever."

We have checked with every major climbing assoication and can find no evidence that your claims are true. Howkins has made attempts on K2 but has never summited.

http://www.everestnews.com/sumk2.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buy a gun.. It will be cheaper...

If she really needs the addrenaline rush... Buy a gun. Buy a vial of LSD. Make her drink the whole vial... every last drop. Then about 12 hours into the trip when she's peaking, give her the gun.

Wait it's because she wanted to be on the news... I got it.. Do the same as above only wait until she strips naked.. Better yet do it at a public place like Washington D.C. in front of the WhiteHouse or somewhere fun like that.

Jokes aside there are much safer ways to get that addrenaline fix. Personally I snowboard... Getting dropped from a helicopter in Switzerland can be exilerating. If your talented there isn't really much risk of death.

Edited by softwareNerd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While it isn't something I'd do, I can understand that someone would want to do something really difficult and dangerous just to say: "I did it!"

In my mind, I would not equate this with blowing my brains out at the White House while drugged on LSD. I cannot even begin to empathize with such an equation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a difference between accomplishing something, and essentially comitting suicide. In any given scenario where every previous attempt has resulted in death, you are conciously comitting suicide.

BTW.. I never said she'd blow her brains out.. just let her play with the gun...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Buy a gun. Buy a vial of LSD. Make her drink the whole vial... every last drop. Then about 12 hours into the trip when she's peaking, give her the gun.
One web site says that 198 people have scaled K2. Of these, 23% died. This compares to 9% on Everest.

Maybe that's why David Odden asked: "I assume she's a highly competent climber and has climbed Everest and various other big hills."

The original poster did not offer the information required to make a judgement. Those who replied pointed out questions that one would need to ask in order to make a decision: about the riskiness, the climber's ability, and the climber's motivation.

The K2 example and the LSD example are not analogous. The former is a question of weighing risk against reward. The latter is the pointless assumption of risk. The K2 example is closer to a soldier volunteering for an extremely dangerous assignment.

In any given scenario where every previous attempt has resulted in death, you are conciously comitting  suicide.
Is that an error, or do you really believe that to be true?

BTW: The poster said 2 of 6 women who scaled K-2 made it back alive. They died later, scaling other mountains.

I never said she'd blow her brains out.. just let her play with the gun...
My mistake. With the LSD, and the "peaking"... silly assumption.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"The K2 example and the LSD example are not analogous. The former is a question of weighing risk against reward. The latter is the pointless assumption of risk. The K2 example is closer to a soldier volunteering for an extremely dangerous assignment."

This is clearly your subjective opinion altered by your 'moral' upbrining...

The primary reward for climbing K2: An adrenaline rush

The primary reward for taking mind altering drugs: AN ADRENALINE RUSH

The secondary rewards for climbing K2: Publicity and accomplishing something YOU consider to be great

The secondary rewards for getting screwy in front of the WhiteHouse: Plublicity and accomplishing something YOU consider to be great...

It's all subjective... You need to take a step back and look at reality. Many people consider climbing a mountain to be just as absurd as destroying yourself with mind altering drugs. They both lead to the same conclusion, self-annihilation. As a wise man once said, "a man who makes assumptions has a fool for a master".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good point. Mind altering drugs are not nearly as great of a risk.

On a more serious note. I would like to clarify my response as I have good reason to believe I did not successfully get my point across.

Both climbing a mountain and taking drugs are risks. The ability to justify/rationalize those risks is merely subjective. Some people like nuts some don't; it is merely a personal preference. Some people will happily eat sheets of acid. How many of those same people will climb K2 or any other mountain, regardless of their physical shape? Very few. How many mountain climbers would eat a sheet of acid? Very few. How many from both categories would volunteer for a dangerous mission (assuming the cause was just, and the war was not immoral or unjust)? Mountain climbing is not a cause that can be equated with rescueing grandmothers from burning buildings or cats from trees. Or is it? Perhaps I am mistaken.

To further clarify my point... The previous paragraph does not illustrate an argument by consensus it merely illustrates how morality and personal preference dictate the risks one will take. It is not saying, "Donnie likes to mutilate himself, therefore self-mutilation is good." It is saying, "Donnie likes beer, but Barry likes weed." Both involve risk. One could come to the conclusion that both are gluttonous. Which involves the most risk is really a subjective interpretation of the inherent risks of either behavior. Which one is immoral? Both by my personal beliefs. That hasn't really stopped me in the past from imbibing in the sweat nectar of the gods.

I am sorry if any comments in my previous post were taken as personal attacks. That was not my intention. Everyone has different 'moral' upbringings. The quotes were not intended to imply that your upbringing is immoral by my standards. Simply, the intention of quotes was to imply the fact that morals are subjective and different personal history usually alters the perception of morality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love mountain climbing too. However, I've never climbed anything higher than 1200 meters. :lol: (but I plan to go much higher than that)

One poster said the real reason why mountain climbing is so great. The feeling of "conquering" the mountain is exalting. And when you're struggling to get there, "it's just you and the mountain." A true life celebrating experience.

However, climbing the mountain just for the sake of being the only man who did it, does have a second-hander ring to it. This is what I would consider the side-effect, rather than motive.

However, if your wife is determined to go, you really can't do much to stop her. According to your knowledge, is she competent enough to make the right choice? Then let her make it on her own. You can try to persuade her (persuasion is a valid means to change someone's opinion), but you shouldn't try to force her to stay at home. However, as far as persuasion is concerned, I don't think that anyone can tell you how to do it, because you know your wife by far better than us.

There is a wonderful paragraph in a book I'm reading, called Sparrowhawk, where a man tries to persuade the boy not to join his gang. What he states, in effect, are pure facts of what his life will be if he joins, and then asks him if he's ready to face these facts. He asks the boy to really think about it, because there's no backing out later. That's what you should do - make your wife review all the facts and implications of her decision. If she still decides to go, then you can't stop her.

Edited by source

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...