Gadd’s Truth: Playing it Safer
“If you want to survive out there, learn not to trust your gear.”
In this article, Will Gadd, an expert climber and outdoorsmen speaks about the risks we take when we go on adventures in the outdoors. He recounts his own experience of when he was hanging from a slap of ice 150m high and saw his rope, the only thing saving him from the massive fall, drop away from him.
Will could tie a knot during a blizzard in the dead of night without a problem. He saw the chances of a rope he tied coming undone about as large as the chances of being hit by a meteor. However, on that seemingly normal ascent he found himself attached by only a pick shallowly dug into the ice. Once he successfully cleared the ledge, it took him a second to become aware of what happened. He turned to his friend and said, “Most of the technical equipment is just for show. True safety means not falling off the mountains; the gear just reminds us not to fall.” Later in life, he now tries to follow this as much as possible. For him, that means relying on him and his abilities first, and knowing that the biggest margin of safety comes from the body and brain.
This article gave me a different perspective on the use of safety gear. I think that a lot of what he says is true for many situations, not just outdoors. For example, you shouldn’t trust a car to keep you safe in an accident; you need to confident of your own ability to avoid getting in an accident. I think that this is really evident in the St Johns outdoor ed accident, where they relied heavily on equipment such as lifejackets, instead of having the ability and knowledge to not get in the situation in the first place. I think it’s become a common thing for new people to the outdoors to buy the newest, greatest gear and expect to be capable of doing activities they would not feel confident doing without the gear. In the future, a good way of assessing the risk would be to ask myself whether I’d do whatever I want to do without any safety equipment, because true safety means not needing to rely on gear.