I love definitions and hence will start with one, that of Adventure. 'ad-venture' literally means taking risks but when we talk of adventure travel, then it’s not about driving drunk on the highway without a helmet. Neither is this about going to a posh resort, looking at the snow from the window, asking 4 people to carry you to the top of the mountain where you pose with a Ski, sitting in a raft wanting the water to splash on you while someone else puts all his strength in rowing and you just keep screaming, Shouting at the back of a sea scooter while someone else drives it! As far as I have known and believed, it’s about aiming something big, planning well for the aim, preparing with maximum effort, implementing with extreme care, and celebrating with responsibility.
What some people perceive of adventure travel, based on incomplete and incorrect info, is not what it is!
Let’s take the discussion a little backward for a moment and try to see where it all started. The history of adventure travel would start somewhere with Columbus and Vasco Da Gama who changed the definition of Earth but these expeditions are blotted with bloodshed and vested interests. To me, May 29th, 1953 is a landmark that defines two ages; Before Everest & After Everest. The date is almost like Birth of Christ for Adventurers. It’s not as if the calendars and adventures did not exist before but the history did take a major turn here. The highest point on Earth which till now was scaled only by telescopes had conceded to the spirit of Human race! With this, people started venturing into similar risk prone travel/activities more professionally and adventure started getting recognition more as a sport. Our ancestors who ventured into the unexplored seas, mountains, rivers, did so to expand the horizons of our reality! George Leigh Mallory, who famously attempted Everest in the 1920s and reached very close to the Summit (best estimates put it at 300 mts), beautifully answered the Why : “Because Its There”. The line summarizes the reason for people to be crazy enough & has almost become a slogan for most adventurers in the world.
Coming back to the point, let us examine the 5 points one by one (in brief)
1. Aiming Big:
To demolish a big notion of "No" or "Not Possible". It all starts here and is the core. The big is subjective, when Tenzing & Edmund climbed Everest, Junko Tabei, the first woman to climb Everest, saw it far for women and maybe her aim was bigger and had a much larger social implication. It does not matter what people think…its your aim and you know what is big for you. Sometimes your big would become an inspiration for many others but sometimes it won’t but that does not matter. Record books are for accountants, commentators, media persons, and god knows who all but its definitely not for adventurers!
2. Planning Meticulously:
They are detail oriented; they plan for every possible equipment, goods, and support systems. People have innovated so much in the history to improve their chances at success, and there is nothing wrong in improving your chances as long as you are not compromising on your ‘BIG AIM’. Every aspect must be looked at, even the retreat!
3. Training Hard:
They say "Train Hard, Fight Easy". Adventure enthusiasts around the world vouch for this. They exercise, practice, do dry runs, shorter simulations to prepare & assess themselves before the final assault.
4. Executing Carefully:
They are very aware of the risks involved and are very careful. They also miss their friends and families and want to see them again. Most importantly they want to complete what they started and invested such energies into. So, they are never rash. They take their steps carefully, wait for stable weather windows, and respect the rules of nature.
5. Celebrate with responsibility:
Adventurers don’t attempt anything to show off! They have a restlessness to make things possible. And their attempts make them even more humble! They celebrate the experience, the learning; the thrill...Outcome does not really matter. Most important aspect is that they don’t damage the Mountain, the Sea, The rock, The river, or whatever part of nature they used because they realize the grandness of nature & relish the humbling experience they get from it.
It all ends from where it began. The purpose… All the planning, preparation, execution, and celebration was and would always be for the purpose of Aiming Big. If they fail, the notion of "impossible" strengthens and that exactly what is not acceptable to them. So the adventures are not lazy bums who are rash! They are hardworking, serious men & women who aim big & put in everything they have, for achieving it. And yet the outcome is immaterial because accomplishment, death or retreat does not define success or failure for them…it’s the spirit with which you return that matters!
I would leave you with a few lines from one of the best Mountaineers of all time, Reinhold Messner, that summarize what I am finding difficult to:
"Not only during the ascent, but also during the descent my willpower is dulled. The longer I climb the less important the goal seems to me, the more indifferent I become to myself. My attention has diminished, my memory is weakened. My mental fatigue is now greater than the bodily. It is so pleasant to sit doing nothing - and therefore so dangerous. Death through exhaustion is like death through freezing - a pleasant one."
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Bikat Adventures Pvt Ltd.