Wednesday 31 October 2007

To Hell and Back programme - thanks!

Thanks to everyone who contacted us after the To Hell and Back programme on BBC2 last week by email, txt, blog comment etc, we appreciate the thought so much. We liked the programme ourselves, although our toes curled when we saw that our tour round our wee Glen Nevis house had made the edit. You know that feeling where you hear the sound of a recording of your own voice and cringe a little? Multiply that by a good few times to get the feeling of watching yourself showing a TV audience around your wee hoose.

The programme obviously focused pretty heavily on the danger aspect of the new route I climbed. Here are some reactions from people who watched it:

“I thought it was a great film, but it worried me. It just worries me. The whole thing of someone putting their life at risk... and us all encouraging them to do so, even if we don't mean to, by posting saying how great it is ... it worries me”

“After something like this it's only natural to ponder and if you ever wonder whether you should lift your foot off the accelerator then that is the time to call it a day .. and time to change down a gear and enjoy the ride a bit more. I'm guessing that time has not yet come for you?”

Another comment that folk made was the number of times we were reminded of the consequences of me falling off the route on lead – ‘death’. That word was mentioned many times over. Of course it’s natural that the documentary editors would keep reminding us of this as it creates tension.

‘Climber makes solid and smooth ascent of potentially dangerous climb’

Isn’t really an eye catching documentary premise, compared to:

‘climber attempts death route and nearly doesn’t make it’

Of course the former was what actually happened. If you downloaded or taped the programme, watch the footage with the sound off and look out for any wobbles. It would make quite different viewing. Of course it’s necessary for me to look carefully at the potential consequences of failure and analyse the potential for that occurring. So all I’m doing there is taking a serious route seriously. The bottom line is that there is no way I would have been there if I thought I was going to fall.

I couldn’t eliminate risk of things going wrong, nor would I want it that way. But my preparation and execution of a solid plan for my approach to the climb kept the danger (just) within an acceptable limit.

As the quotes above allude to, films like this make us wonder a lot about risks in life, that’s why they are interesting. To me, it’s simple and clear that some risks in life are utterly essential to get anywhere, whether they are physical, emotional, financial or other types of risk. A live life with no risk at all is not to live – because nothing useful could be accomplished. So the question is not whether to take risks, its whether a given risk is the right risk to take.

What we never see in documentaries like To Hell and Back is the flip side of risk – not taking enough risk, and missing out on doing something amazing with your life. Getting to the end of a long life, never having taken a risk (and never accomplishing things you had the potential for) is a WAY bigger tragedy than coming unstuck while taking a risk that was really worth taking.

So when Dax said “ever wonder whether you should lift your foot off the accelerator?” I say never, ever lift your foot of accelerator, so long as you are accelerating in the direction that is right for you.

As Seth Godin says “safe is risky”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing that. I feel better about enthusing about To Hell and Back, having read your thoughts, both on the necessity of risk, and on the level of control you had during the climb. The line, "So the question is not whether to take risks, its whether a given risk is the right risk to take."... will stay with me.