Here’s to adventure

I watched a movie the other day called ‘180 degrees south’ featuring amongst others Yvon Chouinard. You may or may not know him as the founder of Patagonia and Black Diamond. More than that though he is a climber, surfer, fisherman, explorer, environmentalist and all kinds of other wonderful things that can make him an authority on adventure:

“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong — that’s when adventure starts.” Yvon Chouinard

Now I like Yvon. I like his principles, I like how he ran his companies and I like his clothes. I’d give the whole AdventureLst team a copy of his book as recommended reading (it’s called Let My People Go Surfing if you’re interested). But I’m not sure I agree with this view on adventure.

Adventure is a broad term — but I like that.

People often synonymize adventure with increasing levels of danger or hardship. As if plotted on sliding scale it might have 1ft ankle snapping waves at the bottom end and 80ft Nazare at the top, walking up Parliament hill to summiting K2, climbing that tree in the back garden to…well there may be no topping that!

But I think that misses a fundamental point — the human factor. Every person has their own adventure limit and reaching it is an amazing achievement regardless of where it might sit on the scale of adventurous possibilities. There will always be something bigger, harder or more ‘extreme’ but this doesn’t make what you do any less an adventure! It’s why adventure should be broad, because anyone with a little daring can do it.

Am I saying that walking up Snowdon in summer is comparable to climbing the Eiger? No of course not. But if Snowdon is your limit for now or even forever then celebrate it. Go nuts. Have an extra pint (don’t drive), have that extra flake in your ice cream (probably ok to drive). Because you’ve pushed yourself, made the effort, done something you might not have done before, experienced how amazing the great outdoors can be and had fun — and that’s the point right?

Adventure should be fun, exhilarating and accessible. It’s one of the reasons Alastair Humphrey’s Microadventure idea is brilliant. Get a bivvy bag, find a hill, sleep on it, go home.

So simple and so accessible. And that might be the end of it. You might call time on your adventure career after that slightly lumpy sleep*. Or it might just be the start of something amazing. A larger hill, and maybe a tent…

In building AdventureLst we’ve come across many different views on adventure. One of those views is that to have a real adventure it needs to be imaginative, different and not just a tick box exercise like climbing Mont Blanc for example. Now I climbed Mont Blanc last year. Did I do it to tick a box? I did it because I’ve always wanted to, because I’d never climbed mountain like it and I had to start somewhere. Does that make it a tick in a box? I don’t know. I know that it was tough! I know that the summit was

amazing, but my favourite moment on the climb was the sun rising just as we reached the Gouter ridge. Just me, my friend and our guide Mark stood in the snow, watching the sun freezing our nuts off. It sure as hell felt like an adventure!

So I say here’s to the box tickers and the unimaginative, the weekend warriors and seasoned pro’s, the microadventurers and the polar explorers, the kooks, gapers and anyone taking their first steps.

Here’s to adventure.

* You really shouldn’t stop there — read Al’s book Microadventures for some other great ideas.

N.B I realize that my rallying, tub-thumping tone might cause you to drop everything and run for the hills or sea in search of the nearest adventure…If that’s the case read the links below and make sure you do it responsibly!

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