Risk vs. Adventure

Experience is necessary, but so
is luck. Accidents do happen. If you slip on a steep wet band and break your arm in a remote location you better hope that some other paddlers will be coming in a reasonable time or you better learn to paddle with one arm. I feel what mitigates risk on a solo trip is the possibility of another paddler coming through within a day or so. That way, if a disaster does happen I can count on help within a day or so which I feel is a reasonable risk. Also, you can always bring a Sat Phone and with that you can always call for help. I think we all agree that a trip without risks wouldn’t be much an adventure. It is just a personal question of how much risk is acceptable.

Adventure Is For The Ill-Prepared
When I was a child, I read a book about Roy Chapman Andrews, who many think is the real-life role model for Indiana Jones. Andrews is best remembered for the series of dramatic expeditions he led to the Gobi of Mongolia from 1922 to 1930. http://www.roychapmanandrewssociety.org/who_was.html

In the book, there was an anecdote concerning a reporter to said to Andrews, “It must be marvelous to have all those adventures.”

In a moment of unguarded honesty, Andrews replied, “No, I hate adventures. The adventure begins when things go wrong.”

Andrews understood rick and carefully planned to minimize it. If he planned properly, the risk, and adventure, were removed and he could go about his business.

But when things go wrong…

Well, we all know that when bad things happen, they happen very, very fast.

…and the weak…

– Last Updated: May-30-08 12:10 AM EST –

....well, I just think you've got it right Greg...I really like the way Bill Mason stated it in a video, ...something like "Paddling a wild river will always involve risk, but the risk can be lessened with increased knowledge and skill".


I didn’t read all these
but I will chime in. I like to prepare as best I can on my bigger trips (which are still small). Then on the smaller trips I don’t plan for anything. It allows me to have problems and mistakes to learn what I should do if I am on a bigger trip.

If I am hungry at the end of an 8 mile trip i should take a snack for a 15 mile trip (I have power bars in the pfd but you get the idea).


In the 60’s and 70’s we saw them

– Last Updated: Jun-21-08 8:01 AM EST –

come and we saw them go: the young adreneline junkies of rock climbing. Sooner or later the adreneline ran out and they were done. At the end of the day there remained a bunch of free soloing technical rock climbing "old" fart Viet-Nam vets. It all comes down to control vs out of control.

Solo paddling has the same issues. However, paddling has more actual danger vs the the perceived danger of technical rock climbing - stats do bear this out.

The take home message about paddling risk vs adventure:

"You do what you must do (and what you have trained to do) and you do it well."